Page images
PDF
EPUB

*fed

Of starry lamps and blazing cressets,*
With Naphta and Asphaltus, yielded light
As from a sky-————

There are also several noble similies and allusions in the first book of Paradise Lost. And here I must observe, that when MILTON alludes either to things or persons, he never quits his simile until it rises to some very great idea, which is often foreign to the occasion that gave birth to it. The resemblance does not, perhaps, last above a line or two, but the poet runs on with the hint, until he has raised out of it some glorious image or sentiment, proper to inflame the mind of the reader, and to give it that sublime kind of entertainment, which is suitable to the nature of an Heroic Poem. Those who are acquainted with HOMER's and VIRGIL's way of writing, cannot but be pleased with this kind of structure in MILTON's similitudes. I am the more particular on this head, because ignorant readers, who have formed their taste upon the quaint sinilies and little turns of wit, which are so much in vogue among modern poets, cannot relish these beauties which are of a much higher nature, and are therefore apt to censure MILTON'S COMparisons, in which they do not see any surprising points of likeness. Monsieur PERRAULT was a man of this vitiated relish, and for that very reason has endeavoured to turn into ridicule several of HOMER's similitudes, which he calls comparaisons à longue queue, "long-tailed comparisons." I shall conclude this paper on the first book of MILTON with the answer which Monsieur BoiLEAU makes to PERRAULT on this occasion: "Comparisons, says he, in Odes and Epic Poems, are not introduced only to illustrate and embellish the discourse, but to amuse and relax the mind of the reader, by frequently disengaging him from too painful an attention to the principal

* Cresset, i. e. a blazing light set on a beacon; in French, croissete, because beacons formerly had crosses on their tops.

JOHNSON.

[ocr errors]

principal subject, and by leading him into other agreeable images. HOMER, says he, excelled in this particular, whose comparisons abound with such images of nature as are proper to relieve and diversify his subjects. He continually instructs the reader, and makes him take notice even in objects which are every day before his eyes, of such circumstances as he should not otherwise have observed." To this he adds, as a maxim universally acknowledged, "that it is not necessary in poetry for the points of the comparison to correspond with one another exactly, but that a general resemblance is sufficient, and that too much nicety in this particular savours of the rhetorician and epigrammatist.'

In short, if we look into the conduct of HOMER, VIRGIL, and MILTON, as the great fable is the soul of each poem, so to give their works an agreeable variety, their episodes are so many short fables, and their similies so many short episodes; to which you may add, if you please, that their metaphors are so many short similies. If the reader considers the comparisons in the first book of MILTON, of the sun in an eclipse, of the sleeping Leviathan, of the bees swarming about their hive, of the fairy dance, in the view wherein I have here placed them, he will easily discover the great beauties that are in each of those passages.

L.

D3

[ocr errors]

N°. 30.

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 18, 1711-12.

Vulnus alit venis et coeco carpitur igni.

VIRG. N. iv. 2.

*Nourishes a wound deep in her veins, and wastes with hidden fire."

TRAP.

A LETTER ON LOVE, WITH OTHERS ON DIFFERENT

SUBJECTS.

THE circumstances of my correspondent, whose letter I now insert, are so frequent, that I cannot want compassion so much as to forbear laying it before the town. There is something so mean and inhuman in a direct Smithfield bargain for children, that if this lover carries his point, and observes the rules he pretends to follow, I do not only wish him success, but also that it may animate others to follow his example. I know not one motive relating to this life which could produce so many honourable and worthy actions, as the hopes of obtaining a woman of merit. There would ten thousand ways of industry and honest ambition be pursued by young men, who believed that the persons admired had value enough for their passion, to attend the event of their good fortune in all their applications, in order to make their circumstances fall in with the duties they owe to themselves, their families, and their country.

All

* DIDO.

All these relations a man should think of who intends to go into the state of marriage, and expects to make it a state of pleasure and satisfaction.

MR. SPECTATOR,

A certain com

I HAVE for some years indulged a passion for a young lady of age and quality suitable to my own, but very much superior in fortune. It is the fashion with parents (how justly I leave you to judge) to make all regards give way to the article of wealth. From this one consideration it is, that I have concealed the ardent love I have for her; but I am beholden to the force of my love for many advantages which I reaped from it, towards the better conduct of my life. placency to all the world, a strong desire to oblige where-ever it lay in my power, and a circumspect behaviour in all my words and actions, have rendered me more particularly acceptable to all my friends and ac-, quaintance. Love has had the same good effect upon my fortune; and I have increased in riches, in proportion to my advancement in those arts, which make a man agreeable and amiable. There is a certain sympathy which will tell my mistress from these circumstances, that it is I who writ this for her reading, if you will please to insert it. There is not a downright enmity, but a great coldness between our parents; so that if either of us declared any kind sentiments for each other, her friends would be very backward to lay an obligation upon our family, and mine to receive it from hers. Under these delicate circumstances it is no easy matter to act with safety. I have no reason to fancy my mistress has any regard for me, but from a very disinterested value which I have for her. If from any hint in any future paper of yours she gives me the least encouragement, I doubt not but I shall surmount all other difficulties; and inspired by so noble a motive for the care of my fortune, as the belief she is to be concerned

[blocks in formation]

in it, I will not despair of receiving her one day from her father's own hand.

I am,

SIR,

Your most obedient humble servant,

CLYTANDER.

TO HIS WORSHIP THE SPECTATOR.

• The humble Petition of ANTHONY TITLE-PAGE, Stationer, in the Centre of Lincoln's-Inn-Fields,

SHEWETH,

"THAT your Petitioner and his fore-fathers have been sellers of books for time immemorial: that your Petitioner's ancestor, CROUCH-BACK TITLE-PAGE, was the first of that vocation in Britain; who keeping his station (in fair weather) at the corner of Lothbury, was by way of eminency called The Stationer; a name which from him all succeeding booksellers have affected to bear; that the station of your Petitioner and his father has been in the place of his present settlement ever since that square has been built: that your Petitioner has formerly had the honour of your Worship's custom, and hopes you never had reason to complain of your pennyworths that particularly he sold you your first LILLY'S Grammar, and at the same time a WITT's Commonwealth almost as good as new: moreover, that your first rudimental essays in Spectatorship were made in your Petitioner's shop, where you often practised, for hours together, sometimes on his books upon the rails, sometimes on the little hieroglyphics, either gilt, silvered, or plain, which the Egyptian woman on the other side of the shop had wrought in gingerbread, and sometimes on the English Youth, who in sundry places there were exercising themselves in the traditional sports of the field.

From these considerations it is, that your Petitioner is encouraged to apply himself to you, and to pro

« PreviousContinue »