« ForrigeFortsett »
would be inexcusable in a man who had not been so great a sufferer by them. “My wife (says he) has disgraced all the women that shall ever be born into the world, even those who hereafter shall be innocent. Take care how you grow too fond of your wife. Never tell her all you
know. reveal some things to her, be sure you keep others concealed from her. You, indeed, have nothing to fear from your Penelope, she will not use you as my wife has treated me; however, take care how you trust a woman." The poet, in this and other instances, according to the system of many heathen as well as Christian philosophers, shows, how anger, revenge, and other habits, which the soul had contracted in the body, subsist and grow in it under its state of separation.
I am extremely pleased with the companions which the poet in the next description assigns to Achilles. “ Achilles (says Homer) came up to me with Patroclus and Antilochus.” By which we may see that it was Homer's opinion, and probably that of the age he lived in, that the friendships which are made among the living, will likewise continue among the dead. Achilles inquires after the welfare of his son, and of his father, with a fierceness of the same character that Homer has everywhere expressed in the actions of his life. The passage relating to his son is so extremely beautiful, that I must not omit it. Ulysses, after having described him as wise in council, and active in war, and mentioned the foes whom he had slain in battle, adds an observation that he himself had made of his behaviour whilst he lay in the wooden horse. "Most of the generals (says he) that were with us, either wept or trembled; as for your son, I neither saw him wipe a tear from his cheeks, or change his countenance. On the contrary, he would often lay his hand upon his sword, or grasp his spear, as impatient to employ them against the Trojans.” He then informs his father of the great honour and rewards which he had purchased before Troy, and of his return from it without a wound. The shade of Achilles, says the poet, was so pleased with the account he received of his son, that he inquired no further, but stalked away with more than ordinary majesty over the green meadow that lay before them.
This last circumstance of a deceased father's rejoicing in the behaviour of his son, is very finely contrived by Homer,
as an incentive to virtue, and made use of by none that I know besides himself.
The description of Ajax, which follows, and his refusing to speak to Ulysses, who had won the armour of Achilles from him, and by that means occasioned his death, is admired by every one that reads it. When Ulysses relates the sullenness of his deportment, and considers the greatness of the hero, he expresses himself with generous and noble senti. ments. “Oh! that I had never gained a prize which cost the life of so brave a man as Ajax! who, for the beauty of his person, and greatness of his actions, was inferior to none but the divine Achilles.” The same noble condescension, which never dwells but in truly great minds, and such as Homer would represent that of Ulysses to have been, discovers itself likewise in the speech which he made to the ghost of Ajax on that occasion. “O Ajax ! (says he,) will you keep your resentments even after death? what destructions hath this fatal armour brought upon the Greeks by robbing them of you, who were their bulwark and defence ! Achilles is not more bitterly lamented among us than you. Impute not then your death to any one but Jupiter, who, out of his anger to the Greeks, took you away from among them: let me entreat you to approach me; restrain the fierceness of your wrath, and the greatness of your soul, and hear what I have to say to you." Ajax, without making a reply,
, turned his back upon him, and retired into a crowd of ghosts.
Ulysses, after all these ions, took a view of those inpious wretches who lay in tortures for the crimes they had committed
upon the earth, whom he describes under all the varieties of pain, as so many marks of divine vengeance, to deter others from following their example. He then tells us, that, notwithstanding he had a great curiosity to see the heroes that lived in the ages before him, the ghosts began to gather about him in such prodigious multitudes, and with such confusion of voices, that his heart trembled as he saw himself amidst so great a scene of horrors. He adds, that he was afraid lest some hideous spectre should appear to him, that might terrify him to distraction; and therefore withdrew in time.
I question not but my reader will be pleased with this description of a future state, represented by such a noble
and fruitful imagination, that had nothing to direct it besides the light of nature, and the opinions of a dark and ignorant age.
No. 153. SATURDAY, APRIL 1, 1710.
Bombalio, Clangor, Stridor, Taratantara, Murmur. Farn. Rhet.
From my own Apartment, March 31. I HAVE heard of a very valuable picture, wherein all the painters of the age in which it was drawn are represented sitting together in a circle, and joining in a concert of music. Each of them plays upon such a particular instrument as is the most suitable to his character, and expresses that style and manner of painting which is peculiar to him. The famous cupola-painter of those times, to show the grandeur and boldness of his figures, hath a horn in his mouth, which he seems to wind with great strength and force. On the contrary, an eminent artist, who wrought up his pictures with the greatest accuracy, and gave them all those delicate touches which are apt to please the nicest eye, is represented as tuning a theorbo. The same kind of humour runs through the whole piece.
