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not be. The winds may do their will with the standard of Great Britain, but it is safe from the power of man.
A statesman derided omens ; they ought not to be derided; for popular feeling is sometimes a barometer which perceives the change of atmosphere before it is visible. An historian, therefore, ought not to discard them. They are delightful to the poet, and valuable to the philosopher. Who can read in Josephus of the prodigies which announced the fall of Jerusalem without feeling his heart fail ?
Were I to relate in poetry Rodrigo's descent into the cavern of Toledo, I would describe it as having the images of his predecessors, the Gothic king, set up round the sides of the rock, and only one nich vacant. Torch-light would give a terrifying effect to what may be seen without any effect at all in the Royal Exchange.
109. Munchausen. Who is the author of Munchausen's Travels, a book which every body knows, because all boys read it?
Two of his stories are to be found in a Portugueze magazine, if so it may be called, published about fourscore years ago, with this title
- Folheto de Ambas Lisboas. The seventh number contains a tale of a hunter shooting a wild boar with a peach-stone, because he had exhausted all his ball, and afterwards meeting the same boar with a peach-tree growing out of his loins. The other resemblance is less striking.. A waterman talked one night from the street to a woman at a window, and as neither of them could hear distinctly what the other said, What do you say? was frequently repeated by both. The reason why they could not hear was, that it froze very hard at the time, and in the morning the wall was covered with, What do you
It is not likely that the author of Munchausen should have seen these Folhetos; the low wit which they are filled with could at no time have been well understood beyond the limits of Lisbon, and has long been obsolete there; and in all probability very few sets have escaped the common fate of worthless papers, published in loose sheets, and thereby tempting the destruction which they deserve. But it is probable that the Portugueze and English writers both have had recourse to the same store-house of fable.
110. Cold-bathing in Fevers. Amerigo Vespucci describes cold bathing as the remedy for fever which was used by the American Indians; but they accompanied it with a practice which must have counteracted its beneficial effects. “ Cum eorum quempiam febricitare contigit, horâ quâ febris eum asperius inquietal, ipsum in frigentissimam aquam immergunt & balneant, postmodumque per duas horas circa ignem validum, donec plurimum calescat, currere & recurrere cogunt, & postremo ad dormiendum deferunt, quo quidem medicamento complures eorum sanitati reslitui vidimus.”
says, in ice.
111. Payment of a Copyer of Books. The form of a written agreement, which is preserved in the Partidas, happens to relate to a curious subject. It is the bargain of a
copyer or scribe.
“ Know all men to whom this writing shall come, that Pero Martinez, the scribe, promiseth, consenteth, and bindeth himself to the Dean of Toledo, to write for him the text of such a book, and that he will write it and go on with it till it be compleated, in such a hand as he hath written for a sample in the first leaf of this book, before me N. Notary Public, who have made this writing, and the witnesses whose names are hereunto subjoined. Also the aforesaid Scribe promiseth that he will not labour in writing any other work till this book be finished. And he engageth to do this for the sum of thirty maravedis, ten of which he acknowledgeth to have received from the aforesaid Dean, and the other maravedis are to be paid in this manner: ten when half the book shall have been written, and the other ten when it is finished.
112. Animals in Paradise. The animals in Paradise are the prophet Saleh's camel, the ram which Abraham sacrificed instead of Isaac, Moses's cow (the red cow, whose ashes were mingled with the water of purification), Solomon's ant (who, when all creatures, in token of their obedience to him, brought him presents, dragged before him a locust, and was therefore preferred before all others because it had brought a creature so much bigger than itself); the queen of Sheba's parrot,
who carried messages between her and Solomon; Ezra's ass, Jonah's whale; Kitmer, the dog of the Seven Sleepers ; and Mahomet’s camel. Thevenot.
Most probably this suggested to Voltaire the dramatis persona of his Taureau Blanc.
