Abbildungen der Seite


recommend to their consideration the pastorals of Mr. One would have thought it impossible for this kind of poetry to have subsisted without fawns and satyrs, wood-nymphs and water-nymphs, with all the tribe of rural deities. But we see he has given a new life, and a more natural beauty to this way of writing, by substituting, in the place of those antiquated fables, the superstitious mythology which prevails among the shepherds of our own country.

Virgil and Homer might compliment their heroes, by interweaving the actions of deities with their achievements; but for a Christian author to write in the Pagan creed, to make Prince Eugene a favorite of Mars, or to carry on a correspondence between Bellona and the Marshal de Villars, would be downright puerility, and unpardonable in a poet that is past sixteen. It is want of sufficient elevation in a genius to describe realities, and place them in a shining light, that makes him have recourse to such trifling antiquated fables; as a man may write a fine description of Bacchus or Apollo, that does not know how to draw the character of any of his contemporaries.

In order therefore to put a stop to this absurd practice, I shall publish the following edict, by virtue of that Spectatorial authority with which I stand invested.

"WHEREAS, the time of a general peace, is, in all appearance, drawing near, being informed that there are several ingenious persons who intend to show their talents on so happy an occasion, and being willing, as much as in me lies, to prevent that effusion of nonsense, which we have good cause to apprehend; I do hereby strictly require every person,

his poetry.

who shall write on this subject, to remember that he is a Christian, and not to sacrifice his catechism to In order to it, I do expect of him, in the first place, to make his own poem, without depending upon Phoebus for any part of it, or calling out for aid upon any of the muses by name. I do likewise positively forbid the sending of Mercury with any particular message or dispatch relating to the peace, and shall by no means suffer Minerva to take upon her the shape of any plenipotentiary concerned in this great work. I do further declare, that I shall not allow the Destinies to have had an hand in the deaths of the several thousands who have been slain in the late war, being of opinion that all such deaths may be very well accounted for by the Christian system of powder and ball. I do therefore strictly forbid the Fates to cut the thread of man's life, upon any pretence whatsoever, unless it be for the sake of the rhyme. And whereas I have good reason to fear, that Neptune will have a great deal of business on his hands, in several poems which we may now suppose are upon the anvil, I do also prohibit his appearance, unless it be done in metaphor, simile, or any very short allusion, and that even here he be not permitted to enter but with great caution and circumspection. I desire that the same rule may be extended to his whole fraternity of heathen gods, it being my design to condemn every poem to the flames in which Jupiter thunders or exercises any other act of authority which does not belong to him in short, I expect that no Pagan agent shall be introduced, or any fact related, which a man cannot give credit to with a good conscience. Provided always, that nothing herein contained shall extend,

or be construed to extend, to several of the female poets in this nation, who shall still be left in full possession of their gods and goddesses, in the same manner as if this paper had never been written."

[blocks in formation]

WHEN I first of all took it in my head to write

[ocr errors]

dreams and visions, I determined to print nothing of that nature which was not of my own invention. But several laborious dreamers have of late communicated to me works of this nature, which, for their reputations and my own, I have hitherto suppressed. Had I printed every one that came to my hands, my book of speculations would have been little else but a book of visions. Some of my correspondents have indeed been so very modest, as to offer at an excuse for their not being in a capacity to dream better. I have by me, for example, the dream of a young gentleman not past fifteen. I have likewise by me the dream of a person of quality, and another called the lady's dream. In these, and other pieces of the same nature, it is supposed the usual allowances will be made to the age, condition, and sex of the dreamer. To prevent this inundation of dreams, which daily flows in upon me, I shall apply to all dreamers of dreams the advice which Epictetus has couched, after his manner, in a very simple and concise precept: "Never tell thy dream, says that philosopher, for though thou thyself mays't take a pleasure in telling

thy dream, another will take no pleasure in hearing it." After this short preface, I must do justice tó two or three visions which I have lately published, and which I have owned to have been written by other hands. I shall add a dream to these, which comes to me from Scotland, by one who declares himself of that country, and for all I know may be second-sighted. There is indeed something in it of the spirit of John Bunyan: but at the same time a certain sublime, which that author was never master of. I shall publish it, because I question not but it will fall in with the taste of all my popular readers, and amuse the imaginations of those who are more profound; declaring at the same time, that this is the last dream which I intend to publish this season.


"I was last Sunday in the evening led into a serious reflection on the reasonableness of virtue, and great folly of vice, from an excellent sermon I had heard that afternoon in my parish-church. Among other observations, the preacher shewed us, that the temptations which the tempter proposed were all on a supposition that we are either madmen or fools, or with an intention to render us such; that in no other affair we would suffer ourselves to be thus imposed upon, in a case so plainly and clearly against our visible interest. His illustrations and arguments carried so much persuasion and conviction with them, that they remained a considerable while fresh, and working in my memory, till at last the mind, fatigued with thought, gave way to the forcible oppressions of slumber and sleep, whilst fancy, unwilling yet to drop the subject, presented me with the following vision.

« ZurückWeiter »