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ed with some short remarks on the origin and progress of the character by which dances are writ down, and communicated to one master from another. If some great genius after this would arise, and advance this art to that perfection it seems capable of receiving, what might not be expected from it? For if we consider the origin of arts and sciences, we shall find that some of them took rise from beginnings so mean and unpromising, that it is very wonderful to think that ever such surprising structures should have been raised upon such ordinary foundations. But what can not a great genius effect? Who would have thought that the clangorous noise of a smith's hammer should have given the first rise to music? Yet Macrobius in his second book relates, that Pythagoras, in passing by a smith's shop, found that the sounds proceeding from the hammers were either more grave or acute, according to the different weights of the hammers. The philosopher, to improve this hint, suspends different weights by strings of the same bigness, and found in like manner that the sounds answered to the weights. This being discovered, he finds out those numbers which produced sounds that were consonant; as, that two strings of the same substance and tension, the one being double the length of the other, gave that interval which is called diapason, or an eighth; the same was also effected from two strings of the same length and size, the one having four times the tension of the other. By these steps, from so mean a beginning, did this great man reduce, what was only before noise, to one of the most delightful sciences, by marrying it to the mathematics; and by
that means caused it to be one of the most abstract and demonstrative of sciences. Who knowstherefore but motion, whether decorous or representative, may not (as it seems highly probable it may) be taken into consideration by some person capable of reducing it into a regular science, though not so demonstrative as that proceeding from sounds, yet sufficient to entitle it to a place among the magnified arts?
“Now, Mr. Spectator, as you have declared yourself a visiter of dancing schools, and this being an undertaking which more immediately respects them, I think myself indispensably obliged, before I proceed to the publication of this my essay, to ask your advice; and hold it absolutely necessary to have your approbation; and in order to recommend my treatise to the perusal of the parents of such as learn to dance, as well as to the young ladies, to whom as visiter you ought to be guardian.
I am, sir,
Your most humble servant.' Salop, March 19, 1711-12. See Nos. 370, 466.
No. 335. TUESDAY, MARCH 25.
Respicere exemplar vitæ morumque jubebo
My friend Sir Roger de Coverley, when we last met together at the club, told me that he had
a great mind to see the new tragedy with me, assuring me, at the same time, that he had not been at a play these twenty years.
The last I saw,' said Sir Roger, was The Committee, which I should not have gone to neither, had not I been told beforehand that it was a good churchof-England comedy.' He then proceeded to inquire of me who this Distressed Mother was; and upon hearing that she was Hector's widow, he told me that her husband was a bráve man, and that when he was a school-boy he had read his life at the end of the dictionary. My friend asked me in the next place, if there would not be some danger in coming home late, in case the Mohocks should be abroad. I assure you, says he, I thought I had fallen into their hands last night; for I observed two or three lusty black men that followed me half way up Fleet-street, and mended their pace behind me in proportion as I put on to get away from them. You must know, continued the knight with a smile, I fancied they had a mind to hunt me; for I remember an honest gentleman in my neighbourhood, who was served such a trick in king Charles thé Second's time, for which reason he has not ventured himself in town ever since. I might have shown them very good sport, had this been their design; for as I am an old fox-hunter, I should have turn'd and dodged, and have played them a thousand tricks they had never seen in their lives before. Sir Roger added, that if these gentlemen had any such intention, they did not succeed very well in it; for I threw them out, says he, at the end of Norfolk-street, where Í doubled the corner, and got shelter in my lodg
ings before they could imagine what was become of me. However, says the knight, if captain Sentry will make one with us to-morrow night, and if
you will both of you call upon me about four o'clock, that we may be at the house before it is full, I will have my own coach in readiness to attend you, for John tells me has got the forewheels mended.
The captain, who did not fail to meet me there at the appointed hour, bid Sir Roger fear nothing, for that he had put on the same sword which he made use of at the battle of Steenkirk. * Sir Roger's servants, and among the rest my old friend the butler, had, I found, provided themselves with good oaken plants, to attend their master upon this occasion. When we had placed him in his coach, with myself at his left hand, the captain before him, and his butler at the head of his footmen in the rear, we convoyed him in safety to the play-house, where, after having marched up the entry in good order, the captain and I went in with him, and seated him betwixt us in the pit. As soon as the house was full, and the candles lighted, my old friend stood up, and looked about him with that pleasure which a mind seasoned with humanity naturally feels in itself at the sight of a multitude of people who seem pleased with one another, and partake of the same common entertainment. I could not but fancy to myself, as the old man stood up in the middle of the pit, that he made a very proper
* Gentlemen wore about this time a neckcloth called a Steenkirk; in the same manner wigs were at first called Ramilies, because first worn about the time of that battle in 1706.
centre to a tragic audience. Upon the entering of Pyrrhus, the knight told me that he did not be lieve the king of France himself had a better strut. I was indeed very attentive to my old friend's remarks, because I looked upon them as a piece of natural criticism; and was well pleased to hear him at the conclusion of almost every scene, telling me that he could not imagine how the play would end. One while he appeared much concerned for Andromache, and a little while after as much for Hermione; and was extremely puzzled to think what would become of Pyrrhus.
When Sir Roger saw Andromache's obstinate refusal to her lover's importunities, he whispered me in the ear, that he was sure she would never have him; to which he added, with a more than ordinary vehemence, You can't imagine, sir, what it is to have to do with a widow. Upon Pyrrhus's threatening afterwards to leave her, the knight shook his head, and
muttering to himself, Ay, do if you can. This part dwelt so much upon my friend's imagination, that at the close of the third act, as I was thinking of something else, he whispered in my ear, These widows, sir, are the most perverse creatures in the world. But pray,' says he, you that are a critic, is the play according to your dramatic rules, as you call them? Should your people in tragedy always talk to be understood? Why, there is not a single sentence in this play that I do not know the meaning of.'
The fourth act very luckily began before I had time to give the old gentleman an answer.
Well,' says the knight, sitting down with great satisfaction, “I suppose we are now to see Hec