Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

who was the only person, except my own countrymen, that was willing to conduct me hither.

The Carthaginian took his seat, and Pompey entered with great dignity in his own person, and preceded by. several historians. Lucan the poet was at the head of them, who, observing Homer and Virgil at the table, was going to sit down himself, had not the latter whispered him. That whatever pretence he might otherwise have had, he forfeited his claim to it, by coming in as one of the historians. Lucan was so exasperated with the repulse, that he muttered something to himself, and was heard to say, That since he could not have a seat among them himself, he would bring in one, who, alone, had more merit than their whole assembly: upon which he went to the door, and brought in Cato of Utica. That great man approached the company with such an air, that showed he contemned the honour which he laid a claim to. Observing the seat opposite to Cæsar was vacant, he took possession of it; and spoke two or three smart sentences upon the nature of precedency, which, according to him, consisted not in place, but in intrinsic merit; to which he added, That the most virtuous man, wherever he was seated, was always at the upper end of the table. Socrates, who had a great spirit of raillery with his wisdom, could not forbear smiling at a virtue which took so little pains to make itself agreeable. Cicero took the occasion to make a long discourse in praise of Cato, which he uttered with much vehemence. Cæsar answered with a great deal of seeming temper: but, as I stood at a great distance from them, I was not able to hear one word of what they said. But I could not forbear taking notice, that in all the discourse which passed at the table, a word or a nod from Homer decided the controversy.

After a short pause, Augustus appeared looking

b

And preceded] Omit" and,” or, insert, "was" before “preceded."
That] It should be as.

Alluding to the two famous pieces, entitled, Cato," and, “ Anti-
Cato,which have not come down to us.
VOL. II.

Q

round him with a serene and affable countenance upon all the writers of his age, who strove among themselves which of them should show him the greatest marks of gratitude and respect. Virgil rose from the table to meet him; and though he was an acceptable guest to all, he appeared more such to the learned, than the military worthies. The next man astonished the whole table with his appearance; he was slow, solemn, and silent in his behaviour, and wore a raiment curiously wrought with hieroglyphics. As he came into the middle of the room, he threw back the skirt of it, and discovered a golden thigh. Socrates, at the sight of it, declared against keeping company with any who were not made of flesh and blood; and therefore desired Diogenes the Laertian to lead him to the apartment allotted for fabulous heroes, and worthies of dubious existence. At his going out, he told them, that they did not know whom they dismissed; that he was now Pythagoras, the first of philosophers, and that formerly he had been a very brave man at the siege of Troy. That may be very true, said Socrates; but you forget that you have likewise been a very great harlot in

your time. This exclusion made way for Archimedes, who came forward with a scheme of mathematical figures in his hand; among which, I observed a cone or cylinder.

Seeing this table full, I desired my guide for variety to lead me to the fabulous apartment, the roof of which was painted with gorgons, chimeras, and centaurs, with many other emblematical figures, which I wanted both time and skill to unriddle. The first table was almost full. At the upper end sat Hercules, leaning an arm upon his club. On his right hand were Achil.

· Though he] i. e. Augustus. To avoid the ambiguity, read, “ and though this great emperor was."

Fabulous apartment, the roof of which, &c.] read and point thus : “ Fabulous apartment. The roof of it was, &c.

* To lean, rest, &c. are neutraj, not transitive verbs. It should be, “ leaning with an arm upon his club," or rather, “ leaning upon his club."

les and Ulysses, and between them Æneas. On his left were Hector, Theseus, and Jason. The lower end had Orpheus, Æsop, Phalaris, and Musæus. The ushers seemed at a loss for a twelfth man, when methought, to my great joy and surprise, I heard some at the lower end of the table mention Isaac Bickerstaff; but those of the upper end received it with disdain, and said, if they must have a British worthy, they would have Robin Hood.

• While I was transported with the honour that was done me, and burning with envy against my competitor, I was awakened by the noise of the cannon, which were then fired for the taking of Mons. I should have been very much troubled at being thrown out of so pleasing a vision on any other occasion; but thought it an agreeable change to have my thoughts diverted from the greatest among the dead and fabulous heroes, to the most famous among the real and the living."

