Obrazy na stronie

The Sequel of Strada's Prolusion, lib. ii. prol. 6. The poet who personated Ovid, gives an account of the chryso-magnet, or of the load-stone which attracts gold, after the same manner as the common loadstone attracts iron. The author, that he might express Ovid's way of thinking, derives this virtue to the chryso-magnet from a poetical metamorphosis.

"As I was sitting by a well," says he, "when I was a boy, my ring dropped into it, when immediately my father fastening a certain stone to the end of a line, let it down into the well. It no sooner touched the surface of the water, but the ring leaped up from the bottom, and clung to it in such a manner, that he drew it out like a fish. My father seeing me wonder at the experiment, gave me the following account of it. When Deucalion and Pyrrha went about the world to repair mankind by throwing stones over their heads, the men who rose from them differed in their inclinations according to the places on which the stones fell. Those which fell in the fields became ploughmen and shepherds. Those which fell into the water produced sailors and fishermen. Those that fell among the woods and forests gave birth to huntsmen. Among the rest there were several that fell upon mountains that had mines of gold and silver in them. This last race of men immediately betook themselves to the search of these precious metals; but nature being displeased to see herself ransacked, withdrew these her treasures towards the centre of the earth. The avarice of man however persisted in its former pursuits, and ransacked her inmost bowels in quest of the riches which they contained. Nature seeing herself thus plundered by a swarm of miners, was so highly incensed, that she shook the whole place with an earthquake, and buried the men under their own works. The Stygian flames which lay in the neighbourhood of these deep mines, broke out at the same time with great fury, burning up the whole mass of human limbs and earth, until they were hardened and baked into stone. The human bodies that were delving in iron mines were converted into those common loadstones which attract that metal. Those which were in search of gold became chryso-magnets, and still

keep their former avarice in their present state of petrifaction."

Ovid had no sooner given over speaking, but the assembly pronounced their opinions of him. Several were so taken with his easy way of writing, and had so formed their tastes upon it, that they had no relish for any composition which was not framed in the Ovidian manner. A great many however were of a contrary opinion; until at length it was determined by a plurality of voices, that Ovid highly deserved the name of a witty man, but that his language was vulgar and trivial, and of the nature of those things which cost no labour in the invention, but are ready found out to a man's hand. In the last place they all agreed, that the greatest objection which lay against Ovid, both as to his life and writings, was his having too much wit, and that he would have succeeded better in both, had he rather checked than indulged it. Statius stood up next with a swelling and haughty air, and made the following story the subject of his poem.

A German and a Portuguese, when Vienna was besieged, having had frequent contests of rivalry, were preparing for a single duel, when on a sudden the walls were attacked by the enemy. Upon this both the German and Portuguese consented to sacrifice their private resentments to the public, and to see who could signalize himself most upon the common foe. Each of them did wonders in repelling the enemy from different parts of the wall. The German was at length engaged amidst a whole army of Turks until his left arm that held the shield was unfortunately lopped off, and he himself so stunned with a blow he had received, that he fell down as dead. The Portuguese seeing the condition of his rival, very generously flew to his succour, dispersed the multitude that were gathered about him, and fought over him as he lay upon the ground. In the mean while the German recovered from his trance, and rose up to the assistance of the Portuguese, who a little after had his right arm, which held his sword, cut off by the blow of a sabre. He would have lost his life at the same time by a spear which was aimed at his back, had not the German slain the person who was aiming at him. These two competitors for fame having received such

mutual obligations, now fought in conjunction, and as the one was only able to manage the sword, and the other a shield, made up but one warrior betwixt them. The Portuguese covered the German, while the German dealt destruction among the enemy. At length, finding themselves faint with loss of blood, and resolving to perish nobly, they advanced to the most shattered part of the wall, and threw themselves down, with a huge fragment of it, upon the heads of the besiegers.

When Statius ceased, the old factions immediately broke out concerning his manner of writing. Some gave him very loud acclamations, such as he had received in his lifetime, declaring him the only man who had written in a style which was truly heroical, and that he was above all others in his fame as well as in his diction. Others censured him as one who went beyond all bounds in his images and expressions, laughing at the cruelty of his conceptions, the rumbling of his numbers, and the dreadful pomp and bombast of his expressions. There were, however, a few select judges who moderated between both these extremes, and pronounced upon Statius, that there appeared in his style much poetical heat and fire, but withal so much smoke as sullied the brightness of it. That there was a majesty in his verse, but that it was the majesty rather of a tyrant than of a king. That he was often towering among the clouds, but often met with the fate of Icarus. In a word, that Statius was, among the poets, what Alexander the Great is among heroes, a man of great virtues and of great faults.

