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1798.3
On the Fables of Antiquity.

9 To the Editor of the Montbly Magazine. great genius, without the affiftance of SIR,

intellectual pbilosopby is able to effect : but THOUGH the fables of the ancients the most piercing lagacity, the moft bril

are, in their secret meaning, utility, liant wit, and the most exquisite subtilty and conftruction, the most beautiful and of thought, without this allistance, are admirable pieces of composition which the here of no avail. mind of man is capable of framing, yet This being premised, it will be necesa nothing has been to little understood, or sary, in the first place, to observe, that lo Thamefully abused. Of the truth of between us and the highest god there are this observation, the philosophic part of certain mighty powers, which, though your readers will, I persuade inyself, be rooted in, yer poffefs energies distinct from fully convinced, by comparing the ful- their ineffáble cause; for we, in reality, are Inwing explanations of some of these nothing more than the dregs of the uni. fables, with those given by the Abbé verse. These mighty powers are called Banier, and other modern writers on by the poets a golden cbain, on account of mythology, in those ridiculous and con their connection with each other, and intemptible publications called Pantbeons. corruprible nature. Now, the first of

That these moderns, indeed, should these powers you may call intelle&tual ; have grossly erred in their interpretation the second vivific; the third peonian, of ancient fables, is by no means wonder- and so on, which the ancients defiring to ful, if we consider that they appear to fignify to us by names, have symbolically have been ignorant that these fab.es were denominated. Hence, lays Olympiodoinvented by theological poets, and rus (in M.S. Comment. in Georgiam) adopted by intellectual philosophers t; we ought not to be disturbed on hearing and, consequently, that their ineaning such names as a Saturnian power, the can only be unfolded by recurring to the power Jupiler, and such-like, but explore theology and intellectual philosophy of the things to which they allude. Thus, the ancients.

for instance, by a Saturnian power rooted It is, indeed, easy for ingenious men to in the first cause, understand a pure intelgive an explanation of an ancient fable, left: for Kgovos, or Saturn, is xogos vous, which to the superficial observer thall ap • nabaços, or a pure intelle&t. He adds, pear to be the precile meaning which its hence ive call all those that are pure and inventor deligned to convey, though it virgins, xopces. be in reality very far from the truth. On this account, too, poets * fay, that This may be eahly accounted for by con Saturn devoured his children, and afterhdering, that ail fables are images of wards again sent them into the light, truths, but those of the ancients of truths because intellecl is converted to itself, with which but few are acquainted. seeks itself, and is itself fought : but he Hence, like pictures of unknown persons, again refunds them, because intellect not they become the subjećts of endless con. only seeks and procreates, but produces jecture and absurd opinion, from the into light and profits. Hence, likewise, fimilitude which every one fancies he Saturn is called aynud.openlos, or inflected discovers in thein to objects with which coursel, because an inflected figure verges he has been for a long time familiar. He to itself. who understands the explanations given Again, as there is nothing disordered by the Platonic philofophers of these and novel in iutelleet, they represent fables, will subscribe to the truth of this Saturn as an old man, and as slow in his observation ; as it is imposible that these motion : and hence it is that aftrologers interpretations could so wonderfully har- say, that such as have Saturn well situated monize with the external or apparent in their nativity are prudent and endued meaning of the fabies, without being the with intellect. true explanations of their latent lense. In the next place, the ancient theologists Even Lord Bacon himself, though he law called life by the name of Jupiter, to cnough to be convinced that thele fables whom they gave a twofold appellation, were replete with the highest wisdom dia and Sov, lignifying, by these names, of which he had any conception, yet was that he gives life ibrouzlo himself t. far from penetrating the profound mean

Farther ing they contain. He has, indeed, done all in attempting to unfold them that

* So in Hesiod in his Theogony.

+ These etymologies of Saturn and Jupiter, • Orpheus, Homer, Hesiod, &e.

are given by Plato in the Cratylus ; a dialogue Pythagoras, Plato, &c.

in which he every where etymologises agreeMONTHLY MAG. XXVII.

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Mr. Taylor on the Fables of Antiquity.

