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Pillar indented with the finest strokes of sculpture, and stained with the greatest variety of dyes. That part of the Library which was designed for the reception of Plays and Pamphlets,
and other loose papers, was enclosed in a kind of square, con5 sisting of one of the prettiest grotesque works that ever I saw,
and made up of Scaramouches, Lions, Monkies, Mandarines, Trees, Shells, and a thousand other odd figures in China ware. In the midst of the room was a little Japan table, with a quire of gilt Paper upon it, and on the Paper a silver Snuff-box made in the shape of a little book. I found there were several other counterfeit books upon the upper shelves, which were carved in wood, and served only to fill up the numbers, like Fagots in the muster of a Regiment. I was wonderfully pleased with
such a mixt kind of furniture, as seemed very suitable to both 15 the Lady and the Scholar, and did not know at first whether I
should fancy my self in a Grotto, or in a Library.
Upon my looking into the books, I found there were some few which the Lady had bought for her own use, but that most of them had been got together, either because she had heard them praised, or because she had seen the Authors of them. Among several that I examined, I very well remember these that follow.
The fifteen comforts of Matrimony.
Tales in verse by Mr. Durfey: Bound in red leather, gilt on the back, and doubled down in several places.
All the Classick Authors in wood.
Clelia: Which opened of it self in the place that describes two
A Prayer book: With a bottle of Hungary water by the side of it.
Dr. Sacheverell's Speech.
I was taking a Catalogue in my pocket-book of these, and 25 several other Authors, when Leonora entred, and upon my presenting her with the Letter from the Knight, told me, with an unspeakable grace, that she hoped Sir Roger was in good health : I answered Yes, for I hate long speeches, and after a bow or two retired.
Leonora was formerly a celebrated beauty, and is still a very lovely woman. She has been a widow for two or three years, and being unfortunate in her first marriage, has taken a resolution never to venture upon a second. She has no childrex to take care of, and leaves the management of her Estate to 35
my good friend Sir Roger. But as the mind naturally sinks into a kind of Lethargy, and falls asleep, that is not agitated by some favourite pleasures and pursuits, Leonora has turned
all the passions of her Sex, into a love of books and retirement. 5 She converses chiefly with men, (as she has often said her self)
but it is only in their writings; and admits of very few malevisitants, except my friend Sir Roger, whom she hears with great pleasure, and without scandal. As her reading has lain very much among Romances, it has given her a very particular turn of thinking, and discovers it self even in her house, her gardens, and her furniture. Sir Roger has entertained me an hour together with a description of her country-seat, which is situated in a kind of wilderness, about an hundred miles dis
tant from London, and looks like a little enchanted Palace. 15 The rocks about her are shaped into artificial grottoes covered
with wood-bines and jessamines. The woods are cut into shady walks, twisted into bowers, and filled with cages of Turtles. The springs are made to run among pebbles, and by that means taught to murmur very agreeably. They are likewise collected into a beautiful Lake, that is inhabited by a couple of Swans, and empties itself by a little rivulet which runs through a green meadow, and is known in the family by the name of The purling Stream. The Knight likewise tells me, that this Lady preserves
better than any of the Gentlemen in the 25 country, not (says Sir Roger) that she sets so great a value
upon her Partridges and Pheasants, as upon her Larks and Nightingales. For she says that every bird which is killed in her ground, will spoil a consort, and that she shall certanly
miss him the next year. 30
When I think how odly this Lady is improved by learning, I look upon her with a mixture of admiration and pity. Amidst these innocent entertainments which she has formed to her self, how much more valuable does she appear than those of her Sex, who employ themselves in diversions that are less reasonable,
though more in fashion? What improvements would a woman have made, who is so susceptible of impressions from what she reads, had she been guided to such books as have a tendency to enlighten the understanding and rectifie the passions, as well as to those which are of little nore use than to divert the imagination ?
But the manner of a Lady's employing her self usefully in reading shall be the subject of another Paper, in which I design to recommend such particular books as may be proper for the improvement of the Sex. And as this is a subject of a very nice nature, I shall desire my correspondents to give me their thoughts upon it.
N° 39. Saturday, April 14. [1711.]
Multa fero, ut placem genus irritabile vatum,
As a perfect Tragedy is the noblest production of human nature, so it is capable of giving the mind one of the most delightful and most improving entertainments. A virtuous man (says Seneca) strugling with misfortunes, is such a spectacle as Gods might look upon with pleasure: And such a pleasure it is which one meets with in the representation of a well-written Tragedy. Diversions of this kind wear out of our thoughts every thing that is mean and little. They cherish and cultivate that humanity which is the ornament of our nature. They soften insolence, sooth affliction, and subdue the mind to the dispensations of Providence.
It is no wonder therefore that in all the polite nations of the world, this part of the Drama has met with publick encouragement.
The modern Tragedy excels that of Greece and Rome, in the intricacy and disposition of the Fable; but, what a Christian
writer would be ashamed to own, falls infinitely short of it in the moral part of the performance.
This I may shew more at large hereafter ; and in the mean time, that I may contribute something towards the improvement of the English Tragedy, I shall take notice, in this and in other following papers, of some particular parts in it that seem liable to exception.
Aristotle observes, that the lambick verse in the Greek tongue was the most proper for Tragedy: because at the same time that it lifted up the discourse from Prose, it was that which approached nearer to it than any other kind of Verse. For, says he, we may observe that men in ordinary discourse very often speak lambicks, without taking notice of it. We may make the same observation of our English Blank verse, which often enters into our common discourse, though we do not attend to it, and is such a due medium between Rhyme and Prose, that it seems wonderfully adapted to Tragedy. I am therefore very much offended when I see a Play in Rhyme; which is as absurd in English, as a Tragedy of Hexameters would have been in Greek or Latin. The Solocism is, I think, still greater, in those Plays that have some Scenes in Rhyme and some in Blank verse, which are to be looked upon as two several languages; or where we see some particular Similes dignified with Rhyme, at the same time that everything about them lyes in Blank
I would not however debar the Poet from concluding his Tragedy, or, if he pleases, every Act of it, with two or three Couplets, which may have the same effect as an Air in the Italian Opera after a long Recitativo, and give the Actor a graceful Exit. Besides, that we see a diversity of numbers in some parts of the Old Tragedy, in order to hinder the ear from being tired with the same continued modulation of voice. For the same reason I do not dislike the speeches in our English Tragedy that close with an Hemistick, or half