Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

censure, who left all subjects whatever, on all occasions, to fall upon the bad poets (which, it is to be feared, would have been more immediately his concern). But certainly next to commending good writers, the greatest service to learning is to expose the bad, who can only that way be made of any use to it. This truth is very well set forth in these lines addressed to our author :

“The craven rook, and pert jackdaw,

Though neither birds of moral kind,
Yet serve, if hang'd, or stuff’d with straw,

To show us which way blows the wind.
“Thus dirty knaves, or chattering fools,

Strung up by dozens in thy lay,
Teach more by half than Dennis' rules,

And point instruction every way.
“With Egypt's art thy pen may strive,

One potent drop let this but shed,
And every rogue that stunk alive,

Becomes a precious mummy dead.”

PERSONAL DEFORMITY. Ver. 142. Yet smiling at his rueful length of face.] The decrepid person or figure of a man are no reflections upon his genius: an honest mind will love and esteem a man of worth, though he be deformed or poor. Yet the author of the Dunciad hath libelled a person for his rueful length of face!"-Mist's Journal, June 8. This genius and man of worth, whom an honest mind should love, is Mr. Curll. True it is, he stood in the pillory, an incident which will lengthen the face of any man, though it were ever so comely, therefore is no reflection on the natural beauty of Mr. Curll. But as to reflections on any man's face or figure, Mr. Dennis saith excellently: "Natural deformity comes not by our fault; 'tis often occasioned by calamities and diseases, which a man can no more help than a monster can his deformity. There is no one misfortune, and no one disease, but what all the rest of man. kind are subject to. But the deformity of this author is visible, present, lasting, unalterable, and peculiar to himself. 'Tis the mark of God and Nature upon him, to give us warning that we should hold no society with him, as a creature not of our original, nor of our species ; and they who have refused to take this warning which God and Nature have given them, and have in spite of it, by a senseless presumption, ventured to be familiar with him, have severely suffered, &c. 'Tis certain his original is not from Adam, but from the devil," &c.—Dennis's Charact. of Mr. P. octavo, 1716.

Admirably it is observed by Mr. Dennis against Mr. Law, p. 33, “That the language of Billingsgate can never be the language of charity, nor conse. quently of Christianity." I should else be tempted to use the language of a critic; for what is more provoking to a commentator than to behold his author

[ocr errors]

thus portrayed? Yet I consider it really hurts not him ; whereas to call some others dull, might do them prejudice with a world too apt to believe it. Therefore, though Mr. D. may call another a little ass, or a young toad, far be it from us to call him a toothless lion or an old serpent. Indeed, had I written these notes (as was once my intent) in the learned language, I might have given him the appellations of balatro, calceatum caput, scurra in triviis, being phrases in good esteem and frequent usage among the best learned. But in our mother-tongue were I to tax any gentleman of the Dunciad, surely it should be in words not to the vulgar intelligible; whereby Christian charity, decency, and good accord among authors, might be preserved.

SCRIBLERUS. The good Scriblerus here, as on all occasions, eminently shows his humanity. But it was far otherwise with the gentlemen of the Dunciad, whose scurrilities were always personal, and of that nature which provoked every honest man but Mr. Pope; yet never to be lamented, since they occasioned the following amiable verses :

“While malice, Pope, denies thy page

Its own celestial fire,
While critics, and while bards in rage,

Admiring, won't admire ;
“While wayward pens thy worth assail,

And envious tongues decry;
These times, though many a friend bewail,

These times bewail not I.
“But when the world's loud praise is thine,

And spleen no more shall blame,
When with thy Homer thou shalt shine

In one establish'd fame;
“When none shall rail, and every lay

Devote a wreath to thee;
That day (for come it will) that day

Shall I lament to see.” [These verses first appeared in a collection of pieces in prose and verse on occasion of the Dunciad, 1729. They were written by one Lewis, author of “Philip of Macedon," a tragedy, published in 1727, and dedicated to Pope. In 1730 Lewis published a second volume of miscellaneous poems.

See Croker's Boswell, under date of 1784. In the octavo edition of the Dunciad, 1729, Pope has the following passage:-" They went so far as to libel an eminent sculptor for making our author's busts in marble, at the request of Mr. Gibbs the architect; which rhymes had the undeserved honour to be answered in an Impromptu by the Earl of B-:

"Well, Sir, suppose the busto’s a d- -d head,

Suppose that Pope's an elf;
All he can say for 't is, he neither made

The busto nor himself.'

[ocr errors]

a

6

“And by another person of quality

'Rysbrack, to make a Pope of stone,

Must labour hard and sore:
But it would cost him labour none,

To make a stone of Moore.'" The “Moore," of course, is James Moore Smythe ; the “Earl of B-," the Earl of Burlington, who might not like to have this impromptu fathered upon him. Nor was the subject of the elfish shape one on which Pope was fond to dwell, even to shame an antagonist. The passage was retained in the quarto of 1735, but disappeared from the duodecimo of the following year.]

ELIZA HAYWOOD.
Ver. 157. See in the circle next Eliza placed.

160. By bounteous Kirkall dress’d.1 In this game is exposed, in the most contemptuous manner, the profligate licentiousness of those shameless scribblers (for the most part of that sex

[graphic][merged small]

which ought least to be capable of such malice or impudence) who in libellous Memoirs and Novels, reveal the faults or misfortunes of both sexes, to the ruin of public fame, or disturbance of private happiness. Our good poet (by the whole cast of his work being obliged not to take off the irony) where he could not show his indignation, hath shown his contempt as much as possible, having here drawn as vile a picture as could be represented in the colours of epic poesy.—SCRIBLERUS.

