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acquainted with Homer, stood up at his entrance, and placed him on his right hand. The virgin, who it seems was one of the nine sisters that attended on the goddess of Fame, smiled with an ineffable grace at their meeting, and retired.
Julius Cæsar was now coming forward; and though most of the historians offered their service to introduce him, he left them at the door, and would have no conductor but himself.
The next who advanced, was a man of an homely but chearful aspect, and attended by persons of greater figure than any that appeared on this occa
Plato was on his right hand, and Xenophon on his left. He bowed to Homer, and sat down by him. It was expected that Plato would himself have taken a place next to his master Socrates; but on a sudden there was heard a great clamour of disputants at the door, who appeared with Aristotle at the head of them. That philosopher, with some rudeness, but great strength of reason, convinced the whole table, that a title to the fifth place was his due, and took it accordingly.
He had scarce sat down, when the same beautiful virgin that had introduced Homer, brought in another, who hung back at the entrance, and would have excused himself, had not his niodesty been overcome by the invitation of all who sat at the table. His guide and behaviour made me easily conclude it was Virgil. Cicero next appeared, and took his place. He had enquired at the door. for Lucceius to introduce him; but not finding him there, he contented himself with the attendance of many other writers, who all (except Sallust) appeared highly pleased with the office.
We waited some time in expectation of the next worthy, who came in with a great retinue of his torians, whose names I could not learn, most of them being natives of Carthage. The person thus conducted, who was Hannibal, seemed much disturbed,
and could not forbear complaining to the board of the affronts he had met with among the Roman his. torians, Who attempted, says he, to carry me into the subterraneous apartment; and perhaps would have done it, had it not been for the impartiality of this gentleman, (pointing to Polybius,) who was the only person, except my own countrymen, that was willing to conduct me hither,
The Carthaginian took his seat; and Pompey entered with great dignity in his own person,
preceded by several historians. ' Lucan the poet was at the head of them, who observing Homer and Virgil at the table, was going to sit down himself, had not the latter whispered him, “ That whatever pretence he might otherwise have had, he forfeited his claim to it, by coming in as one of the historians.”
Lucan was so exasperated with the repulse, that he muttered something to himself, and was heard to say,
56 That since he could not have a seat among them himself, he would bring in one who alone had more merit than their whole assembly:" upon which he went to the door, and brought in Cato of Utica. That great man approached the company with such an air, that shewed he contemned the honour which he laid a claim to. Observing the seat opposite to Cæsar was vacant, he took possession of it; and spoke two or three smart sentences upon the nature of precedency, which, according to him, consisted not in place, but in intrinsic merit; to which he added, " That the most virtuous man, wherever he was seated, was always at the upper end of the table.” Socrates, who had a great spirit of raillery with his wisdom, could not forbear smiling at a virtue which took so little pains to make itself agreeable. Cicero took the occasion to make a long discourse in praise of Cato, which he uttered with much vehemence. Cæsar answered with a great deal of seeming temper: but as I stood at a great distance from them, I was not able to hear one
word of what they said. But I could not forbear taking notice, that in all the discourse which passed at the table, a. word or a nod from Homer decided the controversy.
After a short pause, Augustus appeared, looking round him with a serene and affable countenance upon all the writers of his age, who strove among themselves, which of them should shew him the greatest marks of gratitude and respect. Virgil rose from the table to meet him; and though he was an acceptable guest to all, he appeared more such to the learned than the military worthies. The next man astonished the whole table with his appearance: he was slow, solemn, and silent, in his behaviour; and wore a raiment curiously wrought with hieroglyphics. As he came into the middle of the room, he threw back the skirt of it, and discovered a golden thigh. Socrates, at the sight of it, declared against keeping company with any who were not made of flesh and blood; and therefore desired Diogenes the Laertian to lead him to the apartment allotted for fabulous heroes, and worthies of dubious existence. At his going out, he told them, “ That they did not know whom they dismissed, that he was now Pythagoras, the first of philosophers, and that formerly he had been a very brave man at the siege of Troy.” “That may be very true, (said So. crates;) but you forget that you have likewise been a very great harlot in your time." This exclusion made way for Archimedes, who came forward with a scheme of mathematical figures in his hand; among which, I observed a cone or cylinder.
Seeing this table full, I desired my guide for variety to lead me to the fabulous apartment, the roof of which was painted with Gorgons, Chimæras, and Centaurs, with many other emblematical figures, which I wanted both time and skill to unriddle.
he first table was almost full. At the upper end sat Hercules, leaning an arm upon his club. On his right hand were Achilles and Ulysses, and be tween them Æneas. On his left were Hector, Theseus, and Jason. The lower end had Orpheus, Æsop, Phalaris, and Musæus. The ushers seemed at a loss for a twelfth man, when methought, to my great joy and surprise, I heard some at the lower end of the table mention Isaac Bickerstaffe: but those of the upper end received it with disdain, and said, “ If they must have a British worthy, they would have Robin Hood.”
“ * While I was transported with the honour that was done me, and burning with envy against my competitor, I was awakened by the noise of the cannon which were then fired for the taking of Mons. I should have been very much troubled at being thrown out of so pleasing a vision on any other occasion; but thought it an agreeable change, to have my thoughts diverted from the greatest among the dead and fabulous heroes, to the most famous among the real and living.”
* This last paragraph was written by Sir R. Steele.
No. 86. THURSDAY, OCTOBER 27, 1709.
From my own Apartment, October 25. When I came home last night, my servant delivered
me the following letter.
Octob. 24. I have orders from Sir Harry Quickset, of Staffordshire, Bart. to acquaint you, that his honour Sir Harry himself, Sir Giles Wheelbarrow, Knt. Thomas Rentfree, Esq. justice of the qúorum, Andrew Windmill, Esq. and Mr. Nicholas Doubt of the Inner Temple, Sir Harry's grandson, will -wait upon you at the hour of nine to-morrow morning, þeing Tuesday the 25th of October, upon business which Sir Harry will impart to you by word of
I thought it proper to acquaint you before-hand of so many persons of quality coming, that you might not be surprised therewith. Which concludes, though by many years absence since I saw you at Stafford, unknown Sir, your most humble servant,
** JOHN THRIFTY.'.
'I received this message with less surprise than I believe Mr. Thrifty imagined; for I knew the good company too well
, to feel any palpitations at their approach: but I was in very great concern how I should adjust the ceremonial, and demean myself to all these great men, who, perhaps, had not seen anything above themselves for these twenty years last past. I am sure that is the case of Sir Harry. Besides which, I was sensible that there was a great point in adjusting my behaviour to the simple 'Squire, so as to give him satisfaction, and not disoblige the Justice of the Quorum.
The hour of nine was come this morning, and I had no sooner set chairs, (by the steward's letter,). and fixed my tea equipage, but I heard a knock at my door, which was opened, but no one entered ; after which followed a long silence, which was broke at last by, “Sir, I beg your pardon; I think I know better :” and another voice, “Nay, good Sir Giles
-”I looked out from my window, and saw the good company, all with their hats off, and arms spread, offering the door to each other. After many offers, they entered with much solemnity, in the oreler Mr. Thrifty was so kind as to name them to me.
But they are now got to my chamber-door, and I saw my old friend Sir Harry enter. I met him with all the respect due to so reverend a vegetable; for you are to know, that is my sense of a person