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at the same time, I cannot but observe, that her modesty seems to be entirely the result of her complexion.
No. 110. FRIDAY, JULY 17.
-Non ego paucis
Aut humana parum cavit naturaThe candour which Horace shows in the motto of my paper, is that which distinguishes a critic from a cavalier. He declares that he is not offended with those little faults in a poetical composition which may be imputed to inadvertency, or to the imperfection of human nature. The truth of it is, there can be no more a perfect work in the world than a perfect man. To say of a celebrated piece that there are faults in it, is in effect to say no more, than that the author of it was a man. For this reason, I consider every critic that attacks an author in high reputation, as the slave in the Roman triumph, who was to call out to the
conqueror, member, sir, that you are a man. I speak this in relation to the following letter, which criticises the works of a great poet, whose very faults have more beauty in them than the most elaborate compositions of many more correct writers. The remarks are very curious and just, and introduced by a compliment to the work of an author, who, I am sure, would not care for being praised at the expense of another's reputation. I must, therefore, desire my correspondent to excuse me, if I do not publish either the preface or conclusion of his letter, but only the critical part of it.
“Our tragedy writers have been notoriously defective in giving proper sentiments to the persons they introduce. Nothing is more common than to hear an heathen talking of angels and devils, the joys of heaven and the pains of hell, according to the Christian system. Lee's Alcander discovers himself to be a Cartesian in the first page of Edipus.
The tragedy of Cato, without doubt.
-The sun's sick too,
Shortly he 'll be an earth-
I am pleased with my own work; Jove was not more
Along the vast abyss-
Why didst thou not engage me man to man,
To stare me into statue ?
Oh that I had the fruitful heads of Hydra,
And hiss thee with the last
No, were we joined, e'en though it were death,
And my divided flame should break from thine.
Serpent, I will engender poison with thee.
“Ovid seems to have been Muley Molock's favourite author, witness the lines that follow.
She's still inexorable, still imperious
And loud, as if, like Bacchus, born in thunder. “I shall conclude my remarks on his part, with that poetical complaint of his being in love, and leave my reader to consider how prettily it would sound in the mouth of an emperor
Into my soul, and my whole heart receives him.
—May we ne'er meet !
He gallops down the skies“ As for the Mufti, we will suppose that he was bred up a scholar, and not only versed in the law of Mahomet, but acquainted with all kinds of polite learning. For this reason, he is not at all surprised when Dorax calls him a Phaëton in one place, and in another tells him he is like Archimedes.
“ The Mufti afterwards mentions Ximenes, Albornoz, and Cardinal Wolsey, by name. The poet seems to think he may make every person in his play know as much as himself, and talk as well as he could have done on the same occasion. At least I believe every reader will agree with me, that the above-mentioned sentiments, to which I might have added several others, would have been better suited to the court of Augustus, than that of Muley Molock. I grant they are beautiful in themselves, and much more so in that noble language which was peculiar to this great poet. I only observe that they are improper for the persons who make use of them. Dryden is, indeed, generally wrong in his sentiments. Let any one read the dialogue between Octavia and Cleopatra, and he will be amazed to hear a Roman lady's mouth filled with such obscene raillery. If the virtuous Octavia departs from her character, the loose Dolabella is no less inconsistent with himself, when, all of a sudden, he drops the Pagan, and talks in the sentiments of revealed religion.
-Heaven has but
That punish to extent“I might show several faults of the same nature in the celebrated Aurenge-Zebe. The impropriety of thoughts in the speeches of the Great Mogul and his Empress has been generally censured. Take the sentiments out of the shining dress of words, and they would be too coarse for a scene in Billingsgate.
Hic aliquis de gente hircosâ centurionum
Esse quod Arcesilas, ærumnosique Solones. PERS. I am very much concerned when I see young gentlemen of fortune and quality so wholly set upon pleasures and diversions, that they neglect all those improvements in wisdom and knowledge, which may make them easy to themselves, and useful to the world. The greatest part of our British youth lose their figure and grow out of fashion, by that time they are five and twenty. As soon as the natural gaiety and amiableness of the young man wears off, they have nothing left to recommend them, but lie by the rest of their lives among the lumber and refuse of the species. It sometimes happens, indeed, that for want of applying themselves in due time to the pursuits of knowledge, they take up a book in their declining years, and grow very hopeful scholars by that time they are threescore. I must, therefore, earnestly press my readers, who are in the flower of their youth, to labour at those accomplishments which may set off their persons when their bloom is gone, and to lay in timely provisions for manhood and old age. In short, I would advise the youth of fifteen to be dressing up every day the man of fifty, or to consider how to make himself venerable at threescore.
Young men, who are naturally ambitious, would do well to observe how the greatest men of antiquity made it their ambition to excel all their contemporaries in knowledge. Julius Cæsar and Alexander, the most celebrated instances of human greatness, took a particular care to distinguish themselves by their skill in the arts and sciences. We have still extant several remains of the former, which justify the character given of him by the learned men of his own age. As for the latter, it is a known saying of his, that he was more obliged to Aristotle who had instructed him, than to Philip who had given him life and empire. There is a letter of bis recorded by Plutarch and Aulus Gellius, which he wrote to Aristotle, upon hearing that he had published those lectures he had given him in private. This letter was written in the following words, at a time when he was in the height of his Persian conquests.
Alexander to Aristotle, greeting. “You have not done well to publish your books of Select Knowledge; for what is there now in which I can surpass others, if those things which I have been instructed in are communicated to everybody ? For my own part, I declare to you, I would rather excel others in knowledge than in power.
We see, by this letter, that the love of conquest was but the second ambition in Alexander's soul. Knowledge is, indeed, that which, next to virtue, truly and essentially raises one man above another. It finishes one half of the human soul. It makes being pleasant to us, fills the mind with entertaining views, and administers to it a perpetual series of gratifications. It gives ease to solitude, and gracefulness to retirement. It fills a public station with suitable abilities, and adds a lustre to those who are in possession of them.
Learning, by which I mean all useful knowledge, whether speculative or practical, is in popular and mixed governments the natural source of wealth and honour. If we look into most of the reigns from the Conquest, we shall find that the favourites of each reign have been those who have raised themselves. The greatest men are generally the growth of that particular age in which they flourish. A superior capacity for business, and a more extensive knowledge, are the