Изображения страниц

and are just when they are conformable to |ishing sentiments, where he is not fired the characters of the several persons. The by the Iliad. He every where charms sentiments have likewise a relation to things and pleases us by the force of his own as well persons, and are then perfect when genius; but seldom elevates and transports they are such as are adapted to the subject. us where he does not fetch his hints from If in either of these cases the poet endeavours Homer. to argue or explain, to magnify or diminish, to raise love or hatred, pity or terror, or any other passion, we ought to consider whether the sentiments he makes use of are proper for those ends. Homer is censured by the critics for his defect as to this particular in several parts of the Iliad and Odyssey, though at the same time those, who have treated this great poet with candour, have attributed this defect to the times in, which he lived. It was the fault of the age, and not of Homer, if there wants that delicacy in some of his sentiments, which now appears in the works of men of a much inferior genius. Besides, if there are blemishes in any particular thoughts, there is an infinite beauty in the greatest part of them. In short, if there are many poets who would not have fallen into the meanness of some of his sentiments, there are none who could have risen up to the greatness of others. Virgil has excelled all others in the propriety of his sentiments. Milton shines likewise very much in this particular: nor must we omit one consideration which adds to his honour and reputation. Homer and Virgil introduced persons whose characters are commonly known among men, and such as are to be met with either in history, or in ordinary conversation. Milton's characters, most of them, lie out of nature, and were to be formed purely by his own invention. It shows a greater genius in Shakspeare to have drawn his Caliban, than his Hotspur, or Julius Cæsar: the one was to be supplied out of his own imagination, whereas the other might have been formed upon tradition, history and observation. It was much easier therefore for Homer to find proper sentiments for an assembly of Grecian generals, than for Milton to diversify his infernal council with proper characters, and inspire them with a variety of sentiments. The loves of Dido and Æneas are only copies of what has passed between other persons. Adam and Eve, before the fall, are a different species from that of mankind, who are descended from them; and none but a poet of the most unbounded invention, and the most exquisite judgment, could have filled their conversation and behaviour with so many apt circumstances during their state of innocence.

Milton's chief talent, and indeed his distinguishing excellence, lies in the sublimity of his thoughts. There are others of the moderns who rival him in every other part of poetry; but in the greatness of his sentiments he triumphs over all the poets both modern and ancient, Homer only excepted. It is impossible for the imagination of man to distend itself with greater ideas, than those which he has laid together in his first, second, and sixth books. The seventh, which describes the creation of the world, is likewise wonderfully sublime, though not so apt to stir up emotion in the mind of the reader, nor consequently so perfect in the epic way of writing, because it is filled with less action. Let the judicious reader compare what Longinus has observed on several passages in Homer, and he will find parallels for most of them in the Paradise Lost.

From what has been said we may infer, that as there are two kinds of sentiments, the natural and the sublime, which are always to be pursued in an heroic poem, there are also two kinds of thoughts which are carefully to be avoided. The first are such as are affected and unnatural; the second such as are mean and vulgar. As for the first kind of thoughts, we meet with little or nothing that is like them in Virgil. He has none of those trifling points and puerilities that are so often to be met with in Ovid, none of the epigrammatic turns of Lucan, none of those swelling sentiments which are so frequent in Statius and Claudian, none of those mixed embellishments of Tasso. Every thing is just and natural. His sentiments show that he had a perfect insight into human nature, and that he knew every thing which was the most proper to affect it.

Mr. Dryden has in some places, which I may hereafter take notice of, misrepresented Virgil's way of thinking as to this particular, in the translation he has given us of the Æneid. I do not remember that Homer any where falls into the faults above-mentioned, which were indeed the false refinements of later ages. Milton, it must be confessed, has sometimes erred in this respect, as I shall show more at large in another paper; though considering how all the poets of the age in which he writ were infected with this wrong way of thinking, he is rather to be admired that he did not give more into it, than that he did sometimes comply with the vicious taste which still prevails so much among modern writers.

