« ПредишнаНапред »
What I have here said is not only in regard to the public, but with an eye to my particular correspondent, who has sent me the following letter, which I have castratedn in some places upon these considerations.
Having lately seen your discourse upon a match of grinning, I cannot forbear giving you an account of a whistling match, which, with many others, I was entertained with about three
years since at the Bath. The prize was a guinea, to be conferred 10 upon the ablest whistler, that is, on him who could whistle
clearest, and go through his tune without laughing, to which at the same time he was provoked by the antic postures of a MerryAndrew, who was to stand upon the stage and play his tricks in the eye of the performer. There were three competitors for the ring. The first was a ploughman of a very promising aspect; his features were steady, and his muscles composed in so inflexible a stupidity, that upon his first appearance every one gave the guinea for lost. The pickle-herring however found
the way to shake him; for upon his whistling a country jig, this 20 unlucky wag danced to it with such variety of distortions
and grimaces, that the countryman could not forbear smiling upon him, and by that means spoiled his whistle, and lost the prize.
'The next that mounted the stage was an under-citizen of the Bath, a person remarkable among the inferior people of that place for his great wisdom and his broad band. He contracted his mouth with much gravity, and, that he might dispose his mind to be more serious than ordinary, began the tune of The children
in the wood, and went through part of it with good success; 30 when on a sudden the wit at his elbow, who had appeared
wonderfully grave and attentive for some time, gave him a touch upon the left shoulder, and stared him in the face with so bewitching a grin, that the whistler relaxed his fibres into a kind of simper, and at length burst out into an open laugh. The third who entered the lists was a footman, who in defiance of the Merry-Andrew and all his arts, whistled a Scotch tune and an Italian sonata, with so settled a countenance, that he bore away the prize, to the great admiration of some hundreds of persons, who, as well as myself, were present at this trial of skill. Now,
Sir, I humbly conceive, whatever you have determined of the grinners, the whistlers ought to be encouraged, not only as their art is practised without distortion, but as it improves country music, promotes gravity, and teaches ordinary people to keep their countenances, if they see anything ridiculous in their betters.
I am, Sir, &c.
POSTSCRIPT. ‘After having dispatched these two important points of grinning and whistling, I hope you will oblige the world with some reflex
ions upon yawning, as I have seen it practised on a twelfth-night 10 among other Christmas gambols, at the house of a very worthy
gentleman, who always entertains his tenants at that time of the year. They yawn for a Cheshire cheese, and begin about midnight, when the whole company is disposed to be drowsy. He that yawns widest, and at the same time so naturally as to produce the most yawns amongst the spectators, carries home the cheese. If you handle this subject as you ought, I question not but your paper will set half the kingdom a-yawning, though I dare promise you it will never make anybody fall asleep.'-L.
No. 221. On the utility of mottos: Latin popular with those who
do not understand it: meaning of the single letters at the ends of the papers.
Usque ad mala
Hor. Sat. I. 3. 6.
To apples ripe, with which it last is stored. When I have finished any of my speculations, it is my method 20 to consider which of the ancient authors have touched upon the
subject that I treat of. By this means I meet with some celebrated thought upon it, or a thought of my own expressed in better words, or some similitude for the illustration of my subject. This is what gives birth to the motto of a speculation, which I rather chuse to take out of the poets than the prose writers, as the former generally give a finer turn to a thought
than the latter, and by couching it in few words, and in harmonious numbers, make it more portable to the memory.
My reader is therefore sure to meet with at least one good line in every paper, and very often finds his imagination entertained by a hint that awakens in his memory some beautiful passage of a classic author.
It was a saying of an ancient philosopher, which I find some of our writers have ascribed to queen Elizabeth, who perhaps
might have taken occasion to repeat it, that a good face is a 10 letter of recommendation. It naturally makes the beholders in
quisitive into the person who is the owner of it, and generally prepossesses them in his favour. A handsome motto has the same effect. Besides that, it always gives a supernumerary beauty to a paper, and is sometimes in a manner necessary when the writer is engaged in what may appear a paradox to vulgar minds, as it shows that he is supported by good authorities, and is not singular in his opinion.
