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built?' The king replied, His ancestors, ', known only to particular tempers, yet in * And who,' says the dervise, was the last the above-mentioned considerations, the person that lodged here?' The king re- sorrow of the heroine will move even the plied, “His father.' 'And who is it,' says generality of mankind, Domestic virtues The dervise, Sthat lodges here at present?' concern all the world, and there is no one The king told him, that it was he himself, living who is not interested that Androma* And who,' says the dervise, will be here che should be an imitable character. The after you?' The king answered, "The young generous affection to the memory of the prince his son.' 'Ah, sir,' said the dervise, deceased husband, that tender care for her
a house that changes its inhabitants so son, which is ever heightened with the often, and receives such a perpetual suc- consideration of his father, and these recession of guests, is not a palace, but a gards preserved in spite of being tempted caravansary.'
with the possession of the highest greatness, are what cannot but be venerable
even to such an audience as at present freNo. 290.] Friday, February 1, 1711-12. quents the English theatre. "My friend
Will Honeycomb commended several tenProjicit ampullas et sesquipedalia verba.
der things that were said, and told me they Kor. Ars Poet. v. 97.*
were very genteel, but whispered me, that Forgets his swelling and gigantic words.
he feared the piece was not busy enough
for the present taste. To supply this, he THE players, who know I am very much
recommended to the players to be very their friend, take all opportunities to ex careful in their scenes, and above all things press a gratitude to me for being so. They that every part should be perfectly new could not have a better occasion of obliging dressed. “I was very glad to find that they me, than one which they lately took hold of. I did not neglect my friend's admonition, beThey desired my friend Will Honeycomb cause there are a great many in this class to bring me to the reading of a new tragedy: of criticism who may be gained by it; but it is called The Distressed Mother.T I indeed the truth is,' that as to the work must confess, though some days are passed itself, it is every where Nature. The persince I enjoyed that entertainment, the pas
sons are of the highest quality in life, even sions of the several characters dwell strong-1 that of princes; but their quality is not rely upon my imagination; and I congratu
presented by the poet with directions that late the age that they are at last to see
guards and waiters should follow them in truth and human life represented in the
every scene, but their grandeur appears in incidents which concern heroes and hero
greatness of sentiment, flowing from minds ines. The style of the play is such as be
worthy their condition. To make a chacomes those of the first education, and the
racter truly great, this author understands sentiments worthy of those of the highest
that it should have its foundation in supefigure. It was a most exquisite pleasure to rior thoughts and maxims of conduct. It me to observe real tears drop from the eyes is very certain, that many an honest woman of those who had long made it their profes- I would make no difficulty, though she had sion to dissemble affliction; and the player been the wife of Hector, for the sake of a who read, frequently threw down the book, kingdom. to marry the enemy of her husuntil he had given vent to the humanity band's family and country; and indeed who which rose in him at some irresistible can deny but she might be still an honest touches of the imagined sorrow. We have woman, but no heroine? That may be deseldom had any female distress on the stage, fensible, nay, laudable, in one character, which did not, upon cool examination, ap- which would be in the highest degree expear to flow from the weakness, ratherceptionable in another. When Cato Uticen than the misfortune of the person repre- cis killed himself, Cottius, a Roman of sented: but in this tragedy you are not en- ordinary quality and character, did the tertained with the ungoverned passions of same thing; upon which one said, smiling, such as are enamoured of each other, Cottius might have lived, though Cæsar merely as they are men and women, but has seized the Roman liberty.' Cottius's their regards are founded upon high con- condition might have been the same, let ceptions of each other's virtue and merit; things at the upper end of the world and the character which gives name to the
n gives, name to the pass as they would. What is further very play, is one who has behaved herself with |
extraordinary in this work is, that the perheroic virtue in the most important circum- sons are all of them laudable, and their stances of a female life, those of a wife, a misfortunes arise rather from unguarded widow, and a mother. If there be those virtue than propensity to vice. The town whose minds have been too attentive upon has an opportunity of doing itself justice the affairs of life, to have any notion of the in supporting the representations of paspassion of love in such extremes as are sion, sorrow, indignation, even despair
itself, within the rules of decency, honour, * The original motto to this paper in folio was Spi- and good-breeding; and since there is none rat tragicum satis, et felicitem audet.--Hor.
