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No. 153.] Saturday, April 1, 1710.
From my own Apartment, March 31. I HAVE heard of a very valuable picture, wherein all the painters of the age in which it was drawn, are represented sitting together in a circle, and joining in a consort of music. Each of them plays upon such a particular instrument as is the most suitable to his character, and expresses that style and manner of painting which is peculiar to him. The fa mous cupola-painter of those times, to show the grandeur and boldness of his figures, hath a horn in his mouth, which he seems to wind with great strength and force. On the contrary, an eminent artist, who wrought up his pictures with the greatest accuracy, and gave them all those delicate touches which are apt to please the nicest eye, is represented as tuning a theorbo. The same kind of humour runs through the whole piece.
I have often, from this hint, imagined to myself, that different talents in discourse might be shadowed out after the same manner by different kinds of music; and that the several conversable parts of mankind in this great city, might be cast into proper characters and divisions, as they resemble several instruments that are in use among the masters of harmony. Of these therefore in their order; and first, of the Drum.
The Trumpet is an instrument that has in it no compass of music, or variety of sound, but is notwithstanding very agreeable, so long as it keeps within its pitch. It has not above four or five notes, which are however very pleasing, and capable of exquisite turns and modulations. The gentlemen who fall under this denomination are your men of the most fashionable education, and refined breeding, who have learned a certain smoothness of discourse, and sprightliness of air, from the polite company they have kept; but, at the same time, have shallow parts, weak judgments, and a short reach of understanding. A playhouse, a drawing-room, a ball, a visiting-day, or a ring at Hyde-park, are the few notes they are masters of, which they touch upon in all conversations. The Trumpet, however, is a necessary instrument about a court, and a proper enlivener of a consort, though of no great harmony by itself.
Violins are the lively, forward, importunate wits, that distinguish themselves by the flourishes of imagination, sharpness of repartee, glances of satire, and bear away the upper part in every consort, I cannot however but observe, that when a man is not disposed to hear music, there is not a more disagreeable sound in harmony than that of a Violin.
There is another musical instrument, which is more frequent in this nation than any other; I mean your Bass-viol, which grumbles in the bottom of the consort, and with a surly masculine sound strengthens the harmony, and tempers the sweetness of the several instruments that play along with it. The Bass-viol is an instrument of a quite different nature to the Trumpet, and may signify men of rough sense and unpolished parts; who do not love to hear themselves talk, but sometimes break out with an agreeable bluntness, unexpected wit, and surly pleasantries, to the no small diversion of their friends and companions. In short, I look upon every sensible true-born Briton to be naturally a Bass-viol.
As for your rural wits, who talk with great eloquence and alacrity of foxes, hounds, horses, quickset hedges, and six-bar-gates, double ditches, and broken necks, I am in doubt, whether I should give them a place in the conversable world. However, if they will content themselves with being raised to the dignity of Hunting-horus, I shall desire for the future, that they may be known by that name.
The Lute is a character directly opposite to the Drum, that sounds very finely by itself, or in a very small consort. Its notes are exquisitely sweet, and very low, easily drowned in a multitude of instruments, and even lost among a few, unless you give a particular attention to I must not here omit the Bagpipe species, it. A Lute is seldom heard in a company of that will entertain you from morning to night more than five, whereas a Drum will show with the repetition of a few notes, which are itself to advantage in an assembly of five hun-played over and over, with the perpetual humdred. The Lutenists therefore are men of a ming of a drone running underneath them. fine genius, uncommon reflexion, great affabi- These are your dull, heavy, tedious story-tellity, and esteemed chiefly by persons of a good lers, the load and burden of conversations, taste, who are the only proper judges of so de- that set up for men of importance, by knowing Ightful and soft a melody. secret history, and giving an account of trans
Your Drums are the blusterers in conversation, that, with a loud laugh, unnatural mirth, and a torrent of noise, domineer in public assemblies; overbear men of sense; stun their companions; and fill the place they are in with a rattling sound, that hath seldom any wit, humour, or good breeding in it. The Drum notwithstanding, by this boisterous vivacity, is very proper to impose upon the ignorant; and in conversation with ladies who are not of the finest taste, often passes for a man of mirth and wit, and for wonderful pleasant company. I need not observe, that the emptiness of the Drum very much contributes to its noise.
actions, that, whether they ever passed in the world or not, doth not signify a halfpenny to its instruction, or its welfare. Some have observed, that the northern parts of this island are more particularly fruitful in Bagpipes.
