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and greater cities, where artifice and disguise are more in fashion.
"I have already seen, as I informed you in my last, all the king's palaces, and have now seen a great part of the country. I never thought there had been in the world such an excessive magnificence or poverty as I have met with in both together. One can scarce conceive the pomp that appears in everything about the king; but, at the same time, it makes half his subjects go barefoot. The people are, however, the happiest in the world, and enjoy, from the benefit of their climate and natural constitution, such a perpetual gladness of heart and easiness of temper, as even liberty and plenty cannot bestow on those of other nations. 'Tis not in the power of want or slavery to make them miserable. There is nothing to be met with but mirth and poverty. Every one sings, laughs, and starves. Their conversation is generally agreeable, for if they have any wit or sense, they are sure to show it. They never mend upon a second meeting, but use all the freedom and familiarity at first sight that a long intimacy, or abundance of wine, can scarce draw from an Englishman. Their women are perfect mistresses in this art of showing themselves to the best advantage. They are always gay and sprightly, and set off the worst faces in Europe with the best airs. Every one knows how to give herself as charming a look and posture as Sir Godfrey Kneller could draw her in. I cannot end my letter without observing, that from what I have already seen of the world, I cannot but set a particular mark of distinction upon those who abound most in the virtues of their nation, and least with its imperfections. When, therefore, I see the good sense of an Englishman in its highest perfection, without any mixture of the spleen, I hope you will excuse me if I admire the character, and am ambitious of subscribing myself,
"Sir, Yours," &c.
No. 102. WEDNESDAY, JULY 8.
-Natos ad flumina primùm
Deferimus, sævoque gelu duramus et undis. VIRG.
I AM always beating about in my thoughts for something that may turn to the benefit of my dear countrymen. The
present season of the year having put most of them in slight summer-suits, has turned my speculations to a subject that concerns every one who is sensible of cold or heat, which I believe takes in the greatest part of my readers.
There is nothing in nature more inconstant than the British climate, if we except the humour of its inhabitants. We have frequently, in one day, all the seasons of the year. I have shivered in the dog-days, and been forced to throw off my coat in January. I have gone to bed in August, and rose in December. Summer has often caught me in my Drap de Berry, and winter in my Doily suit.
I remember a very whimsical fellow (commonly known by the name of Posture-master) in King Charles the Second's reign, who was the plague of all the tailors about town. He would often send for one of them to take measure of him, but would so contrive it, as to have a most immoderate rising in one of his shoulders. When the clothes were brought home, and tried upon him, the deformity was removed into the other shoulder. Upon which the tailor begged pardon for the mistake, and mended it as fast as he could; but upon a third trial, found him a straight-shouldered man as one would desire to see, but a little unfortunate in a humped back. In short, this wandering tumour puzzled all the workmen about town, who found it impossible to accommodate so changeable a customer. My reader will apply this to any one who would adapt a suit to a season of our English climate.
After this short descant on the uncertainty of our English weather, I come to my moral.
A man should take care that his body be not too soft for his climate; but rather, if possible, harden and season himself beyond the degree of cold wherein he lives. Daily experience teaches us how we may inure ourselves, by custom, to bear the extremities of weather without injury. The inhabitants of Nova Zembla go naked, without complaining of the bleakness of the air in which they are born, as the armies of the northern nations keep the field all winter. The softest of our British ladies expose their arms and necks to the open air, which the men could not do without catching cold, for want of being accustomed to it. The whole body, by the same means, might contract the same firmness and
temper. The Scythian that was asked how it was possible for the inhabitants of his frozen climate to go naked, replied, "Because we are all over face." Mr. Locke advises parents to have their children's feet washed every morning in cold water, which might probably prolong multitudes of lives.
I verily believe a cold bath would be one of the most healthful exercises in the world, were it made use of in the education of youth. It would make their bodies more than proof to the injuries of the air and weather. It would be something like what the poets tell us of Achilles, whom his mother is said to have dipped, when he was a child, in the river Styx. The story adds, that this made him invulnerable all over, excepting that part which the mother held in her hand during this immersion, which, by that means, lost the benefit of these hardening waters. Our common practice runs in a quite contrary method. We are perpetually softening ourselves, by good fires and warm clothes. The air within our rooms has generally two or three more degrees of heat in it than the air without-doors.
