Abbildungen der Seite


place, and presence, in which it was propagated"; that I shall only say, it seemed to me to exceed the bounds of justice, common sense, and decency.

I wonder yet more, how a Lady of great wit, beauty, and fame, for her poetry (between whom and your Lordship there is a natural, a just, and a well-grounded esteem,) could be prevailed upon to take a part in that proceeding. Your resentments against me indeed might be equal, as my offence to you both was the same; for neither had I the least misunderstanding with that Lady, till after I was the Author of my own misfortune in discontinuing her acquaint

I may venture to own a truth, which cannot be unpleasing to either of you; I assure you my reason for so doing, was merely that you had both too much wit for me; and that I could not do with mine, many things which you could with yours. The injury done you in withdrawing myself could be but small, if the value you had for me was no greater than you have been pleased since to profess. But surely, my Lord, one may say, neither the Revenge, nor the Language you held, bore any proportion to the pretended offence: The appellation of Foe to humankind, an Enemy like the Devil to all that have Being ; ungrateful, unjust, deserving to be whipt, blanketed, kicked, nay killed : a Monster, an Assassin, , whose conversation every man ought to shun, and

s It was for this reason that this Letter, as soon as it was printed, was communicated to the Queen. • Once, and but once, his heedless youth was bit, And lik'd that dang’rous thing a female Wit.

See the Letter to Dr. ARBUTH NOT, amongst the Variations. See the aforesaid Verses to the Imitator of Horace.

with you

against whom all doors should be shut; I beseech you, my Lord, had you the least right to give, or to encourage or justify any other in giving such language as this to me? Could I be treated in terms more strong or more atrocious, if during my acquaintance

I had been a Betrayer, a Backbiter, a Whisperer, an Eaves-dropper, or an Informer? Did I in all that time ever throw a false Die, or palm a foul Card upon you? Did I ever borrow, steal, or accept, either Moncy, Wit, or Advice, from you? Had I ever the honour to join with either of you in one Ballad, Satire, Pamphlet, or Epigram, or any person living or dead? Did I ever do you so great an injury as to put off my own verses for yours, especially on those Persons whom they might most offend? I am confident

you cannot answer in the affirmative: and I can truly affirm, that ever since I lost the happiness of your conversation, I have not published or written one syllable of or to either of you ; never hitched your names in a Verse, or trifled with your good names in company. Can I be honestly charged with any other crime but an Omission (for the word Neglect, which I used before, slipped my pen unguardedly) to continue my admiration of you all my life, and still to contemplate, face to face, your many excellences and perfections ? I am persuaded you can reproach me truly with no great Faults, except my natural ones, which I am as ready to own, as to do all justice to the contrary Beauties in you. It is true, my Lord, I am short, not well shaped, generally ill-dressed, if not sometimes dirty : Your Lordship and Ladyship are still in bloom; your figures such, as rival the

Apollo of Belvedere, and the Venus of Medicis; and your

faces so finished, that neither sickness or passion can deprive them of Colour ; I will allow your own in particular to be the finest that ever Man was blest with : preserve it, my Lord, and reflect, that to be a Critic, would cost it too many frowns, and to be a Statesman, too many wrinkles ! I farther confess, I am now somewhat old; but so your Lordship and this excellent Lady, with all your beauty, will (I hope) one day be. I know your Genius and hers so perfectly tally, that you cannot but join in admiring each other, and by consequence in the contempt of all such as myself. You have both, in my regard, been like-(your Lordship, I know, loves a Simile, and it will be one suitable to your Quality)- you have been like Two Princes, and I like a poor Animal sacrificed between them to cement a lasting league: I hope I have not bled in vain ; but that such an amity may endure for ever! For though it be what common understandings would hardly conceive, Two Wits however may be persuaded, that it is in friendship as in enmity, The more danger the more honour.

Give me the liberty, my Lord, to tell you, why I never replied to those Verses on the Imitator of Horace? They regarded nothing but my Figure, which I set no value upon; and my Morals, which, I knew, needed no defence : Any honest man has the pleasure to be conscious, that it is out of the power of the Wittiest, nay the Greatest Person in the kingdom, to lessen him that way, but at the expense of his own Truth, Honour, or justice.

But though I declined to explain myself just at the

who was

time when I was sillily threatened, I shall now give your Lordship a frank account of the offence you imagined to be meant to you. Fanny (my Lord) is the plain English of Fannius, a real

person, a foolish Critic, and an enemy of Horace: perhaps a Noble one, so (if your Latin be gone in earnesto) I must acquaint you, the word Beatus may be construed;

Beatus Fannius! ultro

Delatis capsis et imagine. This Fannius was, it seems, extremely fond both of his Poetry and his Person, which appears by the pictures and Statues he caused to be made of himself, and by his great diligence to propagate bad Verses at Court, and get them admitted into the library of Augustus. He was moreover of a delicate or effeminate complexion, and constant at the Assemblies and Operas of those days, where he took it into his head to poor Horace;

Ineptus Fannius, Hermogenis lædat convivå Tigelli; till it provoked him at last just to name him, give him a lash, and send him whimpering to the Ladies.

Discipularum inter jubeo plorare cathedras. So much for Fanny, my Lord. The word spins (as Dr. Freind or even Dr. Sherwin could assure you), was the literal translation of deduci; a metaphor taken from a Silk-worm, my Lord, to signify any slight, silken, or (as your Lordship and the Ladies call it) flimsypiece of work. I presume your Lordship has

All I learn'd from Dr. Freind at school,
Has quite deserted this poor John Trot-head,
And left plain native English in its stead.--Epist. p. 2.

. Weak texture of his flimsy brain.

slander poor


enough of this, to convince you there was nothing personal but to that Fannius, who (with all his fine accomplishments) had never been heard of, but for that Horace he injured.

In regard to the right honourable Lady, your Lordship's friend, I was far from designing a person of her condition by a name so derogatory to her, as that of Sappho; a name prostituted to every infamous Creature that ever wrote Verse or Novels. I protest I never applied that name to her in any verse of mine, public or private; (and I firmly believe) not in any Letter or Conversation. Whoever could invent a Falsehood to support an accusation, I pity; and whoever can believe such a Character to be theirs, I pity still more. God forbid the Court or Town should have the complaisance to join in that opinion ! Certainly I meant it only of such modern Sapphos, as imitate much more the Lewdness than the Genius of the ancient one ; and upon whom their wretched brethren frequently bestow both the Name and the Qualification there mentioned'.

There was another reason why I was silent as to that paper-I took it for a Lady's (on the printer's word in the title page), and thought it too presuming, as well as indecent, to contend with one of that Sex in altercation: For I never was so mean a creature as to commit my Anger against a Lady to paper, though but in a private Letter. But soon after, her denial of it was brought to me by a Noble

'From furious Sappho scarce a milder fate,
Pox'd by her love, or libell’d by her hate.

1 Sat. B. ii. Hor,

[blocks in formation]
« ZurückWeiter »