The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 5/Tatlers
Saturday, September 10, 1709.
Will's Coffeehouse, Sept. 9.
THE subject of the discourse this evening was Eloquence and graceful Action. Lysander, who is something particular in his way of thinking and speaking, told us, a man could not be eloquent without action: for the deportment of the body, the turn of the eye, and an apt sound to every word that is uttered, must all conspire to make an accomplished speaker. Action in one that speaks in publick, is the same thing as a good mien in ordinary life. Thus, as a certain insensibility in the countenance recommends a sentence of humour and jest, so it must be a very lively consciousness that gives grace to great sentiments. The jest is to be a thing unexpected; therefore your undesigning manner is a beauty in expressions of mirth: but when you are to talk on a set subject, the more you are moved yourself, the more you will move others.
There is, said he, a remarkable example of that kind. Æschines, a famous orator of antiquity, had pleaded at Athens in a great cause against Demosthenes; but having lost it, retired to Rhodes: Eloquence was then the quality most admired among men, and the magistrates of that place, having heard he had a copy of the speech of Demosthenes, desired him to repeat both their pleadings. After his own, he recited also the oration of his antagonist. The people expressed their admiration of both, but more of that of Demosthenes. If you are, said he, thus touched with hearing only what that great orator said, how would you have been affected had you seen him speak? for he who hears Demosthenes only, loses much the better part of the oration. Certain it is, that they who speak gracefully, are very lamely represented in having their speeches read or repeated by unskilful people; for there is something native to each man, so inherent to his thoughts and sentiments, which it is hardly possible for another to give a true idea of. You may observe in common talk, when a sentence of any man's is repeated, an acquaintance of his shall immediately observe, "That is so like him, methinks I see how he looked when he said it."
But of all the people on the earth, there are none who puzzle me so much as the clergy of Great Britain, who are, I believe, the most learned body of men now in the world; and yet this art of speaking, with the proper ornaments of voice and gesture, is wholly neglected among them; and I will engage, were a deaf man to behold the greater part of them preach, he would rather think they were reading the contents only of some discourse they intended to make, than actually in the body of an oration, even when they were upon matters of such a nature, as one would believe it were impossible to think of without emotion.
I own there are exceptions to this general observation, and that the dean we heard the other day together is an orator. He has so much regard to his congregation, that he commits to his memory what he is to say to them; and has so soft and graceful a behaviour, that it must attract your attention. His person, it is to be confessed, is no small recommendation; but he is to be highly commended for not losing that advantage; and adding to the propriety of speech, which might pass the criticism of Longinus, an action which would have been approved by Demosthenes. He has a peculiar force in his way, and has charmed many of his audience who could not be intelligent hearers of his discourse, were there not explanation as well as grace in his action. This art of his is useful with the most exact and honest skill: he never attempts your passions, until he has convinced your reason. All the objections which he can form, are laid open and dispersed. before he uses the least vehemience in his sermon; but when he thinks he has your head, he very soon wins your heart; and never pretends to show the beauty of holiness, until he has convinced you of the truth of it.
Would every one of our clergymen be thus careful to recommend truth and virtue in their proper, figures, and show so much concern for them as to, give them all additional force they were able; it is not possible that nonsense should have so many hearers as you find it has in dissenting congregations, for no reason in the world, but because it is spoken extempore: for ordinary minds are wholly governed by their eyes and ears; and there is no way to come at their hearts, but by power over their imaginations.
There is my friend and merry companion Daniel: he knows a great deal better than he speaks, and can form a proper discourse as well as any orthodox neighbour. But he knows very well, that to bawl out, My beloved! and the words grace! regeneration! sanctification! a new light! the day! the day! ay, my beloved, the day! or rather the night! the night is coming! and judgment will come, when we least think of it! and so forth — He knows, to be vehement is the only way to come at his audience. Daniel, when he sees my friend Greenhat come in, can give a good hint, and cry out, This is only for the saints! the regenerated! By this force of action, though mixed with all the incoherence and ribaldry imaginable, Daniel can laugh at his diocesan, and grow fat by voluntary subscription, while the parson of the parish goes to law for half his dues. Daniel will tell you, It is not the shepherd, but the sheep with the bell, which the flock follows.
Another thing, very wonderful this learned body should omit, is, learning to read; which is a most necessary part of eloquence in one who is to serve at the altar: for there is no man but must be sensible, that the lazy tone, and inarticulate sound of our common readers, depreciates the most proper form of words that were ever extant in any nation or language, to speak their own wants, or his power from whom we ask relief.
There cannot be a greater instance of the power of action than in little parson Dapper, who is the common relief to all the lazy pulpits in town. This smart youth has a very good memory, a quick eye, and a clean handkerchief. Thus equipped, he opens his text, shuts his book fairly, shows he has no notes in his Bible, opens both palms, and shows all is fair there too. Thus, with a decisive air, my young man goes on without hesitation; and though from the beginning to the end of his pretty discourse, he has not used one proper gesture, yet, at the conclusion, the churchwarden pulls his gloves from off his hands; "Pray, who is this extraordinary young man?" Thus the force of action is such, that it is more prevalent, even when improper, than all the reason and argument in the world without it. — This gentleman concluded his discourse by saying, I do not doubt but if our preachers would learn to speak, and our readers to read, within six months time, we should not have a dissenter within a mile of a church in Great Britain.
THE TATLER. No. 67.
Tuesday, Sept. 13, 1709.
From my own apartments, September 12.
MY province is much larger than at first sight men would imagine, and I shall lose no part of my jurisdiction, which extends not only to futurity, but also is retrospect to things past; and the behaviour of persons, who have long ago acted their parts, is as much liable to my examination, as that of my own contemporaries.
In order to put the whole race of mankind in their proper distinctions, according to the opinion their cohabitants conceived of them, I have with very much care, and depth of meditation, thought fit to erect a chamber of Fame; and established certain rules, which are to be observed in admitting members into this illustrious society.
In this chamber of Fame there are to be three tables, but of different lengths; the first is to contain exactly twelve persons; the second, twenty; and the third, a hundred. This is reckoned to be the full number of those who have any competent share of fame. At the first of these tables are to be placed, in their order, the twelve most famous persons in the world, not with regard to the things they are famous for, but according to the degree of their fame, whether in valour, wit, or learning. Thus, if a scholar be more famous than a soldier, he is to sit above him. Neither must any preference be given to virtue, if the person be not equally famous.
