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E. OF ROCHESTER.
THE verfes on Silence are a sensible imitation of the Earl of Rochester's on Nothing; which piece, together with his Satire on Man from the fourth of Boileau, and the tenth Satire of Horace, (which in truth is excellent.) are the only pieces of this profligate Nobleman which modefty or common fenfe will allow any man to read. Rochefter had much energy in his thoughts and diction; and though the ancient Satirifts often ufe great liberty in their expreffions, yet, as the ingenious Historian* observes, “Their freedom no more refembles the licence of Rochefter, than the nakedness of an Indian does that of a common prostitute."
Pope, in this imitation, has difcovered a fund of folid fenfe, and just observation upon vice and folly, that are very remarkable in a perfon fo extremely young as he was at the time of compofing it. I believe, on a fair comparison with Rochefter's lines, it will be found, that although the turn of the Satire be copied, yet it is excelled. That Rochefter fhould write a Satire on Man, I am not furprized; it is the business of the libertine to degrade his species, and debase the dignity of human nature, and thereby destroy the most efficacious incitements to lovely and laudable actions. But that a writer of Boileau's purity of manners should represent his kind in the dark and disagreeable colours he has done, with all the malignity of a difcontented Hobbift, is a lamentable perverfion of fine talents, and is a real injury to fociety. It is a fact worthy the attention of those who study the history of learning, that the grofs licentioufnefs and applauded debauchery of Charles the Second's court proved almost as pernicious to the progress of polite litera ture and the fine arts, that began to revive after the Grand Rebellion, as the gloomy fuperftition, the abfurd cant, and formal hypocrify, that difgraced this nation during the ufurpation of Cromwell. WARTON.
Hume's Hiftory of Great Britain, vol. ii. p. 43.
E. OF ROCHESTER.
SILENCE! coeval with Eternity ;
Thou wert, ere Nature's self began to be, 'Twas one vaft Nothing, all, and all slept fast in thee.
Thine was the fway, ere heav'n was form'd, or earth,
Ere fruitful Thought conceiv'd creation's birth, Or midwife Word gave aid, and spoke the infant
Then various elements, against thee join'd,
And fram'd the clam'rous race of bufy Human-kind.
The tongue mov'd gently first, and speech was low, Till wrangling Science taught it noise and show, And wicked Wit arose, thy most abusive foe.
But rebel Wit deferts thee oft' in vain ; Loft in the maze of words he turns again, And feeks a furer ftate, and courts thy gentle reign.
Afflicted Senfe thou kindly dost set free,
And routed Reason finds a fafe retreat in thee.
With thee in private modest Dulness lies, And in thy bofom lurks in Thought's disguise; Thou varnisher of Fools, and cheat of all the Wife!
Folly by thee lies sleeping in the breast,
And 'tis in thee at last that Wisdom feeks for reft.
Silence the knave's repute, the whore's good name, The only honour of the wishing dame;
The very want of tongue makes thee a kind of Fame.
But could't thou feize fome tongues that now are free,
How Church and State fhould be oblig❜d to thee? At Senate, and at Bar, how welcome would'st thou be? XI. Yet
Yet fpeech ev'n there, fubmiffively withdraws, From rights of fubjects, and the poor man's caufe: Then pompous Silence reigns, and ftills the noify
Past services of friends, good deeds of foes, What Fav'rites gain, and what the Nation owes, Fly the forgetful world, and in thy arms repose.
The courtier's learning, policy o' th' gown,
The parfon's cant, the lawyer's fophiftry, Lord's quibble, critic's jeft; all end in thee, All reft in peace at laft, and fleep eternally.
E. o OF DORSET.
"IF one turns to the authors of the laft age for the character of this Lord, one meets with nothing but encomiums on his wit and good-nature. He was the finett gentleman in the voluptuous court of Charles the Second, and in the gloomy one of King William. He had as much wit as his firft mafter, or his cotemporaries, Buckingham and Rochefter; without the royal want of feeling, the Duke's want of principles, or the Earl's want of thought. The latter faid, with aftonishment, "That he did not know how it was, but Lord Dorfet might do any thing, and yet was never to blame!" It was not that he was free from the failings of hu manity, but he had the tenderness of it too, which made every body excufe whom every body loved; for even the afperity of his verfes seems to have been forgiven to
“The best-good man, with the worst-natured mufe."
"This line is not more familiar than Lord Dorfet's own poems to all who have a tafte for the beauties of natural and easy verse, or than his Lordship's own bon-mots, of which I cannot help repeating one of fingular humour: Lord Craven was a proverb for officious whispers to men in power. On Lord Dorfet's promotion, King Charles having feen Lord Craven pay his usual tribute to him, asked the former what the latter had been saying? The Earl replied gravely, "Sir, my Lord Craven did me the honour to whisper, but I did not think it good manners to listen.” When he was dying, Congreve, who had been to vifit him, being afked how he had left him, replied, Faith, he flabbers more wit than other people have in their best health."
"His Lordship and Waller are faid to have affifted Mrs. Catherine Philips in her tranflation of Corneille's Pompey."
Walpole, vol. ii. p. 95.