Page images
PDF
[ocr errors]

the circumstance of the handkerchief, which is employed as a confirmation to the jealousy of Othello already raised. What I would here observe is, that the very slightness of this circumstance is the beauty of it. How finely has Shakspeare expressed the nature of jealousy in those lines, which, on this occasion, he puts into the mouth of Iago,

‘Trifles light as air Are to the jealous, confirmation strong As proofs of holy writ.

It would be easy for a tasteless critic to turn any of the beauties I have here mentioned into ridicule: but such a one would only betray a mechanical judgment, formed out of borrowed rules and common-place reading, and not arising from any true discernment in human nature, and its passions.

As the moral of this tragedy is an admirable caution against hasty suspicions, and the giving way to the first transports of rage and jealousy, which may plunge a man in a few minutes into all the horrors of guilt, distraction, and ruin, I shall further enforce it, by relating a scene of misfortunes of the like kind, which really happened some years ago in Spain; and is an instance of the most tragical hurricane of passion I have ever met with in history. It may be easily conceived that a heart ever big with resentments of its own dignity, and never allayed by reflections which make us honour ourselves for acting with reason and equality, will take fire preeipitantly. It will, on a sudden, flame too high to be extinguished. The short story I am going to tell is a lively instance of the truth of this observation, and a just warning to those of jealous honour to look about them, and begin to possess their souls as they ought, for no man of spirit knows how terrible a creature he is, till he comes to be provoked.

Don Alonzo, a Spanish nobleman, had a beautiful and virtuous wife, with whom he had lived for some years in great tranquillity. The gentleman, however, was not free from the faults usually imputed to his nation; he was proud, suspicious, and impetuous. He kept a Moor in his house, whom, on a complaint from his lady, he had punished for a small offence with the utmost severity. The slave vowed revenge, and communicated his resolution to one of the lady's women with whom he lived in a criminal way. This creature also hated her mistress, for she feared she was observed by her : she therefore undertook to make Don Alonzo jealous, by insinuating that the gardener was often admitted to his lady in private, and promising to make him an eye-witness of it. At a proper time agreed on between her and the Morisco, she sent a message to the gardener, that his lady, having some hasty orders to give him, would have him come that moment to her in her chamber. In the mean time, she had placed Alonzo privately in an outer room, that he might observe who passed that way. It was not long before he saw the gardener appear. Alonzo had not patience, but following him into the apartment, struck him at one blow with a dagger to the heart; then dragging his lady by the hair without inquiring farther, he instantly killed her.

Here he paused, looking on the dead bodies with all the agitations of a demon of revenge; when the wench who had occasioned these terrors, distracted with remorse, threw herself at his feet, and in a voice of lamentation, without sense of the consequence, repeated all her guilt. Alonzo was overwhelmed with all the violent passions at one instant, and uttered the broken voices and motions of each of them for a mo. ment, till at last he recollected himself enough to end his agony of love, anger, disdain, revenge, and remorse, by murdering the maid, the Moor, and himself.

No. 38.] Friday, April 24, 1713.

Prodire tenus si non datur ultra.
Hor. Lib. 1. Ep. i. 32.

Thus far at least, though here we stop.

