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There are several other very sublime images on
What when we fled amain, pursued and struck
profane, are represented as the arms of the Almighty. The tearing up the hills was not altogether so daring a thought as the former. We are, in some measure, prepared for such an incident by the description of the giants' war, which we meet with among the ancient poets. What still made this circumstance the more proper for the poet's use, is the opinion of many learned men, that the fable of the giants' war, which makes so great a noise in antiquity, and gave birth to the sublimest description in Hesiod's works, was an allegory founded upon this very tradition of a fight between the good and bad angels.
It may, perhaps, be worth while to consider with what judgment Milton, in this narration, has avoided In short, the poet never mentions any thing of every thing that is mean and trivial in the descripthis battle, but in such images of greatness and tions of the Latin and Greek poets; and at the terror as are suitable to the subject. Among seve-same time improved every great hint which he met ral others, I cannot forbear quoting that passage with in their works upon this subject. Homer, in where the Power, who is described as presiding that passage which Longinus has celebrated for its over the chaos, speaks in the second book:
'Thus Satan; and him thus the Anarch old,
Made head against heav'n's King, tho' overthrown
Fled not in silence through the frighted deep
Confusion worse confounded; and heaven's gates
sublimeness, and which Virgil and Ovid have co pied after him, tells us that the giants threw Ossa upon Olympus, and Pelion upon Ossa. He adds an epithet to Pelion (avocquaaov,) which very much swells the idea, by bringing up to the reader's imagination all the woods that grew upon it. There is further a great beauty in his singling out by names these three remarkable mountains so well known to the Greeks. This last is such a beauty, as the scene of Milton's war could not possibly furnish him with. Claudian, in his fragment It required great pregnancy of invention, and upon the giants' war, has given full scope to that strength of imagination, to fill this battle with such wildness of imagination which was natural to him. circumstances as should raise and astonish the mind He tells us, that the giants tore up whole islands of the reader; and at the same time an exactness by the roots, and threw them at the gods. He deof judgment, to avoid every thing that might ap- scribes one of them in particular taking up Lempear light or trivial. Those who look into Homer nos in his arms, and whirling it to the skies, with are surprised to find his battles still rising one above all Vulcan's shop in the midst of it. Another another, and improving in horror to the conclusion tears up mount Ida, with the river Enipeus, which of the Iliad. Milton's fight of angels is wrought ran down the sides of it; but the poet, not conup with the same beauty. It is ushered in with tent to describe him with this mountain upon his such signs of wrath as are suitable to Omnipo-shoulders, tells us, that the river flowed down his tence incensed. The first engagement is carried back as he held it up in that posture. It is visible on under a cope of fire, occasioned by the flights to every judicious reader, that such ideas savour of innumerable burning darts and arrows which more of burlesque than of the sublime. They proare discharged from either host. The second on-ceed from a wantonness of imagination, and raset is still more terrible, as it is filled with ther divert the mind than astonish it. Milton has those artificial thunders, which seem to make the taken every thing that is sublime in these several victory doubtful, and produce a kind of consterna- passages, and composes out of them the following tion even in the good angels. This is followed by great image: the tearing up of mountains and promontories; till in the last place the Messiah comes forth in the fulness of majesty and terror. The pomp of his appearance amidst the roarings of his thunders, the flashes of his lightnings, and the noise of his chariot-wheels, is described with the utmost flights of human imagination.
From their foundations loos'ning to and fro,
We have the full majesty of Homer in this short description, improved by the imagination of Claudian, without its puerilities.
There is nothing in the first and last day's en- I need not point out the description of the fallen gagement which does not appear natural, and angels seeing the promontories hanging over their agreeable enough to the ideas most readers would heads in such a dreadful manner, with the other conceive of a fight between two armies of angels numberless beauties in this book, which are so The second day's engagement is apt to startle an conspicuous, that they cannot escape the notice of imagination which has not been raised and qualified the most ordinary reader.
for such a description, by the reading of the an- There are indeed so many wonderful strokes of
Milton, notwithstanding the sublime genius he was master of, bas in this book drawn to his assistance all the helps he could meet with among the ancient poets. The sword of Michael, which makes so great a havoc among the bad angels, was given him, we are told, out of the armory of God:
But the sword
Of Michael from the armory of God
Was giv'n him temper'd so, that neither keen
Go then, thou mightiest in thy father's might!
