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Angels and Ministers of grace defend us!
Be thou a spirit of health, or goblin damn'd,
Bring with thee airs from heav'n, or blasts from hell, i Be thy intents wicked or charitable, I Thou com'st in such a questionable (hape,
That I will speak to thee. I'll call thee Hamlet, .
King, father, royal Dane: oh! answer me;
Let me not burst in ignorance; but tell,
Why thy canonized bones, hearsed in death, • Have' burst their cearments? Why the sepulchre,'
Wherein we saw the quietly inlirn'd,
Hath op'd his ponderous and marble jaws,
To cast thee up again? What may this mean,
That thou, dead corse, again, in compleat steel,
Revisit'st thus the glimpses of the
moon, Making night hideous?
Never did the Grecian muse of tragedy relate a tale so full of pity and terror as is imparted by the ghost. Every circumstance melts us with compassion; and with what horror do we hear him fay!
But that I am forbid To tell the secrets of my prisoni
I could a tale unfold; whose lightest
word i Would harrow up thy soul, freeze
thy yoeng blood.
Make thy two eyes, like stars, flatt from their spheres,
Thy knotted .and combined locks to part,
And each particular hair to stand on end
Like quiils upon the fretful porcupine;
But this eternal blazon must not be
To ears of flesh and blood.
All that follows is solemn, fad, and deeply affecting.
Whatever in Hamlet belongs to the præternatural is perfectly fine; the rest of the play does not come within the subject of this chapter.
An Account of the unfortunate young Lady, celebrated by Mr. Pope; from Ruffhead/s Life of thai Writer.
THIS lady is supposed to have been the fame' person, to whom the duke of Buckingham addressed some lines on her intentions of retiring into a monastery, which design is also hinted at in one of Mr. Pope's letters, where he fays, addressing himself, as it ii presumed, to this very person: "if "you are resolved, in revenge, to * rob the world of so much ex"ample as you may afford it, I "believe your design will be vain: "for even in a monastery, your "devotions cannot carry you so "far tQwards the next world, as *t to make this lose-sight of you: "/but you will be like a star, that, "while it is fixed in heaven, (nines "over all the earth. Whereso"eve,r providence shall dispose of "the most valuable thing I know* "I shall ever follow you with my « siacerest wishes; and my beft "thoughts
"thoughts will be perpetually "waiting upon you, when you "never hear of me or them. Your "own guardian angels cannot be "more constant or more silent."
This unfortunate lady, as Mr. Pope very properly calls her, was distinguished by her rank, fortune, and beauty, and was committed to the guardianship of an uncle, who gave her an education suitable to her expectations; hut while she was yet very young, she was supposed to have entertained a partiality for a young gentleman of inferior degree, which occasioned her to refuse a match which her guardian proposed to her.
It was not long before her correspondence with this gentleman was discovered by means of spies, whom her guardian had employed to watch over her conduct, and when he upbraided her with this secret intercourse, she had too much truth and honour to deny the charge.
The uncle, finding her affections so rooted, that frle had not power to withdraw them, forced her abroad, where she was received with the respect due to her Quality, but confined from the sight of every one but the dependants of this rigid guardian.
Her dispondent lover transmitted several letters on the faith of repeated assurances, that they, would he privately delivered to her; but his hopes were betrayed, and his letters, instead of being presented to the object of his assertions, were sent to England, and only served to render her confinement more s.rait and severe.
In this miserable and hopeless condition, she languished a considerable time in sickness and sorrow, till at length she put an end to her
life with a sword which she bribed a woman servant to procure her, and was found yet warm upon the ground.
Being, by the laws of the place, denied christian sepulture, she was interred without the least solemnity, being cast into the common earth, without any mournful attendants to perform the last duties of affection, and only followed by some young people in tri3 neighbourhood, who bestrewed her grave with flowers.
Such a rhoving catastrophe might have inspired a savage with sensibility; but in Mr. Pope it awakened all the power of the pathos.
Plan of an Epic Poem, designed bj M<\ Pope; from the fame.
