Imágenes de páginas


of life, and of true sense in the conduct of it :« from what unhappy contradi&ious cause it proceeds, " that persons thus finished by nature and by art, should • so often fail in the management of that which they so • well understand, and want the address to make a right • application of their own rules. This is certainly a pro• digious inconsistency in behaviour, and makes much • such a figure in morals as a monstrous birth in na• turals, with this difference only, which greatly ag

gravates the wonder, that it happens much more frequently ; and what a blemish does it caft upon wit and learning in the general account of the world ? and in how disadvantageous a light does it expose them to the

busy class of mankind, that there should be so many • instances of persons who have so conducted their lives • in spite of these transcendent advantages, as neither s to be happy in themselves, nor useful to their friends ; • when every body sees it was intirely in their own

power to be eminent in both these characters ? For my

part, I think there is no reflection more astonishing • than to consider one of these gentlemen spending a fair • fortune, running in every body's debt without the least • apprehension of a future reckoning, and at last leaving

not only his own children, but possibly those of other people, by his means, in starving circumstances; while

fellow, whom one would scarce suspect to have a huinan soul, shall perhaps raise a vast eftate out of nothing, and be the founder of a family capable of being

very conliderable in their country, and doing many * illustrious services to it. That this observation is just,

experience has put beyond all dispute. But though • the fact be so evident and glaring, yet the causes of it

are still in the dark ; which makes me persuade my

self, that it would be no unacceptable piece of enter"tainment to the town, to inquire into the hidden « sources of so unaccountable an evil.

• I am, Sir,

" Your most humble servant."


[ocr errors]


What this correspondent wonders at, has been matter of admiration ever since there was any such thing as

ri Not

human life. Horace reflects upon this inconsistency very agreeably in the character of Tigellius, whom he makes a mighty pretender to ceconomy, and tells you, you might one day hear him speak the most philosophic things imaginable concerning being contented with a little, and his contempt of every thing but mere neceffaries, and in half a week after spend a thousand pound. When he says this of him with relation to expence, he describes him as unequal to himself in every other circumstance of life. And indeed, if we consider lavish men carefully, we shall find it always proceeds from a certain incapacity of possessing themselves, and finding

enjoyment in their own minds. Mr. Dryden has expressed this very excellently in the character of Zimri. “ A man fo various, that he seem'd to be


but all mankind's epitome. “ Stiff in opinion, always in the wrong, “ Was every thing by starts, and nothing long ; “ But in the course of one revolving moon, « Waschymist, fiddler, statesman, and buffoon. " Then all for women, painting, rhiming, drinking, • Besides ten thousand freaks that died in thinking. “ Bleft madman, who could every hour employ “ In something new to with or to enjoy! “ In Squand'ring wealth was his peculiar art,

Nothing went unrewarded but desert.” This loose state of the soul hurries the extravagant from one pursuit to another; and the reason that his expences are greater than another's, is, that his wants are also more numerous. But what makes so many go onin this way to their lives end, is, that they certainly do not know how contemptible they are in the eyes of the rest of mankind, or rather, that indeed they are not so contemptible as they deserve. Tully says, it is the greatest of wickedness to leffen your paternal estate. And if a man would thoroughly consider how much worse than banishment it must be to his child, to ride by the estate which Thould have been his, had it not been for his father's injustice to him, he would be smitten with the reflection more deeply than can be understood by any but one who is' a father. Sure there can be nothing more afflicting, than to think it had been happier for his son to have been born of any other man living than himself.

It is not perhaps much thought of, but it is certainly a very important lesson, to learn how to enjoy ordinary life, and to be able to relish your being without the transport of fome paffion, or gratification of some appetite. For want of this capacity, the world is filled with whetters, tipplers, cutters, fippers, and all the numerous train of those who, for want of thinking, are forced to be ever exercising their feeling or tafting. It would be hard on this occasion to mention the harmless smokers of tobacco and takers of snuff.

