The Spectator, Volume 2.
by Addison and Steele
Previous Part     1 ... 3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20     Next Part
Home - Random Browse


* * * * *

No. 329. Tuesday, March 18, 1712. Addison.

Ire tamen restat, Numa quo devenit et Ancus.


My friend Sir ROGER DE COVERLEY told me tother Night, that he had been reading my Paper upon Westminster Abby, in which, says he, there are a great many ingenious Fancies. He told me at the same time, that he observed I had promised another Paper upon the Tombs, and that he should be glad to go and see them with me, not having visited them since he had read History. I could not at first imagine how this came into the Knights Head, till I recollected that he had been very busy all last Summer upon Bakers Chronicle, which he has quoted several times in his Disputes with Sir ANDREW FREEPORT since his last coming to Town. Accordingly I promised to call upon him the next Morning, that we might go together to the Abby.

I found the Knight under his Butlers Hands, who always shaves him. He was no sooner Dressed, than he called for a Glass of the Widow Trueby's Water, which he told me he always drank before he went abroad. He recommended me to a Dram of it at the same time, with so much Heartiness, that I could not forbear drinking it. As soon as I had got it down, I found it very unpalatable; upon which the Knight observing that I [had] made several wry Faces, told me that he knew I should not like it at first, but that it was the best thing in the World against the Stone or Gravel.

I could have wished indeed that he had acquainted me with the Virtues of it sooner; but it was too late to complain, and I knew what he had done was out of Good-will. Sir ROGER told me further, that he looked upon it to be very good for a Man whilst he staid in Town, to keep off Infection, and that he got together a Quantity of it upon the first News of the Sickness being at Dautzick: When of a sudden turning short to one of his Servants, who stood behind him, he bid him call [a [1]] Hackney Coach, and take care it was an elderly Man that drove it.

He then resumed his Discourse upon Mrs. Trueby's Water, telling me that the Widow Trueby was one who did more good than all the Doctors and Apothecaries in the County: That she distilled every Poppy that grew within five Miles of her; that she distributed her Water gratis among all Sorts of People; to which the Knight added, that she had a very great Jointure, and that the whole Country would fain have it a Match between him and her; and truly, says Sir ROGER, if I had not been engaged, perhaps I could not have done better.

His Discourse was broken off by his Man's telling him he had called a Coach. Upon our going to it, after having cast his Eye upon the Wheels, he asked the Coachman if his Axeltree was good; upon the Fellows telling him he would warrant it, the Knight turned to me, told me he looked like an honest Man, and went in without further Ceremony.

We had not gone far, when Sir ROGER popping out his Head, called the Coach-man down from his Box, and upon his presenting himself at the Window, asked him if he smoaked; as I was considering what this would end in, he bid him stop by the way at any good Tobacconists, and take in a Roll of their best Virginia. Nothing material happened in the remaining part of our Journey, till we were set down at the Westend of the Abby.

As we went up the Body of the Church, the Knight pointed at the Trophies upon one of the new Monuments, and cry'd out, A brave Man, I warrant him! Passing afterwards by Sir Cloudsly Shovel, he flung his Hand that way, and cry'd Sir Cloudsly Shovel! a very gallant Man! As we stood before Busby's Tomb, the Knight utter'd himself again after the same Manner, Dr. Busby, a great Man! he whipp'd my Grandfather; a very great Man! I should have gone to him myself, if I had not been a Blockhead; a very great Man!

We were immediately conducted into the little Chappel on the right hand. Sir ROGER planting himself at our Historians Elbow, was very attentive to every thing he said, particularly to the Account he gave us of the Lord who had cut off the King of Moroccos Head. Among several other Figures, he was very well pleased to see the Statesman Cecil upon his Knees; and, concluding them all to be great Men, was conducted to the Figure which represents that Martyr to good Housewifry, who died by the prick of a Needle. Upon our Interpreters telling us, that she was a Maid of Honour to Queen Elizabeth, the Knight was very inquisitive into her Name and Family; and after having regarded her Finger for some time, I wonder, says he, that Sir Richard Baker has said nothing of her in his Chronicle.

We were then convey'd to the two Coronation-Chairs, where my old Friend, after having heard that the Stone underneath the most ancient of them, which was brought from Scotland, was called Jacob's Pillar, sat himself down in the Chair; and looking like the Figure of an old Gothick King, asked our Interpreter, What Authority they had to say, that Jacob had ever been in Scotland? The Fellow, instead of returning him an Answer, told him, that he hoped his Honour would pay his Forfeit. I could observe Sir ROGER a little ruffled upon being thus trepanned; but our Guide not insisting upon his Demand, the Knight soon recovered his good Humour, and whispered in my Ear, that if WILL. WIMBLE were with us, and saw those two Chairs, it would go hard but he would get a Tobacco-Stopper out of one or tother of them.

Sir ROGER, in the next Place, laid his Hand upon Edward the Thirds Sword, and leaning upon the Pummel of it, gave us the whole History of the Black Prince; concluding, that in Sir Richard Bakers Opinion, Edward the Third was one of the greatest Princes that ever sate upon the English Throne.

We were then shewn Edward the Confessors Tomb; upon which Sir ROGER acquainted us, that he was the first who touched for the Evil; and afterwards Henry the Fourths, upon which he shook his Head, and told us there was fine Reading in the Casualties in that Reign.

Our Conductor then pointed to that Monument where there is the Figure of one of our English Kings without an Head; and upon giving us to know, that the Head, which was of beaten Silver, had been stolen away several Years since: Some Whig, Ill warrant you, says Sir ROGER; you ought to lock up your Kings better; they will carry off the Body too, if you don't take care.

THE glorious Names of Henry the Fifth and Queen Elizabeth gave the Knight great Opportunities of shining, and of doing Justice to Sir Richard Baker, who, as our Knight observed with some Surprize, had a great many Kings in him, whose Monuments he had not seen in the Abby.

For my own part, I could not but be pleased to see the Knight shew such an honest Passion for the Glory of his Country, and such a respectful Gratitude to the Memory of its Princes.

I must not omit, that the Benevolence of my good old Friend, which flows out towards every one he converses with, made him very kind to our Interpreter, whom he looked upon as an extraordinary Man; for which reason he shook him by the Hand at parting, telling him, that he should be very glad to see him at his Lodgings in Norfolk-Buildings, and talk over these Matters with him more at leisure.


[Footnote 1:[an]]

* * * * *

No. 330. Wednesday, March 19, 1712. Steele.

Maxima debetur pueris reverentia.


The following Letters, written by two very considerate Correspondents, both under twenty Years of Age, are very good Arguments of the Necessity of taking into Consideration the many Incidents which affect the Education of Youth.

SIR, I have long expected, that in the Course of your Observations upon the several Parts of human Life, you would one time or other fall upon a Subject, which, since you have not, I take the liberty to recommend to you. What I mean, is the Patronage of young modest Men to such as are able to countenance and introduce them into the World. For want of such Assistances, a Youth of Merit languishes in Obscurity or Poverty, when his Circumstances are low, and runs into Riot and Excess when his Fortunes are plentiful. I cannot make my self better understood, than by sending you an History of my self, which I shall desire you to insert in your Paper, it being the only Way I have of expressing my Gratitude for the highest Obligations imaginable.

I am the Son of a Merchant of the City of London, who, by many Losses, was reduced from a very luxuriant Trade and Credit to very narrow Circumstances, in Comparison to that his former Abundance. This took away the Vigour of his Mind, and all manner of Attention to a Fortune, which he now thought desperate; insomuch that he died without a Will, having before buried my Mother in the midst of his other Misfortunes. I was sixteen Years of Age when I lost my Father; and an Estate of L200 a Year came into my Possession, without Friend or Guardian to instruct me in the Management or Enjoyment of it. The natural Consequence of this was, (though I wanted no Director, and soon had Fellows who found me out for a smart young Gentleman, and led me into all the Debaucheries of which I was capable) that my Companions and I could not well be supplied without my running in Debt, which I did very frankly, till I was arrested, and conveyed with a Guard strong enough for the most desperate Assassine, to a Bayliff's House, where I lay four Days, surrounded with very merry, but not very agreeable Company. As soon as I had extricated my self from this shameful Confinement, I reflected upon it with so much Horror, that I deserted all my old Acquaintance, and took Chambers in an Inn of Court, with a Resolution to study the Law with all possible Application. But I trifled away a whole Year in looking over a thousand Intricacies, without Friend to apply to in any Case of Doubt; so that I only lived there among Men, as little Children are sent to School before they are capable of Improvement, only to be out of harms way. In the midst of this State of Suspence, not knowing how to dispose of my self, I was sought for by a Relation of mine, who, upon observing a good Inclination in me, used me with great Familiarity, and carried me to his Seat in the Country. When I came there, he introduced me to all the good Company in the County; and the great Obligation I have to him for this kind Notice and Residence with him ever since, has made so strong an Impression upon me, that he has an Authority of a Father over me, founded upon the Love of a Brother. I have a good Study of Books, a good Stable of Horses always at my command; and tho I am not now quite eighteen Years of Age, familiar Converse on his Part, and a strong Inclination to exert my self on mine, have had an effect upon me that makes me acceptable wherever I go. Thus, Mr. SPECTATOR, by this Gentleman's Favour and Patronage, it is my own fault if I am not wiser and richer every day I live. I speak this as well by subscribing the initial Letters of my Name to thank him, as to incite others to an Imitation of his Virtue. It would be a worthy Work to shew what great Charities are to be done without Expence, and how many noble Actions are lost, out of Inadvertency in Persons capable of performing them, if they were put in mind of it. If a Gentleman of Figure in a County would make his Family a Pattern of Sobriety, good Sense, and Breeding, and would kindly endeavour to influence the Education and growing Prospects of the younger Gentry about him, I am apt to believe it would save him a great deal of stale Beer on a publick Occasion, and render him the Leader of his Country from their Gratitude to him, instead of being a Slave to their Riots and Tumults in order to be made their Representative. The same thing might be recommended to all who have made any Progress in any Parts of Knowledge, or arrived at any Degree in a Profession; others may gain Preferments and Fortunes from their Patrons, but I have, I hope, receiv'd from mine good Habits and Virtues. I repeat to you, Sir, my Request to print this, in return for all the Evil an helpless Orphan shall ever escape, and all the Good he shall receive in this Life; both which are wholly owing to this Gentleman's Favour to,

SIR, Your most obedient humble Servant, S. P.

