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The griding sword with discontinuous wound
A stream of nectarous humor issuing flow'd
upon Ossa. He adds an epithet to Pelion, which success, receiving in his dream a sword from the very much swells the idea, by bringing up to hand of the prophet Jeremiah. The following the reader's imagination all the woods that grew passage, where Satan is described as wounded by upon it. There is further a greater beauty in his the sword of Michael, is in imitation of Homer. singling out by name these three remarkable mountains so well known to the Greeks. This last is such a beauty, as the scene of Milton's war could not possibly furnish him with. Claudian, in his fragment upon the giant's war, has given full scope to that wildness of imagination which was natural to him. He tells us that the giants tore up whole islands by the roots, and threw them at the gods. He describes one of them in particular, taking up Lemnos in his arms, and whirling it to the skies, with all Vulcan's shop in the midst of it. Another tears up Mount Ida, with the river Enipeus, which ran down the sides of it; but the poet, not content to describe him with this mountain upon his shoulders, tells us that the river flowed down his back as he held it up in that posture. It is visible to every judicious reader that such ideas savor more of the burlesque than of the sublime. They proceed from a wanton ness of imagination, and rather divert the mind than astonish it. Milton has taken everything that is sublime in these several passages, and composes out of them the following great image:
From their foundations loos'ning to and fro,
We have the full majesty of Homer, in this short description, improved by the imagination of Claudian without its puerilities.
I need not point out the description of the fallen angels seeing the promontories hanging over their heads in such a dreadful manner, with the other numberless beauties in this book, which are so conspicuous, that they cannot escape the notice of the most ordinary reader.
Homer tells in the same manner, that upon Diomedes wounding the gods, there flowed from the wound an ichor, or pure kind of blood, which was not bred from mortal viands: and that, though the pain was exquisitely great, the wound soon closed up and healed in those beings who are vested with immortality.
I question not but Milton, in his description of his furious Moloch flying from the battle, and bellowing with the wound he had received, had his eye ed, is represented as retiring out of the fight, and on Mars in the Iliad: who upon his being woundmaking an outery louder than that of a whole army when it begins the charge. Homer adds. that the Greeks and Trojans, who were engaged in a general battle, were terrified on each side with the bellowing of this wounded deity. The reader will easily observe how Milton has kept all the horror of this image, without running into the ridicule of it:
-Where the might of Gabriel fought,
Milton has likewise raised his description in this book with many images taken out of the poetical parts of Scripture. The Messiah's chariot, as I have before taken notice, is formed upon a vision of Ezekiel, who, as Grotius observes, has very much in him of Homer's spirt in the poetical parts of his prophesy.
There are indeed so many wonderful strokes of poetry in this book, and such a variety of sublime ideas, that it would have been impossible to have given them a place within the bounds of this paper. Beside that I find it in a great measure done to my hand at the end of Lord Roscom- The following lines in that glorious commission mon's Essay on Translated Poetry. I shall refer which is given the Messiah to extirpate the host my reader thither for some of the master-strokes of rebel angels, is drawn from a sublime passage of the sixth book of Paradise Lost, though at the in the Psalms: same time there are many others which that noble author has not taken notice of.
Milton, notwithstanding the sublime genius he was master of, has in this book drawn to his assistance all the helps he could meet with among the ancient poets. The sword of Michael, which makes so great a havoc among the bad angels, was given him, we are told, out of the armory of God:
-But the sword
Of Michael from the armory of God
Was giv'n him, temper'd so that neither keen
This passage is a copy of that in Virgil, wherein the poet tells us, that the Sword of Eneas, which was given him by a deity, broke into pieces the sword of Turnus which came from a mortal forge. As the moral in this place is divine, so by the way we may observe, that the bestowing on a man who is favored by heaven such an allegorical weapon is very conformable to the old eastern way of thinking. Not only Homer has made use of it, but we find the Jewish hero in the Book of Maccabees, who had fought the battles of the chosen people with so much glory and
Go then, thou mightiest, in thy Father's might,
The reader will easily discover many other strokes of the same nature.
