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The generous affection to the memory of her deceased husband, that tender care for her son, which is ever heightened with the consideration of his father, and these regards preserved in spite of being tempted with the possession of the highest greatness, are what cannot but be venerable even to such an audience as at present frequents the English theater. My friend Will Honeycomb commended several tender things that were said, and told me they were very genteel; but whispered me, that he feared the piece was not busy enough for the present taste. To supply this, he recommended to the players to be very careful in their scenes; and, above all things, that every part should be perfectly new dressed. I was very glad to find that they did not neglect my friend's admonition, because there are a great many in this class of criticism who may be gained by it; but indeed the truth is, that as to the work itself, it is everywhere Nature. The persons are of the highest quality in life, even that of princes; but their quality is not represented by the poet, with directions that guards and waiters should follow them in every scene, but their grandeur appears in greatness of sentiment, flowing from minds worthy their condition. To make a character truly great, this author understands, that it should have its foundation in superior thoughts and maxims of conduct. It is very certain, that many an honest woman would make no difficulty, though she had been the wife of Hector, for the sake of a kingdom, to marry the enemy of her husband's family and country; and indeed who can deny but she might be still an honest woman, but no heroine? That may be defensible, nay laudable, in one character, which would be in the highest degree exceptionable in another. When Cato Uticensis killed himself, Cottius, a Roman of ordinary quality and character, did the same thing; upon which one said, smiling, Cottius might have lived, though Cæsar has seized the Roman liberty." Cottius's condition might have been the same, let things at the upper end of the world pass as they would. What is further very extraordinary in that work, is, that the persons are all of them laudable, and their misfortunes arise rather from unguarded virtue, than propensity to vice. The town has an opportunity of doing itself justice in supporting the representations of passion, sorrow, indignation, even despair itself, within the rules of decency, honor, and goodbreeding; and since there is none can flatter himself his life will be always fortunate, they may here see sorrow as they would wish to bear it
whenever it arrives.
"I am appointed to act a part in the new tragedy called The Distressed Mother. It is the celebrated grief of Orestes which I am to personate; but I shall not act as I ought, for I shall feel it too intimately to be able to utter it. I was last night repeating a paragraph to myself, which I took to be an expression of rage, and in the middle of the sentence there was a stroke of self-pity which quite unmanned me. Be pleased, Sir, to print this letter, that when I am oppressed in this manner at such an interval, a certain part of the audience may not think I am out; and I hope, with this allowance, to do it with satisfaction.
to know whether it was you. Pray inform me as soon as you can, lest I become the most heroic Hecatissa's rival. "Your humble Servant to command, "SOPHIA."
"I am, Sir,
"Your most humble servant, "GEORGE POWELL."
"As I was walking the other day in the Park, saw a gentleman with a very short face; I desire
I HAVE now considered Milton's Paradise Lost under those four great heads of the fable, the characters, the sentiments, and the language; and have shown that he excels in general under each of these heads. I hope that I have made several discoveries which may appear new, even to those who are versed in critical learning. Were I indeed to choose my readers, by whose judgment I would stand or fall, they should not be such as are acquainted only with the French and Italian critics, but also with the ancient and modern who have written in either of the learned languages. Above all, I would have them well versed in the Greek and Latin poets, without which a man very often fancies that he understands a critic, when in reality he does not comprehend his meaning.
It is in criticism as in all other sciences and speculations; one who brings with him any implicit notions and observations, which he has made in his reading of the poets, will find his own reflections methodized and explained, and perhaps several little hints that have passed in his mind, perfected and improved in the works of a good critic; whereas one who has not these previous lights is very often an utter stranger to what he reads, and apt to put a wrong interpretation upon it.
Nor is it sufficient that a man, who sets up for a judge in criticism, should have perused the authors above-mentioned, unless he has also a clear and logical head. Without this talent he is perpetually puzzled and perplexed amidst his own blunders, mistakes the sense of those he would confute, or, if he chances to think right, does not know how to convey his thoughts to another with clearness and perspicuity. Aristotle, who was the best critic, was also one of the best logicians that ever appeared in the world.
