Obrázky stránek

Several epic pocts have religiously followed Vir. gil as to the number of his books: and even Milton is thonght by many to have changed the number of his books from ten to twelve for no other reason; as Cowley tells us, it was his design, had he finished his Davideis, to have also imitated the Æneid in this particular. I believe every one will agree

with me that a perfection of this nature hath no founda. tion in reason; and, with due respect to these great names, may be looked upon as something vý himsical.

I mention these great examples in defence of my bookseller, who occasioned this eighth volume of Spectators, because, as he said, he thought seven a very odd number. On the other side several grave reasons were urged on this important suhject; as, in particular, that geven was the precise number of the wise men, and that the most beautiful con. stellation in the heavens was composed of seven stars. This he allowed to be true, but still insisted that seven was an odd number: suggesting at the same time that, if lic were provided with a suffi. eient stock of leading papers, he should find friends ready enough to carry on the work. Having by this means got his vessel launched and set afloat, he hath coinmitted the steerage of it, from time to time, to such as he thonght capable of conducting it.

The close of this volume, which the town may now expect in a little time, may possibly ascribe each sheet to its proper author.

It were no hard task to continue this paper a considerable time longer by the help of large con. tributions sent from unknown hands.

I cannot give the town a better opinion of the Spectator's correspondents than by publishing the following letter, with a very ine copy of verses upon a subject perfectly new,


Dublin, Nov. 30, 1714. • You lately recommended to your female readers the good old custom of their grandmothers, who used to lay out a great part of their time in needle work. I entirely agree with you in your sentiments, and think it would not be of less ad. vantage to themselves and their posterity, than to the reputation of many of their good neighbours, if they passed many of those hours in this innocent en. tertainment which are lost at the tea-table.

I would, however, humbly offer to your consideration the case of the poetical ladies; who, though they may be willing to take any advice given them by the Spectator, yet cannot so easily quit their pen and ink as you may imagine. Pray allow them, at least now and then, to indulge themselves in other amusements of fancy when they are tired with stooping to their tapestry. There is a very particular kind of work, which of late several ladies here in our kingdom are very fond of, which seems very well adapted to a poetical genius : it is the making of grottos. I know a lady who has a very beauti. ful one, composed by herself ; nor is there one shell in it not stuck up by her own hands. I here send you a poem to the fair architect, which I would not offer to herself until I knew whether this method of a lady's passing her time were approved of by the British Spectator ; which, with the poem, I submit to your censure, who am

Your constant reader

and humble scrvant,

A. B.'




" A grotto so complete, with such design,
What hands, Calypso, could have form'd but thine ?
Each chequer'd pebble, and each shining shell,
So well proportion'd and dispos'd so well,
Surpri ing lustre from thy thought receive,
Assuming beauties more than nature gave.
To her their various shapes and glossy hue,
Their curious symmetry they owe to you.
Not fam'd Amphion's lute, whose powerful call
Made willing stones dance to the Theban wall,
In more harmonious ranks could make them fall.
Not evening cloud a brighter arch can show,
Nor richer colours paint the heavenly bow.

“ Where can unpolish'd nature boast a picce
In all her mos y cells exact as this?
At the gay parti-coloured scene we start,
For chance too regular, too rude for art.

“Charm'd with the sight, my ravish'd breast is fired
With hints like those which ancient bards inspir'd;
All the feign'd tales by superstition told,
Ail the bright train of fabled nynphs of old,
Th' enthusiastic Muse believes are true,
Thinks the spot sacred, and its genius you.
Lost in wild rapture would she fain disclose
How hy degrees the pleasing wonder rose;
Industrious in a faithfui verse to trace
The various beauties of the lovely place :
And, while she keeps the glowing work in view,
Through every maze thy artful hand pursue.

“ (), were I equal to the bold design,
Or could I boast such happy art as thine,
That could rude : hells in such sweet order place,
Give common objects such uncommon grace ;
Like them, my well chose words in every line
Assweetly tempered would as sweetly shine.
So just a fancy should my numbers warm
Like the gay piece should the description charm.
Then with superior strength my voice I'd raise,
The echoing grotto should approve my lays,
Pleas'd to reflect the well-: ung founder's praise."

[ocr errors]

N° 633. WEDNESDAY, DEC. 15, 1714.


Omnia profecto, cum se e celestibus rebus referet ad humanas,

excelsiùs magnificentiùsque et dicet et sentiet. The contemplation of celestial things will make a man both

speak and think more sublimely and magnificently when he descends to human affairs,

The following discourse is printed, as it came to my hands, without variation.

•Cambridge, Dec. II It was a very common inquiry among the ancients why the number of excellent orators, under all the encouragements the most flourishing states could give them, fell so far short of the number of those who excelled in all other sciences. A friend of mine used merrily to apply to this case an ob. servation of Herodotus, who says, that the most useful animals are the most fruitful in their gene. ration ; whereas the species of those beasts that are fierce and mischievous to mankind are but scarcely continued. The historian instances in a hare, which always either breeds or brings forth; and a lioness, which brings forth but once, and then loses all power of conception. But leaving my friend to his mirth, I am of opinion that in these latter ages we have greater cause of complaint than the allcients had. And since that solemn festival is approaching *, which calls for all the power of oratory, and which affords as noble a subject for the pulpit as any revelation has taught us, the design of this paper shall be to show that our moderns have greater advantages towards true and solid eloquence than any which the celebrated speakers of antiquity enjoyed.

* Christmas.

• The first great and substantial difference is, that their common places, in which almost the whole force of amplification consists, were drawn from the profit or honesty of the action, as they regarded only this present state of duration. But Christianity, as it exalts morality to a greater perfection, as it brings the consideration of another life into the question, as it proposes rewards and punishments of a higher nature and a longer continuance, is more adapted to affect the minds of the audience, naturally inclined to pursue what it imagines its greatests interest and concern. If Pericles, as histo. rians report, could shake the firmest resolution of his hearers, and set the passions of all Greece in a ferment, when the present welfare of his country, or the fear of hostile invasions, was the subject; what may be expected from that orator who warns his audience against those evils which have no remedy, when once undergone, either from prudence or time? As much greater as the evils in a future state are than these at present, so much are the mo.. tivas to persuasion under Christianity greater than those which mere moral .considerations could sup. ply ns wiih. But what I now mention relates only to the power of moving the affections. There is another part of eloquence which is indeed its masterpiece; I mean the marvellous, or sublime. In this the Christian orator has the advantage beyond contradiction. Our ideas are so infinitely enlarged by revelation, the eye of reason has so wide a prospect into cternity, the notions of a Deity are so

« PředchozíPokračovat »