Abbildungen der Seite

power, and detest their arrogated anthority over princes and states. I am a catholic in the strictest fense of the word. If I was born under an absolute prince, I would be a quiet subject: but I thank God I was not. I have a due fense of the excellence of the British constitution. In a word, the things I have always wished to fee, are not a Roman catholic, or a French catholic, or a Spanisti catholic, but a true catholic: and not a king of Whigs, or a king of Tories, but a king of England. Which God of his mercy grant his present majesty may be, and all future majesties. You fee, my lord, lend like a preacher: ^lis is fermo ad clerum, not ad populum. Believe me, with infinite obligation and sincere thanks, ever

Your, &c.


§ 45. D'sence against a noble Lord's ReJieQions. There was another reason why I was silent as to that paper—I took it for a lady's (on the printer's word in the ■title-page) and thought it too presuming, as well as indecent, to contend with one of that sex in altercation: for I never was so mean a creature as to commit my anger against a lady to paper, though but in a private letter. But soon after, her denial of it was brought to me by a noble person of real honour and truth. Your lordship indeed said you had it from a lady, and the lady said it was your lordship's; some thought the beautiful by-blow had two fathers, or (if one of them will hardly be allowed a man) two mothers; indeed I think both sexes had a share in it, but which was uppermost, I know not: I pretend not to determine the exact method of this witty fornication: and, if I call it yours, my lord.'tis only because, whoever got it, you brought it forth.

Here, my lord, allow me to observe the different proceeding of the ignoble poet, and his noble enemies. What he has written of Fanny, Adonis, Sappho, or who you will, he owned, he published, he set his name to: what they have published of him, they have .denied to have written; and what they have written of him, they have duiicd

to have published. One of these wa»' the case in the past libel, and the other in the present; for, though the parent has owned it to a few choice friends, it is such as he has been obliged to deny, in the most particular terms, to the great person wliose opinion concerned him most.

Yet, my lord, this epistle was a piece not written in haste, or in a passion, but many months after all pretended provocation; when you was at full leisure at Hampton-Court, and I the object singled, like a deer out of season, for so ill-timed, and ill-placed a diversion. It was a deliberate work, directed to a reverent) p"rson, of the most serious and sacred character, with whom you are known to cultivate a strict correspondence, and to whom it will not be doubted, but you open your secret sentiments, and deliver your real judgment of men and things. This, I fay, my lord, with submission, could not but awaken all my reflection and attention. Your lordship's opinion of me as a poet, I cannot help; it is yours, my lord, and that were enough to mortify a poor man; but it is not yours alone, you must be content to share it with the gentlemen of the Dunciad, and (it may be) with many more innocent and ingenious gentlemen. If your lordstiip destroys my poetical character, they will claim their part in the glory; but, give me leave to fay, if my moral character be ruined, it must be wholly the work of your lordstiip; and will be hard even for you to do, unless I myself co-operate.

How can you talk (my most worthy lord) of all Pope's works as so many libels, affirm, that he has no invention but in defamation, and charge him with selling another man's labours printed with his own name? Fye, my lord, you forget yourself. He printed not his name before a line of the person's you mention; that person himself hfts told you and all the world, in the book itself, whit part he had in it, as may be seen at the conclusion of his notes to the Odyssey, I can only suppose your lordship (not having at that time forgot your Grck) despised to look upon the translation; and ever since entertained too mean an opinion of the translator to cast an eye upon it. Besides, my lord, when you said he sold another roan's works, you ought in justice to have added that he bought them, which very much alters the cafe. What he gave him was five hundred pounds: his receipt can be produced to your lordship. I dare not affirm he was as well paid as some writers (much his inferiors) have been since; but your lordship will reflect that I am no man of quality, either to buy or fell scribling so high : and that I have neither place, pension, nor power to reward for secret services. It cannot be, that one of your rank can have the least envy to such an author as I am; but, were that possible, it were much better gratified by employing not your own, but some of those low and ignoble pens to do you this mean office. I dare engage you'll have them for less than I gave Mr. Broom, if your friends have not raised the market. Let them drive the bargain for yon, my lord; and you may depend on seeing, every day in the week, as many (and now and then as pretty) verses, as these of your lordstiip.

