« PreviousContinue »
you 'll be of my mind, that it is most wonderfully resembling the Song of Solomon,' which was also addressed to a royal bride.
The nightingale now wanders in the vines :
Have you no compassion ? Will you not turn to look upou me? I have taken abundance of pains to get these verses in a literal translation, and if you were acquainted with my interpreters, I might spare myself the trouble of assuring you that they have received no poetical touches from their hands. To Mrs. S. C. [Sarah Chiswell]-Inoculation for the Small-pox.
ADRIANOPLE, April 1, 0. S. 1717. Apropos of distempers, I am going to tell you a thing that will make you wish yourself here. The small-pox, so fatal and so general amougst us, is here entirely harmless, by the invention of ingrafting, which is the term they give it. There is a set of old women who make it their business to perform the operation every autumn, in the month of September, when the great heat is abated. People send to one another to know if any of their family has a mind to have the small-pox; they make parties for this purpose, and when they are met-commonly fifteen or sixteen together
the old woman comes with a nut-shell full of the matter of the best sort of smallpox, and asks what veins you please to have opened. She immediately rips open ihat you offer to her with a large needle-which gives you no more pain than a com
1 Sir W. Jones, in the preface to his Persian Grammar, objects to this translation. The expression is merely analogous to the Boopis of Homer.
mon scratch-and puts into the vein as much matter as can lie upon the head of her needle, and after that binds up the little wound with a hollow bit of shell; and in this manner opens four or five veins. The Grecians have commonly the superstition of opening one in the middle of the forehead, one in each arm, and one on the breast, to mark the sign of the cross; but this has a very ill effect, all these wounds leaving little scars, and is not done by those that are not superstitious, who choose to have them in the legg, or that part of the arm that is concealed. The children or young patients play together all the rest of the day, and are in perfect health to the eighth. Then the fever begins to seize them, and they keep their beds two days, very seldom three. They have very rarely above twenty or thirty in their faces, which never mark; and in eight days' time, they are as well as before their illness. Where they are wounded, there remain running sores during the distemper, which I don't doubt is a great relief to it. Every year thousands undergo this operation; and the French ambassador says pleasantly, that they take the small-pox here by way of diversion, as they take the waters in other countries. 'I here is no example of any one that has died in it; and you may believe I am well satisfied of the safety of this experiment, since I intend to try it on my dear little son.
I am patriot enough to take pains to bring this useful invention into fashion in England; and I should not fail to write to some of our doctors very particularly about it, if I knew any one of them that I thought had virtue enough to destroy such a considerable branch of their revenue for the good of menkind.But that distemper is too beneficial to them, not to expose to all their resentment the hardy wight that should undertake to put an end to it. Perhaps, if I live to return, I may. however, have courage to war with them. Upon this occasion, admire the heroism in the heart of your friend, &c. To Lady Rich-France in 1718.
PARIS, Oct. 10, 0. S. 1718. The air of Paris has already had a good effect upon me ; for I was never in better health, though I have been extremely ill all the road from Lyons to this place. You may judge how agreeable the journey has been to me, which did not want that addition to make me dislike it. I think nothing so terrible as objects of misery, except one had the Godlike attribute of being capable to redress them; and all the country villages of France shew nothing else. While the post-horses are changed, the whole town comes out to beg, with such miserable starved faces, and thin tattered clothes, they need no other eloquence to persuade one of the wretchedness of their condit.on. This is all the French magnificence till you come to Fontainebleau, where you are shewed one thousand five hundred rooms in the king's hunting-palace. The apartments of the royal family are very large, and richly gilt; but I saw uothing in the architecture or painting worth remembering. ...
I have seen all the beauties, and such - (I can't help making use of the coarse word) nauseous creatures ! so fantastically absurd in their dress! So monstrously unnatural in their paints! their hair cut short, and curled round their faces, and so loaded with powder, that it makes it look like white wool! and on their cheeks to their chins, unmercifully laid on a shining red japan, that glistens in a most flaming manner, so that they seem to have no resemblance to human faces. I am apt 10 believe that they took the first hint of their dress from a fair sheep newly ruddled. "Tis with pleasure I recollect my dear pretty countrywomen ; and if I was writing to anybody else, I should say that these grotesque daubers give me still a higher esteem of the natural charms of dear Lady Rich's auburn hair, and the lively colours of her unsullied complexion.
To the Countess of Bute-on Female Education.
