Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

The rocks of Hernicus-besides a band,
That followed from Velinum's dewy land-
And mountaineers that from Severus came:
And from the craggy cliffs of Tetrica;
And those where yellow Tiber takes his way,
And where Himella's wanton waters play:
Casperia sends her arms with those that lie
By Fabaris, and fruitful Foruli.

But to proceed:

'Earl Douglas on a milk-white steed, Most like a baron bold,

Rode foremost of the company, Whose armour shone like gold.'

Turnus ut antevolans tardum præcesserat agmen, &c. Vidisti, quo Turnus equo, quibus ibat in armis Aureus

'Our English archers bent their bows, Their hearts were good and true; At the first flight of arrows sent,

Full threescore Scots they slew. 'They clos'd full fast on ev'ry side,

No slackness there was found; And many a gallant gentleman Lay gasping on the ground.

"With that there came an arrow keen

Out of an English bow,

Which struck Earl Douglas to the heart,

A deep and deadly blow.'

Æneas was wounded after the same manner by an unknown hand in the midst of a parley.

Has inter voces, media inter talia verba, Ecce viro stridens alis allapsa sagitta est, Incertum qua pulsa manuEn. xii. 318. Thus while he spake, unmindful of defence, A winged arrow struck the pious prince; But whether from a human hand it came, Or hostile god, is left unknown by fame. Dryden. But of all the descriptive parts of this song, there are none more beautiful than the four following stanzas, which have a great force and spirit in them, and are filled with very natural circumstances. The thought in the third stanza was never touched by any other poet, and is such a one as would have shined in Homer or Virgil:

So thus did both these nobles die, Whose courage none could stain; An English archer then perceiv'd The noble Earl was slain.

'He had a bow bent in his hand, Made of a trusty tree,

An arrow of a cloth-yard long
Unto the head drew he.

'Against Sir Hugh Montgomery
So right his shaft he set,
The grey-goose wing that was thereon
In his heart-blood was wet.

Dryden.

"This fight did last from break of day

Till setting of the sun; For when they rung the ev'ning bell The battle scarce was done.'

One may observe, likewise, that in the catalogue of the slain, the author has followed the example of the great ancient poets, not only in giving a long list of the dead, but by diversifying it with little characters of particular persons.

'And with Earl Douglas there was slain Sir Hugh Montgomery,

Sir Charles Carrel, that from the field One foot would never fly:

'Sir Charles Murrel of Ratcliff too, His sister's son was he;

Sir David Lamb, so well esteem'd, Yet saved could not be.'

The familiar sound in these names destroys the majesty of the description; for this rea

[blocks in formation]

Non pudet, O Rutuli, cunctis pro talibus unam Objectare animam? numerone, an viribus æqui Non sumus-? n. xii. 229. For shame, Rutilius, can you bear the sight Of one expos'd for all, in single fight, Can we before the face of Heav'n confess Our courage colder, or our numbers less? Dryden. What can be more natural, or more moving, than the circumstances in which he describes the behaviour of those women who had lost their husbands on this fatal day?

'Next day did many widows come Their husbands to bewail;

They wash'd their wounds in brinish tears, But all would not prevail.

"Their bodies bath'd in purple blood, They bore with them away;

They kiss'd them dead a thousand times, When they were clad in clay.'

Thus we see how the thoughts of this poem, which naturally arise from the subject, are always simple, and sometimes exquisitely noble; that the language is often very sounding, and that the whole is written with a true poetical spirit.

If this song had been written in the Gothic manner, which is the delight of all our little wits, whether writers or readers, it would not have hit the taste of so many ages, and have pleased the readers of all ranks and conditions. I shall only beg pardon for such a profusion of Latin quotations; which I should not have made use of, but that I feared my own judgment would have looked too singular on such a subject, had not I supported it by the prac tice and authority of Virgil. C.

*There is nothing ludicrous in the verse alluded to, as it stands in the original ballad:

'For Wetharryngton my harte is wo, That ever he slayne shulde be;

For when both his legges wear hewyne in to, Yet he knul'd and fought on his kne.'

No. 75.] Saturday, May 26, 1711.

