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they should keep running asses at Coleshill, or how making mouths turn 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 fellow's within ten miles of the Swan, grin an hour or two in their glasses every morning, in crder to qualify themselves for the 9h of October. The prize which is proposed to be grinned for, has raised such an ambition among the common people of outgrinning one another, that many very disceruing persons are af aid it should spoil most of the faces in the county; and that a War-, wickshire man will be known by his grin, as RomanCatholics 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 grinner
In the mean while I would advise a Dutch painter to be present at this great controversy of faces, in order to make a co.lection 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 Namur, * amidst other public rejoicing made on that occasion, there was a gold
* Namur was taken from the French Sept. 1, 1695, by King WILLIAM, in the sight of an army of 100,000 men, which the King of France had sent to relieve it.
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 deat!, “ Grinn'd horribly a ghasily 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 apprised by one who stood near him, that the fellow who grinned 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 grinner 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 lanthornjaws, 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 tu be set aside as a cheat.
The prize, it seems, at length fell upon a cobler, 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 fe ture out of h s c untenance, at the second he became the face of a spout, at the t'ord a baboon, at the fourth a head of a bass viol, and at the fifth a pair of nut-crackers. The whole assembịy wondered at his accomplishments, and bestowed the ring on h m unanimously ; but, what he esteemed more than all the rest, a country wench, whom he had wooed in vain for above five years before, was so charmed with his grins, and the appla ses which he received on all sides, that she married him the week following, and to this day wears the prize upon her finger, the cobler having made use of it as his wedding ring.
This paper might perhaps seem very iinpertinent, if it grew serious in the conclus on. I would nevertheless leave it to the cons.deration of those who are the patrons of this monstrous trial of skill, whether or no they are not guilty, in some measure, of an affiont to the 'r species, in treating after this manner, the bumun juce 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.
* The foregoing paper had such an effect, that on publishing it, the p:oposed grinning-match was laid aside.
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 19, 1711.
Hæc memini & vi&tum frustra contendere THYRSIN.
VIRG. ECL, vii. 69.
ON THE COMPARATIVE MERIT OF COUNTRY GENTLEMEN
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 the case of the landed and trading interest 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 COVERLY apd 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 was a proverbial phrase to intimate breach of leagues. Sir Roger said it could hardly be otherwise: that the Carthaginians were the
* Liviä Hist. Dec, I. Lib. i. cap. 2.
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 obtain 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 for 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 their own happiness; and on the other side, he, who is the less at his ease, repines at the other, who he thinks has unjustly the advantage over him. Thus the civil and military lists look upon each other with much ill-nature; the soldier repines at the courtier's power, and the courtier rallies the soldier's honour; or, to come to lower instances, the private men in the horse and foot of an army, the carmen and coachmen in the city streets, mutually look upon each other with ill-will, when they are in competition for quarters, or the way, in their resepctive motions.
It is very well, good Captain, interrrupted Sir AnDKEW: you may attempt to turn the discourse if you think fit; but I must however have a word or two with Sir Roger, who, I see, thinks he has paid me off, and been very severe upon the merchant. I shall not, con-tinued he, at this time remind Sir Roger of the great