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of the latter. Noted liars are no less to be avoided, as the common pests of society. They are often of a mischievous disposition, and by their calumnies and false suggestions take a pleasure in setting the most intimate friends at variance. But if they only deal in harmless and improbable lies, their acquaintance must frequently be out of countenance for them; and if we should venture to repeat after them, I am sure it is the way to be out of countenance for ourselves.
But above all, I must advise you never to engage, at least not with any degree of violence, in any party: Be not transported with the clamorous jollity of talking patriots, beyond the sober dictates of reason and justice. Nor let the insinuating voice of corruption tempt you to barter your integrity and peace of mind for the paltry satisfaction of improving your fortune. If you behave with honour and prudence, you will be regarded and courted by all parties; but if otherwise, you will certainly be despised by all. Perhaps, indeed, if you should hereafter engage in elections, and spend your own money to support another's cause, the person, in whose interest you are, may shake you by the hand, and swear you are a very honest gentleman : just as butchers treat their bull-dogs, who spit in their mouths, clap them on the back, and then halloo them on to be tossed and torn by the horns of their antagonist.
After having guarded you against the evil influence of your own sex, I cannot conclude without throwing in a word or two concerning the ladies. But that I may not be thought unmannerly to the fair, I shall pass over their faults; only hoping, that their excellencies will not tempt you to precipitate a match with one much inferior in birth and fortune, though "en"dowed with every accomplishment requisite to make "-the marriage state happy." In these hasty and unequal matches it sometimes happens, that mutual
love gives way to mutual reproaches. We may, perhaps too late, repent of our bargain: and though Repentance be an excellent visiting friend, when she reminds us of our past miscarriage, and prescribes rules how to avoid them for the future, yet she is a most troublesome companion, when fixed upon us for life. I am, dear Sir,
Your sincere friend, &c.
No. LXXXIII. THURSDAY, AUGUST 28.
Tot pariter pelves, tot tintinnabula dicas
Rough repetition roars inrudest rhyme,
SINCE genius is the chief requisite in all kinds of poetry, nothing can be more contrary to the very essence of it, than the adopting as beauties, certain arts, which are merely mechanical. There are daily arising many whimsical excellencies, which have no foundation in nature, but are only countenanced by the present mode of writing. With these it is as easy to fill our compositions, as to dress ourselves in the fashion but the writer, who puts his work together in this manner, is no more a poet than his taylor. Such productions often betray great labour and exactness, but shew no genius: for those, who sit down to write by rule, and follow "dry receipts how poems should be made," may compose their pieces without the least assistance from the imagination; as an apothecary's apprentice, though unable to cur any disease,
can make up medicines from the physician's prescription, with no more knowledge of physic than the names of the drugs. Thus the muse, that ought to fly, and "ascend the brightest heaven of invention," walks in leading-strings, or is supported by a go-cart.
Among the many poetical tricks of this sort, none have been more successfully practised, or had more advocates and admirers, than a certain fantastical conceit, called alliteration: which is nothing more than beginning two, three, or perhaps every word in a line with the same letter. This method of running divisions upon the alphabet, and pressing particular letters into the service, has been accounted one of the first excellencies in versification, and has, indeed, received the sanction of some of our best poets: but wherein the beauty of it consists, is something difficult to discover; since Quarles or Withers might practice it with as much adroitness as Dryden or Spenser. It is one of those modern arts in poetry, which require no fancy, judgment or learning, in the execution: for an author may huddle the same letters on each other again and again, as mechanically as the printer selects his types, and ranges them in whatsoever order he pleases.
This partial attachment to particular letters is a kind of contrast to the famous Odyssey of Tryphiodorus, where every letter in the alphabet was in its turn excluded; and the alliterator must be as busily employed to introduce his favourite vowel or consonant, as the Greek poet to shut out the letter he had proscribed. Nothing is esteemed a greater beauty in poetry, than an happy choice of epithets: but alliteration reduces all the elegancies of expression to a very narrow compass. Epithets are culled, indeed, with great exactness: but the closest relation they are intended to bear to the words to which they are joined, is that the initials are the same. Thus the
fields must be flowery, beauty must be beaming, ladies must be lovely; and in the same manner must the "C waves, wind their watery way," the "blustering blasts blow," and "locks all loosely lay," not for the sake of the poetry, but the elegance of the alliteration. This beauty has also taken possession of many of our tragedies; and I have seen ladies wooed and heroes killed in it, though I must own, I never hear an actor dying with deadly darts and fiery flames, &c. but it always puts me in mind of the celebrated pippin-woman in Gay's Travia, whose head, when it was severed from her body, rolled along the ice, crying out pip, pip, and expired in alliteration.
The same false taste in writing, " that wings displayed and altars rais'd," also introduced alliteration; and acrostics in particular are the same kind of spelling-book poetry. It is, therefore, somewhat extraordinary, that those sublime writers, who have disgraced their pages with it, did not leave this as well as the other barbarous parts of literature to the Goths in poetry; since it is a whimsical beauty, below the practice of any writer, superior to him who turned the Eneid into monkish verses. Shakspeare, who was more indebted to nature than art, has ridiculed this low trick with great humour in his burlesque tragedy of Pyramus and Thisbe. Besides that noted passage,
........... With blade, with bloody blameful blade'
He before introduces a mock rant, which Bottom calls Ercles' vein; which is not only rank fustian, but is also remarkable for its alliteration. "To make all split the raging rocks, and shivering shocks shall break the locks of prison gates"....and "Phœbus' car shall shine from far, and make and mar the foolish fates." In this strange style have whole poems been
written; and every learned reader will recollect on this occasion the Pugna Porcorum per P. Porcium Pelagium Poetam, which I wish some of our poetasters would translate, in the true spirit of the original, and praise pigs and pork with all the beauties of alli
The advocates and admirers of this practice have asserted, that it adds significance and strength of expression of their verses: but I fear this boasted energy seldom appears to the reader. The alliteration either remains unregarded, or, if it is very striking, disgusts those who perceive it; and is often in itself, from such a disagreeable cluster of the same letters, harsh and uncouth. There are many instances, where alliteration, though studiously introduced, renders the versification rough and inharmonious; and I will appeal to the greatest lovers of it, whether the folJowing line, where the repetition was scarce intended, is one of the most pleasing in all Virgil's works:
Neu patriæ Validis in Viscera Vertite Vires.
Wound not with Vigour Vast the Vitals of the Veal,
It must be acknowledged, that there is something very mechanical in the whole construction of the numbers in most of our modern poetry. Sound is more attended to than sense, and the words are expected to express more than the sentiment. There are set rules to make verses run off glibly, or drawl slowly on; and I have read many a poem with scarce one tolerable thought in it, that has contained all these excellencies of versification: for which reason I must confess myself no friend to those critics, who analyze words and syllables, and discover latent beauties in every letter, when the author intended that the whole should be taken together. Poetry should seem at least to flow