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No. 335.] Tuesday, March 25, 1711-12.
Respicere exemplar vitæ morumque jubebo Doctum imitatorum et veras hine ducere voces. Hor. Ars Poet. v. 327. Keep nature's great original in view, "And thence the living images pursue.-Francis. "My friend, Sir Roger de Coverley, when we last met together at the club, told me that he had a great mind to see the new tragedy with me, assuring me at the same time, that he had not been at a play these twenty years. The last I saw,' said Sir Roger, was The Committee, which I should not have gone to neither, had not I been told beforehand that it was a good church of England comedy.' He then proceeded to inquire of me who this distrest mother was; and upon hearing that she was Hector's widow, he told me that her husband was a brave man, and that when he was a schoolboy he had read his life at the end of the dictionary. My friend asked me in the next place, if there would not be some danger in coming home late, in case the Mohocks should be abroad. I assure you,' says he, I thought I had fallen into their hands last night; for I observed two or three lusty black men that followed me half way up Fleet-street, and mended their pace behind me, in proportion as I put on to get away from them. You must know,' continued the knight with a smile, I fancied they had a mind to hunt me; for I remember an honest gentleman in my neighbourhood, who was served such a trick in King Charles the Second's time, for which reason he has not ventured himself in town ever since. I might have shown them very good sport, had this been their design; for, as I am an old fox-hunter, I should have turned and dodged, and have played them a thousand tricks they had never seen in their lives before.' Sir Roger added that if these gentlemen had any such intention, they did not succeed very well in it, for I threw them out,' says he, at the end of Norfolk-street, where I doubled the corner, and got shelter in my lodgings before they could imagine what was become of me. However,' says the knight, if Captain Sentry will make one with us to-morrow night, and you will both of you call upon me about four o'clock, that we may be at the house before it is full, I will have my own coach in readiness to attend you, for John tells me he has got the fore-wheels mended.'
head of his footmen in the rear, we convoyed him in safety to the playhouse, where after having marched up the entry in good order, the captain and I went in with him, and seated him betwixt us in the pit. As soon as the house was full, and the candles lighted, my old friend stood up, and looked about him with that pleasure which a mind seasoned with humanity naturally feels in itself, at the sight of a multitude of people who seem pleased with one another, and partake of the same common entertainment. could not but fancy to myself, as the old man stood up in the middle of the pit, that he made a very proper centre to a tragic audience. Upon the entering of Pyrrhus, the knight told me, that he did not believe the king of France himself had a better strut. I was indeed very attentive to my old friend's remarks, because I looked upon them as a piece of natural criticism, and was well pleased to hear him, at the conclusion of almost every scene telling me that he could not imagine how the play would end. One while he appeared much concerned for Andromache; and a little while after as much for Hermione; and was extremely puzzled to think what would become of Pyrrhus.
When Sir Roger saw Andromache's obstinate refusal to her lover's importunities, he whispered me in the ear, that he was sure she would never have him; to which he added, with a more than ordinary vehemence, 'You can't imagine, sir, what it is to have to do with a widow.' Upon Pyrrhus's threatening afterwards to leave her, the knight shook his head, and muttered to himself, Ay, do if you can.' This part dwelt so much upon my friend's imagination, that at the close of the third act, as I was thinking of something else, he whispered me in my ear, 'These widows, sir, are the most perverse creatures in the world. But pray,' says he, 'you that are a critic, is the play according to your dramatic rules, as you call them? Should your people in tragedy always talk to be understood? Why, there is not a single sentence in this play that I do not know the meaning of."
The captain, who did not fail to meet me there at the appointed hour, bid Sir Roger fear nothing, for that he had put on the same sword which he made use of at the battle of Steenkirk. Sir Roger's servants, and among the rest my old friend the butler, had, I found, provided themselves with good oaken plants, to attend their master upon this occasion. When we had placed him in his coach, with myself at his left hand, the captain before him, and his butler at the
The Distrest Mother.
The fourth act very luckily began before I had time to give the old gentleman an answer. Well," says the knight, sitting down with great satisfaction, I suppose we are now to see Hector's ghost.' He then renewed his attention, and, from time to time fell a-praising the widow. He made, indeed, a little mistake as to one of her pages, whom at his first entering he took for Astyanax; but quickly set himself right in that particular, though, at the same time, he owned he should have been very glad to have seen the little boy, who, says he, must needs be a very fine child by the account that is given of him. Upon Hermione's going off with a menace to Pyrrhus, the audience gave a loud clap, to which Sir Roger added, On my word, a notable [young baggage!'
