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general tendency shall be, to cultivate taste and improve the heart.
N° 2. SATURDAY, JANUARY 30, 1779.
No child ever heard from its nurse the story of Jack the Giant Killer's cap of darkness, without envying the pleasures of invisibility; and the idea of Gyges' ring has made, I believe, many a grave mouth water.
This power is, in some degree, possessed by the writer of an anonymous paper. He can at least exercise it for a purpose, for which people would be most apt to use the privilege of being invisible, to wit, that of hearing what is said of himself.
A few hours after the publication of my first number, I sallied forth with all the advantages of invisibility, to hear an account of myself and my paper. I must confess, however, that, for some time, I was mortified by hearing no such account at all; the first company I visited being dull enough to talk about last night's Advertiser, instead of the Mirror; and the second, which consisted of ladies, to whom I ventured to mention the appearance
my number, making a sudden digression to the price of a new-fashioned lustring, and the colour of the trimming with which it would be proper to make it up gown. Nor was 'I more fortunate in the third place where I contrived to introduce the subject of my -publication, though it was a coffee-house, where it is actually taken in for the use of the customers; a set of old gentlemen at one table, throwing it aside to talk over a bargain ; and a company of young ones, at another, breaking off in the middle to decide a match at billiards.
It was uot till I arrived at the place of its birth that I met with any traces of its fame. In the wellknown shop of my Editor I found it the subject of conversation ; though I must own that, even here, some little quackery was used for the purpose, as he had taken care to have several copies lying open on the table, besides the conspicuous appearance of the subscription-paper hung up fronting the door, with the word Mirror a-top, printed in large capitals.
The first question I found agitated was concerning the author, that being a point within the reach of every capacity. Mr. Creech, though much importuned on this head, knew his business better than to satisfy their curiosity: so the hounds were cast off to find him, and many a different scent they hit on. First, he was a clergyman, then a professor, then a player, then a gentleman of the exchequer who writes plays, then a lawyer, a doctor of laws, a commissioner of the customs, a baron of the exchequer, a lord of session, a peer of the realm. A critic, who talked much about style, was positive as to the sex of the writer, and declared it to be female, strengthening his conjecture by the name of the paper, which he said would not readily have occurred to a man. He added, that it was full of Scotticisms, which sufficiently marked it to be a home production.
This led to animadversions on the work itself, which were begun by an observation of my own, that it seemed, from the slight perusal I had given it, to be tolerably well written.' The critic above mentioned strenuously supported the contrary opinion, and concluded his strictures on this particular publication, with a general remark on all modern ones, that there was no force of thought, nor beauty of composition, to be found in them.
An elderly gentleman, who said he had a guess at the Author, prognosticated, that the paper would
be used as the vehicle of a system of Scepticism, and that he had very little doubt of seeing Mr. Hume's posthumous works introduced in it. A short squat man, with a carbuncled face, maintained, that it was designed to propagate Methodism; and said, he believed it to be the production of a disciple of Mr. John Wesley. A gentleman in a gold chain differed from both; and told us he had been informed, from very good authority, that the paper was intended for political purposes.
A smart looking young man, in green, said he was sure it would be very satirical : his companion, in scarlet, was equally certain that it would be very stupid. But with this
last prediction I was not much offended, when I discovered that its author had not read the First Number, but only inquired of Mr. Creech where it was published.
A plump round figure, near the fire, who had just put on his spectacles to examine the
paper, closed the debate, by observing, with a grave aspect, that as the author was anonymous, it was proper to be very cautious in talking of the performance. After glancing over the pages, he said, he could have wished they had set apart a corner for intelligence from America: but, having taken off his spectacles, wiped, and put them into their case, he said, with a tone of discovery, he had found out the reason why there was nothing of that sort in the Mirror; it was in order to save the tax upon newspapers.
Upon getting home to my lodgings, and reflecting on what I had heard, I was for some time in doubt, whether I should not put an end to these questions at once, by openly publishing my name and intentions to the world. But I am prevented from discovering the first by a certain bashfulness, of which even my travels have not been able to cure me; from declaring the last, by being really unable to declare them. The complexion of my paper will depend on a thousand circumstances, which it is impossible to foresee. Besides these little changes, to which every one is liable from external circumstances, I must fairly acknowledge, that my mind is naturally much more various than my situation. The disposition of the author will not always correspond with the temper of a man: in the first character I may sometimes indulge a sportiveness to which I am a stranger in the latter, and escape from a train of very different thoughts, into the occasional gaiety of the Mirror,
The general tendency of my lucubrations, however, I have signified in my First Number, in allusion to my title: I mean to shew the world what it is, and will sometimes endeavour to point out what it should be.
Somebody has compared the publisher of a periodical paper
of this kind, to the owner of a stagecoach, who is obliged to run his vehicle with or without passengers. One might carry on the allusion through various points of similarity. I must confess to my customers, that the road we are to pass together is not a new one; that it has been travelled again and again, and that too in much better carriages than mine. I would only insinuate, that, though the great objects are still the same, there are certain little edifices, some beautiful, some grotesque, and some ridiculous, which people on every side of the road are daily building, in the prospect of which we may find some amusement. Their fellow-passengers will sometimes be persons of high, and sometimes of low rank, as in other stage-coaches; like them too, sometimes grave, sometimes facetious; but that ladies, and men of delicacy, may not be afraid to take places, they may be assured that no scurrilous or indecent company will ever be admitted.
N° 3. TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 1779.
Formam quidem ipsam et faciem honesti vides, quæ, si oculis cerneretur, mirabiles amores excitaret sapientiæ.
Cic. De Offic. The philosopher, and the mere man of taste, differ from each other chiefly in this, that the latter is satisfied with the pleasure he receives from objects, without inquiring into the principles or causes from which that pleasure proceeds ; but the philosophical inquirer, not satisfied with the effect which objects viewed by him produce, endeavours to discover the reasons why some of those objects give pleasure, and others disgust; why one composition is agreeable, and another the reverse. Hence have arisen the various systems with regard to the principles of beauty; and hence the rules, which, deduced from those principles, have been established by the critic.
In the course of these investigations, various theories have been invented to explain the different qualities, which, when assembled together, constitute beauty, and produce that feeling which arises in the mind from the sight of a beautiful object. Some philosophers have said, that this feeling arises from the sight or examination of an object in which there is a proper mixture of uniformity and variety; others have thonght, that besides uniformity and variety, a number of other qualities enter into the composition of an object that is termed beautiful. To engage
in an examination of those different systems, or to give any opinion of my own with regard to them, would involve me in a discussion too abstruse for a paper of this kind. I shall, however, beg leave to present my reader with a quotation from