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as excrefcenfes rather than as parts of the action. On the contrary, the poem, which we have now under our confideration, hath no other epifodes than fuch as naturally arife from the fubject, and yet is filled with fuch a multitude of astonishing incidents, that it gives us at the fame time a pleasure of the greatest variety, and of the greatest fimplicity; uniform in its nature, though diverfified in the execution.
I muft obferve also, that as Virgil, in the poem which was defigned to celebrate the original of the Roman empire, has defcribed the birth of its great rival, the Carthaginian commonwealth: Milton, with the like art in his poem on the fall of man, has related the fall of thofe angels who are his profeffed enemies. Befides the many other beauties in fuch an epifode, its runing parallel with the great action of the poem hinders it from breaking the unity fo much as another epifode would have done, that had not fo great an affinity with the principal fubject. In fhort, this is the fame kind of beauty which the critics admire in the Spanish Friar, or the Double Discovery, where the two different plots look like counterparts and copies of one
The fecond qualification required in the action of an epic poem, is, that it fhould be an entire action an action is entire when it is complete in all its parts; or, as Ariftotle defcribes it, when it confifts of a beginning, a middle, and an end. No thing thould go before it, be intermixed with it, or follow after it, that is not related to it. As on the contrary, no fingle ftep fhould be omitted in that juft and regulat process which it must be supposed to take from its original to its confummation. Thus we fee the anger of Achilles in its birth, its continuance and effects; and Æneas's fettlement in Italy, carried on through all the oppofitions in his way to it both by fea and land. The action in Milton excels, I think, both the former in this particular: we fee it contrived in hell, executed upon earth, and punished by heaven. The parts of it are told in the most diftinct manner, and grow out of one another in the most natural method.
particular; but I think we may fay, without derogating from thofe wonderful performances, that there is an unquestionable magnificence in every part of Paradife Loft, and indeed a much greater than could have been formed upon any pagan system.
The third qualification of an epic poem is its greatnefs. The anger of Achilles was of fuch confequence, that it embroiled the kings of Greece, destroyed the heroes of Troy, and engaged all the gods in factions. Æneas's fettlement in Italy produced the Cæfars, and gave birth to the Roman empire. Milton's fubject was ftill greater than either of the former; it does not determine the fate of fingle perfons or nations, but of a whole fpecies. The united powers of hell are joined together for the deftruction of mankind, which they cffected in part, and would have completed, had not Omnipotence itself interpofed. The principal actors are man in his greatest perfection, and woman in her highcft beauty. Their enemies are the fallen angels the Meffiah their friend, and the Almighty their protector. In short, every thing that is great in the whole circle of being, whether within the verge of nature, or out of it, has a proper part aligned it in this noble poem.
In poetry, as in architecture, not only the whole, but the principal members, and every part of them, fhould be great. I will not prefume to fay, that, the book of games in the Eneid, or that in the Iliad are not of this nature, nor to reprchend Virgil's fimile of the top, and many other of the fame kind in the Iliad, as liable to any cenfure in this
But Ariftotle, by the greatnefs of the action, does not only mean that it fhould be great in its nature, but alfo in its duration, or in other words that it fhould have a due length in it, as well as what we properly call greatnefs. The juft meafure of this kind of magnitude, he explains by the following fimilitude. An animal, no bigger than a mite, cannot appear perfect to the eye, because the fight takes it in at once, and has only a confufed idea of the whole, and not a distinct idea of all its parts; if on the contrary you should suppose an animal of ten thoufand furlongs in length, the eye would be fo filled with a fingle part of it, that it could not give the mind an idea of the whole. What these animals are to the eye, a very short or a very long action would be to the memory. The first would be, as it were, loft and swallowed up by it, and the other difficult to be contained in it. Homer and Virgil have fhewn their principal art in this particular: the action of the Iliad, and that of the Æneid, were in themselves exceeding fhort, but are fo beautifully extended and diverfified by the invention of epifodes, and the machinery of gods, with the like poetical ornaments, that they make up an agreeable story, fufficient to employ the mẹmory without overcharging it. Milton's action is enriched with fuch a variety of circumstances, that I have taken as much pleasure in reading the contents of his books, as in the best invented ftory I ever met with. It is poffible, that the traditions, on which the Iliad and neid were built, had more circumstances in them, than the hiftory of the Fall of Man, as it is related in fcripture. Befides, it was eafier for Homer and Virgil to dafh the truth with fiction, as they were in no danger of offending the religion of their country by it. But as for Milton, he had not only a very few circumftances upon which to raife his poem, but was also obliged to proceed with the greateft caution in every thing that he added out of his own invention. And, indeed, notwithstanding all the restraints he was under, he has filled his story with fo many surprising incidents, which bear fo close an analogy with what is delivered in holy writ, that it is capable of pleafing the most delicate reader, without giving offence to the moft fcrupulous.