Omnis Aristippum decuit color, et status, et res.
Hor. Lib. 1. Ep. 23. xvii.
All fortune fitted Aristippus well.-Creech.

|vail, as the standards of behaviour, in the country wherein he lives. What is opposite to the eternal rules of reason and good sense, must be excluded from any place in the carriage of a well-bred man. I did not, subject, when I called Dorimant a clown, I confess, explain myself enough on this and made it an instance of it, that he called the orange-wench, Double Tripe: I should have shown, that humanity obliges a gentleman to give no part of humankind reproach, for what they, whom they rethe most virtuous and worthy amongst us. proach, may possibly have in common with When a gentleman speaks coarsely, he has dressed himself clean to no purpose. The clothing of our minds certainly ought to be regarded before that of our bodies. To beis a much greater offence against the contray in a man's talk a corrupt imagination, versation of a gentleman, than any negliof the matter is so far from being received gence of dress imaginable. But this sense fer passes for a fine gentleman. He is loud, among people even of condition, that Vocihaughty, gentle, soft, lewd, and obsequious by turns, just as a little understanding and sent moment. He passes among the silly great impudence prompt him at the prepart of our women for a man of wit, because he is generally in doubt. He contradicts with a shrug, and confutes with a

Then turning over the leaves, she reads certain sufficiency, in professing such and alternately, and speaks,

such a thing is above his capacity. What makes his character the pleasanter is, that he is a professed deluder of women; and because the empty coxcomb has no regard to any thing that is of itself sacred and inviolable. I have heard an unmarried lady of fortune say, It is a pity so fine a gentleman as Vocifer is so great an atheist. The crowds of such inconsiderable creatures, that infest all places of assembling, every reader will have in his eye from his own observation; but would it not be worth

Then how like a man of the town, so wild considering what sort of figure a man who formed himself upon those principles and gay is that! among us, which are agreeable to the dictates of honour and religion, would make in the familiar and ordinary occurrences of life?

It was with some mortification that I suffered the raillery of a fine lady of my acqaintance, for calling, in one of my papers, Dorimant a clown. She was so unmerciful as to take advantage of my invincible taciturnity, and on that occasion with great freedom to consider the air, the height, the face, the gesture of him, who could pretend to judge so arrogantly of gallantry. She is full of motion, janty and lively in her impertinence, and one of those that commonly pass, among the ignorant, for persons who have a great deal of humour. She had the play of Sir Fopling in her hand, and after she had said it was happy for her there was not so charming creature as Dorimant now living, she began with a theatrical air and tone of voice to read, by way of triumph over me, some of his speeches. Tis she! that lovely air, that easy shape, those wanton eyes, and all those melting charms about her mouth, which Medley spoke of. I'll follow the lottery, and put in for a prize with my friend Bellair.'

a

a

In love the victors from the vanquish'd fly;
They fly that wound, and they pursue that die.'

And you and Loveit to her cost shall find I fathom all the depths of woman-kind.' Oh the fine gentleman! But here, continues she, is the passage I admire most, where he begins to tease Loveit, and mimic Sir Fopling. Oh, the pretty satire, in his resolving to be a coxcomb to please, since noise and nonsense have such powerful charms.

'I, that I may successful prove, Transform myself to what you love.'

several duties of life better than Ignotus. I hardly have observed any one fill his All the under parts of his behaviour, and such as are exposed to common observation, have their rise in him from great and noble motives. A firm and unshaken ex

The wise will find a difference in our fate, You wed a woman, I a good estate.' It would have been a very wild endeavour for a man of my temper to offer any opposition to so nimble a speaker as my fair enemy is; but her discourse gave me very many reflections, when I had left her company. Among others, I could not but consider with some attention, the false impressions the generality (the fair sex more especially) have of what should be in-pectation of another life makes him become this; humanity and good-nature, fortified tended, when they say a fine gentleman; by the sense of virtue, has the same effect and could not help revolving that subject upon him as the neglect of all goodness has in my thoughts, and settling, as it were, an idea of that character in my own imagina- in all matters of importance, that certain upon many others. Being firmly established inattention which makes men's actions look easy, appears in him with greater beauty: by a thorough contempt of little excel

tion.

No man ought to have the esteem of the rest of the world, for any actions which are disagreeable to those maxims which pre-lencies, he is perfectly master of them.

*Spect. No. 65.

