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And at pre
herent in my constitution, and that I have nothing for it but patience *.
As to your advice about writing Panegyric, 'tis what I have not frequently done. I have indeed done it sometimes against my judgment and inclinations, and I heartily repent of it. fent, as I have no desire of reward, and see no just reason of praise, I think I had better let it alone. There are fatterers good enough to be found, and I would not interfere in any Gentleman's profesfion. I have seen no verses upon these sublime occafions ; so that I have no emulation : Let the patrons enjoy the authors, and the authors their patrons, for I know myself unworthy.
I am, &c.
LET TER XXV.
Mr. CLELAND to Mr. Gart.
Decemb. 16, 1731. Am astonishid at the complaints occafion'd by
a late Epistle to the Earl of Burlington ; and I should be afflicted were there the least just ground for them. Had the writer attack'd Vice, at a time when it is not only tolerated but triumphant, and so far from being conceal'd as a Defect, that it is proclaimed with ostentation as a Merit; I should have been apprehenfive of the consequence: Had he fatyrized Gamefters of a hundred thousand pounds fortune, acquir'd by such methods as are in daily practice, and almost universally encouraged:
* Mr! Gay died the November following at the Duke of Queensberry's houfe in London, aged 46 years.
t This was written by the same hand chat wrote the Letter to the Publisher, prefixed to the Dunciad,
had he overwarmly defended the Religion of his country, against such books as come from every press, are publicly vended in every shop, and greedily bought by almost every rank of men ; or had he called our excellent weekly writers by the fame names which they openly bestow on the greatest men in the Ministry, and out of the Ministry, for which they are all unpunished, and most rewarded : In any of these cases, indeed, I might have judged him too presumptuous, and perhaps have trembled for his rashness.
I could not but hope better for this small and modest Epistle, which attacks no one Vice whatsoever; which deals only in Folly, and not Folly in general, but a single species of it; the only branch, for the opposite excellency to which, the Noble Lord to whom it is written must necessarily be ce Jebrated. I fancied it might escape censure, especially sceing how tenderly thefe Follies are treated, and really less accused than apologized for,
Yet hence the Poor are cloath'd, the Hungry fed,
The Lab'rer bears.
But, they say, the fatire is personal. I thought it could not be To, because all its reflections are on things. His reflections are not on the man, but his house, garden, &c. Nay, he respects (as one may say) the Persons of the Gladiator, the Nile, and the Triton: he is only forry to see them (as he might be to see any of his friends) ridiculous by being in the wrong place, and in bad company. Some fancy, that to say, a thing is Personal, is the fame as to say, it is Injust, not considering, that nothing can be Just that is not personal. I am afraid that “ all such writings and discourses as “ touch no man, will mend no man.” The goodnatured, indeed, are apt to be alarmed at any thing like fatire; and the guilty readily concur with the weak for a plain reason, because the vicious look upon folly as their frontier :
Jam proximus ardet Ucalegon. No wonder those who know ridicule belongs to them, find an inward confolation in removing it from themfelves as far as they can; and it is never so far, as when they can get it fixed on the best characters. No wonder those who are Food for Satirists should rail at them as creatures of prey; every beast born for our use would be ready to call a man fo.
I know no remedy, unless people in our age would as little frequent the theatres, as they begin to do the churches; unlefs comedy were forfaken, fatire filent, and every man left to do what seems good in his own eyes, as if there were no King, no Priest, no Poet, in Israel.
But I find myself obliged to touch a point, on which I must be more serious; it well deserves I should : I mean the malicious application of the character of Timon, which, I will boldly say, they would im
pute to the person the most different in the world from a Man-hater, to the person whose taste and encouragement of wit have often been shewn in the rightest place. The author of that epistle must certainly think so, if he has the same opinion of his own merit as authors generally have; for he has been distinguished by this very person.
Why, in God's name, must a Portrait, apparently collected from twenty different men, be applied to one only? Has it his eye? no, it is very unlike. Has it his nose or mouth? no, they are totally differing. What then, I beseech you? Why, it has the mole on his, chin. Very well; but muft the picture therefore be his, and has no other man that blemish?
Could there be a more melancholy instance how much the taste of the public is vitiated, and turns the most salutary and seasonable physic into poison, than if amidst the blaze of a thousand bright qualities in a great man, they should only remark there is a shadow about him; as what éminence is without? I am confident the author was incapable of imputing any such to one, whose whole life (to use his own expression in print of him) is a continued feries of good and generous actions.
I know no man who would be more concerned, if he gave the least pain or offence to any innocent person; and none who would be less concerned, if the fatire were challenged by any one at whom he would really aim at. If ever that happens, I dare engage, he will own it, with all the freedom of one whose censures are just, and who fets his name to them
To the Earl of BURLINGTON.
March 7, 1731.
HE clamour rais'd about my Epistle to you,
could not give me so much pain, as I receiv'd pleasure in seeing the general zeal of the world in the cause of a Great man who is beneficent, and the particular warmth of your Lordship in that of a private man who is innocent.
It was not the Poem that deserv'd this from you; for as I had the honour to be your Friend, I could 'not treat you quite like a Poet: but sure the writer deserv'd more candour, even from those who knew him not, than to promote a report, which in regard to that noble person, was impertinent ; in regard to me, villainous. Yet I had no great cause to wonder, that a character belonging to twenty should be applied to one; fince, by that means, nineteen would escape the ridicule.
I was too well content with my knowledge of that noble person's opinion in this affair, to trouble the public abos it. But since Malice and Mistake are so long a dying, I have taken the opportunity of a third edition to declare his belief, not only of my innocence, but their malignity; of the former of which my own heart is as conscious, as,
I fear, some of theirs must be of the latter., His humanity feels a concern for the Injury done to me, while his greatness of mind can bear with indifference the insult offered to himself *.
Alludes to the letter the Duke of Czwrote to Mr. Pope on this occasion.