REFLECTIONS Critical and Satyrical, UPON A LATE RHAPSODY, Call'd, An ESSAY UPON CRITICISM.

By Mr. DENNIS.

Me Remorsurum petis?
Melius non Tangere clamo.
Horace.

LONDON: Printed for BERNARD LINTOTT, at the Cross Keys between the Two Temple-Gates in Fleetstreet. Price 6d.

THE PREFACE.

'TIS now almost seven Years, since I happen'd to say one Morning to a certain Person distinguish'd by Me­rit and Quality, that wherever the Italian Opera had come, it had driven out Poetry from that Nation, and not only Poetry, but the very Tast of Poetry, and of all the politer Arts; and that if the same Protection and Encouragement were continued to the O­pera, by which it was then supported, the same [Page] Calamity would befal Great Britain which had happen'd to the Neighbouring Nations. As 'tis hard to find a Man more quick or more pe­netrating, than the Person to whom I spoke this; he immediately enter'd into that Senti­ment, and soon after withdrew that Encou­ragement which he had given to the Italians. All that I foretold, and more than all hath happen'd. For such Things, such monstrous Things have been lately writ, and such mon­strous Judgments pass'd▪ that what has been formerly said has been sufficiently confirm'd, that 'tis impossible an Author can be so very foolish, but he will find more stupid Admi­rers.

A most notorious Instance of this Depravi­ty of Genius and Tast, is the Essay upon which the following Reflections are writ, and the Approbation which it has met with. I will not deny but that there are two or three Passages in it with which I am not displeas'd; but what are two or three Passages as to the whole?

Fit Chaerilus ille
Quem bis ter (que) bonum cum risu miror.

The approving two or Three Passages amongst a multitude of bad ones, is by no means ad­vantageous to an Author. That little that is [Page] good in him does but set off its contrary, and make it appear more extravagant. The Thoughts, Expressions, and Numbers of this Essay are for the most part but very indifferent, and in­different and execrable in Poetry are all one. But what is worse than all the rest, we find throughout the whole a deplorable want of that very Quality, which ought principally to appear in it, which is Judgment; and I have no Notion that where there is so great a want of Judgment, there can be any Genius.

However, I had not publish'd the following Letter, but had suffer'd his Readers to have bugg'd themselves in the Approbation of a Pam­phlet so very undeserving, if I had not found things in it that have provok'd my Scorn, tho' not my Indignation. For I not only found my self attack'd without any manner of Provoca­tion on my side, and attack'd in my Person, instead of my Writings, by one who is whol­ly a Stranger to me, and at a time when all the World knew that I was persecuted by For­tune, I not only saw that this was attempted in a clandestine manner with the utmost Fal­shood and Calumny, but found that all this was done by a little affected Hypocrite, who had nothing in his mouth at the same time but Truth, Candor, Friendship, good Nature, Hu­manity, and Magnanimity.

[Page] 'Tis for this Reason that I have publish'd the following Letter, in which if I have not treated the Author of the Essay with my usual Candor, he may thank himself and this good­natur'd Town. For having observ'd with no little Astonishment, that Persons have been cen­sur'd for ill Nature, who have attempted to display the Errors of Authors undeservedly suc­cessful; tho' they have done this with all i­maginable Candor, and with the best and no­blest Designs, which are the doing Justice, the Discovery of Truth, and the Improvement of Arts; while Writers of Lampoons and infamous Libels, whose Anonymous Authors have lain lurking in the dark, sometimes in Clubs, and sometimes solitary, like so many common Rogues and Footpads, to ruin the Fortunes, and mur­der the Reputations of others; have been ca­ress'd and bugg'd by their thoughtless Applau­ders, and treated as if they had been the most vertuous and the best natur'd Men in the World; having observ'd all this with no little astonishment, I at last found out the rea­son of it, which is, because the Attempts of Libellers and Lampooners hurt only those whom they attack, and delight the rest of the Rea­ders; whereas they who expose by a just Cri­ticism the Absurdities of foolish fortunate Au­thors, attack all those who commend and ad­mire those Authors, and disturb perhaps by o­pening their Eyes, no fewer than a thousand [Page] Fops in the good Opinion which they have conceiv'd of themselves. 'Tis for this Reason that I have endeavour'd to comply with this wise and good natur'd general Disposition of Minds, and to make amends for the Ill-nature of my Criticism, by the Allurements of my Satyr.

Lately Publish'd by Mr. Dennis,

THE Grounds of Criticism in Poetry, contain'd in some New Discoveries never made before, requisite for the writing and judging of Poems surely. Being a Preliminary to a larger Work, Entituled, A Criticism upon our most celebrated English Poets: Which will be publish'd in small Volumes.

An Essay upon Publick Spirit; being a Satyr in Prose upon the Manners and Luxury of the Times, the chief Source of our present Parties and Divisions. Price 6d.

Both Printed for Bernard Lintott.

To Mr. [...] at Sunning-Hill, Berks.

SIR,

I Here send you my Answer to the two Questions which I lately received from you, which are whether the Essay upon Criticism, which I lately sent you is like to take in Town, and who is the Author of that anonymous Rhapsody.