[Jan. Farther still, they affert that the sun is that these are dedicated to the gods, in drawn by four horses, and that he is per. the same manner as herbs, stones, and petually young, signifying by this his animals, is the part of wise men; but to power, which is motive of the whole of call them gods, is alone the province of nature subject to his dominion, his four. mad men; unless we speak in the fame fold conversions, and the vigour of his manner as when, from established custom, energies. But they say that the moon is we call the orb of the sun, and its rays, drawn by two bulls : by ewo, on account the sun itself. of her increase ard di mirution ; but by " But we may perceive the mixed kind bulls, because as these till the ground, lo of fable, as well in many other particu. the moon governs all those parts which lars, as in the fable which relates that surround the earth.

Discord, at a banquet of the gods, threw I persuade myself every liberal and in a golden apple, and that a dilpute about telligent mind will immediately perceive it arising among the goddesses, they were the propriety and accuracy of the above sent by Jupiter to take the judgment of interpretations; and be convinced, from Paris, who, charmed with the beauty of this specimen, that the fables of the an Venus, gave her the apple in preference cients are replete with a meaning no less to the rest. For in this fable' the ban. interesting than novel, no lefs beautiful quet denotes the supermundane " powers than fublime.

of the gods; and on this account they That your readers may be still farther fubfift in conjunction with each other : convinced of this, I Thall subjoin the divi- but the golden apple denotes the world, hon of fables given by the Platonic philo- which, on account of its compofition sopher Salluft, in his elegant Treatise on from contrary naiures, is not improperly the Gods and the World: “ Of fables, said to be thrown by Discord, or Strife. fome are theological, others physical, others But again, since different gifts are imanimafiic (or belonging to fou!) others parted to the world by different gods, material, and, lastly, others mixed from they appear to contest with each other these.

for the apple. And a soul living ac* Fables are theological, which employcording to lenfe (for this is Paris) not nothing corporcal, but speculate the very perceiving other powers in the universe, effences of the gods ; such as the fablé afferts that the contended apple subfifts which afferts that Saturn devoured his alone through the beauty of Venus.” children: for it obscurely,

intimates If the intellectual philosophy, then, is the nature of an intellectual god, since alone the true key to ancient mythology, every intellcét returns into itfiif.

surely nothing can be more ridiculous “But we speculate fables pbsfically, than the artempt of the Abbé Banier, 10 · when we speak concerning the energies explain ancient fables by hiftory; not to of the gods about the world; as when mention that his interpretations are alconfidering Saturn the fame as Time, and ways trifling, and frequently imperticalling the parts of time the chidren of vent; are neither calculated to instruct De universe, we allert that the children nor amule; and are cqually remote froin are devoured by their parents.

clegance and truth. That this is not "We employ fables in an animatic mere declamation, the following instance node when we contemplate the ener ies from his ytpoiu?”, will, I perfuade my. of soul; because the intellcétions of our self, abundantly evince : “I shall make fouls, though by a discursive energy they it appear (lays he +) that the Minoiaur, proceed into other things, yet abide in with Pafipar, and the rest of that fable,

contain nothing but an intrigue of the Lastly, fables are material, such as queen of Crete with a captain nained the Egyprians is noräntly employ, con

Taurus ; and the artifice of Dædalus, fidering and calling corporeal natures only a lly confident.” Let the reader divinities; tuch as Iris, earth; Ofiris, contrast with this, the following explana. diumidity; Typhoa, teat: or again, de- tion of this fable, given by Olympiodorus bominating Saluru, water; Adonis, fruits, in his MS. Conimentary on the Gorgias 24.d Bacchus, wine. Indeed, to assert of Plato: “ The Minotaur signifies the

Their parents.

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ably to the Orphic theology, Mof critics, not * By this is to be understood, powers whick priceiving that Pla:o's delign in this dialogue are whiclly unconnected with every thing of was to speculate names philofophically, and not a corporeal nature. grammarically, bave very ridiculoully consider + Vol. I, of the tranllation of his Mychoe de bie sty sewiogies as for the most part talíc.

