Imatges de pàgina

sion. Mr. Dryden used to call these sort of men his prose critics.

I should under this head of the language, consider Milton's numbers, in which he has made use of several elisions, which are not customary among other English poets, as may be particularly observed in his cutting off the letter Y, when it precedes a vowel. This, and some other innovations in the measure of his verse, has varied his numbers in such a manner, as makes them incapable of satiating the ear, and cloying the reader, which the same uniform measure would certainly have done, and which the perpetual returns of rhyme never fail to do in long narrative poems. I shall close these reflections upon the language of Paradise Lost, with observing that Milton has copied after Homer rather than Virgil in the length of his periods, the copiousness of his phrases, and the running of his verses into one another.



Nomina honesta praetenduntur vitiis.


Specious names are lent to cover vices.

York, Jan. 18, 5711-12. ( MR. SPECTATOR,

• I PRETEND not to inform a gentleman of so • just a taste, whenever he pleases to use it; but it

may not be amiss to inform your readers, that there • is a false delicacy as well as a true one. True

delicacy, as I take it, consists in exactness of judgsment and dignity of sentiment, or if you will, purity . of affection, as this is opposed to corruption and

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

grossness. There are pedants in breeding as well as in learning. The

eye that cannot bear the light o is not delicate but sore. A good constitution appears in the soundness and vigour of the parts, not in the squeamishness of the stomach : and a false delicacy is affectation, not politeness. What then can be (the standard of delicacy but truth and virtue? Vir« tue, which, as the satirist long since observed, is (real honour; whereas the other distinctions among • mankind are merely titular. Judging by that rule in my opinion, and in that of



virtuous « female readers, you are so far from deserving Mr. • Courtly's accusation, that you seem too gentle, and « to allow too many excuses for an enormous crime, (which is the reproach of the age, and is in all its • branches and degrees expressly forbidden by that • religion we pretend to profess; and whose laws, in

a nation that calls itself christian, one would think • should take place of those rules which men of cor

rupt minds, and those of weak understandings, • follow. I know not any thing more pernicious to 'good manners, than the giving fair names to foul " actions ; for this confounds vice and virtue, and • takes off that natural horror we have to evil. An • innocent creature, who would start at the name of

strumpet, may think it pretty to be called a mistress, • especially if her seducer has taken care to inform • her, that a union of hearts is the principal matter « in the sight of heaven, and that the business at • church is a mere idle ceremony. Who knows not • that the difference between obscene and modest ( words expressing the same action, consists only in • the accessary idea, for there is nothing immodest in 6 letters and syllables. Fornication and adultery are • modest words ; because they express an evil action 6 as criminal, and so as to excite horror and aversion : ! whereas words representing the pleasure ratherthan the sin, are for this reason indecent and dishonesta

[ocr errors]

Your papers would be chargeable with something worse than indelicacy, they would be immoral, did you treat the detestable sins of uncleanness in the same manner as you rally an impertinent self-love, 6 and an artful glance; as those laws would be very unjust, that should chastise murder and petty larceny with the same punishment. Even delicacy o requires that the pity shewn to distressed, indigent 6 wickedness, first betrayed into and then expelled (the harbours of the brothel, should be changed to • detestation, when we consider pampered vice in the « habitations of the wealthy. The most free person

of quality, in Mr. Courtly's phrase, that is, to speak • properly, a woman of figure who has forgot her birth 6 and breeding, dishonoured her relations and herself, 6 abandoned her virtue and reputation, together with • the natural modesty of her sex, and risked her very • soul, is so far from deserving to be treated with no o worse character than that of a kind woman, (which 6 is doubtless Mr. Courtly's meaning, if he has any) " that one can scarce be too severe on her, inasmuch

as she sins against greater restraints, is less expo6 sed, and liable to fewer temptations, than beauty in poverty and distress. It is hoped therefore, Sir, that you will not lay aside your generous design of

exposing that monstrous wickedness of the town, whereby a multitude of innocents are sacrificed in

a more barbarous manner than those who were offered to Moloch. The unchaste are provoked to (see their vice exposed, and the chaste cannot rake • into such filth without danger of defilement, but a smere Spectator may look into the bottom, and come

off without partaking in the guilt. The doing so will convince us you pursue public good, and not • merely your own advantage : but if your zeal slackens, how can one help thinking that Mr. Courtly's letter is but a feint to get off from a subject, in which either your own, or the private and base ends of


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

( others to whom you are partial, or those of whom you are afraid, would not endure a reformation ?

"I am, Sir,
your humble servant and admirer,
so long as you tread in the paths of

• truth, virtue, and honour.'



Trin. Coll. Cantab. Jan. 12, 1711-12. MR. SPECTATOR,

• JT is my fortune to have a chamber-fellow, with whom, though I agree very well in many sen6 timents, yet there is one in which we are as contrary as light and darkness. We are both in love : his mistress is a lovely fair, and mine a lovely brown. • Now as the praise of our mistresses beauty employs 6 much of our time, we have frequent quarrels in en

tering upon that subject, while each says all he can ( to defend his choice. For my own part, I have (racked my fancy to the utmost; and sometimes, o with the greatest warmth of imagination, have told • him, that night was made before day, and many more fine things, though without any effect: nay,

last night I could not forbear saying with more heat • than judgment, that the devil ought to be painted ( white. Now, my desire is, Sir, that you will be

pleased to give us in black and white, your opinion s in the matter of dispute between us; which will • either furnish me with fresh and prevailing

ments to maintain my own taste, or make me with « less repining allow that of my chamber-fellow. I Oknow very well that I have Jack Cleveland and • Bond's Horace on my side ; but then he has such

a band of rhymers and romance-writers, with which • he opposes me, and is so continually chiming to • the tune of golden tresses, yellow locks, milk, mar

ble, ivory, silver, swans, snow, daisies, doves, and the • lord knows what; which he is always sounding with $o much vehemence in my ears, that he often puts

(me into a brown study how to answer him ; and I • find that I am in a fair way to be quite confounded, without your timely assistance afforded to,

• Your humble servant,




Ω φιλάτη γη μήτερ, ως σεμνόν σφόδρ εί
Tois vår fx 80s xlūpe ce ;...


MENAND Dear native land, how do the good and wise

Thy happy clime and countless blessings prize! I LOOK upon it as a peculiar happiness, that were I to choose of what religion I would be, and under what government I would live, I should most certainly give the preference to that form of religion and government which is established in my own country. In this point I think I am determined by reason and conviction : but if I shall be told that I am actuated by prejudice, I am sure it is an honest prejudice, it is a prejudice that arises from the love of my country, and therefore such an one as I will always indulge. I have in several papers endeavoured to express my duty and esteem for the church of England, and design this as an essay upon the civil part of our constitution, having often entertained myself with reflections on this subject, which I have not met with in other writers.

That form of government appears to me the most reasonable, which is most conformable to the equality that we find in human nature, provided it be consistent with public peace and tranquillity. This is what

« AnteriorContinua »