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rock of adamant. The genius making me no answer, I turned about to address myself to him a second time, but I found that he had left me: I then turned again to the vision which I had been so long contemplating; but instead of the rolling tide, the arched bridge, and the happy islands, I saw nothing but the long hollow valley of Bagdad, with oxen, sheep, and camels, grazing upon the sides of it." C.
The End of the First Vision of Mirza.
No. 160.] MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 3, 1711.
Magna sonaturum des nominis hujus honorem.
On him confer the Poet's sacred name,
THERE is no character more frequently given to a writer, than that of being a genius. I have heard many a little sonnetteer called a fine genius. There is not a heroic scribbler in the nation, that has not his admirers who think him a great genius; and as for your smatterers in tragedy, there is scarce a man among them who is not cried up by one or other for a prodigious genius.
My design in this paper is to consider what is properly a great genius, and throw some thoughts together on so uncommon a subject.
Among great geniuses, those few draw the admiration of all the world upon them, and stand up as the prodigies of mankind, who by the mere strength of natural parts, and without any assist ance of art or learning, have produced works that were the delight of their own times, and the wonder of posterity. There appears something nobly wild and extravagant in these great natural geniuses, that is infinitely more beautiful than all turn and polishing of what the French call a bel esprit, by which they would express a genius refined by conversation, reflection, and the reading of the most polite authors. The greatest genius which runs through the arts and sciences, takes a kind of tincture from them, and falls unavoidably
Many of these great natural geniuses that were never disciplined and broken by rules of art, are to be found among the ancients, and in particular among those of the more eastern parts of the world. Homer has innumerable flights that Virgil was not able to reach; and in the Old Testament we find several passages more elevated and sublime than any in Homer. At the same time that we allow a greater and more daring genius to the ancients, we must own that the greatest of them very much failed in, or, if you will, that they were much above, the nicety and correctness of the moderns. In their similitudes and allusions, provided there was a likeness, they did not much trouble themselves about the decency of the comparison: thus Solomon resembles the nose of his beloved to the tower of Lebanon, which looketh toward Damascus; as the coming of a thief in the night, is a similitude of the same kind in the New Testament. It would be endless to make collections of this nature; Homer illustrates one of his heroes encompassed with the enemy, by an ass in a field of corn that has his sides belabored by all the boys of the village without stirring a foot for and another of them tossing to and fro in his bed and burning with resentment, to a piece of flesh broiled on the coals. This particular failure in the ancients opens a large field of raillery to the little wits, who can laugh at an indecency, but not relish the sublime in these sorts of writing. The present emperor of Persia, conformably to
this eastern way of thinking, amidst a great pompous titles, denominates himself "the s glory," and "the nutmeg of delight." In to cut off all caviling against the ancients particularly those of the warmer climates. had most heat and life in their imagination are to consider that the rule of observing wh French call the bienséance in an allusion, has found out of later years, and in the colder r of the world; where we could make some a for our want of force and spirit, by a scrup nicety and exactness in our compositions. countryman, Shakspeare, was a remarkab stance of this first kind of great geniuses.
I cannot quit this head without observin Pindar was a great genius of the first class was hurried on by a natural fire and impet to vast conceptions of things and noble sall imagination. At the same time, can anythi more ridiculous than for men of a sober and rate fancy to imitate this poet's way of w in those monstrous compositions which go a us under the name of Pindarics? When people copying works, which, as Horace has sented them, are singular in their kind, and table; when I see men following irregularit rule, and by the little tricks of art straining the most unbounded flights of nature, I but apply to them that passage in Terence:
-Incerta hæc si tu postules Ratione certa facere, nihilo plus agas, Quam si des operam, ut cum ratione insania EUN., act 1, You may as well pretend to be mad and in your
the same time, as to think of reducing these uncertain to any certainty by reason.
