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“ I will roar,” says the Clown in Shakspeare, “ that it will do any man's heart good to hear me; I will roar, that I will make the duke say, Let him roar again, let him roar again.” Such success, and such applause, I do not question but your lion will meet with, whilst, like that of Samson, his strength shall bring forth sweetness, and his entrails abound with honey.
• At the time that I congratulate with the republic of beasts upon this honour done to their king, I must condole with us poor mortals, who by distance of place are rendered incapable of paying our respects to him, with the same assiduity as those who are ushered into his presence by the discreet Mr. Button. Upon this account Mr. Ironside, I am become a suitor to you, to constitute an out-riding lion ; or if you please, a jackall or two, to receive and remit our homage in a more particular manner than is hitherto provided. As it is, our tenders of duty every now and then miscarry by the way; at least the natural self-love that makes us unwilling to think any thing that comes from us worthy of contempt, inclines us to believe so.
Methinks it were likewise necessary to specify, by what means a present from a fair hand may reach his brindled majesty; the place of his residence being very unfit for a lady's personal appearance. I am • Your most constant reader, and admirer,
· N. R.
• It is a well known proverb in a certain part of this kingdom, “ Love me, love my dog;"
e This letter seems to have been written by Mr. Nicholas Rowe, in the course of one of his retirements into the country, which were frequent. See Biogr. Brit. art. Rowe [Nicholas).
and I hope you will take it as a mark of my respect for your person that I here bring a bit for your lion.'
What follows being secret history, it will be printed in other papers ; wherein the lion will publish his private intelligence.
No. 119. TUESDAY, JULY 28, 1713.*
Poëtarum veniet manus, auxilio quæ
HOR. 1 Sat. iv. 142.
A band of poets to my aid I'll call.
There is nothing which more shows the want of taste and discernment in a writer than the decrying of any author in gross; especially of an author who has been the admiration of multitudes, and that too in several ages of the world. This however is the general practice of all illiterate and undistinguishing critics. Because Homer and Virgil and Sophocles have been commended by the learned of all times, every scribbler who has no relish of their beauties, gives himself an air of rapture when he speaks of them. But as he praises these he knows not why, there are others whom he depreciates with the same vehemence and upon the same account. see after what a different manner Strada proceeds in his judgment on the Latin poets ; for I intend to publish, in this paper, a continuation of that Prolu
* ADDISON's. f See No. 120. A bit for the lion.
& This paper, No. 118. is distinguished by a hand, Addison's signature in the Gua an; and reprinted by Mr. Tickell, in his edition of Addison's • Works,' 4to. vol. iv. p. 195. edit. 1721. It is therefore ascribed here to Addison, though apparently composed, or communicated from the letter-box. See No. 121, final note. VOL. II.
sion which was the subject of the last Thursday". I shall therefore give my reader a short account in prose of every poem which was produced in the learned assembly there described; and if he is thoroughly conversant in the works of those ancient authors, he will see with how much judgment every subject is adapted to the poet who makes use of it, and with how much delicacy every particular poet's way of writing is characterised in the censure that is passed upon it. Lucan's representative was the first who recited before the august assembly. As Lucan was a Spaniard, his poem does honour to that nation, which at the same time makes the romantic bravery in the hero of it more probable.
Alphonso was the governor of a town invested by the Moors. During the blockade they made his only son their prisoner, whom they brought before their walls, and exposed to his father's sight, threatening to put him to death, if he did not immediately give up the town. The father tells them if he had an hundred sons he would rather see them all perish, than do an ill action, or betray his country.
• But,' says he, if you take a pleasure in destroying the innocent, you may do it if you please : behold a sword for your purpose. Upon which he threw his sword from the wall, returned to his palace, and was able, at such a juncture, to sit down to the repast, which was prepared for him. He was soon raised by the shouts of the enemy, and the cries of the besieged. Upon returning again to the walls, he saw his son lying in the pangs of death ; but far from betraying any
weakness at such a spectacle, he upbraids his friends for their sorrow, and returns to finish his repast. Upon the recital of this story, which is exquisitely
h See No. 115. and for the conclusion No. 122.
up in Lucan's spirit and language, the whole assembly declared their opinion of Lucan in a confused murmur. The poem was praised or censured according to the prejudices which every one had conceived in favour or disadvantage of the author. These were so very great, that some had placed him in their opinions, above the highest, and others beneath the lowest of the Latin poets. Most of them however agreed, that Lucan's genius was wonderfully great, but at the same time too haughty and headstrong to be governed by art, and that his style was like his genius, learned, bold, and lively, but withal too tragical and blustering. In a word, that he chose rather a great than a just reputation; to which they added, that he was the first of the Latin poets who deviated from the purity of the Roman language.
The representative of Lucretius told the assembly, that they should soon be sensible of the difference between a poet, who was a native of Rome, and a stranger who had been adopted into it: after which, he entered upon his subject, which I find exhibited to my hand in a speculation of one of my predeces
Strada, in the person of Lucretius, gives an account of a chimerical correspondence between two friends by the help of a certain loadstone, which had such a virtue in it, that if it touched two several needles, when one of the needles so touched began to move, the other, though at never so great a distance, moved at the same time, and in the same manner. He tells us, that the two friends, being each of them possessed of one of these needles, made a kind of dial-plate, inscribing it with the four and twenty letters, in the same manner as the hours of the day
i See Spect. vol. iii. No. 241. by Addison, who copies this whole paragraph verbatim from himself. See Guard. No. 122. and notes ibidem.
are marked upon the ordinary dial-plate. They then fixed one of the needles on each of these plates in such a manner that it could move round without impediment, so as to touch any of the four and twenty letters. Upon their separating from one another into distant countries, they agreed to withdraw themselves punctually into their closets at a certain hour of the day, and to converse with one another by means of this their invention. Accordingly, when they were some hundred miles asunder, each of them shut himself up in his closet at the time appointed, and immediately cast his eye upon his dial-plate. If he had a mind to write any thing to his friend, he directed his needle to every letter that formed the words which he had occasion for, making a little pause at the end of every word or sentence to avoid confusion, The friend, in the mean while, saw his own sympathetic needle moving of itself to every letter which that of his correspondent pointed at. By this means they talked together across a whole continent, and conveyed their thoughts to one another in an instant over cities or mountains, seas or deserts.
The whole audience were pleased with the artifice of the poet who represented Lucretius, observing very well how he had laid asleep their attention to the simplicity of his style in some verses, and to the want of harmony in others, by fixing their minds to the novelty of his subject, and to the experiment which he related. Without such an artifice they were of opinion that nothing would have sounded more harsh than Lucretius's diction and numbers. But it was plain that the more learned part of the assembly were quite of another mind. These allowed that it was peculiar to Lucretius, above all other poets, to be always doing or teaching something, that no other style was so proper to teach in, or gave a greater