I have often from this hint imagined to myself, that different talents in discourse might be shadowed out after the same manner by different kinds of music; and that the several conversable parts of mankind in this great city might be cast into proper characters and divisions, as they resemble several instruments that are in use among the masters of harmony. Of these, therefore, in their order, and first of the drum.
Your drums are the blusterers in conversation, that with
1 These extracts from the writings of antiquity, though curious in themselves, and embellished by the masterly pen of our author, are yet, by no means, the most pleasing parts of his works. The reason I take to be, that, to the learned reader, they want the grace of novelty; and, to the unlearned, as not entering into the ideas of ancient times, they appear cold and insipid. In the case before us, many a person, who is little affected by this gloomy tale of Homer's ghosts, would be warmed into an enthusiasm of virtue, by the fine paintings of futurity, which our best writers have given, on the ideas of improved philosophy or sacred Scripture; or, by one of Mr. Addison's own visions.
a loud laugh, unnatural mirth, and a torrent for noise, domineer in public assemblies, overbear men of sense, stun their companions, and fill the place they are in with a rattling sound, that hath seldom any wit, humour, or good breeding in it. The drum, notwithstanding, by this boisterous vivacity, is very proper to impose upon the ignorant; and in conversation with ladies, who are not of the finest taste, often passes for a man of mirth and wit, and for wonderful pleasant company. I need not observe, that the emptiness of the drum very much contributes to its noise.
The lute is a character directly opposite to the drum, that sounds very finely by itself, or in a very small concert. Its notes are exquisitely sweet, and very low, easily drowned in a multitude of instruments, and even lost among a few, unless you give a particular attention to it. A lute is seldom heard in a company of more than five, whereas a drum will show itself to advantage in an assembly of five hundred. The lutanists, therefore, are men of a fine genius, uncommon reflection, great affability, and esteemed chiefly by persons of a good taste, who are the only proper judges of so delightful and soft a melody.
The trumpet is an instrument that has in it no compass of music, or variety of sound, but is notwithstanding very agreeable, so long as it keeps within its pitch. It has not above four or five notes, which are, however, very pleasing, and capable of exquisite turns and modulations. The gentlemen who fall under this denomination, are your men of the most fashionable education and refined breeding, who have learned a certain smoothness of discourse, and sprightliness of air, from the polite company they have kept ; but at the same time have shallow parts, weak judgments, and a short reach of understanding; a play-house, a drawing-room, a ball, a visiting-day, or a ring at lyde Park, are the few notes they are masters of, which they touch upon
in all conversations. The trumpet, however, is a necessary instrument about a court, and a proper enlivener of a concert, though of no great harmony by itself.
Violins, are the lively, forward, importunate wits, that distinguish themselves by the flourishes of imagination, sharpness of repartee, glances of satire, and bear away the upper part in every concert. I cannot, however, but observe, that when a man is not disposed to hear music, there
is not a more disagreeable sound in harmony, than that of a violin.
There is another musical instrument, which is more frequent in this nation than in any other; I mean your bassviol, which grumbles in the bottom of the concert, and with a surly, masculine sound strengthens the harmony, and tempers the sweetness of the several instruments that play along with it. The bass-viol is an instrument of a quite different nature to the trumpet, and may signify men of rough sense, and unpolished parts, who do not love to hear themselves talk, but sometimes break out with an agreeable bluntness, unexpected wit, and surly pleasantries, to the no small diversion of their friends and companions. In short, I look upon every sensible, true-born Briton to be naturally a bassviol.
As for your rural wits, who talk with great eloquence and alacrity of foxes, hounds, horses, quickset hedges, and sixbar gates, double ditches, and broken necks, I am in doubt whether I should give them a place in the conversable world. However, if they will content themselves with being raised to the dignity of hunting-horns, I shall desire for the future that they may be known by that name.
I must not here omit the bagpipe species, that will entertain you from morning to night with the repetition of a few notes, which are played over and over, with the perpetual humming of a drone running underneath them. These are your dull, heavy, tedious story-tellers, the load and burthen of conversations, that set up for men of importance, by knowing secret history, and giving an account of transactions, that whether they ever passed in the world or not, doth not signify an halfpenny to its instruction, or its welfare. Some have observed, that the northern parts of this island are more particularly fruitful in bagpipes.
There are so very few persons who are masters in every kind of conversation, and can talk on all subjects, that I do not know whether we should make a distinct species of them; nevertheless, that my scheme may not be defective, for the sake of those few who are endowed with such extraordinary
1 " That whether”—o—"welfare."] Carelessly and elliptically expressed. The sense is, and perhaps the expression should have been
transactions so frivolous, that one is not concerned to inquire whether they ever passed in the world or not.”