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NESTOR IRONSIDE, ESQ.
No. 67. THURSDAY, MAY 28, 1713.
-Ne fortè pudori
Sit tibi musa lyræ solers, et cantor Apollo. HOR.
IT has been remarked, by curious observers, that poets are generally long-lived, and run beyond2 the usual age of man, if not cut off by some accident or excess, as Anacreon, in the midst of a very merry old age, was choked with a grape-stone. The same redundancy of spirits that produces the poetical flame, keeps up the vital warmth, and administers uncommon fuel to life. I question not but several instances will occur to my reader's memory, from Homer down to Mr. Dryden. I shall only take notice of two who have excelled in lyrics, the one an ancient and the other a modern. first gained an immortal reputation by celebrating several jockeys in the Olympic games; the last has signalized himself on the same occasion, by the ode that begins with—“To horse, brave boys, to Newmarket, to horse." My reader
The part which Mr. Addison took in the Guardian seems to have been accidental, and owing to the desire he had of serving poor D'Urfey: for his first appearance is on that occasion, at No. 67, though, when he had once broken through his reserve, for this good purpose, we afterwards find his hand very frequently in it.
2 Run beyond. i. e. Their lives run beyond: so that the substantive is understood to be contained in the adjective, long-lived. This way of speaking is very incorrect. It should be, and outlast the usual age of man,-that is-the poets outlast.
will, by this time, know that the two poets I have mentioned are Pindar and Mr. D'Urfey. The former of these is, long since, laid in his urn, after having many years together endeared himself to all Greece, by his tuneful compositions. Our countryman is still living, and in a blooming old age, that still promises many musical productions; for, if I am not mistaken, our British swan will sing to the last. The best judges, who have perused his last song on the Moderate Man, do not discover any decay in his parts, but think it deserves a place among the works with which he obliged the world in his more early years.
I am led into this subject by a visit which I lately received from my good old friend and contemporary. As we both flourished together in King Charles the Second's reign, we diverted ourselves with the remembrance of several particulars that passed in the world before the greatest part of my readers were born, and could not but smile to think how insensibly we were grown into a couple of venerable old gentlemen. Tom observed to me, that after having written more odes than Horace, and about four times as many comedies as Terence, he was reduced to great difficulties, by the importunities of a set of men, who, of late years, had furnished him with the accommodations of life, and would not, as we say, be paid with a song. In order to extricate1 my old friend, I immediately sent for the three directors of the playhouse, and desired them that they would, in their turn, do a good office for a man, who, in Shakspeare's phrase, had often filled their mouths, I mean with pleasantry and popular conceits. They very generously listened to my proposal, and agreed to act the Plotting Sisters, (a very taking play of my old friend's composing,) on the 15th of the next month, for the benefit of the author.
My kindness to the agreeable Mr. D' Urfey will be imperfect, if, after having engaged the players in his favour, I do not get the town to come into it. I must, therefore, heartily recommend to all the young ladies, my disciples, the case of my old friend, who has often made their grandmothers merry, and whose sonnets have perhaps lulled asleep many a present toast, when she lay in her cradle.
I have already prevailed upon my Lady Lizard to be at 1Extricate is not used absolutely: he should have said, to extricate my old friend out of his difficulties.
the house in one of the front boxes, and design, if I am in town, to lead her in myself, at the head of her daughters. The gentleman I am speaking of, has laid obligations on so many of his countrymen, that I hope they will think this but a just return to the good service of a veteran poet.
I myself remember King Charles the Second leaning on Tom D'Urfey's shoulder more than once, and humming over a song with him. It is certain that monarch was not a little supported by "Joy to great Cæsar," which gave the Whigs such a blow as they were not able to recover that whole reign. My friend afterwards attacked Popery with the same success, having exposed Bellarmine and Porto-Carrero more than once in short satirical compositions, which have been in everybody's mouth. He has made use of Italian tunes and sonatas for promoting the Protestant interest, and turned a considerable part of the pope's music against himself. In short, he has obliged the court with political sonnets, the country with dialogues and pastorals, the city with descriptions of a lord-mayor's feast, not to mention his little ode upon Stool-ball, with many others of the like nature.
