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FOR THE POCKET MAGAZINE.
AN ANACREONTIC TALF, FROM THE FRENCH OF THE CHEVALIER DE FLORIAN.
THE Muses are sometimes lazily disposed, and then, like us unfortunate mortals, they become a prey to ennui. One day, that the sprightly Thalia did not know what to do with herself,(she has been for some time past more indolent than she used to be) she descended to the foot of Parnassus, to see if she could find there some lover who was worth listening to; for this kind of occupation never fails to afford amusement to a female.
Thalia did not find what she looked for; but she saw an ill-dressed, half-naked child, who was running about in a meadow; his flaxen ringlets fell in disorder over his face; he threw them back with one hand, and with the other he caught butterflies, the heads of which he pierced with a pin. The unlucky butterfly fluttered his wings, and struggled violently. more it appeared to suffer, the more the wicked child laughed: but, when he saw the butterfly just on the point of expiring, he drew out the pin, breathed upon the wound, and the dying insect, recovering its strength and its colours, took flight, more gay, and more beautiful than it was before.
VOL. III. No. 1.
Thalia, after having for a while amused herself with looking at the child, asked him how he could take delight in such a cruel sport? "My pretty lady," said the boy to her, "idleness is the cause. Such as you see me, I am of a good family, but I have been badly brought up; I have never been taught any thing; I must do something, and so I do mischief."
66 If you
The vivacity and talent which shone in the eyes of the child interested Thalia in his behalf. like," said she, "I will take you under my care; I have sisters who are generally considered as accomplished; we shall feel a pleasure in teaching you every thing that you like to be taught, and in a very little time we shall be able to make you the most learned, and the most amiable of men. Will you go with me?" "With all my heart," replied the child," but on condition that the ladies, of whom you tell me, shall be only my teachers, and that you alone shall be my mama. Saying these words, he took up from the ground a little bag, which seemed to be filled with bits of stick, and, throwing it over his shoulder, he desired Thalia to give him her hand. The Muse asked him what he had in his bag? "Oh! nothing!' replied he, "only my playthings.' He then began to sing a song, which had neither tune nor words; and sometimes putting his feet together, and jumping over the bushes in his way, and sometimes stopping to ask the Muse if she could not tell him where there was a bird's nest, he at length reached the summit of the mountain.
The first care of Thalia was, to clothe him in the most magnificent manner. She then resolved to take entirely upon herself the task of educating him. "Can you read," said she, "Not very well," replied the boy. "No doubt you have a good memory?' " I have often been accused of being deficient in that,' said he, "but with you I shall have a better one than I had with others."
Thalia, who was soon fonder of him than a mother is of her son, was afraid that her sisters would become as fond of him as she herself was, and she, therefore, resolved to hide him from them. She had a lofty hedge made round an orchard, and in this sort of
prison she kept the child on whom she doated. Here the Muse came ten times a day, to give him his lessons. Never did any scholar learn more rapidly than he did. It was quite enough to tell him a thing once, for him to know it better than his master. Poor Thalia taught him, in a short time, all that she knew; but, while she gave him science, she lost her own peace. Her tenderness every day increased; she sighed without knowing why; and very soon her hours of teaching were spent in gazing upon her pupil.
The boy was well aware of this. "Mama!" said he to her, "I am quite sure that you love me dearly, and this encourages me to ask a favour of you." So that you do not ask to go away from me," replied Thalia, "I swear that I will refuse you nothing." "Listen to me, then," said the boy. "You always carry in your hand a mask, which I think a charming one. It laughs so gaily and so naturally, that I cannot help longing for it. If you do not give it to me, I can assure you that I shall die of vexation, and then which of us two will be the most vexed? It will be you." It was in vain that Thalia represented to him that this mask was the mark of her divinity. "When you have given it to me," replied the boy," it will be the mark of your affection for me; which do you like best?" "Take it," said Thalia, with a sigh, and the rogue of a child jumped upon her neck, and put the mask into his bag.
"But this is not all," added he;" you have taught me every thing you know, but you promised me more. I want to learn music, dancing, astronomy, philosophy, and all possible sciences, that I may be more indebted to you, and be able to please you still more. Do have the goodness to let me out of the orchard, that I may go and take lessons from each of your sisters. I will soon come back to shut myself up with you, and devote to your amusement all the talents which I may have acquired."
Who would not have been seduced by such pleading? The credulous Thalia opened the gate for the boy, and even carried her kindness so far as to recommend him to each of her sisters. This, however, was
quite unnecessary; for they very soon loved him as well as Thalia did. The boy ran from the one to the other, and made it his sport to turn the brains of the daughters of Jupiter. The grave Melpomene was the one who held out the longest against him; but she yielded at last like Calliope, and like Urania, who had endeavoured to defend themselves. As to Terpsichore, Euterpe, and Polyhymnia, they adored him almost as soon as they beheld him.'
Thus all the nine sisters were captivated by the same object. From this moment they were sisters no longer. Jealousy, envy, distrust, entered, for the first time, into their minds. These chaste females, who had never before had but one feeling, one will, now watched, hated, and quarrelled with, each other. Every thing fell into confusion upon Parnassus; the arts were neglected, the concerts were interrupted. To complete their misfortune, this was the very moment that Minerva fixed upon to pay a visit to the Muses.
How great was her surprise when she arrived upon the sacred mountain! Instead of the songs of gladness which used to greet her presence, she found every where a deep silence. The Muses dispersed, pensive, solitary, scarcely knew her. She complained; she threatened. The nine sisters at last were assembled together, and they strove to sing the praises of their protectress; but their voices were no longer in unison: they had forgotten their hymns, and not one of them had her distinguishing attribute. Melpomene had given her poignard to the child, and, fearing that he might hurt himself with it, she had blunted the point; Calliope had made him a present of her trumpet; Euterpe had lent him her lyre; Urania her astrolabe. In short the attributes of the muses were all become the playthings of this child.
This was not the last shame which they had to suffer. While they were trying to make excuses, they saw the fatal boy fluttering near them in the air. He held all his thefts in his hand. "Good bye!" said he to them with a laugh. "Do not forget me; I am Love! It always costs something to get acquainted with me!"
The prudent Minerva then gave a very moral lecture to the daughters of Jupiter, who listened respectfully to her, and endeavoured to palliate their fault, by assuring her that the guilty boy had so cunningly contrived to hide his wings, that they had never been perceived by any one among them.
FOR THE POCKET MAGAZINE.
Dec. 10, 1818.
AMERICA, IN THE YEAR 2318.
SIR,—I AM really delighted with the speculations of