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34. [Melancholy.]

53

According to old physicians, perfect 54melancholy is the complexion of the [1]ass. This would have supplied a good allusion in the days of Ben Jonson, when it was the humour of fools to be melancholy. It would be well if our fools could be persuaded into the same humour, but they imitate the magpie instead of the owl. We shall lose our character as a serious nation. In all that sort of conversation which is denominated small talk, and of which, like small beer, most use is made, it may be observed that the listener always laughs. Young ladies would do well to remember, that if laughter displays dimples, it creates dells; and young gentlemen, when they practise at the glass, would also do well to observe how far more becoming a long face is than a broad one. Broad faces are vulgar, and of all things they should avoid vulgarity. Laughter also is a plebeian emotion; nothing beyond a silent and transitory simper should ever be 55indulged in by the refined ranks. Be melancholy, be melancholy, according to your complexion! It was when our statesmen had long faces that the phrase long-headed was introduced as synonimous with wise. If the national physiognomy goes on for another century receding from the oval as it has done for the last, the next new mythology will make the man in the moon our progenitor, and prove the genealogy by the likeness.


  1. Miedes. l. 10. c. 5.