« VorigeDoorgaan »
great roads, which insensibly gathered the whole multitude into two great bodies. At a little distance from the entrance of each road, there stood an hideous phantom, that opposed our further passage. One of these apparitions had his right hand filled with darts, which he brandished in the face of all
who came up that way. Crowds ran back at the appearance of it, and cried out, Death. The spectre that guarded the other road, was Envy: she was not armed with weapons of destruction like the former; but by dreadful hissings, noises of reproach, and a horrid, distracted laughter, she appeared more frightful than death itself, insomuch, that abundance of our company were discouraged from passing any further, and some appeared ashamed of having come so far. As for myself, I must confess my heart shrunk within me at the sight of these ghastly appearances: but on a sudden, the voice of the trumpet came more full upon us, so that we felt a new resolution reviving in us; and in proportion as this resolution grew, the terrors before us seemed to vanish. Most of the company who had swords in their hands marched on with great spirit, and an air of defiance, up the road that was commanded by Death; while others, who had thought and contemplation in their looks, went forward in a more composed manner up the road possessed by Envy. The way above these apparitions grew smooth and uniform, and was so delightful, that the travellers went on with pleasure, and in a little time arrived at the top of the mountain. They here began to breathe 1 a delicious kind of æther, and saw all the fields about them covered with a kind of purple light, that made them reflect with satisfaction on their past toils, and diffused a secret joy through the whose assembly, which showed itself in every look and feature. In the midst of these happy fields, there stood a palace of a very glorious structure: it had four great folding doors, that faced the four several quarters of the world. On the top of it was enthroned the goddess of the mountain, who smiled upon her
1 "They here began to breathe "-to "look and feature."] Two or three little blemishes, which the reader will observe in this sentence, may be removed by reading thus:-"They here began to breathe a delicious kind of æther, and saw all the fields about them covered with a [kind of] purple light, that made them reflect with satisfaction on their past toils, and diffused a secret joy through the whole assembly, [which showed itself in every look and feature]-Omitting what is contained between the crotchets, for obvious reasons.
votaries, and sounded the silver trumpet which had called them up, and cheered them in their passage to her palace. They had now formed themselves into several divisions, a band of historians taking their stations at each door,1 according to the persons whom they were to introduce.
On a sudden the trumpet, which had hitherto sounded only a march, or a point of war, now swelled all its notes into triumph and exultation: the whole fabric shook, and the doors flew open. The first who stepped forward was a beautiful and blooming hero, and as I heard by the murmurs round me, Alexander the Great. He was conducted by a crowd of historians. The person who immediately walked before him, was remarkable for an embroidered garment, who not being well acquainted with the place, was conducting him to an apartment appointed for the reception of fabulous heroes. The name of this false guide was Quintus Curtius. But Arrian and Plutarch, who knew better the avenues of this palace, conducted him into the great hall, and placed him at the upper end of the first table. My good dæmon, that I might see the whole ceremony, conveyed me to a corner of this room, where I might perceive all that passed, without being seen myself. The next who entered was a charming virgin, leading in a venerable old man that was blind. Under her left arm she bore a harp, and on her head a garland. Alexander, who was very well acquainted with Homer, stood up at his entrance and placed him on his right hand. The virgin, who it seems was one of the nine sisters that attended on the goddess of Fame, smiled with an ineffable grace at their meeting, and retired.
Julius Cæsar was now coming forward; and though most of the historians offered their service to introduce him, he left them at the door, and would have no conductor but himself.
The next who advanced, was a man of a homely but cheerful aspect, and attended by persons of greater figure than any that appeared on this occasion. Plato was on his right hand, and Xenophon on his left. He bowed to Homer, and sat down by him. It was expected that Plato would himself have taken a place next to his master Socrates: but, on a
Negligently expressed. Better in some such way as this:-" a band of historians, whose office it was to introduce their respective worthies, taking their stations at each door."
sudden, there was heard a great clamour of disputants at the door, who appeared with Aristotle at the head of them. That philosopher, with some rudeness, but great strength of reason, convinced the whole table, that a title to the fifth place was his due, and took it accordingly.
He had scarce sat down, when the same beautiful virgin that had introduced Homer brought in another, who hung back at the entrance, and would have excused himself, had not his modesty been overcome by the invitation of all who sat at the table. His guide and behaviour made me easily conclude it was Virgil. Cicero next appeared, and took his place. He had inquired at the door for Lucceius to introduce him; but not finding him there, he contented himself with the attendance of many other writers, who all (except Sallust) appeared highly pleased with the office.