There is no question but Milton had heated his imagination with the fight of the gods in Homer, before he entered upon this engagement of the angels. Homer there gives us a scene of men, heroes, and gods, mixed together in battle. Mare animates the contending armies, and lifts up his voice in such a manner, that it is heard distinely amidst all the shouts and confusion of the fight
Jupiter at the same time thunders over their heads
As Homer has introduced into the battle of the
All heav'n resounded; and had earth been then,
In how sublime and just a manner does he afterward describe the whole heaven shaking under the wheels of the Messiah's chariot, with that exception to the throne of God!
-Under his burning wheels
gods everything that is great and terrible in na- | another view; and they will tell you, it is evident ture, Milton has filled his fight of good and bad from plain and infallible rules, why this man with angels with all the like circumstances of horror. those beautiful features, and a well-fashioned The shout of armies, the rattling of brazen chariots, person, is not so agreeable as he who sits by him the hurling of rocks and mountains, the earth- without any of those advantages. When we read, quake, the fire, the thunder, are all of them we do it without any exerted act of memory that employed to lift up the reader's imagination, and presents the shape of the letters; but habit makes give him a suitable idea of so great an action. us do it mechanically, without staying, like With what art has the poet represented the whole children, to recollect and join those letters. A body of the earth trembling, even before it was man who has not had the regard of his gesture in any part of his education, will find himself unable to act with freedom before new company, as a child that is but now learning, would be to read without hesitation. It is for the advancement of the pleasure we receive in being agreeable to each other in ordinary life, that one would wish dancing were generally understood as conducive, as it really is, to a proper deportment in matters that appear the most remote from it. A man of learning and sense is distinguished from others as he is such, though he never runs upon points too difficult for the rest of the world; in like manner the reaching out of the arm, and the most ordinary motion, discovers whether a man ever learnt to know what is the true harmony and composure of his limbs and countenance. Whoever has seen Booth, in the character of Pyrrhus, march to his throne to receive Orestes, is convinced that majestic and great conceptions are expressed in the could perform that incident as well as he does, he very step; but, perhaps, though no other man himself would do it with a yet greater elevation were he a dancer. This is so dangerons a subject to treat with gravity, that I shall not at present enter into it any further: but the author of the following letter has treated it in the essay he speaks of in such a manner, that I am beholden to him for a resolution, that I will never hereafter think meanly of anything, till I have heard what they who have another opinion of it have to say
The steadfast empyrean shook throughout,
Notwithstanding the Messiah appears clothed with so much terror and majesty, the poet has still found means to make his readers conceive an idea of him beyond what he himself is able to describe:
Yet half his strength he put not forth, but check'd
In a word, Milton's genius, which was so great in itself, and so strengthened by all the helps of learning, appears in this book every way equal to the subject, which was the most sublime that could enter into the thoughts of a poet. As he knew all the arts of affecting the mind, he has given it certain resting-places, and opportunities of recovering itself from time to time; several speeches, reflections, similitudes, and the like reliefs, being interspersed to diversify his nar
ration, and ease the attention of the reader. L.
in its defense.
'Since there are scarce any of the arts and sciences that have not been recommended to the
No. 334.] MONDAY, MARCH 24, 1711-12. Voluisti, in suo genere, unumquemque nostrum quasi world by the pens of some of the professors, quendam esse Roscium, dixistique non tam ea quæ recta masters, or lovers of them, whereby the useful essent probari, quam quæ prava sunt fastidiis adhæres-ness, excellence, and benefit arising from them,
cere.-Cic. de Gestu.
both as to the speculative and practical part, have been made public, to the great advantage and improvement of such arts and sciences; why should dancing, an art celebrated by the ancients in so extraordinary a manner, be totally neglected by the moderns, and left destitute of any pen to recommend its various excellences and substantial merit to mankind?
