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there, but sure it can be none here : for who will pretend that the robbing another of his reputation, supplies the want of it in himself? I ques. tion not but sucli authors are poor, and heartily wish the objection were removed by any honest livelihood; but poverty is here the accident, not the subject. He who describes malice and villany to be pale and meagre, expresses not the least anger against paleness or leanness, but against malice and villany. The Apothecary in Romeo and Juliet is poor ; but is he therefore justified in vending poison ? Not but poverty itself becomes a just subject of satire, when it is the consequence of vice, prodigality, or neglect of one's lawful calling; for then it increases the public burden, fills the streets and highways with robbers, and the garrets with clippers, coiners, and weekly Journalists.
But admitting that two or three of these offend Jess in their morals than in their writings, must poverty make nonsense sacred ? if so, the fame of bad authors would be much better consulted than that of all the good ones in the world ; and not one of an hundred had ever been called by his right name.
They mistake the whole matter : it is not charity to encourage them in the way they follow, but to get them out of it ; for men are not bunglers because they are poor, but they are poor because they are bunglers.
Is it not pleasant enough to hear our authors crying out on the one hand, as if their persons and characters were too sacred for satire ; and the Public objecting on the other, that they are too mean even for ridicule? But whether bread or fame be their end, it must be allowed, our Author, by and in this Poem, bas mercifully given them a little of both.
There are two or three, who, by their rank and fortune, have no benefit from the former objections, supposing them good, and these I was sorry to see in such company : but if, without any provocation, two or three gentlemen will fall upon one, in an affair wherein his interest and reputation are equally embarked, they cannot, certainly, after they have been content to print themselves his enemies, complain of being put into the number of them.
Others, I am told, pretend to have been once his friends. Surely they are their enemies who say so, since nothing can be more odious than to treat a friend as they have done. But of this I cannot persuade myself, when I consider the constant and eternal aversion of all bad writers to a good one.
Such as claim a merit from being his admirers, I would gladly ask, if it lays him under a personal obligation ? At that rate he would be the most pbliged humble servant in the world. I dare swear for these in particular, he never desired them to be his admirers, nor promised, in return, to be theirs : that had truly been a sign he was of their acquaintance ; but would not the malicious world have suspected such an approbation of some motive worse than ignorance, in the Author of the Essay on Criticism ? Be it as it will, the reasons of their admiration and of his contempt are equally subsisting, for his works and theirs are the very same that they were.
One, therefore, of their assertions, I believe may be true, "That he has a contempt for their writings.' And there is another which would probably be sooner allowed by himself than by any good judge beside, • That his own have found too • much success with the Public.' But as it cannot consist with his modesty to claim this as a justice, it lies not on him, but entirely on the Public, to defend its own judgment.
There remains what, in my opinion, might seem a better plea for these people than any they have made use of. If obscurity or poverty were to exempt a man from satire, much more should folly or dullness, which are still more involuntary; nay, as much so as personal deformity. But even this will not help them: deformity becomes an object of ridicule when a man sets up for being handsome; and so must dullness, when he sets up for a wit. They are not ridiculed because ridicule in
itself is, or or ought to be, a pleasure ; but because it is just, to undeceive and vindicate the honest and unpretending part of mankind from imposition ; because particular interest ought to yield to general, and a great number, who are not naturally fools, ought never to be made so, in complaisance to a few who are.
Accordingly we find that, in all ages, all vain pretenders, were they ever so poor, or ever so dull, have been constantly the topics of the most candid satirists, from the Codrus of Juve. nal to the Damon of Boileau.
Having mentioned Boileau, the greatest poet and most judicious critic of his
admi. rable for his talents, and yet, perhaps, more admirable for his judgment in the proper application of them, I cannot help remarking the resemblance betwixt him and our author in qualities, fame, and fortune ; in the distinctions shewn them by their superiors, in the general esteem of their equals, and in their extended reputation amongst foreigners; in the latter of which ours has met with the better fate, as he has had for his translators, persons of the most eminent rank and abilities in their respective nations *. But the resemblance holds in nothing more, than in their being equally abused by the ignorant pretenders to poetry of their times; of which not the least memory will remain but in their own writings, and in the notes made upon them. What Boileau has done in almost all his poems, our Author has only in this: I dare answer for him he will do it in no more ; and on this principle, of attacking few but who had slandered him, he could not have done it at all, had he been confined from censuring obscure and worthless persons ; for scarce any other were his enemies. However, as the parity is so remarkable, I hope it will continue to the last; and if ever he should give us an edition of this Poem himself, I may see some of them treated as gently, on their repentance or better merit, as Perrault and Quinalt were at last by Boileau.
Essay on Criticism, in French verse, by General Hamilton; the same, in verse also, by Monsieur Roboton, counsellor and privy secretary to King George I. After by the Abbe Reynel, in verse, with notes. Řape of the Lock, in French, by the Princess of Conti, Paris, 1728; and in Italian verse, by the Abbé
In one point I must be allowed to think the character of our English poet the more amiable. He has not been a follower of fortune or success; he has lived with the great without flattery ; been a friend to men in power without pensions, from whom, as he asked, so he received, no favor, but what was done him in his friends. As his Satires
Conti, a noble Venitian; and by the Marquis Rangoni, envoy extraordinary from Modena to King George II. Others of his works by Salvini of Florence, &c. His Essays and Dissertations on Homer, several times translated into French. Essay on Man, by the Abbé Reynel, in verse : by Monsieur Silhouet, in prosé, 1737; and since by others in French, Italian, and Latin.