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rises either from the nobleness of the thought, the magnificence of the words, or the harmonious and lively turn of the phrase, and that the perfect sublime arises from all these three in conjunction together. He produces an instance of this perfect sublime in four verses from the Athalia of Monsieur Racine. When Abner, one of the chief officers of the court, represents to Joad the highpriest, that the queen was incensed against him, the highpriest, not in the least terrified at the news, returns this
Celui qui met un frein à la fureur des flots,
Sçait aussi des méchans arrêter les complots.
Je crains Dieu, cher Abner, et n'ai point d'autre crainte.
"He who ruleth the raging of the sea, knows also how to check the designs of the ungodly. I submit myself with reverence to his holy will. O Abner, I fear my God, and I fear none but him." Such a thought gives no less a sublimity to human nature, than it does to good writing. This religious fear, when it is produced by just apprehensions of a Divine Power, naturally overlooks all human greatness that stands in competition with it, and extinguishes every other terror that can settle itself in the heart of man; it lessens and contracts the figure of the most exalted persons; it disarms the tyrant and executioner; and represents to our minds the most enraged and the most powerful as altogether harmless and impotent.
There is no true fortitude which is not founded upon this fear, as there is no other principle of so settled and fixed a nature. Courage that grows from constitution very often forsakes a man when he has occasion for it; and when it is only a kind of instinct in the soul, breaks out on all occasions without judgment or discretion. That courage which proceeds from the sense of our duty, and from the fear of offending Him that made us, acts always in a uniform manner, and according to the dictates of right reason.
What can the man fear, who takes care in all his actions to please a Being that is omnipotent? A Being who is able to crush all his adversaries? A Being that can divert any misfortune from befalling him, or turn any such misfortune to his advantage? The person who lives with
this constant and habitual regard to the great superintendant of the world, is indeed sure that no real evil can come into his lot. Blessings may appear under the shape of pains, losses, and disappointments; but let him have patience, and he will see them in their proper figures. Dangers may threaten him, but he may rest satisfied that they will either not reach him, or that, if they do, they will be the instruments of good to him. In short, he may look upon all crosses and accidents, sufferings and afflictions, as means which are made use of to bring him to happiness. This is even the worst of that man's condition whose mind is possessed with the habitual fear of which I am now speaking. But it very often happens, that those which appear evils in our own eyes, appear also as such to Him who has human nature under his care; in which case they are certainly averted from the person who has by this virtue made himself an object of Divine Favour. Histories are full of instances of this nature, where men of virtue have had extraordinary escapes out of such dangers as have enclosed them, and which have seemed inevitable.
There is no example of this kind in pagan history which more pleases me, than that which is recorded in the life of Timoleon. This extraordinary man was famous for referring all his successes to Providence. Cornelius Nepos acquaints us that he had in his house a private chapel, in which he used to pay his devotions to the goddess who represented Providence among the heathens. I think no man was ever more distinguished by the Deity, whom he blindly worshipped, than the great person I am speaking of in several occurrences of his life; but particularly in the following one, which I shall relate out of Plutarch.
Three persons had entered into a conspiracy to assassinate Timoleon, as he was offering up his dovotions in a certain temple. In order to it, they took their several stands in the most convenient places for their purpose. As they were waiting for an opportunity to put their design in execution, a stranger having observed one of the conspirators, fell upon him and slew him... Upon which the other two, thinking their plot had been discovered, threw themselves at Timoleon's feet, and confessed the whole matter. The stranger, upon examination, was found to have understood nothing of the intended assassination;
but having several years before had a brother killed by the conspirator, whom he here put to death, and having until now sought in vain for an opportunity of revenge, he chanced to meet the murderer in the temple, who had planted himself there for the above-mentioned purpose. Plutarch cannot forbear, on this occasion, speaking with a kind of rapture on the schemes of Providence; which, in this particular, had so contrived it, that the stranger should, for so great a space of time, be debarred the means of doing justice to his brother, until by the same blow that revenged the death of one innocent man, he preserved the life of another.
For my own part, I cannot wonder that a man of Timoleon's religion, should have his intrepidity and firmness of mind; or that he should be distinguished by such a deliverance, as I have here related.
