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NATIONALITY AFFECTS IDIOM.
fluous letters, as they termed them, in order to adjust the spelling to the pronunciation; which would have confounded all our etymologies, and have quite destroyed our tongue.
We may here likewise observe that our proper names, when familiarized in English, generally dwindle to monosyllables, whereas in other modern languages they receive a softer turn on this occasion, by the addition of a new syllable, Nick in Italian is Nicolini, Jack in French Janot; and so of the rest.
There is another particular in our language which is a great 10 instance of our frugality of words, and that is the suppressing of
several particles which must be produced in other tongues to make a sentence intelligible: this often perplexes the best writers, when they find the relatives whom, which, or they, at their mercy, whether they may have admission or notn; and will never be decided till we have something like an academy, that by the best authorities and rules, drawn from the analogy of languages, shall settle all controversies between grammar and idiom.
I have only considered our language as it shews the genius and 20 natural temper of the English, which is modest, thoughtful, and
sincere, and which perhaps may recommend the people, though it has spoiled the tongue. We might perhaps carry the same thought into other languages, and deduce a great part of what is peculiar to them from the genius of the people who speak them. It is certain the light talkative humour of the French has not a little infected their tongue, which might be shewn by many instances; as the genius of the Italians, which is so much addicted to music and ceremony, has moulded all their
words and phrases to those particular uses. The stateliness 30 and gravity of the Spaniards shews itself to perfection in
the solemnity of their language; and the blunt honest humour of the Germans sounds better in the roughness of the HighDutch than it would in a politer tongue.-C.
No. 173. On Grinning; description of a Grinning match; reflections.
Remove fera monstra, tuæque
Ovid, Met. v. 216.
author for the erecting of several handicraft prizes to be contended for by our British artisans, and the influence they might have towards the improvement of our several manufactures. I have since that been very much surprised by the following advertisement which I find in the Post-boy of the 11th instant, and again repeated in the Post-boy of the 15th.
On the oth of October next will be run for upon Coleshill heath in Warwickshire, a plate of six guineas value, three heats, by any
horse, mare, or gelding, that hath not won above the value of 51.; 10 the winning horse to be sold for rol., to carry 10 stone weight, if
14 hands high, if above or under, to carry or be allowed weight for inches, and to be entered on Friday the 5th at the Swan at Coleshill, before six in the evening. Also a plate of less value to be run for by asses. The same day a gold ring to be grinned for by men.
The first of these diversions that is to be exhibited by the rol. race-horses, may probably have its use; but the two last, in which the asses and men are concerned, seem to me altogether extraordinary and unaccountable. Why they should keep running
asses at Coleshill, or how making mouths turns to account in 20 Warwickshire, more than in any other parts of England, I cannot
comprehend. ' I have looked over all the Olympic games, and do not find any thing in them like an ass race, or a match at grinning. However it be, I am informed that several asses are now kept in body-clothes, and sweated every morning upon the heath, and that all the country fellows within ten miles of the Swan grin an hour or two in their glasses every morning, in order to qualify themselves for the 9th of October. The prize, which is proposed to be grinned for, has raised such an ambition among the com
mon people of out-grinning one another, that many very discerning 30 persons are afraid it should spoil most of the faces in the country;
and that a Warwickshire man will be known by his grin, as Roman Catholics imagine a Kentish man is by his tail. The gold ring which is made the prize of deformity is just the reverse of the golden apple that was formerly made the prize of beauty, and should carry for its posy
the old motto inverted :
The frightfull’st grinner
In the meanwhile I would advise a Dutch painter to be present at this great controversy of faces, in order to make a collection of the most remarkable grins that shall be there exhibited.
I must not here omit an account which I lately received of one of these grinning-matches from a gentleman, who, upon reading the above-mentioned advertisement, entertained a coffee-house with the following narrative. Upon the taking of Namur”, amidst other public rejoicings made on that occasion, there was a gold
ring given by a whig justice of the peace to be grinned for. The 10 first competitor that entered the lists, was a black swarthy
Frenchman, who accidentally passed that way, and being a man naturally of a withered look and hard features, promised himself good success. He was placed upon a table in the great point of view, and looking upon the company like Milton's Death,
Grinn'd horribly a ghastly smile. His muscles were so drawn together on each side of his face, that he shewed twenty teeth at a grin, and put the country in some pain, lest a foreigner should carry away the honour of the day ; but upon a further trial, they found he was master only of the merry grin.
