« AnteriorContinuar »
plaining; when, in the midst of this rage towards each other, they were commanded upon the attack of the castle, where the corporal received a shot in the thigh, and fell; the French pressing on, and he expecting to be trampled to death, called out to his enemy, " Ah, Valentine, can you leave me here?” Valentine immediately ran back, and in the midst of a thick fire of the French took the corporal upon his back, and brought him through all that danger as far as the Abbey of Salsine, where a cannon ball took off his head: his body fell under his enemy whom he was carrying off. Unnion immediately forgot his wound, rose up, tearing his hair, and then threw himself upon the bleeding carcass, crying, “ Ah, Valentine ! was it for me, who have so barbarously used thee, that thou hast died? I will not live after thee." He was not by any means to be forced from the body, but was removed with it bleeding in his arms, and attended with tears by all their comrades who knew their enmity. When he was brought to a tent, his wounds were dressed by force; but the next day still calling upon Valentine, and lamenting his cruelties to him, he died in the pangs of remorse and despair.
It may be a question among men of noble sentiments, whether of these unfortunate persons had the greater soul; he that was so generous as to venture his life for his enemy, or he who could not survive the man that died, in laying upon him such an obligation ?
When we see spirits like these in a people, to what heights may we not suppose their glory may rise! but (as it is excellently observed by Sallust) it is not only to the general bent of a nation that great revolutions are owing, but to the extraordinary genio's that lead them. On which occasion, he proceeds to say, that the Roman greatness was neither to be attributed to their superior policy, for in that the Carthagenians excelled; nor to their valour, for in that the Gauls were preferable; but to particular men, who were born for the good of their country, and formed for great attempts. This he says to introduce the characters of Cæsar and Cato. It would be entering into too weighty a discourse for this place, if I attempted to shew, that our nation has produced as great and able men for public affairs as any other. But I believe the reader outruns me, and fixes his imagination upon the Duke of Marlborough. It is, methinks, a pleasing reflection to consider the dispensations of Providence in the fortune of this illustrious man, who, in the space of forty years, has passed through all the gradations of human life, until he has ascended to the character of a Prince*, and become the scourge of a tyrant, who sat on one of the greatest thrones of Europe, before the man who was to have the greatest part in his downfal had made one step in the world. But such elevations are the natural consequences of an exact prudence, a calm courage, a well governed temper, a patient ambition, and an affable behaviour. These arts, as they are the steps to his greatness, so they are the pillars of it now it is raised. To this, her glorious son, Great-Britain is indebted for the happy conduct of her arms, in whom she can boast, that she has produced a man formed by nature to lead a nation of heroes.
* In the year 1704, in consequence of the memorable victory at Hochsted, the Duke of Marlborough was appointed a Prince of the Empire, and had Mildenheim assigned for his principality, Nov. 12, 1705.
No. 6. SATURDAY, APRIL 23, 1709.
Quicquid agunt homines
nostri est farrago libelli
Juv. Sat. I. 85, 86.
Will's Coffee-house, April 22. I am just come from visiting Sappho, a fine lady, who writes verses, sings, dances, and can say and do whatever she pleases, without the imputation of any thing that can injure her character, for she is so well known to have no passion but self-love; or folly, but affectation; that now, upon any occasion, they only cry, “ It is her way !"and, 6 That is so like her!" without farther reflection. As I came into the room, she cries, “Oh! Mr. Bickerstaff, I am utterly undone; I have broke that pretty Italian fan I shewed you when you were here last, wherein were so admirably drawn our first parents in Paradise asleep in each other's arms. But there is such an affinity between painting and poetry, that I have been improving the images which were raised by that picture, by reading the same representation in two of our greatest poets. Look you, here are the same passages in Milton and in Dryden. All Milton's thoughts are wonderfully just and natural, in that inimitable description which Adam makes of himself in the eighth book of Paradise Lost. But there is none of them finer than that contained in the following lines, where he tells us his thoughts, when he was falling asleep a little after the creation :
While thus I call'd, and stray'd I knew not whither,
But now I cannot forgive this odious thing, this Dryden, who, in his “ State of Innocence," has given my great grand-mother Eve the same apprehension of annihilation on a very different occasion; as Adam pronounces it of himself, when he was seized with a pleasing kind of stupor and deadness; Eve fancies herself falling away, and dissolving in the hurry of a rapture. However, the verses are very good, and I do not know but what she says may be natural: I will read them:
When your kind eyes look'd languishing on mine,
She went on, and said a thousand good things at random, but so strangely mixed, that you would be apt to say, all her wit is mere good luck, and not the effect of reason and judgment, When I made my escape hither, I found a gentleman playing the critic on two other great poets: even Virgil and Homer. He was observing, that Virgil is more judicious than the other in the epithets he gives his hero. Homer's usual epithet, said he, is Toda: Xu's, or Ilodapuns, and his indiscretion has been often rallied by the critics, for mentioning the nimbleness of foot in
Achilles, though he describes him standing, sitting, lying down, fighting, eating, drinking, or in any other circumstance, however foreign or repugnant to speed and activity. Virgil's common epithet to Æneas is Pius, or Pater. I have therefore considered, said he, what passage there is in any of his hero's actions, where either of these appellations would have been most improper, to see if I could catch him at the same fault with Homer; and this, I think, is his meeting with Dido in the cave, where Pius Æneas would have been absurd, and Pater Æneas a burlesque: the poet therefore wisely dropped them both for Dux Trojanus; which he has repeated twice in Juno's speech, and his own narration; for he very well knew, a loose action might be consistent enough with the usual manners of a soldier, though it became neither the chastity of a pious man, nor the gravity of the father of a people.
Grecian Coffee-house, April 22. While other parts of the town are amused with the present actions, we generally spend the evening at this table in inquiries into antiquity, and think any thing News which gives us new knowledge. Thus we are making a very pleasant entertainment to ourselves, in putting the actions of Homer's Iliad into an exact Journal.
This poem is introduced by Chryses, king of Chrysers and priest of Apollo, who comes to redemand his daughter, who had been carried off at the taking of that city, and given to Agamemnon for his part of the booty. The refusal he received enrages Apollo, who for nine days showered down darts upon them, which occasioned the pestilence.