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Was once talking with an old hundrum fellow, and before I had heard his ftory out, was called away by bufinefs. About three years after I met him again, when he immediately re-affumed the thread of his ftory, and began his falutation with, but Sir, as I was telling you.' The fame method has been made ufe of by very polite writers; as, in particular, the author of Don Quixote, who inferts feveral novels in his works, and other parenthesis of about a dozen leaves, returns again to his ftory, Hudibras has broke off the Adventure of
the Bear and Fiddle.' The Tatler has frequently interrupted the course of a lucubration, and taken it up again after a fortnight's refpite; as the Examiner, who is capable of imitating him in this particular, has likewife done.
This may ferve as an apology for poftponing the examination of the argumentative part of the Letter to the • Examiner, to a further day, though I must confefs, this was occafioned by a Letter which I received last poft. Upon opening it, I found it to contain a very curious piece of antiquity; which, without preface or application, was introduced as follows:
"Alcibiades was a man of wit and pleasure, bred up "in the school of Socrates; and one of the best orators "of his age, notwithstanding he lived at a time when "learning was at its highest pitch: He was likewife.
very famous for his military exploits, having gained 64 great
great conquefts over the Lacedæmonians, who had. "frmerly been the confederates of his countrymen against the great King of Perfia, but were at that "time in alliance with the Perfans. He had been
once fo far mifreprefented and traduced by the malice "of his enemies, that the priests curfed him. But af"ter the great services which he had done for his coun"try, they publicly repealed their curfes, and changed "them into applaufes and benedictions.
"Plutarch tells us, in the life of Alcibiades, that one Taureas, an obfcure man, contended with him "for a certain prize, which was to be conferred by "vote; at which time each of the competitors re"commended himself to the Athenians by an oration. "The speech which Alcibiades made on that occafion "has been lately difcovered among the manufcripts of "King's-College in Cambridgs; and communicated to me by my learned friend Doctor Bentley; who tells me, that by a marginal note it appears, that this Teureas, or, as the Doctor rather chooses to call him, Toryas, was an Athenian brewer. This speech I have "tranflated literally, changing very little in it, except " where it was abfolutely neceffary to make it under"stood by an English reader. It is as follow:
"TS it then poffible, O ye Athenians, that I, who 6< hitherto have had none but Generals to oppose
me, muft now have an artifan for my antagonist ? "That I, who have overthrown the princes of Lace"demon, must now fee myself in danger of being de"feated by a brewer? What will the world fay of the goddess that prefides over you, fhould they suppose "that you follow her dictates? would they think the "acted like herfelf, like the great Minerva ? would "they now fay fhe infpires her fons with wisdom ♪ of "would they not rather fay, fhe has a fecond time "chofen owls for her favourites? but O ye men of "Athens, what has this man done to deferve your "voices? you fay he is honeft, I believe it, and there
"fore he fhall brew for me. You fay he is affiduous in
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, while he has been fweating at the furnace? behold thefe fcars, be"hold this wound which ftill bleeds in your service; "what can Taureas fhew you of this nature? what are "his marks of honour? has he any other wound'about
him, except the accidental fcaldings of his wort, or bruifes from the tub or barrel? let it not, O Athe“nians, let it not be faid, that your Generals have 66 conquered themselves into your difpleafure, and loft
your favour by gaining you victories. Shall those "atchievements that have redeemed the prefent age "from flavery, be undervalued by those who feel the "benefits of them? fhall thofe names that have made
your city the glory of the whole earth, be mentioned in it with obloquy and detraction? will not your "pofterity blush at their forefathers, when they fhall "read in the annals of their country, that Alcibiades "in the ninetieth olympiad, after having conquered the "Lacedæmonians, and recovered Byzantium, contended "for a prize against Taureas the brewer? the compe"tition is difhonourable, the defeat would be shameful. "I shall not however flacken iny endeavours for the "fecurity of my country. If fhe is ungrateful, fhe is "ftill Athens. On the contrary, as fhe will ftand more "in need of defence, when fhe has fo degenerate a people; I will purfue my victories, until fuch time as "it fhall be out of your power to hurt yourselves, and "that you may be in fafety even under your prefent "leaders. But oh! thou genius of Athens, whither art
"thou fled? where is now the race of thofe glorious fpirits that perished at the battle of Thermopyle, and fought upon the plains of Marathon? are you weary "of conquering, or have you forgotten the oath which you took at Agraules, That you would look upon "the bounds of Attica to be those foils only which are incapable of bearing wheat and barley, vines and olives?confider your enemies the Lacedaemonians ; "did you ever hear that they preferred a coffee-man "to Agefilaus? no, though their Generals have been "unfortunate, though they have loft feveral 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 extol"led, by their fellow-citizens. Their Generals have "been received with honour after their defeat, yours
with ignominy after conqueft. Are there not men "of Taureas's temper and character, who tremble in "their hearts at the name of the great King of Perfia? "who have been against entering into a war with him, "or for making a peace upon base conditions? that "have grudged thofe contributions which have fet our
country at the head of all the governments of Greece? "that would difhonour those who have raised her to "fuch a pitch of glory? that would betray thofe liber"ties which your fathers in all ages have purchased or "recovered with their blood? and would profecute your fellow-citizens with as much rigour and fury as of late years we have attacked the common enemy? "I fhall trouble you no more, O ye men of Athens; 66 you know my actions, let my antagonist relate what "he has done for you. Let him produce his vats and "tubs, in oppofition to the heaps of arms and ftand"ards which were employed against you, and which "I have wrefted 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 conqueft fooner, I will not fail to meet him "there in a triumphant chariot. But, oh ye Gods,
let not the King of Perfia laugh at the fall of Alcibi"ades! let him not fay," the Athenians have avenged me upon their own Generals ;' or let me be rather "ftruck dead by the hand of a Lacedæmonian, than difgraced by the voices of my fellow-citizens."
Thursday, October 5.
Satis eloquentiæ, fapientiæ parum.
Udibras has defined nonsense, as Cowley does wit,
neither true nor falfe. These two great properties of nonfenfe, which are always effentiai to it, give it fuch a peculiar advantage over all other writings, that it is incapable of being either anfwered or contradicted. It ftands upon its own bafis like a rock of adamant, secured by its natural fituation 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 ftrength. Its queftions admit of no reply, and its affertions are not to be invalidated. A man may as well hope to diftinguish colours in the midft of darkness as to find out what to approve and difapprove in nonfenfe: you may as well affault 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 obfcurities, greater intricacies and perplexities, in an elaborate and well-written piece of nonfenfe, than in the most abftrufe and profound tract of fchool-divinity.
After this fhort panegyrick upon nonfenfe, which may appear as extravagant to an ordinary reader, as Erafmus's Encomium of folly;' I must here folemnly proteft, that I have not done it to curry favour with my