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NOT LIFE, BUT GOOD LIFE.
it is impossible we should take delight in any thing that we are every moment afraid of losing.
I do not mean, by what I have here said, that I think any one to blame for taking due care of their health. On the contrary, as chearfulness of mind and capacity for business are in a great measure the effects of a well-tempered constitution, a man cannot be at too much pains to cultivate and preserve it. But this care, which we are prompted to not only by common sense but by
duty and instinct, should never engage us in groundless fears, 10 melancholy apprehensions, and imaginary distempers, which
are natural to every man who is more anxious to live than how to live. In short, the preservation of life should be only a secondary concern, and the direction of it our principal. If we have this frame of mind, we shall take the best means to preserve life, without being over solicitous about the event; and shall arrive at that point of felicity which Martial has mentioned as the perfection of happiness, of neither fearing nor wishing for death n.
In answer to the gentleman, who tempers his health by ounces 20 and by scruples, and, instead of complying with those natural
solicitations of hunger and thirst, drowsiness or love of exercise, governs himself by the prescriptions of his chair, I shall tell him a short fable. Jupiter, says the mythologist, to reward the piety of a certain countryman, promised to give him whatever he would ask. The countryman desired that he might have the management of the weather in his own estate. He obtained his request, and immediately distributed rain, snow, and sun-shine, among his several fields, as he thought the nature of the soil required.
At the end of the year, when he expected to see a more than or30 dinary crop, his harvest fell infinitely short of that of his neigh
bours: upon which, (says the fable,) he desired Jupiter to take the weather again into his own hands, or that otherwise he should utterly ruin himself.-C.
No. 28. On Sign-posts; their oddity and incongruity; two letters on the subject.
Neque semper arcum
HOR. Op. ii. 10.
a new office which he thinks may very much contribute to the embellishment of the city, and to the driving barbarity out of our streets.
I consider it as a satire upon projectors in general, and a lively picture of the whole art of modern
“Observing that you have thoughts of creating certain officers under you, for the inspection of several petty enormities which
you yourself cannot attend to, and finding daily absurdities 10 hung out upon the sign-posts of this city, to the great scandal of
foreigners, as well as those of our own country, who are curious spectators of the same.--I do humbly propose, that you would be pleased to make me your superintendant of all such figures and devices as are or shall be made use of on this occasion ; with full powers to rectify or expunge whatever I shall find irregular or defective. For want of such an officer, there is nothing like sound literature and good sense to be met with in these objects, that are every where thrusting themselves out to the eye, and endea
vouring to become visible. Our streets are filled with blue boars, 20 black swans, and red lions; not to mention flying pigs, hogs in
armour, with many other creatures more extraordinary than any in the deserts of Afric. Strange! that one who has all the birds and beasts in nature to chuse out of, should live at the sign of an
ens rationis !
“My first task, therefore, should be, like that of Hercules, to clear the city from monsters. In the second place, I would forbid that creatures of jarring and incongruous natures should be joined together in the same sign; such as the Bell and the Neat's
Tongue, the Dog and the Gridiron. The Fox and the Goose may 30 be supposed to have met, but what has the Fox and the Seven
Stars to do together? And when did the Lamb and Dolphin ever meet, except upon a sign-post ? As for the Cat and Fiddle, there is a conceit in it; and therefore I do not intend that any thing I have here said should affect it. I must however observe to you upon this subject, that it is usual for a young tradesman, at his first setting up, to add to his own sign that of the master whom he served, as the husband after marriage gives a place to his mistress's arms in his own coat. This I take to have given rise to many of those absurdities which are committed over our
coats of arms.
243 heads; and, as I am informed, first occasioned the Three Nuns and a Hare, which we see so frequently joined together. I would therefore establish certain rules, for the determining how far one tradesman may give the sign of another, and in what cases he may be allowed to quarter it with his own.
"In the third place, I would enjoin every shop to make use of a sign which bears some
affinity to the wares in which he deals. A cook should not live at the Boot, nor a shoemaker at the Roasted
Pig; and yet, for want of this regulation, I have seen a goat set 10 up before the door of a perfumer, and the French king's head at a sword-cutler's.
* An ingenious foreigner observes that several of those gentlemen who value themselves upon their families, and overlook such as are bred to trade, bear the tools of their forefathers in their
I will not examine how true this is in fact : but though it may not be necessary for posterity thus to set up the sign of their forefathers, I think it highly proper for those who actually profess the trade, to shew some such marks of it before
When the name gives an occasion for an ingenious sign-post, I would likewise advise the owner to take that opportunity of letting the world know who he is. It would have been ridiculous for the ingenious Mrs. Salmon to have lived at the sign of the Trout; for which reason she has erected before her house the figure of the fish that is her name-sake. Mr. Bell has likewise distinguished himself by a device of the same nature; and here, Sir, I must beg leave to observe to you, that this particular figure of a bell has given occasion to several pieces of wit in this kind.