When the first table is filled, the next in renown must be seated at the second, and so on in like manner to the number of twenty; as also in the same order at the third, which is to hold a hundred. At these tables, no regard is to be had to seniority: for if Julius Cæsar shall be judged more famous than Romulus and Scipio, he must have the precedence. No person who has not been dead a hundred years, must be offered to a place at any of these tables: and because this is altogether a lay society, and that sacred persons move upon greater motives than that of fame, no persons celebrated in Holy Writ, or any ecclesiastical man whatsoever, are to be introduced here.
At the lower end of the room is to be a sidetable for persons of great fame, but dubious existence; such as Hercules, Theseus, Æneas, Achilles, Hector, and others. But because it is apprehended, that there may be great contention about precedence, the proposer humbly desires the opinion of the learned, toward his assistance in placing every person according to his rank, that none may have just occasion of offence. The merits of the cause shall be judged by plurality of voices.
For the more impartial execution of this important affair, it is desired, that no man will offer his favourite hero, scholar, or poet; and that the learned will be pleased to send to Mr. Bickerstaff, at Mr. Morphew's, near Stationers hall, their several lists for the first table only, and in the order they would have them placed; after which, the proposer will compare the several lists, and make another for the publick, wherein every name shall be ranked according to the voices it has had. Under this chamber is to be a dark vault, for the same number of persons of evil fame.
It is humbly submitted to consideration, whether the project would not be better, if the persons of true fame meet in a middle room, those of dubious existence in an upper room, and those of evil fame in a lower dark room.
It is to be noted, that no historians are to be admitted at any of these tables; because they are appointed to conduct the several persons to their seats, and are to be made use of as ushers to the assemblies.
I call upon the learned world to send me their assistance toward this design, it being a matter of too great moment for any one person to determine. But I do assure them, their lists shall be examined with great fidelity, and those that are exposed to the publick, made with all the caution imaginable.
THE TATLER. No. 74.
Thursday, Sept. 29, 1709.
Grecian Coffeehouse, Sept. 29.
THIS evening I thought fit to notify to the literati of this house, and by that means to all the world, that on Saturday the fifteenth of October next ensuing, I design to fix my first table of fame; and desire that such as are acquainted with the characters of the twelve most famous men that have ever appeared in the world, would send in their lists, or name any one man for that table, assigning also his place at it, before that time, upon pain of having such his man of fame postponed, or placed too high, for ever. I shall not, upon any application whatever, alter the place which upon that day I shall give to any of these worthies. But, whereas there are many who take upon them to admire this hero, or that author, upon second hand, I expect each subscriber should underwrite his reason for the place he allots his candidate.
The thing is of the last consequence; for we are about settling the greatest point that ever has been debated in any age; and I shall take precautions accordingly. Let every man who votes, consider, that he is now going to give away that, for which the soldier gave up his rest, his pleasure, and his life; the scholar resigned his whole series of thought, his midnight repose, and his morning slumbers. In a word, he is, as I may say, to be judge of that afterlife, which noble spirits prefer to their very real beings. I hope I shall be forgiven therefore, if I make some objections against their jury, as they shall occur to me. The whole of the number by whom they are to be tried, are to be scholars. I am persuaded also that Aristotle will be put up by all of that class of men. However, in behalf of others, such as wear the livery of Aristotle, the two famous universities are called upon on this occasion: but I except the men of Queen's, Exeter, and Jesus Colleges, in Oxford, who are not to be electors, because he shall not be crowned from an implicit faith in his writings, but receive his honour from such judges as shall allow him to be censured. Upon this election, as I was just now going to say, I banish all who think, and speak after others, to concern themselves in it. For which reason, all illiterate distant admirers are forbidden to corrupt the voices, by sending, according to the new mode, any poor students coals and candles for their votes in behalf of such worthies as they pretend to esteem. All newswriters are also excluded, because they consider fame as it is a report which gives foundation to the filling up their rhapsodies, and not as it is the emanation or consequence of good and evil actions. These are excepted against as justly as butchers in case of life and death: their familiarity with the greatest names, takes off the delicacy of their regard, as dealing in blood makes the lanii less tender of spilling it.
THE TATLER. No. 81.
Saturday, Oct. 15, 1709.
Hic manus ab patriam pugnando vulnera passi,——
Quique pii vates, & Phœbo digna locuti,
Inventas aut qui vitam excoluére per aries,
Quique sui memores alios fecêre merendo.
Virg. Æn. vi. 660.
Here Patriots live, who for their country's good,
In fighting fields were prodigal of blood;
Here Poets, worthy their inspiring god,
And of unblemish'd life, make their abode:
And searching Wits, of more mechanick parts,
Who grac'd their age with new invented arts:
Those who to worth their bounty did extend;
And those who knew that bounty to commend.
From my own apartments, October 14.
THERE are two kinds of immortality; that which the soul really enjoys after this life, and that imaginary existence, by which men live in their fame and reputation. The best and greatest actions, have proceeded from the prospect of the one, or the other of these; but my design is to treat only of those who have chiefly proposed to themselves the latter, as the principal reward of their labours. It was for this reason that I excluded from my Tables of Fame, all the great founders and votaries of religion; and it is for this reason also, that I am more than ordinarily anxious to do justice to the persons of whom I am now going to speak; for, since fame was the only end of all their enterprises and studies, a man cannot be too scrupulous in allotting them their due proportion of it. It was this consideration which made me call the whole body of the learned to my assistance; to many of whom I must own my obligations for the catalogues of illustrious persons, which they have sent me in upon this occasion. I yesterday employed the whole afternoon in comparing them with each other; which made so strong an impression upon my imagination, that they broke my sleep for the first part of the following night, and at length threw me into a very agreeable vision, which I shall beg leave to describe in all its particulars.
