Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

he tells you the price of every statue ; and every temple is honoured with the account of what it cost. Not satisfied with being a man of taste out of doors, he pretends to connoisseurship and to literature with. in. He shews pictures painted, as he thinks, by masters, whose names he has not learned to pronounce. If doubts are started of their originality, Pomponius stops all farther questions by the mention of the sum he paid for them. His library has its statues like his fields ; it is furnished with a profusion of bronzes and busts; and the books are as liberally gilded as the rest of his furniture. In talking of them (for he runs all risks to be thought a man of learning) he gets into the most ridiculous blunders. He mistakes a Greek for a Roman author ; and to shew himself a philosopher praises a writer, in the belief that he is an infidel, when, in fact, his books are written in defence of religion. The other day, somebody happening to mention the World, he asked if the author, Mr. Fitzadam, was still alive, and if he had written any other book.

Drexelius and Clavius were miserable in the midst of their wealth ; Pomponius is ridiculous in the en. joyment of his

How much is it to be regretted, that these persons had not in their earlier years received the benefit of a liberal education! Had their minds been culti. vated in their youth, had they then acquired the first principles of elegance and taste, they would have been enabled, after attaining a fortune, to have enjoyed it with propriety and dignity: while they were reaping the fruits of their honest industry and success, they might have been useful to others and proved ornaments to their country.

No 107. SATURDAY, MAY 16, 1780.

And love and war take turns like day and night.

ROWE.

In every art and science, practitioners complain how often they are deceived by specious theories and delusive speculation. Learned men, in the solitude of their studies, are apt to imagine, that nothing which they can reconcile to their own ideas upon paper can fail to be evinced by actual experiment, or to be reduced into easy and constant practice. But those who are to apply the doctrine to the fact, too often find, that what was infallible in the brain of the demonstrator, is sadly fallacious in the hands of him who is to execute it.

There is something, however, so delightful in this art of theory-building, that the experience of a thousand disappointments will never be able to extinguish it. Nor, indeed, should any body wish for its extinction, when it is remembered, that the person who builds is delighted with the expectation of success, and that other people are often little less pleased with tracing the disappointment. The last are flattered by seeing the superiority of science thus levelled and brought down; the first solaces himself by imputing the failure to errors in the exe. cution, and shutting his closet-door, returns to fresh theories, and new speculation.

In the course of my reading, I have met with two theoretical descriptions, which pleased me so much by the appearance they exhibited of self-satisfaction in the sages who composed them, that I cannot resist the desire of laying them before my readers in this day's paper.' The first I found in an obscure author of the reign of Queen Elizabeth, who, in tracing the progress of certain affections of the mind, thus personifies his ideas of Honourable

Love.

When a young man,' says he, of illustrious descent, rarely gifted by Nature in mind and body, the which he hath, through the care of his noble parents and his own special industry, much helped • by art, first cometh from the retired haunts of learn. •ing into the resort of the world, he is suddenly

smitten by the beauty and rare accomplishments of • some young damsel,of parentage no less honourable * than his own, and of endowments no less precious

than those wherewith he himself is graced. He seeketh all opportunities of converse with, and of courtesy towards, her ; which nevertheless she, out

of maiden shyness, whereof her lady-mother hath well instructed her, doth, with a determined state• liness of aspect, most constantly avoid ; whereat • the young man being grieved in his mind, but • nowise damped in his love, he resteth not till by • all means he render himself more worthy of her

regard, not only by excelling in all gentleman-like « exercises, such as dancing, horsemanship, skill in • his rapier, and the like, but likewise in all becoming • softness of behaviour, and courtly niceness of • speech, adding thereunto the study of sweet poesy, wherewith, in curious sonnets, he speaketh the • praise of his mistress's manifold perfections. But • she, nowise yielding to such flatteries, nor abatingthe rigour of her looks, he sometimes complaineth

of his thraldom in more bitter terms, and for a • while, as seeking freedom from his fair tyrant,

shunneth her company, and resorteth to that of . jovial companions, much given to the sports of the

field, and the joys of wine, thinking thereby to . efface her image quite from his mind. But after ( no great space, he groweth uneasy and unquiet, 6 and though stoutly denying all allegiance to that . dominion, whereof he hath sworn to be free, he goeth secretly where he can again steal a glance

of her lovely face, by one look of which being, • as he deemeth, encouraged to better hope, he re6 neweth his suit with fresh warmth, renouncing « his past rebellion as a grievous sin, the which he • is to expiate by tenfold increased love. Neverthe« less she, willing to shew her power, thus marvellous«ly confirmed and increased, demeaneth herself as « haughtily as before, and, haply, to punish his • late treasonous lapse and falling off, seemeth to (cast upon others more soft and favourable looks ; • whereat our lover, being stung with envy and jea• lous wrath, doth encounter the chiefest of his • rivals with sharp and angry words; which growing

into keener and inore deadly rage, they agree to 6 decide which is the worthiest by trial of arms; 6 and having met, in some retired place, either on • horseback or on foot, attended by their squires, a • furious' combat ensueth, in which the valour of « both shineth out worthy of their noble birth, and of that love wherewith it is more especially in. s famed and spurred on. After various turns of for. "tune, and many wounds on both sides, our lover • doth, with difficulty, master his adversary, to o whom he sheweth no less courtesy in defeat, that • fierceness in fight. After a time, having recoveredof his wounds, at hearing whereof the lady hath

shewed as much grief and pity as beseemeth a • modest maiden to shew for man, he appeareth

before her, his arm scarfed, and his cheeks yet • pale from loss of blood, and, kneeling at her feet, . imploreth forgiveness for past faults, and voweth • constancy and love, not shorter than he hath life . to feel them, and breath to utter; while she, with'out speaking a word, doth, by looks and silent • blushes, in some sort confess herself propitious to ' his vows; whereof, having passed a probation of ' years, one or more, he arriveth at the end of his • wishes, and obtaineth her consent to be his wedded

wife. Lastly, their noble parents being well sa• tisfied with this union of their blood, the marriage • is celebrated, with much ceremony and pomp, at

the castle of the bride's princely father, whereat • there is all manner of good cheer, of dancing, and • of minst:elsy for many days.'

This theory of ancient love and courtship, instead of simplifying the matter, makes it much more difficult than, in modern practice at least, it is actually found. The lover, now a days, finds but little of that stately pride and maiden shyness above described ; nor is he obliged to cultivate poetry to celebrate his mistress, nor to meet any rival attended by his squire, nor to suffer wounds and loss of blood for her sake, nor to go through a probation of years, one or more. All he has to do is, to dance with the lady at a ball, say a few soft things to her in plain prose, then meet her father attended by his lawyer, go through a probation of deeds and settle. ments, and so proceed to the bridal ceremony, and to good cheer and jollity for as short or as long a cime as he thinks proper.

« VorigeDoorgaan »