Изображения страниц

else expected, but the pleasure of the ears | occasion of that tragedy, and fill the mind and eyes, the least diminution of that plea- with a suitable horror; besides that the sure is the highest offence. In acting, witches are a part of the story itself, as we barely to perform the part is not com- find it very particularly related in Hector mendable, but to be the least out is con- Boetius, from whom he seems to have taken temptible. To avoid these difficulties and it. This therefore is a proper machine, delicacies, I am informed, that while I was where the business is dark, horrid, and out of town, the actors have flown into the bloody; but is extremely foreign from the air, and played such pranks, and run such affair of comedy. Subjects of this kind, hazards, that none but the servants of the which are in themselves disagreeable, can fire-office, tilers, and masons, could have at no time become entertaining, but by been able to perform the like.* The author passing through an imagination like Shakof the following letter, it seems, has been of speare's to form them; for which reason the audience at one of these entertainments, Mr. Dryden would not allow even Beauand has accordingly complained to me upon mont and Fletcher capable of imitating it; but I think he has been to the utmost him. degree severe against what is exceptionable in the play he mentions, without dwelling so much as he might have done on the author's most excellent talent of humour. The pleasant pictures he has drawn of life should have been more kindly mentioned, at the same time that he banishes his witches, who are too dull devils to be at


tacked with so much warmth.

'MR. SPECTATOR,-Upon a report that Moll White had followed you to town, and was to act a part in the Lancashire Witches, I went last week to see that play. It was my fortune to sit next to a country justice of the peace, a neighbour (as he said) of Sir Roger's, who pretended to show her to us in one of the dances. There was witchcraft enough in the entertainment almost to incline me to believe him; Ben Johnson was almost lame; young Bullock† narrowly saved his neck; the audience was astonished, and an old acquaintance of mine, a person of worth, whom I would have bowed to in the pit, at two yards' distance did not

know me.

If you were what the country-people reported you, a white witch, I could have wished you had been there to have exorcised that rabble of broomsticks, with which we were haunted for above three hours. I could have allowed them to set Clod in the tree, to have scared the sportsmen, plagued the justice, and employed honest Teague with his holy water. This was the proper use of them in comedy, if the author had stopped here; but I cannot conceive what relation the sacrifice of the black lamb, and the ceremonies of their worship to the devil, have to the business of mirth and humour.

"But Shakspeare's magic could not copied be: Within that circle none durst walk but he

I should not, however, have troubled you with these remarks, if there were not something else in this comedy, which wants to be exorcised more than the witches: I mean the freedom of some passages, which I should have overlooked, if I had not observed that those jests can raise the loudest mirth, though they are painful to right sense, and an outrage upon modesty.

'We must attribute such liberties to the taste of that age: but indeed by such re presentations a poet sacrifices the best part of his audience to the worst; and, as one would think, neglects the boxes, to write to the orange-wenches.

'I must not conclude till I have taken, notice of the moral with which this comedy ends. The two young ladies having given a notable example of out-witting those who had a right in the disposal of them, and marrying without consent of parents, one of the injured parties, who is easily ciled, winds up all with this remark, -Design whate'er we will, There is a fate which over-rules us still."§

[ocr errors]


"We are to suppose that the gallants are men of merit, but if they had been rakes, the excuse might have served as well. Hans Carvel's wife was of the same principle, but has expressed it with a delicacy which shows she is not serious in her excuse, but in a sort of humorous philosophy turns off the thought of her guilt, and says,

"That if weak women go astray,
Their stars are more in fault than they."

This no doubt is a full reparation, and dismisses the audience with very edifying impressions.

"The gentleman who writ this play, and has drawn some characters in it very justly, appears to have been misled in his witch-have partly pursued already, and therefore These things fall under a province you craft by an unwary following the inimitable Shakspeare. The incantations in Macbeth have a solemnity admirably adapted to the

*Alluding to Shadwell's comedy of the Lancashire

Witches, which being considered a party play, had a good run at this time. It was advertised for the very night in which this Number is dated.

The names of two actors then upon the stage. Different incidents in the play of the Lancashire Witches.

demands your animadversion, for the regu lating so noble an entertainment as that of the stage. It were to be wished, that all who write for it hereafter would raise their genius by the ambition of pleasing people of the best understanding; and leave others, who show nothing of the human species but

§The concluding distich of Shadwell's play.

