صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني
[ocr errors]

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 animosities; 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, those 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) vetustis dare novitatem, obsoletis nitorem, obscuris lucem, fastiditis gratiam.

[blocks in formation]

reflections are made.

I CANNOT but think it the most reasonable thing in the world, to distinguish good writers, by discouraging the bad. Nor is it an ill-natured thing, in relation even to the very persons upon whom the It is true, it may deprive them, a little the sooner, of a short 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 unfit, and to have recourse to something in which they may be more successful.


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 passed upon them have been confirmed by all Europe.

GILDON, PREF. TO HIS NEW REHEARSAL. It is the common cry of the poetasters of the town, and their fautors, that it is an ill-natured

This gentleman was of Scotland, and bred at the university of Utrecht, with the earl of Mar. He served in Spain under earl Rivers. After the peace, he was made one of the commissioners of customs in Scotland, and then of taxes in England; in which, having shown himself for twenty years diligent, punctual, and incorruptible (though without any other assistance of fortune), he was suddenly displaced by the minister, in the sixty-eighth year of his age; and died two months after, in 1741. He was a person of universal learning, and an enlarged conversation; no man had a warmer heart for his friend, or a sincerer attachment to the constitution of his country.

[blocks in formation]




BEFORE we present thee with our exercitations on this most delectable poein (drawn from the many volumes of our adversaria on modern authors) we shall here, according to the laudable usage of editors, collect the various judgments of the learned concerning our poet: various indeed, not only of different authors, but of the same author at different seasons. Nor shall we gather only the testimonies of such eminent wits, as would of course descend to posterity, and consequently be read without our collection; but we shall likewise with incredible labour seek out for divers others, which, but for this our diligence, could never, at the distance of a few months, appear to the eye of the most curious. Hereby thou mayest not only receive the delectation of variety, but also arrive at a more certain judgment by a grave and circumspect comparison of the witnesses with each other,

or of each with himself. Hence also thou wilt be enabled to draw reflections, not only of a critical, but a moral nature, by being let into many particulars of the person as well as genius, and of the fortune as well as merit, of our author: in which if I relate some things of little concern peradventure to thee, and some of as little even to him; I entreat thee to consider how minutely all true critics and commentators are wont to insist upon such, and how material they seem to themselves, if to none other. Forgive me, gentle reader, if (following learned example) I ever and anon become tedious: allow me to take the same pains to find whether my author were good or bad, well or ill-natured, modest or arrogant; as another, whether his author was fair or brown, short or tall, or whether he wore a coat or a cassoc.

We proposed to begin with his life, parentage, and education: but as to these, even his contemporaries do exceedingly differ. One saith', he was educated at home; another, that he was bred at St. Omer's, by Jesuits; a third', not at St. Omer's,

[blocks in formation]

He is followed (as in fame, so in judgment) by the modest and simple-minded


but at Oxford! a fourth,' that he had no univer- | dramatic poetry, not to mention the French critics, sity education at all. Those who allow him to be I should be very glad to have the benefit of the bred at home, differ as much concerning his tutor: discovery'." one saith, he was kept by his father on purpose; a second', that he was an itinerant priest; a third', that he was a parson; one calleth him a secular clergyman of the church of Rome; ano- Who, out of great respect to our poet, not naming ther, a monk. As little do they agree about his him, doth yet glance at his essay, together with father, whom one' supposeth, like the father of the duke of Buckingham's, and the criticisms of Hesiod, a tradesman or merchant; another, a Dryden and of Horace, which he more openly taxhusbandman; another", a hatter, &c. Nor has eth: "As to the numerous treatises, essays, arts, an author been wanting to give our poct such a &c. both in verse and prose, that have been writfather as Apuleius hath to Plato, Jamblichus to ten by the moderns on this ground-work, they do Pythagoras, and divers to Homer, namely a de- but hackney the same thoughts over again, making mon: for thus Mr. Gildon1o: "Certain it is, that them still more trite. Most of their pieces are his original is not from Adam, but the devil; | nothing but a pert, insipid beap of common-place. and that he wanteth nothing but horns and tail to Horace has, even in his Art of Poetry, thrown out be the exact resemblance of his infernal father." several things which plainly show, he thought an Finding, therefore, such contrariety of opinions, art of poetry was of no use, even while he was and (whatever be ours of this sort of generation) writing one." not being fond to enter into controversy, we shall defer writing the life of our poet, till authors can determine among themselves what parents or education he had, or whether he had any education or parents at all.