Mr. SPECTATOR, I am a Lad of about fourteen. I find a mighty Pleasure in Learning. I have been at the Latin School four Years. I don't know I ever play'd [truant, [1]] or neglected any Task my Master set me in my Life. I think on what I read in School as I go home at noon and night, and so intently, that I have often gone half a mile out of my way, not minding whither I went. Our Maid tells me, she often hears me talk Latin in my sleep. And I dream two or three Nights in the Week I am reading Juvenal and Homer. My Master seems as well pleased with my Performances as any Boys in the same Class. I think, if I know my own Mind, I would chuse rather to be a Scholar, than a Prince without Learning. I have a very [good [2]] affectionate Father; but tho very rich, yet so mighty near, that he thinks much of the Charges of my Education. He often tells me, he believes my Schooling will ruin him; that I cost him God-knows what in Books. I tremble to tell him I want one. I am forced to keep my Pocket-Mony, and lay it out for a Book, now and then, that he don't know of. He has order'd my Master to buy no more Books for me, but says he will buy them himself. I asked him for Horace tother Day, and he told me in a Passion, he did not believe I was fit for it, but only my Master had a Mind to make him think I had got a great way in my Learning. I am sometimes a Month behind other Boys in getting the Books my Master gives Orders for. All the Boys in the School, but I, have the Classick Authors in usum Delphini, gilt and letter'd on the Back. My Father is often reckoning up how long I have been at School, and tells me he fears I do little good. My Fathers Carriage so discourages me, that he makes me grow dull and melancholy. My Master wonders what is the matter with me; I am afraid to tell him; for he is a Man that loves to encourage Learning, and would be apt to chide my Father, and, not knowing my Fathers Temper, may make him worse. Sir, if you have any Love for Learning, I beg you would give me some Instructions in this case, and persuade Parents to encourage their Children when they find them diligent and desirous of Learning. I have heard some Parents say, they would do any thing for their Children, if they would but mind their Learning: I would be glad to be in their place. Dear Sir, pardon my Boldness. If you will but consider and pity my case, I will pray for your Prosperity as long as I live. London, March 2,1711. Your humble Servant,

James Discipulus.

March the 18th.


The ostentation you showed yesterday would have been pardonable had you provided better for the two Extremities of your Paper, and placed in one the letter R., in the other Nescio quid meditans nugarum, et lotus in illis. A Word to the wise.

I am your most humble Servant, T. Trash.

According to the Emendation of the above Correspondent, the Reader is desired in the Paper of the 17th to read R. for T. [3]


[Footnote 1: at truant]

[Footnote 2: loving]

* * * * *

No. 331. Thursday, March 20, 1712. Budgell.

Stolidam praebet tibi vellere barbam.


When I was last with my Friend Sir ROGER in Westminster-Abby, I observed that he stood longer than ordinary before the Bust of a venerable old Man. I was at a loss to guess the Reason of it, when after some time he pointed to the Figure, and asked me if I did not think that our Fore-fathers looked much wiser in their Beards than we do without them? For my part, says he, when I am walking in my Gallery in the Country, and see my Ancestors, who many of them died before they were of my Age, I cannot forbear regarding them as so many old Patriarchs, and at the same time looking upon myself as an idle Smock-fac'd young Fellow. I love to see your Abrahams, your Isaacs, and your Jacob's, as we have them in old Pieces of Tapestry, with Beards below their Girdles, that cover half the Hangings. The Knight added, if I would recommend Beards in one of my Papers, and endeavour to restore human Faces to their Ancient Dignity, that upon a Months warning he would undertake to lead up the Fashion himself in a pair of Whiskers.

I smiled at my Friends Fancy; but after we parted, could not forbear reflecting on the Metamorphoses our Faces have undergone in this Particular.

The Beard, conformable to the Notion of my Friend Sir ROGER, was for many Ages look'd upon as the Type of Wisdom. Lucian more than once rallies the Philosophers of his Time, who endeavour'd to rival one another in Beard; and represents a learned Man who stood for a Professorship in Philosophy, as unqualify'd for it by the Shortness of his Beard.

AElian, in his Account of Zoilus, the pretended Critick, who wrote against Homer and Plato, and thought himself wiser than all who had gone before him, tells us that this Zoilus had a very long Beard that hung down upon his Breast, but no Hair upon his Head, which he always kept close shaved, regarding, it seems, the Hairs of his Head as so many Suckers, which if they had been suffer'd to grow, might have drawn away the Nourishment from his Chin, and by that means have starved his Beard.

I have read somewhere that one of the Popes refus'd to accept an Edition of a Saints Works, which were presented to him, because the Saint in his Effigies before the Book, was drawn without a Beard.

We see by these Instances what Homage the World has formerly paid to Beards; and that a Barber was not then allow'd to make those Depredations on the Faces of the Learned, which have been permitted him of later Years.

Accordingly several wise Nations have been so extremely Jealous of the least Ruffle offer'd to their Beard, that they seem to have fixed the Point of Honour principally in that Part. The Spaniards were wonderfully tender in this Particular.

Don Quevedo, in his third Vision on the Last Judgment, has carry'd the Humour very far, when he tells us that one of his vain-glorious Countrymen, after having receiv'd Sentence, was taken into custody by a couple of evil Spirits; but that his Guides happening to disorder his Mustachoes, they were forced to recompose them with a Pair of Curling-irons before they could get him to file off.

If we look into the History of our own Nation, we shall find that the Beard flourish'd in the Saxon Heptarchy, but was very much discourag'd under the Norman Line. It shot out, however, from time to time, in several Reigns under different Shapes. The last Effort it made seems to have been in Queen Marys Days, as the curious Reader may find, if he pleases to peruse the Figures of Cardinal Poole, and Bishop Gardiner; tho at the same time, I think it may be question'd, if Zeal against Popery has not induced our Protestant Painters to extend the Beards of these two Persecutors beyond their natural Dimensions, in order to make them appear the more terrible.

I find but few Beards worth taking notice of in the Reign of King James the First.

During the Civil Wars there appeared one, which makes too great a Figure in Story to be passed over in Silence; I mean that of the redoubted Hudibras, an Account of which Butler has transmitted to Posterity in the following Lines:

His tawny Beard was th' equal Grace Both of his Wisdom, and his Face; In Cut and Dye so like a Tyle, A sudden View it would beguile: The upper Part thereof was Whey, The nether Orange mixt with Grey.

The Whisker continu'd for some time among us after the Expiration of Beards; but this is a Subject which I shall not here enter upon, having discussed it at large in a distinct Treatise, which I keep by me in Manuscript, upon the Mustachoe.

If my Friend Sir ROGERS Project, of introducing Beards, should take effect, I fear the Luxury of the present Age would make it a very expensive Fashion. There is no question but the Beaux would soon provide themselves with false ones of the lightest Colours, and the most immoderate Lengths. A fair Beard, of the Tapestry-Size Sir ROGER seems to approve, could not come under twenty Guineas. The famous Golden Beard of AEsculapius would hardly be more valuable than one made in the Extravagance of the Fashion.

Besides, we are not certain that the Ladies would not come into the Mode, when they take the Air on Horse-back. They already appear in Hats and Feathers, Coats and Perriwigs; and I see no reason why we should not suppose that they would have their Riding-Beards on the same Occasion.

I may give the Moral of this Discourse, in another Paper,


* * * * *

No. 332. Friday, March 21, 1712. Steele.

Minus aptus acutis Naribus horum hominum.


Dear Short-Face,

In your Speculation of Wednesday last, you have given us some Account of that worthy Society of Brutes the Mohocks; wherein you have particularly specify'd the ingenious Performance of the Lion-Tippers, the Dancing-Masters, and the Tumblers: But as you acknowledge you had not then a perfect History of the whole Club, you might very easily omit one of the most notable Species of it, the Sweaters, which may be reckon'd a sort of Dancing-Masters too. It is it seems the Custom for half a dozen, or more, of these well-dispos'd Savages, as soon as they have inclos'd the Person upon whom they design the Favour of a Sweat, to whip out their Swords, and holding them parallel to the Horizon, they describe a sort of Magick Circle round about him with the Points. As soon as this Piece of Conjuration is perform'd, and the Patient without doubt already beginning to wax warm, to forward the Operation, that Member of the Circle towards whom he is so rude as to turn his Back first, runs his Sword directly into that Part of the Patient wherein School-boys are punished; and, as it is very natural to imagine this will soon make him tack about to some other Point, every Gentleman does himself the same Justice as often as he receives the Affront. After this Jig has gone two or three times round, and the Patient is thought to have sweat sufficiently, he is very handsomly rubb'd down by some Attendants, who carry with them Instruments for that purpose, and so discharged. This Relation I had from a Friend of mine, who has lately been under this Discipline. He tells me he had the Honour to dance before the Emperor himself, not without the Applause and Acclamations both of his Imperial Majesty, and the whole Ring; tho I dare say, neither I or any of his Acquaintance ever dreamt he would have merited any Reputation by his Activity.

I can assure you, Mr. SPEC, I was very near being qualify'd to have given you a faithful and painful Account of this walking Bagnio, if I may so call it, my self: For going the other night along Fleet-street, and having, out of curiosity, just enter'd into Discourse with a wandring Female who was travelling the same Way, a couple of Fellows advanced towards us, drew their Swords, and cry out to each other, A Sweat! a Sweat! Whereupon suspecting they were some of the Ringleaders of the Bagnio, I also drew my Sword, and demanded a Parly; but finding none would be granted me, and perceiving others behind them filing off with great diligence to take me in Flank, I began to sweat for fear of being forced to it: but very luckily betaking my self to a Pair of Heels, which I had good Reason to believe would do me justice, I instantly got possession of a very snug Corner in a neighbouring Alley that lay in my Rear; which Post I maintain'd for above half an hour with great Firmness and Resolution, tho not letting this Success so far overcome me, as to make me unmindful of the Circumspection that was necessary to be observ'd upon my advancing again towards the Street; by which Prudence and good Management I made a handsome and orderly Retreat, having suffer'd no other Damage in this Action than the Loss of my Baggage, and the Dislocation of one of my Shoe-heels, which last I am just now inform'd is in a fair way of Recovery. These Sweaters, by what I can learn from my Friend, and by as near a View as I was able to take of them my self, seem to me to have at present but a rude kind of Discipline amongst them. It is probable, if you would take a little Pains with them, they might be brought into better order. But Ill leave this to your own Discretion; and will only add, that if you think it worth while to insert this by way of Caution to those who have a mind to preserve their Skins whole from this sort of Cupping, and tell them at the same time the Hazard of treating with Night-Walkers, you will perhaps oblige others, as well as

Your very humble Servant,

Jack Lightfoot.

