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Tappan Presh, asra 1-26-1933
No. 315.] Saiurday, March 1, 1711-12. man) with great energy of expression, and in Nec deus intersit, nisi dignus vindic nodus
a clearer and stronger light than I ever met Inciderit
Hor. Ars Poet. v. 191. with in any other writer. As these points are
dry in themselves to the generality of readers, Never presume to make a god appear
the concise and clear manner in which he has But for a business worthy of a god.-Roscommon.
treated them is very inuch to be admired, as is Horace advises a poet to consider thorough- likewise that particular art which he has made ly the nature and force of his genius. Milton use of in the interspersing of all those graces seems to have known perfectly well wherein of poetry which the subject was capable of rehis strength lay, and has therefore chosen aceiving. subject entirely conformable to those talents
The survey of the whole creation, and of of which he was master. As his genius was every thing that is transacted in it, is a proswonderfully turned to the sublime, his subject pect worthy of Omniscience, and as much is the noblest that could have entered into the above that in which Virgil has drawn his Juthoughts of man. Every thing that is truly ter, as the Christian idea of the Supreme Begreat and astonishing has a place in it. The ing is more rational and sublime than that whole system of the intellectual world; the of the Heathens. The particular objects on chaos, and the creation : heaven, earth, and which he is described to have cast bis eye, hell; enter into the constitution of his poem. are represented in the most beautiful and live
Having in the first and second books re- ly manner : presented the infernal world with all its hor
Now had th' Almighty Father from above rors, the thread of his fable naturally leads
(From the pure empyrean where he sits him into the opposite regions of bliss and High thron'd above all height) bent down his eye, glory.
His own works and their works at once to view.
About him all the sanctities of heaven If Milton's majesty forsakes him any where,
Stood thick as stars, and from his sight receiv'd it is in those parts of his poem where the di
Beatitude past utterance. On his right vine persons are introduced as speakers. One The radiant image of his glory sat, may, I think, observe, that the author proceeds
His only Son. On earth he first beheld
Our two first parents, yet the only two 'with a kind of fear and trembling, whilst he
Of mankind, in the happy garden plac'd describes the sentiments of the Alnighty. He Reaping isamortal fruits of joy and love. dares not give his imagination its full play, but Uninterrupted joy, unrivall'd love, chooses to confine himself to such thoughts as
In blissful solitude. He then survey'd
Hell and the gulf between, and Satan there are drawn from the books of the most ortho
Coasting the wall of heav'n on this side night, dox divines, and to such expressions as may In the dun air sublime; and really now be met with in scripture. The beauties, there- To stoop with weariod wings and willing feet fore, which we are to look for in these speeches,
On the bare outside of this world, that seem'd
Firm land imbosom'd without firmament; are not of a poetical nature, nor so proper to Uncertain which, in ocean or in air. sill the mind with sentiments of grandeur, as Him God beholding from his prospect high, with thoughts of devotion. The passions which
Wherein past, present, future he beholds,
Thus to his only Son foreseeing spake. they are designed to raise, are a divine love and religious fear. The particular beauty of Satan's approach to the confines of the creathe speeches in the third book, consists in that tion is finely imaged in the beginning of the shortness and perspicuity of style, in which speech which immediately follows. The efthe poet has couched the greatest mysteries offects of this speech in the blessed spirits, and Christianity, and drawn together, in a regular in the divine person to whom it was addressed, scheme, the whole dispensation of Providence cannot but fill the mind of the reader with a with respect to man. He has represented all
secret pleasure and complacency: the abstruse doctrines of predestination, freewill and grace, as also the great points of in
Thus while God spake, ambrosial fragrance fill'd carnation and redemption, (which naturally
All heav'n, and in the blessed spirits elect
Sense of new joy ineffable diffus'd. grow up in a poem that treats of the fall of Beyond compare the Son of God was seen VOL. II.
Most glorious; in him all his Father shone,
they were the gods who thustransformed them. Substantially express'd; and in his face Divine compassion visibly appear'd,
It is this kind of machinery which fills the Love without end, and without measure grace.