As there was a very remarkable silence and stillness in the audience during the whole action, it was natural for them to take the opportunity of the intervals between the acts to express their opinion of the players, and of their respective parts. Sir Roger, hearing a cluster of them praise Orestes, struck in with them, and told them, that he thought his friend Pylades was a very sensible man. As they were afterwards applauding Pyrrhus, Sir Roger put in a second time. And let me tell you,' says he, though he speaks but little, I like the old fellow in whiskers as well as any of them.' Captain Sentry, seeing two or three wags who sat near us, lean with an attentive ear towards Sir Roger, and fearing lest they should smoke the knight, plucked him by the elbow, and whispered something in his ear, that lasted till the opening of the fifth act. The knight was wonderfully attentive to the account which Orestes gives of Pyrrhus's death, and at the conclusion of it, told me it was such a bloody piece of work that he was glad it was not done upon the stage. Seeing after-age. wards Orestes in his raving fit, he grew more than ordinarily serious, and took occasion to moralize (in his way,) upon an evil conscience, adding, that Orestes, in his madness, looked as if he saw something.
has prevailed from generation to generation, which gray hairs and tyrannical custom continue to support: I hope your spectatorial authority will give a seasonable check to the spread of the infection; I mean old men's overbearing the strongest sense of their juniors by the mere force of seniority; so that, for a young man in the bloom of life, and vigour of age, to give a reasonable contradiction to his elders, is esteemed an unpardonable insolence, and regarded as reversing the decrees of nature. I am a young man, I confess; yet I honour the gray head as much as any one; however, when, in company with old men, I hear them speak obscurely, or reason preposterously, (into which absurdities, prejudice, pride, or interest, will sometimes throw the wisest,) I count it no crime to rectify their reasonings, unless conscience must truckle to ceremony, and truth fall a sacrifice to complaisance. The strongest arguments are enervated, and the brightest evidence disappears, before those tremendous reasonings and dazzling discoveries of venerable old "You are young, giddy-headed fellows; you have not yet had experience of the world." Thus we young folks find our ambition cramped, and our laziness indulged; since while young we have little room to display ourselves; and, when old, the weakness of nature must pass for strength of sense, and we hope that hoary heads will raise us above the attacks of contradiction. Now, sir, as you would enliven our activity in the pursuit of learning, take our case into consideration; and, with a gloss on brave Elihu's sentiments, assert the rights of youth, and prevent the pernicious en
As we were the first that came into the house, so we were the last that went out of it; being resolved to have a clear passage for our old friend, whom we did not care to venture among the jostling of the crowd. Sir Roger went out fully satisfied with his entertainment, and we guarded him to his lodging in the same manner that we brought him to the playhouse; being highly pleased | croachments of age. The generous reasonfor my own part, not only with the per-ings of that gallant youth would adorn your formance of the excellent piece which had paper; and I beg you would insert them, been presented, but with the satisfaction not doubting but that they will give good which it had given to the old man. L. entertainment to the most intelligent of your readers.'
"So these three men ceased to answer
No. 336.] Wednesday, March 26, 1711-12. Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes. Then was kindled the wrath of Elihu, the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the kindred of Ram: against Job was his wrath kindled, because he justified himself rather than God. Also against his three friends was his wrath kindled, because they had found no answer, and yet had condemned Job. Now Elihu had waited till Job had spoken, because they were elder than he. When Elihu saw there was no answer in the mouth of these three men, then his wrath was kindled. And Elihu, the son of Barachel the Buzite, answered and said, I am young, and ye are very old; wherefore I was afraid and durst not show you mine opinion. I said, days should speak, and multitude of years should teach wisdom. But there is a spirit in man, and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding. Great men are not always wise: neither do the aged understand judgment. Therefore I said, Hearken to me, I also
Clament periisse pudorem
Cuncti pene patres: ea cum reprehendere coner,
Hor. Ep. i. Lib. 2. 80.
One tragic sentence if I dare deride, With Betterton's grave action dignified, Or well-mouth'd Booth with emphasis proclaims,. (Though but, perhaps, a muster-roll of names,) How will our fathers rise up in a rage, And swear all shame is lost in George's age? You'd think no fools disgrac'd the former reign, Did not some grave examples yet remain, Who scorn a lad should teach his father skill, And, having once been wrong, will be so still. Pope. 'MR. SPECTATOR,-As you are the daily endeavourer to promote learning and good sense, I think myself obliged to suggest to your consideration whatever may promote or prejudice them. There is an evil which
will show mine opinion. Behold, I waited for your words; I gave ear to your reasons, whilst you searched out what to say. Yea, I attended unto you: and behold there was none of you that convinced Job, or that answered his words: lest you should say, We have found out wisdom: God thrusteth him down, not man. Now he hath not directed his words against me: neither will I answer him with your speeches. They were amazed: they answered no more; they left off speaking. When I had waited (for they spake not, but stood still and answered no more,) I said, I will answer also my part, I also will show mine opinion. For I am full of matter, the spirit within me constraineth me. Behold, my belly is as wine which hath no vent, it is ready to burst like new bottles. I will speak that I may be refreshed: I will open my lips and answer. Let me not, I pray you, accept any man's No. 337.] Thursday, March 27, 1712. person, neither let me give flattering titles unto man. For I know not to give flatter-Fingit equum tenera docilem cervice magister, ing titles: in so doing my Maker would soon take me away."
