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to be her real Admirer, she now took it in her head (upon Advice of
her Physicians to lose some of her Blood) to send for Monsieur Festeau
on that occasion. I happened to be there at that time, and my near
Relation gave me the Privilege to be present. As soon as her Arm was
stripped bare, and he began to press it in order to raise the Vein,
his Colour changed, and I observed him seized with a sudden Tremor,
which made me take the liberty to speak of it to my Cousin with some
Apprehension: She smiled, and said she knew Mr. Festeau had no
Inclination to do her Injury. He seemed to recover himself, and
smiling also proceeded in his Work. Immediately after the Operation he
cried out, that he was the most unfortunate of all Men, for that he
had open'd an Artery instead of a Vein. It is as impossible to express
the Artist's Distraction as the Patient's Composure. I will not dwell
on little Circumstances, but go on to inform you, that within three
days time it was thought necessary to take off her Arm. She was so far
from using Festeau as it would be natural to one of a lower Spirit to
treat him, that she would not let him be absent from any Consultation
about her present Condition, and on every occasion asked whether he
was satisfy'd in the Measures [that] were taken about her. Before this
last Operation she ordered her Will to be drawn, and after having been
about a quarter of an hour alone, she bid the Surgeons, of whom poor
Festeau was one, go on in their Work. I know not how to give you the
Terms of Art, but there appeared such Symptoms after the Amputation of
her Arm, that it was visible she could not live four and twenty hours.
Her Behaviour was so magnanimous throughout this whole Affair, that I
was particularly curious in taking Notice of what passed as her Fate
approached nearer and nearer, and took Notes of what she said to all
about her, particularly Word for Word what she spoke to Mr. Festeau,
which was as follows.

"Sir, you give me inexpressible Sorrow for the Anguish with which I
see you overwhelmed. I am removed to all Intents and Purposes from
the Interests of human Life, therefore I am to begin to think like
one wholly unconcerned in it. I do not consider you as one by whose
Error I have lost my Life; no, you are my Benefactor, as you have
hasten'd my Entrance into a happy Immortality. This is my Sense of
this Accident; but the World in which you live may have Thoughts of
it to your Disadvantage, I have therefore taken Care to provide for
you in my Will, and have placed you above what you have to fear from
their Ill-Nature."

While this excellent Woman spoke these Words, Festeau looked as if he
received a Condemnation to die, instead of a Pension for his Life.
Madam de Villacerfe lived till Eight of [the] Clock the next Night;
and tho she must have laboured under the most exquisite Torments, she
possessed her Mind with so wonderful a Patience, that one may rather
say she ceased to breathe than she died at that hour. You who had not
the happiness to be personally known to this Lady, have nothing but to
rejoyce in the Honour you had of being related to so great Merit; but
we who have lost her Conversation, cannot so easily resign our own
Happiness by Reflection upon hers.
I am, SIR,
Your affectionate Kinsman,
and most obedient humble Servant,
Paul Regnaud.


There hardly can be a greater Instance of an Heroick Mind, than the
unprejudiced Manner in which this Lady weighed this Misfortune. The
regard of Life itself could not make her overlook the Contrition of the
unhappy Man, whose more than Ordinary Concern for her was all his Guilt.
It would certainly be of singular Use to human Society to have an exact
Account of this Lady's ordinary Conduct, which was Crowned by so
uncommon Magnanimity. Such Greatness was not to be acquired in her last
Article, nor is it to be doubted but it was a constant Practice of all
that is praise-worthy, which made her capable of beholding Death, not as
the Dissolution, but Consummation of her Life.

T.





* * * * *





No. 369. Saturday, May 3, 1712. Addison.



'Segnius irritant animos demissa per aures
Quam quæ sunt oculis subjecta fidelibus - '

Hor.



