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THE PORT FOLIO, ,

CONDUCTED BY OLIVER OLDSCHOOL, ESQ.

Various, that the mind
or desultory man, studious of change
And pleased with novelty, may be indulged.--COWPER,

VOL. XII.

DECEMBER, 1821.

No. II.

Art. I.-Memoirs of Anacreon; By J. E. Hall.

(Continued from page 245.) The fate of Anyta, another of the companions of Sappho, was not less melancholy. She had attained such a rank among the poets of her time, that she was saluted with the distinguished title of the female Homer. She was betrothed in marriage to Antipater. But death robbed the Thessalonican of a wife and Greece lost one of its brightest ornaments, while her days were yet few and her thoughts were unclouded by care. Her compositions were sublime, beautiful and picturesque. I regret that I have preserved so few of her effusions. The following lines were written by her to be inscribed

ON A STATUE OF VENUS ON THE SEA COAST.

Cythera, from this craggy steep,
Looks downward on the glassy deep;
And bither calls the vernal gale
Propitious to the distant sail,
While ocean flows beneath serene

Sooth'd by the smiles of beauty's queen. The following epigrams were occasioned by the death of two of her young companions whom she tenderly loved.

ON PHILLIDA.

In this sad tomb where Phillida is laid,
Her mother oft invokes the gentle shade.

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VOL. XII.

And calls, in hopeless grief, on her who died,
In the full bloom of youth and beauty's pride.
Who left, a virgin, these bright realms of day,
On dark Acheron's gloomy coasts to stray.

ON ANTIBIA.

Unblest Antibia calls this mournful strain-
A lovelier maid than all Diapa's train.
Gay gallant youths ador'd her as their God
And noble suitors waited on her pod;
But to resist the pow'r of fate, bow vain
Is beauty? Flow afresh my mournful strain!

While the sensibility of Sappho was bewailing the loss of two of the most lovely in her train, Anacreon endeavoured to console the unfortunate lover of Anyta by an ode, which he sung as he presented to him a cup of sparkling wine:

TO ANTIPATER.

Within a goblet, rich and deep,
I cradle all my woes to sleep,
Why should we breathe the sigh of fear,
Or pour the unavailing tear?
For death will never heed the sigh,
Nor soften at the tearful eye;
And eyes that sparkle, eyes that weep,
Must all alike be sealed in sleep;
Then let us never vainly stray,
In search of thorns, from pleasure's way;
Oh! let us quaff the rosy wave,
Which Bacchus loves, whick Bacchus gave;
And in the goblet, rich and deep,
Cradle our crying woes to sleep!

The brevity of life is a subject so trite, that it would be superfluous in me to dilate upon its melancholy effects in the breasts of those who survive an early friend. Mimnermus, in common with many of our ports, has urged it, as a forcible reason for hilarity; and his strains, though lively enough for the mirth of the bacchant, at the same time infuse a portion of the sad seriousness of the philosopher.

Drink and rejoice! what comes to-morrow,

Or what the future can bestow,
Of pain or pleasure, joy or sorrow,

Men are never wise to know.

Oh! bid farewell to care and labour,

Enjoy your life while yet you may;
Impart your blessings to your neighbour,

And give your bours to frolick play.
Life is not life if free from passion,

From the wild transports love can give;
Indulge your liveliest inclination

Thus life is worth the pains to live.

But if you pass the fleeting pleasure,

And leave the luscious draught unknown,
Another claims the slighted treasure

And you have nothing of your own. To her friend Anyta, Sappho had endeavoured by every arti, fice of persuasion to transfer the love of her brother, Charaxus. This young man, while he was travelling in Exypt, for the purpose of investigating its curiosities, was ensnared by the wiles of a female of Eressus named Sappho.* In order to disentangle him

· According to some writers, the name of this lady was Dorica. Ma. dame Dacier has ably vindicated the character of the poetess, by transferring the obloquy that has attended her, to another of the same name. Every generous feeling conspires to add strength to her plausible hypothesis.