113. Glover's Leonidas. Glover's Leonidas was duly praised at its first appearance, and more unduly depreciated. The periodical publications of the day abound with criticisms and panegyrics upon it. The best piece of ridicule which appeared upon the occasion is the argument of an epic poem entitled, Jack the Giant-killer.
Book 1. A poetico-historical account how Jack went to an old witch to enquire how to make himself glorious. How the old witch told him, he must be knocked on the head at the Straits of Gibraltar. How Jack, who laughed at all witchcraft, followed the old witch's advice, but first took leave of his wife and family.
2. How Jack travelled and travelled till he came to the Straits. How the giant sent word to Jack he would eat him up. How Jack bade him kiss his
3. How the giant brought all the world to fight against little Jack.
4. 5. How Jack's men fought with the giant's men; but neither Jack nor the giant did any thing.
6. 7. How ther
6.7. How prince Prettyman fell in love, and how Miss Airy killed herself for the man she never spoke to.
8. 9. How Jack, who for a long while said nothing, said his prayers, went out, and was knocked on the head.
THE TRAGIC WRITERS, PRATINAS, PHRYNICHUS, AND
The account which is commonly given of the origin of the Greek drama from the Chorus of Bacchus, is in itself sufficiently probable, and sufficiently supported by external evidence, to justify our acquiescence in it. Many other questions may be proposed relative to the Greek theatre, which afford scope for much disquisition, as the celebration of the Dionysia, the construction and scenery of the theatre, the inode of recitation, the employment of music, the office and use of the Chorus, with others of a similar nature. Omitting the consideration of these till some future occasion, we shall for the present proceed in giving a brief account of the principal tragic writers and their remaining works. Those previous to Æschylus will require but little notice, both because their performances are lost, and the accounts which remain of them are brief and obscure. The chief whose names are mentioned are Pratinas, Phrynichus, Chærilus, and Melanippides.
Pratinas was the son of Pyrrhonidas or Encomius, and was born at Phlius, in Peloponnesus. He repaired to Athens for the purpose of representing dramatic performances, and in the Lxx. Olympiad contended with Æschylus and Chærilus. Though he wrote fifty tragedies, he had the bad fortune of gaining only one prize. Many of his pieces were satyrical, and he is indeed said by Suidas to have been the author of this species of dramatic composition.*
An accident which happened at the performance of one of his plays, is said to have given the first occasion for the construction of a regular and durable theatre. The scaffolds on which the spectators were placed gave way, and by the mischief which ensued the Athenians were induced to guard against the future occurrence of a similar misfortune, by erecting a theatre of more substantial materials.
Phrynichus appears to have been a much more considerable writer. He is ranked by Plutarch with Æschylus as being the first to introduce the fables of mythology, and the sufferings of heroes, on the stage. Before them we must therefore suppose tragedy to have been altogeVol. IV.
* An anonymous and corrupt fragment in Athenæns, xiv. 622, is corrected and claimed for this poet by Mr. Porson, in his late edition of the Hecuba, p. 3.
ther irregular and grotesque. Phrynichus introduced some change in the versification of the drama, and is said to have been the first who exhibited female characters.
A singular circumstance is recorded with respect to one of his performances, which strongly displays the inconsistent and capricious character of the Athenians. Miletus, the capital of Ionia, and an ancient colony of the Athenians, a city eminent for its riches and splendour, and the illustrious characters to whom it had given birth, had been recently sacked by the Persian troops. On this calamity Phrynichus founded his tragedy, entitled the " Taking of Miletus.” The audience honoured its representation by the testimony of their tears; and so powerful was the impression which it produced, that the representation of this calamitous event was forbidden by a public edict, and a fine of a thousand drachmas was imposed upon the author.*
Phrynichus is said to have been the scholar of Thespis. He wrote a tragedy called Phænissæ, on the subject of the Persian war, of which the author of the argument prefixed to the Persæ of Æschylus gives the following account. Glaucus, in his treatise on the fables of Æschylus, says,
that his Persæ was borrowed from the Phænissæ of Phrynichus. He quotes this verse as the beginning of the play:
Ταδ' εστι Περσων των παλαι βεβηκοτων.
