« VorigeDoorgaan »
'Difficilis, facilis, jucundus, acerbus es idem,
EPIG. xlvii. 12.
N° 69. SATURDAY, MAY 19, 1711.
be more strong and pointed than the following|pected at his first entering into an intimacy with verse? Separate thyself from thine enemies, and him. There are several persons who in some certake heed of thy friends.' In the next words he tain periods of their lives are inexpressibly agreeparticularises one of those fruits of friendship able, and in others as odious and detestable, which is described at length by the two famous Martial has given us a very pretty picture of one authors above mentioned, and falls into a general of this species, in the following epigram: eulogium of friendship, which is very just as well as very sublime. A faithful friend is a strong defence; and he that hath found such an one, hath found a treasure. Nothing doth countervail 'In all thy humours, whether grave or mellow, a faithful friend, and his excellency is unvaluable. Thou'rt such a touchy, testy, pleasant fellow; A faithful friend is the medicine of life; and they Hast so much wit, and mirth, and spleen about thee, There is no living with thee, nor without thee.' that fear the Lord shall find him. Whoso feareth the Lord shall direct his friendship aright; for as It is very unlucky for a man to be entangled in a he is, so shall his neighbour (that is his friend) be friendship with one, who, by these changes and also. I do not remember to have met with any vicissitudes of humour, is sometimes amiable, and saying that has pleased me more than that of a sometimes odious and as most men are at some friend's being the medicine of life, to express the times in an admirable frame and disposition of efficacy of friendship in healing the pains and mind, it should be one of the greatest tasks of anguish which naturally cleave to our existence in wisdom to keep ourselves well when we are so, this world; and am wonderfully pleased with the and never to go out of that which is the agreeable turn in the last sentence, that a virtuous man shall part of our character. as a blessing meet with a friend who is as virtuous as himself. There is another saying in the same author, which would have been very much admired in an Heathen writer: Forsake not an old friend, for the new is not comparable to him: a new friend is as new wine; when it is old thou shalt drink it with pleasure. With what strength of allusion, and force of thought, has he described the breaches and violations of friendship! Whoso casteth a stone at the birds frayeth them away; and be that upbraideth his friend, breaketh friendship. Though thou drawest a sword at a friend, yet despair not, for there may be a returning to favour, If thou hast opened thy mouth against thy friend fear not, for there may be a reconciliation; except for upbraiding, or pride, or disclosing of secrets, or a treacherous wound; for, for these things every friend will depart +.' We may observe in this and several other precepts in this author, those little familiar instances and illustrations which are so much admired in the moral writings of Horace and Epictetus. There are very beautiful instances of this nature in the following passages, which are likewise written upon the same subject: Whoso discovereth secrets, loseth his credit, and shall never find a friend to his mind. Love thy friend, and be faithful unto him; but if thou bewrayest his secrets, follow no more after him: for as a man hath destroyed his enemy, so hast thou lost the love of thy friend; as one that letteth a bird go out of his hand, so hast thou let thy friend go, and shalt not get him again: follow after him no more, for he is too far off; he is as a roe escaped out of the snare. As for a wound it may be bound up, and after reviling there may be a reconciliation; but he that bewrayeth secrets, is without hope ‡.'
Among the several qualifications of a good friend, this wise man has very justly singled out constancy and faithfulness as the principal: to these, others have added virtue, knowledge, discretion, equality in age and fortune, and as Cicero calls it, Morum comitas,' ' a pleasantness of temper.' If I were to give my opinion upon such an exhausted subject, I should join to these other qualifications a certain equability or evenness of behaviour. A man often contracts a friendship with one whom perhaps he does not find out till after a year's conversation; when on a sudden some latent ill-humour breaks out upon him, which he never discovered or sus
Ecclus. ix. 10.
+ Ibid. ix. 20, 21, 22.
Hic segetes, illic veniunt felicius uvæ ;
VIRG. Georg. i. 54
This ground with Bacchus, that with Ceres suits;
(In hopes of palms) a race of running steeds.
