Pisistratus, with the exception of these temporary interruptions, enjoyed a peaceable reign. He saw the Athenian power exalted by his talents, and a visible and rapid improvement in literature and the sciences under his fostering hand. He fell quietly to the earth like the lofty oak which long withstands the assailing blast, and at length yields to the destroying tooth of age!

Hipparchus and Hippias succeeded to the power and popularity of their father; and one of the first objects of the attention of Hipparchus, was to regain the presence of the poet whom he had formerly admired. He despatched a barge to Samos for Anacreon; but not finding him there, the Captain set sail for Mytilene, and interrupted our merriment by a letter to the poet, in which the young king informed him of all the events which had occurred during his absence, and concluded by affectionately pressing him to return to Athens. He said he wanted a counsellor, such as the sage Anacreon, to assist him in a task so arduous for youth and inexperience, and a friend such as the poet, with whom he could unbend his mind, and enjoy the pleasures of refined and social intercourse.

This letter was very embarrassing to Anacreon. He felt it at once his duty and his wish to fly to his friend, surrounded, as he was, by all the difficulties and dangers that are incident to a new administration over a fickle people; but it was death to part from the lovely Sappho. She perceived a change in his deportment; and after some days of anxiety she tenderly inquired whether he had received unpleasant intelligence by the courier from Athens. He could only reply by showing his letter to her, when she dissolved into tears and prayed him not to leave her.

"No, said the lover, as he pressed the weeping fair to his bosom, never will I quit thee, I would embrace thee as the ivy twines around the oak-I would be the zone that encircles thy bosom, and beats responsive to its throb."

They feed upon opinions, errors, dreams

And make them truths: they draw a nourishment

Out of defamings: grow upon disgraces;
And when they see a virtue fortified
Strongly, above the battery of their tongues,
Oh, how they cast about to sink it.


The Phrygian rock, that braves the storm,

* Ogilvie, in his Essay on the Lyric Poetry of the Ancients, in remarking upon the Odes of Anacreon, says, "In some of his pieces there is exuberance and even wildness of imagination; in that particularly which is addressed to a young girl, where he wishes alternately to be transformed to a mirror, a coat, a stream, a bracelet and a pair of shoes, for the different purposes which he recites: this is mere sport and wantonness."

It is the wantonness however of a very graceful Muse; ludit amabiliter. The compliment of this ode is exquisitely delicate, and so singular for the period in which Anacreon lived, when the scale of love had not yet been graduated into all its little progressive refinements, that if we were inclined to question the authenticity of the poem, we should find a much more plausible argument in the features of modern gallantry which it bears, than in any of those fastidious conjectures upon which some commentators have presumed so far. Degen thinks it spurious, and De Pauw pronounces it to be miserable. Longepierre and Barnes refer us to several imitations of this ode, from which I shall only select an epigram of Dionysius:

Είθ' ανεμος γενόμην, συ δε γε ςειχεσα παρ' αυγας, &c.

I wish I could like zephyr steal
To wanton o'er thy mazy vest,
And thou wouldst ope thy bosom-veil,
And take me panting to thy breast!

I wish I might a rose-bud grow,

And thou wouldst cull me from the bower,
And place me on that breast of snow,

Where I should bloom, a wintery flower.

I wish I were the lily's leaf,

To fade upon that bosom warm;

There I should wither, pale and brief,
The trophy of thy fairer form!

Allow me to add, that Plato has expressed as fanciful a wish in a distich preserved by Laertius!

Αςερας εισαθρεις, asng εμος. είθε γενοίμην
Ουρανος, ως πολλοις ομμασιν εις σε βλέπω.


Why dost thou gaze upon the sky?
Oh! that I were that spangled sphere,

Was once a weeping matron's form;*
And Progne, hapless, frantic maid,
Is now a swallow in the shade.
Oh! that a mirror's form were mine,
To sparkle with that smile divine;
And like my heart I then should be,
Reflecting thee, and only thee!
Or, were I, love, the robe which flows
O'er every charm that secret glows,
In many a lucid fold to swim,

And cling and grow to every limb!
Oh! could I, as the streamlet's wave,
Thy warmly-mellowing beauties lave,
Or float as perfume on thine hair,
And breathe my soul in fragrance there!
I wish I were the zone, that lies
Warm to thy breast, and feels its sighs!†

And every star should be an eye,
To wonder on thy beauties here!


