« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
small addition to his fame to have each
-Accipe, si vis,
This was the whole of his ambition; and therefore I cannot but think the flights of this rapid author very proper to be opposed to those laborious nothings which you have observed were the delight of the German wits, and in which they so rapidly got rid of such a tedious quantity of their time.
"I have known a gentleman of another turn of humour, who despising the name of an author, never printed his works, but contracted his talent, and by the help of a very fine diamond which he wore on his little finger, was a considerable poet upon glass. He had a very good epigrammatic wit; and there was not a parlour or tavern window where he visited or dined for some years, which did not receive some sketches or memorials of it. It was his misfortune at
last to lose his genius and his ring to a sharper at play, and he has not attempted
to make a verse since.
I think the only improvement beyond this, would be that which the late Duke of Buckingham mentioned to a stupid pretender to poetry, as the project of a Dutch mechanic, viz. a mill to make verses. This being the most compendious method of all which have yet been proposed, may deserve the thoughts of our modern virtuosi, who are employed in new discoveries for the public good; and it may be worth the while to consider, whether in an island where few are content without being thought wits, it will not be a common benefit, that wit as well as labour should be made cheap. I am, sir, your humble servant, &c.'
'MR. SPECTATOR, I often dine at a gentleman's house where there are two young ladies in themselves very agreeable, but very cold in their behaviour, because they understand me for a person that is to 'break my mind," as the phrase is, very suddenly to one of them. But I take this way to acquaint them that I am not in love with either of them, in hopes they will use me with that agreeable freedom and indif ference which they do all the rest of the world, and not to drink to one another only, but sometimes cast a kind look, with their service to, sir, your humble servant.'
'MR. SPECTATOR,-I am a young gen tleman, and take it for a piece of goodbreeding to pull off my hat when I see any whether I know her or not. I take care thing peculiarly charming in any woman, that there is nothing ludicrous or arch in my manner, as if I were to betray a woman into a salutation by way of jest or humour; and yet, except I am acquainted with her, I find she ever takes it for a rule, that she is to look upon this civility and homage I pay to her supposed merit, as an impertinence or forwardness which she is to observe and neglect. I wish, sir, you would settle the business of salutation; and please to inform me how I shall resist the sudden impulse. have to be civil to what gives an idea of merit; or tell these creatures how to behave themselves in return to the esteem have for them. My affairs are such, tha your decision will be a favour to me, if it be only to save the unnecessary expense wearing out my hat so fast as I do at present. I am, sir, yours,
But of all contractions or expedients for wit, I admire that of an ingenious projector whose book I have seen. This virtuoso being a mathematician, has according to his taste, thrown the art of poetry into a short problem, and contrived tables, by which any one without knowing a word of grammar or sense, may to his great comfort be able to compose, or rather to erect, Latin verses." * His tables are a kind of poetical logarithms, which being divided into several squares, and all inscribed with so many incoherent words, appear to the eye somewhat like a fortune-telling screen. What a joy must it be to the unlearned operator to find that these words being carefully collected and writ down in order according to the problem, start of themselves into hexameter and pentameter verses? A friend of mine, who is a student in astrology, meeting with this book, performed the operation, by the rules there set down; he showed his verses to the next of his acquaintance, who happened to understand Latin; and being informed they described a tempest of wind, very luckily prefixed them, together with a translation, No. 221.] Tuesday, November 13, 1711. to an almanack he was just then printing, and was supposed to have foretold the last great storm.†
This erecter of Latin verses was a John Peter, who in 1678 published an 8vo. pamphlet, entitled Artificial Versifying, a new Way to make Latin verses. † November 26th, 1703.
'POSTSCRIPT. 'There are some that do know me, and won't bow to me.'
of the ancient authors have touched upon | adding however such explications to it as
My reader is therefore sure to meet with at least one good line in every paper, and very often finds his imagination entertained by a hint that awakens in his memory some passage
of a classic author.
The natural love to Latin, which is so prevalent in our common people, makes me think that my speculations fare never the worse among them for that little scrap which appears at the head of them; and what the more encourages me in the use of quotations in an unknown tongue, is, that I hear the ladies, whose approbation I value more than that of the whole learned world, declare themselves in a particular manner pleased with my Greek mottos.
