« ForrigeFortsæt »
Shakspeare's style, that in imitating such great authors I have always excelled myself.
I have also, by this means, revived several antiquated ways of writing, which, though very instructive and entertaining, had been laid aside, and forgotten for some ages. I shall, in this place, only mention those allegories, wherein virtues, vices, and human passions, are introduced as real actors. Though this kind of composition was practised by the finest authors among the ancients, our countryman Spencer is the last writer of note who has applied himself to it with
That an allegory may be both delightful and instructive, in the first place, the fable of it ought to be perfect, and, if possible, to be filled with surprising turns and incidents. In the next, there ought to be useful morals and reflections couched under it, which still receive a greater value from their being new and uncommon; as also from their appearing difficult to have been thrown1 into emblematical types and shadows.
I was once thinking to have written a whole canto in the spirit of Spencer, and in order to it, contrived a fable of imaginary persons and characters. I raised it on that common dispute between the comparative perfections and pre-eminence of the two sexes, each of which have very frequently had their advocates2 among the men of letters. Since I have not time to accomplish this work, I shall present my reader with the naked fable, reserving the embellishments of verse and poetry to another opportunity.
The two sexes contending for superiority, were once at war with each other, which was chiefly carried on by their auxiliaries. The males were drawn up on the one side of a very spacious plain, the females on the other: between them was left a very large interval for their auxiliaries to engage
At each extremity of this middle space lay encamped several bodies of neutral forces, who waited for the event of the battle before they would declare themselves, that they might then act as they saw occasion.
1 Their appearing difficult to have been thrown.]-Clumsily expressed. Better thus-as also from their being such as it may seem difficult to throw.
2 It may seem more exact to say-each of which hath very frequently had its advocates-or parenthetically thus-which have, each of them, very frequently, had their advocates.
The main body of the male auxiliaries was commanded by Fortitude; that of the female by Beauty. Fortitude begun1 the onset on Beauty, but found, to his cost, that she had such a particular witchcraft in her looks, as withered all his strength. She played upon him so many smiles and glances, that she quite weakened and disarmed him.
In short, he was ready to call for quarter, had not Wisdom come to his aid: this was the commander of the male right wing, and would have turned the fate of the day, had not he been timely opposed by Cunning, who commanded the left wing of the female auxiliaries. Cunning was the chief engineer of the fair army; but upon this occasion was posted, as I have here said, to receive the attacks of Wisdom. It was very entertaining to see the workings of these antagonists; the conduct of the one, and the stratagems of the other. Never was there a more equal match. Those who beheld it, gave the victory sometimes to the one, and sometimes to the other, though most declared the advantage was on the side of the female commander.
In the mean time, the conflict was very great in the left wing of the army, where the battle begun to turn to the male side. This wing was commanded by an old experienced officer called Patience, and on the female side by a general known by the name of Scorn. The latter, that fought after the manner of the Parthians, had the better of it all the beginning of the day; but being quite tired out with the long pursuits and repeated attacks of the enemy, who had been repulsed above a hundred times, and rallied as often, begun to think of yielding. When on a sudden, a body of neutral forces began to move. The leader was of an ugly look, and gigantic stature. He acted like a Drawcansir, sparing neither friend nor foe. His name was Lust. On the female side he was opposed by a select body of forces, commanded by a young officer that had the face of a cherubim, and the name of Modesty. This beautiful young hero was supported by one of a more masculine turn, and fierce behaviour, called by men HONOUR, and by the gods PRIDE. This last made an obstinate defence, and drove back the enemy more than once, but at length resigned at discretion.
The dreadful monster, after having overturned whole
Begun, is the participle,-hath begun. It should have been began, in the imperfect tense.
squadrons in the female army, fell in among the males, where he made a more terrible havoc than on the other side. He was here opposed by Reason, who drew up all his forces against him, and held the fight in suspense for some time, but at length quitted the field.
After a great ravage on both sides, the two armies agreed to join against this common foe. And in order to it, drew out a small chosen band, whom they placed, by consent, under the conduct of Virtue, who, in a little time, drove this foul ugly monster out of the field.
Upon his retreat, a second neutral leader, whose name was Love, marched in between the two armies. He headed a body of ten thousand winged boys that threw their darts and arrows promiscuously among both armies. The wounds they gave were not the wounds of an enemy. They were pleasing to those that felt them; and had so strange an effect, that they wrought a spirit of mutual friendship, reconciliation, and good-will in both sexes. The two armies now looked with cordial love on each other, and stretched out their arms with tears of joy, as longing to forget old animosities, and embrace one another.
