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in them, is but just; but to do the same with Pieces that have not, would be as ridiculous as to attempt the Cure of Blemishes on the outward Surface of a dead Man; when there is no Spirit in a Work, the Reprehension of particular Parts is vain; it is sufficient to say, that there being no Life in the Object, the best polishing and most regular Symmetry will never be able to recommend it; that inborn inexpressible Rule, that Men of Taste go by, is not to be flattered but by something that ravishes the Imagination, tho' to a Head, which has no Perception of those Things, the most lifeless and terse will always be the most charming Performance.

No. II

THE REFORMER

THURSDAY the 7th of April, 1748.

OUR Papers are sometimes employed on Subjects which we think useful, tho' no present Occasion should suggest them, at other Times, the posture of Affairs affords us Matter of Speculation, and now the Season presents one, which it were equally blameable in us and all good Men to neglect.

Pythagoras recommends to his Disciples, to pass the Close of each Day in Retirement, to revolve their past Actions, to contemplate useful Matters, and lay in proper Resolutions for their future Conduct; nor is it less wisely ordained in the Christian Polity, that certain Times recurring annually, should be devoted to Religion, lest the Mind too much softened by Pleasures, or overgrown with the Rust of worldly Cares, should forget its high Destination. I have read of Persons whom some Misfortune threw among barbarous People, where being habituated to their Company, they grew in Love with their Manners and never remembered or never desired to see their native Country. A small Time properly applied to Reflection, would prevent such a scandalous Degeneracy; and there is none who cannot spare it, cannot spare the smallest Part of their Time to provide for the longest of their Existence, where their Happiness, or Misery is not Precarious, or by Fits, but to endure without Interruption thro' all Eternity.

There are a Set of Men not infrequent in this City, who tho' they allow of Morality, cry down reveal'd Religion, yet in their Practice, they make them equal, neglecting both; how weak an Obligation, Morality consider'd in itself would be, may be seen, by supposing Laws imposed on a Nation, without Rewards for those who kept, or Punishments for those who broke them. They are not true friends to Virtue, who would deprive it of any thing which serves to enforce or strengthen it; they are like the Wolves in the Fable, who enter'd into a Treaty with the Sheep, wherein it was stipulated, that they should dismiss the Dogs; and then they tore the flock to Pieces. These Men have so far interwoven their darling Appetites with every Thought, that their most refined Judgments on Things become but

Gratifications to a favourite Passion, and all the Actions resulting from thence, tho' agreeable to their System of Morality, are not less opposite to Religion than right Reason, for herein they coincide, as those two only produce Actions which are called good and wise. Formerly an affectation of Singularity caused such Opinions; but now, to have no Taint of them, is almost as Singular, they have since got a Reason more substantial, they form a Set of Rules at one to indulge their Passions and lull their Conscience. Thus they sometimes deceive Men of Sense thro' the hardiness of their Notions, and the Vulgar very often, from an Ability to talk more against Religion, than they can for it, and flush'd with this Appearance of Success, attribute that to a Defect in the Cause, which was merely in the Defender.

The two greatest Enemies of Religion are the above-mentioned Infidelity and Blind Zeal, the former attacks it like an open Enemy, and the latter like an indiscreet Friend, does it more Harm than Good; the first gives rise to the Free-Thinkers, the latter to our Sectaries, a truly religious Life has the same Efficacy to the prevention of both. This would soon convince Unbelievers of the superior Power of Religion towards a Moral Life, and shew at the same time how much it exceeds all Systems of Philosophy, in supporting us under Misfortunes as that teaches us only to bear; but this to rejoice in them, by fastening our Thoughts on something indeed past our Comprehension, but not our Hopes: And even this Appearance of Religion would hinder many from throwing themselves into the Arms of the first false Teacher that offers, who with the Advantage of a Shew of Zeal, promises that Comfort they could not find before.

The Practice of Virtue and Religion is indispensible at all Times; but never more than at this, when we commemorate the Time our Creator became our Redeemer, and for our sake manifested in the highest manner the highest Attributes of his Divinity, his Love and his Power, the one in dying for us, and the other in conquering Death, by giving that glorious Proof of our Immortality, and being himself the first Fruits of the Resurrection.

