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Thirdly, he hath, like schoolboy's, borrowed both from living and dead. Fourthly, he knows not his own mind, and frequently contradicts himself. Fifthly, he is almost perpetually in the wrong.
All these positions he attempts to prove by quotations and remarks; but his desire to do mischief is greater than his
power. He has, however, justly criticised some passages. In these lines, There are whom heay'n has bless'd with
store of wit, Yet want as much again to manage it; For wit and judgement ever are at
strifeit is apparent that wit has two meanings, and that what is wanted, though called wit, is truly judgement. So far Dennis is undoubtedly right; but, not content with argument, he will have a little mirth, and triumphs over the first couplet in terms too elegant to be forgotten. By the way, what rare num“bers are here! Would not one swear “ that this youngster had espoused some “ antiquated Muse, who had sued out “ a divorce on account of impotence “ from fome superannuated finner; and,
having been p-xed by her former spouse, has got the gout in her de
crepit age, which makes her hobble “ so damnably.” This was the man who would reform a nation finking into barbarity.
In another place Pope himself allowed that Dennis had detected one of those blunders which are called bulls. The
first edition had this line :
What is this wit
Where wanted, scorn'd, and envied
where acquir’d? “ How,” says the critick, “ can wit be
Scorn'd where it is not? Is not this a “ figure frequently employed in Hiber“ nian land? The person that wants this “ wit may indeed be scorned, but the « scorn fhews the honour which the 66 contemner has for wit.” Of this remark Pope made the proper use, by correcting the passage.
I have preserved, I think, all that is reasonable in Dennis's criticism; it re
mains that justice be done to his delicacy. “ For his acquaintance (says Dennis) he " names Mr. Walsh, who had by no means “ the qualification which this author rec“ kons absolutely necessary to a critick, it
being very certain that he was, like " this Essayer, a very indifferent poet ; “ he loved to be well-dreffed ; and I re“ member a little young gentleman “ whom Mr. Walsh used to take into “ his company, as a double foil to his
person and capacity.—Enquire be
tween Sunning hill and Oakingham for “ a young, short, squab gentleman, the
very bow of the God of Love, and « tell me whether he be
author “ to make personal reflections ? - He may extol the antients, but he has
" reason to thank the gods that he was “ born a modern; for had he been bora “ of Grecian parents, and his father o consequently had by law had the ab“ folute disposal of him, his life had “ been no longer than that of one of “ his poems, the life of half a day.“ Let the person of a gentleman of his
parts be never so contemptible, his « inward man is ten times more ridi“ culous; it being impossible that his “ outward form, though it be that of “ downright monkey, should differ fo “ much from huinan shape, as his un.
thinking immaterial part does from « human understanding.” Thus began the hostility between Pope and Dennis, which, though it was suspended for a