1703 __ « London Spy » — Frozen words
‣ Comment : In Part II (ed. 1703, p. 43) of Ward's “London Spy”, one of the two sailors who are exchanging stories tells his companion, " I have been . . . where it has been so Cold, it has Frozen our Words in our Mouths, that we could not hear one another speak, till we came into a warmer Latitude to thaw 'em ; and then all our Discourse broke out together like a Clap of Thunder, that there was never such a Confusion of Tongues ever heard at Babel.". — Ned Ward was a journalist in verse. His Hudibras Redivivus is a gazette in rime, which was inspired by the moment, and was published in parts. The ingenious Ward begins his preface with an apology. “Tho’ I have made bold,” he says, “to borrow a Title from one of the best poems that ever was published in the English Tongue. — yet I would not have the world expect me such a wizard as to conjure up the spirit of the inimitable Butler.” He need not have been in doubt. He was no wizard, but a pedestrian jogtrot writer of doggerel, whom criticism could not affright nor opposition baulk. Yet his Hudibras is a wonderful achievement. Its facile fluent ease marks the versifier who could write two hundred lines standing on one foot. His language is common enough. Neither Brown nor Motteux surpasses him in knowledge of the slang which was heard in the tavern or at the street corner. Ned Ward, in his London Spy, and Tom Brown, in his Amusements Serious and Comical, have bequeathed to us a picture of the town whose merit is wholly independent of literature. They are the true descendants of Dekker and Nashe, from whom they are separated by less than a century of time. The London Spy is, undoubtedly, Ward’s masterpiece. After two centuries, it still keeps the fresh stamp of truth. Its design, if design it may be called, is of the simplest. A citizen, who, “after a tedious confinement in a country Hutt,” breaking loose from “the scholar’s gaol, his study,” revisits London. There he meets an old schoolfellow, who shows him the sights, and especially the taverns, of the town. It is a Gull’s Hornbook of another age, written with a plain simplicity, and with scarce a touch of satire. The two friends range from Billingsgate, where they observe the “oars” and “scullers,” who tout by the waterside, and note “the stink of sprats and the unteneable clamours of the wrangling society,” to Hummun’s Turkish bath. They wander from the Quaker’s tavern in Fish lane to that hideous inferno the Poultry compter, from the Wits’ coffee-house, where the cockney sketches for his friend a character of the modern poets, to Bartholomew Fair, now stripped of its glory. By the way, they encounter many strange personages, such as the highwayman, who “has good friends in Newgate,” and is “well acquainted with the ostlers about Bishopsgate and Smithfield, and gains from them intelligence of what booties go out that are worth attempting.” The book is written with a directness and simplicity which command belief, and ends, as in duty bound, with a description of the death and funeral of Dryden, who was the master of them all, and who impressed his laws upon his liege subjects, like the dictator that he was. (In "The Cambridge History of English and American Literature" in 18 Volumes 1907–21. Volume IX. From Steele and Addison to Pope and Swift. Chapter X. Writers of Burlesque and Translators. § 6. Ned Ward’s Hudibras Redivivus, Vulgus Britannicus and Lon)
‣ Source : Addison, Joseph (1710), "Frozen Words", In The Heath Readers : Sixth Reader", Boston: D.C. Heath and Company (1903), pp. 116-120. (Originally published in “Essays From Addison”, edited by J H Fowler, Spectator No. 254, November 23, 1710).
‣ Source : Ward, Ned (1703), "The London Spy, Compleat, in Eighteen Parts", Fourth Edition, London, Printed and sold by J.How, at the Seven Stars in Talbot-Court, in Grace-Church-Street, 1709.
‣ Urls : http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~jlynch/Texts/ward.html (last visited )
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