In short, a modern Pindaric writer, con with Pindar, is like a sister among the Cam compared with Virgil's Sibyl: there is the tion, grimace, and outward figure, but noth that divine impulse which raises the mind itself, and makes the sounds more than hum
There is another kind of great geniuses I shall place in a second class, not as I them inferior to the first, but only for distin sake, as they are of a different kind. The class of great geniuses are those that have i themselves by rules, and submitted the gre of their natural talents to the corrections a straints of art. Such among the Greeks Plato and Aristotle; among the Romans, and Tully; among the English, Milton a Francis Bacon.
The genius in both these classes of autho be equally great, but shows itself after a di manner. In the first, it is like a rich soi happy climate, that produces a whole wild of noble plants rising in a thousand be landscapes without any certain order or regi In the other it is the same rich soil under th happy climate, that has been laid out in wal parterres, and cut into shape and beauty skill of the gardener.
The great danger in the latter kind of geni lest they cramp their own abilities too mu imitation, and form themselves altogether models, without giving the full play to the
More commonly known by the name of the Fre phets, a set of enthusiasts originally of the Ceve France, who came into England about the year 1707, at first a considerable number of votaries. A fuller of the rise and progress of this strange sect may be from two pamphlets: one in French, entitled "Le
sacre de Cevennes, ou Recit de diverses Merveilles n
ment operées dans cette Partie de la Province de Lar plucked from the Burning; exemplified in the unpa Lond., 1707, 12mo." The other in English, viz. "A case of Samuel Keimer, etc., London, 1718, 12mo."
natural parts. An imitation of the best authors, is not to compare with a good original; and I believe we may observe that very few writers make an extraordinary figure in the world, who have not something in their way of thinking or expressing themselves, that is peculiar to them, and entirely their own.
It is odd, to consider what great geniuses are sometimes thrown away upon trifles.
"I once saw a shepherd," says a famous Italian author, "who used to divert himself in his solitudes with tossing up eggs and catching them again without breaking them: in which he had arrived to so great a degree of perfection, that he would keep up four at a time for several minutes together playing in the air, and falling into his hands by turns. I think," says the author, "I never saw a greater severity than in the man's face; for by his wonderful perseverance and application, he had contracted the seriousness and gravity of a privy-counselor; and I could not but reffect with myself, that the same assiduity and attention, had they been rightly applied, 'might'* have made him a greater mathematician than Archimedes."
breaking one another's heads in order to make some impression on their mistress' hearts. I observed a lusty young fellow, who had the misfortune of a broken pate; but what considerably added to the anguish of the wound, was his overhearing an old man who shook his head, and said, That he questioned now if Black Kate would marry him these three years.' I was diverted from a farther observation of these combatants by a foot-ball match, which was on the other side of the green: where Tom Short behaved himself so well, that most people seemed to agree, it was impossible that he should remain a bachelor until the next wake.' Having played many a match myself, I could have looked longer on this sport, had I not observed a country girl, who was posted on an eminence at some distance from me, and was making so many odd grimaces, and writhing and distorting her whole body in so strange a manner, as made me very desirous to know the meaning of it. Upon my coming up to her, I found that she was overlooking a ring of wrestlers, and that her sweetheart, a person of small stature, was contending with a huge brawny fellow, who twirled him about, and shook the little man so violently, that by a secret sympathy of hearts it produced all those agitations in the person of his mistress,
No. 161.] TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 4, 1711. who, I dare say, like Celia in Shakspeare on the
Ipse dies agitat festos, fususque per herbam,
VIRG. Georg., ii, 527.
