The Spectator, Volume 2. eBook

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this too is explain’d at large in the Doctrines of the Gospel, where we are taught in several Instances to regard those things as Curses, which appear as Blessings in the Eye of the World; and on the contrary, to esteem those things as Blessings, which to the Generality of Mankind appear as Curses.  Thus in the Form which is prescribed to us we only pray for that Happiness which is our chief Good, and the great End of our Existence, when we petition the Supreme Being for the coming of his Kingdom, being solicitous for no other temporal Blessings but our daily Sustenance.  On the other side, We pray against nothing but Sin, and against Evil in general, leaving it with Omniscience to determine what is really such.  If we look into the first of Socrates his Rules of Prayer, in which he recommends the above-mentioned Form of the ancient Poet, we find that Form not only comprehended, but very much improved in the Petition, wherein we pray to the Supreme Being that his Will may be done: which is of the same Force with that Form which our Saviour used, when he prayed against the most painful and most ignominious of Deaths, Nevertheless not my Will, but thine be done.  This comprehensive Petition is the most humble, as well as the most prudent, that can be offered up from the Creature to his Creator, as it supposes the Supreme Being wills nothing but what is for our Good, and that he knows better than ourselves what is so.


[Footnote 1:  [having received], and in first reprint.]

[Footnote 2:  Iliad, viii. 548, 9.]

[Footnote 3:  Iliad, v. 127.]

[Footnote 4:  John xi. 49.]

* * * * *

No. 208.  Monday, October 29, 1711.  Steele.

 —­Veniunt spectentur ut ipsae.


I have several Letters of People of good Sense, who lament the Depravity or Poverty of Taste the Town is fallen into with relation to Plays and publick Spectacles.  A Lady in particular observes, that there is such a Levity in the Minds of her own Sex, that they seldom attend any thing but Impertinences.  It is indeed prodigious to observe how little Notice is taken of the most exalted Parts of the best Tragedies in Shakespear; nay, it is not only visible that Sensuality has devoured all Greatness of Soul, but the Under-Passion (as I may so call it) of a noble Spirit, Pity, seems to be a Stranger to the Generality of an Audience.  The Minds of Men are indeed very differently disposed; and the Reliefs from Care and Attention are of one Sort in a great Spirit, and of another in an ordinary one.  The Man of a great Heart and a serious Complexion, is more pleased with Instances of Generosity and Pity, than the light and ludicrous Spirit can possibly be with the highest Strains of Mirth and Laughter:  It is therefore a melancholy Prospect when we see a numerous Assembly lost to all

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