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well, I don't know; but for my own part, I must confess, I was so dissatisfied, that I was sorry
the poet had saved Andromache, and could heartily have wished that he had left her stone-dead upon the stage. For you can not imagine, Mr. Spectator, the mischief she was reserved to do I found my soul, during the action, gradually worked up to the highest pitch; and felt the exalted passion which all generous minds conceive at the sight of virtue in distress. The impression, believe me, sir, was so strong, upon me, that, I am persuaded, if I had been let alone in it, I could, at an extremity, have ventured to defend yourself and Sir Roger against half a score of the fiercest Mohocks; but the ludicrous epilogue in the close extinguished all my ardour, and made me look upon all such noble achievements as downright silly and romantic. What the rest of the audience felt I can not so well tell; for myself, I must declare, that at the end of thé play, I found my soul uniform, and all of a piece; but at the end of the epilogue, it was so jumbled together, and divided between jest and earnest, that if you will forgive me an extravagant fancy, I will here set it down. I could not but fancy, if my soul had at that moment quitted my body, and descended to the poetical shades in the posture it was then in, what a strange figure it would have made among them. They would not have known what to have made of my motley spectre, half comic and half tragic, all over resembling a ridiculous face, that at the same time laughs on one side, and cries on the other. The only defence, I think, I have ever heard made for this, as it seems to me the most unnatural tack of the
comic tail to the tragic head, is this, that the minds of the audience must be refreshed, and gentlemen and ladies not sent away to their own homes with too dismal and melancholy thoughts about them; for who knows the consequence of this? We are much obliged indeed to the poets for the great tenderness they express for the safety of our persons, and heartily thank them for it: but if that be all, pray, good sir, assure them, that we are none of us like to come to any great harm; and that, let them do their best, we shall in all probability live out the length of our days, and frequent the theatres more than ever. What makes me more desirous to have some reformation of this matter is, because of an ill consequence or two attending it; for a great many of our church musicians being related to the theatre, they have, in imitation of these epilogues, introduced in their farewell voluntaries a sort of music quite foreign to the design of church-services, to the great prejudice of well disposed people. Those fingering gentlemen should be informed, that they ought to suit their airs to the place and business; and that the musician is obliged to keep to the text as much as the preacher. For want of this, I have found by experience a great deal of mischief; for when the preacher has often, with great piety and art enough, handled his subject, and the judicious clerk has, with the utmost diligence, culled out two staves proper to the discourse, and I have found in myself, and in the rest of the pew, good thoughts and dispositions, they have been all in a moment dissipated by a merry jig from the organ-loft. One knows not what further ill effects the epilogues I have been
speaking of may in time produce: but this I am credibly informed of, that Paul Lorrain* has resolved upon a very sudden reformation in his tragical dramas; and that at the next monthly performance, he designs, instead of a penitential psalm, to dismiss his audience with an excellent new ballad of his own composing. Pray, sir, do what you can to put a stop to these growing evils, and you will very much oblige
6 Your humble servant
"PHYSIBULUS.' [The Author uncertain.]
No. 339. SATURDAY, MARCH 29.
LONGINUS has observed, that there may be a loftiness in sentiments where there is no passion;
* At that time ordinary of Newgate; and who, in his accounts of the convicts executed at Tyburn, generally represented them as true penitents, and dying very well,
and brings instances out of ancient authors to support this his opinion. The pathetic, as that great critic observes, may animate and inflame the sublime, but is not essential to it. Accordingly, as he further remarks, we very often find that those who excel most in stirring up the passions, very often want the talent of writing in the great and sublime manner, and so on the contrary. Milton has shown himself a master in both these ways of writing. The seventh book which we are now entering upon, is an instance of that sublime which is not mixed and worked up with passion. The author appears in a kind of composed and sedate majesty, and though the sentiments do not give so great an emotion as those in the former book, they abound with as magnificent ideas. The sixth book, like a troubled ocean, represents greatness in confusion; the seventh affects the imagination like the an in a calm, and fills the mind of the reader, without producing in it any thing like tumult or agitation.
The critic abovementioned, among the rules which he lays down for succeeding in the sublime way of writing, proposes to his reader, that he should imitate the most celebrated authors who have gone before him, and have been engaged in works of the same nature; as in particular, that if he writes on a poetical subject, he should consider how Homer would have spoken on such an occasion. By this means one great genius often catches the flame from another, and writes in his spirit, without copying servilely
after having lived for the most part very ill. In the Tatler · No. 63, they are humorously styled Lorrain's saints.
after him. There are a thousand shining passages in Virgil which have been lighted up by Homer.
Milton, though his own natural strength of genius was capable of furnishing out a perfect work, has doubtless very much raised and ennobled his conceptions by such an imitation as that which Longinus has recommended.
In this book, which gives us an account of the six days works, the poet received but very few assistances from heathen writers, who were strangers to the wonders of creation. But as there are many glorious strokes of poetry upon this subject in holy writ, the author has numberless allusions to them through the whole course of this book. The great critic I have before mentioned, though a heathen, has taken notice of the sublime manner in which the lawgiver of the Jews has described the creation in the first chapter of Genesis; and there are many other passages in scripture, which rise up to the same majesty, where this subject is touched upon. Milton has shown his judgment very remarkably in making use of such of these as were proper for his poem, and in duly qualifying those high strains of Eastern poetry which were suited to readers whose imaginations were set to a higher pitch than those of colder climates.
Adam's speech to the angel, wherein he desires an account of what had passed within the regions of nature before the creation, is very great and solemn. The following lines, in which he tells him that the day is not too far spent for him to enter upon such a subject, are exquisite in their kind.