And would it not be full as well, that my poor person ihould be abused by them, as by one of your rank and quality? Cannot Curl do the fame? nay, has he not done it before your lordship, in the fame kind of language, and almost the fame words? I cannot but think, the worthy and discreet clergyman himself will agree, it is improper, nay unchristian, to expose the personardefects of our brother; that both such perfect forms as yours, and such unfortunate ones as mine, proceed from the hand of the fame Maker, who fashioneth his vessels as he pleaseth; and that it is not from their (hape we can tell whether they were made for honour or dishonour. In a word, he would teach you charily to your, greatest enemies; of which number, my lord, I cannot be reckoned, since, though a poet, I was never your flatterer.

Next, my lord, as to the obscurity of my birth (a reflection copied also from Mr. Curl and his brethren) I am sorry to be obliged to such a presumption as to name my family in the fame leaf with your lordship's: but my father

had the honour. In one Instance, to tc» femble you, for he was a younger brother. He did not indeed think it a happiness to bury his elder brother, though he had one, who wanted some of those good qualities which yours possest. How sincerely glad could I be, to pay to that young nobleman's memory the debt I owed to his friendship, whose early death deprived your family of as much wit and honour as he left behind him in any branch of it! But as to my father, I could assure you, my lord, that he was no mechanic (neither a hatter, nor, which might please your lordship yet better, a cobler) but in truth, of a very tolerable family: and my mother of an ancient one, as well born and educated as that lady, whom your lordship made choice of to be the mother of your own children; whose merit, beauty, and vivacity (if transmitted to your posterity) will be a better present than even the noble blocd they derive only from you: a mother, on whom I was never obliged so far to reflect, as to fay, she spoiled me; and a father, who never found himself obliged to say of me, that he disapproved my conduct. In a word, my lord, I think it enough, that my parents, such as they were, never cost me a blu(h; and that their son, such as he is, never cost them a tear.

I have purposely omitted to considet your lordsliip's criticisms on my poetry. As they are exactly the fame with thole of the forementioned authors, I apprehend they would justly charge me with partiality, if I gave to you what belongs to them; or paid more distinction to the fame things when they are in your mouth, than when they were in. theirs. It will be ihewing both them and you (my lord) a more particular respect, to observe how much they are honoured by your imitation of them, which indeed is carried through your whole epistle. I have read somewhere at school (though I make it no vanity to have forgot where) that Tully naturalized a few phrases at the instance of some of his friends. Your lordlhip has done more in honour of these gentlemen; you have authorized not only their assertions, but their style. For

cxamplej example, A flow that wants (kill to restrain its ardour,—a dictionary that gives us nothing at its own expence.— As luxuriant branches bear but little fruit, so wit unprun'd is but raw fruit —Whileyourehearfeignorance,you still know enough to do it in verse—Wits are but glittering ignorance.—The account of how we pass our time—and,

The weight on Sir R. W 's brain.

You can ever receive from no head more than such a head (as no head) has to give: your lordlhip would have said never receive instead of ever, and any head instead of no head. But all this is perfectly new, and has greatly enriched our language. Pope.

S 46. The Death os Mr. Gay.

It is not a time to complain that you have not answered me two letters (in the last of which I was impatient under some fears): it is not now indeed a time to think of myself, when one of the nearest and longest ties I have ever had is broken all on a sudden, by the unexpected death of poor Mr. Gay. An inflammatory fever hurried him out of this life in three days. He died last night at nine o'clock, not deprived of his fenses entirely at last, and possessing them perfectly till within five hours. He asked of you a few hours before, when in acute torment by the inflammation in his bowels and breast. His effects are in the Duke of Queensbury's custody. His sisters, we suppose, will be his heirs, who are two widows; as yet it is not known whether or no he left a will.—Good God ! how often are we to die before we go quite off this stage f In every friend we lose.a part of ourselves, and the best part. God keep those we have left! Few are worth pAying for, and one's self the least of all.

I shall never see you now, I believe; one of your principal calls to England is at an end. Indeed he was the most amiable by far, his qualities were the gentlest ; but I love you as well, and as firmly. Would to God the man we have lost had not been so amiable, nor so good! but that's a wish for our own fakes, not for his. Sure, if innocence

and integrity can deserve happiness, it must be his. Adieu! I can add nothing to what you will feel, and diminilh nothing from it. Ibid.

