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pronounced vicious or virtuous before the conclusion of it.
estate was acquired, now much it was beholden to a marriage for the present circumstances of it: after all he could see noIt was upon this consideration that Epathing but a common man in his person, his minondas, being asked whether Chabrias breeding, or understanding. Iphicrates, or he himself, deserved most Thus, Mr. Spectator, this impertinent to be esteemed? You must first see us humour of diminishing every one who is die,' saith he, 'before that question can be produced in conversation to their advan-answered.'
tage, runs through the world; and I am, I As there is not a more melancholy conconfess, so fearful of the force of ill tongues, sideration to a good man than his being that I have begged of all those who are my obnoxious to such a change, so there is nowell-wishers never to commend me, for it thing more glorious than to keep up an will but bring my frailties into examination; uniformity in his actions, and preserve the and I had rather be unobserved, than_con- beauty of his character to the last. spicuous for disputed perfections. I am confident a thousand young people, who would have been ornaments to society, have, from fear of scandal, never dared to exert themselves in the polite arts of life. Their lives have passed away in an odious rusticity in spite of great advantages of person, genius, and fortune. There is a vicious terror of being blamed in some wellinclined people, and a wicked pleasure in suppressing them in others; both which I recommend to your spectatorial wisdom to animadvert upon; and if you can be successful in it, I need not say how much you will deserve of the town; but new toasts will owe to you their beauty, and new wits their fame. I am, sir, your most obedient humble servant, T.
No. 349.] Thursday, April 10, 1712.
-Quos ille timorum
Maximus haud urget lethi metus: inde ruendi
To spare that life which must so soon return.-Rowe. I AM very much pleased with a consolatory letter of Phalaris, to one who had lost a son that was a young man of great merit. The thought with which he comforts the afflicted father is, to the best of my memory as follows:-That he should consider death had set a kind seal upon his son's character, and placed him out of the reach of vice and infamy: that, while he lived, he was still within the possibility of falling away from virtue, and losing the fame of which he was possessed. Death only closes a man's reputation, and determines it as good or bad.
This, among other motives, may be one reason why we are naturally averse to the launching out into a man's praise till his head is laid in the dust. Whilst he is capable of changing, we may be forced to retract our opinion. He may forfeit the esteem we have conceived of him, and some time or other appear to us under a different light from what he does at present. In short, as the life of any man cannot be called happy, or unhappy, so neither can it be
The end of a man's life is often compared to the winding up of a well-written play, where the principal persons still act in character, whatever the fate is which they undergo. There is scarce a great person in the Grecian or Roman history, whose death has not been remarked upon by some writer or other, and censured or applauded according to the genius or principles of the person who has descanted on it. Monsieur de St. Evremond is very particular in setting forth the constancy and courage of Petronius Arbiter during his last moments, and thinks he discovers in them a greater firmness of mind and resolution than in the death of Seneca, Cato, or Socrates. There is no question but this polite author's af fectation of appearing singular in his re marks, and making discoveries which had escaped the observations of others, threw him into this course of reflection. It was Petronius's merit that he died in the same gaiety of temper, in which he lived; but as his life was altogether loose and dissolute, the indifference which he showed at the close of it is to be looked upon as a piece of natural carelessness and levity, rather than fortitude. The resolution of Socrates proceeded from very different motives, the consciousness of a well-spent life, and the prospect of a happy eternity. If the ingenious author above-mentioned was so pleased with gaiety of humour in a dying man, he might have found a much nobler instance of it in our countryman Sir Thomas More.
This great and learned man was famous for enlivening his ordinary discourses with wit and pleasantry; and as Erasmus tells him in an epistle dedicatory, acted in all parts of life like a second Democritus.
He died upon a point of religion, and is respected as a martyr by that side for which he suffered. That innocent mirth, which had been so conspicuous in his life, did not forsake him to the last. He maintained the same cheerfulness of heart upon the scaffold which he used to show at his table; and upon laying his head on the block, gave instances of that good humour with which he had always entertained his friends in the most ordinary occurrences. His death was of a piece with his life. There was nothing in it new, forced, or affected. He did not look upon the severing his head
om his body as a circumstance that ought 2 produce any change in the disposition of Es mind; and as he died under a fixed and ettled hope of immortality, he thought any nusual degree of sorrow and concern imroper on such an occasion, as had nothing it which could deject or terrify him. There is no great danger of imitation om this example. Men's natural fears ill be a sufficient guard against it. I shall ly observe, that what was philosophy in is extraordinary man, would be phrensy one who does not resemble him as well the cheerfulness of his temper as in the anctity of his life and manners.
