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I left no calling for this idle trade,
But why then publish ? Granville the polite, i 35
NOTES. his Father into the Forest: and then got firft acquainted with the writings of Waller, Spencer, and Dryden ; in the order I have named them. On the first fight of Dryden, he found he had what he wanted. His Poems were never out of his hands; they became his model; and from them alone he learnt the whole magic of his versification, This year he began an epic Poem, the fame which Bp. Atterbury, long afterwards, persuaded him to burn. Besides this, he wrote, in those early days, a Comedy and Tragedy, the latter taken from a story in the Legend of St. Genevieve. They both deservedly underwent the fame fate. As he began his Pastorals soon after, he used to say pleafantly, that he had literally followed the example of Virgil, who tells us, Cum canerem reges et prælia, &c.
Ver. 130. no father disobey'd.] When Mr. Pope was yet a Child, his Father, though no Poet, would
set him to make English verses. He was pretty difficult to please, and would often tend the boy back to new turn them. When they were to his mind, he took
great pleasure in them, and would say, These are good rhymes. VER. 139. Talbet, &c.] All these were Patrons or Admirers of Mr. Dryden; though a scandalous libel against him, entitled,
And St. John's self-(great Dryden's friends before)
Soft were my numbers; who could take offence While pure Description held the place of Sense?
NOTES. Dryden's Satyr to his Muse, has been printed in the name of the Lord Somers; of which he was wholly ignorant.
These are the persons to whose account the Author charges the publication of his first pieces : persons, with whom he was conversant (and he adds beloved) at 16 or 17 years of age; an early period for such acquaintance. The catalogue might be made yet more illustrious, had he not confined it to that time when he writ the Pastorals and Windsor Forest, on which he passes a sort of Censure in the lines following,
While pure Description held the place of Sense ? &c. P. VER, 146. Burnets, &c.] Authors of secret and scandalous History
Ibid. Burnets, Oldmixons, and Cooks.] By no means Authors of the same class, though the violence of party might hurry them into the same mistakes. But if the first offended this way, it was only through an honest warmth of temper, that allowed too little to an excellent understanding. The other two, with very bad heads, had hearts still worse.
Ver. 148. While pure Description held the place of Sense?) He uses pure equivocally, to signify either chaste or empty ; and has given in this line what he esteemed the true Character of descriptive poetry, as it is called. A composition, in his opinion, as abfurd as a feast made up of fauces. The use of a pictoresque imagination is to brighten and adorn good sense; lo chat to employ it only in description, is like childrens delighting in a prism for the fake of its gaudy colours; which when frugally
Like gentle Fanny's was my flow'ry theme,
Did fome more fober Critic come abroad; If wrong, I smild; if right, I kiss’d the rod. Pains, reading, study, are their just pretence, And all they want is spirit, taste, and sense. 160 Comma’s and points they set exactly right, And 'twere a sin to rob them of their mite. Yet ne'er one sprig of laurel grac'd these ribalds, From flashing Bentley down to pidling Tibalds :
NOTES. managed, and artfully disposed, might be made to represent and illustrate the noblest objects in nature.
Ver. 150. A painted meadow, or a purling stream. is a verfe of Mr. Addison.
P. VER. 163. these ribalds,] How deservedly this title is given to the genius of PHILOLOGY, may be seen by a short account of the manners of the modern Scholiasts.
