صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

Thimble gave her orders to the servant, in the style of Lucullus, to prepare The Apollo, declaring herself ashamed to receive a gentleman of talents in any other apartment; I beseeched her to let us remain where we were, dreading a removal from a com. fortable firc-side to a cold stately apartment, for the season was severe; I was so earnest in my request, that Sir Theodore ventured in the most humble manner to second my suit; the consequence of which was a smart reprimand, accompanied with one of those expressive looks, which ladies of high prerogative in their own houses occasionally bestow to husbands under proper subjection, and I saw with pity the poor gentleman dispatched for his officiousness upon a freezing errand through a great hall, to see that things were set in order, and make report when they were ready. I could not help giving my friend the merchant a significant look upon this occasion; but he prudently kept silence, waiting with great respect the dreadful order of march.

My Lady now introduced me to the athletic philosopher in the elbow-chair, who condescended to relax one half of his features into a smile, and with a gracious waving of his hand, or rather fist, dis. missed me back again to my seat without uttering a syllable. She then informed me, that she had a treat to give me, which she flattered herself would be a fcast entirely to my palate ; I assured her La. - dyship I was always happiest to take the family

dinner of my friends, adding, that in truth the sharp air had sufficiently whetted my appetite to recom. mend much humbler fare, than I was likely to find at her table. She smiled at this, and told me, it was the food of the mind that she was about to provide for me: she undertook for nothing else ; culinary concerns were not her province; if I' was

hungry, she hoped there would be something to cat, but for her part she left the care of her kitchen to those who lived in it. Whilst she was saying this, methought the philosopher gave her a look, that scemed to say he was of my way of thinking; upon which she rung the bell, and ordered dinner to be held back for an hour, saying to the philosopher she thought we might have a canto in that time.

She now paused for some time, fixing her eyes upon him in expectation of an answer ; but nonc being given, nor any signal of assent, she rose, and observing that it was surprising to think what Sir Thcodore could be about all this while, for she was sure the Apollo must be ready, without more delay bade us follow her : Come, Sir, says she to me, as I passed the great' hall with an aking heart and chattering teeth, you shall now have a treat in your own taste; and meeting one of the domestics by the way, bade him tell Calliope to come into the Apollo.

When I set my foot into the room, I was imme. diately saluted by something like one of those ungenial breezes, which travellers inform us have the faculty of putting an end to life and all its cares at a stroke : a fire indeed had been lighted, which poor Sir Theodore was soliciting into a blazc, working the bellows with might and main to little parpose ; for the billets were so wet, that Apollo himself with all his beams would have bcen foiled to seć them in a flame: the honest gentleman had taken the precaution of opening all the windows, in spite of which no atom of smoke passed up the chimney, but came curling into the room in čo. lumns as thick, as if a hecatomb had been offering to the shrine of Delphi ; indeed this was not much to be wondered at, for I soon discovered that'a board had been fixed across the flue of the chimney, which Sir Theodore in his attention to the bellows


had neglected to observe: I was again the unhappy cause of that poor gentleman's unmerited rebuke, and in terms much severer than before ; it was to no purpose he attempted to bring Susan the housemaid in for some share of the blame: his plea was disallowed ; and though I must own it was not the most manly defence in the world, yet, considering the unhappy culprit as the son of a taylor, I thought it notentirely inadmissible.

When the smoke cleared up I discovered a cast of thc Belvidere A pollo on a pedestal in a niche at the upper end of the room; but, if we were to judge by the climate, this chamber must have derived its name from Apollo, by the rule of lucus a non lucendo : As soon as we were seated, and Lady Thimble had in some degree composed her spirits, she began to tell me, that the treat she had to give me was the rehearsal of part of an epic poem, written by a young lady of seventeen, who was a miracle of genius, and whose talents for composition were so extraordinary, that she had written a treatise on female education, whilst she was at the boardingschool, which all the world allowed to be a won. derful work for one of such an early age. There was no escape, for Calliope herself now entered the room, and dinner was put back a full hour for the Juxury of hearing a canto of a boarding-school girl's epic poem read by herself in the presence of Apollo. The Scottish philosopher had prudently kept his post by the parlour fire, and I alone was singled out as the victim ; Sir Theodore and his father-inJaw being considered only as expletives to fill up the audience. Calliope was enthroned in a chair at the pedestal of Apollo, whilst Lady Thimble and I took our seats opposite to the reader.

I was now to undergo an explanation of the sub. ject matter of this poem; this was undertaken and performed by Lady Thimble, whilst the young poetess was adjusting her manuscript: the subject was allegorical; the title was The Triumph of Reason, who was the hero of the piece ; the inferior cha. racters were the human passions personified; each passion occupied a canto, and the lady had already dispatched a long list ; if I rightly remember, we were to hear the fourteenth canto; in thirteen actions, the hero Reason had been victorious, but it was exceedingly doubtful how he would come off in this, for the antagonist he had to deal with was no less a personage than almighty Love himself : the metre was heroic, and many of the thoughts displayed a juvenile fancy and wild originality ; the action was not altogether uninteresting, norill. managed, and victory for a while was held in sus. pence by a wound the hero received from an arrow somewhere in the region of the heart; for this wound he could obtain no cure, till an ancient phy. sician, aster many experiments for his relief, cutout the part affected with his scythe : upon the whole, the poem was such, that had it not been allegorical, aird had not I been cold and hungry, I could have found much to commend and some things to admire, even though the poetess had been twice as old and wrot half so handsome, for Calliope was extremely pretty, and I could plainly discover that Nature meaot her to be most amiable and modest, if flattery and false education would have suffered her good designs to have taken place; I therefore looked upon her with pity, as I do on all spoilt children ; and when her reading was concluded, did not be. stow all that praise, which, if I had consulted my own gratification more than her good, I certainly should have bestowed; the only occasion on which I think it a point of conscience to practise the philosophy of the Dampers.

At length dinner was announced, and being a part of Lady Thimble's domestic economy, which she had put out of her own hands, as she informed us, and in which I suspect the athletic philosopher had something to say, it was plentifully served. Sir Theodore and my friend the merchant plied him pretty briskly with the bottle ; but as a stately first-rate ship does not condescend to open her ports to the petty cruisers that presume to hail her, in like manner this gigantic genius kept the. oracle within him muzzled, nor condescended once to draw the tompion of his lips, till it happened in the course of many topics, that Lady Thimble, speak. ing of the talents of Calliope, observed that miracles were not ceased: How should that thing be said to cease, replied the oracle, which never had existence ? The spring was now touched that put this vast machine in motion, and taking infidelity in miracles for his text, he carried us, in the course of a long uninterrupted harangue, through a series of learned deductions, to what appeared his grand desideratum, viz. an absolute refutation of the miracles of Christ by proofs logical and historicul. Whilst this discourse was going on, I was curious to observe the different effects it had on the company : Lady Thimble re. ceived it with evident marks of triumph, so that I could plainly see all was gospel with her, and the only gospel she had faith in : Sir Theodore wisely fell asleep; the merchant was in his compting


His mind was tossing on the ocean :
There, where his argosies with portly sail, .
Like seigniors and rich burghers on the flood,
Or as it were the pageants of the sea,

Did overpeer the petty traffickers-
But all this while, the young unsettled thoughts of
Calliope were visibly wavering, sometimes borne

« السابقةمتابعة »