The flower part of mankind, whom my correspondent wonders should get eftates, are the more immediately formed for that pursuit : they can expect distant things without impatience, because they are not carried out of their way either by violent passion orkeen appetite to any thing. To men'addicted to delights, business is an interruption; to such as are cold to delights, business is an entertainment. For which reason it was said to one who commended a dull man for his application,“ po tharks to him; “ if he had no business, he would have nothing to do.” T.

N° 223

Thursday, November 15.

O fuavis anima! qualem te dicam bonam,
Antebac fuiffe, tales cùm fint relique !
Puædr. Fab. i. lib.

3. Ver. 5. O sweet soul! how good must you have been hereto

fore, when your remains are so delicious! When I reflect upon the various fate of those multitudes of ancient writers who flourished in Greece and Italy, I consider time as an immense ocean in which many noble authors are intirely swallowed up, mariy very much thattered and damaged, fome quite disjointed and broken into pieces, while some have wholly escaped the common wreck; but the number of the last is very small.

Apparent rari nantes in gurgite vasto.

VIRG. Æn. 1. ver. 112. “ One here and there floats on the vast abyss.”.

Among the mutilated poets of antiquity, there is none whose fragments are so beautiful as those of Sappho. They give us a taste of her way of writing, which is perfeály conformable with that extraordinary character we find of her, in the remarks of those great critics who were conversant with her works when they were intire. One

may see by what is left of them, that The followed nature in all her thoughts, without descending to those little points, conceits, and turns of wit, with which many of our modern lyrics are so miserably infected. Her soul seems to have been made up of love and poetry : she felt the passion in all its warmtki

, and described it in all its symptoms. She is called by ancient authors the tenth muse; and by Plutarch is compared to Cacus the son of Vulcan, who breathed out nothing but fame. I do not know by the character that is given of her works, whether it is not for the benefit of mankind that they are lost. They were filled with such bewitching tenderness and rapture, that it might have been dangerous to have given them a reading.

An inconstant lover, called Phaon, occasioned great calamities to this poetical lady. She fell desperately in love with him, and took a voyage into Sicily, in' pursuit of him, he having withdrawn himself thither on purpose to avoid her. It was in that island, and on this occasion, she is supposed to have made the hymn to Venus, with a translation of which I shall present my reader. Her hymn was ineffectual for the procuring that happiness which she prayed for in it. Phaon was still obdurate, and Sappho fo transported with the violence of her pasfion, that she was resolved to get rid of it at any price.

There was a promontory in Acarnania called Leucate, on the top of which was a little temple dedicated to Apollo. In this temple it was usual for despairing lovers to make their vows in secret, and afterwards to fling themselves from the top of the precipice into the sea, where they were sometimes taken up alive. This place was therefore called “ The Lover's Leap;" and whether

[ocr errors]

or no the fright they had been in, or the resolution that could push them to so dreadful a remedy, or the bruises which they often received in their fall, banished all the tender sentiments of love, and gave their spirits another turn ; those who had taken this leap were observed never to relapse into that paffion. Sappho tried the cure, but perished in the experiment.

After having given this short account of Sappho, so far as it regards the following ode, I shall subjoin the translation of it as it was sent me by a friend, whose admirable pastorals and Winter-piece have been already so well received. The reader will find in it that pathetic fimplicity which is fo peculiar to hin, and fo suitable to the ode he has here translated. This ode in the Greek, besides those beauties observed by madam Dacier, has several harmonious turns in the words, which are not loft in the English. I must farther add, that the translation has preserved every image and sentiment of Sappho, notwithstanding it has all the ease and spirit of an original. In a word, if the ladies have a mind to know the manner of writing practised by the so much celebrated Sappho, they may here fee it in its genuine and natural beauty, without any foreign or affected ornaments.


I. “ O Venus, beauty of the skies, “ To whom a thousand temples rise,

Gaily false in gentle smiles, " Full of love-perplexing wiles ; O goddess ! from my heart remove The wasting cares and pains of love.

II. “ If ever thou hast kindly heard A song in soft distress preferr’d, “ Propitious to my tuneful vow, O gentle goddess ! hear me now. “ Defcend thou bright, immortal guest, “ In all thy radiant charms confeft.

« AnteriorContinuar »