I HAVE lately given a precaution concerning the difficulty in arriving at what ought to be esteemed a “fine gentleman.' That character has been long wholly engrossed by well-drest beaux, and men of sense have given up all pretence to it. The highest any of them contend for, is the character of a ‘pretty gentleman; for here the dress may be more careless, and some wit is thought necessary; whereas, a fine gentleman is not obliged to converse further than the offering his snuff-box round the room. However, the pretty gentleman must have his airs: and though they are not so pompous as those of the other, yet they are so affected, that few who have understanding can bring themselves to be proficients this way, though ever so useful towards being well received; but if they fail here, they succeed with some difficulty in being allowed to have ‘much of the gentleman' in them. To obtain this epithet, a man of sense must ar rive at a certain desire to appear more than is natural to him; but as the world goes, it is fit he should be encouraged in this attempt, since nothing can mend the general taste, but setting the true character in as public a view as the false. This, indeed, can never be done to the purpose, while the majority is so great on the wrong side; one of a hundred will have the shout against him; but if people of wit would be as zealous to assist old Ironside, as he is to promote them and their interest, a little time would give these things a new turn. However, I will not despair but I shall be able to summon all the good sense in the nation to my assistance, in my ambition to produce a new race of mankind, to take the places of such as have hitherto pretended to engross the fashion. The university scholar shall be called upon to learn his exercise, and frequent mixt company; the military, and the travelled man, to read the best authors; the country gentleman, to divide his time, so as, together with the care of his estate, to make an equal progress in learning and breeding; and when the several candidates think themselves prepared, I shall appoint under of: ficers to examine their qualifications, and, as I am satisfied with their report, give out my passports recommending them to all companies as ‘the Guardian's fine gentlemen.” If my recommendations appear just, I will not doubt but some of the present fine gentlemen will see the necessity of retirement, till they can come abroad with approbation. I have indeed already given out orders in this behalf, and have directed searchers to attend at the inns where the Oxford and Cambridge coaches stand, and commanded them to bring any young fellow, of any hopes in the world, directly to my lodgings as soon as he lands, for I will take him though I know I can only make him “much of a gentleman:' for, when I have gone thus far, one would think it should be easy to make him a “gentleman-like man.” As the world now goes, we have no adequate idea of what is meant by “gentlemanly,’ ‘gentleman-like,' or, ‘much of a gentleman;' you cannot be cheated at play, but it is certainly done by “a very gentleman-like man; you cannot be deceived in your affairs, but it was done in some ‘gentlemanly manner; you cannot be wronged in your bed, but all the world will say of him that did the injury, it must be allowed “he is very much of a gentleman.’ Here is a very pleasant fellow a correspondent of mine, that puts in for that appellation even to highwaymen, I must confess the gentleman he personates is very apparently such, though I did not look upon that sort of fellow in that light, till he favoured me with his letter, which is as follows:

‘MR. IRONSIDE,--I have been upon the highway these six years, in the Park, at the Play, at Bath, Tunbridge, Epsom, and at every other place where I could have any prospect of steal. ing a fortune; but have met with no success, being disappointed either by some of your damned Ironside race, or by old cursed curs, who put more bolts on their doors and bars in their windows than are in Newgate. All that see me own I am “a gentleman-like man;' and, whatever rascally things the grave folks say I am guilty of they themselves acknowledge I am a ‘gentlemanly kind of man,’ and in every respect accomplished for running away with a lady. I have been bred up to no business, am illiterate, have spent the small fortune I had in purchasing favours from the fair sex. The bounty of their purses I have received, as well as the endearments of their persons, but I have gratefully disposed of it among themselves, for I always was a keeper when I was kept. I am fearless in my behaviour, and never fail of putting your bookish sort of fellows, your men of merit, forsooth, out of countenance. I triumph when I see a modest young woman blush at an assembly, or a virgin betrayed into tears at a well-wrought scene in a tragedy. I have long forgot shame, for it proceeds from a consciousness of some defect; and I am, as I told you, “a gentlemanly man.' I never knew any but you musty philosophers applaud blushes, and you yourselves will allow that they are caused either by some real imperfection, or the apprehension of defect where there is not any; but for my part I hate mistakes, and shall not suspect myself wrongfully. Such as I am, if you approve of my person, estate, and character, I desire you would admit me as a suitor to one of the Lizards, and beg your speedy answer to this;

for it is the last time my black coat will bear scouring, or my long wig buckling. I am, sir, the fair ladies', and your humble servant, * WILL BAREFACE.” *

Those on the highway, who make a stand with a pistol at your breast (compelled perhaps by necessity, misfortune, or driven out of an honest way of life, to answer the wants of a craving family,) are much more excusable than those of their fraternity, who join the conversations of gentlemen, and get into a share of their fortunes without one good art about them. What a crowd of these gentleman-like men are about this town! For, from an unjust modesty, and incapacity for common life, the ordinary failings of men of letters and industry in our nation, it happens that impudence suppresses all virtue, and assumes the reward and esteem which are due to it. Hence it is that worthless rogues have the smiles of the fair, and the favours of the great: to be well dressed and in health, and very impudent, in this lićentious undistinguishing age, is enough to constitute a person “very much of a gentleman;' and to this pass are we come, by the prostitution of wit in the cause of vice, which has made the most unreasonable and unnatural things prevail against all the suggestions of common sense. Nobody denies that we live in a Christian country, and yet he who should decline, upon respective opportunities, to commit adultery, or murder, would be thought ‘very little of a gentleman.'

