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peculiar to his own manner of thinking, so that conversation will naturally furnish us with hints which we did not attend to, and make us enjoy other men's parts and reflections as well as our own. This is the best reason I can give for the observation which several have made, that men of great genius in the same way of writing seldom rise up singly, but at certain periods of time appear together, and in a body; 'as they did at Rome in the reign of Augustus, and in Greece about the age of Socrates. I can not think that Corneille, Racine, Moliere, Boileau, La Fontaine, Bruyere, Bossu, or the Daciers, would have written so well as they have done, had they not been friends and contemporaries.
It is likewise necessary for a man who would form to himself a finished state of good writing, to be well versed in the works of the best critics both ancient and modern. I must confess that I could wish there were authors of this kind, who, besides the mechanical rules which a man of very little taste may discourse upon, would enter into the very spirit and soul of fine writing, and show us the several sources of that pleasure which rises in the mind upon the perusal of a noble work. Thus, although in poetry it be absolutely necessary that the unities of time, place, and action, with other points of the same nature, should be thoroughly explained and understood; there is still something more essential to the art, something that elevates and astonishes the fancy, and gives a greatness of mind to the reader, which few of the critics besides Longinus have considered.
Our general taste in England is for epigram,
turns of wit, and forced conceits, which have no manner of influence either for the bettering or enlarging the mind of him who reads them, and have been carefully avoided by the greatest writers both among the ancients and moderns. I have endeavoured in several of my speculations to banish this gothic taste which has taken possession among us.
I entertained the town, for a week together, with an essay upon wit; in which I endeavoured to detect several of those false kinds which have been admired in the different
of the world, and at the same time to show wherein the nature of true wit consists. I afterwards gave an instance of the great force which lies in a natural simplicity of thought to affect the mind of the reader, from such vulgar pieces as have little else besides this single qualification to recommend them. I have likewise examined the works of the greatest poet which our nation, or perhaps any other has produced, and particularized most of those rational and manly beauties which give a value to that divine work. * I shall next Saturday enter upon an essay on the Pleasures of the Imagination,' which, though it shall consider that subject at large, will perhaps suggest to the resder what it is that gives a beauty to many passages of the finest writers both in prose and
As an undertaking of this nature is entirely new, I question not
but it will be received with candour.
* See the critique upon Milton, No. 267, and the subse. quent Saturday papers.
No. 410. FRIDAY, JUNE 20.
-Dum foris sunt, nihil videtur mundius,
hæc, salus est adolescent ulis. TER. When they are abroad, nothing is so clean and nicely dress
ed; and when at supper with a gallant, they do but piddle and pick the choicest bits: but to see their nastiness and poverty at home, their gluttony, and how they devour black crusts dipped in yesterday's broth, is a perfect antidote against wenching.
WILL HONEYCOMB, who disguises his present decay by visiting the wenches of the town only by way of humour, told us, that the last rainy night, he, with Sir Roger de Coverley, was driven into the Temple cloister, whither had escaped also a lady most exactly dressed from head to foot. Will made no scruple to acquaint us, that she saluted him very familiarly by his name; and turning immediately to the knight, she said, she supposed that was his good friend Sir Roger de Coverley: upon which nothing less could follow than Sir Roger's approach to salutation, with, Madam, the same at your service. She was dressed in a black tabby mantua and petticoat, without ribbands; her linen striped muslin, and in the whole in an agreeable second-mourning; decent dresses being often affected by the creatures of the town, at once consulting cheapness and the pretensions to modesty. She went
on with a familiar easy air, Your friend, Mr. Honeycomb, is a little surprised to see a woman here alone and unattended; but I dismissed my coach at the gate, and tripped it down to my counsel's chambers, for lawyer's fees take up too much of a small disputed jointure to admit any other expenses but mere necessaries. Mr. Honeycomb begged they might have the honour of setting her down, for Sir Roger's servant was gone for a coach. In the interim, the footman returned, with no coach to be had; and there appeared nothing to be done but trusting herself with Mr. Honeycomb and his friend, to wait at the tavern at the gate for a coach, or to be subjected to all the impertinence she must meet with in that public place. Mr. Honeycomb, being a man of honour, determined the choice of the first, and Sir Roger, as the better man, took the lady by the hand, leading her through all the shower, covering her with his hat, and gallanting a familiar acquaintance through rows of young fellows, who winked at Sukey in the state she marched off, Will Honeycomb bringing up the rear.
Much importunity prevailed upon the fair one to admit of a collation; where, after declaring she had no stomach, and having eaten a couple of chickens, devoured a truss of salad, and drank a full bottle to her share, she sung the Old Man's Wish to Sir Roger. The knight left the room for time after supper,
and writ the followig billet, which he conveyed to Sukey, and Sukey to her friend Will Honeycomb. Will has given it to Sir Andrew Freeport, who read it last night to the club.
"I am not so mere a country gentleman, but I can guess at the law business you had at the Temple. If you would go down to the country, and leave off all your vanities but your singing, let me know at my lodgings in Bow-Street, Covent-Garden, and you shall be encouraged by
- Your humble servant,
ROGER DE COVERLEY.' My good friend could not well stand the rail. lery which was rising upon him; but to put a stop to it, I delivered Will Honeycomb the following letter, and desired him to read it to the board. MR. SPECTATOR,
Having seen a translation of one of the chapters in the Canticles into English verse inserted among your late papers, (No. 388,) I have ventured to send you the seventh chapter of the Proverbs in a poetical dress. If you think it worthy appearing among your speculations, it will be a sufficient reward for the trouble of
"Your constant reader, A. B.'
My son, 'th instruction that my words impart,
Let all thy homage be to wisdom paid,
Once from my window as I cast mine eye