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No. 017 [from The Spectator]
by [?]

I. That no Person whatsoever shall be admitted without a visible Quearity in his Aspect, or peculiar Cast of Countenance; of which the President and Officers for the time being are to determine, and the President to have the casting Voice.

II. That a singular Regard be had, upon Examination, to the Gibbosity of the Gentlemen that offer themselves, as Founders Kinsmen, or to the Obliquity of their Figure, in what sort soever.

III. That if the Quantity of any Man’s Nose be eminently miscalculated, whether as to Length or Breadth, he shall have a just Pretence to be elected.

Lastly, That if there shall be two or more Competitors for the same Vacancy, caeteris paribus, he that has the thickest Skin to have the Preference.

Every fresh Member, upon his first Night, is to entertain the Company with a Dish of Codfish, and a Speech in praise of AEsop; [2] whose portraiture they have in full Proportion, or rather Disproportion, over the Chimney; and their Design is, as soon as their Funds are sufficient, to purchase the Heads of Thersites, Duns Scotus, Scarron, Hudibras, and the old Gentleman in Oldham, [3] with all the celebrated ill Faces of Antiquity, as Furniture for the Club Room.

As they have always been profess’d Admirers of the other Sex, so they unanimously declare that they will give all possible Encouragement to such as will take the Benefit of the Statute, tho’ none yet have appeared to do it.

The worthy President, who is their most devoted Champion, has lately shown me two Copies of Verses composed by a Gentleman of his Society; the first, a Congratulatory Ode inscrib’d to Mrs. Touchwood, upon the loss of her two Fore-teeth; the other, a Panegyrick upon Mrs. Andirons left Shoulder. Mrs. Vizard (he says) since the Small Pox, is grown tolerably ugly, and a top Toast in the Club; but I never hear him so lavish of his fine things, as upon old Nell Trot, who constantly officiates at their Table; her he even adores, and extolls as the very Counterpart of Mother Shipton; in short, Nell (says he) is one of the Extraordinary Works of Nature; but as for Complexion, Shape, and Features, so valued by others, they are all meer Outside and Symmetry, which is his Aversion. Give me leave to add, that the President is a facetious, pleasant Gentleman, and never more so, than when he has got (as he calls ’em) his dear Mummers about him; and he often protests it does him good to meet a Fellow with a right genuine Grimmace in his Air, (which is so agreeable in the generality of the French Nation;) and as an Instance of his Sincerity in this particular, he gave me a sight of a List in his Pocket-book of all of this Class, who for these five Years have fallen under his Observation, with himself at the Head of ’em, and in the Rear (as one of a promising and improving Aspect),

Sir, Your Obliged and Humble Servant,

Alexander Carbuncle.’
[Sidenote: Oxford, March 12, 1710.]


[Footnote 1: Abbe Paul Scarron, the burlesque writer, high in court favour, was deformed from birth, and at the age of 27 lost the use of all his limbs. In 1651, when 41 years old, Scarron married Frances d’Aubigne, afterwards Madame de Maintenon; her age was then 16, and she lived with Scarron until his death, which occurred when she was 25 years old and left her very poor. Scarron’s comparison of himself to the letter Z is in his address ‘To the Reader who has Never seen Me,’ prefixed to his ‘Relation Veritable de tout ce qui s’est passe en l’autre Monde, au combat des Parques et des Poetes, sur la Mort de Voiture.’ This was illustrated with a burlesque plate representing himself as seen from the back of his chair, and surrounded by a wondering and mocking world. His back, he said, was turned to the public, because the convex of his back is more convenient than the concave of his stomach for receiving the inscription of his name and age.]

[Footnote 2: The Life of AEsop, ascribed to Planudes Maximus, a monk of Constantinople in the fourteenth century, and usually prefixed to the Fables, says that he was ‘the most deformed of all men of his age, for he had a pointed head, flat nostrils, a short neck, thick lips, was black, pot-bellied, bow-legged, and hump-backed; perhaps even uglier than Homer’s Thersites.’]

[Footnote 3: The description of Thersites in the second book of the Iliad is thus translated by Professor Blackie:

‘The most
Ill-favoured wight was he, I ween, of all the Grecian host.
With hideous squint the railer leered: on one foot he was lame;
Forward before his narrow chest his hunching shoulders came;
Slanting and sharp his forehead rose, with shreds of meagre hair.’

Controversies between the Scotists and Thomists, followers of the teaching of Duns Scotus and Thomas Aquinas, caused Thomist perversion of the name of Duns into its use as Dunce and tradition of the subtle Doctor’s extreme personal ugliness. Doctor Subtilis was translated The Lath Doctor.

Scarron we have just spoken of. Hudibras’s outward gifts are described in Part I., Canto i., lines 240-296 of the poem.

‘His beard
In cut and dye so like a tile
A sudden view it would beguile:
The upper part thereof was whey;
The nether, orange mix’d with grey.
This hairy meteor, etc.’

The ‘old Gentleman in Oldham‘ is Loyola, as described in Oldham’s third satire on the Jesuits, when

‘Summon’d together, all th’ officious band
The orders of their bedrid, chief attend.’

Raised on his pillow he greets them, and, says Oldham,

‘Like Delphic Hag of old, by Fiend possest,
He swells, wild Frenzy heaves his panting breast,
His bristling hairs stick up, his eyeballs glow,
And from his mouth long strakes of drivel flow.’]