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EARL OF DORSET.
"If one turns to the authors of the last age for the character of this Lord, one meets with nothing but encomiums on his wit and good-nature. He was the finest gentleman in the voluptuous court of Charles the Second, and in the gloomy one of King William. He had as much wit as his first master, or his contemporaries, Buckingham and Rochester; without the royal want of feeling, the Duke's want of principles, or the Earl's want of thought. The latter said with astonishment, "That he did not know how it was, but Lord Dorset might do any thing, and yet was never to blame!" It was not that he was free from the failings of humanity, but he had the tenderness of it too, which made every body excuse whom every body loved; for even the asperity of his verses seems to have been forgiven to
"The best-good man, with the worst natured-muse."
"This line is not more familiar than Lord Dorset's own poems to all who have a taste for the genteelest beauties of natural and easy verse, or than his Lordship's own bon-mots, of which I cannot help repeating one of singular humour: Lord Craven was a proverb for officious whispers to men in power. On Lord Dorset's promotion, King Charles having seen Lord Craven pay his usual tribute to him, asked the former what the latter had been saying? The Earl replied gravely, "Sir, my Lord Craven did me the honour to whisper, but I did not think it good manners to listen." When he was dying, Congreve, who had been to visit him, being asked how he had left him, replied, "Faith, he slabbers more wit than other people have in their best health.”
"His Lordship and Waller are said to have assisted Mrs. Catherine Philips in her translation of Corneille's Pompey." Royal and Noble Authors, vol. ii. p. 95.
EARL OF DORSET.
THO' Artemisia talks, by fits,
Reads Malbranche, Boyle, and Locke:
Haughty and huge as High-Dutch bride,
On her large squab you find her spread,
That lies and stinks in state.
She wears no colours (sign of grace)
any part except her face ;
And masculine her stride.
So have I seen, in black and white
A stately, worthless animal,
That plies the tongue, and wags the tail,
LET the curious reader compare Fenton's Imitation of Dorset's manner with this of Pope:
And Scripture-proofs she throws about,
Before two morning chapters;
To raise her holy raptures.
PHRYNE had talents for mankind,
Like some free port of trade:
Her learning and good-breeding such,
Spaniards or French came to her: To all obliging she'd appear : 'Twas Si Signior, 'twas Yaw Mynheer, 'Twas S'il vous plait, Monsieur.
Obscure by birth, renown'd by crimes,
So have I known those Insects fair
THE point of the likeness in this imitation consists in describing the objects as they really exist in life, like Hogarth's paintings, without heightening or enlarging them, by any imaginary circumstances. In this way of writing Swift excelled; witness his Description of a Morning in the City, of a City Shower, of the House of Baucis and Philemon, and the Verses on his own Death. In this also consists the chief beauty of Gay's Trivia; a subject Swift desired him to write upon, and for which he furnished him with many hints. The character of Swift has been scrutinized in so many late writings, particularly by Hawksworth and Sheridan, that it is superfluous to enter upon it. Voltaire affirms, "that the famous Tale of a Tub is an imitation of the old story of the three invisible rings, which a father bequeathed to his three children. These three rings were, the Jewish, Christian, and Mahometan, religions. It is moreover an imitation of the history of Mero and Enegu, by Fontenelle. Mero was the anagram of Rome, and Enegu of Geneva. These two sisters claimed the succession to the throne of their fathers. Mero reigned first. Fontenelle represents her as a sorceress, who could convey away bread, and perform acts of conjuration with dead bodies. This is precisely the Lord Peter of Swift, who presents a piece of bread to his two brothers, and says to them, This, my good friends, is excellent Burgundy; these partridges have an admirable flavour!' The same Lord Peter, in Swift, performs throughout the very part that Mero plays in Fontenelle. Thus all is imitation. The idea of the Persian Letters is taken from the Turkish Spy. Boiardo has imitated Pulci, Ariosto has imitated Boiardo. The geniuses, apparently most original, borrow from each other.