صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

THEATRICAL INSOLENCE. The unbecoming conduct of those individuals, whe supported by public patronage, frequently treat their benefactors with rudeness and insult, hath been often remarked and severely censured in many publications; an instance of this species of ingratitude, which took place at Athens, is recorded by a Greek historian.

A tragedy having been announced for public representation, the Athenians, on the day appointed, assembled in crowds; but just as the piece should have commenced, a popular actor, who, according to the custom of that age, was to have played a principal female part, refused to act, unless he was immediately furnished with a more splendid dress, and a greater train of attendants.

The insolent upstart was told, that if he had communicated his wishes at an earlier period of the business, they should certainly have been complied with, but that his expecting a new dress and additional attendants, at a moment when the people were impatiently expecting

the tragedy to begin, was inconsistent and absurd. The player obstinately persisted in his resolution not to act unless his terms were complied with; the delay, altercation, and confusion, exasperated the manager so much, that he forcibly pushed the stubborn blockhead on the stage, at the same time observing to him, in an audible voice, “ How can you be so ridiculous as to wish to make a parade and shew, when you see among the audience the wife of Phocian, the greatest of our commanders, the plainest drest of all the audience, and attended only by a single slave."

This well-timed reproof excited a loud and universal applause; the corrected offender, who deserved to have been hissed from the theatre, felt he was wrong, apologised for his preposterous conduct, and immediately performed his part.

[ocr errors]

SPANIARDS AND PORTUGUESE. We are apt to mistake the character of the Spaniards ; there is, in the very excess and abundance of their wit, joy, and good humour, a certain steady'evenness of manners, equally distant from pedantry, levity, and affectation; more mirth of the heart than all the noise, grimace, and badınage of their neighbours; a kind of grave, dry,

sententious humour, with a serene and placid firmness of countenance.

But, from too much of the religious, and then of the military spirit, they have rapidly declined into enthusiasm and cruelty; and as the human character never stops, have still continued to sink iuto indifference, pride, indolence, and barren devotion; they cannot be excited to any great effort but by superstitious terror's, love, revenge, and a fandango, the favourite dance of all ranks, in which, from a state of death-like stupidity, hey will, at the first touch of an instrument, join with enthusiasm, animation, grace, and delight.

It seems to have been the system of Spain and Portugal, to protect themselves by distance and desolation ; to leave whole districts uncultivated, and roads impassable; as military science declined, timidity succeeded to discipline, and inen prepared for war, by casing themselves in armour, to be smothered, or by shutting themselves up in castles, to be starved; they forgot that national strength consists in an active, moving, disposable force; and that the safest state of defence is, being always ready to attack,

'The Portuguese pride has usefully changed its object, from the black cloak, spectacles, an affectation of wisdom and sanctity, and having nothing to do; they grown

fond of fine cloths, are become diligent, enterprizing, and active.

Lisbon is a mixture of luxury and misery, nastiness and magnificence; the buildings erected since the earthquake of 1755 are barbarously gigantic: the Marquis de Pombal, their chief projector, had the misfortune of being elevated out of the reach of controul; no man presumed to understand even his own trade so well as the Prime Minister.


THEORY AGAINST FACT. It is, I understand, an established opinion of the present day among professional men, that impressions made on the mind of a pregnant woman cannot in any way affect her unborn infant. Yet numerous and well-authenticated relations have strongly inclined many persons to think differently. Malbranche relates, that a Parisian female of his day, tempted by unamiable curiosity to sce a public execution, was so struck with horror, that she was soon after delivered of a child, with bruises and fractures on different parts of its body and limbs, similar to those of the malefactor, who had been broken on the wheel. It has been observed, in reply, that to allow that impressions of the mother may affect her child is no more difficult to account for than those striking resemblances between thein in form, countenance and disposition.

A friend of the editor's, to whom this circumstance was mentioned, and an orthodox thinker on the subject, raised a long and loud laugh against the relater of it, a venerable divine: “ Nothing," said the humourist, who when he has any thing to say, thinks the wit a sufficient apology for the rudeness of his interruptions" nothing is easier to account for; the poor terrified woman, who, by the way, ought to have been at home mending her husband's stockings, would naturally endeavour to get away from a sight which affected her so disagreeably; and in the pressure of a rude and unyielding crowd, which generally collects on such occasions, might, very probably, be squeezed and bruised, herself as well as the infant, in the inanner you describe, without having recourse to any supernatural means.