A man of your reading must know that Abel Drugger n gained great ap30 plause by it in the time of Ben Jonson. Our apocryphal heathen
god n is also represented by this figure; which, in conjunction with the dragon, makes a very handsome picture in several of our
As for the Bell Savage, which is the sign of a savage man standing by a bell, I was formerly very much puzzled upon the conceit of it, till I accidentally fell into the reading of an old romance translated out of the French, which gives an account of a very beautiful woman who was found in a wilderness, and is called in the French La Belle Sauvage; and is everywhere translated by our countrymen the Bell Savage.
This piece 40 of philology will, I hope, convince you that I have made sign
posts my study, and consequently qualified myself for the employment which I solicit at your hands. But before I conclude my letter, I must communicate to you another remark which I have made upon the subject with which I am now entertaining you, namely, that I can give a shrewd guess at the humour of the inhabitant by the sign that hangs before his door. A surly cholerick fellow generally makes choice of a bear; as men of milder dispositions frequently live at the Lamb. Seeing a punch
bowl painted upon a sign near Charing Cross, and very curiously 10 garnished, with a couple of angels hovering over it, and squeezing
a lemon into it, I had the curiosity to ask after the master of the house, and found upon enquiry, as I had guessed by the little agrémens upon his sign, that he was a Frenchman. I know, Sir, it is not requisite for me to enlarge upon these hints to a gentleman of your abilities; so humbly recommending myself to your favour and patronage,
'I remain, &c. ' I shall add to the foregoing letter another which came to me by the same penny-post.
*From my own apartment near Charing-cross. • HONOURED SIR, 'Having heard that this nation is a great encourager of ingenuity, I have brought with me a rope-dancer that was caught in one of the woods belonging to the Great Mogul. He is by birth a monkey; but swings upon a rope, takes a pipe of tobacco, and drinks a glass of ale, like any reasonable creature.
He gives great satisfaction to the quality; and if they will make a subscription for him I will send for a brother of his out of Holland
that is a very good tumbler ; and also for another of the same 30 family whom I design for a Merry-Andrew, as being an excellent
mimic, and the greatest droll in the country where he now is. I hope to have this entertainment in a readiness for the next winter; and doubt not but that it will please more than the opera or puppetshow. I will not say that a monkey is a better man than some of the opera heroes; but certainly he is a better representative of a man than the most artificial composition of wood and wire. If you will be pleased to give me a good word in your paper, you shall be every night a spectator at my show for nothing,
“I am, &c.'-C.
A LADY'S LIBRARY.
A Lady's Library; list of the books ; account of their
Non illa colo calathisve Minervæ
VIRG. Æn. vii, 805.
DRYDEN. Some months ago, my friend Sir Roger, being in the country, inclosed a letter to me, directed to a certain lady whom I shall here call by the name of Leonora, and as it contained matters of consequence, desired me to deliver it to her with my own hand. Accordingly I waited upon her ladyship pretty early in the morning, and was desired by her woman to walk into her lady's library, till such time as she was in readiness to receive me. The very sound of a lady's library gave me a great curiosity to see it;
and, as it was some time before the lady came to me, I had an 1o opportunity of turning over a great many of her books, which
were ranged together in a very beautiful order. At the end of the folios (which were finely bound and gilt) were great jars of china placed one above another in a very noble piece of architecture. The quartos were separated from the octavos by a pile of smaller vessels, which rose in a delightful pyramid. The octavos were bounded by tea-dishes of all shapes, colours, and sizes, which were so disposed on a wooden frame, that they looked like one continued pillar indented with the finest strokes
of sculpture, and stained with the greatest variety of dyes. That 20 part of the library which was designed for the reception of plays
and pamphlets, and other loose papers, was inclosed in a kind of square, consisting of one of the prettiest grotesque works that I ever saw, and made up of scaramouches, lions, monkeys, mandarines, trees, shells, and a thousand other odd figures in china
In the midst of the room was a little japan table, with a quire of gilt paper upon it, and upon the paper a silver snuffbox made in the shape of a little book. I found there were several other counterfeit books upon the upper shelves, which
were carved in wood, and served only to fill up the number, like 30 faggots in the muster of a regiment. I was wonderfully pleased
with such a mixed kind of furniture as emed very suitable both to the lady and the scholar, and did not know at first whether I should fancy myself in a grotto or in a library.