There are so very few persons who are masters in every kind of conversation, and can talk on all subjects, that I do not know whether we should make a distinct species of them. Nevertheless, that my scheme may not be defective, for the sake of those few who are endewed with such extraordinary talents, I shall allow them to be Harpsichords, a kind of music which every one knows is a consort by itself.
to have resembled a Tabor and Pipe. I have since very much endeavoured at the sweetness of the Lute; but, in spite of all my resolutions, I must confess, with great confusion, that I find myself daily degenerating into a Bagpipe; whether it be the effect of my old age, or of the company I keep, I know not. All that I can do, is to keep a watch over my conversation, and to silence the Drone as soon as I find it begin to hum in my discourse, being determined rather to hear the notes of others, than to play out of time, and encroach upon their parts in the consort by the noise of so tiresome an in
I shall conclude this paper with a letter which I received last night from a friend of mine, who knows very well my notions upon this subject, and invites me to pass the evening at his house, with a select company of friends, in the following words:
As for your Passing-bells, who look upon mirth as criminal, and talk of nothing but what is melancholy in itself, and mortifying to human nature, I shall not mention them.
I shall likewise pass over in silence all the rabble of mankind, that crowd our streets, coffee-houses, feasts, and public tables. I cannot call their discourse conversation, but rather something that is practised in imitation of it. For which reason, if I would describe them by any musical instrument, it should be by those modern inventions of the bladder and string, tongs and key, marrow-bone and cleaver.
My reader will doubtless observe, that I have only touched here upon male instruments, having reserved my female consort to another occasion. If he has a mind to know where these several characters are to be met No. 154.]
with, I could direct him to a whole club of Drums; not to mention another of Bagpipes, which I have before given some account of in my description of our nightly meetings in Sheer-lane. The Lutes may often be met with m couples upon the banks of a crystal stream, or in the retreats of shady woods, and flowery meadows; which, for different reasons, are likewise the great resort of your Hunting-horns. Bass-viols are frequently to be found over a glass of stale-beer, and a pipe of tobacco; whereas those who set up for Violins, seldom fail to make their appearance at Will's once every evening. You may meet with a Trumpet any where on the other side of Charing-cross.
That we may draw something for our advantage in life out of the foregoing discourse, I must entreat my reader to make a narrow search into his life and conversation, and, upon his leaving any company, to examine himself seriously whether he has behaved himself in it like a Drum or a Trumpet, a Violin or a Bass-viol; and accordingly endeavour to mend his music for the future. For my own part, I must confess, I was a Drum for many years; nay, and a very noisy one, until, having polished myself a little in good company, I threw as much of the Trumpet into my conversation, as was possible for a man of an impetuous temper, by which mixture of different musics Il ook upon myself, during the course of many years,
'I intend to have a consort at my house this evening, having by great chance got a Harpsichord, which I am sure will entertain you very agreeably. There will be likewise two Lutes and a Trumpet: let me beg you to put yourself in tune and believe me 6 Your very faithful servant,
Tuesday, April 4, 1710.
Obscuris vera involvens.
From my own Apartment, April 3. We have already examined Homer's description of a future state, and the condition in which he hath placed the souls of the deceased. I shall, in this paper, make some observations on the account which Virgil hath given us of the same subject, who, besides a greatness of genius, had all the lights of philosophy and human learning to assist and guide him in his discoveries.
Æneas is represented as descending into the empire of death, with a prophetess by his side, who instructs him in the secrets of those lower regions.
