Графични страници
PDF файл

scribed Beta for the same reason. In short, | Among innumerable instances that may be the poet excluded the whole four and twen-given of this nature, I shall produce the ty letters in their turns, and showed them, device of one Mr. Newberry, as I find it one after another, that he could do his bu- mentioned by our learned Camden in his siness without them.

Remains. Mr. Newberry, to represent his It must have been very pleasant to have name by a picture, hung up at his door the seen this poet avoiding the reprobate letter, sign of a yew-tree, that had several berries as much as another would a false quantity, upon it, and in the midst of them a great and making his escape from it through the golden N hung upon a bough of a tree, several Greek dialects, when he was press- which by the help of a little false spelling ed with it in any particular syllable. For the made up the word N-ew-berry: most apt and elegant word in the whole I shall conclude this topic with a rebus, language was rejected, like a diamond with which has been lately hewn out in freea flaw in it, if it appeared blemished with stone, and erected over two of the portals a wrong letter. I shall only observe upon of Blenheim House, being the figure of a this head, that if the work I have here monstrous lion tearing to pieces a little mentioned had now been extant, the Odys- cock. For the better understanding of sey of Typhiodorus, in all probability, which device, I must acquaint my English would have been oftener quoted by our reader, that a cock has the misfortune to learned pedants, than the Odyssey of Ho- be called in Latin by the same word that mer. What a perpetual fund would it signifies a Frenchman, as a lion is an emhave been of obsolete words and phrases, blem of the English nation. Such a device unusual barbarisms and rusticities, absurd in so noble a pile of building, looks like a spellings, and complicated dialects ? I pun in an heroic poem; and I am very make no question but it would have been sorry the truly ingenious architect would looked upon as one of the most valuable suffer the statuary to blemish his exceltreasures of the Greek tongue.

lent plan with so poor a conceit. But I I find likewise among the ancients that hope what I have said will gain quarter for ingenious kind of conceit, which the mo- the cock, and deliver him out of the lion's derns distinguish by the name of a rebus, paw. that does not sink a letter, but a whole

I find likewise in ancient times the conword, by substituting a picture in its place. ceit of making an echo talk sensibly, and When Cæsar was one of the masters of the give rational answers. If this could be exRoman mint, he placed the figure of an ele- cusable in any writer, it would be in Ovid, phant upon the reverse of the public money; where he introduces the echo as a nymph, the word Cæsar signifying an elephant in before she was worn away into nothing but the Punic language. This was artificially a voice. The learned Erasmus, though a contrived by Cæsar, because it was not man of wit and genius, has composed a lawful for a private man to stamp his own dialogue upon this silly kind of device, and figure upon the coin of the commonwealth. made use of an echo who seems to have Cicero, who was so called from the foun- been a very extraordinary linguist, for she der of his family, that was marked on the answers the persons she talks with in nose with a little wen like a vetch (which Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, according as is Cicer in Latin,) instead of Marcus Tullius she found the syllables which she was to Cicero, ordered the words Marcus Tullius, repeat in any of those learned languages. with a figure of a vetch at the end of them, Hudibras, in ridicule of this false kind of to be inscribed on a public monument. wit, has described Bruin bewailing the loss This was done probably to show that he of his bear to a solitary echo, who is of was neither ashamed of his name or family, great use to the poet in several distichs, notwithstanding the envy of his competi- as she does not only repeat after him, but tors had often reproached him with both. helps out his verse, and furnishes him with In the same manner we read of a famous rhymes. building that was marked in several parts • He rag'd, and kept as heavy a coil as of it with the figures of a frog and a lizard; Stout Hercules for loss of Hylas; those words in Greek having been the

Forcing the valleys to repeat names of the architects, who by the laws

He beat his breast, and tore his hair, of their country were never permitted to For loss of his dear crony bear, inscribe their own names upon their works.

That Echo from the hollow ground For the same reason it is thought, that the

His doleful wailings did resound

More wistfully by many times, forelock of the horse in the antique eques Than in smali poet's splay-foot rhymes, trian statue of Marcus Aurelius, represents

That make her, in their rueful stories,

To answer to int'rogatories, at a distance the shape of an owl, to inti

And most unconscionably depose mate the country of the statuary, who, in Things of which she nothing knows; all probability, was an Athenian. This And when she has said all she can say kind of wit was very much in vogue among

"Tis wrested to the lover's fancy.