I dreamed that I was conveyed into a wide and boundless plain, that was covered with prodigious multitudes of people, which no man could number. In the midst of it there stood a mountain, with its head above the clouds. The sides were extremely steep, and of such a particular structure, that no creature which was not made in a human figure could possibly ascend it. On a sudden there was heard from the top of it a sound like that of a trumpet; but so exceedingly sweet and harmonious, that filled the hearts of those who heard it with raptures, and gave such high and delightful sensations, as seemed to animate and raise human nature above itself. This made me very much amazed to find so very few in that innumerable multitude, who had ears fine enough to hear or relish this musick with pleasure: but my wonder abated, when, upon looking round me, I saw most of them attentive to three sirens clothed like goddesses, and distinguished by the names of Sloth, Ignorance, and Pleasure. They were seated on three rocks, amid a beautiful variety of groves, meadows, and rivulets, that lay on the borders of the mountain. While the base and grovelling multitude of different nations, ranks, and ages, were listening to these delusive deities; those of a more erect aspect, and exalted spirit, separated themselves from the rest, and marched in great bodies toward the mountain, from whence they heard the sound, which still grew sweeter, the more they listened to it.
On a sudden methought this select band sprang forward, with a resolution to climb the ascent, and follow the call of that heavenly musick. Every one took something with him, that he thought might be of assistance to him in his march. Several had their swords drawn, some carried rolls of paper in their hands, some had compasses, others quadrants, others telescopes, and others pencils; some had laurels on their heads, and others buskins on their legs: in short, there was scarce any instrument of a mechanick art, or liberal science, which was not made use of on this occasion. My good demon, who stood at my right hand during the course of this whole vision, observing in me a burning desire to join that glorious company, told me, he highly approved that generous ardour with which I seemed transported; but at the same time, advised me to cover my face with a mask all the while I was to labour on the ascent. I took his counsel, without inquiring into his reasons. The whole body now broke into different parties, and began to climb the precipice by ten thousand different paths. Several got into little alleys, which did not reach far up the hill, before they ended and led no farther; and I observed, that most of the artisans, which considerably diminished our number, fell into these paths.
We left another considerable body of adventurers behind us, who thought they had discovered byways up the hill, which proved so very intricate and perplexed, that after having advanced in them a little, they were quite lost among the several turns and windings; and though they were as active as any in their motions, they made but little progress in the ascent. These, as my guide informed me, were men of subtle tempers, and puzzled politicks, who would supply the place of real wisdom, with cunning and artifice. Among those who were far advanced in their way, there were some, that by one false step fell backward, and lost more ground in a moment, than they had gained for many hours, or could be ever able to recover. We were now advanced very high, and observed that all the different paths, which ran about the sides of the mountain, began to meet in two great roads; which insensibly gathered the whole multitude of travellers into two great bodies. At a little distance from the entrance of each road, there stood a hideous phantom, that opposed our farther passage. One of these apparitions had his right hand filled with darts, which he brandished in the face of all who came up that way: crowds ran back at the appearance of it, and cried out Death. The spectre that guarded the other road, was Envy: she was not armed with weapons of destruction, like the former; but by dreadful hissings, noises of reproach, and a horrid distracted laughter, she appeared more frightful than Death itself; insomuch that abundance of our company were discouraged from passing any farther, and some appeared ashamed of having come so far. As for myself, I must confess my heart shrunk within me at the sight of these ghastly appearances: but on a sudden, the voice of the trumpet came more full upon us, so that we felt a new resolution reviving in us; and in proportion as this resolution grew, the terrours before us seemed to vanish. Most of the company, who had swords in their hands, marched on with great spirit, and an air of defiance, up the road that was commanded by Death; while others, who had thought and contemplation in their looks, went forward, in a more composed manner, up the road possessed by Envy. The way above these apparitions grew smooth and uniform, and was so delightful, that the travellers went on with pleasure, and in a little time arrived at the top of the mountain. They here began to breathe a delicious kind of ether, and saw all the fields about them covered with a kind of purple light, that made them reflect with satisfaction on their past toils; and diffused a secret joy through the whole assembly, which showed itself in every look and feature. In the midst of these happy fields there stood a palace of a very glorious structure: it had four great folding doors, that faced the four several quarters of the world. On the top of it was enthroned the goddess of the mountain, who smiled upon her votaries, and sounded the silver trumpet which had called them up, and cheered them in their passage to her palace. They had now formed themselves into several divisions; a band of historians taking their stations at each door, according to the persons whom they were to introduce.
On a sudden, the trumpet which had hitherto sounded only a march, or point of war, now swelled all its notes into triumph and exultation: the whole fabrick shook, and the doors flew open. The first that stepped forward was a beautiful and blooming hero, and as I heard by the murmurs round me, Alexander the Great. He was conducted by a crowd of historians. The person, who immediately walked before him, was remarkable for an embroidered garment, who not being well acquainted with the place, was conducting him to an apartment appointed for the reception of fabulous heroes. The name of this false guide was Quintus Curtius. But Arrian and Plutarch, who knew better the avenues of this palace, conducted him into the great hall, and placed him at the upper end of the first table. My good demon, that I might see the whole ceremony, conveyed me to a corner of this room, where I might perceive all that passed, without being seen myself. The next who entered was a charming virgin, leading in a venerable old man that was blind. Under her left arm she bore a harp, and on her head a garland. Alexander, who was very well acquainted with Homer, stood up at his entrance, and placed him on his right hand. The virgin, who it seems was one of the nine sisters that attended on the goddess of Fame, smiled with an ineffable grace at their meeting, and retired.
Julius Cæsar was now coming forward; and though most of the historians offered their service to introduce him, he left them at the door, and would have no conductor but himself.
The next who advanced, was a man of a homely but cheerful aspect, and attended by persons of greater figure than any that appeared on this occasion. Plato was on his right hand, and Xenophon on his left. He bowed to Homer, and sat down by him. It was expected that Plato would himself have taken a place next to his master Socrates; but on a sudden there was heard a great clamour of disputants at the door, who appeared with Aristotle at the head of them. That philosopher, with some rudeness, but great strength of reason, convinced the whole table, that a title to the fifth place was his due, and took it accordingly.
He had scarce sat down, when the same beautiful virgin that had introduced Homer, brought in another, who hung back at the entrance, and would have excused himself, had not his modesty been overcome by the invitation of all who sat at the table. His guide and behaviour made me easily conclude it was Virgil. Cicero next appeared, and took his place. He had inquired at the door for one Lucceius to introduce him; but not finding him there, he contented himself with the attendance of many other writers, who all, except Sallust, appeared highly pleased with the office.
