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Such as hang on Hebe's cheek,
L'ALLEGRO, v. 11, &c.
No. 250. MONDAY, DECEMBER 17.
Disce docendus adhuc, quæ censet amiculus, ut si
“You see the nature of my request by the Latin motto which I address to you. I am very sensible I ought not to use many words to you, who are one of but few; but the following piece as it relates to speculation, in propriety of speech, being a curiosity in its kind, begs your patience. It was found in a poetical virtuoso's closet among his rarities; and since the several treatises of
thunibs, ears, and noses, have obliged the world, this of eyes is at your service.
• The first eye of consequence (under the invisible Author of all) is the visible luminary of the universe. This glorious Spectator is said never to open his eyes at his rising in a morning, without having a whole kingdom of adorers in Persian silk, waiting at his levee. Millions of creatures derive their sight from this original, who besides his being the great director of optics, is the surest test whether eyes be of the same species with that of an eagle or that of an owl; the one he emboldens with a manly assurance to look, speak, act, or plead before the faces of a numerous assembly; the other he dazzles out of countenance into a sheepish dejectedness. The sunproof eye dares lead up a dance in a full court; and without blinking at the lustre of beauty, can distribute an eye of proper complaisance to a room crowded with company, each of which deserves particular regard: while the other sneaks from conversation like a fearful debtor, who never dares to look out but when he can see nobody and nobody him.
• The next instance of optics is the famous Argus, who (to speak the language of Cambridge) was one of a hundred; and, being used as a spy in the affairs of jealousy, was obliged to have all his eyes about him. We have no account of the particular colours, casts, and turns of this body of eyes; but as he was pimp for his mistress Juno, it is probable he used all the modern leers, sly glances, and other ocular activities to serve his purposes. Some look upon him as the then king at arms to the heathenish deities; and make no
proper ferments in the humours, and promotes the circulation of the blood, temperance gives nature her full play, and enables her to exert herself in all her force and vigour, if exercise dissipates a growing distemper, temperance starves it.
Physic, for the most part, is nothing else but the substitute of exercise or temperance. Medicines are indeed absolutely necessary in acute distempers, that can not wait the slow operations of these two great instruments of health; but did men live in an habitual course of exercise and temperance, there would be but little occasion for them. Accordingly we find that those parts of the world are the most healthy, where they subsist by the chase, and that men live longest when their lives were employed in hunting, and when they had little food besides what they caught. Blistering, cupping, bleeding, are seldom of use but to the idle and intemperate; as all those inward applications which are so much in practice among us, are for the most part nothing else but expedients to make luxury consistent with health. The apothecary is perpetually employed in countermining the cook and the vintner. It is said of Diogenes, that meeting a young man that was going to a feast, he took him up
in the street and carried him home to his friends, as one who was running into imminent danger, had he not prevented him.
What would that philosopher have said, had 'he been present at the gluttony of a modern meal? Would not he have thought the master of a family mad, and have begged his servants to tie down his hands, had he seen him devour fowl, fish, and flesh; swallow oil and vinegar, wines and spices; throw down place the eye of an ox, bull, or cow, in one of his principal goddesses, by that frequent expression of
Βοοπις ωοτνια Hen
• The ox-ey'd venerable Juno.' Now as to the peculiar qualities of the eye, that finer part of our constitution seems as much the receptacle and seat of our passions, appetites, and inclinations, as the mind itself; and at least it is the outward portal to introduce them to the house within; or rather the common thoroughfare, to let our affections pass in and out; love, anger, pride, and avarice, all visibly move in those little orbs. I know a young lady that can not see a certain gentleman pass by, without showing a secret desire of seeing him again by a dance in her eyeballs; nay, she can not for the heart of her help looking half a street's length after any man in a gay
dress. You can not behold a covetous spirit walk by a goldsmith's shop without casting a wishful eye at the heaps upon the counter. Does not a haughty person show the temper of his soul in the supercilious roll of his eye and how frequently in the height of passion does the moving picture in our head start and stare, gather a redness and quick flashes of lightning, and make all its humours sparkle with fire, as Virgil finely describes it,
-Ardentis ab ore Scintillæ absistunt: oculis micat acribus ignis.' Æneid.
-From his wide nostrils Alies A fiery stream, and sparkles from his eyes.' DRYDEN.
• As for the various turns of the eye-sight, such as the voluntary or involuntary, the half or the whole leer, I shall not enter into a very particular account of them; but let me observe, that oblique vision, when natural, was anciently the mark of bewitchery and magical fascination, and to this day it is a malignant ill-look; but when it is forced and affected, it carries a wanton design, and in play-houses and other public places, this ocular intimation is often an assignation for bad practices: but this irregularity in vision, together with such enormities as tipping the wink, the circumspective roll, the side-peep through a thin hood or fan, must be put in the class of heteroptics, as all wrong notions of religion are ranked under the general name of heterodox. All the pernicious applications of sight are more immediately under the direction of a Spectator; and I hope you will arm your readers against the mischiefs which are daily done by killing eyes, in which you will highly oblige your wounded unknown friend,
You professed in several papers your particular endeavours in the province of Spectator, to correct the offences committed by starers, who disturb whole assemblies without any regard to time, place, or modesty. You complained, also, that a starer is not usually a person to be convinced by the reason of the thing, nor so easily rebuked as to amend by admonitions. I thought therefore fit to acquaint you with a convenient mechanical way, which may easily prevent or