Page images
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

is what gives birth to the motto of a specula Designing this day's work for a differtation tion, which I rather choose to take out of the upon the two extremities of my paper, and havpoets than the prose-writers, as the former ge- ing already dispatched my motto, I Mall, in the nerally give a finer turn to a thought than the next place, discourse upon those single capital latter, and by couching it in few words, and in letters, which are placed at the end of it, and harmonious numbers, make it more portable to which have afforded great matter of fpeculation the memory.

to the curious. I have heard various conjectures My reader is therefore sure to meet with at upon this subject. Some tell us that C is the least one good line in every paper, and very often mark of those papers that are written by the finds his imagination entertained by a hint that clergyman, though others ascribe them to the awakens in his memory fome beautiful passage club in general: that the pers marked with R of a classic author.

were written by my friend Sir Roger : that L figIt was a saying of an ancient philosopher, nifies the lawyer, whom I have described in my which I find some of our writers have afcribed second speculation; and that T stands for the to queen Elizabeth, who perhaps might have trader or merchant: but the letter X, which is taken occasion to repeat it, “ that a good face placed at the end of some few of my papers, is « is a letter of recommendation." It natu that which has puzzled the whole town, as they rally makes the beholders inquisitive into the cannot think of any name which begins with person who is the owner of it, and generally that letter, except Xenophon and Xerxes, who prepossesses them in his favour. A handsome can neither of them be supposed to have had any motto has the same effect. Besides that it al- hand in these speculations. ways gives a fupernumerary beauty to a paper, In answer to these inquisitive gentlemen, who and is sometimes in a manner necessary when the have many of them made inquiries of me by writer is engaged in what may appear a paradox letter, I must tell them the reply of an ancient to vulgar minds, as it Mews that he is supported philosopher, who carried something hidden unby good authorities, and is not fingular in his der his cloke. A certain acquaintance defiring opinion.

him to let him know what it was he covered to I must confess, the motto is of little use to an carefully, “ I cover it,” says he, “on purpose unlearned reader, for which reason I consider it that you should not know.” I have made use of only as “ a word to the wife.” But as for my these obscure marks for the same purpose. They unlearned friends, if they cannot relish the mot- are, perhaps, little amulets or charms to preserve to, I take care to make provision for them in the the paper againit the fascination and malice of body of my paper. If they do not understand evil eyes; for which reason I would not have my the fign that is hung out, they know very well reader surprized, if hereafter he fees any of my by it, that they may meet with entertainment papers marked with a Q, a Z, a Y, an &c. or in the house; and I think I was never better with the word Abracadabra. pleased than with a plain man's compliment, I Mall, however, so far explain myself to the who, upon his friend's telling him that he would reader, as to let him know that the letters C, L, like the Spectator much better if he understood and X, are cabalistical, and carry more in them the mo'to, replied, “ that good wine needs no than it is proper for the world to be acquainted 6 burh."

with. Those who are versed in the philosophy I have heard of a couple of preachers in a of Pythagoras, and swear by the Tetrachtys, that country town, who endeavoured which should is, the nu uber four, will know very well that outshine one another, and draw together the the number ten, which is signified by the letter greatest congregation. One of them being well X, (and which has so much perplexed the town) versed in the fathers, used to quote every now has in it many particular powers, that it is and then a Latin sentence to his illiterate heare called by platonic writers the complete number; ers, who it seems found themselves so edified by that one, two, three and four put together make it, that they focked in greater numbers to this up the number ten; and that ten is all. But learned man than to his rival. The other find- these are not mysteries for ordinary readers to be ing his congregation mouldering every Sunday, let into. A man must have spent many years and hearing at length what was the occasion of in hard study before he can arrive at the knowit, resolved to give his parish a little Latin in his ledge of them. turn: but being unacquainted with any of the We had a rabbinical divine in England, who fathers, he digested into his sermons the whole was chaplain to the earl of Effex in queen Eliza, book of Quc Genus, adding however such ex beth's time, that had an admirable head for replications to it as he thought might be for the crets of this nature. Upon his taking the docbenefit of his people. He afterwards entered tor of divinity's degree, he preached before the upon As in præfenti