[blocks in formation]

is all my attention broken! my books are
blank paper, and my friends intruders. I
have no hope of quiet but from your pity.
To grant it would make more for your
triumph. To give pain is the tyranny, to
make happy the true empire of beauty. If
you would consider aright, you would find
an agreeable change in dismissing the at-
tendance of a slave, to receive the com-
plaisance of a companion. I bear the former
in hopes of the latter condition. As I live
in chains without murmuring at the power
dom without forgetting the mercy that gave
which inflicts them, so I could enjoy free-
I am, Madam, your most devoted, most
obedient servant.

THE following letters being genuine, and the images of a worthy passion, I am will-it. ing to give the old lady's admonition to myself, and the representation of her own happiness, a place in my writings.


[ocr errors]


'Though I made him no declarations in his favour, you see he had hopes of me August 9, 1711. when he writ this in the month following. 'MR. SPECTATOR,-I am now in the sixty-seventh year of my age, and read you 1671. with approbation; but methinks you do not "MADAM,-Before the light this morning strike at the root of the greatest evil in life, dawned upon the earth, I awaked, and lay which is the false notion of gallantry in love. in expectation of its return, not that it could It is, and has long been, upon a very ill give any new sense of joy to me, but as I foot; but I who have been a wife forty hoped it would bless you with its cheerful years, and was bred up in a way that has face, after a quiet which I wished you last made me ever since very happy, see night. If my prayers are heard, the day through the folly of it. In a word, sir, appeared with all the influence of a merciful when I was a young woman, all who Creator upon your person and actions. Let avoided the vices of the age were very others, my lovely charmer, talk of a blind carefully educated, and all fantastical ob- being that disposes their hearts, I contemn jects were turned out of our sight. The their low images of love. I have not a tapestry-hangings, with the great and ve- thought which relates to you, that I cannerable simplicity of the scripture stories, not with confidence beseech the All-seeing had better effects than now the loves of Power to bless me in. May he direct you Venus and Adonis, or Bacchus and Ariadne, in all your steps, and reward your innoyour fine present prints. The gentle-cence, your sanctity of manners, your pruman I am married to, made love to me in dent youth, and becoming piety, with the rapture, but it was the rapture of a Chris- continuance of his grace and protection. tian and a man of honour, not a romantic This is an unusual language to ladies; but hero or a whining coxcomb. This put our you have a mind elevated above the giddy life upon a right basis. To give you an notions of a sex insnared by flattery and idea of our regard one to another, I enclose misled by a false and short adoration into a to you several of his letters writ forty years solid and long contempt. Beauty, my fairest ago, when my lover; and one writ the other creature, palls in the possession, but I love day, after so many years cohabitation. also your mind: your soul is as dear to me as my own; and if the advantages of a liberal education, some knowledge, and as "August 7, 1671. much contempt of the world, joined with "MADAM,-If my vigilance, and ten the endeavours towards a life of strict virthousand wishes for your welfare and re- tue and religion, can qualify me to raise pose, could have any force, you last night new ideas in a breast so well disposed as slept in security, and had every good angel your's is, our days will pass away with joy; in your attendance. To have my thoughts and old age, instead of introducing melanever fixed on you, to live in constant fear choly prospects of decay, give us hope of of every accident to which human life is eternal youth in a better life. I have but liable, and to send up my hourly prayers few minutes from the duty of my employto avert them from you: I say, madam, ment to write in, and without time to read thus to think, and thus to suffer, is what I over what I have writ, therefore beseech do for her who is in pain at my approach, you to pardon the first hints of my mind, and calls all my tender sorrow imperti- which I have expressed in so little order. nence. You are now before my eyes, my I am, dearest creature, your most obedient eyes that are ready to flow with tenderness, most devoted servant. but cannot give relief to my gushing heart, that dictates what I am now saying, and yearns to tell you all its achings. How art thou, oh my soul, stolen from thyself! how

Your servant,


[ocr errors]

*This and the following letters in this Number are

all genuine, having been written by Sir Richard Steele,
Letters, Vol. II.

to Miss Scurlock, afterwards Lady Steele.-See Steele's

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

'The two next were written after the at this time, but if you saw the poor withday of our marriage was fixed.

ered hand which sends you these minutes, I am sure you will smile to think that there "September 25, 1671. "MADAM,—It is the hardest thing in still as so welcome a present, after forty is one who is so gallant as to speak of it the world to be in love, and yet attend bu-years' possession of the woman whom he siness. As for me, all that speak to me writes to. find me out, and I must lock myself up, or other people will do it for me. A gentleman asked me this morning, 'What news from Holland,' and I answered, 'She is exquisitely handsome.' Another desired to know when I had been last at Windsor. I replied, 'She designs to go with me.' Pr'ythee, allow me at least to kiss your hand before the appointed day, that my mind may be in some composure. Methinks I could write a volume to you, but all the language on earth would fail in saying how much, and with what disinterested passion, I am ever your's."