The modern critics have collected from feveral hints in the Iliad and neid the fpace of time, which is taken up by the action of each of those poems; but as a great part of Milton's ftory was tranfacted in regions that lie out of the reach of the fun and the fphere of the day, it is impoffible to gratify the reader with fuch a calculation, which indeed would be more curious than inftructive; none of the critics, either ancient or modern, having laid down rules to circumfcribe the action of an epic poem with any determined number of years, days, or hours.
This piece of criticifm on Milton's Paradife Loft fhall be carried on in the following Saturday's papers.
• Mr. Spectator,
S you are Spectator-General, I apply myfelf to you in the following cafe, viz. I do · not wear a fword, but I often divert myself at the theatre, where I frequently fee a fet of fellows pull plain people, by way of humour and frolic, by the nofe, upon frivolous or no occa• fions. A friend of mine the other night applauded what a graceful exit Mr. Wilks made, " one of thofe nofe-wringers overhearing him,
pinched him by the nofe. I was in the pit the
'I am your admirer, &c.
tue, and makes her duty her continual pleasure? No, men rather feek for money as the comple6 ment of all their defires; and regardless of what kind of wives they take, they think riches will be a minister to all kind of pleasures, and enable them to keep miftreffes, horfes, hounds, to drink, feast, and game with their companions, pay their debts contracted by former extravagancies, or some fuch vile and unworthy end; and indulge themselves in pleasures which are a thame and scandal to human nature. Now as for the women; how few of them are there who place the happiness of their marriage in the having a wife and virtuous friend? One who will be faithful and just to all, and conftant and loving to them? who with care and diligence ' will look after and improve the eftate, and with' out grudging allow whatever is prudent and convenient? rather, how few are there who do not
place their happiness in out-thining others in pomp and thow? and that do not think within themselves when they have married fuch a rich 'perfon, that none of their acquaintance fhall ap
pear fo fine in their equipage, fo adorned in their 'perfons, or fo magnificent in their furniture as themselves? Thus their heads are filled with vain ideas; and I heartily wish I could fay that equipage and how were not the chief good of fo many women as I fear it is.
After this manner do both fexes deceive themfelves, and bring reflexions and difgrace upon the moft happy and most honourable state of life ; whereas if they would but correct their depraved tafte, moderate their ambition, and place their happiness upon proper objects, we should not find felicity in the marriage-ftate fuch a wonder in the world as it now is.
