Графични страници
PDF файл

Spectator” survived the loss, but not unshaken, and the price was raised to two-pence. It seems strange that such an addition should affect a periodical of this character, but a penny was a larger sum then than it is now. Steele says, “the ingenious J. W. (Dr. Walker, Head-Master of the Charterhouse) tells me that I have deprived him of the best part of his breakfast, for that since the rise of my paper, he is forced every morning to drink his dish of coffee by itself, without the addition of The Spectator,' that used to be better than lace (i.e., brandy) to it.”

After “ The Spectator” had run through six hundred and thirty-five numbers, Steele, with his usual restlessness, discontinued it, or rather, changed its name, and called it “The Guardian.” He commenced writing this new periodical by himself, but soon obtained the assistance of Addison. The only feature worth notice in which it differed from its predecessor, was the prominent appearance of Pope as an essayist, although from political reasons he would have preferred to have been an anonymous contributor. Among his articles we may notice a powerful one against cruelty to animals and field sports in general. Another was an ironical attack upon the Pastorals of Ambrose Philips comparing them with his own, and affords


[blocks in formation]

an illustration of what we observed in another place, that such modes of warfare are easily misunderstood—for the essay having been sent to Steele anonymously, he hesitated to publish it lest Pope should be offended! But his best article in this periodical is directed against poetasters in general—whom he never treated with much mercy. He says that poetry is now composed upon mechanical principles, in the same way that house-wives make plumpuddings

“Wbat Molière observes of making a dinner, that any man can do it with money, and if a professed cook cannot without, he has his art for nothing; the same may be said of making a poem, it is easier brought about by him that has a genius, but the skill lies in doing it without one. In pursuance of this end, I shall present the reader with a plain and certain recipe, by which even sonneteers and ladies may be qualified for this grand performance.”

He then proceeds to give a “receipt to make an epic poem,” and after giving directions for the “fable,” the “manners," and the "machines,” he comes to the “ descriptions.”

"For a Tempest.—Take Eurus, Zephyr, Auster, and Boreas, and cast them together in one verse. Add to these of rain, lightning, and of thunder (the loudest you can,) quantum sufficit. Mix your clouds and billows well together until they foam, and thicken your description here and there with a quicksand. Brew your tempest well in your head before you set it a blowing.

For a Battle.- Pick a large quantity of images and descriptions from Homer's “Iliad,' with a spice or two of Virgil, and if there remain any overplus, you may lay them by for a skirmish. Season it well with simiters, and it will make an excellent battle.

" For the Language -(I mean the diction.) Here it will do well to be an imitator of Milton, for you will find it easier to imitate birn in tbis, than in anything else. Hebraisms and Grecisms are to be found in him without the trouble of learning the languages. I knew a painter who (like our poet) had ro genius, make his daubings to be thought originals by setting them in the smoke. You may in the same manner give the venerable air of antiquity to your piece, by darkening it up and down with old Eng. lish. With this you may be easily furnished upon any occasion by the dictionary commonly printed at the end of Chaucer.

“I must not conclude without cautioning all writers without genius in one material point, which is, never to be afraid of having too much fire in their works. I should advise rather to take their warmest thoughts, and spread them abroad upon paper; for they are observed to cool before they are read.”

In an article on laughter by Dr. Birch, Prebendary of Worcester, we have the following fanciful list of those who indulge in it:

“The dimplers, the smilers, the laughers, the grimacers, the horse-laughers.

“ The dimple is practised to give a grace to the features, and is frequently made a bait to entangle a gazing lover; this was called by the ancients the chin laugh.

“The smile is for the most part confined to the fair sex and their male retinue. It expresses our satisfaction in a silent sort of approbation, doth not too much disorder the features, and is practised by lovers of the most delicate address. This tender motion of the physignomy the ancients called the Ionic laugh,

“ The laugh among us is the common risus of the ancients. The grin by writers of antiquity is called the Syncrusian, and it was then, as it is at this time, made use of to display a beautiful set of teeth.

“ The horse-laugh, or the sardonic, is made use of with great success in all kinds of disputation. The proficients in this kind, by a well-timed laugh, will baffle the most solid argument. This upon all occasions supplies the want of reason, is always received with great applause in coffeehouse disputes, and that side the laugh joins with is generally observed to gain the better of his antagonist.”

In an amusing article upon punning, he The Agreeable Companion.


gives the following instance of its beneficial effects :

“A friend of mine who had the ague this Spring was, after the failing of several medicines and charms, advised by me to enter into a course of quibbling. He threw his electuaries out of his window, and took Abracadabra off from his neck, and by the mere force of punning upon that long magical word, threw himself into a fine breathing sweat, and a quiet sleep. He is now in a fair way of recovery, and says pleasantly, he is less obliged to the Jesuits for their powder, than for their equivocation.”


[ocr errors]

Several periodicals of a similar character were afterwards published by Steele and others, but they wanted the old “salt," and were not equally successful.

Thus, in 1745, a humorous periodical of a somewhat different character was attempted, which went through eight weekly numbers. It was called “The Agreeable Companion, or an Universal Medley of Wit and Good Humour.” There was little original matter in it, but the proprietor recognized the desirability of having pieces by various hands, and so made long extracts from Prior, Gay, and Fenton. Although there was a considerable number of epitaphs, riddles, and fables, nearly all the jests were well known and trite. But the subjoined have a certain amount of neatness.

To Dorcas.
“Oh! what bosom must but yield,
When like Pallas you advance,
With a thimble for your shield,
And a needle for your lance;

Fairest of the stitching train,
Ease my passion by your art,
And in pity to my pain,
Mend the hole that's in my heart,"

“Dear Sally, emblem of thy chop-house ware,
As broth reviving, and as white bread fair;
As small beer grateful, and as pepper strong,
As beef-steak tender, as fresh pot-herbs young;
Sharp as a knife, and piercing as a fork,
Soft as new butter, white as fairest pork;
Sweet as young mutton, brisk as bottled beer,
Smooth as is oil, juicy as cucumber,
And bright as cruet void of vinegar.
O, Sally! could I turn and shift my love
With the same skill that you your steaks can move,
My heart, thus cooked, might prove a chop-house feast,
And you alone should be the welcome guest.
But, dearest Sal! the flames that you impart,
Like chop on gridiron, broil my tender heart !
Which if thy kindly helping band be n't nigh,
Must like an up-turned chop, hiss, brown, and fry;
And must at least, thou scorcher of my soul,
Shrink, and become an undistinguished coal.”

As the idea gradually gained ground that it would be necessary that the public, or a considerable number of writers, should take part in the literary work of a periodical, we now find a more important and promising publication called a magazine, and having the grand title of “ The Wonderful Magazine !” It went through three monthly numbers in 1764. Even this was not intended to be exclusively humorous, but was to contain light stories as well as paradoxes and inquiries ; the editor observing in the introduction that “a tailor's pattern-book must consist of various colours and various cloths; and what one thinks

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
« ПредишнаНапред »