The challenge of Thalestris which produced so much amusement at our last reading has not yet ceased to stimulate our correspondents. We are favoured with a Latin distich addressed to the Amazon signed Aruns which we hope some one of our gallant knights will translate for the benefit of the ladies. But let Aruns dread the vengeance of Opis for daring to strike the virgin warrior. The fair Incognita who we believe to be Thalestris under another name ridicules the fears of 1810 who dreaded to encounter the ladies lest he should catch a Tartar and to rouse his kestrel courage invites him to combat at their side by celebrating their virtues a theme on which he may expatiate without danger and we will add without labour if it be true, as she says, that the whole may be written in the compass of a silver penny. We however think differently and believe that to enumerate their multifarious excellencies in twenty folio volumes would require a pen as fine as the used by the old Grecian who enshrined the Iliad of Homer in a nut shell. However let Signor 1810 exert himself and if the brightness of the objects he is contemplating does not dazzle his mental sense he may honestly hope for the reward which Incognita doubtless has in reserve for him though she is too wise to make promises to a youthful knit who has confessed how much he fears the ladies.
Falstaff says that he is not only witty himself but is the cause of much with in other men. This Thalestris may apply to herself for besides inciting in some degree the torpid spirit of 1810 she called forth the powers of Tancred and Lysander & that ingenuous bard who dress’d the fable of old Hesio in such a pleasing garb; nor has her influence yet spent its force, for we have this evening, another poem founded on the same fable, which appears to be intended as the retort courteous on the men, anticipating the challenge of Timon which will be read hereafter. The Dowry follows close in the Path of Hesiod, and makes the fair Pandora with her box of evils, to be sent by Jove to punish the vices and impiety of men, and proceeds to instance some few of the numberless enormities of the masculine part of human-kind. The plan of the poem we admire, and think it would form the foundation of a satyr, in the deep-mouth’d tone of Juvenal, that would amply revenge the fair sex — but it would not be proper for our assembly where the vices should not be permitted to enter even for punishment & disgrace. In the Dowry the modern instances and phrases of a humourous cast, do not assimilate with the solemn dignity of Hesiod and, we think, diminish the excellence of this well imagined poem. The author however may plead precedent if she will prefer precedent to taste for some of the most distinguished poets have blended ludicrous images in works of distinguished sublimity. Thus Chaucer when describing an assemblage of the more dreadful calamities that can afflict human nature as painted on the walls of the Temple of Mars says, “there also I saw the Cooke scalded with his own Ladle.” Milton in the Paradise Lost condescends to mention
— Eremites and Friars
White black and grey with all their trumpery
and Ariosto makes the trunk of Orillo gallop after his head, and tells us
He would have call’d to bid the warrior stay
But the faire Knight had borne his tongue away
To those who are sensible of the ridiculous these passages affect the reader in the same manner as Barry’s picture of Dr. Burney in a full-bottom’d wig nicely combed and bien poudre swimming among the naked Naiads of the Thames or a monkey cracking nuts on the should of Mr. Flaxman’s figure of Resignation. If any Dutchman should dare to profane in such a manner, the sublimest effort of modern art. There is a time for all things, says Solomon and there are appropriate situations for every thing says the critic
“Even in an ornament its place remark
Nor in a Hermitage set Dr. Clark.”
The powers of Fitz-Hesiod are calculated either for the serious or the comic but taste requires that they should be separately exerted. We have intimated that we think the author of the Dowry is a lady, but whether it be the production of one of our lovely auditors or of a youthful Grecian of the masculine gender as the signature would imply, we equally hope that our criticism will be taken in good part. We are anxious that the higher compositions that issue from the chest should be distinguised by genuine Attic Grace.
We cannot blame the next poem, called the Fop for an incongruous mixture of ideas. It was written under a caricature of a warlike wight ycleped Captain Butter and would excellently serve for an answer to one of the Enigmas in the Lady’s Diary for 1810. The charade addressed to a young lady is a production superior in its kind and with another in prose (which we shall withhold till our next meeting that we may not overtax the ingenuity of our auditors) will remove this species of composition from the ranks of false wit, where Addison would place it, and shew that in the hands of a mast, it is capable of high degree of excellence. But genius like the touch of Midas turns every thing to gold.
On the merits of the Fairy Favour we have frequently expatiated with pleasure and though as a present to the Editress it has not all the raciness of fresh gather’d fruit, its intrinsic worth is not to be diminished by time.
The poem called Greenwich Hill we recommend to all readers and writers of amatory poetry as an example of simplicity & pathos to be attained only by those who write from the heart, before which the voluptuous elegance of Anacreon is only like gems and gold on the native elegance of beauty.
We must defer the melting effusion to a “Candle snuffed too low”. Verses “To Eliza” and “To her I love”. The excellent “Charade” before mentioned, and several other pieces, some of which have but past come to hand, to our next meeting, and shall commence this evening’s amusement with a sublime and pathetic elegy on the misfortunes of Mr. Richard Hall, as follows.
As one did call
On Richard Hall
I vow by Saul
And Father Paul
He got a fall
Beside a Stall
Against a wall
Which did him maul
And cracked his cawl
And burst his gall
And made him bawl
And loudly squall
And — that’s all