,,I can flatter himself his life will be always † By Ambrose Philips. It was brought out at Drury wane.
fortunate, they may here ser sorrow as
they would wish to bear it whenever it critic, whereas one who has not these prearrives.
vious lights is very often an utter stranger MR, SPECTATOR,- am appointed to
to what he reads, and apt to put a wrong act a part in the new tragedy called the
40 | interpretation upon it. Distressed Mother. It is the celebrated
Nor is it sufficient that a man, who sets grief of Orestes which I am to personate;
up for a judge in criticism, should have but I shall not act it as I ought for I shali perused the authors above-mentioned, une feel it too intimately to be able to utter it. +
less he has also a clear and logical head. I was last night repeating a paragraph to
Without this talent he is perpetually puzmyself, which I took to be an expression de
zled and perplexed amidst his own blunof rage, and in the middle of the sen-1.
"ders, mistakes the sense of those he would
in confute, or, if he chances to think right, quite unmanned me. Be pleased, sir, to
does not know how to convey his thoughts print this letter, that when I am oppressed
to another with clearness and perspicuity. in this manner at such an interval, a cer
| Aristotle, who was the best critic, was also tain part of the audience may not think I
one of the best logicians that ever appeared am out; and I hope, with this allowance, to do it with satisfaction.
| Mr. Locke's Essay on Human Under
I am, sir, your la your most humble servant,
standing would be thought a very odd book "GEORGÉ POWELL.'
for a man to make himself master of, who *MR. SPECTATOR,--As I was walking though at the same time it is very certain,
would get a reputation by critical writings; the other day in the Park, I saw a gentle that an author who has not learned the art man with a very short face; I desire to of distinguishing between words and things, know whether it was you. Pray inform and of ranging his thoughts and setting me as soon as you can, lest I become the
them in proper lights, whatever notions most heroic Hecatissa's rival. Your hum
he may have, will lose himself in confusion ble servant to command, SOPHIĄ. and obscurity, I might further observe,
DEAR MADAM,It is not me you are in that there is not a Greek or Latin critic, love with, for I was very ill, and kept my who has not shown, even in the style of his chamber all that day. Your most humble criticism, that he was a master of all the servant,
elegance and delicacy of his native tongue. T. "THE SPECTATOR.' The truth of it is, there is nothing more
absurd, than for a man to set up for a critic, No. 291.] Saturday, February 2, 1711-12.
without a good insight into all the parts of
learning; whereas many of those, who have --Ubi plura nitent in carmine, non ego paucis endeavoured to signalize themselves by Offendor maculis, quas aut incuria fudit,
works of this nature, among our English Hor. Ars Poet. ver. 351. writers, are not only defective in the aboveBut in a poem elegantly writ,
mentioned particulars, but plainly discover I will not quarrel with a slight mistake,
by the phrases which they make use of, Such as our nature's frailty may excuse.--Roscommon. and by their confused way of thinking.
I HAVE now considered Milton's Para- that they are not acquainted with the dise Lost under those four great heads, of most common and ordinary systems of arts the fable, the characters, the sentiments, and sciences. A few general rules exand the language; and have shown that he tracted out of the French authors, with a excels in general, under each of these heads. certain cant or words, has sometimes set I hope that I have made several discoveries up an illiterate heavy writer for a most which may appear new even to those who judicious and formidable critic. are versed in critical learning. Were I One great mark, by which you may disindeed to choose my readers, by whose cover a critic who has neither taste nor judgment I would stand or fall, they should learning, is this, that he seldom ventures not be such as are acquainted only with to praise any passage in an author which has the French and Italian critics, but also not been before received and applauded by with the ancient and modern who have the public, and that his criticism turns written in either of the learned languages. wholly upon little faults and errors. This Above all, I would have them well versed part of a critic is so very easy to succeed in the Greek and Latin poets, without in, that we find every ordinary reader upon which a man very often fancies that he un- the publishing of a new poem, has wit and derstands a critic, when in reality he does ill-nature enough to turn several passages not comprehend his meaning..