I shall conclude this paper with the inance of a person who seems to me to have own more intrepidity and greatness of bul in his dying moments than what we eet with among any of the most celerated Greeks and Romans. I met with is instance in the History of the Revoluons in Portugal, written by the abbot de
CAPTAIN SENTRY was last night at a
When Don Sebastian, king of Portugal, He told the Ipswich man in a speaking
ent, he was
When Mr. Sentry had read his letter, full of many other circumstances which aggravate the barbarity, he fell into a sort of criticism upon magnanimity and courage, and argued that they were inseparable; and that courage, without regard to justice and humanity, was no other than the fierceness of a wild beast. A good and truly bold spirit,' continued he, 'is ever actuated by reason, and a sense of honour and duty. The affectation of such a spirit exerts itself in an impudent aspect, an overbearing confidence, and a certain negligence of giving offence. This is visible in all the cocking
In te omnis domus inclinata recumbit.
Virg. En. xii. 59.
On thee the fortunes of our house depend. IF we look into the three great heroic poems which have appeared in the world, we may observe that they are built upon very slight foundations. Homer lived near 300 years after the Trojan war; and, as the writing of history was not then in use among the Greeks, we may very well suppose that the tradition of Achilles and Ulysses had brought down but very few particulars to his knowledge; though there is no question but he has wrought into his two poems such of their remarkable adventures as were still talked of among his contemporaries.
youths you see about this town, who are | No. 351.] Saturday, April 12, 1712.
The story of Æneas, on which Virgil founded his poem, was likewise very bare of circumstances, and by that means af forded him an opportunity of embellishing it with fiction, and giving a full range to his own invention. We find, however, that he has interwoven, in the course of his fable, the principal particulars, which were generally believed among the Romans, of Eneas's voyage and settlement in Italy.
The reader may find an abridgment of the whole story, as collected out of the ancient historians, and as it was received among the Romans, in Dionysius Halicarnassus.
Since none of the critics have considered Virgil's fable with relation to this history of Æneas, it may not perhaps be amiss to examine it in this light, so far as regards He was equally disappointed, and had my present purpose. Whoever looks into not spirit enough to consider, that one case the abridgment above-mentioned, will find would be laudable, and the other criminal. that the character of Æneas is filled with Malice, rancour, hatred, vengeance, are piety to the gods, and a superstitious obwhat tear the breasts of mean men in fight; servation of prodigies, oracles, and predic but fame, glory, conquests, desire of oppor- tions. Virgil has not only preserved his tunities to pardon and oblige their opposers, character in the person of Æneas, but has are what glow in the minds of the gallant.' given a place in his poem to those particu The captain ended his discourse with a lar prophecies which he found recorded of specimen of his book-learning; and gave us him in history and tradition. The poet to understand that he had read a French took the matters of fact as they came down author on the subject of justness in point of to him, and circumstanced them after his gallantry. I love,' said Mr. Sentry a own manner, to make them appear the critic who mixes the rules of life with anno- more natural, agreeable, or surprising. Ibe tations upon writers. My author,' added lieve very many readers have been shocked he, in his discourse upon epic poems, at that ludicrous prophecy which one of the takes occasion to speak of the same quality harpies pronounces to the Trojans in the of courage drawn in the two different cha- third book; namely, that before they had racters of Turnus and Æneas. He makes built their intended city they should be re tables courage the chief and greatest ornament duced by hunger to eat their of of Turnus; but in Æneas there are many But, when they hear that this was one others which outshine it; among the rest the circumstances that had been transmitted that of piety. Turnus is, therefore, all to the Romans in the history of Æneas, they along painted by the poet full of ostentation, will think the poet did very well in taking his language haughty and vain-glorious, as notice of it. The historian above-mentioned placing his honour in the manifestation of acquaints us, that a prophetess had foretold his valour; Æneas speaks little, is slow to Æneas, that he should take his voyage action, and shows only a sort of defensive westward, till his companions should eat courage. If equipage and address make their tables; and that accordingly, upon his Turnus appear more courageous than landing in Italy, as they were eating their Æneas, conduct and success prove Æneas flesh upon cakes of bread for want of other T. conveniences, they afterwards fed on the
more valiant than Turnus.
cakes themselves: upon which one of the company said merrily, 'We are eating our tables. They immediately took the hint, says the historian, and concluded the prophecy to be fulfilled. As Virgil did not think it proper to omit so material a particular in the history of Æneas, it may be worth while to consider with how much judgment he has qualified it, and taken off every thing that might have appeared improper for a passage in a heroic poem. The prophetess who foretells it is a hungry harpy, as the person who discovers it is young Ascanius:
'Heus etiam mensas consumimus, inquit Iulus!'
n. vii. 116.
See we devour the plates on which we fed!' Dryden. Such an observation, which is beautiful in the mouth of a boy, would have been idiculous from any other of the company. am apt to think that the changing of the Trojan fleet into water-nymphs, which is he most violent machine in the whole Eneid, and has given offence to several Eritics, may be accounted for the same way. Virgil himself, before he begins that relaon, premises, that what he was going to ell appeared incredible, but that it was ustified by tradition. What further conrms me that this change of the fleet was celebrated circumstance in the history of Eneas, is, that Ovid has given a place to he same metamorphosis in his account of e heathen mythology.
