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plause they shall bestow upon his performance then before them :' in conclusion he inveighs against certain of his contemporaries, Eupolis, Phrynichus, and Hermippus, ' with whose comedies, if any of his audience is well pleased, that person he hopes will depart from his dissatisfied; but if they condemn his rivals, and applaud him, he shall think better of their judgment for the future. Act 1. sc. 6.'
The caution authors now proceed with shews the refinement of the times ; still they can contrive in a modest way to say civil things of themselves, and it would be hard indeed to disappoint them of so slight a gratification-for what praise is so little to be envied, as that which a man bestows on himself? Several of our diurnal essayists have contrived under the veil of fiction to hook in something recommendatory of themselves, which they mean should pass
for truth; such is the intelligent taciturnity of the Spectator, and the solemn integrity of the Guardian.
The latter, in one of his papers, notices the ambi. tion of some authors to prefix engravings of their portraits to their title-pages; his ridicule has not quite laughed this fashion out of countenance, for I perceive it is still in existence, and I frequently meet the face of an old acquaintance looking through the windows of a bookseller's shop. One very ingenious gentleman, whose beauty is amongst the least of his recommendations, has very prudently stamped his age upon his print. In the same shop window with this gentleman, I observed with great pleasure an elegant author standing by him, as erect as a dart, firm and collected in the awful moment of beginning a minuet. I own I regret that the honest butler, who has regaled the age
with a treatise on ale and strong beer, has not hung out his own head in the front of his book, as a sign of the good entertainment within. But of all the instances of face-flattery I have lately
met with, that of a worthy citizen surprised me most, whose compting house I entered the other day, and found an enormous portrait of my friend in a flaming drapery of blue and gold, mounted upon the back of a war-horse, which the limner has made to rear so furiously, that I was quite astonished to see my friend, who is no great jockey, keep his seat so steadily: he confessed to me that he had consented to be drawn on horseback to please his wife and daughters, who chose the attitude; for his own part it made him quite giddy to look at himself, and he frequently desired the painter not to let the horse prance so, but to no purpose.
Too great avidity of praise will sometimes betray an author into a studied attempt at fine writing, where the thought will not carry the style; writers of this sort are like those tasteless dabblers in architecture, who turn the gable-ends of barns and cottages into castles and tenuples, and spend a world of plastering and pains to decorate a pig-sty. They bring to my mind a ridiculous scene, at which I was present the other day : I found a lady of my acquaintance busily employed in the domestic education of her only son ; the preceptor was in the room, and was standing in an attitude very much resembling the erect gentleman I had seen that morning in the bookseller's window: the boy kept his eyes fixt, and seemed to govern his motions by certain signals of the feet and arms, which he repeated from the preceptor. In the course of my conversation with his mother, I chanced to drop my glove upon the floor, upon which he approached to pick it up, but in a step so measured and methodical, that I had done the office for myself, before he had performed his advances. As I was about to resume the conversation, the mother interrupted me, by desiring I would favour her so far as to drop my glove again, that Bobby might have the honour of presenting it to me in proper form: all this while the
boy stood as upright as an arrow, perfectly motionless; but no sooner had I thrown down my gauntlet, than he began to put one foot slowly in advance before the other; upon which the preceptor of politeness cried out, one !—first position !—The boy then made another movement of his feet, upon which the master repeated-two !_second position !—This was followed by another, and the echo again cried outthree! very well—third position! bend your body slowly! At the word of command the automaton bent his body very deliberately, its arms hanging down in parallel perpendiculars to the floor, like the fore-legs of a quadruped. The glove being now taken up by the right hand, was placed with great decorum upon the back of the left hand; the trunk of the animal was slowly restored to its erect position, and the glove presented with all due solemnity. As I was in hopes the ceremony was now over, upon hearing the teacher cry bravo! I thought it time to make my compliment of, thank you pretty Master! but I was again in a mistake, for the mother begged me not to hurry her dear Bobby, but allow him time to make his bow, and still hold the glove in my hand : this was an operation of no slight consequence, for in the time it took him
up, a nimble artist might have made the glove : at last, however, it was over, and the boy was putting himself in order of retreat, when the master observing that I had omitted the
upon receiving the glove, for want of which the whole had been imperfect, proposed a repetition of the mancuvre, in which Bobby should be the dropper, and himself the picker up of the glove. This proposal struck me with such horror, that, taking a hasty leave of the lady, in which, first, second, and third position were probably huddled all together, I departed, repeating to myself in the words of Foigard, all this may be very fine, but upon my soul it is
LADY THIMBLE is one of those female pedants, who, with quick animal spirits, a pert imagination, great self-conceit, and a homely person, sets herself up for a woman of talents : she has as much of the learned languages, as a boarding-school girl carries home of French upon her first holidays, when Miss assures you she can call for what she wants, and, though she won't utter a word in the parlour from pretended modesty, insults the ignorance of the chambermaid with an eternal jargon of bad grammar, worse pronounced. This learned lady is the only child of a wealthy trader of the city of London, who, having never advanced in his own education beyond the erudition of the compting-house, took care his daughter should be instructed in every thing he did not understand himself, and as the girl grew exceedingly vain of the applause of the pedagogue, who read to her, the merchant grew as vain of the scholarship of his child, and would listen to the sound of Latin or Greek with as much superstitious respect, as a Gentoo does to the Shanscrite language of the Brahmins.
Miss, in the mean time, became an insufferable slattern in her clothes and person, her handkerchiefs and aprons were full of iron-moulds from the drippings of the inkhorn, and her stockings full of holes from her neglect of the needle: these were in fact, badges of affectation rather than of oversight, and you could not pay your court to her better than by rallying her about them. She wore a head of false hair, not because her own was thin, but because a wig was thrown on in an instant; this was some
times done with a negligence that seemed studied, and when the learned Ventosus vouchsafed to visit her, she was sure to wear her wig awry, as Alexander's courtiers did their heads, in honour of her guest: there was indeed an unseemly humour settled in her nose, but this she got by studying Locke upon the Human Understanding after dinner; befores he could develop the whole doctrine of innate ideas, the humour deepened many shades, which, however, on the whole may be allowed to be getting off pretty well for a student in metaphysics. No face could bear the addition of a red nose better that Lady Thimble's : but a more alarming accident had befallen her in her astronomical studies, for as she was following a comet in his perihelion through the solutions of Sir Isaac Newton, her cap caught fire, and she was forced to break off in the midst of a proposition, by which means she dropt a stitch in the demonstration, and never was able to take it up again; her skin being cruelly scorched by this system of the comets, she wears a crimson scar upon her cheek, not indeed as an ornament to her beauty, but as a trophy of her science.
Her works are pretty voluminous, especially in manuscript; but censorious people affect to whisper, that she performed one work in concert with the pedant her master, and that, though this composition was brought secretly into the world, it is the only one of her producing that bids fair for posterity: this story, and the remark upon it, I had from a lady, who is one of her intimate friends, but she assured me she gave no credit to it herself, and considered all such scandalous insinuations as the effects of malice and envy.
At the age of seven-and-twenty, by the persuasion of her father, she was joined in the bands of wed: lock to Sir Theodore Thimble: this gentleman had