Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

sensibly into the chin; which was not taken notice of (their thoughts being so much employed upon the more noble features) till it became almost too long to be remedied.

But length of time, and successive care in our alliances, have cured this also, and reduced our faces into that toler-> able oval which we enjoy at present. I would not be tedious in this discourse, but cannot but observe, that our race suffered very much about three hundred years ago, by the marriage of one of her heiresses with an eminent courtier, who gave us spindle shanks, and cramps in our bones, inso: much that we did not recover our health and legs till Sir Walter Bickerstaff married Maud the milk-maid, of whom the then Garter king at arms (a facetious person) said pleas antly enough, that she had spoiled our blood, but mended our constitutions.

After this account of the effect our prudent choice of matches has had upon our persons and features, I cannot but observe, that there are daily instances of as great changes made by marriage upon men's minds and humours. One might wear any passion out of a family by culture, as skilful gardeners blot a colour out of a tulip that hurts its beauty. One might produce an affable temper out of a shrew, by grafting the mild upon the choleric; or raise a jack-pudding

; from a prude, by inoculating mirth and melancholy. It is for want of care in the disposing of our children, with regard to our bodies and minds, that we go into an house and see such different complexions and humours in the same race and family. But to me it is as plain as a pikestaff, from what mixture it is, that this daughter silently lowers, the other steals a kind look at you, a third is exactly well behaved, a fourth a splenetic, and a fifth a coquette.

In this disposal of my sister, I have chosen with an eye to her being

a wit, and provided that the bridegroom be a man of sound and excellent judgment, who will seldom mind what she says when she begins to harangue: for Jenny's only imperfection is an admiration of her parts, which inclines her to be a little, but a very little, sluttish; and you are ever to remark, that we are apt to cultivate most, and bring into observation, what we think most excellent in ourselves, or most capable of improvement. Thus my sister,

a

a

a

· The rest of this paper by Sir Richard Steele.

a

instead of consulting her glass and her toilet for an hour and an half after her private devotion, sits with her nose full of snuff, and a man's nightcap on her head, reading plays and romances. Her wit she thinks her distinction; therefore knows nothing of the skill of dress, or making her person agreeable. It would make you laugh, to see me often with my spectacles on lacing her stays; for she is so very a wit, that she understands no ordinary thing in the world.

For this reason I have disposed of her to a man of business, who will soon let her see, that to be well dressed, in good humour, and cheerful in the command of her family, are the arts and sciences of female life. I could have bestowed her upon a fine gentleman, who extremely admired her wit, and would have given her a coach and six; but I found it absolutely necessary to cross the strain; for had they met, they had eternally been rivals in discourse, and in continual contention for the superiority of understanding, and brought forth critics, pedants, or pretty good poets.

As it is, I expect an offspring fit for the habitation of city, town, or country; creatures that are docile and tractable in whatever we put them to.

To convince men of the necessity of taking this method, let any one, even below the skill of an astrologer, behold the turn of faces he meets as soon as he passes Cheapside conduit, and you see a deep attention and a certain unthinking sharpness in every countenance. They look attentive, but their thoughts are engaged on mean purposes. To me it is very apparent, when I see a citizen pass by, whether his head is upon woollen, silks, iron, sugar, indigo, or stocks. Now this trace of thought appears or lies hid in the race for two or three generations.

I know at this time a person of a vast estate, who is the immediate descendant of a fine gentleman, but the greatgrandson of a broker, in whom his ancestor is now revived. He is a very honest gentleman in his principles, but cannot for his blood talk fairly: he is heartily sorry for it; but he cheats by constitution, and over-reaches by instinct.

The happiness of the man who marries my sister will be, that he has no faults to correct in her but her own, a little bias of fancy, or particularity of manners, which grew in herself, and can be amended by her. From such an untainted couple, we can hope to have our family rise to its ancient

a

splendour of face, air, countenance, manner, and shape, without discovering the product of ten nations in one house, Obadiah Greenhat

says,
he never comes into any company.

in England, but he distinguishes the different nations of which we are composed: there is scarce such a living creature as a true Briton. We sit down indeed all friends, acquaintance, and neighbours ; but after two bottles, you see a Dane start up and swear, “The kingdom is his own.

A Saxon drinks up the whole quart, and swears, “He will dispute that with him.” A Norman tells them both, “ He will assert his liberty;" and a Welshman cries, “They are all foreigners, and intruders of yesterday,” and beats them out of the room. Such accidents happen frequently among neighbours' children and cousin-germans. For which reason, I say, study your race, or the soil of your family will dwindle into cits or ?squires, or run up into wits or madmen.

[Sir Richard Steele assisted in this paper.' T.]

No. 81. SATURDAY, OCTOBER 15, 1709.

Hic manus ob patriam pugnando vulnera passi,
Quique pii Vates et Phæbo digna locuti,
Inventas aut qui vitam excoluere per artes,
Quique sui memores alios fecere merendo. VIRG.

From my own Apartment, 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 foupders 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 them 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 it's particulars.

1 It is an absurd practice for two men of wit, let their talents be what they will, to write in concert. The effect, at best, can be only the production of a motley, discordant piece, though the contributions of each, taken separately, be ever so excellent. But when two such writers as Mr. A. and Sir R. Steele join in composing one of these papers, the misalliance is not only great, but the contrast

ridiculous.

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 an 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 exceeding sweet and harmonious, that it 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 music 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, amidst 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 towards the mountain; from? whence they

' Plain, that was covered.] Better say, “plain covered”-to avoid the double relative—" that was covered-which no man could number.”

? From is redundant, and had better been omitted.

a

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 music. 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 bad 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 mechanic art or liberal science, which was not made use of on this occasion. My good dæmon, 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 further: 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 by-ways 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 politics, 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.1 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

'i. e. Were able to be ever able. It should have been, or could after wards recover.”

a

« ZurückWeiter »