« PreviousContinue »
self represented in the natural horror and deformity of his character. On the other side of them stands another Fury, that, with an insulting derision, repeats to them all the praises that their flatterers had bestowed upon them while they sat upon their respective thrones. She too, says the author, presents a mirror before their eyes, in which every one sees himself adorned with all those beauties and perfections, in which they had been drawn by the vanity of their own hearts, and the flattery of others. To punish them for the wantonness of the cruelty which they formerly exercised, they are now delivered up to be treated according to the fancy and caprice of several slaves, who have here an opportunity of tyrannizing in their turns,
The author, having given us a description of these ghastly spectres, who, says he, are always calling upon Death, and are placed under the distillation of that burning vengeance which falls upon them drop by drop, and is never to be exhausted, leads us into a pleasing scene of groves, filled with the melody of birds, apd the odours of a thousand different plants. These groves are represented as rising among á great many flowery meadows, and watered with streams that diffuse a perpetual freshness, in the midst of an eternal day, and a never-fading spring. This, says the author, was the habitation of those good princes who were friends of the gods, and parents of the people. Among these, Telemachụs converses with the shade of one of his ancestors, who makes a most agreeable relation of the joys of Elysium, and the nature of its inhabitants. The residence of Seşostris among these happy shades, with his character and present employment, is drawn in a very lively manner, and with a great elevation of thought.
The description of that pure and gentle light which overflows these happy regions, and clothes the spirits
of these virtuous persons, hath something in it of that enthusiasm which this author was accused of by his enemies in the church of Rome; but, however it may look in religion, it makes a yery beautiful figure in poetry
The rays of the sun, he says, are darkness in comparison with this light, which rather deserves the name of glory, than that of light. It pierces the thickest bodies, in the same manner as the sup-beams pass through crystal. It strengthens the sight instead of dazzling it; and nourishes in the most inward recesses of the mind a perpetual serenity that is not to be expressed. It enters and incorporates itself with ,the
very substance of the soul : the spirits of the blessed feel it in all their senses, and in all their perceptions. It produces a certain source of peace
and joy that arises in them for ever, running through all the faculties, and refreshing all the desires of the soul. External pleasures and delights, with all their charms and allurements, are regarded with the utmost indifference and neglect by these happy spirits, who have this great principle of pleasure within them, drawing the whole mind to itself, calling off their attention from the most delightful objects, and giving them all the transports of inebriation, without the confusion and the folly of it.
I have here only mentioned some master-touches of this admirable piece, because the original itself is understood by the greater part of my readers. I must confess, I take a particular delight in these prospects of futurity, whether grounded upon the probable suggestions of a fine inagination, or the more severe conclusions of philosophy; as a man loves to hear all the discoveries or conjectures relating to a foreign country which he is, at some time, to inhabit. Pruspects of this nature lighten the burden of any present evil, and refresh us under the worst and lowest cirçımstances of mortality. They extinguish in us both the fear and envy of human grandeur. Inso. lence sbrinks its head, power disappears ; pain, poverty, and death fly before them. In short, the mind that is habitụated to the lively sense of an Hereafter, can hope for what is the most terrifying to the generality of mankind, and rejoice in wẠat is the most afflicting.
No 157. TUESDAY, APRIL 11, 1710.
Fucile est inventis uddere.
From my own Apartment, April 10. I was last night in an assembly of very fine women. How I came among them is of no great importance to the reader. I shall only let you know, that I was betrayed into so good company by tbe device of an old friend, who had promised to give some of his fe. male acquaintance a sight of Mr. Bickerstaff. Upon bearing my name mentioned, a lady who sat by mę, told me, they had brought together a female consort for my entertainment. ! You must know,” says she, " that we all of us look upon ourselves to be musical instruments, though we do not yet know of what kind; which we hope to learn from you, if you will give us leave to play before you.” This was followed by a general laugh, which I always look upon as a necessary flourish in the opening of a female consort. They then struck up together, and played a whole hour upon two grounds, viz. the Trial* and the Opera. I could not but observe, that several of their notes were more soft, and several more sharp, than any that lever heard in a male consort ; though I must confess, there was not any regard to time, nor any of those rests and pauses which are frequent in the harmony of the other sex: besides that the music was generally full, and no particular instrument permitted to play long by itself..
I seemed so very well pleased with what every one said, and smiled with so much complaisance at all their pretty fancies, that though I did not put one word into iheir disccurse, I have the vanity to think, they looked upon me as very agreeable company. I then told them, “ that if I were to draw the picture of so many charming musicians, it would be like one I had seen of the Muses, with their several instruments in their hands;" upon which the lady Kettle-drum tossed back her head, and cried, “ Å very pretty simile!" The consort again revived ; in which, with nods, smiles, and approbations, I bore the part rather of one who beats the time, than of a performer. . I was no sooner retired to my lodgings, but I ran over in my thoughts, the several characters of this fair assembly; which I shall give some account of, because they are various in their kind, and may each of them stand as a sample of a whole species.
The person who pleased me most was a Flute, an instrument, that, without any great compass, hath something exquisitely sweet and soft in its sound: it lulls and sooths the ear, and fills it with such a gen
tle kind of melody, as keeps the mind awake with· out startling it, and raises a most agreeable passion
* Of Dr. Sachererell.
between transport and indolence. In short, the music of the Flute is the conversation of a mild and amiable woman, that has nothing in it very ele. vated, nor, at the same time, any thing inean or trivial.
I must here observe, that the Hautboy is the most perfect of the Flute-species, which, with all the sweetuess of the sound, hath a great strength and variety of notes; though at the same time I must observe, that the Hautboy in one sex is as scarce as the Harpsichord in the other.
By the side of the Flute there sat a Flagelet; for so I must call a certain young lady, who fancying herself a wit, despised the music of the Flute as low and insipid, and would be entertaining the company with tart ill-patured observations, pert fancies, and little turns, which she imagined to be full of life and spirit. The Flagelet therefore doth not differ from The Flute so much in the compass of its notes as in the shrillness and sharpness of its sound. We must however take notice, that the Flagelets among their own sex are more valued and esteemed than the
There chanced to be a coquette in the consort, that with a great many skittish notes, affected squeaks, and studied inconsistencies, distinguished herself from the rest of the company. She did not speak a word during the whole Trial: but I thought she would never have done upon the Opera. One while she would break out upon, " That hideous king !" then upon “ The charming black-moor !" then, “ O that dear lion!" then would hum over two or three notes ; then run to the window to see what coach was coming. The coquette, therefore, I must distinguish by that musical instrument which is commonly known by the name of a Kit, that is