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to recrimination; soon the quarrel was made up; the same cir. cumstances, however, again were repeated, and again produced the same effects; continued recrimination at last brought on studied constraint, and this settled at last in downright hatred. In short, they parted, heartily tired of each other; while the contented James and his wife rubbed through life with much content, and now and then some sparring; entertained their friends comfortably enough, and provided very prettily for a numerous family, which for many years continued increasing.
VISIT TO ELYSIUM. MANSIONS OF POETRY AND TASTE.
The follies of mankind are an unexhausted fund, which can ever supply the writer with materials. They may be said to be even sterile from their fertility; and an embarrassment in the choice has the same effects with an absence of invention.
Possessed with the truth of such a maxim, I retired to rest, in order to dissipate the chagrin which such reflections naturally produce; but a dream brought the whole train of thought more strongly to my imagination, and by a regular succession of images exhibited the dead for the instruction of the living.
I fancied myself in the Elysian Fields, and ran over in a short time a variety of mansions, in which souls, habituated in life to virtue, had prepared themselves thus for a happy immortality. I shall abridge the account of what I saw which did not deserve particular attention, and shall only remark what particularly struck me in those charming retreats, where kings repose from those labors which in life they endured from a love of their
peo ple, and a passion for true glory.
Scarcely did I meet there with any of those great men who owe their immortality to flattery, and unjustly imputed merit. Achilles, Theseus, Hercules, Alexander, Cæsar, Anthony, were names entirely unknown in these happy mansions. Minos, the judge, had wisely considered, that men, whose whole happiness in life consisted in troubling the repose of others, would be incapable of enjoying eternal repose themselves in those happy retreats, where a great part of the pleasure consisted in tranquillity. The infernal judges, therefore, granted those regions only to princes, many of whom were entirely unknown to the rest of mankind, who by a life of innocence and peace had prepared themselves for eternal repose below.
Such, instead of endeavoring to extend the bounds of their dominion, only endeavored to dispel those storms which threatened their country; being rather better pleased with softening the vanity of conquerors by a few trifling submissions, than of raising their resentment by a resistance often vain, always pernicious, even though such resistance should happen to be crowned with success.
Not to those, the true fathers of their people, are we indebted for those new systems of government, and those refined laws, which vainglory has introduced into states with so little necessity; on the contrary, fond of a rational simplicity, they only cultivated the dictates of truth, observed such laws as experience gave a sanction to, and made their own example the first servant to every institution. In a word, men whose modesty was equal to their other virtues, and who gave up glory to others, content with the pleasing consciousness of having deserved it.
From this most beautiful of all retreats there lies an immense journey to the mansions of Poetry and Taste; yet by that facility of travelling which is natural to a person who dreams, I soon perceived myself among them. I here found a wide difference between the manner of the poet's treatment below and above. Those who while in life had no other lodging than a garret, were here fitted with very genteel apartments; and those who once were the servants of the great, were now attended by some of the deceased nobility, who served them as footmen, valets de chambre, and flatterers. Their city was divided into several compartments, adapted to their peculiar tastes or dispositions; while at stated intervals they all met together, in order to settle disputes, and weigh their reputations, as several had been found to receive a large share of fame immediately after their decease, which, in a succession of ages, evaporated quite away.
Orpheus was the first poet who caught my attention, who sat weeping by the side of a stream, that seemed to murmur back his complaints. His lyre was responsive to his sorrow, and drew round him numbers of enchanted hearers. I own that I was not a little surprised at his complaint, as I saw the beautiful Eurydice, for whom he died, sitting beside him. “Alas !" cried I to a ghost that stood near me, “ what can now induce him thus to weep, as he has found the lovely object of all his concern ?"
-“Fool," replied the spirit, who was wiser than I, “ he weeps now because he has found her; for it seems in less than a twelvemonth's acquaintance she became a shrew, and he now feels the same desire to part with her that he had once to find her."
Pindar was next attempting to climb all the sign-posts : sometimes he would sit astride, and call the mob from below to look on; at other times, when he had just reached the top, he would fall headlong down; nor yet seemed very much hurt by the fall, but, like the celebrated Antæus, appeared to gain fresh vigor to rise.
Horace stood gazing among the crowd at this literary ropedancer, and at intervals would burst out into fits of applause; would, with a great degree of good sense, assure his friends that Pindar fell merely through design, and engaged a large party in his favor. From admiration he soon began to strive at imitation, and began to climb; but when he had got half-way up the post, his strength and spirits failed him; there he stuck, and could get neither up nor down. He looked most pitifully round on the crowd that was laughing below, and begged that some one would lend him a shoulder; when a meagre tall figure, whom I knew to be Scaliger, appearing, took the little man in his arms, and brought him off unhurt before the faces of all the spectators.
As I was pleasing myself with this escape, and following the critic, who was carrying him to a place of safety, I happened to meet Anacreon, who was now turned politician, and settling the balance of hell. I was surprised to find him so very much altered from what he had been on earth. “ Where," cries I,“ 0 Teian, are those agreeable sallies of the heart, where the soul, without any aid from the imagination, spoke its most inward feelings, ever tender, ever new ?"_“ Friend,” replied the bard, with a frown, “what can I do in a place where I am refused both women and wine? When I came hither I found myself quite at a loss for employment; and as I knew nothing, I became a politician, for that is a trade that every body knows."
He had scarcely finished, when I heard before me a loud uproar of applause and invective; and turning round, I perceived an old man supported on his stick, and yet seemingly held up by two commentators on each side, who served to direct him along; and at the same time continued to assure the populace who were gathered round, that he was by no means so blind as he seemed, but that he frequently saw with the utmost perspicuity. As he walked along, however, at every four paces he seemed to have an inclination to sleep, and his attitude in this respect was so natural, that the spectators seemed almost to sympathize; but, drowsy as they were, they still continued to
cry out, “ The divine old man! the incomparable poet! the marvellous genius! the admirable philosopher! the sublime orator !" in short, there was scarcely a title of praise that was not lavished on the immortal Homer.
It would have excited pity to see how much the old bard, who in the main was a man of good sense, seemed ashamed of so much unmerited applause. In vain he attempted to steal away from the crowd that was gathered round him; the commentators were a set of attendants not easily shook off; they even made him frequently blush with their fulsome adulations. Like Sosia, in the comedy, he frequently felt himself all over, in order to know whether he was himself or no; and he could hardly be brought to conceive how his journey to hell could make such a prodigious change in his reputation; and, to confess a truth, he was right. While he was alive, his whole fame consisted in being a good ballad singer, and he considered his poems only as a trade taken
for want of a better, by which he scarcely found a subsistence. It was a matter of wonder, that those very men who formerly denied Homer a little corner in some obscure hospital, in order to rest his muse, fatigued with her vagrant life, now offered him divine honors.* He, however, behaved with as much modesty as possible for a man in his circumstances. I could not avoid asking him, why there ran such a similarity through all the books of his Iliad, which must certainly fatigue every reader but those who are determined to admire. To which he very candidly replied, "Ask these gentlemen who support me; they will probably give you good reasons for what I have done, for faith! I am incapable of giving any myself."
(“Seven wealthy towns contend for Homer dead,
Through which the living Homer begg'd his bread !" The names of the different places which laid claim to the birth of Homer were neatly brought together in a single line by Sannazarius
“Smyrna, Rhodos, Colophon, Salamis, Chios, Argos, Athena,
Cedite, jam cælum patria Mæonidæ est.”]