of it into ridicule, and very often in the It is in criticism as in all other sciences right place. This Mr. Dryden has very and speculations; one who brings with him agreeably remarked in these two celebraany implicit notions and observations, which ted lines; he has made in his reading of the poets, | Errors, like straws, upon the surface flow; will find his own reflections methodized | He who would search for pearls, must dive below. and explained, and perhaps several little. A true critic ought to dwell rather upor hints that had passed in his mind, per- excellences than imperfections, to discover fected and improved in the works of a good the concealed beauties of a writer, and communicate to the world such things as it had been just thrashed out of the sheaf. are worth their observation. The most He then bid him pick out the chaff from exquisite words and finest strokes of an among the corn, and lay it aside by itself. author, are those which very often appear | The critic applied himself to the task with the most doubtful and exceptionable to a great industry and pleasure, and after hav. man who wants a relish for polite learn- ing made the due separation, was presenting; and they are these, which a soured by Apollo with the chaff for his pains. undistinguishing critic generally attacks
L. with the greatest violence. Tully observes, that it is very easy to brand or fix No. 292.7 Monday, February 4, 1711-12. a mark upon what he calls verbum ardens, or as it may be rendered into English, a Illam, quicquid agit, quoquo vestigia flectit, glowing bold expression, and to turn it into Componit furtim, subsequiturque decor..
Tibul. Eleg. ii. Lib. 4. 8. ridicule by a cold ill-natured criticism. A little wit is equally capable of exposing a
Whate'er she does, where'er her steps she bends,
Grace on each action silently attends. beauty, and of aggravating a fault: and though such treatment of an author natur As no one can be said to enjoy health ally produces indignation in the mind of an who is only not sick, without he feel within understanding reader, it has however its himself a lightsome and invigorating prineffect among the generality of those whose ciple, which will not suffer him to remain hands it falls into, the rabble of mankind | idle, but still spurs him on to action; so in being very apt to think that every thing the practice of every virtue, there is some which is laughed at, with any mixture of additional grace required, to give a claim wit, is ridiculous in itself,
of excelling in this or that particular acSuch a mirth as this is always unseason- tion. A diamond may want polishing, able in a critic, as it rather prejudices the though the value be still intrinsically the reader than convinces him, and is capable same; and the same good may be done with of making a beauty, as well as a blemish, different degrees of lustre. No man should the subject of derision. A man who can- be contented with himself that he barely not write with wit on a proper subject, is does well, but he should perform every duil and stupid; but one who shows it in thing in the best and most becoming manan improper place, is as impertinent and ner that he is able. absurd. Besides, a man who has the gift | Tully tells us he wrote his book of Offices, of ridicule is apt to find fault with any thing because there was no time of life in which that gives him an opportunity of exerting some corresponding duty might not be prachis beloved talent, and very often censurestised; nor is there a duty without a certain a passage, not because there is any fault in decency accompanying it, by which every it, but because he can be merry upon it. virtue it is joined to will seem to be doubled. Such kinds of pleasantry are very unfair Another may do the same thing, and yet and disingenuous in works of criticism, in the action want that air and beauty which which the greatest masters, both ancient distinguish it from others; like that inimitand modern, have always appeared with a able sunshine Titian is said to have difserious and instructive air,
| fused over his landscapes; which denotes As I intend in my next paper to show them his, and has been always unequalled the defects in Milton's Paradise Lost, I by any other person. thought fit to premise these few particulars, "There is no one action in which this to the end that the reader may know I en-quality I am speaking of will be more senter upon it as on a very ungrateful work, sibly perceived, than in granting a request, and that I shall just point at the imper- or doing an office of kindness. Mummius, fections, without endeavouring to inflame by his way of consenting to a benefaction, them with ridicule. I must also observe shall make it lose its name; while Carus with Longinus, that the productions of a doubles the kindness and the obligation, great génius, with many lapses and inad- From the first, the desired request drops invertencies, are infinitely preferable to the deed at last, but from so doubtful a brow, works of an inferior kind of author, which that the obliged has almost as much reason are scrupulously exact, and conformable to resent the manner of bestowing it, as to to all the rules of correct writing.
be thankful for the favour itself. Carus inI shall conclude my paper with a story vites with a pleasing air, to give him an out of Boccalini, which sufficiently shows opportunity of doing an act of humanity, us the opinion that judicious author enter-meets the petition half way, and consents tained of the sort of critics I have been to a request with a countenance which prohere mentioning. A famous critic, says claims the satisfaction of his mind in assista he, having gathered together all the faults ing the distressed.. of an eminent poet, made a present of The decency, then, that is to be observed them to Apollo, who received them very in liberality, seems to consist, in its being graciously, and resolved to make the author performed with such cheerfulness, as may a suitable return for the trouble he had express the godlike pleasure to be met been at in collecting them. In order to with, in obliging one's fellow creatures; this, he set before him a sack of wheat, as that may show good-nature and benevolenice overflowed, and do not, as in some full of numberless nameless graces, the men, run upon the tilt, and taste of the other of as many nameless faults. sediments of a grudging, uncommunicative. The comeliness of person, and the dedisposition.
