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"This day, my friends, I purpose to exhibit my son before you ; a child not wholly unworthy of inspection, as he is descended from a race of virtuosi. Let the physiognomist examine his features; let the chirographists behold his palm ; but, above all, let us consult for the calculation of his nativity. To this end, as the child is not vulgar, I will not present him unto you in a vulgar manner. He shall be cradled in my ancient shield, so famous through the universities of Europe. You all know how I purchased that invaluable piece of antiquity, at the great (though indeed inadequate) expense of all the plate of our family, how happily I carried it off, and how triumphantly I transported it hither, to the inexpressible grief of all Germany. Happy in every Circumstance, but that it broke the heart of the great Melchior Insipidus!”
Here he stopped his speech, upon sight of the maid, who entered the room with the child : he took it in his arms, and proceeded :
“Behold then my child, but first behold the shield, behold, this rust, -or rather let me call it this precious ærugo ; behold this beautiful varnish of time, this venerable verdure of so many ages!”. In speaking these words he slowly lifted up the mantle which covered it, inch by inch; but at every inch he uncovered his cheeks grew paler, his hand trembled, his nerves failed, till on sight of the whole the tremor became universal, the shield and the infant both dropped to the ground, and he had only strength enough to cry out, "O God! my shield, my shield !”
The truth was, the maid (extremely concerned for the reputation of her own cleanliness, and her young master's honour) had scoured it as her hand-irons.
Cornelius sunk back on a chair, the guests stood astonished, the infant squalled, the maid ran in, snatched it up again in her arms, flew into her mistress's room, and told what had happened.
Down stairs in an instant hurried all the gossips, where they found the doctor in a trance; Hungary-water, hartshorn, and the confused noise of shrill voices, at length awakened him, when, opening his eyes, he saw the shield in the hands of the housemaid. “ O woman! woman!” he cried (and snatched it violently from her), " was it to thy ignorance, that this relic owes its ruin? Where, where is the beautiful crust that covered thee so long? where those traces of time, and fingers as it were of antiquity? Where all those beautiful obscurities, the cause of
much delightful disputation, where doubt and uncertainty went hand in hand, and eternally exercised the speculations of the learned? And this the rude touch of an ignorant woman hath done away! The curious prominence at the belly of that figure, which some, taking for the cuspis of a sword, denominated a Roman soldier; others, accounting the insignia virilia, pronounced to be one of the Dii Termini ; behold she hath cleaned it in like shameful sort, and shown to be the head of a nail. O my shield ! my shield! well may say with Horace, Non bene relicta parmula."
The gossips, not at all inquiring into the cause of his sorrow, only asked if the child had no hurt; and cried, “ Come, come, all is well; what has the woman done but her duty, a tight cleanly wench, I warrant her; what a stir a man makes about a bason, that an hour ago, before her labour was bestowed upon it, a country barber would not have hung at his shop-door! "_"A bason! (cried another) no such matter; 'tis nothing but a paltry old sconce, with the nozzle broken off." The learned gentlemen, who till now had stood speechless, hereupon, looking on the shield, declared their assent to this latter opinion, and desired Cornelius to be comforted, assuring him it was a sconce, and no other. But this, instead of comforting, threw the doctor into such a violent fit of passion, that he was carried off groaning and speechless to bed, where, being quite spent, he fell into a kind of slumber. * *
The bare mention of music threw Cornelius into a passion. How can you dignify (quoth he) this modern fiddling with the name of music? Will any of your best hautboys encounter a wolf nowadays with no other arms but their instruments, as did that ancient piper Pithocaris? Have ever wild boars, elephants, deer, dolphins, whales, or turbots, showed the least emotion at the most elaborate strains of your modern scrapers ; all which have been, as it were, tamed and humanized by ancient musicians ? Does not Ælian tell us how the Lybian mares were excited to horsing by music ? (which ought in truth to be a caution to modest women against frequenting operas,) and con: sider, brother, you are brought to this dilemma, either to give up the virtue of the ladies, power
your music. Whence proceeds the degeneracy of our morals? Is it not from the loss of an ancient music, by which (says Aristotle) they taught all the virtues ? else might we turn Newgate into a college of Dorian musicians, who should teach moral virtue to those people. Whence comes it that our present
diseases are so stubborn? whence is it that I daily deplore my sciatical pains ? Alas! because we have lost their true cure by the melody of the pipe. All this was well known to the ancients, as Theophrastus assures us (whence Cælius calls it loca dolentia decantare), only indeed some small remains of this skill are preserved in the cure of the tarantula. Did not Pythagoras stop a company of drunken bullies from storming a civil house, by changing the strain of the pipe to the sober spondæus ? and yet your modern musicians want art to defend their windows from common nickers. It is well known that when the Lacedæmonian mob were up, they commonly sent for a Lesbian musician to appease them, and they immediately grew calm as soon as they heard Terpander sing: yet I don't believe that the pope's whole band of music, though the best of this age, could keep his holiness's image from being burnt on the fifth of November.”—“Nor would Terpander himself (replied Albertus) at Billingsgate, nor Timotheus at Hockley in the Hole, have any manner of effect; nor both of them together bring Horneck to common civility.”