According to the decision of the Attic Society in the trial Mars versus Mercury which took place in the course of the last season, we have in our card of invitation notified to the members that in future the meetings will be held on Wednesdays and that the Society is understood to be under the patronage of Cyllenius. As this good-humoured god presides over wit and eloquence and seems even to invade the province of Apollo himself, we hope that his influence will be felt by the Society in all his better arts; but not in that of filching and stealing for which he as been so much celebrated or calumniated. For wit in verse and eloquence in prose we will do him honour, provided that they be new and genuine; but for second hand wares whether bought, borrowed, or stolen, we shall be less grateful, though if intrinsically excellent we shall not despise them. Gold is gold whether it is mine or my neighbours.
This notification will be a sufficient answer for Mr Gallus’s notice to the attorney of god Mars, which we shall read as a proof of his due attention to business, but as Mars must submit to the decision of the Society, his attorney will have no more trouble, nor will he have any more fees from this contest in whatever direction his wicked wits are exerted. We give the letter of Mr Gallus as follows.
See No. 1
It is with particular satisfaction that we meet our friends of the Society, at this commencement of the fourth season, as the pieces with which the readings will open exhibit considerable improvement in the art of versification and consequently testify that their authors have acquired more knowledge and greater command of language, from the practice of preceding seasons.
We have also the pleasure of announcing that the Restoration and the Sylphiad are brought to a termination. The latter much improved and completed in a manner that will need little more than the rectification of a few rhymes and such verbal corrections as the first copy of such a poem might be expected to require. The Restoration has also been much improved but its plan being more complicated, we understand that many of its parts have not been finished equal to the wishes of the author, who requests it may be received as the sketch of a work that will hereafter be considerable extended. We propose to read the two first books this evening, the remainder on Wednesday the 22d instant, and the Sylphiad on the third evening, which it will fully occupy.
We shall begin the readings with some Verses on the Gambols of New Years Day in a Rustic Hall which will be followed by Verses inviting the members of the Society to recommence their amusements. To these will succeed a beautiful Poem to Amanda from the sweetly flowing Muse of Donald, who hails the most cheerless season of the year as the happiest, because in the fair Circle that surrounds the Chest he is sure to find his Amanda. Who is Donald? Who is Amanda? Be careful, lady, no simpering — all eyes are engaged to discover you. Be careful, young man, do not hang down your head and twirl your thumbs so — all the world will see that you are the enamoured swain. Well — ’tis no matter. He who writes so sweetly must love truly and he need not fear the willow, unless Amanda be made of adamant.
The Verses to Papilia signed Chrysalis gives a promise which we hope to see verified when the author feels the enlivening influence of the Chest.
In the Poem signed Orlando, apparently addressed to a lady who has long been intimate with the Chest, though she affects to be as regardless of the Muses as she is of the numerous victims to her charms, we see the breathings of an affection which time has softened into friendship; but has not wholly deprived of hope. While in the Verses by Lothario lamenting the absence of the lady we alluded to, we perceive a similar affection sinking into hopeless melancholy. Why will ladies thus delight in tormenting poor gentlemen in this manner? And under the mask of gentleness and like Turks? Fie on it — good cannot come from such cruelty. We turn from these melancholy strains to notes of sprightlier measure which in the Dialogue between Phoebus and Mercury, who appear in their astronomical capacities, give us the substance of the popular opinions regarding the comet that has just left our hemisphere. In the poem entitled The Meeting we admire the handsome compliment which is paid to the Editress in verses so ingenious, and in a manner so elegant. She receives it with gratitude fully sensible how much she is indebted to the kindness of the writer, whose future approbation she will be ambitious to merit. To the writer of the Letter relative to Compositions in prose the Editor returns a similar acknowledgement. He however does not agree with the writer entirely in regard to proposing subjects for discussion. The tastes of persons are as different as their faces, and they will be much more likely to write well on subjects that have been suggested to their own minds by their own studies and habits of observation than on such as are suggested by others. In one case they will write con amore. In the other the work must be done by effort and the writer must screw himself to the pitch as the lion when he has not an antagonist is said to lash himself into fury with his tail. We frequently differ in opinion from the authors of books that we are reading, and as frequently find our minds dissent from assertions made by others in conversation which it would not be decorous to dispute or discuss at the moment, but which it might be useful to settle in the closet and fix the arguments by writing. A mind that is exercised in observation and reflection will in every book, in every scene, in every conversation find sufficient employment and even in darkness and solitude its own recollections will furnish inexhaustible matter for thought, and writing is only giving language to thought with more correctness than can by everyone be used in conversation. If however a subject must be given to set the wheel in motion let the respective advantages of conversation and writing in settling our own opinions on the basis of truth and in conveying our opinions clearly and forcibly to others be the theme. The letter we are now alluding to will be read immediately before the two first cantos of The Restoration.
We take the liberty of notifying to the Society that it is desirable the reading should commence at eight o’clock and to request the members would have the goodness to attend as soon after six as they can make it convenient, that the Music of Tea and Toast may cease to vibrate before the hour of business.
The Editor and Editress again express the pleasure they feel in meeting their friends once more round the Attic Chest and in the excellence which distinguishes the pieces with which the fourth season commences — an excellence which if continued cannot fail to render the season superior to the former, and increase the reputation of the Society.