« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
No. 320.] Friday, March 7, 1711-12.
-non pronuba Juno,
Non Hymenæus adest, non illi gratia lecto:
Ovid. Mct. Lib. 6. 428.
Nor Hymen, nor the Graces here preside,
riages have as constant and regular a cor-
"MADAM-This is to let you know that
the commission for Mrs. Such-a-one shall neither be in fashion, nor dare ever appear in company, should he attempt to evade their determination.
Nec satis est pulchra esse poemata, dulcia sunto.
day at a neighbouring coffee-house, where we have what I may call a lazy club. We generally come in night-gowns, with our stockings about our heels, and sometimes The female sex wholly govern domestic but one on. Our salutation at entrance is a life; and by this means, when they think yawn and a stretch, and then without more fit, they can sow dissensions between the ceremony we take our place at the lollingdearest friends, nay, make father and son table, where our discourse is, what I fear irreconcilable enemies, in spite of all the you would not read out, therefore shall not ties of gratitude on one part, and the duty insert. But I assure you, sir, I heartily of protection to be paid on the other. The lament this loss of time, and am now re ladies of the inquisition understand this per-solved, (if possible, with double diligence,) fectly well; and where love is not a motive to retrieve it, being effectually awakened to a man's choosing one whom they allot, by the arguments of Mr. Slack, out of the they can with very much art insinuate sto- senseless stupidity that has so long pos ries to the disadvantage of his honesty or sessed me. And to demonstrate that penicourage, until the creature is too much tence accompanies my confessions, and condispirited to bear up against a general ill stancy my resolutions, I have locked my reception, which he every where meets door for a year, and desire you would let with, and in due time falls into their ap- my companions know I am not within. I pointed wedlock for shelter. I have a long am with great respect, sir, your most obeletter bearing date the fourth instant, which dient servant, gives me a large account of the policies of this court; and find there is now before them a very refractory person who has escaped all their machinations for two No. 321.] Saturday, March 8, 1711-12 years last past; but they have prevented two successive matches which were of his own inclination; the one by a report that his mistress was to be married, and the very day appointed, wedding-clothes bought, and all things ready for her being given to another; the second time by insinuating to all his mistress's friends and acquaintance, that he had been false to several other women, and the like. The poor man is now reduced to profess he designs to lead a single life; but the inquisition give out to all his acquaintance, that nothing is intended but the gentleman's own welfare and happiness. When this is urged, he talks still more humbly, and protests he aims only at a life without pain or reproach; pleasure, honour, and riches, are things for which he has no taste. But notwithstanding all this, and what else he may defend himself with, as that the lady is too old or too young, of a suitable humour, or the quite contrary, and that it is impossible they can ever do other than wrangle from June to January, every body tells him all this is spleen, and he must have a wife; while all the members of the inquisition are unanimous in a certain woman for him, and they think they altogether are better able to judge than he, or any other private person whatsoever.
'Temple, March 3, 1711. SIR,-Your speculation this day on the subject of idleness has employed me ever since I read it, in sorrowful reflections on my having loitered away the term (or rather the vacation) of ten years in this place, and unhappily suffered a good chamber and study to lie idle as long. My books (except those I have taken to sleep upon,) have been totally neglected, and my Lord Coke and other venerable authors were never so slighted in their lives. I spend most of the
Hor. Ars Poet. v. 99.
