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ried virgin, who was fearful the liberties she allowed Celadon might be ill construed. Phillis tells the druid Adamas that Astrea was seen sleeping by the fountain of the Truth of Love, and that the unicorns which guarded those waters were observed to approach her, and lay their heads on her lap. According to fable, it is one of the properties of these animals never to approach any female but a maiden: at this strange difficulty our druid remains surprised; while Astrea has thus given an incontrovertible proof of her purity.
The history of Philander is that of the elder D'Urfé. None but boys disguised as girls, and girls as boys, appear in the history. It was in this manner he concealed, without offending modesty, the defect of his brother. To mark the truth of this history, when Philander is disguised as a woman, while he converses with Astrea of his love, he frequently alludes to his misfortune, although in another sense.
Philander, ready to expire, will die with the glorious name of the husband of Astrea. He entreats her to grant him this favour; she accords it to him, and swears before the gods that she receives him in her heart for her husband. The truth is, he enjoyed nothing but the name. Philander dies too, in combating with a hideous Moor, which is the personifieation of his conscience, and which at length compelled him to quit so beautiful an object, and one so worthy of being eternally beloved.
The gratitude of Sylvander, on the point of being sacrificed, represents the consent of Honoré's parents to dissolve his vow of celibacy, and unite him to Diana ; and the druid Adamas represents the ecclesiastical power. The FOUNTain of the truTH OF LOVE is that of marriage; the unicorns are the symbols of that purity which should ever guard it; and the flaming eyes of the lions, which are also there, represent those inconveniences attending marriage, but over which a faithful passion easily triumphs.
In this manner has our author disguised his own private history; and blended in his works a number of little amours which passed at the court of Henry the Great. I might proceed in explaining these allegories; but what I have noticed will be sufficient to give an idea of the ingenuity of the author.
Fontenelle, in his introduction to his Eclogues, has made a pretty comparison of this species of pastoral romance with that of chivalry, which turned the brain of Don Quixote. When he reads the inimitable acts of Amadis, so many castles forced, giants hacked, magicians confounded, he does not regret that these are only fables; but he adds, when I read the AsTREA, where in a softened repose love occupies the minds of amiable heroes, where love decides on their fate, where wisdom itself preserves so little of its rigid air, that it becomes a zealous partisan of love, even to Adamas the sovereign druid, I then grieve that it is only a romance !
The present article is a sketch of the history of POETS LAUREAT, from a memoir of the French Academy, by the Abbé Resnel.
The custom of crowning poets is as ancient as poetry itself; it has indeed frequently varied; it existed, however, as late as the reign of Theodosius, when it was abolished as a remain of paganism.
When the barbarians overspread Europe, few appeared to merit this honour, and fewer who could have read their works. It was about the time of PETRARCH that POETRY resumed its ancient lustre; he was publicly honoured with the LAUREL CROWN. It was in this century (the thirteenth) that the establishment of Bachelor and Doctor was fixed in the universities. Those who were found worthy of the honour obtained the laurel of Bachelor, or the laurel of Doctor; Laurea Baccalaureatus; Laurea Doctoratus. At their reception they not only assumed this title, but they also had a crown of laurel placed on their heads.
To this ceremony the ingenious writer attributes the revival of the custom. The poets were not slow in putting in their claims to what they had most a right; and their patrons sought to encourage them by these honourable distinctions.
The following formula is the exact style of those which are yet employed in the universities to confer the degree of Bachelor and Doctor, and serves to confirm the conjecture of Resnel.
“We, count and senator,” (Count d’Anguillara, who bestowed the laurel on Petrarch)"for us and our College, declare Francis PETRARCH, great poet and historian, and for a special mark of his quality of poet, we have placed with our hands on his head a crown of laurel, granting to him, by the tenor of these presents, and by the authority of King Robert, of the senate and the people of Rome, in the poetic, as well as in the historic art, and generally in whatever relates to the said arts, as well in this holy city as elsewhere, the free and entire power of reading, disputing, and interpreting all ancient books, to make new ones, and compose poems, which, God assisting, shall endure from age to age."
In Italy these honours did not long flourish; although Tasso dignified the laurel crown by
his acceptance of it. Many got crowned who were unworthy of the distinction. The laurel was even bestowed on QUERNO, whose character is given in the Dunciad:
“ Not with more gleé, by hands pontific crown'd,
With scarlet hats wide-waving circled round,
This man was made laureat, for the joke's sake; his poetry was inspired by his cups, a kind of poet who came in with the dessert; and he recited twenty thousand verses. He was rather the arch-buffoon than the arch-poet of Leo X. though honoured with the latter title. They invented for him a new kind of laureated honour, and in the intermixture of the foliage raised to Apollo, slyly inserted the vine and the cabbage leaves, which he evidently deserved, from his extreme dexterity in clearing the pontiff's dishes and emptying his goblets,
Urban VIII. had a juster and more elevated idea of the children of Fancy. It appears that he possessed much poetic sensibility. Of him it is recorded, that he wrote a letter to Chiabrera to felicitate him on the success of his poetry: letters written by a pope were then an honour only paid to crowned heads. One is pleased also with another testimony of his elegant dis