Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

upon this occasion.

Mr. Dryden used to call these sort of men his prose-critics.

I should, under this head of the language, consider Milton's numbers, in which he has made use of several elisions, which are not customary among other English poets, as may be particularly observed in his cutting off the letter Y, when it precedes a vowel. This, and some other innovations in the measure of his verse, has varied his numbers in such a manner, as makes them incapable of satiating the ear, and cloying the reader, which the same uniform measure would certainly have done, and which the perpetual returns of rhyme never fail to do in long narrative poems. I shall close these reflections upon the language of Paradise Lost with observing, that Milton has copied after Homer rather than Virgil in the length of his periods, the copiousness of his phrases, and the running of his verses into one another. L.

than indelicacy, they would be immoral, did you treat the detestable sins of uncleanness in the same manner as you rally an impertinent self-love and an artful glance; as those laws would be very unjust that should chastise murder and petty lar ceny with the same punishment. Even delicacy requires that the pity shown to distressed indigen: wickedness, first betrayed into, and then expelled the harbors of the brothel, should be changed to detestation, when we consider pampered vice in the habitations of the wealthy. The most free person of quality, in Mr. Courtly's phrase, that is, to speak properly, a woman of figure who has forgot her birth and breeding, dishonored her relations and herself, abandoned her virtue and re putation, together with the natural modesty of her sex, and risked her very soul, is so far from deserving to be treated with no worse character than that of a kind woman, which is, doubtless, Mr. Courtly's meaning (if he has any), that one can scarce be too severe on her, inasmuch as she sins against greater restraints, is less exposed,

No. 286.] MONDAY, JANUARY 28, 1711-12. and liable to fewer temptations; than beauty in

[blocks in formation]

poverty and distress. It is hoped, therefore, Sir, that you will not lay aside your generous design of exposing that monstrous wickedness of the town, whereby a multitude of innocents are sacrificed in a more barbarous manner than those who were offered to Moloch. The unchaste are provoked to see their vice exposed, and the chaste cannot rake into such filth without danger of defilement, but a mere spectator may look into the bottom, and come off without partaking in the guilt. The doing so will convince us you pursue public good, and not merely your own advantage: but if your zeal slackens, how can one help thinking that Mr. Courtly's letter is but a feint to get off from a subject, in which either your own, or the private and base ends of others to whom you are partial, or those of whom you are afraid would not endure a reformation?

"I am, Sir,

"Your humble Servant and Admirer, so long as you tread in the paths of truth, virtue, and honor."

"Trin. Coll. Cantab. Jan. 12, 1711-12. "MR. SPECTATOR,

"I PRETEND not to inform a gentleman of so much taste, whenever he pleases to use it; but it may not be amiss to inform your readers, that there is a false delicacy, as well as a true one. True delicacy, as I take it, consists in exactness of judgment and dignity of sentiment, or, if you will, purity of affection, as this is opposed to corruption and grossness. There are pedants in breeding, as well as in learning. The eye that cannot bear the light is not delicate, but sore. A good constitution appears in the soundness and vigor of the parts, not in the squeamishness of the stomach; and a false delicacy is affectation, not politeness. What then can be the standard of delicacy, but truth and virtue? Virtue, which as the satirist long since observed, is real honor: whereas the other distinctions among mankind are merely titular. Judging by that rule, in my opinion, and in that of many of your virtuous female readers, you are so far from deserving Mr. Courtly's accusation, that you seem too gentle, and to "It is my fortune to have a chamber-fellow, allow too many excuses for an enormous crime, with whom, though I agree very well in many which is the reproach of the age, and is in all its sentiments, yet there is one in which we are as branches and degrees expressly forbidden by that contrary as light and darkness. We are both in religion we pretend to profess: and whose laws, love. His mistress is a lovely fair, and mine a in a nation that calls itself Christian, one would lovely brown. Now, as the praise of our mistresses think should take place of those rules which men beauty employs much of our time, we have of corrupt minds, and those of weak understand-frequent quarrels in entering upon that subject, ings, follow. I know not anything more pernicious to good manners, than the giving fair names to foul actions: for this confounds vice and virtue, and takes off that natural horror we have to evil. An innocent creature, who would start at the name of strumpet, may think it pretty to be called a mistress, especially if her seducer has taken care to inform her, that a union of hearts is the principal matter in the sight of heaven, and that the business at church is a mere idle ceremony. Who knows not that the difference between obscene and modest words expressing the same action, consists only in the accessory idea, for there is nothing immodest in letters and syllables. Fornication and adultery are modest words; because they express an evil action as criminal, and so as to excite horror and aversion; whereas words representing the pleasure rather than the sin, are, for this reason, indecent and dishonest. Your papers would be chargeable with something worse

