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mirth rising from objects that perhaps cause something like pity or displeasure in higher natures. Laughter is indeed a very good counterpoise to the spleen; and it seems but reasonable that we should be capable of receiving joy from what is no real good to us, since we can receive grief from what is no real evil.

I have in my forty-seventh paper raised a speculation on the notion of a modern philosopher, who describes the first motive of laughter to be a secret comparison which we make between ourselves and the persons we laugh at; or, in other words, that satisfaction which we receive from the opinion of some pre-eminence in ourselves, when we see the absurdities of another, or when we reflect on any past absurdities of our own. This seems to hold in most cases, and we may observe that the vainest part of mankind are the most addicted to this passion.

I have read a sermon of a conventual in the church of Rome, on those words of the wise man; "I said of Laughter, it is mad; and of Mirth, what does it?" Upon which he laid it down as a point of doctrine, that laughter was the effect of original sin, and that Adam could not laugh before the fall.

Laughter, while it lasts, slackens and unbraces the mind, weakens the faculties, and causes a kind of remissness and dissolution in all the powers of the soul: and thus far it may be looked upon as a weakness in the composition of human nature. But if we consider the frequent reliefs we receive from it, and how often it breaks the gloom which is apt to depress the mind, and damp the spirits, with transient and unexpected gleams of joy, one would take care not to grow too wise for so great a pleasure of life.

The talent of turning men into ridicule, and exposing to laughter those one converses with, is the qualification of little ungenerous tempers. A young

man with this cast of mind cuts himself off from all manner of improvement. Every one has his flaws and weaknesses; nay, the greatest blemishes are often found in the most shining characters; but what an absurd thing it is to pass over all the valuable parts of a man, and fix our attention on his infirmities! to observe his imperfections more than his virtues! and to make use of him for the sport of others, rather than for our own improvement!

We therefore very often find, that persons the most accomplished in ridicule, are those who are very shrewd at hitting a blot, without exerting any thing masterly in themselves. As there are many eminent critics who never writ a good line, there are many admirable buffoons that animadvert upon every single defect in another, without ever discovering the least beauty of their own. By this means, these unlucky little wits often gain reputation in the esteem of vulgar minds, and raise themselves above persons of much more laudable cha

racters.

If the talent of ridicule were employed to laugh men out of vice and folly, it might be of some use to the world; but, instead of this, we find that it is generally made use of to laugh men out of virtue and good sense, by attacking every thing that is solemn and serious, decent and praise-worthy, in human life.

We may observe, that in the first ages of the world, when the great souls and master-pieces of human nature were produced, men shined by a noble simplicity of behaviour, and were strangers to those little embellishments which are so fashionable in our present conversation. And it is very remarkable, that, notwithstanding we fall short at present of the ancients in poetry, painting, tory, history, architecture, and all the noble arts and sciences which depend more upon genius than experience, we exceed them as much in doggerel,

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humor, burlesque, and all the trivial arts of ridicule. We meet with more raillery among the moderns, but more good sense among the ancients.

The two great branches of ridicule in writing, are comedy and burlesque. The first ridicules persons, by drawing them in their proper characters; the other by drawing them quite unlike themselves. Burlesque is therefore of two kinds; the first represents mean persons in the accoutrements of heroes, the other describes great persons acting and speaking like the basest among the people. Don Quixote is an instance of the first, and Lucian's gods of the second. It is a dispute among the critics, whether burlesque poetry runs best in heroic verse, like that of the Dispensary; or in doggerel, like that of Hudibras. I think where the low character is to be raised, the heroic is the proper measure; but when an hero is to be pulled down and degraded, it is done best in doggerel.

If Hudibras had been set out with as much wit and humor in heroic verse as he is in doggerel, he would have made a much more agreeable figure than he does; though the generality of his readers are so wonderfully pleased with the double rhimes, that I do not expect many will be of my opinion in this particular.

I shall conclude this essay upon laughter with observing, that the metaphor of laughing, applied to fields and meadows when they are in flower, or to trees when they are in blossom, runs through all languages; which I have not observed of any other metaphor, excepting that of fire and burning when they are applied to love. This shews that we naturally regard laughter as what is in itself both amiable and beautiful. For this reason, likewise, Venus has gained the title of proudns, The laughter-loving dame, as Waller has translated it, and is represented by Horace as the goddess who delights in laughter. Milton, in a joyous assembly of imaginary persons,

has given us a very poetical figure of laughter. His whole band of mirth is so finely described, that I shall set the passage down at length.

But come, thou goddess, fair and free,
In Heaven ycleap'd Euphrosyne,
And by men, Heart-easing Mirth,
Whom lovely Venus at a birth
With two sister Graces more
To ivy-crowned Bacchus bore:
Haste thee, nymph, and bring with thee
Jest and youthful Jollity,

Quips, and cranks, and wanton wiles,
Nods, and becks, and wreathed smiles,
Such as hang on Hebe's cheek,
And love to live in dimple sleek;
Sport, that wrinkled Care derides,

And Laughter, holding both his sides.
Come, and trip it as you go,
On the light fantastic toe,

And in thy right hand lead with thee
The mountain nymph, sweet Liberty;
And if I give thee honour due,
Mirth, admit me of thy crew,

To live with her, and live with thee,
In unreproved pleasures free.

No. 251. TUESDAY, DECEMBER 18.

-Linguæ centum sunt, oraque centum,

Ferrea vax.

VIRG.

THERE is nothing which more astonishes a foreigner, and frights a country squire, than the cries of London. My good friend Sir Roger often declares, that he cannot get them out of his head, or go to sleep for them, the first week that he is in town. On the contrary, Will Honeycomb calls them the Ramage de la Ville, and prefers them to the sounds of larks and nightingales, with all the music of the fields and woods, I have lately received a letter from some

very odd fellow upon this subject, which I shall leave with my reader, without saying any thing further of it.

'SIR,

"I AM a man out of all business, and would willingly turn my head to any thing for an honest livelihood. I have invented several projects for raising many millions of money without burthening the subject, but I cannot get the parliament to listen to me, who look upon me, forsooth, as a crack and a projector; so that despairing to enrich either myslf or my country by this public-spiritedness, I would make some proposals to you relating to a design which I have very much at heart, and which may procure me an handsome subsistence, if you will be pleased to recommend it to the cities of London and Westminster.

"The post I would aim at, is to be Comptrollergeneral of the London Cries, which are at present under no manner of rules or discipline. I think I am pretty well qualified for this place, as being a man of very strong lungs, of great insight into all the branches of our British trades and manufactures, and of a competent skill in music.

"The cries of London may be divided into vocal and instrumental. As for the latter, they are at present under a very great disorder. A freeman of London has the privilege of disturbing a whole street for an hour together, with the twanking of a brasskettle or a frying-pan. The watchman's thump at midnight startles us in our beds, as much as the breaking in of a thief. The sowgelder's horn has indeed something musical in it, but this is seldom heard within the liberties. I would therefore propose, that no instrument of this nature should be made use of, which I have not tuned and licensed, after having carefully examined in what manner it may affect the ears of her Majesty's liege subjects.

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