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upon that art as the most proper for the female sex, and I think the universities would do well to consider whether they should not fill their rhetoric chairs with she-professors.

It has been said in the praise of some men, that they could talk whole hours together upon anything; but it must be owned to the honour of the other sex, that there are many among them who can talk whole hours together upon nothing. I have known a woman branch out into a long extempore dissertation

upon the edging of a petticoat, and chide her servant for breaking a china cup in all the figures of rhetoric.

Were women admitted to plead in courts of judicature, I am persuaded they would carry the eloquence of the bar to greater heights than it has yet arrived at. If any one doubts this, let him but be present at those debates which frequently arise among the ladies of the British fishery.

The first kind, therefore, of female orators which I shall take notice of, are those who are employed in stirring up the passions, a part of rhetoric in which Socrates his wife had perhaps made a greater proficiency than his above-mentioned teacher.

The second kind of female orators are those who deal in invectives, and who are commonly known by the name of the censorious. The imagination and elocution of this set of rhetoricians is wonderful. With what a fluency of invention, and copiousnesss of expression, will they enlarge upon every little slip in the behaviour of another! With how many different circumstances, and with what variety of phrases, will they tell over the same story! I have known an old lady make an unhappy marriage the subject of a month's conversation. She blamed the bride in one place; pitied her in another; laughed at her in a third; wondered at her in a fourth; was angry with her in a fifth; and in short, wore out a pair of coach-horses in expressing her concern for her. At length, after having quite exhausted the subject on this side, she made a visit to the new-married pair, praised the wife for the prudent choice she had made, told her the unreasonable reflections which some malicious people had cast upon her, and desired that they might be better acquainted. The censure and approbation of this kind of women are therefore only to be considered as helps to discourse.

A third kind of female orators may be comprehended un.

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der the word Gossips. Mrs. Fiddle Faddle is perfectly aco
complished in this sort of eloquence; she launches out into
descriptions of christenings, runs divisions upon an head-
dress, knows every dish of meat that is served up in her
neighbourhood, and entertains her company a whole after.
noon together with the wit of her little boy, before he is
able to speak
coquette may

be looked upon as a fourth kind of female orator. To give herself the larger field for discourse, she hates and loves in the same breath, talks to her lap-dog or parrot, is uneasy in all kinds of weather, and in every part of the room: she has false quarrels and feigned obligations to all the men of her acquaintance ; sighs when she is not sad, and laughs when she is not merry. The coquette is in particular a great mistress of that part of oratory which is called action, and indeed seems to speak for no other purpose, but as it gives her an opportunity of stirring a limb, or varying a feature, of glancing her eyes, or playing with her fan.

As for news-mongers, politicians, mimics, story-tellers, with other characters of that nature, which give birth to loquacity, they are as commonly found among the men as the women; for which reason I shall pass them over in silence.

I have been often puzzled to assign a cause why women should have this talent of a ready utterance in so much greater perfection than men. I have sometimes fancied that they have not a retentive power, the faculty of suppressing their thoughts, as men have, but that they are necessitated to speak everything they think ; and if so, it would perhaps furnish a very strong argument to the Cartesians, for the supporting of their doctrine, that the soul always thinks. But as several are of opinion that the fair sex are not altogether strangers to the arts of dissembling, and concealing their thoughts, I have been forced to relinquish that opinion, and have, therefore, endeavoured to seek after some better

In order to it, a friend of mine, who is an excellent anatomist, has promised me by the first opportunity to dissect a woman's tongue, and to examine whether there may not be in it certain juices which render it so wonderfully voluble or flippant, or whether the fibres of it may not be made

up of a finer or more pliant thread, or whether there are not in it some particular muscles, which dart it up and


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down by such suuden glances and vibrations; or whether, in the last place, there may not be certain undiscovered channels running from the head and the heart, to this little in. strument of loquacity, and conveying into it a perpetual affluence of animal spirits. Nor must I onit the reason which Hudibras has given, why those who can talk on trifles speak with the greatest fluency ; namely, that the tongue is like a race-horse, which runs the faster the lesser weight it carries.

Which of these reasons soever may be looked upon as the most probable, I think the Irishman's thought was very natural, who, after some hours' conversation with a female orator, told her, that he believed her tongue was very glad when she was asleep, for that it had not a moment's rest all the while she was awake.

