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but to keep an attentive eye upon that state of being to which he approaches every moment, and which will be for ever fixed and permanent. This single consideration would be sufficient to extinguish the bitterness of hatred, the thirst of avarice, and the cruelty of ambition.
I am very much pleased with the passage of Antiphanes, a very ancient poet, who lived near an hundred years before Socrates, which represents the life of man under this view, as I have here translated it word for word. •Be not grieved,' says he,
above measure for thy deceased friends. They are not dead, but have only finished that journey which it is necessary for every one of us to take. We ourselves must go to that great place of reception in which they are all of them assembled, and in this general rendezvous of mankind, live together in another state of being.' · I think I have, in a former paper, taken notice of those beautiful metaphors in scripture, where life is termed a pilgrimage, and those who pass through it are all called strangers, and sojourners upon earth. I shall conclude this with a story, which I have somewhere read in the travels of Sir John Chardin. That gentleman, after having told us that the inns which receive the caravans in Persia, and the eastern countries, are called by the name of caravansaries, gives us a relation to the following purpose.
A dervise travelling through Tartary, being arrived at the town of Balk, went into the king's palace by mistake, as thinking it to be a public inn, or caravansary. Having looked about him for some time, he entered into a long gallery, where he laid down his wallet, and spread his carpet, in order to repose himself upon it, after the manner of the eastern nations. He had not been long in this pos
ture before he was discovered by some of the guards, who asked him what was his business in that place? The dervise told then he intended to take up his night's lodging in that caravansary. The guards let him know, in a very angry manner, that the house he was in was not a caravansary, but the king's palace. It happened that the king himself passed through the gallery during this debate, and smiling at the mistake of the dervise, asked him how he could possibly be so dull as not to distinguish a palace from a caravansary? • Sir,' says the dervise,
give me leave to ask your majesty a question or two. Who were the persons that lodged in this house when it was first built ?' The king replied, • His ancestors. “And who,' says the dervise, 'was the last person that lodged here. The king replied, • His father.' 'And who is it,' says the dervise, • that lodges here at present? The king told him, that it was he himself. “And who,' says the dervise, will be here after you?' The king answered, • The young prince his son. "Ah, sir,' said the dervise, a house that changes its inhabitants so often, and receives such a perpetual succession of guests, is not a palace, but a caravansary.'
N° 290. FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 1, 1711-12.
Projicit ampullas et sesquipedalia verba.
HOR. Ars Poet. ver. 97.* Forgets his swelling and gigantic words.
The players, who know I am very much their friend, take all opportunities to express a gratitude to me for being so. They could not have a better occasion of obliging me, than one which they lately took hold of. They desired my friend Will Honeycomb to bring me to the reading of a new tragedy; it is called The Distrest Mother. I must confess, though some days are passed since I enjoyed that entertainment, the passions of the several characcers dwell strongly upon my imagination; and I congratulate the age, that they are at last to see truth and human life represented in the incidents which concern heroes and heroines. The style of the play is such as becomes those of the first educa. tion, and the sentiments worthy those of the highest figure. It was a most exquisite pleasure to me, to observe real tears drop from the eyes of those who had long made it their profession to dissemble affliction; and the player, who read, frequently threw down the book, until he had given vent to the humanity which rose in him at some irresistible touches of the imagined sorrow. We have seldom had any
* The motto in the original paper in folio was from Horace
Spirat tragicum sotis, et feliciter audet.
female distress on the stage, which did not, upon cool examination, appear to flow from the weakness, rather than the misfortune of the person represented: but in this tragedy you are not entertained with the ungoverned passions of such as are enamoured of each other, merely as they are men and women, but their regards are founded upon high conceptions of each other's virtue and merit; and the character which gives name to the play, is one who has behaved herself with heroic virtue in the most important circumstances of a female life, those of a wife, a widow, and a mother. If there be those whose minds have been too attentive upon the affairs of life, to have any notion of the passion of love in such extremes as are known only to particular tempers, yet in the above-mentioned considerations, the sorrow of the heroine will move even the generality of mankind. Domestic virtues concern all the world, and there is no one living who is not interested that Andromache should be an imitable character. The generous affection to the memory of her deceased husband, that tender care for her son, which is ever heightened with the consideration of his father, and these regards preserved in spite of being tempted with the possession of the highest greatness, are what cannot but be venerable even to such an audience as at present frequents the English theatre. My friend Will Honeycomb commended several tender things that were said, and told me they were very genteel; but whispered me, that he feared the piece was not busy enough for the present taste. To supply this, he recommended to the players to be very careful in their scenes, and above all things, that every part should be perfectly new dressed. I was very glad to find that they did not neglect my friend's admonition, because there are a great many in this class of criticism who may
be gained by it ; but indeed the truth is, that as to the work itself, it is every where Nature. The persons are of the highest quality in life, even that of princes; but their quality is not represented by the poet, with directions that guards and waiters should follow them in every scene, but their grandeur appears in greatness of sentiment, flowing from minds worthy their condition. To make a character truly great, this author understands that it should have its foundation in superior thoughts, and maxims of conduct. It is very certain, that many an honest woman would make no difficulty, though she had been the wife of Hector, for the sake of a kingdom, to marry the enemy of her husband's family and country; and indeed who can deny but she might be still an honest woman, but no heroine ? That may be defensible, nay laudable, in one character, which would be in the highest degree exceptionable in another. When Cato Uticensis killed hiinself, Cottius, a Roman of ordinary quality and character, did the same thing; upon which one said, smiling, • Cottius might have lived, though Cæsar has seized the Roman liberty Cottius's condition might have been the same, let things at the upper end of the world pass as they would. What is further very extraordinary in this work, is, that the persons are all of them laudable, and their misfortunes arise rather from unguarded virtue, than propensity to vice. The town has an opportunity of doing itself justice in supporting the representations of passion, sorrow, indignation, even despair itself, within the rules of decency, honour, and good-breeding; and since there is none can flatter himself his life will be always fortunate, they may here see sorrow, as they would wish to bear it whenever it arrives,