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from observation; but we remember at school getting
our fingers into the orangery of one of these little
gentry, (not having a due caution of the traps set
there,) and the result proved sourer than lemons.
The author of the "Task" somewhere speaks of
their anger as being ** insignificantly fierce ;" but we
found the demonstration of it on this occasion quite
as significant as we desired, and have not been dis-
posed since to look any of these " gift horses " in the
mouth. Maiden aunts keep these " small deer " as
they do parrots, to bite people's fingers, on purpose
to give them good advice " not to adventure so near
the cage another time." As for their " six quavers
divided into three quayers and a dotted crotchet," I
suppose they may go into Jeremy Bentham's' next
budget of fallacies, along with the " melodious and
proportionable kinde of musicke" recorded, in your
last number, of an highly gifted animal.

1 Fletcher in the "Faithful Shepherdess." The satyr offer* *0
Cloriii —

" Grapes whose lustly blood
Is the learned poet's good, —
Sweeter yet did never crown
The head of Bacchus ; nuts more brown
'I'han the squirrels' teeth that cracks them.*'


Mr. Collier, in his " Poetical Decameron," (Thiio
Conversation,) notices a tract printed in 1595, with
the author's initials only, A. B., entitled "The Noble-
nesse of the Asse ; a work rare, learned, and excellent."
He has selected the following pretty passage from it :
" He (the ass) refuseth no burden : he goes whither
he is sent, without any contradiction. He lifts not
his foote against any one ; he bytes not ; he is no
fugitive, nor malicious affected. He doth all things
in good sort, and to his liking that hath cause to
employ him. If strokes be given him he cares not
for them ; and, as our modern poet singeth, —

• Thou wouldst (perhaps) he should become thy foe,

• And to that end dost beat him many times :
•He cares not for himselfe, much less thy blow.'"

Certainly Nature, foreseeing the cruel usage which
this useful servant to man should receive at man's
hand, did prudently in furnishing him with a tegu-
ment impervious to ordinary stripes. The malice of


THE ASS. 103

a child or a weak hand can make feeble impressions
on him. His back offers no mark to a puny foeman.
To a common whip or switch his hide presents an
absolute insensibihty. You might as well pretend to
scourge a schoolboy with a tough pair of leather
breeches on. His jerkin is well fortified ; and there-
fore the costermongers, " between the years 1790 and
1800," did more politicly than piously in lifting up a
part of his upper garment. I well remember that
beastly and bloody custom. I have often longed to
see one of those refiners in discipline himself at the
cart's tail, with just such a convenient spot laid bare
to the tender mercies of the whipster. But, since
Nature has resumed her rights, it is to be hoped that
this patient creature does not suffer to extremities ;
and that, to the savages who still belabour his
poor carcass with their blows, (considering the
sort of anvil they are laid upon,) he might, in
some sort, if he could speak, exclaim with the
philosopher, " Lay on : you beat but upon the case of

Contemplating this natural safe-guard, this fortified
exterior, it is with pain I view the sleek, foppish,
combed, and curried person of this animal as he is
dis-naturalized at watering-places, &c., where they
affect to make a palfrey of him. Fie on ^11 such
sophistications ! It will never do, master groom.
Something of his honest, shaggy exterior will still
peep up in spite of you, — his good, rough, native,
pine-apple coating. You cannot " refine a scorpion
into a fish, though you rinse it and scour it with ever
so cleanly cookery. "^

1 Miiton, from menwiy.

r04 THE ASS.

The modern poet quoted by A. B, proceeds to cele-
brate a virtue for which no one to this day had been
aware that the ass was remarkable : —

"One other gift this beast hath as his owne,
Wherewith the rest could not be furnished ;
On man himself the same was not bestowne :
To wit, on him is ne'er engendered
The hateful vermine that doth teare the skin.
And to the bode [body] doth make his passage in."

And truly, when one thinks on the suit of impene-
trable armour with which Nature (like Vulcan to
another Achilles) has provided him, these subtle
enemies to our repose would have shown some
aexterity in getting into his quarters. As the bogs
of Ireland by tradition expel toads and reptiles, he
may well defy these small deer in his fastnesses. It
seems the latter had not arrived at the exquisite
policy adopted by the human vermin "between 1790
and i8oo."