It was a saying of an ancient philoso- Designing this day's work for a disserta-
In answer to these inquisitive gentlemen,
I think I was never better pleased than me by letter, I must tell them the reply of meet with entertainment in the house; and who have many of them made inquiries of with a plain man's compliment, who upon an ancient philosopher, who carried somehis friends telling him that he would like thing hidden under his cloak. A certain the Spectator much better if he understood acquaintance desiring him to let him know the motto, replied, that good wine needs what it was he covered so carefully: 'I
a country town, who endeavoured which these obscure marks for the same purpose.
cover it,' says he, on purpose that you
man than to his rival. The other finding
I shall, however, so far explain myself to
and hearing at length what was the occa- ters C, L, and X, are cabalistical, and carry his congregation mouldering every Sunday, the reader, as to let him know that the letLatin in his turn; but being unacquainted to be acquainted with. Those who are im of it, resolved to give his parish a little more in them than it is proper for the world with any of the Fathers, he digested into versed in the philosophy of Pythagoras, is sermons the whole book of Quae Genus, and swear by the Tetrachtys, that is the
Diogenes Laertius, lib. 5. cap. 1. n. 11.
Aristotle, or, according to some, Diogenes. See
The mottos in the original publication were not
number four, will know very well that the
See Stanley's Lives of the Philosophers, page 527, 2nd edition, 1687, folio.
number ten, which is signified by the letter morals, as a monstrous birth in naturals; X, (and which has so much perplexed the with this difference only, which greatly town,) has in it many particular powers: aggravates the wonder, that it happens that it is called by Platonic writers the com- much more frequently; and what a blemish plete number; that one, two, three, and does it cast upon wit and learning in the four put together make up the number ten; general account of the world' and in how and that ten is all. But these are not mys- disadvantageous a light does it expose them teries for ordinary readers to be let into. to the busy class of mankind, that there A man must have spent many years in hard should be so many instances of persons who study before he can arrive at the know- have so conducted their lives in spite of ledge of them. these transcendent advantages, as neither We had a rabbinical divine in England, to be happy in themselves nor useful to who was chaplain to the Earl of Essex, in their friends; when every body sees it was Queen Elizabeth's time, that had an admi- entirely in their own power to be eminent rable head for secrets of this nature. Upon in both these characters? For my part, I his taking the doctor of divinity's degree, think there is no reflection more astonishhe preached before the university of Cam-ing, than to consider one of these gentle bridge, upon the first verse of the first men spending a fair fortune, running in chapter of the first book of Chronicles, in every body's debt without the least appre which,' says he, 'you have the three fol- hension of a future reckoning; and at last lowing words: leaving not only his own children, but possibly those of other people, by his means, in starving circumstances; while a fellow, whom one would scarce suspect to have a human soul, shall perhaps raise a rast estate out of nothing, and be the founder of a family capable of being very considerable in their country, and doing many illus trious services to it. That this observation is just, experience has put beyond all dispute. But though the fact be so evident and glaring, yet the causes of it are still in the dark; which makes me persuade my self, that it would be no unacceptable piece of entertainment to the town, to inquire into the hidden sources of so unaccountable an evil. I am, sir, your most humble ser vant.'
"Adam, Seth, Enosh." He divided this short text into many parts, and by discovering several mysteries in each word, made a most learned and elaborate discourse. The name of this profound preacher was Dr. Alabaster, of whom the reader may find a more particular account in Dr. Fuller's book of English Worthies. This instance will, I hope, convince my readers that there may be a great deal of fine writing in the capital letters which bring up the rear of my paper, and give them some satisfaction in that particular. But as for the full explication of these matters, I must refer them to time, which discovers all things.
What this correspondent wonders at, has No. 222.] Wednesday, November 14, 1711. been matter of admiration ever since there
Cur alter fratrum cessare, et ludere, et ungi,
Hor. Lib. 2. Ep. ii. 183.
