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in the evening. Also a plate of less value to be run for by asses. The same day a gold ring to be grinn'd for by men.'
The first of these diversions that is to be exhibited by the 101. race-horses, may probably have its use; but the two last, in which the asses and men are concerned, seem to me altogether extraordinary and unaccountable. Why they should keep running asses at Coleshill, or how making mouths turns to account in Warwickshire, more than in any other parts of England, I cannot comprehend. I have looked over all the Olympic games, and do not find any thing in them like an ass-race, or a match at grinning. However it be, I am informed that several asses are now kept in body-clothes, and sweated every morning upon the heath ; and that all the country-fellows within ten miles of the Swan grin an hour or two in their glasses every morning, in order to qualify themselves for the 9th of October. The prize which is proposed to be grinned for has raised such an ambition among the common people of out-grinning one another, that many very discerning persons are afraid it should spoil most of the faces in the county; and that a Warwickshire man will be known by his grin, as Roman-catholics imagine a Kentish man is by his tail. The gold ring, which is made the prize of deformity, is just the reverse of the golden apple that was formerly made the prize of beauty, and should carry for its poesy the old motto inverted :
* Detur tetriori. Or, to accommodate it to the capacity of the combatants,
The frightfull'st grinuer
In the meanwhile I would advise a Dutch painter to be present at this great controversy of faces, in order to make a collection of the most remarkable grins that shall be there exhibited.
I must not here omit an account which I lately received of one of these grinning-matches from a gentleman, who, upon reading the above-mentioned advertisement, entertained a coffee-house with the following narrative : Upon the taking of Namure, amidst other public rejoicings made on that occasion, there was a gold ring given by a whig justice of peace to be grinned for. The first competitor that entered the lists was a black swarthy Frenchman, who accidentally passed that way; and being a man naturally of a withered look, and hard features, promised himself good success. He was placed upon a table in the great point of view, and looking upon the company like Milton's Death,
Grinn'd horribly a ghastly smile :
His muscles were so drawn together on each side of his face, that he shewed twenty teeth at a grin, and put the country in some pain, lest a foreigner should carry away the honour of the day; but upon a farther trial they found he was master only of the merry grin.
The next that mounted the table was a malecontent in those days, and a great master in the whole art of grinning, but particularly excelled in the angry grin. He did his part so well, that he is said to have made half a dozen women miscarry; but the justice being apprized by one who stood near him, that the fellow who rinned in his face was a Jacobite, and being unwilling that a disaffected person should win the gold ring, and be looked upon as the best grinner in the country, he ordered
the oaths to be tendered unto him upon his quitting the table, which the gripner refusing, he was set aside as an unqualified
person. There were several other grotesque figures, that presented themselves, which it would be too tedious to describe. I must not however omit a ploughman, who lived in the farther part of the country, and being very lucky in a pair of long lantern-jaws, wrung his face into such an hideous grimace, that every feature of it appeared under a different distortion. The whole company stood astonished at such a complicated grin, and were ready to assign the prize to him, had it not been proved by one of his antagonists that he had practised with verjuice for some days before, and had a crab found upon him at the very time of grinning; upon which the best judges of grinning declared it as their opinion, that he was not to be looked upon as a fair grinner, and therefore ordered him to be set aside as a cheat.
The prize, it seems, at length fell upon a cobbler, Giles Gorgon by name, who produced several new grins of his own invention, having been used to cut faces for many years together over his last. At the very first grin he cast every human feature out of his countenance, at the second he became the face of a spout, at the third a baboon, at the fourth a head of a bass-viol, and at the fifth a pair of nutcrackers. The whole assembly wondered at his accomplishments, and bestowed the ring unanimously; but, what he esteemed more than all the rest, a country wench, whom he wooed in vain for above five years before, was so charmed with his grins, and the applauses which he received on all sides, that she married him the week following, and to this day wears the prize upon her finger, the cobbler having made use of it as his wedding ring.
This paper might perhaps seem very impertinent, if it grew serious in the conclusion. I would nevertheless leave to the consideration of those who are the patrons of this monstrous trial of skill, whether or no they are not guilty, in some measure, of an affront to their species, in treating after this manner the human face divine,' and turning that part of us, which has so great an image impressed upon it, into the image of a monkey; whether the raising such silly competitions among the ignorant, proposing prizes for such useless accomplishments, filling the common people's heads with such senseless ambitions, and inspiring them with such absurd ideas of superiority and pre-eminence, has not in it something immoral as well as ridiculous. L.
No 174. WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 19, 1711.
Hæc memini et victum frustra contendere Thyrsin.
VIRG. Ecl, vii. 69.
THERE is scarce any thing more common than animosities between parties that cannot subsist but by their agreement: this was well represented in the sedition of the members of the human body in the old Roman fable.* It is often the case of lesser confederate states against a superior power, which are hardly held together, though their unanimity is necessary for their common safety; and this is always
* Livii Hist. Dec. I. Lib. ii. cap. ii.,
the case of the landed and trading interests of Great Britain: the trader is fed by the product of the land, and the landed man cannot be clothed but by the skill of the trader; and yet those interests are ever jarring.
We had last winter an instance of this at our club, in Sir Roger de Coverley and Sir Andrew Freeport, between whom there is generally a constant, though friendly, opposition of opinions. It happened that one of the company, in an historical discourse, was observing that Carthaginian faith
a proverbial phrase to intimate breach of leagues. Sir Roger said it could hardly be otherwise: that the Carthaginians were the greatest traders in the world; and as gain is the chief end of such a people, they never pursue any other : the means to it are never regarded : they will, if it comes easily, get money honestly; but if not, they will not scruple to attain it by fraud, or cozenage : and indeed, what is the whole business of the trader's account, but to over-reach him who trusts to his memory? But were not that so, what can there great and noble be expected from him whose attention is ever fixed upon balancing his books, and watching over his expences ? And at best, let frugality and parsimony be the virtues of the merchant, how much is his punctual dealing below a gentleman's charity to the poor, or hospitality among his neighbours ?
Captain Sentry observed Sir Andrew very diligent in hearing Sir Roger, and had a mind to turn the discourse, by taking notice in general, from the highest to the lowest parts of human society, there was a secret, though unjust, way among men, of indulging the seeds of ill-nature and envy, by comparing their own state of life to that of another, and grudging the approach of their neighbour to