Quoth he, O whither, wicked Bruin, our own countrymen about an age or two Art thou fled to my ago, who did not practise it for any oblique

I thought th' hadsi scorn'd to budge a step

For fear. (Quoth Echo) Marry guep. reason, as the ancients above-mentioned,

Am I not here to take thy part ? but purely for the sake of being witty. Then what has quell'd thy stubborn heart 1

The accents of his sad regret;

Echo, Ruin?

Pers. Sat. iii. 85.

Have these bonos rattled, and this head

| mine not broken up, which will not show So often in thy quarrel bled ? Nor did I ever winch or grudge it,

the treasure it contains, till he shall have For thy dear sake. (Quoth she) Mum budget spent many hours in the search of it; for it is Think'st thou 'twill not be laid 'i th' dish,

his business to find out one word that conThou turn'st thy back? (Quoth Echo) Pish! To run from those th' hadst overcoine

ceals itself in another, and to examine the Thus cowardly? (Quoth Echo) Mum.

letters in all the variety of stations in which But what a vengeance makes thee fly

they can possibly be ranged. I have heard From me too as thine enemy? Or if thou hast no thought of me,

of a gentleman who, when this kind of wit Nor what I have endur'd for thee,

was in fashion, endeavoured to gain his Yet shame and honour might prevail

mistress's heart by it. She was one of the To keep thee thus from turning tail: For who would grudge to spend his blood in

finest women of her age, and known by the His honour's cause ? (Quoth she) A pudding.' name of the Lady Mary Boon. The lover not

C. being able to make any thing of Mary, by

certain liberties indulged to this kind of No. 60.] Wednesday, May 9 1711.

writing, converted it into Moll; and after

having shut himself up for a half year, Hoc est quod palles ? Cur quis non prandeat, Hoc est. with indefatigable industry produced an

anagram. Upon the presenting it to his Is it for this you gain those meagre looks,

mistress, who was a little vexed in her And sacrifice your dinner to your books ?

heart to see herself degraded into Moll Several kinds of false wit that vanished Boon, she told him, to his infinite surprise, in the refined ages of the world, discovered that he had mistaken hersurname, for that themselves again in the time of monkish it was not Boon, but Bohun. ignorance.

Ibi omnis As the monks were the masters of all

Effusus labor that little learning which was then extant, The Jover was thunder-struck with his and had their whole lives entirely disen- misfortune, insomuch that in a little time gaged from business, it is no wonder that after he lost his senses, which indeed had several of them, who wanted genius for been very much impaired by that continual . higher performances, employed many application he had given to his anagram. hours in the composition of such tricks in The acrostic was probably invented about writing, as required much time and little the same time with the anagram, though it capacity. I have seen half the Æneid is impossible to decide whether the inventurned into Latin rhymes by one the tor of the one or the other were the greater beaux esprits of that dark age: who says blockhead. The simple acrostic is nothing in his preface to it, that the Æneid wanted but the name or title of a person, or thing, nothing but the sweets of rhyme to make made out of the initial letters of several it the most perfect work in its kind. I have verses, and by that means written, after the likewise seen a hymn in hexameters to manner of the Chinese, in a perpendicular the Virgin Mary, which filled a whole line. But besides these there are compound book, though it consisted but of the eight acrostics, when the principal letters stand following words:

two or three deep. I have seen some of • Tot, tibi, sunt, Virgo, dotes, quot, sidera, calo.'

them where the verses have not only been • Thon hast as many virtues, o Virgin, as there are edged by a name at each extremity, but

have had the same name running down like The poet rung the changes upon these a seam through the middle of the poem. eight several words, and by that means There is another near relation of the anamade his verses almost as numerous as grams and acrostics, which is commonly the virtues and the stars which they cele- called a chronogram. This kind of wit apbrated. It is no wonder that men who pears very often on many modern medals, had so much time upon their hand did not especially those of Germany, when they reonly restore all the antiquated pieces of present in the inscription the year in which false wit, but enriched the world with in- they were coined. Thus we see on a medal ventions of their own. It was to this age of Gustavus Adolphus the following words, that we owe the productions of anagrams, ChristVs DUX ERGO TRIVMPHVs. l which is nothing else but a transmutation of you take the pains to pick the figures out of one word into another, or the turning of the several words, and range them in their the same set of letters into different words; proper order, you will find they amount which may change night into day, or black to MDCXXVII, or 1627, the year in which into white, if Chance, who is the goddess the medal was stamped: for as some of the that presides over these sorts of composi- letters distinguish themselves from the rest, tion, shall so direct. I remember a witty and overtop their fellows, they are to be author, in allusion to this kind of writing, considered in a double capacity, both as calls his rival, who it seems) was distort- letters and as figures. Your laborious Gered, and had his limbs set in places that did man wits will turn over a whole dictionary not properly belong to them, the anagram for one of these ingenious devices. A man of a man.'

would think they were searching after an When the anagrammatist takes a name apt classical term, but instead of that they to work upon, he considers it at first as al are looking out a word that has an L, an

stars in heaven.'