We waited some time in expectation of the next worthy, who came in with a great retinue of historians, whose names I could not learn, most of them being natives of Carthage, The person thus conducted, who was Hannibal, seemed much disturbed, and could not forbear complaining to the board, of the affronts he had met with among the Roman historians, who attempted, says he, to carry me into the subterraneous apartment; and perhaps would have done it, had it not been for the impartiality of this gentleman, pointing to Polybius, who was the only person, except my own countrymen, that was willing to conduct me hither.
The Carthaginian took his seat, and Pompey entered with great dignity in his own person, and preceded by several historians. Lucan the poet was at the head of them, who, observing Homer and Virgil at the table, was going to sit down himself, had not the latter whispered him, that whatever pretence he might otherwise have had, he forfeited his claim to it, by coming in as one of the historians. Lucan was so exasperated with the repulse, that he muttered something to himself; and was heard to say, that since he could not have a seat among them himself, he would bring in one who alone had more merit than their whole assembly: upon which he went to the door, and brought in Cato of Utica. That great man approached the company with such an air, that showed he contemned the honour which he laid a claim to. Observing the seat opposite to Cæsar was vacant, he took possession of it, and spoke two or three smart sentences upon the nature of precedency, which, according to him, consisted not in place, but in intrinsick merit; to which he added, that the most virtuous man, wherever he was seated, was always at the upper end of the table. Socrates, who had a great spirit of raillery with his wisdom, could not forbear smiling at a virtue which took so little pains to make itself agreeable. Cicero took the occason to make a long discourse in praise of Cato, which he uttered with much vehemence. Cæsar answered him with a great deal of seeming temper; but, as I stood at a great distance from them, I was not able to hear one word of what they said. But I could not forbear taking notice, that in all the discourse which passed at the table, a word or nod from Homer decided the controversy.
After a short pause Augustus appeared, looking round him, with a serene and affable countenance, upon all the writers of his age, who strove among themselves which of them should show him the greatest marks of gratitude and respect. Virgil rose from the table to meet him; and though he was an acceptable guest to all, he appeared more such to the learned, than the military worthies. The next man astonished the whole table with his appearance: he was slow, solemn, and silent in his behaviour, and wore a raiment curiously wrought with hieroglyphicks. As he came into the middle of the room, he threw up the skirts of it, and discovered a golden thigh. Socrates, at the sight of it, declared against keeping company with any who were not made of flesh and blood; and therefore, desired Diogenes the Laertian to lead him to the apartment allotted for fabulous heroes and worthies of dubious existence. At his going out, he told them, that they did not know whom they dismissed; that he was now Pythagoras, the first of philosophers, and that formerly he had been a very brave man at the siege of Troy. That may be very true, said Socrates; but you forget that you have likewise been a very great harlot in your time. This exclusion made way for Archimedes, who came forward with a scheme of mathematical figures in his hand; among which I observed a cone and a cylinder.
Seeing this table full, I desired my guide, for variety, to lead me to the fabulous apartment, the roof of which was painted with gorgons, chimeras, and centaurs, with many other emblematical figures, which I wanted both time and skill to unriddle. The first table was almost full: at the upper end sat Hercules leaning an arm upon his club; on his right hand were Achilles and Ulysses, and between them Æneas; on his left were Hector, Theseus, and Jason: the lower end had Orpheus, Æsop, Phalaris, and Musæus. The ushers seemed at a loss for a twelfth man, when, methought, to my great joy and surprise, I heard some at the lower end of the table mention Isaac Bickerstaff: But those of the upper end received it with disdain; and said, if they must have a British worthy, they would have Robin Hood.
DlNING yesterday with Mr. South-British and Mr. William North-Briton, two gentlemen, who before you ordered it otherwise, were known by the names of Mr. English and Mr. William Scot: among other things, the maid of the house, who in her time, I believe, may have been a North British warmingpan, brought us up a dish of North British collops. We liked our entertainment very well; only we observed the tablecloth, being not so fine as we could have wished, was North British cloth. But the worst of it was, we were disturbed all dinner time by the noise of the children, who were playing in the paved court at North British hoppers; so we paid our North Briton sooner than we designed, and took coach to North Britain yard, about which place most of us live. We had indeed gone afoot; only we were under some apprehensions, lest a North British mist should wet a South British man to the skin. — We think this matter properly expressed, according to the accuracy of the new style, settled by you in one of your late papers. You will please, to give your opinion upon it to,
Your most humble servants,
J. S. M. P. N. R.
THE TATLER. No. 5.
—— Laceratque, trahitque
Molle pecus. ———Virg.
From Tuesday, Jan. 23, to Saturday, Jan. 27, 1710.
AMONG other services I have met with from some criticks, the cruellest for an old man is, that they will not let me be at quiet in my bed, but pursue me to my very dreams. I must not dream but when they please, nor upon long continued subjects, however visionary in their own natures, because there is a manifest moral quite through them, which to produce as a dream is improbable and unnatural. The pain I might have had from this objection, is prevented, by considering they have missed another, against which I should have been at a loss to defend myself. They might have asked me whether the dreams I publish can properly be called lucubrations, which is the name I have given to all my papers, whether in volumes or half sheets: so manifest a contradiction in terminis, that I wonder no sophister ever thought of it. But the other is a cavil. I remember, when I was a boy at school, I have often dreamed out the whole passages of a day; that I rode a journey, baited, supped, went to bed, and rose next morning: and I have known young ladies, who could dream a whole contexture of adventures in one mght, large enough to make a novel. In youth the imagination is strong, not mixed with cares, nor tinged with those passions that most disturb and confound it: such as avarice, ambition, and many others. Now, as old men are said to grow children again, so in this article of dreaming, I am returned to my childhood. My imagination is at full ease, without care, avarice, or ambition to clog it; by which, among many others, I have this advantage of doubling the small remainder of my time, and living four and twenty hours in the day. However, the dream I am going now to relate, is as wild as can well be imagined, and adapted to please these refiners upon sleep, without any moral that I can discover.