Upon the confines of the dead, and before the very gates of this infernal world, Virgil describes several inhabitants, whose natures are wonderfully suited to the situation of the place, as being either the occasions or resemblances of death. Of the first kind are the shadows of Sickness, Old Age, Fear, Famine, and Poverty; apparitions very terrible to behold, with several others, as Toil, War, Contention, and Discord, which contribute all of them to people this common receptacle of human souls. As this was likewise a very proper residence for every
• See Tatler 157.
initiated into our religion, that supposing they should be erroneous, they can do no hurt to the dead, and will have a good effect upon the living, in making them cautious of neglecting such necessary solemnities.
thing that resembles death, the poet tells us, that Sleep, whom he represents as a near relation to death, has likewise his habitation in these quarters; and describes in them a huge gloomy elm-tree, which seems a very proper ornament for the place, and is possessed by an innumerable swarm of dreams, that hang in clusters under every leaf of it. He then gives us a list of imaginary persons, who very naturally lie within the shadow of the dream-tree, as being of the same kind of make in themselves, and the materials, or, to use Shakspeare's phrase,' the stuff of which dreams are made. Such are the shades of the giant with a hundred hands, and of his brother with three bodies; of the double-shaped Centaur and Scylla; the Gorgon with snaky hair; the Harpy with a woman's face and lion's talons; the seven-headed Hydra; and the Chi-The second are of those who are put to death mæra, which breathes forth a flame, and is a wrongfully, and by an unjust sentence; and compound of three animals. These several the third, of those who grew weary of their mixed natures, the creatures of imagination, lives, and laid violent hands upon themselves. are not only introduced with great art after As for the second of these, Virgil adds with the dreams, but, as they are planted at the great beauty, that Minos, the judge of the very entrance, and within the very gates of dead, is employed in giving them a rehearing, those regions, do probably denote the wild de- and assigning them their several quarters suitliriums and extravagances of fancy, which the able to the parts they acted in life. The poet, soul usually falls into when she is just upon after having mentioned the souls of those un. the verge of death. happy men who destroyed themselves, breaks out into a fine exclamation. 'Oh! how gladly,' says he,' would they now endure life with all its miseries! but the destinies forbid their return to earth, and the waters of Styx surround them with nine streams that are unpass
Charon is no sooner appeased, and the tripleheaded dog laid asleep, but Æneas makes his entrance into the dominions of Pluto. There are three kinds of persons described, as being situate on the borders; and I can give no reason for their being stationed there in so particular a manner, but because none of them seem to have had a proper right to a place among the dead, as not having run out the whole thread of their days, and finished the term of life that had been allotted them upon earth. The first of these are the souls of infants, who are snatched away by untimely ends.
It is very remarkable, that Virgil, notwithstanding self-murder was so frequent among the heathens, and had been practised by some of the greatest men in the very age before him, hath here represented it as so heinous a crime. But in this particular he was guided by the doctrines of his great master Plato; who says on this subject, that a man is placed in his station of life, like a soldier in his proper post, which he is not to quit, whatever may happen, until he is called off by his commander who planted him in it.
Thus far Æneas travels in an allegory. The rest of the description is drawn with great exactness, according to the religion of the heathens, and the opinions of the Platonic philosophy. I shall not trouble my reader with a common dull story, that gives an accountable.' why the heathens first of all supposed a ferryman in hell, and his name to be Charon; but must not pass over in silence the point of doctrine which Virgil hath very much insisted upon in this book. That the souls of those who are unburied, are not permitted to go over into their respective places of rest, until they | have wandered a hundred years upon the banks of Styx. This was probably an invention of the heathen priesthood, to make the people extremely careful of performing proper rites and ceremonies to the memory of the dead. I shall not, however, with the infamous scribblers of the age, take an occasion from such a circumstance, to run into declamations against priestcraft, but rather look upon it even in this light as a religious artifice, to raise in the minds of men an esteem for the memory of their forefathers, and a desire to recommend themselves to that of posterity; as also to excite in them an ambition of imitating the virtues of the deceased, and to keep alive in their thoughts the sense of the soul's immortality. In a word, we may say in defence of the severe opinions relating to the shades of unburied persons, what hath been said by some of our divines in regard to the rigid doctrines concerning the souls of such who die without being
There is another point in the Platonic philosophy, which Virgil has made the groundwork of the greatest part in the piece we are now examining; having with wonderful art and beauty materialized, if I may so call it, a scheme of abstracted notions, and clothed the most nice refined conceptions of philosophy in sensible images, and poetical representations. The Platonists tell us, that the soul, during ber residence in the body, contracts many virtuous and vicious habits, so as to become a beneficent, mild, charitable; or an angry, malicious, revengeful being: a substance inflamed with lust, avarice, and pride; or, on the contrary, brightened with pure, generous, and humble dispositions: that these and the like habits of virtue and vice growing into the very essence
of the soul, survive and gather strength in her after her dissolution: that the torments of a vicious soul in a future state arise principally from those importunate passions which are not capable of being gratified without a body; and that, on the contrary, the happiness of virtuous minds very much consists in their being employed in sublime speculations, innocent diversions, sociable affections, and all the ecstasies of passion and rapture which are agreeable to reasonable natures, and of which they gained a relish in this life.
