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But whether bread or fame be their end, it must be allowed our Author, by and in this Poem, has merci. fully given them a little of both.
There are two or three who, by their rank and fortune, have no benefit from the former objections, supposing them good, and these I was sorry to fee in such company : but if, without any provocation, two or three gentlemen will fall upon one, in an affair wherein his interest and reputation are equally embarked, they cannot, certainly, after they have been content to print themteives his enemies, complain of being put into the number of them.
Others, I am told, pretend to have been once his friends. Surely they are their enemies who say fo, fince nothing can be more odious than to treat a friend as they have done. But of this I cannot persuade myself, when I consider the constant and eternal aversion of all bad writers to a good one.
Such as claim a merit from being his admirers, I would gladly ask, if it lays him under a personal ob. ligation? At that rate he would be the most obliged humble servant in the world. I dare swear for these in particular, he never desired them to be his admirers, nor promised, in return, to be theirs: that had truly been a sign he was of their acquaintance; but would not the malicious world have suspected such an approbation of some motive worse than ignorance, in the Author of the Ellay on Criticism? Be it as it will, the reasons of their admiration and of his contempt are equally subfilting, for his works and theirs are the very fame that they were.
One, therefore, of their assertions I believe may be true, " That he has a contempt for their writings." And there is another which would probably be sooner allowed by himself than by any good judge beside, 6. That his own have found too much fuccess with the “ Public.” But as it cannot consist with his modelty to claim this as a justice, it lies not on him, but entirely on the Public, to defend its own judgment.
There remains what, in my opinion, might seem a better plea for these people than any they liave made use of. If obfcurity or poverty were to exempt a man from fatire, much more should folly or dullness, which are ftill more involuntary; nay, as much so as personal deformity. But even this will not help them : deformity becomes an object of ridicule when a man fets up for being handiome; and so muít dullnets, when he sets up for a wit. They are not ridiculed because ridicule in itself is, or ought to be, a pleafure; but because it is just to undeceive and vindicate the honest and unpretending part of manikird from imposition; because particular interests ought to yield to general; and a great number, who are not naturally fools, ought never to be made fo, in complaisance to those
Accordingly we find that, in all ages, all vain pretenders, were they ever so poor, or ever fo dull, bave been constantly the topics of the most candid fatiritts, from the Codrus of Juvenal to the Damon of Boileau.
Having mentioned Boileau, the greatest poet ard most judicious critic of his age and country, admirable for his talents, and yet, perhaps, more admirable for his judgment in the proper application of them, I cannot help remarking the resemblance betwixt him and our Author in qualities, fame, and fortune; in the distinctions shewn them by their superiors, in the general elteem of their equals, and in their extended reputation amongst foreigners ; in the latter of which ours has met with the better fate, as he has had for his translators persons of the most eminenț rank and abilities in their respective nations. * But the resemblance
holds * Efay on Criticism, in French verse, by General Hamilton; the fame, in verse alfo, by Monsieur Roboton, counsellor and privy fecretary to King George 1. after by the Abbe Reynel, in verse, with notes. Rape of the Lock, in French, by the Princess of Conti, Paris, 3728; and in Italian - verso by the Abbe Conti, noble Venetian; and by the Marquis Rangoni, envoy extraordinary from Modena to King George II. Others of his works by Saivini of Fiorence, &c. His Effys and Differtations on Homer, several times trannated into French. ÉNy on Man, by the Abbe Reynel, in verse: by Monfieur silhouet, in proie, 1737; and since by others in French, Italian, and liatin,
holds in nothing more than in their being equally abuled by the ignorant pretenders to poetry of their times ;
of which not the least memory will remain but in their own writings, and in the notes made upon them. What Boileau has done in almost all his poems, our Author has only in this. I dare answer for him he will do it in no more; and on this principle, of attacking tew but who had Nandered him, he could not have done it at all, had he been confined from censuring obscure and worthless perfons; for scarce any other were his enemies. However, as the parity is fo remarkable, I hope it will continue to the last; and if ever he should give us an edition of this Poem himself, I
may see some of them treated as gently, on their repentance or better merit, as Perrault and Quinault were at last by Boileau.
