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No. 222. SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 9, 1710.
- Chrysidis udas Ebrius ante fores, extinctâ cum face, canto.
PERS, SAT, V. 165.
Shall I at Chrysis' door the night prolong
FROM MY OWN APARTMENT, SEPTEMBER 8.
WHEREAS, by letters from Nottingham, we have advice, that the young ladies of that place complain for want of sleep, by reason of certain riotous lovers, who for this last summer have very much infested the streets of that eminent city, with violins and bass-viols, between the hours of 12 and 4 in the morning, to the great disturbance of many of her Majesty's peaceable subjects: And whereas I have been importuned to publish some edict against these midnight alarms, which, under the name of serenades, do greatly annoy many well-disposed persons, not only in the place above-mentioned, but also in most of the polite towns of this island: I have taken that matter into my serious consideration, and do find that this custom is by no means to be indulged in this country and climate.
It is indeed very unaccountable, that most of our British youth should take such great delight in these nocturnal expeditions. Your robust true-born Briton, that has not yet felt the force of fames and darts, has a natural inclination to break windows;
while those whose natural ruggedness has been soothed and softened by gentle passion, have as strong a propensity to languish under them, especially if they have a fiddler behind them to utter their complaints; for, as the custom prevails at present, there is scarce a young man of any fashion in a corporation, who does not make love with the town-music. The Waits often help him through his courtship; and
friend Mr. Banister * has told me, he was proffered five hundred pounds by a young fellow, to play but for one winter under the window of a lady, that was a great fortune, but more cruel than ordinary. One would think they hoped to conquer their mistresses' hearts as people tame hawks and eagles, by keeping them awake or breaking their sleep when they are falling into it.
I have endeavoured to search into the original of this impertinent way of making love, which, according to some authors, is of great antiquity. If we may believe Monsieur Dacier and other critics, Horace's tenth Ode of the third book was originally a Serenade. And if I was disposed to show my learning, I could produce a line of him in another place, which seems to have been the burthen of an old heathen Serenade.
-Audis minus, et minus jam,
HOR. OD. i. 25. 8.
• Am dying ?'
But notwithstanding the opinions of many learned men upon this subject, I rather agree with them
* Mr. John Banister, a composer, and at the head of the band in Drury-lane.
who look upon this custom, as now practised, to have been introduced by castrated musicians, who found out this
way of applying themselves to their mistresses at these hours, when men of hoarser voices express their passions in a more vulgar method. It must be confessed, that your Italian eunuchs do practise this manner of courtship to this day.
But whoever were the persons that first thought of the serenade, the authors of all countries are unanimous in ascribing the invention to Italy,
There are two circumstances which qualified that country above all other for this midnight music.
The first I shall mention was the softness of their climate. This
gave the lover opportunities of being abroad in the air, or of lying upon the earth whole hours together, without fear of damps or dews; but as for our tramontane lovers, when they begin their midnight complaint with,
My lodging upon the cold ground is, we are not to understand them in the rigour of the letter, since it would be impossible for a British swain to condole himself long in that situation, without really dying for his mistress. A man might as well serenade in Greenland as in our region. Milton seems to have had in his thoughts the absurdity of these Northern Serenades, in the censure which he passes upon
- Or midnight ball,
To his proud fair, best quitted with disdain. The truth of it is, I have often pitied, in a winter night, a vocal musician, and have attributed many of his trills and quavers to the coldness of the weather.
The second circumstance which inclined the Italians to this custom, was that musical genius which is so universal among them. Nothing is more frequent in that country, than to hear a cobbler working to an opera-tune. You can scarce see a porter that has not one nail much longer than the rest, which you will find upon inquiry, is cherished for some instrument. In short, there is not a labourer, or handicraft-man, that, in the cool of the evening does not relieve himself with solos and sonatas.
The Italian soothes his mistress with a plaintive voice, and bewails himself in such melting music, that the whole neighbourhood sympathizes with him in his sorrow.
Qualis populeâ mærens Philomela sub umbra-
VIRG. GEORG. iy. 511.
Thus Philomel beneath the poplar shade
On the contrary, our honest countrymen have so little an inclination to music, that they seldom begin to sing till they are drunk; which also is usually the time when they are most disposed to serenade.
No. 223. TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 12, 1710.
For when upon their ungot heirs,
away, and turn
FROM MY OWN APARTMENT, SEPTEMBER 11. I HAVE been very much solicited by Clarinda, Flavia, and Lysetta, to re-assume my discourse concerning the methods of disposing honourably the unmarried part of the world, and taking off those bars to it, jointures and settlements, which are not only the greatest impediments towards entering into that state, but also the frequent causes of distrust and animosity in it after it is consummated. I have with very
much attention considered this case; and among all the observations that I have made through a long course of years, I have thought the coldness of wives to their husbands, as well as disrespect from children to parents, to arise from this one
This trade for minds and bodies in the lump, without regard to either, but as they are accompanied with such sums of money and such parcels of land, cannot but produce a commerce between the parties concerned, suitable to the mean motives upon which they at first came together. I have heretofore given an account, that this method of making settlements was first invented by a griping lawyer, who made use of the covetous tem