You would have each of us be a kind of Roscius in his way; and you have said that fastidious men are not so much pleased with what is right, as disgusted at what is wrong. Ir is very natural to take for our whole lives a light impression of a thing, which at first fell into contempt with us for want of consideration. The real use of a certain qualification (which the wiser part of mankind look upon as at best an "The low ebb to which dancing is now fallen, indifferent thing, and generally a frivolous circum- is altogether owing to this silence. The art is stance) shows the ill consequence of such pre-esteemed only as an amusing trifle; it lies altopossessions. What I mean, is the art, skill, ac-gether uncultivated, and is unhappily fallen under complishment, or whatever you will call it, of the imputation of illiterate and mechanic. As dancing. I knew a gentleman of great abilities, who bewailed the want of his education to the end of a very honorable life. He observed that there was not occasion for the common use of great talents; that they are but seldom in demand; and that these very great talents were often rendered useless to a man for want of small attainments. A good mien (a becoming motion, gesture, and aspect) is natural to some men; but even these would be highly more graceful in their carriage, if what they do from the force of nature were confirmed and heightened from the force of reason. To one who has not at all considered it, to mention the force of reason on such a subject will appear fantastical; but when you have a little attended to it, an assembly of men will have quite
Terence, in one of his prologues, complains of the rope-dancers drawing all the spectators from his play; so we may well say, that capering and tumbling is now preferred to, and supplies the place of, just and regular dancing on our theaters. It is, therefore, in my opinion, high time that some one should come in to its assistance, and relieve it from the many gross and growing errors that have crept into it, and overcast its real beauties; and, to set dancing in its true light, would show the usefulness and elegance of it, with the pleasure and instruction produced from it; and also lay down some fundamental rules, that might so tend to the improvement of its professors, and information of the spectators, that the first might be the better able to perform, and the latter rendered
more capable of judging what is (if there be anything) valuable in this art.
To encourage therefore some ingenious pen capable of so generous an undertaking, and in some measure to relieve dancing from the disadvantages it at present lies under, I, who teach to dance, have attempted a small treatise as an Essay toward a History of Dancing in which I have inquired into its antiquity, origin, and use, and shown what esteem the ancients had for it. I have likewise considered the nature and perfection of all its several parts, and how beneficial and delightful it is both as a qualification and an exercise; and endeavored to answer all objections that have been maliciously raised against it. I have proceeded to give an account of the particular dances of the Greeks and Romans, whether religious, warlike, or civil; and taken particular notice of that part of dancing relating to the ancient stage, in which the pantomimes had so great a share. Nor have I been wanting in giving an historical account of some particular masters excellent in that surprising art; after which I have advanced some observations on modern dancing, both as to the stage, and that part of it so absolutely necessary for the qualification of gentlemen and ladies; and have concluded with some short remarks on the origin and progress of the character by which dances are written down, and communicated to one master from another. If some great genius after this would arise, and advance this art to that perfection it seems capable of receiving, what might not be expected from it? For, if we consider the origin of arts and sciences, we shall find that some of them took rise from beginnings so mean and unpromising, that it is very wonderful to think that ever such surprising structures should have been raised upon such ordinary foundations. But what cannot a great genius effect? Who would have thought that the clangorous noise of a smith's hammers should have given the first rise to music? Yet Macrobius, in his second book, relates that Pythagoras, in passing by a smith's shop, found that the sounds proceeding from the hammers were either more grave or acute, according to the different weights of the hammers. The philosopher, to improve this hint, suspends different weights by strings of the same bigness, and found in a like manner that the sounds answered to the weights. This being discovered, he found out those numbers which produced sounds that were consonant: as that two strings of the same substance and tension, the one being double the length of the other, gave that interval which is called diapason, or an eighth: the same was also effected from two strings of the same length and size, the one having four times the tension of the other. By these steps, from so mean a beginning, did this great man reduce, what was only before noise, to one of the most delightful sciences, by marrying it to the mathematics; and by that means caused it to be one of the most abstract and demonstrative of sciences. Who knows therefore but motion, whether decorous or representative, may not (as it seems highly probable it may) be taken into consideration by some person capable of reducing it into a regular science, though not so demonstrative as that proceeding from sounds, yet sufficient to entitle it to a place among the magnified arts?
