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took me on his knees, and, after having embraced and blessed me, as he was surrounded by the nobles of Ithaca, O my friends,' says he, 'into your hands I commit the education of my son: if ever you loved his father show it in your care towards him; but, above all, do not omit to form him just, sincere, and faithful in keeping a secret.' "These words of my father," says Telemachus, "were continually repeated to me by his friends in his absence; who made no scruple of communicating to me their uneasiness to see my mother surrounded with lovers, and the measures they designed to take on that occasion." He adds, that he was so ravished at being thus treated like a man, and at the confidence reposed in him, that he never once abused it; nor could all the insinuations of his father's rivals ever get him to betray what was committed to him under the seal of secrecy.
'There is hardly any virtue which a lad might not thus learn by practice and example.
'I have heard of a good man, who used at certain times to give his scholars sixpence apiece, that they might tell him the next day how they had employed it. The third part was always to be laid out in charity, and every boy was blamed, or commended, as he could make it appear he had chosen a fit object.
'In short, nothing is more wanting to our public schools, than that the masters of them should use the same care in fashioning the manners of their scholars, as in forming their tongues to the learned languages. Wherever the former is omitted, I cannot help agreeing with Mr. Locke, that a man must have a very strange value for words, when, preferring the languages of the Greeks and Romans to that which made them such brave
men, he can think it worth while to hazard the innocence and virtue of his son for a little Greek and Latin.
'As the subject of this essay is of the highest importance, and what I do not remember to have yet seen treated by any author, I have sent you what occurred to me on it from my own observation, or reading, and which you may either suppress or publish, as you think fit.
I am, SIR,
No. 338. FRIDAY, MARCH 28, 1712.
-Nil fuit unquam
HOR. 1 Sat, iii. 16.
I FIND the tragedy of the Distrest Mother is published to-day. The author of the prologue,t I suppose, pleads an old excuse I have read somewhere, of being dull with design;' and the gentleman who writ the epilogue‡ has, to my know
*The original motto to this paper, at it first publication in folio, was likewise from Horace:
-Servetur ad imum,
HOR. A. P.
Steele was the author of the prologue to the Distrest Mother. The excuse alludes to a passage at the end of Tat. No. 38.
The author of the epilogue to the play of A. Philips, called the Distrest Mother, first published in the year 1712, was Mr. Eustace Budgell.
ledge, so much of greater moment to value himself upon, that he will easily forgive me for publishing the exceptions made against gayety at the end of serious entertainments in the following letter: I should be more unwilling to pardon him, than any body, a practice which cannot have any ill consequence but from the abilities of the person who is guilty of it.
'I HAD the happiness the other night of sitting very near you, and your worthy friend Sir Roger, at the acting of the new tragedy, which you have, in a late paper or two, so justly recommended. I was highly pleased with the advantageous situation fortune had given me in placing me so near two gentlemen, from one of which I was sure to hear such reflections on the several incidents of the play as pure nature suggested, and from the other, such as flowed from the exactest art, and judgment: though I must confess that my curiosity led me so much to observe the knight's reflections, that I was not well at leisure to improve myself by yours. Nature, I found, played her part in the knight pretty well, till at the last concluding lines she entirely forsook him. You must know, sir, that it is always my custom, when I have been well entertained at anew tragedy, to make my retreat before the facetious epilogue enters; not but that those pieces are often very well written, but having paid down my half-crown, and made a fair purchase of as much of the pleasing melancholy as the poet's art can afford me, or my own nature admit of I am willing to carry some of it home with me: and cannot endure to be at once tricked out of all, though by the wittiest
dexterity in the world. However, I kept my seat the other night, in hopes of finding my own sentiments of this matter favoured by your friend's; when, to my great surprise, I found the knight entering with equal pleasure into both parts, and as much satisfied with Mrs. Oldfield's gayety as he had been before with Andromache's greatness. Whether this were no more than an effect of the knight's peculiar humanity, pleased to find at last, that, after all the tragical doings, every thing was safe and well, I do not know. But for my own part, I must confess I was so dissatisfied, that I was sorry the poet had saved Andromache, and could heartily have wished that he had left her stone-dead the stage. For upon cannot imayou gine, Mr. Spectator, the mischief she was reserved to do me. I found my soul, during the action, gradually worked up to the highest pitch, and felt the exalted passion which all generous minds conceive at the sight of virtue in distress. The impression, believe me, sir, was so strong upon me, that I am persuaded, if I had been let alone in it, I could, at an extremity, have ventured to defend yourself and Sir Roger against half a score of the fiercest Mohocks; but the ludicrous epilogue in the close extinguished all my ardour, and made me look upon all such noble achieveWhat ments as downright silly and romantic. the rest of the audience felt, I cannot so well tell. For myself I must declare, that at the end of the play I found my soul uniform, and all of a piece: but at the end of the epilogue it was so jumbled together, and divided between jest and earnest, that, if you will forgive me an extravagant fancy, I will here set it down. I could not but fancy, if my soul had at that moment quitted my body, and descended to the poetical shades in the posture it
was then in, what a strange figure it would have made among them. They would not have known what to have made of my motly spectre, half comic and half tragic, all over resembling a ridiculous face that at the same time laughs on one side and cries on the other. The only defence, I think, I have ever heard made for this, as it seems to me the most unnatural tack of the comic tail to the tragic head, is this, that the minds of the audience must be refreshed, and gentlemen and ladies not sent away to their own homes with too dismal and melancholy thoughts about them: for who knows the consequence of this? We are much obliged, indeed, to the poets for the great tenderness they express for the safety of our persons, and heartily thank them for it. But if that be all, pray, good sir, assure them, that we are none of us like to come to any great harm; and that let them do their best, we shall in all probability, live out the length ofour days, and frequent the theatres more than ever. What makes me more desirous to have some information of this matter is, because of an ill consequence or two attending it: for, a great many of our church musicians being related to the theatre, they have, in imitation of these epilogues, introduced, in their farewell voluntaries, a sort of music quite foreign to the design of church-services, to the great prejudice of well-disposed people. Those fingering gentlemen should be informed, that they ought to suit their airs to the place and business, and that the musician is obliged to keep to the text as much as the preacher. For want of this, I have found by experience a great deal of mischief. When the preacher has often, with great piety, and art enough, handled his subject, and the judicious clerk has with the utmost diligence called