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was methought in his look a louring roughness, which ill befitted a month which was ranked in so soft a season; but as he came forwards his features became in sensibly more mild and gentle: he smoothed his brow, and looked with so sweet a countenance that I could not but lament his departure, though he made way for April. He appeared in the greatest gaiety imaginable, and had a thousand pleasures to attend him: his look was frequently clouded, but immediately returned to its first composure, and remained fixed in a smile. Then came May attended by Cupid, with his bow strung, and in a posture to let fly an arrow: as he passed by methought I heard a confused noise of soft complaints, gentle ecstasies, and tender sighs of lovers; vows of constancy, and as many complainings of perfidiousness; all which the winds wafted away as soon as they had reached my hearing. After these I saw a man advance in the full prime and vigour of his age, his complexion was sanguine and ruddy, his hair black, and fell down in beautiful ringlets beneath his shoulders; and a mantle of hair-coloured silk hung loosely upon him: he advanced with a hasty step after the Spring, and sought out the shade and cool fountains which played in the garden. He was particularly well pleased when a troop of Zephyrs fanned him with their wings: he had two companions who walked on each side, that made him appear the most agreeable, the one was Aurora with fingers of roses, and her feet dewy, attired in grey: the other was Vesper in a robe of azure beset with drops of gold, whose breath he caught whilst it passed over a bundle of honeysuckles and tuberoses which he held in his hand. Pan and Ceres followed them with four reapers, who danced a morrice to the sound of oaten pipes and cymbals. Then came the attendant months, June retained still some small likeness of the Spring; but the other two seemed to step with a less vigorous tread, especially August, who seemed almost to faint, whilst for half the steps he took the dog-star levelled
his rays full at his head: they passed on and made way for a person that seemed to bend a little under the weight of years; his beard and hair, which were full grown, were composed of an equal number of black and grey; he wore a robe which he had girt round him of a yellowish cast, not unlike the colour of fallen leaves, which he walked upon. I thought he hardly made amends for expelling the foregoing scene by the large quantity of fruits which he bore in his hands. Plenty walked by his side with an healthy fresh countenance, pouring out from an horn all the various products of the year. Pomona followed with a glass of cider in her hand, with Bacchus in a chariot drawn by tigers, accompanied by a whole troop of Satyrs, Fauns, and Sylvans. September, who came next, seemed in his looks to promise a new spring, and wore the livery of those months. The succeeding month was all soiled with the juice of grapes, as if he had just come from the wine-press. November, though he was in this division, yet, by the many stops he made, seemed rather inclined to the Winter, which followed close at his heels. He advanced in the shape of an old man in the extremity of age: the hair he had was so very white it seemed a real snow; his eyes were red and piercing, and his beard hung with a great quantity of isicles: he was wrapped up in furs, but yet so pinched with excess of cold that his limbs were all contracted, and his body bent to the ground, so that he could not have supported himself had it not been for Comus the God of Revels, and Necessity the mother of Fate, who sustained him on each side. The shape and mantle of Comus was one of the things that most surprised me; as he advanced towards me his countenance seemed the most desirable I had ever seen on the fore part of his mantle was pictured joy, delight, and satisfaction, with a thousand emblems of merriment, and jests with faces looking two ways at once; but as he passed from me I was amazed at a shape so little correspondent to his face: his head was
bald, and all the rest of his limbs appeared old and deformed. On the hinder part of his mantle was re. presented Murder, with disheveled hair and a dagger all bloody. Anger in a robe of scarlet, anti Suspicion squinting with both eyes; but above all, the most conspicuous was the battle of the Lapitha and the Centaurs. I detested so hideous a shape, and turned my eyes upon Saturn, who was stealing away behind him with a scythe in one hand and an hour-glass in t'other unobserved. Behind Necessity was Vesta the goddess of Fire, with a lamp which was perpetually supplied with oil, and whose flame was eternal. She cheered the rugged brow of Necessity, and warmed her so far as almost to make her assume the features and likeness of Choice. December, January, and February, passed on after the rest all in furs; there was little distinction. to be made amongst them, and they were more or less displeasing as they discerned more or less haste to wards the grateful return of Spring. Z
Ac ne forte putes me que facere ipse recusem
Yet lest you think I rally more than I teach,
As S a perfect tragedy is the noblest production of human nature, so it is capable of giving the mind one of the most delightful and most improving entertainments. A virtuous man (says Seneca) struggling with misfortunes, is such a spectacle as gods might look upon with pleasure; and such a pleasure it is which one meets with in the representation of a wellwritten tragedy. Diversions of this kind wear out of our thoughts every thing that is mean and little. They cherish and cultivate that humanity which is the ornament of our nature. They soften insolence, sooth affliction, and subdue the mind to the dispensations of Providence.
It is no wonder therefore that in all the polite natious of the world, this part of the drama has met with public encouragement.
The modern tragedy excels that of Greece and Rome, in the intricacy and disposition of the fable;
but, what a Christian writer would be ashamed to own, falls infinitely short of it in the moral part of the performance.
This I may show more at large hereafter; and in the mean time, that I may contribute something towards the improvement of the English tragedy, I shall take notice, in this and in other following papers, of some particular parts in it that seem liable to exception.
Aristotle observes, that the iambic verse in the Greek tongue was the most proper for tragedy: because at the same time that it lifted up the discourse. from prose, it was that which approached nearer to it than any other kind of verse. For, says he, we may observe that men, in ordinary discourse, very often speak iambics, without taking notice of it. We may make the same observation of our English blank verse, which often enters into our common discourse, though we do not attend to it, and is such a due medium between rhyme and prose, that it seems wonderfully adapted to tragedy. I am therefore very much offended when I see a play in rhyme; which is as absurd in English, as a tragedy of hexameters would have been in Greek or Latin. The solecism is, I think, still greater in those plays that have some scenes in rhyme and some in blank verse, which are to be looked upon as two several languages; or where we see some particular similies dignified with rhyme, at the same time that every thing about them lies in blank verse. I would not however debar the poet from concluding his tragedy, or, if he pleases, every act of it, with two or three couplets, which may have the same effect as an air in the Italian opera after a long recitativo, and give the actor a graceful exit. Besides that we see a diversity of numbers in some parts of the old tragedy, in order to hinder the ear from being tired with the same continued modulation of voice. For the same reason, I do not dislike the speeches in our English tragedy that close with an hemisticb, or half verse,