P.S. My Friend will have me acquaint you, That though he would not willingly detract from the Merit of that extra-ordinary Strokes-Man Mr. Sprightly, yet it is his real Opinion, that some of those Fellows, who are employ'd as Rubbers to this new-fashioned Bagnio, have struck as bold Strokes as ever he did in his Life.

I had sent this four and twenty Hours sooner, if I had not had the Misfortune of being in a great doubt about the Orthography of the word Bagnio. I consulted several Dictionaries, but found no relief; at last having recourse both to the Bagnio in Newgate-street, and to that in Chancery lane, and finding the original Manuscripts upon the Sign-posts of each to agree literally with my own Spelling, I returned home, full of Satisfaction, in order to dispatch this Epistle.

Mr. SPECTATOR, As you have taken most of the Circumstances of human Life into your Consideration, we, the under-written, thought it not improper for us also to represent to you our Condition. We are three Ladies who live in the Country, and the greatest Improvements we make is by reading. We have taken a small Journal of our Lives, and find it extremely opposite to your last Tuesdays Speculation. We rise by seven, and pass the beginning of each Day in Devotion, and looking into those Affairs that fall within the Occurrences of a retired Life; in the Afternoon we sometimes enjoy the Company of some Friend or Neighbour, or else work or read; at Night we retire to our Chambers, and take Leave of each other for the whole Night at Ten of Clock. We take particular Care never to be sick of a Sunday. Mr. SPECTATOR, We are all very good Maids, but are ambitious of Characters which we think more laudable, that of being very good Wives. If any of your Correspondents enquire for a Spouse for an honest Country Gentleman, whose Estate is not dipped, and wants a Wife that can save half his Revenue, and yet make a better Figure than any of his Neighbours of the same Estate, with finer bred Women, you shall have further notice from, SIR, Your courteous Readers, Martha Busie. Deborah Thrifty. Alice Early. [1]

[Footnote 1: To this number there is added after a repeated advertisement of the Lucubrations of Isaac Bickerstaff in 4 vols. 8vo, a repetition in Italic type of the advertisement of the Boarding School on Mile-end Green (ending at the words render them accomplish'd) to which a conspicuous place was given, with original additions by Steele, in No. 314.]

* * * * *

No. 333. Saturday, March 22, 1712. Addison.

—vocat in Certamina Divos.


We are now entering upon the Sixth Book of Paradise Lost, in which the Poet describes the Battel of Angels; having raised his Readers Expectation, and prepared him for it by several Passages in the preceding Books. I omitted quoting these Passages in my Observations on the former Books, having purposely reserved them for the opening of this, the Subject of which gave occasion to them. The Authors Imagination was so inflam'd with this great Scene of Action, that wherever he speaks of it, he rises, if possible, above himself. Thus where he mentions Satan in the Beginning of his Poem:

—Him the Almighty Power Hurl'd headlong flaming from th' Ethereal Sky, With hideous ruin and combustion, down To bottomless Perdition, there to dwell In Adamantine Chains and penal Fire, Who durst defy th' Omnipotent to Arms.

We have likewise several noble Hints of it in the Infernal Conference.

O Prince! O Chief of many throned Powers, That led th' imbattel'd Seraphim to War, Too well I see and rue the dire Event, That with sad Overthrow and foul Defeat Hath lost us Heavn, and all this mighty Host In horrible Destruction laid thus low. But see I the angry Victor has recalled His Ministers of Vengeance and Pursuit, Back to the Gates of Heavn: The sulphurous Hail Shot after us in Storm, overblown, hath laid The fiery Surge, that from the Precipice Of Heaven receiv'd us falling: and the Thunder, Winged with red Lightning and impetuous Rage, Perhaps hath spent his Shafts, and ceases now To bellow through the vast and boundless Deep.

There are several other very sublime Images on the same Subject in the First Book, as also in the Second.

What when we fled amain, pursued and strook With Heavns afflicting Thunder, and besought The Deep to shelter us; this Hell then seem'd A Refuge from those Wounds—

In short, the Poet never mentions anything of this Battel but in such Images of Greatness and Terror as are suitable to the Subject. Among several others I cannot forbear quoting that Passage, where the Power, who is described as presiding over the Chaos, speaks in the Third Book.

Thus Satan; and him thus the Anarch old With faultring Speech, and Visage incompos'd, Answer'd, I know thee, Stranger, who thou art, That mighty leading Angel, who of late Made Head against Heavens King, tho overthrown. I saw and heard, for such a numerous Host Fled not in silence through the frighted Deep With Ruin upon Ruin, Rout on Rout, Confusion worse confounded; and Heavns Gates Pour'd out by Millions her victorious Bands Pursuing—

It requir'd great Pregnancy of Invention, and Strength of Imagination, to fill this Battel with such Circumstances as should raise and astonish the Mind of the Reader; and at the same time an Exactness of Judgment, to avoid every thing that might appear light or trivial. Those who look into Homer, are surprized to find his Battels still rising one above another, and improving in Horrour, to the Conclusion of the Iliad. Milton's Fight of Angels is wrought up with the same Beauty. It is usher'd in with such Signs of Wrath as are suitable to Omnipotence incensed. The first Engagement is carry'd on under a Cope of Fire, occasion'd by the Flights of innumerable burning Darts and Arrows, which are discharged from either Host. The second Onset is still more terrible, as it is filled with those artificial Thunders, which seem to make the Victory doubtful, and produce a kind of Consternation even in the good Angels. This is follow'd by the tearing up of Mountains and Promontories; till, in the last place, the Messiah comes forth in the Fulness of Majesty and Terror, The Pomp of his Appearance amidst the Roarings of his Thunders, the Flashes of his Lightnings, and the Noise of his Chariot-Wheels, is described with the utmost Flights of Human Imagination.

There is nothing in the first and last Days Engagement which does not appear natural, and agreeable enough to the Ideas most Readers would conceive of a Fight between two Armies of Angels.

The second Days Engagement is apt to startle an Imagination, which has not been raised and qualify'd for such a Description, by the reading of the ancient Poets, and of Homer in particular. It was certainly a very bold Thought in our Author, to ascribe the first Use of Artillery to the Rebel Angels. But as such a pernicious Invention may be well supposed to have proceeded from such Authors, so it entered very properly into the Thoughts of that Being, who is all along describ'd as aspiring to the Majesty of his Maker. Such Engines were the only Instruments he could have made use of to imitate those Thunders, that in all Poetry, both sacred and profane, are represented as the Arms of the Almighty. The tearing up the Hills, was not altogether so daring a Thought as the former. We are, in some measure, prepared for such an Incident by the Description of the Giants War, which we meet with among the Ancient Poets. What still made this Circumstance the more proper for the Poets Use, is the Opinion of many learned Men, that the Fable of the Giants War, which makes so great a noise in Antiquity, [and gave birth to the sublimest Description in Hesiod's Works was [l]] an Allegory founded upon this very Tradition of a Fight between the good and bad Angels.

It may, perhaps, be worth while to consider with what Judgment Milton, in this Narration, has avoided every thing that is mean and trivial in the Descriptions of the Latin and Greek Poets; and at the same time improved every great Hint which he met with in their Works upon this Subject. Homer in that Passage, which Longinus has celebrated for its Sublimeness, and which Virgil and Ovid have copy'd after him, tells us, that the Giants threw Ossa upon Olympus, and Pelion upon Ossa. He adds an Epithet to Pelion ([Greek: einosiphullon]) which very much swells the Idea, by bringing up to the Readers Imagination all the Woods that grew upon it. There is further a great Beauty in his singling out by Name these three remarkable Mountains, so well known to the Greeks. This last is such a Beauty as the Scene of Milton's War could not possibly furnish him with. Claudian, in his Fragment upon the Giants War, has given full scope to that Wildness of Imagination which was natural to him. He tells us, that the Giants tore up whole Islands by the Roots, and threw them at the Gods. He describes one of them in particular taking up Lemnos in his Arms, and whirling it to the Skies, with all Vulcan's Shop in the midst of it. Another tears up Mount Ida, with the River Enipeus, which ran down the Sides of it; but the Poet, not content to describe him with this Mountain upon his Shoulders, tells us that the River flow'd down his Back, as he held it up in that Posture. It is visible to every judicious Reader, that such Ideas savour more of Burlesque, than of the Sublime. They proceed from a Wantonness of Imagination, and rather divert the Mind than astonish it. Milton has taken every thing that is sublime in these several Passages, and composes out of them the following great Image.

From their Foundations loosning to and fro, They pluck'd the seated Hills, with all their Land, Rocks, Waters, Woods; and by the shaggy Tops Up-lifting bore them in their Hands—

We have the full Majesty of Homer in this short Description, improv'd by the Imagination of Claudian, without its Puerilities. I need not point out the Description of the fallen Angels seeing the Promontories hanging over their Heads in such a dreadful manner, with the other numberless Beauties in this Book, which are so conspicuous, that they cannot escape the Notice of the most ordinary Reader.

There are indeed so many wonderful Strokes of Poetry in this Book, and such a variety of Sublime Ideas, that it would have been impossible to have given them a place within the bounds of this Paper. Besides that, I find it in a great measure done to my hand at the End of my Lord Roscommon's Essay on Translated Poetry. I shall refer my Reader thither for some of the Master Strokes in the Sixth Book of Paradise Lost, tho at the same time there are many others which that noble Author has not taken notice of.

Milton, notwithstanding the sublime Genius he was Master of, has in this Book drawn to his Assistance all the Helps he could meet with among the Ancient Poets. The Sword of Michael, which makes so great [a [2]] havock among the bad Angels, was given him, we are told, out of the Armory of God.

