« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
feel from an evil that actually oppresses us, to which I may likewise add those little cracklings of mirth and folly that are apter to betray virtue than support it; and establish in us such an even and chearful temper, as makes us pleasing to ourselves, to those with whom we converse, and to Him whom we were made to please. J.
No. 383. TUESDAY, MAY 20.
Criminibus debent hortos
Juv. SAT. i. 75.
As I was sitting in my chamber, and thinking on a subject for my next Spectator, I heard two or three irregular bounces at my landlady's door, and upon the opening of it, a loud chearful voice. inquiring whether the philosopher was at home. The child who went to the door answered very innocently, that he did not lodge there. I immediately recollected that it was my good friend Sir Roger's voice; and that I had promised to go with him on the water to Spring Garden,' in case it proved a good evening. The
'Fox-hall or Vauxhall Gardens were a substitute for old Spring Gar dens, Charing Cross, when the latter ceased to be a place of public entertainment and began to be covered with private residences. The name was derived from a "spring" which supplied a jet "by a wheel, which the gardener turns at a distance, through a number of little pipes.”--(Hentzner's Travels.) The jet was concealed, and did not spurt forth until an unwary visitor trod on a particular spot, when there came a self-ad ministered shower bath. This, with archery, bowls, a grove of “warbling birds," a pleasant yard and a pond for bathing, furnished the amusements "Sometimes," says Evelyn, "they would have music, and sup on barges on the water."
At the Restoration builders invaded Spring Gardens, and its name was transferred to Vauxhall Gardens, which formed part of the estate of Sir Samuel Moreland, who had already (in 1667) built a large room there.
knight put me in mind of my promise from the stair-case, but told me that if I was speculating, he would stay below till I had done. Upon my coming down, I found all the children of the family got about my old friend, and my landlady herself, who is a notable prating gossip, engaged in a conference with him; being mightily pleased with his stroaking her little boy upon the head, and bidding him be a good child, and mind his book.
We were no sooner come to the Temple-stairs, but we were surrounded with a crowd of watermen, offering their respective services. Sir Roger, after having looked about him very attentively, spied one with a wooden leg, and immediately gave him orders to get his boat ready. As we were walking towards it, 'You must know, (says Sir Roger,) I never make use of any body to row me that has not either lost a leg or an arm. I would rather bate him a few strokes of his oar, than not employ an honest man that has been wounded in the Queen's service. If I was a lord or a bishop, and kept a barge, I would not put a fellow in my livery that had not a wooden leg.'
My old friend, after having seated himself, and trimmed the boat with his coachman, who, being a very sober man, always serves for ballast on these occasions, we made the best of our way to Fox-hall. Sir Roger obliged the waterman to give us the his
Except the Spring, the amusements were nearly the same as in the old garden. The "close walks were an especial attraction for other reasons than the nightingales; which, in their proper season, warbled in the trees. "The windings and turnings in the little wilderness," quoth Tom Brown, "are so intricate, that the most experienced mothers have often lost themselves in looking for their daughters." We hear little of Vauxhall from the year of Sir Roger's visit (1712) till 1732, when it was resuscitated by Mr. Jonathan Tyers: he termed it a Ridotto al Fresco, collected an efficient orchestra, set up an organ, engaged Hogarth and Roubillác to decorate the great room with paintings and statuary, and issued silver season tickets at a guinea each. From his time till about ten or fifteen years since, Vauxhall retained its popularity.—*.
tory of his right leg, and hearing that he had left it at La Hogue, with many particulars which passed in that glorious action, the knight in the triumph of his heart made several reflections on the greatness of the British nation; as, that one Englishman could beat three Frenchmen; that we could never be in danger of popery so long as we took care of our fleet; that the Thames was the noblest river in Europe; that London-bridge was a greater piece of work than any of the seven wonders of the world; with many other honest prejudices which naturally cleave to the heart of a true Englishman.
