Richard Steele.

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without mixing a parcel of School-Boy Tales with the Recital of his
Actions. If you read a Poem on a fine Woman, among the Authors of this
Class, you shall see that it turns more upon _Venus_ or _Helen_, that on
the Party concerned. I have known a Copy of Verses on a great Hero
highly commended; but upon asking to hear some of the beautiful
Passages, the Admirer of it has repeated to me a Speech of _Apollo_, or
a Description of _Polypheme_. At other times when I have search'd for
the Actions of a great Man, who gave a Subject to the Writer, I have
been entertained with the Exploits of a River-God, or have been forced
to attend a Fury in her mischievous Progress, from one end of the Poem
to the other. When we are at School it is necessary for us to be
acquainted with the System of Pagan Theology, and may be allowed to
enliven a Theme, or point an Epigram with an Heathen God; but when we
would write a manly Panegyrick, that should carry in it all the Colours
of Truth, nothing can be more ridiculous than to have recourse to our
_Jupiters_ and _Junos_.

No Thought is beautiful which is not just, and no Thought can be just
which is not founded in Truth, or at least in that which passes for
such.

In Mock-Heroick Poems, the Use of the Heathen Mythology is not only
excusable but graceful, because it is the Design of such Compositions to
divert, by adapting the fabulous Machines of the Ancients to low
Subjects, and at the same time by ridiculing such kinds of Machinery in
modern Writers. If any are of opinion, that there is a Necessity of
admitting these Classical Legends into our serious Compositions, in
order to give them a more Poetical Turn; I would recommend to their
Consideration the Pastorals of Mr. _Philips_. One would have thought it
impossible for this Kind of Poetry to have subsisted without Fawns and
Satyrs, Wood Nymphs, and Water Nymphs, with all the Tribe of rural
Deities. But we see he has given a new Life, and a more natural Beauty
to this way of Writing by substituting in the place of these Antiquated
Fables, the superstitious Mythology which prevails among the Shepherds
of our own Country.

_Virgil_ and _Homer_ might compliment their Heroes, by interweaving the
Actions of Deities with their Atchievements; but for a Christian Author
to write in the Pagan Creed, to make Prince _Eugene_ a Favourite of
_Mars_, or to carry on a Correspondence between _Bellona_ and the
Marshal _de Villars_, would be downright Puerility, and unpardonable in
a Poet that is past Sixteen. It is want of sufficient Elevation in a
Genius to describe Realities, and place them in a shining Light, that
makes him have recourse to such trifling antiquated Fables; as a Man may
write a fine Description of _Bacchus_ or _Apollo_, that does not know
how to draw the Character of any of his Contemporaries.

In order therefore to put a stop to this absurd Practice, I shall
publish the following Edict, by virtue of that Spectatorial Authority
with which I stand invested.

'Whereas the Time of a General Peace is, in all appearance, drawing
near, being inform'd that there are several ingenious Persons who intend
to shew their Talents on so happy an Occasion, and being willing, as
much as in me lies, to prevent that Effusion of Nonsense, which we have
good Cause to apprehend; I do hereby strictly require every Person, who
shall write on this Subject, to remember that he is a Christian, and not
to Sacrifice his Catechism to his Poetry. In order to it, I do expect of
him in the first place, to make his own Poem, without depending upon
_Phoebus_ for any part of it, or calling out for Aid upon any one of the
Muses by Name. I do likewise positively forbid the sending of _Mercury_
with any particular Message or Dispatch relating to the Peace, and shall
by no means suffer _Minerva_ to take upon her the Shape of any
Plenipotentiary concerned in this Great Work. I do further declare, that
I shall not allow the Destinies to have had an hand in the Deaths of the
several thousands who have been slain in the late War, being of opinion
that all such Deaths may be very well accounted for by the Christian
System of Powder and Ball. I do therefore strictly forbid the Fates to
cut the Thread of Man's Life upon any pretence whatsoever, unless it be
for the sake of the Rhyme. And whereas I have good Reason to fear, that
_Neptune_ will have a great deal of Business on his Hands, in several
Poems which we may now suppose are upon the Anvil, I do also prohibit
his Appearance, unless it be done in Metaphor, Simile, or any very short
Allusion, and that even here he be not permitted to enter, but with
great Caution and Circumspection. I desire that the same Rule may be
extended to his whole Fraternity of Heathen Gods, it being my design to
condemn every Poem to the Flames in which _Jupiter_ Thunders, or
exercises any other Act of Authority which does not belong to him: In
short, I expect that no Pagan Agent shall be introduc'd, or any Fact
related which a Man cannot give Credit to with a good Conscience.
Provided always, that nothing herein contained shall extend, or be
construed to extend, to several of the Female Poets in this Nation, who
shall be still left in full Possession of their Gods and Goddesses, in
the same manner as if this Paper had never been written.