THERE is no place in the town which I so much love to frequent as the Royal Exchange. It gives me a secret satisfaction, and in some measure gratifies my vanity, as I am an Englishman, to see so rich an assembly of countrymen and foreigners, Consulting together upon the private business of mankind, and making this metropolis a kind of emporium for the whole earth. I must confess I look upon high-change to be a great council, in which all considerable nations have their representatives. Factors in the trading world are what ambassadors are in the politic world; they nego ciate affairs, conclude treaties, and maintain a good correspondence between those wealthy so cieties of men that are divided from one another by seas and oceans, or live on the different extre mities of a continent. I have often been pleased to hear disputes adjusted between an inhabitant o Japan and an alderman of London, or to see a subject of the Great Mogul entering into a leagu with one of the Czar of Muscovy. I am infinitely delighted in mixing with these several ministers o commerce, as they are distinguished by their diffe rent walks and different languages. Sometimes am justled among a body of Armenians; some times I am lost in a crowd of Jews; and sometime make one in a group of Dutchmen. I am a Dane
er filled with pyramids of China, and adorned with the on workmanship of Japan. Our morning's draught comes to us from the remotest corners of the earth. We repair our bodies by the drugs of America, Iti- and repose ourselves under Indian canopies. My friend Sir Andrew calls the vineyards of France our gardens; the spice-islands, our hot-beds; the Persians our silk-weavers, and the Chinese our potters. Nature indeed furnishes us with the bare of necessaries of life, but traffic gives us a great vaor- riety of what is useful, and at the same time sup*;plies us with every thing that is convenient and tic, ornamental. Nor is it the least part of this our 1 a happiness, that whilst we enjoy the remotest pro ducts of the North and South, we are free from ite those extremities of weather which give them As birth; that our eyes are refreshed with the green lly fields of Britain, at the same time that our palates are feasted with fruits that rise between the any tropics.
For these reasons there are not more useful ks. members in a commonwealth than merchants. see They knit mankind together in a mutual intercourse of good offices, distribute the gifts of naub- ture, find work for the poor, add wealth to the for rich, and magnificence to the great. Our English try merchant converts the tin of his own country into mat- gold, and exchanges its wool for rubies. The Mahometans are clothed in our British manufacture, and the inhabitants of the frozen zone warmed with the fleeces of our sheep.
When I have been upon the 'Change, I have the often fancied one of our old kings standing in person, where he is represented in effigy, and looking 1 be down upon the wealthy concourse of people with nost which that place is every day filled. In this case, it. how would he be surprised to hear all the lanthe guages of Europe spoken in this little spot of his former dominions, and to see so many private men, in- who in his time would have been the vassals of pith some powerful baron, negociating like princes for greater sums of money than were formerly to be s of met with in the royal treasury! Trade, without an enlarging the British territories, has given us a ome kind of additional empire. It has multiplied the The number of the rich, made our landed estates inopet finitely more valuable than they were formerly, coat and added to them an accession of other estates ond as valuable as the lands themselves.
N° 70. MONDAY, MAY 21, 1711.
Interdum vulgus rectum videt.
HOR, 1 Ep. ii. 63.
Sometimes the vulgar see and judge aright.
ater WHEN I travelled, I took a particular delight in our hearing the songs and fables that are come from are father to son, and are most in vogue among the and common people of the countries through which I they passed; for it is impossible that any thing should rash be universally tasted and approved by a multitude, cted though they are only the rabble of a nation, which - sun hath not in it some peculiar aptness to please and ege- gratify the mind of man. Human nature is the face same in all reasonable creatures; and whatever the falls in with it, will meet with admirers amongst ored readers of all qualities and conditions. Moliere, as we are told by Monsieur Boileau, used to read all his comedies to an old woman who was his housekeeper, as she sat with him at her work by
the chimney-corner; and could foretel the success of his play in the theatre, from the reception it met at his fire-side; for he tells us the audience always followed the old woman, and never failed to laugh in the same place.
I know nothing which more shows the essential and inherent perfection of simplicity of thought, above that which I call the Gothic manner in writing, than this, that the first pleases all kinds of palates, and the latter only such as have formed to themselves a wrong artificial taste upon little fanciful authors and writers of epigram. Homer, Virgil, or Milton, so far as the language of their poems is understood, will please a reader of plain common sense, who would neither relish nor comprehend an epigram of Martial, or a poem of Cowley: so, on the contrary, an ordinary song or ballad that is the delight of the common people, cannot fail to please all such readers as are not unqualified for the entertainment by their affectation or ignorance; and the reason is plain, because the same paintings of nature, which recommend it to the most ordinary reader, will appear beautiful
to the most refined.
