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sure the Apollo must be ready,' without more delay bade us follow her : - Come, Šir,' says she to me, as I passed the great hall with an aching 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 immediately 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 blaze, working the bellows with might and main to little purpose; for the billets were so wet, that Apollo himself with all his beams would have been foiled to set 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 columns 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 attempt. ed 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 tailor, I thought it not entirely inadmissible.
When the smoke cleared up I discovered a cast of the Belvidere Apollo on a pedestal in a niche at the
upper end of the room; but, if we were to judge XXXVIII.
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 wonderful 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 luxury 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-in-law 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 subject 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 characters 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 thiş, 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, nor illmanaged, and victory for a while was held in suspense 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 physician, after many experiments for his relief, cut out the part affected with his scythe : upon the whole, the poem was such, that had it not been allegorical, and 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 not half so handsome, for Calliope was extremely pretty, and I could plainly discover that Nature meant 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 spoiled children ; and when her reading was concluded, did not bestow 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 firstrate 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, speaking 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 historical.' Whilst this discourse was going on, I was curious to observe the different effects it had on the company: Lady Thimble received 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 counting-house,
His mind was tossing on the ocean:
Did overpeer the petty traffickersBut all this while, the young unsettled thoughts of Calliope were visibly wavering, sometimes borne away by the ipse dixit of the philosopher and the echo of Lady Thimble's plaudits ; sometimescatching hold of Hope, and hanging to the anchor of her salvation, Faith; at other times without resistance carried down the tide of declamation, which rolled rapidly along in provincial dialect, like a torrent from his native Highland craggs, rough and noisy; I saw her struggles with infinite concern; the savage saw them also, but with triumph, and turning his discourse upon the breach he had made in her belief, pressed the advantage he had gained with deyilish address; in short, a new antagonist had
started up, more formidable to Reason than all the fourteen, from whose attack she had brought her hero off with victory; and that champion which had resisted the arrows of all-powerful Love, was likely now to fall a victim to the pestilential breath of Infidelity. In this dilemma I was doubtful how to act; I did not decline the combat because I dreaded the strength of this Goliah of the Philistines, for I knew the weapons might be confided in, which the great Captain of Salvation had put into my hand; but I disdained to plead before a prejudiced tribunal, in which the mistress of the mansion sat as judge; and as sleep had secured one of the company out of harm's way, and another was upon an excursion from which I did not wish to bring him home, there remained only Calliope, and I determined within myself to take occasion of discoursing with her apart, before I left the house next morning.
| HAD resolved to have some conversation with Calliope after the athletic philosopher's harangue against the evidences of the Christian religion: I was at the pains of putting my thoughts together in writing before I went to bed, for I had judged it best to give them to Calliope in such a form, as she might hereafter at any time refer to and examine.
I had the satisfaction of an hour's conversation with that young lady next morning, before the family had assembled for breakfast: I could observe that something dwelt upon her mind, and demanding of her if I was not right in my conjecture, she answered me at once to the point without hesita