—But the Sword Of Michael from the Armory of God Was given him tempered so, that neither keen Nor solid might resist that Edge: It met The Sword of Satan, with steep Force to smite Descending, and in half cut sheer—

This Passage is a Copy of that in Virgil, wherein the Poet tells us, that the Sword of AEneas, which was given him by a Deity, broke into Pieces the Sword of Turnus, which came from a mortal Forge. As the Moral in this Place is divine, so by the way we may observe, that the bestowing on a Man who is favoured by Heaven such an allegorical Weapon, is very conformable to the old Eastern way of Thinking. Not only Homer has made use of it, but we find the Jewish Hero in the Book of Maccabees, who had fought the Battels of the chosen People with so much Glory and Success, receiving in his Dream a Sword from the Hand of the Prophet Jeremiah. The following Passage, wherein Satan is described as wounded by the Sword of Michael, is in imitation of Homer.

The griding Sword with discontinuous Wound Passed through him; butt the Ethereal Substance closed Not long divisible; and from the Gash A Stream of Nectarous Humour issuing flowed Sanguine, (such as celestial Spirits may bleed) And all his Armour stained—

Homer tells us in the same manner, that upon Diomedes wounding the Gods, there flow'd from the Wound an Ichor, or pure kind of Blood, which was not bred from mortal Viands; and that tho the Pain was exquisitely great, the Wound soon closed up and healed in those Beings who are vested with Immortality.

I question not but Milton in his Description of his furious Moloch flying from the Battel, and bellowing with the Wound he had received, had his Eye on Mars in the Iliad; who, upon his being wounded, is represented as retiring out of the Fight, and making an Outcry louder than that of a whole Army when it begins the Charge. Homer adds, that the Greeks and Trojans, who were engaged in a general Battel, were terrify'd on each side with the bellowing of this wounded Deity. The Reader will easily observe how Milton has kept all the Horrour of this Image, without running into the Ridicule of it.

—Where the Might of Gabriel fought, And with fierce Ensigns pierc'd the deep Array Of Moloch, furious King! who him defy'd, And at his Chariot-wheels to drag him bound Threaten'd, nor from the Holy One of Heavn Refrained his Tongue blasphemous: but anon Down cloven to the Waste, with shattered Arms And uncouth Pain fled bellowing.—

Milton has likewise raised his Description in this Book with many Images taken out of the poetical Parts of Scripture. The Messiahs Chariot, as I have before taken notice, is formed upon a Vision of Ezekiel, who, as Grotius observes, has very much in him of Homers Spirit in the Poetical Parts of his Prophecy.

The following Lines in that glorious Commission which is given the Messiah to extirpate the Host of Rebel Angels, is drawn from a Sublime Passage in the Psalms.

Go then thou Mightiest in thy Fathers Might! Ascend my Chariot, guide the rapid Wheels That shake Heavns Basis; bring forth all my War, My Bow, my Thunder, my Almighty Arms, Gird on thy Sword on thy puissant Thigh.

The Reader will easily discover many other Strokes of the same nature.

There is no question but Milton had heated his Imagination with the Fight of the Gods in Homer, before he enter'd upon this Engagement of the Angels. Homer there gives us a Scene of Men, Heroes, and Gods, mix'd together in Battel. Mars animates the contending Armies, and lifts up his Voice in such a manner, that it is heard distinctly amidst all the Shouts and Confusion of the Fight. Jupiter at the same time Thunders over their Heads; while Neptune raises such a Tempest, that the whole Field of Battel and all the Tops of the Mountains shake about them. The Poet tells us, that Pluto himself, whose Habitation was in the very Center of the Earth, was so affrighted at the Shock, that he leapt from his Throne. Homer afterwards describes Vulcan as pouring down a Storm of Fire upon the River Xanthus, and Minerva as throwing a Rock at Mars; who, he tells us, cover'd seven Acres in his Fall.

As Homer has introduced into his Battel of the Gods every thing that is great and terrible in Nature, Milton has filled his Fight of good and bad Angels with all the like Circumstances of Horrour. The Shout of Armies, the Rattling of Brazen Chariots, the Hurling of Rocks and Mountains, the Earthquake, the Fire, the Thunder, are all of them employ'd to lift up the Readers Imagination, and give him a suitable Idea of so great an Action. With what Art has the Poet represented the whole Body of the Earth trembling, even before it was created.

All Heaven resounded, and had Earth been then, All Earth had to its Center shook—

In how sublime and just a manner does he afterwards describe the whole Heaven shaking under the Wheels of the Messiahs Chariot, with that Exception to the Throne of God?

—Under his burning Wheels The stedfast Empyrean shook throughout, All but the Throne it self of God—

Notwithstanding the Messiah appears clothed with so much Terrour and Majesty, the Poet has still found means to make his Readers conceive an Idea of him, beyond what he himself was able to describe.

Yet half his Strength he put not forth, but checkt His Thunder in mid Volley; for he meant Not to destroy, but root them out of Heaven.

In a Word, Milton's Genius, which was so great in it self, and so strengthened by all the helps of Learning, appears in this Book every way equal to his Subject, which was the most Sublime that could enter into the Thoughts of a Poet. As he knew all the Arts of affecting the Mind, [he knew it was necessary to give [3]] it certain Resting-places and Opportunities of recovering it self from time to time: He has [therefore] with great Address interspersed several Speeches, Reflections, Similitudes, and the like Reliefs to diversify his Narration, and ease the Attention of [the [4]] Reader, that he might come fresh to his great Action, and by such a Contrast of Ideas, have a more lively taste of the nobler Parts of his Description.


[Footnote 1: [is]]

[Footnote 2: [an]]

[Footnote 3: had he not given]

[Footnote 4: his]

* * * * *

No. 334. Monday, March 24, 1712. Steele

Voluisti in suo Genere, unumquemque nostrum quasi quendam esse Roscium, dixistique non tam ea quae recta essent probari, quam quae prava sunt fastidiis adhaerescere.

Cicero de Gestu.

It is very natural to take for our whole Lives a light Impression of a thing which at first fell into Contempt with us for want of Consideration. The real Use of a certain Qualification (which the wiser Part of Mankind look upon as at best an indifferent thing, and generally a frivolous Circumstance) shews the ill Consequence of such Prepossessions. What I mean, is the Art, Skill, Accomplishment, or whatever you will call it, of Dancing. I knew a Gentleman of great Abilities, who bewail'd the Want of this Part of his Education to the End of a very honourable Life. He observ'd that there was not occasion for the common Use of great Talents; that they are but seldom in Demand; and that these very great Talents were often render'd useless to a Man for want of small Attainments. A good Mein (a becoming Motion, Gesture and Aspect) is natural to some Men; but even these would be highly more graceful in their Carriage, if what they do from the Force of Nature were confirm'd and heightned from the Force of Reason. To one who has not at all considered it, to mention the Force of Reason on such a Subject, will appear fantastical; but when you have a little attended to it, an Assembly of Men will have quite another View: and they will tell you, it is evident from plain and infallible Rules, why this Man with those beautiful Features, and well fashion'd Person, is not so agreeable as he who sits by him without any of those Advantages. When we read, we do it without any exerted Act of Memory that presents the Shape of the Letters; but Habit makes us do it mechanically, without staying, like Children, to recollect and join those Letters. A Man who has not had the Regard of his Gesture in any part of his Education, will find himself unable to act with Freedom before new Company, as a Child that is but now learning would be to read without Hesitation. It is for the Advancement of the Pleasure we receive in being agreeable to each other in ordinary Life, that one would wish Dancing were generally understood as conducive as it really is to a proper Deportment in Matters that appear the most remote from it. A Man of Learning and Sense is distinguished from others as he is such, tho he never runs upon Points too difficult for the rest of the World; in like Manner the reaching out of the Arm, and the most ordinary Motion, discovers whether a Man ever learnt to know what is the true Harmony and Composure of his Limbs and Countenance. Whoever has seen Booth in the Character of Pyrrhus, march to his Throne to receive Orestes, is convinced that majestick and great Conceptions are expressed in the very Step; but perhaps, tho no other Man could perform that Incident as well as he does, he himself would do it with a yet greater Elevation were he a Dancer. This is so dangerous a Subject to treat with Gravity, that I shall not at present enter into it any further; but the Author of the following Letter [1] has treated it in the Essay he speaks of in such a Manner, that I am beholden to him for a Resolution, that I will never hereafter think meanly of any thing, till I have heard what they who have another Opinion of it have to say in its Defence.

Mr. SPECTATOR, Since there are scarce any of the Arts or Sciences that have not been recommended to the World by the Pens of some of the Professors, Masters, or Lovers of them, whereby the Usefulness, Excellence, and Benefit arising from them, both as to the Speculative and practical Part, have been made publick, to the great Advantage and Improvement of such Arts and Sciences; why should Dancing, an Art celebrated by the Ancients in so extraordinary a Manner, be totally neglected by the Moderns, and left destitute of any Pen to recommend its various Excellencies and substantial Merit to Mankind?

The low Ebb to which Dancing is now fallen, is altogether owing to this Silence. The Art is esteem'd only as an amusing Trifle; it lies altogether uncultivated, and is unhappily fallen under the Imputation of Illiterate and Mechanick: And as Terence in one of his Prologues, complains of the Rope-dancers drawing all the Spectators from his Play, so may we well say, that Capering and Tumbling is now preferred to, and supplies the Place of just and regular Dancing on our Theatres. It is therefore, in my opinion, high time that some one should come in to its Assistance, and relieve it from the many gross and growing Errors that have crept into it, and over-cast its real Beauties; and to set Dancing in its true light, would shew the Usefulness and Elegancy of it, with the Pleasure and Instruction produc'd from it; and also lay down some fundamental Rules, that might so tend to the Improvement of its Professors, and Information of the Spectators, that the first might be the better enabled to perform, and the latter render'd more capable of judging, what is (if there be any thing) valuable in this Art.

