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that they have in them all the graces of novelty, and make the reader, who was before acquainted with them, still more convinced of their truth and solidity. And here give me leave to mention what Monsieur Boileau has so very well enlarged upon in the pre. face to his works, that wit and fine writing do not consist so much in advancing things that are new, as in giving things that are known, an agreeable lum. It is impossible for us, who live in the latter ages of the world, to make observations in criticism, morality, or in any art or science, which have not been touched upon by others. We have little else left us but to represent the common sense of mankind in more strong, more beautiful, or more uncommon lights. If a reader examines Horace's Art of Poetry, he will find but very few precepts in it, which he may not meet with in Aristotle, and which were not commonly known by all the poets of the Augustan age. His way of expressing and applying them, not his invention of them, is what we are chiefly to admire.
For this reason I think there is nothing in the world so tiresome as the works of those critics who write in a positive dogmatic way, without either language, genius, or imagination. If the reader would see how the best of the Latin critics writ, he may find their manner very beautifully described in the characters of Horace, Petronius, Quintilian, and Longinus, as they are drawn in the essay of which I am now speaking.
Since I have mentioned Longinus, who in his reflections has given us the same kind of sublime which he observes in the several passages that occasioned them; I cannot but take notice, that our English author has after the same inanner exemplified several of his precepts in the very precepts themselves. I shall produce two or three instances of this kind. Speaking of the insipid smoothness
which some readers are so much in love with, he has the following verses.
" These equal syllables alone require,
The gaping of the vowels in the second line, the expletive do in the third, and the ten monosyllables in the fourth, give such a beauty to this passage, as would have been very much admired in an ancient poet. The reader may observe the following lines in the same view.
« A needless Alexandrine ends the song,
« 'Tis not enough no harshness gives offence,
The beautiful distich upon Ajax in the foregoing lines, puts me in mind of a description in Homer's Odyssey, which none of the critics have taken notice of.' It is where Sisyphus is represented lifting his stone up the hill, which is no sooner carried to the top of it, but it immediately tumbles to the bottom. This double motion of the stone is admirably described in the numbers of these verses; as is in the four first it is heaved up by several spondees intermixed with proper breathing places, and at last trun, dles down a continual line of dactyls.
Και μήν Σίσυφος εισείδον, κρατέρ άλγέ έχονία,
" I turn'd my eye. and as I turn'd survey'd
It would be endless to quote verses out of Virgil which have this particular kind of beauty in the numbers; but I may take an occasion in a future paper to shew several of them which have escaped the observation of others.
I cannot conclude this paper without taking notice that we have three poems in our tongue, which are of the same nature, and each of them a master-piece in its kind; the Essay on. Translated Verse, the Essay on the Art of Poetry, and the Essay upon Criticism.
No. CCLIV. FRIDAY, DECEMBER 21.
Σεμνός έρως αρετής, ο δε κυπρίδΘ- άκG- οφέλλει.
On love of virtue reverence attends,
WHEN I consider the false impressions which are received by the generality of the world, I am troubled at none more than a certain levity of thought, which many young women of quality have entertained, to the hazard of their characters, and the certain misfortune of their lives. The first of the following letters may best represent the faults I would now point at, and the answer to it the temper of mind in a contrary character.
MY DEAR HARRIOT,
• IF thou art she, but oh how fallen, how changed, what an apostate ! how lost to all that is gay " and agreeable! To be married I find is to be bu(ried alive; I cannot conceive it more dismal to be
shut up in a vault to converse with the shades of 'my ancestors, than to be carried down to an old manor-house in the country, and confined to the
conversation of a sober, husband and an aukward ( chamber-maid. For variety, I suppose you may • entertain yourself with madam in her grogram
spouse of your parish vicar, who has by • this time, I am sure, well furnished you with re6 ceipts for making salves and possits, distilling cor• dial-waters, making syrups, and applying poultices.
Blest solitude ! I wish thee joy, my dear, of thy • loved retirement, which indeed you would persuade
me is very agreeable, and different enough from ( what I have here described : but, child, I am afraid ( thy brains are a little disordered with romances and
novels : after six months marriage to hear thee talk
of love, and paint the country scenes so softly, is a ' little extravagant; one would think you lived the • lives of sylvan deities, or roved among the walks
of paradise, like the first happy pair. But pr’ythee " leave these whimsies, and come to town in order (to live and talk like other mortals. However, as I am extremely interested in your reputation, I would willingly give you a little good advice at your first appearance under the character of a married wo(man : it is a little insolent in me perhaps, to advise
a matron; but I am so afraid you will make so 6 silly a figure as a fond wife, that I cannot help
warning you not to appear in any public places with 'your husband, and never to saunter about St.
James's Park together: if you presume to enter the ring at Hyde-Park together, you are ruined for ever; nor must you take the least notice of one ( another at the play-house or opera, unless you s would be laughed at for a very loving couple most happily paired in the yoke of wedlock. I would recommend the example of an acquaintance of ours to your imitation; she is the most negligent and « fashionable wife in the world ; she is hardly ever
seen in the same place with her husband, and if ? they happen to meet, you would think them perfect strangers ; she never was heard to name him in his absence, and takes care he shall never be the subject of any discourse she has a share in. I hope you
will propose this lady as a pattern, though I am very
much afraid you will be so silly to think Por• tia, &c. Sabine and Roman wives much brighter
examples. I wish it may never come into your • head to imitate those antiquated creatures so far,
as to come into public in the habit as well as air (of a Roman matron. You make already the entertainment at Mrs. Modish's tea table ; she says, she always thought you a discreet person, and qualified