« ForrigeFortsæt »
vices which he had done for his country, they publicly repealed their curses, and changed them into applauses and benedictions.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. B-ley; 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 liquors, 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, wbile he has been sweating at the furnace?!,Behold 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? Has 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, ithat 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 cartlı, be mentioned in it with obloquy and detraction? Will
' not your posterity :blush -at I their forefathers, 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 endeavours, for the security of my country. i. If she is ungrateful, ; she is still Athens. On the contrary, jas she will stand more in need of defence, when she has so degenerate a people, I will pursue my victories, till such time as it shall be out 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 Thermopylæ, 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, xines and olives?? Consider
your enemies, the Lacedæmonianssi didłyou
ever hear that they preferred a coffee-man to Agesilaus ? No; I though 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 rigoup and furýy as of late years we have attacked the common enemy? I shall trouble you no more,'O ye 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 whichert have 'wrested out of the hands of your enemies. And when this is done, let him be brought into the field of election upon his dray-cart; and if I can finish my conquest sooners will not fail to meet him there in artriumphørt okariot.17 But, O'ye gods! let not the king of Persia laughíat the fall of Alcibia ades ! ::Let him notisaiy; the Athenians have avenged me upon their own generals, or let me be rather struck dead by the hanidiof's Lacedæmonian; than; disgraced by-thevoices of my fellow-citizens:'lix'Tobierno obavila 1:0I stolod iud
Ji nuqu yrittit vu seje of peu jolo d 79 92490 7900 Vila ::$1,439allir to giuiso plody or siste 0,5 ab eid
kwa Iw9a vioritas 19 juwa si aj ti 9815539! bus
Satis eloquentia, sapientia parum. SALLUST. HUDIBRA
UDIBRAS 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
... t' BED pijl.)
After this short panegyric upon nonsense, which may appear as extravagantj 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 Letters to the Examiner: I have no private considerations towarp, me in this controversy, 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
notice that there are two kinds of it, viz. high nonsense and low nonsense.
Low nonsense is the talent of a cold, phlegmatic temper, that, in a poor dispirited style, creeps along servilely through darkness and confusion. A writer of this complexion gropes his way softly amongst selfcontradictions, and grovels in absurdities.
l'ideri vult pauper, et est pauper. He has neither wit nor sense, and pretends to none.
On the contrary, your high nonsense blusters and makes a noise, it stalks upon hard words, and rattles through polysyllables. It is loud and sonorous, smooth and periodical. It has something in it like manliness and force, and makes one think of the name of Sir Hercules Nonsense in the play called the Nest of Fools. In a word, your high nonsense has a majestic appearance, and wears a most tremendous garb, like Esop's ass clothed in a lion's skin.
When Aristotle lay upon his death-bed, and was asked whom he would appoint for his successor in his school, two of his scholars being candidates for it; hę called for two different sorts of wine, and by the character which he gave of them, denoted the different qualities and perfections that showed themselves in the style and writing of each of the competitors. As rational writings have been represented by wine, I shall represent those kinds of writings we are now speaking of, by small beer.
Low nonsense is like that in the barrel, which is altogether flat, tasteless, and insipid. High nonsense is like that in the bottle, which has, in reality, no more strength and spirit than the other, but frets, and flies, and bounces, and, by the help of a little wind that is got into it, imitates the passions of a much nobler liquor,
We meet with a low groveling nonsense in every Grub Street production; but I think there are none of our present writers who have hit the sublime in non