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N° 548. Friday, November 28.
Vitiis nemo fine nafcitur, optimus ille
M. SPECTATOR, Nov. 27. 1712
Have read this Day's Paper
with a great deal of PleaI fure, and could send you an
Account of several Elixirs
and Antidotes in your third Volume, which your Correspondents have not taken notice of in their Advertisements; and at the same time must own to you, that I have feldom feen a Shop furnished with such a Variety of Medicaments, and in which there are fewer Soporificks. The several Vehicles you have invented for conveying your" unacceptable Truths to us, are what I most particularly admire, as I am afraid they are Secrets which will die with you." I do not find that any of your Critical Effays are taken notice of 'in this Paper, notwithstanding I look upon them to be excellent Clean
sers of the Brain, and could venture to superscribe them with an Advertisement which I have lately seen in one of our News-Papers, wherein there is an Account given of a Sovereign Remedy for restoring the Taste to all such Perfons whose Palates have been vitiated by Distempers, unwholsome Food, or any the like Occasions. But to let fall the Allusion, notwithftanding your Criticisms, and particularly the Candour which you have discovered in them, are not the least taking part of your Works, I find your Opinion concerning Poetical Justice, as it is expressed in the first Part of your Fortieth Spectator, is controverted by some eminent: Criticks; and as you now seem, to our great Grief of Heart, to be winding up your Bottoms, I hoped you would have enlarged a little upon that Subject. It is indeed but a single Paragraph in your Works, and I believe those who have read it with the same Attention I have done, will think there is nothing to be obje&ted against it. I have however drawn up fome additional Arguments to strengthen the Opinion which you have there delivered, having endeavoured to go to the bottom of that matter, which
You may either publish or suppress as You think fit.
• HORACE in my Motto fays, that
all Men are vicious, and that they o differ from one another, only as they are more or less so. Boileau has given
the same Account of our Wisdom, as 6. Horace has of our Virtue.
Tous les hommes sont fous, & malgré tous leurs
Joins, Ne different entre eux,que du plus du moins,
All Men, says he, are Fools, and in spite of their Endeavours to the contrary, differ from one another only as they'are more or less so.
«Two or three of the old Greeë Poets have given the famc turn to a "Sentence which describes the Happi
ness of Man in this Life;
That Man is most happy who is the least miserable." It will not perhaps be
unentertainig to the Polite Reader, to observe how these three beautiful Sentences are formed upon different Subjects by the same way of think
ing; but I thall return to the first of
called a virtuous Man. Every one has & in him a natural Aloy, though one
may be fuller of Drofs than another: For this reason I cannot think it right to introduce a perfect or a faultless Man upon the Stage; not only becaufe fuch a Character is improper to move Compassion, but because there is no fuch thing in Nature. This might probably be one Reason why the SpecTATOR in one of his pas pers took notice of that late invented Term called Postical Justice, and the wrong Notions into which it has led fome Tragick Writers. The most perfect Man has Vices enough to draw down Punishments upon his Head, and to justify Providence in regard to any Miseries that may befaľ him. For this reason: I cannot think, but that the Instruētion and Moral are much finer, where a Man who is virtuous in the main of his Character falls into Diftrefs, and finks under the Blows of Fortune at the
end of a Tragedy, than when he is represented as Happy and Triumphant.
Such an Example corrects the Info• lence of Human Nature, softens the & Mind of the Beholder with Senti
ments of Pity and Compassion, com
forts him under his own private Af• fiction, and teaches him not to judge ' of Mens Virtues by their Succeffes.
I cannot think of one real Hero in
all Antiquity so far raised above human • Infirmities, that he might not be ve
ry naturally represented in a Tragedy as plunged in Misfortunes
, and Cala"mities. The Poet may still find out
fome prevailing Passion or Indiscretion ' in his Character, and shew it in such
a manner, as will sufficiently acquit • the Gods of any Injustice in his Saf(
ferings. For as Horace observes in my “ Text, the best Man is faulty, though
not in so great a degree as those 6 whom
we generally callvicious 6 Men.
"IF fuch a strict Poetial Justice, as 6 fome Gentlemen insist upon, was to 6 be observed in this Art, there is no
manner of reason why it should not extend to Heroick Poetry, as well as Tragedy. But we find it fo little ob