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time when I was sillily threatened, I shall now give your Lordship a frank account of the offence you imagined to be meant to you. Fanny (my Lord) is the plain English of Fannius, a real person, who was a foolish Critic, and an enemy of Horace: perhaps a Noble one, so (if your Latin be gone in earnest3) I must acquaint you, the word Beatus may be construed;
Beatus Fannius! ultro
This Fannius was, it seems, extremely fond both of his Poetry and his Person, which appears by the pictures and Statues he caused to be made of himself, and by his great diligence to propagate bad Verses at Court, and get them admitted into the library of Augustus. He was moreover of a delicate or effeminate complexion, and constant at the Assemblies and Operas of those days, where he took it into his head to slander poor Horace;
Fannius, Hermogenis lædat conviva Tigelli; till it provoked him at last just to name him, give him a lash, and send him whimpering to the Ladies.
Discipularum inter jubeo plorare cathedras.
So much for Fanny, my Lord. The word spins (as ̧ Dr. Freind or even Dr. Sherwin could assure you), was the literal translation of deduci; a metaphor taken from a Silk-worm, my Lord, to signify any slight, silken, or (as your Lordship and the Ladies call it) flimsy piece of work. I presume your Lordship has,
All I learn'd from Dr. Freind at school,
And left plain native English in its stead.-Epist. p. 2.
enough of this, to convince you there was nothing personal but to that Fannius, who (with all his fine accomplishments) had never been heard of, but for that Horace he injured.
In regard to the right honourable Lady, your Lordship's friend, I was far from designing a person of her condition by a name so derogatory to her, as that of Sappho; a name prostituted to every infamous Creature that ever wrote Verse or Novels. I protest I never applied that name to her in any verse of mine, public or private; (and I firmly believe) not in any Letter or Conversation. Whoever could invent a Falsehood to support an accusation, I pity; and whoever can believe such a Character to be theirs, I pity still more. God forbid the Court or Town should have the complaisance to join in that opinion! Certainly I meant it only of such modern Sapphos, as imitate much more the Lewdness than the Genius of the ancient one; and upon whom their wretched brethren frequently bestow both the Name and the Qualification there mentioned1.
There was another reason why I was silent as to that paper-I took it for a Lady's (on the printer's word in the title page), and thought it too presuming, as well as indecent, to contend with one of that Sex in altercation: For I never was so mean a creature as to commit my Anger against a Lady to paper, though but in a private Letter. But soon after, her denial of it was brought to me by a Noble
1 From furious Sappho scarce a milder fate,
person of real Honour and Truth. Your Lordship indeed said you had it from a Lady, and the Lady said it was your Lordship's; some thought the beautiful by-blow had Two Fathers, or (if one of them will hardly be allowed a man) Two Mothers; indeed I think both seres had a share in it, but which was uppermost, I know not: I pretend not to determine the exact method of this Witty Fornication: and if I call it Yours, my Lord, it is only because, whoever got it, you brought it forth.
Here, my Lord, allow me to observe, the different proceeding of the Ignoble Poet, and his Noble Enemies. What he has written of Fanny, Adonis, Sap
2 All the topics of contempt, ridicule, and satire that are used in this letter against Lord Hervey, had been used before, 1731, by the Author of a Reply to a late Scurrilous Libel: particularly the topics of the delicacy of his manners, and the foppery of his dress, and effeminacy of his person. He is there said, "to be such a composition of the two sexes, that it is difficult to distinguish which is most predominant." My friend Horace hath described him much better than I can:
"Quem si puellarum insereres choro,
And it is added, "Though it would be barbarous to handle such a delicate hermaphrodite, such a pretty little master-miss, too roughly, yet you must give me leave, my dear, to give you a little gentle correction for your good." Page 6.
Lord Hervey left behind him Memoirs of his own Times, said to be full of curious matter, and which it is to be hoped will one day be published: Mr. Hans Stanley told me he had read them.
In the second volume of the Letters of Voltaire, page 305, is a very long and curious letter to Lord Hervey, full of high encomiums on this Peer, and still higher of Louis XIV. and his reign. From whence it appears that Lord Hervey had made
pho, or who you will, he owned he published, he set his name to: What they have published of him, they have denied to have written; and what they have written of him, they have denied to have published. One of these was the case in the past Libel, and the other in the present. For though the parent has owned it to a few choice friends, it is such as he has been obliged to deny in the most particular terms, to the great person whose opinion concerned him most. Yet, my Lord, this Epistle was a piece not written in haste, or in a passion, but many months after all pretended provocations; when you was at full leisure at Hampton-court, and I the object singled, like a Deer out of Season, for so ill-timed and ill-placed a diversion. It was a deliberate work, directed to a Reverend Person3, of the most serious and sacred character, with whom you are known to cultivate a strict correspondence, and to whom it will not be doubted but you open your secret Sentiments, and deliver your real judgment of men and things. This, I say, my Lord, with submission, could not but awaken all my Reflection and Attention. Your Lordship's opinion of me as a Poet, I cannot help; it is yours, my Lord, and that were enough to mortify a poor man; but it is not yours alone, you must be content to share it with the Gentlemen of the Dunciad, and (it may be) with many more innocent and ingenious men. If your some objections to this work of Voltaire; and particularly for his entitling it, The Age of Louis XIV.
In a celebrated pamphlet, entitled, the Court Secret, written on occasion of the death of Lord Scarborough, Lord Hervey was very severely satirized under the name of Ibrahim. 8vo. 1791, 3 Dr. Sherwin.
Lordship destroys my poetical character, they will claim their part in the glory: but, give me leave to say, if my moral character be ruined, it must be wholly the work of your Lordship; and will be hard even for you to do, unless I myself co-operate.
How can you talk (my most worthy Lord) of all Pope's Works as so many Libels, affirm, that he has no invention but in Defamation*, and charge him with selling another man's labours printed with his own names; Fie, my Lord, you forget yourself. He printed not his name before a line of the person's you mention; that person himself has told you and all the world in the book itself, what part he had in it, as may be seen at the conclusion of his notes to the Odyssey. I can only suppose your Lordship (not having at that time forgot your Greek) despised to look upon the Translation; and ever since entertained too mean an opinion of the Translator to cast an eye upon it. Besides, my Lord, when you said he sold another man's works, you ought in justice to have added that he bought them, which very much alters the Case. What he gave him was five hundred pounds his receipt can be produced to your Lordship. I dare not affirm that he was as well paid as some Writers (much his inferiors) have been since; but your Lordship will reflect that I am no man of quality, either to buy or sell scribbling so high: and that I have neither Place, Pension, nor Power to reward for Secret Services. It cannot be, that one of
To his eternal shame
Prov'd he can ne'er invent but to defame.
And sold Broom's labours printed with Pope's name. P. 7.