U.

No. 12

THE REFORMER

THURSDAY the 14th of April, 1748.

Scribendi recte sapere est & principium & fons. Hor.

THERE is nothing, on which Men form so various Judgments, and so few just, as on good Writing; but they seem in some measure to have agreed on a kind of Standard, which they call Spirit. The highest and only Praise they give a Work which they like is, "that it is written with Spirit." As I am naturally curious, I could not be satisfied without understanding a Point of Criticism so much insisted on; for which Reason, I took some

pains in perusing most of the Pieces serious, and comical, which are said to be in that Taste, and was surprized to find, that the Essence of one consisted in a flighty bombast Stile, without Connection or Order, and the others were full of that low kind of City Pertness, so conspicuous in waggish Apprentices, join'd to some Market Phrases, and some Parody. When this kind of Writing first came in Vogue I don't know, for I can trace it no higher in one Line than to the famous Lilburn, and in the other it ends with Mr Tom Brown of facetious memory.

Since this came to be established as the test of Good Writing, it is humourous to observe how our Writers strive for it; occupet extremum scabies; all fall to in a Hurry, throw aside Reflection, and put down every Whimsy that occurs without the least Notion of Order or Decency, for fear the Spirit should evaporate: and he who most completely throws off the Appearance of Reason has the greatest Applause, as in drunken Company, he is the Hero of the Night, who commits the greatest Extravagances. The grave Writer (serious I can't call him) be his Subject never so trivial, wonders that the Walls don't cry out, that the Stones of the Street do not rise up on so great an Occasion. He tramples on Kings, and Jupiter is his Playfellow. The humourous is as low as the other is high; you see him in a Ring of droll Porters or dancing Beggars. They are on the Extremities of Nature.

This kind of Spirit so much commended in Prose Writing is not even an indifferent Matter, 'tis a real Fault and a great one. Poetry and Prose have quite distinct Provinces, which to reverse were the most absurd thing in the World; for the Fire which is but reasonable in one, is downright Fury and Madness in the other, and you may observe whenever it becomes the Practice of the Age to write their prose-like verse, their Verse sinks to Prose, or something lower, as when one Side on the Scale rises and kicks the Beam, the other falls to the Ground of Necessity, and in effect we seldom hear a Poem praised for any thing but Smoothness of Verse, nor a Prose Composition but for its Spirit. This Taste for turgid Writing is what Petronius so much complains of, which he says passing from Asia, corrupted Greece, and so poison'd the Source of the Roman Eloquence; nor would it be unreasonable to say, that to this Way of thinking we owe much of the present ill Taste; besides it will have two bad Consequences, in diverting the Attention of People from the more solid Parts of Learning, and in increasing the Number of Authors, for every one who finds he can raise an ill-bred Laugh in his Club, will think he has Qualifications sufficient to write with Spirit, and perhaps he is not mistaken, for nothing is more easy, 'tis but to put down his first Thoughts with some degree of Fury, and intersperse them with whatever Ends of Verse he has learn'd at the Play-house, and he may succeed, and even say some smart Things, for 'tis a Happiness which Madness often hits on.

But this Ignis Fatuus, is not more removed from good Sense and Nature, than it is from the true Spirit, which has always good Sense for its Basis; it never is unseasonably inflated for they are the half kindled smothered Fires that flash and glare, the true Fire is a constant gentle and equable Heat.

The true Spirit knows nothing of the compound Epithets, harsh Metaphors, unnatural Exclamations, and eternal Parody so much used by the other. The false Spirit is like an undisciplined Army, its first Attack is furious, in which if it fails it is of no further Use; but the true like a well trained one, wins by Constancy, Regularity, and continued Heat.

In short, Grandeur has no greater Enemy than Bombast, nor Wit and Humour than Pertness; as a Rascal cannot affront a Gentleman more than to wear his Cloaths, and endeavour to pass for him. Good Sense alone stamps a value on Writing, as 'tis the Solidity which discovers Gold from Tinsel, and he pays an ill Compliment to his Judgment who says a Work is sensible but bad for want of Spirit or other Ingredients, for this alone is sufficient to make it good; but it is observable, that wherever it is it never wants all the necessary Attendants, and it is want of Taste only that hinders their being perceiv'd, and Folly that makes that Main Point disregarded, which is not only the Test, but as Horace says, the very Fountain of good Writing.