That excellent old ballad of the “ Wanton Wife of Bath” has the following remarkable lines :

I think, quoth Thomas, women's tongues

Of aspen leaves are made. And Ovid, though in the description of a very barbarous circumstance, tells us, that when the tongue of a beautiful female was cut out, and thrown upon the ground, it could not forbear muttering even in that posture :

-Comprehensam forcipe linguam
Abstulit ense fero. Radix micat ultima linguæ.
Ipsa jacet, terræque tremens immurmurat atræ ;
Utque salire solet mutilatæ cauda colubræ,

Palpitat. If a tongue wouid be talking without a mouth, what could ít have done when it had all its organs of speech, and accomplices of sound, about it? I might here mention the story of the pippin-woman, had not I some reason to look upon

it as fabulous.

I must confess I am so wonderfully charmed with the music of this little instrument, that I would by no means discourage it. All that I aim at by this dissertation is, to cure it of several disagreeable notes, and in particular of those little jarrings and dissonances which arise from anger, censoriousness, gossiping, and coquetry. In short, I would have it always tuned by gool-nature, truth, discretion, and sin, cerity.


No. 249.



Γέλως άκαιρος έν βροτοίς δεινόν κακόν. FRAG. Ver. Po. WIEN I make choice of a subject that has not been treated on by others, I throw together my reflections on it without any order or method, so that they may appear rather in the looseness and freedom of an essay, than in the regularity of a set discourse. It is after this manner that I shall consider laughter and ridicule in my present paper.

Man is the merriest species of the creation, all above and below him are serious. He sees things in a different light from other beings, and finds his mirth rising from objects that perhaps cause something like pity or displeasure in higher natures. Laughter is, indeed, a very good counterpoise to the spleen ; and it seems but reasonable that we should be capable of receiving joy from what is no real good to us, since we can receive grief from what is no real evil.

I have in my forty-seventh paper raised a speculation on the notion of a modern philosopher, who describes the first motive of laughter to be a secret comparison which we make between ourselves and the persons we laugh at; or, in other words, that satisfaction which we receive from the opinion of some pre-eminence in ourselves, when we see the absurdities of another, or when we reflect on any past absurdities of our own. This seems to hold in most cases, and we may observe that the vainest part of mankind are the most addicted to this passion.

I have read a sermon of a conventual in the church of Rome, on those words of the wise man; “I said of Laughter, it is mad; and of Mirth, what does it ?” Upon which he laid it down as a point of doctrine, that laughter was the effect of original sin, and that Adam could not laugh before the fall.

Laughter, while it lasts, slackens and unbraces the mind, weakens the faculties, and causes a kind of remissness and dissolution in all the powers of the soul: and thus far it may be looked upon as a weakness in the composition of human nature. But if we consider the frequent reliefs we receive from it, and how often it breaks the gloom which is apt to depress the mind and damp our spirits

with transient

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and unexpectea gleams of joy, one would take care not to grow too wise for so great a pleasure of life.

The talent of turning men into ridicule, and exposing to laughter those one converses with, is the qualification of little, ungenerous tempers. A young man with this cast of mind cuts himself off from all manner of improvement. Every one has his flaws and weaknesses ; nay, the greatest blemishes are often found in the most shining characters; but what an absurd thing is it to pass over all the valuable parts of a man, and fix our attention on his infirmities ! to observe his im. perfections more than his virtues! and to make use of him for the sport of others, rather than our own improvement !

We therefore very often find, that persons the most accomplished in ridicule, are those who are very shrewd at hitting a blot, without exerting anything masterly in themselves. As there are many eminent critics who never writ a good line, there are many admirable buffoons that animadvert upon every single defect in another, without ever discovering the least beauty of their own. By this means, these unlucky little wits often gain reputation in the esteem of vulgar minds, and raise themselves above persons of much more laudable characters.

If the talent of ridicule were employed to laugh men out of vice and folly, it might be of some use to the world; but instead of this, we find that it is generally made use of to laugh men out of virtue and good sense, by attacking everything that is solemn and serious, decent and praise-worthy, in human life.

We may observe, that in the first ages of the world, when the great souls and master-pieces of human nature were produced, men shined by a noble simplicity of behaviour, and were strangers to those little embellishments which are so fashionable in our present conversation. And it is very remarkable, that notwithstanding we fall short at present of the ancients in poetry, painting, oratory, history, architecture, and all the noble arts and sciences which depend more upon genius than experience, we exceed them as much in doggerel, humour, burlesque, and all the trivial arts of ridicule. We meet with more raillery among the moderns, but more good sense among the ancients.

The two great branches of ridicule in writing are comedy and burlesque. The first ridicules persons by drawing them

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