In answer to the first Question, my Opinion is that it will take very well. For the same thing is true of great Bo­dies of Men, which has been observ'd of particular Persons; and that is, that when Genius thinks fit to depart from among them, good Taste never cares to be very long after it. When the Italian Opera drove Poetry from out this Island, Criticism thought it a very great Impertinence for her to stay long behind. Besides that the elegant Translations of the Italian Opera's, which Mr. Tonson has published by the most eminent Hands, have prepared People to like any thing that is of an equal Merit with those Translations, and with Tom Sternhold's Version.

For the second Quaere, Mr. [...] is of Opinion that this Essay was writ by some experienced judicious Person, who knows what Quantity of base Alloy is at this Juncture requisite to debase the Coin of Parnassus, and reduce it to the current Standard. But I am inclin'd to believe that it was writ by some young, or some raw Author, for the fol­lowing Reasons.

First, He discovers in every Page a Sufficiency that is far beyond his little Ability; and hath rashly undertaken a Task which is infinitely above his Force; a Task that is only fit for the Author, with the just Encomium of whose Essay my Lord Roscommon begins his own.

[Page 2]
Happy that Author whose correct Essay
Repairs so well our old Horatian way.

There is nothing more wrong, more low, or more incor­rect than this Rhapsody upon Criticism. The Author all along taxes others with Faults of which he is more guilty himself. He tells us in the very two first Lines, that

'Tis hard to say if greater want of Skill
Appear in writing, or in judging ill.

Now whereas others have been at some Pains and Thought to shew each of these wants of Skill separately and distinct­ly, his comprehensive Soul hath most ingeniously contriv'd to shew them both in a supreme Degree together.

Secondly, While this little Author struts and affects the Dictatorian Air, he plainly shews that at the same time he is under the Rod; and that while he pretends to give Laws to others, he is himself a pedantick Slave to Authority and Opinion, of which I shall give some Instances.

In the beginning of his Essay he lays down this Maxim:

Let such teach others who themselves excel;
And censure others who have written well.

Where he would insinuate, that they alone are fit to be Cri­ticks who have shewn themselves great Poets. And he brings in Pliny to confirm by his Authority the Truth of a Precept, which is denied by matter of Fact, and by the Experience of above Two thousand Years.

De Pictore, Sculptore, Fictore nisi Artifex judicare non potest.

It has been observed by Writers of Politicks, That they who have succeeded best in these kind of Writings, have never been either Governours of Provinces, or Ministers of State, as Plato and Aristotle in Greece, Machiavel in Italy, and in this Island Harrington. I will not say that this may be applied to Criticks. There are and have been very good ones who have been great Poets, as Horace in Italy, Boileau in France, and in Great Britain my Lord Roscommon, and a living noble Author. Nay I am fully convinc'd, that there never was an admirable Poet, but he was a great Critick. For what can be more absurd than to imagine, that any Man can excel in any Art, or Business, or Profession, who [Page 3] does not understand that Profession, Art, or Business. Now he who understands the Art of Poetry is a Critick in Poetry. But this is undeniable at the same time, that there have been Criticks, who have been approv'd of by all the World, who never meddled with Poetry. Was Aristotle himself, the very Father of Criticks, a Poet? Why yes, 'tis pretended that there is a Fragment of an Ode, which was writ by him, remaining in Athenaeus. But is that suf­ficient to denominate him a Poet? Did he ever write either Tragedy or Epick Poem? And yet how freely did he cen­sure both Tragick and Epick Poets? Dionysius Halicarnassaeus, and Dionysius Longinus among the Greeks, and Quintilian a­mong the Romans were free Censurers, yet no Poets. And so are Bossu and Dacier at present among the French. And what is still more remarkable, is, that this young Author forgets himself to that degree, as to commend Longinus and Quintilian for accomplish'd Criticks contrary to his own Precept.

Another Instance which I shall give of his being a Slave to Authority and Opinion, is the servile Deference which he pays to the Ancients.

P. 13.
Still Green with Bays each ancient Altar stands
Above the reach of sacrilegious Hands,
Secure from Flames, from Envy's fiercer Rage,
Destructive War, and all devouring Age.
See from each Clime the Learn'd their Incense bring,
Hear in all Tongues triumphant Poeans ring!
In Praise so just let ev'ry Voice be join'd,
And fill the general Chorus of Mankind.

Which is just the opposite Extravagance and Extreme to that of Monsieur Perrault.

For the French-man with an insolent Stupidity contemn'd and blasphem'd, even those Hero's of Antiquity, whose Wri­tings are admirable and Divine: This Essayer deifies Au­thors, whose Writings are but tolerable and indifferent. Boileau, as a reasonable Man, took the Path that lay in the middle of the two Extremes, as we shall see by what follows.