Proceed we to what is more certain, his works, though not less uncertain the judgments concerning them; beginning with his Essay on Criticism, of which hear first the most ancient of critics,


To all which great authorities, we can only oppose that of


"The Art of Criticism (saith he) which was published some months since, is a master-piece în its kind. The observations follow one another like those in Horace's Art of Poetry, without that methodical regularity which would have been requisite in a prose writer. They are some of them uncommon, but such as the reader must assent to, when he sees them explained with that ease and perspicuity in which they are delivered. As for those which are the most known and the most received, they are placed in so beautiful a light, and illustrated with such apt allusions, that they have in them all the graces of novelty; and make the reader, who was before acquainted with them, still more convinced of their truth and solidity. And here give me leave to mention what Monsieur Boileau has so well enlarged upon in the preface to his works that wit and fine writing doth not consist so much in advancing things that are new, as in giving things that are known an agreeable It is impossible for us, who live in the latter ages of the world, to make observations in criNo less peremptory is the censure of our hyper-ticism, morality, or any art or science, which critical historian

"His precepts are false or trivial, or both; his thoughts are crude and abortive, his expressions absurd, his numbers harsh and unmusical, his rhymes trivial and common ;--instead of majesty, we have something that is very mean: instead of gravity, something that is very boyish; and instead of perspicuity and lucid order, we have but too often obscurity and confusion." And in another place" What rare numbers are here! Would not one swear that this youngster had espoused some antiquated Muse, who had sued out a divorce from some superannuated sinner, upon account of impotence, and who, being poxed by the former spouse, has got the gout in her decrepid age, which makes her hobble so damnably "."


"I dare not say any thing of the Essay on Criticism in verse; but if any more curious reader has discovered in it something new, which is not in Dryden's prefaces, dedications, and his essay on

Guardian, No. 40.

2 Jacob's Lives, &c. vol. ii. 3 Dunciad dissected, p. 4. Farmer P. and his son. "Dunciad dissected. Characters of the Times, p. 45. Female Dunciad, p. ult. Roome, Paraphrase on

Dunciad dissected. the 4th of Genesis, printed 1729.


[ocr errors]

have not been touched upon by others; we have little else left us, but to represent the common sense of mankind in more strong, more beautiful, or more uncommon lights. If a reader examines Horace's Art of Poetry, he will find but few precepts in it which he may not meet with in Aristotle, and which were not commonly known by all the poets of the Augustan age. His way of expressing, and applying them, not his invention of them, is what we are chiefly to admire.

"Longinus, in his Reflections, bas given us the same kind of sublime, which he observes in the several passages that occasioned them: I cannot 10 Character of Mr. P. and his writings in a Let- but take notice that our English author has after ter to a Friend, printed for S. Popping, 1716, p. 10. the same manner exemplified several of the preCurll, in his Key to the Dunciad (first edition said cepts in the very precepts themselves?" He then to be printed for A. Dold) in the 16th page, de-produces some instances of a particular beauty in clared Gildon to be the author of that libel; though the numbers, aud concludes with saying, that in the subsequent editions of his Key he left out this assertion, and affirmed (in the Curliad, p. 2 and 8) that it was written by Dennis only.

11 Reflections critica and satirical on a rhapsody, called, an Essay on Criticism. Printed for Bernard Lintot, octavo.

there are three poems in our tongue of the same

1 Essay on Criticism in prose, octavo, 1728, by the author of the Critical History of England. Preface to his Poems, p. 18, 53. Spectator, No. 255.


nature, and each a master-piece in its kind! The | the force of several masterly hands." Indeed the

Essay on Translated Verse; the Esay on the Art
of Poetry; and the Essay on Criticism."
Of Windsor Forest, positive is the judgment of
the affirmative'

"That it is a wretched rhapsody, impudently
writ in enulation of the Cooper's Hill of sir John
Denham: the author of it is obscure, is ambiguous,
is affected, is temerarious, is barbarous '."
But the author of the Dispensary2,

in the preface to his poem of Claremont, differs from this opinion: "Those who have seen these two excellent poeins of Cooper's Hill and Windsor Forest, the one written by sir John Denham, the other by Mr. Pope, will show a great deal of candour if they approve of this."

