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SINCE our persons are not of our own making, when they are such as appear defective or uncomely, it is, methinks, an honest and laudable fortitude to dare to be ugly; at least to keep ourselves from being abashed with a consciousness of imperfections which we cannot help, and in wiich there is no guilt. I would not defend an haggard beau for passing away much time at a glass, and giving softnesses and languishing graces to deformity; all I intend is, that we ought to be contented with our countenance and shape, so far as never to give ourselves an uneasy reflection on that subject. It is to the ordinary people, who are not accustomed to make very proper remarks on any occasion, matter of great jest, if a man enters with a prominent pair of shoulders into an assembly, or is distinguished by an expansion of mouth, or obliquity of aspect. It is happy for a man that has any of these oddnesses about him, if he can be merry upon himself as others are apt to be upon th it occasion; when he can possess himself with such a cheerfulness, women and children, who are at first frighted at him, will afterwards be as much pleased with him. As it is barbarous in others to rally him for natural defects, it is extremely agreeable when he can jest upon himself for them.
Madame Maintenon's first husband was an hero in this kind, and has drawn many pleasantries from the irregularity of his shape, which he describes as very much resembling the letter Z. He diverts himself likewise by representing to his reader the make of an engine and pully, with which he used to take off his hat. When there happens to be any thing ridiculous in a visage, and the owner of it thinks it an aspect of dignity, he must be of very great quality to be exempt from raillery: the best expedient therefore is to be pleasant upon himself. Prince Harry and Falstaff, in Shakespeare, have carried the ridicule upon fat and lean as far as it will go. Falstaff is humourously called Woolsack, Bedpresser, anıl Hill of Flesh; Harry, a Starveling, an Elves-skin, a Sheath, a Bow-case, and a Tucke There is, in several incidents of the convergation between them, the jest still kept up upon the person. Great tenderness and sensibility in this point is one of the greatest weaknesses of self-love. For my own part, I am a little unhappy in the mould of my face, which is not quite so long as it is broad. Whether this might not partly arise from my opening my mouth much seldomer than other people, and by consequence not so much lengthening the fibres of my visage, I am not at leisure to determine. However it be, I have been often put out of countenance by the shortness of my face; and was formerly at great pains in concealing it, by wearing a perriwig with an high fore-top, and letting my beard grow. But now I have thoroughly got over this delicacy, and could be contented with a much shorter, provided it might qualify me for a member of the Merry Club; which the following letter gives me an account of. I have received it from Oxford; and as it abounds with the spirit of mirth and good-humour, which is natural to that place, I shall set it down word for word as it came to me.
" Most profound Sir,
HAVING been very well entertained in the last of your Speculation that I have yet seen, by your
« Specimen upon Clubs, which I therefore hope you I will continue, I shall take the liberty to furnish you
with a brief account of such a one as perhaps you « have not seen in all your travels, unless it was your « fortune to touch upon some of the woody parts of ( the African continent, in your voyage to or from 6. Grand Cairo. There have arose in this university
(long since you left us without saying any thing) se(veral of these hebdomadal societies: as the Punning 6 Club, the Witty Club, and, amongst the rest, the ( Handsome Club; as a burlesque upon which, a cer<tain merry species, that seem to have come into the ( world in masquerade, for some years last past have ( associated themselves together, and assumed the "name of the Ugly Club. This ill-favoured fraterni( ty consists of a President and twelve fellows; the I choice of which is not confined by patent to any par6 ticular foundation (as St. John's men would have 6 the world believe, and have therefore erected a ser parate society within themselves), but liberty is left
to elect from any school in Great Britain, provided (the candidates be within the rules of the Club, as set i forth in a table intituled, “ The Act of Deformity." • A clause or two of which I shall transmit to you.
1. That no person whatsoever shall be admitted I without a visible queerity in his aspect, or peculiar ( cast of countenance; of which the President and
officers for the time being are to determine; and • the President to have the casting-voice.
III. That a singular regard be had, upon exami. ( nation, to the gibbosity of the gentlemen that offer ( themselves as founders kinsmen; or to the obliquity of their figure, in what sort soever.
" III. That if the quantity of any man's nose be ( eminently miscalculated, whether as to length or • breadth, he shall have a just pretence to be elected. Lastly, That if there shall be two or more com* petitors for the same vacancy, cæteris paribus, he " that has the thickest skin to have the preference. : "Every fresh member, upon his first night, is to
entertain the company with a dish of cod-fish, and a ! speech in praise of Æsop; whose portraiture they « have in full proportion, or rather disproportion, over o the chimney; and their design is, as soon as their • funds are sufficient, to purchase the heads of Ther
sites, Duns Scotus, Scarron, Hudibras, and the old « gentleman in Oldham, with all the celebrated ill ! faces of antiquity, as furniture for the Club-room.
As they have always been professed admirers of (the other sex, so they unanimously declare that they I will give all possible encouragement to such as will ( take the benefit of the statute, though none yet have ( appeared to do it.
The worthy President, who is their most devoted champion, has lately shewn me two copies of verses, composed by a gentleman of this society; the first,
a congratulatory ode inscribed to Mrs. Touchwood, " upon the loss of her two fore-teeth; the other a ( panegyric upon Mrs. Andiron's left shoulder. Mrs. « Vizard, he says, since the small-pox, is grown tole
rably ugly, and a top-toast of the Club; but I never • heard him so lavish of his fine things as upon old " Nell Trott, who constantly officiates at their table; • herhe even adores and extols as the very counterpart • of Mother Shipton. In short, Nell, says he, is one • of the extraordinary works of nature; but as for 6 complection, shape, and features, so valued by 0
thers, they are all mere outside and symmetry, • which is his aversion. Give me leave to add, that • the President is a facetious pleasant gentleman, and • never more so, than when he has got (as he calls • them) his dear Mummers about him; and he ' oiten protests it does him good to meet a fellow with
" a right genuine grimace in his air (which is so agree• able in the generality of the French nation;) and, ( as an instance of his sincerity in this particular, he I gave me a sight of a list in his pocket-book of all " this class, who for these five years have fallen un
der his observation, with himself at the head of I them, and in the rear (as one of a promising and • improving aspect.)
6 humble servant,
( ALEXANDER CARBUNCLE. Oxford, March 2 12, 1710. §
No. XVIII. WEDNESDAY, MARCH 21.
-Equitis quoque jam migravit ab aure voluptas Omnis ad incertos oculos, & gaudia vana. Hor.
But now our nobles too are fops and vain,
IT is my design in this paper to deliver down to posterity a faithful account of the Italian Opera, and of the gradual progress which it has made upon the English stage: for there is no question but our greatgrandchildren will be very curious to know the reason why their forefathers used to sit together like an audience of foreigners in their own country, and to hear whole plays.acted before them in a tongue which they did not understand.
Arsinoe was the first opera that gave us a taste of Italian music. The great success this opera met with produced some attempts of forming pieces upon