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tude, for the greatest public blessings that ever were bestowed on a sinful nation, he is reviled as a Stentor.
I promised, in the next place, to consider the language of this excellent author, who, I find, takes himself for an orator. In the first page he censures several for the poison which they profusely scatter” through the nation; that is, in plain English, " for squandering away their poison.” In the second, he talks of “ carrying probability through the thread of a fable;" and, in the third, “ of laying an odium at a
a man's door.” In the fourth he rises in his expressions; where he speaks of those who would persuade the people, that the “G-1, the quondam Tr, and the J—to, , are the only objects of the confidence of the allies, and of the fears of the enemies." I would advise this author to try the beauty of this expression. Suppose a foreign minister should address her Majesty in the following manner, (for certainly it is her Majesty only to whom the sense of the compliment ought to be paid,)“ Madam, you are the object of the confidence of the allies;" or, “Madam, your Majesty is the only object of the fears of the enemies." Would a man think that he had learned English? I would have the author try, by the same rule, some of his other phrases, as page seven, where he tells us, “ that the balance of power in Europe would be still precarious.” What would a trades- . man think, if one should tell him, in a passion, that his “scales were precarious ;” and mean by it that they were
not fixed ? ” In the thirteenth page he speaks of “ certain profligate wretches, who having usurped the royal seat, resolved to venture overturning the chariot of government, rather than to lose their place in it.” A plain-spoken man would have left the chariot out of this sentence, and so have made it good English. As it is there, it is not only an impropriety of speech, but of metaphor; it being impossible for a man to have a place in the chariot which he drives. I would therefore advise this gentleman, in the next edition of his letter, to change the chariot of government into the chaise of government, which will sound as well, and serve his turn much better. I could be longer on the errata of this
very small work, but will conclude this head with taking notice of a certain figure which was unknown to the ancients, and in which this letter-writer very much excels. This is called by some an anti-climax, an instance of which we have
in the tenth page; where he tells us, that Britain may expect to have this only glory left her, “that she has proved a farm to the Bank, a province to Holland, and a jest to the whole world.” I never met with so sudden a downfal in so promising a sentence; a jest to the whole world gives such an unexpected turn to this happy period, that I was heartily troubled and surprised to meet with it. I do not remember, in all my reading, to have observed more than two couplets of verses that have been written in this figure; the first are thus quoted by Mr. Dryden:
Not only London echoes with thy fame,
But also Islington has heard the same. The other are in French.
Allez vous, luy dit il, sans bruit chez vos parens,
Ou vous avez laissé votre honneur et vos gans. But we need not go further than the letter before us for examples of this nature, as we may find in page the eleventh. “ Mankind remains convinced, that a queen possessed of all the virtues requisite to bless a nation, or make a private family happy, sits on the throne.” Is this panegyric or burlesque? To see so glorious a queen celebrated in such a manner, gives every good subject a secret indignation; and looks liker Scarron's character of the great Queen Semiramis, who, says that author, “ was the founder of Babylon, conqueror of the East, and an excellent housewife.”
The third subject, being the argumentative part of this letter, I shall leave till another occasion.
No. 3. THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 28.
-Non defensoribus istis
VIRG. I was once talking with an old humdrum fellow, and, before I had heard his story out, was called away by busi
About three years after I met him again; when he immediately reassumed the thread of his story, and began his salutation with,“ but, sir, as I was telling you.” The same method has been made use of by very polite writers ; as, in particular, the author of Don Quixote, who inserts
several novels in his works, and, after a parenthesis of about a dozen leaves, returns again to his story. Hudibras has broke off the Adventure of the Bear and Fiddle. The Tatler has frequently interrupted the course of a lucubration, and taken it up again after a fortnight's respite ; as the Examiner, who is capable of imitating him in this particular, has likewise done.
This may serve as an apology for my postponing the examination of the argumentative part of the Letter to the Examiner to a further day, though I must confess, this was occasioned by a letter which I received last post. Upon opening it, I found it to contain a very curious piece of antiquity; which, without preface or application, was introduced as follows. “ Alcibiades was a man of wit and pleasure, bred
in the school of Socrates; and one of the best orators of his
age, notwithstanding he lived at a time when learning was at its highest pitch; he was likewise very famous for his military exploits, having gained great conquests over the Lacedæmonians, who had formerly been the confederates of his countrymen against the Great King of Persia, but were at that time in alliance with the Persians. He had been once so far misrepresented and traduced by the malice of his enemies, that the priest cursed him. But after the great services which he had done for his country, they publicly repealed their curses, and changed them into applauses and benedictions.
