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The face of Nature we no more survey,
gay: But true Expression, like th' unchanging Sun, 315 Clears and improves whate’er it shines
upon, It gilds all objects, but it alters none. Expression is the dress of thought, and still Appears more decent, as more suitable; A vile conceit in pompous words express’d 320 Is like a clown in regal purple dress'd ; For diff'rent styles with diff'rent subjects fort, As sev'ral garbs with country, town, and court. Some by old words to fame have made pretence, Ancients in phrase, meer moderns in their sense ;
Such NOTES. an army, says Algarotti, confifts in well-disciplined men, not in a number of camels, elephants, fcythed chariots, and Afiatie encumbrances. Among many excellencies, this is the chief blemish of the Rambler; every object, every subject, is treated with an equal degree of dignity; he never softens and subdues his tints, but paints and adorns every image which he touches, with perpetual pomp, and unremitted splendor.
VER. 324. Some by old words, &c.] “ Abolita et abrogata retinere, insolentiae cujufdam eft, et frivolae in parvis jactantiae." Quint. lib. i. c. 6.
P. « Opus est, ut verba à vetuftate repetita neque crebra fint, neque manifesta, quia nil est odiosius affectatione, nec utique ab ultimis repetita temporibus. Oratio cujus fumma virtus eft perspicuitas quam fit vitiofa, fi egeat interprete? Ergo ut novorum optima erunt maxime vetera, ita veterum maxime nova.” Idem. P.
Quintilian's advice on this subject is as follows: “ Cum fint autem verba propria, fieta, translata; propriis dignitatem dat antiquitas. Namque et sanctiorem, et magis admirabilem reddunt orationem, quibus non quilibet fuit usurus : eoque ornamento acerrimi judicii Virgilius unice eft ufus. Olli enim, et quianam, et mis, et pone, pellucent, et afpergunt illam, quae etiam in
Such labour'd nothings, in so strange a style, 326
NOTES. picturis eft gratiffima, vetustatis inimitabilem arti auctoritatem. Sed utendum modo, nec ex ultimis tenebris repetenda."
“ The language of the age (says Mr. Gray, admirably well,) is never the language of poetry ; except among the French, whose verse, where the thought or image does not support it, differs in nothing from profe. Our poetry, on the contrary, has a language peculiar to itself; to which almost every one that has written, has added something by enriching it with foreign idioms and derivatives: nay, sometimes words of their own compofitions or invention. Shakespeare and Milton have been great creators this
way ; and no one more licentious than Pope or Dryden, who perpetually borrow expressions from the former. Let me give you fome instances from Dryden, whom every body reckons a great master of our poetical tongue. Full of museful mopings-unlike the trim of love,-a pleasant beverage,-aroundelay of love,-stood filent in his mood, with knots and knayes deformed, hisireful mood, in proud array,--his boon was granted,--and disarray and shameful rout,-wayward but wife,-furbished for the field,--the foiled dodderd oaks, disherited,--smouldring flames,-retchless of laws, crones old and ugly,--the beldam at his side,-the grandam hag, villanize his father's fame. --But they are infinite; and our language not being a settled thing, (like the French), has an undoubted right to words of an hundred years old, provided antiquity have not rendered them unintelligible. In truth, Shakespeare's language is one of his principal beauties; and he has no less advantage over your Addisons and Rowes in this, than in those great excellencies you mention. Every word in him is a picture. Pray put me in the following lines, into the tongue of our modern dramatics."
VER. 328. Unlucky, as Fungofo, &c.] See Ben. Jonson's Every Man out of his Humour.
And but so mimic ancient wits at best,
But most by Numbers judge a Poet's song,
340 Who haunt Parnafsus but to please their ear, Not mend their minds; as fome to church repair, Not for the doctrine, but the music there. These equal fyllables alone require, Tho' oft the ear the open vowels tire;
345 While expletives their feeble aid do join; And ten low words oft creep in one dull line:
Quis populi fermo eit? quis enim ? nifi carmine molli
Pers. Sat. i. P. Ver. 345. Tho' oft the ear, &c.] “ Fugiemus crebras vocalium concurfiones, quae vastam atque hiantem orationem reddunt.” Cic ad Heren. lib. iv. Vide etiam Quintil. lib. ix. c. 4. P.
