The Editor and Editress have the satisfaction of meeting their friends this season with a greater number of contributions, than have been furnished in any former year at the commencement of their readings. Such industry is the more gratifying as it proves that they remember the preceding season with pleasure, and that amid the recreations of summer they have not been unmindful of the claims of winter. But we have still to regret the want of compositions in prose, and the reluctance shown to that mode of writing, evinces what we asserted on a former occasion, that short poems are written with greater facility by those who have a good ear, than essays or tales in the manner of the spectator and rambler. It is very desirable to give this kind of variety to our periodical amusements, and we exhort our correspondents to conquer their reluctance to write prose, which they have been writing all their lives, tho’ perhaps like the Lincolnshire Squire, without knowing it. We are confident, that the benefit will amply repay the labour of the attempt, by the facility which they will acquire, in giving form and substance to the thoughts and images that fleet through the mind, and are irrecoverably lost for want of being thus embodied. How many valuable reflections have been awakened by reading a new book, whether good or bad. How many remarks have been made on a journey. How many observations have occurred and how many anecdotes have been related in conversation, which are now forgotten, because they were trusted only to the memory. These reserved in a commonplace book, like goods in a storehouse, would be always ready for use, and we earnestly request our correspondents to adopt such a method of treasuring their thoughts, and that they will furnish us with whatever they may think worthy of being communicated, every fortnight, by the Saturday preceding the readings, which we will make it our pleasing duty to digest into a paper, for the ensuing meeting under that or some other appropriate title. These contributions may consist of detached thoughts, of remarks on particular subjects in the forms of essays or letters addrest to the Editors, or of translations of striking passages in ancient or modern languages. We respectfully submit this proposition to our auditors and we hope it will be received with approbation, and obtain their support.
The articles already found in the Chest are too numerous to be all read this evening and we have selected those that from their connection with our past or present meetings or from other circumstances seem to claim precedency. And foremost “the complaint of the delay of opening the Attic Chest this season” which though founded in mistake, as we have commenced our readings this year much earlier than usual, we receive as a compliment, impatience being a proof of regard. Its merits are of the first order: “The Attic Garland” we consider as a pleasing bouquet although its beauty has been injured by one of the flowers having been shaken out in the carriage, yet in the eyes of the painter that circumstance may have rendered it more picturesque. “The Grub Street Invocation” to the “Muses” is so playfully satirical and so pleasant withal, that though we may ourselves now and then receive a pinch or a buffet we cannot withhold our warmest praise, we trust our auditors will know their own portraits, and with conscious pride cry out
“Oh Editress that strain repeat”
We shall not be satisfied with less than three readings.
The next poem entitled Vox Planetarium we were for some time at a loss to understand, till a glimpse of sunshine was let in upon, and we perceived the object of the writer was to change the Attic Evening from Tuesday to Wednesday. We admire the dramatic sprightliness of the planetary contention, and have no objection to place ourselves under the protection of the eloquent Hermes. Since Jupiter while he shook his perfumed wig, did not presume to place his fatality in competition with the free will of our Society. We flatter ourselves the God of Eloquence will plead so ably in his own behalf, that the ladies will not regret the loss of the red coated fellow, and that, as he is more of a prose man than a poet, his influence will be serviceable in promoting the wishes we expressed in the preceding part of this paper. We must request however that he will leave behind him his soporific rod, lest in his ales and his angers he should set the society a-prosing and we request that he will refrain from pilfering though he may be permitted to borrow.
The two succeeding poems relate to the calamity which has befallen the Royal Family in the death of the Princess Amelia for which the Attic Society laments in common with the nation at large. The Acrostic reminds us of Mason’s expression in his Elegy on the Death of the celebrated Lady Coventry.
“Death at her Couch long took his patient stand
And menaced oft, and oft witheld the blow”
The Elegy which follows, will not yield to Mason in melody and pathos.
We shall conclude our readings this evening with a very singular production written as we believe by a correspondent who has frequently amused us with his eccentric humour. Of this, however, we have no other than internal evidence but from the boldness of his invention and vigour of fancy, as well as from the whimsical irregularity of his versification we feel warranted to say
Aut Erasmus, Aut Diabolo
Our auditors will enjoy its facetiousness and perhaps regret what he will not restrain his Pegasus from bouncing and curvetting, and suit his paces to the heads of soberer people. As all the Muses appear to have been particularly partial to him we sincerely wish that instead of contenting himself with boasting his figures, which indeed shews the fire of invention and energy of genius he would use the chisel and the file to give them elegance and grace.
And snatch a double wreath
From Fame’s unfading Laurel
We reserve to future meetings the Ballad of Lord Edward, 2 Sonnets on the Appearance and Departure of the Swallows in 1809, Verses to Maria, Nine Lines of Apology for Eight, Love and a Cottage, the complaint of the Impatient Gnome, and several other pieces.