§ 47. Envy.

Envy is almost the only vice which is practicable at all times, and in every place; the only passion which can never lie quiet for want of irritation ; its effects, therefore, are every where discoverable, and its attempts always to be dreaded.

It is impossible to mention a name, which any advantageous distinction has made eminent, but some latent animosity will burst out. The wealthy trader, however he may abstract himself from public affairs, will never want those who hint with Shylock, that ships are but boards, and that no man can properly be termed rich whose fortune is at the mercy of the winds. The beauty adorned only with the unambitious graces of innocence and modesty, provokes, whenever flic appears, a thousand murmurs of .detraction, and whispers of suspicion. The genius, even when he endeavours only to entertain with pleasing images of nature, or instruct by uncontested principles of science, ytt suffers persecution from innumerable critics, whose acrimony is excited merely by the pain of seeing others pleased, of hearing applauses which another enjoys.

The frequency of envy makes it so familiar, that it escapes our notice; nor do we often reflect upon its turpitude or milignity, till we happen to feel its influence. When he that has given no provocation to malice, but by attempting to excel in some useful art, finds himself pursued by multitudes whom he never saw with implacability of personal resentment; when he perceives clamour and malice "let loose upon him as a public enemy, and incited by every stratagem of defamation; when he hears the misfortunes of his family, or the follies of his youth, exposed to the world; and every failure of conduct, or defect of nature, aggravated and ridiculed; he then learns to abhor those artifices at which he only Y y » laughed, laughed before, and discovers how m uch the happiness of life would be advanced by the eradication of envy from the human heart.

Envy is, indeed, a stubborn weed of the mind, and seldom yields to the culture of philosophy. There are, however, considerations, which, if carefully implanted and diligently propagated, might in time overpower and repress it, since no one can nurse it for the sake of pleasure, as its effects are onlystiame, anguish, and perturbation.

It is, above all other vices, inconsistent with the character of a social being, because it sacrifices truth and kind, ness to very weak temptations. He that plunders a wealthy neighbour, gains as much as he takes away, and improves his own condition, in the fame proportion as he impairs another's; but he that blasts a flourishing reputation, must be content with a small dividend of additional fame, so small as can afford very little consolation to balance the guilt by which it is obtained.

I have hitherto avoided mentioning that dangerous and empirical morality, which cures one vice by means of another. Butenvy is so base and detest. 'able, so vile in its original, and so per. nicious in its effects, that the predominance of almost any other quality is to be desired. It is one of those lawless enemies of society, against which poisoned arrows may honestly be used. Let it therefore be constantly remembered, that whoever envies another, confesses his superiority, and let those be reformed by their pride, who have lost their virtue.

It is no flight aggravation of the injuries which envy incites, that they are •committed against those who have given no intentional provocation; and that the sufferer is marked out for ruin, not because he has failed in any duty, but because he has dared to do more than was required.

Almost every other crime is practised by the help of some quality which might have produced esteem.or love, if it had been well employed; butenvy is a more unmixed and genuine evil; it pursues a hateful end by despicable , -,i J=r,r<>» not so much its own

happiness as another's misery. To avoid depravity like this, it is not necessary that anyone stiould aspire to heroism or sanctity; but only, that he should resolve not to quit the rank which nature assigns, and wilh to maintain the dignity of a human being. Rambler,

§ 48. Epicurws, a Review of bis Char ail er.