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

‘MR. IRoNSIDE,-On the eleventh day of October, in the year 1712, having left my body locked up safe in my study, I repaired to the Grecian coffee-house, where, entering into the pineal gland of a certain eminent free-thinker, I made directly to the highest part of it, which is the seat of the understanding, expecting to find there a comprehensive knowledge of all things, human and divine; but to my no small astonishment, I found the place narrower than ordinary, insomuch that there was not any room for a miracle, prophecy, or separate spirit.

‘This obliged me to descend a story lower, into the imagination, which I found larger, indeed, but cold and comfortless. I discovered Prejudice in the figure of a woman, standing in a corner, with her eyes close shut, and her fore-fingers stuck in her ears; many words in a confused order, but spoken with great emphasis, issued from her mouth. These being condensed by the coldness of the place, formed

a sort of mist, through which methought I saw a great castle with a fortification cast round it, and a tower adjoining to it, that through the windows appeared to be filled with racks and halters. Beneath the castle I could discern vast dungeons, and all about it lay scattered the bones of men. It seemed to be garrisoned by certain men in black, of a gigantic size, and most terrible forms. But as I drew near, the terror of the appearance vanished; and the castle I found to be only a church, whose steeple with its clock and bell-ropes was mistaken for a tower filled with racks and halters. The ter. rible giants in black shrunk into a few innocent clergymen. The dungeons were turned into vaults designed only for the habitation of the dead; and the fortifications proved to be a church-yard, with some scattered bones in it, and a plain stone wall round it. ‘I had not been long here before my curiosity was raised by a loud noise that I heard in the inferior region. Descending thither I found a mob of the passions assembled in a riotous manner. Their tumultuary proceedings soon convinced me, that they affected a democracy. After much noise and wrangle, they at length all hearkened to Vanity, who proposed the raising of a great army of notions, which she offered to lead against those dreadful phantoms in the imagination that had occasioned all this uproar. “Away posted Vanity, and I after her, to the storehouse of Ideas; where I beheld a great number of lifeless notions confusedly thrown together, but upon the approach of Vanity they began to crawl. Here were to be seen, among other odd things, sleeping deities, corporeal spirits, and worlds formed by chance; with an endless variety of heathen notions, the most irregular and grotesque imaginable; and with these were jumbled several of Christian extraction; but such was the dress and light they were put in, and their features were so distorted, that they looked little better than heathens. There was likewise assembled no small number of phantoms in strange habits, who proved to be idolatrous priests of different nations, Wanity gave the word, and straightway the Talopoins, Faquirs, Bramins, and Bonzes, drew up in a body. The right wing consisted of ancient heathen notions, and the left, of Christians naturalized. All these together, for numbers, composed a very formidable army; but the precipitation of Vanity was so great, and such was their own inbred aversion to the tyranny of rules and discipline, that they seemed rather a confused rabble than a regular army. I could, nevertheless, observe, that they all agreed in a squinting look, or cast of their eye towards a certain person in a mask, who was placed in the centre, and whom, by sure signs and tokens, I discovered to be Atheism. “Vanity had no sooner led her forces into the imagination, but she resolved upon storming the castle, and giving no quarter. They began the assault with a loud outcry and great confusion. I, for my part, made the best of my way, and re-entered my own lodging. Some time after, inquiring at a bookseller's for a Discourse on Free-thinking, withou made some noise,

I met with the representatives of all those notions drawn up in the same confused order upon paper. Sage Nestor, I am your most obedient humble servant, • ULYSSES COSMOPOLITA.”

“N. B. I went round the table, but could not find a wit, or mathematician among them.

I imagine the account here given may be useful in directing to the proper cure of a freethinker. In the first place, it is plain his understanding wants to be opened and enlarged, and he should be taught the way to order and methodise his ideas; to which end the study of the mathematics may be useful. I am farther of opinion, that as his imagination is filled with amusements arising from prejudice, and the obscure or false lights in which he sees things, it will be necessary to bring him into good company, and now and then carry him to church; by which means he may in time come to a right sense of religion, and wear off the ill impressions he has received. Lastly, I advise whoever undertakes the reformation of a modern free-thinker, that above all things he be careful to subdue his vanity; that being the principal motive which prompts a little genius to distinguish itself by singularities that are hurtful to mankind.