1035, P. 29.

1798.]
Answers to Queries.... Poetry of Spain,

II Savage paflions which our nature contains: ing of a peal, he will be convinced of the the ibread which Ariadne gave to The power of bells, to communicate their vi. seus, a certain divine power connected brations to folid bodies.

A. B. with him : and the labyrinth, the obliquity and abundant variety of life. The. seus therefore being one of the most ex

To be Editor of the Montbly Magazines cellent characters, vanquished this impe SIR, diment, and freed others together with PERMIT me to correct some errors in ”

my account of Lupercio and BartoReserving a farther discussion of this lome Leonardo. I allerted, from the interesting subject to another opportunity, Parnaso Espanol, that no edition of their

I remain, your's, &c. works had been printed since that of Manor-Place, Tho. TAYLOR. Zaragosa, 1634: I have now procured. Walworib.

one published since the Parnalo. Don

Ramon Fernandez, the editor, has preTo the Editor of the Montbly Magazine. fixed a sensible preface: “ One of the SIR,

principal causes,” he says, “ of the bad IN the same page of your Magazine for talte observable in the greater part of the

last month there are two queries from poetry of the present day, is the Icarceness correspondents, which betray a degree of of good authors, who might serve as moignorance of the most common places of dels to our youth; while the multiplied philosophy, that one would hardly have editions of ihe corruptors of our poetry expected to meet with at the present day are in the hands of all, maintaining and from any person who had at all turned perpetuating a bad taste.” He remarks his mind to that study, and from those the vague culogies lavished upon the who had not, such questions are not to be Spanish poets by their editors, applying expected.

to them indiscriminately the phrases of Mr. W. E. if he had ever attended to purity, elegance, enthusiasm, beauty, the Lavoisierian chemistry, as he is pleased &c. and proceeds to point out the cha. to term it, must have known that azote is racteristic and peculiar merit of the two found in considerable quantities in a very Argentulas. In this preface there is a large tribe of plants,viz. all the cruciform, very curious trait of the national vanity. which comprehends the wild-cress, mur- Afier mentioning the rich and harmotard, &c. found in every pasture; and the nious verhfication of these authors, he experiments of Bertholt, prove that it is adds, this has at all times been an en. also present in a very great variety of dowment peculiar to the Spanish poets, other vegetables. It is strange indeed for if we consider well, we shall find that any man who ever perceived the that they gave a harmony and ease to the fineil of putrid cabbage, should allert that La'in metres which is not to be met with azote exists in no vegetable whatever. in the pocts anterior to Lucan and Seneca. But even allowing this negation, let The chorusses of tho three genuine trageus attend to Lavoisier's own words ; dies of this great tragedian, incomparably 5 Azote is one of the principies moft exceed those of Horace in their flowingabundantly diffused through nature. Com- nefs and harmony; and the excellent hexbined with caloric, it forms azotic gaz, ameters of Lucan, have, in these points, which conftirutes two-thirds of the coin a great advantage over those of Virgil. mon atmospheric air.” Might not then And even what Cicero' says of the Core any quantity of it be combined with the dovan poets confirms this, though some, animal organization, by the act of respic from wrongly understanding the passage, ration, which is so often repeated during interpret it as a reproach: for Tully, in ufe, even if none were received by the this place, speaks only of their pronunciafiomach.

tion and accent, which to Roman ears, acTo Mr. E. L's query about the bell, it cuftomed only to fweetness, might appear is fufficient to observe that the vibrations strange and harsh; this by no means proves of the air within the glass-receiver, are that their vertes were bad or deficient in communicated to the receiver itself, and barınony; instead of this I presume, that by that mcans to the external air. The the too great (well and fullness of the Spa. accuracy of this experiment is doubted by nish poets, that loquiore rotundu, that os many ingenious philosophers, but on other magna fonatuun, which Horace so much grounds than those stated by E. L. If your correspondent will apply his hand * Corduba natis poctis pingue quiddam to the walls of a steeple during the ring- cantibus atque peregrinum. Cicer, pro Archia.

recommends

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12 Discoveries not casual....Godwin's Elay on English Style. (Jan; recommends, and which fince the Greeks To the Editor of the Monthly Magazine. none have executed better than the Spa

SIR, niards; this I conceive to be what ap- IT is a common observation, that almost peared unpleasant to Cicero, whose ears all great discoveries bave been stumbled were accustomed to verses little more upon by chance : a multitude of instances harmonious than those of Ennius. might easily be cited, to confirm its truth.

