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interpreters do, that the shepherd means nothing further here than that he would drown himself, since he represents the issue of his leap as doubtful, by adding, that if he should escape with his life, he knows his mistress would be pleased with it; which is according to our interpretation, that she would rejoice any way to get rid of a lover who was so troublesome to her.
After this short preface, I shall present my reader with some letters which I have received upon this subject. The first is sent me by a physician.
« MR. SPECTATOR, • The lover's leap which you mention in your 223d paper, was generally, I believe, a very effectual cure for love, and not only for love, but for all other evils. In short, sir, I am afraid it was such a leap as that which Hero took to get rid of her passion for Leander. A man is in no great danger of breaking his heart, who breaks his neck to prevent it. I know very well the wonders which ancient authors relate concerning this leap; and in particular, that very many persons who tried it, escaped not only with their lives but their limbs. If by this means they got rid of their love, though it
in part be ascribed to the reasons you give for it; why may not we suppose, that the cold bath into which they plunged themselves, had also some share in their cure ? A leap into the sea, or into any creek of salt waters, very often gives a new motion to the spirits, and a new turn to the blood; for which reason we prescribe it in distempers which no other medicine will reach. I could produce a quotation out of a very venerable author, in which the phrenzy produced by love, is compared to that which is produced by the biting of a mad dog. But as this comparison is a little too coarse for your paper, and might look as if it were cited to ridicule the author who has made use of it; I shall only hint at it, and desire you to consider whether, if the phrenzy produced by these two different causes be of the same na
ture, it may not very properly be cured by the same
“ I am, sir, your most humble servant,
“ and well-wisher, ÆSCULAPIUS.”
“ MR. SPECTATOR, “ I am a young woman crossed in love. My story is very long and melancholy. To give you the heads of it; a young gentleman, after having made his applications to me for three years together, and filled my head with a thousand dreams of happiness, some few days since married another. Pray tell me in what part of the world your promontory lies, which you call • The Lover's Leap,' and whether one may go to it by land ? But, alas, I am afraid it has lost its virtue, and that a woman of our times will find no more relief in taking such a leap, than in singing a hymn to Venus. So that I must cry out with Dido in Dryden's Virgil,
Ah! cruel Heaven, that made no cure for love!
“ Your disconsolate servant, ATHENAIS."
« MISTER SPICTATUR, “ My heart is so full of loves and passions for Mrs. Gwinifrid, and she is so pettish, and over-run with cholers against me, that if I had the good happiness to have my dwelling (which is placed by my creat-cranfather, upon the pottom of an hill) no farther distance but twenty mile from the Lofer's Leap, I could indeed indeafour to preak my neck upon it on purpose. Now, good Mister SPICTATUR of Crete Prittain, you must know it, there iss in Caernarvanshire a fery pig mountain, the clory of all Wales, which is named Penmainmaure, and you must also know it iss no great journey on foot from me; but the road is stony and bad for shooes. Now there is upon the forehead of this mountain a very high rock, (like a parish steeple) that cometh a huge deal over the sea; so when I am in my melancholies, and I do throw myself from it, I do desire my fery good friend to tell me in his Spictatur, if I shall be cure of my
griefous lofes; for there is the sea clear as the class, and ass creen as the leek: then likewise, if I be drown, and preak my neck, if Mrs. Gwinifrid will not lofe me afterwards. Pray be speedy in your answers, for I am in crete haste, and it is my tesires to do my pusiness without loss of time. I remain with cordial affections, your ever lofing friend,
" DavYTH AP SHENKYN.”
“ P.S. My law-suits have brought me to London, but I have lost my causes; and so have made my resolutions to go down and leap before the frosts begin; for I am apt to take colds."
Ridicule, perhaps, is a better expedient against love than sober advice, and I am of opinion that Hudibras and Don Quixote may be as effectual to cure the extravagances of this passion, as any of the old philosophers. I shall therefore publish, very speedily, the translation of a little Greek manuscript, which is sent me by a learned friend. It appears to have been a piece of those records which were kept in the little temple of Apollo, that stood upon the promontory of Leucate. The reader will find it to be the summary account of several persons who tried the lover's leap, and of the success they found in it. As there seem to be in it some anachronisms and deviations from the ancient orthography, I am not wholly satisfied myself that it is authentic, and not rather the production of one of those Grecian sophisters, who have imposed upon the world several spurious works of this nature. I speak this by way
of precaution, because I know there are several writers, of uncommon erudition, who would not fail to expose my ignorance if they caught me tripping in a matter of so great moment.
No. 229. THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 22.
Spirat adhuc amor
AMONG the many famous pieces of antiquity which are still to be seen at Rome, there is the trunk of a statue which has lost the arms, legs, and head; but discovers such an exquisite workmanship in what remains of it, that Michael Angelo declared he had learned his whole art from it. Indeed he studied it so attentively, that he made most of his statues, and even his pictures in that Gusto, to make use of the Italian phrase; for which reason this maimed statue is still called Michael Angelo's school.
A fragment of Sappho, which I design for the subject of this paper, is in as great reputation among the poets and critics, as the mutilated figure above-mentioned is among the statuaries and painters. Several of our countrymen, and Mr. Dryden in particular, seem very often to have copied after it in their dramatic writings, and in their poems upon love.
Whatever might have been the occasion of this ode, the English reader will enter into the beauties of it, if he supposes it to have been written in the person of a lover sitting by his mistress. I shall set to view three different copies of this beautiful original; the first is a translation by Catullus, the second by Monsieur Boileau, and the last by a gentleman whose translation of the Hymn to Venus has been so deservedly admired.
Ille mi par esse deo videtur,
Spectat, & audit
Lesbia, asperi, nihil est super mî
Quod loquar amens.
My learned reader will know very well the reason why one of these verses is printed in Roman letter; and if he compares this translation with the original, will find that the three first stanzas are rendered almost word for word, and not only with the same elegance, but with the same short turn of expression which is so remarkable in the Greek, and so peculiar to the Sapphic Ode. I cannot imagine for what reason Madam Dacier has told us, that this Ode of Sappho is preserved entire in Longinus, since it is manifest to any one who looks into that author's quotation of it, that there must at least have been another stanza, which is not transmitted to us.
The second translation of this fragment, which I shall here cite, is that of Monsieur Boileau.
Heureur ! qui prés de toi, pour toi seule soúpire:
Un frisson me saisit, je tremble, je me meurs.