same gentleman appears to have changed his sentiments in his Essay on the Art of Sinking in Reputation (printed in Mist's Journal, March 30, 1728), where he says thus: "In order to sink in reputation, let him take it into his head to descend into Homer (let the world wonder, as it will, how the Devil he got there), and pretend to do him into English, so his version denote his neglect of the manner how." Strange variation! We are told in


"That this translation of the Iliad was not in all respects conformable to the fine taste of his friend Mr. Addison; insomuch that he employed a younger Muse in an undertaking of this kind, which he supervised himself." Whether Mr. Addison did find it conformable to his taste, or not, best appears from his own testimony the year fol

Of the Epistle to Eloisa, we are told by the obscure writer of a poem called Sawney, "That be-lowing its publication, in these words: cause Prior's Henry and Emma charmed the finest tastes, our author writ his Eloisa in opposition to it; but forgot innocence and virtue: if you take away her tender thoughts, and her fierce desires, all the rest is of no value." In which, methinks, his judgment resembleth that of a French taylor on a villa and gardens by the Thames: "All this is very fine; but take away the river, and it is good for nothing."

But very contrary hereunto was the opinion of


himself, saying in his Alma,'

O Abelard! ill-fated youth,
Thy tale will justify this truth:
But well I weet, thy cruel wrong
Adorns a nobler poet's song:

Dan Pope, for thy misfortune griev'd,
With kind concern and skill has weav'd
A silken web; and ne'er shall fade
Its colours: gently has he laid
The mantle o'er thy sad distress,
And Venus shall the texture bless, &c.

MR. ADDISON'S FREEHOLDER, NO. 40. "When I consider myself as a British freeholder, I am in a particular manner pleased with the labours of those who have improved our language with the translations of old Greek and Latin authors.-We have already most of their historians in our own tongue, and, what is more for the honour of our language, it has been taught to express with elegance the greatest of their poets in each nation. The illiterate among our own countrymen may learn to judge from Dryden's Virgil of the most perfect epic performance. And those parts of Homer which have been published already by Mr. Pope, give us reason to think that the Iliad will appear in English with as little disadvantage to that immortal poem."

As to the rest there is a slight mistake, for this younger Muse was an elder: nor was the gentleman (who is a friend of our author) employed by Mr. Addison to translate it after him, since he saith himself that he did it before'. Contrariwise, that Mr. Addison engaged our author in this work apce-peareth by declaration thereof in the preface to the Iliad, printed some time before his death, and by his own letters of October 26, and November 2, 1713, where he declares it is his opinion that no other person was equal to it.

Come we now to his translation of the Iliad, lebrated by numerous pens, yet shall it suffice to mention the indefatigable

Who (though otherwise a severe censurer of our
author) yet styleth this a "laudable translation "."
That ready writer


Next comes his Shakespeare on the stage: "Let him (quoth one, whom I take to be


in his forementioned Essay, frequently commends publish such an author as he has least studied, the same. And the painful


thus extols it", "The spirit of Homer breathes all through this translation.-I am in doubt, whether I should most admire the justness to the original, or the force and beauty of the language, or the sounding variety of the numbers: but when I find all these meet, it puts me in mind of what the poet says of one of his heroes, that he alone raised and flung with ease a weighty stone, that two common men could not lift from the ground; just so, one single person has performed in this translation, what 1 once despair'd to have seen done by

1 Letter to B. B. at the Pope's Homer, 1717.

Alma, Cant. 2.

end of the Remarks on
2 Printed 1728, p. 12.

In his Essays, vol. i. printed for E. Curll.
Censor, vol. ii. n. 33.

and forget to discharge even the dull duty of an editor. In this project let him lend the bookseller his name (for a competent sum of money) to promote the credit of an exorbitant subscription." Gentle reader, be pleased to cast thine eye on the proposal below quoted, and on what follows (some months after the former assertion) in the same Journalist of June 8. "The bookseller proposed the book by subscription, and raised some thousand of pounds for the same: I believe the gentleman did not share in the profits of this extravagant subscription."

"After the Iliad, he undertook (saith MIST'S JOURNAL, JUNE 8, 1728,) the sequel of that work, the Odyssey; and having secured the success by a numerous subscription,

Vid. pref. to Mr. Tickell's translation of the first book of the Iliad, 4to.