Or, if the passion of vanity, as it is for the most part very strong in your free-thinkers. cannot be subdued, let it be won over to the interest of religion, by giving them to understand that the greatest genii of the age have a respect for things sacred; that their rhapsodies find no admirers, and that the name Free-thinker has, like Tyrant of old, degenerated from its original signification, and is now supposed to denote something contrary to wit and reason. In fine. let them know that whatever temptations a few men of parts might formerly have had, from the novelty of the thing, to oppose the received opinions of Christians, yet that now the humour is worn out, and blasphemy and irreligion are distinctions which have long since descended

down to lackeys and drawers. But it must be my business to prevent all

pretenders in this kind from hurting the ignorant and unwary. In order to this, I communicated an intelligence which I received of a gentleman's appearing very sorry that he was not well during a late fit of sickness, contrary to his own doctrine, which obliged him to be merry upon that occasion, except he was sure of recovering. Upon this advice to the world, the following advertisement got a place in the Post-boy:

‘Whereas, in the paper called the Guardian of Saturday, the eleventh of April, instant, a corollary reflection was made on Monsieur , a member of the royal academy of sciences in Paris, author of a book lately published, entitled, “A Philological Essay, or Reflections on the death of Free-thinkers, with the characters of the most eminent persons of both sexes, ancient and modern, that died pleasantly and unconcerned, &c. Sold by J. Baker in Paternoster-row: Suggesting, as if that gentleman, now in London, “was very much out of humour, in a late fit of sickness, till he was in a fair way of recovery :” This is to assure the public, that the said gentleman never expressed the least concern at the approach of death, but expected the fatal minute with a most heroical and philosophical resignation; of which a copy of verses he writ, in the serene intervals of his distemper, is an invincible proof.'

All that I contend for, is, that this gentleman was out of humour when he was sick; and the advertiser, to confute me, says, that “in the serene intervals of his distemper,' that is, when he was not sick, he writ verses. I shall not retract my advertisement till I see those verses, and I will choose what to believe then, except they are underwritten by his nurse, nor then neither except she is a housekeeper. I must tie this gentleman close to the argument; for if he had not actually his fit upon him, there is nothing courageous in the thing, nor does it make for his purpose, nor are they heroic verses.

The point of being merry at the hour of death is a matter that ought to be settled by divines; but the publisher of the Philological Essay produces his chief authorities from Lucretius, the earl of Rochester, and Mr. John Dryden, who were gentlemen that did not think themselves obliged to prove all they said, or else proved their assertions by saying or swearing they were all fools that believed to the contrary. If it be absolutely necessary that a man should be facetious at his death, it would be very well if these gentlemen, Monsieur D and Mr.

would repent betimes, and not trust to

a death-bed ingenuity; by what has appeared hitherto they have only raised our longing to see their posthumous works.

The author of Poeta Rusticantis literatum Otium is but a mere phraseologist, the philological publisher is but a translator; but I expected better usage from Mr. Abel Roper, who is an original.

No. 40.] Monday, April 27, 1713.

Compulerantoue greges Corydon et Thyrsis in unum:
Exillo Corydon, Corydon est tempore nobis.
Wirg. Ecl. vii. 2.

Their sheep and goats together graz'd the plains— Since when 3 'tis Corydon among the swains, Young Corydon without a rival reigns. Dryden. I DESIGNEd to have troubled the reader with no farther discourses of pastorals; but being informed that I am taxed of partiality in not mentioning an author, whose eclogues are published in the same volume with Mr. Philips's, I shall employ this paper in observations upon him, written in the free spirit of criticism, and without apprehension of offending the gentleman, whose character it is, that he takes the greatest care of his works before they are published, and has the least concern for them afterwards. I have laid it down as the first rule of pastoral, that its idea should be taken from the manners of the golden age, and the moral formed upon the representation of innocence; it is there

Virgil.

