« VorigeDoorgaan »
men addicted to delights, business is an interruption; to such as are cold to delights, business is an entertainment. For which reason it was said to one who commended a dull man for his application, "No thanks to him; if he had no business, he would have nothing to do."-T
that passion. Sappho tried the cure, but perishol in the experiment.
After having given this short account of Sappho, so far as it regards the following ode, I shall subjoin the translation of it as it was sent me by a friend whose admirable Pastorals and Winterpiece have been already so well received. The reader will find in it that pathetic simplicity, which is so peculiar to him, and so suitable to the
No. 223.] THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 15, 1711. ode he has here translated. This ode in the Greek
Apparent rari nantes in gurgite vasto.
VIRG. Æn., i, ver. 122. One here and there floats on the vast abyss. Among the mutilated poets of antiquity there is none whose fragments are so beautiful as those of Sappho. They give us a taste of her way of writing, which is perfectly conformable with that extraordinary character we find of her in the remarks of those great critics who were conversant with her works when they were entire. One may see by what is left of them, that she followed nature in all her thoughts, without descending to those little points, conceits, and turns of wit with which many of our modern lyrics are so miserably infected. Her soul seems to have been made up of love and poetry. She felt the passion in all its warmth, and described it in all its symptoms. She is called by ancient authors the tenth muse; and by Plutarch is compared to Cacus the son of Vulcan, who breathed out nothing but flame. I do not know by the character that is given of her works, whether it is not for the benefit of mankind that they are lost. They are filled with such bewitching tenderness and rapture, that it might have been dangerous to have given them a reading.
An inconstant lover, called Phaon, occasioned great calamities to this poetical lady. She fell desperately in love with him, and took a voyage into Sicily, in pursuit of him, he having withdrawn himself thither on purpose to avoid her. It was in that island, and on this occasion, she is supposed to have made the Hymn to Venus, with a translation of which I shall present my reader. Her Hymn was ineffectual for procuring that happiness which she prayed for in it. Phaon was still obdurate, and Sappho so transported with the violence of her passion, that she was resolved to get rid of it at any price.
There was a promontory in Acarnania called Leucate, on the top of which was a little temple dedicated to Apollo. In this temple it was usual for despairing lovers to make their vows in secret, and afterward to fling themselves from the top of the precipice into the sea, where they were some times taken up alive. This place was therefore called the Lover's Leap; and whether or no the fright they had been in, or the resolution that could push them to so dreadful a remedy, or the bruises which they often received in their fall, banished all the tender sentiments of love, and gave their spirits another turn; those who had taken this leap were observed never to relapse into
(beside those beauties observed by Madam Dacier) has several harmonious turns in the words, which are not lost in the English. I must further add, that the translation has preserved every image and sentiment of Sappho, notwithstanding it has all the ease and spirit of an original. In a word, if the ladies have a mind to know the manner of writing practiced by the so much celebrated Sappho, they may here see it in its genuine and natural beauty, without any foreign or affected ornaments.
A HYMN TO VENUS.
O VENUS, beauty of the skies,
If ever thou hast kindly heard
Thou once didst leave almighty Jove,
The birds dismiss'd (while you remain)
What frenzy in my bosom rag'd, And by what cure to be assuag'd What gentle youth I would allure, Whom in my artful toils secure? Who does thy tender heart subdue, Tell me, my Sappho, tell me who?
Though now he shuns thy longing arms,
Celestial visitant, once more Thy needful presence I implore! In pity come, and ease my grief, Bring my distemper'd soul relief, Favor thy suppliant's hidden fires, And give me all my heart desires. Madam Dacier observes, there is something very pretty in that circumstance of this ode, wherat. Venus is described as sending away her char upon her arrival at Sappho's fodgings, to denote that it was not a short transient visit which she intended to make her. This ode was preserved by an eminent Greek critic, who inserted it entire in his works, as a pattern of perfection in the structure of it.
Longinus has quoted another ode of this great poetess, which is likewise admirable in its kind, and has been translated by the same hand with the foregoing one. I shall oblige my reader with it in another paper. In the meanw anwhile. I cannot but wonder, that these two finished pieces hare never been attempted before by any of our own
countrymen. But the truth of it is, the compositions of the ancients, which have not in them any of those unnatural witticisms that are the delight of ordinary readers, are extremely difficult to render into another tongue, so as the beauties of the original may not appear weak and faded in the translation.--C.
