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“ As the wind you know will wave a man ;"* to behold the vacant carcass, from which the life is newly dislodged, shifting between earth and heaven, the sport of every gust; like a weathercock, serving to show from which point the wind blows; like a maukin, fit only to scare away birds ; like a nest lest to swing upon a bough when the bird is flown: these are uses to which we cannot without a mixture of spleen and contempt behold the human carcass reduced. We string up dogs, foxes, bats, moles, weasels. Man surely deserves a steadier death.
Another reason why the ludicrous associates more forcibly with this than with any other mode of punishment, I cannot help thinking to be, the senseless costume with which old prescription has thought fit to clothe the exit of malefactors in this country. Let a man do what he will to abstract from his imagination all idea of the whimsical, something of it will come across him when he contemplates the figure of a fellowcreature in the daytime (in however distressing a situation) in a nightcap. Whether it be that this nocturnal addition has something discordant with daylight, or that it is the dress which we are seen in at those times when we are “ seen,” as the angel in Milton expresses it, “least wise;" this I am afraid will always be the case ; unless, indeed, as in my instance, some strong personal feeling overpower the ludicrous altogether. To me, when I reflect upon the train of misfortunes which have pursued men through life, owing to that accursed drapery, the cap presents as purely frightful an object as the sleeveless yellow coat and devil-painted mitre of the San Benitos. An ancestor of mine, who suffered for his loyalty in the time of the civil wars, was so sensible of the truth of what I am here advancing, that on the morning of execution, no entreaties could prevail upon him to submit to the odious dishabille, as he called it, but he insisted upon wearing, and actually suffered in, the identical flowing periwig which he is painted in, in the gallery belonging to my uncle's seat in
-shire. Suffer me, Mr. Editor, before I quit the subject, to say a word or two respecting the minister of justice in this country ; in plain words, I mean the hangman. It has always appeared to me that, in the mode of inflicting capital punishments with us, there is too much of the ministry of the human hand. The guillotine, as performing its functions more of itself and sparing human agency, though a cruel and disgusting exhibition, in my mind, has many ways the advantage over our way.
* Hieronimo in the Spanish tragedy.
In beheading, indeed, as it was formerly practised in England, and in whipping to death, as is sometimes practised now, the hand of man is no doubt sufficiently busy ; but there is something less repugnant in these downright blows than in the officious barber-like ministerings of the other. To have a fellow with his hangman's hands fumbling about your collar, adjusting the thing as your valet would regulate your cravat, valuing himself on his menial dexterity
I never shall forget meeting my rascal—I mean the fellow who officiated for me-in London last winter. I think I see him now—in a waistcoat that had been mine-smirking along as if he knew me
In some parts of Germany, that fellow's office is by law declared infamous, and his posterity incapable of being ennobled. They have hereditary hangmen, or had, at least, in the same manner as they had hereditary other great officers of state ; and the hangmen's families of two adjoining paríshes intermarried with each other, to keep the breed entire. I wish something of the same kind were established in England.
But it is time to quit a subject which teems with disagreeable images. Permit me to subscribe myself, Mr. Editor,
Your unfortunate friend,
ON THE MELANCHOLY OF TAILORS.
“Sedet, æternumque sedebit,
THAT there is a professional melancholy, if I may so express myself, incident to the occupation of a tailor, is a fact which I think very few will venture to dispute.
I may safely appeal to my readers, whether they ever knew one of that faculty that was not of a temperament, to say the least, far removed from mercurial or jovial.
Observe the suspicious gravity of their gait. The peacock is not more tender, from a consciousness of his peculiar in firmity, than a gentleman of this profession is of being known hy the same infallible testimonies of his occupation. that I may
know thee." Do you ever see him go whistling along the foot-path like
Walk, a carman, or brush through a crowd like a baker, or go smi. ling to himself like a lover? Is he forward to thrust into mobs, or to make one at the ballad-singer's audience ? Does he not rather slink by assemblies and meetings of the people, as one who wisely declines popular observation ?
How extremely rare is a noisy tailor! a mirthful and obstreperous tailor!
“At my nativity,” says Sir Thomas Browne, “my ascendant was the earthly sign of Scorpius ; I was born in the planetary hour of Saturii, and I think I have a piece of that leaden planet in me.” One would think that he were anatomizing a tailor! save that to the latter's occupation, methinks, a woollen planet would seem more consonant, and that he should be born when the sun was in Aries. He goes on. “I am no way facetious, nor disposed for the mirth and galliardise of company.”. How true a type of the whole trade! Eminently economical of his words, you shall seldom hear a jest come from one of them. He sometimes furnishes subject for a repartee, but rarely (I think) contributes one ore proprio.