—“ That's a gross mistake” (said Cornelius very warmly); "and, to prove it so, I have here a small lyra of my own, framed, strung, and tuned after the ancient manner. I can play some fragments of Lesbian tunes, and I wish I were to try upon the most passionate creatures alive.”- .6. You never had a better opportunity (says Albertus), for yonder are two apple-women scolding, and just ready to uncoif one another.” With that Cornelius, undressed as he was, jumps out into his balcony, his lyra in hand, in his slippers, with his breeches hanging down to his ankles, a stocking upon his head, and waistcoat of murrey-coloured satin upon his body. He touched his lyra with a very unusual sort of harpegiatura, nor were his hopes frustrated. The odd equipage, the uncouth instrument, the strangeness of the man, and of the music, drew the ears and eyes of the whole mob that were got about the two female champions, and at last of the combatants themselves. They all approached the balcony, in as close attention as Orpheus's first audience of cattle, or that of an Italian opera, when some favourite air is just awakened. This sudden effect of his music encouraged him mightily; and it was observed he never touched his lyre in such a truly chromatic and enharmonic manner as upon that occasion. The mob laughed, sung, jumped, danced, and used many odd gestures ; all which he judged to be caused by the various strains and modulations. “Mark” (quoth he) “ in this the power
the Ionian, in that you see the effect of the Æolian.” But in a little time they began to grow riotous, and threw stones ; Cornelius then withdrew, but with the greatest air of triumph in the world. Brother," said he, “ do you observe I have mixed unawares too much of the Phrygian ; I might change it to the Lydian, and soften their riotous tempers. But it is enough ; learn from this sample to speak with veneration of ancient music. If this lyre in my unskilful hands can perform such wonders, what must it not have done in those of a Timotheus or Terpander?" Having said this, he retired with the utmost exultation in himself, and contempt of his brother; and it is said behaved that night with such unusual haughtiness to his family, that they all had reason to wish for some ancient tibicen to calm his temper.
150.-DEATH OF PLINY THE ELDER.
PLINY THE YOUNGER. [CAIUS PLINIUS SECUNDUS, commonly called Pliny the Elder, is supposed to have been born A.D. 23. The manner of his death, A.D. 79, is recorded in a letter to Tacitus, by his nephew Caius Plinius Cæcilius Secundus, commonly called Pliny the Younger. Of the writings of the elder Pliny, his . Natural History' has come down to us, which was justly called by his nephew “ a work of great compass and erudition, and as varied as Nature herself.” The younger Pliny was born A.D. 61, and was in his eighteenth year when the great eruption of Vesuvius occurred, which he describes. Of his writings, there remain to us his · Panegyric upon Trajan,' and his Epistles, in ten books. Of these curious and interesting letters there is an English translation by Melmoth. He is supposed to have died about the end of Trajan's reign.]
Your request that I would send you an account of my uncle's death, in order to transmit a more exact relation of it to posterity, deserves my acknowledgments; for, if this accident shall be celebrated by your pen, the glory of it I am well assured will be rendered for ever illustrious. And notwithstanding he perished by a misfortune, which, as it involved at the same time a most beautiful country in ruins, and destroyed so many populous cities, seems to promise him an everlasting remembrance; notwithstanding he has himself composed many and lasting works; yet I am persuaded the mentioning of him in your immortal writings will greatly contribute to eternalize his name. Happy I esteem those to be whom Providence has distinguished with the abilities either of doing such actions as are worthy of being related, or of relating them in a manner worthy of being read; but doubly happy. are they who are blessed with both these uncommon talents; in the number of which my uncle, as his own writings and your history will evidently prove, may justly be ranked. It is with extreme willingness, therefore, I execute your commands, and should indeed have claimed the task if you had not enjoined it. He was at that time with the fleet under his command at Misenum. On the 23rd of August, about one in the afternoon, my mother desired him to observe a cloud which appeared of a very unusual size and shape. He had just returned from taking the benefit of the sun, and after bathing himself in cold water, and taking a slight repast, was retired to his study: he immediately rose, and went out upon an eminence from whence he might more distinctly view this very uncommon appearance. It was not at that distance discernible from what mountain this cloud issued, but it was found afterwards to ascend from Mount Vesuvius. I cannot give a more exact description of its figure than by resembling it to a pine-tree, for it shot up to a great height in the form of a trunk, which extended itself at the top into a sort of branches; occasioned, I imagine, either by a sudden gust of air that impelled it, the force of which decreased as it advanced upwards, or the cloud itself, being pressed back again by its own weight, expanded in this manner; it appeared sometimes bright and sometimes dark and spotted, as it was either more or less impregnated with earth and cinders. This extraordinary phenomenon excited
my uncle's philosophical curiosity to take a nearer view of it. He ordered a light vessel to be got ready, and gave me the liberty, if I thought proper, to attend him. I rather chose to continue my studies, for, as it happened, he had given me an employment of that kind. As he was coming out of the house he received a note from Rectina, the wife of Bassus, who was in the utmost alarm at the imminent danger which threatened her; for, her villa being situated at the foot of Mount Vesuvius, there was no way to escape but by sea; she earnestly entreated him, therefore, to come to her assistance. He accordingly changed his first design, and what he began with a philosophical, he pursued with an heroical, turn of mind. He ordered