"Now, Mr. Spectator, as you have declared yourself visitor of dancing-schools, and this being an undertaking which more immediately respects them, I think myself indispensably obliged, before
No. 335.] TUESDAY, MARCH 25, 1711-12. Respicere exemplar vitæ morumque jubebo Doctum imitatorem, et veras hine ducere voces. HOR., Ars. Poet., 327. Keep Nature's great original in view, And thence the living images pursue.—FRANCIS. My friend Sir Roger de Coverley, when we last met together at the club, told me that he had a great mind to see the new tragedy with me, assuring me at the same time, that he had not been at a play these twenty years. "The last I saw,” said Sir Roger, "was the Committee, which I should not have gone to neither, had not I been told beforehand that it was a good church of Eng. land comedy." He then proceeded to inquire of me who this distressed mother was; and upon hearing that she was Hector's widow, he told me that her husband was a brave man, and that when he was a school-boy he had read his life at the end of the dictionary. My friend asked me in the next place, if there would not be some danger in coming home late, in case the Mohocks should be abroad.
"I assure you," says he, "I thought I had fallen into their hands last night; for I observed two or three lusty black men that followed me half way up Fleet-street, and mended their pace behind me, in proportion as I put on to get away from them. You must know," continued the knight with a smile, "I fancied they had a mind to hunt me; for I remember an honest gentleman in my neighbor hood, who was served such a trick in King Charles the Second's time, for which reason he has not ventured himself in town ever since. I might have shown them very good sport, had this been their design; for, as I am an old fox-hunter, I should have turned and dodged; and have played them a thousand tricks they had never seen in their lives before." Sir Roger added, that “if these gentlemen had any such intention, they did not succeed very well in it; for I threw them out, says he, "at the end of Norfolk-street, where I doubled the corner, and got shelter in my lodg ings before they could imagine what was become of me. However," says the knight, "if Captain Sentry will make one with us to-morrow night, and you will both of you call upon me about four o'clock, that we may be at the house before it is full, I will have my own coach in readiness to attend you, for John tells me he has got the fore-wheels mended."
The captain, who did not fail to meet me there at the appointed hour, bid Sir Roger fear nothing for that he had put on the same sword which be made use of at the battle of Steenkirk. Sir Roger's servants, and among the rest my old friend the butler, had, I found, provided themselves with good oaken plants, to attend their master upc this occasion. When we had placed him in his coach, with myself at his left hand, the captain
*The Distressed Mother.
In 1692. Gentlemen wore about this time a kind of neck cloth called a Steenkirk, probably from its being taken netace of first at this battle. In like manner, and for a simular reason, a wig was called Ramillies, being introduced, t An Essay toward History of Dancing, etc. By John having become fashionable, about the time of that battle, Weaver, 12mo., 1712
before him, and his butler at the head of his footmen in the rear, we convoyed him in safety to the playhouse, where, after having marched up the entry in good order, the captain and I went in with him, and seated him betwixt us in the pit. As soon as the house was full, and the candles lighted, my old friend stood up, and looked about him with that pleasure which a mind seasoned with humanity naturally feels in itself, at the sight of a multitude of people who seem pleased with one another, and partake of the same common entertainment. I could not but fancy to myself, as the old man stood up in the middle of the pit, that he made a very proper center to a tragic audience. Upon the entering of Pyrrhus, the knight told me, that he did not believe the king of France himself had a better strut. I was indeed very attentive to my old friend's remarks, because I looked upon them as a piece of natural criticism, and was well pleased to hear him, at the conclusion of almost every scene, telling me that he could not imagine how the play would end. One while he appeared much concerned for Andromache; and a little while after as much for Hermione; and was extremely puzzled to think what would become of Pyrrhus.
When Sir Roger saw Andromache's obstinate refusal to her lover's importunities, he whispered me in the ear, that he was sure she would never have him; to which he added, with a more than ordinary vehemence, "You can't imagine, Sir, what it is to have to do with a widow." Upon Pyrrhus's threatening to leave her, the knight shook his head and muttered to himself, "Ay, do if you can." This part dwelt so much upon my friend's imagination, that at the close of the third act, as I was thinking on something else, he whispered me in my ear, These widows, Sir, are the most perverse creatures in the world. But pray," says he, "you that are a critic, is the play according to your dramatic rules, as you call them? Should your people in tragedy always talk to be understood? Why, there is not a single sentence in this play that I do not know the meaning of." The fourth act very luckily began before I had time to give the old gentleman an answer. "Well," says the knight, sitting down with great satisfaction, "I suppose we are now to see Hector's ghost." He then renewed his attention, and, from time to time, fell a-praising the widow. He made, indeed, a little mistake as to one of her pages, whom at his first entering he took for Astyanar; but quickly set himself right in that particular, though, at the same time, he owned he should have been very glad to have seen the little boy, who, says he, must needs be a very fine child by the account that is given of him. Upon Hermione's going off with a menace to Pyrrhus, the audience gave a loud clap, to which Sir Roger added, "On my word, a notable young baggage!