The old song of Chevy-Chase is the favourite ballad of the common people of England, and Ben Jonson used to say he had rather have been the author of it than of all his works. Sir Philip Sidney, in his discourse of poetry, speaks of it in the following words: I never heard the old song of Percy and Douglas, that I found not my heart more moved than with a trumpet; and yet it is sung by some blind Crowder with no rougher voice than rude style; which being so evil apparelled in the dust and cobweb of that uncivil age, what would it work trimmed in the gorgeous eloquence of Pindar? For my own part, I am so professed em admirer of this antiquated song, that I shall give my reader a critique upon it, without any further apology for so doing.
The greatest modern critics have laid it down as a rule, That an heroic poem should be founded upon some important precept of morality, adapted to the constitution of the country in which the poet writes. Homer and Virgil have formed their plans in this view. As Greece was a collection of many governments, who suffered very much among themselves, and gave the Persian emperor, who was their common enemy, many advantages over them by their mutual jealousies and animosities, Homer, in order to establish among them an union, which was so necessary for their safety, grounds his poem upon the discords of the several Grecian princes who were engaged in a confederacy against an Asiatic prince, and the several advantages which the enemy gained by such their discords. At the time the poem we are now treating of was written, the dissentions of the barons, who were then so many petty princes, ran very high, whether they quarrelled among themselves, or with their neighbours, and produced unspeakable calamities to the country. The poet, to deter men from such unnatural contentions, describes a bloody battle and dreadful scene of death, occasioned by the mutual feuds which reigned in the families of an English and Scotch nobleman. That he designed this for the instruction of his poem, we may learn from his four last lines, in which, after the example of the modern tragedians, he draws from it a precept for the benefit of his readers:
*This serious display of the beauties of Chevy Chase exposed Addison to the ridicule of Wagstaffe, and the contempt of Dennis.... See Johnson's Lives of the English Poets, vol. ii. p. 136, 8vo. 1801.
'God save the king, and bless the land In plenty, joy, and peace; And grant henceforth that foul debate 'Twixt noblemen may cease.'
The next point observed by the greatest heroic which do honour to their country: thus Virgil's poets, hath been to celebrate persons and actions hero was the founder of Rome, Homer's a prince of Greece; and for this reason Valerius Flaccus and Statins, who were both Romans, might be justGolden Fleece, and the Wars of Thebes, for the " ly derided for having chosen the expedition of the subjects of their epic writings.
hero in his own country, but raises the reputation The poet before us has not only found out an of it by several beautiful incidents. The English quit it. The English bring only fifteen hundred to are the first who take the field, and the last who the battle, the Scotch two thousand. The English keep the field with fifty-three; the Scotch retire with fifty-five: all the rest on each side being slain in battle. But the most remarkable circumstance of this kind, is the different manner in which the Scotch and English kings receive the news of this fight and of the great men's deaths who command
ed in it :
This news was brought to Edinburgh,
O heavy news, King James did say,
I have not any captain more
Like tidings to King Henry* came
Now God be with him, said our king,
I trust I have within my realm
'Yet shall not Scot, nor Scotland say,
And be revenged on them all
For brave Lord Percy's sake.
This vow full well the king perform'd
In one day fifty knights were slain,
And of the rest of small account
At the same time that our poet shows a landable partiality to his countrymen, he represents the Scots after a manner not unbecoming so bold and brave a people:
Earl Douglas on a milk-white steed,
His sentiments and actions are every way suitabl to an hero. One of us two, says he, must die: am an earl as well as yourself, so that you ca have no pretence for refusing the combat: hoy ever, says he, it is pity, and indeed would be sin, that so many innocent men should perish f our sakes; rather let you and I end our quarrel single fight:
* The battle of Otterburn (or Chevy Chase) was fou July 31st, 1388; when the King of Scotland was Robert and the King of England Richard II. See Blair's Chronol Plate XLVIII. But here we have James and Henry!
+ It is not easy to discover how this could be. The fie battle was above 300 miles from London, and not 100 Edinburgh.
'O Christ! my very heart doth bleed
For sure a more renowned knight
I shall take another opportunity to consider the г- other parts of this old song *.