cency of behaviour, add infinite weight to Since I have intimated that the greatest what is pronounced by any one. It is the decorum is to be preserved in the bestow- want of this that often makes the rebukes ing our good offices, I will illustrate it a and advice of old rigid persons of no effect, little by an example drawn from private and leave a displeasure in the minds of life, which carries with it such a profusion those they are directed to: but youth and of liberality, that it can be exceeded by beauty, if accompanied with a graceful and nothing but the humanity and good-nature becoming severity, is of mighty force to which accompanies it. It is a letter of raise, even in the most profligate, a sense of Pliny's, which I shall here translate, be- shame. In Milton, the devil is never decause the action will best appear in its first scribed ashamed but once, and that at the dress of thought, without any foreign or rebuke of a beauteous angel; ambitious ornaments.
So spake the cherub; and his grave rebuke,
Severe in youthful beauty, added grace
Invincible. Abash'd the devil stood,
And felt how awful Goodness is, and saw “Though I am fully acquainted with the Virtue in her own shape how lovely! saw, and pin'd contentment and just moderation of your His loss. mind, and the conformity the education. The care of doing nothing unbecoming you have given your daughter bears to your has accompanied the greatest minds to own character; yet since she is suddenly their last moments. They avoided even to be married to a person of distinction, an indecent posture in the very article of whose figure in the world makes it neces- death. Thus Cæsar gathered his robe sary for her to be at a more than ordinary about him, that he might not fall in a expense, in clothes and equipage suitable manner unbecoming of himself; and the to her husband's quality; by which, though greatest concern that appeared in the beher intrinsic worth be not augmented, yet haviour of Lucretia when she stabbed herwill it receive both ornament and lustre: self, was, that her body should lie in an and knowing your estate to be as moderate attitude worthy the mind which had inas the riches of your mind are abundant, I habited it: must challenge to myself some part of the burden; and as a parent of your child, I
Extrema hæc etiam cura cadentis erat. present her with twelve hundred and fifty
Ovid. Fast, Lib. 3. 833. Crowns, towards these expenses; which 'Twas her last thought how decently to fall. sum had been much larger, had I not feared the smallness of it would be the greatest
“MR. SPECTATOR-Iam a young woman inducement with you to accept of it. ---Fare
without a fortune; but of a very high mind:
that is, good sir, I am to the last degree well,'
proud and vain. I am ever railing at the Thus should a benefaction be done with a rich, for doing things which, upon search good grace, and shine in the strongest point into my heart, I find I am only angry a“, of light; it should not only answer all the because I cannot do the same myself. I hopes and exigencies of the receiver, but wear the hooped petticoat, and am all in even outrun his wishes. It is this happy calicoes when the finest are in silks. It is manner of behaviour which adds new a dreadful thing to be poor and proud; charms to it, and softens those gifts of art therefore, if you please, a lecture on that
rather distasteful than agreeable. Without humble servant, it valour would degenerate into brutality,
JEZEBEL.' learning into pedantry, and the genteelest demeanour into affectation. Even Religion itself, unless Decency be the handmaid No. 293.1 Tuesday, February 5, 1711-12. which waits upon her, is apt to make people appear guilty of sourness and ill Πασιν γαρ ευφρονεσι συμμαχει τυχη. hurrour: but this shows Virtue in her first
Frag. Vet. Poet. original form, adds a comeliness to Reli
The prudent still have fortune on their side. gion, and gives its professors the just title. The famous Grecian, in his little book to the beauty of holiness,' A man fully wherein he lays down maxims for a man's instructed in this art, may assume a thou- advancing himself at court, advises his reasand shapes, and please in all; he may do der to associate himself with the fortunate, a thousand actions shall become none other and to shun the company of the unfortunate; but himself; not that the hings themselves which, notwithstanding the baseness of the are different, but the manner of doing them. precept to an honest mind, may have some
If you examine each feature by itself, thing useful in it, for those who push their Aşlaura and Calliclea are equally hand-interest in the world. It is certain a great some, but take them in the whole, and you part of what we call good or ill fortunes cannot suffer the comparison: the one is Trises out of right or wrong measures and schemes of life. When I hear a man com- not always to the swift, nor he battle to plain of his being unfortunate in all his un- the strong.' Nothing less than infinite wisdertakings, I shrewdly suspect him for adom can have an absolute command over very weak man in his affairs. In conformity fortune; the highest degree of it, which man with this way of thinking, Cardinal Riche- can possess, is by no means equal to fortuilieu used to say, that unfortunate and impru- tous events, and to such contingencies as dent were but two words for the same thing. may rise in the prosecutict of our affairs, As the Cardinal himself had a great share Nay, it very often happens, inat prudence, both of prudence and good fortune, his fa- which has always in it a great mixture of mous antagonist, the Count d'Olivares, was caution, hinders' a man from being so fordisgraced at the court of Madrid, because tunate as he might possibly have been withit was alleged against him that he had never out it. A person who only aims at what any success in his undertakings. This, says is likely to succeed, and follows closely the an eminent author, was indirectly accusing dictates of human prudence, never meets him of imprudence.