Prefers his sports to Herod's fragrant groves. Creech.
was any such thing as human life. Horace reflects upon this inconsistency very agree ably in the character of Tigellius whom he tells you, you might one day hear him speak makes a mighty pretender to economy, and MR. SPECTATOR.-There is one thing the most philosophic things imaginable com I have often looked for in your papers, and cerning being contented with a little, and have as often wondered to find myself dis- his contempt of every thing but mere ne appointed; the rather, because I think it a cessaries; and in half a week after spend a subject every way agreeable to your design, thousand pounds. When he says this o and by being left unattempted by others, him with relation to expense, he describes seems reserved as a proper employment him as unequal to himself in every other for you; I mean a disquisition, from whence it circumstance of life; and, indeed, if we con proceeds, that men of the brightest parts, sider lavish men carefully, we shall find i and most comprehensive genius, completely always proceeds from a certain incapacity furnished with talents for any province in of possessing themselves, and finding en human affairs; such as by their wise les-joyment in their own minds. Mr. Dryden sons of economy to others, have made it has expressed this very excellently in the evident that they have the justest notions character of Zimri: of life, and of true sense in the conduct of it; from what unhappy contradictious cause it proceeds, that persons thus finished by nature and by art, should so often fail in the management of that which they so well understand, and want the address to make a right application of their own rules. This is certainly a prodigious inconsistency in behaviour, and makes such a figure in
"A man so various, that he seemed to be
This loose state of the soul hurries the Extravagant from one pursuit to another; and the reason that his expenses are greater han another's, is, that his wants are also more numerous. But what makes so many 30 on in this way to their lives' end, is, that Ehey certainly do not know how contemptile they are in the eyes of the rest of mankind, or rather, that indeed they are not so contemptible as they deserve. Tully says, t is the greatest of wickedness to lessen your paternal estate. And if a man would horoughly consider how much worse than Danishment it must be to his child, to ride by the estate which should have been his, had it not been for his father's injustice to im, he would be smitten with reflection more deeply than can be understood by any out one who is a father. Sure there can De nothing more afflicting, than to think it ad been happier for his son to have been Dorn of any other man living than himself. It is not perhaps much thought of, but it
s certainly a very important lesson, to earn how to enjoy ordinary life, and to be able to relish your being without the transport of some passion, or gratification of Some appetite. For want of this capacity, the world is filled with whetters, tipplers, cutters, sippers, and all the numerous train of those who for want of thinking, are forced tobe ever exercising their feeling, or tasting. It would be hard on this occasion to mention the harmless smokers of tobacco, and takers of snuff.
The slower part of mankind, whom my Correspondent wonders should get estates, are the more immediately formed for that pursuit. They can expect distant things without impatience, because they are not carried out of their way either by violent passion or keen appetite to any thing. To men addicted to delights, business is an inerruption; to such as are cold to delights, business is an entertainment. For which reason it was said to one who commended dull man for his application, No thanks o him; if he had no business he would have nothing to do.'
Apparent rari nantes in gurgite vasto.
Virg. n. i. ver. 122. One here and there floats on the vast abyss. there is none whose fragments are so beauAmong the mutilated poets of antiquity tiful as those of Sappho. They give us a taste of her way of writing, which is perfectly conformable with that extraordinary character we find of her in the remarks of those great critics who were conversant with her works when they were entire. One may see by what is left of them, that she followed nature in all her thoughts, without descending to those little points, conceits, and turns of wit with which many fected. Her soul seems to have been made of our modern lyrics are so miserably inin all its warmth, and described it in all its up of love and poetry. She felt the passion symptoms. She is called by ancient authors the tenth muse; and by Plutarch is compared to Cacus the son of Vulcan, who breathed out nothing but flame. I do not know by the character that is given of her works, whether it is not for the benefit of mankind that they are lost. They were filled with such bewitching tenderness and rapture, that it might have been dangerous to have given them a reading.
An inconstant lover called Phaon, occasioned great calamities to this poetical lady She fell desperately in love with him, and took a voyage into Sicily, in pursuit of him, he having withdrawn himself thither on purpose to avoid her. It was in that island,, and on this occasion, she is supposed to have made the Hymn to Venus, with a translation of which I shall present my reader. Her Hymn was ineffectual for procuring that happiness which she prayed for in it. Phaon was still obdurate, and Sappho so transported with the violence of her passion, that she was resolved to get rid of it at any price.
