« ZurückWeiter »
on this principle, of attacking few but who had slandered him, he could not have done it at all; had he been confined from censuring obscure and worthlesspersons, for scarce any other were his enemies. However, as the parity is so remarkable, I hope it will continue to the last; and if ever he should give us an edition of this poem himself, I may see some of them treated as gently, on their repentance or better merit, as Perrault and Quinault were at last by Boileau.!,
o ' In one point'I must be allowed to think the character of our English poet the more amiable. He has not been a follower of fortune or success; he has lived with the great without flattery; been a friend to men in power without pensions, from whom, as he asked, so he received, no favour, but what was done him in his friends. As his satires were the more just for being delayed, so were his panegyrics;; bestowed only ou such personis as he had familiarly known, only for such virtues as he had long observed in them, and only at such times as others cease to praise, if not begin to calumniate them, I mean when out of power or out of fashion*. A satire, therefore, on writers so notorious for the contrary practice, became no man so well as him. self; as none, it is plain, was so little in their friend. ships, or so much in that of those whom they had most, abused, namely the greatest and best of all parties. Let me add a further reason, that, though engaged in their friendships, he never espoused their animosities; and can almost singly challenge this honour, not to have written a line of any man,
* As Mr. Wycherley, at the time the town de. claimed against his book of poems; Mr. Walsh, af. ter his death;. sir William Trumball, when he had resigned the office of secretary of state; lord Bolingbroke, at his leaving England, after the queen's death; lord Oxford, in his last decline of life ; Mr. Secretary Craggs, at the end of the South-sea year, and after his death : others only in epitaphs.
which through guilt, through: shame, or through fear, through variety of fortune, or change of in terests, he was ever unwilling to owu. - I shall conclude with remarking, what a pleasuro it must be to every reader of humanity, to see all alovg, that our author, in his very laughter, is not indulging his own ill-nature, but only punishing that of others. As to his poem, those alone are capable of doing it justice, who, to use the words of a great writer, know how hard it is (with regard both to his subject and his manner) vetustis dare novitatem, obsoletis nitorem, obscuris lucem, fastiditis gratiam. .
! I am your most humble servant, St. James's, " WILLIAM CLELAND*. Dec. 22d, 1728.
* This gentleman was of Scotland, and bred at the university of Utrecht with the earl of Mar. He served in Spain under earl Rivers. After the peace, he was made one of the commissioners of customs in Scotland, and then of taxes in England; in which having shown himself for twenty years diligent, punctual, and incorruptible (though without any other assistance of fortune), he was suddenly displaced by the minister, in the sixty-eighth year of his age, and died two months after, in 1741. He was a person of universal learning, and an enlarged conversation; no man had a warmer heart for his friend, or a sincerer attachment to the constitution of his country i ** *
. MARTINUS SCRIBLERUS
· TO THE DUNCIAD;
: Dennis' Remarks on Prince Arthur. I CANNOT but think it the most reasonable thing
in the world, to distinguish good writers, by discouraging the bad. Nor is it an ill-natured thing, in relation even to the very persons upon whom the reflections are made. It is true, it inay deprive them a little the sooner of a short profit and a transitory reputation; but then it may have a good effect, and oblige them before it be too late) to decline that for which they are so very unfit, and to have re. course to something in which they may be more successful.
Character of Mr. P. 1716. The persons whom Boileau has attacked in his writings have been for the most part authors, and most of those authors, poets : and the censures he hath passed upon them have been confirmed by all Europe.
Gildon, Preface to his New Rehearsal. It is the common cry of the poetasters of the town, and their fautors, that it is an ill-naturated
thing to expose the pretenders to wit and poetry. The judges and magistrates may with full as good reason be reproached with ill-nature for putting the laws in execution against a thief or impostor. The same will hold in the republic of letters, if the critics and judges will let every ignorant pretender to scribbling pass on the world.
Theobald, Letter to Mist, June 22, 1728. Attacks may be levelled, either against failures in genius, or against the pretensions of writing without one.
Concanen, Dedication to the Author of the
Dunciad. A satire upon dulness is a thing that has been used and allowed in all ages.
Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, wicked scribbler!
TESTIMONIES OF AUTHORS
Concerning our Poet and his Works.
M. Scriblerus Lectori S. REFORE we present thee with our exercitations
D on this most delectable poem (drawn from the many volumes of our adversaria on modern authors) we shall here, according to the laudable usage of edi. tors, collect the various judgements of the learned concerning our poet; various, indeed, not only of different authors, but of the same author at differ. ent seasons. Nor shall we gather only the testimonies of such eminent wits as would of course de. scend to posterity, and consequently be read without our collection ; but we shall likewise, with in. credible labour, seek out for divers others, which, but for this our diligence, could never, at the di. stance of a few months, appear to the eye of the most curious. Hereby thou mayest not only receive the delectation of variety, but also arrive at a more çertain judgement by a grave and circumspect comparison of the witnesses with each other, or of each with himself. Hence also thou wilt be enabled to draw reflections, not only of a critical, but a moral nature, by being let into many particulars of the person as well as genius, and of the fortune as well as merit, of our author: in which, if I relate some things of little concern peradventure to thee, and sonie of as little even to him; I entreat thee to consider how minutely all true critics and commenta