Himself, in rustic pomp, on holydays,
I AM glad that my late going into the country
same occasion, could have wished herself invisible to catch the strong fellow by the leg.'* The 'squire of the parish treats the whole company every year with a hogshead of ale; and proposes a beaver hat as a recompense to him who gives most falls. This has raised such a spirit of emulation in the youth of the place, that some of them have rendered themselves very expert at this exercise! and I was often surprised to see a fellow's heels fly up, by a trip which was given him so smartly that I could scarcely discern it. I found that the old wrestlers seldom entered the ring until some one was grown formidable by having thrown two or three of his opponents; but kept themselves as it were a reserved body to defend the hat, which is always hung up by the person who gets it in one of the most conspicuous parts of the house, and looked upon by the whole family as redounding much more to their honor than a coat of arms. There was a fellow who was so busy in regulating all the ceremonies, and seemed to carry such an air of importance in his looks, that I could not help inquiring who he was, and was immediately answered, That he did not value himself upon nothing, for that he and his ancestors had won so "Though you are pleased to retire from us so many hats, that his parlor looked like a habersoon into the city, I hope you will not think the dasher's shop.' However, this thirst of glory in affairs of the country altogether unworthy of your them all was the reason that no one man stood inspection for the future. I had the honor of see-lord of the ring' for above three falls while I was ing your short face at Sir Roger de Coverley's, and have ever since thought your person and writings both extraordinary. Had you stayed there a few days longer, you would have seen a country wake, which you know in most parts of England is the eve-feast of the dedication of our churches. I was last week at one of these assemblies which was held in a neighboring parish; where I found their green covered with a promiscuous multitude of all ages and both sexes, who esteem one another more or less the following part of the year, according as they distinguish them selves at this time. The whole company were in their holiday clothes, and divided into several parties, all of them endeavoring to show themselves in those exercises wherein they excelled, and to gain the approbation of the lookers-on.
"I found a ring of cudgel players, who were "Would," Spect. in folio.
The young maids who were not lookers-on at these exercises, were themselves engaged in some diversion; and upon my asking a farmer's son of my own parish what he was gazing at with so much attention, he told me, 'That he was seeing Betty Welch,' whom I knew to be his sweetheart, pitch a bar.'
"In short, I found the men endeavored to show the women they were no cowards, and that the whole company strove to recommend themselves to each other, by making it appear that they were all in a perfect state of health, and fit to undergo any fatigues of bodily labor.
"Your judgment upon this method of love and gallantry, as it is at present practiced among us in the country, will very much oblige, 'Sir, yours," etc.
"As You Like it," act i, sc. 6.
-Servetur ad imum,
Qualis ab incepto processerit, et sibi constet.
Keep one consistent plan from end to end.
appear so contemptible and little in the ey the world as inconstancy, especially when gards religion or party. In either of these though a man perhaps does but his duty in ing his side, he not only makes himself hat those he left, but is seldom heartily esteem
those he comes over to.
If I would here put on the scholar and politi- No. 162.] WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 5, cian, I might inform my readers how these bodily exercises or games were formerly encouraged in all the commonwealths of Greece; from whence the Romans afterward borrowed their pentathlum, which was composed of running, wrestling, leaping, throwing, and boxing, though the prizes were generally nothing but a crown of cypress or parsley, hats not being in fashion in those days: that there is an old statute, which obliges every man in England, having such an estate, to keep and exercise the long-bow: by which means our ancestors excelled all other nations in the use of that weapon, and we had all the real advantages, without the inconvenience of a standing army; and that I once met with a book of projects, in which the author considering to what noble ends that spirit of emulation, which so remarkably shows itself among our common people in these wakes, might be directed, proposes that for the improvement of all our handicraft trades there should be annual prizes set up for such persons as were most excellent in their several arts. But laying aside all these political considerations, which might tempt me to pass the limits of my paper, I confess the greatest benefit and convenience that I can observe in these country festivals, is the bring ing young people together, and giving them an opportunity of showing themselves in the most advantageous light. A country fellow that throws his rival upon his back, has generally as good success with their common mistress; as nothing
is more usual than for a nimble-footed wench to get a husband at the same time that she wins a smock. Love and marriages are the natural effects of these anniversary assemblies. I must therefore very much approve the method by which my correspondent tells me each sex endeavors to recommend itself to the other, since nothing seems more likely to promise a healthy offspring, or a happy cohabitation. And I believe I may assure my country friend, that there has been many a court lady who would be contented to exchange her crazy young husband for Tom Short, and several men of quality who would have parted with a tender yoke-fellow for Black Kate.