No. 224.] FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 16, 1711.
-Fulgente trahit constrictos gloria curru
Ir we look abroad upon the great multitude of mankind, and endeavor to trace out the principles of action in every individual, it will, I think, seem highly probable, that ambition runs through the whole species, and that every man, in proportion to the vigor of his complexion, is more or less actuated by it. It is, indeed, no uncommon thing to meet with men, who by the natural bent of their inclinations, and without the discipline of philosophy, aspire not to the heights of power and grandeur; who never set their hearts upon a numerous train of clients and dependencies, nor other gay appendages of greatness; who are contented with a competency, and will not molest their tranquillity to gain an abundance. But it is not therefore to be concluded that such a man is not ambitious; his desires may have cut out another channel, and determined him to other pursuits; the motive however, may be still the same; and in these cases likewise the man may be equally pushed on with the desire of distinction. Though the pure consciousness of worthy actions, abstracted from the views of popular applause, be to a generous mind an ample reward, yet the desire of distinction was doubtless implanted in our natures as an additional incentive to exert ourselves in virtuous excellence.
This passion, indeed, like all others, is frequently perverted to evil and ignoble purposes: so that we may account for many of the excellencies and follies of life upon the same innate principle, to wit, the desire of being remarkable: for this, as it has been differently cultivated by education, study, and converse, will bring forth suitable effects as it falls in with an ingenuous disposition, or a corrupt mind. It does accordingly express itself in acts of magnanimity or selfish cunning, as it meets with a good or a weak understanding. As it has been employed in embellishing the mind, or adorning the outside, it renders the man eminently praiseworthy or ridiculous. Ambition therefore is not to be confined only to one passion or pursuit; for as the same humors in constitutions, otherwise different, affect the body after different manners, so the same as piring principle within us sometimes breaks forth upon one object, sometimes upon another.
It cannot be doubted, but that there is as great a desire of glory in a ring of wrestlers or cudgelplayers, as in any other more refined competition for superiority. No man that could avoid it, would ever suffer his head to be broken but out of a principle of honor. This is the secret spring that pushes them forward; and the superiority which they gain above the undistinguished many, does more than repair those wounds they have received in the combat. It is Mr. Waller's opinion, that Julius Caesar, had he not been master of the Roman empire, would, in all probability, have made an excellent wrestler:
Great Julius, on the mountains bred,
That he subdued the world, was owing to the accidents of art and knowledge; had he not met with those advantages, the same sparks of emulation would have kindled within him, and prompted him to distinguish himself in some enterprise of a lower nature. Since therefore no man's fot is so unalterably fixed in this life, but that a thousand accidents may either forward or disappoint his advancement, it is, methinks, a pleasant and inoffensive speculation, to consider a great man as divested of all the adventitious circumstances of fortune, and to bring him down in one's imagination to that low station of life, the nature of which bears some distant resemblance to that high one he is at present possessed of. Thus one may view him exercising in miniature those talents of nature, which being drawn out by education to their full length, enable him for the discharge of some important employment. On the other hand, one may raise uneducated merit to such a pitch of greatness, as may seem equal to the possible extent of his improved capacity.
Thus nature furnishes man with a general appetite of glory, education determines it to this or that particular object. The desire of distinction is not, I think, in any instance more observable than in the variety of outsides and new appearances, which the modish part of the world are obliged to provide, in order to make themselves remarkable; for anything glaring and particular, either in behavior or apparel, is known to have this good effect, that it catches the eye, and will not suffer you to pass over the person so adorned without due notice and observation. It has likewise, upon this account, been frequently resented as a very great slight, to leave any gentleman out of a lampoon or satire, who has as much right to be there as his neighbor, because it supposes the person not eminent enough to be taken notice of. To this passionate fondness for distinction are owing various frolicsome and irregular practices, as sallying out into nocturnal exploits, breaking of windows, singing of catches, beating the watch, getting drunk twice a day, killing a great number of horses; with many other enterprises of the like fiery nature; for certainly many a man is more rakish and extravagant than he would willingly be, were there not others to look on and give their approbation.
