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answer for him he will do it in no more; and on this principle, of attacking few but who had slandered him, he could not have done it at all, had he been confined from censuring obscure and worthless persons, 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, I may see some of them treated as gently on their repentance or better merit, as Perrault and Quinault were at last 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 success; he has lived with the great without flattery; been a friend to men in power without pensions, from whom, as he asked, so he received, no favour, but what was done him in his friends. As his satires were the more just for being delayed, so were his panegyrics; bestowed only on such persons as he had familiarly known, only for such virtues as he had long observed in them, and only at such times as others cease to praise, if not begin to calumniate them-I mean when out of power or out of fashion. A satire, therefore, on writers so notorious for the contrary practice, became no man so well as himself; as none, it is plain, was so little in their friendships, or so much in that of those whom they had most abused, namely, the greatest and best of all parties. Let me add a farther reason, that, though en. gaged in their friendships, he never espoused their ani. mosities; and can almost singly challenge this honour, not to have written a line of any man, which, through guilt, through shame, or through fear, through variety of fortune, or change of interests, he was ever unwilling to own.
I shall conclude with remarking, what a pleasure it must be to every reader of humanity, to see all along
* As Mr. Wycherley, at the time the town declaimed against his book of poems; Mr. Walsh, after his death; Sir William Trumbull, when he had resigned the office of secretary of state; Lord Boliogbroke, at his leaving England, after the queen's death; Lord Oxford, in his last decline of life ; Mr. Secretary Craggs, at the end of the South-Sea year, and after his death; others only in epitaphs.
388 PROLEGOMENA OF SCRIBLERUS. that our author, in his very laughter, is not indulging his own ill-nature, but only punishing that of others. As to his poem, those alone are capable of doing it jus. tice, who, to use the words of a great writer, know how hard it is (with regard both to his subject and his manner) vetustis dare novitatem, obsoletis nitorem, obscuris lucem, fastiditis gratiam.
I am your most humble servant, St. James's,
WILLIAM CLELAND. Dec. 220, 1728.
HIS PROLEGOMENA AND ILLUSTRATIONS TO TRE DUNCIAD; WITH THE HYPERCRITICS OP
ARISTARCHUS. Dennis Remarks on Prince Arthur. I CANNOT but think it the most reasonable thing in the world, to distinguish good writers, by discouraging the bad. Nor is it an ill-natured thing, in relation even to the very persons upon whom the reflections are made. It is true, it may deprive them a little the sooner of a short profit and a transitory reputation; but then it may have a good effect, and oblige them (before it be too late) to decline that for which they are so very unfit, and to have recourse to something in which they may be more successful.
Character of Mr. P. 1716. The persons whom Boileau has attacked in his writings have been for the most part authors, and most of those authors, poets : and the censures he hath passed upon them have been confirmed by all Europe.
This gentleman was of Scotland, and bred at the university of Utrecht, with the Earl of Mar. He served in Spain under Eart Rivers. After the peace, he was made one of the commissioners of the customs in Scotland, and then of taxes in England; in which, having shewn himself for twenty years diligent, punetaal, and incorruptible (tbough without any other assistance of for tune), he was suddenly displaced by the minister, in the sixtyeighth year of bis age, and died two months after, in 1741. He was a person of universal learning, and an enlarged conversation; no man had a warmer heart for his friend, or a sincerer attachment to the constitution of his country.
Gildon, Preface to his New Rehearsal. It is the common cry of the poetasters of the town, and their fautors, that it is an ill-natured thing to ex. pose the pretenders to wit and poetry. The judges and magistrates may with full as good reason be reproached with ill-nature for putting the laws in execution against a thief or impostor.-The same will hold in the republic of letters, if the critics and judges will let every ignorant pretender to scribbling pass on the world.
Theobald, Letter to Mist, June 22, 1728. Attacks may be levelled, either against failures in gènius, or against the pretensions of writing without one. Concanen, Dedication to the Author of the Dunciad.
A satire upon dulness is a thing that has been used and allowed in all ages.
Out of thine owu mouth will I judge thee, wicked scribbler!
TESTIMONIES OF AUTHORS
CONCERNING OUR POET AND HIS WORK8.