This temper of mind leaves him under no necessity of studying his air, and he has this

6

peculiar distinction, that his negligence is | alliances. A man who is but a mere Specunaffected. tator of what passes around him, and net engaged in commerces of any consideration, is but an ill judge of the secret motions of the heart of man, and by what degrees it is actuated to make such visible alterations in the same person: but at the same time, when a man is no way concerned in the effect of such inconsistencies in the behaviour of men of the world, the speculation must be in the utmost degree both diverting and instructive; yet to enjoy such observations in the highest relish, he ought to be placed in a post of direction, and have the dealings of their fortunes to them. I have therefore been wonderfully diverted with some pieces of secret history, which an antiquary, my very good friend, lent me as a curiosity. They are memoirs of the private life of Pharamond of France. 'Pharamond,' says my author, was a prince of infinite humanity and generosity, and at the same time the most pleasant and facetious companion of his time. He had a peculiar taste in him, which would have been unlucky in any prince but himself; he thought there could be no exquisite pleasure in conversation, but among equals; and would pleasantly bewail himself that he always lived in a crowd, but was the only man in France that could never get into company. This turn of mind made him delight in midnight rambles, attended only with one person of his bed-chamber. He would in these excursions get acquainted with men (whose temper he had a mind to try) and recommend them privately to the parti cular observation of his first minister. He generally found himself neglected by his new acquaintance as soon as they had hopes of growing great; and used on such occasions to remark, that it was a great injustice to tax princes of forgetting themselves in their high fortunes, when there were so few that could with constancy bear the favour of their very creatures.' 'My author in these loose hints has one passage that gives us a very lively idea of the uncommon genius of Pharamond. He met with one man whom he had put to all the usual proofs he made of those he had a mind to know thoroughly, and found him for his purpose. In discourse with him one day, he gave him an opportunity of saying how much would satisfy all his wishes. The prince immediately revealed himself, doubled the sum, and spoke to him in this manner: 'Sir, you have twice what you desired, by the favour of Pharamond; but look to it, that you are satisfied with it, for it is the last you shall ever receive. I from this moment consider you as mine; and to make you truly so, I give you my royal word you shall never be greater or less than you are at present. Answer me not (concluded the prince smil

THERE is nothing so common as to find a man whom in the general observation of nis carriage you take to be of a uniform temper, subject to such unaccountable starts of humour and passion, that he is as much unlike himself, and differs as much from the man you at first thought him, as any two distinct persons can differ from each other. This proceeds from the want of forming some law of life to ourselves, or fixing some notion of things in general, which may affect us in such a manner as to create proper habits both in our minds and bodies. The negligence of this, leaves using,) but enjoy the fortune I have put you exposed, not only to an unbecoming levity in in, which is above my own condition; for our usual conversation, but also to the same you have hereafter nothing to hope or fear. instability in our friendships, interests, and His majesty having thus well chosen and

He that can work himself into a pleasure in considering this being as an uncertain one, and think to reap an advantage by its discontinuance, is in a fair way of doing all things with a graceful unconcern, and a gentleman-like ease. Such a one does not Behold his life as a short, transient, perplexing state, made up of trifling pleasures and great anxieties; but sees it in quite another light; his griefs are momentary and his joys immortal. Reflection upon death is not a gloomy and sad thought of resigning every thing that he delights in, but it is a short night followed by an endless day. What I would here contend for is, that the more virtuous a man is, the nearer he will naturally be to the character of genteel and agreeable. A man whose fortune is plentiful, shows an ease in his countenance, and confidence in his behaviour, which he that is under wants and difficulties cannot assume. It is thus with the state of the mind; he that governs his thoughts with the everlasting rules of reason and sense, must have something so inexpressibly graceful in his words and actions, that every circumstance must become him. The change of persons or things around him does not alter his situation, but he looks disinterested in the occurrences with which others are distracted, because the greatest purpose of his life is to maintain an indifference both to it and all its enjoyments. In a word, to be a fine gentleman, is to be a generous and a brave man. What can make a man so much in constant good humour, and shine, as we call it, than to be supported by what can never fail him, and to believe that whatever happens to him was the best thing that could possibly befal him, or else he on whom it depends, would not have permitted it to have befallen him at all.

R.

No. 76.] Monday, May 28, 1711.

