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speaker, that upon a review of it he was agreeably imposed upon, and fancied that it was Cato, and not he himself, who uttered his thoughts on that subject.
If the reader would be at the pains to see how the story of the Iliad and the Eneid is delivered by those persons who act in it, he will be surprised to find how little either of these poems proceeds from the authors. Milton has, in the general disposition of his fable, very finely observed this great rule; insomuch that there is scarce a tenth part of it which comes from the poet; the rest is spoken either by Adam or Eve, or by some good or evil spirit who is engaged, either in their destruction, or defence.
From what has been here observed, it appears, that digressions are by no means to be allowed of in an epic poem. If the poet, even in the ordinary course of his narration, should speak as little as possible, he should certainly never let his narration sleep for the sake of any reflections of his own. I have often observed with a secret admiration, that the longest reflection in the Eneid is in that passage of the tenth book, where Turnus is represented as dressing himself in the spoils of Pallas, whom he had slain. Virgil here lets his fable stand still, for the sake of the following remark. "How is the mind of man ignorant of futurity, and unable to bear prosperous fortune with moderation! The time will come when Turnus shall wish that he had left the body of Pallas untouched, and curse the day on which he dressed himself in these spoils." As the great event of the Eneid, and the death of Turnus, whom Eneas slew because he saw him adorned with the spoils of Pallas, turns upon this incident, Virgil went out of his way to make this reflection upon it, without which so small a circumstance might possibly have slipt out of his reader's memory.lowing passages and many others: Lucan, who was an injudicious poet, lets drop his story very frequently for the sake of his unnecessary digressions, or his diverticula, as Scaliger calls them. If he gives us an account of the prodigies which preceded the civil war, he declaims upon the occasion, and shows how much happier it would be for man, if he did not feel his evil fortune before it comes to pass and suffer not only by its real weight, but by the apprehension of it. Milton's complaint for his blindness, his panegyric on marriage, his reflections on Adam and Eve's going naked, of the angels' eating, and several other passages in his poem, are liable to the same exception, though I must confess there is so great a beauty in these very digressions, that I would not wish them out of his poem.
The last fault which I shall take notice of in Milton's style, is the frequent use of what the learned call technical words, or terms of art. It is one of the greatest beauties of poetry, to make hard things
I have in a former paper spoken of the charac-intelligible, and to deliver what is abstruse of itself ters of Milton's Paradise Lost, and declared my in such easy language as may be understood by opinion as to the allegorical persons who are intro-ordinary readers; besides that the knowledge of a duced in it. poet should rather seem born with him, or inspired, than drawn with books and systems. I have often wondered how Mr. Dryden could translate a passage out of Virgil after the following manner:
If we look into the sentiments, I think they are sometimes defective under the following heads; first, as there are several of them too much pointed, and some that degenerate even into puns. Of this last kind I am afraid is that in the first book, where, speaking of the pigmies, he calls them
The small infantry
them as fabulous, as he does in some
A third fault in his sentiments is an uneasy ostentation of learning, which likewise occurs very frequently. It is certain that both Homer and Virgil were masters of all the learning of their times, but it shows itself in their works after an indirect and concealed manner. Milton seems ambitious of letting us know, by his excursions on free will and predestination, and his many glances upon history, astronomy, geography, and the like, as well as by the terms and phrases he sometimes makes use of, that he was acquainted with the whole circle of arts and sciences.
Another blemish that appears in some of his thoughts, is his frequent allusion to heathen fables, which are not certainly of a piece with the divine subject of which he treats. I do not find fault with these allusions where the poet himself represents
If in the last place we consider the language of this great poet, we must allow what I have hinted in a former paper, that it is often too much laboured, and sometimes obscured by old words, transpositions, and foreign idioms. Seneca's objection to the style of a great author, "Riget ejus oratio, nihil in eâ placidum, nihil lene," is what many critics make to Milton. As I cannot wholly refute it, so I have already apologised for it in another paper: to which I may further add, that Milton's sentiments and ideas were so wonderfully sublime, that it would have been impossible for him to have represented them in their full strength and beauty, without having recourse to these foreign assistances. Our language sunk under him, and was unequal to that greatness of soul which furnished him with such glorious conceptions.