That beautiful line, 'Taking the dead man by the
At vero ut vultum vidit morientis, et ora,
'The pious prince beheld young Lausus dead;
el-Tae entire conquest of our passions is so difficult a
formed in innocent, though rude and uncultivated
'He whistled as he went, for want of thought;'
'It happen'd on a summer's holiday,
That to the greenwood-shade he took his way;
he makes him fall into the following scene, and
* See N° 74
By chance conducted, or by thirst constrain'd,
The fool of nature stood with stupid eyes,
But lest this fine description should be excepted against, as the creation of that great master Mr. Dryden, and not an account of what has really ever happened in the world, I shall give you verbatim, the epistle of an enamoured footman in the country to his mistress. Their surnames shall not be inserted, because their passions demand a greater respect than is due to their quality. James is servant in a great family, and Elizabeth waits upon the daughter of one as numerous, some miles off her lover. James, before he beheld Betty, was vain of his strength, a rough wrestler, and quarrelsome cudgel-player; Betty a public-dancer at may-poles, a romp at stool-ball; he always following idle women, she playing among the peasants; he a country bully, she a country coquette. But love has made her constantly in her mistress's chamber, where the young lady gratifies a secret passion of her own, by making Betty talk of James; and James is become a constant waiter near his master's apartment, in reading, as well as he can, romances. I cannot learn who Molly is, who it seems walked ten miles to carry the angry message, which gave
occasion to what follows.
'CAN you then neglect him who has forgot all his recreations and enjoyments, to pine away his life in thinking of you? When I do so, you appear more amiable to me than Venus does in the most beautiful description that ever was made of her. All this kindness you return with an accusation, that I do not love you: but the contrary is so manifest, that I cannot think you in earnest. But the certainty given me in your message by Molly, that you do not love me, is what robs me of all comfort. She says you will not see me: if you can have so much cruelty, at least write to me, that I may kiss the impression made by your fair hand. I love you above all things; and in my condition, what you look upon with indifference is to me the most exquisite pleasure or pain. Our young lady and a fine gentleman from London, who are to marry for mercenary ends, walk about our gardens, and hear the voice of evening nightingales, as if for fashion-sake they courted those solitudes, because they have heard lovers do so. Oh Betty! could I hear these rivulets murmur, and birds sing. while you stood near me, how little sensible should be that we are both servants, that there is any thing on earth above us! Oh! I could write to you as long as I love you, till death itself.
REMEMBER your bleeding lover, who lies bleed-I ing at the wounds Cupid made with the arrow he borrowed at the eyes of Venus, which is your
Nay more, with the token you sent me for my love and service offered to your sweet person; which was your base respects to my ill conditions; when alas! there is no ill conditions in me, but quite contrary; all love and purity, especially to your sweet person; but all this I take as a jest.
But the sad and dismal news which Molly brought me struck me to the heart, which was it seems, and is, your ill conditions for my love and respects to you.
For she told me, if I came forty times to you, you would not speak with me, which words I am sure is a great grief to me.
Now my dear, if I may not be permitted to your sweet company, and to have the happiness of speaking with your sweet person, I beg the favour of you to accept of this my secret mind and thoughts, which hath so long lodged in my breast, the which if you do not accept, I believe will go nigh to break my heart.
For indeed, my dear, I love you above all the beauties I ever saw in all my life.
*This man's name (Mr. Nichols informs us) was James Hirst, who was a servant to the Hon. Edward Wortley, Esq. and, in delivering a parcel of letters to his master, gave by mistake this letter, which he had just prepared for his sweetheart, and kept in its stead one of his master's. He quickly daugh-returned to rectify the blunder, but it was too late. tunately the letter to Betty was the first that presented itsel to Mr. Wortley, who had indulged his curiosity in reading the love-tale of his enamoured footman. James requested to have it returned, in vain. "No James," said his master," yo shall be a great man, and this letter must appear in the Spectator."
The young gentleman, and my master's ter, the Londoner that is come down to marry her, sat in the arbour most part of last night. Oh, dear Betty, must the nightingales sing to those who marry for money, and not to us true lovers! Oh, my dear Betty, that we could meet this night where we used to do in the wood!
Now, my dear, if I may not have the blessing of kissing your sweet lips, I beg I may have the happiness of kissing your fair hand, with a few lines from you dear self, presented by whom you please or think fit. I believe if time would permit
James succeeded in putting an end to Betty's ill con ditions, and obtained her consent to marry him; but the marriage was prevented by her sudden death. James Hirst soon after, from his regard and love for Betty, married her sister, and died (about 1776) by Pennistone, in the neighcessor was probably the Molly who walked ten miles to carry bourhood of Wortley, near Leeds. Betty's sister and sucthe angry message which occasioned the preceding letter.'