Nor is it sufficient for an epic poem to be filled with such thoughts as are natural, unless it abound also with such as are sublime. Virgil in this particular falls short of Homer. He has not indeed so many thoughts that are low and vulgar; but at the same time has not so many thoughts But since several thoughts may be natuthat are sublime and noble. The truth of ral which are low and grovelling, an epic it is, Virgil seldom rises into very aston-poet should not only avoid such sentiments

Principibus placuisse viris non ultima laus est.
Hor. Ep. xvii. Lib. 1. 35.
To please the great is not the smallest praise.

as are unnatural or affected, but also such | No. 280.] Monday, January 21, 1711-12.
as are mean and vulgar. Homer has opened
a great field of raillery to men of more
delicacy and greatness of genius, by the
homeliness of some of his sentiments. But
as I have before said, these are rather to
be imputed to the simplicity of the age in
which he lived, to which I may also add,
of that in which he described, than to any
imperfection in that divine poet. Zoilus,
among the ancients, and Monsieur Perrault,
among the moderns, pushed their ridicule
very far upon him, on account of some
such sentiments. There is no blemish to
be observed in Virgil under this head, and
but a very few in Milton.

I shall give but one instance of this impropriety of thought in Homer, and at the same time compare it with an instance of the same nature, both in Virgil and Milton. Sentiments which raise laughter, can very seldom be admitted with any decency into an heroic poem, whose business it is to excite passion of a much nobler nature. Homer, however, in his characters of Vulcan and Thersites, in his story of Mars and Venus, in his behaviour of Irus, and in other passages, has been observed to have lapsed into the burlesque character, and to have departed from that serious air which seems essential to the magnificence of an epic poem. I remember but one laugh in the whole Æneid, which rises in the fifth book, upon Monates, where he is represented as thrown overboard, and drying himself upon a rock. But this piece of mirth is so well-timed, that the severest critic can have nothing to say against it; for it is in the book of games and diversions where the reader's mind may be supposed sufficiently relaxed for such an entertainment. The only piece of pleasantry in Paradise Lost, is where the evil spirits are described as rallying the angels upon the success of their new invented artillery. This passage I look upon to be the most exceptionable in the whole poem, as being nothing else but a string of puns, and those too very indifferent ones.

-Satan beheld their plight,

And to his mates thus in derision call'd:

O friends, why come not on those victors proud?
Ere while they fierce were coming, and when we,
To entertain them fair with open front
And breast (what could we more?) propounded


Of Composition, straight they changed their minds,
Flew off, and into strange vagaries fell
As they would dance; yet for a dance they seem'd
Somewhat extravagant, and wild; perhaps
For joy of offer'd peace; but I suppose
If our proposals once again were heard,
We should compel them to a quick result.

To whom thus Belial in like gamesome mood:
Leader, the terms we sent were terms of weight,
Of hard contents, and full of force urg'd home;
Such as we might perceive amused them all,
And stumbled many; who receives them right,
Had need from head to foot well understand;
Not understood, this gift they have besides,
They show us when our foes walk not upright.'
Thus they among themselves in pleasant vein
Stood scoffing-

Milton's Par. Lost, b. vi. 1. 609, &c.

THE desire of pleasing makes a man agreeable or unwelcome to those with whom he converses, according to the motive from which that inclination appears to flow. If your concern for pleasing others arises from an innate benevolence, it never fails of success; if from a vanity to excel, its disappointment is no less certain. What we call an agreeable man, is he who is endowed with the natural bent to do acceptable things from a delight he takes in them merely as such; and the affectation of that character is what constitutes a fop. Under these leaders one may draw up all those who may make up any manner of figure, except in dumb show. A rational and select conversation is composed of persons, who have the talent of pleasing with delicacy of sentiments flowing from habitual chastity of thought; but mixed company is frequently made up of pretenders to mirth, and is usually pestered with constrained, obscene, and painful witticisms. Now and then you may meet with a man so exactly formed for pleasing, that it is no matter what he is doing or saying, that is to say, that there need be no manner of importance in it, to make him gain upon every body who hears or beholds him. This felicity is not the gift of nature only, but must be attended with happy circumstances, which add a dignity to the familiar behaviour which distinguishes him whom we call an agreeable man. It is from this that every body loves and esteems Polycarpus. He is in the vigour of his age, and the gaiety of life, but has passed through very conspicuous scenes in it: though no soldier, he has shared the danger, and acted with great gallantry and generosity on a decisive day of battle. To have those qualities which only make other men conspicuous in the world as it were supernumerary to him, is a circumstance which gives weight to his most indifferent actions; for as a known credit is ready cash to a trader, so is acknowledged merit immediate distinction, and serves in the place of equipage to a gentleman. This renders Polycarpus graceful in mirth, important in business and regarded with love in every ordinary occurrence. But not to dwell upon characters which have such particular recommendations to our hearts, let us turn our thoughts rather to the methods of pleasing which must carry men through the world who cannot pretend to such advantages. Falling in with the particular humour or manner of one above you, abstracted from the general rules of good behaviour, is the life of a slave. A parasite differs in nothing from the meanest servant, but that the footman hires himself for