None of the critics I have met with have onsidered the fable of the Aneid in this ght, and taken notice how the tradition on hich it was founded authorizes those parts it which appear most exceptionable. I ope the length of this reflection will not ake it unacceptable to the curious part my readers.
dents, than any other in the whole poem.
So saying, through each thicket dank or dry,
The author afterwards gives us a description of the morning which is wonderfully suitable to a divine poem, and peculiar to that first season of nature. He represents the earth before it was cursed, as a great altar, breathing out its incense from all parts, and sending up a pleasant savour to the nostrils of its Creator; to which he adds a noble idea of Adam and Eve, as offering their morning worship, and filling up the universal concert of praise and adoration:
Now when a sacred light began to dawn
With grateful smell; forth came the human pair,
The history which was the basis of Miln's poem is still shorter than either that the Iliad or Æneid. The poet has likeise taken care to insert every circumance of it in the body of his fable. nth book, which we are here to consider, raised upon that brief account in scripre, wherein we are told that the serpent as more subtle than any beast of the field; at he tempted the woman to eat of the The dispute which follows between our rbidden fruit; that she was overcome by two first parents is represented with great is temptation, and that Adam followed art. It proceeds from a difference of judgr example. From these few particulars ment, not of passion, and is managed with ilton has formed one of the most entertain- reason, not with heat. It is such a dispute fables that invention ever produced. as we may suppose might have happened e has disposed of these several circum-in Paradise, had man continued happy and nces among so many agreeable and na-innocent. There is a great delicacy in al fictions of his own, that his whole the moralities which are interspersed in ry looks only like a comment upon sacred Adam's discourse, and which the most orit, or rather seems to be a full and com- dinary reader cannot but take notice of. te relation of what the other is only an That force of love which the father of mantome. I have insisted the longer on this kind so finely describes in the eighth book, sideration, as I look upon the disposi- and which is inserted in my last Saturday's and contrivance of the fable to be the paper, shows itself here in many fine inncipal beauty of the ninth book, which stances: as in those fond regards he casts to3 more story in it, and is fuller of inci-wards Eve at her parting from him:
Her long with ardent took his eye pursu'd
it, are conceived with a wonderful imagina tion, and described in very natural senti
When Dido, in the fourth Æneid, yielded
In his impatience and amusement during to that fatal temptation which ruined her, her absence:
Of enemy hath beguil'd thee, yet unknown,
How can I live without thee? how forego
Virgil tells us the earth trembled, the hea-
So saying, her rash hand in evil hour,
Upon Adam's falling into the same guilt, the whole creation appears a second time in convulsions.
-He scrupled not to eat Against his better knowledge; not deceiv'd But fondly overcome with female charm, Earth trembled from her entrails, as again
pangs, and Nature gave a second groan; Sky lower'd, and, muttering thunder, some sad drops Wept at completing of the mortal sin.
As all nature suffered by the guilt of our first parents, these symptoms of trouble and consternation are wonderfully imagined, not only as prodigies, but as marks of her sympathizing in the fall of man.
The beginning of this speech, and the preparation to it, are animated with the same spirit as the conclusion, which I have here quoted. Adam's converse with Eve, after having The several wiles which are put in prac-eaten the forbidden fruit, is an exact copy tice by the tempter, when he found Eve se- of that between Jupiter and Juno in the four parated from her husband, the many pleas- teenth Iliad. Juno there approaches Jupi ing images of nature which are intermixed ter with the girdle which she had received in this part of the story, with its gradual and from Venus: upon which he tells her, that regular progress to the fatal catastrophe, she appeared more charming and desirable are so very remarkable, that it would be than she had ever done before, even when superfluous to point out their respective their loves were at the highest. The poet afterwards describes them as reposing on a summit of Mount Ida, which produced under them a bed of flowers, the lotus, the
I have avoided mentioning any particular similitudes in my remarks on this great work, because I have given a general account of them in my paper on the first book. There is one, however, in this part of the poem which I shall here quote, as it is not only very beautiful, but the closest of any in the whole poem; I mean that where the serpent is described as rolling forward in all his pride, animated by the evil spirit, and conducting Eve to her destruction, while Adam was at too great a distance from her to give her his assistance. These several particulars are all of them wrought into the following similitude:
-Hope elevates, and joy
Brightens his crest; as when a wandering fire
Crocus, and the hyacinth; and concludes bis description with their falling asleep.
Let the reader compare this with the fol lowing passage in Milton, which begins with Adam's speech to Eve:
For never did thy beauty since the day
So said he, and forbore not glance or toy
As no poet seems ever to have studied Homer more, or to have more resembled The secret intoxication of pleasure, with him in the greatness of genius, than Milton, all those transient flushings of guilt and joy, I think I should have given but a very im which the poet represents in our first pa-perfect account of its beauties, if I had not rents upon their eating the forbidden fruit, observed the most remarkable passages to those flaggings of spirit, damps of sor- which look like parallels in these two great row, and mutual accusations which succeed authors. I might, in the course of these