Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

case

the example of any particular person is he would inspire me with an abhorrence recommended to them in gross; instead of of debauchery, 'Do not,' says he, make which they ought to be taught wherein yourself like Sectanus, when you may be such a man, though great in some respects, happy in the enjoyment of lawful pleasures. was weak and faulty in others. For want How scandalous,' says he, 'is the character of this caution, a boy is often so dazzled of Trebonius, who was lately caught in bed with the lustre of a great character, that with another man's wife!"" To illustrate he confounds its beauties with its blemishes, the force of this method, the poet adds, that and looks even upon the faulty part of it as a headstrong patient who will not follow with an eye of admiration.

at first his physician's prescriptions, grows • I have often wondered how Alexander, orderly when he hears that the neighbours who was naturally of a generous and merci- die all about him; so youth is often frightful disposition, came to be guilty of so bar-ened from vice, by hearing the ill report it barous an action as that of dragging the brings upon others. governor of a town after his chariot. I Xenophon's schools of equity, in his Life know this is generally ascribed to his pas- of Cyrus the Great, are sufficiently famous. sion for Homer, but I lately met with a He tells us, that the Persian children went passage in Plutarch, which, if I am not to school, and employed their time as dilivery much mistaken, still gives us a clearer gently in learning the principles of justice light into the motives of this action. Plu- and sobriety, as the youth in other countries tarch tells us, that Alexander in his youth did to acquire the most difficult arts and had a master named Lysimachus, who, sciences; their governors spent most part though he was a man destitute of all polite- of the day in hearing their mutual accusaness, ingratiated himself both with Philip tions one against the other, whether for and his pupil, and became the second man violence, cheating, slander, or ingratitude; at court, by calling the king Peleus, the and taught them how to give judgment Prince Achilles, and himself Phænix. It is against those who were found to be any no wonder if Alexander, having been thus ways guilty of these crimes. I omit the used not only to admire but to personate story of the long and short coat, for which Achilles, should think it glorious to imitate Cyrus himself was punished, as him in this piece of cruelty and extrava- equally known with any in Littleton. gance.

• The method which Apuleius tells us the *To carry this thought yet further, I Indian Gymnosophists took to educate their shall submit it to your consideration, whe-disciples, is still more curious and remarkther, instead of a theme or copy of verses, able. His words are as follow: “When which are the usual exercises, as they are their dinner is ready, before it is served called in the school phrase, it would not be up, the masters inquire of every particular more proper that a boy should be tasked, scholar how he has employed his time since once or twice a week, to write down his sun-rising: some of them answer, that, opinion of such persons and things as occur having been chosen as arbiters between two to him by his reading; that he should des- persons, they have composed their differcant upon the actions of Turnus, or Æneas; ences, and made them friends; some that show wherein they excelled, or were de- they have been executing the orders of fective; çensure or approve any particular their parents; and others, that they have action; observe how it might have been either found out something new by their carried to a greater degree of perfection, own application, or learnt it from the inand how it exceeded or fell short of an-structions of their fellows. But if there other. He might at the same time mark happens to be any one among them who what was moral in any speech, and how cannot make it appear that he has emfar it agreed with the character of the per- ployed the morning to advantage, he is son speaking. This exercise would soon immediately excluded from the company, strengthen his judgment in what is blame- and obliged to work while the rest are at able or praiseworthy, and give him an early dinner.” seasoning of morality.

•It is not impossible, that from these • Next to those examples which may be several ways of producing virtue in the met with in books, I very much approve minds of boys, some general method might Horace's way of setting before youth the be invented. What † would endeavour to infamous or honourable characters of their inculcate is, that our youth cannot be too contemporaries. That poet tells us, this soon taught the principles of virtue, seeing was the method his father made use of to the first impressions which are made on incline him to any particular virtue, or give the mind, are always the strongest. him an aversion to any particular vice. • The archbishop of Cambray makes “ If,” says Horace, “my father advised Telemachus say, that, though he was young me to live within bounds, and be contented in years, he was old in the art of knowing with the fortune he should leave me; .Do how to keep both his own and his friends' you not see,' says he, “the miserable condi- secrets. “When my father,” says the tion of Burrus, and the son of Albus? Let prince, “ went to the siege of Troy, he the misfortunes of those two wretches teach took me on his knees, and, after having you to avoid luxury and extravagance,' If embraced and blessed me, as he was sur

