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the most innocent; in a manner, which, though it annihilates the credit of the accufation with the just and impartial, yet aggravates very much the guilt of the accufers; I mean by authors without names; then I thought, fince the danger was common to all, the concern ought to be fo; and that it was an act of juftice to detect the authors, not only on this account, but as many of them are the fame who for feveral years paft have made free with the greatest names in church and ftate, exposed to the world the private misfortunes of families, abufęd all, even to women, and whofe prostituted papers (for one or other party, in the unhappy divifions of their country) have infulted the fallen, the friendlefs, the exiled and the dead.
Befides this, which I take to be a public concern, I have already confeffed I had a private one. I am one of that number who have long loved and efteemed Mr. POPE; and had often declared it was not his capacity or writings. (which we ever thought the leaft valuable part of his character) but the honeft, open, and beneficent man, that we most efteemed, and loved in him. Now, if what these people fay were believed, I must appear to all my friends either a fool, or a knave; either imposed on myfelf, or impofing on them; fo that I am as much interefted in the confutation of thefe calumnies, as he is himself.
I am no author, and confequently not to be fufpected either of jealoufy or refentment against any of the men, of whom scarce one is known to me by fight; and as for their writings, I have fought them (on this one occafion) in vain, in the clofets and libraries of all my acquaintance. I had ftill been in the dark, if a gentleman had not procured me (I fuppofe from fome of themfelves, for they are generally much more dangerous friends than enemies) the paffages 1 fend you. I folemnly protest I have added nothing to the malice or abfurdity of them; which it behoves me to declare, fince the vouchers themfelves will be fo foon and fo irrecoverably loft, You may
in fome measure prevent it, by preserving at least their titles, and difcovering (as far as you can depend on the truth of your information) the names of the concealed authors.
The firft objection I have heard made to the Poem is, that the perfons are too obfcure for fatire. The persons themselves, rather than allow the objection, would forgive the fatire; and if one could be tempted to afford it a ferious anfwer, were not all affaffinates, popular infurrections, the infolence of the rabble without doors, and of domeftics within, moft wrongfully chaftifed, if the meanness of offenders indemnified them from punishment? On the contrary, obfcurity renders them more dangerous, as lefs thought of: law can pronounce judgment only on open facts: morality alone can pafs cenfure on intentions of mischief; fo that for fecret calumny, or the arrow flying in the dark, there is no public punishment left, but what a good writer inflicts.
The next objection is, that these fort of authors are poor. That might be pleaded as an excufe at the Old Bailey, for leffer crimes than defamation, (for 'tis the cafe of almost all who are tried there) but fure it can be none here for who will pretend that the robbing another of his reputation fupplies the want of it in himself? queftion not but fuch authors are poor, and heartily with the objection were removed by any honeft livelihood. But poverty is here the accident, not the subject: he who defcribes malice and villany to be pale and meagre, expreffes not the leaft anger againft paleness or leanness, but against malice and villany. The apothecary in Romeo and Juliet is poor; but is he therefore juftified in vending poifon? Not but poverty itself becomes a juft fubject of fatire, when it is the confequence of vice, prodigality, or neglect of one's lawful calling; for then it increases the public burthen, fills the streets and high
Which we have done in a lift printed in the Appendix.
ways with robbers, and the garrets with clippers, coiners, and weekly journalists.
But admitting that two or three of thefe offend lefs 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 thefe I was forry to fee in fuch company. But if, without any provocation, two or three gentlemen will fall upon one, in an affair wherein his intereft 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 servant 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 some 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 public, to defend its own judgment,
There remains what in my opinion might seem a better plea for these people, than any they have made use 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 fo 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 fo muft dulnefs when he fets up for a wit. They are not ridiculed because ridicule in itfelf is, or ought to be, a pleasure; but because it is just 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 fo poor or ever fo dull, have been conftantly the topics of the moft 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 distinctions 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 respective nations. But the refemblance holds in nothing more, than in their being equally abufed 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 anfwer 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 worthless perfons, for scarce any other were his enemies. However, as the parity is so remarkable, I hope it will continue to the last; and if ever he should give us an edition of this Poem himself, may fee some 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; bestowed 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 cease to praise, if not begin to calumniate them, I meaņ when out of power, or out of fashion *. A Satire, there VOL.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