We cannot end this Paper without taking notice a set of damning Criticks which infest the City; formerly those of that kind were Men, who having their Heads filled with learned Lumber, and Hearts sour'd with ill Success, turn'd that Learning, which could not advance themselves, to pull down others; but now you meet these pretended Aristarchi behind every Counter; they will soon commit a Solecism in Nature, and grow more numerous than their Prey, the Writers, unless prevented. For which Reason we exclude by Virtue of our Reforming Authority, from the Right of Criticism. 1. All who cannot read; that will cut off a large Branch of them: 2. All those who do not read; that will be larger: 3. Those whose reading is the Magazine, whose Judgment the word Spirit, and whose Admiration a Player; that will be still larger: 4. Those who condemn, for je ne sais quoy, Faults, which as they do not understand, they cannot explain; and all who cannot tell when ask'd in what the Goodness of a Prose consists; this will, I believe, take off most of them, and leave a clear Stage for good Writers and true Critics.

Æ.

No. 13

THE REFORMER

THURSDAY the 21st of April, 1748.

Dulce est desipere in loco. Hor.

TO a generous Mind nothing is so agreeable, as to commend the Works of others, and to be a Means of ushering into the World such happy Productions, as thro' their prevailing Merit must in Process of Time be esteemed by every Body: It is very certain, the best Pieces, (some very few excepted) at their first Appearance, have met but with ordinary Reception; the Taste

requisite to take in all the Scope, and various Beauties of a regular Performance being only in the Minds of a few, its Reputation cannot be establish'd, until the Taste of these few gain such an Influence, as to be embrac'd by all, nor do I believe this to be any purpos'd Malice in the Minds of the Many, but an Inability to discern, which ought rather to be pitied than blam'd. Mr. Waller's Expressions on such an Occasion are very fine,

For as the Nightingale, without the Throng
Of other Birds, alone attends her Song:
While the loud Daw, his throat displaying, draws
The whole Assembly of his Fellow Daws:
So must the Writer, whose productions should
Take with the Vulgar, be of vulgar Mold:
Whilst nobler Fancies take a Flight too high
For common View, and lessen as they fly.

I was led into these Thoughts by the Perusal of a Work, advertis'd in our last Paper, call'd the Foolish Miscellany, which was sent to us for our Opinion: I must confess, at first sight the Title shock'd me, for I could not conceive of what Use it could be to the World, to present them with a Collection of stupid Performances, which at best could make the Judicious laugh without any Moral to instruct, without which no Book should be publish'd; but I was soon convinc'd of my mistake, when, dipping into it, I found this foolish Tract to be a most artful, and well contrived Piece, and perhaps as poignant a Satyr upon the Scriblers of these Times, as ever was written; for he hath not only interspers'd the several Pieces of Dullness he makes use of, with the most witty and humourous remarks, but hath added, to crown the whole, an entire and regular Comedy, call'd the Poetical Lady or Assembly of Authors; in which are shewn, in the most lively manner, the Aims, Passions, Interests, moral and poetical Capacity of each Writer: In short as the Duke of Buckingham says, (if I remember)

He does not only shew the Things they do,
But also gives their Reasons for them too.

As it is expected this Book will be soon publish'd, I shall omit saying any thing further of it until it comes out, at which time the Judicious in such works, will see how moderate I have been, in speaking well of a Performance, to which, to deny the Praise it deserves, were the greatest Ignorance or Ill-nature.

The following Letter the Author sent me with his Book.

MR. REFORMER.

I Request your Perusal of the following Sheets, and your Opinion of them, to be deliver'd in your next Paper; I am but a young Author, yet do not think so meanly of my Ability, as to suppose my Works beneath Notice; nor yet am I so vain as to think them above Correction; use then that Candour, and Impartiality in judging, as you would to one, whose Vanity you regarded less than his Reputation, and believe me to be, whatever your Opinion is, Your Friend and Admirer, H. S.

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