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had an Advantage by the publishing that Book of
sets up for Wit in these Days, ought to have the Constancy of a Primitive Christian, and be prepar’d to suffer Martyrdom in the Cause of it. But sure this is the first Time that a Wit was attack'd for his Religion, as you'll find I am most zealously in this Treatise : And you know, Sir, what Alarms I have had from the opposite Side on this Account. Have I not Reafon to cry out, with the poor Fellow in Virgil,
quid jam misero mihi denique restat ! Cui neque apud Danaos usquam locus : insuper ipfi Dardanidæ infenfi poenas cum fanguine poscunt.
'Tis however my Happiness that you, Sir, are impartial,
Jove was alike to Latian and to Phrygian,
well know, that Wit's of no Religion. The manner in which Mr D. takes to pieces several particular Lines, detach'd from their natural Places, may shew how easy it is, to a Caviller, to giye a new Sense, or a new Nonsense, to any Thing.
* See the ensuing Letters.
And indeed his Constructions are not more wrested from the genuine Meaning, than theirs who objected to the heterodox Parts, as they callid 'em.
Our Friend the Abbé is not of that fort, who with the utmost Candour and Freedom, has mom deftly told me what others thought, and shewn himself one (as he very well expreffes it) rather of a Number than a Party. The only Difference between us in Relation to the Monks, is, that he thinks moft forts of Learning flourish'd among 'em, and I am of Opinion, that only fome sort of Learning was barely kept alive by 'em: He believes, that in the most natural and obvious Sense, that Line (4 second Deluge Learning over-run) will be underftood of Learning in general; and I fancy: 'twill be understood only (as 'tis meant) of polite Learn. ing, Criticism, Poetry, &c. which is the only Learning concern’d in the Subject of the Efay. It is true, that the Monks did preferve what Learning there was, about Nicholas the Fifth's Time; but those who succeeded fell into the Depth of Barbarism, or at least stood at a Stay while others rose from thence; insomuch, that even Erasmus and Reuchlin could hardly laugh them out of it. I am highly oblig'd to the Abbe's Zeal in my Commendation, and Goodness in not concealing what he thinks my Error. And his teftifying fome Efteem for the Book, juft at a Time when his Brethren rais'd a Clamour against it, is an Instance of great Generosity and Candour, which I shall ever acknowledge.
To the fame.
June 18, 1711. In your last you inform’d me of the mistaken
Zeal of some People, who seem to make it no less their Business to persuade Men they are erroneods, than Doctors do that they are sick'; only that they may magnify their own Cure, and triumph over an imaginary Distemper. The Simile objected to in my Essay,
(Thụs Wit, like Faith, by each Man is apply'd
To one small Sect, and all are damn'd beside.) plainly concludes at this second Line, where stands a full Stop: And what follows ( Meanly they seek, &c.) speaks only of Wit, (which is meant by that Blefling, and that Sun) for how can the Sun of Faith be said to sublime the Southern IVits, and to ripen the Genius's of Northern Climates ? I fear these Gentlemen understand Grammar as little as they do Criticism; and perhaps out of good Nature to the Monks, are willing to take from 'em the Censure of Ignorance, and to have it to themselves. The Word They refers (as I am sure I meant, and as I thought every one must have known) to those Critics there spoken of, who are partial to some partiçular Set of Writers, to the Prejudice of all others. And the very simile itself, if twice read, may cans vince them, that the Cenfure here of damning, lies not on our Church at all, unless they call our Church one small Sect: And the cautious Words, (by each Man) manifestly show it a general Reflection on all fuch (whoever they are) who enter. tain those narrow and limited Notions of the Mercy of the Almighty; which the Reform's Ministers
and Presbyterians are as guilty of as any People living.
Yet after all, I promise you, Sir, if the Alteration of a Word or two will gratify any Man of found Faith though weak Understanding, I will (though it were from no other Principle than that of common good Nature) comply with it. And if you please but to particularize the Spot where their Objection lies, (for it is in a very narrow Compass) that Stumbling-Block, though it be but a little Pebble, shall be removed out of their way. If the Heat of these good Difputants (who, I am afraid, being bred up to wrangle in the Schools, cannot get rid of the Humour all their Lives) shou'd proceed fo far, as to personal Reflections upon me,
I assure you notwithstanding I will do, or say nothing, however provok'd (for fome People can no more provoke than oblige) that is unbecoming the Character of a true Catholic. I will set before me the Example of that great Man, and great Saint, Eralmus; who, in the midst of Calumny, proceeded with all the Calmness of Innocence, and the unrevenging Spirit of primitive Christianity. However I wou'd advise them to suffer the mention of him to pass unregarded, left I should be forc'd to do that for his Reputation, which I wou'd never do for my own; I mean, to vindicate so great a Light of our Church from the Malice of paft Times, and the Ignorance of the present, in a Language which may extend farther than that in which the Trifle about Criticism is written. I wish these Gentlemen wou'd be contented with finding fault with me only, who will submit to 'em right or wrong, as far as I only am concern'd; I have a greater Regard to the quiet of Mankind than to disturb it for Things of so little Consequence as my Credit and my Sense. A little Humility can do a Poet no hurt, and a little Charity wou'd do a Priest none : For, as St Austin
finely says, Ubi Charitas, ibi Humilitas ; ubi Humilitas, ibi Pax,
To the fame.
JULY 19, 1711. 'HE Concern which you more than seem to
be affected with for my Reputation, by the several Accounts you have so obligingly given of what Reports and Censures the holy Vandals have thought fit to pass upon me, makes me desirous of telling so good a Friend my whole Thoughts of this Matter, and of setting before you, in a clear Light, the true State of it.
I have ever believ'd the best Piece of Service one cou'd do to our Religion, was openly to express our Detestation and Scorn of all those mean Artifices and Pie fraudes, which it stands fo little in need of, and which have laid it under so great a Scandal among it's Enemies.
Nothing has been so much a Scarecrow to them, as that too peremptory and seemingly-uncharitable Assertion of an utter Impossibility of Salvation to all but ourselves ; invincible Ignorance excepted, which indeed some People define under so great Liinitations, and with such Exclusions, that it seems as if that Word were rather invented as a Salvo, or Expedient, not to be thought too bold with the Thunder-Bolts of God (which are hurl'd about so freely on almost all Mankind by the Hands of Ecclefiaftics) than as a real Exception to almost-universal Damnation. For, besides the small Number of the truly faithful in our Church, we must again fubdivide; the Jansenist is damned by the Jesuit, the Jesuit by