Naples, May 5th, 1793.

HERCULANEUM to view, and Pompeia profound,
And the wonders long hid under classical ground,
         Astonish the Muse ———
The spits, and the pots, and the stew-hooks I scan,
As to bake, or to boil, or to roast, was the plan ;
And the jars once replendish'd, now empty of wine,
I behold with a sigh ; — but why vainly repine ?
As we're born but to die, to-day or to-morrow,
And our span is so short, we have no time for sorrow.
Yet I morally mus'd, and, shaking my head,
Cry'd, Alas ! love and wine are no joys for the dead !
Then time being brief in this sceptical age,
Let us try by deep study to make ourselves sage ;
— I doubt if the Romans us'd forks with three prongs,
Or had chocolate, nutmegs, or asparagus tongs :
* I have questioned Dutens, and he scarcely presumes
To say they made ketchup by squeezing mushrooms.
They could stew a sow's pap, in such cooking were pat ;
But they ne'er dress'd a turtle, or chuck'd the green fat,.
Their garments were simple, as every one knows,
No petticoats, perriwigs, breeches, or hose ;
Has Horace or Ovid their fair ladies clad
In the tumify'd charm of cork rumps or a pad ?
By which pretty Miss, in an emblem so pat,
Bids us view her plump waist, and tells what she'd be at.
Has Lucan or Homer sung canons or bombs,
Or given us a stanza on fifes or on drums ?
They ne'er make their combatants gloriously shine,
By firing of musquets, or springing a mine ;
Or at Troy's boasted siege, has the ignorant bard
Said a word of a dice box, or shuffling a card ?
Yet pedants continue such heroes to puff,
Who ne'er tasted coffee, or souchong, or snuff !
Then, my Jephson, no more chant their deeds to your lyre,
With Dryden's rich flow, with his strength, and his fire.

What manuscripts here are consign'd to the dust,
And doom'd in eternal oblivion to rust ?
Then ye souls tun'd to harmony, listen with glee,
To a precious scrap sav'd of tweedle-dum-dee ;
All the notes here are seen, the bold notes of the song,
That Orpheus play'd up, when the trees danc'd along.
No quaver, no crotchet, no counterpoint arts,
Melodious the strain, for it reach'd to their hearts !
Then frolic'd the bushes, and wanton'd the shrubs,
And the thorns cry'd encore, to his dub-a-dub-dubs !
'Tis all a mere fable, say Sceptics ; — Alas !
I'll prove to their cost, how such things came to pass ;
Our Sages have shewn that a Plant has sensation**,
Which runs thro' the system of all Vegetation ;
And hence a fond lover in Poetry's dress,
Compares his own state to a plant in distress ;
Thus he tenderly sings, how they languish and pine,
'Till the Lady and Sun on their misery shine.

THE Plant that's confin'd in the dark,
     Desponding and languid reclines ;
But if thro' a chink peeps a spark,
     Turns joyfully round where it shines.

Thus absent from LUCY I sigh,
     And droop like the sensitive tree ;
But revive by a twink of her eye,
     For each twink is a sun-beam to me.

Since plants are endu'd with this wonderful boon,
If you hit the true note, they may dance to a tune ;
The question is only, in spite of dull sneers,
To discover how Orpheus first tickled their ears ;
Then again we may see his sonatas revive,
And parsnips and cabbages dance all alive !
With roses the hollies in uniform tread,
And foot it till weary, and then go to bed !
The woodbine and pink most connubially cling,
While the loves of the plants Darwent sweetly may sing !

Here an ancient Composer gives both bass and air,
Of such music as sav'd or corrupted the Fair ;
To the utter confusion of such tasteless loons,
Who never read Plutarch on chrómatic tunes ;
There he proves beyond doubt, that a Bard can inspire
Either Virtue or Vice, as he chants to his lyre ;
†† Even great Agamemnon, the valiant and wise,
Lest in his Clytemnestra soft tumults might rise,
From the heart-felt remembrance she once did enjoy,
In Hymen's soft tye, ere he pack'd off for Troy,
Engag'd a bard chastly to tickle the strings,
And save the best Queen, for the best of all Kings.
O could my translation his spirit retain,
Crim. Con. would be ended, for thus flow'd his strains :

     O Clytemnestra ! royal Dame,
     Go, fast and pray, your passions tame,
And shun ungodly leers ;
     Ply the loom with your maids,
     And if they're lazy jades,
Tweak their noses, and pinch the sluts ears.

     To your nuptial vows stand,
     And your fancy command,
Nor let Venus your dear bosom trouble ;
     To the young Coxcomb say,
     Nay, prithee, Sir, Nay,
Don't tempt me again to lye double.

     For your own AG, be coy and nice,
     Ah ! steep your glowing lips in ice,
And then be not afraid O !
     If wild Ægistus snatch a kiss,
     You'll chill, like chaste Diana's Miss,
And give him a torpedo !