Milton, after having represented in Vision the History of Mankind to the
first great Period of Nature, dispatches the remaining part of it in
Narration. He has devised a very handsome Reason for the Angels
proceeding with Adam after this manner; though doubtless the true Reason
was the Difficulty which the Poet would have found to have shadowed out
so mixed and complicated a Story in visible Objects. I could wish,
however, that the Author had done it, whatever Pains it might have cost
him. To give my Opinion freely, I think that the exhibiting part of the
History of Mankind in Vision, and part in Narrative, is as if an
History-Painter should put in Colours one half of his Subject, and write
down the remaining part of it. If Milton's Poem flags any where, it is
in this Narration, where in some places the Author has been so attentive
to his Divinity, that he has neglected his Poetry. The Narration,
however, rises very happily on several Occasions, where the Subject is
capable of Poetical Ornaments, as particularly in the Confusion which he
describes among the Builders of Babel, and in his short Sketch of the
Plagues of Egypt. The Storm of Hail and Fire, with the Darkness that
overspread the Land for three Days, are described with great Strength.
The beautiful Passage which follows, is raised upon noble Hints in
Scripture:

- Thus with ten Wounds
The River-Dragon tamed at length submits
To let his Sojourners depart, and oft
Humbles his stubborn Heart; but still as Ice
More harden'd after Thaw, till in his Rage
Pursuing whom he late dismissed, the Sea
Swallows him with his Host, but them lets pass
As on dry Land between two Chrystal Walls,
Aw'd by the Rod of Moses so to stand
Divided -

The River-Dragon is an Allusion to the Crocodile, which inhabits the
Nile, from whence Egypt derives her Plenty. This Allusion is taken from
that Sublime Passage in Ezekiel, Thus saith the Lord God, behold I am
against thee, Pharaoh King of Egypt, the great Dragon that lieth in the
midst of his Rivers, which hath said, my River is mine own, and I have
made it for my self. Milton has given us another very noble and poetical
Image in the same Description, which is copied almost Word for Word out
of the History of Moses.

All Night he will pursue, but his Approach
Darkness defends between till morning Watch;
Then through the fiery Pillar and the Cloud
God looking forth, will trouble all his Host,
And craze their Chariot Wheels: when by command
Moses once more his potent Rod extends
Over the Sea: the Sea his Rod obeys:
On their embattell'd Ranks the Waves return
And overwhelm their War -

As the principal Design of this Episode was to give Adam an Idea of the
Holy Person, who was to reinstate human Nature in that Happiness and
Perfection from which it had fallen, the Poet confines himself to the
Line of Abraham, from whence the Messiah was to Descend. The Angel is
described as seeing the Patriarch actually travelling towards the Land
of Promise, which gives a particular Liveliness to this part of the
Narration.

I see him, but thou canst not, with what Faith
He leaves his Gods, his Friends, his Native Soil,
Ur of Chaldæa, passing now the Ford
To Haran, after him a cumbrous Train
Of Herds and Flocks, and numerous Servitude,
Not wand'ring poor, but trusting all his Wealth
With God, who call'd him, in a Land unknown.
Canaan he now attains, I see his Tents
Pitch'd about Sechem, and the neighbouring Plain
Of Moreh, there by Promise he receives
Gifts to his Progeny of all that Land,
From Hamath Northward to the Desart South.
(Things by their Names I call, though yet unnamed.)

As Virgil's Vision in the sixth Æneid probably gave Milton the Hint of
this whole Episode, the last Line is a Translation of that Verse, where
Anchises mentions the Names of Places, which they were to bear
hereafter.

Hæc tum nomina erunt, nunc sunt sine nomine terræ.

The Poet has very finely represented the Joy and Gladness of Heart which
rises in Adam upon his discovery of the Messiah. As he sees his Day at a
distance through Types and Shadows, he rejoices in it: but when he finds
the Redemption of Man compleated, and Paradise again renewed, he breaks
forth in Rapture and Transport;

O Goodness infinite, Goodness immense!
That all this Good of Evil shall produce, &c.

I have hinted in my sixth Paper on Milton, that an Heroick Poem,
according to the Opinion of the best Criticks, ought to end happily, and
leave the Mind of the Reader, after having conducted it through many
Doubts and Fears, Sorrows and Disquietudes, in a State of Tranquility
and Satisfaction. Milton's Fable, which had so many other Qualifications
to recommend it, was deficient in this Particular. It is here therefore,
that the Poet has shewn a most exquisite Judgment, as well as the finest
Invention, by finding out a Method to supply this natural Defect in his
Subject. Accordingly he leaves the Adversary of Mankind, in the last
View which he gives us of him, under the lowest State of Mortification
and Disappointment. We see him chewing Ashes, grovelling in the Dust,
and loaden with supernumerary Pains and Torments. On the contrary, our
two first Parents are comforted by Dreams and Visions, cheared with
Promises of Salvation, and, in a manner, raised to a greater Happiness
than that which they had forfeited: In short, Satan is represented
miserable in the height of his Triumphs, and Adam triumphant in the
height of Misery.