Tis not enough a poem's finely writ; It must affect and captivate the soul.-Roscommon. THOSE Who know how many volumes have been written on the poems of Homer and Virgil will easily pardon the length of my discourse upon Milton. The Paradise Lost is looked upon by the best judges, as the greatest production, or at least the noblest work of genius in our language, and therefore deserves to be set before an English reader in its full beauty. For this reason, though I have endeavoured to give a general idea of its graces and imperfec tions in my first six papers, I thought my self obliged to bestow one upon every book in particular. The first three books I have already despatched, and am now entering upon the fourth. I need not acquaint my reader that there are multitudes of beau ties in this great author, especially in the descriptive parts of this poem, which I have not touched upon; it being my intention to point out those only which appear to me the most exquisite, or those which are not so obvious to ordinary readers Every one that has read the critics who have written upon the Odyssey, the Iliad, and the Æneid, knows very well, that though they agree in their opinions of the great beauties in those poems, they have nevertheless each of them discovered seve ral master-strokes, which have escaped the observation of the rest. In the same man ner, I question not but any writer, who shall treat of this subject after me may find seve ral beauties in Milton, which I have not taken notice of. I must likewise observe, that as the greatest masters of critical learn ing differ among one another, as to some particular points in an epic poem, I have
1:|:ཀ མཱ ན ཡཱཿ
ot bound myself scrupulously to the rules | forth into a speech that is softened with
We may conclude the beauties of the urth book under three heads. In the first re those pictures of still-life, which we eet with in the description of Eden, Parase, Adam's bower, &c. In the next are the achines, which comprehend the speeches nd behaviour of the good and bad angels. the last is the conduct of Adam and Eve, ho are the principal actors in the poem. In the description of Paradise, the poet as observed Aristotle's rule of lavishing the ornaments of diction on the weak nactive parts of the fable, which are not upported by the beauty of sentiments and haracters. Accordingly the reader may bserve, that the expressions are more orid and elaborate in these descriptions, han in most other parts of the poem. I must further add, that though the drawgs of gardens, rivers, rainbows, and the ke dead pieces of nature, are justly cenured in an heroic poem, when they run out nto an unnecessary length-the description f Paradise would have been faulty, had ot the poet been very particular in it, not nly as it is the scene of the principal acon, but as it is requisite to give us an idea f that happiness from which our first paents fell. The plan of it is wonderfully eautiful, and formed upon the short sketch which we have of it in holy writ. Milton's Exuberance of imagination has poured forth ach a redundancy of ornaments on this eat of happiness and innocence, that it ould be endless to point out each par
'O thou, that with surpassing glory crown'd,
This speech is, I think, the finest that is
The thought of Satan's transformation into a cormorant, and placing himself on the tree of life, seems raised upon that passage in the Iliad, where two deities are described as perching on the top of an oak in the shape of vultures.
His planting himself at the ear of Eve I must not quit this head without further under the form of a toad, in order to probserving, that there is scarce a speech of duce vain dreams and imaginations, is a dam or Eve in the whole poem, wherein circumstance of the same nature; as his he sentiments and allusions are not taken starting up in his own form is wonderfully rom this their delightful habitation. The fine, both in the literal description, and in eader, during their whole course of action the moral which is concealed under it. His lways finds himself in the walks of Para- answer upon his being discovered, and deise. In short, as the critics have remarked, manded to give an account of himself, is hat in those poems wherein shepherds are conformable to the pride and intrepidity of he actors, the thoughts ought always to of his character: ake a tincture from the woods, fields, and ivers; so we may observe, that our first parents seldom lose sight of their happy tation in any thing they speak or do; and, f the reader will give me leave to use the| Expression, that their thoughts are always paradisaical.'
'Know ye not, then,' said Satan, fill'd with scorn,
Zephon's rebuke, with the influence it had on Satan, is exquisitely graceful and We are in the next place to consider the moral. Satan is afterwards led away to machines of the fourth book. Satan being Gabriel, the chief of the guardian angels, ow within the prospect of Eden, and look- who kept watch in Paradise. His disdainful ng round upon the glories of the creation, behaviour on this occasion is so remarkable filled with sentiments different from those a beauty, that the most ordinary reader which he discovered whilst he was in hell. cannot but take notice of it. Gabriel's disThe place inspires him with thoughts more covering his approach at a distance is drawn dapted to it. He reflects upon the happy with great strength and liveliness of imagi Condition from whence he fell, and breaks nation:
O friends, I hear the tread of nimble feet
The conference between Gabriel and Satan abounds with sentiments proper for the occasion, and suitable to the persons of the two speakers. Satan clothing himself with terror when he prepares for the combat is truly sublime, and at least equal to Homer's description of Discord, celebrated by Longinus, or to that of Fame in Virgil, who are both represented with their feet standing upon the earth, and their heads reaching above the clouds:
While thus he spake, th' angelic squadron bright
On th' other side Satan alarm'd,
I must here take notice, that Milton is every where full of hints, and sometimes literal translations, taken from the greatest of the Greek and Latin poets. But this I may reserve for a discourse by itself, because I would not break the thread of these speculations, that are designed for English readers, with such reflections as would be of no use but to the learned.
