The riddles, charades, and rebuses which have been admitted into the Attic Chest seem to have directed the attention of our correspondents too much towards such productions, which can at best only be denominated elegant trifles. We have been since our last adjournment assailed with them from all quarters. They have fallen upon us like hailstones, some large and some small, some good and some as one may say with great defference and respect for the fair and amiable and learned inventors only so so. Riddles and even charades and rebuses may occasionally serve to fill up the chasms in conversation, when wit and humour drop their wearied wings but we have observed that whenever they appear in a convivial circle the minds of the company are so much abstracted in seeking the solution that hilarity is banished and dullness presides for the rest of the evening. We may occasionally admit them into the Attic Chest to vary our entertainment, but it is not our wish to invite the presence of the soporific goddess by requiring immediate answer. We would rather wish our friends to consider them in the intervals of our meetings, and to give the answers in writing either in verse or prose, and thus exercise at the same time the investigating faculties and the fancy.
The riddle that was read at our last meeting has produced many answers, the majority of which, but not all, we believe to be right. One of them in verse signed φιαημα we shall read this evening and also another signed re__Buss, which from that signature we imagine is written by the same person, and if our conjecture by right, the first ought to have been signed Buss. That is, Buss and Re Buss. The one with the signature of a lawyer most evidently shows that he has mistaken his brief when his conjectures it to be the mind, and in his elucidations travels far out of the record. There is nothing in the original of spiritual or corporeal and the existence of the mind we presume the lawyer will not confine to a distance between two and six feet from the ground, for where will it be when he in his attitudes shall harangue the populace from a scaffold or a steeple. He says “you cannot eject the mind; it is contrary to law and justice”. We say you can eject the mind and even justly and legally. It is ejected from the thief at the gallows and from the soldier in the field, and it is sometimes ejected illegally we must acknowledge when two men of honour pounce at each other for a straw. May there have been instances in which a man’s own body has turned his mind out of doors, but this is too serious a subject to play upon even when we are roasting a lawyer.
We are obliged to the same gentleman of the long robe for an ingenious and elegant charade and as we conjecture we have on other occasions received from him compositions of a superior kind which we have noticed with well merited praise.
The answer to the Query respecting cherry-coloured bats with rose-coloured feet, is neatly express and conveys information respecting the small black cherry which is new to us. We shall be obliged to the ingenious author if on some future evening, he will acquaint us from what authority he gives the name of Guine to that Cherry, and asserts that it was brought from the Town of Guines in French Flanders as mentioned in his Note to the Answer. We have always understood that cherry to be indigenous in England.
The Tinder Box, which lately engaged so much of our attention, appears to have occupied the imagination of our auditors and produced several coruscations of some brilliancy, though nothing yet that has “flamed amazement”. Notwithstanding the merit displayed in that extraordinary work, we have never been perfectly satisfied with the presumption of the author in daring to debase the Attic Chest with such a sooty similitude. We are yet undecided whether we shall endeavour to shame him, by inflicting on his verses the utmost severity of critical castigation, or suffer his faults to be lost in the splendour of his genius. On this point we shall be determined by his future conduct and the effects which his licentiousness may have upon our other correspondents. One of the sparkles alluded to, seems to have been struck off by the same spirit of degradation, as it would insinuate that the treasures of the Chest are little better than the dust of common boxes. We admire another of these coruscations addressed to the author of the Tinder Box but we suspect that the brains of the author when he wrote it were turning like a whirligig (the natural consequence of a first reading of that sublime ode) for he has produced a paradox with only one handle and as every paradox ought to have two we endeavoured to supply it with another. We have also restored the word fire to its true pronunciation, the author having given it in his verse the quantity of two syllables meaning we presume by this to make amends for his subsequent parsimony to the paradox. Some of our very antient poets indeed wrote fyere and eked out their verse with the inefficient syllable, but it is no longer so used. We hope these corrections will be well received as in short compositions there are no excuses for false quantities, bad rhymes, &c that dim the brilliancy tho’ they may not materially effect the intrinsic value of the prices in which such negligences occur. It is one object of our Society to improve the taste of each other, which perhaps cannot be done than by noting such trifling defects in compositions that we otherwise cordially approve.
Among the pieces to be read this evening we shall produce one sent to us sometime ago by an artist of great and merited celebrity, whose ill health prevented him from honouring us again with his attention — and now he is gone to that bourn from whence no traveller returns. It will give our auditors some idea of that playful spirit frequently displayed by him when metted down to sociality with his friends. This production, with the answer, were both formerly read from the Tea Chest and are now brought forward again that they may be inserted in the Attic Album when his recent loss may make them the more interesting. For the same reason we shall in a future number read other pieces connected with the same artist. And here we have to lament that in the short time that our Society has been embodied we have lost three of its members that have afforded us in different ways both instruction and delight. The eminent artist alluded to above, whose talents as an author, had they been more frequently displayed, would perhaps have distinguished him as highly as the art his professed.
“But seldom that for higher thought he fed.” The Reverend Dr. Grant who could descend from objects of great literary importance to contribute to the amusement of the Attic Society and Mrs. Welch, who was not as far as we know, actually a contributor to our collection, yet by her good sense, her long acquaintance with many men highly distinguished in the last century, and her various information, never failed to delight us with her conversation. So pass away our pleasures and our friendships.
We shall commence this night’s entertainments with a ballad from a collection of poems lately published which we have selected for its simplicity out of a number that have higher claims to our regards. We shall next read lines addressed to a Gentleman on his birthday which we are not certain are original but we shall request the friend to whom we are indebted for them to mention at some future time the name of the author and whether it hath appeared in print.
We shall be obliged to our correspondents if they will always notice when their communications are selections that we may not when they are found in our Album be stigmatized as the receivers of stolen goods.
No. 3 A Pome by Anacreonides written with the genuine Spirit of the Bard of Teos but we wish that he had restricted his verse to lines of seven syllables as they are nearest in length and cadence to the lines of Anacreon and the practice of the English Poets have almost appropriated them to Anacreontic Effusions.
4 The Answer to the Feline Query
5 The Lawyer’s Answer to the Last
6 & 7 Buss and Rebuss
8 A Neat Versification of the Fable of the Miser and the Mouse
9 A Charade by a Lawyer
10 A Rebuss by a new Correspondent
11 A (saucy) Stray Spark from the Tinder Box
12 Verses to the Author of the Tinder Box
13 Lines by the late John Hoppner Esqre R.A.
14 A reproof to Gormandizing Bards in answer to the above
and lastly, Lauretta, a tale by Peregrine, of which we think highly but must defer our observations upon it to a future Evening.
We are obliged to postpone several other pieces.