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author of it never yet appeared in print, and with great reluctance and fear consented to suffer this to be conveyed to me for that purpose. Whether it ought to have been published or not, the town must determine; for I shall never take upon me to give my opinion of any thing which may appear in this paper.
O, far remov'd from my retreat
OLD MAID, No. 3
That the present age is not the age of genius, has been a complaint in almost every period, and has been repeated as frequently during the course of the last ten years as at any
former æra. Were Mrs. Singleton, however, to revisit the light of day, she would no longer have to lament the dearth of female talent, or the neglect manifested for poetic powers. The productions of Southey, of Campbell, and Scott, have met with the encouragement due to their merit; and, among the fair disciples of the muses, how would she have gloried in selecting the names of Seward, of Smith, of Baillie, of Bannerman, of Radcliffe, and of many others, who form a constellation of uncommon brilliancy in the female world of letters!
A CELEBRATED French critic has given it for a rule, that every author should from time to time sacrifice to the Graces; thereby beautifully insinuating, that writers should endeavour to fashion their minds into an elegant way of thinking, which will be always sure to transpire into their compositions, and will be manifested by a delicate choice of sentiment and expression. Inest facundis gratia dictis is the phrase by which an author of taste has signified a polish and refinement in a performance; and, indeed, among the ancients in general, it is this peculiar grace, this genteel manner of conceiving and expressing their thoughts, that has made their productions the admiration of ages; and those have been accounted classic writers among the moderns, who have succeeded best in imitating the Greek and Roman originals.
Full of these reflections, I retired to rest a
few nights since, when, in the hours of sleep, my busy imagination pursued the same track of contemplation, and presented to me the following scene. I dreamed that an order was issued out from the high court of Parnassus, requiring the immediate attendance of all the inhabitants of the place at a sacrifice to the Graces, according to an anniversary institution in honour of the day on which Apollo slew the Python. For this purpose the three lovely sisters walked together, interchanging in their way mutual glances of cordiality and affection, to an elegant edifice raised by Inigo Jones: each had in her hand Mr. Hogarth's Analysis of Beauty. They placed themselves on an eminent altar in such amiable attitudes, as have not been equalled in any of our theatres, since the managers of Drury-lane house withdrew a certain lady from the public eye.
As soon as the goddesses were thus prepared for the solemnity, Apollo, in all the pride of manly beauty, advanced to the altar and paid his adoration. This done, the Muses came forward in procession, and, after prostrating themselves in a respectful manner, they mixed together in a dance, and sung hymns of praise in honour of the Graces. Ducunt choreas, et carmina dicunt. The whole poetic region was exhilarated at the sound; every thing, that before look
ed beautiful, seemed to glow with additional charms.
This part of the ceremony being concluded, a trumpet sounded three times, as a signal for men of genius to make their approach; and instantly a Grecian band appeared. The most remarkable among them were Homer, Socrates, Plato, Sophocles, and Longinus; Aristotle having sent word that he was engaged in a syllogism, and could not attend. Socrates, who, we are told, called dancing a sacrifice to the Graces, immediately began a movement before the altar, and Plato eyed him with a steadfast look. Longinus, having acquitted himself in the due forms of veneration, fixed his attention on Homer.
Lucretius was leader of the next division; he thanked the Graces for having scattered so many flowers amidst the thorns which shot up in his part of Parnassus. Terence, who was always an elegant observer of forms, seemed to receive great delight from beholding so much beauty, and he preferred his prayer with the utmost purity of diction.
The posture in which Tully placed himself recalled to my mind the description of him in the Temple of Fame:
Gath'ring his flowing robe, he seem'd to stand