Is it possible, says an acute critic, who is actuated by a laudable wish to rescue the memory of an amiable and lovely woman from unmerited indigoity, is it possible, says be, that such a woman was a hypocrite, or that while she was reproving the vice and folly of a beloved brother, she was conscious of being the most dissolute and abandoned of her sex? No author, earlier than the Augustan age, alludes to those infamous stories which the writings of Ovid have circulated to her prejudice. Must the character of this divine poetess be loaded with every species of obloquy and reproach on so slight a foundation as the weak fancy of a profligate

from this ruinous connection she addressed him in a letter which was replete with the most tender and prudent expostulations; and she at the same time painted in glowing language the charms of Anyta with all those captivating graces of style in which she excelled. But deaf to the remonstrances of affection and the reproaches of virtue, he persevered in a series of irregularity which finally terminated his existence. From the coincidence between the names, those who envied her genius have since endeavoured to confound the courtezan with the poetess, and thus to diminish the fame of one by charging it with all the vices of the other. But, if the poetess had merited the odious picture which has been daubed by the hands of ignorance and envy, the inhabitants of Mytilene, however they might have admired the fire and animation of her genius, would never have perpetuated her memory and their own disgrace, by stamping an impression of her head upon their coin; nor would her picture have been thus honoured by the virtuous muse of Democharis:

ON A PICTURE OF SAPPHO.

Whoe'er he was whose art this picture plann'd,
'Twas plastick nature taught his skilful hand.
The glist’ping moisture of the eye is seen,
As if the power of fancy dwelt within;
The warm carnation of the features glows
With nature's roses, shines with nature's snows;
While the bright smiles and lips' nectareous dews
Tremble with love and glisten with the muse.

And again, in the epigram on her leading the train of virgins at a festival in the temple of Juno:

Come, Lesbian maids, to Juno's stately dome,
With steps, that scarcely touch the pavement, come,
Let your own Sappho lead the lovely choir,
And to the altar bear her golden lyre.

Roman? That such a woman as the courtezan Sappho was cotemporary with the Lesbian maid, is a fact that cannot be doubted, and to her, as the biographer suggests, belongs the infamy which is usually attached to another.

Then first in graceful order slow advance
And weave the mazes of the mystick dance:
While, plac'd on high, the heav’n rapt maid shall pour
Such strains, that men shall wonder and adore.

I have preserved a few remarks which Anacreon made about this time on the subject of poetry; and as every thing that he said upon this topick is worthy to be remembered, his observations are here inserted.

He said it had been well remarked by Aristotle, that the ex-. pression should be very much laboured in the inactive parts of a poem; as in descriptions, similes, and narratives, in which the opinions, manners and passions of men, are not represented.*

· Aristotle says that a poet ought to prefer things that are impossible, provided they be probable, to those which are possible though improbable. This rule is involved in some obscurity; but I will endeavour to explain it. A thing may be impossible and yet probable. Thus when a poet introduces a Divinity, any incident, humanly impossible, receives a full probability, by being ascribed to the skill and power of a God—thus is it that we re

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* Horace, who copied most of his criticisms from Aristotle, had his eye on this rule when he wrote these lines:

Et tragicus plerumq, dolet sermone pedestri
Telephus, et Peleus, cum pauper, et exul uterq,
Projicit ampullas et sesquipedalia verba

Si curat cor spectantis tetigisse querela. In the descriptions of Paradise, Milton has observed Aristotle's rule of lavishing all the ornaments of diction where the fable is not supported by beauty of sentiment and energy of character. It may be observed that in such parts, the expressions are more florid and elaborate than in most other passages of the poem; and the exuberance of his imagination has produced such a redundancy of ornament on this seat of happiness and innocence, that it would be endless, as Addison remarks, to point out each particular. See Longinus, s. 17.

This rule is still more necessary for the orator. He who would conquer in the conflicts of debate must supply all those parts where his argument is defective, by those dazzling expressions, which, like the apple of gold, seduce the opponent from the path of success.

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