The next that mounted the table was a malecontent in those days, and a great master in the whole art of grinning, but particularly excelled in the angry grin. He did his part so well, that he is said to have made half a dozen women miscarry; but the justice, being apprized by one who stood near him, that the fellow who grinned in his face was a Jacobite, and being unwilling that a disaffected person should win the gold ring, and be looked upon as the best grinner in the country, he ordered the oaths to be tendered unto him upon his quitting the table », which the grinner
refusing, he was set aside as an unqualified person. 30 several other grotesque figures that presented themselves, which
it would be too tedious to describe. I must not however omit a ploughman, who lived in the farther part of the country, and being very lucky in a pair of long lanthorn-jaws, wrung his face into such an hideous grimace, that every feature of it appeared under a different distortion.
The whole company stood astonished at such a complicated grin, and were ready to assign the prize to him, had it not been proved by one of his antagonists, that he had practised with verjuice for some days
before, and had a crab found upon him at the very time of grinning; upon which the best judges of grinning declared it as their opinion, that he was not to be looked upon as a fair grinner, and therefore ordered him to be set aside as a cheat.
The prize, it seems, fell at length upon a cobler, Giles Gorgon by name, who produced several new grins of his own invention, having been used to cut faces for many years together over his last. At the very first grin he cast every human feature
out of his countenance; at the second he became the face of a 10 spout, at the third a baboon, at the fourth the head of a bass
viol, and at the fifth a pair of nut-crackers. The whole assembly wondered at his accomplishments, and bestowed the ring on him unanimously: but, what he esteemed more than all the rest, a country-wench, whom he had wooed in vain for above five years before, was so charmed with his grins and the applauses which he received on all sides that she married him the week following, and to this day wears the prize upon her finger, the cobler having made use of it as his wedding-ring.
This paper might perhaps seem very impertinent, if it grew 20 serious in the conclusion. I would nevertheless leave it to
the consideration of those who are the patrons of this monstrous trial of skill, whether or no they are not guilty, in some measure, of an affront to their species, in treating after this manner the “human face divine,' and turning that part of us which has so great an image impressed upon it, into the image of a monkey ; whether the raising such silly competitions among the ignorant, proposing prizes for such useless accomplishments, filling the common people's heads with such senseless am
bitions and inspiring them with such absurd ideas of superiority 30 and pre-eminence, has not in it something immoral as well as
No. 251. On the London Cries; letter describing them.
Linguæ centum sunt, oraque centum,
VIRG. Æn. vi. 625.
go to sleep for them, the first week that he is in town. On the contrary, Will Honeycomb calls them the Ramage de la ville, and prefers them to the sounds of larks and nightingales, with all the music of the fields and woods. I have lately received a letter from some very odd fellow upon this subject, which I shall leave with my reader, without saying any thing farther of it.
'SIR, 'I am a man out of all business, and would willingly turn my head to any thing for an honest livelihood. I have invented several 10 projects for raising many millions of money without burdening
the subject, but I cannot get the parliament to listen to me; who look upon me, forsooth, as a crack and a projector : so that, despairing to enrich either myself or my country by this publicspiritedness, I would make some proposals to you relating to a design which I have very much at heart, and which may procure me a handsome subsistence, if you will be pleased to recommend it to the cities of London and Westminster.
"The post I would aim at, is to be comptroller-general of the London cries, which are at present under no manner of rules 20 or discipline. I think I am pretty well qualified for this place,
as being a man of very strong lungs, of great insight into all the branches of our British trades and manufactures, and of a competent skill in music.
'The cries of London may be divided into vocal and instrumental. As for the latter, they are at present under a very great disorder.
A freeman of London has the privilege of disturbing a whole street for an hour together with the twancking of a brass kettle or a frying-pan. The watchman's thump at
midnight startles us in our beds, as much as the breaking in 30 of a thief. The sow-gelder's horn has indeed something musical
in it, but this is seldom heard within the liberties. I would therefore propose that no instrument of this nature should be made use of, which I have not tuned and licensed, after having carefully examined in what manner it may affect the ears of her majesty's liege subjects.
*Vocal cries are of a much larger extent, and indeed so full of incongruities and barbarisms, that we appear a distracted city to foreigners who do not comprehend the meaning of such enormous
outcries. Milk is generally sold in a note above Elan, and in 40 sounds so exceedingly shrill, that it often sets our teeth on edge.