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Sir WILLIAM TRUMBULL
Mr STEELE, Mr ADDISON, and
HAVE this moment receiv'd the Favour of your's of the 8th Instant; and will make you a true Excuse, tho' perhaps no very good one) that I deferr’d the troubling you with a Letter,
when I sent back your Papers, in hopes of seeing you at Binfield before this time. "If I had met with any Fault in your performance, I should freely now (as I have done too presumptuously in conversation with you) tell you my Opinion; which I have frequently ventur'd to give you, rather in com- . pliance with your Defires, than that I could think
* Secretary of State to King Willum the Third,
it reasonable.' For I am not yet fatisfy'd upon what Grounds I can pretend to judge of Poetry, who never have been practis'd in the Art. There may poffibly be some happy Genius's, who may judge of fome of the natural Beauties of a Poem, as a Man may of the Proportions of a Building, without having read Vitruvius, or knowing any thing of the Rules of Architecture : But this, tho' it may sometimes be in the right, must be subject to many Mistakes, and is certainly but a superficial Knowledge ; without entring into the Art, the Methods, and the partitular Excellencies of the whole Composure, in all the parts of it.
Besides my want of Skill, I have another Reason why I ought to suspect myself, by reafon of the great Affection I have for you, which might give too much biass, to be kind to every thing that comes from you ; but after all, I must say (and I do it with an old-fashion'd Sincerity) that I entirely approve of your Translation of those pieces of Homer, both as to the Versification and the true Senfe that Chines thro' the whole ; nay, I am confirm'd in my former Application to you, and give me leave to renew it upon this occasion, that you wou'd proceed in translating that incomparable Poet, to make him speak good English, to dress his admirable Characters in your proper, fignificant, and expreffive Con ceptions, and to make his Works as useful and instructive to this degenerate Age, as he was to our Friend Horace, when he read him at Præneste, Qui, quid fit pulchrum, quid turpe, quid utile, quid non, &c. I break off with that quid non ?-with which I confess I am charm'd.
Upon the whole matter, I entreat you to send this presently to be added to the Miscellanies, and I hope it will come time enough for that purpose.
I have nothing to say of my Nephew B's Observations, for he sent them to me fo late, that I had
not time to consider them; I dare fay he endeavour’d very faithfully (tho' he told me very hastily) to execute your Commands.
All I can add, is, that if your Excess of Modesty. fhou'd hinder you from publishing this Essay, I shall only be forry that I have no more Credit with, you, to persuade you to oblige the Public, and very particularly, dear Sir,
Your most faithful, April 9, 1708.
Mr POPE to the Hon. J. C. Esa;
JUNE 15, 1711.. I SEND you Dennis's Remarks on the * Ejay,
which equally abound in just Criticisms and fine Railleries: The few Observations in my hand in the Margins, are what a Morning's Leisure permitted me to make, purely for your Perusal. For I am. of opinion, that such a Critic as you will find him. by the latter part of his Book, is but one way to be properly answer'd ; and that way I wou'd not take after what he informs me in his Preface, that he is at this time persecuted by Fortune. This I knew not before ; if I had, his Name had been spar'd in. the Ejay, for that only Reason. I can't conceive whạt Ground he has for so excessive a Resentment; nor imagine how those f three Lines can be call'd a: Reflection on his Person, which only describe him.
* On Criticism.
And ftares tremendous with a threatning Eye,
subject a little to Anger on some Occasions. I have Heard of Combatants fo very furious, as to fall down themselves with that very Blow which they defign'd to lay heavy on thcir Antagonists. But if Mr Dennis's Rage proceeds only from a Zeal to discourage young and unexperienc'd Writers from fcribbling, he shou'd frighten us with his Verse not Profe: For I have often known, that when all the Precepts in the World would not reclaim a Sinner, some very fad Example has done the Bufiness *. Yet to give this Man his due, he has objected to one or two Lines with Reason, and I will alter 'em in Case of another Edition ; I will make my Enemy do me a Kindness where he meant an Injury, and fo ferve inftead of a Friend. What he obferves at the Bottom of Page 20th of his Reflections, was objected to by yourself, and had been mended but for the Hafte of the Press: 'Tis right Hibernian, and I confess it what the English call a Bull in the Expreffion, though the Sense be manifest enough: Mr Dennis's Bulls are seldom in the Expression, they are always in the Sense.
I shall certainly never make the least Reply to him, not only because you advise me, but because I have ever been of Opinion, that if a Book can't answer for itself to the Public, 'tis to no fort of Purpose for it's. Author to do it. If I am wrong in any Sentiment of that Ejay, I protest sincerely, I don't desire all the World should be deceivod (which wou'd be of very ill Consequence) meerly that I myself may be thought right (which is of very litile Consequence). I'd be the first to recant, for the Benefit of others, and the Glory of myself; for (as I take it) when a Mån owns himself to have. been in an Error, he does but tell you in 'other Words, that he is wiser than he was. But I have
* This Thought we find afterwards put into Verse in the Dunciad, Book I.