Should the very individuals he has celebrated make their appearance together, they would be sufficient to fill the playhouse. Pretty Peg of Windsor, Gilian of Croydon, with Dolly and Molly, and Tommy and Johnny, with many others to be met with in the musical miscellanies, entitled "Pills to purge Melancholy," would make a good benefit night.
As my friend, after the manner of the old lyrics, accompanies his works with his own voice, he has been the delight of the most polite companies and conversations, from the beginning of King Charles the Second's reign to our present times. Many an honest gentleman has got a reputation in his country, by pretending to have been in company with Tom D'Urfey.
I might here mention several other merits in my as his enriching our language with a multitude of rhymes, and bringing words together, that, without his good offices, would never have been acquainted with one another, so long as it had been a tongue. But I must not omit that my old friend angles for a trout the best of any man in England. May flies come in late this season, or I myself should, before now, have had a trout of his hooking.
After what I have said, and much more that I might say, on this subject, I question not but the world will think that my old friend ought not to pass the remainder of his life in a cage like a singing bird, but enjoy all that Pindaric liberty which is suitable to a man of his genius. He has made the world merry, and I hope they will make him easy so long as he stays among us. This I will take upon me to say, they cannot do a kindness to a more diverting companion, or a more cheerful, honest, and good-natured man.'
I QUESTION not but my country customers will be surprised to hear me complain that this town is, of late years, very much infested with lions; and will, perhaps, look upon it as a strange piece of news, when I assure them, that there are many of these beasts of prey who walk our streets in broad day-light, beating about from coffee-house to coffeehouse, and seeking whom they may devour.
To unriddle this paradox, I must acquaint my rural reader, that we polite men of the town give the name of a lion to any one that is a great man's spy. And, whereas I cannot discharge my office of Guardian, without setting a mark on such a noxious animal, and cautioning my wards against him, I design this whole paper as an essay upon the political
It has cost me a great deal of time to discover the reason of this appellation, but after many disquisitions and conjectures on so obscure a subject, I find there are two accounts of it more satisfactory than the rest. In the republic of Venice, which has been always the mother of politics, there are, near the Doge's palace, several large figures of lions,
This exquisite paper is above all praise. It, apparently, gave Mr. Pope the hint of his ironical compliment to Dennis; which, indeed, is finely written, but has not, I think, altogether, the grace and unforced pleasantry of his original.
curiously wrought in marble, with mouths gaping in a most enormous manner. Those who have a mind to give the state any private intelligence of what passes in the city, put their hands into the mouth of one of these lions, and convey into it a paper of such private informations as any way regard the interest or safety of the commonwealth. By this means all the secrets of state come out of the lion's mouth. The informer is concealed, it is the lion that tells everything. In short, there is not a mismanagement in office, or a murmur in conversation, which the lion does not acquaint the government with. For this reason, say the learned, a spy is very properly distinguished by the name of lion.
I must confess, this etymology is plausible enough, and I did, for some time, acquiesce in it, till, about a year or two ago, I met with a little manuscript, which sets this whole matter in a clear light. In the reign of Queen Elizabeth, says my author, the renowned Walsingham had many spies in his service, from whom the government received great advantage. The most eminent among them was the statesman's barber, whose surname was Lion. This fellow had an admirable knack of fishing out the secrets of his customers, as they were under his hands. He would rub and lather a man's head, until he had got out everything that was in it. He had a certain snap in his fingers, and volubility in his tongue, that would engage a man to talk with him, whether he would or no. By this means, he became an inexhaustible fund of private intelligence, and so signalized himself in the capacity of a spy, that from his time a master-spy goes under the name of a lion.
Walsingham had a most excellent penetration, and never attempted to turn any man into a lion, whom he did not see highly qualified for it, when he was in his human condition. Indeed, the speculative men of those times say of him, that he would now and then play them off, and expose them a little unmercifully; but that, in my opinion, seems only good policy, for otherwise they might set up for men again, when they thought fit, and desert his service. But, however, though in that very corrupt age he made use of these animals, he had a great esteem for true men, and always exerted the highest generosity in offering them more, without asking terms of them, and doing more for them, out of mere respect for their talents, though against him, than they could