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management, save ten pounds a-year; as instead of fine holland he might mourn in sackcloth, and in other particulars be proportionably shabby: but of what service would this sum be to avert any misfortune, whilst it would leave him deserted by the little good acquaintance he has, and prevent his gaining any other? As the appearance of an easy fortune is necessary towards making one, I don't know but it might be of advantage sometimes to throw into one's discourse certain exclamations about bank-stock, and to show a marvellous surprise upon its fall, as well as the most affected triumph upon its rise. The veneration and respect which the practice of all ages has preserved to appearances, without doubt suggested to our tradesmen that wise and politic custom, to apply and recommend themselves to the public by alĩ those decorations upon their signposts and houses which the most eminent hands in the neighbourhood can furnish them with. What can be more attractive to a man of letters, than that immense erudition of all
and languages which a skilful bookseller, in conjunction with a painter, shall image upon his column and the extremities of his shop? The same spirit of maintaining a handsome appearance reigns am nong the grave and solid apprentices of the law, (here I could be particularly dull in proving the word apprentice to be significant of a barrister,) and you may easily distinguish who has most lately made his pretensions to business, by the whitest and most ornamental frame of his window: if indeed the chamber is a ground room, and has rails before it, the finery is of necessity more extended, and the
pomp of business better maintained. And
what can be a greater indication of the dignity of dress than that burdensome finery which is the regular habit of our judges, nobles, and bishops, with which upon certain days we see them encumbered? And though it may be said this is awful, and necessary for the dignity of the state, yet the wisest of them have been remarkable, before they arrived at their present stations, for being very well dressed persons. As to my own part, I am near thirty; and since I left school have not been idle, which is a modern phrase for having studied hard. I brought off a clean system of moral philosophy, and a tolerable jargon of metaphysics, from the university; since that, I have been engaged in the clearing part of the perplexed style
and matter of the law, which so hereditarily descends to all its professors: to all which severe studies I have thrown in, at proper interims, the pretty learning of the classics. Notwithstanding which, I am what Shakspeare calls a fellow of no mark or likelihood; which makes me understand the more fully, that since the regular methods of making friends and a fortune by the mere force of a profession is so very slow and uncertain, a man should take all reasonable opportunities, by enlarging a good acquaintance, to court that time and chance which is said to happen to every man.' STEELE,
No. 361. THURSDAY, APRIL 24.
Tartaream intendit vocem, quâ protinis omnis
I HAVE lately received the following letter from a country gentleman.
• The night before I left London I went to see a play called the Humorous Lieutenant. Upon the rising of the curtain I was very much surprised with the great concert of cat-calls which was exhibited that evening, and began to think with myself that I had made a mistake, and gone to a music-meeting instead of the play-house. It appeared indeed a little odd to me to see so many persons of quality of both sexes, assembled together at a kind of caterwauling; for I can not look upon that performance to have been any thing better, whatever the musicians themselves might think of it. As I had no acquaintance in the house to ask questions of, and was forced to go out of town early the next morning, I could not learn the secret of this matter. What I would therefore desire of you is, to give me some account of this strange instrument, which I found the company called a cat-call; and particularly to let me know whether it be a piece of music lately come from Italy. For my own part, to be free with you, I would rather hear an English fiddle: though I durst not show my
dislike whilst I was in the play-house, it being my chance to sit the very next man to one of the performers. I am, sir, your most affectionate friend and servant,
JOHN SHALLOW, ESQ.'
In compliance with 'squire Shallow's request, I design this paper as a dissertation upon
the catcall. In order to make myself a master of the subject, I purchased one the beginning of last week, though not without great difficulty, being informed at two or three toyshops that the players had lately bought them all up. I have since consulted many learned antiquaries in relation to its original, and find them very much divided among themselves upon that particular. A fellow of the Royal Society, who is my good friend, and a great proficient in the mathematical part of music, concludes from the simplicity of its make, and the uniformity of its sound, that the cat-call is older than any of the inyentions of Jubal. He observes very well, that musical instruments took their first rise from the notes of birds and other melodious animals: and what, says he, was more natural than for the first ages of mankind to imitate the voice of a cat that lived under the same roof with them? He added, that the cat had contributed more to harmony than any other animal; as we are not only beholden to her for this wind-instrument, but for our string-music in general.
Another virtuoso of my acquaintance will not allow the cat-call to be older than Thespis, and is apt to think it appeared in the world soon after the ancient comedy: for which reason it has still
a place in our dramatic entertainments. Nor must I here omit what a very curious gentleman, who is lately returned from his travels, has more than once assured me, namely, that there was lately dug up at Rome the statue of a Momus, who holds an instrument in his right hand very much resembling our modern cat-call.
There are others who ascribe this invention to Orpheus, and look upon the cat-call to be one of those instruments which that famous musician made use of to draw the beasts about him. It is certain, that the roasting of a cat does not call together a greater audience of that species than this instrument, if dexterously played upon in proper time and place.
But notwithstanding these various and learned conjectures, I can not forbear thinking that the cat-call is originally a piece of English music. Its resemblance to the voice of some of our British songsters, as well as the use of it, which is peculiar to our nation, confirms me in this opinion. It has at least received great improvements among us, whether we consider the instrument itself, or those several quavers and graces which are thrown into the playing of it. Every one might be sensible of this who heard that remarkable overgrown cat-call, which was placed in the centre of the pit, and presided over all the rest at the celebrated performance lately exhibited at Drury-Lane.
Having said thus much concerning the original of the cat-call, we are in the next place to consider the use of it. The cat-call exerts itself to most advantage in the British theatre; it very much improves the sound of nonsense; and often