"June 23, 1711. "MADAM,-I heartily beg your pardon for my omission to write yesterday. It was no failure of my tender regard for you; but having been very much perplexed in my thoughts on the subject of my last, made me determine to suspend speaking of it until I came myself. But my lovely creature, know it is not in the power of age, or misfortune, or any other accident which hangs over human life, to take from me the pleasing esteem I have for you, or the me mory of the bright figure you appeared in, when your gave your hand and heart to, obedient servant." Madam, your most grateful husband, and T.

Non est vivere, sed valere, vita.

"Sept. 30, 1671, 7 in the morning. "DEAR CREATURE,-Next to the influence of heaven, I am to thank you that I see the returning day with pleasure. To pass my evenings in so sweet a conversa- No. 143.] Tuesday, August 14, 1711. tion, and have the esteem of a woman of your merit, has in it a peculiarity of happiness no more to be expressed than returned. But I am, my lovely creature contented to be on the obliged side, and to employ all my days in new endeavours to convince you and all the world of the sense I have of your condescension in choosing, Madam, your most faithful, most obedient humble


[ocr errors]

'He was, when he writ the following letter, as agreeable and pleasant a man as any in England.

Martial, Epig. lxx. 6. For life is only life, when blest with health. IT is an unreasonable thing some men expect of their acquaintance. They are ever complaining that they are out of order, or displeased, or they know not how, and are so far from letting that be a reason for retiring to their own homes, that they make it their argument for coming into company. accounts of a man's being indisposed but What has any body to do with his physician? If a man laments in com"October 20, 1671. pany, where the rest are in humour enough "MADAM,—I beg pardon that my paper to enjoy themselves, he should not take it is not finer, but I am forced to write from ill if a servant is ordered to present him a coffee-house where I am attending about with a porringer of caudle or posset-drink, business. There is a dirty crowd of busy by way of admonition that he go home to faces all around me talking of money, while all my ambition, all my wealth, is love; love, which animates my heart, sweetens my humour, enlarges my soul, and affects every action of my life. It is to my lovely charmer, I owe that many noble ideas are continually affixed to my words and actions: it is the natural effect of that generous passion to create in the admirers some similitude of the object admired; thus my dear am I every day to improve from so sweet a companion. Look up, my fair one, to that heaven which made thee such, and join with me to implore its influence on our tender innocent hours, and beseech the author of love to bless the rites he has ordained, and mingle with our happiness a just sense of our transient condition, and a resignation to his will, which only can regulate our minds to a steady endeavour to please him and each other. I am, for ever, your faithful servant.

bed. That part of life which we ordinarily understand by the word conversation, is an indulgence to the sociable part of our make; and should incline us to bring our proportion of good-will or good-humour among the friends we meet with, and not to trouble them with relations which must of necessity oblige them to a real or feigned affliction. Cares, distresses, diseases, uneasinesses, and dislikes of our own, are by no means to be obtruded upon our friends. If we would consider how little of this vicissitude of motion and rest, which we call life, is spent with satisfaction, we should be more tender of our friends, than to bring them little sorrows which do not belong to them. There is no real life but cheerful life; therefore valetudinarians should be sworn, before they enter into company, no to say a word of themselves until the meet ing breaks up. It is not here pretended that we should be always sitting with chaplets of flowers round our heads, or be 'I will not trouble you with more letters crowned with roses in order to make ou