M, or a D in it. When therefore we meet The first occasion of these bouts-rimez with any of these inscriptions, we are not made them in some manner excusable, as so much to look in them for the thought, they were tasks which the French ladies as for the year the Lord.

used to impose on their lovers. But when The bouts-rimez were the favourites of a grave author, like him above-mentioned, the French nation for a whole age together, tasked himself, could there be any thing and that at a time when it abounded in wit more ridiculous? Or would not one be apt and learning. They were a list of words to believe that the author played booty, that rhyme to one another, drawn up by and did not make his list of rhymes till he another hand, and given to a poet, who was had finished his poem? to make a poem to the rhymes in the same I shall only add, that this piece of false order that they were placed upon the list: wit has been finely ridiculed by Monsieur the more uncommon the rhymes were, the Sarasin, in a poem entitled, La Defaite more extraordinary was the genius of the des Bouts-Rimez, The Rout of the Boutspoet that could accommodate his verses to Rimez. them. I do not know any greater instance I must subjoin to this last kind of wit the of the decay of wit and learning among the double rhymes, which are used in doggerel French (which generally follows the de- poetry, and generally applauded by ignoclension of empire) than the endeavouring rant readers. If the thought of the couplet to restore this foolish kind of wit. If the in such compositions is good, the rhyme reader will be at the trouble to see exam- adds little to it; and if bad, it will not be ples of it, let him look into the new Mer- in the power of the rhyme to recommend cure Gallant; where the author every month it. I am afraid that great numbers of those gives a list of rhymes to be filled up by the who admire the incomparable Hudibras, ingenious; in order to be communicated to do it more on account of these doggerel the public in the Mercure for the succeed- rhymes, than of the parts that really deing month. That for the month of Novem- serve admiration. I am sure I have heard ber last, which now lies before me, is as the follows:

Pulpit, drum ecclesiastic,

Was beat with tisi, instead of a stick;"
Lauriers and

"There was an ancient sage philosopher,

Who had read Alexander Ross over;
Lisette more frequently quoted than the finest

pieces of wit in the whole poem. C.

No. 61.] Thursday, May 10, 1711.
One would be amazed to see so learned

Non equidem hoc studeo, bullatis ut mihi nugis

Pagina turgescat, dare pondus idoneo fumo. a man as Menage talking seriously on this kind of trifle in the following passage: "Tis not indeed my talent to engage • Monsieur de la Chambre has told me,

In lofty trifles, or to swell my page that he never knew what he was going to

Dryden. write when he took his pen into his hand; There is no kind of false wit which has but that one sentence always produced been so recommended by the practice of all another. For my own part I never knew ages, as that which consists in a jingle of what I should write next when I was mak- words, and is comprehended under the geing verses. In the first place, I got all my neral name of punning. It is indeed imposrhymes together, and was afterwards per- sible to kill a weed which the soil has a haps three or four months in filling them natural disposition to produce. The seeds up. I one day showed Monsieur Gombaud of punning are in the minds of all men; and a composition of this nature, in which, though they may be subdued by reason, among others, I had made use of the four fol- reflection, and good sense, they will be very lowing rhymes, Amaryllis, Phyllis, Marne, apt to shoot up in the greatest genius that Arne; desiring him to give me his opinion of is not broken and cultivated by the rules of it. He told me immediately, that my verses art. Imitation is natural to us, and when were good for nothing. And upon my ask- it does not raise the mind to poetry, painting his reason, he said, because the rhymes ing, music, or other more noble arts, it often are too common; and for that reason easy breaks out in puns, and quibbles. to be put into verse. “Marry,” says I, “ if Aristotle, in the eleventh chapter of his it be so, I am very well rewarded for all book of rhetoric, describes two or three the pains I have been at.” But by Mon- kinds of puns, which he calls paragrams, sieur Gombaud's leave, notwithstanding the among the beauties of good writing, and severity of the criticism, the verses were produces instances of them out of some of good.' Vid. Menagiana. *_Thus far the the greatest authors in the Greek tongue, learned Menage, whom I have translated Cicero has sprinkled several of his works word for word.

with puns, and in his book where he lays

down the rules of oratory, quotes abundance • Tom. I. p. 174. &c. ed. Amst. 1713 of sayings as pieces of wit, which also upon

Pers. Sat. v. 19.