To encourage therefore some ingenious Pen capable of so generous an Undertaking, and in some measure to relieve Dancing from the Disadvantages it at present lies under, I, who teach to dance, have attempted a small Treatise as an Essay towards an History of Dancing; in which I have enquired into its Antiquity, Original, and Use, and shewn what Esteem the Ancients had for it: I have likewise considered the Nature and Perfection of all its several Parts, and how beneficial and delightful it is, both as a Qualification and an Exercise; and endeavoured to answer all Objections that have been maliciously rais'd against it. I have proceeded to give an Account of the particular Dances of the Greeks and Romans, whether religious, warlike, or civil; and taken particular notice of that Part of Dancing relating to the ancient Stage, and in which the Pantomimes had so great a share: Nor have I been wanting in giving an historical Account of some particular Masters excellent in that surprising Art. After which, I have advanced some Observations on the modern Dancing, both as to the Stage, and that Part of it so absolutely necessary for the Qualification of Gentlemen and Ladies; and have concluded with some short Remarks on the Origin and Progress of the Character by which Dances are writ down, and communicated to one Master from another. If some great Genius after this would arise, and advance this Art to that Perfection it seems capable of receiving, what might not be expected from it? For if we consider the Origin of Arts and Sciences, we shall find that some of them took rise from Beginnings so mean and unpromising, that it is very wonderful to think that ever such surprizing Structures should have been raised upon such ordinary Foundations. But what cannot a great Genius effect? Who would have thought that the clangorous Noise of a Smiths Hammers should have given the first rise to Musick? Yet Macrobius in his second Book relates, that Pythagoras, in passing by a Smiths Shop, found that the Sounds proceeding from the Hammers were either more grave or acute, according to the different Weights of the Hammers. The Philosopher, to improve this Hint, suspends different Weights by Strings of the same Bigness, and found in like manner that the Sounds answered to the Weights. This being discover'd, he finds out those Numbers which produc'd Sounds that were Consonants: As, that two Strings of the same Substance and Tension, the one being double the Length, of the other, give that Interval which is called Diapason, or an Eighth; the same was also effected from two Strings of the same Length and Size, the one having four times the Tension of the other. By these Steps, from so mean a Beginning, did this great Man reduce, what was only before Noise, to one of the most delightful Sciences, by marrying it to the Mathematicks; and by that means caused it to be one of the most abstract and demonstrative of Sciences. Who knows therefore but Motion, whether Decorous or Representative, may not (as it seems highly probable it may) be taken into consideration by some Person capable of reducing it into a regular Science, tho not so demonstrative as that proceeding from Sounds, yet sufficient to entitle it to a Place among the magnify'd Arts.

Now, Mr. SPECTATOR, as you have declared your self Visitor of Dancing-Schools, and this being an Undertaking which more immediately respects them, I think my self indispensably obliged, before I proceed to the Publication of this my Essay, to ask your Advice, and hold it absolutely necessary to have your Approbation; and in order to recommend my Treatise to the Perusal of the Parents of such as learn to dance, as well as to the young Ladies, to whom, as Visitor, you ought to be Guardian.

I am, SIR,

Your most humble Servant.

Salop, March 19, 1711-12.


[Footnote 1: John Weaver.]

* * * * *

No. 335. Tuesday, March 25, 1712. Addison.

Respicere exemplar vitae morumque jubebo Doctum imitatorem, et veras hinc ducere voces.


My Friend Sir ROGER DE COVERLEY, when we last met together at the Club, told me, that he had a great mind to see the new Tragedy [1] with me, assuring me at the same time, that he had not been at a Play these twenty Years. The last I saw, said Sir ROGER, was the Committee, which I should not have gone to neither, had not I been told before-hand that it was a good Church-of-England Comedy. [2] He then proceeded to enquire of me who this Distrest Mother was; and upon hearing that she was Hectors Widow, he told me that her Husband was a brave Man, and that when he was a Schoolboy he had read his Life at the end of the Dictionary. My Friend asked me, in the next place, if there would not be some danger in coming home late, in case the Mohocks should be Abroad. I assure you, says he, I thought I had fallen into their Hands last Night; for I observed two or three lusty black Men that follow'd me half way up Fleet-street, and mended their pace behind me, in proportion as I put on to get away from them. You must know, continu'd the Knight with a Smile, I fancied they had a mind to hunt me; for I remember an honest Gentleman in my Neighbourhood, who was served such a trick in King Charles the Seconds time; for which reason he has not ventured himself in Town ever since. I might have shown them very good Sport, had this been their Design; for as I am an old Fox-hunter, I should have turned and dodg'd, and have play'd them a thousand tricks they had never seen in their Lives before. Sir ROGER added, that if these Gentlemen had any such Intention, they did not succeed very well in it: for I threw them out, says he, at the End of Norfolk street, where I doubled the Corner, and got shelter in my Lodgings before they could imagine what was become of me. However, says the Knight, if Captain SENTRY will make one with us to-morrow night, and if you will both of you call upon me about four a-Clock, that we may be at the House before it is full, I will have my own Coach in readiness to attend you, for John tells me he has got the Fore-Wheels mended.

The Captain, who did not fail to meet me there at the appointed Hour, bid Sir ROGER fear nothing, for that he had put on the same Sword which he made use of at the Battel of Steenkirk. Sir ROGERS Servants, and among the rest my old Friend the Butler, had, I found, provided themselves with good Oaken Plants, to attend their Master upon this occasion. When he had placed him in his Coach, with my self at his Left-Hand, the Captain before him, and his Butler at the Head of his Footmen in the Rear, we convoy'd him in safety to the Play-house, where, after having marched up the Entry in good order, the Captain and I went in with him, and seated him betwixt us in the Pit. As soon as the House was full, and the Candles lighted, my old Friend stood up and looked about him with that Pleasure, which a Mind seasoned with Humanity naturally feels in its self, at the sight of a Multitude of People who seem pleased with one another, and partake of the same common Entertainment. I could not but fancy to myself, as the old Man stood up in the middle of the Pit, that he made a very proper Center to a Tragick Audience. Upon the entring of Pyrrhus, the Knight told me, that he did not believe the King of France himself had a better Strut. I was indeed very attentive to my old Friends Remarks, because I looked upon them as a Piece of natural Criticism, and was well pleased to hear him at the Conclusion of almost every Scene, telling me that he could not imagine how the Play would end. One while he appeared much concerned for Andromache; and a little while after as much for Hermione: and was extremely puzzled to think what would become of Pyrrhus.

When Sir ROGER saw Andromache's obstinate Refusal to her Lovers Importunities, he whisper'd me in the Ear, that he was sure she would never have him; to which he added, with a more than ordinary Vehemence, you cant imagine, Sir, what tis to have to do with a Widow. Upon Pyrrhus his threatning afterwards to leave her, the Knight shook his Head, and muttered to himself, Ay, do if you can. This Part dwelt so much upon my Friends Imagination, that at the close of the Third Act, as I was thinking of something else, he whispered in my Ear, These Widows, Sir, are the most perverse Creatures in the World. But pray, says he, you that are a Critick, is this Play according to your Dramatick Rules, as you call them? Should your People in Tragedy always talk to be understood? Why, there is not a single Sentence in this Play that I do not know the Meaning of.

The Fourth Act very luckily begun before I had time to give the old Gentleman an Answer: Well, says the Knight, sitting down with great Satisfaction, I suppose we are now to see Hectors Ghost. He then renewed his Attention, and, from time to time, fell a praising the Widow. He made, indeed, a little Mistake as to one of her Pages, whom at his first entering, he took for Astyanax; but he quickly set himself right in that Particular, though, at the same time, he owned he should have been very glad to have seen the little Boy, who, says he, must needs be a very fine Child by the Account that is given of him. Upon Hermione's going off with a Menace to Pyrrhus, the Audience gave a loud Clap; to which Sir ROGER added, On my Word, a notable young Baggage!

As there was a very remarkable Silence and Stillness in the Audience during the whole Action, it was natural for them to take the Opportunity of these Intervals between the Acts, to express their Opinion of the Players, and of their respective Parts. Sir ROGER hearing a Cluster of them praise Orestes, struck in with them, and told them, that he thought his Friend Pylades was a very sensible Man; as they were afterwards applauding Pyrrhus, Sir ROGER put in a second time; And let me tell you, says he, though he speaks but little, I like the old Fellow in Whiskers as well as any of them. Captain SENTRY seeing two or three Waggs who sat near us, lean with an attentive Ear towards Sir ROGER, and fearing lest they should Smoke the Knight, pluck'd him by the Elbow, and whisper'd something in his Ear. that lasted till the Opening of the Fifth Act. The Knight was wonderfully attentive to the Account which Orestes gives of Pyrrhus his Death, and at the Conclusion of it, told me it was such a bloody Piece of Work, that he was glad it was not done upon the Stage. Seeing afterwards Orestes in his raving Fit, he grew more than ordinary serious, and took occasion to moralize (in his way) upon an Evil Conscience, adding, that Orestes, in his Madness, looked as if he saw something.

As we were the first that came into the House, so we were the last that went out of it; being resolved to have a clear Passage for our old Friend, whom we did not care to venture among the justling of the Crowd. Sir ROGER went out fully satisfied with his Entertainment, and we guarded him to his Lodgings in the same manner that we brought him to the Playhouse; being highly pleased, for my own part, not only with the Performance of the excellent Piece which had been presented, but with the Satisfaction which it had given to the good old Man.


[Footnote 1: This is a fourth puff (see Nos. 223, 229, 290) of Addison's friend Ambrose Philips. The art of packing a house to secure applause was also practised on the first night of the acting of this version of Andromaque.]

[Footnote 2: The Committee, or the Faithful Irishman, was written by Sir Robert Howard soon after the Restoration, with for its heroes two Cavalier colonels, whose estates are sequestered, and their man Teg (Teague), an honest blundering Irishman. The Cavaliers defy the Roundhead Committee, and the day may come says one of them, when those that suffer for their consciences and honour may be rewarded. Nobody who heard this from the stage in the days of Charles II. could feel that the day had come. Its comic Irishman kept the Committee on the stage, and in Queen Anne's time the thorough Tory still relished the stage caricature of the maintainers of the Commonwealth in Mr. Day with his greed, hypocrisy, and private incontinence; his wife, who had been cookmaid to a gentleman, but takes all the State matters on herself; and their empty son Abel, who knows Parliament-men and Sequestrators, and whose profound contemplations are caused by the constervation of his spirits for the nations good.]

* * * * *

No. 336. Wednesday, March 26, 1712. Steele.

—Clament periisse pudorem Cuncti pene patres, ea cum reprehendere coner, Quae gravis AEsopus, quae doctus Roscius egit: Vel quia nil rectum, nisi quod placuit sibi, ducunt; Vel quia turpe putant parere minoribus, et, quae Imberbes didicere, senes perdenda fateri.