• Mr. Spectator,
OUR difcourfe of the 29th of December on
• Mr. Spectator,
love and is of fo ufeful a A
that I cannot forbear adding my thoughts to your's on that fubject. Methinks it is a miffortune, that the marriage-ftate, which in its own nature is adapted to give us the completeft happiness this life is capable of, thould be fo un⚫ comfortable a one to fo many as it daily proves. But the mischief generally proceeds from the unwife choice people make for themselves, and 6 an expectation of happiness from things not capable of giving it. Nothing but the good qualities of the perfon beloved can be a foundation for a love of judgment and difcretion; and whoever expect happiness from any thing but virtue, wif-barity as alfo with my refolution, viz. never to
SI was this day walking in the ftreet, there happened to pafs by on the other fide of the way a beauty, whofe charms were fo attracting, that it drew my eyes wholly on that fide, infomuch that I neglected my own way, and chanced to run my nofe directly againft a poft; which the lady no foonèr perceived, buɛ fell out into a fit of laughter, though at the fame time the was fenfible that herfelf was the caufe of my misfortune, which in my opinion was the greater aggravation of her crime. I being bufy wiping off the blood which trickled down my face, had not time to acquaint her with her bar
'look out of my way for one of her fex more: therefore, that your humble fervant may be revenged, he defires you to infert this in one of your next papers, which he hopes will be a warn ing to all the rest of the women-gazers, as well as to poor
dom, good-humour, and a fimilitude of manners,
Sir, if you think these thoughts worth inferting among your own, be pleaied to give them a better drefs, and let them pafs abroad; and you • will oblige
• Anthony Gape.'
• Mr. Spectators
Defire to know in your next, if the merry of the Parfon has loft his cloke," is game not mightily in vogue amongst the fine ladies this Christmas; because I fee they wear hoods of all colours, which I fuppofe is for that purpofe; if ir is, and you think it proper, I will carry fome of
X x a
thofe hoods with me to our ladies in Yorkshire; because they injoined ine to bring them fomething from London that was very new. If you can tell any thing in which I can obey their commands more agreeably, be pleased to inform me, ⚫ and you will extremely oblige
Your humble fervant,
Mr. Spectator, Oxford, Dec. 29. INCE you appear inclined to be a friend to you affift me in an affair under which I have fuffered very much. The reigning toaft of this place is Patetia; I have pursued her with the utmoft diligence this twelve month, and find nothing ftands in my way but one who flatters her more than I can. Pride is her favourite paffion; therefore if you will be fo far my friend as to make a favourable mention of me in one of your papers, I believe I fhould not fail in my addreffes. The fcholars ftand in rows, as they did to be fure in your time, at her pew-door; and the has all the devotion paid to her by a crowd of youths who are unacquainted with the fex, and have inexperience added to their paffion: however, if it fucceeds according to my vows, you will make me the happiest man in the world, and the most obliged amongst all.
• Your humble fervants.'
N° 269. TUESDAY, JANUARY 8.
WAS this morning furprifed with a great knocking at the door, when my landlady's daughter came up to me, and told me, that there was a man below defired to speak with me. Upon my asking her who it was, the told me it was a very grave elderly perfon, but that the did not know his name. I immediately went down to him, and found him to be the coachman of my worthy friend Sir Roger de Coverley. He told me that his matter came to town last night, and would be glad to take a turn with me in Gray's Inn walks. As I was wondering in myself what bad brought Sir Roger to town, not having lately received ary letter from him, he told me that his matter was come up to get a fight of prince Eugene, and that he defired I would immediately
I was not a little pleafed with the curiofity of the old knight, though I did not much wonder at it, having heard him fay more than once in private difcourie, that he looked upon printe Eugenio, for fo the knight always calls him, to be a greater man than Scanderbeg.
he loves to clear his pipes in good air, to make ufe of his own phrafe, and is not a little pleafed with any one who takes notice of the ftrength which he ftill exerts in his morning hems.
I was touched with a fecret joy at the fight of the good old man, who before he faw me was engaged in converfation with a beggar-man that had asked an alms of him. I could hear my friend chide him før not finding out fome work; but at the fame time faw him put his hand in his pocket and give him
Our falutations were very hearty on both fides, confifting of many kind shakes of the hand, and several affectionate looks which we caft upon one another. After which the knight told me my good friend his chaplain was very well, and much at my fervice, and that the Sunday before he had made a most incomparable fermon out of Dr. Barrow. I have left, fays he, all my affairs in his hands, and being willing to lay an obligation upon him, have deposited with him thirty marks, to be distributed among his poor parishioners.