** Non tamen (says the sensible Quintilian) id ut crimen ingens expăvescendum eft ; ac nescio negligentia in hoc, an folicitudo fit major; nimiosque non immeritò in hâc curâ putant omnes Isocratem fecutos, præcipuèque Theopompum. At Demosthenes & Cicero modicè refpexerunt ad hanc partem.” Quintil. lib. ix.
While they ring round the same unvary'd chimes, With fure returns of still expected rhymes; 349 Where-e'er
you find “ the cooling western breeze, In the next line, it " whispers through the trees :" If crystal streams “ with pleasing murmurs creep," The reader's threaten'd (not in vain) with “ sleep :" Then, at the last and only couplet fraught With some unmeaning thing they call a thought, A needlefs Alexandrine ends the song, That, like a wounded snake, drags its low length
along. Leave fuch to tune their own dull rhymes, and know What's roundly smooth, or languishingly flow; And praise the easy vigour of a line, Where Denham's strength, and Waller's sweetness join.
NOTES. Ver. 347. Ten low words] Our language is thought to be overloaded with monosyllables ; Shaftesbury, we are told, limited their number to nine in any sentence; Quintilian condemns too great a concourse of them; etiam monofyllaba, fi plura funt, malè continuabuntur; quia neceffe eft compofitio, multis claufulis concisa, subfultet. Inft. lib. ix. C. 4.
Ver. 360. And praise the easy vigour ] Fenton, in his entertaining observations on Waller, has given us a curious anecdote concerning
the I MITATIONS. VER. 346. Where expletives their feeble aid do join,
And ten low words oft creep in one dull line :] From Dryden. “ He creeps along with ten little words in every line, and helps out his numbers with [for] (to) and (unto ] land all the pretty expletives he can find, while the fenfe is left half tired behind it.” Eflay on Dram. Poetry.
But there are many lines of monofyllables that have much force and energy; in our author himself, as well as Dryden.
True ease in writing comes from art, not chance,
NOTES. the great industry and exactness with which Waller polished even his smallest compofitions. “ When the court was at Windsor, these verses were writ in the Taffo of her Royal Highness, at Mr. Waller's request, by the late Duke of Buckinghamshire; and I
well remember to have heard his Grace say, that the author employed the greatest part of a summer in compoling and correcting them.” So that, however he is generally reputed the parent of those swarms of infect wits, who affect to be thought easy writers, it is evident that he beltowed much time and care on his poems, before he ventured them out of his hands.
Ver. 361. Denham's strength,] Sufficient justice is not done to Sandys, who did more to polish and tune the English versification, by his Pfalms and his Job, than those two writers, who are usually applauded on this subject.
VER. 362. True ease] Writers who seem to have composed with the greatelt ease, have exerted much labour in attaining this facility. Virgil took more pains than Lucan, though the style of the former appears so natural; and Guarini and Ariolto spent much time in making their poems so seemingly natural and easy. Even Voiture wrote with extreme difficulty, though apparently without
any effort; what Taffo says of one of his heroines may be applied to such writers ;
“ Non fo ben dire s'adorna, o se negletta,
Se caso, od arte, il bel volto compose,
Le negligenze sue fono artifici." It is well known, that the writings of Voiture, of Saraffin, and La Fontaine, were laboured into that facility for which they are so famous, with repeated alterations and many rasures. Moliere is reported to have past whole days, in fixing upon a proper epithet or rhyme, although his verfes have all the flow and freedom of conversation. “ This happy facility (faid a man of wit) may be compared to garden-terraces, the expence of which does not appear; and which, after the cost of several millions, yet feem to be a mere work of chance and nature.” I have been informed, that Addison was so extremely nice in polithing his profe compositions, that when almost a whole impression of a spectator was worked off, he would Atop the prefs, to insert a new preposition or conjunction.