As you are the daily Endeavourer to promote Learning and good Sense, I think myself obliged to suggest to your Consideration whatever may promote or prejudice them.. There is an Evil which has prevailed from Generation to Generation, which grey Hairs and tyrannical Custom continue to support; I hope your Spectatorial Authority will give a seasonable Check to the Spread of the Infection; I mean old Mens overbearing the strongest Sense of their Juniors by the mere Force of Seniority; so that for a young Man in the Bloom of Life and Vigour of Age to give a reasonable Contradiction to his Elders, is esteemed an unpardonable Insolence, and regarded as a reversing the Decrees of Nature. I am a young Man, I confess, yet I honour the grey Head as much as any one; however, when in Company with old Men, I hear them speak obscurely, or reason preposterously (into which Absurdities, Prejudice, Pride, or Interest, will sometimes throw the wisest) I count it no Crime to rectifie their Reasoning, unless Conscience must truckle to Ceremony, and Truth fall a Sacrifice to Complaisance. The strongest Arguments are enervated, and the brightest Evidence disappears, before those tremendous Reasonings and dazling Discoveries of venerable old Age: You are young giddy-headed Fellows, you have not yet had Experience of the World. Thus we young Folks find our Ambition cramp'd, and our Laziness indulged, since, while young, we have little room to display our selves; and, when old, the Weakness of Nature must pass for Strength of Sense, and we hope that hoary Heads will raise us above the Attacks of Contradiction. Now, Sir, as you would enliven our Activity in the pursuit of Learning, take our Case into Consideration; and, with a Gloss on brave Elihus Sentiments, assert the Rights of Youth, and prevent the pernicious Incroachments of Age. The generous Reasonings of that gallant Youth would adorn your Paper; and I beg you would insert them, not doubting but that they will give good Entertainment to the most intelligent of your Readers.

So these three Men ceased to answer Job, because he was righteous in his own Eyes. Then was kindled the Wrath of Elihu the Son of Barachel the Buzite, of the Kindred of Ram: Against Job was his Wrath kindled, because he justified himself rather than God. Also against his three Friends was his Wrath kindled, because they had found no Answer, and yet had condemned Job. Now Elihu had waited till Job had spoken, because they were elder than he. When Elihu saw there was no Answer in the Mouth of these three Men, then his Wrath was kindled. And Elihu the Son of Barachel the Buzite answered and said, I am young, and ye are very old, wherefore I was afraid, and durst not shew you mine Opinion. I said, Days should speak, and Multitude of Years should teach Wisdom. But there is a Spirit in Man; and the Inspiration of the Almighty giveth them Understanding. Great Men are not always wise: Neither do the Aged understand Judgment. Therefore I said, hearken to me, I also will shew mine Opinion. Behold, I waited for your Words; I gave ear to your Reasons, whilst you searched out what to say. Yea, I attended unto you: And behold there was none of you that convinced Job, or that answered his Words; lest ye should say, we have found out Wisdom: God thrusteth him down, not Man. Now he hath not directed his Words against me: Neither will I answer him with your Speeches. They were amazed, they answered no more: They left off speaking. When I had waited (for they spake not, but stood still and answered no more) I said, I will answer also my Part, I also will shew mine Opinion. For I am full of Matter, the Spirit within me constraineth me. Behold my Belly is as Wine which hath no vent, it is ready to burst like new Bottles. I will speak that I may be refreshed: I will open my Lips, and answer. Let me not, I pray you, accept any Man's Person, neither let me give flattering Titles unto Man. For I know not to give flattering Titles; in so doing my Maker would soon take me away. [1]


I have formerly read with great Satisfaction your Papers about Idols, and the Behaviour of Gentlemen in those Coffee-houses where Women officiate, and impatiently waited to see you take India and China Shops into Consideration: But since you have pass'd us over in silence, either that you have not as yet thought us worth your Notice, or that the Grievances we lie under have escaped your discerning Eye, I must make my Complaints to you, and am encouraged to do it because you seem a little at leisure at this present Writing. I am, dear Sir, one of the top China-Women about Town; and though I say it, keep as good Things, and receive as fine Company as any o this End of the Town, let the other be who she will: In short, I am in a fair Way to be easy, were it not for a Club of Female Rakes, who under pretence of taking their innocent Rambles, forsooth, and diverting the Spleen, seldom fail to plague me twice or thrice a-day to cheapen Tea, or buy a Skreen; What else should they mean? as they often repeat it. These Rakes are your idle Ladies of Fashion, who having nothing to do, employ themselves in tumbling over my Ware. One of these No-Customers (for by the way they seldom or never buy any thing) calls for a Set of Tea-Dishes, another for a Bason, a third for my best Green-Tea, and even to the Punch Bowl, there's scarce a piece in my Shop but must be displaced, and the whole agreeable Architecture disordered; so that I can compare em to nothing but to the Night-Goblins that take a Pleasure to over-turn the Disposition of Plates and Dishes in the Kitchens of your housewifely Maids. Well, after all this Racket and Clutter, this is too dear, that is their Aversion; another thing is charming, but not wanted: The Ladies are cured of the Spleen, but I am not a Shilling the better for it. Lord! what signifies one poor Pot of Tea, considering the Trouble they put me to? Vapours, Mr. SPECTATOR, are terrible Things; for though I am not possess'd by them my self, I suffer more from em than if I were. Now I must beg you to admonish all such Day-Goblins to make fewer Visits, or to be less troublesome when they come to ones Shop; and to convince em, that we honest Shop-keepers have something better to do, than to cure Folks of the Vapours gratis. A young Son of mine, a School-Boy, is my Secretary, so I hope you'll make Allowances. I am, SIR, Your constant Reader, and very humble Servant, Rebecca the Distress'd.

March the 22nd.


[Footnote 1: Job, ch. xii.]

* * * * *

No. 337. Thursday, March 27, 1712. Budgell.

Fingit equum tenera docilem cervice Magister, Ire viam quam monstrat eques—


I have lately received a third Letter from the Gentleman, who has already given the Publick two Essays upon Education. As his Thoughts seem to be very just and new upon this Subject, I shall communicate them to the Reader.


If I had not been hindered by some extraordinary Business, I should have sent you sooner my further Thoughts upon Education. You may please to remember, that in my last Letter I endeavoured to give the best Reasons that could be urged in favour of a private or publick Education. Upon the whole it may perhaps be thought that I seemed rather enclined to the latter, though at the same time I confessed that Virtue, which ought to be our first and principal Care, was more usually acquired in the former.

I intend therefore, in this Letter, to offer at Methods, by which I conceive Boys might be made to improve in Virtue, as they advance in Letters.

I know that in most of our public Schools Vice is punished and discouraged whenever it is found out; but this is far from being sufficient, unless our Youth are at the same time taught to form a right Judgment of Things, and to know what is properly Virtue.

To this end, whenever they read the Lives and Actions of such Men as have been famous in their Generation, it should not be thought enough to make them barely understand so many Greek or Latin Sentences, but they should be asked their Opinion of such an Action or Saying, and obliged to give their Reasons why they take it to be good or bad. By this means they would insensibly arrive at proper Notions of Courage, Temperance, Honour and Justice.

There must be great Care taken how the Example of any particular Person is recommended to them in gross; instead of which, they ought to be taught wherein such a Man, though great in some respects, was weak and faulty in others. For want of this Caution, a Boy is often so dazzled with the Lustre of a great Character, that he confounds its Beauties with its Blemishes, and looks even upon the faulty Parts of it with an Eye of Admiration.

I have often wondered how Alexander, who was naturally of a generous and merciful Disposition, came to be guilty of so barbarous an Action as that of dragging the Governour of a Town after his Chariot. I know this is generally ascribed to his Passion for Homer; but I lately met with a Passage in Plutarch, which, if I am not very much mistaken, still gives us a clearer Light into the Motives of this Action. Plutarch tells us, that Alexander in his Youth had a Master named Lysimachus, who, tho he was a Man destitute of all Politeness, ingratiated himself both with Philip and his Pupil, and became the second Man at Court, by calling the King Peleus, the Prince Achilles, and himself Phoenix. It is no wonder if Alexander having been thus used not only to admire, but to personate Achilles, should think it glorious to imitate him in this piece of Cruelty and Extravagance.

To carry this Thought yet further, I shall submit it to your Consideration, whether instead of a Theme or Copy of Verses, which are the usual Exercises, as they are called in the School-phrase, it would not be more proper that a Boy should be tasked once or twice a Week to write down his Opinion of such Persons and Things as occur to him in his Reading; that he should descant upon the Actions of Turnus and AEneas, shew wherein they excelled or were defective, censure or approve any particular Action, observe how it might have been carried to a greater Degree of Perfection, and how it exceeded or fell short of another. He might at the same time mark what was moral in any Speech, and how far it agreed with the Character of the Person speaking. This Exercise would soon strengthen his Judgment in what is blameable or praiseworthy, and give him an early Seasoning of Morality.

Next to those Examples which may be met with in Books, I very much approve Horace's Way of setting before Youth the infamous or honourable Characters of their Contemporaries: That Poet tells us, this was the Method his Father made use of to incline him to any particular Virtue, or give him an Aversion to any particular Vice. If, says Horace, my Father advised me to live within Bounds, and be contented with the Fortune he should leave me; Do not you see (says he) the miserable Condition of Burr, and the Son of Albus? Let the Misfortunes of those two Wretches teach you to avoid Luxury and Extravagance. If he would inspire me with an Abhorrence to Debauchery, do not (says he) make your self like Sectanus, when you may be happy in the Enjoyment of lawful Pleasures. How scandalous (says he) is the Character of Trebonius, who was lately caught in Bed with another Man's Wife? To illustrate the Force of this Method, the Poet adds, That as a headstrong Patient, who will not at first follow his Physicians Prescriptions, grows orderly when he hears that his Neighbours die all about him; so Youth is often frighted from Vice, by hearing the ill Report it brings upon others.

Xenophon's Schools of Equity, in his Life of Cyrus the Great, are sufficiently famous: He tells us, that the Persian Children went to School, and employed their Time as diligently in learning the Principles of Justice and Sobriety, as the Youth in other Countries did to acquire the most difficult Arts and Sciences: their Governors spent most part of the Day in hearing their mutual Accusations one against the other, whether for Violence, Cheating, Slander, or Ingratitude; and taught them how to give Judgment against those who were found to be any ways guilty of these Crimes. I omit the Story of the long and short Coat, for which Cyrus himself was punished, as a Case equally known with any in Littleton.