I believe you will find, my dear Hamilton, that Aristotle is A.V.I to be preferred to Epicurus. The former made some useful experiments and discoveries, and was engaged in a real pursuit of knowledge, although his manner is muck perplexed. The latter was full of vanity and ambition. He was an impostor, and only aimed at deceiving. He seemed not to believe the principles which he has asserted. He committed the government of all things to crrance. His natural philosophy is absurd. His moral philosophy wants its proper basis, the fear of God. Monsieur Bayle, one of his warmest advocates, is of this last opinion, where he fays, On nesau~ roit pat dire ajscx. de bien de I'bonneteti di fes mœurs, ni affex. dc mal de fes opinions fur la religion. His general maxim, That happiness consisted in pleasure, was too much unguarded, and must lay a foundation of a most destructive practice: although, from his temper and constitution, he made his life sufficiently pleasurable to himself, and agreeable to the rules of true philosophy. His fortune exempted him from care and solicitude; his valetudinarian habit of body from intemperance. He passed the greatest part of his time in his garden, where he enjoyed all the elegant amusements of life. There he studied. There he taught his philosophy. This particular happy situation greatly con., tributed to that tranquillity of mind, and indolence of body, which he made his chief end?. He had not, however, resolution sufficient to meet the gradual approaches of death, and wanted that constancy which Sir William Temple ascribes to him : for in his last moments, when he found that his condition was desperate, he took such large draughts of""*. *' "' - was absolutely intoxicated and deprived of his fenses ; so that he died more like a bacchanal, than a philosopher.

Orrery's L'fe of Swift.'

§ 49. Example, its Prevalence,

Is it not Pliny, my lord, who says, that the gentlest, he mould have added the most effectual, way of commanding is by example i Mitius jubetur exempli), The harshest orders are softened by example, and tyranny itself becomes persuasive. What pity it is that so few princes have learned this way of commanding? But again ; the force of exT ample is not confined to those alone that pass immediately under our sight; the examples that memory suggests have the fame effect in their degree, and an I;ah:t of recalling them will soon produce the habit of imitating them. In the fame epistle from whence I cited a passage just now, Seneca fays, that Cleanthes had never become so perfect a copy of Zeno, if he had not passed his life with him; that Plato, Aristotle, and the other philosophers of that school, profited more by the example than by the discourses of Socrates, (But here by the way Seneca mistook; Socrates died two years according to some, and four year? according to others, before the birth of Aristotle: and his mistake might come from th,e inaccuracy of those who collected for him ; as EJrasmus observes, after Quinr tilian, in his judgment on Seneca,) But be this, which was scarce worth a parenthesis, as it will, he adds, 'that Metrodorus, Hermaehus, and Polvxe. nus, men of great note, were formed by living under the fame roof with Epicurus, not by frequenting his school, These are instances of the force of immediate example. But your lordship knows, citizens of Rome placed the images of their ancestors in the vesti. bules of their houses 5 so that whenever they went in or out, these venerable bustoes met their eves, and recalled the glorious actions of the dead, to fire the living, to excite them to imitate and even emulate their great forefathers. The success answered the design. The virtue of one generation

was transfused, by the magic of exam* pie, into (everal: and a spirit of heror ism was maintained through many ages pf that commonwealth.

Dangerous, <uihtn copied without

Peter of Medicis had involved him. self in great difficulties, when those wars and calamities began which Lewis Sforza first drew on and entailed on Italy, by flattering the ambition of Charles the Eighth, in order to gratify his own, and calling the French into that country. Peter owed his distress to his folly in departing from the general tenor of conduct his father Laurence had held, and hoped to relieve himself by imitating his father's example in one particular instance. At a time when the wars with the Pope and king of Naples had reduced Laurence to circumstances of great danger, he tools the resolution of going to Ferdinand, and of treating in person with that prince. The resolution appears in history imprudent and almost desperate; were we informed of the secret reasons on which this great man acted, it would appear very possibly a wife and safe measure. It succeeded, and Lau, rence brought back with him public peace and private security. When the French troops entered the dominions of Florence, Peter was struck with, a panic terror, went to Charles the Eighth, put the port of Leghorn, the fortresses of Pisa, and all the keys of the country into this prince's hands: whereby he disarmed the Florentine commonwralth, and ruined himself. He was deprived of his authorjty, and driven out of the city, by the just indignation of the magistrates and peor pie ; and in the treaty which they ma«ie afterwards with the king of France, it was (Hpuhted that he should not rewain within an hundred mile? of the state, nor his brothers within the fame distance of the city of Florenca. On this occasion Guicciardin observes, how dangerous it is to govern ourselves by particular examples; since to have the fame success, we must have the fame prudence, anH the fame fortune; and since the example must not only answer Y y? "the

« ZurückWeiter »