Mr. Locke's Essay on Human Understanding would be thought a very odd book for a man to make himself master of, who would get a reputation by critical writings; though at the same time it is very certain, that an author who has not learned the art of distinguishing between words and things, and of ranging his thoughts and setting them in proper lights, whatever notions he may have, will lose himself in confusion and obscurity. I might further observe that there is not a Greek or Latin critic, who has not shown, even in the style of his criticisms, that he was a master of all the elegance and delicacy of his native tongue.
The truth of it is, there is nothing more absurd, than for a man to set up for a critic, without a good insight into all the parts of learning;
whereas many of those, who have endeavored to
preferable to the works of an inferior kind of au-
I shall conclude my paper with a story out of Boccalini, which sufficiently shows us the opinion that judicious author entertained of the sort of critics I have been here mentioning. A famous critic, says he, having gathered together all the faults of an eminent poet, made a present of them to Apollo, who received them very graciousand resolved to make the author a suitable return for the trouble he had been at in collecting them. In order to this, he set before him a sack of wheat, as it had been thrashed out of the sheaf. He then bid him pick out the chaff from among the corn, and lay it aside by itself. The critic applied himself to the task with great industry and pleasure, and, after having made the due separation, was presented by Apollo with the chaff for his pains.-L.
One great mark, by which you may discover a critic who has neither taste nor learning, is this, that he seldom ventures to praise any passage in an author which has not been before received and applauded by the public, and that his criticism turns wholly upon little faults and errors. This part of a critic is so very easy to succeed in, that we find every ordinary reader, upon the publishing of a new poem, has wit and ill-nature enough to turn several passages of it into ridicule, and very often in the right place. This Mr. Dryden has very agreeably remarked in these two celebrated lines:
Errors, like straws, upon the surface flow;
A true critic ought to dwell rather upon excellencies than imperfections, to discover the concealed beauties of a writer, and communicate to the world such things as are worth their observation. The most exquisite words, and finest strokes of an author, are those which very often appear the most doubtful and exceptionable to a man who wants a relish for polite learning; and they are these, which a sour undistinguishing critic generally attacks with the greatest violence. Tully observes, that it is very easy to brand or fix a mark upon what he calls verbum ardens, or as it may be rendered into English, "a glowing, bold expression," and to turn it into ridicule by a cold ill-natured criticism. A little wit is equally capable of exposing a beauty and of aggravating a fault; and though such a treatment of an author naturally produces indignation in the mind of an understanding reader, it has however its effect among the generality of those whose hands it falls into, the rabble of mankind being very apt to think that everything which is laughed at, with any mixture of wit, is ridiculous in itself.
Such a mirth as this is always unseasonable in a critic, as it rather prejudices the reader than convinces him, and is capable of making a beau
as well as a blemish, the subject of derision. man who cannot write with wit on a proper subject, is dull and stupid; but one who shows it in an improper place, is as impertinent and absurd. Beside, a man who has the gift of ridicule is apt to find fault with anything that gives him an opportunity of exerting his beloved talent, and very often censures a passage, not because there is any fault in it, but because he can be merry upon it. Such kinds of pleasantry are very unfair and disingenuous in works of criticism, in which the greatest masters, both ancient and modern, have always appeared with a serious and instructive air.
No. 292.] MONDAY, FEBRUARY 4, 1711-12
As No one can be said to enjoy health, who is only not sick, without he feel within himself lightsome and invigorating principle, which will not suffer him to remain idle, but still spurs him on to action; so in the practice of every virtue, there is some additional grace required to give a claim of excelling in this or that particular action. A diamond may want polishing, though the value may be intrinsically the same; and the same good may be done with different degrees of luster. No man should be contented with himself that he barely does well, but he should perform every thing in the best and most becoming manner that he is able.
Tully tells us he wrote his book of Offices, because there was no time of life in which some cor respondent duty might not be practiced: nor is there a duty without a certain decency accompa nying it, by which every virtue it is joined to will seem to be doubled. Another may do the same thing, and yet the action want that air and beauty which distinguish it from others; like that inimitable sunshine Titian is said to have diffused over his landscapes; which denotes them his, and has been always unequaled by any other person.
