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courteous stationer beside, and the aforesaid devil behind.
Mr. Lintot began in this manner. "Now damn them! what if they should put it into the newspaper, how you and I went together to Oxford? what would I care? If I should go down into Sussex, they would say I was gone to the Speaker. But what of that? If my son were but big enough to go on with the business, by G—d I would keep as good company as old Jacob."
Hereupon I enquired of his son. "The lad (says he) has fine parts, but is somewhat sickly, much as you are.—I spare for nothing in his Education at Westminster. Pray, don't you think Westminster to be the best school in England? most of the late Ministry came out of it, so did many of this Ministry. I hope the boy will make his fortune."
Don't you design to let him pass a year at Oxford? "To what purpose? (said he) the Universities do but make Pedants, and I intend to breed him a man of business."
As Mr. Lintot was talking, I observed he sat uneasy on his saddle, for which I expressed some solicitude: Nothing, says he, I can bear it well enough; but since we have the day before us, methinks it would be very pleasant for you to rest awhile under the woods. When we were alighted, "See here, what a mighty pretty Horace I have in my pocket! what if you amused yourself in turning an ode, till we mount again? Lord! if you pleased, what a clever Miscellany might you make at leisure hours?" Perhaps I may, said I, if we ride on; the motion is an aid to my fancy, a round trot very much awakens my spirits; then jog on apace, and I'll think as hard as I can.
Silence ensued for a full hour; after which Mr. Lintot lugged the reins, stopped short and broke out, "Well, Sir, how far have you gone?" I answered,
Seven miles. "Z ds, Sir, said Lintot, I thought
you had done seven stanzas. Oldsworth, in a ramble round Wimbleton-hill, would translate a whole ode in half this time. I'll say that for Oldsworth (though Host by his Timothy's), he translates an ode of Horace the quickest of any man in England. I remember Dr. King3 would write verses in a tavern three hours after he could not speak: and there's Sir Richard, in that rumbling old chariot of his, between Fleet-ditch and St. Giles's pound, shall make you half a Job."
Pray, Mr. Lintot, (said I,) now you talk of Translators, what is your method of managing them? "Sir, (replied he,) those are the saddest pack of rogues in the world: in a hungry fit they'll swear they understand all the languages in the universe: I have known one of them take down a Greek book upon my counter, and cry, Ah, this is Hebrew, I must read it from the latter end. By G—d I can never be sure in these fellows, for I neither understand Greek, Latin, French, nor Italian myself. But this is my way; I agree with them for ten shillings per sheet, with a proviso, that I will have their doings corrected by whom I please; so by one of
3 Of the Commons, Author of the Art of Cookery and other forgotten Poetry.
other they are led at last to the true sense of an author; my judgment giving the negative to all my translators." But how are you secure those correctors may not impose upon you? "Why I get any civil gentleman (especially any Scotchman) that comes into my shop, to read the original to me in English; by this I know whether my first translator be deficient, and whether my corrector merits his money or not.
"I'll tell you what happened to me last month: I bargained with S* for a new version of Lucretius to publish against Tonson's; agreeing to pay the author so many shillings at his producing so many lines. He made a great progress in a very short time, and I gave it to the correcter to compare with the Latin; but he went directly to Creech's translation, and found it the same word for word, all but the first page. Now, what d'ye think I did? I arrested the translator for a cheat; nay, and I stopt the corrector's pay too, upon this proof that he had made use of Creech instead of the original."
Pray tell me next how you deal with the Critics? "Sir, said he, nothing more easy. I can silence the most formidable of them: the rich ones for a sheet apiece of the blotted manuscript, which cost me nothing; they'll go about with it to their acquaintance, and pretend they had it from the author, who submitted to their correction: this has given some of them such an air, that in time they come to be consulted with, and dedicated to, as the top Critics of
the town.- As for the poor Critics, I'll give you
one instance of my management, by which you may
guess at the rest: A lean man, that looked like a very good scholar, came to me t'other day; he turned over your Homer, shook his head, shrug'd up his shoulders, and pish'd at every line of it: One would wonder (says he) at the strange presumption of some men j Homer is no such easy task, that every stripling, every versifier—He was going on, when my wife called to dinner: Sir, said I, will you please to eat a piece of beef with me? Mr. Lintot, said he, I am sorry you should be at the expense of this great book, I am really concerned on your account—Sir, I am much obliged to you: if you can dine upon a piece of beef, togehter with a slice of pudding—Mr. Lintot, I do not say but Mr. Pope, if he would condescend to advise with men of learning—Sir, the pudding is upon the table, if you please to go in— My Critic complies, he comes to a taste of your poetry, and tells me in the same breath, that the book is commendable, and the pudding excellent.
"Now, Sir, (concluded Mr. Lintot,) in return to the frankness I have shewn, pray tell me, Is it the opinion of your friends at court that my Lord Lansdown will be brought to the bar or not?" I told him I heard he would not, and I hoped it, my Lord being one I had particular obligations to. "That may be, (replied Mr. Lintot,) but by G—d if he is not, I shall lose the printing of a very good Trial."
These, my Lord, are a few traits by which you discern the genius of Mr. Lintot, which I have chosen for the subject of a letter. I dropt him as soon as I got to Oxford, and paid a visit to my Lord Carleton at Middleton.
The conversations I enjoy here are not to be prejudiced by my pen, and the pleasures from them only to be equalled when I meet your Lordship. I hope in a few days to cast myself from your horse at your feet.
I am, etc.
[In answer to a Letter in which he enclosed the Description of
Pliny was one of those few authors who had a warm house over his head, nay two houses, as appears by two of his epistles. I believe, if any of his contemporary authors durst have informed the public where they lodged, we should have found the garrets of Rome as well inhabited, as those of Fleetstreet: but it is dangerous to let creditors into such a secret; therefore we may presume that then, as well as now-a-days, nobody knew where they lived but their booksellers.
It seems that when Virgil came to Rome, he had no lodging at all*: he first introduced himself to Au
4 But Virgil, afterward, possessed a fine house at Rome, and a villa at Naples. And Horace, says Swift, I am sure kept his coach. Lucan and Silius Italicus dwelt in marble palaces, and had their gardens adorned with the most exquisite statues of Greece. Of modern poets, Trissino and Voltaire seem to have had the most superb houses. The former, who was a skilful architect, as well as poet, was rich enough to build a palace from