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be expressed by words. The Supreme Being has not given us powers or faculties sufficient to extol and magnify such unutterable goodness.
“ It is, however, some comfort to us, that we shall be always doing what we shall never be able to do, and that a work which cannot be finished will, however, be the work of eternity."
No.591. WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 8, 1714.
- Tenerorum lusor amorum.
OVID, TRIST. iii, 3. 73. Love the soft subject of his sportive Muse.
I HAVE just received a letter from a gentleman, who tells me he has observed, with no small concern, that my papers have of late been very barren in relation to love: a subject which, when agreeably handled, can scarce fail of being well received by both sexes. If my
invention, therefore, should be almost exhausted on this head, he offers to serve under me in the quality of a love-casuist ; for which place he conceives himself to be thoroughly qualified, having made this passion his principal study, and observed it in all its different shapes and appearances, from the fifteenth to the forty-fifth year
age. He assures me with an air of confidence, which I hope proceeds from his real abilities, that he does not doubt of giving judgement, to the satisfaction of the parties concerned, on the most nice and intricate cases which can happen in an amour; as,
How great the contraction of the fingers must be before it amounts to a squeeze by the hand.
What can be properly termed an absolute denial from a maid and what from a widow.
What advances a lover may presume to make, after having received a pat upon his shoulder from his mistress's fan.
Whether a lady, at the first interview, may allow an humble servant to kiss her hand.
How far it may be permitted to caress the maid, in order to succeed with the mistress.
What constructions a man may put upon a smile, and in what cases a frown goes
for nothing. On what occasion a sheepish look may vice, &c.
As a further proof of his skill he also sent me several maxims in love, which he assures me are the result of a long and profound reflection, some of which I think myself obliged to communicate to the public, not remembering to have seen them before in any author.
• There are more calamities in the world, arising from love than from hatred.
• Love is the daughter of Idleness, but the mother of disquietude.
· Men of grave natures, says Sir Francis Bacon, are the most constant; for the same reason men should be more constant than women.
• The gay part of mankind is most amorous, the serious most loving.
• A coquette often loses her reputation while she preserves her virtue.
A prude often preserves her reputation when she has lost her virtue.
Love refines a man's behaviour, but makes a woman's ridiculous.
• Love is generally accompanied with good-will in the young, interest in the middle-aged, and a passion too gross to name in the old.
« The endeavours to revive a decaying passion generally extinguish the remains of it.
A woman who, from being a slattern, becomes over-neat, or from being over-neat becomes a slattern, is most certainly in love.'
I shall make use of this gentleman's skill as I see occasion ; and, since I am got upon the subject of love, shall conclude this
of verses which were lately sent me by an unknown hand, as I look upon them to be above the ordinary run of sonnetteers.
The author tells me they were written in one of his despairing fits; and I find entertains some hope that his mistress may pity such a passion as he has described, before she knows that she is herself Corinna.
with a copy
Conceal, fond man, conceal the mighty smart,
Whom she, and whom the Muses, do inspire ;
Her image only shall thy breast employ,
* No. 592. FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 10, 1714.
Studium sine divite vená.
HOR. ARS POET, 409. Art without a vein.
I LOOK upon
the playhouse as a world within itself. They have lately furnished the middle region of it. with a new set of meteors, in order to give the sublime to many modern tragedies. I was there last winter at the first rehearsal of the new thundert, which is much more deep and sonorous than any
hitherto made use of. They have a Salmoneus behind the scenes who plays it off with great success. Their lightnings are made to flash more briskly than heretofore; their clouds are also better furbelowed, and more voluminous; not to mention a violent storm locked up in a great chest, that is designed for the Tempest. They are also provided with above a dozen showers of snow, which, as I am informed, are the plays of many unsuccessful poets artificially cut and shredded for that use. Mr. Rymer's Edgar is to fall
* The author of these veres was Gilbert, the second brother of Eustace Budgell, Esq.
† Apparently an allusion to Mr. Dennis's new and improved method of making thunder; at whom several oblique strokes in this paper seem to have been aimed.
in snow at the next acting of King Lear, in order to heighten, or rather to alleviate, the distress of that unfortunate prince; and to serve by way of decoration to a piece which that great critic has written against.
I do not indeed wonder that the actors should be such professed enemies to those among our nation who are commonly known by the name of critics, since it is a rule among these gentleman to fall upon a play, not because it is ill written, but because it takes. Several of them lay it down as a maxim, that whatever dramatic performance has a long run, must of necessity, be good for nothing; as though the first precept in poetry were ' not to please.' Whether this rule holds good or not, I shall leave to the determination of those who are better judges than myself; if it does, I am sure it tends very much to the honour of those gentlemen who have established it; few of their pieces having been disgraced by a run of three days, and most of them being so exquisitely written, that the town would never give them more than one night's hearing.
I have a great esteem for a true critic, such as Aristotle and Longinus among the Greeks: Horace and Quintilian among the Romans; Boileau and Dacier among the French. But it is our misfortune that some, who set up for professed critics among us, are so stupid, that they do not know how to put ten words together with elegance or common propriety; and withal so illiterate, that they have no taste of the learned languages, and, therefore, criticise upon old authors only at second-hand. They judge of them by what others have written, and not by any notions they have of the authors themselves. The words unity, action, sentiment, and diction, pronounced with an air of authority, give them a figure among unlearned readers, who are apt to believe they are