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Thus, while he spake, unmindful of defence,
But of all the descriptive parts of this song, there are none more beautiful than the four following stanzas, which have a great force and spirit in them, and are filled with very natural circumstances. The thought in the third stanza was never touched by any other poet, and is such an one as would have shined in Homer or in Virgil:
So thus did both these nobles die, Whose courage none could stain;
He had a bow bent in His hand,
Made of a trusty tree,
Unto the head drew he. Against Sir Hugh Montgomery
So right his shaft he set,
In his heart-blood was wet. This fight did last from break of day
Till setting of the sun;
The battle scarce was done.
One may observe, likewise, that in the catalogue of the slain, the author has followed the example of the great ancient poets, not only in giving a long list of the dead, but by diversifying it with little characters of particular persons.
And with Earl Douglas there was slain
Sir Hugh Montgomery,
Sir Charles Murrel of Ratclifftoo,
His sister's son was he;
Yet saved could not be.
The familiar sound in these names destroys the majesty of the description; for this reason I do not mention this part of the poem but to shew the natural cast of thought which appears in it, as the two last verses look almost like a translation of Virgil.
Cadii et Rijiheus justissimus vnus
JEtt, ii. *26.
In the catalogue of the English who fell, Witherington's behaviour is in the same manner particularized very artfully, as the reader is prepared for it by that account which is given of him in the beginning of the battle; though I am satisfied your little buffoon readers (who have seen that passage ridiculed in Hudibras) will not be able to take the beauty of it: for which reason I dare not so much as quote it.
Then stept a gallant 'squire forth,
Witherington was his name,
To Henry our king for shame,
And I stood looking on.
We meet with the same heroic sentiment in Virgil.
Non pudet, 0 RuCuli, cunctispro talibus unam
Jen. xii, 229.
For shame, Rutilians, can you bear the sight
What can be more natural, or more moving, than the circumstances in which he describes the behaviour of those women who had lost their husbands on this fatal day?
Next day did many widows come
Their husbands to bewail;
But all would not prevail. Their bodies bath'd in purple blood,
They bore with them away;
When they were clad in clay.
Thus we see how the thoughts of this poem, which naturally arise from the subject, are always simple, and sometimes exquisitely noble; that the language is often very sounding, and that the whole is written with a true poetical spirit.
If this song had been written in the Gothic manner, which is the delight of all our little wits, whether writers or readers, it would not have hit the taste of so many ages, and have pleased the readers of all ranks and conditions. I shall only beg pardon for such a profusion of Latin quotations; which I should not have made use of, but that I feared my own judgment would have looked too singular on such a subject, had not I supported it by the practice and authority of Virgil, C.
N" 75. SATURDAY, MAY 26, 1711.
Ommi Arislippum decuit color, et status, et res.
HOR. 1 Ep. xvii. 23.
All fortune fitted Aristippus well.
It is with some mortification that I suffered the raillery of a fine lady of my acquaintance, for calling, in one of my papers *, Dorimant a clown. She was so unmerciful as to take advantage of my invincible taciturnity, and on that occasion with great freedom to consider the air, the height, the face, the gesture of him, who could pretend to judge so arrogantly of gallantry. She is full of motion, janty and lively in her impertinence, and one of those that commonly pass, among the ignorant, for persons who have a great deal of humour. She had the play of Sir Fopling in her hand, and after she had said it was happy for her there was not so charming a creature as Dorimant now living, she began with a theatrical air and tone of voice to read, by way of triumph over me, some of his speeches. ''Tis she! that lovely hair, that easy shape, those wanton eyes, and all those melting charms about her mouth, which Medley spoke of; I'll follow the lottery, and put in for a prize with my friend Bellair.'
In love the victors from the vanquish'd fly;
* Spect, No, 65,
Then turning over the leaves, she reads alternately, and speaks,
And you and Loveit to her cost shall find
Oh the fine gentleman! But here, continues she, is the passage I admire most, where he begins to tease Loveit, and mimic Sir Fopling. Oh, the pretty satire, in his resolving to be a coxcomb to please, since noise and nonsense have such powerful charms.
I, that I may successful prove,
Then how like a man of the town, so wild and gay is that!
The wise will find a difference in our fate,
It would have been a very wild endeavour for a man of my temper to offer any opposition to so nimble a speaker as my fair enemy is; but her discourse gave me very many reflections, when I had left her company. Among others, I could not but consider with some attention, the false impressions the generality (the fair sex more especially) have of what should be intended, when they say a 'fine gen» tleman and could not help revolving that subject in my thoughts, and settling, as it were, an idea of that character in my own imagination.
No man ought to have the esteem of the rest of the world, for any actions which are disagreeable to those maxims which prevail, as the standards of behaviour, in the country wherein he lives. What is opposite to the eternal rules of reason and good sense, must be excluded from any place in the car