« PreviousContinue »
On the contrary, she who has observed the timely cautions I gave her, and lived up to the rules of modesty, will now flourish like " a rose in June" with all her virgin blushes and sweetness about her. I must, however, desire these last to consider how shameful it would be for a general who has made a successful campaign, to be surprised in his winter quarters ; it would be no less dishonourable for a lady to lose, in any other month of the year, what she has been at the pains to preserve in May.
There is no charm in the female sex that can supply the place of virtue. Without innocence, beauty is unlovely, and quality contemptible, good-breeding degenerates into wantonness, and wit into impudence. It is observed that all the virtues are represented both by painters and statuaries under female shapes; but if any one of them has a more particular title to that sex, it is modesty. I shall leave it to the divines to guard them against the opposite vice, as they may be overpowered by temptations ; it is sufficient for me to have warned them against it, as they may be led astray by instinct.
I desire this paper may be read with more than ordinary attention at all tea-tables within the cities of London and Westminster.'
No CCCXCVI. WEDNESDAY, JUNE 4.
Barbara, Celarent, Darii, Ferio, Baralipton*.
HAVING a great deal of business upon my hands at present, I shall beg the reader's leave to present him with a letter that I received about half a year ago rom a gentleman of Cambridge, who styles himself Peter de Quir. I have kept it by me some months ; and though I did not know at first what to make of it, apon my reading it over very frequently, I have at ast discovered several conceits in it: I would not herefore have my reader discouraged, if he does not take them at the first perusal.
To Mr. Spectator.
From St. John's College, Cambridge, Feb. 3, 1712.
· THE monopoly of puns in this university has peen an imn:emorial privilege of the Johnians; and we annot help resenting the late invasion of our ancient ight as to that particular, by a little pretender to clenchng in a neighbouring college, who in an application to you by way of letter a while ago, styled himself Philoprune. Dear Sir, as you are by character a professed well-wisher to speculation, you will excuse a remark which this gentleman's passion for the Brunette has suggested to a brother theorist; it is an offer towards a mechanical account of his lapse to punning, for he belongs to a set of mortals who value themselves upon an uncommon mastery in the more humane and polite part of letters. A conquest by one of this species of
* A barbarous verse, invented by the Logicians.
females gives a very odd turn to the intellectuals of the captivated person, and very different from that way of thinking which a triumph from the eyes of another, more emphatically of the fair sex, does generally occasion. It fills the imagination with an assemblage of such ideas and pictures as are hardly any thing but shade ; such as night, the devil, &c. These portraitures very near overpower the light of the understanding, almost be-night the faculties, and give that melancholy tincture to the most sanguine complexion, which this gentleman calls an inclination to be in a brown-study; and is usually attended with worse consequences in case of a repulse. During this twilight of intellects, the patient is extremely apt, as love is the most witty passion in nature, to offer at some pert sallies now and then, by way of flourish, upon the amiable enchantress, and unfortunately stumbles upon that mongrel miscreated to speak in Miltonic) kind of wit, vulgarly termed the pun. It would not be much amiss to consult Dr. T....W.... (who is certainly a very "able projector, and whose system of divinity and spiritual mechanics obtain very much among the better part of our under-graduates) whether a general inter-marriage enjoined by parliament, between this sisterhood of the olive-beauties and the fra. ternity of the people called quakers, would not be a very serviceable expedient, and abate that overflow of light which shines within them so powerfully, that it dazzles their eyes, and dances them into a thousand vagaries of error and enthusiasm. These reflections may impart some light towards a discovery of the origin of punning among us, and the foundation of its prevailing so long in this famous body. It is notorious, from the instance under consideration, that it must be owing chiefly to the use of brown jugs, muddy belch, and the fumes of a certain memorable place of rendezvous with us at meals, known by the name of Staincoat Hole ; for the atmosphere of the kitchen,
like the tail of a comet, predominates least about the , fire, but resides behind and fills the fragrant receptacle above-mentioned. Besides, it is farther observable that the delicate spirits among us, who declare against these nauseous proceedings, sip tea and put up for critic and amour, profess likewise an equal abhorrence for punning, the ancient innocent diversion of this society.
After all, Sir, though it may appear something absurd that I seem to approach you with the air of an advocate for punning (you who have justified your censures of the practice in a set dissertation upon that subject); yet I am confident you will think it abundantly atoned for, by observing that this humbler exercise may be as instrumental in diverting us from any innovating schemes and hypothesis in wit, as dwelling upon honest orthodox logic would be in securing us from heresy in religion. Had Mr. W....n's researches been confined within the bounds of Ramus or Crackenthorp, that learned news-monger might have acquiesced in what the holy oracles pronounced upon the deluge, like other christians; and had the surprising Mr. L....y been content with the employment of refining upon Shakspeare's points and quibbles (for which he must be allowed to have a superlative genius) and now and then penning a catch or a ditty, instead of inditing odes and sonnets, the gentlemen of the Bon Gout in the pit would never have been put to all that grimace in damning the frippery of state, the poverty and languor of thought, the unnatural wit, and inartificial structure of his dramas.
• I am, Sir, 6 Your very
PETER DE QUIR.'
No. CCCXCVII. THURSDAY, JUNE 5.
...... Dolor ipse disertum
For grief inspir'd me then with eloquence. DRYDEN.
AS the Stoic philosophers discard all passions in general, they will not allow a wise man so much as to pity the afflictions of another. If thou seest thy friend in trouble, says Epictetus, thou mayest put on a look of sorrow, and condole with him, but take care that thy sorrow be not real. The more rigid of this sect would not comply so far as to shew even such an outward appearance of grief; but when one told them of any calamity that had befallen even the nearest of their acquaintance, would immediately reply, What is that to me? If you aggravated the circumstances of the affliction, and shewed how one misfortune was followed by another, the answer was still, All this may be true, but what is it to me?
For my own part, I am of opinion, compassion does not only refine and civilize human nature, but has something in it more pleasing and agreeable than what can be met with in such an indolent happiness, such an indifference to mankind as that in which the Stoics placed their wisdom. As love is the most delightful passion, pity is nothing else but love softened by a degree of sorrow. In short, it is a kind of pleasing anguish, as well as generous sympathy, that knits mankind together, and blends them in the same common lot.
Those who have laid down rules for rhetoric or poetry, advise the writer to work himself up, if possible, to the pitch of sorrow which he endeavours to produce in others. There are none therefore who stir up pity so much as those who indite their own sufferings.