Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

that they are afraid their friends and relations should know it, we have a back-door into Warwick-street, from whence they may be interred with all se

secrecy imaginable, and without loss of time or hinderance of business. But in case of obstinacy, for we would gladly make a thorough riddance, we desire a farther power from

your worship, to take up such deceased as shall not have complied with your first orders, whenever we meet them: and if after that there shall be complaints of any person so offending, let them lie at our doors. We are your worship’s until death,

• The Master and Company of UPHOLDERS. ‘P.S. We are ready to give in our printed proposals at large; and if your worship approves of our undertaking, we desire the following advertisement may be inserted in your next paper:

Whereas a commission of interment has been awarded against Doctor John Partridge, philomath, professor of physic and astrology; and whereas the said Partridge hath not surrendered himself, nor shewn cause to the contrary; these are to certify, that the company of Upholders will proceed to bury him from Cordwainer’s-hall, on Tuesday the twenty-ninth, instant, where any six of his surviving friends who still believe him to be alive, are desired to come prepared to hold up the pall.

• Note; we shall light away at six in the evening, there being to be a sermon.'

Will's Coffee-house, November 23. An ingenious and worthy gentleman, my ancient friend, fell into discourse with me this evening upon the force and efficacy which the writings of good poets have on the minds of their intelligent readers; and recommended to me his sense of the matter, thrown together in the following manner, which he desired me to communicate to the youth of Great Britain in my Essays. I choose to do it in his own words:

I have always been of opinion,' says he, that virtue sinks deepest into the heart of man, when it comes recommended by the powerful charms of poetry. The most active principle in our mind is the imagination; to it a good poet makes his court perpetually, and by this faculty takes care to gain it first. Our passions and inclinations come over next; and our reason surrenders itself with pleasure in the end. Thus the whole soul is insensibly betrayed into morality, by bribing the fancy with beautiful and agreeable images of those very things that in the books of the philosophers appear austere, and have at the best but a kind of forbidding aspect. In a word, the poets do, as it were, strew the rough paths of virtue so full of flowers, thai we are not sensible of the uneasiness of them; and imagine our. selves in the midst of pleasures, and the most bewitching allurements, at the time we are making progress in the severest duties of life.

· All men agree, that licentious poems do, of all writings, soonest corrupt the heart. And why should we not be as universally persuaded that the grave and serious performances of such as write in the most engaging manner, by á kind of divine impulse, must be the most effectual persuasives to goodness? If, therefore, I were blessed with a son,

in order to the forming of his manners, which is making him truly my son, I should be continually putting into his hand some fine poet. The graceful sentences, and the manly sentiments, so frequently to be met with in every great and sublime writer, are, in my judgment, the most ornamental and valuable furniture that can be for a young gentleman's head; methinks they shew like so much rich embroidery upon the brain. Let me add to this, that humanity and tenderness, without which there can be no true greatness in the mind, are inspired by the Muses in such pathetic language, that all we find in prose authors towards the raising and improving of these passions is, in comparison, but cold or lukewarm at the best. There is besides a certain elevation of soul, a sedate magnanimity, and a noble turn of virtue, that distinguishes the hero from the plain honest man, to which verse can only raise us. The bold metaphors, and sounding numbers, peculiar to the poets, rouse up all our sleeping faculties, and alarm the whole powers of the soul, much like that excellent trumpeter mentioned by Virgil :

-Quo non præstantior atter
Ære ciere viros, Martemque accendere cantu.

VIRG. Æn. vi. 165. -None so renown'd With breathing brass to kindle fierce alarms.-DRYDEN. • I fell into this train of thinking this evening, upon reading a passage in a mask writ by Milton, where two brothers are introduced seeking their sister, whom they had lost in a dark night and thick wood. One of the brothers is apprehensive lest the wandering virgin should be overpowered with fears, through the darkness and loneliness of the time and place. This gives the other occasion to make the following reflections, which, as I read N° 100. TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 29, 1709.

.

Jam redit et Virgo, redeunt Saturnia regna.

Virg. Ecl. iv. ver. 6. Returning justice brings a golden age.—R. W.

Sheer-lane, November 28. I was last week taking a solitary walk in the garden of Lincoln's-Inn (a favour that is indulged me by several of the benchers, who are my intimate friends, and grown old with me in this neighbourhood) when, according to the nature of men in years, who have made but little progress in the advancement of their fortune or their fame, I was repining at the sudden rise of many persons who are my juniors, and indeed at the unequal distribution of wealth, honour, and all other blessings of life. I was lost in this thought, when the night came upon me, and drew my

mind into a far more agreeable contemplation. The heaven above me appeared in all its glories, and presented me with such a hemisphere of stars, as made the most agreeable prospect imaginable to one who delights in the study of nature. It happened to be a freezing night, which had purified the whole body of air into such a bright transparent ether, as made every constellation visible; and at the same time gave such a particular glowing to the stars, that I thought it the richest sky I had ever seen. I could not behold a scene so wonderfully adorned and lighted up, if I may be allowed that expression, without suitable meditations on the author of such illustrious and amazing objects : for on these occasions, philosophy suggests motives to religion, and religion adds pleasure to philosophy.

As soon as I had recovered

my usual témper and serenity of soul, I retired to my lodgings with the satisfaction of having passed away a few hours in the proper employments of a reasonable creature; and promising myself that my slumbers would be sweet, Ì no sooner fell into them, but I dreamed a dream, or saw a vision, for I know not which to call it, that seemed to rise out of my evening meditation, and had something in it so solemn and serious, that I cannot forbear communicating it: though, I must confess, the wildness of imagination, which in a dream is always loose and irregular, discovers itself too much in several parts of it.

Methought I saw the same azure sky diversified with the same glorious luminaries which had entertained me a little before I fell asleep. I was looking very attentively on that sign in the heavens which is called by the name of the Balance, when, on a sudden, there appeared in it an extraordinary light, as if the sun should rise at midnight. By its increasing in breadth and lustre, I soon found that it approached towards the earth ; and at length could discern something like a shadow hovering in the midst of a great glory, which in a little time after I distinctly perceived to be the figure of a

I fancied at first it might have been the angel or intelligence that guided the constellation from which it descended: but, upon a nearer view, I saw about her all the emblems with which the Goddess of Justice is usually described. Her countenance was unspeakably awful and majestic, but exquisitely beautiful to those whose eyes were strong enough to behold it; her smiles transported with rapture, her frowns terrified to despair. She held in her hand a mirror, endowed with the same qualities as that which the painters put into the hand of truth.

woman.

« VorigeDoorgaan »