With wind and noise.

examination prove arrant puns. But the ceded them. It was one of the employage in which the pun chiefly flourished, was ments of these secondary authors, to disin the reign of King James the First. That tinguish the several kinds of wit by terms learned monarch was himself a tolerable of art, and to consider them as more or less punster, and made very few bishops or perfect, according as they were founded in privy-counsellors that had not sometime truth. It is no wonder therefore, that even or other signalized themselves by a clinch, such authors as Isocrates, Plato, and Cicero, or a conundrum. It was therefore in this should have such little blemishes as are not age that the pun appeared with pomp and to be met with in authors of much inferior dignity. It had been before admitted into character, who have written since those merry speeches and ludicrous compositions, several blemishes were discovered. I do. but was now delivered with great gravity not find that there was a proper separation from the pulpit, or pronounced in the most made between puns and true wit by any of solemn manner at the council-table. The the ancient authors, except Quintilian and greatest authors, in their most serious Longinus. But when this distinction was works, made frequent use of puns. The once settled, it was very natural for all men

sermons of Bishop Andrews, and the trage- of sense to agree in it.” As for the revival • dies of Shakspeare are full of them. The of this false wit, it happened about the time sinner was punned into repentance by the of the revival of letters; but as soon as it was former, as in the latter nothing is more once detected, it immediately vanished and usual than to see a hero weeping and quib- disappeared. At the same time there is no bling for a dozen lines together.

question, but as it has sunk in one age and I must add to these great authorities, rose in another, it will again recover itself which seem to have given a kind of sanc- in some distant period of time, as pedantry tion to this piece of false wit, that all the and ignorance shall prevail upon wit and writers of rhetoric have treated of punning sense. And, to speak the truth, I do very with very great respect, and divided the much apprehend, by some of the last winseveral kinds of it into hard names, that ter's productions, which had their sets of are reckoned among the figures of speech, admirers, that our posterity will in a few and recommended as ornaments in dis- years degenerate into a race of punsters: course. I remember a country schoolmas- at least, a man may be very excusable for ter of my acquaintance told me once, that any apprehensions of this kind, that has he had been in company with a gentleman seén acrostics handed about the town with whom he looked upon to be the greatest great secrecy and applause; to which I panagrammatist among the moderns. Upon must also add a little epigram called the inquiry, I found my learned friend had Witches' Prayer, that fell into verse when dined that day with Mr. Swan, the famous it was read either backward or forward, punster; and desiring him to give me some excepting only that it cursed one way, and account of Mr. Swan's conversation, he blessed the other. When one sees there told me that he generally talked in the are actually such pains-takers among our Paranomasia, that he sometimes gave into British wits, who can tell what it may end the Ploce, but that in his humble opinion in? If we must lash one another, let it be he shined most in the Antanaclasis. with the manly strokes of wit and satire; for

I must not here omit that a famous uni- I am of the old philosopher's opinion, that versity of this land was formerly very much if I must suffer from one or the other, I infested with puns; but whether or no this would rather it should be from the paw of might not arise from the fens and marshes a lion, than from the hoof of an ass. I do in which it was situated, and which are not speak this out of any spirit of party, now drained, I must leave to the determi- There is a most crying dusiness on both nation of more skilful naturalists.

sides. I have seen tory acrostics, and After this short history of punning, one whig anagrams, and do not quarrel with would wonder how it should be so entirely either of them because they are whigs or banished out of the learned world as it is at tories, but because they are anagrams and present, especially since it had found a acrostics. place in the writings of the most ancient But to return to punning. Having pursued polite authors. To account for this we must the history of a pun, from its original to its consider, that the first race of authors who downfall, I shall here define it to be a conwere the great heroes in writing, were ceit arising from the use of two words that destitute of all the rules and arts of criti-agree in the sound, but differ in the sense. cism; and for that reason, though they ex- The only way therefore to try a piece of cel later writers in greatness of genius, they wit, is to translate it into a different lanfall short of them in accuracy and correct- guage. If it bears the test, you may pro

The moderns cannot reach their nounce it true; but if it vanishes in the exbeauties, but can avoid their imperfections. periment, you may conclude it to have When the world was furnished with these been a pun. In short, one may say of a authors of the first eminence, there grew pun, as the countryman described his up another set of writers, who gained them- nightingale, that it is : vox et præterea ni, selves a reputation by the remarks which hil