Upon this foundation the poet raises that beautiful description of the secret haunts and walks, which, he tells us, are inhabited by deceased lovers.
classes. The first and blackest catalogue consists of such as were guilty of outrages against the gods; and the next, of such who were convicted of injustice between man and man; the greatest number of whom, says the poet, are those who followed the dictates of avarice.
Not far from hence, says he, lies a great waste of plains, that are called the Fields of Melancholy.' In these there grows a forest of myrtle, divided into many shady retirements and covered walks, and inhabited by the souls of those who pined away with love. The passion, says he, continues with them after death. He then gives a list of this languishing tribe, in which his own Dido makes the principal figure, and is described as living in this soft romantic scene with the shade of her fisrt husband Sichæus.
It was an opinion of the Platonists, that the souls of men having contracted in the body great stains and pollutions of vice and ignorance, there were several purgations and cleansings necessary to be passed through, both here and hereafter, in order to refine and purify them.
Virgil, to give this thought likewise a clothing of poetry, describes some spirits as bleaching in the winds, others as cleansing under great falls of waters, and others as purging in fire, to recover the primitive beauty and purity of their natures.
It was likewise an opinion of the same sect of philosophers, that the souls of all men exist in a separate state, long before their union with their bodies; and that, upon their immersion into flesh, they forget every thing which passed in the state of pre-existence; so that what we here call knowledge, is nothing else but memory, or the recovery of those things which we knew before.
In pursuance of this scheme, Virgil gives us a view of several souls, who, to prepare themselves for living upon earth, flock about the banks of the river Lethe, and swill themselves with the waters of oblivion.
The poet, in the next place, mentions another plain that was peopled with the ghosts of warriors, as still delighting in each other's company, and pleased with the exercise of arms. He there represents the Grecian generals and common soldiers who perished in the siege of Troy, as drawn up in squadrons, and terrified at the approach of Æneas, which renewed in them those impressions of fear they had before received in battle with the Trojans. He afterwards likewise, upon the same notions, gives a view of the Trojan heroes who lived in former ages, amidst a visionary scene of chariots and arms, flowery meadows, shining spears, and generous steeds, which he tells us were their pleasures upon earth, and now make up their happiness in Elysium. For the same reason also, he mentions others as singing Pæans, and songs of triumph, amidst a beautiful grove of laurel. The chief of the consort was the poet No. 155.] Thursday, April 6, 1710. Museus; who stood inclosed with a circle of admirers, and rose by the head and shoulders above the throng of shades that surrounded him. The habitations of unhappy spirits, to show the duration of their torments, and the desperate condition they are in, are represented as guarded by a fury, moated round with a lake of fire, strengthened with towers of iron, encompassed with a triple wall, and fortified with pillars of adamant, which all the gods together are not able to heave from their foundations. The noise of stripes, the clank of chains, and the groans of the tortured, strike the pious Æneas with a kind of horror. The poet afterwards divides the criminals into two
The same scheme gives him an opportunity of making a noble compliment to his countrymen, where Anchises is represented taking a survey of the long train of heroes that are to descend from him, and giving his son Æneas an account of all the glories of his race.
I need not mention the revolution of the Platonic year, which is but just touched upon in this book; and, as I have consulted no author's thoughts in this explication, shall be very well pleased, if it can make the noblest piece of the most accomplished poet more agreeable to my female readers, when they think fit to look into Dryden's translation of it.