When in these latter ages, human learning raised its head in the West, and its' tail, verbal criticism, was, of course, to rise with it; the madness of Critics foon became fo offensive, that the soter stupidity of the monks might appear the more tolerable evil. 7. Argyropylzs, a mercenary Greek, who came to teach
. school in Italy, after the facking of Constantinople by the Turks,
Each wight, who reads not, and but scans and spells, Each Word-catcher, that lives on syllables, 166
NOTE s. used to maintain that Cicero understood neither Philosophy nor Greek: while another of his Countrymen, J. Lascaris by name, threatened to demonstrate that Virgil was no Poet. ' Countenanced by such great examples, a French Critic afterwards undertook to prove that Aristotle did not understand Greek, nor Titus Livius, Latin. It was the same discernment of spirit, which has since discovered that Fosephus was ignorant of Hebrew; and Erasmus fo pitiful a Linguist, that, Burman aftures us, were he now alive, he would not deserve to be put at the head of a country school. For though time has ftrip'd the prefent race of Pedants of all the real accomplishments of their predeceffors, it has conveyed down this spirit to them, unimpaired; it being found much easier to ape their manners, than to imitate their science. However, those earlier Ribalds raised an appetite for the Greek language in the West: infomuch, that Hermolaus Barbarus, a passionate admirer of it, and a noted Critic, used to boast, that he had invoked and raised the Devil, and puzzled him into the bargain, about the meaning of the Aristotelian ENTEAEXEIA. Another, whom Balzac speaks of, was as eminent for his Revelations: and was wont to say, that the meaning of such or such a verse, in Persius, no one knew but God and himself. While the celebrated Pomponius Lætus, in excess of Veneration for Antiquity, became a real Pagan, raised altars to Romulus, and sacrificed to the Gods of Latium: in which he was followed by our countryman, Baxter, in every thing, but in the expence of his sacrifices.
But if the Greeks cried down Cicero, the Italian Critics knew how to support his credit. Every one has heard of the childish excefles into which the ambition of being thought CICERONIANs carried the most celebrated Italians of this time, They abstained from reading the Scriptures for fear of spoiling their style: Cardinal Bembo used to call the Epistles of St. Paul by the contemptuous name of Epistolaccias, great overgrown Épiftles. But ERASMUS cured their frenzy in that masterpiece of good sense, his Ciceronianus. For which in the way Lunatics treat their Physicians) the elder Scaliger insulted him with all the brutal fury peculiar to his family and profeffion,
Ev'n such small Critics some regard may claim,
NOTES, His son Joseph, and Salmafius had indeed such endowments of nature and art, as might have raised modern learning to a rivalship with the ancient. Yet how did they and their adversaries tear and worry one another? The choicest of Joseph's flowers of speech were, Stercus Diaboli, and Lutum flercore maceratum. It is true, these were lavished upon his enemies: for his friends he had other things in store. In a letter to Thuanus, speaking of two of them, Clavius and Lipsius, he calls the first, a monster of ignorance ; and the other, a save to the Jesuits, and an Idiot. But so great was his love of sacred amity at the same time, that he says, I fill keep up my correspondence with him, notwithstanding his Idiotry, for it is my prinçiple to be constant in my friendships Je ne reste de luy escrire, nonobftant son Idioterie, d'autant que je suis constant en amitié. The character he gives of his own Chronology, in the same letter, is no less extraordinary: Vous vous pouvez assurer que nostre Eusebe sera un trésor des merveilles de la doctrine Chronologique. But this modeft account of his own work, is nothing in comparison of the idea the Father gives his Bookseller of his own Person. Who, when he was preparing something of Julius Scaliger's for the Press, desired the Author would give him directions concerning his Picture, which was to be set before the book. Whose answer (as it stands in his collection of Letters) is, that if the engraver could collect together the several graces of Mafiinista, Xenophon, and Plato, he might then be enabled to give the public fome faint and im'perfect resemblance of his Person. Nor was Salmafius's judg. ment of his own parts less favourable to himself; as Mr. Colomies tells the story. This Critic, on a time, meeting two of his brethren, Mell. Gaulmin and Mausac, in the Royal Library at Paris, Gaulmin, in a virtuous consciousness of their Importance, told the other two, that he believed, they three could make head against all the learned in Europe: To which the great Salmafius fiercely replied, “Do you and M. Mauffac join $6 yourselves to all that are learned in the world, and you
shall $6 find that I alone am a match for
all.” Voffius tells us, that when Laur. Valla had snarld at every name of the first order in antiquity, such as Aristotle, Cicero, and one