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Most of the works of the pagan poets were either direct hymns to their deities, or tended indirectly to the celebration of their respective attributes and perfections. Those who are acquainted with the works of the Greek and Latin poets which are still extant, will upon reflection find this observation so true that I shall not enlarge upon it. One would wonder that more of our Christian poets have not turned their thoughts this way, especially if we consider, that our idea of the Supreme Being is not only infinitely more great and noble than what could possibly enter into the heart of an heathen, but filled with everything that can raise the imagination, and give an opportunity for the sublimest thoughts and conceptions.
Plutarch tells us of a heathen who was singing an hymn to Diana, in which he celebrated her for her delight in human sacrifices, and other instances of cruelty and revenge · upon which a poet who was present at this piece of devotion, and seems to have had a truer idea of the Divine nature, told the votary by way of reproof, that in recompence for his hymn, he heartily wished he might have a daughter of the same temper with the goddess he celebrated. It was indeed impossible to write the praises of one of these false deities, according to the pagan creed, without a mixture of impertinence and absurdity.
The Jews, who before the times of Christianity were the only people that had the knowledge of the true God, have set the Christian world an example how they ought to employ this Divine talent of which I am speaking. As that nation produced men of great genius, without considering them as inspired writers, they have transmitted to us many hymns and divine odes, which excel those that are delivered down to us by the ancient Greeks and Romans, in the poetry, as much as in the subject to which it was consecrated. This I think might easily be shown, if there were occasion for it.
I have already communicated to the public some pieces of divine poetry, and as they have met with a very favourable reception, I shall from time to time publish any work of the same nature which has not yet appeared in print, and be acceptable to my readers.
My rising soul surveys ;
Transported with the view, I'm longo
The gratitude declare,
And all my wants redrest,
Thy mercy lent an ear,..
Thy tender care bestowed,
With heedless steps I ran,
It gently cleared my way,
With health renewed my face,
Has made my cup run o'er,
Has doubled all my store.
Thy goodness I'll pursue,
Divide thy works no more,
A joyful song I'll raise,
To utter all thy praise.
No. 457. THURSDAY, AUGUST 14.
-Multa et præclara minantis. HOR. I SHALL this day lay before my reader a letter, written by the same hand with that of last Friday, which contained proposals for a printed newspaper, that should take in the whole circle of the penny-post. SIR,
The kind reception you gave my last Friday's letter, in which I broached my project of a newspaper, encourages me to lay before you two or three more; for, you must know, sir, that we look upon you to be the Lowndes of the learned world, and cannot think any scheme practicable or rational before you have approved of it, though all the money we raise by it is on our own funds, and for our private use.
“I have thought a News-letter of Whispers, written every post, and sent about the kingdom, after the same manner as that of Mr. Dyer, Mr. Dawkes, or any other epistolary historian, might be highly gratifying to the
public, as well as beneficial to the author. By whispers I mean those pieces of news which are communicated as secrets, and which bring a double pleasure to the hearer; first, as they are private history, and in the next place, as they have always in them a dash of scandal. These are the two chief qualifications in an article of news, which recommend it, in a more than ordinary man. ner, to the ears of the curious. Sickness of persons in high posts, twilight visits paid and received by ministers of state, clandestine courtships and marriages, secret amours, losses at play, applications from places, with their respective successes or repulses, are the materials in which I chiefly intend to deal. I have two persons, that are each of them the representative of a species, who are to furnish me with those whispers which I intend to convey to my correspondents. The first of these is Peter Hush, descended from cient family of the Hushes. The other is the old Lady Blast, who has a very numerous tribe of daughters in the two great cities of London and Westminster. Peter Hush has a whispering hole in most of the great coffee-houses about town. If you are alone with him in a wide room, he carries you up into a corner of it, and speaks in
I have seen Peter seat himself in a company of seven or eight persons, whom he never saw before in his life; and after having looked about to see there was no one that overheard him, has communicated to them in a low voice, and under the seal of secrecy, the death of a great man in the country, who was perhaps a fox-hunting the very moment this account was given of him. If upon your entering into a coffee-house you: see a circle of heads bending over the table, and laying close by one another, it is ten to one but my friend Peter is among them. I have known Peter publishing the whisper of the day by eight o'clock in the morning at Garraway's, by twelve at Will's
, and before two at the Smyrna. When Peter has thus effectually launched a secret, I have been very pleased to hear people whispering it to one another at second hand, and spreading it about as their own; for you must know, sir, the great incentive to whispering is the ambition which every one has of being thought in the secret, and being looked upon as a man who has access to a greater people than one would imagine. After having given you this account of Peter Hush, I proceed to that virtuous lady, the old Lady Blast, who is to communicate to me the private transactions of the crimp table, with all the arcana of the fair sex.
The Lady Blast, you must understand, has such a particular malignity in her whisper, that it blights like an
| The Lady Blast, &c.] They that would know how to conduct a netaphor to advantage, would do well to study such passages as this in our author.
easterly wind, and withers every reputation that it breathes upon. She has a particular knack at making private wed
. dings, and last winter married above five women of quality to their footmen. Her whisper can make an innocent young woman big with child, or fill an healthful young fellow with distempers that are not to be named. She can turn a visit into an intrigue, and a distant salute into an assignation. She can beggar the wealthy, and degrade the noble. In short, she can whisper men base and foolish, jealous or illnatured, or, if occasion requires, can tell you the slips of their great grandmothers, and traduce the memory of honest coachmen that have been in their graves above these hundred years. By these, and the like helps, I question not but I shall furnish out a very handsome news-letter. If
f you approve my project, I shall begin to whisper by the very next post, and question not but every one of my customers will be
very well plensed with me, when he considers that every piece of news I send him is a word in his ear, and lets him into a secret.
“ Having given you a sketch of this project, I shall, in the next place, suggest to you another for a monthly pamphlet, which I shall likewise submit to your spectatorial wisdom. I need not tell you, sir, that there are several authors in France, Germany, and Holland, as well as in our own country, who publish every month, what they call An Account of the Works of the Learned, in which they give us an abstract of all such books as are printed in any part of Europe. Now, sir, it is my design to publish every month An Account of the Works of the Unlearned. Several late productions of my own countrymen, who many of them make a very eminent figure in the illiterate world, encourage me in this undertaking. I may, in this work, possibly make a review of several pieces which have appeared in the foreign accounts above-mentioned, though they ought not to have been taken notice of in works which bear such a title. I may, likewise, take into consideration such pieces as appear from time to time, under the names of those gentlemen who compliment one another in public assemblies by the title of the Learned Gentlemen. Our party-authors will also afford me a great variety of subjects, not to mention editors, commentators, and others, who are often men of no learning, or what is as bad, of no knowledge. I shall not enlarge upon