But the most singular and delightful gift of the
ass, according to the writer of this pamphlet, is his
voice, i\\Q "goodly, sweet, and continual brayings "
of which, " whereof they forme a melodious and pro-
portionable kinde of musicke," seem to have affected
him with no ordinary pleasure. " Nor thinke I," he
adds, " that any of our immoderate musitians can
deny but that their song is full of exceeding pleasure
to be heard ; because therein is to be discerned both
concord, discord, singing in the meane, the beginning
to sing in large compasse, then following into rise
and fall, the halfe-note, whole note, musicke of five
voices, firme singing by four voices, three together,
or one voice and a halfe. Then their variable con-

THE ASS. 105

trarieties amongst them, when one dehvers forth a
long tenor or a short, the pausing for time, breathing
in measure, breaking the minim or very least moment
of time. Last of all, to heare the musicke of five or
six voices chaunged to so many of asses is amongst
them to heare a song of world without end."

There is no accounting for ears, or for that laudable
enthusiasm with which an author is tempted to invest
a favourite subject with the most incompatible per-
fections : I should otherwise, for my own taste, have
been inclined rather to have given a place to these
extraordinary musicians at that banquet of nothing-
less-than-sweet-sounds, imagined by old Jeremy
Collier, (Essays, 1698, part ii. on Music,) where,
after describing the inspiriting effects of martial
music in a battle, he hazards an ingenious con-
jecture, whether a sort of anti-immc might not be
invented, which should have quite the contrary effect
of " sinking the spirits, shaking the nerves, curdling
the blood, and inspiring despair and cowardice and
consternation. 'Tis probable," he says, "the roaring
of lions, the warbling of cats and screech-owls,
together with a mixture of the howling of dogs,
judiciously imitated and compounded, might go a
great way in this invention." The dose, we confess,
is pretty potent, and skilfully enough prepared. But
what shall we say to the Ass of Silenus, who, if we
may trust to classic lore, by his own proper sounds,
without thanks to cat or screech-owl, dismayed and
put to rout a whole army of giants ? Here was anti-
music W\\.\\ a vengeance ; a. whole Pan-dis-Harmo)iicon
in a single lungs of leather.

But I keep you trifling too long on this asinine
subject. I have already passed the Potis Asinorum,



and will desist, remembering the old pedantic pun of
Jem Boyer, my schoolmaster: —

"Ass in prcesenti seldom makes a wise man in


Rummaging, yesterday, over the contents of an old stall
at a half hook, half old-iron shop, in an alley lead-
ing from Wardour Street to Soho Square, I lit upon
a ragged duodecimo which had been the strange de-
light of my infancy, and which I had lost sight of for
more than forty years, — the " Queen-like Closet, or
Rich Cabinet;" written by Hannah Woolly, and
printed for R. C. and T. S., 1681 ; being an abstract
of receipts in cookery, confectionery, cosmetics,
needlework, morality, and all such branches of what
were then considered as female accomplishments.
The price demanded was sixpence, which the owner
(a little squab duodecimo of a character himself) en-
forced with the assurance that his '* own mother
should not have it for a farthing less." On my de-
murring at this extraordinary assertion, the dirty


little vender re-enforced his assertion with a sort of
oath, which seemed more than the occasion demanded :
"And now," said he, "I have put my soul to it."
Pressed by so solemn an asseveration, I could no
longer resist a demand which seemed to set me,
however unworthy, upon a level with his dearest
relations ; and, depositing a tester, I bore away the
tattered prize in triumph. I remembered a gorgeous
description of the twelve months of the year, which I
thought would be a fine substitute for those poetical
descriptions of them which your " Every Day Book"
had nearly exhausted out of Spenser, " This will be
a treat," thought I, " for friend Hone." To memory
they seemed no less fantastic and splendid than the
other. But what are the mistakes of childhood ! On
reviewing them, they turned out to be only a set of
commonplace receipts for working the seasons,
months, heathen gods, goddesses, &c., in samplers !
Yet, as an instance of the homely occupations of
our great-grandmothers, they may be amusing to
some readers. " I have seen," says the notable
Hannah Woolly, " such ridiculous things done in
work, as it is an abomination to any artist to behold.
As for example : You may find, in some pieces,
Abraham and Sarah, and many other persons of old
time, clothed as they go now-a-days, and truly some-
times worse ; for they most resemble the pictures on
ballads. Let all ingenious women have regard, that
when they work any image, to represent it aright.
First, let it be drawn well, and then observe the
directions which are given by knowing men. I do
assure you I never durst work any Scripture story
without informing myself from the ground of it ;
nor any other story, or single person, without


informing myself both of the visage and habit ; as
followeth : —

" If you work jfnpiter, the imperial feigned God, he
must have long, black, curled hair, a purple garment
trimmed with gold, and sitting upon a golden throne,
with bright yellow clouds about him."