, which he converted in the university of Cambrilge upon the first verse of fame manner to the use of his parishoners. This the first chapter of the first book of Chronicles, in a very little time thickened his audience, filled in which, says he, you have the three following his church, and routed his antagonist.

words, The natural love to Latin, which is so preva

Adam, Sheth, Enosh. lent in our common people, makes me think He divided this short text into many parts, and that my speculations fare never the worse among by discovering several mysteries in each word, them from that little scrap which appears at the made a moft learned and elaborate discourse. head of them; and what the more encourages me The name of this profound preacher was Dr. in the use of quotation in an unknown tongue, Alabaster, of whom the reader may find a more is, that I hear the ladies, whose approbation I particular account in Dr, Fuller's book of Eng. value more than that of the whole learned world, lish worthies. This instance will, I hope, condeclare themselves in a more particular manner vince my readers that there may be a great deal pleased with my Greek mottose

of fine writing in the capital letters which bring


[ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

« ing,

« ing.

up the rear of my paper, and give them some fa. What this correspondent wonders at, has been tisfaction in that particular. But as for the full matter of admiration ever since there was any explication of these matters, I must refer them to such thing as human life. Horace reflects upon time, which discovers all things.

C this inconsistency very agreeably in the character

of Tigellius, whom he makes a mighty pretender to ceconomy, and tells you, you might one day

hear him speak the most philosophic things imaN° 222. WEDNESDAY. Nov. 14.

ginable concerning being contented with a little, Cur alter fratrum cesare, & ludere, & ungi,

and his contempt of every thing but mere necesPræferat Herodis palmetis pinguibus--

saries, and in half a week after spend a thousand Hor: Ep. 2. lib. 2, ver. 183. pound. When he says this of him with relation Why, of two brothers, one his pleasure loves, to expence, he describes him as unequal to himPrefers his sports to Herod's fragrant groves.

self in every other circumstance of life. And in'CRIECH. deed, if we consider lavish men carefully, we

Thall find it always proceeds from a certain inca« Mr. Spektator,

pacity of pofiesling themselves, and finding en"HERE is one thing I have often looked joyment in their own minds. Mr. Dryden has

for in your papers, and have as often expressed this very excellently in the character of « wondered to find myself disappointed; the ra- Zimri. " ther, becaufe I think it a subject every way ' agreeable to your design, and by being left un « A man fo various, that he seem'd to be • attempted by others, seems reserved as a proper « Not one, but all mankind's epitome. ' employment for you: I mean a disquisition, “ Stiff in opinion, always in the wrong, « from whence it proceeds, that men of the Was every thing by starts, and nothing long; • brightest parts, and most comprehensive ge « But in the course of one revolving moon, .nius, completely furnished with talents for any “ Was chymist, fidler, statesman, and buffoon. • province in human affairs ; such as by their wise « Then all for women, painting, rhiming, drink. • Jessons of economy to others have made it evi. • dent, that they have the justest notions of life, « Besides ten thousand freaks that died in think. ( and of true sense in the conduct of it:from ( what unhappy contradi&tious cause it proceeds, “ Bleft madman, who could every hour employ • that persons thus finished by nature and by art, “ In something new to with or to enjoy! • Mould so often fail in the management of that “ In squand'ring wealth was his peculiar art, (which they fo well understand, and want the “ Nothing went unrewarded but desert." • address to make a right application of their own • rules. This is certainly a prodigious inconfir This loose state of the soul hurries the extrava• tency in behaviour, and makes much such a gant from one pursuit to another; and the reason • figure in morals as a monstrous birth in natu- that his expences are greater than another's, is, orals, with this difference only, which greatly that his wants are also more numerous. But

aggravates the wonder, that it happens much what makes so many go on in this way to their (more frequently; and what a blemish does it lives end, is, that they certainly do not know how • caft upon wit and learning in the general ac- contemptible they are in the eyes of the rest of