• he employed some underlings to perform what, | morality), to wit, plagiarism, from the inventive according to his proposals, should come from his and quaint-conceited own hands." To which heavy charge we can in truth oppose nothing but the words of

BY J. WATTS, JAN. 10, 1724.)

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


Upon reading the third volume of Pope's Miscellanies, I found five lines which I-thought excellent; and happening to praise them, a gentleman produced a modern comedy (the Rival Modes) published last year, where were the same verses to a tittle.

"These gentlemen are undoubtedly the first plagiaries, that pretend to make a reputation by stealing from a man's works in his own life-time, and out of a public print '." Let us join to this what is written by the author of the Rival Modes, the said Mr. James-Moore Smith, in a letter to our author himself, who had informed him a

"I take this occasion to declare that the subscription for Shakespeare belongs wholly to Mr. Ton- | son: and that the benefit of this proposal is not solely for my own use, but for that of two of my friends, who have assisted me in this work." But these very gentlemen are extolled above our poet himself in another of Mist's Journals, March 30, 1728, saying, "That he would not advise Mr. Pope to try the experiment again of getting a great part of a book done by assistants, lest those extraneous parts should unhappily ascend to the sub-month before that play was acted, Jan. 27, 1726-7, lime, and retard the declension of the whole." Behold! these underlings are become good


that "These verses, which he had before given him leave to insert in it, would be known for his, some copies being got abroad. He desires, neverIf any say, that before the said proposals were theless, that since the lines had been read in his printed, the subscription was begun without de- comedy to several, Mr. P. would not deprive it claration of such assistance; verily those who set of them," &c. Surely, if we add the testimoit on foot, or (as the term is) secured it, to wit,nies of the lord Bolingbroke, of the lady to whom the right honourable the lord viscount Harcourt, the said verses were originally addressed, of Hugh were he living, would testify, and the right ho- Bethel, Esq. and others, who knew them as our nourable the lord Bathurst, now living, doth tes-author's, long before the said gentleman composed tify, the same is a falsehood. his play; it is hoped, the ingenuous, that affect not errour, will rectify their opinion by the suffrage of so honourable personages,

Sorry I am, that persons professing to be learned, or of whatever rank of authors, should either falsely tax, or be falsely taxed, Yet let us, who are only reporters, be impartial in our citations, and proceed.

MIST'S JOURNAL, JUNE 8, 1728. "Mr. Addison raised this author from obscurity, obtained him the acquaintance and friendship of the whole body of our nobility, and transferred his powerful interests with those great men to this rising bard, who frequently levied by that means. unusual contributions on the public," Which surely cannot be, if, as the author of the Dunciad Dissected reporteth, Mr. Wycherley had before introduced him into a familiar acquaintance with the greatest peers and brightest wits then living."

And yet followeth another charge, insinuating no less than his enmity both to church and state, which could come from no other informer than the said


"The Memoirs of a Parish Clerk was a very dull and unjust abuse of a person who wrote in defence of our religion and constitution, and who has been dead many years." This seemeth also most untrue; it being known to divers that these Memoirs were written at the seat of the lord Harcourt in Oxfordshire, before that excellent person (bishop Burnett's) death, and many years before the appearance of that history, of which they are pretended to be an abuse. Most true it is, that "No sooner (saith the same journalist) was his Mr. Moore had such a design, and was himself the body lifeless, but this author, reviving his resent- man who prest Dr. Arbuthnot and Mr. Pope to ment, libelled the memory of his departed friend; assist him therein; and that he borrowed those and what was still more heinous, made the scan- memoirs of our author, when that history came dal public." Grievous the accusation! unknown forth, with intent to turn them to such abuse. the accuser! the person accused, no witness in his But being able to obtain from our author but ona own cause; the person, in whose regard accused, single hint, and either changing his mind, or havdead! But if there be living any one nobleman ing more mind than ability, he contented himself whose friendship, yea any one gentleman whose to keep the said memoirs, and read them as his subscription, Mr. Addison procured to our author, own to all his acquaintance, A noble person there. let him stand forth, that truth may appear! is, into whose company Mr. Pope once chanced Amicus Plato, amicus Socrates, sed magis amica to introduce him, who well remembereth the converitas. In verity, the whole story of the libel is versation of Mr. Moore to have turned upon the a lie; witness those persons of integrity, who, se- contempt he had for the work of that reverend veral years before Mr. Addison's decease, did see prelate, and how full he was of a design he deand approve of the said verses, in no wise a libel,clared himself to have of exposing it." This nobut a friendly rebuke sent privately in our author's ble person is the earl of Peterborough. own hand to Mr. Addison himself, and never made public, till after their own journals, and Curll had printed the same. One name alone, which I am here authorised to declare, will sufficiently evince this truth, that of the right honourable the earl of Burlington.

