Page images
PDF
EPUB

a carman, or brush through a crowd like a baker, or go smj. 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 Saturn, 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 fearful 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

* 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, perhaps, 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. A-m, of Flower-de-luce-court, in Fleetstreet, 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.

turn should be so predominant in people of this profession above all others.

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

66

CABBAGE.

thus * crosswise, or decussated, was among the ancients the posture of malediction. The Turks, who practise it at this day, are noted to be a melancholy people.

Secondly, his diet.To which purpose I find a most remarkable passage in Burton, in his chapter entitled “ Bad diet a cause of melancholy." Among herbs to be eaten (he says) I find gourds, cucumbers, melons, disallowed; but especially It causeth troublesome dreams, and sends

up

black vapours to the brain.

Galen, loc. affect., lib. 3, cap. 6, of all herbs condemns CABBAGE. And Isaack, lib. 2, cap. 1, anime gravitatem facit, it brings heaviness to the soul.” I could not omit so flattering a testimony from an author who, having no theory of his own to serve, has so unconsciously contributed to the confirmation of mine. It is well known that this lastnamed vegetable has, from the earliest periods which we can discover, constituted almost the sole food of this extraordinary race of people.

BURTON, Junior

HOSPITA ON THE IMMODERATE INDULGENCE

OF THE PLEASURES OF THE PALATE

To the Editor of the Reflector. MR. REFLECTOR—My husband and I are fond of company and, being in easy circumstances, we are seldom without a party to dinner two or three days in a week. The utmost

а cordiality has hitherto prevailed at our meetings; but there is a young gentleman, a near relation of my husband, that has lately come among us, whose preposterous behaviour bids fair, unless timely checked, to disturb our tranquillity. He is too great a favourite with my husband in other respects for me to remonstrate with him in any other than this distant ter printed in your publication may catch his eye; for he is a great reader, and makes a point of seeing all the new things that come out. Indeed, he is by no means deficient in understanding. My husband says that he has a good deal of wit; but, for my part, I cannot say I am any judge of that, having seldom observed him open his mouth except for purposes very foreign to conversation. In short, sir, this young gentleman's failing is an immoderate indulgence of his palate. The first time he dined with us he thought it necessary to extenuate the length

way. A let

7

come.

of time he kept the dinner on the table, by declaring that he had taken a very long walk in the morning, and came in fasting; but as that excuse could not serve above once or twice at most, he has latterly dropped the mask altogether, and chosen to appear in his own proper colours without reserve or apology. You cannot imagine how unpleasant his conduct has be

His way of staring at the dishes as they are brought in has absolutely something immodest in it: it is like the stare of an impudent man of fashion at a fine woman, when she first comes into the room. I am positively in pain for the dishes, and cannot help thinking they have consciousness, and will be put out of countenance, he treats them so like what they are not.

Then, again, he makes no scruple of keeping a joint of meat on the table, after the cheese and fruit are brought in, will he has what he calls done with it. Now how awkward this looks where there are ladies, you may judge, Mr. Reflector-how it disturbs the order and comfort of a meal. And yet I always make a point of helping him first, contrary to all good manners-before any of my female friends are helped that he may avoid this very error. I wish he would eat before he comes out.

What makes his proceedings more particularly offensive at our house is, that my husband, though out of common politeness he is obliged to set dishes of animal food before his visiters, yet himself and his whole family (myself included) feed entirely on vegetables. We have a theory, that animal food is neither wholesome nor natural to man; and even veg. etables we refuse to eat until they have undergone the operation of fire, in consideration of those numberless little living creatures which the glass helps us to detect in every fibre of the plant or root before it be dressed. On the same theory we boil our water, which is our only drink, before we suffer it to come to table. Our children are perfect litle Pythagoreans: it would do you good to see them in their nursery, stuffing their dried fruits, figs, raisins, and milk, which is the oniy approach to animal food which is allowed. They have no notion how the substance of a creature that ever had life can become food for another creature. A beef-steak is an absurdity to them; a multon-chop, a solecism in terms ; a cutlet, a word absolutely without any meaning ; a butcher is nonsense, except so far as it is taken for a man who delights in blood, or a hero. In this happy state of innocence we have kept their minds, not allowing them to go into the kitchen, or to hear of any preparations for the dressing of animal food, or even to

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »