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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 (1.). As he came into the middle of the room, he threw back the skirt of it, and discovered a golden thigh (2.). 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,
k Pythagoras, the celebrated founder of the Italic school, seems to be treated here as if he had been nobody, or an unique being sui generis. The reasons alleged for holding him up to derision, and excluding him from the first table in both apartments, require illustration, and seem incompetent. (1.) His ' raiment curiously wrought with hieroglyphics, signifies his enigmatical manner of teaching, under a veil of numerical figures and symbolical representations. It is certain from history, that he laboured, not unsuccessfully, in the reformation and instruction of the world, to which he was a more meritorious benefactor than one third at least of this illustrious company, putting them all together. His great thirst for knowledge led him to travel, and to reside above twenty years among the priests of Egypt, from which he brought his emblematical method of philosophising with strangers. When his scholars were sufficiently initiated by such a previous course of probationary discipline as he judged proper, he is said to have instructed them, after a plain undisguised manner, in his noble doctrines and admirable precepts. See Tatler, No. 108. and note. (2.) If there be any thing that merits serious censure in the story of the golden thigh,' Pythagoras ought not to be censured; but Diogenes, the Laertain biographer, who relates the report here alluded to, in the following words. Abystan dè avtoŨ tot! rapaguperw bestòs Tòv ungóv ópeñvous xpuocû. Lib. viii. 9. p. 880. Ed. Longolij, tom. ii. Origen says, the thigh appeared not like gold, but ivory. Hence we can only infer, that the friends of Pythagoras intimated, in some such figurative language, the extraordinary beauty of his skin, a very natural effect of the simple spare diet which he is said to have observed himself, and recommended to others. The curious construction put upon this passage, in Tatler, No. 83. is more humourous, and less exceptionable. Such literal interpretation would prove that the persons were not ' made of flesh and blood,' of whom we
(3.) and that formerly he had been a very brave man at the seige of Troy. —• That may be very true,' said Socrates; but you forget that you have likewise been (4.) a very great harlot in your time. This exclusion made way for Archimedes, who came for
read that some parts were of gold, and others of bright ivory. In the Song of Solomon, this kind of language occurs perpetually. See Spectator, No. 160. (3.) Pythagoras is here styled the first of philosophers, in a way somewhat contemptuous. Cicero, much to the honour of Pythagoras, tells us where the title of philosopher first took its rise, the occasion which gave it birth, and what it signifies. Tusc. Quest. lib. v. cap. 3. • Before the time of Pythagoras, they who excelled in the knowledge of nature, or who made themselves commendable by an exemplary life, were styled Sages, Eopor, or wise men. Pythagoras, thinking that title had something too haughty in it, took another, by which he hinted that he did not pretend to be already possessed of wisdom, but only desired to attain it. He, therefore, styled himself a Philosopher, that is to say, a lover of wisdom; since which time, the name has constantly been given to the professors of natural and moral sciences.' Gen. Diet. art. Pythagoras. (4.) The harlotry with which Pythagoras is ill reproached alludeš to circumstances in the history of his transmigation, for which he could by no means be accountable. The doctrine of the Metempsychosis is well known, under some or other of the various misrepresentations of it; for ignorance, wit, and malignity, have concurred to load it with absurdities. In the management of Pythagoras, it was probably guarded by ingenuity, and certainly subservient to the great ends of health, humanity, and mercy. Pythagoras was not the inventor of this doctrine; he learned it in Egypt, as appears from a passage in Herodotus, lib. ii. cap. 123, where the doctrine is mentioned as Egyptian, and the name of Pythagoras omitted; it occurs, however, on a like occasion, in Diodorus the Sicilian, lib. i. sub fin. The history of the metamorphoses that the soul of Pythagoras underwent, goes no higher than the seige of Troy, where it actuated, as he said himself, the body of Euphorbus. But the charge of harlotry must rest on circumstances tacked to this history, not only after the death of Pythagoras himself, but also after that of Socrates, who, therefore, was not the most proper person to be his accuser. The soul of Pythagoras, after his decease, continued, it was said, to shift its habitations; and Dicæarchus, almost a whole century after the death of Socrates, related, that on its third removal, it got into the body of Alce, a beautiful courtezan. See A. Gell. Noct. Att. lib. iv. cap. xi. Lucian, long after, in his bantering way, taking a century posterior to Pythagoras, makes his soul animate the body of Aspasia, the mistress of Pericles, more celebrated for eloquence than chastity. The charge of harlotry, thus explained, falls to the ground; but there remains, lurking under all that is said about Pythagoras, an odious insinuation of the dubiousness of his existence. The frivolous grounds of this idle disputation, the curious may see in Brucker's Hist. Crit. Phi
ward with a scheme of mathematical figures in his hand ; among which I observed a cone and 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. The 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 between 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
losophiæ, and in Teraboschi's Storia delle Letteratura Italiana. It damps such curiosity to find, that the learned Stanley omits them entirely, as undeserving of notice; and that Bayle, rather sceptical than credulous, passes them over in like manner, with the most expressive silence. This scrupulosity about Pythagoras is the more observable, as Homer is admitted readily to sit at Alexander's right hand, and decide the controversies with “a word or a nod.' The writer would not be understood as having any doubts about the existence of Homer, nor as the following relation much tendency to bring that point into question ; but a translator of the Iliad, the publisher of Ossian, has been heard to say, that he verily believed there never was any such person as Homer. This blasphemous declaration was, perhaps, not made by an infidel ; but, if he were a sceptic on that head, his ipse dixit was not likely to make converts to his opinion, and it is not published with that view. C.
