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ways with robbers, and the garrets with clippers, coiners, and weekly journalists.
But admitting that two or three of thefe offend less in their morals, than in their writings; muft poverty make nonfenfe facred? If fo, the fame of bad authors would be much better confulted than that of all the good ones in the world; and not one of an hundred had ever been called by his right name.
They mistake the whole matter: it is not charity to encourage them in the way they follow, but to get them out of it; for men are not bunglers because they are poor, but they are poor because they are bunglers.
Is it not pleasant enough, to hear our authors crying out on the one hand, as if their perfons and characters were too facred for fatire; and the public objecting on the other, that they are too mean even for ridicule? But whether bread or fame be their end, it must be allowed, our author, by and in this Poem, has mercifully given them a little of both.
There are two or three, who by their rank and fortune have no benefit from the former objections, fuppofing them good, and these I was forry to see in such company. But if, without any provocation, two or three gentlemen will fall upon one, in an affair wherein his interest and reputation are equally embarked, they cannot certainly, after they have been content to print themfelves his enemies, complain of being put into the num→ ber of them.
Others, I am told, pretend to have been once his friends. Surely they are their enemies who fay fo, fince nothing can be more odious than to treat a friend as they have done. But of this I cannot perfuade myself, when I confider the conftant and eternal averfion of all bad writers to a good one."
Such as claim à merit from being his admirers, I would gladly ask, if it lays him under a personal obligation? At that rate he would be the most obliged humble fervant in the world. I dare fwear for these in particu
lar, he never defired them to be his admirers, nor pro mifed in return to be theirs: that had truly been a fign he was of their acquaintance; but would not the malicious world have fufpected fuch an approbation of fome motive worse than ignorance, in the author of the Effay on Criticism? Be it as it will, the reafons of their admiration and of his contempt are equally fubfifting, for his works and theirs are the very fame that they were.
One, therefore, of their affertions I believe may be true, "That he has a contempt for their writings." And there is another, which would probably be sooner allowed by himself than by any good judge befide, "That his own have found too much fuccefs with the public." But as it cannot confift with his modefty to claim this as a juftice, it lies not on him, but entirely on the to defend its own judgment,
There remains what in my opinion might seem a better plea for thefe people, than any they have made ufe of. If obfcurity or poverty were to exempt a man from fatire, much more fhould folly or dulnefs, which are ftill more involuntary; nay, as much so as perfonal deformity. But even this will not help them: deformity becomes an object of ridicule when a man fets up for being handfome; and so muft dulness when he fets up for a wit. They are not ridiculed becaufe ridicule in itfelf is, or ought to be, a pleasure; but because it is juft to undeceive and vindicate the honeft and unpretending part of mankind from impofition, because particular intereft ought to yield to general, and a great number who are not naturally fools, ought never to be made fo, in complaifance to a few who are. Accordingly we find that in all ages, all vain pretenders, were they ever so poor or ever fo dull, have been conftantly the topics of the most candid fatirifts, from the Codrus of JUVENAL to the Damon of BOILEAU.
Having mentioned BOILEAU, the greatest poet and moft judicious critic of his age and country, admirable for his talents, and yet perhaps more admirable for his
judgment in the proper application of them; I cannot help remarking the refemblance betwixt him and our author, in qualities, fame, and fortune; in the diftinctions fhewn them by their fuperiors, in the general esteem of their equals, and in their extended reputation amongst foreigners; in the latter of which ours has met with the better fate, as he has had for his tranflators perfons of the moft eminent rank and abilities in their refpective nations. But the refemblance holds in nothing more, than in their being equally abused by the ignorant pretenders to poetry of their times; of which not the leaft memory will remain but in their own writings, and in the notes made upon them. What BOILEAU has done in almost all his poems, our author has only in this: I dare answer for him he will do it in no more; and on this principle, of attacking few but who had flandered him, he could not have done it at all, had he been confined from cenfuring obfcure and worthlefs perfons, for scarce any other were his enemies. However, as the parity is fo remarkable, I hope it will continue to the laft; and if ever he should give us an edition of this Poem himself, I may fee fome of them treated as gently, on their repentance or better merit, as Perrault and Quinault were at laft by BOILEAU.
In one point I must be allowed to think the character of our English poet the more amiable. He has not been a follower of fortune or fuccefs; he has lived with the Great without flattery; been a friend to men in power, without penfions, from whom, as he asked, fo he received, no favour, but what was done him in his friends. As his Satires were the more juft for being delayed, fo were his Panegyrics; beftowed only on fuch perfons as he had familiarly known, only for fuch virtues as he had long obferved in them, and only at fuch times as others ceafe to praife, if not begin to calumniate them, I meaņ when out of power, or out of fashion. A Satire, thereVOL.II. R fore,
As Mr. Wycherly, at the time the town declaimed against his book of Poems; Mr. Walsh, after his death; Sir William Trumbull, when he had
fore, on writers fo notorious for the contrary practice, became no man fo well as himself; as none, it is plain, was fo little in their friendships, or fo much in that of those whom they had most abused, namely the greatest and beft of all parties. Let me add a further reason, that, though engaged in their friendships, he never espoused their animofities; and can almoft fingly challenge this honour, not to have written a line of any man, which through guilt, through fhame, or through fear, through variety of fortune, or change of interefts, he was ever unwilling to own.
I fhall 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, thofe alone are capable of doing it juftice, who, to use the words of a great writer, know how hard it is, (with regard both to his fubject and his manner) VETUSTIS DARE NOVITATEM, OBSOLET IS NITOREM, OBSCURIS LUCEM, FASTIDITLS GRATIAM. I am
Your moft humble Servant,
St. James's, Dec. 22d, 1728.
refigned the office of fecretary of state; Lord Bolingbroke, at his leavingEngland, after the queen's death; Lord Oxford, in his last decline of life; Mr. Secretary Craggs, at the end of the South-fea year, and after his death; others only in epitaphs.
This gentleman was of Scotland, and bred at the university of Utrecht, with the earl of Mar. He ferved in Spain under earl Rivers. After the peace, he was made one of the commiffioners of the customs in Scotland, and then of taxes in England; in which, having fhewn himself for twenty years dili igent, punctual, and incorruptible, (though without any other affistance of fortune) he was fuddenly displaced by the minifter, in the fixty-eighth year of his age; and died two months after, in 1741. He was a perfon of univerfal learning, and an enlarged converfation; no man had a warmer heart for his friend, or a fincerer attachment to the conftitution of his country.