Next is he taxed with a crime (in the opinion of some authors, I doubt, more heinous than any in


Here in truth should we crave pardon of all the foresaid right honourable and worthy personages, for having mentioned them in the same page with such weekly riff-raff railers and rhymers; but that we had their ever-honour'd commands for the

Daily Journal, March 18, 1728.
Daily Journal, April 3, 1728.

same; and that they are introduced not as witnesses in the controversy, but as witnesses that cannot be controverted: not to dispute, but to decide.

Certain it is, that dividing our writers into two classes, of such who were acquaintance, and of such who were strangers to our author; the former are those who speak well, and the other those who speak evil of him. Of the first class, the most noble


sums up his character in these lines:

And yet so wondrous, so sublime a thing,
As the great Iliad, scarce could make me sing,
Unless I justly could at once commend
A good companion, and as firm a friend;
One moral, or a mere well-natur'd deed,
Can all desert in sciences exceed 1.

So also is he decyphered by the honourable

[blocks in formation]

wishing some check to the corruption and evil manners of the times, calleth out upon our poet to undertake a task so worthy of his virtue:

Why slumbers Pope, who leads the Muses' train,

Nor hears that Virtue, which he loves, complain?

[blocks in formation]

To the same tune also singeth that learned clerk, of Suffolk,


Thus, nobly rising in fair Virtue's cause,

From thy own life transcribe th' unerring laws'. And, to close all, hear the reverend dean of St. Patrick's:

"A soul with every virtue fraught,
By patriots, priests, and poets taught.
Whose filial piety excells
Whatever Grecian story tells.

A genius for each business fit,

Whose meanest talent is his wit," &c.

Let us now recreate thee by turning to the other side, and showing his character drawn by those with whom he never conversed, and whose countenances he could not know, though turned against him: first again commencing with the high voiced and never enough quoted


Who, in his Reflections on the Essay on Criticism, thus describeth him: "A little affected hypocrite, who has nothing in his mouth but candour, truth, friendship, good-nature, humanity, and magnanimity. He is so great a lover of falsehood, that, whenever he has a mind to calumniate his contemporaries, he brands them with some defect for which all their friends and acquaintance comwhich was just contrary to some good quality, mended them. He seems to have a particular pique to people of quality, and authors of that rank. He must derive his religion from St. Omer's."-But in the character of Mr. P. and his writings (printed by S. Popping, 1716) he saith, Though he is a professor of the worst religion, yet he laughs at it;" but that, "nevertheless, he is a virulent papist; and yet a pillar for the church of England."

[ocr errors]

Of both which opinions


seems also to be; declaring in Mist's Journal of June 22, 1718, "That, if he is not shrewdly abused, he made it his practice to cackle to both

parties in their own sentiments." But, as to his pique against people of quality, the same journalist doth not agree, but saith (May 8, 1728), "He had by some means or other, the acquaintance and friendship of the whole body of our nobility."

However contradictory this may appear, Mr. Dennis and Gildon, in the character last cited, make it all plain, by assuring us, "That he is a creature that reconciles all contradictions: he is a beast, and a man; a Whig, and a Tory; a writer (at one and the same time) of Guardians and Examiners2; an asserter of liberty, and of the dispensing power of kings; a jesuitical professor of truth; a base and a foul pretender to candour." So that, upon the whole account, we must conclude him either to have been a great hypocrite, or a very honest man; a terrible imposer upon both parties, or very moderate to either.

Be it as to the judicious reader shall seem good. Sure it is, he is little favoured of certain authors, whose wrath is perilous: for one declares he ought to have a price set on his head, and to be hunted

1 In his poems, and at the end of the Odyssey. 2 The names of two weekly papers.

« السابقةمتابعة »