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hative genius; which are as inborn to you, as casts a shadow on all your contemporaries ; we they were to Shakspeare; and, for aught I know, cannot be seen, or but obscurely, while you are to Homer; in either of whom we find all arts and present. You equal Donne in the variety, multisciences, all moral and natural philosophy, with plicity, and choice of thoughts ; you excel bim in out knowing that they ever studied them.
the manner, and the words. I read you both There is not an English writer this day living, with the same admiration, but not with the same who is not perfectly convinced, that your lordship delight. He aflects the metaphysics, not ouly in excels all others, in all the several parts of poetry, his satires, but in his amorous verses, where nature which you have undertaken to adorn. The most only should reign; and perplexes the minds of the vain, and the most ambitious of our age, have not fair sex with nice speculations of philosophy, when dared to assume so much, as the competitors of he should engage their hearts, and entertain them Themistocles: they have yielded the first place with the softness of love. In this (if I may be without dispute ; and have been arrogantly con- pardoned for so bold a truth) Mr. Cowley has tent to be esteemed as second to your lordship; copied him to a fault; so great a one, in my and even that also with a longe sed prorimi inter- opinion, that it throws his Mistress infinitely below tallo. If there have been, or are any, who go his Pindariques, and his latter compositions, which farther in their self-conceit, they must be very are undoubtedly the best of his poems, and the singular in their opinion : they must be like the most correct. For my own part, I must avow it officer in a play, who was called Captain, Lieu- freely to the world, that I never attempted any tenant, and Company. The world will easily thing in satire, wherein I have not studied your conclude, whether such unattended generals can writings as the most perfect model. I have conever be capable of making a revolution in Par- tinually laid them before me; and the greatest nassus.
commendation, which my own partiality can give I will not attempt, in this place, to say any to my productions, is, that they are coples, and thing particular of your Lyric Poems, though they no farther to be allowed, than as they have someare the delight and wonder of this age, and will thing more or less of the original. Some few be the envy of the next. The subject of this book touches of your lordship, some secret graces which confines me to satire; and in that, an author of I have endearoured to express after your manner, yonr own quality, (whose ashes I shall not disturb) | have made whole poems of mine to pass with has given you all the commendation, which his approbation : but take your verses altogether, and self-sufficiency could afford to any man: “ The they are iniinitable. If therefore I have not written best good man, with the worst-natured Mụse.” In better, it is because you have not written more. that character, methinks, I am reading Jonson's You have not set me sufficient copy to transcribe ; verses to the memory of Shakspeare: an insolent, and I cannot add one letter of my own invention, sparing, and invidious panegyric: where goed- of which I have not the example there. nature, the most godlike commendation of a man,
It is a general complaint against your lordship, is only attributed to your person, and denied to and I must have leave to upbraid you with it, your writings: for they are every where so full of that, because you need not write, you will n-t. candour, that, like Horace, you only expose the Mankind that wish you so well, in all things follies of men, without arraigning their vices; and
that relate to your prosperity, have their intervals in this excel him, that you add that pointedness of wishing for themselves, and are within a little of thought, which is visibly wanting in our great of grudging you the fullness of your fortune: they Roman. There is more of salt in all your verses,
would be more malicious if you used it not so well, than I have seen in any of the moderns, or even
and with so much generosity. of the ancients: but you have been sparing of the
Fame is in itself a real good, if we may believe gall; by which means you have pleased all readers, Cicero, who was perhaps too fond of it. But even and offended none. Donne alone, of all our fame, as Virgil tells us, acquires strength by countrymen, had your talent; but was not happy going forward. Let Epicurus give indolence as an enough to arrive at your versification. And were attribute to bis gods, and place in it the happiness he translated into numbers and English, he would of the blest : the divinity which we worship has yet be wanting in the dignity of expression. That given us not only a precept against it, but bis own which is the prime virtue and chief ornament of example to the contrary. The world, my lord, Virgil, which distinguishes him froin the rest of would be content to allow you a seventh day for writers, is so conspicuous in your verses, that it rest; or, if you thought that hard upon you, we would not refuse you half your time: if you come been to me, are yet of dangerous example to the out, like some great monarch, to take a town but public: some witty men may perhaps succeed to once a year, as it were for your diversion, though their designs, and, mixing sense with malice, blast you had no need to extend your territories: in the reputation of the most innocent amongst men, short, if you were a bad, or which is worse, an in- and the most virtuous amongst women. different poet, we would thank you for your own
Heaven be praised, our common libellers are as quiet, and not expose you to the want of yours. free from the imputation of wit, as of morality; But when you are so great and so successful, and and therefore whatever mischief they bare dewhen we have that necessity of your writing, that signed, they have performed but little of it. Yet we cannot subsist entirely without it; any more
these ill writers, in all justice, ought themselves (1 may almost say) than the world without the to be exposed : as Persius has given us a fair daily course of ordinary providence, methinks this example in his first satire: which is levelled parargument might prevail with you, my lord, to ticularly at them: and none is so fit to correct forego a little of your repose for the public benefit their faults, as he who is not only clear from any It is not that you are under any force of working in his own writings, but also so just, that he will daily miracles, to prove your being; but now and never defame the good; and is armed with the then somewhat of extraordinary, that is any thing power of verse, to punish and make examples of of your production, is requisite to refresh your the bad. But of this I shall have occasion to character.