PERS. Prol. ver. 10.
N° 118. MONDAY, JULY 27, 1713.
AM very well pleased to find that my lion has given such universal content to all that have seen him. He has had a greater number of visitants than any of his brotherhood in the Tower. I this morning examined his maw, where among much other food I found the following delicious morsels.
"TO NESTOR IRONSIDE, Esq.
"I am a daily peruser of your papers. I have read over and over your discourse concerning the tucker; as likewise your paper of Thursday the 16th instant, in which you say it is your intention to keep a watchful eye over every part of the female sex, and to regulate them from head to foot. Now, Sir, being by profession a mantuamaker, who am employed by the most fashionable ladies about town, I am admitted to them freely at all hours; and seeing them both drest and undrest, I think there is no person better qualified than myself to serve you (if
your honour pleases) in the nature of a lioness. I am in the whole secret of their fashion; and if you think fit to entertain me in this character, I will have a constant watch over them, and doubt not I shall send you from time to time such private intelligence, as you will find of use to you in your future papers.
"Sir, this being a new proposal, I hope you will not let me lose the benefit of it; but that you will first hear me roar before you treat with any body else. As a sample of my intended services, I give you this timely notice of an improvement you will shortly see in the exposing of the female chest, which in defiance of your gravity is going to be uncovered yet more and more; so that, to tell you truly, Mr. Ironside, I am in some fear lest my profession should in a little time become wholly unnecessary. I must here explain to you a small covering, if I may call it so, or rather an ornament for the neck, which you have not yet taken notice of. This consists of a narrow lace, or a small skirt of fine ruffled linen, which runs along the upper part of the stays before, and crosses the breasts without rising to the shoulders; and being as it were a part of the tucker, yet kept in use, is therefore by a particular name called the modesty-piece. Now, Sir, what I have to communicate to you at present is, that at a late meeting of the stripping ladies, in which were present several eminent toasts and beauties, it was resolved for the future to lay the modesty-piece wholly aside. It is intended at the same time to lower the stays considerably before, and nothing but the unsettled weather has hindered this design from being already put in execution. Some few indeed objected to this last improvement, but were overruled by the rest, who alleged it was their intention, as they ingeniously expressed it, to level their breast-works entirely, and to trust to no defence but their own virtue.
"I am, Sir (if you please), your secret servant,
"As by name, and duty bound, I yesterday brought in a prey of paper for my patron's dinuer; but by the forwardness of his paws, he seemed ready to put it into his own mouth, which does not enough resemble its prototypes, whose throats are open sepulchres. I assure you,
Sir, unless he gapes wider he will sooner be felt than
"TO NESTOR IRONSIDE, Esq.
"Lions being esteemed by naturalists the most generous of beasts, the noble and majestic appearance they make in poetry, wherein they so often represent the hero himself, made me always think that name very ill applied to a profligate set of men, at present going about seeking whom to devour: and though I cannot but acquiesce in your account of the derivation of that title to them, it is with great satisfaction I hear you are about to restore them to their former dignity, by producing one of that species so public-spirited, as to roar for reformation of manners. 'I will roar,' says the Clown in Shakspeare, 'that it will do any man's heart good to hear me; I will roar, that I will make the duke say, Let him roar again, let him roar again.' Such success, and such applause, I do not question but your lion will meet with, whilst, like that of Samson, his strength shall bring forth sweetness, and his entrails abound with honey.
"At the same time that I congratulate with the republic of beasts upon this honour done to their king, I must condole with us poor mortals, who by distance of place are rendered incapable of paying our respects to him, with the same assiduity as those who are ushered into his presence by the discreet Mr. Button. Upon this account, Mr. Ironside, I am become a suitor to you, to constitute an out-riding lion; or, if you please, a jackall or two, to receive and remit our homage in a more particular manner than is hitherto provided. As it is, our tenders of duty every now and then miscarry by the way; at least the natural self-love that makes us unwilling to think any thing that comes from us worthy of contempt, inclines us to believe so. Methinks it were likewise necessary to specify, by what means a present from a fair hand may reach his brindled majesty; the place of his residence being very unfit for a lady's personal appearance.
"6 I am,
"Your most constant reader and admirer,