« AnteriorContinuar »
like laughing Cupids peeping at each other through screens of foliage.”
“ A truce to this badinage,” cried the major. 66 I wish to know what seats are to be appropriated to my young friends the little Seymours.”
“ I regret, extremely do I regret, to say, that they cannot with propriety join our party,” replied the vicar, gravely.
“ Not join the party! zounds, sir, but I insist upon it;—not join the party ! - Why, sir
“ Be calm, major; and believe me that I shall feel the privation as keenly as yourself; but would you countenance a measure, which is decidedly in opposition to every classical authority ? Never, as Suetonius has expressly declared, did the young Cæsars, Caius and Lucius, eat at the table of Augustus, until they had assumed the toga virilis.”
“A fig for Suetonius; he is not to be trusted; has it not been said that while he exposed the deformities of the Cæsars, he wrote with all the licentiousness and extravagance with which they lived ? Besides, can we trust the opinion of a man, on a subject of etiquette, who was banished from the court for want of attention and respect to the Empress Sabina ? You must produce some better authority, my dear Mr. Twaddleton; search the Grecian writers; depend upon it that some direct or implied sanction to the plan is to be discovered; the oracles of old may generally be so interpreted as to meet the wishes of the translator."
“Gently, Major Snapwell; speak not so irreverently of the luminaries of antiquity; nor expect me to distort passages from their original and intended significations. An idea, however, has just struck me, which may, possibly, be turned to your advantage ; and yet there are many difficulties; for it cannot be said that this feast has been conducted with the utmost frugality; and, therefore, must not be compared with the Lacedemonian Syssitia,' or public entertainments, whither the youths were obliged, by the lawgiver, to repair as to schools of temperance and sobriety, and where, by the example and discourse of the elder men, they were trained to good manners and useful knowledge.”
“ A case exactly in point,” exclaimed the major. 66 Must not the classical character of our entertainment convey instruction ? I vow it runs parallel in every particular with the Syssitia of Lacedemon; and I therefore affirm, that it would be illegal, according to the law of Lycurgus, to prevent the presence of the young Seymours."
“ Your argument has colour, major; I must admit that Mr. Seymour's lessons are too valuable to be lost; well, I consent; it shall be a Lacedemonian entertainment, and my young friends shall be accordingly accommodated with seats.”
On their return from the banqueting tables, the party inspected the preparations for the fire-works, and the ships constructed for the naumachia; we shall, however, at present decline offering any description, as we prefer explaining them in operation.
The reader will now be pleased to imagine that the party having returned to the mansion, had partaken of the hospitable repast which the major had provided for them; he
farther suppose that tea had been served up, and the amusements of the evening commenced; for it is at this exact moment that the course of our narrative is resumed. Mrs. Beacham was delighting the assembly by a splendid display of
her musical talents; the major and Mr. Seymour were engaged in a game of chess.
“ There you sit, gentlemen,” exclaimed the vicar, “ so absorbed in your game, as to have remained quite insensible to the sweet sounds with which Mrs. Beacham has been charming us; but you stand excused, for Seneca admits the fascinating power of the ludus latrunculorum,' or game of chess. You no doubt remember the story that he tells us of one Canius Julius, who, having been sentenced to death by Caligula, was found by the centurion, when he came to conduct him to execution, so interested in a game of the “ latrunculi, as at first to be insensible to the summons, and that he did not prepare to depart until he had counted his men, and desired the centurion to bear witness to his having one more piece on the board than his adversary, so that the latter might not boast of a victory after his death.”
“ Indeed!” said the major;“ but unfortunately for your story, the ancients were not acquainted with the game of chess.”
“ What absurd proposition am I next to expect?” cried Mr. Twaddleton.
66 You surely cannot have read the poem to Piso, which some
will have to be Ovid's, others Lucian's: but no matter; it is an ancient poem, and accurately describes the game of latrunculi. I myself believe, from a particular line in Sophocles, that chess was invented by Palamedes, at the siege of Troy; although Seneca attributes it to Chilon, one of the seven Grecian sages.. My friend Mr. Seymour, who is, upon all occasions, desirous of imparting wisdom through the medium of games, and of turning sport into science, will no doubt agree with those who fancy that it was contrived by Pyrrhus, ķing of Epirus, as a method of instructing his soldiers in the military art; and I must admit that the game expresses the chance and order of war so very happily, that no place can lay so just a claim to its invention as the camp: ludimus effigiem belli *, as Vida says.”
“ Check to your king !” cried the major ; “ while you are considering of the best way to get his majesty out of the scrape, I will endeavour to extricate the vicar out of the quagmire in which he is floundering. My dear * “ War's harmless shape we sing, and boxen trains
Of youth, encount'ring on the cedar plains.