There is no one action in which this quality! am speaking of will be more sensibly perceived, than in granting a request, or doing an office of while kindness. Mummius, by his way of consenting to a benefaction, shall make it lose its name, Carus doubles the kindness and the obligation From the first, the desired request drops indead at last, but from so doubtful a brow, that the obliged has almost as much reason to resent the manner of bestowing it, as to be thankful for the favor itself. Carus invites with a pleasing air, to give him an opportunity of doing manity, meets the petition half way, and con
an act of he
As I intend in my next paper to show the de-sents to a request with a countenance which pro fects in Milton's Paradise Lost, I thought fit to claims the satisfaction of his mind in assisting premise these few particulars, to the end that the the distressed. reader may know I enter upon it as on a very ungrateful work, and that I shall just point at the imperfections without endeavoring to inflame them with ridicule. I must also observe with Longinus, that the productions of a great genius, with many lapses and inadvertences, are infinitely
The decency then that is to be observed in libe rality, seems to consist in its being performed with such cheerfulness, as may express the godlike pleasure to be met with in obliging one's fellowcreatures; that may show good-nature and benevo lence overflowed, and do not, as in some men, run
upon the tilt, and taste of the sediments of a The care of doing nothing unbecoming has acgrudging, incommunicative disposition. companied the greatest minds to their last moSince I have intimated that the greatest deco-ments. They avoided even an indecent posture rum is to be preserved in the bestowing our good in the very article of death. Thus Cæsar gatheroffices, I will illustrate it a little, by an example ed his robe about him, that he might not fall in a drawn from private life, which carries with it such manner unbecoming of himself; and the greatest a profusion of liberality, that it can be exceeded concern that appeared in the behavior of Lucretia by nothing but the humanity and good-nature when she stabbed herself, was, that her body which accompanies it. It is a letter of Pliny, should lie in an attitude worthy the mind which which I shall here translate, because the action had inhabited it : will best appear in its first dress of thought, without any foreign or ambitious ornaments.
-Ne non procumbat honeste,
"PLINY TO QUINTILIAN.
OVID, Fast. iii, 833. "T was her last thought, how decently to fall. "MR. SPECTATOR,
"Though I am fully acquainted with the contentment and just moderation of your mind, and the conformity the education you have given your of a very high mind: that is, good Sir, I am to "I am a young woman without a fortune; but daughter bears to your own character; yet since she is suddenly to be married to a person of dis- the last degree proud and vain. I am ever railtinction, whose figure in the world makes it ne- search into my heart, I find I am only angry at, ing at the rich, for doing things, which, upon cessary for her to be at a more than ordinary ex-because I cannot do the same myself. I wear the pense, in clothes and equipage suitable to her husband's quality; by which, though her intrinsic worth be not augmented, yet will it receive both ornament and luster: and knowing your estate to be as moderate as the riches of your mind are abundant, I must challenge to myself some part of the burden; and as a parent of your child, I present her with twelve hundred and fifty crowns, toward these expenses; which sum had been much larger, had I not feared the smallness of it would No. 293.] TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 5, 1711–12. be the greatest inducement with you to accept of it. Farewell."
hooped petticoat, and am all in calicoes when the finest are in silks. It is a dreadful thing to be poor and proud; therefore, if you please, a lecture on that subject for the satisfaction of your uneasy humble Servant,
The prudent still have fortune on their side. FRAG., Vet. Poet. THE famous Grecian, in his little book wherein Thus should a benefaction be done with a good he lays down maxims for a man's advancing himgrace, and shine in the strongest point of light; it self at court, advises his reader to associate himshould not only answer all the hopes and exigen-self with the fortunate, and to shun the company cies of the receiver, but even outrun his wishes. of the unfortunate; which, notwithstanding the It is this happy manner of behavior which adds baseness of the precept to an honest mind, may new charms to it, and softens those gifts of art have something useful in it, for those who push and nature, which otherwise would be rather dis- their interest in the world. It is certain, a great tasteful and agreeable. Without it, valor would part of what we call good or ill fortune, rises out degenerate into brutality, learning into pedantry, of right or wrong measures and schemes of life. and the genteelest demeanor into affectation. When I hear a man complain of his being unforEven Religion itself, unless Decency be the hand-tunate in all his undertakings, I shrewdly susmaid which waits upon her, is apt to make peo-pect him for a very weak man in his affairs. In ple appear guilty of sourness and ill-humor: but conformity with this way of thinking. Cardinal this shows Virtue in her first original form, adds Richelieu used to say, that unfortunate and ima comeliness to Religion, and gives its professors prudent were but two words for the same thing. the justest title to "the beauty of holiness." A As the cardinal himself had a great share both man fully instructed in this art, may assume a of prudence and good fortune, his famous antago thousand shapes, and please in all; he may do a nist, the Count d'Olivares, was disgraced at the thousand actions shall become none other but him-court of Madrid, because it was alleged against self; not that the things themselves are different, him that he had never any success in his underbut the manner of doing them. takings. This, says an eminent author, was indirectly accusing him of imprudence.