Crassus is an old lethargic valetudinarian. For these twenty years last past, he has been clothed in frieze of the same colour, and of the same piece. He fancies he should catch his death in any other kind of manufacture, and thought his avarice would incline him to wear it till it was threadbare, he dares not do it, lest he should take cold when the nap is off. He could no more live without a frieze coat, than without his skin. It is not, indeed, so properly his coat, as what the anatomists call one of the integuments of the body.
How different an old man is Crassus from myself. It is, indeed, the particular distinction of the Ironsides to be robust and hardy, to defy the cold and rain, and let the weather do its worst. My father lived till a hundred without a cough, and we have a tradition in the family, that my grandfather used to throw off his hat, and go open-breasted, after fourscore. As for myself, they used to souse me over head and ears in water when I was a boy, so that I am now looked upon as one of the most case-hardened of the whole family of the Ironsides. In short, I have been so plunged in water, and inured to the cold, that I regard myself as a piece of
A fine comic stroke, and, I think, an original one, on this well-worn topic of avarice.
true-tempered Steele,' and can say, with the above-mentioned Scythian, that I am face, or, if my enemies please, forehead, all over.
No. 103. THURSDAY, JULY 9.
Dum flammas Jovis, et sonitus imitatur Olympi. VIRG.
I AM considering how most of the great phenomena, or appearances in nature, have been imitated by the art of man. Thunder is grown a common drug among the chymists. Lightning may be bought by the pound. If a man has occasion for a lambent flame, you have whole sheets of it in a handful of phosphor. Showers of rain are to be met with in every water-work; and, we are informed, that some years ago the virtuoso's of France covered a little vault with artificial snow, which they made to fall above an hour together, for the entertainment of his present Majesty.
I am led into this train of thinking, by the noble fire-work that was exhibited last night upon the Thames. You might there see a little sky filled with innumerable blazing stars and meteors. Nothing could be more astonishing than the pillars of flame, clouds of smoke, and multitudes of stars, mingled together in such an agreeable confusion. Every rocket ended in a constellation, and strewed the air with such a shower of silver spangles, as opened and enlightened the whole scene from time to time. It put me in mind of the lines in Oedipus,
Why from the bleeding womb of monstrous night
In short, the artist did his part to admiration, and was so
I was in company with two or three fanciful friends during the whole show. One of them being a critic, that is, a man
A quibble, so contrived as to introduce a handsome compliment to the editor of this paper.
2 The plural number of Virtuoso is Virtuosos, without a comma, which is the sign of the apostrophe in the genitive case. But perhaps, as the word is foreign, he had better preserved the proper termination, Virtuosi.
who, on all occasions, is more attentive to what is wanting than what is present,1 begun to exert his talent upon the several objects we had before us. I am mightily pleased, (says he,) with that burning cipher. There is no matter in the world so proper to write with as wild-fire, as no characters can be more legible than those which are read by their own light. But as for your cardinal virtues, I do not care for seeing them in such combustible figures. Who can imagine Chastity with a body of fire, or Temperance in a flame? Justice, indeed, may be furnished out of this element, as far as her sword goes, and Courage may be all over one continued blaze, if the artist pleases."
Our companion observing that we laughed at this unseasonable severity, let drop the critic, and proposed a subject for a fire-work, which he thought would be very amusing, if executed by so able an artist as he who was at that time entertaining us. The plan he mentioned was a scene in Milton. He would have a large piece of machinery represent the Pandæmonium, where
-From the arched roof
Pendent by subtle magic, many a row
Of starry lamps, and blazing cressets, fed
This might be finely represented by several illuminations disposed in a great frame of wood, with ten thousand beautiful exhalations of fire, which men versed in this art know very well how to raise. The evil spirits, at the same time, might very properly appear in vehicles of flame, and employ all the tricks of art to terrify and surprise the spectator.
We were well enough pleased with this start of thought, but fancied there was something in it too serious, and perhaps too horrid, to be put in execution.
Upon this, a friend of mine gave us an account of a firework, described, if I am not mistaken, by Strada. A prince of Italy, it seems, entertained his mistress with it on a great lake. In the midst of this lake was a huge floating mountain made by art. The mountain represented Etna, being bored through the top with a monstrous orifice. Upon a
This description of a critic is, I doubt, very applicable to the editor, who, in reading so fine a paper as this, is only on the catch for some little slip or inaccuracy in grammar.