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quality, in which I shall spare neither time nor pains till I have made them as expert as myself. I will fly with the women upon my back for the first fortnight. I shall appear at the next masquerade dressed up in my feathers and plumage like an Indian prince, that the quality may see how pretty they will look in their travelling habits. You know, sir, there is an unaccountable prejudice to projectors of all kinds; for which reason, when I talk of practising to fly, silly people think me an owl for my pains: but, sir, you know better things. I need not enumerate to you the benefits which will accrue to the public from this invention, as how the roads of England will be saved when we travel through these new highways, and how all familyaccounts will be lessened in the article of coaches and horses. I need not mention posts and packet-boats, with many other conveniencies of life, which will be supplied this way. In short, sir, when mankind are in possession of this art, they will be able to do more business in threescore and ten years than they could do in a thousand by the methods now in use. I therefore recommend myself and art to your patronage, and am “Your most humble servant.”
I have fully considered the project of these our modern Daedalists, and am resolved so far to discourage it as to prevent any person from flying in my time. It would fill the world with innumerable immoralities, and give such occasions for intrigues, as people cannot meet with who have nothing but legs to carry them. You should have a couple of lovers make a midnight assignation upon the top of the Monument, and see the cupola of St. Paul's covered with both sexes like the outside of a pigeon-house. Nothing would be more frequent than to see a beau flying in at a garret window, or a gallant giving chase to his mistress like a hawk after a lark. There would be no walking in a shady wood without springing a covey of toasts. The poor husband could not dream what was doing over his head : if he were jealous indeed, he might clip his wife's wings; but what would this avail when there were flocks of whore-masters perpetually hovering over his house 2 What concern would the father of a family be in all the time his daughter was upon the wing ! Every heiress must have an old woman flying at her heels. In short, the whole air would be full of this kind of gibier, as the French call it. I do allow, with my correspondent, that there would be much more business done than there is at present. However, should he apply for such a patent as he speaks of, I question not but there would be more petitions out of the City against it, than ever yet appeared against any other monopoly whatsoever. Every tradesman that cannot keep his wife a coach could keep her a pair of wings, and there is no doubt but she would be every morning and evening taking the air with them. I have here only considered the ill consequences of this invention in the influences it would have on love affairs. I have many more objections to make on other accounts; but these I shall defer publishing till I see my friend astride the dragon. ADDISON.
FROM STRADA's PROLUSIONS. Paper I. (No. 115).
THE greatest critics among the ancients are those who have the most excelled in all other kinds of composition, and have shown the height of good writing even in the precepts which they have given for it.
Among the moderns likewise no critic has ever pleased, or been looked upon as authentic, who did not show by his practice that he was a master of the theory. I have now one before me, who, after having given many proofs of his performances, both in poetry and prose, obliged the world with several critical works. The author I mean is Strada. His prolusion on the style of the most famous among the ancient Latin poets who are extant, and have written in epic verse, is one of the most entertaining as well as the most just pieces of criticism that I have ever read. I shall make the plan of it the subject of this day's paper.
It is commonly known that Pope Leo the Tenth was a great patron of learning, and used to be present at the performances, conversations, and disputes of all the most polite writers of his time. Upon this bottom Strada founds the following narrative:—When this pope was at his villa, that stood upon an eminence on the banks of the Tiber, the poets contrived the following pageant or machine for his entertainment. They made a huge floating mountain, that was split at the top in imitation of Parnassus. There were several marks on it that distinguished it for the habitation of heroic poets. Of all the muses Calliope only made her appearance. It was covered up and down with groves of laurel. Pegasus appeared hanging off the side of a rock, with a fountain running from his heel. This floating Parnassus fell down the river to the sound of trumpets, and in a kind of epic measure; for it was rowed forward by six huge wheels, three on each side, that by their constant motion carried on the machine till it arrived before the pope's villa. The representatives of the ancient poets were disposed in stations suitable to their respective characters. Statius was posted on the highest of the two summits, which was fashioned in the form of a precipice, and hung over the rest of the mountain in a dreadful manner, so that people regarded him with the same terror and curiosity as they look upon the daring rope-dancer whom they expect to fall every moment. Claudian was seated on the other summit, which was lower, and at the same time more smooth and even than the former. It was observed likewise to be more barren, and to produce, on some spots of it, plants that are unknown to Italy, and such as the gardeners call exotics. Lucretius was very busy about the roots of the mountain, being wholly intent upon the motion and management of the machine, which was under his conduct, and was indeed of his invention. He was sometimes so engaged among the wheels, and covered with machinery, that not above half the poet appeared to the spectators; though at other times, by the working of the engines, he was raised up and became as conspicuous as any of the brotherhood.
