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learned world, and who regulate themselves upon all occasions by several laws peculiar to their body. I mean the players or actors of both sexes. Among these it is a standing and uncontroverted principle, that a tragedian always takes place of a comedian ; and it is very well known the merry drolls who make us laugh are always placed at the lower end of the table, and in every entertainment give way to the dignity of the buskin. It is a stage maxim, “Once a king, and always a king. For this reason it would be thought very absurd in Mr. Bullock, notwithstanding the height and gracefulness of his person, to sit at the right-hand of a hero, though he were but five-foot high. The same distinction is observed among the ladies of the theatre.
Queens and heroines preserve their rank in private conversation, while those who are waiting women and maids of honour upon the stage, keep their distance also behind the scenes.
I shall only add, that by a parity of reason, all writers of tragedy look upon it as their due to be seated, served, or saluted, before comic-writers: those who deal in tragi-comedy usually taking their seats between the authors of either side. There has been a long dispute for precedency between the tragic and heroic poets. Aristotle would have the latter yield the pas to the for. mer, but Mr. Dryden and many others would never submit to this decision. Burlesque writers pay the same deference to the heroic, as comic writers to their serious brothers in the drama.
By this short table of laws, order is kept up, and distinction preserved in the whole republic of letters.
No. 530. FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 7.
Sic visum Veneri; cui placet impares
Hoe. 1 Od. xxxiil 10.
When cruelly jocose,
She ties the fatal noose,
Ir is very usual for those who have been severe upon marriage, in some part or other of their lives to enter into the fraternity which they have ridiculed, and to see their raillery return upon their own heads. I scarce ever knew a woman-hater that did not, sooner or later, pay for it. Marriage, which is a bless'ing to another man, falls upon such an one as a judgment. Mr. Congreve's Old Bachelor is set forth to us with much wit and humour, as an example of this kind. In short, those who have most distinguished themselves by railing at the sex in general, very often make an honourable amends, by chusing one of the most worthless persons of it, for a companion and yoke-fellow. Hymen takes his revenge in kind, on those who turn his mysteries into ridicule.
My friend Will Honeycomb, who was so unmercifully witty upon the women, in a couple of letters, which I lately communi. cated to the public, has given the ladies ample satisfaction by marrying a farmer's daughter; a piece of news which came to our club by the last post. The Templer is very positive that he has married a dairy-maid: but Will in his letter to me on this occasion, sets the best face upon the matter that he can, and gives a more tolerable account of his spouse. I must confess I
suspected something more than ordinary, when upon opening the letter I found that Will was fallen off from his former gaiety, having changed Dear Spec. which was his usual salute at the beginning of the letter, into My worthy Friend, and subscribed himself in the latter end of it at full length William Honeycomb. In short, the gay, the loud, the vain Will Honeycomb, who had made love to every great fortune that has appeared in town for above thirty years together, and boasted of favours from ladies whom he had never seen, is at length wedded to a plain country girl.
His letter gives us the picture of a converted rake. The sober character of the husband is dashed with the man of the town, and enlivened with those little cant-phrases which liave made my friend Will often thought very pretty company. But let us hear what he says for himself.
“My worthy Friend, “I question not but you, and the rest of my acquaintance, wonder that I who have lived in the smoke and gallantries of the town for thirty years together, should all on a sudden grow fond of a country life. Had not my dog of a steward run away as he did, without making up his accounts, I had still been immersed in sin and sea-coal. But since my late forced visit to my estate, I am so pleased with it, that I am resolved to live and die upon it. I am every day abroad among my acres, and can scarce forbear filling my letter with breezes, shades, flowers, meadows, and purling streams. The simplicity of manners, which I have heard you so often speak of, and which appears here in perfection, charms me wonderfully. As an instance of it, I must acquaint you, and by your means, the whole club, that I have lately married one of my tenant's daughters. She is born of honest parents, and though she has no portion, she has a great deal of vir. tue. The natural sweetness and innocence of her behaviour, the freshness of her complexion, the unaffected turn of her shape and person, shot me through and through every time I saw her, and did more execution upon me in grogram, than the greatest beauty in town or court had ever done in brocade. In short, she is such an one as promises me a good heir to my estate ; and if by her means I cannot leave to my children what are falsely called the gifts of birth, high titles and alliances, I hope to convey to them the more real and valuable gifts of birth, strong bodies, and healthy constitutions. As for your fine women, I need not tell thee that I know them. I have had my share in their graces, but no more of that. It shall be my business hereafter to live the life of an honest man, and to act as becomes the master of a family. I question not but I shall draw upon me the raillery of the town, and be treated to the tune of “The marriage-hater matched ;' but I am prepared for it. I have been as witty upon others in my time. To tell thee truly, I saw such a tribe of fashionable young fluttering coxcombs shot up, that I did not think my post of an homme de ruelle any longer tenable. I felt a certain stiffness in my limbs, which entirely destroyed that jauntiness of air I was once master of. Besides, for I may now confess my age to thee, I have been eight and forty above these twelve years. Since my retirement into the country will make a vacancy in the club, I could wish you would fill up my place with my friend Tom Dapperwit. He has an infinite deal of fire, and knows the town. For my own part, as I have said before, I shall endeavour to live hereafter suitable to a man in my station, as a prudent head of a family, a good husband, a careful father, (when it shall so happen,) and as “Your most sincere friend,
No. 531. SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 8.
Qui maro et terras variisque mundum
Temperat horis :
Hor. 1 d. xli. 15.
That can be, is, or was.
SIMONIDES being asked by Dionysius the tyrant what God was, desired a day's time to consider of it before he made his reply. When the day was expired, he desired two days; and afterwards, instead of returning his answer, demanded still double the time to consider of it. This great poet and philosopher, the more he contemplated the nature of the Deity, found that he vaded but the more out of his depth; and that he lost himself in the thought, instead of finding an end of it.
If we consider the idea which wise men, by the light of reason, have framed of the Divine Being, it amounts to this : that he has in him all the perfection of a spiritual nature; and, since we have no notion of any kind of spiritual perfection, but what we discover in our own souls, we join infinitude to each kind of these perfections, and what is a faculty in a human soul, becomes an attribute in God. We exist in place and time; the Divine Being fills the immensity of space with his presence, and inhabits eternity. We are possessed of a little power and a little knowledge; the Divine Being is Almighty and Omniscient. In short, by adding infinity to any kind of perfection we enjoy, and by joining all these different kinds of perfections in one Being, we form our idea of the great Sovereign of Nature.