« EelmineJätka »
Was once talking with an old hundrum fellow, and
before I had heard his story out, was called away by businefs. About three years after I inet him again, when he immediately re-affumed the thread of his story, and began his falutation with, but Sir, as I was telling
you. The same method has been made use of by very polite writers; as, in particular, the author of Don Quixote, who inserts feveral novels in his works, and other parenthesis of about a dozen leaves, returns again to his story, 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 respite; as the Examiner, who is capable of imitating him in this particular, has likewife done.
This may serve as an apology for postponing the examination of the argumentative part of the Letter to the • Examiner, to a further day, though I must confess, this was occasioned 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 ap: plication, was introduced as follows:
“ Alcibiades was a man of wit and pleasure, bred up 66 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
“ great conquests over the Lacedemonians, who had “ firmerly been the confederates of his countrymen “ against the great King of Perpa, but were at that “ time in alliance with the Perfans. He had been “ once so far misrepresented and traduced by the malice “ of his enemies, that the priests cursed him. But af“ ter the great services which he had done for his coun“ try, they publicly repealed their curses, and changed “ then into applauses and benedictions. “ Plutarch tells us, in the life of Alcibiades, that
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 re“ commended himself to the Athenians by an oration. " The speech which Aleibiades made on that occasion “ has been lately discovered among the manuscripts 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 Terreas, or, as the Doctor rather chooses to call hini, To
ryas, was an Atbenian brewer. This speech I have 5 translated literally, changing very little in it, except “ where it was absolutely necessary to make it under“ stood by an English reader. It is as follow :
S it then possible, Oye Albenians, that I, who
me, must now have an artisan for my antagonist? “ That I, who have overthrown the princes of Lace“ demon, must now see myself in danger of being de“ feated by a brewer? What will the world say of the
goddess that presides over you, should they suppose " that you follow her dictates? would they think she “ acted like herself, like the great Minerva ?' would " they now say she inspires her sons with wisdoms of “ would they not rather say, she has a second time “ chosen owls for her favourites? but Oye men of “ Athens, what has this man done to deserve your “ voices ? you say he is honest, I believe it, and there
c fore he shall brew for me. You say he is alsiduous in “ his cailing; And is he not grown rich by it? let himn “ have your cuttom 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 the 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, while he has been
sweating at the furnace ? behold these scars, be“ hold this wound which still bleeds in your service ;
what can Taureas shew you of this nature? what are "hiş marks of honour ? has he any other woundabout “ him, except the accidental scaldings of his wort, or “ bruises from the tub or barrel ? let it not, o Athe“ nians, let it not be said, that your Generals have “ conquered themselves into your displeasure, and loft
your favour by gaining you victories. Shall those “ atchievements that have redeemed the present age “ from Davery, be undervalued by those who feel the “ benefits of thein? shall those naines that have made is
your city the glory of the whole earth, be mentioned « in it with obloquy and detraction will not your
posterity blush at their forefathers, when they shall “ 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 dishonourable, the defeat would be shameful. " I shall not however Nacken iny endeavours for the “ focurity of my country. If she is ungrateful, she is “ still Athens. On the contrary, as the will stand more “ in need of defence, when she has so degenerate a “ people ; I will pursue my victories, until 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 Thermole, and “ fought upon the plains of Marathon? are you weary “ of conquering, or have you forgotten the oath which
you took at Agraulas, That you would look upon “ the bounds of Attica to be those foils only which are “ incapable of bearing wheat and barley, vines and o“ lives? " consider your enemies the Lacedemonians; “ did you ever hear that they preferred a coffee-man “ to Ageflaus? no, 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 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 Persia “ who have been against entering into a war with him,
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 liber, “ ties which your fathers in all ages have purchased or “ recovered with their blood and would prosecute
your fellow-citizens with as much rigour and fury as of late
years we have attacked the common enemy? “ I thall trouble you no more, Oye men of Athens
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 stand“ ards which were employed against you, and which “ I 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 ; aid if I can finish my conquest sooner, I will not fail to meet him re in a triumphant chariot. But, oh ye Gods,
« let not the King of Perfia laugh at the fall of Alcibi-
Generals ;' or let me be rather “ ftruck dead by the hand of a Lacedæmonian, than dif“ graced by the voices of my fellow-citizens."
Thursday, O&tober 5.
Satis eloquentiæ, sapientiæ parum.
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 essentiai 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 affertions are not to be invalidated. A man may as well hope to diftinguish colours in the midit 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 abftrufe and profound tract of school-divinity.
After this short panegyrick upon nonsense, which may appear as extravagant to an ordinary reader, as Erasmus's Enconium of folly;' I must here folemnly protest, that I have not done it to curry favour with my