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brated. The present paper shall be employed upon Sir Fopling Flutter*. The received character of this play is, that it is the pattern of genteel comedy. Dorimant and Harriot are the characters of greatest consequence, and if these are low and mean, the reputation of the play is very unjust.
I will take for granted, that a fine gentleman should be honest in his actions, and refined in his language. Instead of this, our hero in this piece is a direct knave in his designs, and a clown in his language. Bellair is his admirer and friend ; in return for which, because he is forsooth a greater wit than his said friend, he thinks it reasonable to persuade him to marry a young lady, whose virtue, he thinks, will last no longer than till she is a wife, and then she cannot but fall to his share, as he is an irresistible fine gentleman. The falsehood to Mrs. Loveit, and the barbarity of triumphing over her anguish for losing him, is another instance of his honesty, as well as his good-nature. As to his fine language; he calls the orange-woman, who, it seems, is inclined to grow fat, ' An overgrown jade, with a flasket of guts before her;' and salutes her with a pretty phrase of · How now, Double Tripe?' Upon the mention of a country-gentlewoman, whom he knows nothing of, (no one can imagine whiy) • he will lay his life she is some awkward ill-fashioned countrytoad, who not having above four dozen of hairs on her head, has adorned her baldness with a large white fruz, that she may look sparkishly in the fore-front of the king's box at an old play. Unnatural mixture of senseless conmon-place! · As to the generosity of his temper, he tells his poor footman, - If he did not wait better,' he would
* The Man of the Mode. Sir Fopling was Bean Hewit, son of Sir Thomas Hewit, of Pishiobury in Hertfordshire, bart. ; and the author's own character is represented in Bellair.
turn him away, in the insolent phrase of, I'll uncase
Now for Mrs. Harriot. She laughs at obedience to an absent mother, whose tenderness Busy describes to be very exquisite, for that she is so pleased with finding Harriot again, that she cannot chide her for being out of the way.' This witty daughter and fine lady has so little respect for this good woman, that she ridicules her air in taking leave, and cries, “In what struggle is my poor mother yonder! See, see, her head tottering, her eyes staring, and her under lip trembling.' But all this is atoned for, because she has more wit than is usual in her sex, and as much malice, though she is as wild as you could wish her, and has a demureness in her looks that makes it so surprising.' Then to recommend her as a fit spouse for his hero, the poet makes her speak her sense of marriage very ingenuously : “ I think,' says she, “I might be brought to endure him, and that is all a reasonable woman should expect in an husband. It is methinks unnatural, that we are not made to understand, how she that was bred under a silly pious old mother, that would never trust her out of her sight, came to be so polite.
It cannot be denied, but that the negligence of every thing which engages the attention of the sober and valuable part of mankind, appears very well drawn in this piece." But it is denied, that it is necessary to the character of a fine gentleman, that he should in that manner trample upon all order and decency. As for the character of Dorimant, it is more of a coxcomb tban that of Fopling. He says of one of his companions, that a good correspondence between them is their mutual interest. Speaking of that friend, he declares, their being much together, ‘makes the women think the better of his understanding, and judge more favourably of my reputation. It makes liim pass upon some for a man of very good sense, and me upon others for a very civil person.'
This whole celebrated piece is a perfect contradiction to good manners, good sense, and common honesty; and as there is nothing in it but what is built upon the ruin of virtue and innocence, according to the notion of merit in this comedy, I take the Shoemaker* to be in reality the fine gentleman of the play: for it seenis he is an atheist, if we may depend upon his character, as given by the orange-woman, who is herself far from being the lowest in the play. She says of a fine man who is Dorimant's companion, there is not such another heathen in the town, except the Shoemaker. His pretension to be the hero of the drama anpears still more in his own description of his way of living with his lady. There is,' says he, never a man in town lives more like a gentleman with his wife than I do; I never mind her motions ; she never inquires into mine. We speak to one another civilly, hate one another heartily, and because it is vulgar to lie and soak together, we have each of us our several settlebed.' That of soaking together is as good as if Dorinant had spoken it himself; and I think, since he puts human nature in as ugly a form as the circumstance will bear, and is a staunch unbeliever, he is very much wronged in having no part of the good fortune bestowed in the last act.
To speak plain of this whole work, I think nothing but being lost to a sense of innocence and virtue, can make any one see this comedy, without observing more frequent occasion to move sorrow and indignation, than mirth and laughter. At the same time I allow it
* He also was a real person, and got vast employment by the representation of him in this play.
to be nature, but it is nature in its utmost corruption and degeneracy*.
No 66. WEDNESDAY, MAY 16, 1711.
Motus doceri gaudet Ionicos
HOR. 1 Od. vi. 21.
What nets to spread, where subtle baits to lay;
The two following letters are upon a subject of very great importance, though expressed without any air of gravity.
" TO THE SPECTATOR. 'SIR,
• I TAKE the freedom of asking your advice in behalf of a young country kinswoman of mine who is lately come to town, and under my care for her education. She is very pretty, but you cannot imagine how unformed a creature it is. She comes to my hands just as nature left her, half finished, and without
* How could it be otherwise, when the author of this play was Sir George Etheridge, and the character of Dorimant that of Wilmot, Earl of Rochester?'
any acquired improvements. When I look on her I often think of the Belle Sauvage mentioned in one of your papers. Dear Mr. Spectator, help me to make her comprehend the visible graces of speech, and the dumb eloquence of motion ; for she is at present a perfect stranger to both. She knows no way to express herself but by her tongue, and that always to signify her meaning. Her eyes serve her yet only to see with, and she is utterly a foreigner to the language of looks and glances. In this I fancy you could help her better than any body. I have bestowed two monthis in teaching her to sigh when she is not concerned, and to smile when she is not pleased, and am ashamed to own she makes little or no improvement. Then she is no more able now to walk, than she was to go at a year old. By walking, you will easily know I mean that regular but easy motion which yives our persons so irresistible a grace as if we moved to music, and is a kind of disengaged figure; or, if I may so speak, recitative dancing. But the want of this I cannot blame in her, for I find she has no ear, and means nothing by walking but to change her place. I could pardon too her blushing, if she knew how to carry herself in it, and if it did not manifestly injure her complexion.
They tell me you are a person who have seen the world, and are a judge of fine breeding; which makes me anbitious of some instructions from you for her improvement: which when you have favoured me with, I shall further advise with you about the disposal of this fair forester in marriage; for I will make it no secret to you, that her person and education are to be her fortune.
I am, SIR,