I am the more pleased with having love made the principal end and design of these meetings, as it seems to be most agreeable to the intent for which they were at first instituted, as we are informed by the learned Dr. Kennet, with whose words I shall conclude my present paper.
"These wakes," says he, "were in imitation of the ancient love-feasts; and were first established in England by Pope Gregory the Great, who, in an epistle to Melitus the abbot, gave orders that they should be kept in sheds or arbories made up with the branches or boughs of trees around the
He adds, "that this laudable custom of wakes prevailed for many ages, until the nice Puritans began to exclaim against it as a remnant of popery; and by degrees the precise humor grew so popular, that at an Exeter assizes the Lord Chief Baron Walter made an order for the suppression of all wakes; but on Bishop Laud's complaining of this innovating humor, the king commanded the order to be reversed."-X.
*In his Parochial Antiquities, 4to., 1695, p. 610, 614.
In these great articles of life, therefore, a conviction ought to be very strong, and if ble so well timed, that worldly advantage: seem to have no share in it, or mankind v ill-natured enough to think he does not c sides out of principle, but either out of lev Convert temper, or prospects of interest. renegadoes of all kinds should take part care to let the world see they act upon hon motives: or, whatever approbations they m ceive from themselves, and applauses from they converse with, they may be very well as that they are the scorn of all good men, an public marks of infamy and derision.
Irresolution on the schemes of life which
themselves to our choice, and inconstan pursuing them, are the greatest and most u sal causes of all our disquiet and unhapp When ambition pulls one way, interest an inclination a third, and perhaps reason co to all, a man is likely to pass his time but i has so many different parties to please. the mind hovers among such a variety of ments, one had better settle on a way of li is not the very best we might have chosen grow old without determining our choice, out of the world as the greatest part of ma do, before we have resolved how to live There is but one method of setting ourselves in this particular, and that is by adhering fastly to one great end as the chief and u aim of all our pursuits. If we are firmly re to live up to the dictates of reason, witho regard to wealth, reputation, or the like con tions, any more than as they fall in wi principal design, we may go through lif steadiness and pleasure; but if we act by broken views, and will not only be virtuo wealthy, popular, and everything that has set upon it by the world, we shall live and misery and repentance.
One would take more than ordinary guard one's self against this particular im tion, because it is that which our natur strongly inclines us to; for if we exami selves thoroughly, we shall find that we most changeable beings in the universe. spect of our understanding, we often embra reject the very same opinions; whereas above and beneath us have probably no o at all, or, at least, no wavering and uncertai those they have. Our superiors are guided tuition, and our inferiors by instinct. of our wills, we fall into crimes and recover them, are amiable or odious in the eyes great Judge, and pass our whole life in of and asking pardon. On the contrary, the underneath us are not capable of sinning, n above us of repenting. The one is out possibilities of duty, and the other fixed eternal course of sin, or an eternal co virtue.
There is scarce a state of life, or stag
which does not produce changes and revolutions in the mind of man. Our schemes of thought in infancy are lost in those of youth; these too take a different turn in manhood, until old age often leads us back into our former infancy. A new title or an unexpected success throws us out of ourselves, and in a manner destroys our identity. A cloudy day, or a little sunshine, have as great an influence on many constitutions, as the most real blessing or misfortunes. A dream varies our being, and changes our condition while it lasts; and every passion, not to mention health and sickness, and the greater alterations in body and mind, makes us appear almost different creatures. If a man is so distinguished among other beings by this infirmity, what can we think of
such as make themselves remarkable for it even among their own species? It is a very trifling character to be one of the most variable beings of the most variable kind, especially if we consider that he who is the great standard of perfection has in him no shadow of change, but "is the same yesterday, to-day, and forever."