Ut tu fortunam, sic nos te, Celse, feremus.
Hor. Lib. 1. Ep. viii. 17.
As you your fortune bear, we will bear you.
Creech.

bought a friend and companion, he enjoyed | which no man else can ever have an opalternately all the pleasures of an agreeable portunity of enjoying. He gave fortune to private man, and a great and powerful mo- none but those whom he knew could renarch. He gave himself, with his compa-ceive it without transport. He made a nonion, the name of the merry tyrant; for he ble and generous use of his observations, punished his courtiers for their insolence and did not regard his ministers as they and folly, not by any act of public disfavour, were agreeable to himself, but as they were but by humorously practising upon their useful to his kingdom. By this means, the imaginations. If he observed a man un- king appeared in every officer of state; and tractable to his inferiors, he would find an no man had a participation of the power, opportunity to take some favourable notice who had not a similitude of the virtue of of him, and render him insupportable. He Pharamond. R. knew all his own looks, words, and actions, had their interpretations; and his friend Monsieur Eucrate (for so he was called)

having a great soul without ambition, he No. 77.] Tuesday, May 29, 1711.

Non convivere licet, nec urbe tota

could communicate all his thoughts to him,
and fear no artful use would be made of
that freedom. It was no small delight when
they were in private, to reflect upon all
which had passed in public.

Quisquam est tam prope tam proculque nobis.
Mart. Epig. 87. I. i.
What correspondence can I hold with you,
Who are so near, and yet so distant too?
My friend Will Honeycomb is one of
those sort of men who are very often absent

Pharamond would often, to satisfy a vain fool of power in his country, talk to him in a full court, and with one whisper make him despise all his old friends and acquain-in conversation, and what the French call tance. He was come to that knowledge of a reveur and a distrait. A little before our men by long observation, that he would club-time last night, we were walking toprofess altering the whole mass of blood in gether in Somerset-gardens, where Will some tempers, by thrice speaking to them. had picked up a small pebble of so odd a As fortune was in his power, he gave him- make, that he said he would present it to a self constant entertainment in managing the friend of his, an eminent virtuoso. After mere followers of it with the treatment they we had walked some time, I made a full deserved. He would, by a skilful cast of stop with my face towards the west, which his eye, and half a smile, make two fellows Will knowing to be my usual method of who hated, embrace, and fall upon each asking what's o'clock, in an afternoon, imother's necks with as much eagerness, as mediately pulled out his watch, and told me if they followed their real inclinations, and we had seven minutes good. We took a intended to stifle one another. When he turn or two more, when to my great surwas in high good humour, he would lay the prise, I saw him squir away his watch a scene with Eucrate, and on a public night considerable way into the Thames, and exercise the passions of his whole court. with great sedateness in his looks put up He was pleased to see a haughty beauty the pebble, he had before found, in his fob. watch the looks of the man she had long As I have naturally an aversion to much despised, from observation of his being speaking, and do not love to be the messentaken notice of by Pharamond; and the ger of ill news, especially when it comes lover conceive higher hopes, than to follow too late to be useful, I left him to be conthe woman he was dying for the day be- vinced of his mistake in due time, and confore. In a court, where men speak affec- tinued my walk, reflecting on these little tion in the strongest terms, and dislike in absences and distractions in mankind, and the faintest, it was a comical mixture of resolving to make them the subject of a incidents to see disguises thrown aside in future speculation. one case, and increased on the other, according as favour or disgrace attended the respective objects of men's approbation or disesteem. Pharamond, in his mirth upon the meanness of mankind, used to say, As he could take away a man's five senses, he could give him a hundred. The man in disgrace shall immediately lose all his natural endowments, and he that finds favour have the attributes of an angel.' He would carry it so far as to say. It should not be only so in the opinion of the lower part of his court, but the men themselves shall think thus meanly or greatly of themselves, as they are out or in the good graces of a

·

court.'

A monarch, who had wit and humour like Pharamond, must have pleasures

[ocr errors]

I was the more confirmed in my design, when I considered that they were very often blemishes in the characters of men of excellent sense; and helped to keep up the reputation of that Latin proverb, which Mr. Dryden has translated in the following lines:

'Great wit to madness sure is near ally'd, And thin partitions do their bounds divide.'* My reader does, I hope, perceive, that I distinguish a man who is absent, because he thinks of something else, from one who is absent, because he thinks of nothing at all. The latter is too innocent a creature to be taken notice of; but the distractions of the

* Nullum magnum ingenium sine mixtura dementia Seneca De Tranquil. Anim. cap. xv.

former may, I believe, be generally ac-house about 'Change. I was his bail in counted for from one of these reasons. the time of the Popish plot, when he was taken up for a Jesuit.' If he had looked on me a little longer, he had certainly described me so particularly, without ever considering what led him into it, that the whole company must necessarily have found me out; for which reason, remembering the old proverb, 'Out of sight out of mind,' I left the room; and upon meeting him an hour afterwards, was asked by him, with a great deal of good humour, in what part of the world I lived, that he had not seen me these three days.