fore plain that any deviations from that design degrade a poem from being true pastoral. In this view it will appear that Virgil can only have two of his eclogues allowed to be such. His first and ninth must be rejected, because they describe the ravages of armies, and oppressions of the innocent; Corydon's criminal passion for Alexis throws out the second; the calumny and railing in the third are not proper to that state of concord; the eighth represents unlawful ways of procuring love by enchantments, and introduces a shepherd whom an inviting precipice tempts to self-murder. As to the fourth, sixth, and tenth, they are given up by Heinsius, Salmasius, Rapin, and the critics in general.” They likewise observe that but eleven of all the Idyllia of Theocritus are to be admitted as pastorals; and even out of that number the greater part will be excluded, for one or other of the reasons above-mentioned. So that when I remarked in a former paper, that Virgil's eclogues, taken altogether, are rather select poems than pastorals, I might have said the same thing, with no less truth, of Theocritus. The reason of this I take to be yet unobserved by the critics, viz. “They never meant them all for pastorals;” which it is plain Philips hath done, and in that particular excelled both Theocritus and Virgil. As simplicity is the distinguishing character. istic of pastoral, Virgil has been thought guilty of too courtly a style: his language is perfectly pure, and he often forgets he is among peasants. I have frequently wondered that since he was so conversant in the writings of Ennius, he had not imitated the rusticity of the Doric; as well, by the help of the old obsolete Roman language, as Philips hath by the antiquated English. For example, might he not have said “quoi" instead of ‘cui;’ ‘quoijum' for ‘cujum;’ ‘volt' for “vult,’ &c. as well as our modern hath ‘welladay' for “alas,” “whilome’ for ‘of old,” “make mock' for * deride,' and “witless younglings' for “simple lambs,’ &c. by which means he had attained as much of the air of Theocritus, as Philips hath of Spenser? Mr. Pope hath fallen into the same error with His clowns do not converse in all the simplicity proper to the country. His names are borrowed from Theocritus and Virgil, which are improper to the scene of his pastorals. He introduces Daphnis, Alexis, and Thyrsis on British plains, as Virgil had done before him on the Mantuan : whereas Philips, who hath the strictest regard to propriety, makes choice of names peculiar to the country, and more agreeable to a reader of delicacy; such as Hobbinol, Lobbin, Cuddy, and Colin Clout. So easy as pastoral writing may seem (in the simplicity we have described it), yet it requires great reading, both of the ancients and moderns, to be a master of it. Philips hath given us manifest proofs of his knowledge of books; it must be confessed his competitor hath imitated some single thoughts of the ancients well enough, if we consider he had not the happiness of a university education; but he hath dispersed them here and there, without that order and method which Mr. Philips observes, whose whole third

* See Rapin de Carm. Past. pars 3.

pastoral is an instance how well he hath studied the fifth of Virgil, and how judiciously reduced Virgil's thoughts to the standard of pastoral; as his contention of Colin Clout and the Nightingale, shows with what exactness he hath imitated Strada.

When I remarked it as a principal fault to introduce fruits and flowers of a foreign growth, in descriptions where the scene lies in our country, I did not design that observation should extend also to animals, or the sensitive life; for Philips hath with great judgment described wolves in England, in his first pastoral. Nor would I have a poet slavishly confine himself (as Mr. Pope hath done) to one particular season of the year, one certain time of the day, and one unbroken scene in each eclogue. It is plain Spenser neglected this pedantry, who, in his pastoral of November, mentions the mournful song of the nightingale.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]
[blocks in formation]

If the reader would indulge his curiosity any farther in the comparison of particulars, he may read the first pastoral of Philips with the second of his contemporary, and the fourth and sixth of the former with the fourth and first of the latter; where several parallel places will occur to every one.

Having now shown some parts, in which these two writers may be compared, it is a justice I owe to Mr. Philips, to discover those in which no man can compare with him. First that beautiful rusticity, of which I shall only produce two instances, out of a hundred not yet quoted:

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

How he still charms the ear with these artful repetitions of the epithets; and how significant is the last verse ! I defy the most common reader to repeat them without feeling some motions of compassion. In the next place I shall rank his proverbs, in which I formerly observed he excels. For example, A rolling stone is ever bare of moss; And, to their cost, green years old proverbs cross. He that late lies down, as late will rise, And, sluggard like, till noon-day snoring lies, Againstill luck all cunning foresight fails; Whether we sleep or wake it naught avails. Nor fear, from upright sentence, Wrong.

Lastly, his elegant dialect, which alone might prove him the eldest-born of Spenser, and our only true Arcadian ; I should think it proper for the several writers of pastoral, to confine themselves to their several counties: Spenser seems to have been of this opinion; for he hath laid the scene of one of his pastorals in Wales,

« PreviousContinue »