I was no fconer come into Gray's-Inn walks, but i heard my friend upon the terrace hemming Ewice or thrice to himfelf with great vigour, for
He then proceeded to acquaint me with the welfare of Will Wimble. Upon which he put his hand in his fob and prefented me in his name with a tobacco-ftopper, telling me that Will had been bufy all the beginning of the winter in turning great quantities of them; and that he made a prefent of one to every gentleman in the country who has good principles, and fmokes. He added, that poor Will was at prefent under great tribulation, for that Tom Touchy had taken the law of him for cutting fome hazel sticks out of one of his hedges.
Among other pieces of news which the knight brought from his country-feat, he informed me that Moll White was dead; and that about à month after her death the wind was fo very high, that it blew down the end of one of his barns. But for my own part, fays Sir Roger, I do not think that the old woman had any hand in it.
He afterwards fell into an account of the divertions which had paffed in his houfe during the holidays; for Sir Roger, after the laudable cuítom of his ancestors, always keeps open houfe at Christmas. I learned from him that he had
killed eight fat hogs for this feafon, that he had dealt about his chines very liberally amongst his neighbours, and that in particular he had fent a ftring of hogs-puddings with a pack of cards to every poor family in the parith. I have often thought, fays Sir Roger, it happens very well that Chriftmas fhould fall out in the middle of winter. It is the most dead uncomfortable time of the year, when the poor people would fuffer very much from their poverty and cold, if they had not good chear, warm fires, and Christmas gam-. bols to fupport them. I love to rejoice their poor hearts at this feafon, and to fee the whole village merry in my great hall. I allow a double quantity of malt to my fmall beer, and fet it a running for twelve days to every one that calls for it. I have always a piece of cold beef and mince-pyc upon the table, and am wonderfully pleafed to fee my tenants pafs away a whole cvening in playing their innocent tricks, and fmutting one another. Our friend Will Wimble is as merry as any of them, and fhews a thoufand roguifh tricks upon thefe occafions.
I was very much delighted with the réflexion of my old friend, which carried fo much goodnefs in it. He then launched out into the praife of
of the late act of parliament for fecuring the Church of England, and told me with great fatif. faction, that he believed it already, began to take effect, for that a rigid diffenter who chanced to dine at his houfe on Chriftmas day, had been obferved to eat very plentifully of his plumbporridge.
After having difpatched all our country matters, Sir Roger made feveral inquiries concerning the club, and particularly of his old antagonist Sir Andrew Freeport. He afked me with a kind of fmile, whether Sir Andrew had not taken the advantage of his abfence, to vent among them fome of his republican doctrines; but soon after gathering up his countenance into a more than ordinary ferioufnefs, tell me truly, fays he, do not you think Sir Andrew had a hand in the pope's proceffion ?-but without giving me time to anfwer him, Well, well, fays he, I know you are a wary man, and do not care to talk of public
The knight then asked me, if I had feen prince Eugenio, and made me promife to get him a ftand in fome convenient place where he might have a full fight of that extraordinary man, whofe prefence does so much honour to the British nation. He dwelt very long on the praifes of this great general, and I found that, fince I was with him in the country, he had drawn many obfervations together out of his reading in Baker's chronicle, and other authors, who always lie in his hall window, which very much redound to the honour of this prince.
Having paffed away the greatest part of the morning in hearing the knight's reflexions, which were partly private, and partly political, he asked me if I would smoke a pipe with him over a difh of coffee at Squire's. As I love the old man, I take delight in complying with every thing that is agreeable to him, and accordingly waited on him to the coffee-houfe, where his venerable figure drew upon us the eyes of the whole room, He had no fooner feated himself at the upper end of the high table, but he called for a clean pipe, a paper of tobacco, a difh of coffee, a wax candle, and the fupplement, with fuch an air of chearfulnefs and good-humour, that all the boys in the coffee-room, who feemed to take pleafure in ferving him, were at once employed on his feveral errands, infomuch that nobody elfe could come at a difh of tea, until the knight had got all his conveniencies about him.
N° 270. WEDNESDAY, JAN. 9.
