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Feb. 25. Continued Montesquieu to the end of Book xix.
26. Continued Montesquieu to the end of Book xxi. Read in the Fairy Queen, with Jane.
27. Read Book xxii. of Montesquieu ; and read in the Fairy Queen, with Jane.
March 7. Concluded Milton's Private Latin Letters. Read Racine's Esther. Concluded Roscoe's Life of Lorenzo de' Medici a second time, with Jane.
10. Read the Edipus Tyrannus of Sophocles.
12. Began the Thebais of Statius, and read the first book. The tempestuous night in which Tydeus and Polynices meet at the palace of Adrastus, their quarrel, reconciliation, and the sumptuous feast prepared for them, are all very impressive circumstances.
Read the second book of the Thebais, containing little more than the fruitless embassy of Tydeus to Thebes, and his defeat of the ambush laid to intercept him on his return. The beginning of the book, indeed, relates the marriage of Polynices and Tydeus to the daughters of Adrastus, and the appearance of the ghost of Laius to Eteocles.
14. Read the third book of the Thebais, containing the grief of the Thebans over the heroes slain by Tydeus, his return to Argos, the consultation of the auguries by Amphiaraus and Melampus, the impiety of Capaneus, and the final determination of war against Thebes.
15. Began Book iv. of the Thebais.
March 16. Finished Book iv., containing the preparations for war on each side, the consultation of the Manes by Tiresias, and the drought which afflicts the Argive army in Nemea. The description of Archemorus, the infant left on the grass by Hypsipyle, and her showing them the river Langia (with which the book concludes), is extremely beautiful.
18. Concluded Milton's History of England, with Jane, and the rest of his works in the second volume of his works, edit. 1753, excepting his Letters of State, his Political writings in Latin and his Artis Logicæ Plenior Institutio.
20. Read the Balia of Luigi Tansillo, with Roscoe's translation, lately published.
The Italian poet recommends to mothers the nursing their own children, with great earnestness, and in plain and easy verse.
The version has not so much merit, and in some passages is of very mean expression; but it has ten beautiful lines on the Virgin and Christ, which exceed the original.
April 19. Concluded Discourses concerning Government, by Algernon Sydney, with his letter, trial, apology, and some memoirs of his life. London: printed for A. Miller, 1763. The Discourses on Government shatter to atoms the unstable fabric of Sir R. Filmer, against which they are levelled. Sydney's style has more force than elegance. His Letters to his Father, from Rome, are curious, particularly that which gives the characters of some of the Cardinals. His trial is one of the foulest blots on the page of British history.
It must be owned, that Sydney's principles inclined more to democracy, than a firm attachment to the English constitution could warrant. But the English constitution in those days was but an imperfect embryo of the present.
April 21. Read the Shade of Alexander Pope, by the Author of the Pursuits of Literature, supposed to be Mr. Matthias.
22. Finished the fifth book of the Thebais, which contains Hypsipyle's narration of the Lemnian women destroying the males, and of the arrival of the Argonauts; the death of her infant charge, Archemorus, by a serpent, and the arrival of her two sons by Jason.
Read the sixth book of the Thebais, which, in imitation of the fifth book of the Æneid, relates the obsequies of Archemorus and the funeral games.
24. Began the seventh book of the Thebais.
May 3. Finished Juelli Apologia, a very able answer to the Papists ;-—and the first volume of Tenhove's Memoirs of the Medici family, translated by Sir Richard Clayton.
4. Read a “Short Catechisme," set forth in Edward the Sixth's time.
7. Finished the seventh book of the Thebais, in which the war is begun, and Amphiaraus swallowed up by an earthquake in the battle ; and began the eighth.
May 8. Finished the eighth book of the Thebais, a second battle, in which there is one pathetic, and one very horrible description, the former the death of Atys in the presence of Ismene, and the latter the death of Tydeus, gnawing the skull of Melanippus.
28. Finished Sir Richard Clayton's translation of Tenhove's House of Medici, in two volumes, 4to; and read the Spleen, a poem, by Green.
31. Finished the ninth book of the Thebais; the battle is continued, in which Hippomedon, Hypseus, and Parthenopaus fall.
June 1. Read the tenth book of the Thebais. Three of the Argive chiefs make an excursion by night into the Theban camp, where they make great slaughter. Hopleus and Dymas stay behind the rest to recover the bodies of Tydeus and Parthenopæus, but are slain in the attempt. The Argives then make an attack on Thebes itself. Menæceus devotes himself for the city, and the impious Capaneus is destroyed by thunder from Jove. The description of Sleep’s habitation, where Iris goes by the command of Juno, and the death of Hopleus and Dymas, are striking passages in this book.
2. Read Don Carlos, a tragedy, translated from Schiller, and Wulfingen, a tragedy, from Kotzebue.
3. Read book xi, of the Thebais. The brothers fall by each other's hands. The grief of Edipus is finely expressed: he reminds one of Lear.
4. Read book xii. of the Thebais. Argia goes in search, by night, of the body of her husband, Polynices, and meets Antigone on the same quest. They burn it. The poem concludes with the death of Creon by the hand of Theseus, who goes against him at the supplication of the Argive women, on account of his refusal of funeral rites to their slain husbands.
June 5 and 6. Read the two books which remain of the Achilleis of Statius. They begin the history of Achilles from his education in Chiron's cave, and carry it as far as his departure from the island of Scyros. It was the intention of the poet to have carried it through to his death, in opposition to the judicious and elegant rule of Aristotle.
June 6 to July 13. Read the first volume of D'Hancarville's Etruscan Antiquities, Darwin's Botanic Garden, and La Coltivazione di Alamanni. This didactic poem of Alamanni, though similar to the Georgics of Virgil in its subject, does not servilely follow the same track. It is remarkable that it has no episodes, except the conclusion of the first book on the pleasures of a country life may be called an episode. The only tedious thing in the work is the former and larger part of the sixth book, which treats of prognostics of the weather, to be observed from the situation of the stars.
July 28 to December 24. In Wales and Dublin. Read the second volume of Southey's Poems, Barrington's History of Henry the Second, Memoires du