« السابقةمتابعة »
In each she marks her image full exprest, But chief in Bays's monster-bleeding breast :
REMARKS. steps back a thousand years to call in the succour of the ancients. His very panegyric is spiteful, and he uses it for the same reason as some lades do their commendation of a dead beauty, who would never have their good word, but that a living one happened to be mentioned in their coin. pany. His applause is not the tribute of his heart, but the sacrifice of his revenge,' &c. Indeed, his pieces against our poet are somewhat of an angry character, and as they are now scarce extant, a taste of this style may be satisfactory to the curious. 'A young, squab, short zontleman, whose Jutward form, though it should be that of downright monkey, would not differ so much from the human shape as his unthinking immaterial part does from human understanding. He is as stupid and as venomous as a hunchback'd toad. A book through which folly and ignorance, those brethren so lamo and impotent, do ridiculously look big and very dull, and strut and hobble, cheek by jowl, with their arms on kimbo, being led and supported, and bully-hack'd by that blind Hector, Impudence. Reflect. on the Essay on Criticism, p. 26, 29, 30.
It would be unjust not to add his reasons for this fury, they are so strong and so coercive. "I regard him,' saith he, 'as an enemy, not so much to me, as to my king, to my country, to my religion, and to that liberty which has been the sole felicity of my life. A vagary of fortune, who is sometimes pleased to be frolicsome, and the epidemic madness of the times, have given him reputation, and "reputation," as Hobbes says, " is power," and that has made him dangerous. Therefore I look on it as my duty to King George, whose faithful subject I am; to my country, of which I have appeared a constant lover; to the laws, under whose protection I have so long lived; and to the liberty of my country, moro dear to me than life, of which I have now for forty years been a constant asserter, &c.-I look upon it as my duty, I say, to do-you shall see what-o pull the lion's skin from this little ass, which popular error has thrown around him; and to show that this author, who has been lately so much in vogue, has neither sense in his thoughts, nor English in his expression.' Dennis, Rem. on Hom. Pref. p. 2, 91, &c.
Besides these public-spirited reasons, Mr. D. had a private one; which, by his manner of expressing it in p. 92. appears to have been equally strong. He was oven in bodily fear of his life, from the machinations of the said Mr. P. The story,' says he, is too long to be told, but who would be acquainted with it, may hear it from Mr. Curll, my book
Bays, form’d by nature stage and town to bless,
REMARKS. seller. However, what my reason has suggested to me, that I have with a just confidence said, in defiance of his two clandestine weapons, his slander and his poison.' Which last words of his book plainly discover Mr. D's suspicion was that of being poisoned, in like manner as Mr Curll had been before him: of which fact, see a full and true account of the horrid and barbarous revenge, by poison on the body of Edmund Curll, printed in 1716, the year antecedent to that wherein these remarks of Mr. Dennis wero published. But what puts it beyond all question, is a passage in a very warm treatise, in which Mr. D. was also concerned, price two-pence, called, A true character of Mr. Pope and his Writings, printed for S. Popping, 1716; in the tenth page whereof he is said to have insulted people on those calamities and diseases which he himself gave them, by administering poison to them;' and is called (p. 4.) a lurking way-laying coward, and a stabber in the dark. Which (with many other things most lively set forth in that piece) must have rendered him a terror, not to Mr. Dennis only, but to all Christian people. This charitable warning only provoked our incorrigible poet to write the following epigram: Should Dennis publish you had stabb'd your brother, Lampoon'd your monarch, or debauch'd your mother; Say, what revenge on Dennis can be had Ž Too dull for laughter, for reply too mad : On one so poor you cannot take the law; On one so old your sword you scorn to draw; Uncaged then let the harmless monster rage, Secure in dulness, madness, want, and age.'
For the rest; Mr. John Dennis was the son of a saddler, .n London, born in 1657. He paid court to Mr Dryden; and having obtained some correspondence with Mr. Wycherley and Mr. Congreve, he immediately obliged the public with their letters. He made himself known to the government by many admirable schemes and projects, which the ministry, for reasons best known to themselves, constantly kept private. For his character as a writer, it is given us as follows: 'Mr. Dennis is excellent at Pindaric writings, perfectly regular in all his performances, and a person of sound learning. That he is master of a great deal of penetration end judgment, his criticisms (particularly on Prince Arthur) do sufficiently demonstrate.' From the same account it also appears that he writ plays 'more to get reputation than money.
Dennis of himselt. See Giles Jacob's Lives of Dram. Poets, p. 68, 69, compared with p. 286.