The Method, which Apuleius tells us the Indian Gymnosophists took to educate their Disciples, is still more curious and remarkable. His Words are as follow: When their Dinner is ready, before it is served up, the Masters enquire of every particular Scholar how he has employed his Time since Sun-rising; some of them answer, that having been chosen as Arbiters between two Persons they have composed their Differences, and made them Friends; some, that they have been executing the Orders of their Parents; and others, that they have either found out something new by their own Application, or learnt it from the Instruction of their Fellows: But if there happens to be any one among them, who cannot make it appear that he has employed the Morning to advantage, he is immediately excluded from the Company, and obliged to work, while the rest are at Dinner.

It is not impossible, that from these several Ways of producing Virtue in the Minds of Boys, some general Method might be invented. What I would endeavour to inculcate, is, that our Youth cannot be too soon taught the Principles of Virtue, seeing the first Impressions which are made on the Mind are always the strongest.

The Archbishop of Cambray makes Telemachus say, that though he was young in Years, he was old in the Art of knowing how to keep both his own and his Friends Secrets. When my Father, says the Prince, went to the Siege of Troy, he took me on his Knees, and after having embraced and blessed me, as he was surrounded by the Nobles of Ithaca, O my Friends, says he, into your Hands I commit the Education of my Son; if ever you lov'd his Father, shew it in your Care towards him; but above all, do not omit to form him just, sincere, and faithful in keeping a Secret. These Words of my Father, says Telemachus, were continually repeated to me by his Friends in his Absence; who made no scruple of communicating to me in their Uneasiness to see my Mother surrounded with Lovers, and the Measures they designed to take on that Occasion. He adds, that he was so ravished at being thus treated like a Man, and at the Confidence reposed in him, that he never once abused it; nor could all the Insinuations of his Fathers Rivals ever get him to betray what was committed to him under the Seal of Secrecy.

There is hardly any Virtue which a Lad might not thus learn by Practice and Example.

I have heard of a good Man, who used at certain times to give his Scholars Six Pence apiece, that they might tell him the next day how they had employ'd it. The third part was always to be laid out in Charity, and every Boy was blamed or commended as he could make it appear that he had chosen a fit Object.

In short, nothing is more wanting to our publick Schools, than that the Masters of them should use the same care in fashioning the Manners of their Scholars, as in forming their Tongues to the learned Languages. Where-ever the former is omitted, I cannot help agreeing with Mr. Locke, That a Man must have a very strange Value for Words, when preferring the Languages of the Greeks and Romans to that which made them such brave Men, he can think it worth while to hazard the Innocence and Virtue of his Son for a little Greek and Latin.

As the Subject of this Essay is of the highest Importance, and what I do not remember to have yet seen treated by any Author, I have sent you what occurr'd to me on it from my own Observation or Reading, and which you may either suppress or publish as you think fit.

I am, SIR, Yours, &c.


* * * * *

No. 338. Friday, March 28, 1712.

[—Nil fuit unquam Tam dispar sibi.

Hor. [1]]

I find the Tragedy of the Distrest Mother is publish'd today: The Author of the Prologue, I suppose, pleads an old Excuse I have read somewhere, of being dull with Design; and the Gentleman who writ the Epilogue [2] has, to my knowledge, so much of greater moment to value himself upon, that he will easily forgive me for publishing the Exceptions made against Gayety at the end of serious Entertainments, in the following Letter: I should be more unwilling to pardon him than any body, a Practice which cannot have any ill Consequence, but from the Abilities of the Person who is guilty of it.


I had the Happiness the other Night of sitting very near you, and your worthy Friend Sir ROGER, at the acting of the new Tragedy, which you have in a late Paper or two so justly recommended. I was highly pleased with the advantageous Situation Fortune had given me in placing me so near two Gentlemen, from one of which I was sure to hear such Reflections on the several Incidents of the Play, as pure Nature suggested, and from the other such as flowed from the exactest Art and Judgment: Tho I must confess that my Curiosity led me so much to observe the Knights Reflections, that I was not so well at leisure to improve my self by yours. Nature, I found, play'd her Part in the Knight pretty well, till at the last concluding Lines she entirely forsook him. You must know, Sir, that it is always my Custom, when I have been well entertained at a new Tragedy, to make my Retreat before the facetious Epilogue enters; not but that those Pieces are often very well writ, but having paid down my Half Crown, and made a fair Purchase of as much of the pleasing Melancholy as the Poets Art can afford me, or my own Nature admit of, I am willing to carry some of it home with me; and cant endure to be at once trick'd out of all, tho by the wittiest Dexterity in the World. However, I kept my Seat tother Night, in hopes of finding my own Sentiments of this Matter favour'd by your Friends; when, to my great Surprize, I found the Knight entering with equal Pleasure into both Parts, and as much satisfied with Mrs. Oldfield's Gaiety, as he had been before with Andromache's Greatness. Whether this were no other than an Effect of the Knights peculiar Humanity, pleas'd to find at last, that after all the tragical Doings every thing was safe and well, I don't know. But for my own part, I must confess, I was so dissatisfied, that I was sorry the Poet had saved Andromache, and could heartily have wished that he had left her stone-dead upon the Stage. For you cannot imagine, Mr. SPECTATOR, the Mischief she was reserv'd to do me. I found my Soul, during the Action, gradually work'd up to the highest Pitch; and felt the exalted Passion which all generous Minds conceive at the Sight of Virtue in Distress. The Impression, believe me, Sir, was so strong upon me, that I am persuaded, if I had been let alone in it, I could at an Extremity have ventured to defend your self and Sir ROGER against half a Score of the fiercest Mohocks: But the ludicrous Epilogue in the Close extinguish'd all my Ardour, and made me look upon all such noble Atchievements, as downright silly and romantick. What the rest of the Audience felt, I cant so well tell: For my self, I must declare, that at the end of the Play I found my Soul uniform, and all of a Piece; but at the End of the Epilogue it was so jumbled together, and divided between Jest and Earnest, that if you will forgive me an extravagant Fancy, I will here set it down. I could not but fancy, if my Soul had at that Moment quitted my Body, and descended to the poetical Shades in the Posture it was then in, what a strange Figure it would have made among them. They would not have known what to have made of my motley Spectre, half Comick and half Tragick, all over resembling a ridiculous Face, that at the same time laughs on one side and cries o tother. The only Defence, I think, I have ever heard made for this, as it seems to me, most unnatural Tack of the Comick Tail to the Tragick Head, is this, that the Minds of the Audience must be refreshed, and Gentlemen and Ladies not sent away to their own Homes with too dismal and melancholy Thoughts about them: For who knows the Consequence of this? We are much obliged indeed to the Poets for the great Tenderness they express for the Safety of our Persons, and heartily thank them for it. But if that be all, pray, good Sir, assure them, that we are none of us like to come to any great Harm; and that, let them do their best, we shall in all probability live out the Length of our Days, and frequent the Theatres more than ever. What makes me more desirous to have some Reformation of this matter, is because of an ill Consequence or two attending it: For a great many of our Church-Musicians being related to the Theatre, they have, in Imitation of these Epilogues, introduced in their farewell Voluntaries a sort of Musick quite foreign to the design of Church-Services, to the great Prejudice of well-disposed People. Those fingering Gentlemen should be informed, that they ought to suit their Airs to the Place and Business; and that the Musician is obliged to keep to the Text as much as the Preacher. For want of this, I have found by Experience a great deal of Mischief: For when the Preacher has often, with great Piety and Art enough, handled his Subject, and the judicious Clark has with utmost Diligence culled out two Staves proper to the Discourse, and I have found in my self and in the rest of the Pew good Thoughts and Dispositions, they have been all in a moment dissipated by a merry Jigg from the Organ-Loft. One knows not what further ill Effects the Epilogues I have been speaking of may in time produce: But this I am credibly informed of, that Paul Lorrain [3]—has resolv'd upon a very sudden Reformation in his tragical Dramas; and that at the next monthly Performance, he designs, instead of a Penitential Psalm, to dismiss his Audience with an excellent new Ballad of his own composing. Pray, Sir, do what you can to put a stop to those growing Evils, and you will very much oblige

Your Humble Servant, Physibulus.

[Footnote 1:

[—Servetur ad imum Qualis ab incepto processerit, et sibi constet.

Hor. ]

[Footnote 2: The Prologue was by Steele. Of the Epilogue Dr. Johnson said (in his Lives of the Poets, when telling of Ambrose Philips),

It was known in Tonson's family and told to Garrick, that Addison was himself the author of it, and that when it had been at first printed with his name, he came early in the morning, before the copies were distributed, and ordered it to be given to Budgell, that it might add weight to the solicitation which he was then making for a place.

Johnson calls it

the most successful Epilogue that was ever yet spoken on the English theatre.

The three first nights it was recited twice, and whenever afterwards the play was acted the Epilogue was still expected and was spoken. This is a fifth paper for the benefit of Ambrose Philips, inserted, perhaps, to make occasion for a sixth (No. 341) in the form of a reply to Physibulus.]

[Footnote 3: Paul Lorrain was the Ordinary of Newgate. He died in 1719. He always represented his convicts as dying Penitents, wherefore in No. 63 of the Tatler they had been called Paul Lorrains Saints. ]

* * * * *

No. 339 Saturday, March 29, 1712. Addison

[—Ut his exordia primis Omnia, et ipse tener Mundi concreverit orbis. Tum durare solum et discludere Nerea ponto Coeperit, et rerum pauliatim sumere formas.

Virg. [1]]

Longinus has observed, [2] that there may be a Loftiness in Sentiments, where there is no Passion, and brings Instances out of ancient Authors to support this his Opinion. The Pathetick, as that great Critick observes, may animate and inflame the Sublime, but is not essential to it. Accordingly, as he further remarks, we very often find that those who excel most in stirring up the Passions, very often want the Talent of writing in the great and sublime manner, and so on the contrary. Milton has shewn himself a Master in both these ways of Writing. The Seventh Book, which we are now entring upon, is an Instance of that Sublime which is not mixed and worked up with Passion. The Author appears in a kind of composed and sedate Majesty; and tho the Sentiments do not give so great an Emotion as those in the former Book, they abound with as magnificent Ideas. The Sixth Book, like a troubled Ocean, represents Greatness in Confusion; the seventh Affects the Imagination like the Ocean in a Calm, and fills the Mind of the Reader, without producing in it any thing like Tumult or Agitation.

