« ZurückWeiter »
obout the neck, and bind their bodies with many li
gatures, that we are apt to think are the occasion of • several distempers among them, which our country ' is entirely free from. Instead of those beautiful « feathers with which we adorn our heads, they often " buy up a monstrous bush of hair, which covers their • heads, and falls down in a large fleece below the ( middle of their backs; with which they walk up and • down the streets, and are as proud of it as if it was of their own grow:h. " We were invited to one of their public diversions, where we hoped to have seen the great men of their country running down a stag or pitching a bar, that
we might have discovered who were the persons of (the greatest abilities among them; but instead of • that, they conveyed us into a huge room lighted
up with abundance of candles, where this lazy peo• ple sat still above three hours to see several feats of
ingenuity performed by others, who it seems were paid for it.
As for the women of the country, not being able ( to talk with them, we could only make our remarks
upon them at a distance. They let the hair of their • heads grow to a great length; but as the men make
a great show with heads of hair that are none of their ( own, the women, who they say have very fine heads of hair, tie it up in a knot, and cover it from being
The women look like angels, and would be 6 more beautiful than the sun, were it not for little - black spots that are apt to break out in their faces, " and sometimes rise in very odd figures. I have ob6 served that those little blemishes wear off very soon; - but when they disappear in one part of the face, " they are very apt to break out in another, insomuch • that I have seen a spot upon the forehead in the af
ternoon, which was upon the chin in the morning.'
The author then proceeds to shew the absurdity of breeches and petticoats, with many other curious observations; which I shall reserve for another occasion. I cannot however conclude this paper, without taking notice that, amidst these wild remarks, there now and then appears something very reasonable. I cannot likewise forbear observing, that we are all guilty in some measure of the same narrow way of thinking which we meet with in this abstract of the Indian Journal, when we fancy the customs, dresses, and manners of other countries are ridiculous and extravagant, if they do not resemble those of our own.
No. LI. SATURDAY, APRIL 28.
Torquet ab obscenis jam nunc sermonibus aurem.
He from the taste obscene reclaims our youth.
Mr. Spectator, • MY fortune, quality, and person, are such as ren
der me as conspicuous as any young woman in town. • It is in my power to enjoy all its vanities; but I
have, from a very careful education, contracted a great aversion to the forward air and fash.ion which
is practised in all public places and assemblies. I o attribute this very much to the style and manners of
our plays. I was last night at the Funeral, where a « confident lover in the play, speaking of his mistress, I cries out-" () that Harriot! to fold these arms abi bout the waste of that beauteous, struggling, and at " last yielding fair!" Such an image as this, ought
by no means to be presented to a chaste and regular
• audience. I expect your opinion of this sentence, ( and recommend to your consideration, as a Specta
tor, the conduct of the stage at present with rela• tion to chastity and modesty.
( I am, Sir,
The cc:nplaint of tiis young lady is so just, that the offence is gross enough to have displeased persons who cannot pretend to that delicacy and modesty of which she is mistress. But there is a great deal to be said in behalf of an author. If the audience would but consider the difficulty of keeping up a sprightly dialogue for five acts together, they would aliow a writer, when he wants wit, and cannot please any otherwise, to help it out with a little smutiiness. I will answer for the poets, that no one ever writ bawdry for any other reason but dearth of invention. When the author cannot strike out of himself any more of that which he has superior to those who make up the bulk of the audience, his natural recourse is to that which he has in common with them; and a description which gratifies a sensual appetite will please, when the author has nothing about him to delight a refined imagination. It is to such a poverty we must impute this and all other sentences in plays, which are of this kind, and which are commonly termed luscious expressions.
This expedient, to supply the deficiencies of wit, has been used more or less, by most of the authors who have succeeded on the stage; though I know but one who has professedly writ a play upon the basis of the desire of multiplying our species, and that is the polite Sir George Etherege; il I understand what the lady would be at, in the play called She would it She could. Other poets have, here and there, given an intimation that there is this design, under all the
disguises and affectations which a lady may put on; but no author, except this, has made sure work of it, and put the iipaginations of the audience upon this one purpose, from the beginning to the end of the comedy. It has always fared accordingly; for whether it be, that all who go to this piece would if they could, or that the innocents go to it, to guess only what She would if she could, the play has always been well received.
It lifts an heavy empty sentence, where there is added to it a lascivious gesture of body; ad when it is too low to be raised even by that, a flat mening is enlivened by making it a double one. Writers who want genius never fail of keeping this secret in reserve, to create a laugh, or raise a clap. I, who know nothing of women but from seeing plays, can give great guesses at the whole structure of the fair sex, by being innocently placed in the pit, and insulted by the petticoats of their dancers; the advantages of wiose pretty persons are a great help to a dull play. When a poet flags in writing lusciously, a pretty girl can move lasciviously, and have the same good consequence for the author. Dull poets in this case use their audiences as duil parasites do their patrons; when they cannot long divert them with their wit or humour, they bait their ears with something which is agreeble to their temper, though below their understanding. Apicius cannot resist being pleased, if you give him an account of a delicious meal; or Clodius, it you describe a wanton beauty; tiough at the same time, if you do not awake those inclinations in them, no inen are better judges of what is just and delicate in conversation. But, as I have betore ob. served, it is easier to talk to tne mall, than to the man o sense.
It is remarkable, that the writers of least learning art bos, skilicu in the luscious way. The potesses
of the age 'have done wonders in this kind; and we are obliged to the lady who writ Ibrahim. for introducing a preparatory scene to the very action, when the emperor throws his handkerchief as a signal for his mistress to follow him into the most retired part of the seraglio. It must be confessed his Turkish majesty went off with a good air, but, methought, we made but a sad figure who waited without. This ingenious gentlewoinan, in this piece of bawdry, refined upon an author of the same sex, who, in the Rover, makes a country 'squire strip to his drawers. But Blunt is disappointed, and the emperor is understood to go on to the utmost. The pleasantry of stripping almost naked has been since practised, where indeed it should have begun, very successfully at Bartholomew fair.
It is not here to be omitted, that in one of the abovementioned female compositions, the Rover is very frequently sent on the same errant; as I take it, above once every act.
This is not wholly unnatural; for, they say, the men-authors draw themselves in their chief characters, and the women-writers may be allowed the same liberty. Thus, as the male wit gives his hero a good fortune, the female gives her heroine a good gallant at the end of the play. But, indeed, there is hardly a play one can go to, but the hero or fine gentleman of it struts off upon the same account, and leaves us to consider what good office he has pút us to, or to employ ourselves as we please. To be plain, a man who frequents plays would have a very respectful notion of himself, were he to re collect how often he has been used as a pimp to ravishing tyrants, or successful rakes. When the actors mako their exit on this good occasion, the ladies are sure to make an examining glance from the pit, to see how they relish what passes ; and a few lewd fools are very ready to employ their talents upon the composure or