LOVERE, Jan. 28, N. S. 1753. DEAR CHILD-You have given me a great deal of satisfaction by your account of your eldest daughter. I am particularly pleased to hear she is a good arithmetician; it is the best proof of understanding: the knowledge of numbers is one of the chief distinctions between us and brutes. If there is anything in blood, you may reasonably expect your children should be endowed with an uncommon share of good sense. Mr. Wortley's family and mine have both produced some of the greatest men that have been born in England; I mean Admiral Sandwich, and my grandfather, who was distinguished by the name of Wise William. I have heard Lord Bute's father mentioned as an extraordinary genius, though he had not many opportunities of shewing it; and his uncle the present Duke of Argyll has one of the best heads I ever knew. I will therefore speak to you as supposing Lady Mary not only capable, but desirous of learning; in that case, by all means let her be indulged in it. You will tell me I did not make it a part of your education ; your prospect was very different from hers. As you had much in your circumstances to attract the highest offers, it seemed your business to learn how to live in the world, as it is hers to know how to be easy out of it. It is the common error of builders and parents to follow some plan they think beautiful-and perhaps is 80-without considering that nothing is beautiful which is displaced. Hence we see so many edifices raised, that the raisers can never inhabit, being too large for their fortunes. Vistas are laid open over barren heaths, and apartinents contrived for a coolness very agreeable in Italy, but killing in the north of Britain ; thus every woman endeavours to breed her daughter a fine lady, qualifying her for a station in which sbe will never appear, and at the same time incapacitating her for that retirement to which she is destined. Learning, if she has a real taste for it, will not only make her contented, but happy in it. No entertainment is so cheap as reading, nor any pleasures so lasting. She will not want new fashions, nor regret the loss of expensive diversions, or variety of company, if she can be amused with an author in her closet. To render this amuseinent complete. she should be permitted to learn the lan guages. I have heard it lamented that boys lose so many years in mere learning of words: this is no objection to a girl, whose time is not so precious: she cannot advance herself in any profession, and has therefore more hours to spare; and as you say her memory is good, she will be very agreeably employed this way. There are two cautions to be given on this subject: First, not to think herself learned when she can read Latin, or even Greek. Languages are more properly to be called vehicles of learning than learning itself, as may be observed in many schoolmasters, who, though perhaps critics in grammar, are the most ignorant fellows upon earth. True knowledge consists in knowing things, not words. I would no further wish her a linguist than to enable her to read books in their originals, that are often corrupted, and are always injured, by translations. Two hours' application every morning will bring this about much sooner than you can imagine, and she will have leisure enough besides to run over the English poetry, which is a more important part of a woman's education than it is generally supposed. Many a young damsel has been ruined by a fine copy of verses, which she would have laughed at if she had but known it had been stolen from Mr. Waller. I remember, when I was a girl, I saved one of my companions from destruction, who communicated to me an epistle she was quite charmed with. As she had naturally a good taste, she observed the lines were not so smooth as Prior's or Pope's, but had more thought and spirit than any of theirs. She was wonderfully delighted with such a demonstration of her lover's sense and passion, and not a little pleased with her own charms, that had force enough to inspire such elegances. In the midst of this triumph, I shewed her that they were taken from Randolph's poems, and the unfortunate transcriber was dismissed with the scorn he deserved. To say truth, the poor plagiary was very unlucky to fall into my hands: that author being no longer in fashion, would have escaped any one of less universal reading than myself. You should encourage your daughter to talk over with you what she reads; and as you are very capable of distinguishing, take care she does not mistake pert folly for wit and humour, or rhyme for poetry, which are the common errors of young people, and have a train of ill consequences. The second caution to be given her-and which is most absolutely necessary-is to conceal whatever learning she attains, with as much solicitude as she would hide crookedness or lameness: the parade of it can only serve to draw on her the envy, and consequently the most inveterate hatred, of all he and she fools, which will certainly be at least three parts in four of her acquaintance. The use of knowledge in our sex, beside the amusement of solitude, is to moderate the passions, and learn to be contented with a small expense, which are the certain effects of a studious life; and it may be preferable even to that fame which men have engrossed to themselves, and will not suffer us to share. At the same time I recommend books, I neither exclude work nor drawing. I think it is as scandalous for a woman not to know how to use a needle, as for a man not to know how to use a sword. I was once extremely fond of my pencil, and it was a great mortification to me when my father turned off my master, having made a considerable progress for the short time I learned. My over-eagerness in the pursuit of it had brought a weakness in my eyes, that made it necessary to leave off ; and all the advantage I got was the improvement of my hand. I see by hers that practice will make her a ready writer : she may attain it by serving you for a secretary, when your health or affairs make it troublesome to you to write yourself; and custom will make it an agreeable amusement to her. She cannot have too many for that station of life which will probably be her fate. The ultimate end of your education was to make you a good wife and I have the comfort to hear that you are one; hers ought to be to make her happy in a virgin state. I will not say it is happier, but it is undoubtedly safer than any marriage. In a lottery, where there is-at the lowest computation--ten thousand blanks to a prize, it is the most prudent choice not to venture. I have always been so thoroughly persuaded of this truih, that, notwithstanding the flattering views I had for you as I never intended you a sacrifice to my vanity-I thought I owed you the justice to lay before you all the hazards attending matrimony: you may recollect I did so in the strongest manner. Perhaps you may have more success in the instructing your daughter; she has 80 much company at home, she will not need seeking it abroad, and will more readily take the notions you think fit to give her. As you were alone in my family, it would have been thougut a great cruelty to suffer you no companions of your own age, especially having so many near relations, and I do not wonder their opinions influenced yours. I was not sorry to see you not determined on a 8 ngle life, knowing it was not your father's intention; and contented myself with endeavouring to make your home so easy, that you might not be in haste to leave it.