If you examine each feature by itself, Aglaura and Calliclea are equally handsome; but take them in the whole, and you cannot suffer the comparison: the one is full of numberless nameless graces, the other of as many nameless faults.
The comeliness of person, and the decency of behavior, add infinite weight to what is pronounced by any one. It is the want of this that often makes the rebukes and advice of old rigid persons of no effect, and leave a displeasure in hinds of those they are directed to: but youth and beauty, if accompanied with a graceful and becoming severity, are of mighty force to raise, even in the most profligate, a sense of shame. In Milton, the devil is never described ashamed but once, and that at the rebuke of a beauteous angel:
So spake the cherub; and his grave rebuke,
Cicero recommended Pompey to the Romans for their general upon three accounts, as he was a man of courage, conduct, and good fortune. It was, perhaps, for the reason above-mentioned, namely, that a series of good fortune supposes a prudent management in the person whom it befalls, that not only Sylla the dictator, but several of the Roman emperors, as is still to be seen upon their medals, among their other titles, gave themselves that of Felix or Fortunate. The heathens, indeed, seem to have valued a man more for his good fortune than for any other quality, which I think is very natural for those who have not a strong belief of another world. For how can I conceive a man crowned with many distinguishing blessings that has not some extraordinary fund of merit and perfection in him, which lies open to the Supreme eye, though perhaps it is not discovered by my observation? What is the reason Homer's and Virgil's heroes do not form a resolution, or strike a blow, without the conduct and direction
of some deity? Doubtless, because the poets esteemed it the greatest honor to be favored by the gods, and thought the best way of praising a man was, to recount those favors which naturally implied an extraordinary merit in the person on whom they descended.
Those who believe a future state of rewards and punishments act very absurdly, if they form their opinions of a man's merit from his successes. But certainly, if I thought the whole circle of our being was included between our births and deaths. I should think a man's good fortune the measure and standard of his real merit, since Providence would have no opportunity of rewarding his virtue and perfections, but in the present life. A virtuous unbeliever, who lies under the pressure of misfortunes, has reason to cry out, as they say Brutus did, a little before his death: "O Virtue, I have worshiped thee as a substantial good, but I find thou art an empty name."
But to return to our first point. Though Prudence does undoubtedly in a great measure produce our good or ill fortune in the world, it is certain there are many unforeseen accidents and occurrences, which very often pervert the finest schemes that can be laid by human wisdom. "The race is not always to the swift nor the battle to the strong." Nothing less than infinite wisdom can have an absolute command over fortune; the highest degree of it which man can possess, is by no means equal to fortuitous events, and to such contingencies as may rise in the prosecution of our affairs. Nay, it very often happens, that prudence, which has always in it a great mixture of caution, hinders a man from being so fortunate, as he might possibly have been without it. A person who only aims at what is likely to succeed, and follows closely the dictates of human prudence, never meets with those great and unforeseen successes, which are often the effect of a sanguined temper or a more happy rashness; and this perhaps may be the reason, that, according to the common observation, Fortune, like other females, delights rather in favoring the young than the old.
whose name I cannot at present recollect, and who had been a particular favorite of Fortune, that upon recounting his victories among his friends, he added at the end of several great actions, "And in this fortune had no share." After which it is observed in history, that he never prospered in anything he undertook.
As arrogance and a conceitedness of our own abilities are very shocking and offensive to men of sense and virtue, we may be sure they are highly displeasing to that Being who delights in a humble mind, and by several of his dispensations seems purposely to show us, that our own schemes, or prudence, have no share in our advancements.
