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bition. She is made to understand that it is a man of quality who dies for her. The examination of a young girl for business, and the crying down her value for being a slight thing, together with every other circumstance in the scene, are inimitably excellent, and have the true spirit of comedy; though it were to be wished the author had added a circumstance which should make Leucippe's baseness more odious.
It must not be thought a digression from my intended speculation, to talk of bawds in a discourse upon wenches; for a woman of the town is not thoroughly and properly such, without having gone through the education of one of these houses. But the compassionate case of very many is, that they are taken into such hands without the least suspicion, previous temptation, or admonition to what place they are going. The last week I went to an inn in the city to inquire for some provisions which were sent by a wagon out of the country; and as I waited in one of the boxes till the chamberlain had looked over his parcels, I heard an old and a young voice repeating the questions and responses of the church catechism. I thought it no breach of good manners to peep at a crevice, and look in at people so well employed: but who should I see there but the most artful procuress in town, examining a most beautiful country girl, who had come up in the same wagon with my things, Whether she was well educated, could forbear playing the wanton with servants and idle fellows, of which this town,' says she, “is too full?' at the same time, • Whether she knew enough of breeding, as that it a 'squire or a gentleman, or one that was her
betters, should give her a civil salute, she should curtsey, and be humble nevertheless?' Her innocent. forsooths, yesses, and't please you's, and she would do her endeavour,' moved the good old lady to take her out of the hands of a country bumpkin her brother, and hire her for her own maid. I staid till I saw them all march out to take coach; the brother loaded with a great cheese, he prevailed upon her to take for her civilities to his sister. This poor creature's fate is not far off that of her's whom I spoke of above; and it is not to be doubted, but after she had been long enough a prey to lust, she will be delivered over to famine. The ironical commendation of the industry and charity of these antiquated ladies, these directors of sin, after they can no longer commit it, makes up the beauty of the inimitable dedication to the Plain Dealer, and is a master. piece of raillery on this vice. But to understand all the purlieus of this game the better, and to illustrate this subject in future discourses, I must venture myself with my friend Will into the haunts of beauty and gallantry, from pampered vice in the habitations of the wealthy, to distressed indigent wickedness expelled the harbours of the brothel. (See No. 274 and 276.)
No. 267. SATURDAY, JANUARY 5. Cedite Romani scriptores, cedite Graii. PROPERT. Give place, ye Roman and ye Grecian wits. THERE is nothing in nature so irksome as general discourses, especially when they turn
chiefly upon words. For this reason I shall wave the discussion of that point which was started some years since, whether Milton's Paradise Lost may be called an heroic poem? Those who will not give it that title, may call it (if they please) a divine poem. It will be sufficient to its perfection if it has in it all the beauties of the highest kind of poetry; and as for those who allege it is not an heroic poem, they advance no more to the diminution of it, than if they should say, Adam is not Æneas, nor Eve Helen.
I shall therefore examine it by the rules of epic poetry, and see whether it falls short of the Iliad or Æneid, in the beauties which are essential to that kind of writing. The first thing to be considered in an epic poem is the fable, which is perfect or imperfect according as the action which it relates is more or less so. This action should have three qualifications in it; First, it should be but one action; Secondly, it should be an entire action; and, Thirdly, it should be a great action. To consider the action of the Iliad, Æneid, and Paradise Lost, in these three several lights, Homer, to preserve the unity of his action, hastens into the midst of things, as Horace has observed. Had he gone up to Leda's egg, or begun much later, even at the rape of Helen, or the investing of Troy, it is manifest that the story of the poem would have been a series of several actions. He therefore opens his poem with the discord of his princes, and artfully interweaves in the several succeeding parts of it an account of every thing material which relates to them, and had passed before that fatal dissention. After the same manner, Æneas makes his first appearance in the
Tyrrhene seas, and within sight of Italy, because the action proposed to be celebrated was that of his settling himself in Latium. But because it was necessary for the reader to know what had happened to him in the taking of Troy, and in the preceding parts of his voyage, Virgil makes his hero relate it by way of episode in the second and third books of the Æneid. The contents of both which books come before those of the first book in the thread of the story, though, for preserving of this unity of action they follow them in the disposition of the poem. Milton, in imitation of these two great poets, opens his Paradise Lost with an infernal council plotting the fall of man, which is the action he proposed to celebrate; and as for those great actions, which preceded in point of time the battle of the angels, and the creation of the world, (which would have entirely destroyed the unity of his principal action, had he related them in the same order that they · happened, he cast them into the fifth, sixth, and seventh books, by way of episode to this noble poem.
Aristotle himself allows, that Homer has nothing to boast of as to the unity of his fable, though at the same time that great critic and philosopher endeavours to palliate this imperfection in the Greek poet, by imputing it in some measure to the very nature of an epic poem. Some have been of opinion that the Æneid also labours in this particular, and has episodes which may be looked upon as excrescences, rather than as parts of the action. On the contrary, the poem which we have now under our consideration hath no other episodes than such as naturally arise from
the subject; and yet it is filled with such a multitude of astonishing incidents, that it gives us at the same time a pleasure of the greatest variety, and of the greatest simplicity; uniform in its nature, though diversified in the execution.
I must observe also, that as Virgil in the poem which was designed to celebrate the original of the Roman empire, has described the birth of its great rival, the Carthaginian commonwealth; Milton, with the like art, in his poem on the fall of man, has related the fall of those angels who are his professed enemies. Besides the many other beauties in such an episode, its running parallel with the great action of the poem, hinders it from breaking the unity so much as another episode would have done, that had not so great an affinity with the principal subject. In short, this is the same kind of beauty which the critics admire in the Spanish Friar or the Double Discovery, where the two different plots look like counter parts and copies of one another.
The second qualification required in the action of an epic poem is, that it should be an entire action: an action is entire when it is complete in all its parts; or, as Aristotle describes it, when it consists of a beginning, a middle, and an end. Nothing should go before it, be intermixed with it, or follow after it, that is not related to it. As, on the contrary, no single step should be omitted in that just and regular process which it must be supposed to take from its original to its consummation. Thus we see the anger of Achilles in its birth, its continuance and effects; and Æneas's settlement in Italy carried on through all the op- ... positions in his way to it both by sea and land,