« НазадПродовжити »
As nothing is more easy than to be a wit with all the abovementioned liberties, it requires some genius and invention to appear such without them.
What I have here said is not only in regard to the public, but with an eye to my particular correspondent, who has sent me the following letter, which I have castrated in some places upon these considerations.
“ HAVING lately seen your discourse upon a match of grinning, I cannot forbear giving you an account of a whistling match, which, with many others, I was entertained with about three years since at the Bath. The prize was a guinea, to be conferred upon the ablest whistler, that is, on him who could whistle clearest, and go through his tune without laughing, to which at the same time he was provoked by the antic postures of a Merry-Andrew, who was to stand upon the stage and play his tricks in the eye of the performer. There were three competitors for the guinea. The first was a plowman of a very promising aspect; his features were steady, and his muscles composed in so inflexible a stupidity, that
that upon his first appearance every one gave the guinea for lost. 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 could not forbear smiling upon him, and by that means spoil, ed his whistle and lost the prize.
“ The next that mounted the stage was an undercitizen of the Bath, a person remarkable among the inferior people of that place for his great wisdom and his broad band.' He contracted his mouth with much gravity, and, that he might dispose his mind to be more serious than ordinary, begun the tune of the chil. dren in the wood,' and went through part of it with good success; when on a sudden the wit at his elbow, who had appeared 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 simper, and at length burst out into an open laugh. The third who entered the lists was a foot-man, who in defiance of the Merry-Andrew, and all his arts, whistled a Scotch tune and an Italian sonata, with so settled a countenance, that he bore away the prize, to the great admiration of some hundreds of persons, who, as well as myself, were present at this trial of skill. Now, sir, I humbly conceive, whatever you have determined of the grinners, the whistlers ought to be encouraged, not only as their art is practised without distortion, but as it improves country music, promotes gravity, and teaches ordinary people to keep their countenances, if they see any thing ridi. culous 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 horse when he would make his waters pass.
I am, Sir,” &c.
POSTSCRIPT. “ After you have dispatched these two important points of grinning and whistling, I hope you will oblige the world with some reflections upon yawning, as I have seen 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 mid-night, when the whole company is disposed to be drowsy. He that yawns widest, and at the same time so naturally as to produce the most yawns among the spectators, carries home the cheese. If you handle this subject as you ought, I question not but your paper will set half the kingdom a yawning, though I dare promise you it will never make any body fall asleep.'
No. 181. THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 27.
His lacrymis pitam damus, et miserescimus ultrò.
VIRG. I am more pleased with a letter that is filled with touches of nature than of wit. The following one is of this
SIR, « AMONG all the distresses which happen in families, I do not remember that you have touched upon the marriage of children without the consent of their parents. I am one of these unfortunate persons.
I was about fifteen when I took the liberty to chuse for myself; and have ever since languished under the displeasure an inexorable father, who, though he sees me happy in the best of husbands, and blessed with very fine children, can never be prevailed upon to forgive me. He was so kind to me before this unhappy accident, that indeed it makes my breach of duty, in some measure inexcusable; and at the same time, creates in me such a tenderness towards him, that I love him above all things, and would die to be reconciled to him. I have thrown myself at his feet, and besought him with tears to pardon me; but he always pushes me away, and spurns me from him : I have written several letters to him, but he will neither open nor receive them. About two years ago I sent my little boy to him, dressed in a new apparel ; but the child returned to me crying, because he said his grand-father would not see him, and had ordered him to be put out of his house. My mother is won over to my side, but dares not mention me to my father for fear of provoking him. About a month ago he lay sick upon his bed, and in great danger of his life: I was pierced to the heart at the news, and could not forbear going to inquire after his health, My mother took this opportunity of speaking in my behalf: she told him with abundance of tears, that I
was come to see him, that I could not speak to her for weeping, and that I should certainly break my heart if he refused at that time to give me his blessing, and be reconciled to me. He was so far from relenting towards me, that he bid her speak no more of me, unless she had a mind to disturb him in his last moments; for, sir, you must know that he has the reputation of an honest and religious man, which makes my misfortune so much the greater. God be thanked he is since recovered : but his severe usage has given me such a blow, that I shall soon sink under it, unless I may be relieved by any impressions which the reading of this in your paper may make upon him.
I am," &c.
Of all hardnesses of heart, there is none so inexcusable as that of parents towards their children. An obstinate, inflexible, unforgiving temper is odious upon all occasions, but here it is unnatural. The love, tenderness, and compassion which are apt to arise in us, towards those who depend upon us, is that by which the whole world of life is upheld. The Supreme Being, by the transcendent excellency and goodness of his nature, extends his mercy towards all his works; and because his creatures have not such a spontaneous benevolence and compassion towards those who are under their care and protection, he has implanted in them an instinct, that supplies the place of this inherent goodness. I have illustrated this kind of instinct in former papers, and have shewn how it runs through all the species of brute creatures, as indeed the whole animal creation subsists by it.
This instinct in man is more general and uncircumscribed than in brutes, as being enlarged by the dictates of reason and duty. For if we consider ourselves attentively, we shall find that we are not only inclined to love those who decend from us, but that we bear a kind of (copyri) or, natural affection, to every thing which relies upon us for its good and preservation. Dependance is a perpetual call upon humanity, and a greater incitement to tenderness and pity than any other motive whatsoever.
The man therefore who, notwithstanding any passion or resentment, can overcome this powerful instinct, and extinguish natural affection, debases his mind even below brutality, frustrates, as much as in him lies, the great design of Providence, and strikes out of his nature one of the most divine principles that is planted in it.
Among innumerable arguments which might be brought against such an unreasonable proceeding, I shall only insist on one.
We make it the condition of our forgiveness that we forgive others. In our very prayers we desire no more than to be treated by this kind of retaliation. The case therefore before us seems to be what they call a case in point ; the relation between the child and father being what comes nearest to that between a creature and its creator. If the father is inexorable to the child who has offended, let the offence be of never so high a nature, how will he address himself to the Supreme Being, under the tender appellation of a father, and desire of him such a forgiveness as he himself refuses to grant ?
To this I might add many other religious, as well as many prudential considerations; but if the last mentioned motive does not prevail, i despair of succeeding by any other, and shall therefore conclude my paper with a very remarkable story, which is recorded in an old chronicle published by Freher among the writers of the German history.
Eginhart, who was secretary to Charles the Great, became exceeding popular by his behaviour in that post. His great abilities gained him the favour of his master, and the esteem of the whole court. Imma, the daughter of the emperor, was so pleased with his person and conversation, that she fell in love with him.
As she was one of the greatest beauties of the age, Eginhart answered her with a more than equal return of passion. They stifled their flames for some time, under apprehension of the fatal consequences that might ensue. Eginhart at length resolving to hazard all, rather than live deprived of one whom his heart was so much set upon, conveyed himself one night into the princess's apartment, and knocking gently at the door, was admitted as a