Eliza Haywood. This woman was authoress of those most scandalous books called the Court of Carimania; and the New Utopia. For the two babes of love, see CURLL, Key, p. 22. But whatever reflection he is pleased to throw upon this lady, surely it was what from him she little deserved, who had celebrated Curll's undertakings for reformation of manners, and declared her. self “ to be so perfectly acquainted with the sweetness of his disposition, and that tenderness with which he considered the errors of his fellow-creatures; that, though she should find the little inadvertencies of her own life recorded in his papers, she was certain that it would be done in such a manner as she could not but approve." Mrs. Haywood, Hist. of Clar. printed in the Female Dunciad, p. 18.

1 Kirkall, the name of an engraver. Some of this lady's works were printed in four volumes in 12mo., with her picture thus dressed up before them.

[This authoress, like Mrs. Centlivre, had tried the stage, and afterwards wrote some miserable novels and dramatic pieces. Her later works were more decent and becoming than those mentioned by Pope: they were the Female Spectator, Jemmy and Jenny Jessamy, the Invisible Spy, &c. She died in 1756, aged about sixty.]

OSBORNE, THE BOOKSELLER. Ver. 167. Osborne and Curll accept the glorious strife.] A bookseller in Gray'sInn, very well qualified by his impudence to act this part; and therefore placed here instead of a less deserving predecessor. [The first person named was a bookseller named Chetwood, who, in some drunken debauch, as Carll says, was sent home crowned like Osborne in the poem. In the edition of 1729, Chapman, another bookseller, supplanted Chetwood.] This man published advertisements, for a year together, pretending to sell Mr. Pope's subscription books of Homer's Iliad at half the price: of which books he had none, but cut to the size of them (which was quarto) the common books in folio, without copper-plates, on a worse paper, and never above half the value.

Upon this advertisement the Gazetteer harangued thus, July 6, 1739 : “How melancholy must it be to a writer to be so unhappy as to see his works hawked for sale in a manner so fatal to his fame! How, with honour to yourself, and justice to your subscribers, can this be done? What an ingratitude to be charged on the only honest poet that lived in 1738; and than whom virtue has not had a shriller trumpeter for many ages! That you were once generally admired and esteemed can be denied by none; but that you and your works are now despised, is verified by this fact:" which being utterly false, did not indeed much humble the author, but drew this just chastisement on the bookseller.

[Thomas Osborne was so impassively dull, according to Dr. Johnson, that he would not feel Pope's satire. Osborne purchased the great library of the Earl of Oxford for the sum of £13,000. Johnson drew up the catalogue of this noble library, and in some dispute with the bookseller knocked him down with a folio volume : "Sir, he was impertinent to me, and I beat him; but it was not in his shop, it was in my own chamber.” See Boswell, under date 1743.]

[ocr errors]

THOMAS BENTLEY.

[ocr errors]

Ver. 205. Bentley his mouth wilh classic flattery opes.] Not spoken of the famous Dr. Richard Bentley, but of one Thom. Bentley, a small critic, who aped his uncle in a little Horace. The great one was intended to be dedicated to the Lord Halifax, but (on a change of the ministry) was given to the Earl of Oxford; for which reason the little one was dedicated to his son the Lord Harley. A taste of his classic elocution may be seen in his following panegyric on the peace of Utrecht:—“Cupimus patrem tuum, fulgentissimum illud orbis Anglicani jubar, adorare! O ingens reipublicæ nostræ columen! O fortunatam tanto heroe Britanniam ! Illi tali tantoque viro Deum per omnia adfuisse, manumque ejus et mentem direxisse, certissimum est. Hujus enim unius ferme opera, æquissimis et perhonorificis condition. ibus, diuturno, heu nimium! bello, finem impositum videmus. O diem æterna memoria dignissimam! qua terrores patriæ omnes excidit, pacemque diu exoptatam toti fere Europæ restituit, ille populi Anglicani amor, Harleius." Thus critically (that is verbally) translated :

Thy father, that most refulgent star of the Anglican orb, we much desire to adore! Oh mighty column of our republic! O Britain fortunate in such a hero! That to such and so great a man God was ever present, in every thing, and all along directed both his hand and his heart, is a most absolute certainty! For it is in a manner by the operation of this man alone, that we behold a war (alas ! how much too long a one!) brought at length to an end, on the most just and most honourable conditions. Oh day eternally to be memorated! wherein all the terrors of his country were ended, and a peace (long wished for by almost all Europe) was restored by Harley, the love and delight of the people of England.” [T. Bentley was then a mere boy.]

But that this gentleman can write in a different style may be seen in a letter he printed to Mr. Pope, wherein several noble lords are treated in a most extraordinary language, particularly the Lord Bolingbroke, abused for that very peace, which he here makes the single work of the Earl of Oxford, directed by God Almighty.

[Bentley, it is said, sent a challenge to Pope in consequence of this satire. The poet referred it to a military friend-probably Cleland—who, in consideration of the personal infirmity of Pope, took up his quarrel, and offered to meet his adversary. Upon this Bentley explained or apologised.]

« AnteriorContinuar »