March is drawn in tawny, with a fierce aspect ; a
helmet upon his head, and leaning on a spade ; and
a basket of garden seeds in his left hand, and in his
right hand the sign oi Aries ; and winged.

April. A young man in green, with a garland of
myrtle and hawthorn-buds ; winged ; in one hand
primroses and violets, in the other the sign Taurus.

May. With a sweet and lovely countenance ; clad
in a robe of white and green, embroidered with several
flowers; upon his head a garland of all manner of
roses ; on the one hand a nightingale, in the other
a lute. His sign must be Gemini.

June. In a mantle of dark grass-green; upon his
head a garland of bents, kings-cups, and maiden-hair;
in his left hand an angle, with a box of cantharides ;
in his right, the sign Cancer ; and upon his arms a
basket of seasonable fruits.

Jtily. In a jacket of light yellow, eating cherries ;
with his face and bosom sun-burnt ; on his head a
wreath of centaury and wild thyme ; a scythe on his
shoulder, and a bottle at his girdle, carrying the sign

August. A young man of fierce and choleric aspect,
in a flame-coloured garment; upon his head a garland
of wheat and rye ; upon his arm a basket of all manner
of ripe fruits ; at his belt a sickle : his sign Virgo.


September. A merry and cheerful countenance, in a
purple robe; upon his head a wreath of red and white
grapes ; in his left hand a handful of oats ; withal
carrying a horn of plenty, full of all manner of ripe
fruits ; in his right hand the sign Libra.

October. In a garment of yellow and carnation ;
upon his head a garland of oak-leaves with acorns ;
in his right hand the sign Scorpio; in his left hand
a basket of medlars, services, and chestnuts, and any
other fruits then in season.

November. In a garment of changeable green and
black ; upon his head a garland of olives, with the
fruit in his left hand : bunches of parsnips and turnips
in his right : his sign Sagittarius.

December. A horrid and fearful aspect, clad in Irish
rags, or coarse frieze girt unto him ; upon his head
three or four night-caps, and over them a Turkish
turban ; his nose red, his mouth and beard clogged
with icicles; at his back a bundle of holly, ivy, or
mistletoe ; holding in furred mittens the sign of

January. Clad all in white, as the earth looks with
the snow, blowing his nails ; in his left arm a billet ;
the sign Aquarius standing by his side.

February. Clothed in a dark sky-colour, carrying in
his right hand the sign Pisces.

The following receipt, "To dress up a chimney very
fine for the summer time, as I have done many, and
they have been liked very well," may not be unprofit-
able to the housewives of this century : —

" First, take a pack-thread, and fasten it even to
the inner part of the chimney, so high as that you can
see no higher as you walk up and down the house.
You must drive in several nails to hold up an your


work. Then get good store of old green moss from
trees, and melt an equal proportion of beeswax and
rosin together ; and, while it is hot, dip the wrong
ends of the moss in it, and presently clap it upon
your pack-thread, and press it down hard with your
hand. You must make haste, else it will cool before
you can fasten it, and then it will fall down. Do so
all around where the packthread goes ; and the next
row you must join to that, so that it may seem all in
one : thus do till you have finished it down to the
bottom. Then take some other kind of moss, of a
whitish colour and stiff, and of several sorts or kinds,
and place that upon the other, here and there care-
lessly, and in some places put a good deal, and some
a little; then any kind of fine snail-shells, in which
the snails are dead, and little toad-stools, which are
very old, and look like velvet, or any other thing that
was old and pretty : place it here and there as your
fancy serves, and fasten all with wax and rosin.
Then, for the hearth of your chimney, you may lay
some orpan-sprigs in order all over, and it will grow
as it lies ; and, according to the season, get what
flowers you can, and stick in as if they grew, and a
few sprigs of sweet-brier ; the flowers you must
renew every week ; but the moss will last all the
Summer, till it will be time to make a fire ; and the
orpan will last near two months. A chimney thus
done doth grace a room exceedingly."