Ire viam quam monstrat eques
the better for it. Lord, what signifies one poor pot of tea, considering the trouble they put me to? Vapours, Mr. Spectator, are terrible things; for, though I am not possessed by them myself, I suffer more from them than if I were. Now I must beg of you to admonish all such day-goblins to make fewer visits, or to be less troublesome when they come to one's shop; and to convince them that we honest shop-keepers have something better to do than to cure folks of the vapours gratis. A young son of mine, a school-boy, is my secretary, so I hope you will make allowances. I am, sir, your constant reader, and very humble servant,
REBECCA the distressed. 'March the 22d.'
Hor. Ep. 2. Lib. 1. 64.
'MR. SPECTATOR,-I have formerly read with great satisfaction your paper about idols, and the behaviour of gentlemen in those coffee-houses where women officiate; and impatiently waited to see you take India and China shops into consideration: but since you have passed us over in silence, either that you have not as yet thought us worth your notice, or that the grievances we lie under have escaped your discerning eye, I must make my complaints to you, and am encouraged to do it because you seem a little at leisure at this present writing. I am, dear sir, one of the top China-women about town; and though I say it, keep as good things and receive as fine company as any over this end of the town, let the other be who she will. In short, I am in a fair way to be easy, were it not for a club of female rakes, who, under pretence of taking their innocent rambles, forsooth, and diverting the spleen, seldom fail to plague me twice or thrice a day, to cheapen tea, or buy a skreen. What else should they mean? as they often repeat it. These rakes are your idle ladies of fashion, who, having nothing to do, employ them-vice is punished and discouraged, whenever selves in tumbling over my ware. One of it is found out: but this is far from being these no-customers (for by the way they sufficient, unless our youth are at the same seldom or never buy any thing,) calls for a time taught to form a right judgment of set of tea-dishes, another for a bason, a third things, and to know what is properly virtue. for my best green tea, and even to the punchbowl, there's scarce a piece in my shop but must be displaced, and the whole agree-famous in their generation, it should not be able architecture disordered, so that I can thought enough to make them barely uncompare them to nothing but to the night-derstand so many Greek or Latin sentences; goblins that take a pleasure to overturn but they should be asked their opinion of the disposition of plates and dishes in the such an action or saying, and obliged to give kitchens of your housewifery maids. Well, their reasons why they take it to be good after all this racket and clatter, this is too or bad. By this means they would insensidear, that is their aversion; another thing bly arrive at proper notions of courage, is charming, but not wanted; the ladies are temperance, honour, and justice. cured of the spleen, but I am not a shilling
To this end, whenever they read the lives and actions of such men as have been
There must be great care taken how
the gentleman who has already given the I HAVE lately received a third letter from public two essays upon education. As his thoughts seem to be very just and new upon this subject, I shall communicate them to
'SIR,-If I had not been hindered by some extraordinary business, I should have sent you sooner my further thoughts upon education. You may please to remember, that in my last letter, I endeavoured to give the best reasons that could be urged in favour of a private or public education. Upon the whole, it may perhaps be thought that I seemed rather inclined to the latter, though at the same time I confessed that virtue, which ought to be our first and principal care, was more usually acquired in the former.
I intended, therefore, in this letter, to offer at methods, by which I conceive boys might be made to improve in virtue as they advance in letters.
"I know that in most of our public schools
the example of any particular person is
he would inspire me with an abhorrence
'I have often wondered how Alexander, who was naturally of a generous and merciful disposition, came to be guilty of so barbarous an action as that of dragging the 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 Phoenix. 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 a case him in this piece of cruelty and extrava-equally known with any in Littleton. gance.
To carry this thought yet further, I shall submit it to your consideration, whether, instead of a theme or copy of verses, which are the usual exercises, as they are called in the school phrase, it would not be more proper that a boy should be tasked, once or twice a week, to write down his opinion of such persons and things as occur to him by his reading; that he should descant upon the actions of Turnus, or Æneas; show wherein they excelled, or were defective; censure or approve any particular action; observe how it might have been carried to a greater degree of perfection, and how it exceeded or fell short of another. He might at the same time mark what was moral in any speech, and how
The method which Apuleius tells us the Indian Gymnosophists took to educate their disciples, is still more curious and remarkable. His words are as follow: "When their dinner is ready, before it is served up, the masters inquire of every particular scholar how he has employed his time since sun-rising: some of them answer, that, having been chosen as arbiters between two persons, they have composed their differences, and made them friends; some that they have been executing the orders of their parents; and others, that they have either found out something new by their own application, or learnt it from the instructions of their fellows. But if there happens to be any one among them who cannot make it appear that he has em
far 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 several ways of producing virtue in the minds of boys, some general method might be invented. What I would endeavour to inculcate is, that our youth cannot be too soon taught the principles of virtue, seeing the first impressions which are made on the mind, are always the strongest.