* Niobe, daughter of Tantalus, King of Phrygia, having the vanity to prefer herself to Latona, the mother of Apollo and Diana, her children, upon which she principally prided herself, were all slain by the offspring of the goddess. The melancholy catastrophe so affected the unfortunate mother, that her powers were benumed by grief, and she became stupid. The license of Poets has transformed her into stone, and Moore elegantly terms her "The Phrygian Rock." The story is finely told by Ovid. Vid. Met. lib. 6. But see Pope in the twenty-fourth book of the Iliad. There are two Epigrams in the Anthologia on Niobe, one of which has all the quaintness of Cowley.

Ότύμβος στος, &c.

This weeping tomb within no corse contains;
This weeping corse without a tomb remains:
For, by a strange irrevocable doom,
This image is the carcase and the tomb.


This ran was a riband, or band, called by the Romans fascia and strophium, which the women wore for the purpose of restraining the exuberance of the bosom. Vide Polluc. Onomast. Thus Martial:

Fasciâ crescentes domina compesce papillas.

Or like those envious pearls that show
So faintly round that neck of snow,
Yes, I would be a happy gem,
Like them to hang, to fade like them.
What more would thy Anacreon be?
Oh! any thing that touches thee.
Nay, sandals for those airy feet-
Thus to be press'd by thee were sweet!*

"But, alas, my Sappho, the call of Hipparchus must be obeyed. You know not the obligations I owe to that excellent sovereign; and I should be ungrateful to him, and unworthy of you, were I to forget them. I will depart but for a short time, and then return with fresh ardor to bask in the sunshine of your smiles."

"No Anacreon-among the brighter damsels of Athens you will soon forget the unfortunate Sappho. Miserable woman that I am! The God of Love wounds my heart only to sport in the pang that

The women of Greece not only wore this zone, but condemned themselves to fasting, and made use of certain drugs and powders, for the same purpose. To these expedients they were compelled, in consequence of their inelegant fashion of compressing the waist into a very narrow compass, which necessarily caused an excessive tumidity in the bosom. See Dioscorides, lib. v. M.

* The sophist Philostratus, in one of his love-letters, has borrowed this thought; ω αδέτοι πόδες. ω κάλλος ελεύθερος. ω τρισευδαιμων εγω και μακαριος σαν πατήσετε με. "Oh lovely feet! oh excellent beauty! oh! thrice happy and blessed should I be, if you would but tread on me!" In Shakspeare Romeo desires to be a glove:

Oh! that I were a glove upon that hand,
'That I might kiss that cheek!

And, in his Passionate Pilgrim, we meet with an idea semewhat like that of the thirteenth line:

He, spying her, bounc'd in, where as he stood,
"O Jove!" quoth she, "why was not I a flood?"

In Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy, that whimsical farrago of “all such reading as was never read," there is a very old translation of this ode, before 1632. "Englished by Mr. B. Holiday in his Technog. act. 1.

scene 7."


he occasions. Go, unkind Anacreon, and in the splendour of the Athenian court forget the sighs of Sappho!"

"Oh! how cruel are your words, lovely maiden. I can never lose the remembrance of your charms. I solemnly vow I will return as soon as I can quit Hipparchus, for I prefer the bowers of love to the courts of Kings."

With these words he strung his lyre and bade her adieu.


Rich in bliss, I proudly scorn
The stream of Amalthea's horn!
Nor should I ask to call the throne
Of the Tartessian prince my own;
To totter through his train of years,
The victim of declining fears.
One little hour of joy to me
Is worth a dull eternity!
(To be continued.)

ART. II.—The Ayrshire Legatees; or, the Correspondence of the Pringle Family.

(Continued from vol. xii. p. 58.)

Andrew Pringle, Esq. to the Rev. Charles Snodgrass.

Windsor Castle Inn.

MY DEAR FRIEND,- I have all my life been strangely susceptible of pleasing impressions from public spectacles where great crowds are assembled. This, perhaps you will say, is but another way of confessing, that, like the common vulgar, I am fond of sights and shows. It may be so, but it is not from the pageants that I derive my enjoyment. A multitude, in fact, is to me as it were a strain of music, which, with an inestimable and magical influence, calls up from the unknown abyss of the feelings, new combinations of fancy, which, though vague and obscure, as those nebulæ of light that astronomers have supposed to be the rudiments of unformed stars, afterwards become distinct and brilliant acquisitions. In a crowd, I am like the somnambulist in the highest degree of the luminous crisis, when it is said a new world is unfolded to his contemplation, wherein all things have an intimate affinity with the state of man, and yet bear no resemblance to the

« ElőzőTovább »