rounded by the nobles of Ithaca, 'O my self upon, that he will easily forgive me for friends,' says he, into your hands I com- publishing the exceptions made against mit the education of my son: if ever you gaiety at the end of serious entertainments loved his father, show it in your care to- in the following letter: I should be more wards him; but, above all, do not omit to unwilling to pardon him, than any body, a form him just, sincere, and faithful in keep- practice which cannot have any ill conseing a secret.' These words of my father,” quence but from the abilities of the person says Telemachus, were continually re- who is guilty of it. peated to me by his friends in his absence; who made no scruple of communicating to *MR. SPECTATOR,—I had the happiness me their uneasiness to see my mother sur- the other night of sitting very near you, and rounded with lovers, and the measures they your worthy friend Sir Roger, at the acting designed to take on that occasion.” He of the new tragedy, which you have, in a adds, that he was so ravished at being thus late paper or two, so justly recommended. treated like a man, and at the confidence I was highly pleased with the advantageous reposed in him, that he never once abused situation fortune had given me in placing it; nor could all the insinuations of his me so near two gentlemen, from one of father's rivals ever get him to betray what which I was sure to hear such reflections was committed to him under the seal of on the several incidents of the play as pure secrecy.

nature suggested, and from the other, such : There is hardly any virtue which a lad as flowed from the exactest art and judgmight not thus learn by practice and ex- ment: though I must confess that my cuample.

riosity led me so much to observe the I have heard of a good man, who used knight's reflections, that I was not well at at certain times to give his scholars six- leisure to improve myself by yours. Napence a-piece, that they might tell him the ture, I found, played her part in the knight next day how they had employed it. The pretty well, till at the last concluding lines third part was always to be laid out in she entirely forsook him. You must know, charity, and every boy was blamed, or sir, that it is always my custom, when I commended, as he could make it appear have been well entertained at a new tragedy, he had chosen a fit object.

to make my retreat before the facetious In short, nothing is more wanting to our epilogue enters; not but that those pieces public schools, than that the masters of are often very well written, but having paid them should use the same care in fashioning down my half-crown, and made a fair purthe manners of their scholars, as in forming chase of as much of the pleasing melancholy their tongues to the learned languages. as the poet's art can afford me, or my own Wherever the former is omitted, I cannot nature admit of, I am willing to carry some help agreeing with Mr, Locke, that a man of it home with me: and cannot endure to must have a very strange value for words, be at once tricked out of all, though by the when, preferring the languages of the wittiest dexterity in the world. However, Greeks and Romans to that which made I kept my seat the other night in hopes of them such brave men, he can think it worth finding my own sentiments of the matter while to hazard the innocence and virtue favoured by your friends; when, to my great of his son for a little Greek and Latin. surprise, I found the knight entering with

. As the subject of this essay is of the equal pleasure into both parts, and as much highest importance, and what I do not re- satisfied with Mrs. Oldfield's gaiety as he member to have yet seen treated by any had been before with Andromache's greatauthor, I have sent you what occurred to ness. Whether this were no more than an me on it from my own observation, or read-effect of the knight's peculiar humanity, ing, and which you may either suppress or pleased to find at last, that, after all the publish, as you think fit. I am, sir, yours, tragical doings, every thing was safe and &c.'

X. 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, No. 338.) Friday, March 28, 1712. and could heartily have wished that he had

left her stone-dead upon the stage. For you Tam dispar sibi. —

cannot imagine, Mr. Spectator, the mis

chief she was reserved to do me. I found my Made up of nought but inconsistencies.

soul, during the action, gradually worked I FIND the tragedy of the Distrest Mo- up to the highest pitch, and felt the exalted ther* is published to-day. The author of passion which all generous minds conceive the prologue, t I suppose, pleads an old at the sight of virtue in distress. The imexcuse I have read somewhere, of being pression, believe me, sir, was so strong dull with design;' and the gentleman who upon me, that I am persuaded, if I had writ the epilogue has, to my knowledge, been let alone in it, I could, at an extremity, so much of greater moment to value him- have ventured to defend yourself and Sir

Roger against half a score of the fiercest * By A. Phillips, first published in 1712

Mohocks, but the ludicrous epilogue in the Steele; See Tat No. 38.

Eustace Budgell.

close extinguished all my ardour, and made

Nil fuit unquam

Hor. Sat, iii. Lib. 1. 18.

me look upon all such noble achievements | signs, instead of a penitential psalm, to disas downright silly and romantic. What the miss his audience with an excellent new rest of the audience felt, I cannot so well ballad of his own composing. Pray, sir, do tell. For myself I must declare, that at the what you can to put a stop to these growing end of the play I found my soul uniform, evils, and you will very much oblige your and all of a piece; but at the end of the humble servant, epilogue it was so jumbled together, and

•PHYSIBULUS.' divided between jest and earnest, that, if you will forgive me an extravagant fancy, I will here set it down. I could not bút No. 339. ] Saturday, March 29, 1712. fancy, if my soul had at that moment quit -Ut Mis exordia primis ted my body, and descended to the poetical Omnia, et ipse tener mundi concreverit orbis, shades in the posture it was then in, what a

Tum durate solum et discludere Nerea ponto strange figure it would have made among

Cæperit, et rerum paullatim sumere formas.

