No. 570. Wednesday, July 21, 1714.

--Nugaque canora--'

There is scarce a Man living who is not actuated by Ambition. When this Principle meets with an honest Mind and great Abilities, it does infinite Service to the World; on the contrary, when a Man only thinks of distinguishing himself, without being thus qualified for it, he becomes a very pernicious or a very ridiculous Creature. I shall here confine my self to that petty kind of Ambition, by which some Men grow eminent for odd Accomplishments and trivial Performances. How many are there whose whole Reputation depends upon a Punn or a Quibble? You may often see an Artist in the Streets gain a Circle of Admirers, by carrying a long Pole upon his Chin or Forehead in a perpendicular Posture. Ambition has taught some to write with their Feet, and others to walk upon their Hands. Some tumble into Fame, others grow immortal by throwing themselves through a Hoop.

'Cætera de genere hoc adeo sunt multa, loquacem Delassare valent Fabium--'

I am led into this Train of Thought by an Adventure I lately met with.

I was the other Day at a Tavern, where the Master of the House [1] accommodating us himself with every thing we wanted, I accidentally fell into a Discourse with him; and talking of a certain great Man, who shall be nameless, he told me, That he had sometimes the Honour to treat him with a Whistle; (adding by the way of Parenthesis) For you must know, Gentlemen, that I whistle the best of any Man in Europe. This naturally put me upon desiring him to give us a Sample of his Art; upon which he called for a Case-Knife, and applying the Edge of it to his Mouth, converted it into a musical Instrument, and entertained me with an Italian Solo. Upon laying down the Knife, he took up a Pair of clean Tobacco Pipes; and after having slid the small End of them over the Table in a most melodious Trill, he fetched a Tune out of them, whistling to them at the same time in Consort. In short, the Tobacco-Pipes became Musical Pipes in the Hands of our Virtuoso; who confessed to me ingenuously, he had broke such Quantities of them, that he had almost broke himself, before he had brought this Piece of Musick to any tolerable Perfection. I then told him I would bring a Company of Friends to dine with him the next Week, as an Encouragement to his Ingenuity; upon which he thanked me, saying, That he would provide himself with a new Frying-Pan against that Day. I replied, That it was no matter; Roast and Boiled would serve our Turn. He smiled at my Simplicity, and told me, That it was his Design to give us a Tune upon it. As I was surprised at such a Promise, he sent for an old Frying-Pan, and grating it upon the Board, whistled to it in such a melodious Manner, that you could scarce distinguish it from a Base-Viol. He then took his Seat with us at the Table, and hearing my Friend that was with me humm over a Tune to himself, he told him if he would sing out he would accompany his Voice with a Tobacco-Pipe. As my Friend has an agreeable Base, he chose rather to sing to the Frying-Pan; and indeed between them they made up a most extraordinary Consort. Finding our Landlord so great a Proficient in Kitchen-Musick, I asked him if he was Master of the Tongs and Key. He told Me that he had laid it down some Years since, as a little unfashionable: but that if I pleased he would give me a Lesson upon the Gridiron. He then informed me that he had added two Bars to the Gridiron, in order to give it a greater Compass of Sound; and I perceived was as well pleased with the Invention, as Sappho could have been upon adding two Strings to the Lute. To be short, I found that his whole Kitchen was furnished with musical Instruments; and could not but look upon this Artist as a kind of Burlesque Musician.

He afterwards of his own Accord fell into the Imitation of several Singing-Birds. My Friend and I toasted our Mistresses to the Nightingale, when all of a sudden we were surpriz'd with the musick of the Thrush. He next proceeded to the Sky-Lark, mounting up by a proper Scale of Notes, and afterwards falling to the Ground with a very easy and regular Descent. He then contracted his Whistle to the Voice of several Birds of the smallest Size. As he is a Man of a larger Bulk and higher Stature than ordinary, you would fancy him a Giant when you look'd upon him, and a Tom Tit when you shut your Eyes. I must not omit acquainting my Reader, that this accomplished Person was formerly the Master of a Toy-shop near Temple-Bar; and that the famous Charles Mathers was bred up under him. I am told that the Misfortunes which he has met with in the World, are chiefly owing to his great Application to his Musick; and therefore cannot but recommend him to my Readers as one who deserves their Favour, and may afford them great Diversion over a Bottle of Wine, which he sells at the Queen's Arms, near the End of the little Piazza in Covent-Garden.

[Footnote 1: Named Daintry. He was of the trained bands, and commonly known as Captain Daintry.]

Translation of motto:
HOR. Ars Poet. ver. 322.
'Chiming trifles.'