Monsieur Bruyere has given us the character of an absent man, with a great deal of humour, which he has pushed to an agreeable extravagance: with the heads of it I shall conclude my present paper.

Either their minds are wholly fixed on some particular science, which is often the case of mathematicians and other learned men; or are wholly taken up with some violent passion, such as anger, fear or love, which ties the mind to some distant object, or, lastly, these distractions proceed from a certain vivacity and fickleness in a man's temper, which while it raises up infinite numbers of ideas in the mind, is continually pushing it on, without allowing it to rest on any particular image. Nothing therefore is more unnatural than the thoughts and conceptions of such a man, which are seldom occasioned either by the company he is in, or any of those objects which are placed before him. While you fancy he is admiring a beautiful woman, it is an even wager that he is solving a proposition in Euclid; and while you may imagine he is reading the Paris Gazette, it is far from being impossible, that he is pulling down and rebuilding the front of his countryhouse.

At the same time that I am endeavouring to expose this weakness in others, I shall readily confess that I once laboured under the same infirmity myself. The method I took to conquer it was a firm resolution to learn something from whatever I was obliged to see or hear. There is a way of thinking, if a man can attain to it, by which he may strike somewhat out of any thing. I can at present observe those starts of good sense, and struggles of unimproved reason in the conversation of a clown, with as much satisfaction as the most shining periods of the most finished orator; and can make a shift to command my attention at a puppet-show or an opera, as well as at Hamlet or Othello. I always make one of the company I am in; for though I say little myself, my attention to others, and those nods of approbation which I never bestow unmerited, sufficiently show that I am among them. Whereas Will Honeycomb, though a fellow of good sense, is every day doing and saying a hundred things, which he afterwards confesses, with a well-bred frankness, were somewhat mal à propos, and undesigned.

I chanced the other day to go into a coffee-house, where Will was standing in the midst of several auditors, whom he had gathered round him, and was giving them an account of the person and character of Moll Hinton. My appearance before him just put him in mind of me, without making him reflect that I was actually present. So that, keeping his eyes full upon me, to the great surprise of his audience, he broke off his first harangue, and proceeded thus:-'Why now there's my friend,' mentioning me by my name, he is a fellow that thinks a great deal, but never opens his mouth; I warrant you he is now thrusting his short face into some coffee

'Menalcas,' says that excellent author, comes down in a morning, opens his door to go out, but shuts it again, because he perceives that he has his night-cap on: and examining himself further, finds that he is but half shaved, that he has stuck his sword on his right side, that his stockings are about his heels, and that his shirt is over his breeches. When he is dressed, he goes to court, comes into the drawingroom, and walking bolt-upright under a branch of candlesticks, his wig is caught up by one of them, and hangs dangling in the air. All the courtiers fall a-laughing, but Me nalcas laughs louder than any of them and looks about for the person that is the jest of the company. Coming down to the courtgate he finds a coach, which taking for his own, he whips into it; and the coachman drives off, not doubting but he carries his master. As soon as he stops, Menalcas throws himself out of the coach, crosses the court, ascends the stair-case, and runs through all the chambers with the greatest familiarity; reposes himself on a couch, and fancies himself at home. The master of the house at last comes in; Menalcas rises to receive him, and desires him to sit down; he talks, muses, and then talks again. The gentleman of the house is tired and amazed; Menalcas is no less so, but is every moment in hopes that his impertinent guest will at last end his tedious visit. Night comes on, when Menalcas is hardly undeceived.

When he is playing at backgammon, he calls for a full glass of wine and water. it is his turn to throw, he has the box in one hand, and his glass in the other; and being extremely dry, and unwilling to lose time, he swallows down both the dice, and at the same time throws his wine into the tables. He writes a letter, and flings the sand into the ink-bottle; he writes a second and mistakes the superscription. A nobleman receives one of them, and upon opening it reads as follows: I would have you, honest Jack, immediately upon the receipt of this, take in hay enough to serve me the winter.' His farmer receives the other,

« PředchozíPokračovat »