Aliena negotia curat,
From my own Apartment, April 5. THERE lived some years since, within my neighbourhood, a very grave person, an upholwho seemed a man of more than sterer, ordinary application to business. He was a very early riser, and was often abroad two of
* Mr. Arne, an upholsterer in Covent Garden, was, it is said, the original of the politician exposed in this paper He was the father of Dr. Thomas Augustine Arne, an eminent musician, and a dramatic writer, who died in 1778.
three hours before any of his neighbours. Hej had a particular carefulness in the knitting of his brows, and a kind of impatience in all his motions that plainly discovered he was always intent on matters of importance. Upon my enquiry into his life and conversation, I found him to be the greatest newsmonger in our quarter: that he rose before day to read the Post-man; and that he would take two or three turns to the other end of the town before his neighbours were up, to see if there were any Dutch mails come in. He had a wife and several children; but was much more inquisitive to know what passed in Polaud than in his own family, and was in greater pain and anxiety of mind for king Augustus's welfare than that of his nearest relations. He looked extremely thin in a dearth of news, and never enjoyed himself in a westerly wind. This indefatigable kind of life was the ruin of his shop; for, about the time that his favourite prince left the crown of Poland, he broke and disappeared.
Post, and had been just now examining what the other papers say upon the same subject. The Daily Courant,' says he, has these words. "We have advices from very good hands, that a certain prince has some matters of great importance under consideration." This is very mysterious; but the Post-boy leaves us more in the dark; for he tells us, That there are private intimations of measures taken by a certain prince, which time will bring to light." Now the Post-man,' says he," who uses to be very clear, refers to the same news in these words: "The late conduct of a certain prince affords great matter of speculation." This certain prince,' says the upholsterer, 'whom they are all so cautious of naming, I take to be- Upon which, though there was nobody near us, he whispered something in my ear, which I did not hear, or think worth my while to make him repeat.
stances; but was prevented by his asking me, with a whisper, Whether the last letters brought any accounts that one might rely upon from Bender?' I told him, 'None that I heard of;' and asked him, whether he had yet married his eldest daughter?' He told me,' no. But pray,' says he, tell me sincerely, what are your thoughts of the king of Sweden?' For though his wife and children were starving, I found his chief concern at present was for this great monarch. I told him, that I looked upon him as one of the first heroes of the age.'
But pray, 'says he, ' do you think there is any 'truth in the story of his wound?' And finding me surprised at the question, Nay,' says he, I only propose it to you.' I answered, that | I thought there was no reason to doubt of it.' " But why in the heel,' says he, more than in any other part of the body? Because,' said I, the bullet chanced to light there.'
We were now got to the upper end of the Mall, where were three or four very odd fellows sitting together upon the bench. These I found were all of them politicians, who used to sun themselves in that place every day about
in their kind, and my friend's acquaintance, I sat down among them.
This man and his affairs had been long out of my mind, until about three days ago, as I was walking in St. James's park, I heard some-dinner-time. Observing them to be curiosities body at a distance hemming after me; and who should it be but my old neighbour the upholsterer? I saw he was reduced to extreme The chief politician of the bench was a great poverty, by certain shabby superfluities in his asserter of paradoxes. He told us, with a dress: for, notwithstanding that it was a very seeming concern, that, by some news he had sultry day for the time of the year, he wore a lately read from Muscovy, it appeared to him loose great coat and a muff, with a long cam- that there was a storm gathering in the Blackvaign wig out of curl; to which he had added sea, which might in time do hurt to the naval he ornament of a pair of black garters buckled forces of this nation.' To this he added, that under the knee. Upon his coming up to me, for his part, he could not wish to see the Turk I was going to enquire into his present circum-driven out of Europe, which he believed could
not but be prejudcial to our woollen manufacture.' He then told us, that he looked upon those extraordinary revolutions which had lately happened in those parts of the world, to have risen chiefly from two persons who were not much talked of; and those,' says he, are prince Menzikoff, and the dutchess of Mirandola.' He backed his assertions with so many broken hints, and such a show of depth and wisdom, that we gave ourselves up to his opinions.
The discourse at length fell upon a point which seldom escapes a knot of true-born Englishmen, whether, in case of a religious war, the Protestants would not be too strong for the Papists? This we unanimously determined on the Protestant side. One who sat on my right hand, and, as I found by his discourse, had been in the West Indies, assured us, that it would be a very easy matter for the Protestants to beat the pope at sea;' and added,' that whenever such a war does break out, it must turn to the good of the Leeward Islands.' Upon this, one sat at the end of the bench, and, as afterwards found, was the geographer of the company, said, that in case the Papists
This extraordinary dialogue was no sooner ended, but he began to launch out into a long dissertation upon the affairs of the North; and after having spent some time on them, he told me,' he was in a great perplexity how to reconcile the Supplement with, the English