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No. LIX. Tuesday, May 29, 1753.
Si Pieria Quadrans tibi nullus in Arca Oftendatur, ames nomen victumque Macbære Et vendas potiùs, commisa quod Auctio vendit Startibus, Oenophorum, Tripodes, Armaria, Cistas, Halcyonem Bacchi, Thebas, Terea faufti. Juv.
If not a souse in thy lank purse appear,
The indigence of authors, and particularly of poets, has long been the object of lamentation and ridicule, of compassion and contempt.
It has been observed, that not one favourite of the Muses has ever been able to build a house since the days of Amphion, whose art it would be fortunate for them if they poffefied; and that the greatest punishment that can possibly be inflicted on them, is to oblige them to sup in their own lodgings.
-Molles ubi reddunt ova columbce.
Boileau introduces Damon, whose wrltings entertained and instructed the city and the court, as having past the summer without a shirt, and the winter without a cloke ; and resolving at last to forsake Paris.
ou la vertu n'a plus ni Feu ni Lieu ; Where fhiv'ring worth no longer finds a home; and to find out a retreat in some diitant grotto,
D'où jamais ni l'Huiffier, ni le Sergeet n' approche;
Safe, where no critics damn, nor duns moleft.
“ The rich Comedia.,” says Bruyere, “ lolling in
:)” “ his guilt chariot, bespatters the face of Corneille
walking afoot :” and Juvenal remarks, that his cotemporary bards generally qualified themselves by their diet, to make excellent bustos; that they were compelled sometimes to hire lodgings at a baker's, in order to warm themselves for nothing; and that it was the common fate of the fraternity,
Pallere, & vinum toto nescire Decembri.
Look pale, and all December taste no winė.
DRYDEN. Virgil himself is strongly suspected to have lain in the streets, or on fome Roman bulk, when he speaks fo feelingly of a rainy and tempestuous night in his wellknown epigram.
“ There ought to be an hospital founded for decayed “ wits,” said a lively Frenchman," and it might be “ called an hospital of incurables."
Few perhaps wander among the laurels of Parnaffus, but who have reason ardently to wish and to exclaim with Æneas, but without the hero's good fortune,
Si nunc fe nobis ille aureus arbore ramus.
O! in this ample grove could I behold
The patronage of Lelius and Scipio did not enable Terence to rent a house. Taffo, in a humourous sonnet addressed to his favourite cat, earnestly intreats her to lend him the light of her eyes during his midnight studies, not being himself able to purchafe a can-dle to write by. Dante the Homer of Italy, and Camoens of Portugal, were both banished and imprisoned. Cervantes, perhaps the most original.genius the world. ever beheld, perished.by want in the streets of Madrid, as did our own Spenser at Dublin. And a writer, little inferior to the Spaniard in the exquisiteness of his humour and raillery, I mean Erasmus, after the tedious wanderings of many years, from city to city, and from patron to patron, praised and promised, and deceived by all, obtained no settlement but with his printer. “ At last, "says he,in one of his epistles, “ I should have “ been advanced to a cardinalfhip, if there had not. “ been a decree, in my way, by which those are seclu. s“ ded from this honour, whose income amounts not to. “ three thousand ducats.??
I remember to have read a satire in Latin profe, intitled, A Poet hath bought a house." The poet having purchased a house, the matter was immediately laid before the parliament of poets, assembled on that 'important occafion, as a thing unheard of, as a very bad precedent, and of most pernicious consequence; and accordingly, a very severe fentence was pronounced against the buyer. When the members came to give their votes, it appeared there was not a single person in the assembly, who through the favour of powerful patrons, or their own happy genius, was worth so much as. to be proprietor of a house, either by inheritance or purchase : all of them neglecting their private fortunes, confeffed and boasted, that they lived in lodgings. The poet was, therefore, ordered to sell his house immediately, to buy wine with the money, for their enteré tainment, in order to make some expiation for his enor. mous crime, and to teach him to live unsettled and without care like a true poet.
Such are the riddiculouss and such the pitiable fto. ries related, to expose the poverty of poets in different ages and nations ; but which, I am inclined to think, are rather the boundless exaggerations of fatire and fancy, than the fober result of experience, and the determination of truth and judgment : for the general po
be contradicted by numerous examples; and it may, perhaps, appear, on reflection and examination, that the art is not chargeable with the faults and failings of its peculiar professors ;. that it has no peculiar tendency to make men either rakes or spendthrifts, and that those who are indigent poets would have been in.. digent merchants and mechanics..
The negle&t of economy, in which great geniuses are fupposed to have indulged themselves, has unfortunately given so much authority and justification to carelefness and extravagance, that many a minute rhimer has fallen into diffipation and drunkenness, because Butler and Otway lived and died in an alehouse. As a certain blockhead wore his gown on one shoulder to mimic the negligence of Sir Thomas More, fo these servile imitators follow their masters in all that disgraced them; contract immoderate debts, because Dryden died insolvent; and neglect to change their linen, because Smith was a sloven. “ If I should happen to “ look pale” says Horace, “ all the hackney-writers “: in Rome would immediately drink cummin to gain " the fame complection.” And I myself am acquainted with a witling who uses a glass, only because Pope was near fighted.
I can easily conceive, that a mind occupied and overwhelmed with the weight and immensity of its own conceptions, glancing with astonishing rapidity from heaven to earth and from earth to heaven, cannot willingly submit to the dull drudgery of examining the justness and accuracy of a butcher's bill. To descend from the widest and moft comprehensive views of nature, and weigh out hops for a brewing, must be invincibly disgusting to a true genius : to be able to build imaginary palaces of the most exquisite architecture, but yet not to pay a carpenter's bill, is a cutting mortification and disgrace: to be ruined by pursuing the precepts of Virgilian agriculture, and by plowing classically, with. out attending to the wholesome monitions of low British farmers, is a circumstance that agravates the failure of a crop, to a man who wishes to have lived in the