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Reception of Satire.
He goes on to notice how various persons behaved under the ordeal —
“When Julius Cæsar was lampooned by Catullus he invited him to supper, and treated him with such a generous civility that he made the poet his friend ever after. Cardinal Mazarın gave the same kind of treatment to the learned Guillet, who had reflected upon his Eminence in a famous Latin poem. The Cardinal sent for him, and after some kind expostulation upon what he had written, assured him of bis esteem, and dismissed him with a promise of the next good Abbey that should fall, which he accordingly conferred upon him a few months after. This had so good an effect upon the author that he dedicated the second edition of his book to the Cardinal, after having expunged the passages, which had given him offence. Sextus Quintus was not of so generous and forgiving a temper. Upon his being made Pope, the statue of Pasquin was dressed in a very dirty shirt, with an excuse written under it, that he was forced to wear foul linen because his laundress was made a princess. This was a reflection upon the Pope's sister, who, before the promotion of her brother, was in those mean circumstances that Pasquin represented her. As this pasquinade made a great noise in Rome, the Pope offered a considerable sum of money to any person that should discover the author of it. The author relying on his Holiness' generosity, as also upon some prirate overtures he had received from him, made the discovery himself; upon which the Pope gave him the reward he had promised, but at the same time to disable the satirist for the future, ordered bis tongue to be cut out, and both his hands to be chopped off.”
When Addison treats of the ladies' “commode,” a lofty head-dress which had been in fashion in his time, he adds reflections which may moderate all such vanities
“There is not so variable a 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, inasmuch as the female part of our species were much taller than the 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 feet bigb, that at present want some inches of five. .... I would desire the fair sex to consider how impossible it is for them to add anything that can be ornamental to what is already the master-piece of Nature. The head has the most beautiful appearance, as well as the highest station in a human figure. Nature has laid out all her art in beautifying the face; she has touched it with vermillion, planted in it a double row of ivory, made it the seat of smiles and blushes, lighted it up, and enlivened it with the brightness of the eyes, bung it on each side with curious organs of sense, given it airs and graces that cannot be described, and surrounded it with such a flowing shade of hair as sets all its beauties in the most agreeable light. In short, she seems to have designed the head as the cupola to the most glorious of her works; and when we load it with such a pile of supernumerary ornaments, we destroy the symmetry of the human figure, and foolishly contrive to call off the eye from great and real beauties, to childish gewgaws, ribbands, and bone-lace.”
But the popularity of « The Spectator” was not a little due to the stronger and more daring genius of Steele. His writing, though not so didactic, or so ripe in style, as that of Addison, was antithetical, sparkling, and more calculated to “ raise a horse.”
The continuation of the periodical, which was carried on by others, was not equally successful. In the earlier volumes we recognise Steele's hand in the Essays on “Clubs.” He gives us an amusing account of the “Ugly Club,” for which no one was eligible who had not “a visible quearity in his aspect, or peculiar cast of countenance ;” and of the “ Everlasting Club,” which was to sit day and night from one end of the year to another; no party pre
suming to rise till they were relieved by those who were in course to succeed them.
“ This club was instituted towards the end of the Civil Wars, and continued without interruption till the time of the Great Fire, which burnt them out and dispersed them for several weeks. The steward at this time maintained his post till he had been like to have been blown up with a neighbouring house (which was demolished in order to stop the fire) and would not leave the chair at last, till he had emptied all the bottles upon the table, and received repeated directions from the Club to withdraw himself.”