One very common, and at the same time the most absurd ambition that ever showed itself in human nature, is that which comes upon a man with experience and old age, the season when it might be expected he should be wisest; and therefore it cannot receive any of those lessening circumstances which do, in some measure, excuse the disorderly ferments of youthful blood; I mean the passion for getting money, exclusive of the character of the provident father, the affectionate husband, or the generous friend. It may be remarked, for the comfort of honest poverty, that this desire reigns most in those who have but few good qualities to recommend them. This is a weed that will grow in a barren soil. Humanity, good-nature, and the advantages of a liberal education, are incompatible with avarice. It is strange to see how suddenly this abject passion kills all the noble sentiments and generous ambitions that adorn human nature; it renders the man who is overrun with it a peevish and cruel master, a severe parent, and unsociable husband, a distant and mistrustful friend. But it is more
to the present purpose to consider it as an absurd passion of the heart, rather than as a vicious affection of the mind. As there are frequent instances to be met with of a proud humility, so this passion, contrary to most others, affects applause, by avoiding all show and appearance: for this reason it will not sometimes endure even the common decencies of apparel. "A covetous man will call himself poor, that you may soothe his vanity by contradicting him." Love and the desire of glory, as they are the most natural, so they are capable of being refined into the most delicate and rational passions. It is true, the wise man who strikes out of the secret paths of a private life, for honor and dignity, allured by the splendor of a court, and the unfelt weight of public
have neither mistaken our course, nor fallen int calamities of our own procuring.
Religion therefore (were we to consider it n further than as it interposes in the affairs of thi life) is highly valuable, and worthy of great vene ration; as it settles the various pretensions, an otherwise interfering interests of mortal men, an thereby consults the harmony and order of th great community; as it gives a man room to pla his part and exert his abilities; as it animates t actions truly laudable in themselves, in their e fects beneficial to society; as it inspires ration ambition, correct love and elegant desire.-Z.
employment, whether he succeeds in his attempts No. 225.] SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 171
or no, usually comes near enough to this painted
Nullum numen abest si sit prudentia.-
I HAVE often thought if the minds of men we laid open, we should see but little difference b tween that of the wise man, and that of the for There are infinite reveries, numberless extrav gances, and a perpetual train of vanities whi pass through both. The great difference is, th the first knows how to pick and cull his though for conversation, by suppressing some, and co municating others; whereas the other lets them indifferently fly out in words. This sort of d cretion, however, has no place in private conve sation between intimate friends. On such oc sions the wisest men very often talk like t weakest; for indeed the talking with a friend nothing else but thinking aloud.
It may be thought then but common prudence in a man not to change a better state for a worse, nor ever to quit that which he knows he shall take up again with pleasure; and yet if human life be not a little moved with the gentle gales of hopes and fears, there may be some danger of its stagnating in an unmanly indolence and security. It is a known story of Domitian, that after he had possessed himself of the Roman empire, his desires turned upon catching flies. Active and masculine spirits in the vigor of youth neither can nor ought to remain at rest. If they debar themselves from aiming at a noble object, their desires will move downward, and they will feel themselves actuated by some low and abject passion. Thus, if you cut off the top branches of a tree, and will not suffer it to grow any higher, it will not therefore cease to grow, but will quickly shoot out at the bottom. The man indeed who goes into the world only with the narrow views of self-interest, who catches at the applause of an idle multitude, as he can find no solid contentment at the end of his journey, so he deserves to meet with disappointments in his way; but he who is actuated by a noble principle; whose mind is so far enlarged as to take in the prospect of his country's good; who is enamored with that praise which is one of the fair attendants of virtue, and values not those acclamations which are not seconded by the impartial testimony of his own mind; who repines not at the low station which Providence has at present allotted him, but yet would willingly advance himself by justifiable means to a more rising and advantageous ground; such a man is warmed with a generous emulation; it is a virtuous movement in him to wish and to endeavor that his power of doing good may be equal to his will.