Virg. Ecl. v. 33. them. They would not have known what

He sung the secret sceds of nature's frame: to have made of my motley spectre, half How seas, and earth, and air, and active flame, comic and half tragić, all over resembling

Fell through the mighty void, and in their fall a ridiculous face that at the same time

Were blindly gather'd in this goodly ball.

The tender soil then stiffîning by degrees, laughs on one side and cries on the other. Shut from the bounded earth the bounding seas, The only defence, I think, I have ever heard The earth and ocean various forms disclose, made for this, as it seems to me the most

And a new sun to the new world arose.--Dryden. unnatural iack of the comic tail to the tragic Longinus has observed that there may head, is this, that the minds of the audience be a loftiness in sentiments where there is must be refreshed, and gentlemen and ladies no passion, and brings instances out of annot sent away to their own homes with too cient authors to support this his opinion. dismal and melancholy thoughts about them: The pathetic, as that great critic observes, for who knows the consequence of this? We may animate and inflame the sublime, but are much obliged, indeed, to the poets, for is not essential to it. Accordingly, as he the great tenderness they express for the further remarks, we very often find that safety of our persons, and heartily thank those who excel most in stirring up the them for it. But if that be all, pray, good passions very often want the talent of writsir, assure them, that we are none of us like ing in the great and sublime manner, and to come to any great harm; and that, let so on the contrary. Milton has shown himthem do their best, we shall in all proba self a master in both these ways of writing. bility live out the length of our days, and fre- The seventh book, which we are now enquent the theatres more than ever. What tering upon, is an instance of that sublime makes me more desirous to have some in- which is not mixed and worked up with formation of this matter is, because of an passion. The author appears in a kind of ill consequence or two attending it: for a composed and sedate majesty; and though great many of our church musicians being the sentiments do not give so great an related to the theatre, they have, in imita- emotion as those in the former book, they tion of these epilogues, introduced, in their abound with as magnificent ideas. The farewell voluntaries, a sort of music quite sixth book, like a troubled ocean, repreforeign to the design of church-services, to sents greatness in confusion; the seventh the great prejudice of well-disposed people. affects the imagination like the ocean in Those fingering gentlemen should be in- a calm, and fills the mind of the reader, formed, that they ought to suit their airs to without producing in it any thing like tuthe place and business, and that the musi- mult or agitation. cian is obliged to keep to the text as much The critic above-mentioned, among the as the preacher. For want of this, I have rules which he lays down for succeeding in found by experience a great deal of mis- the sublime way of writing, proposes to his chief. When the preacher has often, with reader, that he should imitate the most great piety, and art enough, handled his celebrated authors who have gone before subject, and the judicious clerk has with him, and have been engaged in works of the utmost diligence culled out two staves the same nature; as in particular that, if proper to the discourse, and I have found he writes on poetical subjects, he should in myself and the rest of the pew, good consider how Homer would have spoken on thoughts and dispositions, they have been, such an occasion. By this means one great all in a moment, dissipated by a merry jig genius often catches the flame from another, from the organ-loft. One knows not what and writes in his spirit, without copying further ill effects the epilogues I have been servilely after him. There are a thousand speaking of may in time produce: but this shining passages in Virgil, which have been I am credibly informed of, that Paul Lor- lighted up by Homer. rain* has resolved upon a very sudden re Milton, though his own natural strength formation in his tragical dramas; and that, of genius was capable of furnishing out a at the next monthly performance, he de- perfect work, has doubtless very much

raised and ennobled his conceptions by * The ordinary of Newgate at this time. See the such an imitation as that which'Longinus

has recommended. VOL. II.

6

Tatler, No. 63.