The reader will easily discover many other strokes of the same nature.
There is no question but Milton had heated his imagination with the sight of the gods of Homer, before he entered upon this engagement of the an gels. Homer there gives us a scene of men, heroes, and gods mixed together in battle. Mars animates the contending armies, and lifts up his voice in This passage is a copy of that in Virgil, wherein such a manner, that it is heard distinctly amidst all the poet tells us, that the sword of Eneas, which the shouts and confusion of the fight. Jupiter at was given him by a deity, broke into pieces the the same time thunders over their heads; while sword of Turnus, which came from a mortal forge. Neptune raises such a tempest, that the whole field As the moral in this place is divine, so by the way of battle, and all the tops of the mountains, shake we may observe, that the bestowing on a man who about them. The poet tells us, that Pluto himself, is favoured by heaven such an allegorical weapon, whose habitation was in the very centre of the is very conformable to the old eastern way of earth, was so affrighted at the shock, that he leapt thinking. Not only Homer has made use of it, but from his throne. Homer afterwards describes Vul we find the Jewish hero in the book of Maccabees, can as pouring down a storm of fire upon the river who had fought the battles of the chosen people Xanthus, and Minerva as throwing a rock at with so much glory and success, receiving in his Mars; who, he tells us, covered seven acres in his dream a sword from the hand of the prophet Jere-fall. miah. The following passage, wherein Satan is described as wounded by the sword of Michael, is
in imitation of Homer:
The griding sword with discontinuous wound
A stream of nectarous humour issuing flow'd
Homer tells us in the same manner, that Diomede's wounding the gods, there flowed from the wound an ichor, or pure kind of blood, which was not bred from mortal viands; and that though the pain was exquisitely great, the wound soon closed up and healed in those beings who are vested with immortality.
As Homer has introduced into his battle of the
gods every thing that is great and terrible in na ture, Milton has filled his fight of good and bad angels with all the like circumstances of horror. The shout of armies, the rattling of brazen cha riots, the hurling of rocks and mountains, the earth. quake, the fire, the thunder, are all of them em. ployed to lift up the reader's imagination, and give him a suitable idea of so great an action. With what art has the poet represented the whole body of the earth trembling, even before it was created!
'All heav'n resounded; and had earth been then,
In how sublime and just a manner does he afterquestion not but Milton, in his description of wards describe the whole heaven shaking under the his furious Moloch flying from the battle, and bel- wheels of the Messiah's chariot, with that exceplowing with the wound he had received, had his tion to the throne of God!
eye on Mars in the Iliad; who, upon his being wounded, is represented as retiring out of the fight, and making an outcry louder than that of a whole army when it begins the charge. Homer, adds, that the Greeks and Trojans, who were en
-Under his burning wheels
Notwithstanding the Messiah
gaged in a general battle, were terrified on each with so much terror and majesty, the poet has still side with the bellowing of this wounded deity. The found means to make his readers conceive an idea reader will easily observe how Milton has kept all of him, beyond what he himself is able to describe : the horror of this image, without running into the
ridicule of it:
Where the might of Gabriel fought, And with fierce ensigns pierc'd the deep array Of Moloch, furious king! who him defy'd, And at his chariot-wheels to drag him bound Threaten'd, nor from the Holy One of heav'n Refrain'd his tongue blasphemous: but anon Down cloven to the waist, with shatter'd arms And uncouth pain, fled bellowing
Yet half his strength he put not forth, but check'd
Not to destroy, but root them out of heaven.'