Next to those examples which may be met with in books, I very much approve Horace's way of setting before youth the infamous or honourable characters of their contemporaries. That poet tells us, this was the method his father made use of to incline him to any particular virtue, or give him an aversion to any particular vice. "If," says Horace, "my father advised me to live within bounds, and be contented with the fortune he should leave me; Do you not see,' says he, 'the miserable condition of Burrus, and the son of Albus? Let the misfortunes of those two wretches teach you to avoid luxury and extravagance.' If
The archbishop of Cambray makes Telemachus say, that, though he was young in years, he was old in the art of knowing how to keep both his own and his friends' secrets. "When my father," says the prince, "went to the siege of Troy, he took me on his knees, and, after having embraced and blessed me, as he was sur
'MR. SPECTATOR,—I had the happiness
rounded by the nobles of Ithaca, O my friends,' says he, into your hands I commit the education of my son: if ever you loved his father, show it in your care towards him; but, above all, do not omit to form him just, sincere, and faithful in keeping a secret.' These words of my father,” says Telemachus, were continually repeated to me by his friends in his absence; who made no scruple of communicating to 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 as flowed from the exactest art and judgex-ment: though I must confess that my curiosity led me so much to observe the knight's reflections, that I was not well at leisure to improve myself by yours. Nature, I found, played her part in the knight pretty well, till at the last concluding lines she entirely forsook him. You must know, sir, that it is always my custom, when Ỉ have been well entertained at a new tragedy, to make my retreat before the facetious epilogue enters; not but that those pieces are often very well written, but having paid down my half-crown, and made a fair purchase of as much of the pleasing melancholy as the poet's art can afford me, or my own nature admit of, I am willing to carry some of it home with me: and cannot endure to be at once tricked out of all, though by the wittiest dexterity in the world. However, I kept my seat the other night in hopes of finding my own sentiments of the matter favoured by your friends; when, to my great surprise, I found the knight entering with equal pleasure into both parts, and as much satisfied with Mrs. Oldfield's gaiety as he had been before with Andromache's greatness. Whether this were no more than an effect of the knight's peculiar humanity, pleased to find at last, that, after all the tragical doings, every thing was safe and well, I do not know; but for my own part, I must confess, I was so dissatisfied, that Í was sorry the poet had saved Andromache, and could heartily have wished that he had left her stone-dead upon the stage. For you cannot imagine, Mr. Spectator, the mischief she was reserved to do me. I found my soul, during the action, gradually worked up to the highest pitch, and felt the exalted passion which all generous minds conceive at the sight of virtue in distress. The impression, believe me, sir, was so strong upon me, that I am persuaded, if I had been let alone in it, I could, at an extremity, have ventured to defend yourself and Sir Roger against half a score of the fiercest Mohocks; but the ludicrous epilogue in the close extinguished all my ardour, and made
There is hardly any virtue which a lad might not thus learn by practice and ample.
I have heard of a good man, who used at certain times to give his scholars sixpence a-piece, that they might tell him the next day how they had employed it. The third part was always to be laid out in charity, and every boy was blamed, or commended, as he could make it appear he had chosen a fit object.
'In short, nothing is more wanting to our public schools, than that the masters of them should use the same care in fashioning the manners of their scholars, as in forming their tongues to the learned languages. Wherever the former is omitted, I cannot help agreeing with Mr. Locke, that a man must have a very strange value for words, when, preferring the languages of the Greeks and Romans to that which made them such brave men, he can think it worth while to hazard the innocence and virtue of his son for a little Greek and Latin.
'As the subject of this essay is of the highest importance, and what I do not remember to have yet seen treated by any author, I have sent you what occurred to me on it from my own observation, or reading, and which you may either suppress or publish, as you think fit. I am, sir, yours, &c.' X.
No. 338.] Friday, March 28, 1712.
-Nil fuit unquam
I FIND the tragedy of the Distrest Mother is published to-day. The author of the prologue, I suppose, pleads an old excuse I have read somewhere, of being dull with design;' and the gentleman who writ the epiloguet has, to my knowledge, so much of greater moment to value him
By A. Phillips, first published in 1712 † Steele; See Tat. No. 38.
self upon, that he will easily forgive me for publishing the exceptions made against gaiety at the end of serious entertainments in the following letter: I should be more unwilling to pardon him, than any body, a practice which cannot have any ill consequence but from the abilities of the person who is guilty of it.