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Mutter'd the wrinkled hag.
This wrinkled Agrao feems to be as true a gypsey, as ever muttered a fortune-tale in the New-Foreft. But is it not fomewhat surprising, that, amidst the numberless fluctuations of cuftoms and fashions, the fame notions of love-omens and fortunetelling should have obtained in almost all countries and ages of the world?—What is founded in truth and the nature of things, may well be immutable: But that the chimeras of fancy should affume fimilar forms among every people, however remote their fituation-however diffimilar their manners and ufages, is a circumftance worthy the attention of the philofopher. The exiftence, indeed, of witchcraft in all nations is eafily resolvable into the dark uncertainty, yet ardent curiofity of man, in respect to future events; attended with an alarming consciousness of his own imbecillity, and his dependence on the will of fome fuperior intelligence.
-And turn'd her fieve.
This fpecies of divination was called Κοσκινομαντεια.
Mr. DOUGLAS, in his Nenia Britannica, mentions a perforated spoon, ornamented with garnets, which was found in one of the tumuli.
This perforated Spoon appears to have been a magical implement, and to have anfwered the use of the fieve and sheers, defcribed in the third Idyllium of THEOCRITUS. It was fufpended by a string, which perforated the hole at the handle.
Subfequent difcoveries in these kind of tumuli will fhew the fheers, another fpecimen of the fieve of a different form, and various other implements defcriptive of various orders of magic in ufe among the ancients from the earliest period of time, and tranfmitted to modern ages from the Eastern nations; whence thefe tumuli relics were introduced into this ifland.
In the luxurious reign of Charles the Second, which, with the extirpation of fanaticifm, alfo eradicated all fuperftitious belief in these customs, we find BUTLER mentions the magical virtue of the fieve and fheers.
In magic he was deeply read,
My right-eye itches!
• The palpitation of the right eye (fays POTTER) was reckoned a lucky omen:' This and many other omens or figns mentioned in THEOCRITUS, fuch as a pimple on the nofe or tongue indicating a falfehood, &c. are well known to every old woman in our villages.
-For, fure, fhe is not adamant.
Yet he had before said that she was all ftone! So fluctuating are the feelings and fentiments of lovers. We meet with a like apoftrophe in TIBULLUS:
Flebis: non tua funt duro præcordia ferro,
From Othrys' top the Seer MELAMPUS drove
Othrys was a mountain in Theffaly-which country was much celebrated, in ancient times, for an extraordinary breed of oxen.
Hence NELEUS, king of Pylus, refufed to give his daughter in marriage to MELAMPUS king of Tyrius, unlefs he procured him fome of them-which he foon after accomplished by the help of his brother BIAS.
UNIV. HIST. vol. vi. p. 215. 8vo.
Such high transports blest JASION knew.
JASION was the fon of JUPITER and ELECTRA. THEOCRITUS here alludes to his connection with CERES.
HOMER is more explicit.
Scarce could JASION tafte her heavenly charms,
But Jove's fwift lightning Scorch'd him in her arms.
Odyff. B. 5.
HESIOD informs us, in his Theogony, that PLUTUS, the God of Riches, was the offspring of this unlawful amour.
IDYLLIUM the FOURTH.
HE characters of this Idyllium are hirelings-the flaves of fhepherds-the lowest perfons in low life-whofe converfation confifts in abuse and ribaldry. WARTON.
In Edwards's" Selecta quædam Theocriti Idyllia," are fome curious obfervations on the fourth Idyllium.
"If I rightly understand the poet's representation (fays the critic) BATTUS and CORYDON are talking at some distance from the olives. BATTUs, accidentally turning his head, fees the calves browfing on the trees. He inflantly cries out, Baλλe Kalube, &c. and, whilst he is uttering the first words, he and CORYDON both fet a running together; and when he has uttered the remaining words, both fet a hooting together:
Σίθ' ο λετοργος,
Σίθ' α κυμαιθα, &c.
"Our poet is such an excellent painter here, that we cannot read the above, without feeing the hurry and buftle, the two ruftics are in.
"WHITY goes away before BATTUS gets to the olives; he, therefore, ftops running, and ftands ftill. CYMATHA ftays where fhe is, and ftirs not an inch. CORYDON, therefore, continues running towards her, and swears he will be the death of her, if the does not take herself somewhere elfe. Ο κ εσακέεις; &c. Whilft he is faying this, fhe runs away; he follows her, both whilft he is faying it, and after he has faid it. Having followed her, as far he thinks neceffary, he returns, and goes to the place where BATTUS is flanding. But fcarce is he there, when he fees her coming to the plants again.
1δ' αν πάλιν, &c.
Upon this, BATTUS fets out, determined to drive her to fome purpose; and by a good drubbing, give her enough of meddling
with olive trees." Such is the too frequent mixture of vulgarity and learning!
By stealth thou milk'sft them, I suppose, at eve.
A peculiar fpecies of theft among the ancient ruftics. The delinquents were ftiled Αμολγοι.
While in his hand a spade he bore.
A fpade was the badge of a wrestler.
What cannot MILO? Sure, he can perfuade
It being contrary to the nature of wolves (fays the scholiast) to run mad.
His heifers crop no more the tender blade!
There is a paffage in the third Idyllium of MosсHUS much refembling the above.-These verses from VIDA's 11th eclogue, are in the fame ftrain.
Illa luce ut oves fluvios, et pabula læta
Though the tranflator could never relish this fpecies of paftoral fimplicity, (as the critics term it) he willingly allows that the poetica licentia will sometimes admit of fuch descriptions, if not overcharged; especially as the hiftorian SUETONIUS hath very gravely told us, that at the death of JULIUS CÆSAR, the horses he had confecrated when he paffed the Rubicon, were observed to abstain from their food, and fhed abundance of tears into the bargain.