"It happened, that my maid left on the table in my bedchamber one of her storybooks (as she calls them) which I took up, and found full of strange impertinence, fitted to her taste and condition; of poor servants who came to be ladies, and servingmen of low degree who married kings daughters. Among other things, I met this sage observation, That a lion would never hurt a true virgin. With this medley of nonsense in my fancy, I went to bed, and dreamed that a friend waked me in the morning, and proposed for pastime to spend a few hours in seeing the parish lions, which he had not done since he came to town; and because they showed but once a week, he would not miss the opportunity. I said I would humour him; although, to speak the truth, I was not fond of those cruel spectacles; and, if it were not so ancient a custom, founded (as I had heard) upon the wisest maxims, I should be apt to censure the inhumanity of those who introduced it." All this will be a riddle to the waking reader, until I discover the scene my imagination had formed, upon the maxim. That a lion would never hurt a true virgin. "I dreamed, that by a law of immemorial time, a he lion was kept in every parish at the common charge, and in a place provided adjoining to the churchyard; that before any one of the fair sex was married, if she affirmed herself to be a virgin, she must on her wedding day, and in her wedding clothes, perform the ceremony of going alone into the den, and stay an hour with the lion, let loose and kept fasting four and twenty hours on purpose. At a proper height above the den were convenient galleries for the relations and friends of the young couple, laid open to all spectators. No maiden was forced to offer herself to the lion; but, if she refused, it was a disgrace to marry her, and every one might have liberty of calling her a whore. And methought it was as usual a diversion to see the parish lions, as with us to go to a play or an opera. And it was reckoned convenient to be near the church, either for marrying the virgin, if she escaped the trial, or for burying her bones, when the lion had devoured the rest, as he constantly did."
To go on therefore with the dream: "We called first (as I remember) to see St. Dunstan's lion: but we were told, they did not show to day. From thence we went to that of Covent Garden, which, to my great surprise, we found as lean as a skeleton, when I expected quite the contrary; but the keeper said it was no wonder at all, because the poor beast had not got an ounce of woman's flesh since he came into the parish. This amazed me more than the other, and I was forming to myself a mighty veneration for the ladies, in that quarter of the town; when the keeper went on, and said he wondered the parish would be at the charge of maintaining a lion for nothing. Friend (said I), do you call it nothing to justify the virtue of so many ladies; or has your lion lost his distinguishing faculty? can there be any thing more for the honour of your parish, than that all the ladies married in your church were pure virgins? That is true (said he), and the doctor knows it to his sorrow; for there has not been a couple married in our church since his worship came among us. The virgins hereabouts are too wise to venture the claws of the lion; and because nobody will marry them, have all entered into a vow of virginity; so that in proportion we have much the largest nunnery in the whole town. This manner of ladies entering into a vow of virginity, because they were not virgins, I easily conceived; and my dream told me, that the whole kingdom was full of nunneries plentifully stocked from the same reason.
"We went to see another lion, where we found much company met in the gallery. The keeper told us we should see sport enough, as he called it; and in a little time we saw a young beautiful lady put into the den, who walked up toward the lion with all imaginable security in her countenance, and looked smiling upon her lover and friends in the gallery; which I thought nothing extraordinary, because it was never known that any lion had been mistaken. But, however, we were all disappointed; for the lion lifted up his right paw, which was the fatal sign, and advancing forward, seized her by the arm, and began to tear it. The poor lady gave a terrible shriek, and cried out, "The lion is just, I am no virgin! Oh! Sappho! Sappho!' she could say no more, for the lion gave her the coup de grace by a squeeze in the throat, and she expired at his feet. The keeper dragged away her body, to feed the animal after the company should be gone: for the parish lion never used to eat in publick. After a little pause, another lady came on toward the lion in the same manner as the former. We observed the beast smell her with diligence. He scratched both her hands with lifting them to his nose, and laying one of his claws on her bosom, drew blood; however, he let her go, and at the same time turned from her with a sort of contempt, at which she was not a little mortified, and retired with some confusion to her friends in the gallery. Methought, the whole company immediately understood the meaning of this; that the easiness of the lady had suffered her to admit certain imprudent and dangerous familiarities, bordering too much upon what is criminal; neither was it sure whether the lover then present had not some sharers with him in those freedoms, of which a lady can never be too sparing.
"This happened to be an extraordinary day; for a third lady came into the den, laughing loud, playing with her fan, tossing her head, and smiling round on the young fellows in the gallery. However, the lion leaped on her with great fury, and we gave her for gone; but on a sudden he let go his hold, and turned from her as if he was nauseated; then gave her a lash with his tail; after which she returned to the gallery, not the least out of countenance: and this, it seems, was the usual treatment of coquets.
"I thought we had seen enough; but my friend would needs have us go and visit one or two lions in the city. We called at two or three dens, where they happened not to show; but we generally found half a score young girls, between eight and eleven years old, playing with each lion, sitting on his back, and putting their hands into his mouth; some of them would now and then get a scratch, but we always discovered upon examining, that they had been hoidening with the young apprentices. One of them was calling to a pretty girl about twelve years old, who stood by us in the gallery, to come down to the lion, and, upon her refusal, said, 'Ah! miss Betty, we could never get you to come near the lion, since you played at hoop and hide with my brother in the garret.'
"We followed a couple, with the wedding folks, going to the church of St. Mary-Axe. The lady, though well stricken in years, extremely crooked and deformed, was dressed out beyond the gayety of fifteen; having jumbled together, as I imagined, all the tawdry remains of aunts, godmothers, and grandmothers, for some generations past. One of the neighbours whispered me, that she was an old maid, and had the clearest reputation of any in the parish. There is nothing strange in that, thought I; but was much surprised when I observed afterward, that she went toward the lion with distrust and concern. The beast was lying down; but, upon sight of her, snuffed up his nose two or three times, and then, giving the sign of death, proceeded instantly to execution. In the midst of her agonies, she was heard to name the words Italy and artifices with the utmost horrour, and several repeated execrations, and at last concluded, 'Fool that I was, to put so much confidence in the toughness of my skin!'