In one point I must be allowed to think the character of our English Poet the more amiable. He has not been a follower of fortune or success; he has lived with the great without flattery; been a friend to men in power without pensions, from whom, as he asked, so he received, no favour, but what was done him in his friends. As his Satires were the more just for being delayed, so were his Panegyrics; bestowed only on such persons as he had familiarly known, only for fuch virtues as he had long observed in them, and only at such times as others cease to praise, if not begin to calumniate them-I mean when out of power, or out of fashion.* A satire, therefore, on writers so notori. ous for the contrary practice, became no man so well as himself; as none, it is plain, was fo little in their friendships, or so inuch in that of those whom they had most abused, namely, the greatest and best of all parties. Let me add a further reason, that, though engaged in their friendships, he never espoused their
animofities; * As Mr. Wycherley, at the time the Town declaimed against his book of Poems; Mr. Walr, after his death; Sir William Trumball, when he had rcligned the office of secretary of tate; Lord Bolingbroke, at his leaving England, after the Queen's death; Lord Oxfo:d, in nis lait decline of life; Mr. Secretary Craggs, at the end of the Southsea year, and after his duath; others only in Epi:aphs.
animofities; and can almost singly challenge this honour, not to have written a line of any man which, through guilt, through shame, or through fear, through variety of fortune, or change of interests, he was ever unwilling to own.
I shall conclude with remarking, what a pleasure it must be to every reader of humanity to see all along, that our Author, in his very laughter, is not indulging his own ill-nature, but only punishing that of others. As to his Poem, thote alone are capable of doing it justice who, to use the words of a great writer, know how hard it is (with regard both to his subject and his manner) vetujlis dare novitatem, obfoletis nitorem, obscuris lucem, jajtiditis gratiam.
I am your most humble servant,
* This gentleman was of Scotland, and bred at the university of Utrecht, with the Earl of Mar. He served in Spain under Earl Riverse After the peace, he was made one of the conmissioners of the customs in Scotland, and then of taxes in England; in which having thewn him. self for twenty years diligent, punctual, and incorrupt ble, (though without any other affifta ce of fortune,) he was suddenly dilplaced by the minister, in the fixty-cithin year of his age, and died iwo months after, in 1741. He was a person of universal learning, and an enla'ged converfation. No man had a warmer heart for his friend, or a fincerer attacha ment to the constitution of his country; and yet, for all this, the Public vould never believe him to be the Author of this Letter
HIS PROLEGOMENA AND ILLUSTRATIONS
TO THE DUNCIAD.
DENNIS, Remarks on Pr. Arthur.
in the world to distinguish good writers, by dilcouraging the bad: nor is it an ill. natured thing, relation even to the very persons upon whom the reflections are made. It is true, it may deprive them a little the sooner of a Mort profit and a transitory reputation; but then it may have a good effect, and oblige them (before it be too late) to decline that for which they are so very unit, and to have recourse to something in which tliey may be more successful.
CharaEter of Mr. P. 1716. The Persons whom Boileau has attacked in his writings, have been for the most part authors, and most of those authors poets: and the censures he hath pafled upon them have been confirmed by all Europe.
GILDON, Pref. to his New Rebearsal, It is the common cry of the poetasters of the Town, and their fautors, that it is an ill-natured thing to expose the pretenders to wit and poetry. The judges and magistrates may with full as good reason be reproached with ill-naiure for putting the laws in execution against a thief or impostor.--The fame will hold in the Republic of Letters, if the critics and judges will let every ignorant pretender to fcribbling pass on the world.
THEOBALD, Letter to Mist, June 22, 1728. Atracks may be levelled either against failures in genius, oragainst the pretensions of writing without one,
CONCANEN, Ded. to the Author of the Dunciad.
A Satire upon duiness is a thing that has been used and allowed in all ages.
Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, wicked Scribbler!