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Pene recens: * adeo fanctum eft vetus omne poema.
Ambigitur quoties, uter utro fit prior ; aufert
Pacuvius docti famam senis, Accius alti :
Dicitur Afranî toga conveniffe Menandro;
Plautus ad exemplar Siculi properare Epicharmi
Vincere Caecilius gravitate, Terentius arte:
Hos ediscit, et hos arcto ftipata theatro
Spectat Roma potens; 'habet hos numeratque poetas
Ad noftrum tempus, Livî scriptoris ab aevo.
6 Interdum vulgus rectum videt: est ubi peccat.
Si - veteres ita miratur laudatque poetas,

NOTES.

Ver. 81. In all debates etc.) The Poet has here put the bald cant of women and boys into extreme fine verse. This is in ftrict imitation of his Original, where the same impertinent and gratuitous criticism is admirably ridiculed.

Ver. 85. Wycherly] The chief fupport of this writer's reputation is his famous comedy of the Plain Dealer; which is taken from Moliere's Misanthrope. But it has so happen'd that while Moliere's Misanthrope is but a Plain Dealer, Wycherly's Plain Dealer is a downright Misanthrope. Whether this was owing to the different genius of the Nations, or to the different judgments of the Poets, is left for the Critics to determine.

Ibid. Shadwell hafly, Wycherly was flow.] Nothing was less true than this particular : But the whole paragragh has a mix

“ Yet surely, 'surely, these were famous men! " What boy but hears the sayings of old Ben ? 80 “ In all · debates where Critics bear a part, “ Not one but nods, and talks of Johnson's Art, “Of Shakespear's Nature, and of Cowley's Wit; “How Beaumont's judgment check'dwhatFletcher

« writ;

“How Shadwell hasty, Wycherly was flow; 85 "But, for the Passions, Southern sure and Rowe.

These, f only these, support the crouded stage, "From eldest Heywood down to Cibber's age.

All this may be ; the People's Voice is odd, It is, and it is not, the voice of God.

90 To Gammer Gurton if it give the bays, And

yet deny the Careless Husband praise,

NOTES.

ture of Irony, and must not altogether be taken for Horace's own Judgment, only the common Chat of the pretenders to Criticism; in some things right, in others, wrong; as he tells us in his answer,

Interdum vulgus rectum videt: est ubi peccat. P. Ver. 91. Gammer Gurton) A piece of very low humour, one of the first printed Plays in English, and therefore much valued by some Antiquaries.

P. Ibid. To Gammer Gurton, And yet deny, etc.) i. e. If they give the bays to one play because it is old, and deny it to another because it is new; why then, I say, the Public acts a very

foolish part.

Ut nihil anteferat, nihil illis comparet ; errat :

Si quaedam nimis . antique, fi pleraque * dure

Dicere cedit eos, 'ignave multa fatetur ;

Et fapit, et mecum facit, et Jove judicat aequo.

Non equidem insector, delendaque carmina Livî

NOTES. Ver. 97. Spencer himself affects the Obsolete,] This is certainly true; he extended, beyond all reason, that precept of Horace,

Obscurata diu populo bonus eruet, atque

Proferet in lucem speciosa vocabula rerum. etc. VER.98. And Sydney's ver fe halts ill on Roman feet :) Sir Philip Sidney. He attempted to introduce the Roman hexameter and pentameter measure into English verse. Baif, a French poet in the time of their Hen. II. had attempted the same thing before him, and with the same success.

VER. 102. And God the Father turns a School-divine.] Ben Johnfon ridicules the humour of his age, when the audience chose to take their knowledge of English history from Shakespear's plays. The present fashion for Milton makes us as ready to learn our religion from the Paradise loft : tho' it be certain, he was as poor and fanciful a Divine, as Shakespear was a licentious Historian. This appears from many places of that admirable Poem. As he here degrades the Father by making him follow the School-Systems; fo, in his Paradise

k

Or say our Fathers never broke a rule ;
Why then, I say, the Public is a fool.
But let them own, that greater Faults than we 95
They had, and greater Virtües, I'll agree.
Spenser himself affects the Obsolete,
And Sydney's verse halts ill on Roman feet:
Milton's strong pinion now not Heav'n can bound,
Now Serpent-like, in prose he sweeps the ground,
In Quibbles, Angel and Archangel join,
And God the Father turns a School-divine.

Not that I'd lop the Beauties from his book, Like - flashing Bentley with his desp’rate hook,

IOI

NOTES. regained, he dishonours the Son, by making him Author of the MAHOMETAN Oeconomy of grace

« Victorious deeds
« Flam'd in my heart, heroic acts, one while
“ To rescue Israel from the Roman yoke ;
“ Then to subdue and quell o'er all the Earth
« Brute violence, and proud tyrannic pow'r,
« Till truth was freed and equity restord:
“ Yet held it more humane, more heavenly, FIRST
“ By winning words to conquer willing hearts,
" And make persuasion do the work of fear ;
“ At least to try, and teach the erring foul
“ Not willingly misdoing, but unaware

“ Misled; the stubborn only to destroy.
VER. 104. Bentley] This excellent critic, who had the for-
tune to be extravagantly despised and ridiculed by two of the
greatest wits, and as extravagantly feared and Aattered by two
of the greatest Scholars of his time, will deserve to have that
justice done him now, which he never met with while alive.

Esse reor, memini quae " plagosumo mibi paroa
Orbilium dictare;

fed emendata videri

NOTES. He was a great master both of the languages and the learn ing of polite Antiquity; whose writings he studied with no other design than to correct the errors of the text. For this he had a strong natural understanding, a great fhare of penetration, and a fagacity and acumen very uncommon. All which qualities he had greatly improved by long exercise and application. Yet, at the same time, he had so little of that elegance of judge ment, we call Taste, that he knew nothing of Style, as it accommodates itself, and is appropriated to the various kinds of composition. And his reasoning faculty being infinitely better than that of his Imagination, the style of poetry was what he the least understood. So that, that clearness of conception, which fo much aslifted his critical fagacity, in discovering and reforming errors in books of science, where a philosophical precision, and grammatical exactness of language is employed, ferved but to betray him into absurd and extravagant conjectures when ever he attempted to reform the text of a Poet, whose diction he was always for deducing to the prosaic rules of logical severity; and whenever he found what a great master of speech calls verbum ardens, he was sure not to leave it till he had thoroughly quenched it in his critical ftandish. But to make philologic amends, he was a perfect master of all the mysteries of the ancient Rythmus.

The most important of his works, as a scholar, is his Critic on the Epiftles of Phalaris: and the least confiderable, his Remarks on the Discourse concerning Free-thinking. Yet the first, with all its fuperiority of Learning, Argument, and Truth, was borne down by the vivacity and clamour of a Party, which (as usual) carried the Public along with them: while the other, employed only in the easy and triling talk of exposing a very dull and very ignorant Rhapsodist, was as extravagantly extolled. For it was his odd fortune (as our Poet expresses it) to

pass for

A Wit with Dunces, and a Dunce with Wits :

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