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the upholsterer, whom they are all so cautious of naming, I take to be.............. Upon which, though there was nobody near us, he whispered something in my ear, which I did not hear, or think worthy my wliile to make him repeat.
We were now got to the upper end of the Mall, where were three or four very odd fellows sitting together upon the bench. These I found were all of them politicians, who used to sun themselves in that place every day about dinner time. Observing them
to be curiosities in their kind, and my friend's acquaintance, I sat down among them.
The chief politician of the bench was a great asserter of paradoxes. He told us, with a seeming concern, that by some news he had lately read from Muscovy, it appeared to him that there was a storm gathering in the Black Sea, which might in time do hurt to the naval forces of this nation. To this he added, that for his part, he could not wish to see the Turk driven out of Europe, which he believed could not but be prejudicial to our woollen manufacture. He then told us, that he looked upon those extraordinary revolutions, which had lately happened in those parts of the world, to have risen chiefly from two persons who were not much talked of; and those, says he, are Prince Menzikoff, and the Duchess of Mirandola. He backed his assertions with so many broken hints, and such a shew of depth and wisdom, that we give ourselves up to his opinions.
The discourse at length fell upon a point which seldom escapes a knot of true-born Englishmen, whether, in case of a religious war, the protestants would not be too strong for the papists? This we unanimously determined on the protestant side. One who sat on my right hand, and, as I found by his discourse, had been in the West Indies, assured us, that it would be a very easy matter for the protestants to beat the pope at sea; and added, that whenever such a war does break
out, it must turn to the good of the Leeward Islands. Upon this, one who sat at the end of the bench, and, as I afterwards found, was the geographer of the company, said, that in case the papists should drive the protestants from these parts of Europe, when the worst came to the worst, it would be impossible to beat them out of Norway and Greenland, provided the northern crowns hold together, and the Czar of Muscovy stand neuter.
He further told us for our comfort, that there were vast tracts of lands about the pole, inhabited neither by protestants nor papists, and of greater extent than all the Roman catholic dominions in Europe.
When we had fully discussed this point, my friend the upholsterer began to exert himself upon the present negociations of peace, in which he deposed princes, settled the bounds of kingdoms, and balanced the power of Europe, with great justice and impartiality,
I at length took my leave of the company, and was going away; but had not gone thirty yards, before the upholsterer hemmed again after me, Upon his advancing towards me, with a whisper, I expected to hear
I some secret piece of news, which he had not thought fit to communicate to the bench; but instead of that, he desired me in my ear to lend him half a crown. In compassion to so needy a statesman, and to dissipate the confusion I found he was in, I told him, if he pleased I would give him five shillings, to receive five pounds of him when the great Turk was driven out of Constantinople; which he very readily accepted, but not before he had laid down to me the impossibility of such an event, as the affairs of Europe now stand.
This paper I design for the particular benefit to those worthy citizens who live more in a coffee-house than in their shops, and whose thoughts are so taken up with the affairs of the allies, that they forget their customers.
No. CLVI. SATURDAY, APRIL 8.
....Sequiturq; patram non passibus æquis.
From my own Apartment, April 7. WE have already described out of Homer the voyage of Ulysses to the infernal shades, with the several adventures that attended it. If we look into the beautiful romance published not many years since by the archbishop of Cambray, we may see the son of Ulysses bound on the same expedition, and after the same manner making his discoveries among the regions of the dead. The story of Telemachus is formed altogether in the spirit of Homer, and will give an unlearned reader a notion of that great poet's manner of writing, more than any translation of him can possibly do. As it was written for the instruction of a young prince, who may one day sit upon the throne of France, the author took care to suit the several parts of his story, and particularly the description we are now entering upon, to the character and quality of his pupil. For which reason, he insists very much on the misery of bad, and the happiness of good kings, in the account he hath given of punishments and rewards in the other world.
We may however observe, notwithstanding the endeavours of this great and learned author, to copy after the style and sentiments of Homer, that there is a certain tincture of christianity running through the whole relation. The prelate in several places mixes himself with the poet; so that his future state puts me in mind of Michael Angelo's Last Judgment, where Charon and his boat are repesented as bearing a part in the dreadful solemnities of that great day.
Telemachus, after having passed through the dark avenues of death in the retinue of Mercury, who every day delivers up a certain tale of ghosts to the Ferry
man of Styx, is admitted into the infernal bark. Among the companions of his voyage, is the shade of Nabopharzon, a King of Babylon, and tyrant of all the east. Among the ceremonies and pomps of his funeral, there were four slaves sacrificed, according to the custom of the country, in order to attend him among the shades. The author having described this tyrant in the most odious colours of pride, insolence, and cruelty, tells us, that his four slaves, instead of serving him after death, were perpetually insulting him with reproaches and affronts for his past usage: that they spurned him as he lay upon the ground, and forced him to shew his face, which he would fain have covered, as lying under all the confusion of guilt and infamy; and in short, that they kept him bound in a chain, in order to drag him before the tribunal of the dead.
Telemachus, upon looking out of the bark, sees all the strand covered with an innumerable multitude of shades, who, upon his jumping ashore, immediately vanished. He then pursues his course to the palace of Pluto, who is described as seated on his throne in terrible majesty, with Proserpine by his side. At the foot of his throne was the pale hideous spectre, who; by the ghastliness of his visage, and the nature of the apparitions that surrounded him, discovers himself to be Death. His attendants are, melancholy, distrust, revenge, hatred, avarice, despair, ambition, envy, impiety, with frightful dreams, and waking cares, which are all drawn very naturally in proper actions and postures. The author, with great beauty, places near his frightful dreams an assembly of phantoms, which are often employed to terrify the living, by appearing in the shape and likeness of the dead.
The young hero in the next place takes a survey of the different kinds of criminals that lay in torture among clouds of sulphur, and torrents of fire. The first of these were such as had been guilty of impieties, which every one hath an horror for: to which is added, a catalogue of such offenders that scarce appear to be faulty in the eyes of the vulgar. Among these, says the author, are malicious critics, that have endeavoured to cast a blemish upon the perfections of others; with whom he likewise places such as have often hurt the reputation of the innocent, by passing a rash judgment on their actions, without knowing the occasion of them. These crimes, says he, are more severely punished after death, because they generally meet with impunity upon earth.
Telemachus, after having taken a survey of several other wretches in the same circumstances, arrives at that region of torments in which wicked kings are punished. There are very fine strokes of imagination in the description which he gives of this unhappy multitude. He tells us, that on one side of them there stood a revengeful fury, thundering in their ears in cessant repetitions of all the crimes they had committed upon earth, with the aggravations of ambition, vanity, hardness of heart, and all those secret affections of mind that enter into the composition of a tyrant. At the same time, she holds up to them a large mirror, in which every one secs himself represented in the natural horror and deformity of his character. On the other side of them stands another fury, that with an insulting derision; repeats to them all the praises that their flatterers had bestowed upon them while they sat upon their respective thrones. She too, says the author, presents a mirror before their eyes, in which every one sees himself adomed with all those beauties and perfections in which they had been drawn by the vanity of their own hearts, and the flattery of others. To punish them for the wantoness of the cruelty which they formerly exercised, they are now delivered up to be treated according to the fancy and caprice of several slaves, who have here an opportunity of tyrannizing in their turns.