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declaring him the only man who had written in a style which was truly heroical, and that he was above all others in his fame as well as in his diction. Others censured him as one who went beyond all bounds in his images and expressions, laughing at the cruelty of his conceptions, the rumbling of his numbers, and the dreadful pomp and bombast of his expressions. There were, however, a few select judges who moderated between both these extremes, and pronounced upon Statius, that there appeared in his style much poetical heat and fire, but withal so much smoke as sullied the brightness of it. That there was a majesty in his verse, but that it was the majesty rather of a tyrant than of a king. That he was often towering among the clouds, but often met with the fate of Icarus. In a word, that Statius was among the poets what Alexander the Great is among heroes, a man of great virtues and of great faults.
Virgil was the last of the ancient poets who produced himself upon this occasion. His subject was the story of Theutilla, which being so near that of Judith in all its circumstances, and at the same time translated by a very ingenious gentleman in one of Mr. Dryden's miscellanies, I shall here give no further account of it. When he had done, the whole assembly declared the works of this great poet a subject rather for their admiration than for their applause; and that if anything was wanting in Virgil's poetry, it was to be ascribed to a deficiency in the art itself, and not in the genius of this great man. There were, however, some envious murmurs and detractions heard among the crowd, as if there were very frequently verses in him which flagged or wanted spirit, and were rather to be looked upon as faultless than beautiful. But these injudicious censures were heard with a general indignation.
I need not observe to my learned reader, that the foregoing story of the German and Portuguese is almost the same in every particular with that of the two rival soldiers in Caesar's Commentaries. This prolusion ends with the performance of an Italian poet, full of those little witticisms and conceits which have infected the greatest part of modern poetry. AD OISON.
ON RELIGIOUS FEAR. (No. 117).
LookING over the late edition of Monsieur Boileau's works, I was very much pleased with the article which he has added to his notes on the translation of Longinus. He there tells us, that the sublime in writing rises either from the nobleness of the thought, the magnificence of the words, or the harmonious and lively turn of the phrase, and that the perfect sublime arises from all these three in conjunction together. He produces an instance of this perfect sublime in four verses from the Athaliah of Monsieur Racine. When Abner, one of the chief officers of the court, represents to Joad, the high-priest, that the queen was incensed against him, the high-priest, not in the least terrified at the news, returns this answer:
“Celui qui met un frein a la fureur des flots
“He who ruleth the raging of the sea knows also how to check the designs of the ungodly. I submit myself with reverence to his holy will. O Abner, I fear my God, and I fear none but him.” Such a thought gives no less a sublimity to human nature than it does to good writing. This religious fear, when it is produced by just apprehensions of a divine power, naturally overlooks all human greatness that stands in competition with it, and extinguishes every other terror that can settle itself in the heart of man: it lessens and contracts the figure of the most exalted person; it disarms the tyrant and executioner; and represents to our minds the most enraged and the most powerful as altogether harmless and impotent. There is no true fortitude which is not founded upon this fear, as there is no other principle of so settled and fixed a nature. Courage that grows from constitution very often forsakes a man when he has occasion for it; and when it is only a kind of instinct in the soul, breaks out upon all
occasions without judgment or discretion. That courage which proceeds from the sense of our duty, and from the fear of offending him that made us, acts always in an uniform manner, and according to the dictates of right reaSOn. What can the man fear, who takes care in all his actions to please a being that is omnipotent? a being who is able to crush all his adversaries 2 a being that can divert any misfortune from befalling him, or turn any such misfortune to his advantage? The person who lives with this constant and habitual regard to the great superintendant of the world, is indeed sure that no real evil can come into his lot. Blessings may appear under the shape of pains, losses, and disappointments; but let him have patience, and he will see them in their proper figures. Dangers may threaten him; but he may rest satisfied that they will either not reach him, or that, if they do, they will be the instruments of good to him. In short, he may look upon all crosses and accidents, sufferings and afflictions, as means which are made use of to bring him to happiness. This is even the worst of that man's condition whose mind is possessed with the habitual fear of which I am now speaking. But it very often happens, that those which appear evils in our own eyes appear also as such to him who has human nature under his care; in which case they are certainly averted from the person who has made himself, by this virtue, an object of divine favour. Histories are full of instances of this nature, where men of virtue have had extraordinary escapes out of such dangers as have enclosed them, and which have seemed inevitable. There is no example of this kind in pagan history which more pleases me than that which is recorded in the life of Timoleon. This extraordinary man was famous for referring all his successes to Providence. Cornelius Nepos acquaints us that he had in his house a private chapel, in which he used to pay his devotions to the goddess who represented Providence among the heathens. I think no man was ever more distinguished, by the deity whom he blindly worshipped, than the great person I am speaking of, in several WOL. II. B. B.
