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No. 106. TUESDAY, DECEMBER 13, 1709.
Invenies disjecti membra poèta.
HOR, SAT. i. 4. 62,
WILL'S COFFEE-HOUSE, DEC. 12.
I was this evening sitting at the side-table, and reading one of my own papers with great satisfaction, not knowing that I was observed by any in
I had not long enjoyed this secret pleasure of an author, when a gentleman, some of whose works I have been highly entertained with, accosted me after the following manner. “Mr. Bickerstaff, you know I have for some years devoted my. be surprised when I tell you f am resolved to
apply myself to business. 'I shall,
self wholly to the Muses, and perhaps you will
have now upon my hands.'
therefore, beg you will stand my friend, and recommend a customer to me for several goods that I
I desired him to let to serve him.' - I have, first of all, says he,
* The technical phrase of an auctioneer
r the progress
of an amour digested into sonnets, beginning with a poem to the unknown fair, and ending with an epithalamium. I have celebrated in it her cruelty, her pity, her face, her shape, her wit, her good humour, her dancing, her singing'
I could not forbear interrupting him ; . This is a most accomplished lady,' said I ; but has she really, with all these perfections, a fine voice?'
Pugh,' says he, you do not believe there is such a person in nature. This was only my employment in solitude last summer, when I had neither friends nor books to divert me.'— I was going,' said I, to ask her name, but I find it is only an imaginary mistress.'—' That's true,' replied my friend, but her name is Flavia. I have,' continued he, “in the second place, a collection of lampoons, calculated either for the Bath, Tunbridge, or any place where they drink waters, with blank spaces, for the names of such person or persons as may be inserted in them on occasion. Thus much I have told only of what I have by me, proceeding from love and malice. I have also at this time the sketch of an heroic poem upon the next peace : several, indeed, of the verses are either too long or too short, it being a rough draught of my thoughts upon that subject. I thereupon told him, “That, as it was, it might probably pass for a very good Pindaric, and I believed I knew one who would be willing to deal with him for it upon that foot. I must tell you also,' said he, “I have made a dedication to it, which is about four sides close written, that may serve any one that is tall, and understands Latin. I have further, about fifty similes, that were never yet applied, besides three-and-twenty descriptions of the sun rising, that might be of great use to an epic poet. These are my more bulky commodities : besides which, I have several small wares that I would part with at easy rates; as observations upon life, and moral sentences, reduced into several couplets, very proper to close up acts of plays, and may be easily introduced by two or three lines of prose, either in tragedy or comedy. If I could find a purchaser curious in Latin poetry, I could accommodate him with two dozen of epigrams, which, by reason of a few false quantities, should come for little, or nothing.'
I heard the gentleman with much attention, and asked him, "Whether he would break bulk, and sell his goods by retail, or designed they should all go in a lump?' He told me, That he should be very loth to part them, unless it was to oblige a man of quality, or any person for whom I had a particular friendship.'My reason for asking,' said I, is, only because I know a young gentleman who intends to appear next spring in a new jingling chariot, with the figures of the nine Muses on each side of it ; and, I believe, would be glad to come into the world in verse.' We could not go on in our treaty, by reason of two or three critics that joined us. They had been talking, it seems, of the two letters which were found in the coffin, and mentioned in one of my late Lucubrations, and came with a request to me, that I would communicate any others of them that were legible. One of the gentlemen was pleased to say, that it was a very proper instance of a widow's constancy, and said, He wished I had subjoined, as a foil to it, the following passage in Hamlet.' The young prince was not yet acquainted with all the guilt of his mother, but turns his thoughts on her sudden forgetfulness of his father, and the indecency of her hasty marriage.
That it should come to this!