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any inclination in my friend to be serious with such accusers, or if they had only meddled with his writings; since whoever publishes, puts himself on his trial by his country: but when his moral cha. racter was attacked, and in a manner from which neither truth nor virtue can secure the most innocent; in a manner, which, though it anpihi. lates the credit of the accusation with the just and impartial, yet aggravates very much the guilt of the accusers, I mean by authors without names; then I thought, since the danger was common to all, the concern ought to be so; and that it was an act of justiée to detect the authors, not only on this account, but as many of them are the saine who for several years past have made free with the greatest names in church and state, exposed to the world the private misfortunes of families, abused all, even to women, and whose prostituted papers (for one or other party, in the unhappy divisions of their country) have insulted the fallen, the friendless, the exiled, and the dead.
Besides this, which I take to be a public concern, I have already confessed I had a private one. I am one of that number who have long loved and esteemed Mr. Pope; and had often declared it was not his capacity or writings (which we ever thought the least valuable part of his character), but the honest, open, and beneficent man, that we most esteemed and loved in him. Now, if what these people say were believed, I must appear to all my friends either a fool or a knave; either imposed on myself, or imposing on them: so that I am as much interested in the confutation of these calumnies as he is himself. in
I am no author, and consequently not to be sus. pected either of jealousy or resentment against any of the men, of whom scarce one is known to me by sight; and as for their writings, I have sought them (on this one occasion) in vain, in the closets and libraries of all my acquaintance. I had still been in the dark, if a gentleman had not procured me (I suppose from some of themselves, for they are generally much more dangerous friends than enemies) the passages I send you. I solemnly protest I have added nothing to the malice or absurdity of them; which it behoves me to declare, since the vouchers themselves will be so soon and so irrecoverably lost. You may in some measure prevent it, by preserving at least their titles, and discovering (as far as you can depend on the truth of your information) the names of the concealed authors. * The first objection I have heard made to the , poem is, that the persons are too obscure for satire. The persons themselves, rather than allow the objection, would forgive the satire; and if one could be tempted to afford it a serious answer, were not all assassinates, popular insurrections, the insolence of the rabble without doors, and of domestics within, most wrongfully chastised, if the meanness of offend ers indemnified them from punishment? On the contrary, obscurity renders them more dangerous, as less thought of: law can pronounce judgement only on open facts : morality alone can pass censure on intentions of mischief; so that for secret calumny, or the arrow flying in the dark, there is no public punishment left but what a good writer inflicts. • The next objection is, that these sort of authors are poor. - That might be pleaded as an excuse at the Old Bailey, for lesser crimes than defamation (for it is the case of almost all who are tried there), but sure it can be none here: for who will pretend that the robbing another of his reputation supplies the want of it in himself? I question not but such authors are poor, and heartily wish the objection were removed by any honest livelihood. But poverty is here the accident, not the subject: he who describes malice and villany to be pale and meagre, expresses not the least anger against paleness or leanness, but against malice and villany. The apo
thecary in Romeo and Juliet is poor; but is he therefore, justified in vending poisou ? Not but po verty itself becomes a just subject of satire, when it is the consequence of vice, prodigality, or neglect of one's lawful ealling; for then it increases the public burthen, fills the streets and highways with robbers, and the garrets with clippers, coiners, and weekly journalists. ; $
** * Hotel . But omitting that two or three of these offend less in their morals than in their writings must poverty make nonsense sacred ?. If so, the fame of bad ag. thors would be much better consulted than that of all the good ones in the world, and not one of a hundred had ever been called by his right name. ,
They mistake the whole matter : it is not charity to encourage them in the way they follow, but to get them out of it; for men are not bunglers because they are poor, but they are poor because they are bunglers. , 2015 , yuch die HW * - Is it not pleasant enough to hear our authors erying out on the one hand, as if their persons and characters were too sacred fon satire; and the pubJie objecting on the other, that they are too mean even for ridicule? But whether bread or fame be their end, it must be allowed, our author, by and in this poem, has mercifully given them a little of both. i ' i 1 : till
There are two or three, who by their rank and fortune have po benefit from the former objections, supposing them good; and these I was sorry to see in such company. But if, without any provocation, two or three gentlemen will fall upon one, in an af. fair wherein his interest and reputation are equally embarked; they cannot certainly, after they have been content to print themselves his enemies, complain of being put into the number of them.' .
: Others, I am told, pretend to have been once his friends. Surely they are their enemies who say so; since nothing can be more odious than to treat a friend as they haye done. But of this I cannot per.
suade myself, when I consider the constant and eternal aversion of all bad writers to a good one,
Such -as claim merit from being his admirers, I would gladly ask, if it lays him under a personal obligation? At that rate he would be the most obliged humble servant in the world. I. dare swear for these in particular, he never desired them to be his admirers, 'nor promised in return to be tlieirs: that had truly been a sign he was of their acquaintance ; but would not the malicious world have sus. pected such an approbation of some motive worse than ignorance in the author of the Essay on Criti. cism. Be it as it will, the reasons of their admira. tion and of his contempt are equally subsisting, for his works and theirs are the very same that they were. . 1. One, therefore, of their assertions I believe may be true, "That he has a contempt for their writings: And there is another which would probably be sooner allowed by himself. than by any good judge beside. "That his own have found too much success with the public. But as it cannot consist with his mor desty to claim this as a justice, it lies not on him, but entirely on the public, to defend its own judgement.
There remains what, in my opinion, might seem a better plea for these people, than any they have made use of. If obscurity or poverty were to exempt a man from satire, much more should folly or dulness, which are still more involuntary; nay, as much so as personal deformity. But even this will not help them: deformity becomes an object of ridi. cule when a man sets up for being handsome; and 80 must dulness, when he sets up for a wit. They are not ridiculed because ridicule in itself is, or ought to be, a pleasure; but because it is just to undeceive and vindicate the honest and unpretending part of mankind from imposition, because particular interest ought to yield to general, and a great number who are not paturally fools, ought neser to
be made so, in complaisance to a few who are. 'Aca cordingly we find, that, in all ages, all vain pre. tenders, were they ever so poor, or ever. so dull, have been constantly the topics of the most candid satirists, from the Codrus of Juvenal to the Damon of Boileau. . .
. . . Having mentioned Boileau, the greatest poet and most judicious critic of his age and country, admira ble for his talents, and yet perhaps more admirable for his judgement in the proper application of them; I cannot help remarking the resemblance betwixt bim and our author, in qualities, fame, and fortune, in the distinctions shown them by their superiors, iu the general esteem of their equals, and in their extended reputation amongst foreigners; in the latter of which ours las met with a better fate, as he has had for his translators persons of the most eminent rank and abilities in their respective nations. But the resemblance holds in nothing more than in their being equally abused by the ignorant pretenders to poetry of their times; of which not the least me. mory will remain but in their own writings, and in the notes made upon them. What Boileau has done in almost all his poems, our author has only in this: I dare answer for him he will do it no more, and & tilein! r ni
va 151 8:# Essay on Criticism in French verse, by General Hamilton ; the same, in verse also, by Monsieur Roboton, counsellor and privy secretary to king George I. after by the abbé Reynel in verse, with notes. Rape of the Lock, in French, by the princess of Con. ti, Paris, 1728; and in Italian verse, by the abbé Conti, a noble Venetian; and by themarquis Rangoni, envoy extraordinary from Modena to king George II. Others of his works by Salvini of Florence, &c. His Essays and Dissertations on Homer, several times translated into French. Essay ou Man by the abbé Reynel, in verse; by Monsieur Silhoute, in prose, 1737, and since by others in French, Italian, and Latin.