I Archimedes ordered a sphere included in a cylinder, the diagram of his 32d proposition, to be erected upon his tomb. This figure was accordingly carved upon a stone near one of the gates of Syracuse, and became the means of enabling Cicero to discover the sepulchre of Archimedes, covered over with brambles and thorns. See Cicer. Disp. Tusc. lib. v. sect. 23.
m The existence of Phalaris is not dubious, nor was it ever considered as doubtful; but there was, as has been mentioned in a note on Tatler, No. 7. much doubtful disputation concerning the genuineness of some letters ascribed to Phalaris, which are probably spurious. Many fabulous things are intermixed with the history of Æsop, but there certainly was a person of his name, celebrated for the invention or use of fables; that he was the author of those handed down to the present time, under his name, and in the ipsissima verba in which we now read them, is not so certain.
Isaac Bickerstaff; 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 dóne 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 Monso. 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 livingP.
no In this time (about the year 1190, in the reign of Richard I.] were many robbers, and outlawes, among the which Robin Hood, and Little John, renowned theeves, continued in woods, despoyling and robbing the goods of the rich. They killed none but such as would invade them; or by resistance for their own defence. The saide Robert entertained an hundred tall men and good archers with such spoiles and thefts as he got, upon whom four hundred durst not give the onset. He suffered no woman to be oppressed, violated, or otherwise molested: poore mens goods he spared, abundantlie relieving them with that, which by theft he got from abbeys and the houses of rich carles: whom Maior (the historian) blamed for his rapine and theft, but of all theeves he affirmeth him to be the prince and the most gentle theefe.' Stow's Annals, p. 150. The personal courage of this celebrated outlaw, his skill in archery, his humanity, and especially his levelling principle, of taking from the rich and giving to the poor, have in all ages rendered him the favourite of the common people: who, not content to celebrate his memory by innumerable songs and stories, have erected him into the dignity of an earl. Indeed, it is not impossible but our hero, to gain the more respect from his followers, or they to derive the more credit to their profession, may have given rise to such a report themselves : for we find it recorded in an epitaph, which, if genuine, must have been inscribed on his tombstone near the nunnery of Kirk-lees in Yorkshire; where (as the story goes) he was bled to death by a treacherous nạn, to whom he applied for phlebotomy. Dr. Percy's Antient Ballads, vol. i. p. 79.
o The town of Mons surrendered Oct. 21 N.S. 1709.
p After all, dreams and visions are irregular and lawless compositions ; though written in prose, they claim more than poetical licence, and are hardly reducible to canons of criticism.
No. 82. TUESDAY, OCTOBER 18, 1709.*
Ubi idem et maximus et honestissimus amor est, aliquando præstat morte jungi, quàm vitâ distrahi.
Val. Max. Where there is the greatest and most honourable love, it is sometimes
better to be joined in death, than separated in life.
FROM MY OWN APARTMENT, Oct. 17. AFTER the mind has been employed on contemplations suitable to its greatness, it is unnatural to run into sudden mirth or levity ; but we must let the soul subside, as it rose, by proper degrees. My late considerations of the antient heroes impressed a certain gravity upon my mind, which is much above the little gratification received from starts of humour and fancy, and threw me into a pleasing sadness. In this state of thought I have been looking at the fire, and in a pensive manner reflecting upon the great misfortunes and calamities incident to human life; among which there are none that touch so sensibly as those which befal persons who eminently love, and meet with fatal interruptions of their happiness when they least expect it. The piety of children to parents, and the affection of parents to their children, are the effects of instinct; but the affection between lovers and friends, is founded on reason and choice, which has always made me think the sorrows of the latter much more to be pitied than those of the former.
The contemplation of distresses of this sort softens the mind of man, and makes the heart better. It extinguishes the seeds of envy and ill-will towards mankind, corrects the pride of prosperity, and beats down all that fierceness and insolence which are apt to get into the minds of the daring and fortunate.