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The courtly Talbot, Somers, Sheffield read,
Ev'n mitred Rochester would nod the head, 140
And St. John's self (great Dryden's friends before)
With open arms receiv'd one Poet more.
Happy my studies, when by these approv'd !
Happier their author, when by these belov'd!
From these the world will judge of men and books,
Not from the Burnets, Oldmixans, and Cooks. 146
VER. 139. Talbot, &c.] All these were Patrons or Admirers of Mr. Dryden ; though a scandalous libel against him, entitled, Dryden's Satyr to his Muse, has been printed in the name of the Lord Somers, of which he was wholly ignorant.
These are the persons to whose account the Author charges the publication of his first pieces : persons, with whom he was conversant (and he adds beloved) at 16 or 17 years of age ; an early period for such acquaintance. The catalogue might be made yet more illustrious, had he not confined it to that time when he writ the Pastorals and Windsor Forest, on which he passes a sort of Censure in the lines following,
While pure Description held the place of Sense? &c. P,
Ver. 146. Burxets, &c.] Authors of secret and scandalous Hiftory.
Ibid. Burnets, Oldmixons, and Cocks.] By no means Authors of the same class, though the violence of party might hurry them into the fame mistakes. But if the first of fended this way, it was only through an honest warmth of temper, that allowed too little to an excellent understanding. The other two, with very bad heads, had hearts Aill worse.
Soft were my numbers; who could take offence
While pure Description held the place of Sense?
Like gentle Fanny's was my flow'ry theme,
A painted mistress, or a purling stream.
Yet then did Gildon draw his venal quill;
I wilh'd the man a dinner, and fate ftill.
Yet then did Dennis rave in furious fret;
I never answer'd, I was not in debt.
If want provok'd, or madness made them print, 155
I wag'd no war with Bedlam or the Mint.
Did some more fober Critic come abroad ; If wrong, I smil'd; if right, I kiss’d the rod. Pains, reading, study, are their juft pretence, And all they want is spirit, taste, and sense. 160 Comma's and points they set exactly right, And 'twere a fin to rob them of their mite. Yet ne'er one sprig of laurel grac'd these ribalds, From flashing Bentley down to pidling Tibalds:
VER. 150. A painted meadow, or a purling stream, is a verse of Mr. Addison.
P. VER. 164. Nashing Bentley] This great man, with all his faults, deserved to be put into better company.
The following words of Cicero describe him not amiss. “ Ha" buit à natura genus quoddam acuminis, quod etiam arte " limaverat, quod erat in reprehendendis verbis versutum “ et follers: fed fæpe ftomachosum, nonnunquam frigi"dum, interdum etiam facetum.”
Each wight, who reads not, and but scans and spells,
Each Word-catcher, that lives on fyllables, 166
Ev'n such small Critics fome regard may claim,
Preserv'd in Milton's or in Shakespear's name.
Pretty! in amber to observe the forms 169
Of hairs, or ftraws, or dirt, or grubs, or worms!
The things, we know, are neither rich nor rare,
But wonder how the devil they got there.
Were others angry: I excus'd them too;
Well might they rage, I gave them but their due.
As man's true merit 'tis not hard to find; 175
But each man's secret standard in his mind,
VER. 169. Pretty! in amber to observe the forms, &c.]
Our Poet had the full pleasure of this amusement soon
after the publication of his Shakespear. Nor has his friend
been less entertained fince the appearance of his edition of
the same poct. The liquid Amber of whose Wit has lately
licked up, and enrolled such a quantity of these Infeets,
and of tribes so grotesque and various, as would have
puzzled Reaumur to give names to. Two or three of them
it may not be amiss to preserve and keep alive. Such as
the Rev. Mr. y. Upton, Thomas Edwards, Esq; and, to
make up the Triumvirate, their learned Coadjutor, that
very respectable personage, Mr. THEOPHILUS CIBBER-
As to the poetic imagery of this paffage, it has been much
and justly admired; for the most detestable things in na-
ture, as a toad, or a beetle, become pleasing when well
represented in a work of Art. But it is no less eminent
for the beauty of the thought. For though a scribler
exifts by being thus incorporated, yet he exists intombed, a
lafting monument of the wrath of the Muses.
Ver. 173. Were others angry:) The Poets.
That Casting-weight pride adds to emptiness,
This, who can gratify? for who can guess ?
The Bard whom pilfer'd Pastorals renown,
Who turns a Persian tale for half a Crown, 180
Just writes to make his barrenness appear,
And strains from hard-bound brains, eight lines a year;
He, who still wanting, tho' he lives on theft,
Steals much, spends little, yet has nothing left: 184
And He, who now to sense, now nonsense leaning,
Means not, but blunders round about a meaning:
And He, whose fustian's so sublimely bad,
It is not Poetry, but prose run mad:
All these, my modest Satire bad translate,
And own'd that nine fuch Poets made a Tate.
190 How did they fume, and stamp, and roar, and chafe! And swear, not ADDISON himself was fafe.
VER. 180.--a Persian tale.] Amb. Philips translated a Book called the Persian tales.
P. Ver. 184. Steals much, Spends little, and has nothing left :) A fine improvement of this line of Boileau,
Qui toujours emprunt, et jamais ne gagne rien.
Ver. 186. Means not, but blunders round about a meaning :) A case common both to Poets and Critics of a cer. tain order ; only with this difference, that the Poet writes himself out of his own meaning ; and the Critic never gets into another man's, Yet both keep going on, and blundering round about their subject, as benighted people are wone to do, who seek for an entrance which they cannot find,
Peace to all such! but were there One whose fires
True Genius kindles, and fair Fame inspires ;
Bleft with each talent and each art to please, 195
And born to write, converse, and live with ease:
Should such a man, too fond to rule alone,
Bear, like the Turk, no brother near the throne,
View him with scornful, yet with jealous eyes,
And hate for arts that caus’d himself to rise; 20@
Damn with faint praise, assent with civil leer,
And without sneering, teach the rest to sneer;
Willing to wound, and yet afraid to strike,
Just hint a fault, and hesitate dislike;
Alike resery'd to blame, or to commend, 205
A tim'rous foe, and a suspicious friend;
Dreading ev'n fools, by Flatterers besieg'd,
And so obliging, that he ne'er oblig'd;
Ver.193. But were there one whose fires, &c.] The strokes
in this Character are highly finished. Atterbury so well
understood the force of them, that in one of his letters to
Mr. Pope he says, “ Since you now know where your
ftrength lies, I hope you will not suffer that talent to “ lie unemployed." He did not; and, by that means, brought satiric Poetry to its perfection,
After x 208. in the MS.
Who, if two Wits on rival themes contest,
Approves of each, but likes the worst the best. Alluding to Mr. P.'s and Tickell's Translation of the first Book of the Iliad.