speak further, when I come to give the definition This, I think, my lord, is a sufficient reproach and character of true satires. to you; and, should I carry it as far as mankind
In the mean time, as a counsellor, bred up in would authorise me, would be little less than satire.
the knowledge of the municipal and statute lans, And, indeed, a provocation is almost necessary, may honestly inform a just prince how far his in behalf of the world, that you might be induced prerogative extends ; so I may be allowed to tell sometimes to write ; and in relation to a multitude your lordship, who, by an undisputed title, are the of scribblers, who daily pester the world with eir king of poets, what an extent of power you have, insufferable stuff, that they might be discouraged and how lawfully you may exercise it, over the from writing any more. I complain not of their petulant scribblers of this age. As lord chamberlampoons, and libels, though I þave been the pub- lain, I know, you are absolute by your office, in lic mark for many years. I am vindictive enough all that belongs to the decency and good manners to have repelled force by force, if I could imagine of the stage. You can banish from thence scurthat any of them had ever reached me; but they rility and prophaneness, and restrain the licentious either shot at rovers, and therefore missed, or insolence of poets and their actors in all things their power was so weak, that I might safely that shock the public quiet, or the reputation of stand them, at the nearest distance. I answered private persons, under the notion of humour. But not the Rehearsal, because I knew the author sat I mean not the authority which annexed to your to himself when he drew the picture, and was the office : I speak of that only which is inborn, and very Bayes of his own farce. Because also I knew, inherent to your person. What is produced in that my betters were more concerned than I was you by an excellent wit, a masterly and commandin that satire: and, lastly, because Mr. Smith and ing genius over all writers : whereby you are imMr. Jonson, the main pillars of it, were two such powered, when you please, to give the fioal delanguishing gentlemen in their conversation, that cision of wit ; to put your stamp on all that ought I could liken them to nothing but to their own
to pass for current; and set a brand of reprobarelations, those noble characters of men of wit tion on clipt poetry and false coin. A shilling, and pleasure about the town. The like considera- dipt in the bath, may go for gold amongst the tions have hindered me from dealing with the ignorant; but the sceptres on the guineas show lamentable companions of their prose and doggrel; the difference. That your lordship is formed by I am so far from defending my poetry against nature for this supremacy, I could easily provę, them, that I will not so much as expose theirs. (were it not already granted by the world,) from And for my morals, if they are not proof against the distinguishing character of your writings ; their attacks, let me be thought by posterity, which is so visible to me, that I never could be what those authors would be thought, if any imposed on to receive for yours what is written by memory of them, or of their writings, could en any others; or to mistake your genuine poetry dure so long, as to another age. But these dull for their spurious productions. I can farther add makers of lampoons, as harmless as they have with truth (though not without some vanity is
mying it) that in the same paper, written by, whose excellencies both of poems, odes, and sadivers hands, whereof your lordship was only part, tirés, you have equalled them, if our language I could separate your gold from their copper: and had not yielded to the Roman majesty, and length though I could not give back to every author his of time had not added a reverence to the works own brass (for there is not the same rule for dis- of Horace. Por good sense is the same in all or tinguishing betwixt bad and bad, as betwixt ill most ages; and course of time rather improves and excellently good) yet I never failed of know- Nature, than impairs her. What has been, may ing what was yours, and what was not; and was be again: another Homer, and another Virgil, absolutely certain, that this, or the other part, may possibly arise from those very causes which was positively yours, and could not positively be produced the first : though it would be impruvritten by any other.