An eunuch was introduced, bringing the intelligence of the defeat of Xerxes, and preparing seats for the chiefs of the Persians. Phrynichus is also said to have represented a tragedy at Athens, by which he obtained the victory, Themistocles bearing the charge of the scenery and Chorus; in memory of which an inscription to the following effect is recorded by Plutarch. 66 Themistocles, of the district of Phreari, bore the charge, Phrynichus made the tragedy, and Adimantus was Archon." Bentley conjectures this play to have been the Phænissæ just mentioned, since no subject could be so gratifying to Themistocles as the defeat of Xerxes, in which he had borne so great a share.
A passage of Suidas has given occasion to the supposition that there were two tragic poets of the name of Phrynichus. This lexicographer first speaks of Phrynichus, the son of Polyphradmon, or Minyras, or Chorocles, the scholar of Thespis, enumerating some of his tragedies; and in another article, of Phrynichus, the son of Melanthas, an Athenian tragedian, the titles of some of whose plays differing from the former he likewise mentions. The latter passage is taken from the scholiast of Aristophanes, who adds, that this Phrynichus also wrote the “ Taking of Miletus." But this single authority is of little moment. The different names assigned in the first article to the father of Phrynichus shew his history to have been uncertain; and the plays ascribed to two writers, were in all probability the work
For all the writers, who are very numerous, who speak of the play entitled the " Taking of Miletus,” style the author of it
simply * Herodotus, vi. 21.
simply Phrynichus, the tragedian, without any mark of distinction derived from age or any other circumstance, from any other supposed author of the same name. The scholiast of Aristophanes also, and Suidas, in enumerating various persons who bore the name of Phry. nichus, make mention of only one as a tragic poet.
Chærilus is said to have been the author of 150 plays, and to have gained thirteen prizes. Melanippides was his contemporary, and besides other poems, wrote Dithyrambi and tragedies. Some fragments are cited from him by ancient authors.
These writers, perhaps, contributed in a considerable degree to the refinement of dramatic poetry from the meanness of its original state. The change was not, however, accomplished without opposition from the admirers of the ancient performances. The Chorus* used at first to sing a Dithyramb to the honour of Bacchus, but in time the poets relinquished it, and made the Giants and Centaurs the subjects of their plays; upon which the spectators mocked them, and said, " that was nothing to Bacchus," which gradually became a proverbial phrase. The poets, therefore, sometimes introduced the Satyrs, that they might not seem entirely to forget the god of the festival. Yet tragedy was in all probability left by these poets in a very imperfect state. The Chorus seems still to have remained the predominant part of the drama. This may be concluded from various authorities, and particularly from a passage of Aristotle, quoted and corrected by Bentley. He advances the following question as a problem. “Why did Phrynichus write more lyric songs than any modern poet?" In solution of which he says, 6 Was it because the songs of the Chorus were much more numerous than the verses spoken by the actors ?”
It was, therefore, from the genius of Æschylus that both the decorations of the stage and the construction of the drama received their most material improvements.
Personæ pallæque repertor honestæ,
Æschylus was the son of Euphorion. The time of his birth is somewhat uncertain, but is commonly placed by critics in the sixty-third Olympiad, the epoch of the Arundelian marble. He was sprung from à noble family. He is commonly supposed to have been an Athenian citizen of Eleusis. ' By others, with less authority, he is thought to have been a native of Decelia. He was present in the battles of Marathon, Salamis, and Platæa, in which his valour was distinguished. He had three brothers, Aminias, Euphorion, and Cynægirus, who likewise signalized themselves by military exploits. In the naval battle of Salamis, Aminias lost an arm, and was honoured with the first prize of valour.t. A remarkable circumstance is mentioned in the battle of Marathon, respecting Cynægirus, another of the brothers. As the Persians were flying in confusion to their
ships, * Zenobius and Suidas ap. Bentley, 243. + Ælian, v. 19.