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Lord Lyttleton.

Virgil. My dear Horace, your company is my greatest delight, even in the Elysian fields. when we lived together in Rome.

No wonder it was so Never had man so gen

teel, so agreeable, so easy a wit, or a temper so pliant to the inclinations of others in the intercourse of society.

Horace. To be so praised by Virgil, would have put me in Elysium while I was alive. But I know your modesty will not suffer me, in return for these encomiums, to speak of your character. Supposing it as perfect as your poems, you would think, as you did of them, that it wanted correction.

Virgil. Don't talk of my modesty. How much greater was yours, when you disclaimed the name of a poet, you whose odes are so noble, so harmonious, so sublime!

Horace. I felt myself too inferior to the dignity of that


Virgil. I think you did like Augustus, when he refused to accept the title of king, but kept all the power with which it was ever attended. Horace. Well :-I will not contradict you; and (to say the truth) I should do it with no very good grace, because in some of my odes I have not spoken so modestly of my own poetry as in my epistles. But who is this shade that Mercury is conducting? I never saw one that stalked with so much pride, or had such ridiculous arrogance expressed in his looks!

Virgil. They come towards us. Hail, Mercury! What is this stranger with you!

Mercury. His name is Julius Cæsar Scaliger; and he is by profession a critic.

Horace. Julius Cæsar Scaliger! He was, I presume, a dictator in criticism.


Mercury. Yes, and he has exercised his sovereign power

over you.

Horace. I will not presume to oppose it. I had enough of following Brutus at Philippi.

Mercury. Talk to him a little: He'll amuse you; I brought him to you on purpose.

Horace. Virgil, do you accost him. I cannot do it with proper gravity. I shall laugh in his face.

Virgil. Sir, may I ask for what reason you cast your eyes so superciliously upon Horace and me? I don't remember that Augustus ever looked down upon us with such an air of superiority when we were his subjects.

Scaliger. He was only a sovereign over your bodies, and owed his power to violence and usurpation. But I have from nature an absolute dominion over the wit of all authors, who are subjected to me as the greatest of critics or hypercritics.

Virgil. Your jurisdiction, great sir, is very extensive : and what judgments have you been pleased to pass upon us? Scaliger. Is it possible you should be ignorant of my decrees. I have placed you, Virgil, above Homer.

Horace. And I suppose you were very peremptory in your decisions.

Scaliger. Peremptory! ay. If any man dared to contradict my opinions, I called him a dunce, a rascal, a villain, and frightened him out of his wits.

Virgil. But what said others to this method of disputation?

Scaliger. They generally believed me, because of the confidence of my assertions; and thought I could not be so insolent, or so angry, if I were not absolutely sure of being in the right.

Horace. Have not I heard, that you pretended to derive your descent from the princes of Verona ?

Scaliger. Pretended! Do you presume to deny it? Horace. Not I indeed. Genealogy is not my science. If you should claim to descend in a direct line from king Midas, I would not dispute it.

Scaliger. When I give praise, I give it liberally, to show my royal bounty. But I generally blame, to exert all the vigour of my censorian power, and keep my subjects in


Horace. You did not confine your sovereignty to poets; you exercised it, no doubt, over all other writers.

Scaliger. I was a poet, a philosopher, a statesman, an orator, an historian, a divine; without doing the drudgery of

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