Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

Here it may not be amiss to add a few words upon the laudable practice of wearing quilted caps; which is not a matter of mere cuftom, humour, or fashion, as some would pretend, but an institution of great fagacity and use. These, when moistened with sweat, stop all perspiration; and, by reverberating the heat, prevent the spirit from evaporating any way but at the mouth; even as a skilful house-wife, that covers her ftill with a wet clout for the same reason, and finds the same effect. For it is the opinion of choice virtuosi, that the brain is only a crowd of little animals, but with teeth and claws extremely sharp, and therefore cling together in the contexture we behold, like the picture of Hobbes's Leviathan, or like bees in perpendicular swarm upon a tree, or like a carrion corrupted into vermin, fill preserving the shape and figure of the mother animal : that all invention is formed by the morfure of two or more of these animals, upon certain capillary nerves, which proceed from thence; whereof three branches spread into the tongue, and two into the right hand. They hold also, that these animals are of a constitution extremely cold ; that their food is the air we attract, their excrement phlegm; and that what we vulgarly call rheums, and colds, and distillations, is nothing else but an epidemical looseness, to which that little commonwealth is very subject, from the climate it lies under : farther, that nothing less than a violent heat can disintangle these crea

tures

!

tures from their hamated station of life, or give them vigour and humour to imprint the marks of their little teeth: that if the morsure be hexagonal, it produces poetry; the circular gives eloquence; if the bite hath been conical, the perfon, whose nerve is so affected, fhall be difposed to write upon politics; and fo of the rest.

I shall now discourse briefly, by what kind of practices the voice is best governed, towards the composition and improvement of the spirit ; for without a competent skill in tuning and toning each word, and syllable, and letter, to their due cadence, the whole operation is incomplete, misfes entirely of its effect on the hearers, and puts the workman himself to continual pains for new supplies without success. For it is to be understood, that, in the language of the spirit, cant and droning supply the place of sense and reason, in the language of men ; because, in spiritual harangues, the disposition of the words according to the art of grammar, hath not the least use, but the skill and influence wholly lie in the choice and cadence of the syllables; even as a discreet compofer, who, in setting a song, chan: ges the words and order so often, that he is forced to make it nonsense, before he can make it entific. For this reason it hath been held by fome, that the art of canting is ever in greatest perfection, when managed by ignorance ; which is thought to be enigmatically meant by Plutarch, when he tell us, that the best musical in

struments

ر

Atruments were made from the bones of an ass. And the profounder critics upon that paffage are of opinion, the word, in its genuine fignification, means no other than a jaw-bone ; though some rather think it to have been the os facrum. But in so nice a case I shall not take upon me to decide; the curious are at liberty to pick from it whatever they please,

The first ingredient towards the art of canting, is a competent share of inward light; that is to say, a large memory, plentifully fraught with theological polysyllables, and mysterious texts from holy writ, applied and digested by those methods and mechanical operations already related; the bearers of this light resembling lanterns, compact of leaves from old Geneva Bibles: which invention, Sir Humphrey Edwin, during his mayoralty, of happy memory, highly approved and advanced ; affirming the scripture to be now fulfilled, where it says, Thy word is a lantern to my feet, and a light to my paths.

Now, the art of canting consists in skilfully adapting the voice io whatever words the fpirit delivers, that each may strike the ears of the audience with its most significant cadence. The force or energy of this eloquence is not to be found, as among ancient orators, in the dispofition of words to a sentence, or the turning of long periods; but, agreeable to the modern refinements in music, is taken up wholly in dwelling and dilating upon fyllables and letters.

Thus, Thus, it is frequent for a single vowel to draw fighs from a multitude; and for a whole aflembly of faints, to sob to the music of one folitary liquid. But these are trifles, when even sounds inarticulate are observed to produce as forcible effects. A master-workman shall blow his nose fo powerfully, as to pierce the hearts of his people, who are disposed to receive the excrements of his brain, with the same reverence as the isue of it. Hawking, spitting, and belching, the defects of other mens rhetoric, are the flowers, and figures, and ornaments of his. For, the spirit being the same in all, it is of no import through what vehicle it is conveyed.

It is a point of too much difficulty, to draw the principles of this famous art within the compass of certain adequate rules. However, perhaps I may one day oblige the world with my critical essay upon the art of canting, philofophically, plöysically, and musically considered.

But, among all improvements of the spirit wherein the voice hath borne a part, there is none to be compared with that of conveying the found through the nose, which, under the denomination of snuffling, * hath passed with so great applause in the world. The originals of this inftitution are very dark; but having been initiated into the mystery of it, and leave being given

me

* The snuffling of men, who have lost their noses by lewd co es, is said to have given rise to that tone, which our Dita fenters did too much affect. W. Witton.

All a

me to publish it to the world, I shall deliver as direct a relation as I can.

This art, like many other famous inventions, , owed its birth, or at least improvement and perfection, to an effect of chance; but was established upon solid reasons, and hath flourished in this island ever since, with great lustre. gree, that it first appeared upon the decay and discouragement of bagpipes; which, having long fuffered under the mortal hatred of the brethren, tottered for a time, and at last fell with monarchy. The story is thus related.

As yet, snuffling was not; when the following adventure happened to a Banbury saint. Upon a certain day, while he was far engaged among the tabernacles of the wicked, he felt the outward man put into odd commotions, and strangely pricked forward by the inward: An effect very usual among the modern inspired. For some think, that the spirit is apt to feed on the flesh, like hungry wines upon raw beef. Others rather believe, there is a perpetual game at leapfrog between both; and sometimes the flesh is uppermoft, and sometimes the spirit : adding, that the former, while it is in the state of a rider, wears huge Rippon spurs, and, when it comes to the turn of being bearer, is wonderfully headstrong and hard-mouthed. However it came about, the faint felt his vefsel full extended in every part, (a very natural effect of strong infpiration ;) and the place and time falling out so un

luckily,

« PreviousContinue »