Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

THE GEESE THAT SAVED THE CAPITOL.
Ver. 211. Or rob Rome's ancient geese of all their glories,

And cackling save the monarchy of Tories, relates to the well-known story of the geese that saved the Capitol: of which Virgil, Æn. viii.

' Atque hic auratis volitans argenteus anser

Porticibus, Gallos in limine adesse canebat.” A passage I have always suspected. Who sees not the antithesis of auratis and argenteus to be unworthy the Virgilian majesty ? And what absurdity to say a goose sings ? canebat. Virgil gives a contrary character of the voice of this silly bird, in Eccl. ix.

argutos inter strepere anser olores.” Read it, therefore, adesse strepebat. And why auratis porticibus ? does not the very verse preceding this inform us,

“Romuleoque recens horrebat regia culmo.” Is this thatch in one line and gold in another, consistent? I scruple not (repugnantibus omnibus manuscriptis) to correct it auritis. Horace uses the same epithet in the same sense,

Auritas fidibus canoris,

Ducere quercus.” And to say that walls have ears is common even to a proverb.—SCRIBLERUS.

Ver. 212. And cackling save the monarchy of Tories.] Not out of any preference or affection to the Tories. For what Hobbes so ingeniously confesses of himself, is true of all ministerial writers whatsoever: "That he defends the supreme powers, as the geese by their cackling defended the Romans who held the Capitol ; for they favoured them no more than the Gauls, their enemies, but were as ready to have defended the Gauls, if they had been possessed of the Capitol.”—Epist. Dedic. to the Leviathan.

[ocr errors]

THE GAZETTEERS.

Ver. 215. Thy very Gazetteers give o'er.] A band of ministerial writers, hired at the price mentioned in the note on book ii. ver. 316, who, on the very day their patron quitted his post, laid down their paper, and declared they would never more meddle in politics.

(We may here subjoin the note given in Book II. as it is an historical notice on the same subject]

We ought not to suppose that a modern critic here taxeth the poet with an anachronism, affirming these Gazetteers not to have lived within the time of his poem, and challenging us to produce any such paper of that date. But we may with equal assurance assert these Gazetteers not to have lived since, and challenge all the learned world to produce one such paper at this day. Surely, therefore, where the point is so obscure, our author ought not to be censured too rashly.—SCRIBLERUS.

Notwithstanding this affected ignorance of the good Scriblerus, the Daily Gazetteers was a title given very properly to certain papers, each of which lasted but a day. Into this, as a common sink, was received all the trash, which had been before dispersed in several journals, and circulated at the public expense of the nation. The authors were the same obscure men: though sometimes relieved by occasional essays from statesmen, courtiers, bishops, deans, and doctors. The meaner sort were rewarded with money; others with places or benefices, from an hundred to a thousand a year. It appears from the report of the Secret Committee for inquiring into the conduct of R. Earl of 0., " That no less than fifty thousand seventy-seven pounds, eighteen shillings, were paid to authors and printers of newspapers, such as Free Britons, Daily Courants, Corn Cutter's Journals, Gazetteers, and other political papers, between Feb. 10, 1731, and Feb. 10, 1741." Which shows the benevolence of one minister to have expended, for the current dulness of ten years in Britain, double the sum which gained Louis XIV. so much honour, in annual pensions to learned men all over Europe. In which, and in a much longer time, not a pension at court, nor preferment in the Church or Universities, of any consideration, was bestowed on any man distinguished for his learning separately from party-merit, or pamphletwriting

CIBBER'S TRAGEDIES, &c. Ver. 218. Cibberian forehead and Cibberian brain.) So indeed all the MSS. read; but I make no scruple to pronounce them all wrong, the laureate being elsewhere celebrated by our poet for his great modesty-modest Cibber.Read, therefore, at my peril, Cerberian forehead. This is perfectly classical, and, what is more, Homerical; the dog was the ancient, as the bitch is the modern, symbol of impudence : (Kuvòs önmar' éxwv, says Achilles to Agamemnon) which, when in a superlative degree, may well be denominated from Cerberus, the Dog with three heads. But as to the latter part of this verse, Cibberian brain, that is certainly the genuine reading.-BENTLEY.

