Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

have been with great diligence recovered, and filhed up with a hook and line, by the ministerial writers, which make at present the great ornaments of their works.

Whatever he judged beneficial to mankind, he constantly communicated not only during his itay among us, but ever since bis absence) by fome method or other in which oftentation had no part. With what incredible modesty he concealed himself, is known to numbers of those to whom he addrefed sometimes Epistles, fonetimes Hints, fometimes whole Treatises, Advices to friends, Projects of first ministers, Letters to members of parliament, Accounts to the Royal Society, and innumerable others.

All these will be vindicated to the true author, in the course of these meincirs. I may venture to say, they can• no: be unacceptable to any, but to those, who will ap. pear too much concerned as plagiaries, to be admitted as judges. Wherefore we warn the pnblic, to take particular notice of all such as manifest any indecent paflion at the appearance of this work, as persons most certainly invol yed in the guilt.

The End of the First Book,

MARTINUS

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

I

Thath been long, my dear countrymen, the subject of

my concern and surprize, that whereas numberless poets, critics, and orators, have compiled and digeit. *ed the art of antient poely, there hath not risen among us one person fo public-spirited, as to perform the like for the modern. Although it is universally known, that our every way industrious moderns, both in the weight of their writings, and in the velocity of their judgments, do lo infinitely excel the faid antients

Nevertheless, too true it is, that while a plain and di. rect road is paved to their übos, or fubime, no track. has. been yet chilked out to arrive at our Bidos, or profound, The Latins, as they came between the Greeks and us, made use of the word altitudo, which implics equally heighth and depth. Wherefore considering, with no small grief, how many proniling geniuses of this age are wai. dering, as I may lay, in the dark without a guide, I have undertaken this arduous but necessary task, to lead them, as it were by the hand, and step by step, the gentle downhill

way to the bathos ; the boitom, the end, the central point, the 14912 plus ultra, of true modern poesy !

When I consider, my dear countrymen, the extent, fertility, and populousness of our lowlands of Parnassus, the flourishing itate of our trade, and the plenty of our

manus

[ocr errors]

manufacture, there are two reflections, which adıninister great occation of furprize; the one, that all dignities and honours should be bestowed upon the exceeding few meagre inhabitants of the top of the mountain ; the other, that our nation should have arrived at that pitch of greatness it now possesses, without any regular system of laws. As to the first, it is with great pleasure I have observed of late the gradual decay of delicacy and refine. ment among inankind, who are become too reasonable to require that we should labour with infinite pains to come up to the taste of these mountaineers, when they without any may condescend to ours. But as we have now an unquestionable majority on our side, I doubt not but we shall shortly be able to level the highlanders, and procure a farther vent for our own product, which is already so much relished, encouraged, and rewarded by the nobility and gentry of Great Britain.

Therefore, to supply our former defects, I propose to collect the scattered rutes of our art into regular institutes, from the example and practice of the deep geniuses of our nation; imitating herein my predecessors, the master of Alexander, and the secretary of the renowned Zenobia : and in this my undertaking I am the more animated, as I expect more success than has attended even those great crilics; since their Jaws, though they might be good, have ever been flickly executed, and their precepts, however (trict, obeyed only by fits, and by a very small number,

At the same time I intend to do justice upon our neighbours, inhabitants of the upper Parnassus ; who, taking advantage of the rising ground, are perpetually throwing down rubbish, dirt, and stones upon us, never suffering us to live in peace. These men, while they enjoy the crystal stream of Helicon, envy us our common water, which (thank our stars), though it is somewhat muddy, flows in much greater abundance. Nor is this the greatest in. justice that we have to complain of; for though it is evi. dent, that we never made the least attempt or inroad in. to their territories, but lived contented in our native fens; they have often not only committed petty larcenies upon our borders, but driven the country, and carried off at once whole cart-loads of our manufacture; to reclaim

fome

[merged small][ocr errors]

some of which stolen goods, is part of the design of this treatise.

For we shall fee, in the course of this work, that our greatest adversaries have sometimes descended towards us ; and doubtless might pow and then have arrived at the bathos itself, had it not been for that mistaken opinion they all entertained, that the rules of the antients were equally necessary to the moderns; than which there cannot be a more grievous error, as will be amply proved in the following discourse.

And indeed when any of these have gone so far, as by the light of their own genius to attempt new models, it is wonderful to observe, how nearly they have approach. ed us in those particular pieces ; though in their others they differed toto cælo from us.

[blocks in formation]

T

That the bathos, or profound, is the natural tafie of man,

and in particular of the present age. HE taste of the bathos is implanted by nature itself

in the soul of man, till prevented by custom or example, he is taught, or rather coinpelled to relish the fublime. Accordingly, we lee the unprejudiced minds of children delight only in such productions, and in such i: mages, as our true modern writers fet before thein. have observed, how fast the general taste is returning to this first simplicity and innocence: and if the intent of all poetry be to divent and instruct, certainly, that kind, which diverts and instructs the greatesl number, is to be preferred. Let us look round among the admirers of poetry; we shall find those who have a taste of the filblime, to be very few; but the profound strikes universally, and is adapted to every capacity. It is a fruitless undertaking to write for men of a nice and foppish gusto, wbom, after all, it is almost impossible to please ; and it is still more chimerical to write for posterity, of whole tafte we cannot make any judgment, and whole applause we can never enjoy. li must be confessed, our viiler authors have a present end,

Et

Et prodeffe volunt, et delectare poetæ , Their crue design is profit or gain ; in order to acquire which, it is necessary to procure applause by administring, pleasure to the reader : from whence it follows demon. Arably, that their productions must by fuited to the preJent taste. And I cannot but congratulate our age on this peculiar felicity, that though we have made indeed great progress in all other branches of luxury, we are not yet debauched with any bigh relish io poetry, but are in this

one taste lels nice than our ancestors. If an art is to be estemated by its success, I appeal to experience, whether there have not been, in proportion to their nuniber, as many starving good poets, as bad ones?

Nevertheless, in making gain the princip I end of our art, tar be it from me to exclude any great geniuses of rank or fortune from diverting themselves this way

They ought to be praised no less than those princes, who pass their vacant hours in some ingenious mechanical or manual

And to such as these, would be ingratitude not to own, that our art bas been often infinitely indebted.

art.

[blocks in formation]

The necesity of the bathos physically considered. TURTHERMORE, it were great cruelty and injustice,

if all such authors as cannot write in the other way, were prohibited from writing at all. Agaiost this I draw an argument from what seems to me an undoubted physi. cal maxim ; that poetry is a natural morbid fecretion from the brain. As I would not suddenly stop a cold in tlie head, or dry up my neighbour's issue, I would as little kinder him from neceffary writing. It may be affirmed with great truth, that there is barely any human creature past childhood, but at one tine or other has had lome poetical evacuation, and, no question, was much the better for it in his healıb; so true is the saying, 1!?/cimur poeta. Therefore is the delire of writing properly terined pruritus, the “ titillation of the generative faculty

of the brain," and the perfon is laid to corecive; now 'uch as cunceive must bring forth.

I have kno!!! a man VOL, V.

F

thought

« AnteriorContinuar »