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Op all kinds of satire, there is none so enter and delight of the audience; and rehearsed taining and universally improving, as that before battle, as incentives to deeds of glory. which is introduced, as it were, occasionally Thus tragedy and the epic muse were born, in the course of an interesting story, which and, in the progress of taste, arrived at perbrings every incident home to life; and, by fection. It is no wonder that the ancients representing familiar scenes in an uncommon could not relish a fable in prose, after they and amusing point of view, invests them with had seen so many remarkable events celeall the graces of novelty, while nature is brated in verse by their best poets; we thereappealed to in every particular.
fore find no romance among them, during the The reader gratifies his curiosity in pur- era of their excellence, unless the Cyropædia suing the adventures of a person in whose of Xenophon may be so called, and it was favour he is prepossessed; he espouses his not till arts and sciences began to revive, cause, he sympathizes with him in distress, after the irruption of the barbarians into his indignation is heated against the authors Europe, that any thing of this kind appeared. of his calamity; the humane passions are But when the minds of men were debauched, inflamed; the contrast between dejected vir- by the imposition of priestcraft, to the most tue and insulting vice appears with greater absurd pitch of credulity, the authors of roaggravation; and every impression having a mance arose, and, losing sight of probability, double force on the imagination, the memory filled their performances with the most monretains the circumstance, and the heart im- strous hyperboles. If they could not equal proves by the example. The attention is the poets in point of genius, they were renot tired with a bare catalogue of characters, solved to excel them in fiction, and apply to but agreeably diverted with all the variety the wonder rather than the judgment of their of invention; and the vicissitudes of life readers. Accordingly, they brought necroappear in their peculiar circumstances, open- mancy to their aid, and, instead of supporting ing an ample field for wit and humour. the character of their heroes by dignity of
Romance, no doubt, owes its origin to sentiment and practice, distinguished them ignorance, vanity, and superstition. In the by their bodily strength, activity, and extradark ages of the world, when a man bad ren- vagance of behaviour. Although nothing dered himself famous for wisdoin or valour, could be more ludicrous and unnatural than his family and adherents availed themselves the figures they drew, they did not want of his superior qualities, magnified his virtues, patrons and admirers; and the world actually and represented his character and person as began to be infected with the spirit of knightsacred and supernatural. The vulgar easily errantry, when Cervantes, by an inimitable swallowed the bait, implored his protection, piece of ridicule, reformed the taste of manand yielded the tribute of homage and praise kind, representing chivalry in the right point even to adoration; his exploits were handed of view, and converting romance to purposes down to posterity with a thousand exaggera- far more useful and entertaining, by making tions; they were repeated as incitements to it assume the sock, and point out the follies virtue; divine honours were paid, and altars of ordinary life. erected to his memory, for the encourage- The same method has been practised by ment of those who attempted to imitate his other Spanish and French authors, and by example; and hence arose the heathen my- none more successfully than by Monsieur Le thology, which is no other than a collection Sage, who, in his Adventures of Gil Blas, of extravagant romances. As learning ad- has described the knavery and foibles of life vanced, and genius received cultivation, these with infinite humour and sagacity. The stories were embellished with the graces of following sheets I have modelled on his plan, poetry: that they might the better recom- taking the liberty, however, to differ from mend themselves to the attention, they were him in the execution, where I thought his sung in public, at festivals, for the instruction particular situations were uncommon and
extravagant, or peculiar to the country in of disposition appear as Nature has implanted
North Briton; which are chiefly these :-I
A YOUNG painter, indulging a vein of plea- should prove the diminution of the baboon's, santry, sketched a kind of conversation-piece, nay, seek not to prevaricate, for, by the beard representing a bear, an owl, a monkey, and of Æsculapius ! there is not one hair in this an ass; and to render it more striking, hu- periwig that will not stand up in judgment morous, and moral, distinguished every figure to convict thee of personal abuse—do but by some emblem of human life.
observe, captain, how this pitiful little fellow Bruin was exhibited in the garb and atti- has copied the very curls; the colour indeed tude of an old, toothless, drunken soldier; is different, but then the form and foretop the owl, perched upon the handle of a coffee- are quite similar.” While he thus remon. pot, with spectacles on his nose, seemed to strated in a strain of vociferation, a venerable contemplate a newspaper; and the ass, orna- senator entered, and waddling up to the mented with a huge tie-wig (which, however, delinquent,-—" Jackanapes !" cried he, “I could not conceal his long ears), sat for his will now let thee see I can read something picture to the monkey, who appeared with else than a newspaper, and that without the the implements of painting. This whimsical help of spectacles-here is your own note groupe afforded some mirth, and met with of hand, sirrah, for money, which, if I had general approbation, until some mischievous not advanced, you yourself would have rewag hinted, that the whole was a lampoon sembled an owl, in not daring to show your upon the friends of the performer; an insinua- face by day, you ungrateful, slanderous tion which was no sooner circulated, than knave!" those very people who applauded it before In vain the astonished painter declared began to be alarmed, and even to fancy them- that he had no intention to give offence, selves signified by the several figures of the or to characterize particular persons: they piece.
affirmed the resemblance was too palpable to Among others, a worthy personage in be overlooked; they taxed him with insolence, years, who had served in the army with malice and ingratitude; and their clamours reputation, being incensed at the supposed being overheard by the public, the captain outrage, repaired to the lodgings of the was a bear, the doctor an ass, and the senator painter, and, finding him at home,_"Hark an owl, to his dying day. ye, Mr Monkey,” said he, “I have a good Christian reader, I beseech thee, in the mind to convince you, that though the bear bowels of the Lord, remember this example has lost his teeth, he retains his paws, and while thou art employed in the perusal of the that he is not so drunk but he can perceive following sheets; and seek not to appropriate your impertinence-'sblood ! Sir, that tooth- to thyself that which equally belongs to five less jaw is a damn'd scandalous libel—but hundred different people. If thou shouldst don't you imagine me so chopfallen as not meet with a character that reflects thee in to be able to chew the cud of resentment.” some ungracious particular, keep thy own Here he was interrupted by the arrival of a counsel ; consider that one feature makes not learned physician, who, advancing to the a face, and that, though thou art, perhaps, culprit with fury in his aspect, exclaimed, distinguished by a bottle nose, twenty of thy “Suppose the augmentation of the ass's ears neighbours may be in the same predicament.