In a word, Milton's genius, which was so great in itself, and so strengthened by all the helps of learning, appears in this book every way equal to his subject, which was the most sublime that could enter into the thought of a poet. As he know all Milton has likewise raised his description in this the arts of affecting the mind, he knew it was ne book with many images taken out of the poetical cessary to give it certain resting-places, and op parts of scripture. The Messiah's chariot, as I have portunities of recovering itself from time to time; before taken notice, is formed upon a vision of he has therefore with great address interspersed Ezekiel, who, as Grotius observes, has very much several speeches, reflections, similitudes, and the in him of Homer's spirit in the poetical parts of like reliefs, to diversify his narration, and ease the attention of the reader, that he might come fresh his prophecy. The following lines, in that glorious commission to his great action, and by such a contrast of ideas which is given the Messiah to extirpate the host of have a more lively taste of the nobler parts of his rebel angels, is drawn from a sublime passage in description.
Milton had ber of the gods of engagement a scene of me battle. Marya
Efis up he rd distinct
er their bes
st, that the
N° 334. MONDAY, MARCH 24, 1711-12.
Voluisti, in suo genere, unumquemque nostrum quasi
You would have each of us be a kind of Roscius in his way:
manner, that I am beholden to him for a resolution, that I will never hereafter think meanly of any thing, till I have heard what they who have another opinion of it have to say in its defence.
SINCE there are scarce any of the arts or sciences that have not been recommended to the world by the pens of some of the professors, masters, or lovers of them, whereby the usefulness, excellence, and benefit arising from them, both as to the speculative and practical part, have been made public, to the great advantage and improvement of such Ir is very natural to take for our whole lives a arts and sciences; why should dancing, an art celethe fighlight impression of a thing, which at first fell into brated by the ancients in so extraordinary a mancontempt with us for want of consideration. The ner, be totally neglected by the moderns, and left real use of a certain qualification (which the wiser destitute of any pen to recommend its various exthe most part of mankind look upon as at best an indifcellencies and substantial merit to mankind? us, that Pferent thing, and generally a frivolous circum- The low ebb to which dancing is now fallen, stance) shows the ill consequence of such prepos- is altogether owing to this silence. The art is essessions. What I mean is, the art, skill, accom- teemed only as an amusing trifle; it lies altogether plishment, or whatever you will call it, of dancing. uncultivated, and is unhappily fallen under the imI knew a gentleman of great abilities, who be-putation of illiterate and mechanic. And as Tewailed the want of this part of his education to rence, in one of his prologues, complains of the the end of a very honourable life. He observed, rope-dancers drawing all the spectators from his that there was not occasion for the common use of play; so may we well say, that capering and tumgreat talents; that they are but seldom in demand; bling is now preferred to, and supplies the place and that these very great talents were often ren- of, just and regular dancing on our theatres. It is dered useless to a man for want of small attain- therefore, in my opinion, high time that some one ments. A good mien (a becoming motion, gesture, should come to its assistance, and relieve it from and aspect) is natural to some men; but even those the many gross and growing errors that have crept would be highly more graceful in their carriage, if into it, and overcast its real beauties; and to set what they do from the force of nature were con- dancing in its true light, would show the usefulfirmed and heightened from the force of reason. ness and elegance of it, with the pleasure and inTo one who has not at all considered it, to men-struction produced from it; and also lay down tion the force of reason on such a subject will ap-some fundamental rules, that might so tend to the pear fantastical; but when you have a little at-improvement of its professors, and information of tended to it, an assembly of men will have quite the spectators, that the first might be the better another view; and they will tell you, it is evi-enabled to perform, and the latter rendered more dent from plain and infallible rules, why this capable of judging what is (if there be any thing) man, with those beautiful features, and well-fa- valuable in this art.
