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methods. But notwithstanding I have rejected every thing that savours of party, every thing that is loose and immoral, and every thing that might create uneasiness in the minds of particular persons, I find that the demand for my papers has increased every month fince. their first appearance in the world. This does not perhaps reflect so much honour upon myself, as on my readers, who give a much greater attention to discourses of virtue and morality; than ever I expected, or indeed could hope.
When I broke loose from that great body of writers who have employed their wit and parts in propagating vice and irreligion, I did not question but I should be created as an odd kind of fellow, that had a mind to appear singular in my way of writing : but the general reception I have found, convinces me that the world is not so corrupt as we are apt to imagine; and that if those men of parts who have been employed in vitiating the age had endeavoured to rectify and amend it, they needs ed not have sacrificed their good sense and virtue to their fame and reputation. No man is so funk in vice and ignorance, but there are still some hidden seeds of goodness and knowledge in him ; which give him a relish of such reflexions and speculations as have an aptness to improve the mind, and make the heart better.
I have shewn in a former paper, with how much carè I have avoided all such thoughts as are loose, obscene, or immoral ; and I believe my reader would still think the better of me, if he knew the pains I am at in qualifying what I write after such a manner, that nothing may be interpreted as aimed at private persons. For this reason when I draw any faulty character, I consider all those persons to whom 'tke malice of the world may poslibly apply it, and take care to dash it with such particular circuimstances as may prevent all such ill-natured applications. If I write any thing on a black man, I run over in my mind all the eminent persons in the nation who are of that complexion : when I place an imaginary name at the head of a character, I examine every fyllable and letter of it, that it may not bear any resemblance to one that is real. I know very well the value which every man sets upon his reputation, and
how painful it is to be exposed to the mirth and derision of the public, and should therefore scorn to divert my reader at the expence of any private man.
As I have been thus tender of every particular person's reputation, fo I have taken more than ordinary care not to give offence to those who appear in the higher figures of life. I would not make myself merry even with a piece of pasteboard that is invested with a public character; for which reason I have never glanced upon the late designed procession of his holineis and his attendants, notwithilanding it might have afforded matter to many ludicrous speculations. Among those advantages, which the public may reap from this paper, it is not the least, that it draws men's minds off from the bitterness of party, and furnishes them with subjects of difcourse that may be treated without warmth or passion. This is said to have been the first design of those gentlemen who set on foot the Royal Society; and had then a very good effect, as it turned many of the greatest geniuses of that age to the disquisitions of natural knowledge, who, if they had engaged in politics with the same parts and application, might have set their country in a flame. The air-pump, the barometer, the quadrant, and the like inventions, were thrown out to those busy spirits, as tubs and barrels are to a whale, that he may let the ship sail on without disturbance, while he diverts himself with those innocent amufements.
I have been so very scrupulous in this particular of not hurting any man's reputation that I have forborn mentioning even such authors as I could not name withhonour. This I must confefs to have been a piece of very great self-denial : for as the public relishes nothing better than the ridicule which turns upon a writer of any eminence, so there is nothing which a man that has but a very ordinary talent in ridicule may execute with greater ease. One might raise laughter for a quarter of a year together upon the works of a person who has published but a very few volumes. For which reason I am astonished, that those who have appeared against this
paper have made fo very little of it. The criticisms which I have hitherto published, have been made with an intention rather to discover beauties and
excellencies in the writers of my own time, than to püblish any of their faults and imperfections. In the mean while I thould take it for a very great favour from some of my underhand detractors, if they would break all measures with me so far, as to give me a pretence for examining their performances with an impartial eye : nor shall I look upon it as any breach of charity to cria ticise the author, so long as I keep clear of the person,
In the mean while; until I am provoked to such hosti. lities, I shall from time to time endeavour to do justice to those who have distinguished themselves in the politer parts of learning, and to point out such beauties in their works as may have estaped the observation of others.
