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posed Catullus for their pattern, even the best of the modern Latin poets of Italy, seem to think they have accomplished their design,' by introducing many florid diminutives, such as "tenellula and columbula :" but there is a purity and severity of file, a temperate and austere manner in Catullus, which nearly resembles that of his cotemporary Lucretius, and is happily copied by the author of the poem, which has produced these reflections. Whenever, therefore, we sit down to compose, we should alk ourselves in the words of Longinus a little altered ; “How would Homer or Plato, Demosthenes or Thucydides, have expressed them. “ felves on this occasion; allowing for the alteration " of our customs, and the different idioms of our re. “ fpective languages ?" This would be following the ancients, without tamely treading in their footsteps ; this would be making the fame glorious use of them that Racine has done of Euripides in his Phædra and Iphigenia, and that Milton has done of the Prometheus of Eschylus in the character of Satan.

If you should happen not to lay aside this paper among the refuse of your correspondence, as the off. {pring of pedantry and a blind fondoefs for antiquity; or rather, if your readers can endure the fight of so much Greek, though ever fo Attic; I may, perhaps, trouble you again with a few reflections on the character of Menander.


I am,

Mr. Adventurer,




No. XC. Saturday, September 15. 1753.

Concretam exemit labem, purumque reliquit
Ætberium fenfum, atque aurai

simplicis ignem.


-By length of time,
The scurf is worn away of each committed crime ;
No fpeck is left of their habitual stains,
But the pure æther of the foul remains.




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Nothing fuoner quells the ridiculous triumph of hu, man vanity, than reading those passages of the greateft writers, in which they seem deprived of that noble fpirit that inspires them in other parts; and where, instead of invention and grandeur, we meet with nothing but flatness and infipidity.


The pain I have felt in observing a lofty genius thus fink beneath itself, has often made me wish, that these unworthy stains could be blotted from their works, and leave them perfect and immaculate.

I went to bed a few nights ago, full of these thoughts, and closed the evening, as I frequently do, with reading a few lines in Virgil. I accidentally opened that part of the sixth book, where Anchises recounts to his son the various methods of purgation which the soul undergoes in the next world, to cleanse it from the filth it has contracted by its connection with the body, and to deliver the pure etherial essence from the vicious tincture of mortality. This was so much like my evening's fpeculation, that it insensibly mixed and in corporated with it, and as soon as I fell asleep, formed itself into the following dream.

I found myself in an instant in the midst of a temple which was built with all that magnificent fimplicity that distinguishes the productions of the ancients. At the east end was raised an altar, on each side of which food a priest, who seemed preparing to sacrifice. On the altar was kindled a fire, from which arose the brightest flame I had ever beheld. The light which it dispensed, though remarkably strong and clear, was not quivering and dazzling, but steady and uniform, and diffused a purple radiance through the whole edifice, not unlike the first appearance of the morning

While I stood fixed in admiration, my attention was awakened by the blaft of a trumpet that fhook the whole temple ; but it carried a certain sweetness in its sound, which mellowed and tempered the natural Thrill. ness of that instrument. After it had founded thrice,


the being who blew it, habited according to the discription of Fame by the ancients, issued a proclamation to the following purpose : “By command of Apollo and as the Muses, all who have ever made any pretensions " to fame by their writings, are enjoined to sacrifice

upon the altar in this temple, those parts of their " works, which have hitherto been preserved to their “ infamy, that their names may descend spotless and “ unsullied to posterity. For this purpose Aristotle " and Longinus are appointed chief priests, who are

to see that no improper oblations are made, and no

proper ones concealed ; and for the more easy per“ formance of this office, they are allowed to choose a as their affiftants whomsoever they shall think worthy " of the function."

As soon as this proclamation was made, I turned my eyes with inexpressible delight towards the two priests; but was soon robbed of the pleasure of looking at them by a crowd of people running up to offer their service. These I found to be a group of French critics ; but their offers were rejected by both priests with the utmost indignation, and their whole works were thrown on the altar, and reduced to ashes in an instant. The two priests then looked round, and chose, with a few others, Horace and Quintilian from among the Romans, and Addison from the English, as their prncipal affiftants.

The first who came forward with his offering, by the loftiness of his demeanor was soon discovered to be Homer. He approached the altar with great majesty, and delivered to Longinus those parts of his Odyssey, which have been censured as improbable fi&tions, and the ridiculous narratives of old age. Longinus was



preparing for the sacrifice, but observing that Aristo. tle did not seem willing to aflilt him in the office, he returned them to the venerable old bard with great deference, saying, that "they were indeed the tales of “ old age, but it was the old age of Homer.”

Virgil appeared next, and approached the altar with a modest dignity in his gait and countenance peculiar to himself; and to the surprise of all commited his whole Æneid to the flames. But it was immediately rescued by two Romans, whom I found to be Tucca and Varius, who ran with precipitation to the altar, delivered the poem from destruction, and carried off the author between them repeating that glorious boast of about forty lines at the beginning of the third Georgic :

Tentanda via eft; qua me quoque polim Tollere humo, victorque virúm volitare per ora, Primus ego in patriam mecum, &c.

After him most of the Greek and Roman authors proceeded to the altar, and surrendered with great modesty and humility the most faulty part of their works. One circumstance was observable, that the facrifice always increased in proportion as the author had ventured to deviate from a judicious imitation of Homer. The latter Roman authors, who seemed almost to have lost sight of him, made so large offerings, that some of their works, which were before very

volu. minous, shrunk into the compass of a primer.

It gave me the highest satisfaction to see Philosophy thus cleared from erroneous principles, History purged of falsehood, Poetry of fustian, and nothing left in each but Genius, Sense, and Truth.

I marked

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