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N° 244. MONDAY, DECEMBER 10, 1711.
Judex et callidus audis.—Hor. 2 Sat. vii. 101. ·
MR. SPECTATOR, Covent Garden, Dec. 7. "I CANNOT, without a double injustice, forbear expressing to you the satisfaction which a whole clan of virtuosos have received from those hints which you have lately given the town on the cartoons of the inimitable Raphael. It should methinks be the business of a Spectator to improve the pleasures of sight, and there cannot be a more immediate way to it than recommending the study and observation of excellent drawings and pictures. When I first went to view those of Raphael which you have celebrated, I must confess I was but barely pleased; the next time I liked them better, but at last, as I grew better acquainted with them, I fell deeply in love with them; like wise speeches, they sunk deep into my heart; for you know, Mr. Spectator, that a man of wit may extremely affect one for the present, but if he has not discretion, his merit soon vanishes away; while a wise man that has not so great a stock of wit, shall nevertheless give you a far greater and more lasting satisfaction. Just so it is in a picture that is smartly touched, but not well studied; one may call it a witty picture, though the painter in the mean time may be in danger of being called a fool. On the other hand, a picture that is thoroughly understood in the whole, and well performed in the particulars, that is begun on the foundation of geometry, carried on by the rules of perspective, architecture, and anatomy, and perfected by a good harmony, a just and
natural colouring, and such passions and expressions of the mind as are almost peculiar to Raphael ; this is what you may justly style a wise picture, and which seldom fails to strike us dumb, until we can assemble all our faculties to make but a tolerable judgment upon it. Other pictures are made for the eyes only, as rattles are made for children's ears; and certainly that picture that only pleases the eye, without representing some well-chosen part of nature or other, does but shew what fine colours are to be sold at the colour-shop, and mocks the works of the Creator. If the best imitator of nature is not to be esteemed the best painter, but he that makes the greatest show and glare of colours; it will necessarily follow, that he who can array himself in the most gaudy draperies is best drest, and he that can speak loudest the best orator. Every man when he looks on a picture should examine it according to that share of reason he is master of, or he will be in danger of making a wrong judgment. If men when they walk abroad would make more frequent observations on those beauties of nature which every moment present themselves to their view, they would be better judges when they saw her well imitated at home. This would help to correct those errors which most pretenders fall into, who are over-hasty in their judgments, and will not stay to let reason come in for a share in the decision. It is for want of this that men mistake in this case, and in common life, a wild extravagant pencil for one that is truly bold and great, an impudent fellow for a man of true courage and bravery, hasty and unreasonable actions for en terprises of spirit and resolution, gaudy colouring for that which is truly beautiful, a false and insinuating discourse for simple truth elegantly recommended. The parallel will hold through all the parts of life and painting too; and the virtuosos above-mentioned will be glad to see you draw it with your terms of art. As the shadows in a picture represent the serious or melancholy, so the lights do the bright and lively thoughts. As there should be but one forcible light in a picture which should catch the eye and fall on the hero, so there should be but one object of our love, even the Author of nature. These and the like reflections, well improved, might very much contribute to open the beauty of that art, and prevent young people from being poisoned by the ill gusto of an extravagant workman that should be imposed upon us.
I am, Sir,
Your most humble servant.' * MR. SPECTATOR, • Though I am a woman, yet I am one of those who confess themselves highly pleased with a speculation you obliged the world with some time ago, from an old Greek poet you call Simonides, in relation to the several natures and distinctions of our own sex. I could not but admire how justly the characters of women in this age fall in with the times of Simonides, there being no one of those sorts I have not at some time or other of my life met with a sample of. But, Sir, the subjects of this present address are a set of women, comprehended, I think, in the ninth species of that speculation, called the Apes; the description of whom I find to be, “ That they are such as are both ugly and ill-natured, who have nothing beautiful themselves, and endeavour to detract from, or ridicule, every thing that appears so in others.” Now, Sir, this sect, as I have been told, is very frequent in the great town where you live; but as my circumstance of life obliges me to reside altogether in the country, though not many miles from London, I cannot have met with a great number of them, nor indeed is it a desirable acquaintance, as I have lately
found by experience. You must know, Sir, that at the beginning of this summer a family of these apes came and settled for the season not far from the place where I live. As they were strangers in the country, they were visited by the ladies about them, of whom I was one, with a humanity usual in those who pass most of their time in solitude. The apes lived with us very agreeably our own way until towards the end of the summer, when they began to bethink themselves of returning to town; then it was, Mr. Spectator, that they began to set themselves about the proper and distinguishing business of their character; and as it is said of evil spirits, that they are apt to carry away a piece of the house they are about to leave, the apes, without regard to common mercy, civility, or gratitude, thought fit to mimic and fall foul on the faces, dress, and behaviour of their innocent neighbours, bestowing abominable censures and disgraceful appellations, commonly called nicknames, on all of them; and in short, like true fine ladies, made their honest plainness and sincerity matter of ridicule. I could not but acquaint you with these grievances, as well at the desire of all the parties injured, as from my own inclination. I hope, Sir, if you cannot propose entirely to reform this evil, you will take such notice of it in some of your future speculations, as may put the deserving part of our sex on their guard against these creatures; and at the same time the apes may be sensible, that this sort of mirth is so far from an innocent diversion, that it is in the highest degree that vice which is said to comprehend all others. I am, Sir,
Your humble servant,
N° 245. TUESDAY, DECEMBER 11, 1711.
Ficta voluptatis causâ sint proxima veris.
Hor. Ars Poet. v. 338, Fictious, to please, should wear the face of truth. There is nothing which one regards so much with an eye of mirth and pity as innocence, when it has in it a dash of folly. At the same time that one esteems the virtue, one is tempted to laugh at the simplicity which accompanies it. When a man is made up wholly of the dove, without the least grain of the serpent in his composition, he becomes ridiculous in many circumstances of life, and very often discredits his best actions. The Cordeliers tell a story of their founder St. Francis, that as he passed the streets in the dusk of the evening, he discovered a young fellow with a maid in a corner; upon which the good man, say they, lifted up his hands to heaven with secret thanksgiving, that there was still so much Christian charity in the world. The innocence of the saint inade him mistake the kiss of the lover for a salute of charity. I am heartily concerned when I see a virtuous man without a competent knowledge of the world ; and if there be any use in these my papers, it is this, that without representing vice under any false alluring notions, they give my reader an insight into the ways of men, and represent human nature in all its changeable colours. The man who has not been engaged in any of the follies of the world, or, as Shakspeare expresses it, .hackney'd in the ways of men,' may here find a picture of its follies and extravagances. The virtuous and the innocent may know in speculation what they could never ar