while each says all he can to defend his choice. For my own part, I have racked my fancy to the utmost; and sometimes with the greatest warmth of imagination have told him, that night was made before day, and many more fine things though without any effect; nay, last night I could not forbear saying, with more heat than judgment. that the devil ought to be painted white. Now my desire is, Sir, that you would be pleased to give us in black and white your opinion in the matter of dispute between us: which will either furnish me with fresh and prevailing arguments to maintain my own taste, or make me with less repining allow that of my chamber-fellow. I know very well that I have Jack Cleveland* and Bond's Horace on my side; but then he has such a band of rhymers and romance-writers, with which he

*See Poems by J. Cleveland, 1653, 24mo. The Senses' Fos tival, p. 1.

opposes me, and is so continually chiming to the tune of golden tresses, yellow locks, milk, marble, ivory, silver, swans, snow, daisies, doves, and the Lord knows what; which he is always sounding with so much vehemence in my ears, that he often puts me in a brown study how to answer him; and I find that I am in a fair way to be quite confounded, without your timely assistance afforded to, Sir,

[ocr errors]

"Your humble Servant,

"PHILOBRUNE."

the pre-eminence to a mixed government, consisting of three branches, the regal, the noble, and the popular. They had, doubtless, in their thoughts, the constitution of the Roman commonwealth, in which the consul represented the king, the senate the nobles, and the tribunes the people. This division of the three powers in the Roman constitution was by no means so distinct and natural, as it is in the English form of government. Among several objections that might be made to it, I think the chief are those that affect the consular power, which had only the ornaments without the force of the regal authority. Their number had not a

No. 287.] TUESDAY, JANUARY 29, 1711-12. casting voice in it; for which reason, if one did

Dear native land, how do the good and wise
Thy happy clime and countless blessings prize!

MENAND.

not chance to be employed abroad, while the other sat at home, the public business was sometimes at a stand, while the consuls pulled two different ways in it. Beside, I do not find that the consuls I LOOK upon it as a peculiar happiness, that had ever a negative voice in the passing of a law, were I to choose of what religion I would be, and or decree of the senate; so that indeed they were under what government I would live, I should rather the chief body of the nobility, or the first most certainly give the preference to that form of ministers of state, than a distinct branch of the religion and government which is established in sovereignty, in which none can be looked upon as my own country. In this point I think I am de-a part, who are not a part of the legislature. Had termined by reason and conviction; but if I shall be told that I am actuated by prejudice, I am sure it is an honest prejudice; it is a prejudice that arises from the love of my country, and therefore such a one as I will always indulge. I have in several papers endeavored to express my duty and esteem for the church of England, and design this as an essay upon the civil part of our constitution, having often entertained myself with reflections on this subject, which I have not met with in other writers.

That form of government appears to me the most reasonable, which is most conformable to the equality that we find in human nature, provided it be consistent with public peace and tranquillity. This is what may properly be called liberty, which exempts one man from subjection to another, 80 far as the order and economy of government will permit.

the consuls been invested with the regal authority to as great a degree as our monarchs, there would never have been any occasions for a dictatorship, which had in it the power of all the three orders, and ended in the subversion of the whole constitution.

Such a history as that of Suetonius, which gives us a succession of absolute princes, is to me an unanswerable argument against despotic power. Where the prince is a man of wisdom and virtue, it is indeed happy for his people that he is absolute; but since in the common run of mankind, for one that is wise and good you find ten of a contrary character, it is very dangerous for a nation to stand to its chance, or to have its public happiness or misery depend on the virtue or vices of a single person. Look into the history I have mentioned, or into any series of absolute princes, how many tyrants must you read Liberty should reach every individual of a through, before you come to an emperor that people, as they all share one common nature; if it is supportable. But this is not all; an honest only spreads among particular branches, there had private man often grows cruel and abandoned, better be none at all, since such a liberty only ag- when converted into an absolute prince. Give a gravates the misfortune of those who are deprived man power of doing what he pleases with impuof it, by setting before them a disagreeable sub-nity, you extinguish his fear, and consequently ject of comparison.

