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It is impossible, I think, to point out all the beauties of this little ode, unless we were to examine every line separately; for there appears to me scarce a sentence that is not conceived in the real sublime spirit of poetry; truth, nature, and simplicity, the most animated fire, and the most studied correctness, are conspicuous through the whole; and all your readers, who have, at any time in their lives, felt the influence of this sober goddess, will, I am sure, acknowledge, that nothing can be more justly imagined, or executed in a more masterly man


For my own part, madam, I will own to you, that I have long been a votary to this pensive power, which may possibly be the reason why this ode strikes my imagination so forcibly; I lost, seven years since, a wife I adored, in all the bloom of youth and beauty: whose dear remembrance, even at this distance of time, calls the sacred drops of sorrow into my eyes. The world has now no joys for me; and since I have been thus unhappily deprived of the soft companion of my hours, I have preferred

Fountain heads, and pathless groves,
Places which pale passion loves,

to all the hurry of cities and pomp of courts.

I can say with the strictest truth, that to me,

Nothing's so dainty sweet as lovely melancholy.

I am, madam, with the sincerest wishes for the continuance of your success,

Your very humble Servant,
T. W.

OLD MAID, No. 12.

Milton has not only imitated this exquisite song in the Nice Valour, or Passionate Madman, of Beaumont and Fletcher; but he has also taken some of his imagery, and, in some degree, the measure of his versification, from a poem prefixed to Burton's Anatomie of Melancholy, entitled "The author's Abstract of Melancholy," which was probably written about the year 1600. It consists of twelve stanzas, of which I shall present my reader with the first six.

When I go musing all alone,

Thinking of divers things fore-known,
When I build castles in the air,

Void of sorrow and void of fear,
Pleasing myself with phantasms sweet,
Methinks the time runs very fleet.
All my joys to this are folly,
Nought so sweet as melancholy.

When I go walking all alone,
Recounting what I have ill done,
My thoughts on me then tyrannize,
Fear and sorrow me surprise;
Whether I tarry still or go,
Methinks the time moves very slow.
All my griefs to this are jolly,
Nought so sad as melancholy.

When to myself I act and smile,
With pleasing thoughts the time beguile,
By a brook side, or wood so green,
Unheard, unsought for, or unseen;
A thousand pleasures do me bless,
And crown my soul with happiness.

All my joys besides are folly,
None so sweet as melancholy.

When I lie, sit, or walk alone,
I sigh, I grieve, making great moan,
In a dark grove, or irksome den;
With discontents and furies then,
A thousand miseries at once,
Mine heavy heart and soul ensconce.
All my griefs to this are jolly,
None so sour as melancholy.

Methinks I hear, methinks I see
Sweet music, wondrous melody,
Towns, palaces, and cities fine;
Here now, then there, the world is mine,
There beauties, gallant ladies shine,
Whate'er is lovely or divine.

All other joys to this are folly,
None so sweet as melancholy.

Methinks I hear, methinks I see
Ghosts, goblins, fiends; my phantasie
Presents a thousand ugly shapes,
Headless bears, black men, and apes,
Doleful outcries, and fearful sights,
My sad and dismal soul affrights.

All my griefs to this are jolly,
None so damn'd as melancholy.

BURTON'S ANATOMY, eighth edition, 1676,


Sudden she storms! she raves! you tip the wink:
But spare your censure; Silia does not drink.



In one of your former papers you were pleased to point out to us some latent beauties in Virgil, which I confess never occurred to me till I saw them illuminated by your pen. You have given us a noble example, in searching into the hidden treasures of a classic author, who never can be admired too much, or read too often. If the Roman poet has been blamed for the improper sullen conduct of Dido, he has also undergone very severe censures for his treatment of queen Amata, the wife of the good Latinus, and mother of the fair Lavinia. "What an ignominious death," exclaims the critic, “has Virgil assigned the queen of Latium? She hangs herself. Where was the bowl of poison, or the golden-hilted dagger? either of which might have sustained her royal character, and sent her with dignity to the lower world. Master Cotton of the Peake has humorously ridiculed the catastrophe of Amata,


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by sending the celebrated queen of Carthage, in the same manner, to the mansions of the dead:"

-She mounts the table,

Because, though tall, she was not able
To reach the halter, that must tie
Her fast to doleful destiny:
And having, like too apt a scholar,
Thrust her plump neck into the collar,





Thus, thus (quoth she) to shades of night
I go, and thus I take my flight.

With that she from the table swung
And happy 'twas the rope was strong.

I should never be forgiven by the admirers of this species of wit, if I here omitted to give the lines which describe the release of Dido from the fatal noose, by the many-coloured maid:

O Dido! thus I let thee loose

From twitch of suffocating noose;

Which said, and tossing high her blade,

With great dexterity, the maid,

O wonderful! even at one side blow

Spoil'd a good rope, and down dropp'd Dido.

But to all outcries of the critics, and to all poor attempts as those of Cotton, Scarron,


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