A second fault in his language is, that he often affects a kind of jingle in his words, as in the fol
And brought into the world a world of woe.
Beseeching or besieging-
At one slight bound high over leapt all bound
I know there are figures for this kind of speech; that some of the greatest ancients have been guilty of it, and that Aristotle himself has given it a place in his rhetoric among the beauties of that art. But as it is in itself poor and trifling, it is, I think, at present universally exploded by all the masters of polite writing.
Tack to the larboard and stand off to sea,
Milton makes use of larboard in the same manner. When he is upon building, he mentions doric pillars, pilasters, cornice, frieze, architrave. When he talks of heavenly bodies, you meet with ecliptic and eccentric, the trepidation, stars dropping from the zenith, rays culminating from the equator: to which might be added many instances of the like kind in several other arts and sciences.
I shall in my next papers give an account of the many particular beauties in Milton, which would have been too long to insert under those general heads I have already treated of, and with which I intend to conclude this piece of criticism.-L.
No. 298.] MONDAY, FEBRUARY, 11, 1711-12.
London, Feb. 9, 1711-12.
"I AM a virgin, and in no case despicable, but yet such as I am I must remain, or else become, it is to be feared, less happy; for I find not the least good effect from the good correction you some time since gave that too free, that looser part of our sex which spoils the men; the same connivance at the vices, the same easy admittance of addresses, the same vitiated relish of the conversation of the greatest rakes (or, in a more fashionable way of expressing one's self, of such as have seen the world most) still abounds, increases, multiplies.
"The humble petition, therefore, of many of the most strictly virtuous and of myself is, that you will once more exert your authority, and that according to your late promise, your full, your impartial authority, on this sillier branch of our kind; for why should they be the uncontrollable mistresses of our fate? Why should they with impunity indulge the males in licentiousness whilst single, and we have the dismal hazard and plague of reforming them when married? Strike home, Sir, then, and spare not, or all our maiden hopes, our gilded hopes of nuptial felicity are frustrated, are vanished, and you yourself as well as Mr. Courtly, will, by smoothing over immodest practices with the gloss of soft and harmless names, for ever forfeit our esteem. Nor think that I am herein more severe than need be; if I have not reason more than enough, do you and the world judge from this ensuing account, which, I think, will prove the evil to be universal.
"You must know, then, that since your reprehension of this female degeneracy came out, I have had a tender of respects from no less than five persons, of tolerable figure too as times go: but the misfortune is that four of the five are professed followers of the mode. They would face me down, that all women of good sense ever were, and ever will be, latitudinarians in wedlock; and always did and will give and take, what they profanely term conjugal liberty of conscience.
solved never to be drowsy, unmannerly, or stupid, for the future, at a friend's house; and on a hunting morning not to pursue the game either with the husband abroad or with the wife at home.
"The next that came was a tradesman, no less full of the age than the former; for he had the gallantry to tell me, that at a late junket which he was invited to, the motion being made, and the question being put, it was, by maid, wife, and widow, resolved nemine contradicente, that a young sprightly journeyman is absolutely necessary in their way of business: to which they had the assent and concurrence of the husbands present. dropped him a curtsey, and gave him to understand that this was his audience of leave.
"I put this closely to him, and taxed him with disingenuity. He to clear himself made the subsequent defence, and that in the most solemn manner possible :-that he was applied to, and instigated to accept of a benefice:-that a conditional offer thereof was indeed made him at first, but with disdain by him rejected:-that when nothing (as they easily perceived) of this nature could bring him to their purpose, assurance of his being entirely unengaged before-hand, and safe from all their afterexpectations, (the only stratagem left to draw him in) was given him:-that pursuant to this the donation itself was without delay, before several reputable witnesses, tendered to him gratis, with the open profession of not the least reserve, or most minute condition; but that yet immediately after induction, his insidious introducer (or her crafty procurer, which you will) industriously spread the report which had reached my ears, not only in the neighbourhood of that said church, but in London, in the university, in mine and his own country, and wherever else it might probably obviate his application to any other woman, and so confine him to this alone: in a word, that as he never did make any previous offer of his service, or the least step to her affection; so on his discovery of these designs thus laid to trick him, he could not but afterward, in justice to himself, vindicate both his innocence and freedom, by keeping his proper distance.