count of the world ? and in how disadvan- mankind, or rather, that indeed they are not so • tageous a light does it expose them to the busy contemptible as they deserve. Tully says, it is • class of mankind, that there should be so many the greatest of wickedness to lessen your paternal • instances of persons who have so conducted estate. And if a man would thoroughly consider • their lives in fpite of these transcendent advan- how much worse than banishment it must be to • tages, as neither to be happy in themselves, nor his child, to ride by the estate which should have • useful to their friends; when every body sees it been his, had it not been for his father's injustice ( was intirely in their own power to be eminent to him, he would be smitten with the reflexion • in both these characters ? For my part, I think more deeply than can be understood by any but • there is no reflexion more astonishing than to one who is a father. Sure there can be nothing • confider one of these gentlemen spending a fair more afflicting, than to think it had been happier • fortune, running in every body's debt without for his son to have been born of any other man • the least apprehension of a future reckoning, living than himself. • and at last leaving not only his own children, It is not perhaps much thought of, but it is • but possibly those of other people, by his means, certainly a very important leffon, to learn how to • in starving circumstances; while a fellow, whom enjoy ordinary life, and to be able to relish your • one would scarce suspect to have a human soul, being without the transport of some passion, or • fhall perhaps raise a vast estate out of nothing, gratification of some appetite. For.want of this • and be the founder of a family capable of being capacity, the world is filled with whetters, tip

very confiderable in their country, and doing plers, cutters, fippers, and all the numerous train

many illustrious services to it. That this ob- of those who, for want of thinking, are forced to • fervation is just, experience has put beyond all be ever exercising their feeling or tafting. It

dispute. But though the fact be so evident and would be hard on this occasion to mention the • glaring, yet the causes of it are fill in the dark; harmless smokers of tobacco and takers of snuff, · which makes me persuade myself, that it would The Nower part of mankind, whom my correr« be no unacceptable piece of entertainment to pondent wonders should get estates,are the more im• the town, to inquire into the hidden sources of mediately formed for that pursuit: they can expect • fo unaccountable an evil. I am,

diftant things without impatience, because they "SIR,

are not carried out of their way either by violent • Your most humble Servant.' pasion or keep appetite to any thing: To men


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


addicted to delights, business is an interruption; sometimes taken up alive. This place was thereto such as are cold to delights, business is an en fore called, “ The Lover's Leap;" and whether tertainment. For which reason, it was said to one or no the fright they had been in, or the resolu. who commended a dull man for his application, tion that could push them to so dreadful a reme“ No thanks to him; if he had no business, he dy, or the bruises which they often received in « would have nothing to do.”

T their fall, banished all the tender sentiments of

love, and gave their spirits another furn; those who had taken this leap were observed never to

relapse into that passion. Sappho tried the cure, No 223. THURSDAY, Nov. 15. but perished in the experiment.

After having given this mort account of SapO fuavis anima! qualem te dicam bonam,

pho, so far as it regards the following ode, I Antebac fuiße, tales cúm fint reliquiæ! Phædr. Fab. 1. lib. 3. ver. 5.

Thall subjoin the translation of it as it was sent

me by a friend, whose admirable pastorals and O sweet soul! how good must you have been Winter-piece have been already so well received,

been heretofore, when your remains are so The reader will find in it that pathetic fimplicity delicious!

which is so peculiar to him, and so suitable to HEN I reflect upon the various fate of the ode he has here tranNated. This ode in the

those multitudes of ancient writers who Greek, besides those beauties observed by Madam flourished in Greece and Italy, I consider time as Dacier, has several harmonious turns in the an immense ocean in which many noble authors words, which are not lost in the English. I are intirely swallowed up, many very much Mat. must farther add, that the translation has pretered and damaged, some quite disjointed and served every image and sentiment of Sappho, broken into pieces, while some have wholly notwithstanding it has all the ease and spirit of escaped the common wreck; but the number of an original. In a word, if the ladies have a mind the last is very small.

to know the manner oi writing practised by the

so much celebrated Sappho, they may here see it Apparent rari nantes in gurgite vasto.

in its genuine and natural beauty, without any Virg. Æn. 1. ver. 112. foreign or affected ornaments. “ One here and there foats on the vast abyss."