occurrences of his life, but particularly in the following one which I shall relate out of Plutarch: Three persons had entered into a conspiracy to assassinate Timoleon as he was offering up his devotions in a certain temple. In order to it they took their several stands in the most convenient places for their purpose. As they were waiting for an opportunity to put their design in execution, a stranger, having observed one of the conspirators, fell upon him and slew him; upon which the other two, thinking their plot had been discovered, threw themselves at Timoleon's feet and confessed the whole matter. This stranger, upon examination, was found to have understood nothing of the intended assassination; but having several years before had a brother killed by the conspirator whom he here put to death, and having till now sought in vain for an opportunity of revenge, he chanced to meet the murderer in the temple, who had planted himself
there for the above-mentioned purpose. Plutarch cannot .
forbear, on this occasion, speaking with a kind of rapture on the schemes of Providence, which, in this particular, had so contrived it that the stranger should, for so great a space of time, be debarred the means of doing justice to his brother, till, by the same blow that revenged the death of one innocent man, he preserved the life of another. For my own part, I cannot wonder that a man of Timoleon's religion should have his intrepidity and firmness of mind, or that he should be distinguished by such a deliverance as I have here related. ADDISON.
COURTSHIP OF BIRDS. (No. 125).
MEN of my age receive a greater pleasure from fine weather than from any other sensual enjoyment of life. In spite of the auxiliary bottle, or any artificial heat, we are apt to droop under a gloomy sky, and taste no luxury like a blue firmament and sunshine. I have often, in a splenetic fit, wished myself a dormouse during the winter;
and I never see one of those snug animals wrapt up close in his fur, and compactly happy in himself, but I contemplate him with envy beneath the dignity of a philosopher. If the art of flying were brought to perfection, the use that I should make of it would be to attend the sun round the world, and pursue the spring through every sign of the zodiac. This love of warmth makes my heart glad at the return of the spring. How amazing is the change in the face of nature; when the earth, from being bound with frost, or covered with snow, begins to put forth her plants and flowers, to be clothed with green, diversified with ten thousand various dyes; and to exhale such fresh and charming odours as fill every living creature with delight! Full of thoughts like these, I make it a rule to lose as little as I can of that blessed season; and accordingly rise with the sun, and wander through the fields, throw myself on the banks of little rivulets, or lose myself in the woods. I spent a day or two this spring at a country gentleman's seat, where I feasted my imagination every morning with the most luxurious prospect I ever saw. I usually took my stand by the wall of an old castle built upon a high hill. A noble river ran at the foot of it, which, after being broken by a heap of misshapen stones, glided away in a clear stream, and, wandering through two woods on each side of it in many windings, shone here and there at a great distance through the trees. I could trace the mazes for some miles, till my eye was led through two ridges of hills, and terminated by a vast mountain in another county. I hope the reader will pardon me for taking his eye from our present subject of the spring, by this landscape, since it is at this time of the year only that prospects excel in beauty. But, if the eye is delighted, the ear hath likewise its proper entertainment. The music of the birds at this time of the year hath something in it so wildly sweet, as makes me less relish the most elaborate compositions of Italy. The vigour which the warmth of the sun pours afresh into their veins prompts them to renew their species; and thereby puts the male upon wooing his mate with more mellow warblings, and to swell his throat with more violent