dence to affirm, that any such have appeared. True it is, that some bad poems, though not all, It is manifest, that some particular ages have carry their owner's mark about them. There is been more happy than others in the production of some peculiar aukwardness, false grammar, iin- great men, in all sorts of arts and sciences ; as perfect sense, or, at the least, obscurity; some brand that of Euripides, Sophocles, Aristophanes, and the or other on this buttock, or that ear, that it is no- | rest, for stage poetry, amongst the Greeks: that torious who are the owners of the cattle, though of Augustus for heroic, lyric, dramatic, elegiac, they should not sign it with their names. But and indeed all sorts of poetry, in the persons of your lordship, on the contrary, is distinguished, Virgil, Horace, Varius, Ovid, and many others; not only by the excellency of your thoughts, but especially if we take into that century the latter by your style and manner of expressing them. A end of the commonwealth ; wherein we find Varro, painter, judging of some admirable piece, may Lucretius, and Catullus : and at the same time affirm with certainty, that it was of Holben, or lived Cicero, Sallust, and Casar. A famous age Van Dyck; 'but vulgar designs, and common in modern times, for learning in every kind, wan draughts, are easily mistaken and misapplied. that of Lorenzo de Medici, and his son Leo X. Thus, by my long study of your lordship, I am wherein painting was revived, and poctry flourisharrived at the knowledge of your particular man- ed, and the Greek language was restored.
In the good poems of other min, like those Examples in all these are obvious: but what I artists, I can only say, this is like the draught would infer is this ; that, in such an age, it is of such a one, or like the colouring of another. possible some great genius may arise, equal to any In short, I can only be sure, that it is the hand of the ancients ; abating only for the language, of a good master ; but in your performances, it For great contemporaries whet and cultivate each is scarcely possible for me to be deceived. If you
other : and mutual borrowing and commerce write in your strength, you stand revealed at the makes the common riches of learning, as it does first view; and should you write under it, you
of the civil government. cannot avoid some peculiar graces, which only cost
But suppose that Homer and Virgil were the me a second consideration to discover you: for 1 only of their species, and that Nature was so much must say it, with all the severity of truth, that
worn out in producing them, that she is never every line of yours is precious. Your lordship's able to bear the like again; yet, the example only only fault is, that you have not written more ;
holds in heroic poetry: in tragedy and satire, I unless I could add another, and that yet a greater,
offer myself to maintain against some of our but I fear for the public the accusation would not
modern critics, that this age and the last, pare be true, that you have written, and, out of vicious ticularly in England, have excelled the ancients modesty, will not publish.
in both those kinds; and I would instance iu ShakVirgil has confined his works within the compass speare of the former, of your lordship in the latter of eighteen thousand lines, and has not treated many subjects; yet he ever had, and ever will Thus I might safely confine myself to my nabave, the reputation of the best poet. Martial tive country: but, if I would only cross the seas, says of him, that he could have excelled Varius I might find in France a living Horace and a Juin tragerly, and Horace in lyric poetry; but, ont of venal, in the person of the admirable Boileau; deference to his friends, he attempted neither. whose numbers are excellent, whose expressions
The same prevalence of genius is in your lord- are noble, whose thoughts are just, whose language ship; but the world cannot pardon your conceal- is pure, whose satire is pointed, and whose sense ing it, on the same consideration : because we is close : what he borrows from the ancients, he have neither a living Varius, nor a Horace, in 1 repays with usury of his own, in coin as good, and VOL. XIX
almost as universally valuable: for, setting pre- 1 is not as below those two Italians, and subject to a judice and partiality apart, though he is our thousand more refiections, without examining their enemy, the stamp of Louis, the patron of all arts, St. Lewis, their Pucelle, or their Alarique: the is not much inferior to the medal of an Augustus | English have only to boast of Spenser and Milton, Cæsar. Let this be said without entering into the who neither of them wanted either genius or leaminterest of factions and parties, and relating only ing, to have been perfect poets; and yet, both to the bounty of that king to men of learning and of them are liable to many censures. For there merit : a praise so just, that even we, who are his is no uniformity in the design of Spenser: he aims enemies, cannot refuse it to him.
