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and force do but carry us the further out of our way, in proportion to our speed. But we are half-way our journey, when we have got into the right road. If all our days were usefully employed, and we did not set out impertinently, we should not have so many grotesque professors in all the arts of life ; but every man would be in a proper and becoming method of distinguishing or entertaining himself, suitably to what nature designed him. As they go on now, our parents do not only force us upon what is against our talents, but our teachers are also as injudicious in what they put us to learn. I have hardly ever since suffered so much by the charms of any beauty, as I did before I had a sense of passion, for not apprehending that the smile of Lalage was what pleased Horace; and I verily believe, the stripes I suffered about Digito male pertinaci has given me that irreconcilable aversion, which I shall carry to my grave, against coquettes.
As for the elegant writer of whom I am talking, his excellences are to be observed as they relate to the different concerns of his life ; and he is always to be looked upon as a lover, a courtier, or a man of wit. His admirable Odes have numberless instances of his merit in each of these characters. His Epistles and Satires are full of proper notices for the conduct of life in a court; and what we call good breeding, is most agreeably intermixed with his morality. His addresses to the persons who favoured him, are so inimitably engaging, that Augustus complained of him for so seldom writing to him, and asked him, whether he was afraid posterity should read their names together?' Now, for the generality of men to spend much time in such writings is as pleasant a
folly as any he ridicules. Whatever the crowd of scholars may pretend, if their way of life, or their own imaginations, do not lead them to a taste of him, they may read, nay write, fifty volumes upon him, and be just as they were when they began. I remember to have heard a great painter say, “There are certain faces for certain painters, as well as certain subjects for certain poets. This is as true in the choice of studies; and no one will ever relish an author thoroughly well, who would not have been fit company for that author, had they lived at the same time. All others are mechanics in learning, and take the sentiments of writers like waiting - servants, who report what passed at their master's table ; but debase every thought and expression, for want of the air with which they were uttered.
[Tatler, No. 173.
Smiles and Laughter
In order to look into any person's temper, I generally make my first observation upon his laugh, whether he is easily moved, and what are the passages which throw him into that agreeable kind of convulsion. People are never so much unguarded, as when they are pleased : and laughter being a visible symptom of some inward satisfaction, it is then, if ever, we may believe the face. There is, perhaps, no better index to point us to the particularities of the mind than this, which is in itself one of the chief distinctions of our rationality. For, as Milton says :
Smiles from reason flow, To brute denied, and are of love the food. It may be remarked in general under this head, that the laugh of men of wit is for the most part but a faint constrained kind of half-laugh, as such persons are never without some diffidence about them ; but that of fools is the most honest, natural, open laugh in the world.
I have often had thoughts of writing a treatise upon this faculty, wherein I would have laid down rules for the better regulation of it at the theatre. I would
have criticised on the laughs now in vogue, by which our comic writers might the better know how to transport an audience into this pleasing affection. I had set apart a chapter for a dissertation on the talents of some of our modern comedians; and as it was the manner of Plutarch to draw comparisons of his heroes and orators, to set their actions and eloquence in a fairer light; so I would have made the parallel of Penkethman, Norris, and Bullock; and so far shown their different methods of raising mirth, that any one should be able to distinguish whether the jest was the poet's, or the actor's.
As the playhouse affords us the most occasions of observing upon the behaviour of the face, it may be useful, for the direction of those who would be critics this way, to remark, that the virgin ladies usually dispose themselves in the front of the boxes, the young married women compose the second row, while the rear is generally made up of mothers of long standing, undesigning maids, and contented widows. Whoever will cast his eye upon them under this view, during the representation of a play, will find me so far in the right, that a double entendre strikes the first row into an affected gravity, or careless indolence, the second will venture at a smile, but the third take the conceit entirely, and express their mirth in a downright laugh.
When I descend to particulars, I find the reserved prude will relapse into a smile at the extravagant freedoms of the coquette ; the coquette in her turn laughs at the starchness and awkward affectation of the prude; the man of letters is tickled with the vanity and ignorance of the fop ; and the fop confesses his ridicule at the unpoliteness of the pedant.
I fancy we may range the several kinds of laughers under the following heads :
The dimple is practised to give a grace to the features, and is frequently made a bait to entangle a gazing lover; this was called by the ancients the Chian laugh.
The smile is for the most part confined to the fair sex, and their male retinue. It expresses our satisfaction in a silent sort of approbation, doth not too much disorder the features, and is practised by lovers of the most delicate address. This tender motion of the physiognomy the ancients called the Ionic laugh.
The laugh among us is the common Risus of the ancients.
The grin, by writers of antiquity is called the Syncrusian ; and was then, as it is at this time, made use of to display a beautiful set of teeth.
The horse-laugh, or the Sardonic, is made use of with great success in all kinds of disputation. The proficients in this kind, by a well-timed laugh, will baffle the most solid argument. This upon all occasions supplies the want of reason, is always received with great applause in coffee-house disputes; and that side the laugh joins with, is generally observed to gain the better of his antagonist.
The prude hath a wonderful esteem for the Chian