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ages of the world. This I think the more necessary at present, because I observed there were attempts ori foot last winter to revive coine of those antiquated modes of wit that have been long exploded out of the commonwealth of Ictters. There were several satires and panegyrics handed about in acrostic, by which means some of the most arrant undisputed blockheads about the town began to entertain ambitious thoughts, and to set up for polite authors. I shall therefore dçscribe at length those many arts of falbe nit, in which a writer docs not show hiin»cIf a man of a beautiful genius, but of great industry.
The first species of false wit which I have met with is very venerable for its antiquity, and has produced several pieces, which have lived very near as long as the Iliad itself: I mean those short poems printed among the minor Greck poets, which resemble the figure of an egg, a pair of wings, an ax, a shepherd's Pipe, and an altar.
As for the first, it is a little oval poem, and may not improperly be called a scholar's cgg. I would endeavour to hatch it, or, in more intelligible lanuage, to translate it into English, did not I find the interpretation of it very difficult; for the author seems to have been more intent upon the figure of his poem than upon the sense of it.
The pair of wings consist of twelve verses, or rather feathers, every verse decreasing gradually in its measure according to its situation in the wing. The subject of it (as in the rest of the poems which follow) bears some remote affinity with the figure; for it describes a god of love, who is always painted with wings.
The ax, mcthinks, would have been a good figure for a Jampoon, had the edge of it consisted of the most satirical parts of the work; but as it is in the original, I take it to have been nothing else but the poesy of an ax which was consecrated to Minerva, and was thought to have been the same that Epeus made use of in the building of the Trojan horse ; which is a hint I shall leave to the consideration of the critics. I am apt to think that the poesy was written originally upon the ax, like those which our modern cutlers inscribe upon their knives, and that therefore the poesy still remains in its antient shape, though the ax itself is lost.
The shepherd's pipe may be said to be full of music; for it is composed of nine different kinds of verse, which, by their several lengths, resemble the nine stops of the old musical instrument, that is likewise the subject of the poem.
The altar is inscribed with the epitaph of Troilus, the son of Hecuba; which, by the way, makes ine believe, that these false pieces of wit are much more antient than the authors to whom they are generally ascribed : at least, I will never be persuaded that so fine a writer as Theocritus conid have been the author of any such simple works. It was impossible for a man to succeed in these
performances who was not a kind of painter, or at least a designer. He was first of all to draw the outline of the subject which he intended to write upon, and afterwards conform the description to the figure of bis subject. The poctry was to contract or dilate itself according to the mould in which it was cast. In a word, the verses were to be cramped or extended to the dimensions of the frame that was prepared for them ; and to undergo the fate of those persons whom the tyrant Procrustes used to lodge in his iro. bed : if
they were too short, he stretched them on a rack; and, if they were too long, chopped off a part of their legs, till they fitted the couch which he bad prepared for them.
Mr. Dryden hints at this obsolete kind of wit in one of the following verses in his Mac Flecno; which an English reader cannot understand, who does not know that there are those little poems above mentioned in the shape of wings and altars.
Choose for thy command
And torture one poor word a thousand ways."
crypha. He designed this wig originally for king William, having disposed of the two books of Kings in the two forks of the foretop ; but that glorious monarch dying before the wig was finished, there is a space left in it for the face of any one that has a mind to purchase it.
But to return to our antient poems in picture : I would hunibly propose, for the benefit of our modern smátterers in poetry, that they would imitate their brethren among the antients in those ingenious devices. I have communicated this thought to a young poetical lover of my acquaintance, who intends to present his mistress with a copy of verses made in the shape of her fan; and, if he tells me true, has already finished the three first sticks of it. He has likewise promised me to get the measure of his mistress's marriage finger, with a design to make a poésy in the fashion of a ring, which shall exactly fit it. It is so very easy to enlarge upon a good hint, that I do not question but my ingenious readers will apply what I have said to many other particulars; and that we shall see the town filled in a very little time with poetical tippets, handkerchiefs, snuff-boxes, and the like feinale ornaments. I shall therefore conclude with a word of advice to those admirable English authors who call themselves Pindaric writers, that they would apply themselves to this kind of wit without loss of time, as being provided better than any other poets with verses of all sizes and dimensions,
the same time, seemed to tell him that the river was unpassable. Who can describe the passion, made up of joy, sorrow, love, desire, astonishment, that rose in the Indian upon the sight of his dear Yaratilda? He could express it by nothing but his tears, which ran like a river down his cheeks as he looked upon her. He had not stood in this posture long, before he plunged into the stream that lay before him; and, finding it to be nothing but the phantom of a river, stalked on the bottom of it till he arose on the other side. At his approach Yaratilda flew into his arms, whilst Marraton wished himself disencumbered of that body which kept her from his embraces. After many questions and endearments on both sides, she conducted him to a bower which she had dressed with all the ornaments that could be met with in those blooming regions. She had made it gay beyond imagination, and was every day adding something new to it. As Marraton stood astonished at the unspeakable beauty of her habitation, and ravished with the fragrancy that came from every part of it, Yaratilda told him that she was preparing this bower for his reception, as well knowing that his piety to his God, and his faithful dealing towards men, would certainly bring him to that happy place whenever his life should be at an end. She then brought two of her children to him, who died some years before, and resided with her in the same delightful bower; advising him to breed up those others which were still with bim, in such a manner that they might hereafter all of them meet together in this happy place.
The tradition tells us further, that he had afterwards a sight of those dismal habitations which are the portion of ill men after death; and mentions several