This liberty is best preserved, where the legislative power is lodged in several persons, especially if those persons are of different ranks and interests, for where they are of the same rank, and consequently have an interest to manage peculiar to that rank, it differs but little from a despotical government in a single person. But the greatest security a people can have for their liberty, is when the legislative power is in the hands of persons so happily distinguished, that by providing for the particular interests of their several ranks, they are providing for the whole body of the people: or, in other words, when there is no part of the people that has not a common interest with at least one part of the legislators,

If there be but one body of legislators, it is no better than a tyranny; if there are only two, there will want a casting voice, and one of them must at length be swallowed up by the disputes and ontentions that will necessarily arise between them. Four would have the same inconvenience as two, and a greater number would cause too ich confusion. I could never read a passage in Polybius and another in Cicero to this purpose, thout a secret pleasure in applying it to the English constitution, which it suits much better han the Roman. Both these great authors give

overturn in him one of the great pillars of morality. This, too, we find confirmed by matter of fact. How many hopeful heirs apparent to grand empires, when in the possession of them, have become such monsters of lust and cruelty as are a reproach to human nature!

Some tell us we ought to make our governments on earth like that in heaven, which, say they, is altogether monarchical and unlimited. Was man like his Creator in goodness and justice, I should be for allowing this great model; but where goodness and justice are not essential to the ruler, I would by no means put myself into his hands to be disposed of according to his particular will and pleasure.

It is odd to consider the connection between

despotic government and barbarity, and how the making of one person more than man, makes the rest less. Above nine parts of the world in ten are in the lowest state of slavery, and consequently sunk in the most gross and brutal ignorance. European slavery is indeed a state of liberty, if compared with that which prevails in the other three divisions of the world: and therefore it is no wonder that those who grovel under it, have many tracks of light among them, of which the others are wholly destitute.

Riches and plenty are the natural fruits of lib

[blocks in formation]

The first thing every one looks after, is to provide himself with necessaries. This point will engross our thoughts until it be satisfied. If this is taken care of to our hands, we look out for pleasures and amusements; and among a great number of idle people, there will be many whose pleasures will lie in reading and contemplation. These are the two great sources of knowledge, and as men grow wise they naturally love to communicate their discoveries; and others seeing the happiness of such a learned life, and improving by their conversation, emulate, imitate, and surpass one another, until a nation is filled with races of wise and understanding persons. Ease and plenty are therefore the great cherishers of knowledge; and as most of the despotic governments of the world have neither of them, they are naturally overrun with ignorance and barbarity. In Europe, indeed, notwithstanding several of its princes are absolute, there are men famous for knowledge and learning; but the reason is, because the subjects are many of them rich and wealthy, the prince not thinking fit to exert himself in his full tyranny like the princes of the eastern nations, lest his subjects should be invited to new-mould their constitution, having so many prospects of liberty within their view. But in all despotic governments, though a particular prince may favor arts and letters, there is a natural degeneracy of mankind, as you may observe from Augustus's reign, how the Romans lost themselves by degrees until they fell to an equality with the most barbarous nations that surrounded them. Look upon Greece under its free states, and you would think its inhabitants lived in different climates, and under different heavens, from those at present, so different are the geniuses which are formed under Turkish slavery, and Grecian liberty.

Beside poverty and want, there are other reasons that debase the minds of men who live under slavery, though I look on this as the principal. This natural tendency of despotic power to ignorance and barbarity, though not insisted upon by others, is, I think, an unanswerable argument against that form of government, as it shows how repugnant it is to the good of mankind and the perfection of human nature, which ought to be the great ends of all civil institutions.-L. C.