1

In this book which gives us an account of clouds which lay as a barrier before
of the six days' works, the poet received them.
but very few assistances from heathen I do not know any thing in the whole
writers, who are strangers to the wonders poem more sublime than the description
of creation. But as there are many glorious which follows, where the Messiah is re-
strokes of poetry upon this subject in holy presented at the head of his angels, as look-
writ, the author has numberless allusions to ing down into the chaos, calming its confu-
them through the whole course of this book. sion, riding into the midst of it, and drawing
The great critic I have before mentioned, the first outline of the creation:
though a heathen, has taken notice of the

On heav'nly ground they stood, and from the shore
sublime manner in which the lawgiver of They view'd the vast immeasurable abyss
the Jews has described the creation in the Outrageous as a sea, dark, wasteful, wild,

Up from the bottom turn'd by furious winds first chapter of Genesis; and there are many

And surging waves, as mountains to assault other passages in scripture which rise up Heav'n's height, and with the centre mix the pole. to the same majesty, where the subject is

“Silence, ye troubled waves; and thou, deep, peace touched upon. Milton has shown his judg

Said then th' omnific Word, “ Your discord end !"

Nor staid, but, on the wings of cherubim ment very remarkably, in making use of Uplifted, in paternal glory rode such of these as were proper for his poem,

Far into Chaos, and the world unborn;

For Chaos heard his voice. Him all his train and in duly qualifying those strains of eastern

Follow'd in bright procession, to behold poetry which were suited to readers whose Creation, and the wonders of his might. imaginations were set to a higher pitch than Then stay'd the fervid wheels; and in his hand those of colder climates.

He took the golden compasses, prepar'd

In God's eternal store to circumscribe Adam's speech to the angel, wherein The universe, and all created things : he desires an account of what had passed One foot he centred, and the other turn'd

Round through the vast profundity obscure, within the regions of nature before the

And said, “Thus far extend, thus far thy bounds, creation, is very great and solemn. The

This be thy just circumference, O world!” following lines, in which he tells him, that the day is not too far spent for him to enter The thought of the golden compasses is upon such a subject, are exquisite in their conceived altogether in Homer's spirit, and kind:

is a very noble incident in this wonderful

description. Homer, when he speaks of And the great light of day yet wants to run

the gods, ascribes to them several arms and Much of his race, though steep; suspense in heav'n Held by thy voice, thy potent voice he hears,

instruments with the same greatness of And longer will delay to hear thee tell

imagination. Let the reader only peruse His generation, &c.

the description of Minerva's ægis or buckThe angel's encouraging our first parents would overturn whole squadrons, and her

ler, in the fifth book, with her spear which in a modest pursuit after knowledge, with helmet that was sufficient to cover an army the causes which he assigns for the creation of the world, are very just and beautiful. drawn out of a hundred cities

. The golden The Messiah, by whom, as we are told in compasses, in the above-mentioned passage, scripture, the heavens were made, goes of him whom Plato somewhere calls the Di

appear a very natural instrument in the hand forth in the power of his Father, surrounded with a host of angels, and clothed

with such clothing

abstracted ideas in allegories and

vine Geometrician. As poetry delights in a majesty as becomes his entering upon a sensible images, we find a magnificent dework which, according to our conceptions, scription of the creation, formed after the appears the utmost exertion of Omnipotence. What a beautiful description has wherein he describes the Almighty Archi

same manner, in one of the prophets, our author raised upon that hint in one of tect as measuring the waters in the hollow the prophets! * And behold there came of his hand, meting out the heavens with four chariots out from between two moun: his span, comprehending the dust of the tains, and the mountains were mountains of earth in a measure, weighing the mounbrass:'

tains in scales, and the hills in a balance. About his chariot numberless were pour'd

Another of them describing the Supreme
Cherub and seraph, potentates and thrones,

Being in this great work of creation, re-
And virtues, winged spirits, and chariots wing'd
From the armoury of God, where stand of old presents him as laying the foundations of the
Myriads between two brazen mountains lodg'd earth, and stretching a line upon it; and,
Against a solemn day, harness'd at hand,
Celestial equipage! and now came forth

in another place, as garnishing the heavens, Spontaneous, for within them spirit liv'd,

stretching out the north over the empty Attendant on their Lord: heav'n opend wide place, and hanging the earth upon nothing. Her ever-during gates, harmonious sound!

This last noble thought Milton has exOn golden hinges moving

pressed in the following verse: I have before taken notice of these cha

And earth self-balanced on her centre hung. riots of God, and of these gates of heaven; and shall here only add, that Homer gives The beauties of description in this book us the same idea of the latter as opening lie so very thick, that it is impossible to of themselves; though he afterwards takes enumerate them in this paper. The poet off from it, by telling us, that the Hours has employed on them the whole energy of first of all removed those prodigious heaps our tongue. The several great scenes of

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

for joy.

the creation rise up to view one after an- ascended up in triumph through the everother, in such a manner, that the reader lasting gates; when he looked down with seems present at this wonderful work, and pleasure upon his new creation; when to assist among the choirs of angels who every part of nature seemed to rejoice in are the spectators of it. How glorious is the its existence, when the morning-stars sang conclusion of the first day!

together, and all the sons of God shouted - Thus was the first day even and morn, Nor past uncelebrated, nor unsung

So even and morn accomplish'd the sixth day: By the celestial choirs, when orient light

Yet not till the Creator from his work Exhaling first from darkness they bebeld;

Desisting, though unwearied, up returnd, Birth-day of heav'n and earth! with joy and shout

Up to the heaven of heavens, his high abode, The hollow universal orb they filld.