Virgil was the last of the ancient poets who produced himself upon this occasion. His subject was the story of Theutilla,* which being so near that of Judith in all its circumstances, and at the same time translated by a very ingenious gentleman in one of Mr. Dryden's Miscellanies, I shall here give no farther account of it. When he had done, the whole assembly declared the works of this great poet a subject rather for their admiration than for their applause, and that if any thing was wanting in Virgil's poetry, it was to be ascribed to a deficiency in the art itself, and not in the genius of this great man. There were, *The Rape of Theutilla, imitated from the Latin of Famian Strada. By Mr. Thomas Yalden.

however, some envious murmurs and detractions heard among the crowd, as if there were very frequently verses in him which flagged or wanted spirit, and were rather to be looked upon as faultless than beautiful. But these injudicious censures were heard with a general indignation.

I need not observe to my learned reader, that the foregoing story of the German and Portuguese is almost the same in every particular with that of the two rival soldiers in Cæsar's Commentaries. This prolusion ends with the performance of an Italian poet full of those little witticisms and conceits which have infected the greatest part of modern poetry.


N° 123. SATURDAY, AUGUST 1, 1713.

-Hic murus aheneus esto,

Nil conscire sibi-

HOR. 1 Ep. i. 60.


True, conscious honour, is to feel no sin:

He's arm'd without, that's innocent within;

Be this thy screen, and this thy wall of brass.-POPE.

HERE are a sort of knights-errant in the world, who,

Tquite contrary to those in romance, are perpetually

seeking adventures to bring virgins into distress, and to ruin innocence. When men of rank and figure pass away their lives in these criminal pursuits and practices, they ought to consider that they render themselves more vile and despicable than any innocent man can be, whatever low station his fortune or birth have placed him in. Title and ancestry render a good man more illustrious, but an ill one more contemptible.

Thy father's merit sets thee up to view,

And plants thee in the fairest point of light,

To make thy virtues, or thy faults conspicuous.-CATO.

I have often wondered that these deflowerers of innocence, though dead to all the sentiments of virtue and honour, are not restrained by compassion and humanity. To bring sorrow, confusion, and infamy, into a family, to wound the heart of a tender parent, and stain the life of a poor deluded young woman with a dishonour that can never be wiped off, are circumstances, one would think, sufficient to check the most violent passion in a heart which has the

least tincture of pity and good-nature. Would any one purchase the gratification of a moment at so dear a rate, and entail a lasting misery on others, for such a transient satisfaction to himself; nay, for a satisfaction that is sure, at some time or other, to be followed with remorse? I am led to the subject by two letters which came lately to my hands. The last of them is, it seems, the copy of one sent by a mother to one who had abused her daughter; and though I cannot justify her sentiments at the latter end of it, they are such as might arise in a mind which had not yet recovered its temper after so great a provocation. I present the reader with it as I received it, because I think it gives a lively idea of the affliction which a fond parent suffers on such an occasion.


-shire, July, 1713.

"The other day I went into the house of one of my tenants, whose wife was formerly a servant in our family, and (by my grandmother's kindness) had her education with my mother from her infancy; so that she is of a spirit and understanding greatly superior to those of her own rank. I found the poor woman in the utmost disorder of mind and attire, drowned in tears, and reduced to a condition that looked rather like stupidity than grief. She leaned upon her arm over a table, on which lay a letter folded up and directed to a certain nobleman very famous in our parts for low intrigue, or (in plainer words) for debauching country girls; in which number is the unfortunate daughter of my poor tenant, as I learn from the following letter written by her mother. I have sent you here a copy of it, which, made public in your paper, may perhaps furnish useful reflections to many men of figure and quality, who indulge themselves in a passion which they possess but in common with the vilest part of mankind.”


"Last night I discovered the injury you have done to my daughter. Heaven knows how long and piercing a torment that short-lived shameful pleasure of yours must bring upon me; upon me, from whom you never received any offence. This consideration alone should have deterred a noble mind from so base and ungenerous an act. But, alas! what is all the grief that must be my share, in


« PoprzedniaDalej »