[blocks in formation]

which, they single out from among the herd females her to whom they design to make the fruitless addresses. This done, they first ta every opportunity of being in her company, a they never fail upon all occasions to be particu to her, laying themselves at her feet, protesting reality of their passion with a thousand oat soliciting a return, and saying as many fine thi as their stock of wit will allow and if they not deficient that way, generally speak so as admit of a double interpretation; which credulous fair is too apt to turn to her own adv tage, since it frequently happens to be a raw, nocent young creature, who thinks all the wo as sincere as herself, and so her unwary hear. comes an easy prey to those deceitful mots who no sooner perceive it, but immediately th grow cool, and shun her whom they before seen so much to admire, and proceed to act the sa common place villany toward another. Ac comb, flushed with many of these infamous vis ries, shall say he is sorry for the poor fools, pro and vow he never thought of matrimony, wonder talking civilly can be so strangely mis terpreted. Now, Mr. Spectator, you that an professed friend to love, will, I hope, obser upon those who abuse that noble passion, raise it in innocent minds by a deceitful affec tion of it, after which they desert the enamor Pray bestow a little of your counsel on those fo believing females who already have, or are danger of having, broken hearts; in which will oblige a great part of this town, but in a p ticular manner,

"Sir,

"Your (yet heart-whole) Admirer, "and devoted humble Servant,

"MELAINIA.

Melainia's complaint is occasioned by so g ral a folly, that it is wonderful one could so overlook it. But this false gallantry proces from an impotence of mind, which makes the who are guilty of it incapable of pursuing they themselves approve. Many a man wishes woman his wife whom he dare not take for sa Though no one has power over his inclinations fortunes, he is a slave to common fame. For t reason, I think Melainia gives them too sof name in that of male coquets. I know not irresolution of mind should not be more contemp ble than impotence of body; and these frivok admirers would be too tenderly used, in be only included in the same term with the ins cient another way. They whom my corresp dent calls male coquets, should hereafter be call fribblers. A fribbler is one who professes rap and admiration for the woman whom he address and dreads nothing so much as her consent. heart can flutter by the force of imagination, cannot fix from the force of judgment. It is uncommon for the parents of young women moderate fortune to wink at the addresses of f blers, and expose their children to the ambigu behavior which Melainia complains of, until byt fondness to one they are to lose, they become capable of love toward others, and, by conseque in their future marriage lead a joyless or a m rable life. As therefore I shall, in the spec tions which regard love, be as severe as I oug on jilts and libertine women, so will I be as li merciful to insignificant and mischievous In order to this, all visitants who frequent fa lies wherein there are young females, are fo with required to declare themselves, or abse from places where their presence banishes such would pass their time more to the advantage

[blocks in formation]

No. 289.] THURSDAY, JAN. 31, 1711–12.
Vita summa brevis spem nos vetat inchoare longam.
HOR. 1 Od. iv, 15.

Life's span forbids us to extend our cares,
And stretch our hopes beyond our years.-CREECH.
UPON taking my seat in a coffee-house I often
draw the eyes of the whole room upon me, when
in the hottest seasons of news, and at a time per-
haps that the Dutch mail is just come in, they
hear me ask the coffee-man for his last week's bill
of mortality. I find that I have been sometimes
taken on this occasion for a parish sexton, some-
times for an undertaker, and sometimes for a doc-
tor of physic. In this, however, I am guided by
the spirit of a philosopher, as I take occasion
from thence to reflect upon the regular increase
and diminution of mankind, and consider the
several various ways through which we pass from
life to eternity. I am very well pleased with
these weekly admonitions, that bring into my mind
such thoughts as ought to be the daily entertain-
ment of every reasonable creature; and consider
with pleasure to myself, by which of those de-
liverances, or, as we commonly call them, distem-
pers, I may possibly make my escape out of this
world of sorrows, into that condition of existence,
wherein I hope to be happier and better than it is
possible for me at present to conceive.