An HYMN to VENUS. Among the mutilated poets of antiquity, there is none whose fragments are so beautiful

1. as those of Sappho. They give us a taste of her “ O Venus, beauty of the skies, way of writing, which is perfectly conformable “ To whom a thousand temples rise, with that extraordinary character we find of her, “ Gaily false in gentle smiles, in the remarks of those great critics who were “ Full of love-perplexing wiles ; conversant with her works when they were in O goddess ! from my heart remove tice. One may see by what is left of them, that

“ The wasting cares and pains of love. The followed nature in all her thoughts, without

II. descending to those little points, conceits, and “ If ever thou haft kindly heard turns of wit with which many of our modern “ A song in soft distress preferr'd, lyrics are so miserably infected. Her foul seems « Propitious to my tuneful vow, to have been made up of love and poetry : the « O gentle goddess ! hear me now. felt the passion in all its warmth, and described « Descend thou bright, immortal guest, it in all its symptoms. She is called by ancient " In all thy radiant charms confeít. authors the tenth muse; and by Plutarch is

III. compared to Cacus the son of Vulcan, who

“ Thou once didît leave almighty Jove, breathed out nothing but flame. I do not know “ And all the golden roofs above: by the character that is given of her works, " The car thy wanton sparrows drew, whether it is not for the benefit of mankind that “ Hov'ring in air they lightly flew; they are loft. They were filled with such be “ As to my bow'r they wing'd their way, witching tenderness and rapture, that it might " I saw their quiv'ring pinions play. have been very dangerous to have given them a

iy. reading.

« The birds dismiss'd (while you remain) An inconstant lover, called Phaon, occasioned “ Bore baek their empty car again: great calamities to this poetical lady. She fell “ Then you, with looks divinely mild, desperately in love with him, and took a voyage " In ev'ry heav'nly feature smil'd, into Sicily, in pursuit of him, he having with " And ask'd what new complaints I made, drawn himself thither on purpose to avoid her. “ And why I call'd you to my aid ? It was in that isand, and on this occasion, she

V, is supposed to have made the hymn to Venus, “ What frenzy in my borom rag'd, with a translation of which I fall present my « And by what cure to be affuag'd ? reader. Her hymn was ineffectual for the pro “ What gentle youth I would allure, curing that happiness which the prayed for in " Whom in my artful toils secure? it.' Phaon was still obdurate, and Sappho so " Who does thy tender heart subdue, transported with the violence of her passion, that “ Tell me, my Sappho, tell me, who? she was resolved to get rid of it at any price.

VI. There was a promontory in Acarnania called

« Tho' now he fhuns tlay longing arms, Leucate, on the top of which was a little temple “ He soon shall court thy fighted charms; dedicated to Apollo. In this temple it was usual " Tho' now thy off'rings he despise, for despairing lovers to make their vows in se

6. He soon to thee thall sacrifice; čret, and afterwards to Aing themselves from the " ho' now he freeze, he foon shall burn, top of the precipics into the sea, where they were - And be chy victim in his turn.

VII. « Ce



and follies of life upon the same innate principle; « Celestial visitant, once more

to wit, the desire of being remarkable: for this, « Tly needful prefence I implore !

as it has been differently cultivated by education, « In pity come and ease my grief,

study and converse, will bring forth suitablo « Bring my distemper'd soul relief,

effects as it falls in with an ingenuous disposi« Favour thy suppliant's hidden fires,

tion, or a corrupt mind; it does accordingly exó “ And give me all my heart desires,

press itself in acts of magnanimity or selfish cun.

ning, as it ineets with a good or weak under. Madam Dacier observes, there is something standing. As it has been employed in embela very pretty in that circumstance of this ode, lishing the mind, or adorning the outside, it ren. wherein Venus is described as sending away her ders the man eminently praise-worthy or ridicu. chariot upon her arrival at Sappho's lodgings, lous. Ambition therefore is not to be confined to denote that it was not a mort transient visit only to one paffion or pursuit; for as the samé which she intended to make her. This ode was humours, in constitutions otherwise different, afpreserved by an eminent Greek critic, who in- feet the body after different manners, so the fame serted it intire in his works, as a pattern of per-' aspiring principle within us sometimes breaks fection in the structure of it.

forth upon one object, fometimes upon another. Longinus has quoted another ode of this great It cannot be doubted, but that there is as great poetess, which is likewise admirable in its kind, a desire of glory in a ring of wrestlers or cudgeland has been translated by the same hand with players, 'as in any other more refined competition the foregoing one. I Mall oblige my reader with for superiority. No man that could avoid it, it in another paper. In the mean while, I cannot would ever suffer his head to be broken, but out of but wonder, that these two finished pieces have a principle of honour. This is the secret spring never been attempted before by any of our own that puthes them forward; and the superiority countrymen. But the truth of it is, the compo- which they gain above the undistinguished many, fitions of the ancients, which have not in them does more than repair thofe wounds they have reany of those unnatural witticisms that are the ceived in the combat. It is Mr. Waller's opinion delight of ordinary readers, are extremely diffi- that Julius Cæfar, had he not been master of the cult to render into another tongue, so as the Roman Empire, would in all probability have beauties of the original may not appear weak made an excellent wrestler. and faded in the translation,


« Great Julius, on the mountains bred,
" A flock perhaps or herd had led :

“ He that the world subdu'd, had been N° 224. FRIDAY, November 16.