Ver. 225. O born in sin.] This is a tender and passionate apostrophe to his own works, which he is going to sacrifice, agreeable to the nature of man in great affliction; and reflecting like a parent on the many miserable fates to which they would otherwise be subject.

Ver. 228. My better and more Christian progeny.] “It may be observable, that my muse and my spouse were equally prolific; that the one was seldom the mother of a child, but in the same year the other made me the father of & play. I think we had a dozen of each sort between us; of both which kinds some died in their infancy,” &c.-Life of C. C., p. 217, 8vo. edit.

1

Ver. 243. With that a tear.] It is to be observed that our poet hath made his hero, in imitation of Virgil's, obnoxious to the tender passions. He was indeed so given to weeping, that he tells us, when Goodman the player swore, if he did not make a good actor, he'd be danın'd; "the surprise of being commended by one who had been himself so eminent on the stage, and in so positive a manner, was more than he could support. In a word (says he) it almost took away my breath, and fairly drew tears from my eyes.”—P. 149 of his Life, 8vo. Ver. 250. Now flames the Cid, and now Perolla burns,

Great Cæsar roars and hisses in the fires;
King John in silence modestly expires :
No merit now the dear Nonjuror claims, ?
Molière's old stubble in a moment flames.
Tears gush'd again as from pale Priam's eyes,
When the last blaze sent Ilion to the skies.3

“ Jam Deïphobi dedit ampla ruinam
Vulcano superante domus; jam proximus ardet

Ucalegon." In the first notes on the Dunciad'it was said, that this author was particularly excellent at tragedy. “ This (says he) is as unjust as to say I could not dance on a rope.” But certain it is that he had attempted to dance on this rope, and fell most shamefully, having produced no less than four tragedies (the names of which the poet preserves in these few lines) the three first of them were fairly printed, acted, and damned; the fourth suppressed, in fear of the like treatment. In the former editions thus:

“ Now flames old Memnon, now Rodrigo burns,

In one quick flash see Proserpine expire,
And last, his own cold Æschylus took fire.
Then gush'd the tears, as from the Trojan's eyes,

When the last blaze," &c. 2 A comedy threshed out of Molière's Tartuffe, and so much the translator's favourite, that he assures us all our author's dislike to it could only arise from disaffection to the government:

Qui méprise Cotin, n'estime point son roi,

Et n'a, selon Cotin, ni Dieu, ni foi, ni loi.”-BOIL. He assures us, that “when he had the honour to kiss his Majesty's hand upon presenting his dedication of it, he was graciously pleased, out of his royal bounty, to order him two hundred pounds for it. And this he doubts not grieved Mr. P.”

3 See Virgil, Æn. ii., where I would advise the reader to peruse the story of Troy's destruction, rather than in Wynkyn. But I caution him alike in both to beware of a most grievous error, that of thinking it was brought about by I know not what Trojan horse; there never having been any such thing. For, first, it was not Trojan, being made by the Greeks; and,

66

[ocr errors]

secondly, it was not a horse, but a mare. This is clear from many verses in Virgil :

Uterumque armato milite complent.

Inclusos utero Danaos"
Can a horse be said Utero gerere? Again,

Uteroque recusso,
Insonuêre cavæ

Atque utero sonitum quater arma dedêre.”
Nay, is it not expressly said

“Scandit fatalis machina muros

Feeta armis." How is it possible the word fæta can agree with a horse ? And indeed can it be conceived that the chaste and virgin Goddess Pallas would employ herself in forming and fashioning the male of that species ? But this shall be proved to a demonstration in our Virgil Restored.—SCRIBLERUS.

AMBROSE PHILIPS' “ THULE."

upon it.

