« ZurückWeiter »
nations*. But the resemblance holds in nothing more than in their being equally abused by the ignorant pretenders to poetry of their times; of which not the least memory will remain but in their own writings, and in the notes made upon them. What Boileau has done in almost all his poems, our author has only in this. I dare answer for him he will do it in no more; and on this principle, of attacking fow but who had slandered him, he could not have done it»all, had he been couiined from censuring obscure and worthless persons; 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.
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 beting delayed, so were his panegyrics; bestowed only on such persons 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 caluminate them—I mean when out of power, or out of fashion f. A satire, therefore, on
» Essay ou Criticism, in French verse, by General Hamilton; the same, in verse also, by Monsieur Roboton, counsellor and privy secretary to King George I.; after by the Abb* Du Resnel, in verse, with notes. Rape of the Lock, in French, by the Princess of Conti'' Paris, 1728; and in Italian verse by the Abbe Conti, a noble Venetian; and by the Marquis Rangoui, envoy extraordinary from Modeoa to King George II. Others of his works by Salvini of Florence, &c. His K^snys and Dissertations on Homer, several times translated into French. Essay on Man, by the Abbe du Resuel, in verse; by Monsieur Siihouette, in prose, 1737; and since by others in French, Italian, and Latin.
+ As Mr. Wycherley, at the time the town declaimed against bis took of poems; Mr. Walsh, after his death; Sir William Trumbail, VOL. II, N
writers so notorious for the contrary practice, became no man so well as himself; as none, it is plain, was so littie in tlu'ir friendships, or so much in that of those w hom they had most abused; namely, the greatest and best of all parties. Let me add a turthi*:- reason, that, though engaged in their friendships, he never espoused their animosities; and can almost singly challenge this honour, not to have writtc-n a line of any man which, through guilt, through shame, or through fear, through variety of fortune, or change of interests, he was ever unwilling to own.
1 shall conclude with remarking, what a pleasure it must be to every reader of humanity to see alt along 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) velustis dare novitatem, obsoletis nitorem, obscuris lucent, fastiditis gratiam.
I am your most humble servant,
St. James's, WILLIAM CLELANB.'
Dec. 22, 1728.
•when he had resigned the office of secretary of state; Lord Rolingbro'te, at his leaving England, after the Queen's death;. Lord Oiford, 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.
* This gentleman was of Scotland, and bred at the university of Utrecht with the Earl of Mar. lie served in Spain under Earl Hivers. After the peace, he was made one of the commissioners cf the customs in Scotland, and then of taxes in England; in which having shewn himself for twenty years diligent, punctual, and inconuutible (though without any other assistance of fortune), he wis suddenly displaced by the minister, in the sixty eighth year of Ins age, and died two months after, in 1741. lie Mas 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: and yet, for all this, the public would never believe him to be thu author of this Letter.
HIS PROLEGOMENA AND ILLUSTRATIONS
WITH THE HYl'ERCRITICS OF ARISTARCHUS.
Dennis, litinarks 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 arc made. It is true, it may 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 he too late) to decline that for which tbev are so very unfit, and to have recourse to something in which they may be more successful. Cliaructer of Mr. 1'. 1716.
The persons whom Boileau has attacked in his
writings, have been for the most part authors, and
most of those authors poets; and tire censures 'ie hath
passed upon tliem have been continued by 'iil i'j.irope.
Gildon, Preface to his Nero Rehearsal.
It is the common cry of the poetasters of the town, and their fatitors, tuat it is an ill-natured thing to expose the pretenders to w it and poetry. The judges and magistrates may with full as good reason be reproached with ill-nature for uutting the laws m 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 (omist, June 11, 1723. , Attacks may be levelled either against failures in genius, or agiuosr the pretensions of writing without one. Concanen, Ded. to the Author of the Dunciad. A Satire upon dillness is a thing that has been used and allowed in all ages.
Out of thine own mouth zcill I judge thee, wicked Scribbler!
TESTIMONIES OF AUTHORS
OUR Poet And His Works.
M. Scriblerus Lectori S. Before we present thee with our exercitations 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 editors, collect the various judgments of the learned concerning our poet; various, indeed, not only of different authors, but of the same author at different seasons. Nor shall we gather only the testimonies of such eminent wits as would of course descend to posterity, and consequently be read without our collection; but we shall likewise, with incredible labour, seek out for divers others, which, but for this our diligence, could never, at the distance of a few month=, appear to the eye of the most curious. Hereby thou mavst not only receive the delectation of variety, but also awive at a more certain judgment, 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 httle concern, peradventure, to thee, and some of as little even to him, I intrcat thee to consider how minutely all true critics and commentators are wont to insist upon such, and how material they seem to themselves, if to none other. Forgive ine, gentle reader, if (following learned example) I, ever and anon, become tedious; allow me to take the same pains to find whether any author were good or bad, well or ill-natured, modest or arrogant, as another whether his author was fair or brown, short or tall, or whether he wore a coat or a cassock.
We purposed to begin with his hte, parentage, and education; but as to these even his contemporaries do exceedingly differ. One saith * he was educated at home; anotherf,' that he was bred at St. Ouier's by Jesuits; a third!, not at St. Omer'y, but at Oxford; a fourth ||, that he had no university education at all. Those who allow him to be bred at home differ as much concerning his tutor: one saith § he was kept by his father on purpose; a second^, that he was an itinerant priest; a third**, that he was a parson: one ft calleth him a secular clergyman of the Church of Rome; another Jj, a monk. As little do they agree about his father, whum one |||| supposctli, like the father of Hesiod, a tradesman or merchant; anothcr§§, a husbandman; another ^pf, a hatter. &c. Nor has an author been wanting to give our poet such a father as Apuleius hath to Plato, Jamblicus to Pythagoras, and divers to Homer, namely, a daemon: for thus Mr. Gildon ***, " Certain it is, that his original is not from Adam, but the devil; and that he wantcth nothing but horns and tail to be the exact resemblance of his infernal father." Finding, therefore, such contrariety of opinions, and (whatever be ours of this sort of generation) not being fond to enter into controversy, we shall defer writing the Lite of our poet till authors can determine amon" themselves what parents or education he had, or whether he had any education or parents at all.
* Giles Jacob's Lives of the Poets, vol. ii. in his life.
t Dennis's Reflections on the Essay on Criticism, p. 4,
* Dunciad Dissected, p. 4. || Guardian, 'No.40.
$ Jacob's Lives, &c. vol. ii. IT Dunciad Dissected, p. 4.
** Farmer P. and Ins son. tt DunciadDtS ected.
Jt Character of the Times, p. 45. [!j| Female Dunciad, p. ult.
§5 Dun'iad Dissected, fit Roome, Paraphrase on the
4th of Genesis, printed 1729
»** Character of .|h'- P. :md his wtitings, in a letter to a friend, printed for S. Poppin., 171(5, p. 10. Curl, in his Key to the Dunciad, (lirst edit, said to be printed for A. Dodd) in tue tenth page, declared Gildon to be author of that libel; .housrh, iu the suhse-, quent editions of liis Key, he left out V is assertion, and nlfirmed (in the Cuxliad, p. 4 and 8) that it was written by Dennis only.