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No. 129. SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 4, 1709-10.
Ingenio manus est et cervix cæsa.
JUV. SAT, X. 120.
His wit's rewarded with the fatal loss
FROM MY OWN APARTMENT, FEBRUARY 3. WHEN my paper for to-morrow was prepared for the
press, there came in this morning a mail from Holland, which brought me several advices from foreign parts, and took my thoughts off domestic affairs. Among others, I have a letter from a burgher of Amsterdam, who makes me his compliments, and tells me he has sent me several draughts of humorous and satirical pictures by the best hands of the Dutch nation. They are a trading people, and in their very minds mechanics.
They express their wit in manufacture, as we do in manuscript. He informs me, that a very witty hand has lately represented the present posture of public affairs in a landscape, or rather a sea-piece, wherein the potentates of the alliance are figured as their interests correspond with, or affect each other, under the appearance of commanders of ships. These vessels carry the colours of the respective nations concerned in the present war.
The whole design seems to tend to one point, which is, that several squadrons of British and Dutch ships are battering a French man of war, in order to make her deliver up a long-boat with Spanish colours. My correspondent informis me, that a man must understand the compass perfeetly well, to be able to comprehend the beauty and invention of this piece; which is so skilfully drawn, that the particular views of every prince in Europe are seen according as the ships lie to the main figure in the picture, and as that figure may help or retard their sailing. It seems this curiosity is now on board a ship bound for England, and, with other rarities, made a present to me. As soon as it arrives, I design to expose it to public view at my secretary Mr. Lillie's, who shall have an explication of all the terms of art; and I doubt not but it will give as good content as the moving picture in Fleet-street.
But, above all the honours I have received from the learned world abroad, I am most delighted with the following epistle from Rome. “PASQUIN OF ROME TO ISAAC BICKERSTAFF, OF
GREAT BRITAIN, GREETING. SIR, “ Your reputation has passed the Alps, and would have come to my ears by this time, if I had any. In short, Sir, you
here as a northern droll, and the greatest virtuoso among the Tramontanes. Some indeed say, that Mr. Bickerstaff and Pasquin are only names invented to father compositions which the natural parent does not care for owning. But, however that is, all agree, that there are several persons, who, if they durst attack you, would endeavour to leave you no more limbs than I have. I need not tell
adversaries have joined in a confederacy with Time to demolish me, and that, if I were not a very great wit, I should make the worst figure in Europe, being abridged of my legs, arms, nose, and ears. If you think fit to accept of the correspondence of so facetious a cripple, I shall
you that my
from time to time send you an account of what happens at Rome. You have only heard of it from Latin and Greek authors; may, perhaps, have read no accounts from hence, but of a triumph, ovation, or apotheosis, and will doubtless be surprised to see the description of a procession, jubilee, or canonization. I shall, however, send you what the place affords, in return to what I shall receive from you. If you will acquaint me with your next promotion of general officers, I will send you an account of our next advancement of saints. If
will let me know who is reckoned the bravest warrior in Great-Britain, I will tell you who is the best fiddler in Rome. If you will favour me with an inventory of the riches that were brought into your nation by admiral Wager, I will not fail giving you an account of a pot of medals that has been lately dug up here, and are now under the examination of our ministers of state.
“ There is one thing, in which I desire you would be very particular. What I mean is an exact list of all the religions in Great Britain, as likewise the habits, which are said here to be the great points of conscience in England; whether they are made of serge or broad-cloth, of silk or linen. I should be glad to see a model of the most conscientious dress amongst you, and desire
will send me a hat of each religion; as likewise, if it be not too much trouble, a cravat. It would also be very acceptable here to receive an account of those two religious orders, which are lately sprung up amongst you, the Whigs and the Tories, with the points of doctrine, severities in discipline, penances, mortifications, and good works, by which they differ one from another. It would be no less kind, if you would explain to us a word, which they do not understand even at our English monastery, Toasts, and let us know whether the ladies so called are nuns or lay-sisters. In return, I will send you the secret history of several cardinals, which I have by me in manuscript, with the gallantries, amours, politics, and intrigues, by which they made their way to the holy purple.
“But when I propose a correspondence, I must not tell
what I intend to advise you of hereafter, and neglect to give you what I have at present. The pope has been sick for this fortnight of a violent-tooth-ache, which has very much raised the French faction, and put the Conclave into a great ferment. Every one of the pretenders to the succession is grown twenty years older than he was a fortnight ago. Each candidate tries who shall cough and stoop most; for these are at present the great gifts that recommend to the Apostolical seat; which he stands the fairest for, who is likely to resign it the soonest. I have known the time when it used to rain Louis d'ors on such occasions; but, whatever is the matter, there is very few of them to be seen, at present, at Rome; insomuch, that it is thought a man might purchase infallibility at a very reasonable rate. It is nevertheless hoped, that his holiness may recover, and bury these his imaginary successors.
“There has lately been found a human tooth in a catacomb, which has engaged a couple of convents in a law-suit; each of them pretending, that it belonged to the jaw-bone of a saint, who was of their order. The college have sate upon it thrice, and I find there is a disposition among them to take it out of the possession of both the contending parties, by reason of a speech which was made by one of the cardinals, who, by reason of its being found out of the company of any other bones, asserted, that it might be one of the teeth, which was coughed out by Ælia, an old woman whose loss is recorded in Martial.
“ I have nothing remarkable to communicate to you of state affairs, excepting only, that the Pope has lately received a horse from the German ambassador, as an acknowledgment for the kingdom of Naples, which is a fief of the church. His holiness refused this horse from the Germans ever since the Duke of Anjou has been possessed of Spain; but as they lately took care to accompany it with a body of ten thousand more, they have at last overcome his holiness's modesty, and prevailed upon him to accept the present.
I am, Sir,
“ PASQUIN. - P.S. Marforio is
No. 130. TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 7, 1709-10.
HOR. SAT. ii. 1. 75,
SHEER-LANE, FEBRUARY 6. I FIND some of the most polite Latin authors, who wrote at a time when Rome was in its glory, speak with a certain noble vanity of the brightness and splendor of the age in which they lived. Pliny often compliments his emperor Trajan upon this head; and when he would animate him to any thing great, or dissuade him from any thing that was improper,