As this mutability of temper and inconsistency with ourselves is the greatest weakness of human nature, so it makes the person who is remarkable for it in a very particular manner, more ridiculous than any other infirmity whatsoever, as it sets him in a greater variety of foolish lights, and distinguishes him from himself by an opposition of party-colored characters. The most humorous character in Horace is founded upon this unevenness of temper, and irregularity of conduct:
Ille Tigellius hoc: Cæsar, qui cogere posset,
Instead of translating this passage in Horace, I shall entertain my English reader with the description of a parallel character, that is wonderfully well finished by Mr. Dryden, and raised upon the same foundation:
In the first rank of these did Zimri stand:
this world is contentment; if we aim at anything higher, we shall meet with nothing but grief and disappointment. A man should direct all his studies and endeavors at making himself easy now, and happy hereafter.
The truth of it is, if all the happiness that is dispersed through the whole race of mankind in this world were drawn together, and put into the possession of any single man, it would not make a very happy being. Though, on the contrary, if the miseries of the whole species were fixed in a single person, they would make a very miserable one.
I am engaged in this subject by the following letter, which, though subscribed by a fictitious name, I have reason to believe is not imaginary : MR. SPECTATOR,
"I am one of your disciples, and endeavor to live up to your rules, which I hope will incline you to pity my condition. I shall open it to you in a very few words. About three years since, a gentleman, whom I am sure, you yourself would have approved, made his addresses to me. He had everything to recommend him but an estate; so that my friends, who all of them applauded his person, would not for the sake of both of us favor his passion. For my own part, I resigned myself up entirely to the direction of those who knew the world much better than myself, but still lived in hopes that some juncture or other would make me happy in the man whom, in my heart, I preferred to all the world; being determined, if I could not have him, to have nobody else. About three months ago I received a letter from him, acquainting me, that by the death of an uncle he had a considerable estate left him, which he said was welcome to him upon no other account, but as he hoped it would remove all difficulties that lay in the way to our mutual happiness. You may well suppose, Sir, with how much joy I received this letter, which was followed by several others filled with those expressions of love and joy, which I verily believed nobody felt more sincerely, nor knew better how to describe, than the gentleman I am speaking of. But, Sir, how shall I be able to tell it you! by the last week's post I received a letter from an intimate friend of this unhappy gentleman, acquainting me, that as he had just settled his affairs, and was preparing for his journey, he fell sick of a fever and died. It is impossible to express to you the distress I am in upon this occasion. I can only have recourse to my devotions, and to the reading of good books for my consolation; and as I always take a particular delight in those frequent advices and admonitions which you give the public, it would be a very great piece of charity in you to lend me your assistance in this conjuncture. If, after the reading of this letter, you find yourself in a humor, rather to rally and ridicule, than to comfort me, I desire you would throw it into the fire, and think no more of it; but if you are touched with my misfortune, which is greater than I know
No. 163.] THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 6, 1711. how to bear, your counsels may very much sup
-Si quid ego adjuero, curamve levasso
Que nunc te coquit, et versat sub pectore fixa,
And ease the torture of your troubled breast?
INQUIRIES after happiness, and rules for attaining it, are not so necessary and useful to mankind as the arts of consolation, and supporting one's self under affliction. The utmost we can hope for in
*From Dryden's "Absalom and Achitophel." Perhaps it is needless to mention, that this character was meant for George Villers, duke of Buckingham, author of the Rehearsal.
port and will infinitely oblige the afflicted
A disappointment in love is more hard to get over than any other; the passion itself so softens and subdues the heart, that it disables it from struggling or bearing up against the woes and disother misfortunes in her whole strength; she tresses which befall it. The mind meets with stands collected within herself, and sustains the shock with all the force which is natural to her; but a heart in love has its foundation sapped, and
immediately sinks under the weight of accidents that are disagreeable to its favorite passion.
