Imágenes de páginas


[ocr errors]

⚫ 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 finall ⚫ addition to his fame to have each piece minuted with the exact number of hours or days it coft him in the compofition. He could tafte no praife until he had acquainted you in how short space of time he had deferved it; and was not fo much led to an oftentation <of his art, as of his dispatch.

-Accipe, fi vis,
Accipiam tabulas; detur nobis locus, hora,
Cuftodes: videamus uter plus fcribere poffit.

HOR. Sat. 4. lib. 1. ver. 14

Here's pen and ink, and time, and place;
Who can write most, and fastest, you or I.

let's try, 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 thofe laborious nothings which you have obferved were the delight of the German wits, and in which they fo happily got rid of fuch a ⚫ tedious quantity of their time.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

I have known a gentleman of another turn of humour, who, defpifing 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 lit⚫tle finger, was a confiderable poet upon glass. He had a very good epigrammatic wit; and there was not a parlour or tavern-window where he vifited or dined for fome years, which did not receive fome sketches or 'memorials of it. It was his misfortune at laft to lofe ⚫ his genius and his ring to a fharper at play, and he has not attempted to make a verfe fince.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

But of all contractions or expedients for wit, I admire that of an ingenious projector whose book I have ⚫ feen. This virtuofo being a mathematician, has, according to his tafte, thrown the art of poetry into a 'fhort problem, and contrived tables by which any one 'without knowing a word of grammar or fenfe, may, to his great comfort, be able to compofe, or rather to erect Latin verfes. His tables are a kind of poetical

[ocr errors]

'logarithms, which being divided into feveral fquares, and all infcribed with fo many incoherent words, appear to the eye fomewhat like a fortune-telling-screen. What a joy muft it be to the unlearned operator to 'find that these words being carefully collected and writ ' down in order according to the problem, ftart of them⚫ felves into hexameter and pentameter verses? A friend I of mine, who is a ftudent in aftrology, meeting with this book, performed the operation, by the rules there fet down; he fhewed his verses to the next of his acquaintance, who happened to understand Latin; and being informed they defcribed a tempeft of wind, very luckily prefixed them, together with a tranflation, to an almanac he was just then printing, and was sup pofed to have foretold the laft great ftorm.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

I think the only improvement beyond this, would b: that which the late duke of Buckingham mentioned to a ftupid pretender to poetry, as the project of a Dutch mechanic, viz. a mill to make verses. This being the moft compendious method of all which have yet been propofed, may deferve the thoughts of our modern virtuofi who are employed in new discoveries for the public good and it may be worth the while to confi⚫der, 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,

[ocr errors]


'Your humble fervant, &c.'

'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 perfon that is to break my mind, as the phrafe is, very fuddenly 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 ufe 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 fometimes caft a kind look, with their fer•vice to,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

• Sir,

• Your humble fervant.'

[ocr errors]


"I AM a young gentleman, and take it for a piece ' of good-breeding to pull off my hat when I fee 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 falutation by way of jeft or humour


' and except I am acquainted with her, I find the ever 'takes it for a rule, that the is to look upon this civility ' and homage I pay to her supposed merit, as an imper'tinence or forwardnefs which the is to obferve, and neglect. I wish, fir, you would fettle the business of 'falutation; and pleafe to inform me how I fhall refift 'the fudden impulfe 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 fuch, that your decifion will be a favour if it be only to fave the unneceffary expence of wearing out my hat so fast as I do at prefent.

[ocr errors]

to me,

[ocr errors]

I am, Sir,


'D. T.'

'P. S. There are fome that do know me, and will

not bow to me.'


I 5

N° 221. Tuesday, November 13.

-Ab Ovo

Ufque ad mala

HOR. Sat. 3. I. 1. v. 6.

From eggs which firft are fet upon the board,
To apples ripe, with which it laft is ftor'd.

WHEN I have finished any of my fpeculations, it is

my method to confider which of the ancient authors have touched upon the fubject that I treat of. By this means I meet with fome celebrated thought upon it, or a thought of my own expreffed in better words, or fome fimilitude for the illuftration of my fubject. This is what gives birth to the motto of a fpeculation, 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 fure 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 fome beautiful paffage of a claffic author.

It was a faying of an ancient philofopher, which I find fome of our writers have afcribed to queen Elizabeth, who perhaps might have taken occafion to repeat it, "that a good face is a letter of recommendation." It naturally makes the beholders inquifitive into the perfon who is the owner of it, and generally prepoffeffes them in his favour. A handfome motto has the fame effect. Befides that it always gives a fupernumerary beauty to a paper, and is fometimes in a manner neceffary when the writer is engaged in what may appear a paradox to vulgar minds, as it fhews that he is fupported by good authorities, and is not fingular in his opinion.

I must confefs, the motto is of little use to an unlearned reader, for which reafon I confider it only as "a word to the wife." But as for my unlearned friends, if they

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

cannot relish the motto, I take care to make provifion for them in the body of my paper. If they do not underftand the fign 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 pleafed than with a plain man's compliment, 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 outfhine one another, and draw together the greatest congregation. One of them being well verfed in the fathers, ufed to quote every now and then a Latin fentence to his illiterate hearers, who it feems found themselves fo 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 occafion of it, refolved to give his parish: a little Latin in his turn; but being unacquainted with: any of the fathers, he digefted into his fermions the whole book of Quae Genus, adding however fuch explications to it as he thought might be for the benefit of his people. He afterwards entered upon As in præfenti, which he converted in the fame manner to the ufe: of his parishioners. This in a very little time thickened his audience, filled his church, and routed his anta-gonist.

The natural love to Latin, which is fo prevalent in: our common people, makes me think that my fpeculations fare never the worfe among them from that little: fcrap which appears at the head of them; and what the more encourages me in the ufe of quotations in an un-known tongue, is, that I hear the ladies, whofe approbation I value more than that of the whole learned: world, declare themselves in a more particular manner pleafed with my Greek mottos..

Defigning this day's work for a differtation upon the two extremities of my paper, and having already cif-patched my motto, I fhall, in the next place, difcourfe upon thofe fingle capital letters, which are placed at: the end of it, and which have afforded great matter-off

« AnteriorContinuar »