IT has been before intimated^ that our author had formed a design of writing an epic poem on a story related in the old annalist* Geoffrey of Monmouth, concerning the arrival of Brutus, the supposed grandson of Eneas, into our isiand, and the settlement of the first foundations of the British monarchy.
A sketch of this intended piece, now lies before the writer of these fneets; and as the plan seems to be noble, extensive, and edifying, he trusts that an account of it will not only be entertaining, but instructive; as the design may serve as <t model to employ some genius, if any there be, or shall hereafter arise, equal to the execution of such an arduous task.
The poem, as has been observed,
was to have been entitled Brutus.
As Eneas was famed for his piety,
so his grandson's characteristic was
N bensbenevolence, the first predominant principle of his character, which prompted his endeavours to redeem the remains of his countrymen, the descendants from Troy, then captives in Greece, and to establish their freedom and felicity in a just form of government. /
He goes to Epirus, from thence he travels all over Greece; collects all the scattered Trojans; and redeems them with the treasures he brought from Italy.
Having collected _ his scattered countrymen, he consults the oracle of Dodona, and is promised a settlement in an island, which, from the description, appears to have been Britain. He then puts to sea, and enters the Atlantic ocean.
The first book was intended to open with the appearance of Brutus at the straits of Calpe, in- sight of the pillars of Hercules, (the tie f/us ultra.J He was to have been introduced debating in council with his captains,, whether it was adviseable to launch into the great ocean, on an enterprise bold and hazardous as that of the great Columbus.
One reason, among others, assigned by Brutus, for attempting the great ocean in search of a new> country, was, that he entertained no prospect of introducing pure manners in any part of the then known world;. but that he might do it among a people uncorrupt in their manners, worthy to be made happy ', aud wanting only arts and laws to that purpose.
A debate ensues. Pisander, an old Trojan, is rather for settling in Betica, a rich country, near the . straits, within the Mediterranean, of whose wealth they had heard great fame at Carthage. Brtstus
apprehends that the softness of the climate, and the gold found there, would corrupt their manners; besides, that the Tyrians, who had established great commerce there, had introduced their superstitions among the natives, and made them' unapt to receive the instructions he was desirous to give.
Cloanthes, one of his captains, out of avarice and effeminacy, nevertheless desires to settle in a rich and fertile country, rather than to tempt the dangers of the ocean, out of a romantic notion of heroism.
This has such an effect, that the whole council being dismayed, ate unwilling to pass the straits, and venture into the great ocean; pleading the example of Hercules for not advancing farther, and urging the presumption of going beyond a god. To which Brutus, rising with emotion, answers, that Hercules was but a mortal like them; and that if their virtue was superior to his, they would have the fame claim to divinity: for that the path of virtue was the only way which lay open to heaven,
At length he resolves- to go in a single ship, and to reject all such dastards, as dared not accompany him.
Upon this, Oror.tes takes fire, declares he will attend him through any dangers; that he wants no oracle but his own courage, and the love of glory. That it was sot merchants like the Tyrians, not fe heroes like them, to make trading settlements in a country, sot the fake of its wealth.
All the younger part of the council agree to the sentiments of Orates; and, from the love they bear to Brutus, determine to be the companions of his enterprise, x>& .1(
is resolved tcy set sail the next day. That night Hercules appears to him in a vision, applauding and confirming the sentiments he had that day delivered in council, and encouraging him to persevere in the pursuit os the intended enterprize.
The second book opens with a ■icture of the supreme God in all is majesty, fitting on his throne in the highest heaven. The superintending angel of the Trojans empire (the Regmim Priami vetus) falls down before the throne* and confesses his justice in having overturned that kingdom, for the sins of the princes, and of the people themselves. But adds, that after having chastised and humbled them, it would now be agreeable to his mercy and goo'driess, to raise up a new state from their ruins, and form a people who might serve him better. That, in Brutus, his providence had a sit instrument for siich a gracious design.
This prostrate angel is raised by the Almighty, and permitted to attend upon Brutus in his voyage to Britain, in order to assist him in the reduction of that island.
The guardian angel, in pursuance of this commission, flies from heaven to the high mountain of Calpe; and from thence causes an east wind to blow, which carries the fleet out of the streights westward to the Canary islands, where he lands.
