Abbildungen der Seite

Pretty! in amber to observe the forms

169 Of hairs, or straws, or dirt, or grubs, or worms!

NOTES. de luy escrire, nonobstant son Idioterie, d'autant que je suis constant en amitié. The character he gives of his own Chronology, in the same letter, is no less extraordinary: Vous vous pouvez assurer que notre Eusebe sera un trésor des marveilles de la doctrine Chronologique. But this modest account of his own work is nothing in comparison of the idea the Father gives his bookseller of his own person. This bookseller was preparing something of Julius Scaliger's for the Press; and desired the Author would give him directions concerning his picture, which was to be set before the book. Julius's answer (as it stands in his collection of letters) is, that if the engraver could collect together the several graces of Massinissa, Xenophon, and Plato, he might then be enabled to give the public some faint and imperfect resemblance of his Person. Nor was Salmasius's judgment of his own parts less favourable to himself, as Mr. Colomies tells the story. This Critic, on a time, meeting two of his brethren, Mess. Gaulman and Maussac, in the Royal Library at Paris, Gaulman, in a virtuous consciousness of their importance, told the other two, that he believed they three could make head against all the Learned in Europe. To which the great Salmasius fiercely replied, “ Do you and M. Maussac join yourselves to all that are learned in the world, and you shall find that I alone am a match for you all.”

Vossius tells us, that when Laur. Valla had snarled at every name of the first order in antiquity, such as Aristotle, Cicero, and one whom I should have thought this Critic the likeliest to reverence, the redoubtable PRISCIAN, he impiously boasted that he had arms even against Christ himself. But Codrus Urcæus went farther, and actually used those arms which the other only threatened with. This man, while he was preparing some trifling piece of Criticism for the press, had the misfortune to hear his papers were destroyed by fire: on which he is reported to have broke out-" Quodnam ego tantum scelus concepi, O Christe! quem ego tuorum unquam læsi, ut ita inexpiabili in me odio debaccheris ? Audi ea quæ tibi mentis compos, et ex animo dicam. Si forte, cum ad ultimum vitæ finem pervenero, supplex accedam ad te oratum, neve audias, neve inter tuos accipias oro ; cum Infernis Diis in æternum vitam agere decrevi.” Whereupon, says my author, he quitted the converse of men, threw himself into

The things, we know, are neither rich nor rare,
But wonder how the devil they got there.


the thickest of a forest, and wore out the wretched remainder of his life in all the agonies of despair. W.

Ver. 164. Slashing Bentley] This great man, with all his faults, deserved however to be put into better company. The following words of Cicero describe him not amiss : “ Habuit a natura genus quoddam acuminis, quod etiam arte limaverat, quod erat in reprehendendis verbis versutum et solers; sed sæpe stomachosum, nonnunquam frigidum, interdum etiam facetum. W. I shall add to this note an unpublished letter from my learned and excellent friend Mr. James Harris of Salisbury, addressed to Mr. John Upton, the editor of Spenser, and author of Observations on Shakspeare.

“My good friend, “I am much more rejoiced to hear you have found the cause of your disease, than to find you differ from me in my opinion about Horace. Dissension in matters of opinion (let the subject be what it will) is natural, I may say, even necessary, and brings no harm. Bitterness, for that reason, is neither necessary nor natural, and what I hope neither you nor I are susceptible of, neither with respect to friends nor strangers.

“When I think of Bentley, I can't help comparing him to Virgil's Fame ;

“Ingrediturque solo, et caput inter nubila condit;" An immense monster, possessed of a thousand eyes and a thousand ears, to see, and hear, and know, every thing, but, at the same time,

“Tam ficti pravique tenax, quam nuncia veri." The consciousness of his own great parts and accomplishments furnished him with a pride, that, as it made him condemn the sentiments of most others, so it made him deify his own errours.

.“ For Horace, there is no doubt that he collected his pieces together, and so published them as we do, now-a-days, miscellanies. Common sense and practice, on similar occasions, is the same in all ages ; nor is there any need of all Bentley's parade about Catullus, Propertius, Ovid, and others, to prove, what no one doubted, that the writers of short pieces, not long enough in

Were others angry: I excus'd them too;
Well might they rage, I gave them but their due.


