« AnteriorContinuar »
performances with an impartial eye: nor shall I look
upon it as any breach of charity to criticise the author so long as I keep clear of the person.
In the mean while, until I am provoked to such hostilities, I shall from time to time endeavour to do justice to those who have distinguished themselves in the politer parts of learning, and to point out such beauties in their works as may have escaped the observation of others.
As the first place among our English poets is due to Milton; and as I have drawn more quotations out of him than from any other, I shall enter into a regular criticism upon his Paradise Lost, which I shall publish every Saturday, until I have given my thoughts upon that poem. I shall not, however, presume to impose upon others my own particular judgment on this author, but only deliver it as my private opinion. Criticism is of a very large extent, and every particular master in this art has his favourite passages in an author which do not equally strike the best judges. It will be sufficient for me, if I discover many beauties or imperfections which others have not attended to, and I should be very glad to see any of our eminent writers publish their discoveries on the same subject. In short, I would always be understood to write my papers of criticism in the spirit which Horace has expressed in these two famous lines:
Si quid novisti rectius istis,
1 Ep. vi. ult.
If you have made any better remarks of your own, communicate them with candour; if not, make use of these I present you with.
C. VOL. IV.
N° 263. TUESDAY, JANUARY 1, 1711-12.
Gratulor quòd cum quem necesse erat diligere, qualiscunque esset, talem habemus ut libenter yuoque diligamus.
TREBONIUS apud TULL. I am glad, that he whom I must have loved from duty, whatever he had been, is such a one as I can love from inclination.
MRSPECTATOR, “I am the happy father of a very towardly son, in whom I do not only see my life, but also my manner of life, renewed. It would be extremely beneficial to society, if you would frequently resume subjects which serve to bind these sort of relations faster, and endear the ties of blood with those of good-will, protection, observance, indulgence, and veneration. I would, methinks, have this done after an uncom. mon method, and do not think any one, who is not capable of writing a good play, fit to undertake a work wherein there will necessarily occur so many secret instincts, and biases of human nature which would
pass unobserved by common eyes. I thank Heaven I have no outrageous offence against my own excellent parents to answer for; but when I am now and then alone, and look back upon my past life, from my earliest infancy to this time, there are many faults which I committed that did not appear to me, even until I myself became a father. I had not until then a notion of the yearnings of heart, which a man has when he sees his child do a laudable thing, or the sudden damp which seizes him when he fears he will act something unworthy,
It is not to be imagined, what a remorse touched me for a long train of childish negligences of my mother, when I saw my wife the other day look out of the window, and turn as pale as ashes upon seeing my younger boy sliding upon the ice. These slight intimations will give you to understand, that there are numberless little crimes which children take no notice of while they are doing, which, upon reflection, when they shall themselves become fathers, they will look upon with the utmost sorrow and contrition, that they did not regard before those whom they offended were to be no more seen. How many thousand things do I remember which would have highly pleased my father, and I omitted for no other reason, but that I thought what he proposed the effect of humour and old age, which I am now convinced had reason and good sense in it. I cannot now go into the parlour to him, and make his heart glad with an account of a matter which was of no consequence, but that I told it, and acted in it. The good man and woman are long since in their graves, who used to sit and plot the welfare of us their children, while, perhaps, we were sometimes laughing at the old folks at another end of the house. The truth of it is, were we merely to follow nature in these great duties of life, though we have a strong instinct towards the performing of them, we should be on both sides
deficient. Age is so unwelcome to the generality of mankind, and growth towards manhood so desirable to all, that resignation to decay is too difficult a task in the father; and deference, amidst the impulse of gay desires, appears unreasonable to the son. There are so few who can grow old with a good grace, and yet fewer who can come slow enough into the world, that a father, were he to be actuated by his desires, and a son, were he to consult himself only,
could neither of them behave himself as he ought to the other. But when reason interposes against instinct, where it would carry either out of the interests of the other, there arises that happiest intercourse of good offices between those dearest relations of human life. The father, according to the opportunities which are offered to him, is throwing down blessings on the son, and the son endeavouring to appear the worthy offspring of such a father. It is after this manner that Camillus and his firstborn dwell together. Camillus enjoys a pleasing and indolent old age, in which passion is subdued, and reason exalted. He waits the day of his dissolution with a resignation mixed with delight; and the son fears the accession of his father's fortune with diffidence, lest he should not enjoy or become it as well as his predecessor. Add to this, that the father knows he leaves a friend to the children of his friends, an easy landlord to his tenants, and. and agreeable companion to his acquaintance. He believes his son's behaviour will make him frequently remembered, but never wanted. This commerce is so well cemented, that without the pomp of saying, “Son, be a friend to such a one when I am gone;" Camillus knows, being in his favour is direction enough to the grateful youth who is to succeed him, without the admonition of his mentioning it. These gentlemen are honoured in all their neighbourhood, and the same effect which the court has on the manners of a kingdom, their characters have on all who live within the influence of them.
My son and I are not of fortune to communicate our good actions or intentions to so many as those gentlemen do; but I will be bold to say, my son has, by the applause and approbation which his behaviour towards me has gained him, occasioned that many an old man besides myself
has rejoiced. Other men's children follow the example of mine, and I have the inexpressible happiness of overhearing our neighbours, as we ride by, point to their children, and say, with a voice of joy, “ There they go."
*You cannot, Mr. Spectator, pass your time better than insinuating the delights which those relations well regarded bestow upon each other. Ordinary passages are no longer such, but mutual love gives an importance to the most indifferent things, and a merit to actions the most insignificant. When we look round the world, and observe the many misunderstandings which are created by the malice and insinuation of the meanest servants between people thus related, how necessary will it appear that it were inculcated, that men would be upon their guard to support a constancy of affection, and that grounded upon the principles of reason, not the impulses of instinct.
• It is from the common prejudices which men receive from their parents, that hatreds are kept alive from one generation to another; and when men act by instinct, hatred will descend when good offices are forgotten. For the degeneracy of human life is such, that our anger is more easily transferred to our children than our love. Love always gives something to the object it delights in, and anger spoils the person against whom it is moved of something laudable in him; from this degeneracy, therefore, and a sort of self-love, we are more prone to take
the ill-will of our parents, than to follow them in their friendships.
• One would think there should need no more to make men keep up this sort of relation with the utmost sanctity, than to examine their own hearts. If every father remembered his own thoughts and inclinations when he was a son, and every son remem