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“ Dining one day at an alderman's in the city, Peter observed him expatiating, after 'the manner of his brethren, in the praises of his sirloin of beef. Beef, said the sage magistrate, is the king of meat; beef comprehends in it the quintessence of partridge, and quail, and venison, and pheasant, and plumb-pudding, and custard. When Peter came home, he would needs take the fancy of cooking up this doctrine into use, and apply the precept, in default of a sirloin, to his brown-loaf: Bread, says he, dear brothers, is the staff of life; in which bread is contained, inclusive, the quintessence of beef, mutton, veal, venison, partridge, plumb-pudding, and custard : and to render all complete, there is intermingled a due quantity of water, whose crudities are also corrected by yeast or barm; through which means it becomes a wholesome fermented liquor, diffused through the mass of the bread. Upon the strength of these conclusions, next day at dinner, was the brown loaf served up in all the formality of a city feast. Come, brothers, said Peter, fall to, and spare not; here is excellent good mutton; or hold, now my hand is in, I will help you. At which word, in much ceremony, with fork and knife he carves out two good slices of a loaf, and presents each on a plate to his brothers. The elder of the two, not suddenly entering into Lord Peter's conceit, began with very civil language to examine the mystery. My lord, said he, I doubt with great submission there may be some mistake. What, says Peter, you are pleasant; come then, let us hear this jest your head is so big with. None in the world, my lord ; but, unless I am very much deceived, your lordship was pleased a while ago to let fall a word about mutton, and I would be glad to see it with all my heart. How, said Peter, appearing in great surprize, I do not comprehend this at all.Upon which the younger interposing to set the business aright; my lord, said he, my brother I suppose is hungry, and longs for the mutton your lordship has promised us to dinner. Pray, said Peter, take me along with you; either you are both mad, or disposed to be merrier than I approve of; if you there do not like your piece, I will carve you another; though I should take that to be the choice bit of the whole shoulder. What then, my lord, replied the first, it seems this is a shoulder of mutton all this while. Pray, sir, says Peter, eat your victuals, and leave off your impertinence, if you please, for I am not disposed to relish it at present: but the other could not forbear, being over provoked at the affected seriousness of Peter's countenance : By. G-, my lord, said he, I can only say, that to
my eyes, and fingers, and teeth, and nose, it seems to be nothing but a crust of bread. Upon which the second put in his word : I never saw a piece of mutton in my life so nearly resembling a slice from a twelve-penny loaf. Look ye, gentlemen, cries Peter in a rage, to convince you what a couple of blind, positive, ignorant, wilful puppies you are, I will use but this plain argument; by G-, it is true, good, natural mutton as any in Leadenhall market; and G- confound you both eternally, if you offer to believe otherwise. Such a thundering proof as this left no farther room for objection; the two unbelievers began to gather and pocket up their mistake, as hastily as they could. Why, truly, said the first, upon more mature consideration, Ay, says the other interrupting him, now I have thought better on the thing, your lordship seems to have a great deal of reason. Very well, said Peter; here, boy, fill me a beer-glass of claret; here's to you both with all my heart. The two brethren, much delighted to see him so readily appeased, returned their most humble thanks, and said, they would be glad to pledge his lordship. That you shall, said Peter ; I am not a person to refuse you any thing that is reasonable : wine, moderately taken, is a cordial; here is a glass apiece for you: it is true natural juice from the grape, none of your damned vintner's brewings. Having spoke thus, he presented to each of them another large dry crust, bidding them drink it off, and not be bashful, for it would do them no hurt. The two brothers, after having performed the usual office in such delicate conjunctures, of staring a sufficient period at Lord Peter and each other, and finding how matters were likely to go, resolved not to enter on a new dispute, but to let him carry the point as he pleased : for he was now got into one of his mad fits, and to argue or expostulate farther, would only serve to render him a hundred times more untractable *.”
To the style and manner of Swift we possess a most striking contrast in the writings of LORD SHAFTESBURY, who, more than any other author of his age, was solicitous to round and polish his periods. All is elaborate in the composition of this nobleman, every page bearing witness to the unwearied diligence with which he modulated and constructed his diction. His sentences flow with the most studied cadence, and their clauses are distributed and balanced with the greatest accuracy and precision. His lordship possessed a rich and ardent imagination ; and when describing the beautiful and sublime in nature, his lan
* Swift's Works, Nichols's edition, vol. ii. p. 122, 123, 124, 125,
guage is uncommonly elegant and appropriate. His chief defects are stiffness, affectation, and an indiscriminate love of ornament; whilst at the same time it may be remarked, that though accurate and melodious in the collocation of his words, he not unfrequently exhibits a defective taste in their selection. Passionately attached to the study of the ancients, it was the wish of Shaftesbury to impart to his native language a classical refinement. In attempting this, however, he seems to have totally overlooked that noble simplicity, for which the best models of antiquity are so singularly distinguished. On subjects which require an ornamented diction, he is uniformly magnificent, lofty, and sonorous; but when he aims at ease, familiarity, and plainness of manner, at raillery, ridicule, and humour, he only partially divests himself of his former style; and with the view of lowering it to the nature of his theme, he frequently mingles trite and even coarse phraseology; a species of patchwork which never effects his purpose, and which is always aukward and constrained.
Of what Shaftesbury deemed a style of ease and simplicity, the following may be taken as an example:
« To pretend to enjoy society, and a free mind, in company with a knavish heart, is as ridiculous