bodily labour, subjected to go and come at ¦ disagreeable the mention or appearance of the will of his master, but the other gives his wants would make him, that I have up his very soul: he is prostituted to speak, often reflected upon him as a counterpart and professes to think after the mode of of Irus, whom I have formerly mentioned. him whom he courts. This servitude This man, whom I have missed for some to a patron, in an honest nature, would be years in my walks, and have heard was more grievous than that of wearing his some way employed about the army, made livery; therefore we will speak of those it a maxim, that good wigs, delicate linen, methods only which are worthy and inge- and a cheerful air, were to a poor dependent the same that working tools are to a poor artificer. It was no small entertainment to me, who knew his circumstances, to see him, who had fasted two days, attri


The happy talent of pleasing either those above you or below you, seems to be wholly owing to the opinion they have of your sincerity. This quality is to attend the agree-bute the thinness they told him of, to the able man in all the actions of his life; and violence of some gallantries he had lately I think there need no more be said in been guilty of. The skilful dissembler carhonour of it, than that it is what forces the ried on this with the utmost address; and approbation even of your opponents. The if any suspected his affairs were narrow, it guilty man has an honour for the judge was attributed to indulging himself in some who with justice pronounces against him fashionable vice rather than an irreproachthe sentence of death itself. The author able poverty, which saved his credit with of the sentence at the head of this paper, those on whom he depended was an excellent judge of human life, and The main art is to be as little troublepassed his own in company the most agree- some as you can, and make all you hope for able that ever was in the world. Augustus come rather as a favour from your patron lived amongst his friends, as if he had his than claim from you. But I am here pratfortune to make in his own court. Candouring of what is the method of pleasing so as and affability, accompanied with as much to succeed in the world, when there are power as ever mortal was vested with, were crowds, who have, in city, town court, and what made him in the utmost manner country, arrived at considerable acquisiagreeable among a set of admirable men, tions, and yet seem incapable of acting in who had thoughts too high for ambition, any constant tenor of life, but have gone on and views too large to be gratified by what from one successful error to another: therehe could give them in the disposal of an em- fore I think I may shorten this inquiry after pire, without the pleasure of their mutual the method of pleasing; and as the old beau conversation. A certain unanimity of taste said to his son, once for all, Pray, Jack, and judgment, which is natural to all of be a fine gentleman;' so may I to my the same order of the species, was the band reader, abridge my introductions, and finish of this society: and the emperor assumed the art of pleasing in a word, 'Be rich.' no figure in it, but what he thought was due from his private talents and qualifications, T. as they contributed to advance the pleasures and sentiments of the company.


No. 281.] Tuesday, January 22, 1711-12.

Cunning people, hypocrites, all who are but half virtuous, or half wise, are incapable of tasting the refined pleasure of such an equal company as could wholly exclude the regard of fortune in their conversations. Horace, in the discourse from whence I take the hint of the present speculation, lays down excellent rules for conduct in conversation with men of power; but he speaks with an air of one who had no need of such an application for any thing which related to himself. It shows he understood what it was to be a skilful courtier, by just admonitions against importunity, and showing how forcible it was to speak modestly my promise by several of my unknown of your own wants. There is indeed some- correspondents, who are very importunate thing so shameless in taking all opportuni- with me to make an example of the coties to speak of your own affairs, that he who quette, as I have already done of the beau. is guilty of it towards him on whom he de- It is therefore in compliance with the repends, fares like the beggar who exposes quest of friends, that I have looked over his sores, which, instead of moving com- the minutes of my former dream, in order passion, makes the man he begs of turn to give the public an exact relation of it, away from the object. preface. which I shall enter upon without farther

Pectoribus inhians spirantia consulit exta. Virg. En. iv. 61 Anxious the reeking entrails be consults. dissection of a beau's head, with the seve HAVING already given an account of the ral discoveries made on that occasion, I shall here, according to my promise, enter upon the dissection of a coquette's heart, and communicate to the public such particulars as we observed in that curious piece of anatomy.