The last general of neutrals, that appeared in the field, was Hymen, who marched immediately after Love, and seconding the good inclinations which he had inspired, joined the hands of both armies. Love generally accompanied him, and recommended the sexes, pair by pair, to his good offices.
But as it is usual enough for several persons to dress themselves in the habit of a great leader, Ambition and Avarice had taken on them the garb and habit of Love, by which means they often imposed on Hymen, by putting into his hands several couples whom he would never have joined together, had it not been brought about1 by the delusion of these two impostors.
1 Had it not been brought about.] It, i. e. their being joined together. This careless manner of expression might have been avoided, by saying simply-had he not been deluded by these two impostors.
No. 153. SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 5.
Admiranda tibi levium spectacula rerum. VIRG.
THERE is no passion which steals into the heart more imperceptibly, and covers itself under more disguises, than pride. For my own part, I think, if there is any passion or vice which I am wholly a stranger to, it is this; though, at the same time, perhaps, this very judgment which I form of myself, proceeds, in some measure, from this corrupt principle.
I have been always wonderfully delighted with that sentence in holy writ, " Pride was not made for man.' There is not, indeed, any single view of human nature, under its present condition, which is not sufficient to extinguish in us all the secret seeds of pride;1 and, on the contrary, to sink the soul into the lowest state of humility, and what the schoolmen call self-annihilation. Pride was not made for man, as he is,
1. A sinful,
2. An ignorant,
3. A miserable being.
There is nothing in his understanding, in his will, or in his present condition, that can tempt any considerate creature to pride or vanity.
These three very reasons why he should not be proud, are, notwithstanding, the reasons why he is so. Were not he a sinful creature, he would not be subject to a passion which rises from the depravity of his nature; were he not an ignorant creature, he would see that he has nothing to be proud of; and were not the whole species miserable, he would not have those wretched objects of comparison before his eyes, which are the occasions of this passion, and which make one man value himself more than another.
A wise man will be contented that his glory be deferred till such time as he shall be truly glorified; when his understanding shall be cleared, his will rectified, and his happiness
Seeds of pride.] We say, indeed, seeds of fire, and we may extinguish such seeds. But this is a poetical, that is, an uncommon sense of the word seeds. It had been easier and better to say, (as the author himself has done on another occasion,) to kill in us the secret seeds of pride, &c. Spect. No. 531.
assured; or, in other words, when he shall be neither sinful, nor ignorant, nor miserable.
If there be anything which makes human nature appear ridiculous to beings of superior faculties, it must be pride. They know so well the vanity of those imaginary perfections that swell the heart of man, and of those little supernumerary advantages, whether in birth, fortune, or title, which one man enjoys above another, that it must certainly very much astonish, if it does not very much divert them, when they see a mortal puffed up, and valuing himself above his neighbours, on any of these accounts, at the same time that he is obnoxious to all the common calamities of the species.
To set this thought in its true light,' we will fancy, if you please, that yonder mole-hill is inhabited by reasonable creatures, and that every pismire (his shape and way of life only excepted) is endowed with human passions. How should we smile to hear one give us an account of the pedigrees, distinctions, and titles that reign among them! Observe how the whole swarm divide and make way for the pismire that passes through them. You must understand he is an emmet of quality, and has better blood in his veins than any pismire in the mole-hill. Do not you see how sensible he is of it, how slow he marches forward, how the whole rabble of ants keep their distance? Here you may observe one placed upon a little eminence, and looking down on a long row of labourers. He is the richest insect on this side the hillock, he has a walk of half a yard in length, and a quarter of an inch in breadth; he keeps a hundred menial servants, and has, at least, fifteen barley-corns in his granary. He is now chiding and beslaving the emmet that stands before him, and who, for all that we can discover, is as good an emmet as himself.
The comparison here carried on with so much vivacity of humour is equally a favourite with the religionist and free-thinker, but on very different considerations; with the religionist, who intends to mortify human pride, and with the free-thinker, who employs it to degrade and vilify human nature. The former would show how man becomes ridiculous, by departing from the rule of his nature, reason; the latter would have us infer from it, that the most reasonable pursuits of man are insignificant. But to make out this last conclusion, more must be taken for granted than the parallel implies, or the libertine will ever prove; I mean, that the reasonable conduct of the passions has no influence on the enjoyment of this life, or of another.