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interesting character: fhe is rapidly withdrawn from our view; yet we still image to ourselves the industrious fair-one, with her ivory distaff, the elegant and well-appropriated gift of our poet; fuch as in these days, however, might shrewdly enough convey-a hint of fatyrical reprehenfion! But though our modifh ladies might poffibly start at so outrè a prefent, and feel much more gratified with the gallantry of the Gloves, the Fan, or the Rofe-Bud,-the Distaff is by no means unworthy of their serious attention.
ANACREONTIC IDYLLI A.*
THESE jeux d'efprit, that by way of distinction, we have
named Anacreontic, have all the levity and delicacy of the Teian mufe; but the critics will not allow them to be the production of our poet's pen.
The Honey-Stealer is an exact copy of the fortieth Ode of ANACREON: the measure of the verfe is altered, while the fentiment and manner are retained.
The Death of Adonis (whoever might have been its author) hath the charm of fimplicity to recommend it.
19th and 30th Idyllia.
EPIGRAMS OF THEOCRITUS.
AMONG the Greek poets, in general, Epigrams (as the word implies) were merely inscriptions. We meet with a few of the most ancient in HERODOTUS; but the Anthologia furnishes us with a various collection. The epigrams of CATULLUS and MARTIAL are of a different complexion; the one confifting throughout of lively expreffion, the other pointed at the end, or closing with an unexpected turn of wit.
These seem to be the three species of epigram; from which the critics, according to their different dispositions or fancies, have drawn their definitions. While one exclufively commends the grave humour, the chastised air, and the simplicity of the Greeks; another holds up to imitation the more refined delicacy and uniform diffusion of vivacity discoverable in the earlier Latin epigrammatift: A third, however, contends, that the very nature of epigram confifts in poignancy and point; and, perhaps, prefers one stroke of MARTIAL's pen, to all the infipid-spiritless Anthologia. The truth of the matter is, that we have excellent fpecimens in each line; fuch as no one, poffeffed of taste, would despise, or be afhamed to imitate. Yet the point, in modern language, feems
feems to be a neceffary quality, of which the Jelly-Bag is a most happy illustration. And unity of thought, concifely expreffed, (though the Greeks have not always attended to it) appears to be effential to the several species we have attempted to define.
If the Epigrams of THEOCRITUS had been entitled Idyllia, and his Honey-Stealer an Epigram, a modern definer would have found no impropriety in the change. This delicate morceau (with the Cupid turned Ploughman of Mofchus) hath even smartness enough for a French Epigrammatift.
The first five epigrams of our poet are not very unlike the ruftic infcriptions of AKENSIDE. Of the fourth, AKENSIDE's third inscription is plainly an imitation. The fixth closes with something like pleasantry: but the humor would have been stronger, if the shepherd's dogs had asked him, "To what purpose he grieved for his kid, when not even a bone of it was left?" This would have been characteristic-but the embers of humor are fmothered in afhes.
Of the next fixteen the Infcription on the Image of the heavenly VENUS is perhaps the most pleasing; though the merit of all may be nearly alike. They have no ftriking beauties. They are deficient in fpirit. We do not look for fubtilty; but we expect fome infusion of vivacity. There is a fickly languor diffused over them; nor can they be read without many a pause of liftlefs indifference.
* See Oxford Sausage.
The wits of the present day have looked on epigram as an object too trivial to engage a continuance of attention. To publish a collection, (like MARTIAL) and to build on it the hopes of fame, would, at this time, be confidered as a glaring abfurdity. And, indeed, the epigram fhould be the product of the moment; the effect of chance, not art; a fparkle from the collifion of fortune and fancy. Of fuch felicities we meet with frequent examples, through a vehicle unknown to the wits of old. The periodical publication they could not boast. But the Oxford Sausage, and Carmina Quadragefimalia, present us with every fpecies of this little compofition; replete with humor and with elegance, and fuperior, in every point of view, to the most perfect epigrams of antiquity.
HERE are few poffeffions of the mind more valuable than a well-difciplined imagination. Without regularity of genius, the poet runs from one image to another, with little defign; and the philofopher forms vifionary hypotheses, and makes experiments, with no view to a conclufion. He, who is unable to repress the luxuriances of his fancy, will often wander, amidst the false fertility, bewildered in his own creation. It feems the character of such an author, to hunt after new ideas, to catch a glittering image, to introduce a fuperfluity of ornament, to reject no thought that rifes, to pursue his fubjects without knowing when to drop the purfuit, and to fwell his works with generalities.
Whether thefe obfervations can, any way, be applied to the poets before us, a curfory view of their productions may poffibly determine.
The names of BION and MOSCHUS have been commonly affociated, and not without reafon; for their beauties and defects are naerly the fame. They flourished alfo at the VOL. II, fame