"The two first of them, a captain and a merchant, to strengthen their arguments, pretend to repeat after a couple of ladies of quality and wit, that Venus was always kind to Mars; and what soul that has the least spark of generosity can deny a man of bravery any thing? And how pitiful a trader that, whom no woman but his own wife will have correspondence and dealings with? Thus these; whilst the third, the country squire, confessed, that indeed he was surprised into good-breeding, and entered into the knowledge of the world unawares; that dining the other day at a gentleman's house, the person who entertained was ob
"This is his apology, and I think I shall be satisfied with it. But I cannot conclude my tedious epistle without recommending to you not only to resume your former chastisement, but to add to your criminals the simoniacal ladies, who seduce the sacred order into the difficulty of either breaking a mercenary troth made to them, whom they ought
liged to leave him with his wife and nieces; where not to deceive, or by breaking or keeping it offendthey spoke with so much contempt of an absent ing against Him whom they cannot deceive. Your gentleman for being so slow at a hint, that he re- assistance and labours of this sort would be of great
"I am reckoned pretty, and have had very many advances besides these; but have been very averse to hear any of them, from my observation on those above mentioned, until I hoped some good from the character of my present admirer, a clergyman. But I find even among them there are indirect practices relating to love, and our treaty is at present a little in suspense, until some circumstances are cleared. There is a charge against him among the women, and the case is this: It is alleged, that a certain endowed female would have appropriated herself to, and consolidated herself with, a church which my divine now enjoys (or, which is the same thing, did prostitute herself to her friend's doing this for her); that my ecclesiastic, to obtain the one, did engage himself to take off the other that lay on hand; but that on his success in the spiritual, he again renounced the carnal.
Juv. Sat. vi. 166
should be entirely in her hands. Her father and brothers appeared exceedingly averse to this match, and would not see me for some time: but at present are so well reconciled, that they dine with me almost every day, and have borrowed considerable sums of me; which my Lady Mary very often twits me with, when she would show me how kind her relations are to me. She had no portion, as I told you before; but what she wanted in fortune she makes up in spirit. She at first changed my name to Sir John Envil, and at present writes herself Mary Enville. I have had some children by her, whom she has christened with the surnames of her Some country girl, scarce to a curtsey bred, family, in order, as she tells me, to wear out the Would I much rather than Cornelia wed; homeliness of their parentage by the father's side. If supercilious, haughty, proud, and vain, She brought her father's triumphs in her train Our eldest son is the honourable Oddly Enville, Away with all your Carthaginian state; Esq., and our eldest daughter Harriet Enville. Let vanquish'd Hannibal without doors wait, Upon her first coming into my family, she turned Too burly and too big to pass my narrow gate.-Dryden off a parcel of very careful servants who had been It is observed, that a man improves more by long with me, and introduced in their stead a couple reading the story of a person eminent for prudence of black-a-moors, and three or four very genteel and virtue, than by the finest rules and precepts of fellows in laced liveries, besides her French woman, morality. In the same manner a representation of who is perpetually making a noise in the house, in those calamities and misfortunes which a weak man a language which nobody understands, except my suffers from wrong measures, and ill-concerted Lady Mary. She next set herself to reform every schemes of life, is apt to make a deeper impression room of my house, having glazed all my chimneyupon our minds, than the wisest maxims and instruc- pieces with looking-glasses, and planted every cortions that can be given us, for avoiding the like fol-ner with such heaps of china, that I am obliged to lies and indiscretions in our own private conduct. move about my own house with the greatest caution It is for this reason that I lay before my readers the and circumspection, for fear of hurting some of our following letter, and leave it with him to make his brittle furniture. She makes an illumination once own use of it, without