No. 617. Monday, November 8, 1714.

Torva Mimalloneis implerunt cornua bombis, Et raptum vitulo caput ablatura superbo Bassaris, et lyncem Mánas flexura corymbis, Evion ingeminat reparabilis adsonat Echo.'

There are two Extreams in the Stile of Humour, one of which consists in the Use of that little pert Phraseology which I took Notice of in my last Paper; the other in the Affectation of strained and pompous Expressions, fetched from the learned Languages. The first savours too much of the Town; the other of the College.

As nothing illustrates better than Example, I shall here present my Reader with a Letter of Pedantick Humour, which was written by a young Gentleman of the University to his Friend; on the same Occasion, and from the same Place, as the lively Epistle published in my last Spectator.

Dear Chum,

'It is now the third Watch of the Night, the greatest Part of which I have spent round a capacious Bowl of China, filled with the choicest Products of both the Indies. I was placed at a quadrangular Table, diametrically opposite to the Mace-bearer. The Visage of that venerable Herald was, according to Custom, most gloriously illuminated on this joyful occasion. The Mayor and Aldermen, those Pillars of our Constitution, began to totter; and if any one at the Board could have so far articulated, as to have demanded intelligibly a Reinforcement of Liquor, the whole Assembly had been by this time extended under the Table.

'The Celebration of this Night's Solemnity was opened by the Obstreperous Joy of Drummers, who, with their Parchment Thunder, gave a signal for the Appearance of the Mob under their several Classes and Denominations. They were quickly joined by the melodious Clank of Marrow-bone and Cleaver, whilst a Chorus of Bells filled up the Consort. A Pyramid of Stack-Faggots cheared the Hearts of the Populace with the Promise of a Blaze: The Guns had no sooner uttered the Prologue, but the Heavens were brightned with artificial Meteors, and Stars of our own making; and all the High-street lighted up from one End to another, with a Galaxy of Candles. We collected a Largess for the Multitude, who tippled Eleemosynary till they grew exceeding Vociferous. There was a Paste-board Pontiff with a little swarthy Dámon at his Elbow, who, by his diabolical Whispers and Insinuations tempted his Holiness into the Fire, and then left him to shift for himself. The Mobile were very sarcastick with their Clubs, and gave the old Gentleman several Thumps upon his triple Head-piece. Tom Tyler's Phiz is something damaged by the Fall of a Rocket, which hath almost spoiled the Gnomon of his Countenance. The Mirth of the Commons grew so very outragious, that it found Work for our Friend of the Quorum, who, by the help of his Amanuensis, took down all their Names and their Crimes, with a Design to produce his Manuscript at the next Quarter-Sessions, &c. &c. &c.

'I shall subjoin to the foregoing Piece of a Letter, the following Copy of Verses translated from an Italian Poet, who was the Cleveland of his Age, and had Multitudes of Admirers. The Subject is an Accident that happened under the Reign of Pope Leo, when a Firework, that had been prepared upon the Castle of St. Angelo, begun to play before its Time, being kindled by a Flash of Lightning. The Author hath written his Poem [1] in the same kind of Style, as that I have already exemplified in Prose. Every Line in it is a Riddle, and the Reader must be forced to consider it twice or thrice, before he will know that the Cynick's Tenement is a Tub, and Bacchus his Cast-coat a Hogs-head, &c.

' 'Twas Night, and Heav'n, a_ Cyclops, _all the Day,
An Argus now did countless Eyes display;
In ev'ry Window_ Rome _her Joy declares,
All bright, and studded with terrestrial Stars.
A blazing Chain of Lights her Roofs entwines.
And round her Neck the mingled Lustre shines,
The_ Cynick's _rowling Tenement conspires,
With_ Bacchus _his Cast-coat, to feed the Fires.
The Pile, still big with undiscover'd Shows,
The_ Tuscan _Pile did last its Freight disclose,
Where the proud Tops of_ Rome's _new_ Ætna _rise,
Whence Giants sally, and invade the Skies.
Whilst now the Multitude expect the Time,
And their tir'd Eyes the lofty Mountain climb,
A thousand Iron Mouths their Voices try,
And thunder out a dreadful Harmony;
In treble Notes the small Artill'ry plays,
The deep-mouth'd Cannon bellows in the Bass.
The lab'ring Pile now heaves; and having giv'n
Proofs of its Travail sighs in Flames to Heav'n.
The Clouds invelop'd Heav'n from Human Sight,
Quench'd every Star, and put out ev'ry Light;
Now Real Thunder grumbles in the Skies,
And in disdainful Murmurs_ Rome _defies;
Nor doth its answer'd Challenge_ Rome _decline;
But whilst both Parties in full Consort join,
While Heav'n and Earth in Rival Peals resound,
The doubtful Cracks the Hearer's Sense confound;
Whether the Claps of Thunderbolts they hear,
Or else the Burst of Canon wounds their Ear;
Whether Clouds raged by struggling Metals rent,
Or struggling Clouds in_ Roman _Metals pent.
But O, my Muse, the whole Adventure tell,
As ev'ry Accident in order fell.
Tall Groves of Trees the_ Hadrian _Tow'r surround,
Fictitious Trees with Paper Garlands crown'd,
These know no Spring, but when their Bodies sprout
In Fire, and shoot their gilded Blossoms out;
When blazing Leaves appear above their Head,
And into branching Flames their Bodies spread.
Whilst real Thunder splits the Firmament,
And Heav'n's whole Roof in one vast Cleft is rent,
The three-fork'd Tongue amidst the Rupture lolls,
Then drops and on the Airy Turret falls.
The Trees now kindle, and the Garland burns,
And thousand Thunderbolts for one returns.
Brigades of burning Archers upward fly,
Bright Spears and shining Spear-men mount on high,
Flash in the Clouds, and glitter in the Sky.
A Seven-fold Shield of Spheres doth Heav'n defend,
And back again the blunted Weapons send;
Unwillingly they fall, and dropping down,
Pour out their Souls, their sulph'rous Souls, and groan.
With Joy, great Sir, we viewed this pompous Show,
While Heaven, that sate Spectator still 'till now,
It self turn'd Actor, proud to Pleasure you.
And so 'tis fit, when_ Leo's _fires appear,
That Heav'n it self should turn an Engineer;
That Heav'n it self should all its Wonders show,
And Orbs above consent with Orbs below.'

[Footnote 1: Translated from the Latin in Strada's Prolusions.]

Translation of motto:
PER. Sat. i. 99.
'Their crooked horns the Mimallonian crew
With blasts inspired; and Rassaris, who slew
The scornful calf, with sword advanced on high,
Made from his neck his haughty head to fly.
And Maenas, when, with ivy-bridles bound,
She led the spotted lynx, then Evion rang around,
Evion from woods and floods repeating Echo's sound.'