Difcit enim citiùs, meminitque libentius illud,
Do not know that I have been in greater delight for these many years, than in beholding the boxes at the play the last time the Scornful Lady was acted. So great an affembly of ladies placed in gradual rows in all the ornaments of jewels, filks, and colours, gave fo lively and gay an impreffion to the heart, that methought the feafon of the year was vanished; and I did not think it an ill expression of a young fellow who stood near me, that called the boxes thofe
beds of tulips. It was a pretty variation of the profpect, when any one of thefe fine ladies rofe up and did honour to herfelf and friend at a diftance, by curtefying; and gave opportunity to that friend to thew her charms to the fame advantage in returning the falutation. Here that action is as proper and graceful, as it is at church unbecoming and impertinent. By the way, I muft take the liberty to obferve that I did not fee any one who is ufually fo full of civilities at church, offer at any fuch indecorum during any part of the action of the play. Such beautiful profpects gladden our minds, and when confidered in general, give innocent and pleasing ideas. He that dwells upon any one object of beauty, may fix his imagination to his difquiet; but the contemplation of a whole affembly together, is a defence against the incroachment of defire: at leaft to me, who have taken pains to look at beauty abstracted from the confideration of its being the object of defire; at power, only as it fits upon another, without any hopes of partaking any share of it; at wifdom and capacity, without any preten fions to rival or envy its acquifitions: I fay to me, who am really free from forming any hopes by beholding the persons of beautiful women, or warming myfelf into ambition from the fucceffes of other men, this world is not only a mere scene, but a very pleasant one. Did mankind but know the freedom which there is in keeping thus aloof from the world, I fhould have more imitators, than the powerfulleft man in the nation has followers. To be no man's rival in love, or com-. petitor in bufinefs, is a character which if it does. not recommend you as it ought to benevolence among those whom you live with, yet has it certainly this effect, that you do not stand fo much in need of their approbation, as you would if you aimed at it more, in fetting your heart on the fame things which the generality dote on. By this means, and with this eafy philosophy, I am never lefs at a play than when I am at the theatre; but indeed I am seldom fo well pleased with action as in that place; for moft men follow nature no longer than while they are in their night-gowns, and all the bufy part of the day are in characters which they neither become nor act in with pleasure to themselves or their beholders. But to return to my ladies: I was very well pleafed to fee fo great a crowd of them affembled at a play, wherein the heroine, as the phrafe is, is so just a picture of the vanity of the fex in tormenting their admirers. The lady who pines for the man whom the treats with fo much impertinence and inconftancy, is drawn with much art and humour. Her refolutions to be extremely civil, but her vanity arifing just at the inftant that the refolved to exprefs hertelf kindly, are. defcribed as by one who had ftudied the fex. But when my admiration is fixed upon this exeellent character, and two or three others in the play, I must confefs I was moved with the utmoít indignation at the trivial, fenfelefs, and unnatural reprefentation of the chaplain. It is poffible there may be a pedant in holy orders, and we have feen one or two of them in the world; but fuch a driveller as Sir Roger, fo bereft of all manner of pride, which is the characteristic of a pedant, is what one would not believe could come into the head of the fame man who drew the reft of the play. The meeting between Welford and him fhews a wretch without any notion of the dignity of his function; and it is
Out of all common fenfe that he fhould give an account of himfelf" as one fent four or five "miles in a morning on foot for eggs." It is not to be denied, but this part and that of the maid, whom he makes love to, are excellently well performed; but a thing which is blameable in itself, grows ftill more fo by the fuccefs in the execution of it. It is fo mean a thing to gratify a loose age with a fcandalous reprefentation of what is reputable among men, not to say what is facred, that no beauty, no excellence in an author ought to atone for it; nay, fuch excellence is an aggravation of his guilt, and an argument that he errs against the conviction of his own understanding and confcience. Wit fhould be tried by this rule, and an audience fhould rife against such a scene as throws down the reputation of any thing which the confideration of religion or decency fhould preferve from contempt. But all this evil arifes from this one corruption of mind, that makes men refent offences against their virtue, lefs than those against their under-' standing. An author shall write as if he thought there was not one man of honour or woman of chastity in the house, and come off with applaufe: for an infult upon all the ten commandments with the little critics, is not so bad as the breach of an unity of time and place. Half wits do not apprehend the miferies that must neceffarily flow from degeneracy of manners; nor do they know that order is the fupport of fociety. Sir Roger and his mistress are monsters of the poet's own forming; the fentiments in both of them are fuch as do not arife in fools of their education. We all know that a filly scholar, instead of being below every one he meets with, is apt to be exalted above the rank of such as really are his fuperiors: his arrogance is always founded upon particular notions of diftinction in his own head, accompanied with a pedantie fcorn of all fortune and pre-eminence, when compared with his knowledge and learning. This very one character of Sir Roger, as filly as it really is, has done more towards the difparagement of holy orders, and confequently of virtue itfelf, than all the wit that author or any other could make up for in the conduct of the longest life after it. I do not pretend, in faying this, to give myself airs of more virtue than my neighbours, but affert it from the principles by which mankind muft al.. ways be governed. Sallies of imagination are to be overlooked, when they are committed out of warmth in the recommendation of what is praiseworthy; but a deliberate advancing of vice, with all the wit in the world, is as ill an action as any that comes before the magiftrate, and ought to be received as fuch by the people.