"The keeper immediately set all in order again for another customer, which happened to be a famous prude, whom her parents, after long threatenings and much persuasion, had, with the extremest difficulty, prevailed on to accept a young handsome goldsmith, who might have pretended to five times her fortune. The fathers and mothers in the neighbourhood used to quote her for an example to their daughters; her elbows were riveted to her sides, and her whole person so ordered, as to inform every body that she was afraid they should touch her. She only dreaded to approach the lion, because it was a he one, and abhorred to think a male animal should presume to breathe on her. The sight of a man at twenty yards distance made her draw back her head. She always sat upon the farther corner of the chair, although there were six chairs between her and her lover, and with the door wide open, and her little sister in the room. She was never saluted but at the tip of the ear; and her father had much ado to make her dine without her gloves, when there was a man at table. She entered the den with some fear, which we took to proceed from the height of her modesty, offended at the sight of so many men in the gallery. The lion, beholding her at a distance, immediately gave the deadly sign, at which the poor creature (methinks I see her still!) miscarried in a fright before us all. The lion seemed to be as much surprised as we, and gave her time to make her confession; 'That she was five months gone by the foreman of her father's shop, and that this was her third big belly:' and when her friends asked, why she should venture the trial? she said, Her nurse told her, that a lion would never hurt a woman with child." Upon this I immediately awaked, and could not help wishing, that the deputy censors of my late institution, were endued with the same instinct as these parish lions.
THE TATLER. No. 20.
Ingenuas didicisse fideliter artes
From Saturday, March 3, to Tuesday, March 6, 1710.
From my own apartment in Channel-row, March 5.
THOSE inferiour duties of life, which the French call les petites morales, or the smaller morals, are with us distinguished by the name of good manners or breeding. This I look upon, in the general notion of it, to be a sort of artificial good sense, adapted to the meanest capacities, and introduced to make mankind easy in their commerce with each other. Low and little understandings, without some rules of this kind, would be perpetually wandering into a thousand indecencies and irregularities in behaviour; and in their ordinary conversation, fall into the same boisterous familiarities, that one observes among them when a debauch has quite taken away the use of their reason. In other instances it is odd to consider, that for want of common discretion, the very end of good breeding is wholly perverted; and civility, intended to make us easy, is employed in laying chains and fetters upon us, in debarring us of our wishes, and in crossing our most reasonable desires and inclinations. This abuse reigns chiefly in the country, as I found to my vexation when I was last there, in a visit I made to a neighbour about two miles from my cousin. As soon as I entered the parlour, they put me into the great chair that stood close by a huge fire, and kept me there by force until I was almost stifled. Then a boy came in great hurry to pull off my boots, which I in vain opposed, urging that I must return soon after dinner. In the mean time, the good lady whispered her eldest daughter, and slipped a key into her hand; the girl returned instantly with a beer glass half full of aqua mirabilis and syrup of gillyflowers. I took as much as I had a mind for, but madam vowed I should drink it off; for she was sure it would do mc good after conning out of the cold air; and I was forced to obey, which absolutely took away my stomach. When dinner came in, I had a mind to sit at a distance from the fire; but they told me it was as much as my life was worth, and set me with my back just against it. Although my appetite was quite gone, I was resolved to force down as much as I could, and desired the leg of a pullet. "Indeed, Mr. Bickerstaff (says the lady) you must eat a wing, to oblige me;" and so put a couple upon my plate. I was persecuted at this rate during the whole meal; as often as I called for small beer, the master tipped the wink, and the servant brought me a brimmer of october. Some time after dinner, I ordered my cousin's man, who came with me, to get ready the horses; but it was resolved I should not stir that night; and when I seemed pretty much bent upon going, they ordered the stable door to be locked, and the children hid my cloak and boots. The next question was, What would I have for supper? I said, I never eat any thing at night: but was at last, in my own defence, obliged to name the first thing that came into my head. After three hours spent chiefly in apologies for my entertainment, insinuating to me, "That this was the worst time of the year for provisions; that they were at a great distance from any market; that they were afraid I should be starved; and that they knew they kept me to my loss;" the lady went, and left me to her husband; for they took special care I should never be alone. As soon as her back was turned, the little misses ran backward and forward every moment, and constantly as they came in, or went out, made a courtesy directly at me, which, in good manners, I was forced to return with a bow, and Your humble servant, pretty miss. Exactly at eight the mother came up, and discovered, by the redness of her face, that supper was not far off. It was twice as large as the dinner, and my persecution doubled in proportion. I desired at my usual hour to go to my repose, and was conducted to my chamber by the gentleman, his lady, and the whole train of children. They importuned me to drink something before I went to bed; and, upon my refusing, at last left a bottle of stingo as they called it, for fear I should wake and be thirsty in the night. I was forced in the morning to rise and dress myself in the dark, because they would not suffer my kinsman's servant to disturb me at the hour I desired to be called. I was now resolved to break through all measures to get away; and, after sitting down to a monstrous breakfast of cold beef, mutton, neats tongues, venison pasty, and stale beer, took leave of the family. But the gentleman would needs see me part of the way, and carry me a short cut through his own ground, which he told me would save half a mile's riding. This last piece of civility had like to have cost me dear, being once or twice in danger of my neck by leaping over his ditches, and at last forced to alight in the dirt, when my horse, having slipped his bridle, ran away, and took us up more than an hour to recover him again.
It is evident, that none of the absurdities I met with in this visit proceeded from an ill intention, but from a wrong judgment of complaisance, and a misapplication in the rules of it. I cannot so easily excuse the more refined criticks upon behaviour, who, having professed no other study, are yet infinitely defective in the most material parts of it. Ned Fashion has been bred all his life about court, and understands to a tittle all the punctilios of a drawingroom. He visits most of the fine women near St. James's, and upon every occasion, says the civilest and softest things to them of any breathing. To Mr. Isaac he owes an easy slide in his bow, and a graceful manner of coming into a room: but, in some other cases, he is very far from being a wellbred person. He laughs at men of far superiour understanding to his own, for not being as well dressed as himself; despises all his acquaintance who are not of quality, and in publick places has, on that account, often avoided taking notice of some among the best speakers of the house of commons. He rails strenuously at both universities before the members of either; and is never heard to swear an oath, or break in upon religion and morality, except in the company of divines. On the other hand, a man of right sense has all the essentials of good breeding, although he may be wanting in the forms of it. Horatio has spent most of his time at Oxford: he has a great deal of learning, an agreeable wit, and as much modesty as may serve to adorn, without concealing, his other good qualities. In that retired way of living, he seems to have formed a notion of human nature, as he has found it described in the writings of the greatest men, not as he is likely to meet with it in the common course of life. Hence it is that he gives no offence, but converses with great deference, candour, and humanity. His bow, I must confess, is somewhat awkward; but then he has an extensive, universal, and unaffected knowledge, which may, perhaps, a little excuse him. He would make no extraordinary figure at a ball; but I can assure the ladies, in his behalf, and for their own consolation, that he has writ better verses on the sex than any man now living, and is preparing such a poem for the press, as will transmit their praises, and his own, to many generations.
