Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

friend, who, for my fake will supply us, with places at the most reasonable rates; I will take care you shall not be imposed upon; and he will inform you of the use, of finery, rapture, splendor, and enchantment of the whole ceremony better than I.”

Follies often repeated lose their absurdity, and assume the appearance of reason : his arguments were so often and so strongly enforced, that I had actually fome thoughts of becoming a spectator. We accordingly went together to bespeak a place; but guess my surprise, when the man demanded a purse of gold for a single seat : I could hardly believe him serious upon making the demand. “ Prithee, friend, cried I, after I have paid twenty pounds for sitting here an hour or two, can I bring a part of the coronation back ?” No Sir. “How long can I live upon it after I have come away ?” “Not long, Sir.” “ Can a coronation clothe, feed, or fatten me?” “Sir,” replied the man, " you seem to be under a mistake; all that you can bring away is the pleasure of having it to say, that you saw the coronation.” “ Blast me, cries Tibbs, if that be all, there's no need of paying for that, since I am resolved to have that pleasure whether I am there or no!"

I am conscious, my friend, that this is but a very confused description of the intended ceremony. You may object, that I neither settle rank, precedency, nor place; that I seem ignorant whether Gules walks before or behind Garter; that I have neither mentioned the dimen. sions of a lord's cap, nor measured the length of a lady's tail. I know your delight is in minute description; and this I am unhappily disqualified from furnishing; yet, upon the whole, I fancy it will be no way comparable to the

magnificence of our late emperor Whangti's procession
when he was married to the moon, at which Fum Hoam
himself presided in person. Adieu.

[ocr errors]
[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]
[ocr errors]

IT was formerly the custom here, when men of distinc.
tion died, for their surviving acquaintance to throw each
a slight present into the grave. Several things of little
value were made use of for that purpose; perfumes, re.
liques, spices, bitter herbs, camomile, wormwood, and
verses. This custom, however, is almost discontinued;
and nothing but verses alone are now lavished on such
occasions; an oblation which they suppose may be in-
terred with the dead, without any injury to the living.

Upon the death of the great, therefore, the poets and
undertakers are sure of employ'ment. While one pro-
vides the long cloak, black staff, and mourning coach,
the other produces the pastoral or elegy, the monody or
apotheosis. The nobility need be under no apprehen.
fions, but die as fast as they think proper, the poet and
undertaker are ready to supply them; these can find
metaphorical tears and family escutcheons at half an
hour's warning; and when the one has soberly laid the
body in the grave, the other is ready to fix it figuratively
among the stars.

There are several ways of being poetically sorrowful on such occasions. The bard is now some pensive youth of science, who sits deploring among the tombs; again

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

he is Thyrsis, complaining in a circle of harmless sheep. Now Britannia sits upon her own shore, and gives loose to maternal tenderness; at another time, Parnassus, even the mountain Parnassus, gives way to sorrow, and is bathed in tears of distress.

But the most useful manner is this: Damon meets Menalcas, who has got a moft gloomy countenance. The shepherd asks his friend, whence that look of distress; to which the other replies, that Pollio is no more. If that be the case, then, Damon, let us retire to yonder bower at some distance off, where the cypress and the jessamine add fragrance to the breeze; and let us weep alternately for Pollio, the friend of shepherds, and the patron of every muse. Ah ! returns his fellow shepherd, what think you rather of that grotto by the fountain side ? the murmuring stream will help to assist our complaints, and a nightingale on a neighbouring tree will join her voice to the concert. When the place is thus settled, they begin: the brook stands still to hear their lamentation ; the cows forget to graze; and the very tygers start from the forest with sympathetic concern. By the tombs of our ancestors, my dear Fum, I am quite unaffected in all this distress; the whole is liquid laudanum to my spirits; and a tyger of common sensibility has twenty times more ten. derness than 1.

But though I could never weep with the complaining shepherd, yet I am sometimes induced to pity the poet, whose trade is thus to make demi gods and heroes for a dinner. There is not in nature a more dismal figure than a man who sits down to premeditated flattery ; every ftanza he writes tacitly reproaches the meanness of his oc. cupation, till at last his stupidity becomes more stupid, and his dullness more diminutive.

I am amazed, therefore, that none have yet found out the secret of flattering the worthless, and yet of preserving a safe conscience. I have often wished for some method by which a man might do himself and his deceased patron justice, without being under the hateful reproach of self-conviction. After long lucubration, I have hit upon such an expedient, and send you the specimen of a poem upon the decease of a great man, in which the flattery is perfectly fine, and yet the poet perfectly inno. cent.

On the death of the Right Honourable ***

Ye muses, pour the pitying tear
For Pollio, snatch'd away:
O had he liv'd another year!
- He had not dyed to-day.

O were he born to bless mankind
In virtuous times of yore,
Heroes themselves had fall'n behind !
-Wheneer he went before.

How fad the groves and plains appear,
And sympathetic !heep;
Ev’n pitying hills would drop a tear;
- If hills could learn to weep.

His bounty, in exalted strain,
Each bard might well display!
Since none implor'd relief in vain!
That went reliev'd away,

And, hark! I hear the tuneful throng,
His obsequies forbid,

He still shall live, shall live as long!
-As ever dead man did.

LETTER CVII.

TO THE SAME.

IT is the most usual method in every report, first to examine its probability, and then act as the conjuncture may require. The English, however, exert a different fpirit in such circumstances; they first act, and, when too late, begin to examine. From a knowledge of this disposition, there are several here who make it their business to frame new reports at every convenient interval, all tending to denounce ruin both on their contemporaries and their pofterity. This denounciation is eagerly caught up by the public; away they fling to propagate the distress; sell out at one place, buy in at another, grumble at their governors, shout in mobs, and when they have thus, for sometime, behaved like fools, sit down coolly to argue and talk wisdom, to puzzle each other with fyllogism, and prepare for the next re. port that prevails, which is always attended with the fame success.

Thus are they ever rising above one report only to fink into another. They resemble a dog in a well, pawing

to get free. When he has raised his upper parts above · water, and every spectator imagines him disengaged, his

lower parts drag him down again, and fink him to the

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
« ПредишнаНапред »