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umbrellas was not unknown to them-and that they were as fond of their cats as their husbands. JUVENAL, it might be added, hath gratified us with an express intimation of a like fashionable foible:
Morte viri cupiunt animam fervare catella! · ·
Such were the customs and fashions of the fair fex, in elder days; not very diffimilar from the prefent. Their manners, too, resembled the modern; though it is to be prefumed that we do not fee the exact likeneffes of women either in the portraits of JUVENAL or POPE. To attempt a difcrimination of the characters of PRAXINOE and GORGO might, poffibly, be fanciful; though not only in the domeftic scene, but afterwards in the walk to the festival of ADONIS, there feems to be a fhade of difference in their behavior and manners. They are both talkative enough, but GORGO poffeffes a greater degree of prudence and decorum, amidst her loquacity. PRAXINOE fhews a propenfity throughout to rail against her husband. Her friend very cautiously checks her raillery, as unseasonable, at least in the prefence of her little fon, who had sense and observation enough to understand that his father was treated difrespectfully. And this (by the way) conveys a very striking admonition to those parents, who, having little at heart the morality of their children, too frequently carry on converfations in their prefence, which may at all seasons be improper, but are then peculiarly ill-timed. Such, however, is the eagerness of PRAXINOE to refume her favorite topic, that The proceeds to expose her husband, couching her story in terms above the comprehenfion of little ZOPYRION, or rather
rather affuming a concealed manner; by which our poet probably glances at that mysterious air of conversation fo frequent among females, who, though interrupted by a third perfon, in the thread of their discourse, ftill carry on their tale through hints and expreffions allufive to times, circumstances, and perfons. The ftupidity of PRAXINOE's husband (which she thus exposes) confifted in mistaking salt for nitre. GORGO, on this, takes occafion to betray the weakness of her good man in his purchases, but it is foon passed over; while the very mention of his commiffion proves a key to her character. The circumstance of his purchasing the fleeces for the purpose of spinning, may be taken as a hint of her induftry; while, on the contrary, PRAXINOE'S nitre seems to intimate her attention to ornament and the fashions. The roving difpofition of the latter is implied in her husband's removing her from the neighbourhood of her diffipated acquaintance; in her great impatience at GORGO'S delaying to fulfil her appointment; and in her regretting her exile from the busy world, and the confequent impoffibility of her feasting on the news of the day. Mixed with vulgarity and pertnefs, fhe difcovers all the affected airs of the woman of quality. On her arrival at the scene of ADONIS'S festival, her remarks on the tapestry betray her ignorance and conceit. And, on the stranger's interruption, (rude enough, it must be confessed) her observation is precisely such as, from our preconceptions of her, one might naturally have expected; and (whatever may be the opinion of HEINSIUS) the paffage conveys no other fentiment than the burden of her fong-her husband's tyranny.
The fong of the Greek Girl hath a fine effect, in contraft with the preceding converfation. Of all the pictorefque pieces of THEOCRITUS, it is the most finished, elegant, and beautiful! Of all the Greek poetry, it is, without exception, the most exquifitely polifhed! Its fubject was the favorite of the Grecian Mufe; who seems never so sweet an enthufiaft, as when she gives music to the fighs of VENUS, over the dead yet beautiful ADONIS!
THE origin of the Panegyrical poem may be traced to the
heroic ages of Greece. In the unlettered infancy, indeed, of every nation, the benefactor and the cheiftain have inspired the rude minftrelfy of the harp. And it is the gratitude—the admiration of an ignorant people that invests heroes with the attributes of gods: hence the deities of fancy become the objects of worship; and fill live, tranfmitted from age to age, by the power of fuperftitious credulity. From the earlieft times we find the poet affociated with the prince. And though his character hath always loft its facred and venerable afpect, in proportion as the manners have been diffused, this connection hath ftill fubfifted, in a certain degree, amidst all the fluctuations of cuftom and fashion. Yet it is rather
to be wondered, that the wildest extravagance of encomium
of panegyric that deifies all it approaches with its Barbaric touch, should be grateful to a civilized monarch. But the nature of man is unalterable; and praise, however adminiftered, will foothe the ear of vanity. AUGUSTUS had his VIRGIL and his VARIUS; and ALEXANDER the Great could even liften to a CHERILUS. His fucceffor however was more fortunate, with seven famous poets in his train; among whom was the panegyrift before us.*
The GRACES, or HIERO, were probably written before THEOCRITUS had an opportunity of celebrating the at chievements of PTOLEMY PHILADELPHUS. It appears that this elegant performance was not the firft exertion of our poet's encomiastic talents, in praise of the Sicilian king. But his harp, however mufical, was unhonoured and neglected. In the present piece, there is much dexterity of address: yet all its delicate flattery was as fruitless as the former attempt. The poet artfully touches on HIERO'S military virtues; wishes him all poffible profperity; and prays, amidst other circumstances of good fortune, that he may be bleft with attendant bards, to celebrate those actions, which fo well deserve the plaudit of the Mufe! The first part of the poem confifts in a deduction of inftances from antiquity, to evince the dignity of the poetical profeffion; and the power with which it was invefted, of conferring immortality.
* PINDAR had his ftipend for celebrating the victors in the games of Greece and at Conftantinople, when the Emperor appeared in public on any grand festival, poets were always hired to write verfes on the occafion.
The Encomium on PTOLEMY appears to be the applaufe of gratitude. In the Graces, there is a plaintive air, mingled with elaborate adulation: the complaint is natural, while the flattery is ftudied. But the Encomium is the product of admiration and enthusiasm. And history seems to sanction these ardors, whilst she represents, in concurrence with the poet, the liberal taste, the indefatigable industry, the unparallelled generofity, the riches and the magnificence of the Ægyptian king.
These then are the specimens, which THEOCRITUS (or rather chance) hath left us of the encomiaftic poem; more perfpicuous, though lefs adorned, than PINDAR; and more fpirited, though less infinuating, than HORACE. He had written, it is said, a poem, in honor of BERENICE; but, among a variety of his other pieces, it is loft in the wreck of time. Perhaps it perished with the Alexandrian repofitory of learning. Over the ashes of a monument the most fplendid in the world of literature, we may well pause, to lament and to meditate in filence: but let us not protract the melancholy moment. Patronage did not expire with PTOLEMY; or genius with the Alexandrian library! We have scenes before us, more interefting and luminous than the brightest prospects of antiquity. It is in our own country, that polite scholarship is eminently exerted; and as confpicuously rewarded. It is here, that the elegance of the arts adds luftre to the dignity of the Sovereign; and that he, who adorned a learned university, in the profeffion of poetry, hath hung the laureate wreath on the throne of munificence and tafte. Surely then we might an