Thence to be hold his new created world We have the same elevation of thought The addition of his empire, how it show'd in the third day, when the mountains were

In prospect from his throne, how good, how fair,

Answering his great idea. Up he rode, brought forth, and the deep was made: Follow'd with acclamation and the sound Immediately the mountains huge appear

Symphonious of ten thousand liarps, that tun'd Emergent, and their broad bare backs upheave

Angelic harmonies, the earth, the air, Into the clouds, their tops ascend the sky:

Resounded, thou rememberest, for thou heard'st) So high as heav'n the tumid hills, so low

The heavens and all the constellations ruing, Down sunk a hollow bottom broad and deep,

The planets in their station list'ning stood, Capacious bed of waters

While the bright pomp ascended jubilant.

“ Open, ye everlasting gates!" they sung, We have also the rising of the whole Open, ye heavens, your living doors! let in

The great Creator from his work return'd vegetable world, described in this day's work, which is filled with all the graces

Magnificent, his six days' work--a world!" that other poets have lavished on their de

I cannot conclude this book upon the scription of the spring, and leads the rea-creation without mentioning a poem which der's imagination into a thatre equally has lately appeared under that title. * The surprising and beautiful.

work was undertaken with so good an inThe several glories of the heavens maketention, and is executed with so great a mastheir appearance on the fourth day:

tery, that it deserves to be looked upon as First in his east the glorious lamp was seen.

one of the most useful and noble producRegent of day, and all the horizon round

tions in our English verse. The reader Invested with bright rays, jocund to run

cannot but be pleased to find the depths of His longitude through heavn's high road; the gray Dawn, and the Pleiades before him danc'd,

philosophy enlivened with all the charms Shedding sweet influence. Less bright the moon, of poetry, and to see so great a strength of But opposite in level'd west was set,

reason, amidst so beautiful a redundancy His mirror, with full face borrowing her light From him, for other lights she needed none

of the imagination. The author has shown In that aspect, and still the distance keeps

us that design in all the works of nature Till night; then in the east her turn she shines, which necessarily leads us to the knowRevolv'd on heav'n's great axle, and her reign ledge of its first cause. In short, he has With thousand lesser lights dividual holds, With thousand thousand stars, that ther appear'd

illustrated, by numberless and incontestSpangling the bemisphere

able instances, that divine wisdom which One would wonder how the poet could the son of Sirach has so nobly ascribed to be so concise in his description of the six | the Supreme Being in his formation of the days' works, as to comprehend them with world, when he tells us, that “He created in the bounds of an episode, and, at the her, and saw her, and numbered her, and same time, so particular, as to give us a poured her out upon all his works.' lively idea of them. This is still more remarkable in his account of the fifth and sixth days, in which he has drawn out to No. 340.] Monday, March 31, 1712. our view the whole animal creation, from the reptile to the behemoth. As the lion

Quis novus hic nostris successit sedibus hospes ?

Quem sese ore ferens ! quam forti pectore et armis! and the leviathan are two of the noblest

Virg. Æn. iv. 10. productions in the world of living creatures,

What chief is this that visits us from far, the reader will find a most exquisite spirit Whose gallant mien bespeaks him train' to war! of poetry in the account which our author gives us of them. The sixth day concludes

I take it to be the highest instance of a with the formation of man, upon which the noble mind, to bear great qualities without angel takes occasion, as he did after the discovering in a man's behaviour any conbattle in heaven, to remind Adam of his sciousness that he is superior to the rest of obedience, which was the principal design the duty of a great person so to demean

Or, to say it otherwise, it is of this visit.

The poet afterwards represents the Mes himself, as that, whatever endowments he siah returning into heaven, and taking a

may have, he may appear to value himself survey of his great work.

There is some

upon no qualities but such as any man may thing inexpressibly sublime in this

part of arrive at: He ought to think no man valuable the poem, where the author describes the but for his public spirit, justice, and integrity; great period of time, filled with so many

and all other endowments to be esteemed glorious circumstances; when the heavens and earth were finished; when the Messiah

* By Sir Richard Blackmore.

« AnteriorContinuar »