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his Art of Sinking in Poetry, which he endeavours to bring into Disgrace, from Double Distress, as he calls it : I suppose he means Double Falshood; for that is the Title of the Play published by me. I should have expected from fome others, that, when they were upon the Business of finding Fault, they should not have commited such an Error. But ’tis meer Word-catching, and beneath a great Genius to be exact in any Thing.
One of these Passages, alledged by our critical Examiner, is of that Stamp, which is certainly to determine me in the Clafs of his profound Writers: For a genuine Writer of the Profound will take Care never to magnify any Object without clouding it at the same Time. The Place, so offensive for its Cloudiness, is this.
The Obfcureness of her Birth Cannot eclipse the Lustre of her Eyes, Which make her all one Light.
I must own, I think, a Man needs be no great Oedipus to solve the Difficulty of this Passage. Nothing has ever been more common than for Lovers to compare their Mistresses Eyes to Suns and Stars. And what does Henriquez fay more here than this, That tho' his Mistress be obscure by her Birth, yet her Eyes are fo refulgent, they set her above that Disadvantage, and make her all over Brightness ? Now wherein is this Thought so wonderfully magnified, or clouded? The only Obscurity, that I can yet find in the Passage, is in Mr. Pope's clouding it by Misunderstanding. For if he will take a simple Defcription of Beauty to be the Description of a Lady at Dinner, as he is pleased to do here, there is, indeed, something of the Boeotian Fog in the Case. I remember another Rapture in Shakespear, upon a
Painter's drawing a fine Lady's Picture, where the Thought seems to me every whit as much magnified, and as dark at the first Glance.
But her Eyes
This Passage is taken from the Merchant of Venice; and if the Examiner will not allow it to be dark, I'll venture to produce another out of the fame Play, that, I believe, every Body will agree to be so. Grat. My Eyes, my Lord, can look as swift as yours You saw the Mistress, I beheld the Maid ; You lov’d; I lov’d for Intermission. No more pertains to me, my Lord, than
you. If I did not know a little more of Shakespear, than Mr. Pope has yet convinced the Publick that he does, I should, from such Instances, take him to be a very cloudy Writer. It were worth something, methinks, to know what Ideas Mr. Pope had of Gratiano's loving for Intermiffon. Surely, he will hardly persuade us, that Intermission here means for want of something else to do, because he would not fand idle. By a proper Variation in the Pointing, and a very short Comment, I'll undertake to clear up the Clouds of this dark Place; and thus it must be corrected, before it can be understood. Grat. My Eyes, my Lord, can look as swift as yours; You saw the Mistress, I beheld the Maid: You lov'd;. I lov'd: (For Intermiffion No more pertains to me, my Lord than you. 1. e. For, in a Love-Adventure, I could no more stand out, no more be idle, or unactive, than
But Self-Defence, and Correction, and not Correction, was the Design of this Epistle ; so I'll proceed to his second Observation, and see how hard that will bear upon me.
Another of the Passages which Mr. Pope is pleas'd to be merry with, is in a Speech of Violante's; Wax! render up thy Truft. This, in his English, is open the Letter : And he facetiously mingles it with some pompous Instances, moft, I suppose, of his own Framing ; which in plain Terms fignify no inore than, See, who's there, Snuff the Candle ; Uncork the Bottle ; Chip the Bread ; to thew how ridiculous Actions of no Consequence are, when too much exalted in the Diction." This he brings under a Figure, which he calls the Busking or Stately. But we'll examine Circumstances fairly, and then we fhall fee which is moft ridiculous, the Phrase, or our sagacious Censurer.
Violante is newly debauched by Henriquez, on his solemn Promise of marrying her: She thinks, he is returning to his Father's Court, as he told her, for a short Time; and expects no Letter from him. His Servant, who brings the Letter, contradicts his Master's going for Court ; and tells her he's gone fome two Months Progress another Way, upon a Change of Purpose. She, who knew what Concessions she had made to him, declares herself by Starts, under the greatest Agonies; and immediately, upon the Servant leaving her, expresses an equal Impatience and Fear for the Contents of this unexpected Letter. To Hearts like mine Suspence is Mifery. Wax! render up thy Tsuft. -Be the Contents Profp'rous, or fatal, they are all my Due. Now Mr. Pope shows us his profound Judgment
in Dramatical Paffions, thinks a Lady in her Circumstances cannot, without Absurdity, open a Leater that comes to her on Surprize, with any more Preparation than the most unconcern's Person alive should a common Letter by the Penny-Poft. I'll beg Leave to put him in mind of two Passages in ShakeSpear, in both which the Poet has, upon opening Letters, prefae'd the Action with the like Address to the Wax, The first is in King Lear, where Edgar having, in Defence of his Father, kill'd Goneril's Steward, searches his Pockets for Papers, and finding a Letter, breaks it open, with this Introduction. Leave, gentle Wax; and Manners blame us not ; To know out Enemies Minds, we rip their Hearts; Their Papers are more lawful.
The other is in Cymbeline. The Princess Imogen, whose Husband is banished, has a Letter from him brought to her by her Servant Pifanio. The poor Lady, whose Love makes her afraid that her absent Lord may either not be in Health, or discontented at his Exile, prays, neither of these may be the Cafe, and breaks up the Letter with somewhat more Şolemnity.
-Good Wax, thy Leave. Bleft be you Bees, that make these Locks of Coun
Locks fel ! &c. I am aware Mr. Pope may reply, his Cavil was not against the Aktion itself of addressing to the Wax, but to the exalting that Action in the Terms. In this Point I may fairly shelter myself under the Judgment of a Man, whọfe Character in Poetry will vie with any Rival this Age shall produce. Mr. DRYDEN, in his Essay on Dramatick Poefy, tells us, “ That
< when, from the most elevated Thoughts of Verse, « we pass to those which are most mean, and which 66
are common with the lowest of Houfhold Con
" of the best Words, and the least Vulgar, (pro“ vided they be apt) to express such Thoughts. Our 166 Language (says
, he) is noble, full, and significant; " and I know not why, he, who is Master of it, “ may not cloath ordinary Things in it, as decently " as the Latin, if he use the fame Diligence in his 56 Choice of Words.'
I come now in the last Quotations, which, in our Examiner's handling, falls under this Predicament, of being a Thought astonishingly out of the Way of common Sense. Nought but himself can be his Parallel.
This he hints, may seem borrowed from the Thought of that Master of a Show in Smithfield, who writ in large Letters over the Picture of his Elephant, This is the greatest Elephant in the World except himself. I like the Pleasantry of the Gentleman's Banter, but have no great Doubt of getting clear from the Severity of it. The Lines in the Play stand
Is there a Treachery like this in Baseness, Recorded any where ? It is the deepest : None but itself can be its Parallel. I am not a little surprized to find, that our Examiner at last is dwindled into a Word-catcher. Literally speaking, indeed, I agree with Mr. Pope, that nothing can be the Parallel to itself ; but allowing a little for the Liberty of Expression, does it not plainly imply, that it is a Treachery which stands fingle for the Nature of its Baseness, and has not its Paral