The epiftle from which an extract was Now I have, with concern, heard this printed in your Magazine, is given by fact employed, as an argument, to difihe present editor to Francisco de Rioje. courage eager scientific rclearch : “ Why

I know not whether the reasons he not trust to that chance which has ftruck assigns are sufficient to ascertain the out the most valuable inventions of past author, but they certainly prove that it ages? Why withdraw from the ordinary could not have been written by Bartolome duties and pleasures of life, to buly one's Leonardo :

self in vain investigations, which are, most I have selected three sonnets as cha- probably, to end in ridiculous disappointracteristic of these authors, the two first ment" are by Lupercio :

To me it occurs, that this reafoning,

which, to lazy ignorance, appears but too Thou art determined to be beautiful,

specious, might be silenced for ever, if it Lyris ! and, Lyris, either thou art mad,

could be ascertained, that useful inventions Or haft nu looking-glass ; dost thou not know

and discoveries have become continually more Thy paint-beplater'd forehead, broad and

numerous. precisely in proportion as ibe genebare, With not a grey lock left, thy mouth fo black, ral mass of buman knowledge bas been ange And that invincible breath ? 'We rightly deem mented and diffused, and as the thirfi of That with a random hand blind Fortune deals literary and scientific curiofily bas beco ne The lots of life, to thee the gave a boon more impatient, and bas beta excited fill in That crowds fo anxiously and vainly wish, a greater number of minds. But I know Old age, and left in thee no trace of youth no very promifing means of a certaining Save all its folly and its ignorance.

this, other than to intreat you to put the

queftion, through the channel of your Content with what I am; the founding names

Magazine, " Whether our useful invenOf glory tempt it me; nor is there ought

tions and discoveries have not been multiIn glittering grandeur that provokes one with plied, in proportion as our knowledge has Beyond my peaceful ftate. What tho'l boast been enlarged ?" No trapping that the multitude adores

Pray oblige me by putting this quesIn common with the great; enough for me tion. I have little doubt but your host of That naked, like the mighty of the earth, enlightened correspondents may easily I came into the world, and that like then

furnith such answers as fhall for ever fix I must descend into the grave, the house

the gencral truth upon this not unimportant For all appointed; for the space between, What more of happiness have I to seek

point. Than that dear woman's love, whose truth I

I am, fir, your confiant reader, know, And whose fond heart is fatisfied with me?

PHILOSOPHICAL EXPERIMENT.

University of Glasgow, Dec. 17, 1797.
Fromr Bartolome Leonardo,

To the Editor of tbe Montbly Magazine. Fabius, to think that God hath in the lines

SIR,
Of the right hand disclosed the things to come,
And in the wrinkles of the skin puurtrayed, I

PROFESS myself a very warm admirer As in a map, the way of human life,

of the writings of Mr. WILLIAM This is to follow with the multitude

Godwin. He has seized some of the Error or ignorance, their common guides; most important truths in morality, with a Yer furely I allow that God has placed lyox.eyed intuition, powerful to pierce Our fate in our own hands, or evil or good through every obscurity, and to fingle out Even as we make it : tell me, Fabius, its object at once, however numberlcis the Ar't not a king thyself when envying not myriads of others among which it may The lot of kings, no idle with disturbs Thy quiet life ; when, a self-govern'd man,

be entangled. The reader of his book's No laws exist to thee; and when no change

feels, on many occafions, as if he were With which the will of Heaven may visit thee, vigorous intuition ; and can discern the

suddenly gifred with the author's own Can break the even calmness of thy soul ?

truth of his most valuable principles, T. Y. without the toil and perplexity of reason

ing

A FRIEND TO

13

1798.]