After some short pause, the old knight turning about his head twice or thrice, to take a survey of this great metropolis, bid me observe how thick the city was set with churches, and that there was scarce a single steeple on this side Temple-bar. 'A most heathenish sight! (says Sir Roger :) There is no religion at this end of the town. The fifty new churches will very much mend the prospect; but church-work is slow, church-work is slow!'
I do not remember I have any where mentioned in Sir Roger's character, his custom of saluting every body that passes by him with a good-morrow or a good-night. This the old man does out of the overflowings of humanity, though at the same time it renders him so popular among all his country neighbours, that it is thought to have gone a good way in making him once or twice knight of the shire. He cannot forbear this exercise of benevolence even in town, when he meets with any one in his morning or evening walk. It broke from him to several boats that passed by us upon the water; but to the knight's great surprise, as he gave the good-night to two or three young fellows a little before our landing, one of them, instead of returning the civility, asked us what queer old put we had in the boat, and whether he was not ashamed to go a wenching at his years? with a great
deal of the like Thames ribaldry.' Sir Roger seemed a little shocked at first, but at length assuming a face of magistracy, told us, 'that if he were a Middlesex justice, he would make such vagrants know that her Majesty's subjects were no more to be abused by water than by land.'
We were now arrived at Spring-Garden, which is exquisitely pleasant at this time of year. When I considered the fragrancy of the walks and bowers, with the choirs of birds that sung upon the trees, and the loose tribe of people that walked under their shades, I could not but look upon the place as a kind of Mahometan paradise. Sir Roger told me it put him in mind of a little coppice by his house in the country, which his chaplain used to call an aviary of nightingales. You must understand, (says the knight,) there is nothing in the world that pleases a man in love so much as your nightingale. Ah, Mr. SPECTATOR! the many moon-light nights that I have walked by myself, and thought on the widow by the music of the nightingale!' He here fetched a deep sigh, and was falling into a fit of musing, when a mask, who came behind him, gave him a gentle tap upon the shoulder, and asked him if he would drink a bottle of mead with her? But the knight being startled at so unexpected a familiarity, and displeased to be interrupted in his thoughts of the widow, told her, She was a wanton baggage,' and bid her go about her busi
We concluded our walk with a glass of Burton ale, and a slice of hung-beef. When we had done eating ourselves, the knight called a waiter to him, and bid him carry the remainder to a waterman that had but one leg. I perceived the fellow
'The "silent highway" was peculiarly favourable for that interchange of wit and repartee in which the lower orders, and even facetious people of quality, loved to indulge. Taylor, the water poet, Swift, and Dr. Johnson have bequeathed to us some of these smart sayings: but they are too coarse for repetition.-*.
stared upon him at the oddness of the message, and was going to be saucy; upon which I ratified the knight's commands with a peremptory look.
As we were going out of the garden, my old friend thinking himself obliged, as a member of the Quorum, to animadvert upon the morals of the place, told the mistress of the house, who sat at the bar,' that he should be a better customer to her garden, if there were more nightingales and fewer strumpets.' I.
No. 387. SATURDAY, MAY 24.
Quid puré tranquillet
HOR. 1. EP. xviii. 102.
In my last Saturday's paper I spoke of chearfulness as it is a moral habit of the mind, and accordingly mentioned such moral motives as are apt to cherish and keep alive this happy temper in the soul of man: I shall now consider chearfulness in its natural state, and reflect on those motives to it, which are indifferent either as to virtue or vice.
Chearfulness is, in the first place, the best promoter of health. Repinings, and secret murmurs of heart, give imperceptible strokes to those delicate fibres of which the vital parts are composed, and wear out the machine insensibly; not to mention those violent ferments which they stir up in the blood, and those irreg. ular disturbed motions which they raise in the animal spirits. I scarce remember, in my own observation, to have met with any old men, or with such, who (to use our English phrase) wear well, that had not at least a certain indolence in their humour, if not a more than ordinary gaiety and chearfulness of heart.