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

entertainment agreeable to us; but if (as it | moment is not of half the duration as is
is usually observed) they who resolve to be his ordinary sleep. Thus is his being one
merry, seldom are so, it will be much more uniform and consistent series of cheerful
unlikely for us to be well-pleased, if they diversions and moderate cares, without fear
are admitted who are always complaining or hope of futurity. Health to him is more
they are sad. Whatever we do, we should than pleasure to another man, and sickness
keep up the cheerfulness of our spirits, and less affecting to him than indisposition is
never let them sink below an inclination at to others.
least to be well-pleased. The way of this, I must confess, if one does not regard
is to keep our bodies in exercise, our minds life after this manner, none but idiots can
at ease. That insipid state wherein neither pass it away with any tolerable patience.
are in vigour, is not to be accounted any part Take a fine lady who is of a delicate
of our portion of being. When we are in the frame, and you may observe, from the hour
satisfaction of some innocent pleasure, or she rises, a certain weariness of all that
pursuit of some laudable design, we are in passes about her. I know more than one
the possession of life, of human life. For- who is much too nice to be quite alive.
tune will give us disappointments enough, They are sick of such strange frightful
and nature is attended with infirmities people that they meet; one is so awkward,
enough, without our adding to the unhappy and another so disagreeable, that it looks
side of our account by our spleen or ill-like a penance to breathe the same air with
hamour. Poor Cottilus, among so many real them. You see this is so very true, that
evils, a chronical distemper and a narrow a great, part of ceremony and good-breed-
fortune, is never heard to complain. That ing among the ladies turns upon their un-
equal spirit of his, which any man may easiness; and I will undertake, if the how-
have, that like him will conquer pride, d'ye-servants of our women were to make
vanity, and affectation, and follow nature, a weekly bill of sickness, as the parish
is not to be broken, because it has no points clerks do of mortality, you would not find,
to contend for. To be anxious for nothing in an account of seven days, one in thirty
but what nature demands as necessary, if that was not downright sick or indisposed,
it is not the way to an estate, is the way to or but a very little better than she was,
what men aim at by getting an estate. and so forth.
This temper will preserve health in the
body, as well as tranquillity in the mind.
Cottilus sees the world in a hurry, with the
same scorn that a sober person sees a man
drunk. Had he been contented with what
he ought to have been, how could, says he,
such a one have met with such a dis-
appointment? If another had valued his
mistress for what he ought to have loved
her, he had not been in her power. If her
virtue had had a part of his passion, her
levity had been his cure; she could not
then have been false and amiable at the
same time.

It is certain that to enjoy life and health
as a constant feast, we should not think
pleasure necessary, but if possible, to ar-
rive at an equality of mind. It is as mean
to be overjoyed upon occasions of good for-
tune, as to be dejected in circumstances of
distress. Laughter in one condition is as
unmanly as weeping in the other. We
should not form our minds to expect trans-
port on every occasion, but know how
to make it enjoyment to be out of pain.
Ambition, envy, vagrant desire, or imper-
tinent mirth, will take up our minds, with-
out we can possess ourselves in that sobriety
Since we cannot promise ourselves con- of heart which is above all pleasures, and
stant health, let us endeavour at such a can be felt much better than described.
temper as may be our best support in the But the ready way, I believe, to the right
decay of it. Uranius has arrived at that enjoyment of life, is, by a prospect towards
composure of soul, and wrought himself up another, to have but a very mean opinion
to such a neglect of every thing with which of it. A great author of our time* has set
the generality of mankind is enchanted, this in an excellent light, when, with a phi-
that nothing but acute pains can give him losophic pity of human life, he spoke of it
disturbance, and against those too he will in his Theory of the Earth in the following
tell his intimate friends he has a secret manner:
which gives him present ease. Uranius is
so thoroughly persuaded of another life, and
endeavours so sincerely to secure an in-
terest in it, that he looks upon pain but as
a quickening of his pace to a home where
he shall be better provided for than in his
present apartment.
Instead of the me-
lancholy views which others are apt to
give themselves, he will tell you that he
has forgot he is mortal, nor will he think of
himself as such.
He thinks at the time of

his birth he entered into an eternal being; and the short article of death he will not

For what is this life but a circulation of little mean actions? We lie down and rise again, dress and undress, feed and wax hungry, work or play, and are weary, and then we lie down again, and the circle returns. We spend the day in trifles, and when the night comes we throw ourselves into the bed of folly, amongst dreams, and broken thoughts, and wild imaginations. Our reason lies asleep by us, and we are for the time as arrant brutes as those that

Dr. Thomas Burnet, Master of the Charter-house.

allow an interruption of life; since that author of "Telluris sacra Theoria."

sleep in the stalls, or in the field. Are | She has not lost the native simplicity of her not the capacities of man higher than aspect, to substitute that patience of being these? And ought not his ambition and ex- stared at, which is the usual triumph and pectations to be greater? Let us be adven- distinction of a town lady. In public assemturers for another world. It is at least a blies you meet her careless eye diverting fair and noble chance; and there is nothing itself with the objects around her, insensiin this worth our thoughts or our passions. ble that she herself is one of the brightest If we should be disappointed, we are still in the place. no worse than the rest of our fellow mortals; and if we succeed in our expectations, we are eternally happy.'