As there was a very remarkable silence and stillness in the audience during the whole action, it was natural for them to take the opportunity of the intervals between the acts to express their opinion of the players, and of their respective parts. Sir Roger, hearing a cluster of them praise Orestes, struck in with them, and told them that he thought his friend Pylades was a very sensible man. As they were afterward applauding Pyrrhus, Sir Roger put in a second time: "And let me tell you," says he, "though he speaks but little, I like the old fellow in whiskers as well as any of them." Captain Sentry, seeing two or three wags who sat near us lean with an attentive ear toward Sir Roger, and fearing lest they should smoke the knight, plucked him by the elbow, and whispered some thing in his ear, that lasted till the opening of the
fifth act. The knight was wonderfully attentive to the account which Orestes gives of Pyrrhus's death, and, at the conclusion of it, told me it was such a bloody piece of work, that he was glad it was not done upon the stage. Seeing afterward Orestes in his raving fit, he grew more than ordinarily serious, and took occasion to moralize (in his way) upon an evil conscience, adding, that Orestes, in his madness, looked as if he saw something.
As we were the first that came into the house, so we were the last that went out of it: being resolved to have a clear passage for our old friend, whom we did not care to venture among the jostling of the crowd. Sir Roger went out fully satisfied with his entertainment, and we guarded him to his lodging in the same manner that we brought him to the play-house, being highly pleased for my own part, not only with the performance of the excellent piece which had been presented, but with the satisfaction which it had given to the good old man.-L.
"As you are the daily endeavorer to promote learning and good sense, I think myself obliged to suggest to your consideration whatever may promote or prejudice them. There is an evil which has prevailed from generation to generation, which gray hairs and tyrannical custom continue to support; I hope your spectatorial authority will give a seasonable check to the spread of the infection; I mean old men's overbearing the strongest sense of their juniors by the mere force of seniority; so that of a young man in the bloom of life, and vigor of age, to give a reasonable contradiction to his elders, is esteemed an unpardonable insolence, and regarded as reversing the decrees of nature. I am a young man, I confess; yet I honor the gray head as much as any one; however, when, in company with old men, I hear them speak obscurely, or reason preposterously (into which absurdities, prejudice, pride, or interest, will sometimes throw the wisest), I count it no crime to rectify their reasonings, unless conscience must truckle to ceremony, and truth fall a sacrifice to complaisance. The strongest arguments are enervated, and the brightest evidence disappears, before those tremendous reasonings and dazzling discoveries of venerable old age. You are young giddy-headed fellows; you have not yet had experience of the world.' Thus we young folks find our ambition cramped, and our laziness indulged; since while young we have little room to display ourselves; and, when old, the weakness of nature must pass for strength of sense, and we hope that hoary heads will raise us above the attacks of contradiction. Now, Sir, as you would enliven our activity in the pursuit of learning, take our
case into consideration; and, with a gloss on brave no-customers (for by the way they seldom or never Elihu's sentiments, assert the rights of youth, buy anything) calls for a set of tea-dishes, another and, prevent the pernicious encroachments of for a basin, a third for my best green tea, and even age. The generous reasonings of that gallant to the punch-bowl, there's scare a piece in my youth would adorn your paper; and I beg you shop but must be displaced, and the whole agreewould insert them, not doubting but that they able architecture disordered, so that I can compare will give good entertainment to the most intelli- them to nothing but to the night-goblins that take gent of readers. your a pleasure to overturn the disposition of plates and dishes in the kitchens of your housewifely maids. Well, after all this racket and clutter, this is too dear, that is their aversion; another thing is charming, but not wanted: the ladies are cured of the spleen, but I am not a shilling the better for it. Lord, what signifies one poor pot of tea, considering the trouble they put me to? Va pors, Mr. Spectator, are terrible things; for though I am not possessed by them myself, I suffer more by them than if I were. Now I must beg you to admonish all such day-goblins to make fewer visits, or to be less troublesome when they come to one's shop; and to convince them that we honest shopkeepers have something better to do, than to cure folks of the vapors gratis. A young son of mine, a schoolboy, is my secretary, so I hope you will make allowances.