Drink itself does not seem to elevate him, or at least to call out of him any of the external indications of vanity. I cannot say that it never causes his pride to swell, but it never breaks out. I am even fearsul that it may swell and rankle to an alarming degree inwardly. For pride is near of kin to melancholy; a hurtful obstruction from the ordinary outlets of vanity being shut. It is this stoppage which engenders proud humours. Therefore a tailor may be proud. I think he is never vain. The display of his gaudy patterns in that book of his which emulates the rainbow, never raises any inflations of that emotion in him, corresponding to what the wigmaker (for instance) evinces when he expatiates on a curl or a bit of hair. He spreads them forth with a sullen incapacity for pleasure, a real or affected indifference to grandeur. Cloth of gold neither seems to elate, nor cloth of frieze to depress him-according to the beautiful motto which formed the mod est imprese of the shield worn by Charles Brandon at his marriage with the king's sister. Nay, I doubt whether he would discover any vainglorious complacence in his colours, though “ Iris” herself " dipped the woof.”
In further corroboration of this argument—who ever saw the wedding of a tailor announced in the newspapers, or the birth of his eldest son ?
When was a tailor known to give a dance, or to be himself a good dancer, or to perform exquisitely on the tight rope, or to shine in any such light and airy pastimes? to sing, or play on the violin ?
Do they much care for public rejoicings, lightings up, ringing of bells, firing of cannons, &c.?
Valiant I know they can be; but I appeal to those who were witnesses to the exploits of Eliot's famous troop, whether in their fiercest charges they betrayed anything of that thoughtless oblivion of death with which a Frenchman jigs into battle, or whether they did not show more of the melancholy valour of the Spaniard upon whom they charged; that deliberate courage which contemplation and sedentary habits breathe ?
Are they often great newsmongers? I have known some few among them arrive at the dignity of speculative politicians; but that light and cheerful every-day interest in the affairs and goings-on of the world, which makes the barber* such delightful company, I think is rarely observable in them.
This characteristic pensiveness in them being so notorious, I wonder none of those writers who have expressly treated of melancholy should have mentioned it. Burton, whose book is an excellent abstract of all the authors in that kind who preceded him, and who treats of every species of this malady, from the hypochondriacal or windy to the heroical or love melancholy, has strangely omitted it. Shakspeare himself has overlooked it. “ I have neither the scholar's melancholy, (saith Jaques, which is emulation; nor the courtier's, which is proud ; nor the soldier's, which is politic; nor the lover's, which is all these :” and then, when you might expect him to have brought in, “nor the tailor's, which is so and so"-he comes to an end of his enumeration, and falls to a defining of his own melancholy.
Milton likewise has omitted it, where he had so fair an opportunity of bringing it in, in his Penseroso.
But the partial omissions of historians proving nothing against the existence of any well-attested fact, I shall proceed and endeavour to ascertain the causes why this pensive turn should be so predominant in people of this profession: above all others.
* Having incidently mentioned the barber, in a comparison of professional temperaments, I hope no other trade will take offence, or look upon it as an incivility done to them, if I say, that in courtesy, humanity, and all the conversational and social graces which “gladden life," I esteem no profession comparable to his. Indeed, so great is the good-will which I bear to this use. ful and agreeable body of men, that, residing in one of the Inns of Court, (where the best specimens of them are to be found, except, perbaps, at the universities,) there are seven of them to whom I am personally known, and who never pass me without the compliment of the hat on either side. My truly polite and urbane friend, Mr. Am, of Flower-de-luce-court, in Fleet. street, will forgive my mention of him in particular. I can truly say, that I never spent a quarter of an hour under his hands without deriving some profit from the agreeable discussions which are always going on there.
And first, may it not be, that the custom of wearing apparel being derived to us from the fall, and one of the most mortifying products of that unhappy event, a certain seriousness (to say no more of it) may in the order of things have been intended to be impressed upon the minds of that race of men to whom in all ages the care of contriving the human apparel has been intrusted-to keep up the memory of the first institution of clothes, and serve as a standing remonstrance against those vanities which the absurd conversion of a memorial of our shame into an ornament of our persons was destined to produce ? Correspondent in some sort to this, it may be remarked, that the tailor sitting over a cave or hollow place, in the cabalistic language of his order, is said to have certain melancholy regions always open under his feet. But waving further inquiry into final causes, whe: the best of us can only wander in the dark, let us try to discover the efficient causes of this melancholy.
I think, then, that they may be reduced to two, omitting some subordinate ones, viz.
The sedentary habits of the tailor.
Something peculiar in his diet. First, his sedentary habits.-In Doctor Norris's famous narrative of the phrensy of Mr. John Dennis, the patient, being questioned as to the occasion of the swelling in his legs, replies that it came “by criticism ;" to which the learned doctor seeming to demur, as to a distemper which he had never read of, Dennis (who appears not to have been mad upon all subjects) rejoins, with some warmth, that it was no distemper, but a noble art ! that he had sat fourteen hours a day at it, and that the other was a pretty doctor not to know that there was a cummunication between the brain and the legs.
When we consider that this sitting for fourteen hours continuously, which the critic probably practised only while he was writing his “remarks,” is no more than what the tailor, in the ordinary pursuance of his art, submits to daily (Sun days excepted) throughout the year, shall we wonder to find the brain affected, and in a manner overclouded, from that indissoluble sympathy between the noble and less noble parts of the body, which Dennis hints at? The unnatural and painful manner of his sitting must also greatly aggravate the evil, insomuch that I have sometimes ventured to liken tailors at their boards to so many envious Junos, sitting cross-legged to hinder- the birth of their own felicity. The legs transversed