The familiar Sound in these Names destroys the Majesty of the Description; for this Reason I do not mention this Part of the Poem but to shew the natural Cast of Thought which appears in it, as the two last Verses look almost like a Translation of Virgil.
... Cadit et Ripheus justissimus
Qui fuit in Teucris et servantissimus aequi,
Diis aliter visum est ...
In the Catalogue of the English [who ] fell, Witherington’s Behaviour is in the same manner particularized very artfully, as the Reader is prepared for it by that Account which is given of him in the Beginning of the Battle [; though I am satisfied your little Buffoon Readers (who have seen that Passage ridiculed in Hudibras) will not be able to take the Beauty of it: For which Reason I dare not so much as quote it].
Then stept a gallant Squire forth,
Witherington was his Name,
Who said, I would not have it told
To Henry our King for Shame,
That e’er my Captain fought on Foot,
And I stood looking on.
We meet with the same Heroic Sentiments in Virgil.
Non pudet, O Rutuli, cunctis pro talibus
Objectare animam? numerone an viribus aequi
Non sumus ... ?
What can be more natural or more moving than the Circumstances in which he describes the Behaviour of those Women who had lost their Husbands on this fatal Day?
Next Day did many Widows come
Their Husbands to bewail;
They washed their Wounds in brinish Tears,
But all would not prevail.
Their Bodies bath’d in purple Blood,
They bore with them away;
They kiss’d them dead a thousand Times,
When they were clad in Clay.
Thus we see how the Thoughts of this Poem, which naturally arise from the Subject, are always simple, and sometimes exquisitely noble; that the Language is often very sounding, and that the whole is written with a true poetical Spirit.
If this Song had been written in the Gothic Manner, which is the Delight of all our little Wits, whether Writers or Readers, it would not have hit the Taste of so many Ages, and have pleased the Readers of all Ranks and Conditions. I shall only beg Pardon for such a Profusion of Latin Quotations; which I should not have made use of, but that I feared my own Judgment would have looked too singular on such a Subject, had not I supported it by the Practice and Authority of Virgil.
[Footnote 1: that]
[Footnote 2: very sonorous;]
[Footnote 3: should perish]
[Footnote 4: should arise]
[Footnote 5: that]
* * * * *
No. 75. Saturday, May 26, 1711. Steele.
‘Omnis Aristippum decuit color, et status, et res.’