6 But the beft wrestler on the green.”

That he subdued the world was owing to the -Fulgente trabit conftriftes gloria curru Non minùs ignotos generofismama

accidents of art and knowledge; had he not met Hor. Sat. 6.1. 1. V. 23. lation would have kindled within him, and

with those advantages, the same sparks of emu-Glory's shining chariot swiftly draws With equal whirl the noble and the base.

prompted him to distinguish himself in some CREECH.

enterprise of a lower nature. Since therefore

no man's lot is fo unalterably fixed in this life, F we look abroad upon the great multitude but that a thousand accidents may either forward

of mankind, and endeavour to trace out the or disappoint his advancement, it is, methinks; principles of action in every individual, it will, I a pleafant and inoffensive speculation, to conthink, seem highly probable that ambition runs sider a great man as divested of all the adventi. through the whole species, and that every man in tious circumstances of fortune, and to bring him proportion to the vigour of his complexion is down in one's imagination to that low station of more or less actuated by it. It is indeed no un- life, the nature of which bears some distant re. common thing to meet with men, who by the semblance to that high one he is at present por. natural bent of their inclinations, and without sessed of. Thus one may view him exercising the discipline of philosophy, aspire not to the in miniature those talents of nature, which being heights of power and grandeur; who never set drawn out by education to their full length, enatheir hearts upon a'numerous train of clients and ble him for the discharge of some important em. dependencies, nor other gay appendages of great- ployment. On the other hand, one may raise ness; who are contented with a competency, and uneducated merit to such a pitch of greatness, will not moleft their tranquility to gain an as may seem equal to the poñible extent of his abundance: but it is not therefore to be con- improved capacity. cluded that such a man is not ambitious : his Thus nature furnishes a man with a general defires may have cut out another channel, and appetite of glory, education determines it to this determined him to other pursuits; the motive or that particular object. The desire of distinction however may be still the same; and in these cases is not, I think, in any instance more observable likewise the man may be equally pushed on with than in the variety of outsides and new appear. the desire of distinction.

ances, which the modish part of the world are Though the pure confciousness of worthy ac- obliged to provide, in order to make themselves tions, abstracted from the views of popular ap- remarkable; for any thing glaring or particular, piause, be to a generous mind an ample reward, either in behaviour or apparel, is known to have yet the desire of distinction was doubtless ini- this good effect, that it catches the eye, and will planted in our natures as an additional incentive not suffer you to pass over the person so adorned to exert ourselves in virtuous excellence.

without due notice and observation. It has like. This passion indeed, like all others, is frequently wise, upon this account, been frequently resented perverted to evil and ignoble purposes; so that as a very great night, to leave any gentleman out we may account for many of the excellencies of a lampoon or satire, who has as much right to


be there as his neighbour, because it supposes the abject passion. Thus if you cut off the toi person not eminent enough to be taken notice of. branches of a tree, and will not suffer it to grow To this passionate fondness for distinction are any higher, it will not therefore cease to grow, owing various frolicksome and irregular practices, but will quickly shoot out at the bottom. The as fallying out into nocturnal exploits, breaking man indeed who goes into the world only with of windows, singing of catches, beating the watch, the narrow views of self-interest, who catches at getting drunk twice a day, killing a great num- the applause of an idļe multitude, as he can find ber of horses; with many other enterprises of the no folid contentment at the end of his journey, like fiery nature: for certainly many a man is so he deserves to meet with disappointments in more rakith and extravagant than he would wil- his way; but he who is actuated by a nobler lingly be, were there not others to look on and principle, whose mind is so far enlarged as to give their approbation.