On English Weights. ing. In eloquence, this writer diftin To the Editor of tbe Montbly Magazine. guilhes himself by an irresistible energy,

SIR, which he seems to derive from an enthu; THE following remarks upon our faltic conviction of the truth and high importance of the doctrines which he the consideration of your correspondent, teaches. If sparing in imagery, if rarely J. R. not under the idea of their conveysuccessful in lengthened ratiocination, he ing to him thar learned and correct in. is eminently excellent in sentiments, and formation which he solicits, but on the he seems to know all the genuine emotions contingency of their supplying him with and language of all the higher passions. some facts that may have escaped his own

But Mr. GODWIN's erudition, and researches, and with the additional view even his power of reasoning, in cases of of contributing to the gratification of such very complex and tedious deduction, are of your readers as are less acquainted with very unequal to the ardent, impassioned the subject; the great difficulty of which force of his genius. A remarkable proof will, I trust, apologize for the errors that of this appears in his Essay on English I may commit. Style. He there supposes it to be a pre It appears to have been a favourite valent opinion, maintained, in particular, object with the legislators of the middle by Johnion, and other philologiits of high ages, to accomplith equality, or unity, in authority, that ibe English ftyle written in weights and measures. Thus, in the ibe laft century, and even at a time fo remote laws of the Lombards, we find, “De as in ibe age of Queen Elizabeth, was, in mensuris, ut fecundum jussionem noftram all respez?s, more perfect than tbat of our equales fianc." In the capitulary of CharContemporaries. This opinion he strives to lemagne, “Unusquisque habeat æquam combat and destroy by a long induction of menfuram o æquales modios ;” and again, pafsages from the eminent writers of fix Ut equales menfuras & rellas & pondero different periods, from the reign of Eli- jufta & æqualia omnes habeant." In zabeth to the end of that of George II. Magna Charta, “ Una mensura vitis fit

Now the opinion against which he so per totum regnum noftrum & una menlaboriously fights, never was maintained by fura cerevitiæ & una mensura bladi; de any critic. JOHNSON and Lowth have ponderibus vero fic ficut de mensuris." taught only, “that the writings of the This clause, or the substance of it, is reauthors of the last century, and of the age peated in many of our subsequent statutes ; of Elizabeth, contain an immense treasure but the numerous regulations upon this of words and phrases, fufficient to express, subject, unequivocaliy prove the impolliin speech or writien composition, even all, bility of effečting so jutt and laudable a or almost, all our present knowledge ; and purpose, and yet leave us quite in the that we should do more wisely, to leek our dark with respect to what had occurred to terms and phrales out of that treasure, prevent it. The obitruction may partly than continually to debase our style by have arisen from the difficulty of obtaining words and idioms affectedly introduced a common medium; and therefore, in all from other languages, not richer than our countries, there must have been a perpeown.” Mr. GODWIN has certainly not tual variation, both in weights and mearefuted this opinion; and I suppose it is sures. In France, there were scarcely what will not quickly be done by any two cities to be found in which they person.

agreed. As little do his quotations and his aste The next thing to be examined, is the risks appear to me io evince the badness of origin and progreflion of the various those styles which he condemns; even his alterations that have been made in our own admirable style, and those of his most weights. eminent cotemporaries, are not much more It has been asserted, but I believe withfecure againit luch minute criticism, than out any proof, that William I, upon his the styles of SH A KSPEARE, or our trans- arrival in England, changed the weights lation of the Bible ; besides, the colouring of his newly-acquired dominions, and of words and phrases partakes of the introduced those of Normandy, and parchanging, fugitive nature of that of REY- ticularly the troy weiglit.-Although it is NOLDS's portraits. I should undertake, not impollible that the troy weight 100, to produce, from every one of the might have been known to the Normans, writers cited by Gouwir, inttances of from their ancient connection with Chamcorrect and elegant writing, to confront pagne, yet this weight does not appear in his examples of incorrectnels.

our statutes, as will be hereafter lown, Jan. 3, 1798. H. R. until a much later period; besides, it ap

pears),

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