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"the moon?” Nothing at all, indeed, Sir," returned the other. "Alas!" cries our traveller, "to "what purpose then has one of these fasted to "death, and the other offered himself up as a sacri"fice to the Tartarian enemy, to gain a renown "which has never travelled beyond the precincts of "China!"
There is scarcely a village in Europe, and not one university, that is not thus furnished with its little great men. The head of a petty corporation, who opposes the designs of a prince who would tyrannically force his subjects to save their best clothes for Sundays; the puny pedant who finds one undiscovered property in the polype, describes an unheeded process in the skeleton of a mole, and whose mind, like his microscope, perceives nature only in detail; the rhymer who makes smooth verses, and paints to our imagination when he should only speak to our hearts; all equally fancy themselves walking forward to immortality, and desire the crowd behind them to look on. The crowd takes them at their word. Patriot, philosopher, and poet, are shouted in their train. Where was there ever so much merit seen; no times so important as our own; ages yet unborn shall gaze with wonder and applause! to such music the important pigmy moves forward, bustling and swelling, and aptly compared to a puddle in a storm.
I have lived to see generals, who once had crowds hallooing after them wherever they went, who were bepraised by newspapers and magazines, those echoes of the voice of the vulgar, and yet they have long sunk into merited obscurity, with scarcely even an epitaph left to flatter. A few years ago the her, ring fishery employed all Grub-street; it was the topic in every coffee-house, and the burthen of every ballad. We were to drag up oceans of gold
from the bottom of the sea; we were to supply all Europe with herrings upon our own terms. At present we hear no more of all this. We have fished up very little gold that I can learn; nor do we furnish the world with herrings, as was expected. Let us wait but a few years longer, and we shall find all our expectations an herring fishery.
THERE is not perhaps a country in Europe, in which learning is so fast upon the decline as in Italy; yet not one in which there are such a number of academies instituted for its support. There is scarcely a considerable town in the whole country, which has not one or two institutions of this nature, where the learned, as they are pleased to call themselves, meet to harangue, to compliment each other, and praise the utility of their institution.
Jarchius has taken the trouble to give us a list of those clubs, or academies, which amount to five hundred and fifty, each distinguished by somewhat whimsical in the name. The academies of Bologna, for instance, are divided into the Abbandonati, the Ausiosi, Ociosio, Arcadi, Confusi, Dubbiosi, &c. There are few of these who have not published their transactions, and scarcely a member who is not looked upon as the most famous man in the world, at home.
Of all those societies I know of none whose works are worth being known out of the precincts of the city in which they were written, except the
Cicalata Academia (or, as we might express it, the tickling society) of Florence. I have just now before me a manuscript oration, spoken by the late Tomaso Crudeli at that society, which will at once serve to give a better pieture of the manner in which men of wit amuse themselves in that country, than any thing I could say upon the occasion. The oration is this:
"The younger the nymph, my dear companions, the more happy the lover. From fourteen to seventeen, you are sure of finding love for love; from seventeen to twenty-one, there is always a mixture of interest and affection. But when that period is past, no longer expect to receive, but to buy. No longer expect a nymph who gives, but who sells her favours. At this age every glance is taught its duty; not a look, nor a sigh, without design; the lady, like a skilful warrior, aims at the heart of another, while she shields her own from danger.
"On the contrary at fifteen you may expect nothing but simplicity, innocence, and nature. The passions are then sincere; the soul seems seated in the lips; the dear object feels present happiness, without being anxious for the future; her eyes brighten if her lover approaches; her smiles are borrowed from the Graces, and her very mistakes seem to complete her desires.
"Lucretia was just sixteen. The rose and lily took possession of her face, and her bosom, by its hue and its coldness, seemed covered with snow. So much beauty, and so much virtue seldom want admirers. Orlandino, a youth of sense and merit, was among the number. He had long languished for an opportunity of declaring his passion, when Cupid, as if willing to indulge his happiness, brought the charming young couple by mere accident to an arbour, where every prying eye but love was absent. Orlandino talked of the sincerity of his passion, and mixed flattery with his addresses; but it was all in vain. The
nymph was pre-engaged, and had long devoted to heaven those charms for which he sued. My dear "Orlandino," said she, you know I have long been "Medicated to St. Catharine, and to her belongs all "that lies below my girdle; all that is above, you may freely possess, but farther I cannot, must not "comply. The vow is passed; I wish it were un"done, but now it is impossible." You may conceive, my companions, the embarrassment our young lovers felt upon this occasion. They kneeled to St. Catharine, and though both despaired, both implored her assistance. Their tutelar saint was intreated to shew some expedient, by which both might continue to love, and yet both be happy. Their petition was sincere. St. Catharine was touched with compassion; for lo, a miracle! Lucretia's girdle unloosed, as if without hands; and though before bound round her middle, fell spontaneously down to her feet, and gave Orlandino the possession of all those beauties which lay above it."
THE BEE, No. VII.
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 1759.
Of all kinds of success, that of an orator is the most pleasing. Upon other occasions the applause we deserve is conferred in our absence, and we are insensible of the pleasure we have given; but in eloquence the victory and the triumph are inseparable. We read our own glory in the face of every spectator, the audience is moved, the antagonist is defeated, and the whole circle bursts into unsolicited applause.
The rewards which attend excellence in this way are so pleasing, that numbers have written professed treatises to teach us the art; schools have been established with no other intent; rhetoric has taken place among the institutions, and pedants have ranged under proper heads, and distinguished with long learned names, some of the strokes of Nature, or of passion, which orators have used. I say only some; for a folio volume could not contain all the figures, which have been used by the truly eloquent, and scarcely a good speaker or writer, but makes use of some that are peculiar or new.
Eloquence has preceded the rules of rhetoric, as languages have been formed before grammar. Nature renders men eloquent in great interests, or great passions. He that is sensibly touched, sees things