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This woman, no less astonishing by her genius than her character, was born at Mytilène, the capital city of Lesbos, and flourished about six hundred years before the Christian era. The most received opinion is, that her father's name was Scamandronyme; her mother's that of Cléïs. She had three brothers-Larichus, whom she has celebrated in her verses-Eurigius, of whom she has made no mention-and Charaxus, whom she reproached with having a violent passion for the courtesan Rhodope; the same who erected a pyramid with the prodigalities of her lovers.

Sappho was a brunette, and of a middling stature. It appears, however, that her beauty was not of the regular standard, of which we may judge from the celebrated engraving of Delauney, taken from the relief of ancient sculpture. The fire of her soul, the source of her great talents, was seen in her countenance, and it impressed on all her features a character of passion and energy, superior even to beauty itself. Love was the only sentiment that possessed her heart, and that she breathed forth in her works.

Married, almost from her infancy, to Cercola, one of the richest inhabitants of the isle of Andros, she gave birth to a daughter whom she named Cléïs, after her mother. An early widowhood exposed her to the dangers of a new condition in life, which her extreme youth, her desire for liberty, and perhaps the complexion of her character did not excite in her own mind any apprehension.

Her verses and examples very soon invited the youth of her sex to pleasures, and emboldened them to dispute with man the palm of talents. Her renown was so brilliant and rapid, that she put even Envy to the blush-her disciples were the most celebrated women of Greece; at Mylet, Anaxagore; at Colophone, Gongice; at Salamine, Eunice; at Lesbos, Damophile; in Lancride, Thelesile, and the younger Eriune, who was perhaps her equal. What elegance attended her! what crowds of adorers! among whom we distinguish the three greatest pocts of her age-Archiloque, Hipponax, and Alcie.

Thus glided away the days of Sappho, enjoying the flattering homage of both sexes, and the two-fold pleasure of reigning over

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them, at the same time, by love and admiration. Will it be believed, that her first persecutor was a man? How is it that jealousy has not shown its head among those of her own sex, who have written of her, whilst the men were constantly persecuting her? Is it that the men would be more wicked, or would the women be more naturally induced to make a common cause, when the glory and interest of their sex was at stake.

Sappho's first misfortune was in too well pleasing the three poets whom I have already named. Athénée does not inform us which of the three was preferred; but none of them merited her preference, from the despicable and cruel use they made of the arms of satire. Preeminent in these malicious attacks was Alcée, who, with a furious zeal, signalized his jealousy, and far surpassed his rivals in his ebullitions against his mistress.

He was one of the first citizens of the republic; a warrior, and at the head of a party, then the most powerful: born at Mytilène he felt honoured in having in Sappho a compatriot and a rival: she, in her turn, named him the chanter of Lesbos: she had, however, no idea that the verses of a man of sixty should be preferred by her to youth and grace: the lover complained of it, and murmured; but the poet, who had just consecrated an eulogium on the heart and talents of his mistress, with equal zeal attacked her manners and her works. We should, however, render this piece of justice to the Mytilènians, that they immediately declared against Alcée, and that they afforded to Sappho, on this occasion, a protection which her glory, and, perhaps, the nature of her weaknesses had a right to demand.

The young Phaon appeared at that time at Mytilène; he was the handsomest of the Lesbians; he attracted the regard and the hearts of all, and Sappho had the dangerous happiness to be preferred. Alcée, now more furious, gave full scope to his vindictive rage, and the women, became (I know not how) more credulous, gave full credit to the imputations of Alcée. Every one united themselves against her, and even her friends betrayed her. The young Damophile, one of her most beloved élèvés, wounded her most sensibly; by her artifice she brought Phaon to doubt of the fidelity of his mistress, and from this to the part he took in absenting himself from her. Sappho, however, shone but the brighter:

in her lacerated heart she found only the gnawings of unhappy love, and of sorrow, without a murmur: her verses were daily inviting the return of the ingrate Phaon; but with the passionate accents of a heart that still believed itself too happy in the sentiment that causes its suffering. Never did there escape from her the least word against the culpable-never the shadow of complaint against her enemies, without excepting even Damophile.

It is strange, that Phaon was not actuated by self-love, to return to her, and that he should not be sensible of the pleasure of hearing his name resounded throughout all Greece, immortalized by the chefs-d'œuvres of tenderness and of poetry, which he did not merit to inspire.-His return to Mytilène was but food for new torment, and but fuel to the flame that was consuming the heart of this celebrated unfortunate, who was a second time abandoned. From the picturing of her despair, it is that Ovid has drawn those passages of eloquence and love which animate la plus touchante of his heroines.

