Billeder på siden


In vain the Rhæti did their axes wield,
Like Amazons they fought, like women fled the field :
But why those savage troops this weapon choose,

Confirmed by long established use,

Historians would in vain disclose. The dress that Arabia appears in,' brings to my mind the description Lucian has made of these eastern nations.

Quicquid ad Eoos tractus, mundique teporem
Labitur, emollit gentes clementia cæli.
Illic et laxas vestes, et fluxa virorum
Velamenta vides.

Luc. lib. vii.
While Asia's softer climate, formed to please,
Dissolves her sons in indolence and ease;
Her silken robes invest unmanly limbs,

And in long trains the flowing purple streams. Mr. Rowe.
She bears in one hand a sprig of frankincen

-Solis est thurea virga Sabeis. VIRG.
And odorous frankincense on the Sabæan bough. MR. DRYDEN.
Thuriferos Arabum saltus.

Thurilegos Arabas.

OV. DE Fast. lib. iv. In the other hand you see the perfumed reed, as the garland on her head may be supposed to be woven out of some other part of her fragrant productions.

Nec procul in molles Arabas terramque ferentem
Delicias, variæque novos radicis honores ;
Leniter adfundit gemmantia littora pontus,
Et terræ mare nomen habet. De SINU ARABICO. MANIL. lib. iv.
More west the other soft Arabia beats,
Where incense grows, and pleasing odour sweats :
The bay is called the Arabian Gulf; the name
The country gives it, and 'tis great in fame. Mr. CREECH.
Urantur pia thura focis, urantur odores,
Quos tener à terrâ divite mittit Arabs. TIBUL. lib. ii. El. 2.

-sit dives amomo,
Cinnamaque, costumque suam, sudataque ligno
Thura ferat, floresque alios Panchaïa tellus,
Dum ferat et Myrrham.

Ov. Met. lib. X.
Let Araby extol her happy coast,
Her cinnamon and sweet Amomum boast;
Her flagrant flowers, her trees with precious tears,
Her second harvests, and her double years :
How can the land be called so blessed, that Myrrha bears ?

-Odoratæ spirant medicamina Sylvæ. MANIL.

Fig. 18.

The trees drop balsam, and on all the boughs
Health sits, and makes it sovereign as it flows. MR. CREBCH.
Cinnami sylvas Arabes beatos

Sen. EDIP. act. i. What a delicious country is this ! says Cynthio ; a man almost smells it in the descriptions that are made of it. The camel is in Arabia, I suppose, a beast of burden that helps to carry off its spices. We find the camel, says Philander, mentioned in Persius on the same account. Tolle recens primus piper e sitiente camelo. PERS. Sat. v.

- The precious weight Of pepper and Sabæan incense, take

With thy own hands from the tired camel's back. MR. Dryden. He loads the camel with pepper, because the animal and its cargo are both the productions of the same country.

Mercibus hic Italis mutat sub sole recenti
Rugosum piper-

Pers. Sat. v.
The greedy merchants, led by lucre, run
To the parched Indies and the rising sun;
From thence hot pepper and rich drugs they bear,

Bartering for spices their Italian ware. MR. DRYDEN. You have given us some quotations out of Persius this morning, says Eugenius, that in my opinion have a great deal of poetry in them. I have often wondered at Mr. Dryden for passing so severe a censure on this author. He fancies the description of a wreck, that you have already cited, is too good for Persius, and that he might be helped in it by Lucan, who was one of his contemporaries. For my part, says Cynthio, I am so far from Mr. Dryden's opinion in this particular, that I fancy Persius a better poet than Lucan; and that, had he been engaged on the same subject, he would at least in his expressions and descriptions have outwrit the Pharsalia. He was, indeed, employed on subjects that seldom led him into anything like description, but where he has an occasion of showing himself, we find very few of the Latin poets that have given a greater beauty to their expressions. His obscurities are, indeed, sometimes affected, but they generally arise from the remoteness of the

Certainly, because his expressions and descriptions are more pointed and peculiar, in which the essence of poetry consists. The style of Lucan is not the style of poetry, but of declamation. It was impossible that the Virgilian taste of Mr. Addison should approve it.

customs, persons, and things he alludes to: as satire is for this reason more difficult to be understood by those that are not of the same age with it, than any other kind of poetry. Love verses and heroics deal in images that are ever fixed and settled in the nature of things, but a thousand ideas enter into satire, that are as changeable and unsteady as the mode or the humours of mankind.

Our three friends had passed away the whole morning among their medals and Latin poets. Philander told them it was now too late to enter on another series, but if they would take


with such a dinner as he could meet with at his lodgings, he would afterwards lay the rest of his medals before them. Cynthio and Eugenius were both of them so well pleased with the novelty of the subject, that they would not refuse the offer Philander made them.

