The Behaviour of this old Idol in Chaucer, puts me in mind of the Beautiful Clarinda, one of the greatest Idols among the Moderns. She is Worshipped once a Week by Candle-light, in the midst of a large Congregation generally called an Assembly. Some of the gayest Youths in the Nation endeavour to plant themselves in her Eye, whilst she sits in form with multitudes of Tapers burning about her. To encourage the Zeal of her Idolaters, she bestows a Mark of her Favour upon every one of them, before they go out of her Presence. She asks a Question of one, tells a Story to another, glances an Ogle upon a third, takes a Pinch of Snuff from the fourth, lets her Fan drop by accident to give the fifth an Occasion of taking it up. In short, every one goes away satisfied with his Success, and encouraged to renew his Devotions on the same Canonical Hour that Day Sevennight.
An Idol may be Undeified by many accidental Causes. Marriage in particular is a kind of Counter-Apotheosis, or a Deification inverted. When a Man becomes familiar with his Goddess, she quickly sinks into a Woman.
Old Age is likewise a great Decayer of your Idol: The Truth of it is, there is not a more unhappy Being than a Superannuated Idol, especially when she has contracted such Airs and Behaviour as are only Graceful when her Worshippers are about her.
Considering therefore that in these and many other Cases the Woman generally outlives the Idol, I must return to the Moral of this Paper, and desire my fair Readers to give a proper Direction to their Passion for being admired; In order to which, they must endeavour to make themselves the Objects of a reasonable and lasting Admiration. This is not to be hoped for from Beauty, or Dress, or Fashion, but from those inward Ornaments which are not to be defaced by Time or Sickness, and which appear most amiable to those who are most acquainted with them.
[Footnotes 1: that]
[Footnote 2: ‘Tuscul. Quaest.’ Lib. v. Sec. 243.]
[Footnote 3: ‘Paradise Lost’, Bk. I.]
[Footnote 4: The story is in ‘The Remedy of Love’ Stanzas 5—10.]
* * * * *
No. 74. Friday, May 25, 1711. Addison.
‘... Pendent opera interrupta ...’
In my last Monday’s Paper I gave some general Instances of those beautiful Strokes which please the Reader in the old Song of Chevey-Chase; I shall here, according to my Promise, be more particular, and shew that the Sentiments in that Ballad are extremely natural and poetical, and full of [the ] majestick Simplicity which we admire in the greatest of the ancient Poets: For which Reason I shall quote several Passages of it, in which the Thought is altogether the same with what we meet in several Passages of the AEneid; not that I would infer from thence, that the Poet (whoever he was) proposed to himself any Imitation of those Passages, but that he was directed to them in general by the same Kind of Poetical Genius, and by the same Copyings after Nature.