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whom she had never seen in her life; and indeed I never knew a party-woman that kept her beauty for a twelvemonth. I would therefore advise all my female readers, as they value their complexions, to let alone all disputes of this nature; though at the same time, I would give free liberty to all superannuated motherly partizans to be as violent as they please, since there will be no danger either of their spoiling their faces, or of their gaining converts.
For my own part, I think a man makes an odious and despicable figure, that is violent in a party; but a woman is too fincere to mitigate the fury of her principles with temper and difcretion, and to act with that temper and reservedness which are requisite in our sex. When this unnatural zeal gets into them, it throws them into ten thousand heats and extravagancies; their generous souls set no bounds to their love, or to their hatred, and whether a whig or tory, a lap-dog or a gallant, an opera or a puppet-show, be the object of it, the passion while it reigns, engrosses the whole woman.
I remember when Dr. Titus OATES* was in all his glory, I accompanied my friend Will HONEYCOMB in a visit to a lady of his acquaint
We were no sooner sat down, but upon casting my eyes about the room, I found in almost every corner of it a print that represented the doctor in all magnitudes and dimensions. A little after, as the lady was discoursing my friend,
* Though the name of Dr. T. Oates is made use of here, Dr. Sacheverell is the person alluded to.
and held her snuff-box in her hand, who should I see in the lid of it but the doctor. It was not long after this when she had occasion for her handkerchief, which upon first opening, discovered among the plaits of it the figure of the doctor. Upon this my friend WILL who loves raillery, told her, That if he was in Mr. Truelove's place (for that was the name of her husband) he should be made as uneasy by a handkerchief as ever Othello was. I am afraid, said The, “ Mr. HONEYCOMB, you are a Tory: tell
ine truly, are you a friend to the doctor, or “ not?” Will, instead of making her a reply, smiled in her face (for indeed she was very pretty) and told her that one of her patches was dropping off. She immediately adjusted it, and looking a little seriously, “Well,” says she, “ I “ will be hanged if you and your filent friend “ are not against the doctor in your hearts, I
suspected as much by his faying nothing.” Upon this the took her fan into her hand, and upon the opening of it, again displayed to us the figure of the doctor, who was placed with great gravity among the sticks of it. In a word, I found that the doctor had taken poffeffion of her thoughts, her discourse, and most of her furniture; but finding myself prefied too close by her question, I winked upon my friend to take his leave, which he did accordingly. C*. N° 58. Monday, May 7, 1711.
* By ADDISON, dated it is supposed from Chelsea. See final Note to No5, on ADDISON's Signatures C, L, I, O; N° 221, and Note, on Capital and Cabalistical LETTERS.
Ut pietura poesis erit - Hor. Ars. Poet. ver. 361.
THING is so much admired, and so
little understood, as wit. No author that I know of has written professedly upon and as for those who make any mention of it, they only treat on the subject as it has accidentally fallen in their way, and that too in little short reflections, or in general exclamatory flourishes, without entering into the bottom of the matter. I hope therefore I shall perform an acceptable work to my countrymen, if I treat at large upon this subject; which I shall endeavour to do in a manner suitable to it, that I may not incur the censure which a famous critic bestows upon one who had written a treatise on the Sublime in a low grovelling stile. I intend to lay aside a whole week for this undertaking, that the scheme of my thoughts may not be broken and interrupted; and I dare promise myself, if my readers will give me a week's attention, that this great city will be very much changed for the better by next Saturday night. I shall endeavour to inake what I lay intelligible to ordinary capacities; but if my readers meet with any Paper that in some parts of it may be a little out of their reach, I would not have them dilcouraged, for they may affure themselves the next Thall be much clearer.
As the great and only end of these my Speculations is to banish vice and ignorance out of the territories of Great Britain, I shall endeavour as much as possible to establish among us a taste of polite writing. It is with this view that I have endeavoured to set my readers right in fe· veral points relating to operas and tragedies; and shall from time to time impart my notions of comedy, as I think they may tend to its refinement and perfection. I find by my bookseller, that these Papers of criticism, with that upon humour, have met with a more kind reception than indeed I could have hoped for from such subjects; for this reason I shall enter upon my present undertaking with greater chearfulness.
In this, and one or two following Papers, I Thall trace out the history of false wit, and distinguish the several kinds of it as they have
prevailed in different ages of the world. This I think the more neceffary at present, because I observed there were attempts on foot last winter to revive some of those antiquated modes of wit that have been long exploded out of the commonwealth of letters. There were several fatires and panegyrics handed about in acrostic, by which means some of the most arrant undisputed blockheads about the town, began to entertain ambitious thoughts, and to set up for polite authors. I shall therefore describe at length those many arts of false wit, in which a writer does not shew himself a man of a beautiful genius, but of great industry.
The first fpecies of false wit which I have
met with is very venerable for its antiquity, and has produced several pieces which have lived very near as long as the Iliad itself: I mean those Thort poems printed among the minor Greek poets, which resemble the figure of an egg, a pair of wings, an ax, a shepherd's pipe, and an altar. As for the first, it is a little oval
and may not improperly be called a scholar's egg.
I would endeavour to hatch it, or in more intelligible language, to translate it into English, did not I find the interpretation of it very difficult; for the author seems to have been more intent upon the figure of his
the fenfe of it.
The pair of wings consist of twelve verses, or rather feathers, every verse decreasing gradually in its measure according to its situation in the wing. The subject of it (as in the rest of the poems which follow) bears some remote affinity with the figure, for it describes a god of love, who is always painted with wings.
The ax methinks would have been a good figure for a lampoon, had the edge of it consisted of the most fatirical parts of the work; but as it is in the original, I take it to have been nothing else but the poesy of an ax which was consecrated to Minerva, and was thought to have been the fame that Epeus made use of in the building of the Trojan horse; which is a hint I shall leave to the confideration of the critics. I am apt to think that the poesy was written originally upon the ax, like those which our