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which was the subject of the last Thursday.* I shall therefore give my reader a short account, in prose, of every poem which was produced in the learned assembly there described ; and if he is thoroughly conversant in the works of those ancient authors, he will see with how much judgment every subject is adapted to the poet who makes use of it, and with how much delicacy every particular poet's way of writing is characterised in the censure that is passed upon it. Lucan's representative was the first who recited before the august assembly. As Lucan was a Spaniard, his poem
does honour to that nation, which, at the same time, makes the romantic bravery in the hero of it more probable.
Alphonso was the governor of a town invested by the Moors. During the blockade, they made his only son their prisoner, whom they brought before the walls, and exposed to his fatheo's sight, threatening to put him to death if he did not immediately give up the town. The father tells them if he had an hundred sons, he would rather see them all perish than do an ill action, or betray his country. 'But, (says he) if you take a pleasure in destroying the innocent, you may do it if you please : behold a sword for your purpose.' Upon which he threw a sword from the wall, returned to his palace, and was able, at such a juncture, to sit down to the repast, which was prepared for him. He was soon raised by the shouts of the enemy and the cries of the besieged. Upon returning again to the walls, he saw his son lying in the pangs of death ; but far from betraying any weakness at such a spectacle, he upbraids his friends for their sorrow, and returns to finish his repast.
Upon the recital of this story, which is exquisitely drawn up in Lucan's spirit and language, the whole assembly declared their opinion of Lucan in a confused murmur. The poem was praised or censured according to the prejudices which every one had conceived in favour or disadvantage of the author. These were so very great, that some had placed him in their opinions above the highest, and others beneath the lowest of the Latin poets. Most of them, however, agreed, that Lucan's genius was wonderfully great, but at the same time too haughty and headstrong to be governed by art, and that his style was like his genius, learned, bold, and lively, but withal too tragical and blustering. In a word, that he chose rather a great than a just reputation; to which they added, that he was the first of the Latin poets who deviated from the purity of the Roman language.
* No. 115, & for the conclusion No. 122.-_*
The representative of Lucretius told the assembly, that they should soon be sensible of the difference between a poet who was a native of Rome, and a stranger who had been adopted to it: after which he entered upon his subject, which I find exhibited to my hand in a speculation of one of my predecessors."
Strada, in the person of Lucretius, gives an account of a chimerical correspondence between two friends by the help of a certain loadstone, which had such a virtue in it, that if it touched two several needles, when one of the needles so touched began to move, the other, though at never so great a distance, moved at the same time, and in the same manner. He tells us, that the two friends, being each of them possessed of one of these needles, made a kind of dial-plate, inscribing it with the four and twenty letters, in the same manner as the hours of the day are marked upon the ordinary dial-plate. They then fixed one of the needles on each of these plates in such a manner that it could move round without impediment, so as to touch any of the four and twenty letters. Upon their separating from one another into distant countries, they agreed to withdraw themselves punctually into their closets at a certain hour of the day, and to converse with
• V. Spectator 241, by Addison, who copies this whole paragraph ver batim from himself._*
one another by means of this their invention. Accordingly when they were some hundred miles asunder, each of them shut him. self up in his closet at the time appointed, and immediately cast his eye upon his dial-plate. If he had a mind to write any thing to his friend, he directed his needle to every letter that formed the words which he had occasion for, making a little pause at the end of every word or sentence, to avoid confusion. The friend, in the mean while, saw his own sympathetic needle moving of it. self to every letter which that of his correspondent pointed at : by this means they talked together across a whole continent, and conveyed their thoughts to one another in an instant over cities or mountains, seas or deserts.
The whole audience were pleased with the artifice of the poet who represented Lucretius, observing very well how he had laid asleep their attention to the simplicity of his style in some verses, and to the want of harmony in others, by fixing their minds to the novelty of his subject, and to the experiment" which he re. lated. Without such an artifice they were of opinion that nothing would have sounded more harsh than Lucretius's diction and numbers. But it was plain that the more learned part
of the assembly were quite of another mind. These allowed that it was peculiar to Lucretius above all other pocts, to be always doing or teaching something, that no other style was so proper to teach in, or gave a greater pleasure to those who had a true relish for the Roman tongue. They added further, that if Lucretius had not been embarrassed with the difficulty of his matter, and a little led away by an affectation of antiquity, there could not have been any thing more perfect than his poem.
Claudian succeeded Lucretius, having chosen for his subject the famous contest between the nightingale and the lutanist,
* To the novelty and to the experiment-it should be on, in both placer
which every one is acquainted with, especially since Mr. Philips has so finely improved that hint in one of his pastorals.
He had no sooner finished, but the assembly rung with acclamations made in his praise. His first beauty, which every one owned, was the great clearness and perspicuity which appeared in the plan of his poem. Others were wonderfully charmed with the smoothness of his verse, and the flowing of his numbers, in which there were none of those elisions and cuttings-off so frequent in the works of other poets. There were several, however, of a more refined judgment, who ridiculed that infusion of foreign phrases with which he had corrupted the Latin tongue, and spoke with contempt of the equability of his numbers, that cloyed and satiated the ear for want of variety : to which they likewise added a frequent and unseasonable affectation of appearing sonorous and sublime.
The sequel of this prolusion shall be the work of another day."
No. 120. WEDNESDAY, JULY 29.
Nothing lovelier can be found
A BIT FOR THE LION.
“As soon as you have set up your unicorn, there is no question but the ladies will make him push very furiously at the men; for which reason I think it is good to be beforehand with them, and make the lion roar aloud at female irregularities. Among these, I wonder how their Gaming has so long escaped your notice. You who converse with the sober family of the Lizards, are, perhaps, a stranger to these viragos; but what would you say, should you see a Sparkler shaking her elbow for a whole night together, and thumping the table with a dice-box? Or, how would you like to hear the good widow-lady herself returning to her house at midnight, and alarming the whole street with a most enormous rap, after having sat up until that time at crimp or ombre ? Sir, I am the husband of one of the female gamesters, and a great loser by it, both in my rest and my pocket. As my wife reads your papers, one upon this subject might be of use both to her, and
* V. Strada, lib. ii. prol. 6.—*
b V. No. 114.-*
"Your humble servant."
I should ill deserve the name of GUARDIAN, did I not caution all my fair wards against a practice, which, when it runs to excess, is the most shameful, but one, that the female world can fall into. The ill consequences of it are more than can be contained in this paper. However, that I may proceed in method, I shall consider them, first as they relate to the mind; secondly, as they relate to the body.
Could we look into the mind of a female gamester, we should see it full of nothing but trumps and mattadores. Her slumbers are haunted with kings, queens, and knaves. The day lies heavy upon her, until the play-season returns, when, for half a dozen hours together, all her faculties are employed in shufiling, cutting, dealing, and sorting out a pack of cards, and no ideas to be discovered in a soul which calls itself rational, exoepting little square figures of painted and spotted paper. Was the understanding, that divine part in our composition, given for such an use? Is it thus we improve the greatest talent human nature is endowed with? What would a superior being think, were he