I am afraid you will think this a very long insignificant letter. I hope the kindness of the design will excuse it, being willing to give you every proof in my power that I am your most affectionate mother.
WILLIAM WOTTON. WILLIAM WOTTON (1666–1726), à clergyman in Buckinghamshire, whom we have mentioned as the author of a reply to Sir William Temple, wrote various other works, including remarks on Swift's • Tale of a Tub.' In childhood, his talent for languages was so extraordinary and precocious, that it is related of him, though the statement is highly improbable, that when five years old he was able to read Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, almost as well as English! At the age of twelve he took the degree of Bachelor of Arts, previously to which he had gained an extensive acquaintance with several additional languages, including Arabic, Syriac, and Chaldee ; as well as with geography, logic, philosophy, chronology, and mathematics. As in many similar cases, however, the expectations held out by his early proficiency were not justified by any great achievements in after-life. We quote the following passage from his ' Reflections upon Ancient and Modern Learning' (1694), chiefly because it records the change of marrers which took place among literary men during the seventeenth century :
Decline of Pedantry in England. The last of Sir William Temple's reasons of the great decay of modern learning is pedantry: the urging of which is an evident argument that his discourse is levelled against learning, not as it stands now, but as it was fifty or sixty years ago. For the new philosophy has int oduced so great a correspondence between men of learning and men of business ; which has also been increased by other accidents amongst the masters of other learned professions; and that pedantry which formerly was almost universal is now in a great measure disused, especia.ly amongst the young men, who
are taught in the universities to laugh at that frequent citation of scraps of Latin in common discourse, or upon arguments that do not ruquire it; and that nauseonis OStentation of reading and scholarship in public compunies, which formerly was so ma h in fashion. Affecting to write politely in modern languages, especially the French and ours, has also helped very much to li ssen it, because it has enabled abundance of men, who wanted academical education, to talk plausibly, and some exactly, upon very many learned subjects. This also has made writers habitu lly careful to avoid those impertinences which they know would be taken notice of and ridiculed ; and it is probable that a careful perusal of the fine new French books, which of late years have been greedily sought after by the politer sort of gentlemen and scholars, may in this particular have done abundance of good. By this means, and by the help also of some other concurrent causes, those who were not learned themselves being able to maintain disputes with those that were forced them to talk more warily, and brought t em, by little and little, to be out of countenance at that vain thrusting of their learning into everything, which before had been but too visible.
TOM D'URFEY AND TOM BROWN. Very different in character from these grave and erudite authors were their contemporaries, Tom D'URFEY (circa 1630–1723) and Tom BROWN (1663–1704), who entertained the public with occasional whimsical compositions both in prose and verse, which are now valued only as conveying some idea of the taste and manners of the time. D’Urfey's first work was a heroic poem “ Archery Revived' (1676), and he continued to write plays, operas, poems, and songs. His comedies possess some farcical humour, but are too coarse and licentious for the stage. As a lively and facetious companion, his society was greatly courted, and he was a distinguished composer of jovial and party songs. In the 29th number of the Guardian,' Steele mentions a collection of sonnets published under the title of · Laugh and be Fat, or Pills to Purge Melancholy;' at the same time censuring the world for ungratefully neglecting to reward the jocose labours of D’Urfey, who was so large a contributor to this treatise, and to whose humorous productions so many rural squires in the remotest part of this island are obliged for the dignity and state which corpulency gives them. In the 67th number of the same work, Addison humourously solicits the attendance of his readers at a play for D'Urfey's benefit. The songs and other pieces of D’Ursey ultimately extended to six volumes, and were entitled: "Wit and Mirth, or Pills to Purge Melancholy,' &c. (1720). Tom Brown appeared as an author about 1688. He was a merry fellow' and libertine, who, having by his immoral conduct lost the situation of schoolmaster at Kingston-upon-Thames, became a professional author and libeller in the metropolis. His writings, which consist of dialogues, letters, poems, and other miscellanies, display considerable learning as well as shrewdness and humour, but are deformed by obscene and scurrilous buffoonery.
Letter from Scarron in the Next World to Louis XIV. All the conversation of this lower world at present runs upon you; and the devil a word we can hear in any of our coffee-houses but what his Gallic majesty is more or less concerned in. 'Tis agreed on by all our virtuosos, that since the days of Diocle