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Does not one table Bavius still admit?
than all. Of all mad creatures, if the learn'd are right, 105 It is the slaver kills, and not the bite. A fool quite angry is quite innocent: Alas ! 'tis ten times worse when they repent.
One dedicates in high heroic prose, And ridicules beyond a hundred foes : 110 One from all Grub-street will my fame defend, And, more abusive, calls himself my friend. This prints my letters, that expects a bribe, And others roar aloud, Subscribe, subscribe !
100 Still to one bishop. Pope here glances at bishop Boulter, the friend of Ambrose Philips, whose poetic powers Pope held in something between awe and contempt. Boulter rose from a suburb living in London to the primacy of Ireland : a man of amiable manners, but thrown into an unfortunate time, and an unfortunate country for their display. His life was spent in feeble attempts to raise the Irish church, and put down Irish faction: in both he failed.
103 I too could write. Arbuthnot was acknowleged, among the wits themselves, to be the wittiest; but he was the wisest too. In one of his letters to Swift, in 1732, he says,—Thank God, he has not taken from me the freedom I have been accustomed to use in my disconrse, even with the greatest persons to whom I have access, in defending the cause of liberty, virtue, and religion : for the last, I have the satisfaction of suffering some of the ignominy that belonged to its first professors. This has been my lot, from a steady resolution 1 have taken, of giving those ignorant fellows (Boling. broke, &c.) battle on all occasions.'
There are, who to my person pay their court: 115 I cough like Horace; and, though lean, am short: Ammon's great son one shoulder had too high; Such Ovid's nose; and, “Sir, you have an eye! Go on, obliging creatures; make me see All that disgraced my betters met in me. 120 Say for my comfort, languishing in bed, • Just so immortal Maro held his head :' And when I die, be sure you let me know. Great Homer died three thousand years ago.
Why did I write? what sin to me unknown 125 Dipp'd me in ink? my parents', or my own? As yet a child, nor yet a fool to fame, I lisp'd in numbers, for the numbers came. I left no calling for this idle trade, No duty broke, no father disobey'd. The Muse but served to ease some friend, not
wife, To help me through this long disease, my life; To second, Arbuthnot! thy art and care; And teach, the being you preserved, to bear. A. But why then publish? P. Granville the . polite,
135 And knowing Walsh, would tell me I could write; Well-natured Garth inflamed with early praise, And Congreve loved, and Swift endured my lays; The courtly Talbot, Somers, Sheffield, read; Ev'n mitred Rochester would nod the head; 140
139 Talbot, 8c. All these were patrons or admirers of Mr. Dryden ; though a scandalous libel against him, intitled, • Dryden's Satire to his Muse,' has been printed in the name of lord Somers, of which he was wholly ignorant.-Pope.
140 Ev’n mitred Rochester would nod the head. Atterbury's known gesture when he was pleased.
And St. John's self, great Dryden's friends before,
Soft were my numbers; who could take offence,
146 Not from the Burnets, 8c. Pope's propensity to sarcasm naturally involved him in conflict. Those obscure writers were generally men laboring for their bread, and with neither time nor talents to court a war with a writer of his acknowleged severity. But if they dared not attack, and were unable to defend, they could bitterly retaliate : they thenceforth painfully occupied his thoughts; and the · Dunciad' itself is scarcely more a monument of his powers than of their revenge.
151 Yet then did Gildon. Gildon was born at the village of Gillingham, near Shaftesbury, in Dorsetshire. He was sent to Douay, to the English college of secular priests there, to be made a priest; but came to London, spent his property, and endeavored to repair his fortune by writing abusive pamphlets.-Pope.
153 Yet then did Dennis rave. Dennis was to Pope, what Freron was to Voltaire, the perpetual object of hostility, evidently not unmingled with a sense of his powers to sting. Dennis himself was an example of the utter uselessness of learning, talents, and fortune, to an irritable temper. A successful dramatist, he quarrelled with the stage ; a forcible political writer, he became hazardous to his party; and beginning the world with a competent income left to him by a relative, his carelessness melted it away, until his last refuge from poverty
If want provoked, or madness made them print,
Did some more sober critic come abroad;
was an obscure place in the Customs. A large portion of his misfortunes arose from the bitterness of his criticism, the more offensive from its general truth, and its total disregard of the position of the writer whom he assailed. He attacked Addison's Cato,' when the author and the play were at the height of popular favor, and attacked it with a strength of criticism which made the offence irreparable. On Pope he retorted with alternate scorn and fury; and thus stored up for himself all the wrath of vindictive poetry. But if his folly laid him open to assault, his vigor never sbrank from the contest, nor his sarcasm failed to give deadly blows. Pope's • Narrative of the Frenzy of John Dennis' is an evidence of the pain which those blows could infict; and he must have felt when Dennis died, in 1733, that if he had lost his most contemptible rival, he was not less relieved from his most formidable enemy.
164 Slashing Bentley. Pope's known disgust to Bentley is said to have arisen from a remark on his translation of Homer, that the verses were good verses; but the work was not Homer, but Spondanus. A more probable and a more justifiable source of this disgust is to be found in the insolent language of Bentley on all subjects of criticism. His sense of superiority was unrestrainable ; and between an arrogant value for his personal attainments, and an angry contempt for those of all others, he contrived to sow his path with thorns to the end of his life. Involved in literary quarrel when he was not involved in law, and often involved in both at the same time, he gives equally to scholars and men of the world an example of the necessity of moderation. As a classical com
Each wight who reads not, and but scans and spells,
165 Each word-catcher that lives on syllables, Ev'n such small critics some regard may claim, Preserved in Milton's or in Shakspeare's name. Pretty! in amber to observe the forms Of hairs, or straws, or dirt, or grubs, or worms! 170 The things, we know, are neither rich nor rare, But wonder how the devil they got there.
Were others angry, I excused them too : Well might they rage; I gave them but their
due. A man's true merit 'tis not hard to find; 175 But each man's secret standard in his mind, That casting-weight pride adds to emptiness, This, who can gratify? for who can guess? The bard whom pilfer'd pastorals renown, Who turns a Persian tale for half a crown, 180 Just writes to make his barrenness appear, And strains, from hard-bound brains, eight lines
a year; mentator, Bentley possessed a high rank in his day; but his unfortunate edition of Milton shows how deplorably a critic may overrate his own powers, and how total an absence of true taste is compatible with classical fame.
Bentley's Milton was long a matter of burlesque. Bowles gives the following epigram by Pope, on this extraordinary performance :
Did Milton's prose, O Charles ! thy death defend ?
The murderous critic has avenged thy murder. 180 A Persian tale. Ambrose Philips translated a book called the Persian Tales.'-Pope.