poems both of Homer and Virgil with such
circumstances as are wonderful but not imI need not point out the beauty of that possible, and so frequently produce in the reacircumstance, wherein the whole host of angels der the most pleasing passion that can rise in are represented as standing mute; nor show the mind of man, which is admiration. If how proper the occasion was to produce such there be any instance in the Æneid liable to a silence in heaven. The close of this divine exception upon this account, it is in the begincolloquy, with the hymn of angels that follows ning of the third book, where Æneas is repreupon it, are so wonderfully beautiful and po- sented as tearing up the myrtle that dropped etical, that I should not forbear inserting the blood. To qualify this wonderful circumstance, whole passage, if the bounds of my paper would Polydorus tells a story from the root of the give me leave:
myrtle, that the barbarous inhabitants of the No sooner had th' Almighty ceas'd, b:at all
country having pierced him with spears and The multitude of angels with a shout
the wood which was left in his body (Loud as from numbers without number, sweet took root in his wounds, and gave birth to As froin blest voices) utt'ring joy, heav'n rung that bleeding tree. This circumstance seems With jubilee, and loud Hosannas fill'd
to have the marvellous without the probable Th' eternal regions, &c. &c.
because it is represented as proceeding from Satan's walk upon the outside of the uni- natural causes, without the interposition of verse, which at a distance appeared to him of any god, or other supernatural power capable a globular form, but upon his nearer approach of producing it. The spears and arrows grow looked like an unbounded plain, is natural and for themselves without so much as the modern noble; as his roaming upon the frontiers of help of enchantment. If we look into the ficthe creation, between that mass of matter tion of Milton's fable, though we find it full of which was wrought into a world, and that surprising incidents, they are generally suited shapeless up formed heap of materials which to our notions of the things and persons destill lay in chaos and confusion, strikes the scribed, and tempered with a due measure of imagination with something astonishingly great probability. I must only make an exception to and wild. I have before spoken of the Limbo the Limbo of vanity, with his episode of Sin and of Vanity, which the poet places upon this Death, and some of the imaginary persons in outermost surface of the universe, and shall his chaos. These passages are astonishing, but here explain myself more at large on that, and not credible; the reader cannot so far impose other parts of the poem, which are of the same upon himself as to see a possibility in them; shadowy nature.
theyare the description of dreams and shadows Aristotle observes, that the fable of an epic not of things or persons. I know that many cripoem should abound in circumstances that tics look upon the stories of Circe, Polypheme, are both credible and astonishing; or, as the the Sirens, nay the whole Odyssey and Iliad, French critics choose to phrase it, the fable to be allegories; but allowing this to be true, should be filled with the probable and the they are fables, which, considering the opimarvellous. This rule is as fine and just as nions of mankind that prevailed in the age of any in Aristotle's whole Art of Poetry. the poet, might possibly have been according
If the fable is only probable, it differs nothing to the letter. The persons are such as might from a true history, if it is only marvellous, have acted what is ascribed to them, as the it is no better than a romance. The great circumstances in which they are represented secret, therefore, of heroic poetry is to relate might possibly have been truths and realities. such circumstances as may produce in the rea- This appearance of probability is so absolutely der at the same time both belief and astonish- requisite in the greater kinds of poetry, that ment. This is brought to pass in a well chosen Aristotle observes the ancient tragic writers fable, by the account of such things as have made use of the names of such great men as really happened, or at least of such things as had actually lived in the world, though the have happened according to the received opi-tragedy proceeded upon adventures they were nions of mankind. Milton's fable is a master- never engaged in, on purpose to make the subpiece of this nature; as the war in heaven, the ject more credible. In a word, besides the condition of the fallen angels, the state of in- [hidden meaning of au epic allegory, the plain nocence, the temptation of the serpent, and literal sense ought to appear probable.
The the fall of man, though they are very astonish-story should be such as an ordinary reader ing in themselves, are not only credible, but may acquiesce in, whatever natural, moral, or actual points of faith.
political truth may be discovered in it by ben The next method of reconciling miracles of greater penetration. with credibility, is by a happy invention of the Satan, after having long wandered upon the poet; as in particular, when he introduces surface or outermost wall of the universe, disagents of a superior nature, who are capable covers at last a wide gap in it, which led into of effecting what is wonderful, and what is not the creation, and is described as the opening to be met with in the ordinary course of things. through which the angels pass to and fro into Ulysses's ship being turned into a rock, and the lower world, upon their errands to manÆneas's fleet into a shoal of water nymphs, kind. His sitting upon the brink of this pasthough they are very surprising accidents, are sage, and taking a survey of the whole face of nevertheless probable when we are told, that nature, that appeared to him new and fresh
in all its beauties, with the simile illustrating plaints, this may have reason to hope for a this circumstance, fills the mind of the reader favourable acceptance; and if time be the
as surprising and glorious an idea as any most irretrievable loss, the regrets which folthat arises in the whole poem. He looks down low will be thought, I hope, the most justifiainto that vast hollow of the universe with the ble. The regaining of my liberty from a long eye, or (as Milton calls it in his first book) state of indolence and inactivity, and the desire with the ken of an angel. He surveys all the of resisting the farther incroachments of idle wonders in this immense amphitheatre thatness, make me apply to you; and the uneasilie between both the poles of heaven, and ness with which I recollect the past years, and takes in at one view the whole round of the the apprehensions with which I expect the fucreation.