adding any reflections of my a week with wax candles in one of our largest own upon the subject matter. rooms, in order, as she phrases it, to see company; Iat which time she always desires me to be abroad, or to confine myself to the cock-loft, that I may not Having carefully perused a letter sent you by disgrace her among her visitants of quality. Her Josiah Fribble, Esq. with your subsequent discourse footmen, as I told you before, are such beaus, that upon pin-money, I do presume to trouble you with I do not much care for asking them questions; an account of my own case, which I look upon to when I do, they answer with a saucy frown, and be no less deplorable than that of 'Squire Fribble. say that every thing which I find fault with was I am a person of no extraction, having begun the done by my Lady Mary's order. She tells me, world with a small parcel of rusty iron, and was for that she intends they shall wear swords with their some years commonly known by the name of Jack next liveries, having lately observed the footmen Anvil. I have naturally a very happy genius for of two or three persons of quality hanging behind getting money, insomuch that by the age of five- the coach with swords by their sides. As soon as and-twenty I had scraped together four thousand the first honeymoon was over, I represented to her two hundred pounds five shillings, and a few odd the unreasonableness of those daily innovations pence. I then launched out into considerable busi-which she made in my family; but she told me, ness, and became a bold trader both by sea and was no longer to consider myself as Sir John Anvil, land, which in a few years raised me a very great but as her husband; and added with a frown, that fortune. For these my good services I was knighted I did not seem to know who she was. I was surin the thirty-fifth year of my age, and lived with prised to be treated thus, after such familiarities as great dignity among my city neighbours by the had passed between us. But she has since given name of Sir John Anvil. Being in my temper very me to know, that whatever freedoms she may someambitious, I was now bent upon making a family, times indulge me in, she expects in general to be and accordingly resolved that my descendants treated with the respect that is due to her birth and should have a dash of good blood in their veins. quality. Our children have been trained up from In order to this, I made love to the Lady Mary their infancy with so many accounts of their moOddly, an indigent young woman of quality. To ther's family, that they know the stories of all the cut short the marriage-treaty, I threw her a carte great men and women it has produced. Their Hanche, as our newspapers call it, desiring her to mother tells them, that such-a-one commanded in write upon it her own terms. She was very con- such a sea-engagement, that their great-grandfather cise in her demands, insisting only that the disposal had a horse shot under him at Edge-hill, that their of my fortune, and the regulation of my family, uncle was at the siege of Buda, and that her mother danced in a ball at court with the Duke of MonIt has been said by some, that the author of this letter mouth; with abundance of fiddle-faddle of the same alluded nere to Gore, of Tring, and Lady Mary Comp-nature. I was the other day a little out of counteton; but others with more probability have assured the annotator, that the letter referred to Sir Ambrose Crowley and his lady Sea Tat. ed. 1786, cr. 8vo. vol. v. additional notes, p. 405 and 496. N. B. This ironmonger changed his name from Crowley Crawley, a folly which seems to be ridiculed her hange of Anvil into Envil, absurdly made by
nance at a question of my little daughter Harriet, who asked me, with a great deal of innocence, why I never told her of the generals and admirals that had been in my family? As for my eldest son, Oddly, he has been so spirited up by his mother,
benefit, and your speedy thoughts on this subject
"Your most humble Servant,
No. 299.] TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 12, 1711-12.
Malo Venusinam, quam te, Cornelia, mater
that if he does not mend his manners I shall go near
You must further know, since I am opening my heart to you, that she thinks herself my superior in sense, as she is in quality, and therefore treats me as a plain well-meaning man, who does not know the world. She dictates to me in my own business, sets me right in points of trade, and if I disagree with her about any of my ships at sea, wonders that I will dispute with her, when I know very well that her great-grandfather was a flag-officer.
