ePub 版

or slanderers, I can not wholly suppress them, no more than a general would discourage spies. The enemy would easily surprise him whom they knew had no intelligence of their motions. It is so far otherwise with me, that I acknowledge I permit a she-slanderer or two in every quarter of the town, to live in the characters of coquettes, and take all the innocent freedoms of the rest, in order to send me information of the behaviour of their respective sisterhoods.

But, as the matter of respect to the world which looks on, is carried on, methinks it is so very easy to be what is in the general called virtuous, that it need not cost one hour's reflection in a month to preserve that appellation. It is pleasant to hear the pretty rogues talk of virtue and vice among each other;“she is the laziest creature in the world, but, I must confess, strictly virtuous: the peevishest hussey breathing, but as to her virtue, she is without blemish: she has not the least charity for any of her acquaintance, but I must allow her rigidly virtuous.' As the unthinking part of the male world call every man a man of honour who is not a coward; so the crowd of the other sex terms every woman who will not be a wench, virtuous. STEELE.


No. 391. THURSDAY, MAY 29.

-Non tu prece poscis emaci, Quæ nisi seductis nequeas committere divis: At bona pars procerum tacitá libabit acerrâ, Haud cuivis promptum est, murmurque humilesque susurros Tollere de templis; et aperto vivere voto. Mens bona, fama, fides; hæc clarè, et ut audiat hospes, Illa sibi introrsum, et sub lingua immurmurat: O si Ebullit patrui præclarum funus! Et 0 si Sub rastro crepet argenti mihi seria dextro Hercule! pupillumve utinam, quem proximus hæres Impello, expungam.'


Thy prayers the test of heaven will bear: Nor need'st thou take the gods aside to hear: While others, e'en the mighty men of Rome, Big swellid with mischief, to the temples come; And in low' murmurs and with costly smoke, Heav'ns help, to prosper their black vows, invoke. So boldly to the gods mankind reveal What from each other they, for shame, conceal. Give me good fame, ye pow'rs, and make me just; Thus much the rogue to public ears will trust. In private then,--when wilt thou, mighty Jove, My wealthy uncle from this world remove? Or,-0 thou thund'rer's son, great Hercules, That once thy bounteous deity would please To guide my rake upon the chinking sound Of some vast treasure hidden under ground! O were my pupil fairly knock'd o'th' head! I should possess th' estate if he were dead. DRYDEN.

WHILE Homer represents Phonix, the tutor of Achilles, as persuading his pupil to lay aside his resentment, and give himself up to the intreaties of his countrymen, the poet, in order to make him speak in character, ascribes to him a speech full of those fables and allegories, which old men take delight in relating, and which are very proper for instruction.

The gods,' says he, suffer themselves to be prevailed upon by intreaties. When mortals have offended them by their transgressions, they appease them by vow's and sacrifices. You must know, Achilles, that PRAYERS are the daughters of Jupiter. They are crippled by frequent kneeling, have their faces full of scars and wrinkles, and their eyes always cast towards heaven. They are constant attendants on the goddess ATE, and march behind her. This goddess walks forward with a bold and haughty air, and being very light of foot, runs through the whole earth, grieving and afflicting the sons of men. She gets the start of Prayers, who always follow her, in order to heal those persons

whom she wounds. He who honours these daughters of Jupiter, when they draw near to him, receives great benefits from them; but as for him who rejects him, they intreat their father to give his orders to the goddess ATE, to punish him for his hardness of heart. ble allegory needs but little explanation; for whether the goddess ATE, signifies injury, as some have explained it, or guilt in general, as others; or divine justice, as I am the more apt to think, the interpretation is obvious enough.

I shall produce another heathen fable relating to Prayers, which is of a more diverting kind. One would think, by some passages in it, that it was composed by Lucian, or at least by some author who has endeavoured to imitate his


of writing; but as dissertations of this nature are more curious than useful, I shall give my reader

This no


the fable without any further inquiry after the author.

Menippus the philosopher was a second time taken up into heaven by Jupiter; when for his entertainment he lifted up a trap-door that was placed by his footstool. At its rising, there issued through it such a din of cries as astonished the philosopher. Upon his asking what they meant, Jupiter told him they were the prayers that were sent up to him from the earth. Menippus, amidst the confusion of voices, which were so great that nothing less than the ear of Jove could distinguish them, heard the words, riches, honour, and long life, repeated in several different tones and languages. When the first hubbub of sounds was over, the trap-door being left open, the voices came up more separate and distinct.' The first prayer was a very odd one, it came from Athens, and desired Jupiter to increase the wisdom and the beard of his humble supplicant. Menippus knew it by the voice to be the prayer of his friend Licander the philosopher. This was succeeded by the petition of one who had just laden a ship, and promised Jupiter, if he took care of it, and returned it home again full of riches, he would make him an offering of a silver cup. Jupiter thanked him for nothing; and bending down his ear more attentively than ordinary, heard a voice complaining to him of the cruelty of an Ephesian widow, and begging him to breed compassion in her heart. This, says Jupiter, is a very honest fellow: I have received a great deal of incense from him: I will not be so cruel to him as not to hear his


He was then interrupted with a whole volley of vows,



which were made for the health of a tyrannical prince by his subjects, who prayed for him in his presence. Menippus was surprised, after having listened to prayers offered up with so much ardour and devotion, to hear low whispers from the same assembly, expostulating with Jove for suffering such a tyrant to live, and asking him how his thunder could lie idle? Jupiter was so offended at these prevaricating rascals, that he took down the first vows, and puffed away the last. The philosopher seeing a great cloud mounting upwards, and making its way directly to the trap-door, inquired of Jupiter, what it meant. This, says Jupiter, is the smoke of a whole hecatomb that is offered me by the general of an army, who is very importunate with me to let him cut off a hundred thousand men that are drawn up in array against him; what does the impudent wretch think I see in him, to believe that I will make a sacrifice of so many mortals as good as himself, and all this to his glory forsooth? But hark, says Jupiter, there is a voice I never heard but in time of danger; it is a rogue that is shipwrecked in the Ionian sea; I saved him on a plank but three days ago, upon his promise to mend his manners; the scoundrel is not worth a groat, and yet has the impudence to offer me a temple if I will keep him from sinking-But yonder, says he, is a special youth for you: he desires me to take his father, who keeps a great estate from him, out of the miseries of human life. The old fellow shall live till he makes his heart ache, I can tell him that for his pains. This was followed up by the soft voice of a pious lady, desiring Jupiter that she might appear amiable and charming in

« 上一頁繼續 »