“ Plutarch tells us, in the Life of Alcibiades, that one Taureas, an obscure man, contended with him for a certain prize, which was to be conferred by vote; at which time each of the competitors recommended himself to the Athenians by an oration. The speech which Alcibiades made on that occasion, has been lately discovered among the manuscripts of King's College in Cambridge; and communicated to me by my learned friend Dr. B- -ley; who tells me that by a marginal note it appears that this Taureas, or, as the doctor rather choses to call him, Toryas, was an Athenian brewer. This speech I have translated literally, changing very
little in it, except where it was absolutely necessary to make it understood by an English reader. It is as follows.
“Is it then possible, O ye Athenians, that I, who hitherto have had none but generals to oppose me, must now have an
artisan for my antagonist? That I, who have overthrown the princes of Lacedæmon, must now see myself in danger of being defeated by a brewer? What will the world say of the goddess that presides over you, should they suppose you follow her dictates ? would they think she acted like herself, like the great Minerva ? would they now say, she inspires her sons with wisdom? or would they not rather say, she has a second time chosen owls for her favourites ? But, О ye men of Athens, what has this man done to deserve your voices ? You say he is honest; I believe it, and therefore he shall brew for
he is assiduous in his calling; and is he not grown rich by it ? let him have your custom, but not your votes : you are now to cast your eyes on those who can detect the artifices of the common enemy, that can disappoint your secret foes in council, and your open ones in the field. Let it not avail my competitor, that he has been tapping his liquors, while I have been spilling my blood ; that he has been gathering hops for you, while I have been reaping laurels. Have I not borne the dust and heat of the day, while he has been sweating at the furnace ? behold these scars, behold this wound, which still bleeds in your service; what can Taureas show you of this nature? What are his marks of honour ? Has he
other wound about him, except the accidental scaldings of his wort, or bruises from the tub or barrel ? Let it not, O Athenians, let it not be said, that your generals have conquered themselves into your displeasure, and lost your favour by gaining you victories. Shall those achievements that have redeemed the present age from slavery, be undervalued by those who feel the benefits of them ? Sball those names that have made your city the glory of the whole earth, be mentioned in it with obloquy and detraction ? Will not your posterity blush at their forefathers, when they shall read in the annals of their country, that Alcibiades, in the 90th Olympiad, after having conquered the Lacedæmonians, and recovered Byzantium, contended for a prize against Taureas the brewer ? The competition is dishonourable, the defeat would be shameful. I shall not, however, slacken my endeavours for the security of
my country. If she is ungrateful, she is still Athens. On the contrary, as she will stand more in need of defence, when she has so degenerate a people ; I will pursue my victories till such time as it shall be out of your power to hurt your
selves, and that you may be in safety even under your present leaders. But oh! thou genius of Athens, whither art thou fled ? Where is now the race of those glorious spirits that perished at the battle of Thermopylæ, and fought upon the plains of Marathon ? Are you weary of conquering, or have you forgotten the oath which you took at Agraulos, "That you would look
the bounds of Attica to be those soils only which are incapable of bearing wheat and barley, vines and olives ? Consider your enemies the Lacedæmonians ; did you ever hear that they preferred a coffee-man to Agesilaus ? No, though their generals have been unfortunate, though they have lost several battles, though they have not been able to cope with the troops of Athens, which I have conducted; they are comforted and condoled, nay, celebrated and extolled, by their fellow-citizens. nerals have been received with honour after their defeat, yours with ignominy after conquest. Are there not men of Taureas's temper and character, who tremble in their hearts at the name of the Great King of Persia ? who have been against entering into a war with him, or for making a peace upon base conditions ? that have grudged those contributions which have set our country at the head of all the governments of Greece ? that would dishonour those who have raised her to such a pitch of glory ? that would betray those liberties which your fathers in all ages have purchased or recovered with their blood ? and would prosecute your fellowcitizens with as much rigour and fury, as of late years we have attacked the common enemy? I shall trouble you no more, 0 ye men of Athens ; you know my actions, let my antagonist relate what he has done for you. Let him produce his vats and tubs, in opposition to the heaps of arms und standards which were employed against you, and which I have wrested out of the hands of your enemies. And when this is done, let him be brought into the field of election upon bis dray-cart; and if I can finish my conquest sooner, I will not fail to meet him there in a triumphant chariot.
ye gods ! let not the king of Persia laugh at the fall of Alcibiades! Let him not say, The Athenians have avenged me upon their own generals ;' or let me be rather struck dead by the hand of a Lacedæmonian, than disgraced by the voices of