"So these three men ceased to answer Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes. Then was kindled the wrath of Elihu, the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the kindred of Ram. Against Job was his wrath kindled, because he justified himself rather than God. Also, against his three friends was his wrath kindled, because they had found no answer, and yet had condemned Job. Now Elihu had waited till Job had spoken, because they were elder than he. When Elihu saw there was no answer in the mouth of these three men, then his wrath was kindled. And Elihu, the son of Barachel the Buzite, answered and said, I am young, and ye are very old; wherefore I was afraid, and durst not show you mine opinion. I said, Days should speak, and multitude of years should teach wisdom. But there is a spirit in man, and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding. Great men are not always wise; neither do the aged understand judgment. Therefore I said, Hearken to me, I also will show mine opinion. Behold I waited for your words; I gave ear to your reasons, while you searched out what to say. Yea, I attended unto you. And behold there was none of you that convinced Job, or that answered his words: lest you should say, We have found out wisdom: God thrusteth him down, not man. Now he hath not directed his words against me: neither will I answer him with your speeches. They were amazed; they answered no more; they left off speaking. When I had waited (for they spake not, but stood still and answered no more) I said, I will answer also my part; I also will show mine opinion. For I am full of matter, the spirit within me constraineth me. Behold, my belly is as wine which hath no vent, it is ready to burst like new bottles. I will speak that I may be refreshed; I will open my lips and answer. Let me not, I pray you, accept any man's person, neither let me give flattering titles unto man. For I know not to give flattering titles; in so doing my Maker would soon take me away."
"I have formerly read with great satisfaction your papers about idols, and the behavior of gentlemen in those coffee-houses where women officiate; and impatiently waited to see you take India and China shops into consideration: but since you have passed us over in silence, either that you have not as yet thought us worth your notice, or that the grievances we lie under have escaped your discerning eye, I must make my complaints to you, and am encouraged to do it because you seem a little at leisure, at this present writing. I am, dear Sir, one of the top China-women about town; and though I say it, keep as good things, and receive as fine company, as any of this end of the town, let the other be who she will. In short, I am in a fair way to be easy, were it not for a club of female rakes, who, under pretense of taking their innocent rambles forsooth, and diverting the spleen, seldom fail to plague me twice or thrice a day, to cheapen tea, or buy a screen. What else should they mean? as they often repeat it. These rakes are your idle ladies of fashion, who, having nothing to do, employ themselves in tumbling over my ware. One of these
"I am, Sir,
"Your constant Reader, and
"C REBECCA the distressed.”
"If I had not been hindered by some extraordinary business, I should have sent you sooner my further thoughts upon education. please to remember, that in my last letter I endeavored to give the best reasons that could be urged in favor of a private or public education Upon the whole, it may perhaps be thought that I seemed rather inclined to the latter, though at the same time I confessed that virtue, which ought to be our first principal care, was more usually acquired in the former.
I intend, therefore, in this letter, to offer at methods, by which I conceive boys might be made to improve in virtue as they advance in letters.
"I know that in most of our public schools vice is punished and discouraged, whenever it is found out; but this is far from being sufficient, unless our youth are at the same time taught to form a right judgment of things, and to know what properly virtue.
"To this end, whenever they read the lives and actions of such men as have been famous in their generation, it should not be thought enough te make them barely understand so many Greek or Latin sentences; but they should be asked their opinion of such an action or saying, and obliged to give their reasons why they take it to be good or bad. By this means they would insensibly arrive at proper notions of courage, temperance, honor, and justice.