ing of the
re all the
shioned person, is not so agreeable as he who sits 'To encourage therefore some ingenious pen by him without any of those advantages. When capable of so generous an undertaking, and in we read, we do it without any exerted act of me- some measure to relieve dancing from the disadmory that presents the shape of the letters; but vantages it at present lies under, I, who teach to habit makes us do it mechanically, without stay-dance, have attempted a small treatise as an Essay ing, like children, to recollect and join those let- towards an History of Dancing;* in which I have ters. A man who has not had the regard of his inquired into its antiquity, origin, and use, and gesture in any part of his education, will find him-shown what esteem the ancients had for it. I self unable to act with freedom before new com- have likewise considered the nature and perfection pany, as a child that is but now learning would of all its several parts, and how beneficial and debe to read without hesitation. It is for the ad-lightful it is, both as a qualification and an exervancement of the pleasure we receive in being cise; and endeavoured to answer all objections agreeable to each other in ordinary life, that one that have been maliciously raised against it. I would wish dancing were generally understood as have proceeded to give an account of the particonducive, as it really is, to a proper deportment cular dances of the Greeks and Romans, whether in matters that appear the most remote from it. A religious, warlike, or civil; and taken particular man of learning and sense is distinguished from notice of that part of dancing relating to the anothers as he is such, though he never runs upon cient stage, in which the pantomimes had so great points too difficult for the rest of the world; in a share. Nor have I been wanting in giving an like manner the reaching out of the arm, and the historical account of some particular masters exmost ordinary motion, discovers whether a man cellent in that surprising art: after which I have ever learnt to know what is the true harmony and advanced some observations on the modern danccomposure of his limbs and countenance. Whoever ing, both as to the stage, and that part of it so abhas seen Booth, in the character of Pyrrhus, march solutely necessary for the qualification of gentleto his throne to receive Orestes, is convinced that men and ladies; and have concluded with some majestic and great conceptions are expressed in the short remarks on the origin and progress of the very step; but, perhaps though no other man could character by which dances are writ down, and perform that incident as well as he does, he him-communicated to one master from another. If self would do it with a yet greater elevation were some great genius after this would arise, and adhe a dancer. This is so dangerous a subject to treat vance this art to that perfection it seems capable with gravity, that I shall not at present enter into of receiving, what might not be expected from it? it any further; but the author of the following letter has treated it in the essay he speaks of in such a
Weaver, 12mg. 1712. See No, 466.
An Essay towards an History of Dancing, &c, By John
For, if we consider the origin of arts and sciences, me who this distrest mother was; and, upon we shall find that some of them took rise from be- hearing that she was Hector's widow, he told me ginnings so mean and unpromising, that it is very that husband was a brave man, and that when wonderful to think that ever such surprising struc. he was school-boy he had read his life at the end tures should have been raised upon such ordinary of the dictionary. My friend asked me, in the foundations. But what cannot a great genius effect? next place, if there would not be some danger in Who would have thought that the clangorous noise coming home late, in case the Mohocks should be of a smith's hammers should have given the first abroad. I assure you,' says he, I thought I rise to music? Yet Macrobius in his second book had fallen into their hand last night; for I obrelates, that Pythagoras, in passing by a smith's served two or three lusty black men that followed shop, found that the sounds proceeding from the me half way up Fleet-street, and mended their hammers were either more grave or acute, ac-pace behind me, in proportion as I put on to get cording to the different weights of the hammers. away from them. You must know,' continued the The philosopher, to improve this hint, suspends knight with a smile, I fancied they had a mind to different weights by strings of the same bigness, hunt me; for I remember an honest gentleman in and found in like manner that the sounds answered my neighbourhood, who was served such a trick in to the weights. This being discovered, he finds out King Charles the Second's time, for which reason those numbers which produced sounds that were he has not ventured himself in town ever since. I consonant: as, that two strings of the same sub-might have shown them very good sport, had this stance and tension, the one being double the