NOTES. themselves to make a just volume, should bring them together for that purpose, with a dedication or preface. This, however, is all that this critic has done (and a work, indeed, it is that a much less scholar than he was well equal to) in order to refute the far superior labours of Dacier and others, in fixing the dates of each particular piece. The whole of the dispute comes to this : the time of writing each particular Satire, Ode, or Epistle, has nothing farther to do with the time of the volume's publication, which contains it, than that the piece must necessarily have been written first: but every piece had undoubtedly its own date distinct from all the rest, according as joy or grief, health or sickness, summer or winter, and a thousand other incidents, afforded the occasion. When it was thus written, was it shut up (think you) and concealed, never shewn to the polite world with whom he lived, nor even to the friend to whom it was addressed, till he had composed enough of other pieces to make up a volume ? Did Cæsar, for example, know nothing of that fine and sublime ode (the 37th of Book. i.) made on his grand victory at Actium, till he saw it in the same scroll or volume with thirty-seven others, many on trifling and private subjects? Had Horace so little regard for so choice a piece, or was he even so bad a courtier, as to suppress it so long, and for no better reason? To publish, now-a-days, means to print ; but, in those days, it was a publication to communicate a MS.; and it is not to be doubted, that, immediately on the victory and death of Cleopatra, the ode was in the hands of every man of taste in Rome. It was the practice (says Bentley) to publish their pieces semel simulque. But I say neither semel nor simul. The 4th Sat. 1. i. was published most evidently before the 10th of the same book, for the 10th vindicates it from the exceptions taken to it by the admirers of Lucilius. They were not, therefore, published originally simul. Again, the 4th Satire certainly made its appearance along with the 10th, when they composed one book or volume. It was therefore published twice, and not semel.

“ The ode upon Virgil's Voyage to Athens (according to Bentley's Chronology) was written at least eight years before Virgil made it. The ode, that so chearfully invites Virgil to a feast, according to the same great Critic's chronology, was ad

A man's true merit 'tis not hard to find ; 175
But each man's secret standard in his mind,
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;


dressed to him two or three years after his death. Are these things probable ?

“ As to philosophy (which is your own province) I have much the same to say as I have said already about the publication. It is no proof he did not publish his pieces separately, because at times he published them together; and no proof that he was never a Stoic or Old Academic, because at times he was an Epicurean.

“ Nunc agilis fio, et mersor civilibus undis,

Virtutis veræ custos, rigidusque satelles.” These lines (I say) can never be tortured into Epicureanism, as the editor of Arrian well knows. And what did Horace study in his youth, when at Athens, inter silvas Academi? Was it the doctrine of Epicurus ? He might as well have studied the doctrine of Calvin at St. Omer's. It is hard not to take a man's own word in matters merely relative to himself.”

Ver. 180. A Persian tale] Amb. Philips translated a Book called the Persian Tales, a book full of fancy and imagination. P. · Philips, certainly not a very animated or first-rate writer, yet appears not to deserve quite so much contempt, if we look at his first and fifth pastoral, his epistle from Copenhagen, his ode on the Death of Earl Cowper, his translations of the two first Olympic odes of Pindar, the two odes of Sappho, and, above all, his pleasing tragedy of the Distress'd Mother. The secret grounds of Philips's malignity to Pope, are said to be, the ridicule and laughter he met with from all the Hanover Club, of which he was secretary, for mistaking the incomparable ironical paper in the Guardian, No. 40, which was written by Pope, for a serious criticism on pastoral poetry. The learned Heyne also mistook this irony, as appears by p. 202. v. 1. of his Virgil.

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, learning,
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 bade translate,
And own’d that nine such Poets made a Tate. 190

NOTES. Ver. 189. All these, my modest Satire bade translate,] See their works, in the Translations of classical books by several hands. P.

Ver. 190. And own'd that nine such Poets] Before this piece was published, Dr. Young had addressed two Epistles to our Author, in the year 1730, concerning the Authors of the age; in which are many passages that bear a great resemblance to many of Pope's; though Pope has heightened, improved, and condensed, the hints, images, and sentiments, of Young.

Shall we not censure all the motley train,
Whether with ale irriguous or Champain?
Whether they tread the vale of prose, or climb
And whet their appetite on cliffs of rhyme;
The college sloven, or embroider'd spark,
The purple prelate, or the parish clerk,
The quiet quidnunc, or demanding prig,
The plaintiff Tory, or defendant Whig;
Rich, poor, male, female, young, old, gay, or sad,
Whether extremely witty, or quite mad;
Profoundly dull, or shallowly polite,
Men that read well, or men that only write;
Whether peers, porters, tailors, tune their reeds,
And measuring words to measuring shapes succeeds ?
For bankrupts write, when ruin'd shops are shut,
As maggots crawl from out a perish'd nut;
His hammer this, and that his trowel quits,
And, wanting sense for tradesmen, serve for wits ; ;
Thus his material, paper, takes its birth,
From tatter'd rags of all the stuff on earth.

« ZurückWeiter »