THE TATLER. No. 24.
O Lycida, vivi pervenimus, advena nostri
(Quod nunquam veriti sumus) ut posessor agelli
Diceret, Hæc mea sunt, veteres migrate coloni.
Thursday, March 15, 1710.
From my own apartment in Channel-row, March 14.
THE dignity and distinction of men of wit is seldom enough considered, either by themselves or others; their own behaviour, and the usage they meet with, being generally very much of a piece. I have at this time in my hands an alphabetical list of the beaux esprits about this town, four or five of whom have made the proper use of their genius, by gaining the esteem of the best and greatest men, and by turning it to their own advantage in some establishment of their fortunes, however unequal to their merit; others, satisfying themselves with the honour of having access to great tables, and of being subject to the call of every man of quality, who upon occasion wants one to say witty things for the diversion of the company. This treatment never moves my indignation so much as when it is practised by a person, who though he owes his own rise purely to the reputation of his parts, yet appears to be as much ashamed of it, as a rich city knight to be denominated from the trade he was first apprenticed to; and affects the air of a man born to his titles, and consequently above the character of a wit, or a scholar. If those who possess great endowments of the mind would set a just value upon themselves, they would think no man's acquaintance whatsoever a condescension, nor accept it from the greatest upon unworthy or ignominious terms. I know a certain lord, that has often invited a set of people, and proposed for their diversion a buffoon player, and an eminent poet, to be of the party; and, which was yet worse, thought them both sufficiently recompensed by the dinner, and the honour of his company. This kind of insolence is risen to such a height, that I myself was the other day sent to by a man with a title, whom I had never seen, desiring the favour that I would dine with him and half a dozen of his select friends. I found afterward, the footman had told my maid below stairs, that my lord, having a mind to be merry, had resolved right or wrong to send for honest Isaac. I was sufficiently provoked with the message; however, I gave the fellow no other answer, than that "I believed he had mistaken the person, for I did not remember that his lord had ever been introduced to me." I have reason to apprehend that this abuse has been owing rather to a meanness of spirit in men of parts, than to the natural pride or ignorance of their patrons. Young students, coming up to town from the places of their education, are dazzled with the grandeur they every where meet; and making too much haste to distinguish their parts, instead of waiting to be desired and caressed, are ready to pay their court at any rate to a great man, whose name they have seen in a publick paper, or the frontispiece of a dedication. It has not always been thus; wit in polite ages has ever begot either esteem or fear: the hopes of being celebrated, or the dread of being stigmatised, procured a universal respect and awe for the persons of such as were allowed to have the power of distributing fame or infamy where they pleased. Aretine had all the princes of Europe his tributaries: and when any of them had committed a folly that laid them open to his censure, they were forced by some present extraordinary to compound for his silence; of which there is a famous instance on record. When Charles the Fifth had miscarried in his African expedition, which was looked upon as the weakest undertaking of that great emperor, he sent Aretine a gold chain, who made some difficulty of accepting it, saying, "It was too small a present in all reason for so great a folly." For my own part, in this point I differ from him; and never could be prevailed upon, by any valuable consideration, to conceal a fault or a folly, since I first took the censorship upon me.
THE TATLER. No. 230.
Tuesday, Sept. 28, 1710.
From my own apartment, September 27.
THE following letter has laid before me many great and manifest evils in the world of letters, which I had overlooked; but it opens to me a very busy scene, and it will require no small care and application to amend errours, which are become so universal. The affectation of politeness is exposed in this epistle with a great deal of wit and discernment; so that, whatever discourses I may fall into hereafter upon the subject the writer treats of, I shall at present lay the matter before the world without the least alteration from the words of my correspondent.
"To ISAAC BICKERSTAFF Esq.
"There are some abuses among us of great consequence, the reformation of which is properly your province; although, as far as I have been conversant in your papers, you have not yet considered them. These are, the deplorable ignorance that for some years has reigned among our English writers, the great depravity of our taste, and the continual corruption of our style. I say nothing here of those who handle particular sciences, divinity, law, physick, and the like; I mean the traders in history, and politicks, and the belles lettres, together with those by whom books are not translated, but (as the common expressions are) done out of French, Latin, or other languages, and made English. I cannot but observe to you, that, until of late years, a Grub street book was always bound in sheepskin, with suitable print and paper, the price never above a shilling, and taken off wholly by common tradesmen or country pedlars; but now they appear in all sizes and shapes, and in all places; they are handed about from lapfuls in every coffeehouse to persons of quality; are shown in Westminster-hall and the Court of Requests; you may see them gilt, and in royal paper, of five or six hundred pages, and rated accordingly. I would engage to furnish you with a catalogue of English books, published within the compass of seven years past, which at the first hand would cost you a hundred pounds, wherein you shall not be able to find ten lines together of common grammar, or common sense.
"These two evils, ignorance and want of taste, have produced a third, I mean the continual corruption of our English tongue, which, without some timely remedy, will suffer more by the false refinements of twenty years past, than it has been improved in the foregoing hundred. And this is what I design chiefly to enlarge upon, leaving the former evils to your animadversion.
"But, instead of giving you a list of the late refinements crept into our language, I here send you a copy of a letter I received some time ago from a most accomplished person in this way of writing, upon which I shall make some remarks. It is in these terms:
I cou'dn't get the things you sent for all about town. — I tho't to ha' come down myself, and then I'd ha' bro't 'um; but ha'nt don't, and I believe I can't do't, that's pozz. — Tom begins to g'imself airs, because he's going with the plenipo's. — ’Tis said the French king will bamboozle us agen, which causes many speculations. The Jacks, and others of that kidney, are verry uppish and alert upon't, as you may see by their phizz's. — Will Hazard has got the hipps, having lost to the tune of five hundr'd pound, tho' he understands play very well, nobody better. He has promis't me upon rep to leave off play; but you know 'tis a weakness he's too apt to give into, tho' he has as much wit as any man, nobody more: he has lain incog ever since. — The mobb's very quiet with us now. — I believe you tho't I banter'd you in my last like a country put. — I shan't leave town this month, &c.