Milton's Poem ends very nobly. The last Speeches of Adam and the
Arch-Angel are full of Moral and Instructive Sentiments. The Sleep that
fell upon Eve, and the Effects it had in quieting the Disorders of her
Mind, produces the same kind of Consolation in the Reader, who cannot
peruse the last beautiful Speech which is ascribed to the Mother of
Mankind, without a secret Pleasure and Satisfaction.

Whence thou return'st, and whither went'st, I know;
For God is also in Sleep, and Dreams advise,
Which he hath sent propitious, some great Good
Presaging, since with Sorrow and Heart's Distress
Wearied I fell asleep: but now lead on;
In me is no delay: with thee to go,
Is to stay here; without thee here to stay,
Is to go hence unwilling: thou to me
Art all things under Heav'n, all Places thou,
Who for my wilful Crime art banish'd hence.
This farther Consolation yet secure
I carry hence; though all by me is lost,
Such Favour, I unworthy, am vouchsafed,
By me the promised Seed shall all restore.

The following Lines, which conclude the Poem, rise in a most glorious
Blaze of Poetical Images and Expressions.

Heliodorus in his Æthiopicks acquaints us, that the Motion of the Gods
differs from that of Mortals, as the former do not stir their Feet, nor
proceed Step by Step, but slide o'er the Surface of the Earth by an
uniform Swimming of the whole Body. The Reader may observe with how
Poetical a Description Milton has attributed the same kind of Motion to
the Angels who were to take Possession of Paradise.

So spake our Mother Eve, and Adam heard
Well pleas'd, but answered not; for now too nigh
Th' Archangel stood, and from the other Hill
To their fix'd Station, all in bright Array
The Cherubim descended; on the Ground
Gliding meteorous, as evening Mist
Ris'n from a River, o'er the Marish glides,
And gathers ground fast at the Lab'rer's Heel
Homeward returning. High in Front advanced,
The brandishd Sword of God before them blaz'd
Fierce as a Comet -

The Author helped his Invention in the following Passage, by reflecting
on the Behaviour of the Angel, who, in Holy Writ, has the Conduct of Lot
and his Family. The Circumstances drawn from that Relation are very
gracefully made use of on this Occasion.

In either Hand the hast'ning Angel caught
Our ling'ring Parents, and to th' Eastern Gate
Led them direct; and down the Cliff as fast
To the subjected Plain; then disappear'd.
They looking back, &c.

The Scene [1] which our first Parents are surprized with, upon their
looking back on Paradise, wonderfully strikes the Reader's Imagination,
as nothing can be more natural than the Tears they shed on that
Occasion.

They looking back, all th' Eastern side beheld
Of Paradise, so late their happy Seat,
Wav'd over by that flaming Brand, the Gate
With dreadful Faces throng'd and fiery Arms:
Some natural Tears they dropped, but wiped them soon;
The World was all before them, where to chuse
Their Place of Rest, and Providence their Guide.

If I might presume to offer at the smallest Alteration in this divine
Work, I should think the Poem would end better with the Passage here
quoted, than with the two Verses which follow:

They hand in hand, with wandering Steps and slow,
Through Eden took their solitary Way.

These two Verses, though they have their Beauty, fall very much below
the foregoing Passage, and renew in the Mind of the Reader that Anguish
which was pretty well laid by that Consideration,

The world was all before them, where to chuse
Their Place of Rest, and Providence their Guide.

The Number of Books in Paradise Lost is equal to those of the Æneid.
Our Author in his first Edition had divided his Poem into ten Books, but
afterwards broke the seventh and the eleventh each of them into two
different Books, by the help of some small Additions. This second
Division was made with great Judgment, as any one may see who will be at
the pains of examining it. It was not done for the sake of such a
Chimerical Beauty as that of resembling Virgil in this particular, but
for the more just and regular Disposition of this great Work.