take in the prospect of his country's good, who One very common, and at the same time the is enamoured with that praise which is one of most absurd ambition that ever shewed itself in the fair attendants of virtue, and values not those human nature, is that which comes upon a man acclamations which are not seconded by the imwith experience and old age, the season when it partial testimony of his own mind; who repines might be expected he hould be wiseft; and not at the low station which providence has at therefore it cannot receive any of those lessening present allotted him, but yet would willingly circumstances which do, in some measure, ex advance himself by justifiable means to a more cuse the disorderly ferments of youthful blood : rising and advantageous ground; such a man is I mean the passion for getting money, exclusive warmed with a generous emulation; it is a virof the character of the provident father, the tuous movement in him to wish and to endeavour affectionate husband, or the generous friend. It that his power of doing good may be equal to his may be remarked, for the comfort of honest will. poverty, that this desire reigns most in those who The man who is fitted out by nature, and sent have but few good qualities to recommend them, into the world with great abilities, is capable of This is a weed that will grow in a barren foil. doing great good or mischief in it. It cught Humanity, good-nature, and the advantages of therefore to be the care of education to infuse a liberal education, are incompatible with ava into the untainted youth early notices of justice rice. It is ftrange to see how suddenly this and honour, that to the possible advantages of abject pafion kills all the noble sentiments and good parts may not take an evil turn, nor be generous ambitions that adorn human nature; perverted to base and unworthy purposes. It is it renders the man who is over-run with it a the business of religion and philosophy noţ lo peevith and cruel master, a severe parent, an

much to extinguish our passions, as to regulate unfociable husband, a distant and mistrustful and direct them to valuable well-chosen objects; friend. But it is more to the present purpose to when there have pointed out to us whịch course consider it as an absurd pasion of the heart, ra we may lawfully steer, it is no harm to set out ther than as a vicious affection of the mind. As all our sail; if the storms and tempeíts of adver, there are frequent instances to be met with of a fity should rise upon us, and not suffer us to proud humility, so this passion, contrary to most make the haven where we would be, it will how: others, affects applause, by avoiding all now ever prove no small consolation to us in these and appearance; for this reason it will not some- circumstances, that we have neither mistaken times endure the common decencies of apparel. pur course, nor fallen into calamities of our own “ A covetou man will calls himself poor, that procuring.

you may footh his vanity by contradicting Religion therefore, were we to consider it na « him.” Love, and the desire of glory, as they farther than as it interposes in the affairs of this are the most natural, so they are capable of being life, is highly valuable, and worthy of greaç refined into the moít delicate and rational para veneration; as it settles the various pretensions, fions. It is true, the wise man who strikes out and otherwise interfering interests of mortal of the secret paths of a private life, for honour men, and thereby consults the harmony and and dignity, allured by the splendor of a court, order of the great community; as it gives a man and the unfelt weight of public employment, room to play his part, and exert his abilities; whether he succeeds in his attempts or no, usu as it animates to actions truly laudable in themally comes near enough to this painted greatness felves, in their effects beneficial to fociety; as it to discern the daubing; he is then desirous of ex- inspires rational ambition, corrects love, and tricating himself out of the hurry of life, that he elegant desire, may pass away the remainder of his days in tranquility and retirement,

It may be thought then but common prudence in a man not to change a better state for a worse,


SATURDAY, Nov. 17,
nor ever to quit that which he knows he shall Nullum numén abeft, fi fit prudentia
take up again with pleasure; and yet if human
life be not a little moved with the gentle gales Prudence supplies the want of cv'ry god.

Juv. Sat. ic. ver. 365. of hope and fears, there may be some danger of its stagnating in an unmanly indolence and re HAVE often thought if the minds of men Qurity. It is a known story of Domitian, that were laid open, we thould see but little dif. after he had possessed himself of the Roman em- ference between that of the wise man and that pire, his desires turned upon catching fies. Ac. of the fool. There are infinite reveries, numtive and masculine spirits in the vigour of youth barless cxtravagancies, and a perpetual train of neither can nor ought to remain at reft; if they vanities which pass through both, debar themselves from aiming at a noble object, difference is, that the first knows how to pick their desires will move downwards, and they and cull his thoughts for conversation, by fup'will feel themselves actuated by some low and pressing fome, and communicating others; where

[ocr errors]

The great

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »