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The race by vigour, not by vaunts, is won;
of much respect, that of Mr. Edmund Curl. As a plain repetition of great actions is the best praise of them, we shall only say of this eminent man, that he carried the trade many lengths beyond what it ever before had arrived at; and that he was the envy and admiration of all his profession. He possessed himself of a command over all authors whatever; he caused them to write what he pleased; they could not call their very names their own. He was not only famous among these; he was taken notice of by the State, the Church, and the Law, and received particular marks of distinction from each.
It will be owned that he is here introduced with all possible dignity; he speaks like the intrepid Diomed; he runs like the swift-footed Achilles; if he falls, it is like the beloved Nisus; and (what Homer makes to be the chief of all praises) he is favoured of the gods: he says but three words, and his prayer is heard; a goddess conveys it to the seat of Jupiter. Though he loses the prize, he gains the victory; the great mother herself comforts him, she inspires him with expedients, she honours him with an immortal present (such as Achilles receives from Thetis, and Æneas from Venus) at once instructive and prophetical. After this, he is unrivalled
The tribute our author here pays him is a grateful return for several unmerited obligations: many weighty animadversions on the public affairs, and many excellent and diverting pieces on private persons, has he given to his name.
60 So take the hindmost, hell.]
Occupet extremum scabies; mihi turpe relinqui est.'
61, &c.] Something like this is in Homer, Iliad x. ver. 220. of Diomed. Two different manners of the same author in his similes are also imitated in the two following; the first, of the bailiff, is short, unadorned (and as the critics well know) from familiar life; the second, of the water-fowl, more extended, picturesque, and from rural life. The 59th verse is likewise a literal translation of one in Homer. W.
As when a dab-chick waddles through the copse
Which Curl's Corinna chanced that morn to make:7°
If ever he owed two verses to any other, he owed Mr. Curl some thousands. He was every day extending his fame, and enlarging his writings; witness innumerable instances; but it shall suffice only to mention the Court Poems, which he meant to publish as the work of the true writer, a lady of quality; but being first threatened, and afterwards punished for it by Mr. Pope, he generously transferred it from her to him, and ever since printed it in his name. The single time that ever he spoke to C. was on that affair, and to that happy incident he owed all the favours since received from him: so true is the saying of Dr. Sydenham, That any one shall be, at some time or other, the better or the worse for having but seen or spoken to a good or bad man.' W.
70-Curl's Corinna.] This name, it seems, was taken by one Mrs. Thomas, who procured some private letters of Mr. Pope, while almost a boy, to Mr. Cromwell, and sold them without the consent of either of those gentlemen to Curl, who printed them in 12mo. 1727. He discovered her to be
64 65 On feet and wings, and flies, and wades, and hops, So labouring on, with shoulders, hands, and head.
So eagerly the fiend
O'er bog, o'er steep, through streight, rough, dense, or rare,
67 68 With arms expanded Bernard rows his state, And left-legg'd Jacob seems to emulate.] Milton, of the motion of the swan,
His state with oary feet.'
And Dryden, of another's-With two left legs.—
(Such was her wont, at early dawn to drop
Obscene with filth the miscreant lies bewray'd,
Hear, Jove! whose name my bards and I adore, As much at least as any god's, or more; And him and his, if more devotion warms, Down with the Bible, up with the pope's arms.'
A place there is betwixt earth, air, and seas, Where, from ambrosia, Jove retires for ease. There in his seat two spacious vents appear, On this he sits, to that he leans his ear,
the publisher, in his Key, p. 11. We only take this opportunity of mentioning the manner in which those letters got abroad, which the author was ashamed of as very trivial things, full not only of levities, but of wrong judgments of men and books, and only excusable from the youth and inexperience of the writer. W.
82 The Bible, Curl's sign: the Cross Keys, Lintot's.
73 Here fortuned Curl to slide.]
'Labitur infelix, cæsis ut forte juvencis
Fusus humum, viridesque super madefecerat herbas
74 And Bernard! Bernard!.]
VIRG. En. v. of Nisus.
Ut litus Hyla! Hyla! omne sonaret.'
VIRG. Ecl. VI.
83 A place there is betwixt earth, air, and seas.]
'Orbe locus medio est, inter terrasque, fretumque,
OVID. Met. XII.
And hears the various vows of fond mankind;
Of link-boys vile, and watermen obscene;
Nor heeds the brown dishonours of his face. 103
And now the victor stretch'd his eager hand Where the tall nothing stood, or seem'd to stand; A shapeless shade, it melted from his sight, 1 Like forms in clouds, or visions of the night.
93 The Roman goddess of the common-sewers.
108 Nor heeds the brown dishonours of his face.]
· Faciem ostentabat, et udo
Turpia membra fimo.'
VIRG. En. V.
111 A shapeless, shade, &c.]
Par levibus ventis, volucrique simillima somno.'
VIRG, En. VI.
To seize his papers, Curl, was next thy care;
116 Evans, Young, and Swift.] Some of those persons whose writings, epigrams, or jests, he had owned. W.
121 Like Congreve, Addison, and Prior.] These authors being such whose names will reach posterity, we shall not give any account of them, but proceed to those of whom it is necessary. Bezaleel Morris was author of some satires on the translators of Homer, with many other things printed in newspapers Bond writ a satire against Mr. P. Capt. Breval was author of The Confederates, an ingenious dramatic performance, to expose Mr. P. Mr. Gay, Dr. Arbuthnot, and some ladies of quality,' says Curl, Key, p. 11. W. 125 Mears, Warner, Wilkins.] Booksellers, and printers of much anonymous stuff.
128 Joseph Gay.] A fictitious name put by Curl before several pamphlets, which made them pass with many for Mr. Gay's. The ambiguity of the word Joseph, which likewise signified a loose upper coat, gives much pleasantry to the idea.
114 His papers light, fly diverse, toss'd in air.] Virgil, En. VI. of the Sibyl's leaves :