I must, however, observe in this place, that the breaking off the combat between Gabriel and Satan, by the hanging out of the golden scales in heaven, is a refinement upon Homer's thought, who tells us, that before the battle between Hector and Achilles, Jupiter weighed the event of it in a pair of scales. The reader may see the whole passage in the 22d Iliad.
Virgil, before the last decisive combat describes Jupiter in the same manner, as weighing the fates of Turnus and Æneas. Milton, though he fetched this beautiful circumstance from the Iliad and Æneid, does not only insert it as a poetical embellishment, like the author's above-mentioned, but makes an artful use of it for the proper carrying on of his fable, and for the breaking off the combat between the two warriors, who were upon the point of engaging. To this we may further add, that Milton is the more justified in this passage, as we find the same noble allegory in holy writ, where a wicked prince, some few hours before he was assaulted and slain, is said to have been weighed in the scales, and to have been found wanting.'
I must here take notice, under the head of the machines, that Uriel's gliding down to the earth upon a sun-beam, with the poet's device to make him descend, as well in his return to the sun as in his coming from it, is a prettiness that might have been admired in a little fanciful poet, but seems
below the genius of Milton. The descrip tion of the host of armed angels walking their nightly round in Paradise is of another spirit:
So saying on he led his radiant files,
as that account of the hymns which our first parents used to hear them sing in these their midnight walks is altogether divine, and inexpressibly amusing to the imagination.
We are in the last place, to consider the parts which Adam and Eve act in the fourth book. The description of them, as they first appeared to Satan, is exquisitely drawn, and sufficient to make the fallen angel gaze upon them with all that astonishment, and those emotions of envy in which he is represented: Two of far nobler shape, erect and tall, God-like erect, with native honour clad In naked majesty, seem'd lords of all; And worthy seem'd; for in their looks divine The image of their glorious maker shone, Truth, wisdom, sanctitude severe and pure; Severe, but in true filial freedom plac'd: For contemplation he and valour form'd, For softness she and sweet attractive grace; He for God only, she for God in him. His fair large front, and eye sublime declar'd Absolute rule; and hyacinthine locks Round from his parted forelock manly hung Clust'ring, but not beneath his shoulders broad. She, as a veil, down to her slender waist Her unadorned golden tresses wore Dishevell'd, but in wanton ringlets way'd. So pass'd they naked on, nor shunn'd the sight Of God or angels, for they thought no ill: So hand in hand they pass'd, the loveliest pair That ever since in love's embraces met.
There is a fine spirit of poetry in the lines which follow, wherein they are described as sitting on a bed of flowers by the side of a fountain, amidst a mixed assembly of ani
The speeches of these two first lovers now equally from passion and sincerity. The professions they make to one another are full of warmth; but at the same time founded on truth. In a word they are the gallantries of Paradise:
-When Adam first of men
'Sole partner and sole part of all these joys, Dearer thyself than all:
But let us ever praise Him, and extol
His bounty, following our delightful task,
The remaining part of Eve's speech, in which she gives an account of herself upon her first creation, and the manner in which she was brought to Adam, is, I think, as beautiful a passage as any in Milton, or perhaps in any other poet whatsoever. These passages are all worked off with so much art, that they are capable of pleasing the most delicate reader, without offending the most severe.
"That day I oft remember, when from sleep,' &c.