Figure to your mind this transcendent genius, amidst her fel low-citizens, whom she honours, become the object of public hatred and disdain; obliged to pursue, by the most passionate letters, an ingrate who laughed at her tears; and, above all, behold Sappho going, even to Sicily, and falling at the feet of a young man, who repulses her with disdain.

This last action drove her to the height of despair: she wished even to renounce her love-she ascended to the top of a promontory hanging over the sea, and from thence

"She meditated the eternal depth below,

Till, half recoiling, down the headlong steep

She plunged; soon overwhelmed, and swallowed up,

In that immense of being:"

Thus leaving to posterity an everlasting remembrance of her talents and misfortunes.

Thus was rendered illustrious the famous promontory of Leucate, of which the death and the name of Sappho do not, at this remote period, recall the idea without a pang for this unfortunate victim.

Philadelphia, 15th May, 1811.

W. S.


The conductor of the Port Folio will insert the following reply to Mr. George Baron, of Newyork, Professor of Mathematics and Philosophy, if he thinks it worthy of a place, in the scientific department of his valuable miscellany.


I HAVE perused your friendly letter addressed to me, in the Newyork Commercial Advertiser, on the subject of commencing the publication of the second volume of the Mathematical Correspondent. I regretted very much, at the time that work was abandoned, that there could not be found, in this populous and enlightened country, patronage sufficient to support it. Such a work is really a desideratum. We are in possession of no proper vehicle, at present, for conveying to the public discoveries and improvements in science; and I think it no small reflection upon the taste and understanding of the American people. Our modern sciolists seem willing to contribute to every thing that is showy and superficial; but works of a profound cast; works, which require a laborious exercise of the reasoning faculty, appear to them almost as terrific as the Bohon Upaz. The first volume of the Mathematical Correspondent had begun to awaken a taste for the recondite and exact sciences; though, like the faint illuminations of the glow-worm, I acknowledge its rays were confined within a narrow sphere; and, could means be devised to secure the public support, to a certain extent, I doubt not but it might be made, in its recommencement, eminently instrumental, in lighting the friends of science to the sanctuary of her temple. The European presses abound with the most contemptuous reflections upon the jejuneness of American genius and American talent. And why? In a great measure, because we have so few works possessing the character necessary to rouse talent into action, and to fan genius into its fervid blaze, A newspaper is ephemeral-is evanescent. A man of science feels unwilling to commit an important discovery, or even an improvement, to a type that may find an earlier grave than him.

self. I am in possession of some scientific improvements, to which I would willingly give publicity, could I find for them an appropriate receptacle; and you have, confidentially, convinced me, that you are in possession of many more; which, if promulgated, I am well persuaded, would prove no inconsiderable addition to the stock of general information; and would it not be extreme vanity in us, to suppose that we are the only persons, in the United States, in possession of discoveries and improvements, in science? I have no doubt but the number, capable of contributing to the success of the contemplated work, is far more considerable than is gencrally imagined; and that the mass of information, which might be drawn, from these various sources, would, ultimately, remunerate, and more than remunerate the public, for that patronage, which is necessary, in the commencement of the undertaking. Your theory of Differentials may, with great propriety, be considered an entire new system: for it bears much less resemblance to the intricate mass of analytical confusion, hitherto dignified with that appellation, than the Newtonian illustrations of the celestial phenomena to the chaos of Egyptian astronomy. Your observations, on the science of Fluxions, particularly the Summatory Calculus, have induced me, since I last saw you, to bestow more than ordinary attention on that subject; and, I am now satisfactorily convinced, that they were founded on fact, and that the ordinary methods, of investigating integrals, are susceptible of very great improvement, emanating from arcana, in the science hitherto undeveloped. The accurate determination of the longitude at sea, has proved one of the most baffling subjects, that has ever exercised the energies of the human intellect; and although many, at various periods, have thought themselves entitled to imitate the luminary of Syracuse, when he was fortunate enough to solve the hydrostatical ques-, tion of king Hiero; yet have they all been compelled, finally, to acknowledge, that its difficulties are insuperable. And, indeed, I have sometimes been induced to believe, that some physical impediment, arising from the perplexity of figure, motion, and relation, is placed by the Omniscient, as an insurmountable barrier to the attainment of this desirable object, as well for the

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