I should perhaps have waived this undertaking, had I not been put in mind of

I cannot tell what is become of him, but I remember about sixteen years ago an honest fellow, who so justly understood how visionary dissection, told us, that there was Our operator, before he engaged in this

[ocr errors]

nothing in his art more difficult than to lay | open the heart of a coquette, by reason of the many labyrinths and recesses which are to be found in it, and which do not appear in the heart of any other animal.

sels which came into it, or issued out of it, we could not discover any communication that it had with the tongue.

We could not but take notice likewise, that several of those little nerves in the He desired us first of all to observe the heart which are affected by the sentiments pericardium, or outward case of the heart, of love, hatred, and other passions, did not which we did very attentively; and by the descend to this before us from the brain, help of our glasses discerned in it millions but from the muscles which lie about the of little scars, which seemed to have been eye. occasioned by the points of innumerable Upon weighing the heart in my hand, I darts and arrows, that from time to time found it to be extremely light, and consehad glanced upon the outward coat; though quently very hollow, which I did not wonwe could not discover the smallest orifice, der at, when, upon looking into the inside by which any of them had entered and of it, I saw multitudes of cells and cavities pierced the inward substance. running one within another, as our historians describe the apartments of Rosamond's bower. Several of these little hollows were stuffed with innumerable sorts of trifles, which I shall forbear giving any particular account of, and shall therefore only take notice of what lay first and uppermost; which, upon our unfolding it, and applying our microscopes to it, appeared to be a flame-coloured hood.

Every smatterer in anatomy knows that this pericardium, or case of the heart, contains in it a thin reddish liquor, supposed to be bred from the vapours which exhale out of the heart, and, being stopped here, are condensed into this watery substance. Upon examining this liquor, we found that it had in it all the qualities of that spirit which is made use of in the thermometer, to show the change of weather.

We are informed that the lady of this Nor must I here omit an experiment one heart, when living, received the addresses of the company assured us he himself had of several who made love to her, and did made with this liquor, which he found in not only give each of them encouragement, great quantity about the heart of a coquette but made every one she conversed with bewhom he had formerly dissected. He af-lieve that she regarded him with an eye of firmed to us, that he had actually enclosed kindness; for which reason we expected to it in a small tube made after the manner of have seen the impressions of multitudes of a weather-glass; but that instead of ac- faces among the several plaits and foldings quainting him with the variations of the at- of the heart; but to our great surprise not a mosphere, it showed him the quality of single print of this nature discovered itself those persons who entered the room where until we came into the very core and centre it stood. He affirmed also that it rose at the of it. We there observed a little figure, approach of a plume of feathers, an em- which, upon applying our glasses to it, apbroidered coat, or a pair of fringed gloves; peared dressed in a very fantastic manner. and that it fell as soon as an ill-shaped pe- The more I looked upon it, the more I riwig, a clumsy pair of shoes, or an un- thought I had seen the face before, but fashionable coat came into his house. Nay, could not possibly recollect either the place he proceeded so far as to assure us, that or time; when at length, one of the comupon his laughing aloud when he stood by pany, who had examined this figure more it, the liquor mounted very sensibly, and nicely than the rest, showed us plainly by immediately sunk again upon his looking the make of its face, and the several turns serious. In short, he told us, that he knew of its features, that the little idol which very well by this invention, whenever he was thus lodged in the very middle of the had a man of sense, or a coxcomb in his heart was the deceased beau, whose head I gave some account of in my last Tuesday's paper.


As soon as we had finished our dissection, we resolved to make an experiment of the heart, not being able to determine among ourselves the nature of its substance, which differed in so many particulars from that of the heart in other females. Accordingly we laid it in a pan of burning coals, when we observed in it a certain salamandrine quality, that made it capable of living in the midst of fire and flame, without being consumed, or so much as singed.

Having cleared away the pericardium, or case, and liquor above-mentioned, we came to the heart itself. The outward surface of it was extremely slippery, and the mucro, or point, so very cold withal, that upon endeavouring to take hold if it, it glided through the fingers like a smooth piece of ice.