O.



[Footnote 1: In this year, 1712, Bernard Lintot, having observed the
success of Tonson's volumes of Miscellanies, produced a Miscellany
edited by Pope (now 24 years old), and containing the first sketch of
his 'Rape of the Lock,' translations from Statius and Ovid, and other
pieces. Addison's delight with the discovery of rising genius leads him
to dispose in a sentence of 'that ingenious gentleman' who had just
published a 'Rape of the Lock,' and proceed to warm praise of his
personal friends, Thomas Tickell and Ambrose Philips. In his Poem to his
Excellency the Lord Privy Seal on the Prospect of Peace, Tickell invites
Strafford to 'One hour, oh! listen while the Muses sing.']


[Footnote 2: [that]]





* * * * *





No. 524. Friday, October 31, 1712. [1]



'Nos populo damus - '

Sen.



When I first of all took it in my Head to write Dreams and Visions, I
determin'd to Print nothing of that nature, which was not of my own
Invention. But several laborious Dreamers have of late communicated to
me Works of this Nature, which, for their Reputations and my own, I have
hitherto suppressed. Had I printed every one that came to my Hands, my
Book of Speculations would have been little else but a Book of Visions.
Some of my Correspondents have indeed been so very modest, as to offer
at an Excuse for their not being in a Capacity to dream better. I have
by me, for example, the Dream of a young Gentleman not past Fifteen. I
have likewise by me the Dream of a Person of Quality, and another called
the Lady's Dream. In these, and other Pieces of the same nature, it is
suppos'd the usual Allowances will be made to the Age, Condition and Sex
of the Dreamer. To prevent this Inundation of Dreams, which daily flows
in upon me, I shall apply to all Dreamers of Dreams, the Advice which
_Epictetus_ has couched, after his manner, in a very simple and concise
Precept. _Never tell thy Dreams_, says that Philosopher, _for tho' thou
thy self may'st take a Pleasure in telling thy Dream, another will take
no Pleasure in hearing it_. After this short Preface, I must do Justice
to two or three Visions which I have lately publish'd, and which I have
owned to have been written by other Hands. I shall add a Dream to these,
which comes to me from _Scotland_, by one who declares himself of that
Country, and for all I know may be second-sighted. There is, indeed,
something in it of the Spirit of _John Bunyan_; but at the same time a
certain Sublime, which that Author was never master of. I shall publish
it, because I question not but it will fall in with the Taste of all my
popular Readers, and amuse the Imaginations of those who are more
profound; declaring at the same time, that this is the last Dream which
I intend to publish this Season.


_SIR_,

'I was last _Sunday_ in the Evening led into a serious Reflection on
the Reasonableness of Virtue, and great Folly of Vice, from an
excellent Sermon I had heard that Afternoon in my Parish-Church. Among
other Observations, the Preacher shew'd us that the Temptations which
the Tempter propos'd, were all on a Supposition, that we are either
Madmen or Fools, or with an Intention to render us such; that in no
other Affair we would suffer ourselves to be thus imposed upon, in a
Case so plainly and clearly against our visible Interest. His
illustrations and Arguments carried so much Persuasion and Conviction
with them, that they remained a considerable while fresh, and working
in my Memory; till at last the Mind, fatigued with Thought, gave way
to the forcible Oppressions of Slumber and Sleep, whilst Fancy,
unwilling yet to drop the Subject, presented me with the following
Vision.

'Methought I was just awoke out of a Sleep, that I could never
remember the beginning of; the Place where I found my self to be, was
a wide and spacious Plain, full of People that wandered up and down
through several beaten Paths, whereof some few were strait, and in
direct lines, but most of them winding and turning like a Labyrinth;
but yet it appear'd to me afterwards, that these last all met in one
Issue, so that many that seemed to steer quite contrary Courses, did
at length meet and face one another, to the no little Amazement of
many of them.