length been their design; for as I am an old fox-hunter, of the other, gave that interval which is called I should have turned and dodged, and have played diapason, or an eighth: the same was also effected them a thousand tricks they had never seen in their from two strings of the same length and size, the lives before.' Sir Roger added, that 'if these genone having four times the tension of the other. By tlemen had any such intention, they did not suc these steps, from so mean a beginning, did this ceed very well in it; for I threw them out,' says he, great man reduce, what was only before noise, to at the end of Norfolk-street, where I doubled the one of the most delightful sciences, by marrying it corner and got shelter in my lodgings before they to the mathematics; and by that means caused it could imagine what was become of me. However,' to be one of the most abstract and demonstrative says the knight, if Captain Sentry will make one of sciences. Who knows therefore but motion, with us to-morrow night, and if you will both of whether decorous or representative, may not (as it you call upon me about four o'clock, that we may seems highly probable it may) be taken into con- be at the house before it is full, I will have my sideration by some persons capable of reducing it own coach in readiness to attend you; for John into a regular science, though not so demonstrative tells me he has got the fore-wheels mended.' as that proceeding from sounds, yet sufficient to The Captain, who did not fail to meet me there entitle it to a place among the magnified arts? at the appointed hour, bid Sir Roger fear nothing, Now, Mr. Spectator, as you have declared your- for that he had put on the same sword which he self visitor of dancing-schools, and this being an un-made use of at the battle of Steenkirk. Sir Roger's dertaking which more immediately respects them, servants, and among the rest my old friend the but I think myself indispensably obliged, before I pro- ler, had, I found, provided themselves with good ceed to the publication of this my essay, to ask oaken plants, to attend their master upon this ocyour advice; and hold it absolutely necessary to casion. When we had placed him in his coach, have your approbation, in order to recommend my with myself at his left-hand, the captain before treatise to the perusal of the parents of such as him, and his butler at the head of his footmen in learn to dance, as well as to the young ladies, to the rear, we convoyed him in safety to the playwhom, as visitor, you ought to be guardian.*
Salop, March 19,
'I am, SIR,
Your most bumble servant."
house, where, after having marched up the entry in good order, the Captain and I went in with him, and seated him betwixt us in the pit. As soon as
STEELE. [The letter, probably, by Mr. Weaver.] T. the house was full, and the candles lighted, my old
TUESDAY, MARCH 25, 1711-12.
Respicere exemplar vitæ morumque jubebo
friend stood up, and looked about him with that pleasure which a mind seasoned with humanity naturally feels in itself, at the sight of a multitude of people who seem pleased with one another, and partake of the same common entertainment. ! could not but fancy to myself, as the old man stood up in the middle of the pit, that he made a very proper centre to a tragic audience. Upon the entering of Pyrrhus, the knight told me, that he did not believe the King of France himself had a better strut. I was indeed very attentive to my My friend Sir Roger de Coverley, when we last old friend's remarks, because I looked upon them met together at the club, told me that he had a as a piece of natural criticism, and was well pleas great mind to see the new tragedy† with me, as-ed to hear him, at the conclusion of almost every suring me at the same time, that he had not been scene, telling me that he could not imagine how at a play these twenty years. The last I saw,' the play would end. One while he appeared said Sir Roger, was The Committee, which I much concerned for Andromache; and a little should not have gone to neither, had not I been while after as much for Hermione; and was ex told beforehand that it was a good church-of-Eng-tremely puzzled to think what would become of land comedy.' He then proceeded to inquire of Pyrrhus.
When Sir Roger saw Andromache's obstinate refusal to her lover's importunities, he whispered
have him; to which he added, with a more than + See Nos. 324, 332, and 347.
me in the ear that he was sure she would never
See No. 338.
ctor's widow b
rave man and
d read his art Friend asked me d not be some the Mobock says he, the
reet, and mex
st know.' cont
an honest time, for he
s served sod
fin town eve y good sorti am an offe dged, and bes had never ed, that's
w them ac
ne of me S Sentry va
I to meet
ordinary vehemence, 'You can't imagine, sir, what
perverse creatures in the world. But pray,' says he, 'you that are a critic, is the play according to your dramatic rules, as you call them? Should your people in tragedy always talk to be understood? Why, there is not a single sentence in this play that I do not know the meaning of."