"To complete my sufferings, she has teased me for this quarter of a year last past to remove into one of the squares at the other end of the town, promising, for my encouragement, that I shall have as good a cock-loft as any gentleman in the square; to which the Honourable Oddly Enville, Esq. always adds, like a jack-a-napes as he is, that he hopes it will be as near the court as possible.
"In short, Mr. Spectator, I am so much out of my natural element, that to recover my old way of life I would be content to begin the world again, and be plain Jack Anvil: but, alas! I am in for life, and am bound to subscribe myself, with great sorrow of heart,
"In yours of Wednesday, the 30th past, you and your correspondents are very severe on a sort of men, whom you call male coquets; but without any other reason, in my apprehension, than that of paying a shallow compliment to the fair sex, by accusing some men of imaginary faults, that the women may not seem to be the more faulty sex; though at the same time you suppose there are some so weak as to be imposed upon by fine things and false addresses. I cannot persuade myself that your design is to debar the sexes the benefit of each other's conversation within the rules of honour; nor will you, I dare say, recommend to them, or encourage the No. 300.] TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 1711-12. common tea-table talk, much less that of politics and matters of state, and if these are forbidden subjects of discourse, then as long as there are any women in the world who take a pleasure in hearing themselves praised, and can bear the sight of a man prostrate at their feet, so long I shall make no wonder that there are those of the other sex who will pay them those impertinent humiliations. We should have few people such fools as to practise flattery, if all were so wise as to despise it. I do not deny but you would do a meritorious act, if you could prevent all impositions on the simplicity of young women; but I must confess, I do not apprehend you have laid the fault on the proper persons; and if I trouble you with my thoughts upon it, I promise myself your pardon. Such of the sex as are raw and innocent, and most exposed to these attacks, have, or their parents are much to blame if they have not, one to advise and guard them, and are obliged themselves to take care of them; but if these, who ought to hinder men from all opportunities of this sort of conversation, instead of that encourage and promote it, the suspicion is very just that there are some private reasons for it; and I will leave it to you to determine on which side a part is then acted. Some women there are who are arrived at years of discretion, I mean are got out of the hands of their parents and governors, and are set up for themselves, who are yet liable to these attempts; but if these are
"Your humble Servant,
"JOHN ENVILLE, Knt."
Diversum vitio vitium prope majus.
"WHEN you talk of the subject of love, and the
moment and if they loved with that calm and noble valour which dwells in the beart, with a warmth like that of life-blood, they would not be so impatient of their passions as to fall into observable fondness. This method, in each case, would save appearances; but as those who offend on the fond side are much the fewer, I would have you begin with them, and go on to take notice of a most impertinent licence married women take, not only to be very loving to their spouses in public, but also make nauseous allusions to private familiarities, and the like. Lucina is a lady of the greatest discretion, you must know, in the world; and withal very much a physician. Upon the strength of these two qualities there is nothing she will not speak of before us virgins; and she every day talks with a very grave air in such a manner, as is very improper so much as to be hinted at, but to obviate the greatest extremity. Those whom they call good bodies, notable people, hearty neighbours, and the purest goodest company in the world, are the great offenders in this kind. Here I think I have laid before you an open field for pleasantry; and hope you will show these people that at least they are not witty in which you will save from many a blush a daily sufferer, who is very much your most humble Servant,
prevailed upon, you must excuse me if I lay the fault upon them, that their wisdom is not grown with their years. My client, Mr. Strephon, whom you summoned to declare himself, gives you thanks however for your warning, and begs the favour only to enlarge his time for a week, or to the last day of the term, and then he will appear gratis, and pray no day over. "Yours, PHILANTHROPOS."
"I was last night to visit a lady whom I much esteem, and always took for my friend; but met with so very different a reception from what I expected, that I cannot help applying myself to you on this occasion. In the room of that civility and familiarity I used to be treated with by her, an affected strangeness in her looks, and coldness in her behaviour, plainly told me I was not the welcome guest which the regard and tenderness she has often expressed for me gave me reason to flatter myself to think I was. Sir, this is certainly a great fault, and I assure you a very common one; therefore I hope you will think it a nt subject for some part of a Spectator. Be pleased to acquaint us how we must behave ourselves towards this valetudinary friendship, subject to so many heats and colds, and you will oblige, "Sir, your humble Servant, "MIRANDA."