As we were admiring this strange pha

The fibres were turned and twisted in a more intricate and perplexed manner than they are usually found in other hearts; insomuch that the whole heart was wound up together in a Gordian knot, and must have had very irregular and unequal mo-nomenon, and standing round the heart in a tions, while it was employed in its vital circle, it gave a most prodigious sigh, or functions. rather crack, and dispersed all at once in smoke and vapour. This imaginary noise, which me thought was louder than the

One thing we thought very observable, namely, that upon examining all the ves

burst of a cannon, produced such a violent]
shake in my brain, that it dissipated the
fumes of sleep, and left me in an instant
broad awake.

No. 282.] Wednesday, Jan. 23, 1711-12.

-Spes incerta futuri.

Virg. Æn. viii. 580. Hopes and fears in equal balance laid.-Dryden, IT is a lamentable thing that every man is full of complaints, and constantly uttering sentences against the fickleness of fortune, when people generally bring upon themselves all the calamities they fall into, and are constantly heaping up matter for their own sorrow and disappointment. That which produces the greatest part of the delusions of mankind, is a false hope which people indulge with so sanguine a flattery to themselves, that their hearts are bent upon fantastical advantages which they had no reason to believe should ever have arrived to them. By this unjust measure of calculating their happiness, they often mourn with real affliction for imaginary losses. When I am talking of this unhappy way of accounting for ourselves, I cannot but reflect upon a particular set of people, who, in their own favour, resolve every thing that is possible into what is probable, and then reckon on that probability as on what must certainly happen. Will Honeycomb, upon my observing his looking on a lady with some particular attention, gave me an account of the great distresses which had laid waste her very fine face, and had given an air of melancholy to a very agreeable person. That lady, and a couple of sisters of hers, were, said Will, fourteen years ago, the greatest fortunes about town; but without having any loss, by bad tenants, by bad securities, or any damage by sea or land, are reduced to very narrow circumstances. They were at that time the most inaccessible haughty beauties in town; and their pretensions to take upon them at that unmerciful rate, were raised upon the following scheme, according to which all their lovers were answered.

'Our father is a youngish man, but then our mother is somewhat older, and not likely to have any children: his estate being 800l. per annum, at twenty years purchase, is worth 16,000l. Our uncle, who is above fifty, has 400l. per annum, which at the aforesaid rate, is 8,000l. There is a widow aunt, who has 10,000l. at her own disposal, left by her husband, and an old maiden aunt, who has 6,000. Then our father's mother has 900l. per annum, which is worth 18,000l. and 1,000l. each of us has of our own, which cannot be taken from us. These summed up together stand thus:

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

In prospect of this, and the knowledge of their own personal merit, every one was contemptible in their eyes, and they refused those offers which had been frequently made them. But mark the end. The mother dies, the father is married again, and has a son; on him was entailed the father's, uncle's, and grandmother's estate. This cut off 42,000l. The maiden aunt married a tall Irishman, and with her went the 6,000%. The widow died, and left but enough to pay her debts and bury her; so that there remained for these three girls but their own 1,000l. They had by this time passed their prime, and got on the wrong side of thirty; and must pass the remainder of their days upbraiding mankind that they mind nothing but money, and bewailing that virtue, sense, and modesty, are had at present in no manner of estimation.

I mention this case of ladies before any other, because it is the most irreparable; for though youth is the time least capable of reflection, it is in that sex the only season in which they can advance their fortunes. But if we turn our thoughts to the men, we see such crowds unhappy, from no other reason but an ill-grounded hope, that it is hard to say which they rather deserve, our pity or contempt. It is not unpleasant to see a fellow, grown old in attendance, and after having passed half a life in servitude, call himself the unhappiest of all men, and pretend to be disappointed, because a courtier broke his word. He that promises himself any thing but what may naturally arise from his own property or labour, and goes beyond the desire of possessing above two parts in three even of that, lays up for himself an increasing heap of afflictions and disappointments. There are but two means in the world of gaining by other men, and these are by being either agreeable or considerable. The generality of mankind do all things for their own sakes; and when you hope any thing from persons above you, if you cannot say, 'I can be thus agreeable, or thus serviceable,' it is ridiculous to pretend to the dignity of being unfortunate when they leave you; you were injudicious in hoping for any other than to be neglected for such as can come within these descriptions of being capable to please, or serve your patron, when his

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »