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I always merry, I should lose the other. I make it therefore my endeavour to find out entertainménts of both kinds, and by that means perhaps consult the good of both, more than I should do, did I always write to the particular taste of either. As they neither of them know what I proceed up. on, the 1prightly reader, who takes up my paper in order to be diverted, very often finds himself engaged unawares in a ferious and profitable course of thinking; as, on the contrary, the thoughtful man, who perhaps may hope to find something folid, and full of deep reflection, is very often infenfibly betrayed into a fit of mirth. In a word, the reader sits down to my entertainment without knowing his bill of fare, and has therefore at least the pleasure of hoping there may be a dish to his palate.
I must confess, were I left to myself, I fhould rather aim at instructing than diverting; but if we will be useful to the world, we must take it as we find it. Authors of professed severity discourage the looser part of mankind from having any thing to do with their writings. : A man must have virtue in him, before he will enter upon the reading of a Seneca or an Epictetus. The very title of a moral treatise bas something in it austere and shocking to the careless and inconfiderate.
For this reason several unthinking persons fall in my way, who would give 'no attention to lectures delivered with a religious seriousness or a philofophick gravity. They are insnared into sentiments of wisdom and virtue when they do not think of it; and if by that means they arrive only at such a degree of consideration as may dispose them to listen to more studied and elaborate discourses, I shall not think my speculations useless. I might likewise obferve, that the gloominess in which sometimes the minds of the best men are involved, very often stands in need of such little incitements to mirth
and laughter, as are apt to disperse melancholy, and put our faculties in good humour. To which fome will add, that the Britiso climate, more than any other, makes entertainments of this nature in a manner neceffary.
If what I have here said does not recommend, it will at least excuse the variety of my speculations, I would not willingly laugh but in order to instruct, or if I sometimes fail in this point, when my mirth ceases to be instructive, it thall never cease to be in
A scrupulous conduct in this particular, has, perhaps, more merit in it than the generality of readers imagine ; did they know how many thoughts occur in a point of humour, which a dilcreet author in modesty suppresses; how many ftrokes of rallery present themselves, which could not fail to please the ordinary taste of mankind, but are stified in their birth by reason of some remote tendency which they carry in them to corrupt the minds of those who read them; did they know how many glances of ill-nature are industriously dvoided for fear of doing injury to the reputation of another, they would be apt to think kindly of those writers who endeavour to make themselves diverting, without being immoral. One may apply to these authors that passage in Waller,
Poets lose half the praise they would have got,
As nothing is more easy than to be a wit, with · all the abovementioned liberties, it requires fome genius and invention to appear such without them.
What I have here said is not only in regard to the publick, but with an eye to my particular correspondent, who has sent me the following letter, which I have castrated in some places upon these confiderations.
: HAving lately seen your discourse upon a matcha
of grinning, I cannot forbear giving you an account of a whistling match, which, with many « others, I was entertained with about three years « fince at the Bath. The prize was a guinea, to be • conferred upon the ableft whistler, that is, on him who could whistle clearest, and go through his
without laughing, to which at the same time he was provoked by the antick postures of a
Merry-Andreiu, who was to stand upon the stage • and play his tricks in the eye of the performer. • There were three competitors for the ring. The • first was a ploughman of a very promising aspect; • his features were steady, and his muscles compossed in so inflexible a stupidity, that upon his first
appearance every one gave the guinea for loft. • The Pickled Herring however found the way to • shake him ; for upon his whistling a country-jig. · this unlucky wag danced to it with such variety : of distortions and grimaces, that the countryman. I could not forbear smiling upon him, and by that means spoiled his whistle, and lost the prize.
· The next that mounted the stage was an under• citizen of the Bath, a person remarkable among s the inferiour people of that place for his great I wisdom and his broad band. He contracted his . mouth with much gravity, and that he might dif
pose his mind to be more serious than ordinary, begun the tune of The Children in the wood, and went through part of it with good fuccefs; when
on a sudden the wit at his elbow, who had ap• peared wonderfully grave and attentive for some ' time, gave him a touch upon the left shoulder, « and stared him in the face with so bewitching a
grin, that the whistler relaxed his fibres into a • kind of fimper, and at length burst out into an open laugh. The third who entered the lists was a footman, who, in defiance of the Merry-Andrew VOL. III,
and all his arts, whistled a Scotch tune, and an • Italian fonata, with so settled a countenance, that • he bore away the prize, to the great admiration
of fome hundreds of persons, who, as well as myself, were present at this trial of skill. Now,
Sir, I humbly conceive, whatever you have de• termined of the grinners, the whistlers ought to • be encouraged, not only as their art is practifed • without distortion, but as it improves country
mulick, promotes gravity, and teaches ordinary people to keep their countenances, if they see any
thing ridiculous in their betters; besides that it • seems an entertainment very particularly adapted
to the Bath, as it is usual for a rider to whistle to his horle when he would make his waters pass.
I am, Sir, &c.
- After having dispatched these two important prints of grinning and whistling, I hope you will oblige the world with some reflections upon yawning, as I have feen it practised on a twelfth-night among other Christmas gambols at the house of a
very worthy Gentleman, who always entertains « his tenants at that time of the year. They yawn « for a Cheshire cheese, and begin about midnight, • when the whole company is disposed to be drou
fy. He that yawns widest, and at the same time • fo naturally as to produce the moft yawns ainong • the spectators, carries home the cheese. If you "handle this subject as you ought, I question not * but your paper will fet half the kingdom a yawn• ing, though I dare promise you it will never make any body fall asleep.
NO 180. WEDNESDAY,
Delirant reges, plectuntur Achivi.
Hor. Ep. II. lib. i. v. 14. The people suffer when the prince offends.
HE following letter has so much weight and
good fenfe, that I cannot forbear interting it, though it relates to an hardened finner, whom I have very little hopes of reforming, viz. Lewis XIV, of France.
• Mr. SPECTATOR, : A Midst the variety of fubjcds of which you
have treated, I could with it had fallen in your way, to expose the viinity of conquests. • This thought would naturally lead one to the
French King, who has been generally esteemed • the greatest conqueror of our age, until her Majesty's armies had torn from him so many of his
countries, and deprived him of the fruit of all • his former victories, For my own part, if I were
to draw his picture, I should be for taking him
no lower than to the peace of Rewick, just at the ' end of his triumphs, and before his reverse of • fortune : And even then I should not forbear
thinking his ambition had been rain and unpro• fitable to himself and his people.
• As for himself, it is certain he can have gain' ed nothing by his conquests, if they have not
rendered hiin master of more subjects, more ' riches, or greater power. What I thall be able . to offer upon these heads, I resolve to submit to ' your confideration.
To begin then with his increase of subjects. From the time he came of age, and has been a manager for himfelf, all the people he had ac