The Spectator, Volumes 1, 2 and 3 eBook

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[Footnote 1:  [my own]]

* * * * *

No. 501.  Saturday, October 4, 1712.  Parnell.

  ’Durum:  sed levius sit patientia
  Quicquid corrigere est nefas.’


As some of the finest Compositions among the Ancients are in Allegory, I have endeavoured, in several of my Papers, to revive that way of Writing, and hope I have not been altogether unsuccessful in it; for I find there is always a great Demand for those particular Papers, and cannot but observe that several Authors have endeavoured of late to excel in Works of this Nature.  Among these, I do not know any one who has succeeded better than a very ingenious Gentleman, to whom I am much obliged for the following Piece, and who was the Author of the Vision in the CCCCLXth Paper. [O.]

How are we tortured with the Absence of what we covet to possess, when it appears to be lost to us!  What Excursions does the Soul make in Imagination after it!  And how does it turn into it self again, more foolishly fond and dejected, at the Disappointment?  Our Grief, instead of having recourse to Reason, which might restrain it, searches to find a further Nourishment.  It calls upon Memory to relate the several Passages and Circumstances of Satisfactions which we formerly enjoyed:  the Pleasures we purchased by those Riches that are taken from us; or the Power and Splendour of our departed Honours; or the Voice, the Words, the Looks, the Temper, and Affections of our Friends that are deceased.  It needs must happen from hence that the Passion should often swell to such a Size as to burst the Heart which contains it, if Time did not make these Circumstances less strong and lively, so that Reason should become a more equal Match for the Passion, or if another Desire which becomes more present did not overpower them with a livelier Representation.  These are Thoughts which I had, when I fell into a kind of Vision upon this Subject, and may therefore stand for a proper Introduction to a Relation of it.

I found my self upon a naked Shore, with Company whose afflicted Countenances witnessed their Conditions.  Before us flowed a Water deep, silent, and called the River of Tears, which issuing from two Fountains on an upper Ground, encompassed an Island that lay before us.  The Boat which plied in it was old and shattered, having been sometimes overset by the Impatience and Haste of single Passengers to arrive at the other side.  This immediately was brought to us by Misfortune who steers it, and we were all preparing to take our places, when there appeared a Woman of a mild and composed Behaviour, who began to deter us from it, by representing the Dangers which would attend our Voyage.  Hereupon some who knew her for Patience, and some of those too who till then cry’d the loudest, were

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