'In the midst of the Plain there was a great Fountain: They called it
the Spring of _Self-Love_; out of it issued two Rivulets to the
Eastward and Westward, the Name of the first was _Heavenly-Wisdom_,
its Water was wonderfully clear, but of a yet more wonderful Effect;
the other's Name was _Worldly-Wisdom_, its Water was thick, and yet
far from dormant or stagnating, for it was in a continual violent
Agitation; which kept the Travellers whom I shall mention by and by,
from being sensible of the Foulness and Thickness of the Water; which
had this Effect, that it intoxicated those who drunk it, and made 'em
mistake every Object that lay before them: both Rivulets were parted
near their Springs into so many others, as there were strait and
crooked Paths, which they attended all along to their respective
Issues.

'I observ'd from the several Paths many now and then diverting, to
refresh and otherwise qualify themselves for their Journey, to the
respective Rivulets that ran near them; they contracted a very
observable Courage and Steadiness in what they were about, by drinking
these Waters. At the end of the Perspective of every strait Path, all
which did end in one Issue and Point, appeared a high Pillar, all of
Diamond, casting Rays as bright as those of the Sun into the Paths;
which Rays had also certain sympathizing and alluring Virtues in them,
so that whosoever had made some considerable progress in his Journey
onwards towards the Pillar, by the repeated impression of these Rays
upon him, was wrought into an habitual Inclination and Conversion of
his Sight towards it, so that it grew at last in a matter natural to
him to look and gaze upon it, whereby he was kept steddy in the strait
Paths, which alone led to that radiant Body, the beholding of which
was now grown a Gratification to his Nature.

'At the Issue of the crooked Paths there was a great black Tower, out
of the Centre of which streamed a long Succession of Flames, which did
rise even above the Clouds; it gave a very great Light to the whole
Plain, which did sometimes outshine the Light, and opprest the Beams
of the Adamantine Pillar; tho' by the Observation I made afterwards,
it appeared that it was not for any Diminution of Light, but that this
lay in the Travellers, who would sometimes step out of the strait
Paths, where they lost the full Prospect of the Radiant Pillar, and
saw it but side-ways: but the great Light from the black Tower, which
was somewhat particularly scorching to them, would generally light and
hasten them to their proper Climate again.

'Round about the black Tower there were, methoughts, many thousands of
huge mis-shapen ugly Monsters; these had great Nets, which they were
perpetually plying and casting towards the crooked Paths, and they
would now and then catch up those that were nearest to them: these
they took up streight, and whirled over the Walls into the flaming
Tower, and they were no more seen nor heard of.

'They would sometimes cast their Nets towards the right Paths to catch
the Stragglers, whose Eyes for want of frequent drinking at the Brook
that ran by them grew dim, whereby they lost their way; these would
sometimes very narrowly miss being catched away, but I could not hear
whether any of these had ever been so unfortunate, that had been
before very hearty in the strait Paths.

'I considered all these strange Sights with great Attention, till at
last I was interrupted by a Cluster of the Travellers in the crooked
Paths, who came up to me, bid me go along with them, and presently
fell to singing and dancing; they took me by the Hand, and so carried
me away along with them. After I had follow'd them a considerable
while, I perceiv'd I had lost the black Tower of Light, at which I
greatly wonder'd; but as I looked and gazed round about me, and saw
nothing, I begun to fancy my first Vision had been but a Dream, and
there was no such thing in reality: but then I consider'd, that if I
could fancy to see what was not, I might as well have an Illusion
wrought on me at present, and not see what was really before me. I was
very much confirmed in this Thought, by the Effect I then just
observ'd the Water of _Worldly-Wisdom_ had upon me; for as I had drunk
a little of it again, I felt a very sensible Effect in my Head;
methought it distracted and disorder'd all there: this made me stop of
a sudden, suspecting some Charm or Inchantment. As I was casting about
within my self what I should do, and whom to apply to in this Case; I
spy'd at some distance off me a Man beckning, and making signs to me
to come over to him. I cry'd to him, _I did not know the Way_. He then
called to me audibly, to step at least out of the Path I was in; for
if I staid there any longer I was in danger to be catched in a great
Net that was just hanging over me, and ready to catch me up; that he
wonder'd I was so blind, or so distracted, as not to see so imminent
and visible a Danger; assuring me, that as soon as I was out of that
Way, he would come to me to lead me into a more secure Path. This I
did, and he brought me his Palm full of the Water of
_Heavenly-Wisdom_, which was of very great use to me, for my Eyes were
streight cleared, and I saw the great black Tower just before me; but
the great Net which I spy'd so near me, cast me in such a Terror, that
I ran back as far as I could in one Breath, without looking behind me:
then my Benefactor thus bespoke me, You have made the wonderful'st
Escape in the World, the Water you used to drink is of a bewitching
Nature, you would else have been mightily shocked at the Deformities
and Meanness of the Place; for beside the Set of blind Fools, in whose
Company you was, you may now observe many others who are only
bewitched after another no less dangerous manner. Look a little that
way, there goes a Crowd of Passengers, they have indeed so good a
Head, as not to suffer themselves to be blinded by this bewitching
Water; the black Tower is not vanished out of their sight, they see it
whenever they look up to it; but see how they go side-ways, and with
their Eyes downwards, as if they were mad, that they may thus rush
into the Net, without being beforehand troubled at the Thought of so
miserable a Destruction. Their Wills are so perverse, and their Hearts
so fond of the Pleasures of the Place, that rather than forgo them
they will run all Hazards, and venture upon all the Miseries and Woes
before them.