"This letter is, in every point, an admirable pattern of the present polite way of writing; nor is it of less authority for being an epistle: you may gather every flower of it, with a thousand more of equal sweetness, from the books, pamphlets, and single papers, offered us every day in the coffeehouses. And these are the beauties introduced to supply the want of wit, sense, humour, and learning, which formerly were looked upon as qualifications for a writer. If a man of wit, who died forty years ago, were to rise from the grave on purpose, how would he be able to read this letter? and after he had gone through that difficulty, how would he be able to understand it? The first thing that strikes your eye, is the breaks at the end of almost every sentence; of which I know not the use, only that it is a refinement, and very frequently practised. Then you will observe the abbreviations and elisions, by which consonants of most obdurate sounds are joined together without one softening vowel to intervene: and all this only to make one syllable of two, directly contrary to the example of the Greeks and Romans; altogether of the Gothick strain, and of a natural tendency toward relapsing into barbarity, which delights in monosyllables, and uniting of mute consonants, as it is observable in all the Northern languages. And this is still more visible in the next refinement, which consists in pronouncing the first syllable in a word that has many, and dismissing the rest; such as phizz, hipps, mobb, pozz, rep, and many more; when we are already overloaded with monosyllables, which are the disgrace of our language. Thus we cram one syllable, and cut off the rest; as the owl fattened her mice after she had bit off their legs, to prevent them from running away; and if ours be the same reason for maiming words, it will certainly answer the end; for I am sure no other nation will desire to borrow them. Some words are hitherto bet fairly split, and therefore only in their way to perfection, as incog and plenipo; but in a short time, it is to be hoped, they will be further docked to inc and plen. This reflection has made me of late years very impatient for a peace, which I believe would save the lives of many brave words as well as men. The war has introduced abundance of polysyllables, which will never be able to live many more campaigns. Speculations, operations, preliminaries, ambassadors, palisadoes, communications, circumvallations, battalions, as numerous as they are, if they attack us too frequently in our coffeehouses, we shall certainly put them to flight, and cut off the rear.
"The third refinement observable in the letter I send you, consists in the choice of certain words invented by some pretty fellows, such as banter, bamboozle, country put, and kidney, as it is there applied; some of which are now struggling for the vogue, and others are in possession of it. I have done my utmost for some years past to stop the progress of mob and banter, but have been plainly born down by numbers, and betrayed by those who promised to assist me.
"In the last place, you are to take notice of certain choice phrases scattered through the letter; some of them tolerable enough, till they were worn to rags by servile imitators. You might easily find them, although they were not in a different print, and therefore I need not disturb them.
"These are the false refinements in our style, which you ought to correct: first, by arguments and fair means; but if those fail, I think you are to make use of your authority as censor, and by an annual index expurgatorius expunge all words and phrases that are offensive to good sense, and condemn those barbarous mutilations of vowels and syllables. In this last point the usual pretence is, that they spell as they speak: a noble standard for language! to depend upon the caprice of every coxcomb, who, because words are the clothing of our thoughts, cuts them out and shapes them as he pleases, and changes them oftener than his dress. I believe all reasonable people would be content, that such refiners were more sparing of their words, and liberal in their syllables. On this head I should be glad you would bestow some advice upon several young readers in our churches, who, coming up from the university full fraught with admiration of our town politeness, will needs correct the style of our prayerbooks. In reading the absolution, they are very careful to say pardons and absolves, and in the prayer for the royal family it must be endue'um, enrich'um, prosper'um, and bring'um; then in their sermons they use all the modern terms of art, sham, banter, mob, bubble, bully, cutting, shuffling, and palming; all which, and many more of the like stamp, as I have heard them often in the pulpit from some young sophisters, so I have read them in some of those sermons that have made a great noise of late. The design, it seems, is to avoid the dreadful imputation of pedantry; to show us that they know the town, understand men and manners, and have not been poring upon old unfashionable books in the university.
"I should be glad to see you the instrument of introducing into our style that simplicity, which is the best and truest ornament of most things in human life; which the, politer ages always aimed at in their building and dress (simplex munditiis) as well as their productions of wit. It is manifest that all new affected modes of speech, whether borrowed from the court, the town, or the theatre, are the first perishing parts in any language; and, as I could prove by many hundred instances, have been so in ours. The writings of Hooker, who was a country clergyman, and of Parsons the jesuit, both in the reign of queen Elizabeth, are in a style, that, with very few allowances, would not offend any present reader; much more clear and intelligible, than those of sir Henry Wotton, sir Robert Naunton, Osborn, Daniel the historian, and several others who writ later; but being men of the court, and affecting the phrases then in fashion, they are often either not to be understood, or appear perfectly ridiculous.
"What remedies are to be applied to these evils I have not room to consider, having, I fear, already taken up most of your paper: besides, I think it is our office only to represent abuses, and yours to redress them.
"I am, with great respect,
- "When the amiable character of the dean is acknowledged to be drawn for Dr. Atterbury, I hope I need say no more as to my impartiality." Mr. Steele's Preface to his fourth volume of Tatlers. N.
- "Steele, the rogue, has done the impudentest thing in the world: he said something in a Tatler, that we ought to use the word Great Britain, and not England, in common conversation, as, 'the finest lady in Great Britain,' &c. Upon this, Rowe, Prior, and I, sent him a letter, turning this into ridicule. He has to day printed the letter, and signed it J. S. M. P. and N. R. the first letters of all our names." Journal to Stella, Dec. 2, 1710. — The dean observes, in another place, "The modern phrase 'Great Britain is only to distinguish it from Little Britain, where old clothes and old books are to be bought and sold." Letter to Alderman Barber, Aug. 8, 1738.
- The two following Tatlers are not in the four volumes published by sir Richard Steele; but are taken from the one published by Mr. Harrison.
- A famous dancingmaster in those days.
- "Little Harrison came to me, and begged me to dictate a paper to him; which I was forced in charity to do." Journal to Stella, March 14. N.
- There is a letter of his extant in which he makes his boast, that he had laid the sophi of Persia under contribution. Spectator, No. 23.
- It is very remarkable, that, notwithstanding the ridicule so justly thrown by our author on barbarous contractions, he constantly fell into that errour in his private letters to Stella.
- Some other Tatlers by the dean will be found in the eighteenth volume of this collection.