While sweet Clytemnestra was charm'd by this song,
In Virtue's sharp pathway she totter'd along,
Till the soft maids of honour suggested a fear
That Ægistus had got the wrong sow by the ear ;
Then a sly Lydian harper he brib'd by high pay
To seduce the dear creature by this melting lay :—

     You'll never see AG,
     And when you're an old Hag,
No throbs, no wild transports you'll raise ;
     But now its your duty
     To cherish your beauty,
And wed in the bloom of your days.

     You're widow'd enough,
    For old Captain Bluff ;
Then, prithee, no longer be coy ;
    You've nail'd Cupid's dart
    In Ægistus' soft heart,
And he is a sweet tempting boy.

    Then if AG' here should stray,
    Send him packing away
To Briseis, his dear trojan Trull ;
    If he grumble or scold,
    Like a heroine bold,
Either stab him or shatter his skull.

By jealousy fir'd, and muscial measures,
Clytemnestra's soft soul was seduc'd into pleasures ;
She storm'd, and she swore, and in amorous ire,
Cashier'd AGY's bard, snap'd the strings of his lyre ;
And turn'd him adrift, with a kick and a frown,
In an Island to starve, singing hey derry down !

But as Infidel Critics may doubt what I say,
The physical cause, let me briefly display ;
Why quick, or as slow the harmonious sounds roll,
Responsive emotions arise in the soul ;
Play up a fandango, and where is free-will ?
We can't make our feet (if not gouty) stand still.
The nerves sympathetic, in head, toes, and middle,
In unison jump with the gut of the fiddle ;
Again, a grave Solo gives dull-pac'd vibrations,
The pulse no more riots with frisky sensations ;
Thus our hearts leap with joy, or sink in a qualm,
By the jig of a ballad, or yawn of a psalm.
So Cobblers in stalls are proverbially glad,
And Methodist rogues are desponding and sad.
Sounds grave or acute are quick motions or slow,
Ha! ha! answers one, and the other Heigh ho !
And technical words for these movements we've got,
In Presto we gallop, Andante we trot.

O Muse, sweet Music, thy art still bewitches ;
In thy transports divine, we find comfort and riches ;
You make blind beggars dance, and the cripple to sing,
And if he is drunk, he's as great as a King ;
All our troubles and anguish, thy melody eases,
Gives us health and good spirits, and cures all diseases:
And this is the reason, why skilful Musicians
Are at College dub'd Doctors, and rank with Physicians.
Thus the flutes of Etruria, so soothing their strain,
Heal'd the stripes of their Slaves, tho' convuls'd by the pain§ ;
And the Soldiers of Prussia, tho' cast for a crime,
Are scourg'd to light music, precisely in time !
Thus Plutarch relates, how the Gods did inspire
Thaletes the Songster, to tickle his lyre ;
And banish the plague by a sanative sound,
While thousands at Sparta lay sick on the ground.
For when the wing'd Miasms flit thro' the sky,
We suck in the pestilence, languish and die ;
But music engenders such rapid revulsions,
That ev'ry dire Miasm drops in convulsions ;
It med'cines the air, and poor mortals o'er-joys,
And the seed of the plague by twang-dillo destroys :
Thus we sons of Hibernia exultingly smile,
And drink to St. Patrick, the pride of our Isle ;
Who slew serpents, and spiders, and toads, by a tune,
As he danc'd thro' the bogs, playing—Ellen a Roon :
Then his blessing he gave, banish'd sorrow and care,
Hence her sons are all brave, and her daughters are fair.
On Antient Musicians my Song here I'll end,
In my next to the Moderns, I'll smoothly descend.

To Letter 9


N O T E S.

* A very learned and ingenious Essay has been published by Mr. Dutens, to prove that the Antients were acquainted with the modern discoveries in the Arts and Sciences. [Presumably Louis Dutens' "Recherches sur l'origine des découvertes attribuées aux modernes: où l'on démontre que nos plus célèbres philosophes ont puisé la plûpart de leurs connoissances dans les ouvrages des anciens & que plusieurs vérités importantes sur la religion ont été connues des sages du paganisme", 1766, republished 1776.]

Roman Portraits— An elegant Poetical Work of Mr. Jephson's, now in the Press. [And duly published, with 20 portraits: London, G. G. and J. Robinson, 1794.]

** Percival on Animal Sensation.—Manchester Memoirs. [Thomas Percival, "Speculations on the perceptive power of vegetables: addressed to the Literary and Philosophical Society of Manchester" and printed in 1785.]

†† Odyssey, Book III. [254-265]

§ " The Tyrrhenians," says Aristotle, "never scourged their slaves, but by the sound of flutes, looking upon it as an instance of humanity to give some counterpoise to pain, and thinking by such a diversion to lessen the sum total of the punishment."

"It seems, by the lightness of the music, from a very different reason, that the Prussian soldiers are scourged to the sound of instruments at present."

Burney's History of Music, Vol. I. p. 185.

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