Here was to have been a description of Teneriffe, and of the volcanous, as likewise of a most delicious island, which is described to be without inhabitants. A great part of his followers are disposed to settle here. What more, say they, ^can we wish for ourselves, than such a "pleasing end of all our
labours. In an inhabited country we must, perhaps, be forced to sight, arid destroy the natives; here, without encroaching upon others, without the guilt of a conquest, we may have a_ land that will supply us with all the necessaries of life. Why then should we go farther? Let us thank the gods, and rest here in peace. This affords room for a beautiful description of the land of laziness;
Brutus, however, rejects this narrow and sclnsh proposition, as ir« compatible with his generous plan of extending benevolence, by instructing and polishing uncultivated minds. He dispises the mean thought of providing for the happiness of themselves alone, and sets the great promises of heaven before them.
His persuasions being seconded by good omens, prevail; nevertheless they leave behind them the old men and the women, together with such as are timid and unfit for service, to enjoy their ease there, and erect a1 city. Over this colony, consisting hbwever of about three thousand persons, he prbposes to make Pisander king, under such limitations as appear to him wisest and best.
To this proposal they all asserit with great satisfaction; only Pisander absolutely refuses to be king, and begs, notwithstanding his age, that he may attend Brutus in his enterprize. He urges that his experience and councils may be of "use, though his strength is gone; and that he shall die unhappy, if he does not die in the arms of his friend.
Brutus accepts his company, with
great expressions of gratitude; and
having left his colony a form os'
N i • pure pure worfnip, and a sliort and simple body of laws, orders them to chuse a government for themselves, and then set sail with none but resolute and noble associates.
Here the poet, by way of episode, meant to have introduced the passion of some friend, or the fondness of some female, who refused to stay behind, and determined to brave all hardships and perils, rather than quit the object of their affections.
Providence is now supposed to fend his spirit to raise the wind, and direct it to the northward. The vessel at length touches at Lisbon, or Ulysiipont, where he meets with the son of a Trojan, captive of Ulysses. This gives occasion for an episode; and, among other things, furnishes an account of Ulysses settling there, and building of Lisbon; with a detail of the wicked principles of policy and supeistition he had established, and of his being at length driven away by the discontented people he had enslaved.
Brutus is afterwards driven by a storm, raised by an evil spirit, as faras Norway. He prays to the Supreme God. His guardian angel calms the seas, and conducts the fleet safe into a port; but the evil spirit excites the barbarian people to attack them at their landing.
Brutus however repulses them, lands, and encamps on the sea shore. In the night an aurora borenlis astonishes his men, such a phenomenon having never been seen by them before.
He endeavours to keep up their spirits, by telling them that what they look upon as a prodigy, may be a phenomenon of nature usual in those countries, though unknown
to them and him; but that if it be any thing supernatural, they ought to interpret it in their own favour, because heaven never works miraX-les, but for the good. About midnight they are attacked again by the barbarians^ and the light of the anrara is of great use to them for their defence.
Brutus kills their chief leader, and Orontes the three next in command. This discourages them, and they fly up into the country. He makes prisoners of some of the natives, who had been used to those seas, and enquires of them concerning a great island to the southwest of their country: they tell him they had been in'such an island upon piratical voyages, and had carried some of the natives into captivity. He obtains some of these captives, whom he finds to be Britons; they describe their country to him, and undertake to pilot him.
In the next book, Brutus touches at the Orcades,'and a picture is given of the manners of the savages. The North Britons he brought with him from Norway, relate strange stories concerning one of the greatest of their islands, supposed to be inhabited by dæmons, who forbid all access to it by thunders, earthquakes, &c. Eudemon relates a tradition in Greece, that in one of the northern islands of the ocean, some of the Titans were confined after their overthrow by Jupiter. Brutus, to confound their su}-erllition, resolves to land in that island.
Brutus fails thither in a small vessel of six oars, attended only by Orontes, who insists on sharing with him in this adventure. When the boat approaches the shore, » violent hurricane rises, which dashes it against the rocks, and belts *