Tully has therefore very justly exposed a p cept delivered by some ancient writers, that a m should live with his enemy in such a manner, might leave him room to become his friend; a with his friend in such a manner, that if he came his enemy, it should not be in his power hurt him. The first part of this rule, which gards our behavior toward an enemy, is inde very reasonable, as well as very prudential; I the latter part of it, which regards our behav toward a friend, savors more of cunning than discretion, and would cut a man off from 1 greatest pleasures of life, which are the freedo of conversation with a bosom friend. Beside th when a friend is turned into an enemy, and, as son of Sirach calls him, "a bewrayer of secret the world is just enough to accuse the perfidio ness of the friend, rather than the indiscretion the person who confided in him.
Discretion does not only show itself in wor but in all the circumstances of action, and is 1 an under-agent of Providence, to guide and dir us in the ordinary concerns of life.
There are many more shining qualities in mind of man, but there is none so useful as cretion; it is this indeed which gives a value to the rest, which sets them at work in their pro times and places, and turns them to the advant of the person who is possessed of them. With it, learning is pedantry, and wit impertinen virtue itself looks like weakness: the best pa only qualify a man to be more sprightly in err and active to his own prejudice.
The man who is fitted out by nature, and sent into the world with great abilities, is capable of doing great good or mischief in it. It ought therefore to be the care of education to infuse into the untainted youth early notions of justice and honor, that so the possible advantages of good parts may not take an evil turn, nor be perverted to base and unworthy purposes. It is the business of religion and philosophy not so much to extinguish our passions, as to regulate and direct them to valuable well-chosen objects. When these have pointed out to us which course we may lawfully steer, it is no harm to set out all our sail; if the storms and tempests of adversity should rise upon us, and not suffer us to make the haven where we would be, it will however prove no small consolation to us in these circumstances, that we
Nor does discretion only make a man the mas of his own parts, but of other men's. The creet man finds out the talents of those he c verses with, and knows how to apply them proper uses. Accordingly, if we look into I ticular communities and divisions of men, we i
* Eccles., vi, 9, xxvii, 17.
observe that it is the discreet man, not the witty, nor the learned, nor the brave, who guides the conversation, and gives measures to the society. A man with great talents, but void of discretion, is like Polyphemus in the fable, strong and blind, endued with an irresistible force, which for want of sight is of no use to him.
Though a man has all other perfections, and wants discretion, he will be of no great consequence in the world; but if he has this single talent in perfection, and but a common share of others, he may do what he pleases in his particular station of life.
wise man, who sometimes mentions it under the name of discretion, and sometimes under that of wisdom. It is indeed (as described in the latter part of this paper), the greatest wisdom, but at the same time in the power of every one to attain. Its advantages are infinite, but its acquisition easy; or to speak of her in the words of the apocryphal writer whom I quoted in my last Saturday's paper,* "Wisdom is glorious, and never fadeth away, yet she is easily seen of them that love her, and found of such as seek her. She preventeth them that desire her, in making herself first known unto them. He that seeketh her early, shall have no great travel; for he shall find her sitting at his doors. To think therefore upon her is the perfection of wisdom, and whoso watcheth for her shall quickly be without care. For she goeth about seeking such as are worthy of her, showeth herself favorably unto them in the ways, and meeteth them in every thought."-C.
At the same time that I think discretion the most useful talent a man can be master of, I look upon cunning to be the accomplishment of little, mean, ungenerous minds. Discretion points out the noblest ends to us, and pursues the most proper and laudable methods of attaining them. Cunning has only private selfish aims, and sticks at nothing which may make them succeed. Discretion has large and extended views, and like a well-formed eye, commands a whole horizon. Cunning is a kind of short-sightedness, that discovers the minutest objects which are near at hand, but is not able to discern things at a distance. Discretion, the more it is discovered, gives a greater authority to the person who possesses it. Cunning, when it is once detected, loses its force, and makes a man incapable of bringing about even those events which he might have done, had he passed only for a plain man. Discretion is the perfection of reason, and a guide to us in all the duties of life: cunning is a kind of instinct, that only looks out after our immediate interests and welfare. Discretion is only found in men of strong sense and good understandings: cunning is often to be met with in brutes themselves, and in persons who are but the fewest removes from them. In short, cunning is only the mimic of discretion, and may pass upon weak men, in the same manner as vivacity is often mistaken for wit, and gravity for wisdom.