In afflictions men generally draw their consolations out of books of morality, which indeed are of great use to fortify and strengthen the mind against the impressions of sorrow. Monsieur St. Evremont, who does not approve of this method, recommends authors who are apt to stir up mirth in the mind of the readers, and fancies Don Quixote can give more relief to a heavy heart than Plutarch or Seneca, as it is much easier to divert grief than to conquer it. This doubtless may have its effects on some tempers. I should rather have recourse to authors of a quite contrary kind, that give us instances of calamities and misfortunes, and show human nature in its greatest distresses. If the afflictions we groan under be very heavy, we shall find some consolation in the society of as great sufferers as ourselves, especially when we find our companions men of virtue and merit. If our afflictions are light, we shall be comforted by the comparison we make between ourselves and our fellow-sufferers. A loss at sea, a fit of sickness, or the death of a friend, are such trifles, when we consider whole kingdoms laid in ashes, families put to the sword, wretches shut up in dungeons, and the like calamities of mankind, that we are out of countenance for our own weakness, if we sink under such little strokes of for
Let the disconsolato Leonora consider, that at the very time in which she languishes for the loss of her deceased lover, there are persons in several parts of the world just perishing in shipwreck; others crying out for mercy in the terrors of a death-bed repentance; others lying under the tortures of an infamous execution, or the like dreadful calamities; and she will find her sorrows vanish at the appearance of those which are so much greater and more astonishing.
I would farther propose to the consideration of my afflicted disciple, that possibly what she now looks upon as the greatest misfortune, is not really such in itself. For my own part, I question not but our souls in a separate state will look back on their lives in quite another view, than what they had of them in the body; and what they now consider as misfortunes and disappointments, will very often appear to have been escapes and blessings.
The mind that hath any cast toward devotion, naturally flies to it in its afflictions.
When I was in France I heard a very remarkable story of two lovers, which I shall relate at length in my to-morrow's paper, not only because the circumstances of it are extraordinary, but because it may serve as an illustration to all that can be said on this last head, and show the power of religion in abating that particular anguish which seems to lie so heavily on Leonora. The story was told me by a priest, as I traveled with him in a stage-coach. I shall give it my reader as well as I can remember, in his own words, after I have premised, that if consolations may be drawn from a wrong religion, and a misguided devotion, they cannot but flow much more naturally from those which are founded upon reason and established in good sense.-L.
No. 164.] FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 7,1
Then thus the bride: What fury seiz'd on thee, Unhappy man! to lose thyself and me? And now farewell! involv'd in shades of night, Forever I am ravish'd from thy sight: In vain I reach my feeble hands to join In sweet embraces, ah! no longer thine.-DRYDEN, CONSTANTIA was a woman of extraordina and beauty, but very unhappy in a fathe having arrived at great riches by his own try, took delight in nothing but his money. dosius* was the younger son of a decayed: of great parts and learning improved by a and virtuous education. When he was twentieth year of his age he became acquainte Constantia, who had not then passed her fif As he lived but a few miles distant fro father's house, he had frequent opportunit seeing her; and by the advantages of a got son and pleasing conversation, made such pression on her heart as it was impossible f to efface. He was himself no less smitte Constantia. A long acquaintance made the discover new beauties in each other, and grees raised in them that mutual passion had an influence on their following lives. fortunately happened, that in the midst intercourse of love and friendship, between dosius and Constantia, there broke out a parable quarrel between their parents, th valuing himself too much upon his birth, a other upon his possessions. The father o stantia was so incensed at the father of T sius, that he contracted an unreasonable av toward his son, insomuch that he forbade h house, and charged his daughter, upon her never to see him more. In the meanti break off all communication between th lovers, whom he knew entertained secret ho some favorable opportunity that should them together, he found out a young gen of good fortune and an agreeable person, wi pitched upon as a husband for his daughte soon concerted this affair so well, that b Constantia it was his design to marry her t a gentleman, and that her wedding sho celebrated on such a day. Constantia, w overawed with the authority of her fath unable to object anything against so advant a match, received the proposal with a pr silence, which her father commended in the most decent manner of a virgin's givi consent to an overture of that kind. Th of this intended marriage soon reached T sius, who, after a long tumult of passions, naturally rise in a lover's heart on such a sion, wrote the following letter to Constant