Our correspondents since our last meeting have been less numerous, and less industrious than usual; and we are afraid that the tumults in our streets have driven the Muses from their abodes, and deprived them of that serenity of mind which is necessary to poetry.
They love the quiet shade
The bubbling fountain and the moonlight glade;
and though they sometimes delight in relating the deeds of a favourite hero, and in describing the horrors of a well contested fight, yet these pictures are drawn in retirement, long after the roaring of the cannon has ceased. We therefore can readily excuse our correspondents in this instance for the horror of popular commotions might appall the firmest heart, and right glad should we be if a small diminution of our evening’s amusement were the greatest evil resulting from the fury of the misguided multitude called into action by the wickedness, madness, or folly of Sir Francis Burdette, who like a Nero, or a Lord George Gordon, would perhaps rejoice to see the metropolis in flames.
The pieces that will be read this evening after the Challenge, (which we shall presently more particularly notice) are No. 2 A Poem called the Squirrel. No. 3 A Sonnet to a Little Girl. No. 4 a Sonnet addressed to a Barrister. 5. A Song 6. two short poems for and against Life. 7. a Song called the new Broom, in answer to the Broom of Cowdenknows, written by a highly respected friend of the Editors, who has long since descended to the tomb, and which he believes has never been printed. No. 8 Lines on the portable pens, written at the command of Miss Porden October 1806.
No. 9 is a Latin acrostic which was found near the Attic Chest some months ago. We should be obliged to any of our learned correspondents for a translation of it. But we will not require (what perhaps is impossible) that the translation should be an acrostic also.
No. 10. The Latin Gerunds. To give due praise to this distich would require many more words that the poem itself contains. We trust Ictinus will be sensible of the injury done to the society by absenting himself from the readings on these important nights. He has sealed the lips of a lady from whose conversation the society might have had much entertainment. We do not pretend to know the lady in question but ears and eyes will be on the alert to discover the dumb lady.
No. 11. The speech of the new married man to his wife we cannot pretend to read either in French or English. We have received a composition in prose called a “Fragment in the manner of Sterne”, which without delivering our opinion on its merits we are in doubt whether we ought to read, as however true the leading incident may be, the circumstances which are said to have followed are evidently fictitious and improbably and the wit perhaps will not be found to compensate for sporting with characters and feelings which we think should not be lightly treated. In the course of this season we have found several compositions in the chest of a similar nature which we have forborne to produce because we thought the style and humour less elegant than we would wish to produce to an audience chiefly female and we take this opportunity to hint to our correspondents that one of the leading objects of our society is the improvement of its members in the graces of composition. We would give every indulgence to playful wit but do not wish to descend to the assumption of characters and manners which may possess considerable merit as farce or low comedy, but do not tend to promote our chief design. The Challenge signed Thalestris to which we have alluded above is addressed “to any Knight of the Attic Chest who may have courage to take up the Gauntlet” and was sealed in due form with three seals one of which is inscribed Incognita. The Gallant Amazon, or fair Unknown (whichever title best may please the ear) dares the bold knight to meet her, not with a sword of steel & a shield of brass in a rough and bloody encounter, but with a pointed pen and a sheet of paper to spatter each other with ink in a poetical contest. The lady has thought it proper to indicate the subject namely the faults of the fair sex which if taken up by and acrimonious spirit may be productive of the most irritating consequences and involve the Attic Chest in troubles as dreadful as the commotions we alluded to at the beginning of this paper. The Editor desirous of wearing his grey hairs in peace declines the combat but whether he does this for love or fear, is to remain a secret. He may believe the ladies to have no faults and possibly he may think them too many to be enumerated in the compass of a summer’s sun.
Perchance ’tis either, as the ladies please
We wave the subject and commence the lays