The cast of mind which is natural to a discreet man, makes him look forward into futurity, and consider what will be his condition millions of ages hence, as well as what it is at present. He knows that the misery or happiness which are served for him in another world, lose nothing of their reality by being at so great distance from him. The objects do not appear little to him because they are remote. He considers that those pleasures and pains which lie hid in eternity, approach nearer to him every moment, and will be present with him in their full weight and measure, as much as those pains and pleasures which he feels at this very instant. For this reason he is careful to secure to himself that which is the proper happiness of his nature, and the ultimate design of his being. He carries his thoughts to the end of every action, and considers the most distant as well as the most immediate effects of it. He supersedes every little prospect of gain and advantage which offers itself here, if he does not find it consistent with his views of a hereafter. In a word, his hopes are full of immortality, his schemes are large and glorious, and his conduct suitable to one who knows his true interest, and how to pursue it by proper methods.
I have, in this essay upon discretion, considered it both as an accomplishment and as a virtue, and have therefore described it in its full extent; not only as it is conversant about worldly affairs, but as it regards our whole existence; not only as it is the guide of a mortal creature, but as it is in general the director of a reasonable being. It is In this light, that discretion is represented by the
No. 226.] MONDAY, NOVEMBER 19, 1711.
A picture is a poem without words.
+I HAVE Very often lamented, and hinted my sorrow in several speculations, that the art of painting is made so little use of to the improvement of our manners. When we consider that it places the action of the person represented in the most agreeable aspect imaginable, that it does not only express the passion or concern as it sits upon him who is drawn, but has, under those features, the height of the painter's imagination, what strong images of virtue and humanity might we not expect would be instilled into the mind from the labors of the pencil? This is a poetry which would be understood with much less capacity, and less expense of time, than what is taught by writing; but the use of it is generally perverted, and that admirable skill prostituted to the basest and most unworthy ends. Who is the better man for beholding the most beautiful Venus, the best wrought Bacchanal, the images of sleeping Cupids, languishing Nymphs, or any of the reprere-sentations of gods, goddesses, demi-gods, satyrs, Polyphemes, sphynxes, or fauns? But if the virtues and vices, which are sometimes pretended to be represented under such draughts, were given us by the painter in the characters of real life, and the persons of men and women whose actions have rendered them laudable or infamous; we should not see a good history piece without receiving an instructive lecture. There needs no other proof of this truth, than the testimony of every reasonable creature who has seen the cartoons in her majesty's gallery at Hampton-court. These are representations of no less actions than those of our blessed Savior and his apostles. As I now sit and recollect the warm images which the admirable Raphael had raised, it is impossible, even from the faint traces in one's memory of what one has not seen these two years, to be unmoved at the horror and reverence which appear in the whole assembly when the mercenary man fell down dead; at the amazement of the man born blind, when he first received sight; or at the graceless indignation of the sorcerer, when he is
*Wisdom of Solomon, chap. vi, ver. 12-16. †The speculation was written with the generous design of promoting a subscription just then set on foot for having the cartoons of Raphael copied and engraved by Signior Nicola Dorigny, who had been invited over from Rome by several of the nobility, and to whom the Queen had given her license for that purpose.
