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' while he stood upon one leg, has been imitated, as I • have heard, by a modern writer ; who priding himself
on the hurry of his invention, thought it no small ' addition to his fame to have each piece minuted with " the exact number of hours or days it cost hiin in the
composition. He could tafte no praise until he had . acquainted you in how short space of time he had de• served it ; and was not so much led to an oftentation r of his art, as of his dispatch.
Accipe, li tis,
lib. 1. ver. 14. Here's pen and ink, and time, and place ; let's try, Who can write most, and fastest, you or l. Creech.
• This was the whole of his ambition ; and therefore I cannot but think the flights of this rapid author very proper to be opposed to those laborious nothings which you have observed were the delight of the German wits, and in which they so happily got rid of such a tedious quantity of their tiine. • I have known a gentleman of another turn of humour, who, despising the name of an author, never printed his works, but contracted his talent, and by the help of a very fine diamond which he wore on his litile finger, was a considerable poet upon glafs. He had a very good epigrammatic wit; and there was not a parlour or tavern-window where he visited or dined ' for some years, which did not receive some sketches or • memorials of it. It was his misfortune at last to lose
his genius and his ring to a sharper at play, and he has not attempted to make a verse since.
• But of all contractions or expedients for wit, I ad' mire that of an ingenious projector whose book I have ' seen. This virtuoso being a mathematician, has, ac
cording to his taste, thrown the art of poetry into a ' short problem, and contrived tables by which any one ' without knowing a word of grammar or sense, nay, ' to his great comfort, be able to compose, or rather to
erect Latin verses. His tables are a kind of poetical
• logarithms, which being divided into several squares, • and all inscribed with lo many incoherent words, ap
pear to the eye fomewhat like a fortune-telling-screen. • What a joy must it be to the unlearned operator to ' find that these words being carefully collected and writ * down in order according to the problem, start of them• selves into hexameter and pentameter verses ? A friend
of mine, who is a student in astrology, meeting with
this book, performed the operation, by the rules there • set down; he shewed his verses to the next of his acquaintance, who happened to understand Latin ; and being informed they described a tempest of wind, very luckily prefixed them, together with a translation, to an almanac he was just then printing, and was sup poied to have foretold the last great storm.
I think the only improvement beyond this, would b: • that which the late duke of Buckingham mentioned to a stupid pretender to poetry, as the project of a Dutch
mechanic, viz. a mill to make verses. This being the • most compendious method of all which have yet been
proposed, may deserve the thoughts of our modern virtuosi who are employed in new discoveries for the public good : and it may be worth the while to confider, whether in an island where few are content without being thought wits, it will not be a common benefit, that wit as well as labour should be made cheap.
. i am, Sir,
• Your humble servant, &c.' Mr. SPECTATOR, 'I OFTEN dine at a gentleman's house, where there are two young ladies, in themselves very agreea
ble, but very cold in their behaviour, because they un• derstand me for a person that is to break my mind, as • the phrase is, very suddenly to one of them. But I take
this way to acquaint them, that I am not in love with • either of them, in hopes they will use me with that
agreeable freedom and indifference which they do all “the rest of the world, and not to drink to one another
only, but sometimes cast a kind look, with their ser.
5 yice to,
Mr. SPECTATOR, I AM a young gentleman, and take it for a piece • of good-breeding to pull off my hat when I see any
thing peculiarly charming in any woman, whether I ' know her or not. I take care that there is nothing lu• dicrous or arch in my manner, as if I were to betray a
woman into a salutation by way of jest or humour ;
and except I am acquainted with her, I find she ever ' takes it for a rule, that she is to look upon
this civility and homage I pay to her supposed merit, as an imper. tinence or forwardness which she is to observe and
neglect. I wish, sir, you would settle the business of 'salutation ; and please to inform me how I shall resist
the sudden impulse I have to be civil to what gives an
idea of merit ; or tell these creatures how to behave • themselves in return to the esteem I have for them.
My affairs are such, that your decision will be a favour to me, if it be only to save the unnecessary expence of wearing out my hat so fast as I do at present.
P.S. There are some that do know me, and will not bow to me.'
N° 221. Tuesday, November 13.
Ab Ovo Ufque ad mala
Hor. Sat. 3. 1. 1. v. 6 From eggs which first are set upon the board,
To apples ripe, with which it last is ftord. WHEN I have finished any of my fpeculations, it is my method 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 fimilitude for the illustration of my subject. This is what gives birth to the motto of a speculation, which I rather choose to take out of the poets than the profe 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 letter of recommendation.” It naturally makes the beholders inquisitive into the person who is the owner of it, and generally prepofsefses 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 neceffary when the writer is engaged in what may appear a paradox to vulgar minds, as it shews that he is fupported by good authorities, and is not fingular 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.” But as for my unlearned friecds, if they
cannot relish the motto, I take care to make provision for them in the body of my paper. If they do not underftand the sign that is hung out, they know very well by it, that they may ineet with entertainment in the house';: and I think' I was never better pleased than with a plain man'scompliment, who, upon his friend's telling him that he would like the SPECTATOR much better if he underftood 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 outshine one another, and draw 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 bearers, 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 congrega-tion 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 sernions the whole book of Quæ Genus, adding however such explications to it as he thought might be for the benefit of his people. He afterwards entered upon As in presenti, 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 specularions fare never the worse among them from that little scrap which appears at the head of them; and what theinore encourages me in the use of quotations in an un-known tongue, is, that I hear the ladies, whose approbation I value inore than that of the whole learned world, declare themselves in a more particular manner: pleased with my Greek motios..
Designing this day's work for a differtation upon the two extremities of my paper, and having already cil patched 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 maiter ofi