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Emperor was a heathen, that doubt concerning the future state of his soul will seem so far from being the effect of want of thought, that it was scarce reasonable he should think otherwise; not to mention that here is a plain confession included of his belief in its immortality. The diminutive epithets7 of vagula, blandula, and the rest, appear not to me as expressions of levity, but rather of endearment and concern; such as we find in Catullus, and the authors of Hendeca-syllabi after him, where they are used to express the utmost love and tenderness for their mistresses—If you think me right in my notion of the last words of Adrian, be pleased to insert it in the Spectator; if not, to suppress it.
I am, etc.
ADRIANI MORIENTIS AD ANIMAM.
Ah fleeting spirit! wand'ring fire,
That long hast warm'd my tender breast,
No more a pleasing cheerful guest?
To what dark, undiscover'd shore?
And Wit and Humour are no more!
7 These sort of epithets are carried to a great degree of affectation by the modern Latin Poets of Italy, in their many Imitations of the Hcndeca-Syllabi of Catullus: even by such charming writers as Naugerius, Cotta, and Flaminius, and many others. Nothing can be more unlike Catullus than these luscious, florid, and meretricious ornaments; whose style is remarkable for purity, simplicity, and a certain austerity that is peculiarly charming. Mr. Wilkes has done honour to the English press, and to his own exquisite taste and judgment in polite literature, in giving us, a few years ago, the best and most elegant edition of Catullus extant. London, quarto, 1788.
MR. STEELE TO MR. POPE.
November 12, 1712.
I Have read over your Temple of Fame twice, and cannot find any thing amiss, of weight enough to call a fault, but see in it a thousand thousand beauties. Mr. Addison shall see it to-morrow: after his perusal of it, I will let you know his thoughts. I desire you would let me know whether you are at leisure or not? I have a design which I shall open a month or two hence, with the assistance of the few like yourself. If your thoughts are unengaged, I shall explain myself further. I am
November 16, 1712.
You oblige me by the indulgence you have shewn to the poem 1 sent you, but will oblige me much more by the kind severity I hope for from you. No errors are so trivial, but they deserve to be mended. But since you say you see nothing that may be called a fault, can you but think it so, that I have confined the attendance of 8 Guardian spirits to Heaven's favourites only? I could point you to several, but it is my business to be informed of those faults I do not know; and as for those I do, not to talk of them, but to correct them. You speak of that poem in a style I neither merit, nor expect; but, I assure you, if you freely mark or dash out, I shall look upon your blots to be its greatest beauties: I mean, if Mr. Addison and yourself should like it in the whole; otherwise the trouble of correction is what I would not take, for I was really so diffident of it as to let it lie by me these9 two years, just as you now see it. I am afraid of nothing so much as to impose any thing on the world which is unworthy of its acceptance.
He has since given us an elegant edition of Theophrastus, which, from his wit and humour, and knowledge of life and characters, it were to be wished he had enriched with notes and illustrations. To the taste and erudition of Mr. Wilkes I am indebted for many remarks in this edition of his favourite writer.
As to the last period of your letter, I shall be very ready and glad to contribute to any design that tends to the advantage of mankind, which, I am sure, all yours do. I wish I had but as much capacity as leisure, for I am perfectly idle: (a sign I have not much capacity.)
If you will entertain the best opinion of me, be pleased to think me your friend. Assure Mr. Addison of my most faithful service, of every one's esteem he must be assured already. I am
8 This is not now to be found in the Temple of Fame, which was the poem here spoken of. P.
° Hence it appears this Poem was writ before the Author was twenty-two years old. P.
TO MR. STEELE.
November 29, 1712.
I A M sorry you pub) ished that notion about Adrian's verses as mine: had I imagined you would use my name, I should have expressed my sentiments with more modesty and diffidence. I only sent it to have your opinion, and not to publish my own, which I distrusted. But, I think the supposition you draw from the notion of Adrian's being addicted to magic, is a little uncharitable, (" that he might fear no sort of deity, good or bad,") since in the third verse he plainly testifies his apprehension of a future state, by being solicitous whither his soul was going. As to what you mention of his using gay and ludicrous expressions, I have owned my opinion to be, that the expressions are not so, but that diminutives are as often, in the Latin tongue, used as marks of tenderness and concern.
Anima is no more than my soul, animula has the force of my dear soul. To say virgo bella is not half so endearing as virguncula bellula; and had Augustus only called Horace lepidum hominem, it had amounted to no more than that he thought him a pleasant fellow: it was the homunciolum that expressed the love and tenderness that great Emperor had for him. And perhaps I should myself be much better pleased, if I were told you called me your little friend, than if you
VOL. VII. S
complimented me with the title of a great genius, or an eminent hand, as Jacob does all his authors.
FROM MR. STEELE.
December 4, 1712.
This is to desire of you that you would please to make an Ode as of a chearful dying spirit, that is to say, the Emperor Adrian's Animula vagula put into two or three stanzas for music. If you comply with this, and send me word so, you will very particularly oblige Your, etc.
I Do not send you word I will do, but have already done the thing you desired of me. You have it (as Cowley calls it) just warm from the brain. It came to me the first moment I waked this morning: Yet, you'll see, it was not so absolutely inspiration, but that I had in my head not only the verses of Adrian, but the fine fragment of Sappho, etc.