ture, soon determined me to it. Idleness is His fight between the several worlds that so general a distemper, that I cannot but imashined on every side of him, with the particular gine a speculation on this subject will be of descriptior of the sun, are set forth in all the universal use. There is hardly any one person wantonness of a luxuriant imagination. His without some allay of it; and thousands beshape, speech, and behaviour upon his trans- sides myself spend more time in an idle uncerforming himself into an angel of light, are tainty which to begin first of two affairs, than touched with exquisite beauty. The poet's would have been sufficient to have ended them thought of directing Satan to the Sun, which, both. The occasion of this seems to be the in the vulgar opinion of mankind, is the most want of some necessary employment, to put conspicuous part of the creation, and the plac- the spirits in motion, and awaken them out of ing in it an angel
, is a circumstance very finely their lethargy. If I had less leisure, I should contrived, and the more adjusted to a poetical have more ; for I should then find my time probability, as it was a received doctrine among distinguished into portions, some for business, the most famous philosophers, that every orb and others for the indulging of pleasures ; had its intelligence; and as an apostle in sa- but now one face of indolence overspreads the cred writ is said to have seen such an angel in whole, and I have no land-mark to direct my
In the answer which this angel re- self by: Were one's time a little straitened turns to the disguised evil spirit, there is such by business, like water enclosed in its banks, a becoming majesty as is altogether suitable it would have some determined course ; but to a superior being. The part of it in which unless it be put into some channel it has no he represents himself as present at the creation, current, but becomes a deluge without either is very noble in itself, and not only proper use or motion. where it is introduced, but requisite to prepare
When Scanderbeg, Prince of Epirus, was the reader for what follows in the seventh dead, the Turks, who had but too often felt book :
the force of his arm in the battles he had won I saw when at his word the formless mass,
from them, imagined that by wearing a piece This world's material mould, came to a heap:
of his bones near their heart, they should be Confusion heard his voice, and wild Uproar
animated with a vigour and force like to that Stood rul'd, stood vast infinitude confin'd; Till at his second bidding Darkness fled,
which inspired him when living. As I am like Light shone, &c.
to be but of little use whilst I live, I am reIn the following part of the speech he points solved to do what good I can after my decease; out the earth with such circumstances, that
and have accordingly ordered my bones to be the reader can scarce forbear fancying himself disposed of in this manner for the good of my enıployed on the same distant view of it:
countrymen, who are troubled with too exor
bitant a degree of fire. All fox-hunters, upon Look downward on that globe, whose hither side With light from hence, though but reflected, shines;
wearing me, would in a short time be brought That place is earth, the seat of man, that light
to endure their beds in a morning, and perhaps His day, &c.
even quit them with regret at ten. Instead I must not conclude my reflections upon this of hurrying away to tease a poor animal, and third book of Paradise Lost, without taking run away from their own thoughts, a chair or notice of that celebrated complaint of Milton a chariot would be thought the most desirable with which it opens, and which certainly de- means of performing a remove from one place serves all the praises that have been given it; to another. I should be a cure for the unnathough, as I have before hinted, it may rather tural desire of John Trott for dancing, and a be looked upon as an excrescence than as an specific to lessen the inclination Mrs. Fidget essential part of the poem. The same obser- has to motion, and cause her always to give vation might be applied to that beautiful di- her approbation to the present place she is in. gression upon hypocrisy in the same book. L. In fine, no Egyptian mummy was ever half so
useful in physic, as I should be to these feverish No. 316.] Monday, March 3, 1711-12.
constitutions, to repress the violent sallies of
youth, and give each action its proper weight Libertas; quæ sera, tamen respexit inertem.
and repose Virg. Ecl. i. 28.
