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A Purgatory, fuch as fear'd Hell is
To be particular in them would require the invention of that great Writer, or, what would be ftill more useful, the patience of his readers. I fhall therefore confine myself to our own Ifland; where we have no need to fear a scarcity of flaughter. It is obferved, by our politer neighbours, that we delight in blood; and have our killing Heroes of every species: no wonder then that our Schools fhould be full of murders like our Stage. Who has not heard how Milton flew Salmafius? and how Charles the firft, though a King, condefcended, with equal arms, to give the death's wound to Henderfon? In our own times, Locke flew Bishop Stillingfleet; and ftill later, Clarke, without a fufficient reafon, difpatched the philofopher Leibnitz. The laft, yet not the least confiderable of these fcenes of flaugher, was the fall of Pope under the conquering hand of Cibber: which truly, I regard in no other light than a decifive victory obtained by Profe over Poetry.
I just before took notice of one difference in this species of Murder from all others, that we have not obferved it to be pursued either by divine or civil juftice: There is yet another, which is, that these Murders walk the town, to use Milton's expreffion, without even the slender attendance of a Gloft. It is true, that this fingularity feems but the confe quence of the other; for when neither divine nor civil justice will take notice of the crime, of what ufe is a Ghoft? who has ever been understood as the harbinger to quicken the refentment of the one, and to denounce the coming vengeance of the other. In a word, all these unhappy victims of literary rage, for ought I could ever learn, may be truly faid to have riven up the Choft, and to have flept very quietly with their Fathers.
To this perhaps it may be objected, That it is well known fome of them have rifen again; and to the infinite vexation of their Murderers. This is not to be denied: but then it is as true, that these were not properly Ghafts,
I've had my Purgatory here betimes,
And paid for all my fatires, all my rhimes.
To this were trifles, toys and empty names.
but only what the French call, Revenans. To explain myfelf. Cardan, as unsubstantial and as difficult to be laid hold on as a School Subt.ly, had been fo hacked and mangled by Julius Cæfar Scaliger, that he expired under his pen. Julius, in the preface to his next book, had the fingular humanity to wcep over the afhes of his flaughtered enemy, and to curfe the fatal ftroke which had deprived the world of fo incomparable a man. But what was his furprife, when fix years afterwards he heard all Italy refounding with the praises of their returning Hero; who, to prove himself alive, had just published a new piece of Philofophy. Not Banquo's Ghoft,
"With twenty mortal murders on his Crown,"
could more affray the bloody-minded Macbeth, than did this appearance of his Rival diforder our victorious Prince of Verona, fo unexpectedly pushed again from his fool of Science.
Another inftance was nearer home. The learned Bickerstaffe had pronounced the death of Partridge the Almanacmaker; who deceafed accordingly: Bnt having been long well with the Stars, he was allowed, and accordingly took the advantage to come back with them, in their annual revolutions; though in no very good humour, as you may well fuppofe, with his murderer. But it was truly edifying to fee with what temper that rare Scholar bore the feeming im peachment of his art, under all the infults of an incenfed Philoma h, double dipt both in Styx and Lethe. He answered none of his unpolite cavils; but, with great meeknefs, endeavoured to account philofophically for fo odd a phænomenon as the poft existence of an Almanac-maker.
The ufe to be made of all that has been faid is only this; to try at length to civilize Letters, and to cultivate Learning with humanity. Our ideas have lately undergone a great
My mind, neither with pride's itch, nor hath been
Poyfon'd with love to fee or to be seen,
Therefore I fuffer'd this; towards me did run
change. Why then fhould not our tempers? Formerly every fancy was an article of faith; and every defence bore the air of an Auto de Fé. At prefent all things are beheld with a philofophic eye. Herefies are now treated as blunders; and Blafphemies as mere barbarities of Speech. Our Genius likewife concurs with our Tafle to foften the ferocity of Polemics, to banish the combats a outrance, and to fit us for that gentler kind of skirmish which courteous Knights-errant used to call ARIST.
VER. 7. The Poet's hell,] He has here with great prudence corrected the licentious expreffion of his Original.
With foolish pride my heart was never fir'd, Nor the vain itch t'admire, or be admir'd; I hop'd for no commiffion from his Grace; I bought no benefice, I begg'd no place; Had no new verfes, nor new fuit to fhow; Yet went to Court!-the Dev'l would have it fo. But, as the Fool that in reforming days 15 Would go to Mafs in jeft (as ftory fays) Could not but think, to pay his fine was odd, Since 'twas no form'd defign of ferving God; So was I punish'd, as if full as proud As prone to ill, as negligent of good, As deep in debt, without a thought to pay, As vain, as idle, and as falfe, as they Who live at Court, for going once that way! Scarce was I enter'd, when, behold! there came A thing which Adam had been pos'd to name; 25 Noah had refus'd it lodging in his Ark, Where all the Race of Reptiles might embark:
VER. 10. Nor the vain itch t' admire, or be admir'd;] Courtiers have the fame pride in admiring which Poets have in being admired. For VANITY is as often gratified in paying our Court to our fuperiors, as in receiving it from our inferiors.
VER 13. Had no new verjes nor new fuit to show;] Infinuating that Court-poetry and Court-clothes only come thither in honour of the Sovereign; and only ferve to fupply a day's converfation,
Stranger than seven Antiquaries ftudies,
Sir, by your Priesthood, tell me what
Sleeveless his jerkin was, and it had been
And only knoweth what to all States belongs,