Those who have read Bossu, and many of the Criticks who have written
since his Time, will not pardon me if I do not find out the particular
Moral which is inculcated in Paradise Lost. Though I can by no means
think, with the last mentioned French Author, that an Epick Writer first
of all pitches upon a certain Moral, as the Ground-Work and Foundation
of his Poem, and afterwards finds out a Story to it: I am, however, of
opinion, that no just Heroick Poem ever was or can be made, from whence
one great Moral may not be deduced. That which reigns in Milton, is the
most universal and most useful that can be imagined; it is in short
this, That Obedience to the Will of God makes Men happy, and that
Disobedience makes them miserable. This is visibly the Moral of the
principal Fable, which turns upon Adam and Eve, who continued in
Paradise, while they kept the command that was given them, and were
driven out of it as soon as they had transgressed. This is likewise the
Moral of the principal Episode, which shews us how an innumerable
Multitude of Angels fell from their State of Bliss, and were cast into
Hell upon their Disobedience. Besides this great Moral, which may be
looked upon as the Soul of the Fable, there are an Infinity of
Under-Morals which are to be drawn from the several parts of the Poem,
and which makes this Work more useful and Instructive than any other
Poem in any Language.

Those who have criticized on the Odyssey, the Iliad, and Æneid, have
taken a great deal of Pains to fix the Number of Months and Days
contained in the Action of each of those Poems. If any one thinks it
worth his while to examine this Particular in Milton, he will find that
from Adam's first Appearance in the fourth Book, to his Expulsion from
Paradise in the twelfth, the Author reckons ten Days. As for that part
of the Action which is described in the three first Books, as it does
not pass within the Regions of Nature, I have before observed that it is
not subject to any Calculations of Time.

I have now finished my Observations on a Work which does an Honour to
the English Nation. I have taken a general View of it under these four
Heads, the Fable, the Characters, the Sentiments, and the Language, and
made each of them the Subject of a particular Paper. I have in the next
Place spoken of the Censures which our Author may incur under each of
these Heads, which I have confined to two Papers, though I might have
enlarged the Number, if I had been disposed to dwell on so ungrateful a
Subject. I believe, however, that the severest Reader will not find any
little Fault in Heroick Poetry, which this Author has fallen into, that
does not come under one of those Heads among which I have distributed
his several Blemishes. After having thus treated at large of Paradise
Lost, I could not think it sufficient to have celebrated this Poem in
the whole, without descending to Particulars. I have therefore bestowed
a Paper upon each Book, and endeavoured not only to [prove [2]] that the
Poem is beautiful in general, but to point out its Particular Beauties,
and to determine wherein they consist. I have endeavoured to shew how
some Passages are beautiful by being Sublime, others by being Soft,
others by being Natural; which of them are recommended by the Passion,
which by the Moral, which by the Sentiment, and which by the Expression.
I have likewise endeavoured to shew how the Genius of the Poet shines by
a happy Invention, a distant Allusion, or a judicious Imitation; how he
has copied or improved Homer or Virgil, and raised his own Imaginations
by the Use which he has made of several Poetical Passages in Scripture.
I might have inserted also several Passages of Tasso, which our Author
[has [3]] imitated; but as I do not look upon Tasso to be a sufficient
Voucher, I would not perplex my Reader with such Quotations, as might do
more Honour to the Italian than the English Poet. In short, I have
endeavoured to particularize those innumerable kinds of Beauty, which it
would be tedious to recapitulate, but which are essential to Poetry, and
which may be met with in the Works of this great Author. Had I thought,
at my first engaging in this design, that it would have led me to so
great a length, I believe I should never have entered upon it; but the
kind Reception which it has met with among those whose Judgments I have
a value for, as well as the uncommon Demands which my Bookseller tells
me have been made for these particular Discourses, give me no reason to
repent of the Pains I have been at in composing them.

L.



[Footnote 1: Prospect]


[Footnote 2: shew]


[Footnote 3: has likewise]





* * * * *





No. 370. Monday, May 5, 1712. Steele.



'Totus Mundus agit Histrionem.'



