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own sex: and then the poet proceeds to tell us, that her majesty, and the Latian ladies, were guilty of excesses, which, from his description, must evidently have been inspired by the strength and potency of wine. They sung, they shouted, they danced, and practised every frantic wildness, that suggested itself to their thoughts and inventions. But what rendered the indecency still greater, was, their pranks being executed under the mask of religion, and the affectation of rites due to a God. After such a scene of immorality, it was highly proper in the poet to bring the chief actress to a shameful and uncommon exit. The catastrophe is described by Dryden in a very masterly and pathetic manner:
Mad with her anguish, impotent to bear
And owns the dire effects of her ungovern'd will;
Here we see the horrors and the effects of a guilty conscience; blasphemy, despair, and an untimely death. The objection still lies against the poet, in having delineated the cha
racter of a lady, and more especially of a queen, in the odious light of ebriety. The objection might have weight, if, in the opposite scale, we did not consider that Amata had in the most violent manner, declared herself against Lavinia's marriage with Æneas; the supposed and acknowledged ancestor of Julius and Augustus Cæsar. What higher compliment could Virgil pay to his imperial patron, than to represent the Latian queen, and all those of her friends and followers, who were determined against the Trojan alliance, as a set of frantic, mad, intoxicated creatures, averse to every wholesome counsel, regardless of sacred prophecies, and even disobedient to the dictates of oracles, and the venerable declarations of the gods.
But I suspect that the poet had still a farther view. He wrote his Eneid at a time when luxury, and its companion intemperance, were at their meridian height in the court of Augustus. I cannot help being tempted to infer, that Virgil aimed, not only at describing the general bad effects of bacchanalian mysteries in the female sex, but at exposing the madness and follies which the Roman, ladies were guilty of in particular, by too violent a devotion to the son of Semele. It may be difficult positively to determine, whether or not the Mantuan poet
intended such a particular piece of tacit satire, but it is certain that ebriety must ever draw upon itself the severest and most shocking catastrophe, ill health, ill humour, a painful death, or suicide.
I could wish, madam, in the pursuit of your paper, that you, who are a water drinker, would give us some animadversions upon an evil, from which the present age is not totally exempt. Permit me to subscribe myself, with the most perfect devotion, Mrs. *
**'s constant reader,
OLD MAID, No. 14.
-Veteres ita miratur laudatque poetas.
Their ancients lavishly they raise
When, with affected air, a coxcomb cries,
I KNOW the importance of an author to himself is so very great, that he looks upon it as absolutely necessary, that the public should be informed of every particular circumstance relating to his body or mind; as, for instance, at what hour he goes to bed, on which side he composed himself to sleep; whether his slumbers were interrupted, and, above all, the purport of his dreams, for dreams descend from Jove. This practice, I believe, is perfectly just; but I hope Mr. Ranger will not monopolise dreaming, and that he will give an occasional writer the liberty of communicating to the public how he passed the night. My hopes of
succeeding in this request are the more sanguine, as the intellectual scene, of which I mean here to give some account, was occasioned by a perusal of a vision of your own, in which you describe a Sacrifice to the Graces.
The images which that piece excited in my fancy, incorporated, if I may so call it, with the ideas that have been uppermost in my waking thoughts for some time past; and I imagined, in my sleep, that there was a general election in Parnassus, for proper members to represent the Republic of Letters. It seems, Apollo was induced, by frequent murmurs and complaints, to dissolve his parliament; some malcontents among the moderns being of opinion, that the ancients had arbitrarily voted themselves perpetual dictators of wit; whereas, upon a free uninfluenced election, they believed themselves capable of returning a larger number than the said ancients. The party for the moderns was led on by Monsieur De la Motte, Perrault, and Wotton; the two former were vigorously opposed by Boileau and Madame Dacier, and the latter by Mr. Pope and Dr. Swift. Swift ordered a new edition of his Battle of the Books to be published forthwith, and Pope took occasion to reprint his Essays and Criticisms upon Homer. The old and new interest were the words by