Since on this subject I have already admitted several quotations, which have occurred to my memory upon writing this paper, I will conclude it with a little Persian fable. A drop of water fell out of a cloud into the sea, and finding itself lost in such an immensity of fluid matter, broke out into the following reflection: “Alas! What an inconsiderablet creature am I in this prodigious ocean of waters! My existence of no concern to the universe; I am reduced to a kind of nothing, and am less than the least of the works of God.” It so happened that an oyster, which lay in the neighborhood of this drop, chanced to gape and swallow it up in the midst of this its humble soliloquy. The drop, says the fable, lay a great while hardening in the shell, until by degrees it was ripened into a pearl, which falling into the hands of a diver, after a long series of adventures, is at present that famous pearl which is fixed on the top of the Persian diadem.-L.
Upon the whole, since man is so short-sighted a creature, and the accidents which may happen to him so various, I cannot but be of Dr. Tillotson's opinion in another case, that were there any doubt of Providence, yet it certainly would be very desirable there should be such a Being of infinite wisdom and goodness, on whose direction we might rely in the conduct of human
No. 294.] WEDNESDAY, FEB 6, 1711-12.
fortuna sit usus.-TULL. ad Herennium.
INSOLENCE is the crime of all others which every man is apt to rail at; and yet there is one respect in which almost all men living are guilty of it, and that is in the case of laying a greater value upon the gifts of fortune than we ought. It is here in England come into our very language as a propriety of distinction, to say, when we would speak of persons to their advantage, "They are people of condition." There is no doubt but the proper use of riches implies, that a man should exert all the good qualities imaginable; and if we It is a great presumption to ascribe our suc- mean by a man of condition or quality, one who, cesses to our own management, and not to esteem according to the wealth he is master of, shows ourselves upon any blessing, rather as it is the himself just, beneficent, and charitable, that term bounty of Heaven than the acquisition of our own ought very deservedly to be had in the highest prudence. I am very well pleased with a medal veneration; but when wealth is used only as it is which was struck by Queen Elizabeth, a little the support of pomp and luxury, to be rich is very after the defeat of the invincible armada, to per- far from being a recommendation to honor and repetuate the memory of that extraordinary event. spect. It is indeed the greatest insolence imagin It is well known how the King of Spain, and able, in a creature who would feel the extremes of others who were the enemies of that great prin- thirst and hunger, if he did not prevent his ap cess, to derogate from her glory, ascribed the ruin petites, before they call upon him, to be so forgetof their fleet rather to the violence of storms and ful of the common necessities of human nature, as tempests, than to the bravery of the English. never to cast an eye upon the and needy. poor Queen Elizabeth, instead of looking upon this as The fellow who escaped from a ship which struck a diminution of her honor, valued herself upon upon a rock in the west, and joined with the such a signal favor of Providence, and according-country people to destroy his brother sailors, and ly, in the reverse of the medal above-mentioned, make her a wreck, was thought a most execrable has represented a fleet beaten by a tempest, and falling foul upon one another, with that religious inscription, "Aflavit Deus, et dissipantur." blew with his wind, and they were scattered." It is remarked of a famous Grecian general,
The man who is always fortunate, cannot easily have much reverence for virtue.
*Timotheus the Athenian. See Shaw's edit. of Lord Ba con's Works, 4to., vol. i, p. 219.
Altered from insignificant, according to a direction in Spect. in folio., No. 295.
among the servants; from such as are educated in these places they would see nothing but lowliness in the servant, which would not be disingenuous in the child. All the ill offices and defamatory whispers, which take their birth from domestics, would be prevented, if this charity could be made universal: and a good man might have a knowledge of the whole life of the persons he designs to take into his house for his own service, or that of his family or children, long before they were admitted. This would create endearing dependencies; and the obligation would have a paternal air in the master, who would be relieved from much care and anxiety by the gratitude and diligence of a humble friend, attending him as his servant. I fall into this discourse from a letter sent to me, to give me notice that fifty boys would be clothed, and take their seats (at the charge of some generous benefactors) in St. Bride's church, on Sunday next. I wish I could promise to myself anything which my correspondent seems to expect from a publication of it in this paper; for there can be nothing added to what so many excellent and learned men have said on this occasion. But that there may be something here which would move a generous mind, like that of him who wrote to me, I shall transcribe a handsome paragraph of Dr. Snape's sermon on these charities, which my correspondent inclosed with his letter.