"I cannot forbear acknowledging the delight your late Spectators on Saturdays have given me; for they are writ in the honest spirit of criticism, and called to my mind the following four lines I had read long since in a prologue to a play called Julius Cæsar,* which has deserved a better fate. The
verses are addressed to the little critics:
End in a stink at last, and vanish into night.-ANON. WE are generally so much pleased with any little accomplishments, either of body or mind, which have once made us remarkable in the world, that we endeavour to persuade ourselves it is not in the power of time to rob us of them. We are eternally pursuing the same methods which first procured us the applauses of mankind. It is from this notion that an author writes on, though he is come to dotage; without ever considering that his memory is impaired, and that he hath lost that life, and those spirits, which formerly raised his fancy, and fired his imagination. The same folly hinders a man from submitting his behaviour to his age, and makes Clodius, who was a celebrated dancer at five-andtwenty, still love to hobble in a minuet, though he is past threescore. It is this, in a word, which fills the town with elderly fops and superannuated coquettes.
A tragedy by William Alexander, Earl of Stirling, fol.
1629, and much the most regular and dramatic piece of this noble author.
Canidia, a lady of this latter species, passed by me yesterday in a coach. Canidia was a haughty beauty of the last age, and was followed by crowds of adorers, whose passions only pleased her, as they gave her opportunities of playing the tyrant. She then contracted that awful cast of the eye and forbidding frown, which she has not yet laid aside, and has till all the insolence of beauty without its charms. If she now attracts the eyes of any beholders, it is only by being remarkably ridiculous; even her own sex laugh at her affectation; and the men, who always enjoy an ill-natured pleasure in seeing an imperious beauty humbled and neglected, regard her with the same satisfaction that a free nation sees a tyrant in disgrace.
Will Honeycomb, who is a great admirer of the gallantries in King Charles the Second's reign, lately communicated to me a letter written by a wit of that age to his mistress, who it seems was a lady of Canidia's humour; and though I do not always approve of my friend Will's taste, I liked this letter so well, that I took a copy of it, with which I shall here present my reader:
" TO CLOE.
"Since my waking thoughts have never been able to influence you in my favour, I am resolved to try whether my dreams can make any impression on you. To this end I shall give you an account of a very odd one which my fancy presented to me last night, within a few hours after I left you.
Methought I was unaccountably conveyed into the most delicious place mine eyes ever beheld: it was a large valley divided by a river of the pures. water I had ever seen. The ground on each side of it rose by an easy ascent, and was covered with flowers of an infinite variety, which, as they were reflected in the water, doubled the beauties of the place, or rather formed an imaginary scene more beautiful than the real. On each side of the river was a range of lofty trees, whose boughs were loaded with almost as many birds as leaves. Every tree was full of harmony.
"I had not gone far in this pleasant valley, when I perceived that it was terminated by a most mag nificent temple. The structure was ancient and regular. On the top of it was figured the god Saturn, in the same shape and dress as the poets usually represent Time.
"As I was advancing to satisfy my curiosity by a nearer view, I was stopped by an object far more beautiful than any I had before discovered in the whole place. I fancy, Madam, you will easily guess that this could hardly be any thing but yourself: in reality it was so; you lay extended on the flowers by the side of the river, so that your bands, which were thrown in a negligent posture, almost touched the water. Your eyes were closed; but if your sleep deprived me of the satisfaction of seeing them, it left me at leisure to contemplate several other charms which disappear when your eyes are open. I could not but admire the tranquillity you slept in, especially when I considered the uneasiness you produce in so many others.
"While I was wholly taken up in these reflections, the doors of the temple flew open, with a very great noise; and lifting up my eyes, I saw two figures in human shape, coming into the valley. Upon a nearer survey, I found them to be Youth
and Love. The first was encircled with a kind of purple light, that spread a glory over all the place :