We waited some time in expectation of the next worthy, who came in with a great retinue of historians, whose names I could not learn, most of them being natives of Carthage. The person thus conducted, who was Hannibal, seemed much disturbed, and could not forbear complaining to the board of the affronts he had met with among the Roman historians, who attempted, says he, to carry me into the subterraneous apartment; and, perhaps, would have done it, had it not been for the impartiality of this gentleman, pointing to Polybius, who was the only person, except my own countrymen, that was willing to conduct me hither.
The Carthaginian took his seat, and Pompey entered with great dignity in his own person, and preceded1 by several historians. Lucan the poet was at the head of them, who, observing Homer and Virgil at the table, was going to sit down himself, had not the latter whispered him, That whatever pretence he might otherwise have had, he forfeited his claim to it by coming in as one of the historians. Lucan was so exasperated with the repulse, that he muttered something to himself, and was heard to say, That since he could not have a seat among them himself, he would bring in one, who, alone, had more merit than their whole assembly: upon which he went to the door, and brought in Cato of Utica. That great man approached the company with such an air, that 2 showed he contemned the honour which he laid a claim
And preceded.] Omit "and," or insert "was" before "preceded." 3 That.] It should be "as."
to. Observing the seat opposite to Cæsar was vacant, he took possession of it; and spoke two or three smart sentences upon the nature of precedency, which, according to him, consisted not in place, but in intrinsic merit; to which he added, That the most virtuous man, wherever he was seated, was always at the upper end of the table. Socrates, who had a great spirit of raillery with his wisdom, could not forbear smiling at a virtue which took so little pains to make itself agreeable. Cicero took the occasion to make a long discourse in praise of Cato, which he uttered with much vehemence. Cæsar answered with a great deal of seeming temper, but as I stood at a great distance from them, I was not able to hear one word of what they said.' But I could not forbear taking notice, that in all the discourse which passed at the table, a word or a nod from Homer decided the controversy.
After a short pause, Augustus appeared looking round him with a serene and affable countenance upon all the writers of his age, who strove among themselves which of them should show him the greatest marks of gratitude and respect. Virgil rose from the table to meet him; and though he was an acceptable guest to all, he appeared more such to the learned than the military worthies. The next man astonished the whole table with his appearance; he was slow, solemn, and silent in his behaviour, and wore a raiment curiously wrought with hieroglyphics. As he came into the middle of the room, he threw back the skirt of it, and discovered a golden thigh. Socrates, at the sight of it, declared against keeping company with any who were not made of flesh and blood; and therefore desired Diogenes the Laertian to lead him to the apartment allotted for fabulous heroes, and worthies of dubious existence. At his going out, he told them, that they did not know whom they dismissed; that he was now Pythagoras, the first of philosophers, and that formerly he had been a very brave man at the siege of Troy. That may be very true, said Socrates; but you forget that you have likewise been a very great harlot in your time. This exclusion made way for Archimedes, who came
1 Alluding to the two famous pieces, entitled, "Cato," and, "AntiCato," which have not come down to us.
2 Though he,] i. e. Augustus. To avoid the ambiguity, read, "and though this great emperor was.'
forward with a scheme of mathematical figures in his hand; among which I observed a cone or cylinder.
Seeing this table full, I desired my guide for variety to lead me to the fabulous apartment,1 the roof of which was painted with gorgons, chimeras, and centaurs, with many other emblematical figures, which I wanted both time and skill to unriddle. The first table was almost full. At the upper end sat Hercules, leaning an arm upon his club. On his right hand were Achilles and Ulysses, and between them Eneas. On his left were Hector, Theseus, and Jason. The lower end had Orpheus, Æsop, Phalaris, and Musæus. The ushers seemed at a loss for a twelfth man, when methought, to my great joy and surprise, I heard some at the lower end of the table mention Isaac Bickerstaff; but those of the upper end received it with disdain, and said, if they must have a British worthy, they would have Robin Hood."
"While I was transported with the honour that was done me, and burning with envy against my competitor, I was awakened by the noise of the cannon, which were then fired for the taking of Mons. I should have been very much troubled at being thrown out of so pleasing a vision on any occasion; but thought it an agreeable change to have my thoughts diverted from the greatest among the dead and fabulous heroes, to the most famous among the real and the living."
No. 86. THURSDAY, OCTOBER 27, 1709.
From my own Apartment, October 25.
WHEN I came home last night, my servant delivered me the following letter:
I have orders from Sir Harry Quickset, of Staffordshire, Bart., to acquaint you, that his honour Sir Harry himself, Sir
1 Fabulous apartment, the roof of which, &c.] Read and point thus: "Fabulous apartment. The roof of it was," &c.
2 To lean, rest, &c., are neutral, not transitive verbs. It should be, "leaning with an arm upon his club," or rather, "leaning upon his club." 3 This last paragraph was written by Sir R. Steele. T.