The following on “ Castles in the Air” is interesting, as Steele himself seems to have been addicted to raising such structures,–
“A castle-builder is even just what he pleases, and as such I bave grasped imaginary sceptres, and delivered uncontrollable edicts from a throne to which conquered nations yielded obeisance. I have made I know not how many inroads into France, and ravaged the very heart of that kingdom; I have dined in the Louvre, and drunk champagne at Versailles; and I wonld have you take notice I am not only able to vanquish a people already *cowed' and accustomed to flight, but I could Almanzor-like, drive the British general from the field, were I less a Protestant, or had ever been affronted by the confederates. There is no art or profession whose most celebrated masters I have not eclipsed. Wherever I have afforded my salutary presence, fevers have ceased to burn and agues to shake the human fabric. When an eloquent fit has been upon me, an apt gesture and a proper cadence has animated each sentence, and gazing crowds have found their passions worked up into rage, or sootbed into a calm. I am short, and not very well made; yet upon sight of a fine woman, I have stretched into proper stature, and killed with a good air and mien. These are the gay phantoms that dance before my waking eyes and compose my day-dreams. I should be the most contented happy man alive, were the chimerical happiness which springs from the paintings of Fancy less fleeting and transitory. But alas! it is with grief of mind I tell you, the least breath of wind has often demolished my magnificent edifices, swept away my groves, and left me no more trace of them
than if they had never been. My exchequer has sunk and vanished by a rap on my door; the salutation of a friend has cost me a whole continent, and in the same moment I have been pulled by the sleeve, my crown has fallen from my head. The ill consequences of these reveries is inconceirably great, seeing the loss of imaginary possessions makes impressions of real woe. Besides bad economy is visible and apparent in the builders of imaginary mansions. My tenants' advertisements of ruins and dilapidations often cast a damp over my spirits, even in the instant when the sun, in all his splendour, gilds my Eastern palaces.”
In marking the differences between the humour at the time of “The Spectator” and that of the present day, we feel happy that the tone of society has so altered that such jests as the following would be quite inadmissible.
“Mr. Spectator,-As you are spectator general, I apply myself to you in the following case, viz.: I do not wear a sword, but I often divert myself at the theatre, when I frequently see a set of fellows pull plain people, by way of humour and frolic, by the nose, upon frivolous or no occasion. A friend of mine the other night applauding what a graceful exit Mr. Wilks made, one of those wringers overhearing him, pinched him by the nose. I was in the pit the other night (wben it was very much crowded); a gentleman leaning upon me, and very heavily, I very civilly requested him to remove his hand, for which he pulled me by the nose. I would not resent it in so public a place, because I was unwilling to create a disturbance : but have since reflected upon it as a thing that is unmanly and disingenuous, renders the nose-puller odious, and makes the person pulled by the nose look little and contemptible. This grievance I humbly request you will en. deavour to redress. I am, &c., James Easy.
“I have heard of some very merry fellows among whom the frolic was started, and passed by a great majority, that every man should immediately draw a tooth: after which they have gone in a body and smoked a cobler. The same company at another night has each man burned his cravat, and one, perhaps, whose estate would bear it, has thrown a long wig and laced hat into the fire. Thus they have jested themselves stark naked, and run into the streets and frighted the people very successfully. There is no inhabitant of any standing in Covent Garden, but can tell
Duke of Buckingham's Joke.
you a hundred good humours where people have come off with a little bloodshed, and yet scoured all the witty hours of the night. I know a gentleman that has several wounds in the head by watch-poles, and has been twice run through the body to carry on a good jest. He is very old for a man of so much good humour; but to this day be is seldom merry, but he has occasion to be valiant at the same time. But, by the favour of these gentlemen, I am humbly of opinion that a man may be a very witty man, and never offend one statute of this kingdom.”
More harmless was the joking of Villiers, the last Duke of Buckingham, (father of Lady Mary Wortley Montague), who seems to have inherited some of the family humour. Addison tells us,
“One of the wits of the last age, who was a man of a good estate, thought he never laid out his money better than on a jest. As he was one year at Bath, obserying that in the great confluence of fine people there were several among them with long chins, a part of the visage by which he himself was very much distinguished, be in. vited to dinner half a score of these remarkable persons, who had their mouths in the middle of their faces. They had no sooner placed themselves about the table, but they began to stare upon one another, not being able to imagine what had brought them together. Our English proverb says:
''Tis merry in the hall
When beards wag all.' “It proved so in the assembly I am now speaking of, who seeing so many peaks of faces agitated with eating, drinking and discourse, and observing all the chins that were present meeting together very often over the centre of the table, every one grew sensible of the jest, and came into it with so much good humour that they lived in strict friendship and alliance from that day forward.”
In August, 1712, a tax of a halfpenny was placed upon newspapers, and led to several leading journals being discontinued, a failure facetiously termed “the fall of the leaf.” “The