The Critick above mentioned, among the Rules which he lays down for succeeding in the sublime way of writing, proposes to his Reader, that he should imitate the most celebrated Authors who have gone before him, and been engaged in Works of the same nature; [3] as in particular, that if he writes on a poetical Subject, he should consider how Homer would have spoken on such an Occasion. By this means one great Genius often catches the Flame from another, and writes in his Spirit, without copying servilely after him. There are a thousand shining Passages in Virgil, which have been lighted up by Homer.

Milton, tho his own natural Strength of Genius was capable of furnishing out a perfect Work, has doubtless very much raised and ennobled his Conceptions, by such an Imitation as that which Longinus has recommended.

In this Book, which gives us an Account of the six Days Works, the Poet received but very few Assistances from Heathen Writers, who were Strangers to the Wonders of Creation. But as there are many glorious strokes of Poetry upon this Subject in Holy Writ, the Author has numberless Allusions to them through the whole course of this Book. The great Critick I have before mentioned, though an Heathen, has taken notice of the sublime Manner in which the Lawgiver of the Jews has describ'd the Creation in the first Chapter of Genesis; [4] and there are many other Passages in Scripture, which rise up to the same Majesty, where this Subject is touched upon. Milton has shewn his Judgment very remarkably, in making use of such of these as were proper for his Poem, and in duly qualifying those high Strains of Eastern Poetry, which were suited to Readers whose Imaginations were set to an higher pitch than those of colder Climates.

Adams Speech to the Angel, wherein he desires an Account of what had passed within the Regions of Nature before the Creation, is very great and solemn. The following Lines, in which he tells him, that the Day is not too far spent for him to enter upon such a subject, are exquisite in their kind.

And the great Light of Day yet wants to run Much of his Race, though steep, suspense in Heavn Held by thy Voice; thy potent Voice he hears, And longer will delay, to hear thee tell His Generation, &c.

The Angels encouraging our first Parent[s] in a modest pursuit after Knowledge, with the Causes which he assigns for the Creation of the World, are very just and beautiful. The Messiah, by whom, as we are told in Scripture, the Worlds were made, comes forth in the Power of his Father, surrounded with an Host of Angels, and cloathed with such a Majesty as becomes his entring upon a Work, which, according to our Conceptions, [appears [5]] the utmost Exertion of Omnipotence. What a beautiful Description has our Author raised upon that Hint in one of the Prophets. And behold there came four Chariots out from between two Mountains, and the Mountains were Mountains of Brass. [6]

About his Chariot numberless were pour Cherub and Seraph, Potentates and Thrones, And Virtues, winged Spirits, and Chariots wing'd, From th' Armoury of Gold, where stand of old Myriads between two brazen Mountains lodg'd Against a solemn Day, harness'd at hand; Celestial Equipage! and now came forth Spontaneous, for within them Spirit liv'd, Attendant on their Lord: Heavn open'd wide Her ever-during Gates, Harmonious Sound! On golden Hinges moving—

I have before taken notice of these Chariots of God, and of these Gates of Heaven; and shall here only add, that Homer gives us the same Idea of the latter, as opening of themselves; tho he afterwards takes off from it, by telling us, that the Hours first of all removed those prodigious Heaps of Clouds which lay as a Barrier before them.

I do not know any thing in the whole Poem more sublime than the Description which follows, where the Messiah is represented at the head of his Angels, as looking down into the Chaos, calming its Confusion, riding into the midst of it, and drawing the first Out-Line of the Creation.

On Heavenly Ground they stood, and from the Shore They view'd the vast immeasurable Abyss, Outrageous as a Sea, dark, wasteful, wild; Up from the bottom turned by furious Winds And surging Waves, as Mountains to assault Heavens height, and with the Center mix the Pole.

Silence, ye troubled Waves, and thou Deep, Peace! Said then th' Omnific Word, your Discord end:

Nor staid; but, on the Wings of Cherubim Up-lifted, in Paternal Glory rode Far into Chaos, and the World unborn; For Chaos heard his Voice. Him all His Train Follow'd in bright Procession, to behold Creation, and the Wonders, of his Might. Then staid the fervid Wheels, and in his Hand He took the Golden Compasses, prepar'd In Gods eternal Store, to circumscribe This Universe, and all created Things: One Foot he center'd, and the other turn'd Round, through the vast Profundity obscure; And said, Thus far extend, thus far thy bounds, This be thy just Circumference, O World!

The Thought of the Golden Compasses is conceived altogether in Homers Spirit, and is a very noble Incident in this wonderful Description. Homer, when he speaks of the Gods, ascribes to them several Arms and Instruments with the same greatness of Imagination. Let the Reader only peruse the Description of Minerva's AEgis, or Buckler, in the Fifth Book, with her Spear, which would overturn whole Squadrons, and her Helmet, that was sufficient to cover an Army drawn out of an hundred Cities: The Golden Compasses in the above-mentioned Passage appear a very natural Instrument in the Hand of him, whom Plato somewhere calls the Divine Geometrician. As Poetry delights in cloathing abstracted Ideas in Allegories and sensible Images, we find a magnificent Description of the Creation form'd after the same manner in one of the Prophets, wherein he describes the Almighty Architect as measuring the Waters in the Hollow of his Hand, meting out the Heavens with his Span, comprehending the Dust of the Earth in a Measure, weighing the Mountains in Scales, and the Hills in a Balance. Another of them describing the Supreme Being in this great Work of Creation, represents him as laying the Foundations of the Earth, and stretching a Line upon it: And in another place as garnishing the Heavens, stretching out the North over the empty Place, and hanging the Earth upon nothing. This last noble Thought Milton has express'd in the following Verse:

And Earth self-ballanc'd on her Center hung.

The Beauties of Description in this Book lie so very thick, that it is impossible to enumerate them in this Paper. The Poet has employ'd on them the whole Energy of our Tongue. The several great Scenes of the Creation rise up to view one after another, in such a manner, that the Reader seems present at this wonderful Work, and to assist among the Choirs of Angels, who are the Spectators of it. How glorious is the Conclusion of the first Day.

—Thus was the first Day Ev'n and Morn Nor past uncelebrated nor unsung By the Celestial Quires, when Orient Light Exhaling first from Darkness they beheld; Birth-day of Heavn and Earth! with Joy and Shout The hollow universal Orb they fill'd.

We have the same elevation of Thought in the third Day, when the Mountains were brought forth, and the Deep was made.

Immediately the Mountains huge appear Emergent, and their broad bare Backs up-heave Into the Clouds, their Tops ascend the Sky: So high as heav'd the tumid Hills, so low Down sunk a hollow Bottom, broad and deep, Capacious Bed of Waters—

We have also the rising of the whole vegetable World described in this Days Work, which is filled with all the Graces that other Poets have lavish'd on their Descriptions of the Spring, and leads the Readers Imagination into a Theatre equally surprising and beautiful.

The several Glories of the Heavns make their Appearance on the Fourth Day.

First in his East the glorious Lamp was seen, Regent of Day; and all th' Horizon round Invested with bright Rays, jocund to round His Longitude through Heavns high Road: the gray Dawn, and the Pleiades before him danced, Shedding sweet Influence. Less bright the Moon, But opposite in level'd West was set, His Mirror, with full face borrowing her Light From him, for other Lights she needed none In that aspect, and still that distance keeps Till Night; then in the East her turn she shines, Revolv'd on Heavns great Axle, and her Reign With thousand lesser Lights dividual holds, With thousand thousand Stars! that then appear'd Spangling the Hemisphere—

One would wonder how the Poet could be so concise in his Description of the six Days Works, as to comprehend them within the bounds of an Episode, and at the same time so particular, as to give us a lively Idea of them. This is still more remarkable in his Account of the Fifth and Sixth Days, in which he has drawn out to our View the whole Animal Creation, from the Reptil to the Behemoth. As the Lion and the Leviathan are two of the noblest Productions in [the [7]] World of living Creatures, the Reader will find a most exquisite Spirit of Poetry in the Account which our Author gives us of them. The Sixth Day concludes with the Formation of Man, upon which the Angel takes occasion, as he did after the Battel in Heaven, to remind Adam of his Obedience, which was the principal Design of this his Visit.

The Poet afterwards represents the Messiah returning into Heaven, and taking a Survey of his great Work. There is something inexpressibly Sublime in this part of the Poem, where the Author describes that great Period of Time, filled with so many Glorious Circumstances; when the Heavens and Earth were finished; when the Messiah ascended up in triumph thro the Everlasting Gates; when he looked down with pleasure upon his new Creation; when every Part of Nature seem'd to rejoice in its Existence; when the Morning-Stars sang together, and all the Sons of God shouted for joy.

So Ev'n and Morn accomplished the sixth Day: Yet not till the Creator from his Work Desisting, tho unwearied, up return'd, Up to the Heavn of Heavns, his high Abode; Thence to behold this new created World, Th' Addition of his Empire, how it shewed In prospect from his Throne, how good, how fair, Answering his great Idea: Up he rode, Follow'd with Acclamation, and the Sound Symphonious of ten thousand Harps, that tuned Angelick Harmonies; the Earth, the Air Resounding (thou rememberst, for thou heardst) The Heavens and all the Constellations rung; The Planets in their Station listning stood, While the bright Pomp ascended jubilant. Open, ye everlasting Gates, they sung, Open, ye Heavens, your living Doors; let in The great Creator from his Work return'd Magnificent, his six Days Work, a World!

I cannot conclude this Book upon the Creation, without mentioning a Poem which has lately appeared under that Title. [8] The Work was undertaken with so good an Intention, and is executed with so great a Mastery, that it deserves to be looked upon as one of the most useful and noble Productions in our English Verse. The Reader cannot but be pleased to find the Depths of Philosophy enlivened with all the Charms of Poetry, and to see so great a Strength of Reason, amidst so beautiful a Redundancy of the Imagination. The Author has shewn us that Design in all the Works of Nature, which necessarily leads us to the Knowledge of its first Cause. In short, he has illustrated, by numberless and incontestable Instances, that Divine Wisdom, which the Son of Sirach has so nobly ascribed to the Supreme Being in his Formation of the World, when he tells us, that He created her, and saw her, and numbered her, and poured her out upon all his Works.

Previous Part     1 ... 3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20     Next Part
Home - Random Browse