There was a promontory in Acarnania called Leucate, on the top of which was a little temple dedicated to Apollo. In this temple it was usual for despairing lovers to make their vows in secret, and afterwards to fling themselves from the top of the precipice into the sea, where they were sometimes taken up alive. This place was
No. 223.] Thursday, November 15, 1711. therefore called the Lover's Leap; and
O suavis anima! qualem te dicam bonam,
O sweet soul! how good must you have been hereto. ore when your remains are so delicious.
whether or no the fright they had been in,
WHEN I reflect upon the various fate of
that these two finished pieces have never been attempted before by any of our own countrymen. But the truth of it is, the compositions of the ancients, which have not in them any of those unnatural witticisms that are the delight of ordinary readers, are extremely difficult to render into another tongue, so as the beauties of the original may not appear weak and faded in the translation.
find in it that pathetic simplicity which is so peculiar to him, and so suitable to the ode he has here translated. This ode in the Greek (besides those beauties observed by Madam Dacier,) has several harmonious turns in the words, which are not lost in the English. I must farther add, that the translation has preserved every image and sentiment of Sappho, notwithstanding it has all the ease and spirit of an original In a word, if the ladies have a mind to know the manner of writing practised by the so much celebrated Sappho, they may No. 224.] Friday, November 16, 1711. here see it in its genuine and natural beauty, without any foreign or affected ornaments.
A HYMN TO VENUS.
O Venus, beauty of the skies,
Thou once didst leave almighty Jove,
The birds dismiss'd (while you remain)
What frenzy in my bosom rag'd,
Though now he shuns thy longing arms,
Celestial visitant, once more
Madam Dacier observes, there is something very pretty in that circumstance of this ode, wherein Venus is described as sending away her chariot upon her arrival at Sappho's lodgings, to denote that it was not a short transient visit which she intended to make her. This ode was preserved by an eminent Greek critic, who inserted it entire in his works, as a pattern of perfection in the structure of it.
Longinus has quoted another ode of this great poetess, which is likewise admirable in its kind, and has been translated by the same hand with the foregoing one. I shall oblige my reader with it in another paper. In the meanwhile, I cannot but wonder
-Fulgente trahit constrictos gloria curru Non minus ignotos generosis
Hor. Lib. 1. Sat. vi. 23 Chain'd to her shining car, Fame draws along With equal whirl the great and vulgar throng. If we look abroad upon the great multitude of mankind, and endeavour to trace out the principles of action in every individual, it will, I think, seem highly probable that ambition runs through the whole species, and that every man in proportion to the vigour of his complexion is more or less actuated by it. It is indeed no uncom mon thing to meet with men, who, by the natural bent of their inclinations, and without the discipline of philosophy, aspire not to the heights of power and grandeur; who never set their hearts upon a numerous train of clients and dependencies, nor other gay appendages of greatness; who are con tented with a competency, and will not molest their tranquillity to gain an abundance. But it is not therefore to be concluded that such a man is not ambitious; his desires may have cut out another channel, and determined him to other pursuits; the motive however may be still the same; in these cases likewise the man may, equally pushed on with the desire of dis tinction.
Though the pure consciousness of worthy actions, abstracted from the views of popu lar applause, be to a generous mind an ample reward, yet the desire of distinction was doubtless implanted in our natures as an additional incentive to exert ourselves in virtuous excellence.
This passion, indeed, like all others, is frequently perverted to evil and ignoble purposes; so that we may account for many of the excellences and follies of life upon the same innate principle, to wit, the desire of being remarkable; for this, as it has been differently cultivated by education, study, and converse, will bring forth suitable ef fects as it falls in with an ingenuous disposi tion, or a corrupt mind. It does accordingly express itself in acts of magnanimity of selfish cunning, as it meets with a good ora weak understanding. As it has been employed in embellishing the mind, or adorn ing the outside, it renders the man eminently praiseworthy or ridiculous. Ambition there fore is not to be confined only to one passion or pursuit; for as the same humours in con stitutions otherwise different, affect the