with those great and unforeseen successes, Cicero recommended Pampey to the Ro-which are often the effect of a sanguine mans for their general upon three accounts, temper, or a more happy rashness; and as he was a man of courage, conduct, and this perhaps may be the reason, that, acgood fortune. It was, perhaps, for the rea-cording to the common observation, Forson above-mentioned, namely, that a series tune, like other females, delights rather in of good fortune supposes a prudent manage- favouring the young than the old. ment in the person whom it befalls, that Upon the whole, since man is so shortnot only Sylla the dictator, but several of sighted a creature, and the accidents which the Roman emperors, as is still to be seen may happen to him so various, I cannot but upon their medals, among their other titles, be of Dr. Tillotson's opinion in another case, gave themselves that of Felix or fortunate. that were there any doubt of a Providence, The heathens, indeed, seem to have valued yet it certainly would be very desirable a man more for his good fortune than for there should be such a Being of infinite any other quality, which I think is very wisdom and goodness, on whose direction natural for those who have not a strong we might rely in the conduct of human life. belief of another world. For how can I It is a great presumption to ascribe our conceive a man crowned with any distin- successes to our own management, and not guishing blessings, that has not some ex to esteem ourselves upon any blessing, traordinary fund of merit and perfection in rather as it is the bounty of heaven than him which lies open to the Supreme eye, the acquisition of our own prudence. I am though perhaps it is not discovered by my very well pleased with a medal which was observation? What is the reason Homer's struck by Queen Elizabeth, a little after and Virgil's heroes do not form a resolu- the defeat of the invincible armada, to pertion, or strike a blow, without the conduct petuate the memory of that extraordinary and direction of some deity? Doubtless, event. It is well known how the king of because the poets esteemed it the greatest Spain, and others who were the enemies of honour to be favoured by the gods, and that great princess, to derogate from her thought the best way of praising a man was, glory, ascribed the ruin of their fleet rather to recount those favours which naturally to the violence of storms and tempests, than implied an extraordinary merit in the per- to the bravery of the English. Queen Elison on whom they descended.
zabeth, instead of looking upon this as a Those who believe a future state of re- diminution of her honour, valued herself wards and punishments act very absurdly, upon such a signal favour of Providence, if they form their opinions of a man's merit and accordingly, in the reverse of the medal from his successes. But certainly, if I above-mentioned, has represented a fleet thought the whole circle of our being was beaten by a tempest, and falling foul upon included between our births and deaths, I one another, with that religious inscription, should think a man's good fortune the mea- Afflavit Deus, et dissipantur, ' s He blew sure and standard of his real merit, since with his wind, and they were scattered. Providence would have no opportunity of It is remarked of a famous Grecian ge rewarding his virtue and perfections, but neral, whose name I cannot at present rein the present life. A virtuous unbeliever, collect, * and who had been a particular who lies under the pressure of misfortunes, favourite of Fortune, that, upon recounting has reason to cry out, as they say Brutus his victories among his friends, he added did, a little before his death: virtue, I at the end of several great actions, * And in have worshipped thee as a substantial good, this Fortune had no share.' After which, but I find thou art an empty name.
it is observed in history, that he never pros But to return to our first point. Though pered in any thing he undertook. prudence does undoubtedly in a great mea- As arrogance and a conceitedness of our sure, produce our good or ill fortune in the own abilities are very shocking and offenworld, it is certain there are many unfore- sive to men of sense and virtue, we may seen accidents and occurrences which very be sure they are highly displeasing to that often pervert the finest schemes that can be laid by human wisdom. The race is
* Timotheus the Athenian