"Since so many dealers turn authors, and write quaint advertisements in praise of their wares, one who from an author turned dealer may be allowed for the advancement of trade to turn author again. I will not however set up, like soone of them, for selling cheaper than the most able honest tradesman can; nor do I send this to be better known for choice and cheapness of China and Japan wares, tea, fans, muslins, pictures, arrack, and other Indian goods. Placed as I am in Leadenhall-street, near the India company, and the center of that trade, thanks to my fair customers, my warehouse is graced as well as the benefit days of my plays and operas; and the foreign goods I sell, seem no less acceptable than the foreign books I translated, Rabelais, and Don Quixote. This the critics allow me, and while they But this is not all the use I make of the abovelike my wares they may dispraise my writings. mentioned weekly paper. A bill of mortality is, But as it is not so well known yet, that I frequent-in my opinion, an unanswerable argument for a ly cross the seas of late, and speak in Dutch and Providence. How can we, without supposing French, beside other languages, I have the con- ourselves under the constant care of a Supreme veniency of buying and importing rich brocades, Being, give any possible account for that nice proDutch atlases, with gold and silver, or without, portion, which we find in every great city, beand other foreign silks of the newest modes and tween the deaths and births of its inhabitants, and best fabrics, fine Flanders lace, linens, and pic- between the number of males and that of females tures, at the best hand; this my new way of trade brought into the world? What else could adjust I have fallen into, I cannot better publish than in so exact a manner the recruits of every nation by an application to you. My wares are fit only to its losses, and divide these new supplies of for such of your readers; and I would beg of you people into such equal bodies of both sexes? to print this address in your paper, that those Chance could never hold the balance with so whose minds you adorn may take the ornaments steady a hand. Were we not counted out by an for their persons and houses from me. This, Sir, intelligent supervisor, we should sometimes be if I may presume to beg it, will be the greater overcharged with multitudes, and at others waste favor, as I have lately received rich silks and fine away into a desert: we should be sometimes a lace to a considerable value, which will be sold populus virorum, as Florus elegantly expresses it, a cheap for a quick return, and as I have also a generation of males, and at others a species of large stock of other goods. Indian silks were women. We may extend this consideration to formerly a great branch of our trade; and since every species of living creatures, and consider the we must not sell them, we must seek amends by whole animal world as a huge army made up of dealing in others. This I hope will plead for one innumerable corps, if I may use that term, whose who would lessen the number of teasers of the quotas have been kept entire near five thousand Muses, and who, suiting his spirit to his circum- years, in so wonderful a manner, that there is not stances, humbles the poet to exalt the citizen. probably a single species lost during this long Like a true tradesman, I hardly ever look into any tract of time. Could we have general bills of books, but those of accounts. To say the truth, I mortality of every kind of animals, or particular cannot, I think, give you a better idea of my being ones of every species in each continent or island, a downright man of traffic, than by acknowledg- I could almost say in every wood, marsh, or ing I oftener read the advertisements, than the mountain, what astonishing instances would they matter of even your paper. I am under a great be of that Providence which watches over all his temptation to take this opportunity of admonish- works? ing other writers to follow my example, and trouble the town no more; but as it is my present business to increase the number of buyers rather than sellers, I hasten to tell you that I am, Sir, "Your most humble,

[blocks in formation]

I have heard of a great man in the Romish church, who upon reading those words in the fifth chapter of Genesis, "And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years, and he died; and all the days of Seth were nine hundred and twelve years, and he died; and all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred and sixty-nine years, and he died;" immediately shut himself up in a convent, and retired from the world, as not thinking anything in this life worth pursuing, which had not regard to another.

The truth of it is, there is nothing in history which is so improving to the reader as those accounts which we meet with of the deaths of emi

nent persons, and of their behavior in that dreadful season. I may also add, that there are no parts in history which affect and please the reader in so sensible à manner. The reason I take to be this, there is no other single circumstance in the story of any person, which can possibly be the case of every one who reads it. A battle or a triumph are conjectures in which not one man in a million is likely to be engaged: but when we see a person at the point of death, we cannot forbear being attentive to everything he says or does, because we are sure that some time or other we shall ourselves be in the same melancholy circumstances. The general, the statesman, or the philosopher, are perhaps characters which we may never act in, but the dying man is one whom, sooner or later, we shall certainly resemble.

It is, perhaps, for the same kind of reason, that few books written in English have been so much perused as Dr. Sherlock's Discourse upon Death; though at the same time I must own, that he who has not perused this excellent piece, has not perhaps read one of the strongest persuasives to a religious life that ever was written in any language.

