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former; it does not determine the fate of single persons or nations; but of a whole species. The united powers of hell are joined together for the destruction of mankind, which they effected in part, and would have completed, had not Omnipotence itself interposed. The principal actors are man in his greatest perfection, and woman in her highest beauty. Their enemies are the fallen angels; the Messiah their friend, and the Almighty their protector. In short, every thing that is great in the whole circle of being, whether within the verge of nature, or out of it, has a proper part assigned it in this admirable poem.

In poetry, as in architecture, not only the whole, but the principal members, and every part of them, should be great. I will not presume to say, that the book of games in the Eneid, or that in the Iliad, are not of this nature; nor to reprehend Virgil's simile of the top, and many other of the same kind in the Iliad, as liable to any censure in this particular; but I think we may say, without derogating from those wonderful performances, that there is an unquestionable magnificence in every part of Paradise Lost, and indeed a much greater than could have been formed upon any pagan system.

But Aristotle, by the greatness of the action, does not only mean that it should be great in its nature, but also in its duration, or, in other words, that it should have a due length in it, as well as what we properly call greatness. The just measure of this kind of magnitude, he explains by the following similitude: An animal no bigger than a mite, cannot appear perfect to the eye, because the sight takes it in at once, and has only a confused idea of the whole, and not a distinct idea of all its parts; if, on the contrary, you should suppose an animal of ten thousand furlongs in length,

the eye would be so filled with a single part of it, that it could not give the mind an idea of the whole. What these animals are to the eye, a very short or a very long action would be to the memory. The first would be, as it were, lost and swallowed up by it, and the other difficult to be contained in it. Homer and Virgil have shewn their principal art in this particular; the action of the Iliad, and that of the Eneid, were in themselves exceeding short, but are so beautifully extended and diversified by the invention of episodes, and the machinery of gods, with the like poetical ornaments, that they make up an agreeable story, sufficient to employ the memory without overcharging it. Milton's action is enriched with such a variety of circumstances, that I have taken as much pleasure in reading the contents of his books, as in the best invented story I ever met with. It is possible, that the traditions, on which the Iliad and Æneid were built, had more circumstances in them, than the history of the fall of man, as it is related in scripture. Besides, it was easier for Homer and Virgil to dash the truth with fiction, as they were in no danger of offending the religion of their country by it. But as for Milton, he had not only a very few circumstances upon which to raise his poem, but was also obliged to proceed with the greatest caution in every thing that he added out of his own invention. And indeed, notwithstanding all the restraint he was under, he has filled his story with so many surprising incidents, which bear so close an analogy with what is delivered in holy writ, that it is capable of pleasing the most delicate reader, without giving offence to the most scrupulous.

The modern critics have collected from several hints in the Iliad and Æneid the space of time, which is taken up by the action of each of those poems; but

as a great part of Milton's story was transacted in regions that lie out of the reach of the sun and the sphere of day, it is impossible to gratify the reader with such a calculation, which indeed would be more curious than instructive; none of the critics, either antient or modern, having laid down rules to circumscribe the action of an epic poem with any determined number of years, days, or hours.

This piece of criticism on Milton's Paradise Lost shall be carried on in the following Saturday's papers.


N° 268. MONDAY, JANUARY 7, 1711-12.

Minus aptus acutis

Naribus horum hominum –

HOR. 1 Sat. iii, 29.


For lively sallies of corporeal wit.


IT is not that I think I have been more witty than I ought of late, that at present I wholly forbear any attempt towards it: I am of opinion that I ought sometimes to lay before the world the plain letters of my correspondents in the artless dress in which they hastily send them, that the reader may see I am not accuser and judge myself, but that the indictment is properly and fairly laid, before I proceed against the criminal.


As you are spectator-general, I apply myself to you in the following case, viz. I do not wear a sword, but I often divert myself at the theatre, where I frequently see a set of fellows pull plain

people, by way of humour and frolic, by the nose, upon frivolous or no occasions. A friend of mine the other night applauding what a graceful exit Mr. Wilks made, one of those nose-wringers over-. hearing him, pinched him by the nose. I was in the pit the other night (when it was very much crowded), a gentleman leaning upon me, and very heavily, I very civilly requested him to remove his hand; for which he pulled me by the nose. I would not resent it in so public a place, because I was unwilling to create a disturbance; but have since reflected upon it as a thing that is unmanly and disingenuous, renders the nose-puller odious, and makes the person pulled by the nose look little and contemptible. This grievance I humbly request you would endeavour to redress.


I am your admirer, &c.


"YOUR discourse of the 29th of December*, on love and marriage, is of so useful a kind, that I cannot forbear adding my thoughts to yours on that subject. Methinks it is a misfortune, that the marriage-state, which in its own nature is adapted to give us the completest happiness this life is capable of, should be so uncomfortable a one to so many as it daily proves. But the mischief generally proceeds from the unwise choice people make for themselves, and an expectation of happiness from things not capable of giving it. Nothing but the good qualities of the person beloved can be a foundation for a love of judgment and discretion; and whoever expects happiness from any thing but virtue, wisdom, good-humour, and a similitude of man

* No. 261.

ners, will find themselves widely mistaken. But how few are there who seek after these things, and do not rather make riches their chief, if not their only aim? How rare is it for a man, when he engages himself in the thoughts of marriage, to place his hopes of having in such a woman a constant agreeable companion? One who will divide his cares, and double his joys? Who will manage that share of his estate he entrusts to her care with prudence and frugality, govern his house with economy and discretion, and be an ornament to himself and family? Where shall we find the man who looks out for one who places her chief happiness in the practice of virtue, and makes her duty her continual pleasure? No: men rather seek for money as the complement of all their desires; and regardless of what kind of wives they take, they think riches will be a minister to all kind of pleasures, and enable them to keep mistresses, horses, hounds; to drink, feast, and game with their companions, pay their debts contracted by former extravagancies, or some such vile and unworthy end; and indulge themselves in pleasures which are a shame and scandal to human nature. Now as for women; how few of them are there, who place the happiness of their marriage in the having a wise and virtuous friend? One who will be faithful and just to all, and constant and loving to them? Who with care and diligence will look after and improve the estate, and without grudging allow whatever is prudent and convenient? Rather, how few are there, who do not place their happiness in outshining others in pomp and show? and that do not think within themselves when they have married such a rich person, that none of their acquaintance shall appear so fine in their equipage, so adorned in their persons, or so magnificent in their furniture as themselves? Thus

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