sion of the picture, is so inconsiderable, that I am in very great perplexity when I offer to speak of any performances of painters of landscapes, buildings, or single figures. This makes me at a loss how to mention the pieces which Mr. Boul exposes to sale by auction on Wednesday next in Chandos-street: but having heard him commend
struck blind. The lame, when they first find strength in their feet, stand doubtful of their new vigor. The heavenly apostles appear acting these great things with a deep sense of the infirmities which they relieve, but no value of themselves who administer to their weakness. They know themselves to be but instruments; and the generous distress they are painted in when divine hon-ed by those who have bought of him heretofore. ors are offered to thein, is a representation in the for great integrity in his dealing, and overheard most exquisite degree of the beauty of holiness. him himself (though a laudable painter) say, When St. Paul is preaching to the Athenians, nothing of his own was fit to come into the room with what wonderful art are almost all the differ- with those he had to sell, I feared I should lose an ent tempers of mankind represented in that ele- occasion of serving a man of worth, in omitting gant audience? You see one credulous of all that to speak of his auction.-T. is said; another wrapped up in deep suspense; another saying, there is some reason in what he says; another angry that the apostle destroys a favorite opinion which he is unwilling to give up; another wholly convinced, and holding out his hands in rapture; while the generality attend, and wait for the opinion of those who are of leading characters in the assembly. I will not pretend so much as to mention that chart on which is drawn the appearance of our blessed Lord after his resurrection. Present authority, late sufferings, humility, and majestic, despotic command, and divine love, are at once seated in his celestial aspect. The figures of the eleven apostles are all in the same passion of admiration, but discover it differently according to their characters. Peter receives his master's orders on his knees with an admiration mixed with a more particular attention the two next with a more open ecstasy, though still constrained by an awe of the Divine presence. The beloved disciple, whom I take to be the right of the two first figures, has in his countenance wonder drowned in love: and the last personage, whose back is toward the spectator, and his side toward the presence, one would fancy to be St. Thomas, as abashed by the conscience of his former diffidence, which perplexed concern it is possible Raphael thought too hard a task to draw, but by this acknowledgment of the difficulty to describe it.
The whole work is an exercise of the highest piety in the painter; and all the touches of a religious mind are expressed in a manner much more forcible than can possibly be performed by the most moving eloquence. These invaluable pieces are very justly in the hands of the greatest and most pious sovereign in the world; and cannot be the frequent object of every one at their own leisure but as an engraver is to the painter what a printer is to the author, it is worthy her majesty's name that she has encouraged that noble artist, Monsieur Dorigny, to publish these works of Raphael. We have of this gentleman a piece of the Transfiguration, which, I think, is held a work second to none in the world.
Methinks it would be ridiculous in our people of condition, after their large bounties to foreigners of no name or merit, should they overlook this occasion of having, for a trifling subscription, a work which it is impossible for a man of sense to behold, without being warmed with the noblest sentiments that can be inspired by love, admiration, compassion, contempt of this world, and expectation of a better.
It is certainly the greatest honor we can do our country, to distinguish strangers of merit who apply to us with modesty and diffidence, which generally accompanies merit. No opportunity of this kind ought to be neglected, and a modest behavior should alarm us to examine whether we do not lose something excellent under that disadvantage in the possessor of that quality. My skill in paintings, where one is not directed by the pas
No. 227.] TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 1711,
Wretch that I am! ah, whither shall I go?
IN my last Thursday's paper, I made mention of a place called The Lover's Leap, which I find has raised a great curiosity among several of my correspondents. I there told them that this leap was used to be taken from a promontory of Leucas. This Leucas was formerly a part of Acar nania, being joined to it by a narrow neck of land, which the sea has by length of time overflowed and washed away; so that at present Leucas is divided from the continent, and is a little island in the Ionian sea. The promontory of this island, from whence the lover took his leap, was formerly called Leucate. If the reader has a mind to know both the island and the promontory by their mod ern titles, he will find in his map the ancient island of Leucas under the name of St. Mauro, and the ancient promontory of Leucate under the name of the Cape of St. Mauro.
Since I am engaged thus far in antiquity, I must observe that Theocritus, in the motto prefixed to my paper, describes one of the despairing shepherds addressing himself to his mistress after the following manner: Alas! what will become of me! wretch that I am! Will you not hear me? I'll throw off my clothes, and take a leap into that part of the sea which is so much frequented by Olpis the fisherman. And though I should es cape with my life, I know you will be pleased with it." I shall leave it with the critics to determine whether the place, which this shepherd so partic ularly points out, was not the above-mentioned Leucate, or at least some other lover's leap, which was supposed to have had the same effect. I can not believe, as all the interpreters do, that the shepherd means nothing further here than that be would drown himself, since he represents the issue of his leap as doubtful, by adding, that if he should escape with life he knows his mistress would be pleased with it: which is, according to our interpretation, that she would rejoice any way to get rid of a lover who was so troublesome to her.
After this short preface, I shall present my reader with some letters which I have received upon this subject. The first is sent me by a phy sician.
The lover's leap, which you mention in your 223d paper, was generally, I believe, a very effec tual cure for love, and not only for love, but for all other evils. In short, Sir, I am afraid it was such a leap as that which Hero took to get rid of be