It appears from the close of this dialogue, that the author intended. another before he came at his parallel, which now makes the third, in this collection. And it is not difficult to guess what the topics of it were to be. He had divided the whole subject into two parts. 1. Persons of a shadowy, allegorical nature. 2. Things and persons of a more real existence, p. 271. The first part makes the subject of the second dialogue, and is explained by three series of medals: the first representing the virtues; the second, moral emblems; and the third, cities, nations, provinces, &c. The second general division was, then, to furnish matter for the third dialogue; and probably in three or four series more. 1. Of the heathen gods. 2. Of the monsters of antiquity, chimæras, sphinxes, gorgons, &c. 3. Of the Roman emperors, and other illustrious persons :—and possibly, à 4th, of miscellaneous customs, actions, ornaments, and other antiquities (see the two last pages of the first dialogue). The whole to conclude in a fourth dialogue, which is now the third; containing a parallel between the ancient and modern medals.

It is strange that the editor, Mr. Tickell, should overlook this design of his friend, so necessary to the integrity of his plan, and so clearly pointed out in the place to which I have referred. We now see why the work itself was not published by the author; for one half of it, and that the most considerable, was not printed. And, indeed, so far as he had gone, the composition, though beautiful in the main, appears not to have been touched with that supreme elegance, which was to be expected from the last hand of such a writer.

It may be proper to add, that if the plan of these dialogues, so complete and masterly in itself, had been fully executed according to the intention of the author, (and especially, if he had taken real characters, instead of fictitious, for the speakers in them,) the whole would not only have done great honour to the learning and taste of Mr. Addison; but would have saved Mr. Spence the trouble of projecting a supplement to it, in his voluminous work, entitled “ Polymetis."




-causa est discriminis hujus Concisum Argentum in titulos faciesque minutas.

Juv. Sat. 14.


PHILANDER used every morning to take a walk in a neighbouring wood, that stood on the borders of the Thames. It was cut through by abundance of beautiful alleys, which, terminating on the water, looked like so many painted views in perspective. The banks of the river and the thickness of the shades drew into them all the birds of the country, that at sun-rising filled the wood with such a variety of notes, as made the prettiest confusion imaginable. I know in descriptions of this nature the scenes are generally supposed to grow out of the author's imagination, and if they are not charming in all their parts, the reader never imputes it to the want of sun or soil, but to the writer's barrenness of in-. vention. It is Cicero's observation on the plane tree that makes so flourishing a figure in one of Plato's dialogues, that it did not draw its nourishment from the fountain that ran by it and watered its roots, but from the richness of the style that describes it. For my own part, as I design only to fix the scene of the following dialogue, I shall not endeavour to give it any other ornaments than those which nature has bestowed upon it.

Philander was here enjoying the cool of the morning, among the dews that lay on everything about him, and that gave the air such a freshness as is not a little agreeable in the hot part of the year. He had not been here long before he was joined by Cynthio and Eugenius. Cynthio immediately feil upon Philander for breaking his night's rest. You have so filled my head, says he, with old coins, that I have had nothing but figures and inscriptions before my eyes.

If I chanced to fall into a little slumber, it was immediately interrupted with the vision of a Caduceus or a Cornu-copiæ. You will make me believe, says Philander, that you begin to be reconciled to medals. They say it is a sure sign a man loves money, when he is used to find it in his dreams. There is certainly, says Eugenius, something like avarice in the

study of medals. The more a man knows of them, the more he desires to know. There is one subject in particular that Cynthio, as well as myself, has a mind to engage you in. We would fain know how the ancient and modern medals differ from one another, and which of them deserves the

preference. You have a mind to engage me in a subject, says Philander, that is perhaps of a larger extent than you imagine. To examine it thoroughly, it would be necessary to take them in pieces, and to speak of the difference that shows itself in their metals, in the occasion of stamping them, in the inscriptions, and in the figures that adorn them. Since you have divided your subject,' says Cynthio, be so kind as to enter on it without further preface.

We should first of all, says Philander, consider the difference of the metals that we find in ancient and modern coins, but as this speculation is more curious than improving, I believe

you will excuse me if I do not dwell long upon it. One may understand all the learned part of this science, without knowing whether there were coins of iron or lead among the old Romans; and if a man is well acquainted with the device of a medal, I do not see what necessity there is of being able to tell whether the medal itself be of

copper or Corinthian brass. There is, however, so great a difference between the antique and modern medals, that I have seen an antiquary lick an old coin, among other trials, to distinguish the age of it by its taste. I remember when I laughed at him for it, he told me, with a great deal of vehemence, there was as much difference between the relish of ancient and modern brass, as between an apple and a turnip. It is pity, says Eugenius, but they found out the smell too of an ancient medal. They would then be able to judge of it by all the senses. The touch, I have heard, gives almost as good evidence as the sight, and the ringing of a medal is, I know, a very common experiment. But I suppose this last proof you mention relates only to such coins as are made of your baser sorts of metal. And here, says Philander, we may observe the prudence of the ancients above that of the moderns, in the care they took to perpetuate the memory of great actions. They knew very well that silver and gold might fall into the hands of the covetous or ignorant, who would not respect them for the device they bore,

! The method of this dialogue is very elegantly contrived and introduced.

« ForrigeFortsæt »