I must confess, the motto is of little use to an unlearned reader, for which reason I consider it only, as a word to the wise. 20 But as for my unlearned friends, if they cannot relish the motto,
I take care to make provision for them in the body of my paper. If they do not understand the sign that is hung out, they know very well by it, that they may meet with entertainment in the house; and I think I was never better pleased than with a plain man's compliment, who, upon his friends telling him that he would like the Spectator much better if he understood the motto, replied, that good wine needs no bush.
I have heard of a couple of preachers in a country town, who endeavoured which should out-shine one another, and draw 30 together the greatest congregation. One of them being well
versed in the Fathers, used to quote every now and then a Latin sentence to his illiterate hearers, who, it seems, found themselves so edified by it, that they flocked in greater numbers to this learned man than to his rival. The other finding his congregation mouldering every Sunday, and hearing at length what was the occasion of it, resolved to give his parish a little Latin in his turn; but being unacquainted with any of the Fathers, he digested into his sermons the whole book of Qua genus , adding
however such explications to it as he thought might be for the 40 benefit of his people. He afterwards entered upon As in
THE SIGNATORY LETTERS.
præsenti, which he converted in the same manner to the use of his parishioners. This in a very little time thickened his audience, filled his church, and routed his antagonist.
The natural love to Latin, which is so prevalent in our common people, makes me think that my speculations fare never the worse among them for that little scrap which appears at the head of them; and what the more encourages me in the use of quotations in an unknown tongue, is, that I hear the ladies,
whose approbation I value more than that of the whole learned 10 world, declare themselves in a more particular manner pleased with my
Greek mottos. Designing this day's work for a dissertation upon the two extremities of my paper, and having already dispatched my motto, I shall, in the next place, discourse upon those single capital letters, which are placed at the end of it, and which have afforded great matter of speculation to the curious n. I have heard various conjectures upon this subject. Some tell us that C is the mark of those papers that are written by the clergyman,
though others ascribe them to the club in general: that the 20 papers marked with R were written by my friend Sir Roger :
that L signifies the lawyer whom I have described in my second speculation; and that T stands for the trader or merchant : but the letter X, which is placed at the end of some few of my papers, is that which has puzzled the whole town, as they cannot think of any name which begins with that letter, except Xenophon and Xerxes, who can neither of them be supposed to have had any hand in these speculations.
In answer to these inquisitive gentlemen, who have many of them made enquiries of me by letter, I must tell them the 30 reply of an ancient philosopher, who carried something hidden
under his cloke. A certain acquaintance desiring him to let him know what it was he covered so carefully, I cover it, says he, on purpose that you should not know. I have made use of these obscure marks for the same purpose. They are, perhaps, little amulets or charms to preserve the paper against the fascination and malice of evil eyes; for which reason I would not have my reader surprised, if hereafter he sees any of my papers marked with a R, a Z, a Y, an &c. or with the word
Abracadabra. 40 I shall, however, so far explain myself to the reader, as to let
him know that the letters C, L, and X, are cabalistical, and carry more in them than it is proper for the world to be acquainted with. Those who are versed in the philosophy of Pythagoras, and swear by the Tetrachtys, that is, the number four, will know very well that the number ten, which is signified by the letter X, and which has so much perplexed the town, has in it many particular powers; that it is called by Platonic writers the compleat number; that one, two, three, and four put to
gether make up the number ten; and that ten is all. But these 10 are not mysteries for ordinary readers to be let into. A man
must have spent many years in hard study before he can arrive at the knowledge of them.
We had a rabbinical divine in England, who was chaplain to the Earl of Essex in Queen Elizabeth's time, that had an admirable head for secrets of this nature. Upon his taking the doctor of divinity's degree, he preached before the university of Cambridge, upon the first verse of the first chapter of the first book of Chronicles, in which, says he, you have the three following words,
Adam, Sheth, Enosh. He divided this short text into many parts, and by discovering several mysteries in each word, made a most learned and elaborate discourse. The name of this profound preacher was Doctor Alabastern; of whom the reader may find a more particular account in Doctor Fuller's book of English worthies. This instance will, I hope, convince my readers, that there may be a great deal of fine writing in the capital letters which bring up the rear of my paper, and give them some satisfaction in that
particular. But as for the full explication of these matters, I 30 must refer them to time, which discovers all things.-C.
No. 262. The Spectator is grateful to the public for the support
which he has received; has carefully abstained from person-
Ovid. Trist. ii. 566.
I think myself highly obliged to the public for their kind acceptance of a paper which visits them every morning, and