Many of my fair Readers, as well as very gay and well-received Persons
of the other Sex, are extremely perplexed at the Latin Sentences at the
Head of my Speculations; I do not know whether I ought not to indulge
them with Translations of each of them: However, I have to-day taken
down from the Top of the Stage in Drury-Lane a bit of Latin which often
stands in their View, and signifies that the whole World acts the
Player. It is certain that if we look all round us, and behold the
different Employments of Mankind, you hardly see one who is not, as the
Player is, in an assumed Character. The Lawyer, who is vehement and loud
in a Cause wherein he knows he has not the Truth of the Question on his
Side, is a Player as to the personated Part, but incomparably meaner
than he as to the Prostitution of himself for Hire; because the
Pleader's Falshood introduces Injustice, the Player feigns for no other
end but to divert or instruct you. The Divine, whose Passions transport
him to say any thing with any View but promoting the Interests of true
Piety and Religion, is a Player with a still greater Imputation of
Guilt, in proportion to his depreciating a Character more sacred.
Consider all the different Pursuits and Employments of Men, and you will
find half their Actions tend to nothing else but Disguise and Imposture;
and all that is done which proceeds not from a Man's very self, is the
Action of a Player. For this Reason it is that I make so frequent
mention of the Stage: It is, with me, a Matter of the highest
Consideration what Parts are well or ill performed, what Passions or
Sentiments are indulged or cultivated, and consequently what Manners and
Customs are transfused from the Stage to the World, which reciprocally
imitate each other. As the Writers of Epick Poems introduce shadowy
Persons, and represent Vices and Virtues under the Characters of Men and
Women; so I, who am a SPECTATOR in the World, may perhaps sometimes make
use of the Names of the Actors on the Stage, to represent or admonish
those who transact Affairs in the World. When I am commending Wilks for
representing the Tenderness of a Husband and a Father in Mackbeth, the
Contrition of a reformed Prodigal in Harry the Fourth, the winning
Emptiness of a young Man of Good-nature and Wealth in the Trip to the
Jubilee, [1] - the Officiousness of an artful Servant in the Fox: [2]
when thus I celebrate Wilks, I talk to all the World who are engaged in
any of those Circumstances. If I were to speak of Merit neglected,
mis-applied, or misunderstood, might not I say Estcourt has a great
Capacity? But it is not the Interest of others who bear a Figure on the
Stage that his Talents were understood; it is their Business to impose
upon him what cannot become him, or keep out of his hands any thing in
which he would Shine. Were one to raise a Suspicion of himself in a Man
who passes upon the World for a fine Thing, in order to alarm him, one
might say, if Lord Foppington [3] were not on the Stage, (Cibber acts
the false Pretensions to a genteel Behaviour so very justly), he would
have in the generality of Mankind more that would admire than deride
him. When we come to Characters directly Comical, it is not to be
imagin'd what Effect a well-regulated Stage would have upon Men's
Manners. The Craft of an Usurer, the Absurdity of a rich Fool, the
awkward Roughness of a Fellow of half Courage, the ungraceful Mirth of a
Creature of half Wit, might be for ever put out of Countenance by proper
Parts for Dogget. Johnson by acting Corbacchio [4] the other Night, must
have given all who saw him a thorough Detestation of aged Avarice. The
Petulancy of a peevish old Fellow, who loves and hates he knows not why,
is very excellently performed by the Ingenious Mr. William Penkethman in
the Fop's Fortune;[5] where, in the Character of Don Cholerick Snap
Shorto de Testy, he answers no Questions but to those whom he likes, and
wants no account of any thing from those he approves. Mr. Penkethman is
also Master of as many Faces in the Dumb-Scene as can be expected from a
Man in the Circumstances of being ready to perish out of Fear and
Hunger: He wonders throughout the whole Scene very masterly, without
neglecting his Victuals. If it be, as I have heard it sometimes
mentioned, a great Qualification for the World to follow Business and
Pleasure too, what is it in the Ingenious Mr. Penkethman to represent a
Sense of Pleasure and Pain at the same time; as you may see him do this
Evening? [6]

As it is certain that a Stage ought to be wholly suppressed, or
judiciously encouraged, while there is one in the Nation, Men turned for
regular Pleasure cannot employ their Thoughts more usefully, for the
Diversion of Mankind, than by convincing them that it is in themselves
to raise this Entertainment to the greatest Height. It would be a great
Improvement, as well as Embellishment to the Theatre, if Dancing were
more regarded, and taught to all the Actors. One who has the Advantage
of such an agreeable girlish Person as Mrs. Bicknell, joined with her
Capacity of Imitation, could in proper Gesture and Motion represent all
the decent Characters of Female Life. An amiable Modesty in one Aspect
of a Dancer, an assumed Confidence in another, a sudden Joy in another,
a falling off with an Impatience of being beheld, a Return towards the
Audience with an unsteady Resolution to approach them, and a well-acted
Sollicitude to please, would revive in the Company all the fine Touches
of Mind raised in observing all the Objects of Affection or Passion they
had before beheld. Such elegant Entertainments as these, would polish
the Town into Judgment in their Gratifications; and Delicacy in Pleasure



Online LibraryRichard SteeleThe Spectator, Volume 2 → online text (page 60 of 74)