« ПредишнаНапред »
sit down, and have heartily pitied my old friend, when I have seen him forced to pick and cull his guests, as they sat at the several parts of his table, that he might drink their healths according to their respective ranks and qualities. Honest Will Wimble, who I should have thought had been altogether uninfected with ceremony, gives me abundance of trouble in this particular. Though he has been fishing all the inorning, he will not help himself at dinner till I am served. When we are going out of the hall, he runs behind me; and last night, as we were walking in the fields, stopped short at a stile till I came up to it, and upon my making signs to him to get over, told me, with a serious smile, that sure I believed they had no manners in the country.
There has happened another revolution in the point of good breeding, which relates to the conversation among men of mode, and which I cannot but look upon as very extraordinary. It was certainly one of the first distinctions of a well bred man, to express every thing that had the most remote appearance of being obscene, in modest terms and distant phrases, whilst the clown, who had no such delicacy of conception and expression, clothed his ideas in those plain homely terms that are the most obvious and natural. This kind of good manners was perhaps carried to an excess, so as to make conversation too stiff, formal, and precise; for which reason (as hypocrisy in one age is generally succeeded by atheism in another) conversation is in a great measure relapsed into the first extreme; so that at present several of our men of the town, and particularly those who have been polished in France, make use of the most coarse uncivilized words in our language, and utter themselves often in such a manner as a clown would blush to hear.
This infamous piece of good-breeding, which reigns among the coxcombs of the town, has not yet made its way into the country; and as it is impossible for such an irrational way of conversation to last long among a people that laakes any profession of religion, or show of modesty, if the country gentlemer get into it, they will certainly be left in the lurch. Their goodbreeding will come too late to them, and they will be thought a parcel of lewd clowns, while they fancy themselves talking together like men of wit and pleasure.
As the two points of good-breeding, which I have hitherto insisted upon, regard behaviour and conversation, there is a third which turns upon dress. In this too the country are very much behind-hand. The rural beaus are not yet got out of the fashior that took place at the time of the Revolution, but ride about us country in red coats and laced hats; while the women in many parts are still trying to outvie one another in the height of their head-dresses."
But a friend of mine, who is now upon the western circuit having promised to give me an account of the several modes and fashions that prevail in the different parts of the nation through
1 This, at the date of the present paper, was being decidedly “ behind the fashion; ” for early in 1711 the mode changed. Still the provincials had their excuses, for in No. 98. the “Spectator" affirms that there is no buch variable thing in nature as a lady's head-dress; “Within my own memory I have known it rise and fall above thirty degrees. About ten years ago it shot up to a very great height insomuch that the female part of our species were much taller than men. The women were of such an enormous stature, that we appeared as grasshoppers before them. At present the whole sex is in a manner dwarfed and shrunk into a race of beauties that seems almost another species. I remember several ladies, who were once very near seven foot high, that at present want some inches of five; how they came to be thus curtailed I cannot learn”
Besides the numerous papers devoted to women's attire,' the whole of No. 265. is a satire on the single subject of head-dresses. This frequent re currence to the small absurdities of female fashion is said to have damaged the prosperity of the “Spectator.” Soon after the appearance of the above cited number, Swift writes impatiently in his Journal, “I will not meddle witli the 'Spectator:' let him fair sex it to the world's end."-*
which he passes, I shall defer enlarging upon this last topic till I have received a letter from him, which I expect every post.
No. 120. WEDNESDAY, JULY 18.
Equidem credo, quia sit divinitus illis
VIRG. GEORG. 1. 415.
My friend Sir Roger is very often merry with me, upon my passing so much of my time among his poultry : he has caught me twice or thrice looking after a bird's nest, and several times sitting an hour or two together near an hen and chickens. He tells me he believes I am personally acquainted with every fowl about his house; calls such a particular cock my favourite, and frequently complains that his ducks and geese have more of my company than himself.
I must confess I am infinitely delighted with those speculations of nature which are to be made in a country-life; and as my reading has very much lain among books of natural history, I cannot forbear recollecting upon this occasion, the several remarks which I have met with in authors, and comparing them with what falls under my own observation : the arguments for Providence drawn from the natural history of animals being in my opinion demonstrative.
The make of every kind of animal is different from that of every other kind; and yet there is not the least turn in the muscles, or twist in the fibres, of any one, which does not render them more proper for that particular animal's way of life, than any other cast or texture of them would have been.
The most violent appetites in all creatures are lust and hunger : the first is a perpetual call upon them to propagate their kind; the latter to preserve themselves.
It is astonishing to consider the different degrees of care that descend from the parent to the young, so far as is absolutely necessary for the leaving a posterity. Some creatures cast their eggs as chance directs them, and think of them no farther, as insects, and several kinds of fish : others, of a nicer frame, find out proper beds to deposit them in, and there leave them; as the serpent, the crocodile, and ostrich : others hatch their eggs, and tend the birth, till it is able to shift for itself. What can we call the principle which directs every
different kind of bird to observe a particular plan in the structure of its nest, and directs all of the same species to work after the same model ? It cannot be imitation; for though you hatch a crow under a hen, and never let it see any of the works of its own kind, the nest it makes shall be the same, to the laying of a stick, with all the other nests of the same species. It cannot be reason; for were animals endued with it to as great a degree as man, their puildings would be as different as ours, according to the different conveniencies that they would propose to themselves.
Is it not remarkable, that the same temper of weather which raises this genial warmth in animals, should cover the trees with leaves, and the fields with grass, for their security and concealment, and produce such infinite swarms of insects for the support and sustenance of their respective broods ?
Is it not wonderful, that the love of the parent should be so violent while it lasts : and that it should last no longer than is necessary for the preservation of the young ?
The violence of this natural love is exemplified by a very bar barous experiment; which I shall quote at length as I find it in an excellent author, and hope my readers will pardon the mentioning
such an instance of cruelty, because there is nothing can so effec tually shew the strength of that principle in animals, of which I am here speaking. “ A person who was well skilled in dissections opened a bitch, and as she lay in the most exquisite tortures, offered her one of her young puppies, which she immediately fell a licking; and for the time seemed insensible of her own pain: on the removal, she kept her eyes fixt on it, and began a wailing sort of cry, which seemed rather to proceed from the loss of her young one than the sense of her own torments."
But notwithstanding this natural love in brutes is much more violent and intense than in rational creatures, Providence has taken care that it should be no longer troublesome to the parent than it is useful to the young; for so soon as the wa its of the latter cease, the mother withdraws her fondness, and leaves them to provide for themselves : and what is a very remarkable circumstance in this part of instinct, we find that the love of the parent may be lengthened out beyond its usual time, if the preservation of the species requires it; as we may see in birds that drive
away their young as soon as they are able to get their livelihood, but continue to feed them if they are tied to the nest, or confined within a cage, or by any other means appear to be out of a condition of supplying their own necessities.
This natural love is not observed in animals to ascend from the young to the parent, which is not at all necessary for the continuance of the species: nor, indeed, in reasonable creatures does it rise in any proportion, as it spreads itself downwards ; for in all family affection, we find protection granted, and favours bestowed, are greater motives to love and tenderness, than safety, benefits, or life received.
One would wonder to hear sceptical inen disputing for the reason of animals, and telling us it is only our pride and prejudicea that will not allow them the use of that faculty.