'See there that other Company, tho' they should drink none of the
bewitching Water, yet they take a Course bewitching and deluding; see
how they chuse the crookedest Paths, whereby they have often the black
Tower behind them, and sometimes see the radiant Column side-ways,
which gives them some weak Glimpse of it. These Fools content
themselves with that, not knowing whether any other have any more of
its Influence and Light than themselves: this Road is called that of
_Superstition_ or _Human Invention_; they grossly over-look that which
the Rules and Laws of the Place prescribe to them, and contrive some
other Scheme and Set of Directions and Prescriptions for themselves,
which they hope will serve their turn. He shewed me many other kind of
Fools, which put me quite out of humour with the Place. At last he
carried me to the right Paths, where I found true and solid Pleasure,
which entertained me all the way, till we came in closer sight of the
Pillar, where the Satisfaction increased to that measure that my
Faculties were not able to contain it; in the straining of them I was
violently waked, not a little grieved at the vanishing of so pleasing
a Dream.

_Glascow, Sept. 29._



[Footnote 1: The dream in this Paper is taken to have been the joint
production of Alexander Dunlop, Professor of Greek in Glasgow
University, and a Mr. Montgomery, who traded to Sweden, and of whom it
is hinted that he disordered his wits by falling in love with Queen
Christina. Alexander Dunlop, born (1684) in America, where his father
was an exile till the Revolution, as Greek Professor at Glasgow,
published a Grammar, which was used for many years in Scottish
Universities. He died in 1742.]





* * * * *





No. 525. Saturday, November 1, 1712. John Hughes.



[Greek: Hod' eís tò sôphron ep' aretàen t' ágôn érôs,
Zaelôtos ánthrôpoisin]

Eurip.



It is my Custom to take [frequent] Opportunities of enquiring from time
to time, what Success my Speculations meet with in the Town. I am glad
to find in particular, that my Discourses on Marriage have been well
received. A Friend of mine gives me to understand, from
_Doctors-Commons_, that more Licences have been taken out there of late
than usual. I am likewise informed of several pretty Fellows, who have
resolved to commence Heads of Families by the first favourable
Opportunity: One of them writes me word, that he is ready to enter into
the Bonds of Matrimony, provided I will give it him under my Hand (as I
now do) that a Man may shew his Face in good Company after he is
married, and that he need not be ashamed to treat a Woman with Kindness,
who puts herself into his Power for Life.

I have other Letters on this Subject, which say that I am attempting to
make a Revolution in the World of Gallantry, and that the Consequence of
it will be, that a great deal of the sprightliest Wit and Satyr of the
last Age will be lost. That a bashful Fellow, upon changing his
Condition, will be no longer puzzled how to stand the Raillery of his
facetious Companions; that he need not own he married only to plunder an
Heiress of her Fortune, nor pretend that he uses her ill, to avoid the
[ridiculous [1]] Name of a fond Husband.

