The Spectator, Volume 2. eBook

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me what Sum she pleases.  Every Room in my House is furnished with Trophies of her Eloquence, rich Cabinets, Piles of China, Japan Screens, and costly Jars; and if you were to come into my great Parlour, you would fancy your self in an India Ware-house:  Besides this she keeps a Squirrel, and I am doubly taxed to pay for the China he breaks.  She is seized with periodical Fits about the Time of the Subscriptions to a new Opera, and is drowned in Tears after having seen any Woman there in finer Cloaths than herself:  These are Arts of Perswasion purely Feminine, and which a tender Heart cannot resist.  What I would therefore desire of you, is, to prevail with your Friend who has promised to dissect a Female Tongue, that he would at the same time give us the Anatomy of a Female Eye, and explain the Springs and Sluices which feed it with such ready Supplies of Moisture; and likewise shew by what means, if possible, they may be stopped at a reasonable Expence:  Or, indeed, since there is something so moving in the very Image of weeping Beauty, it would be worthy his Art to provide, that these eloquent Drops may no more be lavished on Trifles, or employed as Servants to their wayward Wills; but reserved for serious Occasions in Life, to adorn generous Pity, true Penitence, or real Sorrow.  I am, &c.


[Footnote 1:  quis Temeros oculus mihi fascinat Agnos.—­Virg.]

[Footnote 2:  This letter is by John Hughes.]

* * * * *

No. 253.  Thursday, December 20, 1711.  Addison.

  Indignor quicquam reprehendi, non quia crasse
  Compositum, illepideve putetur, sed quia nuper.


There is nothing which more denotes a great Mind, than the Abhorrence of Envy and Detraction.  This Passion reigns more among bad Poets, than among any other Set of Men.

As there are none more ambitious of Fame, than those who are conversant in Poetry, it is very natural for such as have not succeeded in it to depreciate the Works of those who have.  For since they cannot raise themselves to the Reputation of their Fellow-Writers, they must endeavour to sink it to their own Pitch, if they would still keep themselves upon a Level with them.

The greatest Wits that ever were produced in one Age, lived together in so good an Understanding, and celebrated one another with so much Generosity, that each of them receives an additional Lustre from his Contemporaries, and is more famous for having lived with Men of so extraordinary a Genius, than if he had himself been the [sole Wonder [1]] of the Age.  I need not tell my Reader, that I here point at the Reign of Augustus, and I believe he will be of my Opinion, that neither Virgil nor Horace would have gained so great a Reputation in the World, had they not been the Friends and Admirers of each other.  Indeed all the great Writers of that Age, for whom singly we have so great an Esteem, stand up together as Vouchers for one anothers Reputation.  But at the same time that Virgil was celebrated by Gallus, Propertius, Horace, Varius, Tucca and Ovid, we know that Bavius and Maevius were his declared Foes and Calumniators.

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The Spectator, Volume 2. from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.