, -- a sound, and nothing but a sound.' they made on the works of those who pre- On the contrary, one may represent true


wit by the description which Aristenetus the bosom of his mistress is as white as makes of a fine woman: when she is dress- snow, there is no wit in the comparison; ed she is beautiful; when she is undressed but when he adds with a sigh, it is as cold, she is beautiful; or as Mercerus has trans- too, it then grows into wit. Every reader's lated it more emphatically, Induitur, for- memory may supply him with innumeramosa est : exuiter, ipsa, forma est.'* C. ble instances of the same nature. For this

reason, the similitudes in heroic poets, who

endeavour rather fill the mind with No. 62.] Friday, May 11, 1711.

great conceptions, than to divert it with

such as are new and surprising, have selScribendi recte sapere est et principium et fons. dom any thing in them that can be called

Hors. Ars Poet. ver. 309. wit. Mr. Locke's account of wit, with this Sound judgment is the ground of writing well. short explanation, comprehends most of

Roscommon. the species of wit, as metaphors, similiMR. LOCKE has an admirable reflection tudes, allegories, enigmas, mottos, paraupon the difference of wit and judgment, bles, fables, dreams, visions, dramatic whereby he endeavours to show the reason writings, burlesque, and all the methods why they are not always the talents of the of allusion. There are many other pieces same person. His words are as follow: of wit (however remote soever they may * And hence, perhaps, may be given some appear at first sight from the foregoing dereason of that common observation, “That scription) which upon examination will be men who have a great deal of wit, and found to agree with it. prompt memories, have not always the As true wit generally consists in this re-1 clearest judgment or deepest reason. For semblance and congruity of ideas, false wit

wit lying most in the assemblage of ideas, chiefly consists in the resemblance and con► and putting those together with quickness gruity sometimes of single letters, as in

and variety, wherein can be found any re- anagrams, chronograms, lipograms, and semblance or congruity, thereby to make acrostics; sometimes of syllables, as in up pleasant pictures, and agreeable visions echoes and doggerel rhymes; sometimes of in the fancy; judgment, on the contrary, words, as in puns and quibbles; and some lies quite on the other side, in separating times of whole sentences or poems, cast (carefully one from another, ideas wherein into the figures of eggs, axes, or altars: can be found the least difference, thereby nay, some carry the notion of wit so far, as to avoid being misled by similitude, and to ascribe it even to external mimickry; by affinity to take one thing for another. and to look upon a man as an ingenious perThis is a way of proceeding quite contrary son, that can resemble the tone, posture, or to metaphor and allusion; wherein, for the face of another. most part, lies that entertainment and As true wit consists in the resemblance pleasantry of wit, which strikes so lively of ideas, and false wit in the resemblance on the fancy, and is therefore so accepta- of words, according to the foregoing inble to all people.'

stances; there is another kind of wit which This, I think, the best and most philo consists partly in the resemblance of ideas, sophical account that I have ever met with and partly in the resemblance of words, of wit, which generally, though not always, which for distinction sake I shall call mixt consists in such a resemblance and con- wit. This kind of wit is that which abounds gruity of ideas as this author mentions. I in Cowley, more than in any author that shall only add to it, by way of explanation, ever wrote. Mr. Waller has likewise a that every resemblance of ideas is not that great deal of it. Mr. Dryden is very which we call wit, unless it be such an one sparing in it. Milton had a genius much * that gives delight and surprise to the above it. Spenser is in the same class with reader. These two properties seem essen- Milton. The Italians, even in their epic tial to wit, more particularly the last of poetry, are full of it. Monsieur Boileau, them. In order therefore that the resem- who formed himself upon the ancient poets, blance in the ideas be wit, it is necessary has every where rejected it with scorn.

If that the ideas should not lie too near one we look after mixt wit among the Greek another in the nature of things; for where writers, we shall find it no where but in the likeness is obvious it gives no surprise. the epigrammatists. There are indeed some To compare one man's singing to that of strokes of it in the little poem ascribed to another, or to represent the whiteness of Musæus, which by that, as well as many any object by that of milk and snow, or the other marks, betrays itself to be a modern variety of its colours by those of the rain composition. If we look into the Latin bow, cannot be called wit, unless besides writers, we find none of this mixt wit in this obvious resemblance, there be some Virgil, Lucretius, or Catullus; very little further congruity discovered in the two in Horace, but a great deal of it in Ovid, ideas, that is capable of giving the reader and scarce any thing else in Martial. some surprise. Thus when a poet tells us Out of the innumerable branches of mixt

wit, I shall choose one instance which may * Dressed she is beautiful, undressed she is Beauty's be met with in all the writers of this class.

The passion of love in its nature has been

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
« ПредишнаНапред »