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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 not 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 laus, a commissioner of the customs, a baron of the exchequer, a lord of session, a pcer 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
The general tendency of my lucubrations, however, I have signified in my first number, in allusion to my title: I mean to show 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 some
times 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.
No. 3. TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 1779.
Formam quidcm 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 phi
losophers 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 thought, 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 a treatise, intitled An Inquiry into the Original of our Ideas of Beauty and Virtue*. Speaking of the effect which the beauty of the human figure has upon our minds, the author expresses himself in the following words:
• There is a further consideration, which must not be passed over, concerning the external beauty of persons, which all allow to have great power over human minds. Now it is some apprehended morality, some natural or imagined indication of concomitant virtue, which gives it this powerful charm above all other kinds of beauty. Let us consider the characters of beauty which are commonly admired in countenances, and we shall find them to be sweetness, mildness, majesty, dignity, vivacity, humility, tenderness, good-nature; that is, certain airs, proportions, je ne sçai quoi's, are natural indications of such virtues, or of abilities or dispositions towards them. As we observed above of misery or distress appearing in countenances ; so it is certain almost all habitual dispositions of mind form the countenance, in such a manner as to give some indications to the spectator. Our violent passions are obvious, at first view, in the
* By Dr. Hutcheson.