The consideration with which I shall close this essay upon death, is one of the most ancient and most beaten morals that has been recommended to mankind. But its being so very common, and so universally received, though it takes away from it the grace of novelty, adds very much to the weight of it, as it shows that it falls in with the general sense of mankind.. In short, I would have every one consider that he is in this life nothing more than a passenger, and that he is not to set up his rest here, but to keep an attentive eye upon that state of being to which he approaches every moment, and which will be forever fixed and permanent. This single consideration would be sufficient to extinguish the bitterness of hatred, the thirst of avarice, and the cruelty of ambition.

I am very much pleased with the passage of Antiphanes, a very ancient poet, who lived near a hundred years before Socrates, which represents the life of man under this view, as I have here translated it word for word. "Be not grieved," says he, "above measure for thy deceased friends. They are not dead, but have only finished that journey which it is necessary for every one of us to take. We ourselves must go to that great place of reception in which they are all of them assembled, and in this general rendezvous of mankind, live together in another state of being."

I think I have, in a former paper, taken notice of these beautiful metaphors in Scripture, where life is termed a pilgrimage, and those who pass through it are called strangers and sojourners upon earth. I shall conclude this with a story which I have somewhere read in the travels of Sir John Chardin. That gentleman, after having told us that the inns which receive the caravans in Persia, and the eastern countries, are called by the name of caravansaries, gives us a relation to the following purpose:

"A dervise traveling through Tartary, being arrived at the town of Balk, went into the king's palace by mistake, as thinking it to be a public inn or caravansary. Having looked about him for some time, he entered into a long gallery, where he laid down his wallet, and spread his carpet, in order to repose himself upon it, after the manner of the eastern nations. He had not been long in this posture before he was discovered by some of the guards, who asked him what was his business in that place? The dervise told them he intended to take up his night's lodging

in that caravansary. The guards let him know, in a very angry manner, that the house he was in was not a caravansary, but the king's palace. It happened that the king himself passed through the gallery during this debate, and smiling at the mistake of the dervise, asked him how he could possibly be so dull as not to distinguish a palace from a caravansary; 'Sir,' says the dervise, give me leave to ask your majesty a question or two. Who were the persons that lodged in this house when it was first built? The king replied, 'His ancestors.' And who,' says the dervise, 'was the last person that lodged here? The king replied, His father.' And who is it,' says the dervise, that lodges here at present? The king told him, that it was he himself. And who,' says the dervise, will be here after you? The king answered, The young prince, his son.' 'Ah, Sir,' said the dervise, a house that changes its inhabitants so often, and receives such a perpetual succession of guests, is not a palace but a cara vansary.'"."-L.

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

THE players, who know I am very much their friend, take all opportunities to express a grati tude to me for being so. They could not have a better occasion of obliging me, than one which they lately took hold of. They desired my friend Will Honeycomb to bring me to the reading of a new tragedy; it is called The Distressed Mother I must confess, though some days are passed since I enjoyed that entertainment, the passions of the several characters dwell strongly upon my imagination; and I congratulate the age, tha they are at last to see truth and human life represented in the incidents which concern heroes and heroines. The style of the play is such as be comes those of the first education, and the seriments worthy those of the highest figure. It was a most exquisite pleasure to me, to observe rea tears drop from the eyes of those who had long made it their profession to dissemble affliction, and the player who read frequently threw dow the book, until he had given vent to the humanity which rose in him at some irresistible touches c the imagined sorrow. We have seldom had any female distress on the stage, which did not, upon cool examination, appear to flow from the weak ness rather than the misfortune of the perset represented but in this tragedy you are not e tertained with the ungoverned passions of such as are enamored of each other, merely as they are men and women, but their regards are founded upon high conceptions of each other's virtue and merit; and the character which gives name to the play, is one who has behaved herself with her virtue in the most important circumstances of a female life, those of a wife, a widow, and a mother. If there be those whose minds have been too attentive upon the affairs of life, to have any notion of the passion of love in such extremes as are known only to particular tempers, yet in the above-mentioned considerations, the sorrow of the heroine will move even the generality of mankind. Domestic virtues concern all the world, and there is no one living who is not interested that Andromache should be an inimitable character.

The motto in the original paper in folio was from Horace likewise.-"Spirat tragicum satis, et feliciter audet.”

« PředchozíPokračovat »