Page images
PDF
EPUB

gaily; J'avois d' abord en quelque envie de pleurer, mais la vue des petits chiens m' a fait rire."

32. Now they who reach Parnaffus' lofty crown, Employ their pains to spurn some others down. *

THE arts used by Addifon to fupprefs the rffing merit of POPE, which are now fully laid open, give one pain to behold, to what mean artifices envy and malignity will compel a gentleman and a genius to defcend. It is certain, that Addifon difcouraged POPE from inferting the machinery in the Rape of the Lock that he privately infinuated that POPE was a Tory and a Jacobite; and had a hand in writing the Examiners: that Addison himself tranflated the first book of Homer, published under Tickel's name and that he fecretly encouraged Gildon to abuse POPE in a virulent pamphlet, for which Addison paid Gildon ten guineas. This ufage extorted from POPE the famous character of Atticus,

* Ver. 514.

which is perhaps the finest piece of fatire
extant. It is faid, that when Racine read his
tragedy of Alexander to Corneille, the latter
gave him many general commendations, but
advised him to apply his genius, as not being
adapted to the drama, to some other species
of poetry. Corneille, one would hope, was
incapable of a mean jealoufy, and if he
this advice, thought it really proper to be
given,

33. When love was all an easy monarch's care,
Seldom at council, never in a war. *

gave

THE diffolute reign of Charles II. juftly deserved the fatirical profcription in this pasfage. Under the notion of laughing at the abfurd aufterities of the Puritans, it became the mode to run into the contrary extreme, and to ridicule real religion and unaffected virtue. The King, during his exile, had seen and admired the fplendor of the court of Louis XIV. and endeavoured to introduce the fame luxury into the English court.

The

* Ver. 537.

common

common opinion, that this was the Auguftan age in England, is exceffively false. A just taste was by no means yet formed. What was called SHEER WIT, was alone studied and applauded. Rochefter, it is faid, had no idea that there could be a better poet than Cowley. The King was perpetually quoting HUDIBRAS. The neglect of such a poem as the Paradife Loft, will for ever remain a monument of the bad taste that prevailed. It may be added, that the progrefs of philological learning, and of what is called the belle lettres, was perhaps obftructed by the inftitution of the Royal Society; which turned the thoughts of men of genius to phyfical enquiries. Our ftyle in profe was but beginning to be polished: although the diction of Hobbes is fufficiently pure; which philofopher, and not the FLORID Spratt, was the claffic of that age. If I was to name a time, when the arts and polite literature, were at their height in this nation, I fhould mention the latter end of King William, and the reign of Queen Anne.

[blocks in formation]

34. With mean complacence ne'er betray your truft, Nor be fo civil as to prove unjuft. *

OUR poet practised this excellent precept, in his conduct towards Wycherley; whose pieces he corrected, with equal freedom and judgment. But Wycherley, who had a bad heart, and an infufferable share of vanity, and who was one of the profeffed WITS of the last-mentioned age, was foon disgusted at this candour and ingenuity of POPE; infomuch, that he came to an open and ungenerous rupture with him.

35. Fear not the anger of the wife to raife;
Those best can bear reproof who merit praise. †

THE freedom and unreservedness, with which Boileau and Racine communicated their works to each other, is hardly to be parallelled of which many amiable inftances appear in their letters, lately published by the fon of the latter particularly in the following. "J'ai trouve que la TROMPETTE & * Ver. 581. ↑ Ver. 583.

LES

LES SOURDS etoient trop joues, & qu'il ne falloit point trop appuyer fur votre incommodite, moins encore chercher de l' efprit fur ce fujet." Boileau communicated to his friend the first sketch of his ode on the Taking Namur. It is entertaining to contemplate a rude draught by fuch a mafter; and is no lefs pleafing to obferve the temper, with which he receives the objections of Racine. † "J'ai deja retouche a tout cela; mais je ne veux point l'achever que ja n' aie reçû vos remarques, qui furement m' eclaireront encore l'efprit." The fame volume informs us of a curious anecdote, that Boileau generally made the second verfe of a couplet before the firft; that he declared it was one of the grand fecrets of poetry to give, by this means, a greater energy and meaning to his verses; that he advised Racine to follow the fame method, and faid on this occafion, "I have taught him to rhyme difficilement."

Pag. 197. See also pag. 245. 191.

+ Pag. 217.

Y a

36. No

« EelmineJätka »