A poet of less judgment and invention is a very good one, if it be true:' but as for an this great author, would have found the following relation, I should be glad were very difficult to have filled these tender I sure it were false. It is told with such rts of the poem with sentiments proper simplicity, and there are so many artless a state of innocence; to have described touches of distress in it, that I fear it comes e warmth of love, and the professions of too much from the heart. without artifice or hyperbole; to have ade the man speak the most endearing 'Mr. SpectatOR,-Some years ago it ings without descending from his natural happened that I lived in the same house nity, and the woman receiving them with a young gentleman of merit, with thout departing from the modesty of her whose good qualities I was so much taken, aracter: in a word, to adjust the pre- as to make it my endeavour to show as gatives of wisdom and beauty, and make many as I was able in myself. Familiar ch appear to the other in its proper force converse improved general civilities into d loveliness. This mutual subordination an unfeigned passion on both sides. He the two sexes is wonderfully kept up in watched an opportunity to declare himself e whole poem, as particularly in the to me; and I, who could not expect a man eech of Eve I have before mentioned, of so great an estate as his, received his add upon the conclusion of it in the follow-dresses in such terms, as gave him no reaglines:
So spake our general mother, and with eyes
The poet adds, that the devil turned
son to believe I was displeased with them, though I did nothing to make him think me more easy than was decent. His father was a very hard worldly man, and proud; so that there was no reason to believe he would easily be brought to think there was any thing in any woman's person, or character, that could balance the disadvantage of an unequal fortune. In the mean time the son continued his application to me, and omitted no occasion of demonstrating the most disinterested passion imaginable to me; and in plain direct terms offered to marry me privately, and keep it so till he should be so happy as to gain his father's approbation, or become possessed of his estate. I passionately loved him, and you will believe I did not deny such a one what was my interest also to grant. However, I I shall close my reflections upon this was not so young as not to take the precauook with observing the masterly transition of carrying with me a faithful servant, on which the poet makes to their evening worship in the following lines:
We have another view of our first paents in their evening discourses, which is all of pleasing images and sentiments suitble to their condition and characters. The peech of Eve in particular, is dressed up such a soft and natural turn of words nd sentiments, as cannot be sufficiently
who had been also my mother's maid, to be present at the ceremony. When that was over, I demanded a certificate to be signed by the minister, my husband, and the servant I just now spoke of. After our nuptials, we conversed together very familiarly in the same house; but the restraints we
were generally under, and the interviews
Thus at their shady lodge arriv'd, both stood, Both turn'd, and under open sky ador'd Which they beheld, the moon's resplendent globe, The God that made both sky, air, earth, and heav'n, And starry pole: "Thou also mad'st the night, Maker omnipotent, and thou the day,' &c. Most of the modern heroic poets have mitated the ancients, in beginning a speech | we had being stolen and interrupted, made r thus; but as it is easy to imitate the anthout premising that the person said thus our behaviour to each other have rather the impatient fondness which is visible in ients in lovers, than the regular and gratified affecrequires judgment to do it in such a man tion, which is to be observed in man and er as they shall not be missed, and that wife. This observation made the father hem. There is a fine instance of this kind a match he had in his eye for him. To rehe speech may begin naturally without very anxious for his son, and press him to Out of Homer, in the twenty-third chapter and conceal the secret of our marriage,
No. 322.] Monday, March 10, 1711-12.
lieve my husband from this importunity,
which I had reason to know would not be long in my power in town, it was resolved that I should retire into a remote place in the country, and converse under feigned names by letter. We long continued this way of commerce; and I with my needle, a -Grief wrings her soul, and bends it down to earth. husband's letters, passed my time in a few books, and reading over and over my resigned expectation of better days. Be
-Ad humum moerore gravi deducit et angit.
Hor. Ars Poet. v. 110.
Ir is often said, after a man has heard a pleased to take notice, that within four Story with extraordinary circumstances, 'It months after I left my husband I was deli