« PreviousContinue »
educated, and will lend her hand, upon this occasion, to any lady that shall desire it of her.
In the mean time, I must further acquaint my fair readers, that I have thoughts of making a further provision for them at my ingenious friend Mr. Motteux's, or at Corticelli's, or some other place frequented by the wits and beauties of the sex. As I have here a lion's head for the men, I shall there erect an unicorn's head for the ladies, and will so contrive it that they may put in their intelligence at the top of the horn, which shall convey it into a little receptacle at the bottom, prepared for that purpose. Out of these two magazines I shall supply the town from time to time with what may tend to their edification, and at the same time carry on an epistolary correspondence between the two heads, not a little beneficial both to the public and to myself. As both these monsters will be very insatiable, and devour great quantities of paper, there will no small use redound from them to that manufacture in particular.
The following letter having been left with the keeper of the lion, with a request from the writer that it may be the first morsel which is put into his mouth, I shall communicate it to the public as it came to my hand, without examining whether it be proper nourishment, as I intend to do for the future
" Mr. GUARDIAN, “Your predecessor, the Spectator, endeavoured, but in rain, to improve the charms of the fair sex, by exposing their dress whenever it launched into extremities. Among the rest, the great petticoat came under his consideration, but in contradiction to whatever he has said, they still resolutely persist in this fashion. The form of their bottom is not, I confess, altogether the same; for whereas, before, it was of an orbicular make, they now look as if they were pressed, so that they seem to deny
access to any part but the middle. Many are the inconveniences that accrue to her majesty's loving subjects from the said petticoats, as hurting men's shins, sweeping down the ware of industrious females in the street, &c. I saw a young lady fall down, the other day, and believe me, sir,
much resembled an overturned bell without a clapper. Many other disasters I could tell you of that befal themselves as well as others, by means of this unwieldy garment. I wish, Mr. Guardian, you would join with me in showing your dislike of such a monstrous fashion, and I hope when the ladies see it is the opinion of two of the wisest men in England, they will be convinced of their folly. “I am, sir, your daily reader and admirer,
“ Tom PLAIN."
No. 115. TIIURSDAY, JULY 23.
Ingenium par materia- Juv.
When I read rules of criticism, I immediately inquire after the works of the author who has written them, and by that meau's discover what it is he likes in a composition; for there is no question but every man aims at least at what he thinks beautiful in others. If I find by his own manner of writing that he is heavy and tasteless, I throw aside his criticisms with a secret indignation, to see a man without genius or politeness dictating to the world on subjects which I find are above his reach.
If the critic has published nothing but rules and observations in criticism, I then consider whether there be a propriety and elegance in his thoughts and words, clearness and delicacy in his remarks, wit and good-breeding in his raillery; but, if in the place of all these, I find nothing but dogmatical stupidity, I must beg such a writer's pardon if I have no manner of deference for his judgment, and refuse to conform myself to his taste.
So Macer and Mundungus school the times,
MR. CoxGREVE to Sir R. TEMPLE
The greatest critics among the ancients are those who have the most excelled in all other kinds of composition, and have shown the height of good writing even in the precepts which they have given for it.
Among the moderns likewise, no critic has ever pleased, or been looked upon as authentic, who did not show, by his practice, that he was a master of the theory. I have now one before me, who after having given many proofs of his performances both in poetry and prose, obliged the world with several critical works. The author I mean is Strada. His prolusion on the style of the most famous among the ancient Latin poets who are extant, and have written in epic verse, is one of the most entertaining, as well as the most just pieces of criticism that I have ever read. I shall make the plan of it the subject of this day's paper."
It is commonly known, that Pope Leo the Tenth was a great patron of learning, and used to be present at the performances, conversations, and disputes, of all the most polite writers of his time. Upon this bottom Strada founds the following narrative. When this pope was at his villa, that stood upon an eminence on the banks of the Tiber, the poets contrived the following pageant or machine for his entertainment. They made a huge floating mountain, that was split at the top in imitation of Parnassus. There were several marks on it that distinguished it for the habitation of heroic poets. Of all the Muses, Calliope only made her appearance. It
* Stradæ Prol. Acad. lib. ii. Prol. Poet. v.-*
and down with groves of laurel. Pegasus appeared hanging off the side of a rock, with a fountain running from his heel. This floating Parnassus fell down the river to the sound of trumpets, and in a kind of epic measure, for it was rowed forward by six huge wheels, three on each side, that by their constant motion, carried on the machine until it arrived before the pope's villa.
The representatives of the ancient poets were disposed in stations suitable to their respective characters. Statius was posted on the highest of the two summits, which was fashioned in the form of a precipice, and hung over the rest of the mountain in a dreadful manner, so that people regarded him with the same terror and curiosity as they look upon a daring rope-dancer whom they expect to fall every moment.
Claudian was seated on the other summit, which was lower, and at the same time more smooth and even than the former. It was observed likewise to be more barren, and to produce on some spots of it, plants that are unknown to Italy, and such as the gardeners call exotics.
Lucretius was very busy about the roots of the mountain, being wholly intent upon the motion and management of the machine which was under his conduct, and was, indeed, of his invention. He was sometimes so engaged among the wheels, and covere l with machinery, that not above half the poet appeared to the spectators, though at other times, by the working of the engines, he was raised up and became as conspicuous as any of the brotherhood.
Ovid did not settle in any particular place, but ranged over all Parnassus with great nimbleness and activity. But as he did not much care for the toil and pains that were requisite to climb the upper part of the hill, he was generally roving about the bottom of it.
But there was none who was placed in a more eminent station, and had a greater prospect under him than Lucan. He vaulted apon Pegasus with all the heat and intrepidity of youth, and seemed desirous of mounting into the clouds upon the back of him. But as the hinder feet of the horse stuck to the mountain while the body reared up in the air, the poet, with great difficulty, kept himself from sliding off his back, insomuch that the people often gave him for gone, and cried out, every now and then, that he was tumbling.
Virgil, with great modesty in his looks, was seated by Calliope, in the midst of a plantation of laurels which grew thick about him, and almost covered him with their shade. He would not, perhaps, have been seen in this retirement, but that it was impossible to look upon Calliope without seeing Virgil at the same time.
This poetical masquerade was no sooner arrived before the pope's villa, but they received an invitation to land, which they did accordingly. The hall prepared for their reception was filled with an audience of the greatest eminence for quality and politeness. The poets took their places, and repeated each of them a poem written in the style and spirit of those immortal authors whom they represented. The subjects of these several poems, with the judgment passed upon each of them, may be an agreeable entertainment for another day's paper.