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N° 152. FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 4, 1713.
Quin potiùs pacem æternam pactosque hymenaos
VIRG. n. iv. 99.
Rather in leagues of endless peace unite,
THERE is no rule in Longinus which I more admire than that wherein he advises an author who would attain to the sublime, and writes for eternity, to consider, when he is engaged in his composition, what Homer or Plato, or any other of those heroes, in the learned world, would have said or thought upon the same occasion. I have often practised this rule, with regard to the best authors among the ancients, as well as among the moderns. With what success, I must leave to the judgment of others. I may at least venture to say with Mr. Dryden, where he professes to have imitated 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 Spenser is the last writer of note who has applied himself to it with success.
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 being new and uncommon; as also from their appearing difficult to have been thrown into emblematical types and shadows.
I was once thinking to have written a whole canto in the Spirit of Spenser, and in order to it, contrived a fable of imaginary persons and characters. I raised it on that common dispute be tween the comparative perfections and pre-eminence of the two sexes, each of which have very frequently had their advocates 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 in. 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.
The main body of the Male Auxiliaries was commanded by Fortitude; that of the Female by Beauty. Fortitude began 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 two antagonists; the conduct of the one, and the stratagems of the other. Never was there a more equal contest. 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 began 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, began 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
* A character drawn in The Rehearsal.
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 squadrons in the Female army, fell in among the Males, where he made a more terrible havock than on the other side. He was here opposed by Reason, who drew up all his forces against him, and held the fight in suspence for some time, but at length quitted the field...
After a great ravage on both sides, the two armies agreed to join against the 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 about by the delusion of these two impostors.
N° 153. SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 5, 1713.
Admiranda tibi levium spectacula rerum.
VIRG. Georg. iv. 3.
A mighty pomp, though made of little things.
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.