« ZurückWeiter »
with, whether there was any news stirring? and by that means gathering together materials for thinking. These needy persons do not know what to talk of, till about twelve a clock in
the morning; for by that time they are pretty good judges of 5 the weather, know which way the wind sits, and whether the
Dutch Mail be come in. As they lie at the mercy of the first man they meet, and are grave or impertinent all the day long, according to the notions which they have imbibed in the morning, I would earnestly entreat them not to stir out of their chambers till they have read this paper, and do promise them that I will daily instil into them such sound and wholesome sentiments, as shall have a good effect on their conversation for the ensuing twelve hours.
But there are none to whom this paper will be more useful, 15 than to the Female world. I have often thought there has not
been sufficient pains taken in finding out proper employments and diversions for the Fair ones. Their amusements seem contrived for them, rather as they are Women, than as they are Reasonable creatures; and are more adapted to the Sex than to the Species. The Toilet is their great scene of business, and the right adjusting of their hair the principal employment of their lives. The sorting of a suit of Ribons is reckoned a very good morning's work; and if they make an excursion
to a Mercer's or a Toy-shop, so great a fatigue makes them 25 unfit for any thing else all the day after. Their more serious
occupations are sewing and embroidery, and their greatest drudgery the preparation of Jellies and Sweet-meats. This, I say, is the state of ordinary women ; though I know there are
multitudes of those of a more elevated life and conversation, 30 that move in an exalted sphere of Knowledge and Virtue, that
join all the beauties of the mind to the ornaments of dress, and inspire a kind of awe and respect, as well as love, into their Male-beholders. I hope to encrease the number of these by publishing this daily paper, which I shall always endeavour to
make an innocent if not an improving entertainment, and by that means at least divert the minds of my Female readers from greater trifles. At the same time, as I would fain give some finishing touches to those which are already the most beautiful pieces in human nature, I shall endeavour to point out all those Imperfections that are the blemishes, as well as those Virtues which are the embellishments of the Sex. In the mean while I hope these my gentle readers, who have so much time on their hands, will not grudge throwing away a quarter of an hour in a day on this paper, since they may do it without any hindrance to business.
I know several of my friends and well-wishers are in great pain for me, lest I should not be able to keep up the spirit of a paper which I oblige my self to furnish every day : But to make them easie in this particular, I will promise them faithfully to give it over as soon as I grow dull. This I know will be matter of great raillery to the small Wits; who will frequently put me in mind of my promise, desire me to keep my word, assure me that it is high time to give over, with many other little pleasantries of the like nature, which men of a little smart Genius cannot forbear throwing out against their best friends, when they have such a handle given them of being witty. But let them remember that I do hereby enter my caveat against this piece of raillery.
N° 26. Friday, March 30. [1711.]
Pallida mors æquo pulsat pede pauperum tabernas
Regumque turres, O beate Sexti.
Jam te premet nox, fabulæque manes,
When I am in a serious humour, I very often walk by my self in Westminster Abby; where the gloominess of the place, and the use to which it is applied, with the solemnity of the
building, and the condition of the people who lye in it, are 5 apt to fill the mind with a kind of melancholy, or rather
thoughtfulness, that is not disagreeable. I yesterday passed a whole afternoon in the Church-yard, the Cloysters, and the Church, amusing my self with the Tombstones and Inscriptions that I met with in those several regions of the dead. Most of them recorded nothing else of the buried person, but that he was born upon one day, and died upon another : The whole history of his life being comprehended in those two circumstances, that are common to all mankind. I could not
but look upon these Registers of existence, whether of Brass 15 or Marble, as a kind of Satyr upon the departed persons ;
who had left no other memorial of them, but that they were born and that they died. They put me in mind of several persons mentioned in the battels of Heroic Poems, who have sounding names given them, for no other reason but that they may be killed, and are celebrated for nothing but being knocked on the head.
Γλαυκόν τε Μέδοντά τε Θερσίλοχον τε. Hom.
The life of these men is finely described in Holy Writ by the
Upon my going into the Church, I entertained my self with the digging of a grave; and saw in every shovel-full of it that was thrown up, the fragment of a bone or skull intermixt with a kind of fresh mouldering earth, that some time or other had a place in the composition of an humane body. Upon this, I began to consider with my self what innumerable multitudes of people lay confused together under the pavement of that ancient Cathedral; how Men and Women, Friends and Enemies, Priests and Soldiers, Monks and Prebendaries, were crumbled amongst one another, and blended together in the same common mass; how beauty, strength, and youth, with old-age, weakness and deformity, lay undistinguished in the same promiscuous heap of matter.
After having thus surveyed this great Magazine of Mortality, as it were, in the lump; I examined it more particularly by the accounts which I found on several of the Monuments which are raised in every quarter of that ancient fabrick. Some of them were covered with such extravagant Epitaphs, that, if it were possible for the dead person to be acquainted with them, he would blush at the praises which his friends have bestowed upon him. There are others so excessively modest, that they deliver the character of the person departed in Greek or Hebrew, and by that means are not understood once in a twelvemonth. In the poetical quarter, I found there were Poets who had no Monuments, and Monuments which had no Poets. I observed indeed that the present War had filled the Church with many of these uninhabited monuments, which had been erected to the memory of persons whose bodies were perhaps buried in the plains of Blenheim, or in the bosom of the Ocean.
I could not but be very much delighted with several modern Epitaphs, which are written with great elegance of expression and justness of thought, and therefore do honour to the living as well as to the dead. As a Foreigner is very apt to conceive an idea of the ignorance or politeness of a Nation, from the
turn of their publick monuments and inscriptions, they should be submitted to the perusal of men of learning and genius, before they are put in execution. Sir Cloudesly Shovel's mon
ument has very often given me great offence: Instead of the 5 brave rough English Admiral, which was the distinguishing
character of that plain gallant man, he is represented on his Tomb by the figure of a Beau, dressed in a long Perriwig, and reposing himself upon Velvet Cushions under a Canopy of State. The Inscription is answerable to the Monument; for instead of celebrating the many remarkable actions he had performed in the service of his country, it acquaints us only with the manner of his death, in which it was impossible for him to reap any honour. The Dutch, whom we are apt to
despise for want of genius, shew an infinitely greater taste of 15 antiquity and politeness in their buildings and works of this
nature, than what we meet with in those of our own country. The monuments of their Admirals, which have been erected at the publick expence, represent them like themselves; and are adorned with rostral crowns and naval ornaments, with beautiful festoons of sea-weed, shells, and coral.
But to return to our subject. I have left the repository of our English Kings for the contemplation of another day, when I shall find my mind disposed for so serious an amusement.
I know that entertainments of this nature are apt to raise dark 25 and dismal thoughts in timorous minds, and gloomy imagina
tions; but for my own part, though I am always serious, I do not know what it is to be melancholy; and can therefore take a view of Nature in her deep and solemn scenes, with the same
pleasure as in her most gay and delightful ones. By this means 30 I can improve my self with those objects, which others con
sider with terror. When I look upon the tombs of the Great, every emotion of envy dies in me; when I read the epitaphs of the Beautiful, every inordinate desire goes out; when I meet with the grief of Parents upon a tomb-stone, my heart melts