'I can stifle any violent inclination, and opFreedom, which came at length, though slow to come. pose a torrent of anger, or the solicitations of
Dryden. revenge, with success. Indolence is a stream 'MR. SPECTATOR,
which flows slowly ou, but yet undermines the
foundation of every virtue. A vice of a more 'If you ever read a letter which is sent with lively nature were a more desirable tyrant than the more pleasure for the reality of its con- this rust of the mind, which gives a tincture
of its nature to every action of one's life. It since the good will not be confined to me alone, were as little hazard to be lost in a storm, as but will be of universal use. For there is no to lie thus perpetually becalmed: and it is to hope of amendment where. men are pleased no purpose to have within one the seeds of a with their ruin, and whilst they think laziness thousand good qualities, if we want the vigour is a desirable character; whether it be that 1 and resolution necessary for the exerting them. they like the state itself, or that they think it
Death brings all persons back to an equality; gives them a cew lustre when they do exert and this image of it, this slumber of the mind, themselves, seemingly to be able to do that leaves no difference between the greatest ge- without labour and application, which others nius and the meanest understanding. A faculty attain to but with the greatest diligence. of doing things remarkably praise-worthy, thus
I am, Sir, concealed, is of no more use to the owner, than Your most obliged humble servant, á heap of gold to the man who dares not use it.
"SAMUEL SLACK.' * To-morrow is still the fatal time when all is to be rectified. To-morrow comes, it goes,
Clytander to Cleone. and still I please myself with the shadow, MADAM, whilst I lose the reality : unmindful that the • Permission to love you is all that I desire, present time alone is ours, the future is yet to conquer all the difficulties those about you unborn, and the past is dead, and can only live place in my way, to surmount and acquire all (as parents in their children) in the actions it those qualifications you expect in him who has produced.
pretends to the honour of being, "The time we live ought not to be computed
Madam, by the number of years, but by the use that Your most devoted humble servant, bas been made of it; thus, it is not the extent
CLYTANDER.' of ground, but the yearly rent, which gives the value to the estate. Wretched and thoughtless creatures, in the only place where covet-No. 317.] Tuesday, March 4, 1711-12. ousness were a virtue, we turn prodigals ! No- --Fruges consumere nati. Hor. Ep. ii. Lib. 1. 27. thing lies upon our hands with such uneasiness,
Born to drink and eat. Creech. nor have there been so many devices for any one thing, as to make it slide away impercep- AUGUSTUS, a few minutes before his death, tibly and to no purpose. A shilling shall be asked his friends who stood about him, if they hoarded up with care, whilst that which is thought he had acted his part well; and upon above the price of an estate is fung away with receiving such an answer as was due to his disregard and contempt. There is nothing extraordinary merit, 'Let me then,' says he now-a-days, so much avoided, as a solicitous' go off the stage with your applause;' using improvement of every part of time; it is a re- the expression with which the Roman actors port must be shunned as one tenders the name made their exit at the conclusion of a draof a wit and a fine genius, and as one fears the matic piece.* I could wish that men, while dreadful character of a laborious plodder : but they are in health, would consider well the notwithstanding this, the greatest wits any nature of the part they are engaged in, and age has produced thought far otherwise ; for what figure it will make in the minds of those who can think either Socrates or Demosthenes they leave behind them, whether it was worth lost any reputation, by their continual pains coming into the world for; whether it be suitboth in overcoming the defects and improving able to a reasonable being; in short, whether the gifts of nature ? All are acquainted with it apears graceful in this life, or will turn to the labour and assiduity with which Tully ac- an advantage in the next. Let the sycophant, quired his eloquence. Seneca in his letters to or the buffoon, the satirist or the good comLucilius assures him, there was not a day in panion consider with himself, when his body. which he did not either write something, or shall be laid in the grave, and his soul pass read and epitomize some good author ; and I into another state of existence, how much it remember Pliny in one of his letters, where he will redound to his praise to have it said of gives an account of the various methods he him, that no man in England ate better, that used to fill up every vacancy of time, after he had an admirable italent at turning his several employments which he enumerates; friends into ridicule, that nobody out-did hinn "Sometimes,' says he, “I hunt : but even at an ill-natured jest, or that he never went then I carry with me a pocket-book, that to bed before he had despatched his third whilst my servants are busied in disposing of bottle. These are, however, very common futhe nets and other matters, I may be employed neral orations, and eulogiums on deceased per. in something that may be useful to me in my sons who have acted among mankind with studies; and that if I miss of my game, I may some figure and reputation. at the least bring home some of my own But if we look into the bulk of our species, thoughts with me, and not have the mortifi- they are such as are not likely to be rememcation of having caught nothing all day.” bered a moment after their disappearance.
* Thus, sir, you see, how many examples 1 They leave behind them no traces of their recall to mind, and what arguments I use with existence, but are forgotten as though they myself, to regain my liberty: but as I am afraid had never been. They are neither wanted by it is no ordinary persuasion that will be of ser. the poor, regretted by the rich, nor celebrated vice, I shall expect your thoughts on this subject with the greatest impatience, especially
* Vos valete et plaudite.