One phrase in the above should particularly recom-
mend it to such of your female readers as, in the nice
language of the day, have done growing some time,
— " little toad-stools, &c., and any thing that is old
and pretty.'' Was ever antiquity so smoothed over?
The culinary recipes have nothing remarkable in


them, except the costliness of them. Every thing
(to the meanest meats) is sopped in claret, steeped in
claret, basted with claret, as if claret were as cheap
as ditchwater. I remember Bacon recommends
opening a turf or two in your garden-walks, and
pouring into each a bottle of claret, to recreate the
sense of smelling, being no less grateful than bene-
ficial. We hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer
will attend to this in his next reduction of French
wines, that we may once more water our gardens
with right Bourdeaux. The medical recipes are as
whimsical as they are cruel. Our ancestors were
not at all effeminate on this head. Modern senti-
mentalists would shrink at a cock plucked and bruised
in a mortar alive to make a cullis, or a live mole
baked in an oven (he sure it he alive) to make a
powder for consumption. But the whimsicalest of
all are the directions to servants ; (for this little book
is a compendium of all duties ; ) the footman is
seriously admonished not to stand lolling against his
master's chair while he waits at table ; for " to lean
on a chair when they wait is a particular favour
shown to any superior servant, as the chief gentle-
man, or the waiting woman when she rises from the
table." Also he must not " hold the plates before his
mouth to be defiled with his breath, nor touch them
on the right [inner] side." Surely Swift must have
seen this little treatise.

Hannah concludes with the following address, by
which the self-estimate which she formed of her use-
fulness may be calculated : —

" Ladies, I hope you're pleas'd and so shall 1
If what I've writ, you may be gainers by ;
If not ; it is your fault, it is not mine.
Your benefit in this I do design.


Much labour and much time it hath nie tosL,
Therefore, I beg, let none of it be lost.
The money you shall pay for this my book.
You'll not repent of, when in it you look.
No more at present to you I shall say,
Eut wish you all the happiness I may.

"H. W."

C. L.



To your account of Sir Jeffery Dunstan, in columns
829-30, (where, by an unfortunate erratum, the effigies
of two Sir Jefferys appear, when the uppermost
figure is clearly meant for Sir Harry Dimsdale,) you
may add that the writer of this has frequently met
him in his latter days, about 1790 or 1791, returning
in an evening, after his long day's itineracy, to his
domicile, — a wretched shed in the most beggarly
purlieu of Bethnal Green, a little on this side the
Mile End Turnpike. The lower figure in that leaf
most correctly describes his then appearance, except
that no graphic art can convey an idea of the general
squalor of it, and of his bag (his constant concomi-
tant) in particular. Whether it contained "old
wigs " at that time, I know not ; but it seemed a
fitter repository for bones snatched out of kennels
than for any part of a gentleman's dress, even at

The ex-member for Garrat was a melancholy in-
stance of a great man whose popularity is worn out.


He still carried his sack ; but it seemed a part of his
identity rather than an implement of his profession ;
a badge of past grandeur : could any thing have
divested him of that, he would have shown a " poor
forked animal " indeed. My life upon it, it contained
no curls at the time I speak of. The most decayed
and spiritless remnants of what was once a peruke
would have scorned the filthy case ; would absolutely
have " burst its cerements." No : it was empty, or
brought home bones, or a few cinders possibly. A
strong odour of burnt bones, I remember, blended
with the scent of horse-flesh seething into dog's
meat, and, only relieved a little by the breathings of
a few brick-kilns, made up the atmosphere of the
delicate suburban spot which this great man had
chosen for the last scene of his earthly vanities. The
cry of " old wigs " had ceased with the possession of
any such fripperies : his sack might have contained
not unaptly a little mould to scatter upon that grave
to which he was now advancing ; but it told of
vacancy and desolation. His quips were silent too,
and his brain was empty as his sack : he slank along,
and seemed to decline popular observation. If a few
boys followed him, it seemed rather from habit than
any expectation of fun.