The fourth act very luckily began before I bad time to give the old gentleman an answer. 'Well,' says the knight, sitting down with great satisfaction, 'I suppose we are now to see Hector's ghost.' He then renewed his attention, and, from time to time, fell a praising the widow. He made, indeed, a little mistake as to one of her pages, whom at his first entering he took for Astyanax; but quickly set himself right in that particular, though, at the same time, he owned he should have been very glad to have seen the little boy, who, says he, must needs be a very fine child by the account that is given of him. Upon Hermione's going off with a menace to Pyrrhus, the audience gave a loud clap, to which Sir Roger added, "On my word, a notayoung baggage!'
No 336. WEDNESDAY, MARCH 26, 1712.
Clament periise pudorem
Cuncti pene patres: ea cum reprehendere conor,
HOR. Ep. 1. l. ii, ver. 30.
One tragic sentence if I dare deride,
As you are the daily endeavourer to promote learning and good sense, I think myself obliged to suggest to your consideration whatever may promote or prejudice them. There is an evil which has prevailed from generation to generation, which grey hairs and tyrannical custom continue to support; I hope your spectatorial authority will give a seasonable check to the spread of the infection; As there was a very remarkable silence and still. I mean old men's overbearing the strongest sense ness in the audience during the whole action, it of their juniors by the mere force of seniority: so was natural for them to take the opportunity of that for a young man in the bloom of life, and end these intervals between the acts, to express their vigour of age, to give a reasonable contradiction opinion of the players, and of their respective parts. to his elders, is esteemed an unpardonable insoSir Roger, hearing a cluster of them praise Orestes, lence, and regarded as reversing the decrees of struck in with them, and told them, that he thought nature. I am a young man, I confess; yet I hohis friend Pylades was a very sensible man. As our the grey head as much as any one: however, they were afterwards applauding Pyrrhus, Sir Ro- when in company with old men, I hear them speak ger put in a second time. And let me tell you,' obscurely, or reason preposterously (into which absays he, though he speaks but little, I like the old surdities, prejudice, pride, or interest, will some. fellow in whiskers as well as any of them.' Captain times throw the wisest), I count it no crime to recSentry, seeing two or three wags who sat near us tify their reasonings, unless conscience must truckle lean with an attentive ear towards Sir Roger, and to ceremony, and truth fall a sacrifice to complaifearing lest they should smoke the knight, plucked sance. The strongest arguments are enervated, and him by the elbow, and whispered something in his the brightest evidence disappears, before those ear, that lasted till the opening of the fifth act. tremendous reasonings and dazzling discoveries of The knight was wonderfully attentive to the acvenerable old age. You are young giddy-headed count which Orestes gives of Pyrrhus's death, and, fellows; you have not yet had experience of the at the conclusion of it, told me it was such a bloody world.' Thus we young folks find our ambition piece of work, that he was glad it was not done cramped, and our laziness indulged, since while upon the stage. Seeing afterwards Orestes in his young we have little room to display ourselves, raving fit, he grew more than ordinarily serious, and when old, the weakness of nature must pass and took occasion to moralize (in his way) upon for strength of sense, and we hope that hoary heads an evil conscience, adding, that Orestes, in his will raise us above the attacks of contradiction. madness, looked as if he saw something. Now, sir, as you would enliven our activity in the As we were the first that came into the house, pursuit of learning, take our case into consideraso we were the last that went out of it; being re- tion; and, with a gloss on brave Elihu's sentiments, solved to have a clear passage for our old friend, assert the rights of youth, and prevent the perniwhom we did not care to venture among the just-cious encroachments of age. The generous realing of the crowd. Sir Roger went out fully satis-sonings of that gallant youth would adorn your fied with his entertainment, and we guarded him paper; and I beg you would insert them, not to his lodging in the same manner that we brought doubting but that they will give good entertainhim to the playhouse; being highly pleased for ment to the most intelligent of your readers.' my own part, not only with the performance of the excellent piece which had been presented, but with the satisfaction which it had given to the old
"So these three men ceased to answer Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes. Then was kindled the wrath of Elihu, the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the kindred of Ram. Against Job was his wrath kindled, because he justified himself rather than God. Also against his three friends was his wrath kindled, because they had found no answer, and yet had condemned Job. Now Elihu had waited till Job had spoken, because they were