at the accomplishment of no one action : he raises Now, if it be permitted me to go back again to
up a hero for every one of his adventures ; and enthe consideration of epic poetry, I have confessed, dows each of them with some particular moral that no man hitherto has reached, or so much as
virtue, which renders them all equal, without suapproached to, the excellencies of Homer, or of bordination or performance. Every one is most Virgil; I must further add, that Statius, the best valiant in his own legend; only we must do them versificator next Virgil, knew not how to design that justice to observe, that magnanimity, which after bim, though he had the model in his eye; 1 is the character of prince Arthur, shines throughthat Lucan is wanting both in design and subject, out the whole poem; and succours the rest, when and is, besides, too full of heat and affectation; they are in distress. The original of every knight that, among the moderns, Ariosto neither designed was then living in the court of queen Elizabeth ; justly, nor observed any unity of action, or com
and he attributed to each of them, that virtue pass of time, or moderation in the vastness of his which he thought most conspicuous in them: an draught: his style is luxurious, without majesty ingenious piece of flattery, though it turned not or decency; and his adventures, without the com- much to his account. Had he lived to finish bis pass of nature and possibility : Tasso, whose de poem, in the six remaining legends, it bad cersign was regular, and who observed the rules of tainly been more of a piece; but could not bave unity in time and place more closely than Virgil, been perfect, because the model was not true. yet was not so happy in his action; he confesses But prince Arthur, or bis chief patron, sir Philip himself to have been too lyrical ; that is, to have sidney, whom he intended to make happy by the written beneath the dignity of heroic verse, in his marriage of his Gloriana, dying before him, deEpisodes of Sophronia, Erminia, and Armida ; his prived the poet both of means and spirit, to acstory is not so pleasing as Ariosto's; he is too complish his design: for the rest, his obsolete lanfatulent sometimes, and sometimes too dry; many guage, and the ill choice of his stanza, are faults times unequal, and almost always forced; and, but of the second magnitude : for, notwithstandbesides, is full of conception, points of epigram ing the first, he is still intelligible, at least after and witticism; all which are not only below the
a little practice; and for the last, he is the more dignity of heroic verse, but contrary to its na- to he admired, that, labouring under such a diffiture: Virgil and Homer have not one of them. culty, his verses are so numerous, so various, and And those who are guilty of so boyish an ambition harmonious, that only Virgil, whom he professedly in so grave a subject, are so far from being con- imitated, has surpassed him, among the Romans ; sidered as heroic poets, that they ought to be and only Mr. Waller among the English. turned down from Homer to the Anthologia, from
As for Mr. Milton, whom we all admire with so Virgil to Martial and Owen's epigrams, and from much justice, his subject is not that of an heroic Spenser to Flecnoe; that is, from the top to the
poem, properly so called. His design is the losing bottom of all poetry. But to return to Tasso: he l of our happiness: his event is not prosperous, like borrows from the invention of Boyardo; and in
that of all other epic works: his heavenly mabis alteration of his poem, which is infinitely the
chines are many,
and human persons are but two. worse, iinitates Homer so very servilely, that (for
But I will not take Mr. Ryıner's work ont of his example) he gives the king of Jerusalem fifty sons,
hands : he has promised the world a critique on only, because Homer had bestowed the like num
that author ; wherein, though he will not allow, ber on king Priam; he kills the youngest in the
his poem for heroic, I hope he will grant us, tbat same manner, and has provided his hero with a
his thoughts are elevated, his words sounding, and Patroclus, under another name, only to bring him that no man bas so happily copied the manner of back to túc xars, when his friend was killed. The Horner, or so copiously translated bis Græcisms, French have performed outhing in this kind, wbich) and the Latin elegancies of Virgil. It is true, be