" Alas ! how changed from him.
The life of humour, and the soul of whim.
Gallant and gay on Garrat's hustings proud ! "

But it is thus that the world rewards its favourites in
decay. What faults he had, I know not. I have
heard something of a peccadillo or so. But some
little deviation from the precise line of rectitude
might have been winked at in so tortuous and
stigmatic a frame. Poor Sir Jeffery ! it were well if



some M.P.'s in earnest have passed their Parlia-
mentary existence with no more offences against
integrity than could be laid to thy charge ! A fair
dismissal was thy due, not so unkind a degradation ;
some little snug retreat, with a bit of green before
. thine eyes, and not a burial alive in the fetid beggaries
of Bethnal. Thou vvouldst have ended thy days in a
manner more appropriate to thy pristine dignity,
installed in munificent mockery, (as in mock honours
you had lived,) — a poor knight of Windsor!

Every distinct place of public speaking demands
an oratory peculiar to itself. The forensic fails
within the walls of St. Stephen. Sir Jeffery was a
living instance of this ; for, in the flower of his popu-
larity, an attempt was made to bring him out upon
the stage (at which of the winter theatres I forget,
but I well remember the anecdote) in the part of
Doctor Last. The announcement drew a crowded
house ; but, notwithstanding infinite tutoring, — by
Foote or Garrick, I forget which, — when the curtain
drew up, the heart of Sir Jeffery failed, and he faltered
on, and made nothing of his part, till the hisses of
the house at last, in very kindness, dismissed him
from the boards. Great as his parliamentary elo-
quence had shown itself, brilliantly as his off-hand
sallies had sparkled on a hustings, they here totally
failed him. Perhaps he had an aversion to borrowed
wit, and, like my Lord Foppington, disdained to
entertain himself (or others) with the forced products
of another man's brain. Your man of quality is
more diverted with the natural sprouts of his own.



To THE Editor.

Sir, — I am a poor wronged Bay. I appeal to you
as the general patron of the family of the Days. The
candour with which you attended to the expostulations
of a poor relative of ours — a sort of cousin thrice re-
moved— encourages me to hope that you will listen to
the complaint of a Day of rather more consequence,
I am the Day, Sir, upon which it pleased the course of
Nature that your Gracious Sovereign should be born.
As such, before his accession, I was always observed
and honoured. But since that happy event, in which
naturally none had a greater interest than myself,
flaw has been discovered in my title. My lustre has
been eclipsed, and — to use the words of one of your
own poets —

"I fade into the light of common Day/"

It seems that about that time an Impostor crept into
Court, who has the effrontery to usurp my honours,
and to style herself the King's Birthday, upon some
shallow pretence, that, being St. George's Day, she
must needs be King-George's Day also. All Saints'
Day we have heard of, and All Souls' Day, we are
willing to admit ; but does it follow that this foolish

I 2


Twenty -third of April must be All Georges' Day, and
enjoy a monopoly of the whole name, from George of
Cappadocia to George of Leyden, and from George-a-
Green down to George Dyer.

It looks a little oddly that I was discarded not long
after the discussions of a set of men and measures,
with whom I have nothing in common. I hope no
whisperer has insinuated into the ears of Royalty,
as if I were anything whiggishly inclined, which, in
my heart I abhor, all these kinds of Revolutions, by
which I am' sure to be the greatest sufferer.

I wonder my shameless rival can have the face to
let the Tower and Park guns proclaim so many big
thundering fibs as they do upon her Anniversary —
making your Sovereign to be older than he really is
by an hundred and odd days, which is no great com-
pliment, one would think. Consider if this precedent
for ante-dating of Births should become general, what
confusion it must make in the Parish Registers; what
crowds of young heirs we should have coming of age
before they are one-and-twent}', with numberless
similar grievances. If these chops and changes are
suffered, we shall have Lord Mayor's Day eating her
custard unauthentically in May, and Guy Faux pre-
posterously blazing twice over in the Dog Days.

I humbly submit that it is not within the prerogatives
of Royalty itself, to be born twice over. We have read
of the supposititious, births of princes, but where are
the evidences of this first birth ? Why are not the
nurses in attendance, the midwife, &c., produced ? —
the silly story has not so much as a warming-pan to
support it.

My legal advisers, to comfort me, tell me that I have
'he right on my side ; I am the true Birth Day, and


the Other Day is only kept. But what consolation is
this to me, as long as this na.ughty-kept-creature keeps

Online LibraryCharles LambThe life, letters, and writings of Charles Lamb (Volume 6) → online text (page 8 of 29)