Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

pity they are so healthy. But I say nothing thať may destroy their good opinion of me: I have not quoted one Latin author fince I came down, but have learn'd without book a song of Mr. Thomas Durfey's, who is your only Poet of tolerable reputation in this country. He makes all the merriment in our entertainments, and but for him, there would be so miserable a dearth of catches, that, I fear, they would put either the Parson or me upon making some for 'em. Any man, of any quality, is heartily welcome to the best toping-table of our gentry, who can roar out some Rhapsodies of his works : fo that in the fame manner as it was said of Homer to his detractors; What, dares any man speak against him who has given so many men to eat ? (meaning the Rhapsodists who liv'd by repeating his verses) thus may it be said of Mr. Durfey to his detractors; Dares any one despise him, who has made so many men drink? Alas, Sir! this is a glory which neither you nor I must ever pretend to. Neither you with your Ovid, nor I with my Statius, can amuse a board of justices and extraordinary 'squires, or gain one hum of approbation, or laugh of admiration. These things (they would fay) are too studious, they may do well enough with such as love reading, but give us your ancient Poet Mr. Durfey! 'Tis mortifying enough, it must be confess’d; but however let us proceed in the way that nature has directed us Multi multa sciunt, fed nemo omnia, as it is said in the almanack. Let us communicate our works for our

mutual comfort ; fend me elegies, and you shall not : want heroics. At present, I have only these Argu-. ments in profe to the Thebaid, which you claim by. promise, as I do your Translation of Pars me Sulmo tenet-and the Ring; the rest I hope for as soon as you can conveniently transcribe them, and whatío.. ever orders you are pleas'd to give me shall be punctually obey'd by Your, &c.

LETTER XII..

May 10, 1710. . T Had not so long omitted to express my acknow1 ledgments to you for so much good-nature and friendship as you lately show'd me; but that I am but just return'd to my own hermitage, from Mr C*'s, who has done me so many favours, that I am almost inclin’d to think my friends infect one another, and that your conversation with him has made him as obliging to me as yourself. I can assure you, he has a fincere respect for you, and this, I believe, he has partly contracted from me, who am too full of you not to overflow upon those I converse with. But I must now be contented to converse only with the dead of this world, that is to say, the dull and obscure, every way obscure, in their intellects as well as their persons: or else have recourse to the living dead, the old Authors with whom you are so well acquainted, even from Virgil down to Aulas Gellius, whom I do not think a critic by any means to be compar'd to Mr. Dennis : And I muft declare pofitively to you, that I will persist in this opinion, till you become a little more civil to Atticus. Who could have imagin’d, that he, who had escap'd all the mis. fortunes of his time, unhurt even by the proscriptions of Antony and Auguftus, Tould in these days find an enemy more fevere and barbarous than those tyrants ? and that enemy the gentleft too, the best. natur'd of mortals, Mr. Cromwell, whom I must in this compare once more to Auguftus : who seem'd not more unlike himself, in the severity of one part of his life and the clemency of the other, than you. I leave you to reflect on this, and hope that time (which mollifies rocks, and of ftiff things makes limber) will turn a resolute critic to a gentle reader; and instead of this positive, tremendous, new-fafhion'd Mr. Cromwell, restore unto us our old acquaintance the soft, beneficent, and courteous Mr. Cromwell.

I expect much, towards the civilizing of you in. your critical capacity, from the innocent air and tranquillity of our Forest, when you do me the faa vour to visit it. In the mean time, it would do well by way of preparative, if you would duly and constantly every morning read over a pastoral of Theocritus or Virgil ; and let the lady Isabella put your Macrobius and Auius Gellius somewhere out of your way, for a month or so. Who knows, but travel. ling and long airing in an open field, may contribute

more successfully to the cooling a critic's severity, than it did to the assuaging of Mr. Cheek's anger, of old ? In these fields, you will be secure of finding no enemy, but the most faithful and affectionate of your friends, &c.

L ET TER XIII.

May 17, 1710. AFTER I had recover'd from a dangerous ill. n ness which was first contracted in town, about a fortnight after my coming hither I troubled you with a letter, and * paper inclos'd, which you had been so obliging as to desire a fight of when last I faw you, promising me in return some translations of yours from Ovid. Since when, I have not had a syllable from your hands, so that 'tis to be fear'd that tho' I have escap'd death, I have not oblivion. I should at least have expected you to have finished that elegy upon me, which you told me, you was upon the point of beginning when I was sick in. London ; if you will but do so much for me first, I will give you leave to forget me afterwards ; and for my own part will die at discretion, and at my leisure. But I fear I must be forced, like many learned authors, to write my own epitaph, if I would be remembered at all. Monsieur de la Fontaine's

• Verses on Silence, in imitation of the Earl of Rocheller's poem on Nothing ; done at fourteen years old.

would fit me to a hair; but it is a kind of facrilege (do you think it is not ?) to steal epitaphs. In my present, living dead condition, nothing would be properer than Oblitusque meorum, obliviscendus & illis, but that unluckily I can't forget my friends, and the civilities I received from yourself, and some others, They say indeed 'tis one quality of generous minds to forget the obligations they have conferred, and perhaps too it may be fo to forget those on whom they conferr'd 'em : Then indeed I must be forgotten to all intents and purposes! I am, it must be ownd, dead in a natural capacity, according to Mr. Bickerstaff; dead in a poetical capacity, as a damn'd author; and dead in a civil capacity, as a useless. member of the Commonwealth. But reflect, dear Sir, what melancholy effects may ensue, if dead men are not civil to one another ! If he who has nothing to do himself, will not comfort and support another in his idleness: If those who are to die themselves, will not now and then pay the charity of visiting a tomb and a dead friend, and strowing a few flowers over him: In the shades where I am, the Inhabitants have a mutual compassion for each other ; being all alike Inanes ; we faunter to one another's habitations, and daily affist each other in doing no. thing at all. This I mention for your edification and example, that all alive as you are, you may not sometimes disdain – defipere in loco. Tho' you are no Papist, and have not so much regard to the dead as to address yourself to them (which I plainly perceive

« ZurückWeiter »