runs into a flat thought, sometimes for a hundred of those embellisbients which are afforded in the lines together, but it is when he is got into a track belief of those ancient heathens. of scripture: his antiquated words were his choice, And it is true, that in the serere notions of our not his necessity; for therein he imitated Spenser, faith, the fortitude of a Christian consists in pa. as Spenser imitated Chaucer. And though, per- tience, and suffering, for the love of God, whatever haps, the love of their masters may have trans- hardships can befal in the world; not in any great ported both too far, in the frequent use of them ; attempts, or in performance of those enterprises yet, in my opinion, obsolete words may then be which the poets call heroic ; which are commonly laudably revived, when either they are more the effects of interest, ostentation, pride, and sounding, or more significant, than those in prac-worldly honours. That humility and resignation tice; and, when their obscurity is taken away,
are our prime virtues; and that these include no by joining other words to them, which clear the action, but that of the soul: whereas, on the consense; according to the rule of lJorace, for the trary, an heroic poem requires to its necessary admission of new words. But in both cases a design, and as its last perfection, some great action moderation is to be observed in the use of them. of war, the accomplishment of some extraordinary For unnecessary coinage, as well as unnecessary | undertaking, which requires the strength and via revival, runs into affectation ; a fault to be avoid-gour of the body, the duty of a soldier, the ca. ed on either hand. Neither will I justify Milton pacity and prudence of a general; and, in short, for his blank verse, though I may excuse him, as much, or more, of the active virtue, than the by the example of Hannibal Caro, and other sutiering. But to this, the answer is very obvious, Italians, who have used it: for whatever causes God has placed us in our several stations; the he alledges for the abolishing of rhyme, (which I virtues of a private Christian are patience, obehave not now the leisure to examine) his own dience, submission, and the like; but those of a particular 'reason is plainly this, that rhyme was magistrate, or general, or a king, are prudence, not his talent; he had neither the ease of doing it, counsel, active fortitude, coercive power, awful nor the graces of it; which is manifest in his Ju- commands, and the exercise of magnanimity, as venilia, or verses written in his youth ; where his well justice. So that this objection hinders not, rhyme is always constrained and forced, and comes
but that an epic poem, or the heroic action of hardly from him, at an age when the soul is most
some great commander, enterprised for the compliant, and the passion of love makes almost every mon good and honour of the Christian cause, and man a rhymer, though not a poet.
executed happily, may be as well written now, as By this time, my lord, I doubt not but that it was of old by the heathens; provided the poet you wonder, why I have run off from my bias so be endued with the same talents; and the lan. long together, and made so tedious a digression guage, though not of equal dignity, yet, as near from satire to heroic poetry. But, if you will not approaching to it as our modem barbarisia will alexcuse it, by the tattling quality of age, which, as low, which is all that can be expected from our own sir William Davenant says, is always narrative;
or any other now extant, though more refined ; and yet I hope the usefulness of what I have to say on
therefore we are to rest contented with that only this subject, will qualify the remoteness of it ; inferiority, which is not possibly to be remedied. and this is the last time I will commit the crime
I wish I could as easily remove that other diffiof prefaces, or trouble the world with my notions culty which yet remains. It is objected by a great of any thing that relates to verse. I have then, French critic, as well as an admirable poet, yet, as you see, observed the failings of many great living, and whom I have mentioned with that honour, wits amongst the moderns, who have attempter which his merit exacts from me, I mean Boileau, to write an epic poem : besides these, or the like that the machines of our Christian religion, in animadversions of them or other men, there is yet heroic poetry, are much more feeble to support, a farther reason given, why they cannot possibly the weight than those of heathenism. Their docsucceed so well as the ancients, even though we trine, grounded as it was on ridiculous fables, was could allow them not to be inferior, either in yet the belief of the two victorious monarchies, genius or learning, or the tongue in which they the Grecian and Roman. Their gods did not only write, or all those other wonderful qualifications interest themselves in the event of wars (which is which are necessary to the forming of a true ac- the effect of a superior Providence); but also complished heroic poet. The fault is laid on our espoused the several parties, in a visible corporeal religion : they say, that Christianity is not capable descent, managed their iutrigues, and fought their