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William, having disposed of the two books of Kings in the two forks of the foretop; but that glorious monarch dying before the wig was finished, there is a space left in it for the face of any one that has a mind to purchase it.

But to return to our ancient poems in picture, I would humbly propose, for the benefit of our modern smatterers in poetry, that they would imitate their brethren among the ancients in those ingenious devices. I have communicated this thought to a young poetical lover of my acquaintance, who intends to present his mistress with a copy of verses made in the shape of her fan; and, if he tells me true, has already finished the three first sticks of it. He has likewise promised me to get the measure of his mistress's marriage-finger, with a design to make a posy in the fashion of a ring which shall exactly fit it. It is so very easy to enlarge upon a good hint, that I do not question but my ingenious readers will apply what I have said to many other particulars; and that we shall see the town filled in a very little time with poetical tippets, handkerchiefs, snuff-boxes, and the like female ornaments. I shall therefore conclude with a word of advice to those admirable English authors who call themselves Pindaric writers,' that they would apply themselves to this kind of wit without loss of time, as being provided better than any other poets with verses of all sizes and dimensions.

C.

1 Cowley's Pindariques had been followed by similar verses by Dryden, Swift, and others.

No.
No. 59.

TH

Tuesday, May 8, 1711

Operosè nihil agunt.—SEN.

[ADDISON.

HERE is nothing more certain than that every man would be a wit if he could, and notwithstanding pedants of pretended depth and solidity are apt to decry the writings of a polite author as flash and froth, they all of them show upon occasion that they would spare no pains to arrive at the character of those whom they seem to despise. For this reason we often find them endeavouring at works of fancy, which cost them infinite pangs in the production. in the production. The truth of it is, a man had better be a galley-slave than a wit, were one to gain that title by those elaborate trifles which have been the inventions of such authors as were often masters of great learning but no genius.

In my last paper I mentioned some of these false wits among the ancients, and in this shall give the reader two or three other species of them, that flourished in the same early ages of the world. The first I shall produce are the lipogrammatists or letter-droppers' of antiquity, that would take an exception, without any reason, against some particular letter in the alphabet, so as not to admit it once into a whole poem. One Tryphiodorus 2

1 Lipogrammatic verse dates back to the sixth century, when it was written by the Greek poet Lasus. Lope de Vega wrote five novels, each with one of the vowels excluded from it.

2 Tryphiodorus, a Greek grammarian, lived in the fifth century A.D. According to Eustathius, he omitted throughout his Odyssey the letter 's'; Addison follows the account of Hesychius. The only work by Tryphiodorus which has come down to us is a short epic poem on the taking of Troy (Arnold).

305 was a great master in this kind of writing. He composed an Odyssey or epic poem on the adventures of Ulysses, consisting of four and twenty books, having entirely banished the letter A from his first book, which was called 'Alpha' (as Lucus a non lucendo) because there was not an alpha in it. His second book was inscribed Beta' for the same In short, the poet excluded the whole four and twenty letters in their turns, and showed them, one after another, that he could do his business without them.

reason.

It must have been very pleasant to have seen this poet avoiding the reprobate letter, as much as another would a false quantity, and making his escape from it through the several Greek dialects, when he was pressed with it in any particular syllable. For the most apt and elegant word in the whole language was rejected, like a diamond with a flaw in it, if it appeared blemished with a wrong letter. I shall only observe upon this head, that if the work I have here mentioned had been now extant, the Odyssey of Tryphiodorus, in all probability, would have been oftener quoted by our learned pedants, than the Odyssey of Homer. What a perpetual fund would it have been of obsolete words and phrases, unusual barbarisms and rusticities, absurd spellings and complicated dialects? I make no question but it would have been looked upon as one of the most valuable treasuries of the Greek tongue.

I find likewise among the ancients that ingenious kind of conceit, which the moderns distinguish by the name of a rebus, that does not sink a letter but a whole word, by substituting a picture in its place. When Cæsar was one of the masters of the Roman

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Mint, he placed the figure of an elephant upon the reverse of the public money; the word Cæsar signifying an elephant in the Punic language. This was artificially contrived by Cæsar, because it was not lawful for a private man to stamp his own figure upon the coin of the commonwealth. Cicero, who was so called from the founder of his family, that was marked on the nose with a little wen like a vetch (which is cicer in Latin), instead of Marcus Tullius Cicero, ordered the words 'Marcus Tullius' with the figure of a vetch at the end of them to be inscribed on a public monument. This was done probably to show that he was neither ashamed of his name or family, notwithstanding the envy of his competitors had often reproached him with both. In the same manner we read of a famous building that was marked in several parts of it with the figures of a frog and a lizard: those words in Greek having been the names of the architects, who by the laws of their country were never permitted to inscribe their own names upon their works. For the same reason, it is thought that the forelock of the horse in the antique equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius represents at a distance the shape of an owl, to intimate the country of the statuary, who, in all probability, was an Athenian. This kind of wit was very much in vogue among our own countrymen about an age or two ago, who did not practise it for any oblique reason, as the ancients abovementioned, but purely for the sake of being witty. Among innumerable instances that may be given of this nature, I shall produce the device of one Mr. Newberry, as I find it mentioned by our learned Camden in his 'Remains. Mr. Newberry, to re1 In the chapter on Rebus, or name devices.

'1

present his name by a picture, hung up at his door the sign of a yew-tree that had several berries upon it, and in the midst of them a great golden N hung upon a bough of the tree, which by the help of a little false spelling made up the word N-ewberry.

I shall conclude this topic with a rebus, which has been lately hewn out in freestone, and erected over two of the portals of Blenheim House, being the figure of a monstrous lion tearing to pieces a little cock. For the better understanding of which device, I must acquaint my English reader that a cock has the misfortune to be called in Latin by the same word that signifies a Frenchman, as a lion is the emblem of the English nation. Such a device in so noble a pile of building looks like a pun in an heroic poem, and I am very sorry the truly ingenious architect would suffer the statuary to blemish his excellent plan with so poor a conceit: but I hope what I have said will gain quarter for the cock, and deliver him out of the lion's paw.

2

I find likewise in ancient times the conceit of making an echo talk sensibly, and give rational answers. If this could be excusable in any writer it would be in Ovid, where he introduces the echo as a nymph, before she was worn away into nothing but a voice. The learned Erasmus, though a man of wit and genius, has composed a dialogue upon this silly kind of device, and made use of an echo who seems to have been a very extraordinary linguist, for she answers the person she talks with in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, according as she found the syllables which she was to repeat in any of those 1 Sir John Vanbrugh was the architect of Blenheim Palace.

2 Met., iii. 358.

3 Echo,' in the Colloquia Familiaria.

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