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No. 3. THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 28.
Non defensoribus istis
was once talking with an old humdrum fellow, and, before I had heard his story out, was called away by business. About three years after I met him again, when he immediately reassumed the thread of his story, and began his salutation with, ‘But, Sir, as I was telling you. The same method has been made use of by very polite writers; as, in particular, the author of Don Quixote, who inserts several novels in his works, and, after a parenthesis of about a dozen leaves, returns again to his story. Hudibras has broke off the Adventure of the Bear and the Fiddle. The Tatler has frequently interrupted the course of a Lucubration, and taken it up again after a fortnight's respite; as the Examiner, who is capable of imitating him in this particular, has likewise done.
This may serve as an apology for my postponing the examination of the argumentative part of the Letter to the Examiner to a further day, though I must confess, this was occasioned by a letter which I received last post. Upon opening it, I found it to contain a very curious piece of antiquity, which, without preface or application, was introduced as follows.
* Alcibiades was a man of wit and pleasure, bred up in the school of Socrates, and one of the best orators of his age, notwithstanding he lived at a time when learning was at its highest pitch: he was likewise very famous for his inilitary exploits, having gained great conquests over the Lacedæmonians, who had formerly been the confederates of his countrymen against the great king of Persia, but were at that time in alliance with the Persians. He had been once so far misrepresented and traduced by the malice of his enemies, that the priests cursed him. But, after the great ser
vices which he had done for his country, they publicly repealed their curses, and changed them into applauses and benedictions.
Plutarch tells us, in the life of Alcibiades, that one Taureas, an obscure man, contended with him for a certain prize, which was to be conferred by vote; at which time each of the competitors recommended himself to the Athenians by an oration.
The speech which Alcibiades made on that occasion, has been lately discovered among the manuscripts of King's College in Cambridge; and communicated to me by my learned friend Dr. Bley; who tells me, that, by a marginal note, it appears, that this Taureas, or, as the doctor rather chuses to call him, Toryas, was an Athenian brewer. This speech I have translated literally, changing very little in it, except where it was absolutely necessary to make it understood by an English reader. It is as follows.'
"Is it then possible, O ye Athenians, that I, who hitherto have had none but generals to oppose me, must now have an artisan for my antagonist? That I, who have overthrown the princes of Lacedæmon, must now see myself in danger of being defeated by a brewer? What will the world say of the goddess that presides over you, should they suppose you follow her dictates ? would they think she acted like herself, like the great Minerva ? would they now say, she inspires her sons with wisdom? or would they not rather say, she has a second time chosen owls for her favourites? But, О ye men of Athens, what has this man done to deserve your voices? You say he is honest; I believe it, and therefore he shall brew for me. You say he is assiduous in his calling: and is he not grown rich by it? Let him have your custom, but not your votes: you are now to cast your eyes on those who can detect the artifices of the common enemy, that can disappoint your secret foes in council, and your open ones in the field., 'Let it not avail my competitor, that he has been tapping his liquogs, while I have been spilling my blood; that he has been gathering hops for you, while I have been reaping laurels. Have I not borne the dust and heat of the day, while he has been sweating at the furnace ? 1Behold these scars, behold this wound which still bleeds in your service, what can, Taureas show you of this nature?, What are his marks of honour? Hạs he any other wound about him, except the accidental scaldings of his wort, or bruises from the tub, or barrel? Let it not, O Athenians, let it not be said, that your generals haye: conquered themselves into your displeasure, and lost your favour by gaining you victories. Shall those achievements, that have redeemed the present age from slavery, be undervalued by those who feel the benefits of them. Shall those names, that have made your city the glory of the whole earth,i be mentioned in it with obloquy and detraction? Will not your posterity blush -at I their bforefathers, when they shall read in the annals of their country, that Alcibiades in the 90th Olympiad, after having conquered the Lacedæmonians, and recovered Byzantium, contended for, a prize against Taureas the brewer? The competition is dishonourable, the defeat would be shamefuk I shall not, however, slacken my endea: vours for the security of my country. If she is un. grateful, she is still Athens. On the contrary, as she will stand more in need of defence, is when she has so degenerate a people, I will pursue my victoriés, till such time as it shall be ont of your power to hurt yourselves, and that you may be in safety even under your present leaders. But, oh!, thou genius of Athens, whither art thou fled ?: where is now the race of those glorious spirits that perished at the battle of Thermopyle, and fought upon the plains of Marathon? Are you weary of conquering, or have you forgotten the oath which you took at Agraulos, That you would look upon the bounds of Attica to be those soils only which are incapable of bearing wheat and barley, wines and olives? Consider your enemies, the Lacedæmoniansçidid you ever hear that they preferred a coffee-inan to Agesilaus ? No;lthough their generals have been unfortunate, though they have lost several battles, though they have not been able to cope with the troops of Athens, which I have conducted; they are comforted and condoled; nay celebrated and extolled, by their fellowcitizens. Their generals have been received with honous after their defeat; yours with ignominy after conquest. Are there not men of Taureas's temper and character,who tremble in their hearts at the name of the great king of Persia ? who have been against entering into a war with him, or for making a peace upon base conditions that have grudged those contributions which have set our country at the head of all the governments of Greece? that would dishonour those who have raised her to such a pitch of glory? that would betray those liberties which your fathers in all ages have purchased or recovered with their blood? and would prosecute your fellow-citizens with as much rigour and fürøy assof lątes years we have attacked the common enemys?:o I shall trouble you no more, Oye men of Athens; you know my actions, let my antagonist relates what he has done for you. Let him produce his vatts and tubs, in opposition to the heaps of arms and standards which were employed against you, and which have wrested out of the hands of your enemies. n0And when this is done, let him be brought into the field of election upon his dray-cart; and if I can finish my conquest sooneen Iwill not fail to meet him there in aritriomphantiokariot.i7 But, O-ye gods lets not the king off Persia laugh at the fall of Alcibi: ades !t:Let him not say, the Athenians have avenged me upon their own generals or let me be vather struck deadvby the handiof's Lacedæmonianthan disgraced by-theovoices of my fellow-citizens, ucrobienico Staviq 69990'ıq I 9 Toled to
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Satis eloquentia, sapientiæ parum.
SALLUST HUDIBRAS has defined nonsense, as Cowley does wit, by negatives. Nonsense,' says he, “is that which is neither true nor false. These two great properties of nonsense, which are always essential to it, give it such a peculiar advantage over all other writings, that it is incapable of being either answered or contradicted. It stands upon its own basis like a rock of adamant, secured by its natural situation against all conquests or attacks. There is no one place about it weaker than another, to favour an enemy in his approaches. The major and the minor are of equal strength. Its questions admit of no reply, and its assertions are not to be invalidated. A man may as well hope to distinguish colours in the midst of darkness, as to find out what to approve and disapprove in nonsense: you may as well assault an army that is buried in intrenchments. If it affirms ;any thing, you cannot lay hold of it; or if it denies, you cannot confute it. In a word, there are greater depths and obscurities, greater intricacies and perplexities, in an elaborate and well-written piece of nonsense, than in the most abstruse and profound tract of school-divinity.1.1., :,133") 1h 11 tasi
After this short panegyric upon nonsense, which may appear as extravagant to an ordinary reader as Erasmus's Encomium of Folly, I must here solemnly protest, that I have not done it to curry favour with my antagonist, or to reflect any praise in an oblique manner upon the Letter to the Examiner: I have no private considerations towarp, me in this controversy, since my first entering upon it.
But before I proceed any farther, because it may be of great use to me in this dispute, to state the whole nature of nonsense; and because it is a subject entirely new, I must take