Imatges de pàgina

But Aristotle, by the greatness of the action, does not only mean that it should be great in its nature, but also in its duration : or, in other words, that it should have a due length in it, as well as what we properly call greatness. The just measure of this kind of magnitude, he explains by the following similitude. An animal, no bigger than a mite, cannot appear perfect to the eye, because the sight takes it in at once, and has only a confused idea of the whole, and not a distinct idea of all its parts ; if, on the contrary, you should suppose an animal of ten thou. sand furlongs in length, the eye would be so filled with a single part of it, that it could not give the mind an idea of the whole. What these animals are to the eye, a very short or a very long action would be to the memory. The first would be, as it were, lost and swallowed up by it, and the other dif. ficult to be contained in it. Homer and Virgil have shown their principal art in this particular ; the action of the Iliad, and that of the Æneid, were in themselves exceeding short, but are so beautifully extended and diversified by the invention of epi. sodes, and the machinery of gods, with the like poetical ornaments, that they make up an agreeable story, sufficient to employ the memory without overcharging it. Milton's action is enriched with such a variety of circumstances, that I have taken as much pleasure in reading the contents of his books, as in the best invented story I ever met with. It is possible, that the traditions, on which the Iliad and Æneid were built, had more circumstances in them than the history of the Fall of Man, as it is related in scripture. Besides, it was easier for Homer and Virgil to dash the truth with fiction, as they were in no danger of offending the religion of their country by it. But as for Milton, he had not only a very few circumstances upon which to raise his poem, but was also obliged to proceed with the greatest caution in


every thing that he added out of his own invention. And, indeed, notwithstanding all the restraints he was under, he has filled his story with so many surprising incidents, which bear so close an analogy with what is delivered in holy writ, that it is capable of pleasing the most delicate reader, without giving offence to the most scrupulous.

The modern critics have collected from several hints in the Iliad and Æneid the space of time, which is taken up by the action of each of those poems; but as a great part of Milton's story was transacted in regions that lie out of the reach of the sun and the sphere of day, it is impossible to gratify the reader with such a calculation, which indeed would be more curious than instructive; none of the critics, either ancient or modern, having laid down rules to circumscribe the action of an epic poem with any determined number of years, days, or hours.

This piece of criticism on Milton's Paradise Lost shall be carried on in the following Saturday's papers.



Minus aptus acutis
Naribus horum hominum..........


He cannot bear the raillery of the age.


IT is not that I think I have been more witty than I ought of late, that at present I wholly forbear any attempt towards it: I am of opinion that I ought sometimes to lay before the world the plain letters of my correspondents in the artless dress in which

they hastily send them, that the reader may see I am not accuser and judge myself, but that the indictment is properly and fairly laid, before I proceed against the criminal.



• AS you are Spectator-General, I apply myself to you in the following case, viz. I do not wear a • sword, but I often divert myself at the theatre, • where I frequently see a set of fellows pull plain

people, by way of humour and frolic, by the nose, • upon frivolous or no occasions. A friend of mine • the other night applauding what a graceful exit • Mr. Wilkes made, one of these nose-wringers over

hearing him, pinched him by the nose. I was in • the pit the other night, when it was very much ( crowded, a gentleman leaning upon me, and very • heavily, I very civilly requested him to remove his • hand ; for which he pulled me by the nose. I would ' not resent it in so public a place, because I was ' unwilling to create a disturbance; but have since • reflected upon it as a thing that is unmanly and

'disingenuous, renders the nose-puller odious, and . makes the person pulled by the nose look little and

contemptible. This grievance I humbly request • you will endeavour to redress.

• I am your admirer, &c.




"YOUR discourse of the 29th of December on love and marriage is of so useful a kind, that I 6 cannot forbear adding my thoughts to your's on

that subject. Methinks it is a misfortune, that the ( marriage state, which in its own nature is adapted ' to give us the completest happiness this life is 6 capable of, should be so uncomfortable a one to so 6 many as it daily proves. But the mischief gene



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' rally proceeds from the unwise choice people make . for themselves, and an expectation of happiness ' from things not capable of giving it. Nothing but the good qualities of the person beloved can be a foundation for a love of judgment and discretion

; and whoever expect happiness from any thing but virtue, wisdom, yooui-huinour, and a similitude of manners, will find themselves widely mistaken. • But how few are there who seek after these things, and do not rather make riches their chief if not their only aim? How rare is it for a man, when he engages himself in the thoughts of marriage, to place his hopes of having in such a woman a con

stant, agreeable companion ? one who will divide ' his cares and double his joys? who will manage " that share of his estate he intrusts to her conduct with prudence and frugality, govern his house with economy and discretion, and be an ornament to ' himself and family? Where shall we find the man "who looks out for one who places her chief happi

ness in the practice of virtue, and makes her duty 'her continual pleasure? No, men rather seek for mo'ney as the complement of all their desires; and re

gardless of what kind of wives they take, they think riches will be a minister to all kind of pleasures,

and enable them to keep mistresses, horses, hounds, to drink, feast, and game with their companions, pay their debts contracted by former extravagancies, or some such vile and unworthy end: and 'indulge themselves in pleasures which are a shame and scandal to human nature. Now as for the women ; how few of them are there who place the happiness of their marriage in the having a wise

and virtuous friend? One who will be faithful and just to all, and constant and loving to them ? who with care and diligence will look after and improve "the estate, and without grudging allow whatever is prudent and convenient ? rather, how few are there

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who do not place their happiness in outshining others in pomp and show ? and that do not think within themselves when they have married such a • rich person, that none of their acquaintance shall appear so fine in their equipage, so adorned in their persons, or so magnificent in their furniture as

themselves ? Thus their heads are filled with vain • ideas; and I heartily wish I could say that equipage

and show were not the chief good of so many women as I fear it is.

« After this manner do both sexes deceive themselves, and bring reflections and disgrace upon the (most happy and most honourable state of life;

whereas if they would but correct their depraved "taste, moderate their ambition, and place their hap. piness upon proper objects, we should not find 'felicity in the marriage state such a wonder in the ( world as it now is.

Sir, if you think these thoughts worth inserting among your own, be pleased to give thein a better • dress, and let them pass abroad; and you will oblige

Your admirer,

" A. B.'


• AS I was this day walking in the street there happened to pass by on the other side of the way,

a beauty, whose charms were so attracting, that it • drew my eyes wholly on that side, insomuch that « I neglected my own way, and chanced to run my • nose directly against a post; which the lady no • sooner perceived, but fell out into a fit of laughter, (though at the same time she was sensible that hero self was the cause of my misfortune, which in my

opinion was the greater aggravation of her crime. • I being busy wiping off the blood which trickled (down my face, had not time to acquaint her with

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