Dulcissa is of quite another make, she is almost a beauty by nature, but more than one by art. If it were possible for her to let her fan or any limb about her rest, she would do some part of the execution she

No. 144.] Wednesday, August 15, 1711. meditates; but though she designs herself

-Noris quam elegans formarum Spectator siem.
Ter. Eun. Act. iii. Sc. 5.

You shall see how nice a judge of beauty I am.

a prey, she will not stay to be taken. No painter can give you words for the different aspects of Dulcissa in half a moment, wherever she appears: so little does she accomplish what she takes so much pains for, to be gay and careless.

Merab is attended with all the charms of woman and accomplishments of man. It is not to be doubted but she has a great deal of wit, if she were not such a beauty; and she would have more beauty had she not so much wit. Affectation prevents her excellences from walking together. If she has a mind to speak such a thing, it must be done with such an air of her body; and if she has an inclination to look very care less, there is such a smart thing to be said at the same time, that the design of being admired destroys itself. Thus the unhappy Merab, though a wit and a beauty, is allowed to be neither, because she will always be both.

BEAUTY has been the delight and torment of the world ever since it began. The philosophers have felt its influence so sensibly, that almost every one of them has left us some saying or other, which intimated that he too well knew the power of it. One* has told us, that a graceful person is a more powerful recommendation than the best letter that can be written in our favour. Another desires the possessor of it to consider it as a mere gift of nature, and not any perfection of his own. A third calls it a short-lived tyranny; a fourth § a 'silent fraud,' because it imposes upon us without the help of language; but I think Carneades spoke as much like a philosopher as, any of them, though more like a lover, when he calls it royalty without force. It is not indeed to be denied, but there is something irresistible in a beaute- Albacinda has the skill as well as power ous form; the most severe will not pretend, of pleasing. Her form is majestic, but her that they do not feel an immediate prepos- aspect humble. All good men should be 'session in favour of the handsome. No one ware of the destroyer. She will speak to denies them the privilege of being first you like your sister, until she has you sure; heard, and being regarded before others in but is the most vexatious of tyrants when matters of ordinary consideration. At the you are so. Her familiarity of behaviour, same time the handsome should consider her indifferent questions, and general conthat it is a possession, as it were, foreign to versation, make the silly part of her vota them. No one can give it himself or preries full of hopes, while the wise fly from serve it when they have it. Yet so it is, her power. She well knows she is too that people can bear any quality in the beautiful and too witty to be indifferent to world better than beauty. It is the conso- any who converse with her, and therefore lation of all who are naturally too much knows she does not lessen herself by faaffected with the force of it, that a little miliarity, but gains occasions of admiration attention, if a man can attend with judg- by seeming ignorance of her perfections. ment, will cure them. Handsome people Eudosia adds to the height of her stature usually are so fantastically pleased with a nobility of spirit which still distinguishes themselves, that if they do not kill at first her above the rest of her sex. Beauty in sight, as the phrase is, a second interview others is lovely, in others agreeable, in disarms them of all their power. But I others attractive, but in Eudosia it is comshall make this paper rather a warning-manding. Love towards Eudosia is a senpiece to give notice where the danger is, timent like the love of glory. The lovers than to propose instructions how to avoid of other women are softened into fondness, it when you have fallen in the way of the admirers of Eudosia exalted into amit. Handsome men shall be the subject of bition. another chapter, the women shall take up the present discourse.


Amaryllis, who has been in town but one winter, is extremely improved with the arts of good-breeding, without leaving nature.

* Aristotle. † Plato. Socrates. § Theophrastus.

tion with a more kindly pleasure, and as Eucratia presents herself to the imaginashe is woman, her praise is wholly feminine. If we were to form an image of dig nity in a man, we should give him wisdom and valour, as being essential to the chaIracter of manhood. In like manner, if you

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »