Графични страници
PDF файл

heavenly assemblies, began to degenerate towards terrestrial nature, and forgot the precepts of Jus. TICE and TRUTH. Instead of confining her friend, ship to the SCIENCES, she suffered herself, by little and little, to contract an acquaintance with Pride the son of FALSEHOOD, by whose embraces she had two daughters, FLATTERY and CAPRICE. FLAT. TERY was nursed by LIBERALITY, and CAPRICE by FORTUNE, -without any assistance from the lessons of the SCIENCES

PATRONAGE began openly to adopt the sentiments and imitate the manners of her husband, by whose opinions she now directed her decisions with very little heed to the precepts of Truth; and as her daughters continually gained upon her affections, the SCIENCES lost their influence, till none found much reason to boast of their reception, but those whom CAPRICE or FLATTERY conducted to her throne,

The throngs who had so long waited, and so of, ten been dismissed for want of recommendation from the SCIENCES, were delighted to see the power of those rigorous Goddesses tending to its extinc. tion. Their pairgnesses now renewed their en. courageinents. Hope smiled at the approach of CAPRICE, and IMPUDENCE was always at hand to introduce her clients to FLATTERY,

PatronAgE had now learned to procure herself reverence by: ceremonies and formalities, and, instead of admitting her petitioners to an immediate audience, ordered the antechamber to be erected, called among mortals, the Hall, of Expectation. Into this hall the entrance was easy to those whom IMPUDENCE had consigned to FLATTERY, and it was therefore crowded with a promiscuous throng, assembled from every corner of the earth, pressing forward with the utmost eagerriess of desire, and agitated with all the anxieties of competition,

They entered this general receptacle with ardour and alacrity, and made no doubt of speedy access, under the conduct of FLATTERY, to the presence of PATRONAGE. But it generally happened that they were here left to their destiny, for the inner doors were committed to Caprice, who opened and shut them, as it seemed, by chance, and rejected or ad, mitted without


settled rule of distinction. In the mean time, the miserable attendants were left to wear out their lives in alternatc exultation and dejection, delivered up to the sport of Suspicion, who was always whispering into their car designs against them which were never formed, and of Envy, who diligently pointed out the good fortune of one or other of their competitors. INPAMY flew round the hall, and scattered mildews from her wings, with which every one was stained; REPU. TATION followed her with slower flight, and en. deavoured to hide the blemishes with paint, which was immediately brushed away, or separated of it. self, and left the stains more visible ; nor were the spots of Infamy ever effaced, but with limpid water effused by the hand of Time from a well which sprung up beneath the throne of TRUTH.

It frequently happened that SCIENCE, unwilling to lose the ancient prerogative of recommending to PATRONAGE, would lead her followers into the Hall of Expectation; but they were soon discouraged from attending, for not only Envy and SUSPICION incessantly tormented them, but IMPU. DENCE Considered them as įntruders, and incited IN. FAMY to blacken them. They therefore quickly retired, but seldom without some spots which they could scarcely wash away, and which showed that they had once waited in the Hall of Expectation.

The rest continued to expect the happy moment, at which CAPRICE should beckon them to approach; and endeavoured to propitiate her, not with llomerical harmony, the representation of great actions, or the recital of noble sentiments, but with soft and voluptuous melody, intermingled with the praises of PATRONAGE and PRIDE, by whom they were heard at once with pleasure and contempt.

Some were indeed admitted by CAPRICE, when they least expected it, and heaped by PATRONAGE with the gifts of FORTUNE; but they were from that time chained to her footstool, and condemned to regulate their lives by her glances and her nods; they, seemed proud of their manacles, and seldom complained of any drudgery, however servile, or any affront, however contemptuous; yet they were often, notwithstanding their obedience, seized on a sudden by CAPRICE, divested of their ornaments, and thrust back into the Hall of Expectation.

Here they mingled again with the tumult, and all, except a few whom experience had taught to scek happiness in the regions of liberty, continued to spend hours, and days, and years, courting the smile of Caprice by the arts of FLATTERY; till at length new crowds pressed in upon them, and drove them forth at different outlets into the habitations of DISEASE, and SHAME, and POVERTY, and DeSPAIR, where they passed the rest of their lives in narratives of promises and breaches of faith, of joys and sorrows, of hopes and disappointments.

The SCIENCES, after a thousand indignities, retired from the palace of PATRONAGE, and having Iong wandered over the world in grief and distress, were led at last to the cottage of INDEPENDENCE, the daughter of FORTITUDE; where they were faught by PRUDENCE and PARSIMONY to support themselves in dignity and quict.

N° 92. SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 1751.

Jam nunc minaci murmure cornuum
Perstringis aures, jam litui strepunt.

Lo! now the clarion's voice I hear,
Its threat'ning murmurs pierce mine ear,
And in thy lines with brazen breath

The trumpet sounds the charge of deathi. FRANCIS. It has been long observed, that the idea of beauty is

vague and undefined, different in different minds, and diversified by time or place. It has been a term hitherto used to signify that which pleases us we know not why, and in our approbation of which we can justify ourselves only by the concurrence of numbers, without much power of enforcing our opinion upon others by any argument, but example and authority. It is, indeed, so little subject to the examinations of reason, that Paschal supposes it to end where demonstration begins, and main. tains, that without incongruity and absurdity we cannot speak of geometrical beauty.

To trace all the sources of that various pleasure, which we ascribe to the agency of beauty, or to disentangle all the perceptions involved in its idea, Would, perhaps, require a very great part of the life

of Aristotle or Plato. It is, however, in many cases apparent that this quality is merely relative and comparative; that we pronounce things beautiful because they have something which we agree, for whatever reason, to call beauty, in a greater des gree than we have been accustomed to find it in other things of the same kind; and that we transfer the epithet as our knowledge increases, and appropriate it to higher excellence, when higher excellence comes within our view.

Much of the beauty of writing is of this kind; and therefore Boileau justly remarks, that the books which have stood the test of time, and been admired through all the changes which the mind of man has suffered from the various revolutions of knowledge, and the prevalence of contrary customs, have a better claim to our regard than any modern can boast, because the long continuance of their repatation proves that they are adequate to our faculties, and agreeable to nature.

It is, however, the task of criticism to establish principles; to improve opinion into knowledge; and to distinguish those means of pleasing which depend upon known causes and rational deduction, from the nameless and inexplicable elegancies which appeal wholly to the fancy, from which we feel delight, but know not how they produce it, and which may well be termed the enchantresses of the soul. Criticism reduces those regions of literature under the dominion of science, which have hitherto known only the anarchy of ignorance, the caprices of fancy, and the tyranny of prescription.

There is nothing in the art of versifying so much exposed to the power of imagination as the accommodation of the sound to the sense, or the representation of particular images, by the flow of

« ПредишнаНапред »