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nothing but their wits and their writings ; and if they are plundered of the latter, I don't see what good the former can do them. To pirate, and publicly own it, to prefix their names to the works they steal, to own and avow the theft, I believe, was never yet heard of but in England. It will sound oddly to posterity, that, in a polite nation, in an enlightened age, under the direction of the most wise, most learned, and most generous encouragers of knowledge in the world, the property of a mechanic should be better secured than that of a scholar! that the poorest manual operations should be more valued than the noblest products of the brain ! that it should be felony to rob a cobbler of a pair of shoes, and no crime to deprive the best author of his whole subsistence; that nothing should make a man a sure title to his own writings but the stupidity of them! that the works of Dryden should meet with less encouragement than those of his own Flecknoe, or Blackmore! that Tillotson and St. George, Tom Thumb and Temple, should be set on an equal foot! This is the reason why this been so long delayed; and, while the most impudent and scandalous libels are publicly vended by the pirates, this innocent work is forced to steal abroad as if it were a libel.
“ Our present writers are by these wretches reduced to the same condition Virgil was, when the centurion seized on his estate. But I don't doubt but I can fix upon
the Mæcenas of the present age, that will retrieve them from it. But, whatever effect this piracy may have upon us, it contributed very much to the advantage of Mr. Philips; it helped him to a reputation which he neither desired nor expected, and to the honour of being put upon a work of which he did not think himself capable ; but the event showed his modesty. And it was reasonable to hope, that he, who could raise mean subjects so higli, should still be more elevated on greater themes; that he, that could draw such noble ideas from a shilling, could not fail upon such a subject as the duke of Marlborough, which is capable of heightening eren the most low and trifling genius. And, indeed, most of the great works which have been produced in the world have been owing less to the poet than the patron. Men of the greatest genius are sometimes lazy, and want a spur; often modest, and dare not venture in public; they certainly know their faults in the worst things; and even their best things they are not fond of, because the idea of what they ought to be is far above what they are. This induced me to believe, that Virgil desired his works might be burnt, had not the same Augustus, that desired him to write them, preserved them from destruction. A scribbling beau may imagine a poet may be induced to write, by the very pleasure he finds in writing; but that is seldom, when people are necessitated to it. I have knowu men row, and use very hard labour, for diversion, which, if they had been tied to, they would have thought themselves very unhappy.
“ But to return to Blenheim, that work so much admired by some, and censured by others. I have often wished he had wrote it in Latin, that he might be out of the reach of the empty critic, who could have as little understood his meaning in that language, as they do his beauties in his own.
“ False critics have been the plague of all ages ; Milton himself, in a very polite court, has been compared to the rumbling of a wheelbarrow : he had been on the wrong side, and therefore could not be a good poet. And this, perhaps, may be Mr. Philips's
“ But I take generally the ignorance of his readers to be the occasion of their dislike. People that have formed their taste upon the French writers can have no relish for Philips ; they admire points and turns, and consequeutly have no judgment of what is
great and majestic; he must look little in their eyes, when he soars so high as to be almost out of their view. I cannot therefore allow any admirer of the French to be a judge of Blenhein, nor any who takes Bouhours for a complete critic. He generally judges of the ancients by the moderns, and not the moderns by the ancients; he takes those passages of their own authors to be really sublime which come the nearest to it; he often calls that a noble and a great thought which is only a pretty and a fine one: and has more instances of the sublime out of Ovid de Tristibus, than he has out of all Virgil.
“ I shall allow, therefore, only those to be judges of Philips, who make the ancients, and particularly Virgil, their standard.
“ But, before I enter on this subject, I shall consider what is particular in the style of Philips, and examine what ought to be the style of heroic poetry; and next inquire how far he is come up to that style.
“ His style is particular, because he lays aside rhyme, and writes in blank verse, and uses old words, and frequently postpones the adjective to the substantive, and the substantive to the verb; and leaves out little particles, a, and the ; her, and his ; and uses frequent appositions. Now let us examine, whether these alterations of style be conformable to the true sublime."
TO W. BROME, ESQ. OF EWITHINGTON, IN THE COUNTY OF
HEREFORD. SIR, It would be too tedious an undertaking, at this time, to examine the rise and progress of dedications. The use of them is certainly ancient, as appears both from Greek and Latin authors; and we have reason to believe, that it was continued without any interruption till the beginning of this century; at which time, mottos, anagrams, and frontispieces being introduced, dedications were mightily discouraged, and at last abdicated. But to discover precisely when they were restored, and by whom they were first ushered in, is a work that far transcends my knowledge; a work that can justly be expected from no other pen but that of your operose doctor Bentley. Let us therefore at present acquiesce in the dubiousness of their antiquity, and think the autho. rity of the past and present times a sufficient plea for your patronising, and my dedicating, this poem: especially since, in this age, dedications are not only fashionable, but almost necessary; and indeed they are now so much in vogue, that a book without one, is as seldom seen as a bawdy-house without a Practice of Piety, or a poet with money. Upon this account, sir, those who have no friends, dedicate to all good Christians; some to their booksellers ; some, for want of a sublunary patron, to the manes of a departed one. There are, that have dedicated to their whores : God help those henpecked writers, that have been forced to dedicate to their own wives ! But while I talk so much of other men's patrons, I have forgot my own; and seem rather to make an essay on dedications, than to write one. However, sir, I presume you will pardon me for that fault; and perhaps like me the better for saying nothing to the purpose. You, sir, are a person more tender of other men's reputation than your own; and would hear every body commended but yourself. Should I but mention your skill in turning, and the compassion you showed to my fingers' ends when you gave me a tobacco-stopper, you would blush, and be confounded with your just praises. How much more would you, should I tell you what a progress you have made in that abstruse and useful language, the Saxon? Since, therefore, the recital of your excellencies would prove so troublesome, I shall offend your modesty no longer. Give me leave' to speak a word or two concerning the poem, and I have done. This poem, sir, if we consider the moral, the newness of the subject, the variety of images, and the exactness of the similitudes that compose it, must be allowed a piece that was never equalled by the moderns or ancients. The subject of the poem is myself, a subject never yet handled by any poets. How fit to be handled by all, we may learn by those few divine commendatory verses, written by the admirable monsieur Le Bog. Yet since I am the subject, and the poet too, I shall say no more of it, lest I should seem vainglorious. As for the moral, I have taken particular care that it should lie incognito, not like the ancients, who let you know at first sight they design something by their verses. But here you may look a good wliile, and perhaps, after all, find that the poet has no aim or design, which must needs be a diverting surprise to the reader. What shall I say of the similes, that are so full of geography, that you must get a Welshman to understand them ? that so raise our ideas of the things they are applied to ? that are so extraordinarily quaint and well-chosen, that there is nothing like them? So that I think I may, without vanity, say, Avia Pieridum peragro loca, &c. Yet, however excellent this poem is, in the read
will find a vast difference between some parts and others; which proceeds not from your humble servant's negligence, but diet. This poem was begun when he had little victuals, and no money, and was finished when he had the misfortune at a virtuous lady's house to meet with both. But I hope, in time, sir, when hunger and poverty shall once more be my companions, to make amends for the defaults of this poem, by an essay on Minced Pies, which shall be devoted to you with all submission, by,
ing of it
your most obliged,
and humble servant,