M. Scriblerus Lectori S. Before we present thee with our exercitations on this most delectable poem (drawn from the many volumes of our adversaria on modern authors) we shall here, according to the laudable usage of editors, collect the various judgments of the learned concerning our poet; various indeed, not only of different authors, but of the same author at different seasons. Nor shall we gather only the testimonies of such eminent wits as would of course descend to posterity, and consequently be read without our collection; but we shall likewise, with incredible labour, seek out for divers others, which, but for this our diligence, could never at the distance of a few months appear to the eye of the most curious. Hereb thou mayst not only receive the delectation of variety, but also arrive at a more certain judgment by a grave and circumspect comparison of the witnesses
with each other, or of each with himself. Hence also thou wilt be enabled to draw reflections, not only of a critical, but a moral nature, by being let into many particulars of the person as well as genius, and of the fortune as well as merit, of our author: in which if I relate some things of little concern peradventure to thee, and some of as little even to him; I entreat thee to consider how minutely all true critics and commen. tators are wont to insist upon such, and how material they seem to themselves, if to none other. Forgive me, gentle reader, if (following learned example) I ever and anon become tedious: allow me to take the same pains to find whether my author were good or bad, well or ill-natured, modest or arrogant; as another whether his author was fair or brown, short or tall, or whether he wore a coat or a cassock.
We proposed to begin with his life, parentage, and education: but as to these, even his contemporaries do exceedingly differ. One saith, he was educated at home ; another,t that he was bred at St. Omer's by Jesuists; a third, I not at St. Omers, but at Oxford! a fourth, that he had no university education at all. Those who allow him to be bred at home differ as much concerning his tutor: One saith, he was kept by his father on purpose; a second, that he was an iti. nerant priest; a third, ** that he was a parson; onett calleth him a secular clergyman of the church of Rome; another,fi a monk. As little do they agree about his father, whom oness supposeth, like the father of Hesioł, a tradesman or merchant; another,||| a husbandman; another, 19 a hatter, &c. Nor has an author been wanting to give our poet such a father as Apuleius hath to Plato, Jamblichus to Pythagoras, and divers to Homer, viz. a demon : for thus Mr. Gildon :***
• Giles Jacob's Lives of the Poets, vol. ii. in his Life.
Dunciad dissected, p. 4. Guardian, No. 40. i Jacob's Lives, &c. vol. 11. (Dunciad dissected, p. 4. ** Farmer P. and his son. tt Dunciad dissected. 11 Characters of the Times, p. 45. g5 Female Dunciad, p. ult. u Dunciad dissected. IT Roome, Paraphrase on the 4th of Genesis, printed 1729.
*** Character of Mr. P. and his Writings, in a Letter to a Friend, printed for S. Popping, 1716, p. 10. Curll, in his Key to the Dunciad (first edition, said to be printed for A. Dodd), in the • Certain it is, that his original is not from Adam, but the devil; and that he wanteth nothing but horns and tail to be the exact resemblance of his infernal father.' Finding, therefore, such contrariety of opinions, and (whatever be ours of this sort of generation) not being fond to enter into controversy, we shall defer writing the life of our poet, till authors can determine among themselves what parents or education he had, or whether he had any education or parents at all.
Proceed we to what is more certain, his Works, though not less uncertain the judgments concerning them; beginning with his Essay on Criticism, of which hear first the most ancient of critics,
Mr. John Dennis. · His precepts are false or trivial, or both; his thoughts are crude and abortive, his expressions absurd, his numbers harsh and unmusical, his rhymes trivial and common :- instead of majesty, we have something that is very mean; instead of gravity, some. thing that is very boyish; and instead of perspicuity and lucid order, we have put too often obscurity and confusion.' And in another place— What rare numbers are here! Would not one swear that this youngster had espoused some antiquated muse, who had sued out a divorce from some superannuated sinner, upon account of impotence, and who, being poxed by the former spouse, has got the gout in her decrepid age, which makes her hobble so damnably.'*
No less peremptory is the censure of our hypercritical historian
Mr. Oldmixon. • I dare not say any thing of the Essay on Criticism in verse; but if any more curious reader has discovered in it something new which is not in Dryden's prefaces, dedications, and his essay on dramatic poetry,
10th page, declared Gildon to be the author of that libel; though in the subsequent editions of his Key he left out this assertion, and affirmed (in the Curliad, p. 4 and 8) that it was written by Dennis only.
• Reflections critical and satirical on a Rhapsody, called, AR Essay on Criticism, printed for Bernard Lintot, 8vo.