Ovid did not settle in any particular place, but ranged over all Parnassus with great nimbleness and activity. But, as he did not much care for the toil and pains that were requisite to climb the upper part of the hill, he was generally roving about the bottom of it. But there was none who was placed in a more eminent station, and had a greater prospect under him, than Lucan. He vaulted upon Pegasus with all the heat and intrepidity of youth, and seemed desirous of mounting into the clouds upon the back of him. But, as the hinder feet of the horse stuck to the mountain while the body reared up in the air, the poet with great difficulty kept himself from sliding off his back, insomuch that the people often gave him for gone, and cried out, every now and then, that he was tumbling. Virgil, with great modesty in his looks, was seated by Calliope in the midst of a plantation of laurels, which grew thick about him and almost covered him with their shade. He would not perhaps have been seen in this retirement, but that it was impossible to look upon Calliope without seeing Virgil at the same time. This poetical masquerade was no sooner arrived before the pope's villa, but they received an invitation to land; which they did accordingly. The hall prepared for their reception was filled with an audience of the greatest eminence for quality and politeness. The poets took their places, and repeated each of them a poem written in the style and spirit of those immortal authors whom they represented. The subject of these several poems, with the judgment passed upon each of them, may be an agreeable entertainment for another day's paper. ADDISON.
FROM STRADA'S PROLUSIONS. Paper II. (No. 119).
THERE is nothing which more shows the want of taste and discernment in a writer, than the decrying of any author in gross, especially of an author who has been the admiration of multitudes, and that too in several ages of the World. This, however, is the general practice of all illiterate and undistinguishing critics. Because Homer and Virgil and Sophocles have been commended by the learned of all times, every scribbler, who has no relish of their beauties, gives himself an air of rapture when he speaks of them. But, as he praises these he knows not why, there are others whom he depreciates with the same vehemence and upon the same account. We may see after what a different manner Strada proceeds in his judgment on the Latin poets; for I intend to publish, in this paper, a continuation of that prolusion which was the subject of the last Thursday. I shall therefore give my reader a short account, in prose, of every poem which was produced in the learned assembly there described; and if he is thoroughly conversant in the works of those ancient authors, he will see with how much judgment every subject is adapted to the poet who makes use of it, and with how much delicacy every particular poet's way of writing is characterised in the censure that is passed upon it. Lucan's representative was the first who recited before that august assembly. As Lucan was a Spaniard, his poem does honour to that nation, which at the same time makes the romantic bravery in the hero of it more probable. Alphonso was the governor of a town invested by the Moors. During the blockade they made his only son their prisoner; whom they brought before the walls, and exposed to his father's sight, threatening to put him to death if he did not immediately give up the town. The father tells them, if he had a hundred sons he would rather see them all perish than do an ill action, or betray his country. “But (says he) if you take a pleasure in destroying the innocent, you may do it if you please: behold a sword for your purpose.” Upon which he threw his sword from the wall, returned to his palace, and was able, at such a juncture, to sit down to the repast which was prepared for him. He was soon raised by the shouts of the enemy and the cries of the besieged. Upon returning again to the walls, he saw his son lying in the pangs of death: but far from betraying any weakness at such a spectacle, he upbraids his friends for their sorrow, and returns to finish his repast.