Indeed if I may speak my Opinion of great part of the Writings which
once prevail'd among us under the Notion of Humour, they are such as
would tempt one to think there had been an Association among the Wits of
those times to rally Legitimacy out of our Island. A State of Wedlock
was the common Mark for all the Adventurers in Farce and Comedy, as well
as the Essayers in Lampoon and Satyr, to shoot at, and nothing was a
more standing Jest in all Clubs of fashionable Mirth, and gay
Conversation. It was determined among those airy Criticks, that the
Appellation of a _Sober Man_ should signify a _Spiritless Fellow_. And I
am apt to think it was about the same Time, that _Good-Nature_, a Word
so peculiarly elegant in our Language that some have affirmed it cannot
well be expressed in any other, came first to be render'd suspicious,
and in danger of being transferred from its original Sense to so distant
an Idea as that of _Folly_.

I must confess it has been my Ambition, in the course of my Writings, to
restore, as well as I was able, the proper Ideas of things. And as I
have attempted this already on the Subject of Marriage, in several
Papers, I shall here add some further Observations which occur to me on
the same Head. Nothing seems to be thought, by our fine Gentlemen, so
indispensable an Ornament in fashionable Life, as Love. _A Knight
Errant_, says _Don Quixot, without a Mistress, is like a Tree without
Leaves;_ and a Man of Mode among us, who has not some Fair One to sigh
for, might as well pretend to appear dressed, without his Periwig. We
have Lovers in Prose innumerable. All our Pretenders to Rhyme are
professed Inamorato's; and there is scarce a Poet, good or bad, to be
heard of, who has not some real or supposed _Sacharissa_ to improve his
Vein.

If Love be any Refinement, _Conjugal Love_ must be certainly so in a
much higher Degree. There is no comparison between the frivolous
Affectation of attracting the Eyes of Women with whom you are only
captivated by Way of Amusement, and of whom perhaps you know nothing
more than their Features, and a regular and uniform Endeavour to make
your self valuable, both as a Friend and Lover, to one whom you have
chosen to be the Companion of your Life. The first is the Spring of a
thousand Fopperies, silly Artifices, Falshoods, and perhaps Barbarities;
or at best arises no higher than to a kind of Dancing-School Breeding,
to give the Person a more sparkling Air. The latter is the Parent of
substantial Virtues and agreeable Qualities, and cultivates the Mind
while it improves the Behaviour. The Passion of Love to a Mistress, even
where it is most sincere, resembles too much the Flame of a Fever; that
to a Wife is like the Vital Heat.

I have often thought, if the Letters written by Men of Goodnature to
their Wives, were to be compared with those written by Men of Gallantry
to their Mistresses, the former, notwithstanding any Inequality of
Style, would appear to have the Advantage. Friendship, Tenderness and
Constancy, drest in a Simplicity of Expression, recommend themselves by
a more native Elegance, than passionate Raptures, extravagant Encomiums,
and slavish Adoration. If we were admitted to search the Cabinet of the
beautiful _Narcissa_, among Heaps of Epistles from several Admirers,
which are there preserv'd with equal Care, how few should we find but
would make any one Sick in the Reading, except her who is flattered by
them? But in how different a Style must the wise _Benevolus_, who
converses with that good Sense and good Humour among all his Friends,
write to a Wife who is the worthy Object of his utmost Affection?
_Benevolus_, both in Publick and Private, on all Occasions of Life,
appears to have every good Quality and desirable Ornament. Abroad he is
reverenced and esteemed; at home beloved and happy. The Satisfaction he
enjoys there, settles into an habitual Complacency, which shines in his
Countenance, enlivens his Wit, and seasons his Conversation: Even those
of his Acquaintance, who have never seen him in his Retirement, are
Sharers in the Happiness of it; and it is very much owing to his being
the best and best beloved of Husbands, that he is the most stedfast of
Friends, and the most agreeable of Companions.

There is a sensible Pleasure in contemplating such beautiful Instances
of Domestick Life. The Happiness of the Conjugal State appears
heighten'd to the highest degree it is capable of, when we see two
Persons of accomplished Minds, not only united in the same Interests and
Affections, but in their Taste of the same Improvements, Pleasures and
Diversions. _Pliny_, one of the finest Gentlemen, and politest Writers
of the Age in which he lived, has left us, in his Letter to _Hispulla_,
his Wife's Aunt, one of the most agreeable Family-Pieces of this Kind I
have ever met with. I shall end this Discourse with a Translation of it;
and I believe the Reader will be of my opinion, that _Conjugal Love_ is
drawn in it with a Delicacy which makes it appear to be, as I have



Online LibraryRichard SteeleThe Spectator, Volumes 1, 2 and 3 With Translations and Index for the Series → online text (page 185 of 228)