Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

is true; or if you warm him a little, he may run into passion, and cry, Odsbodikins, you do not say right. But the High affects a sublimity in dulness, and invokes 'hell and damnation' at the breaking of a glass, or the slowness of a drawer.

I was the other day trudging along Fleet-street on foot, and an old army-friend came up with me. We were both going towards Wesminster; and, finding the streets were so crowded that we could not keep together, we resolved to club for a coach. This gentleman I knew to be the first of the order of the choleric. I must confess, were there no crime in it, nothing could be more diverting than the impertinence of the High juror: for whether there is remedy or not against what offends him, still he is to show he is offended; and he must, sure, not omit to be magnificently passionate, by falling on all things in his way. We were stopped by a train of coaches at Temple-bar. What the devil!' says my companion, cannot you drive on, coachman D- -n you all, for a set of sons of whores; you will stop here to be paid by the hour! There not such a set of confounded dogs as the coachmen, unhanged! But these rascally cits 'Ounds, why should not there be a tax to make these dogs widen their gates? Oh! but the hellhounds move at last.' 6 Ay,' said I, . I knew you would make them whip on, if once they heard you.' No,' says he, but would it not fret a man to the devil, to pay for being carried slower than he can walk? Look ye! there is for ever a stop at this hole by St. Clement's church. Blood, you dog! Hark'ye, sirrah!Why, and be dd

6

to

you, do not you drive over that fellow?- Thunder, furies, and damnation! I will cut your ears off, you fellow before there- -Come hither, you dog you, and let me wring your neck round your

shoulders.' We had a repetition of the same eloquence at the Cockpit, and the turning into Palaceyard.

This gave me a perfect image of the insignificancy of the creatures who practise this enormity; and made me conclude, that it is ever want of sense makes a man guilty in this kind. It was excellently well said, 'That this folly had no temptation to excuse it, no man being born of a swearing constitution.' In a word, a few rumbling words and consonants clapped together without any sense, will make an accomplished swearer. And it is needless to dwell long upon this blustering impertinence, which is already banished out of the society of well-bred men, and can be useful only to bullies and ill tragic writers, who would have sound and noise pass for courage and sense.

ST. JAMES'S COFFEE-HOUSE, FEBRUARY 22.

There arrived a messenger last night from Harwich, who left that place just as the duke of Marlborough was going on board. The character of this important general going out by the command of his queen, and at the request of his country, puts me in mind of that noble figure which Shakspeare gives Harry the Fifth upon his expedition against France. The poet wishes for abilities to represent so great an hero:

Oh for a Muse of fire!

Then should the warlike Harry, like himself,
Assume the port of Mars, and at his heels,

Leash'd in, like hounds, should famine, sword, and fire,
Crouch for employments.

A conqueror drawn like the god of battle, with such a dreadful leash of hell-hounds at his com

mand, makes a picture of as much majesty and terror, as is to be met with in any poet.

Shakspeare understood the force of this particular allegory so well, that he had it in his thoughts in another passage, which is altogether as daring and sublime as the former. What I mean is in the tragedy of Julius Cæsar, where Antony, after having foretold the bloodshed and destruction that should be brought upon the earth by the death of that great man, to fill up the horror of his description, adds the following verses:

And Cæsar's spirit, ranging for revenge,
With Atè by his side, come hot from Hell,
Shall in these confines, with a monarch's voice,
Cry havock; and let slip the dogs of war.

I do not question but these quotations will call to mind, in my readers of learning and taste, that imaginary person described by Virgil with the same spirit. He mentions it upon the occasion of a peace which was restored to the Roman empire; and which we may now hope for from the departure of that great man, who has given occasion to these reflections. The temple of Janus, says he, shall be shut, and in the midst of it military Fury shall sit upon a pile of broken arms, loaded with an hundred chains, bellowing with madness, and grinding his teeth in blood.

Claudentur belli portæ, Furor impius intus
Sæva sedens super arma, et centum vinctus ahenis
Post tergum nodis, fremet horridus ore cruento.
VIRG. EN. i. 298.

Janus himself before his fane shall wait,
And keep the dreadful issues of his gate,
With bolts and iron bars. Within remains
Imprison'd Fury bound in brazen chains;
High on a trophy rais'd of useless arms,
He sits, and threats the world with vain alarms.

VOL. III.

Q

DRYDEN.

ADVERTISEMENTS.

The tickets which were delivered out for the benefit of Signior Nicolini Grimaldi on the twentyfourth instant, will be taken on Thursday the second of March, his benefit being deferred till that day.

N. B. In all operas for the future, where it thunders and lightens in proper time and in tune, the matter of the said lightning is to be of the finest resin; and for the sake of harmony, the same which is used to the best Cremona fiddles.

Note also, that the true perfumed lightning is only prepared and sold by Mr. Charles Lillie, at the corner of Beaufort-buildings.

The lady who has chosen Mr. Bickerstaff for her Valentine, and is at a loss what to present him with, is desired to make him, with her own hands, a warm night-cap.

No. 138. SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 1709-10.

Secretosque pios, his dantem jura Catonem.

VIRG. EN. viii. 670.
Apart from these, the happy souls he draws,
And Cato's pious ghost dispensing laws.

DRYDEN.

SHEER-LANE, FEBRUARY 24.

It is an argument of a clear and worthy spirit in a man to be able to disengage himself from the opinions of others, so far as not to let the deference

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

6

due to the sense of mankind ensnare him to act against the dictates of his own reason. But the generality of the world are so far from walking by any such maxim, that it is almost a standing rule to do as others do, or be ridiculous. I have heard my old friend Mr. Hart speak it as an observation among the players, that it is impossible to act with grace, except the actor has forgot that he is before an audience. Till he is arrived at that, his motion, his air, his every step and gesture, has something in them which discovers he is under a restraint, for fear of being ill received; or if he considers himself as in the presence of those who approve his behaviour, you see an affectation of that pleasure run through his whole carriage. It is as common in life, as upon the stage, to behold a man in the most indifferent action betray a sense he has of doing what he is about gracefully. Some have such an immoderate relish for applause, that they expect it for things, which in themselves are so frivolous, that it is impossible, without this affectation, to There is Will Glare, so passionately intent upon make them appear worthy either of blame or praise. being admired, that when you see him in public places, every muscle of his face discovers his thoughts are fixed upon the consideration of what figure he makes. He will often fall into a musing posture, to attract observation; and is then obtruding himself when he preupon the company, tends to be withdrawn from it. Such little arts are the certain and infallible tokens of a superficial mind, as the avoiding observation is the sign of a It is therefore extremely

great and sublime one,

difficult for a man to judge even of his own actions, without forming to himself an idea of what he should act, were it in his power to execute all his desires without the observation of the rest of the

« AnteriorContinua »