Ver. 109. Bays, form’d by nature, &c.] It is hoped the
Dulness with transport eyes the lively dunce,
REMARKS. poet here hath done full justice to his hero's character which it were a great mistake to imagine was wholly sunk in stupidity; he is allowed to have supported it with a wonderful mixture of vivacity. This character is heightened according to his own desire, in a letter he wrote to our author: “Pert and dull at least you might have allowed me. What! am I only to be dull, and dull still, and again, and for ever?' He then solemnly appealed to his own conscience, that he could not think himself so, nor believe that our poet did; but that he spake worse of him than he could possibly think; and concluded it must be merely to show his wit, or for some profit or lucre to himself.' Life of C. C. chap. vii. and Let. ter to Mr. P. page 15, 40, 53. And to show his claim to what the poet was so unwilling to allow him, of being pert as well as dull, he declares he will have the last word; which occasioned the following epigram:
Quoth Cibber to Pope, "Though in verse you foreclose,
Ver. 115. Supperless the hero sat.] It is amazing how the sense of this bath been mistaken by all the former commentators, who most idly suppose it to imply, that the hero of the poem wanted a supper. In truth, a great absurdity. Not that we are ignorant that the hero of Homer's Odyssey is frequently in that circumstance, and, therefore, it can no way derogate from the grandeur of epic poem to represent such hero under a cala:nity, to which the greatest, not only of critics and poets, but of kings and warriors, have been subject. But much more refined, I will venture to say, is the meaning of our author: it was to give us obliquely a curious precept, or what Bossn calls a disguised sentence, that'Temperance is the life of study.' The language of pocsy brings all into action; and to represent a critic encompassed with books but without a supper, is a picture which lively expresseth how much the true critic prefers the diet of the mind to that of the body, one of which he always cas. tigates, and often totally neglects, for the greater improvement of the other.
Scribl. But since the liscovery of the true hero of the poem, may
Then gnaw'd his pen, then dash'd it on the ground,
REMARKS. we not add, that nothing was so natural, after so great a loss of money at dice, or of reputation by bis play, as that the poet should have no great stomach to eat a supper? Be sides, how well has the poet consulted his heroic character, in adding that he has swore all the time?
Bentl. Ver. 131. Poor Fletcher's half-eat scenes.] A great num ber of them taken out to patch up his plays.
Ver. 132. The frippery:] When I fitted up an old play it was as a good housewife will mend old linen, when she has not better employnient.? Life, p. 217, 8vo.
Ver. 133. Hapless Shakspeare, &c.] It is not to be doubted but Bays was a subscriber to Tibbald's Shakspeare. He was frequently liberal in this way; and, as he tells us,
subscribed to Mr. Pope's Homer out of pure generosity and civility; but when Mr. Pope did so to his Non-juror, he con. cluded it could be nothing but a joke.' Letter to Mr. P. p.24.
This Tibbald, or Theobald, published an edition of Shak. speare, of which he was so proud himself as to say, in one of Mist's Journals, June 8, "That to expose any errors in it was impracticable.' And to another, April 27, "That whatever care might for the future be taken by any other editor, he would still give about five t andred emendations, that shall escape them all.'
Ver. 134. Wish'd he had blotted.] It was a ridiculous praise which the players gave to Shakspeare, 'that he never
The rest on outside merit but presume,
REMARKS. blotted a line.' Ben Jonson honestly wished he had blotted a thousand; and Shakspeare would certainly have wished the same, if he had lived to see the alterations in his works, which not the actors only (and especially the daring hero of this poem) have made on the stage, but the presumptuous critics of our days in their editions.
Ver. 135. The rest on outside merit, &c.). This library is divided into three parts; the first consists of those authors from whom he stole, and whose works he mangled; the second of such as fitted the shelves, or were gilded for show, or adorned with pictures: the third class our author calls solid learning, old bodies of divinity, old commentaries, old English printers, or, old English translations; all very voluminous, and fit to erect altars to Dulness.
Ver. 141. Ogilby the great:) 'John Ogilby was one, who, from a late initiation into literature, made such a progross as might well style him the prodigy of his time! sending into the world so many large volumes! His translations of Homer and Virgil done to the life, and with such excellent sculptures: and (what added great grace to his worke) he printed them all on special good paper, and in a very good letter.' Winstanley, Lives of Poets.
Ver. 142. There, stamp'd with arms, Newcastle shines complete:). "The dutchess of Newcastle was one who busied herself in the ravishing delights of poetry; leaving to posterity in print three ample volumes of her studious en. deavours.'
Winstanley, ibid. Langbane reckons up eight folios of her grace's, which were usually adorned with gildod covers, and had her coat of arms upon thenı.
Ver. 146. Worthy Settle, Banks, and Broome.] Tho poet has mentioned these three authors in particu.ar, as they aro parallel to our hero in his three capacities ; 1. Settle was his brother laureate; only indeed upon half-pay, for