form the hints of it into plans of my own invention; fometimes I take the liberty to change the language or thought into my own way of fpeaking and thinking, and always, if it can be done without prejudice to the fenfe, omit the many compliments and applaufes which are ufually beftowed upon me.
N° 271. THURSDAY, JAN. 10.
Receive a double advantage from the letters of my correfpondents, firft, as they fhew me which of my papers are most acceptable to them; and in the next place as they furnish me with materials for new fpeculations. Sometimes indeed I do not make ufe of the letter itself, but
Befides the two advantages above-mentioned which I receive from the letters that are fent me, they give me an opportunity of lengthening out my paper by the skilful management of the subfcribing part at the end of them, which perhaps does not a little conduce to the ease, both of myself and reader.
Some will have it that I often write to myself, and am the only punctual correfpondent I have. This objection would indeed be material, were the letters I communicate to the public ftuffed with my own commendations; and if inftead of endeavouring to divert or inftruct my readers, I admired in them the beauty of my own perfor But I fhall leave thefe wife conjecturers mances. to their own imaginations, and produce the three following letters for the entertainment of the day.
WAS laft Thursday in an affembly of ladies, where there were thirteen different coloured hoods. Your Spectator of that day lying upon the table, they ordered me to read it to them, 'which I did with a very clear voice, until I
came to the Greek verfe at the end of it. I 'must confefs I was a little ftartled at its pop
ping upon me fo unexpectedly. However, I ' covered my confufion as well as I could, and ' after having muttered two or three hard words to myself, laughed heartily, and cried, a very good jeft, 'faith. The ladies defired me to ex" plain to them; but I begged their pardon for that, and told them, that if it had been proper ⚫ for them to hear, they might be fure the author 'would not have wrapped it up in Greek. I then let drop feveral expreffions, as if there was 'fomething in it that was not fit to be spoken before a company of ladies. Upon which the matron of the affembly, who was dreffed in a 'cherry-coloured hood, commended the difcretion of the writer for having thrown his filthy thoughts into Greek, which was likely to corrupt but few of his readers. At the fame time the declared herfelf very well pleased, that he had not given a decifive opinion upon the newfafhioned hoods; for to tell you truly, fays fhe, "I was afraid he would have made us afhamed to fhew our heads. Now, Sir, you must know, fince this unlucky accident happened to me in a company of ladies, among whom I passed for a moit ingenious man, I have confulted one who is well verfed in the Greek language, and he affures me upon his word, that your late quotation means no more than "that manners "and not drefs are the ornaments of a woman.' "" If this comes to the knowledge of my female admirers, I fhall be very hard put to it to bring myfelf off handfomely. In the mean while, I give you this account, that you may take care hereafter not to betray any of your well-withers into the like inconveniencies. It is in the number of thefe that I beg leave to fubfcribe • myself,
Tom Tripit." " Mr.