creature; but does not every man who enjoys the possession of what he naturally wants and is unmindful of the unsupplied distress of other men, betray the same temper of mind? When a man looks about him, and, with regard to riches and poverty, beholds some drawn in pomp and equipage, and they, and their very servants, with an air of scorn and triumph, overlooking the multitude that pass by them; and in the same street a creature of the same make, crying out, in the name of all that is good and sacred, to behold his misery, and give him some supply against hunger and nakedness; who would believe these two beings were of the same species? But so it is, that the consideration of fortune has taken up all our minds, and as I have often complained, poverty and riches stand in our imaginations in the places of guilt and inBut in all seasons there will be some instances of persons who have souls too large to be taken with popular prejudices, and, while the rest of mankind are contending for superiority in power and wealth, have their thoughts bent upon the necessities of those below them. The charity schools, which have been erected of late years, are the greatest instances of public spirit the age has produced. But, indeed, when we consider how long this sort of beneficence has been on foot, it is rather from the good management of those in stitutions, than from the number or value of the benefactions to them, that they make so great a figure. One would think it impossible that in the space of fourteen years there should not have been five thousand pounds bestowed in gifts this way, nor sixteen hundred children, including males and females, put out to methods of industry. It is not allowed me to speak of luxury and folly with the severe spirit they deserve; I shall only therefore say, I shall very readily compound with any lady in a hooped petticoat, if she give the price of one half yard of the silk toward clothing, feeding, and instructing an innocent helpless creature of her own sex, in one of these schools. The consciousness of such an action will give her features a nobler life on this illustrious day,* than all the jewels that can hang in her hair, or can be clustered in her bosom. It would be uncourtly to speak in harsher words to the fair, but to men one may take a little more freedom. It is mon
strous how a man can live with so little reflection, No. 295.] THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 7, 1711-12. as to fancy he is not in a condition very unjust and disproportioned to the rest of mankind, while he enjoys wealth, and exerts no benevolence or bounty to others. As for this particular occasion of these schools, there cannot any offer more worthy a generous mind. Would you do a handsome thing without return; do it for an infant that is not sensible of the obligation. Would you do it for public good: do it for one who will be an honest artificer. Would you do it for the sake of heaven; give it to one who shall be instructed in the worship of him for whose sake you gave it. It is, methinks, a most laudable institution this, if it were of no other expectation than that of producing a race of good and useful servants, who will have more than a liberal, a religious education. What would not a man do in common prudence, to lay out in purchase of one about him, who would add to all his orders he gave, the weight of the commandments, to enforce an obedience to them? for one who would consider his master as his father, his friend, and benefactor, upon easy terms, and in expectation of no other return, but moderate wages and gentle usage? It is the common vice of children, to run too much
Feb. 6, 1666, and died Aug. 1, 1714, aged 49.
"The wise Providence has amply compensated the disadvatages of the poor, and indigent, in wanting many of the conveniencies of this life, by a more abundant provision for their happiness in the next. Had they been higher born, or more richly endowed, they would have wanted this manner of education, of which those only enjoy the benefit, who are low enough to submit to it; where they have such advantages without money, and without price, as the rich cannot purchase with it. The learning which is given, is generally more edifying to them, than that which is sold to others. Thus do they become exalted in goodness, by being depressed in fortune, and their poverty is, in reality, their preferment."
Prodiga non sentit pereuntem fœmina censum:
"I AM turned of my great climacteric, and am naturally a man of a meek temper. About a dozen years ago I was married, for my sins, to a young woman of good family, and of a high spirit; but could not bring her to close with me, before I had entered into a treaty with her, longèr than that of the grand alliance. Among other articles, it was therein stipulated, that she should have 4001. a-year for pin-money, which I obliged myself to pay quarterly into the hands of one who acted as her plenipotentiary in that affair. I have ever since religiously observed my part in this solemn agreement. Now, Sir, so it is, that the lady has had several children since I married her; to which, if I should credit our malicious neighbors, her pin-money has not a little contributed. The education of these my children who,