Ver. 258. Then snatch'd a sheet of Thule.] An unfinished poem of that name, of which one sheet was printed many years ago, by Amb. Philips, a northern author. It is a usual method of putting out a fire, to cast wet sheets

Some critics have been of opinion that this sheet was of the nature of the asbestos, which cannot be consumed by fire: but I rather think it an allegorical allusion to the coldness and heaviness of the writing.

{The “sheet” is a fragment of about a hundred lines, first published in the Freethinker, and now included in Philips' Poems. It exhibits his usual soft and pleasing style of versification, but wants vigour.]

THEOBALD AND OZELL.

Ver. 286. Tibbald or Ozell.] Lewis Tibbald (as pronounced) or Theobald (as written) was bred an attorney, and son to an attorney (says Mr. Jacob? of Sittenburn, in Kent. He was author of some forgotten plays, translations, and other pieces. He was concerned in a paper called the Censor, and a translation of Ovid. “ There is a notorious idiot, one hight Whachum, who, from an under-spur-leather to the law, is become an under-strapper to the play-house, who hath lately burlesqued the Metamorphoses of Ovid by a vile translation, &c. This fellow is concerned in an impertinent paper called the Censor."DENNIS, Rem. on Pope's Hom., p. 9, 10.

“ Mr. John Ozell (if we may credit Mr. Jacob) did go to school in Leices. tershire, where somebody left him something to live on, when he shall retire from business. He was designed to be sent to Cambridge, in order for priesthood; but he chose rather to be placed in an office of accounts, in the

[ocr errors]

As for my

City, being qualified for the same by his skill in arithmetic, and writing the necessary hands. Her has obliged the world with many translations of French plays.”—JACOB, Lives of Dram. Poets, p. 198.

Mr. Jacob's character of Mr. Ozell seems vastly short of his merits, and he ought to have further justice done him, having since fully confuted all sarcasms on his learning and genius, by an advertisement of Sept. 20, 1729, in a paper called the Weekly Medley, &c. As to my learning, everybody knows that the whole bench of bishops, not long ago, were pleased to give me a purse of guineas, for discovering the erroneous translations of the Common-prayer in Portuguese, Spanish, French, Italian, &c. genius, let Mr. Cleland show better verses in all Pope's works, than Ozell's version of Boileau's Lutrin, which the late Lord Halifax was so pleased with, that he complimented him with leave to dedicate it to him, &c., &c. Let him show better and truer poetry in the Rape of the Lock, than in Ozell's Rape of the Bucket (la Secchia Rapita). And Mr. Toland and Mr. Gildon publicly declared Ozell's translation of Homer to be, as it was prior, so likewise superior to Pope's.--Surely, surely, every man is free to deserve well of his country!'

!"-JOHN OZELL. We cannot but subscribe to such reverend testimonies as those of the bench of bishops, Mr. Toland, and Mr. Gildon.

[The union of Toland with the bench of bishops-he being a well-known infidel-is ridiculous enough. Yet Toland deserves credit for having preserved some characteristic traits and information relative to Milton. Ozell, "well known for his translations," as the obituary notices record it, died October 7, 1743.]

HEIDEGGRE.

Ver. 200. Something betwixt a Heideggre and owl.] A strange bird from Switzerland, and not (as some have supposed) the name of an eminent person who was a man of parts, and, as was said of Petronius, Arbiter Elegantiarum.

[John James Heidegger, a Swiss, was a sort of metropolitan Beau Nash, celebrated for managing operas and masquerades. The English nation, it was said, had appointed him Director of their pleasures, and his post was worth £5,000 per annum. He was a favourite at Court and with all the nobility. Heidegger was remarkable for his ugliness and obesity, but was goodnatured enough-being prosperous—to join in the laugh at his personal appearance. There is a story of his having laid a wager with Lord Chesterfield that an uglier face than his own could not be found in London. The Earl produced an old woman, whom he and the umpires considered to be duly qualified. Appearances were against the Swiss, but on his insisting that he should wear the woman's head-dress, while he gave her his periwig, the odds were declared to be decidedly in his favour. Heidegger lived to a great age, about ninety, and died Sept. 4, 1749.]

III.

« AnteriorContinuar »