· This last paragraph was written by Sir R. Steele. T.

No. 86. THURSDAY, OCTOBER 27, 1709.

« SIR,

From my own Apartment, October 25. When I came home last night, my servant delivered me the following letter:

Octob. 24. “ I HAVE orders from Sir Harry Quickset, of Staffordshire, Bart. to acquaint you, that his honour Sir Harry himself, Sir Giles Wheelbarrow, Knt. Thomas Rentfree, Esq. justice of the quorum, Andrew Windmill, Esq. and Mr. Nicholas Doubt of the Inner Temple, Sir Harry's grandson, will wait upon you at the hour of nine to-morrow morning, being Tuesday the 25th of October, upon business which Sir Harry will impart to you by word of mouth. I thought it proper to acquaint you before-hand so many persons of quality came, that you might not be surprised therewith. Which concludes, though by many years absence since I saw you at Stafford, unknown, “ Sir, your most humble servant,

« JOHN THRIFTY."

I received this message with less surprise than I believe Mr. Thrifty imagined; for I knew the good company too well to feel any palpitations at their approach: but I was in very great concern how I should adjust the ceremonial, and demean myself to all these great men, who perhaps had not seen any thing above themselves for these twenty years last past. I am sure that is the case of Sir Harry. Besides which, I was sensible that there was a great point in adjusting my behaviour to the simple 'Squire, so as to give him satisfaction, and not disoblige the justice of the quorum.

The hour of nine was come this morning, and I had no sooner set chairs (by the steward's letter) and fixed my tea equipage, but I heard a knock at my door, which was opened, but no one entered; after which followed a long silence, which was broke at last by,

Sir, I beg your pardon ; I think I know better:' and another voice, “Nay, good Sir Giles- I looked out from my window, and saw the good company all with their hats off, and arms spread, offering the door to each other. After many offers, they entered with much solemnity, in the order Mr. Thrifty was so kind as to name them to me. But they are now got to my chamber door, and I saw my old friend Sir Harry enter. I met him with all the respect due to so reverend a vegetable ; for you are to know, that is my sense of a person who remains idle in the same place for half a century. I got him with great success into his chair by the fire, without throwing down any of my cups. The knight-bachelor told me, he had a great respect for my whole family, and would, with my leave, place himself next to Sir Harry, at whose right hand he had sat at every quarter-sessions this thirty years, unless he was sick. The steward in the rear whispered the young Templar, “That is true to my knowledge. I had the misfortune, as they stood cheek by jole, to desire the squire to sit down before the justice of the quorum, to the no small satisfaction of the former, and resentment of the latter: but I saw my error too late, and got them as soon as I could into their seats. "Well, (said I,) gentlemen, after I have told you how glad I am of this great honour, I am to desire you to drink a dish of tea.' They answered, one and all, that " They never drank tea in a morning.' • Not in a morning!' said I, staring round me. Upon which the pert jackanapes Nick Doubt tipped me the wink, and put out his tongue at his grandfather. Here followed a profound silence, when the steward in his boots and whip proposed that we should adjourn to some public house, where every body might call for what they pleased, and enter upon the business. We all stood up in an instant, and Sir Harry filed off from the left very discreetly, countermarching behind the chairs towards the door : after him, Sir Giles in the same manner. The simple squire made a sudden start to follow; but the justice of the quorum whipped between upon the stand of the stairs. A maid going up with coals made us halt, and put us into such confusion, that we stood all in a heap, without any visible possibility of recovering our order : for the young jackanapes seemed to make a jest of this matter, and had so contrived, by pressing amongst us under pretence of making way, that his grandfather was got into the middle, and he knew nobody was of quality to stir a step, till Sir Harry moved first. fixed in this perplexity for some time, till we heard a very loud noise in the street; and Sir Harry asking what it was, I, to make them move, said it was fire. Upon this, all run down as fast as they could, without order or ceremony, till we got into the street, where we drew up in very good order, and filed off down SheerLane, the impertinent Templar driving us before him, as in a string, and pointing to his acquaintance who passed by

We were

« ZurückWeiter »