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garden, where the wits of that time | used to assemble, and where Dryden had, when he lived, been accustomed to preside.
During this period of his life he was indefatigably diligent, and insatiably curious; wanting health for violent and money for expensive pleasures, and having certainly excited in himself very strong desires of intellectual eminence, he spent much of his time over his books; but he read only to store his mind with facts and images, seizing all that his authors presented with undistinguishing voracity, and with an appetite for knowledge too eager to be nice. In a mind like his, however, all the faculties were at once involuntarily improving. Judgement is forced upon us by experience. He that reads many books must compare one opinion or one style with another, and when he compares must necessarily distinguish, reject, and prefer. But the account given by himself of his studies was, that from fourteen to twenty he read only for amusement, from twenty to twenty-seven for improvement and instruction; that in the first part of this time he desired only to know, and in the second he endeavoured to judge.
The Pastorals, which had been for fome time handed about among poets and criticks, were at last printed (1709) in Tonfon's Miscellany, in a rolume
which began with the Pastorals of Philips, and ended with those of Pope.
The same year was written the Esay on Criticism; a work which displays such extent of comprehension, such nicety of distinction, such acquaintance with mankind, and such knowledge both of ancient and modern learning, as are not often attained by the matureft age and longest experience. It was published about two years afterwards, and being praised by Addison in the Spectator with sufficient liberality, met with so much favour as enraged Dennis, “who,” he says, “ found himself attacked, with
out any manner of provocation on his “ fide, and attacked in his person, in“ stead of his writings, by one who was
“ wholly a stranger to him, at a time 66 when all the world knew he was per** secuted by fortune; and not only saw “ that this was attempted in a clan“ deftine manner, with the utmost falle“ hood and calumny, but found that “ all this was done by a little affected
hypocrite, who had nothing in his “ mouth at the same time but truth, “ candour, friendship, good-nature, hu“ manity, and magnanimity."
How the attack was clandestine is not easily perceived, nor how his person is depreciated; but he seems to have known fomething of Pope's character, in whom may be discovered an appetite to talk too frequently of his own vir
The pamphlet is such as rage might be expected to dictate.
He supposes himself to be asked two questions; whether the Efsay will succeed, and who or what is the author.
Its success he admits to be secured by the false opinions then prevalent; the author he concludes to be
First, because he discovers a fufficiency beyond his little ability, and hath Tashly undertaken a task infinitely above his force. Secondly, while this little author struts, and affects the dictatorian air, he plainly shews that at the same time he is under the rod, and while he pretends to give law to others is a pedantick Nave to authority and opinion.