As the first place among our English poets is due to Milton ; and as I have drawn more quotations out of him than from any other, I shall enter into a regular criticism upon his Paradise Loft, which I shall publish every Saturday until I have given my thoughts upon that poem. I shall not however presume to impose upon others my own particular judgment on this author, but only deliver it as my private opinion. Criticism is of a very large extent, and every particular master in this art Has his favourite passages in an author, which do not equally strike the best judges. It will be sufficient for me if I discover many beauties or imperfections which others have not attended to, and I should be very glad to see any of our eminent writers publish their discoveries on the same subject. In short, I would always be understood to write my papers of criticism in the spirit which Hoface has expressed in those two famous lines,
-Si quid novifti rectius istis,
Ep: 6. lib. 1. ver, ult:
better remarks of your own communicate them with candour; if not, make use of these I present you withi'
N° 263 Tuesday, January 1, 1712.
Gratulor quòd eum quem neceffe erat diligere, qualifcunque elet, talem habemus ut libenter quoque diligamus.
Trebonius apud Tull. I rejoice, that the person, whom it was my duty to love,
good or bad, is such an one, that I can love him with a willing mind. * Mr. Spectator,
Am the happy father of a very towardly fon, in whom I do not only see my life, but also my man
ner of life, renewed. It would be extremely bene• ficial to society, if you would frequently resume sub• jects which serve to bind these sort of relations fafter, • and endear the ties of blood with those of good-will, • protection, observance, indulgence, and veneration. I « would, methinks, have this done after an uncommon • method, and do not think any one, who is not capable • of writing a good play, fit to undertake a work whereo in there will necessarily occur so many secret instincts, • and biasses of human nature which would pass unob
served by common eyes. I thank heaven I have no
outrageous offence against my own excellent parents to o answer for; but when I am now and then alone, and • look back upon my past life, from my earliest infancy
to this time, there are many faults which I commit• ted that did not appear to me, even until I myself be#came a father. I had not until then a notion of the
yearnings of heart, which a man has when he sees his
child do a laudable thing, or the sudden damp which • feizes him when he fears he will act something un• worthy. It is not to be imagined, what a remorse « touched me for a long train of childish negligences 6 of my mother, when I saw my wife the other day look
out of the window, and turn as pale as ashes upon feeing my younger boy sliding upon the ice. There 5
• flight intimations will give you to understand, that
there are numberless little crimes which children take no notice of while they are doing, which, upon reflexion, when they fall themselves become fathers, they will look upon with the utmost sorrow and contrition, that they did not regard, before those whom they offended were to be no more seen. How many thousand things do I remember, which would have
highly pleased my father, and I omitted for no other ' reason, but that I thought what he proposed the effect • of humour and old age, which I am now convinced • had reason and good sense in it. I cannot now go ' into the parlour to him, and make his heart glad with
an account of a matter which was of no consequence, • but that I told it, and acted in it. The good man
and woman are long since in their graves, who used to • fit and plot the welfare of us their children, while, • perhaps, we were sometimes laughing at the old folks
at another end of the house. The truth of it is, were
we merely to follow nature in these great duties of ' life, though we have a strong instinct towards the
performing of them, we should be on both sides very s deficient. Age is so unwelcome to the generality of • mankind, and growth towards manhood fo desirable
to all, that resignation to decay is too difficult a tak in • the father; and deference, amidit the impulse of gay s desires, appears unreasonable to the son. There are • fo few who can grow old with a good grace, and yet
fewer who can come slow enough into the world, that. a father, were he to be actuated by his desires, and
a fon, were he to consult himself only, could neither • of them behave himself as he ought to the other. . But
when reason interposes against instinct, where it would
carry either out of the interests of the other, there • arises that happiest intercourse of good offices between 6 those deareft relations of human life.
The father, according to the opportunities which are offered to • him, is throwing down blessings on the son, and the . fon endeavouring to appear the worthy, offspring of < such a father. It is after this manner that Camillus
and his first-born dwell together. Camillus enjoys a • pleasing and indolent old age, in which pafion is