He who is laughed at will not long be listened to; the quoter of Malbranche attempted to reply, but every word was overpowered by the noisy mirth of his companions. Yet similar accidents of pregnant women alarmed by mutilated beggars, monkies, monsters, &c. &c. have frequently come under the notice of the writer of this article, and many persons of undoubted veracity.

The common-plece scientific answer to facts like these is as follows : “ the position you wish to support is impossible and untenable, for a nervous intercourse and communication between the inother and fætus hath nerer yet been discovered, by the most accurate dissectors and diligent anatomists and physiologists: and, till such nervous connection hath been pointed out, it is impossible for a man at all acquainted with the animal economy to be of your opinion.

“ The circumstar.ces you mention, and the monstrous births you point out, I do not mean tu doubt; 'but be assured they were mere lusus nature, and would have taken place precisely in the same way without the previous and intervening accidents. Such appearances take place every day in plants, herbs, and trees, and I hope you do not attribute it in them to the effect of a thinking principle."

[ocr errors]

Those reasoners on this subject, who cannot relinquish their opinions because the nervous communication hath not yet been discovered, have been told, that this is no proof of its uon-existence; their mode of arguing has been compared to that of an ingenious gentleman recorded in a former volume, who denied the circulation of the blood, because it was incompatible with the received notions and doctrines of Aristotle.


ALL," says a certain writer, " which can be done by a wise man (seeing that by nature he is appointed to act for the space of 30, 50, or 70 years, some ridiculous silly part in this fantastic theatre of misery, vice, and corruption), is either to lament with Heraclitus the iniquities of the world, or (vhich is the more cheerful, and therefore I do presume the more eligible, course) to laugh with Democritus at all the fools and knaves upon earth." Montaigue preferred Democritus's humour to Heraclitus's; not," says

he, “because it is more pleasant to laugh than to weep, but because it is more scornful, and more expressive of contempt, than the other: for,” adds hę, “I think we can never be enough despised.” Essais, I. 50.-T. Brutus, courting him into the conspiracy against Cæsar, Statilius answered, that he was

perfectly satisfied of the justness of the cause, but did not think mankind so considerable, as to deserve a wise man's concern :" agreeably to that of Theodorus, who 66 would not have wise man run any risks for a company of fools.”-Muretus seems to have entertained a sublimer idea of human importance; when, having fallen sick upon the road, aud overhearing a consultation of physicians, who, supposing him an obscure person, agreed at length facere periculum in corpore vili, as they expressed it, he cried aloud, “What will you presume to make experiments upon one, for whom Christ died ?" Menagiana.

[ocr errors]

AN OLD PROVERB. The old English proverb, * An ounce of mother wit is worth a pound of learning,' seems well exemplified in the following dialogue, translated from the German :

• How large is the moon which we now see in the heavens said Hans, the son of the clergyman, to the farmer's son, Frederick, as they were walking together on a fiue summer's evening.

Frederick.-As large as a baking-dish.

Hans.-Ha! ha! ha! As large as a baking-dish? No, Frederick, it is full as large as a whole country.

« Frederick.- What do you tell me? as large as whole country? How do you know it is so large?

Hans. My tutor told me so.

“ While they were talking, Augustus, another boy, came by; and Haus ran laughing up to him, and said, Only hear, Augustus! Frederick says the moon is no larger than a baking-dish.

“ No? replied Augustus. The moon must be at least as big as our barn. When my father has taken me with him into the city, I have observed that the globe on the top of the done of the cathedral seems like a very little ball; and yet it will contaiu three sacks of corn, and the moon must be a great deal higher than the dome.

“ Now which of these three little philosophers was the most intelligent?-I nust give it in favour of the last; though Hans was most in the right, through the instruction of his master. But it is much more honourable to come even at all near the truth, by one's own reasoning, than to give implicit faith to the hypothesis of another."

MONSIEUR TRERET Was a learned Frenchman, under the regal government, who, on some unfounded pretence, was taken out of his bed, at two o'clock in the morning, and carried to the Bastile,

After a confinement of several weeks, and in perfect ignorance of the cause of his iinprisonment, the Lieutenant of Police at last called to take his examination : “ Will you have the goodness," said Treret, as that officer entered his room, 6 will you have the goodness to tell me, for what crime I am "shut up in this place ?" The Lieutenant replied with great coolness, “ I think you have a great deal of curiosity.”

« السابقةمتابعة »