For what remains, says he, I would not have any one think, that in this number of ancient Writers approv'd of by all Ages, 'tis my Intention to comprehend some Au­thors, [Page 4] who indeed are ancient, but who have only acquir'd a moderate Esteem, as Lycophron, Nonnus, Silius Italicus, and the Author of the Tragedies which are attributed to Seneca, to whom in my mind we may not only boldly com­pare, but justly prefer several of the modern Writers. I only admit into that exalted Rank that small number of admirable Writers, whose Name alone is their Panegyrick, as Homer, Plato, Cicero, Virgil, &c. And I do not regulate the Esteem which I have for them, by that length of Time which their Works have lasted, but by the number of Years which they have been admir'd; of which 'tis convenient to advertise a great many People, who otherwise perhaps might indiscreetly believe, what Monsieur Perrault has a mind to insinuate, that we commend the Ancients for no other Reason, but because they are Ancients; and blame the Moderns for no other Reason, but because they are Moderns; which is utterly false; since there are several among the Ancients whom we do not admire, and several among the Moderns whom all the World extols. The An­tiquity of a Writer is no certain proof of his Merit; but the ancient and constant Admiration which all the World has had for his Writings, is a certain and infallible proof that we ought to admire them. Boileau Reflect. the 7th on Longinus.

Thus hath Boileau determin'd this matter like a dextrous Distinguisher, and a most rightful Judge. If I may be al­low'd to speak my Sentiments after so great a Master, I must freely declare my Opinion, that of all the Poets a­mong the Graecians, I only admire Homer, Sophocles, Pindar, and Euripides, tho' I am very much pleas'd with some of the rest; and of all the Poets among the Romans, I admire on­ly Virgil and Horace, and some parts of Lucretius; tho' I am very much pleas'd with Catullus, Tibullus, Terence, and others. For as for Lycophron, Nonnus, Apollonius Rhodius, Valerius Flaccus, Silius Italicus, Statius, I prefer the Para­dise lost of Milton before them all together: Nay I will go yet farther, and declare, that tho' I must freely own, that Virgil has infinitely the Advantage of Milton, in the wonderful Contrivance of his Poem, in the Harmony of his Versification, and in the constant Tenor of his Majesty, and his Elevation; yet that Milton in some particular parts of his Poem has the Advantage of Virgil, and of Mankind. [Page 5] And tho' I can by no means believe Shakespear to be of equal Merit with Sophocles or Euripides, for which I shall give my Reasons in another place; yet this I can say for the Honour of my Countryman, and of Great Britain, that there are several single Scenes in Shakespear, which I prefer to all the Tragedies put together of which Seneca is accounted the Author.

I shall give one more Instance, by which it will appear that while this Youngster is pretending to give Laws, he behaves himself like one who is still in awe of the Rod; that he admires the Ancients, because his Master tells him that they must be admir'd; and that if the Ancients were his Contemporaries, and produc'd the same Writings now which they did formerly, he would use them with the same Insolence with which he treats his Contemporaries. In the 8th Page of this Essay, he gives a verbose and indigested Encomium of the first Graecian Criticks, but forgets and contradicts himself before he comes to the bottom of that very Page. For, says he,

The gen'rous Critick fann'd the Poet's Fire,
And taught the World with Reason to admire;
Then Criticism, the Muses Handmaid, proud
To dress her Charms, and make her more belov'd:
But following Wits from that Intention stray'd,
Who could not win the Mistress, woo'd the Maid,
Set up themselves, and drove a sep'rate Trade.

Never was any thing more obscure and confus'd than the foregoing Rhimes; but if there is any meaning in them, it must be that which follows.

At first Poets and Criticks were all one; and these Po­ets made use of their Criticism only to make their Poetry more charming, and more accomplish'd. But the Wits who immediately follow'd after them, deviated from the Design of their Predecessors; and not being able to attain to Poetry, took up a Resolution to drive a separate Trade, and to set up only for Criticks. If this is not his meaning, I should be glad to hear in Prose, and in plain English what his meaning is; for Rhime has been always a wicked Abettor and Concealer of Nonsense. But if this is his meaning, then I desire to make these two Remarks, First, that the ancientest Criticks among the Graecians were not [Page 6] Poets, as we observ'd before; and Secondly, that if Ari­stotle and Dionysius Halicarnassaeus, and others were now a­live, and their excellent Criticisms were now first to ap­pear, it would be objected to those great Men, in order to disqualify them for Criticks, that they were no Versifyers. And it is plain from the 2d Page that another Objection would be made to them: For when he comes there to speak of the Moderns, he tells us,

Some dryly plain, without Invention's Aid,
Write dull Receipts how Poems may be made.

Now it being evident, that the Criticisms of Aristotle and of Dionysius Halicarnassaeus are writ with a great deal of Simpli­city, 'tis manifest that if those two Criticks had writ but yesterday, they would be accus'd to day of being drily plain, and of writing dull Receipts.

But a third infallible mark of a young Author, is, that he hath done in this Essay what School-boys do by their Exercises, he hath borrow'd both from Living and Dead, and particularly from the Authors of the two famous Essays upon Poetry and Translated Verse; but so borrow'd, that he seems to have the very Reverse of Midas's noble Facul­ty. For as the coursest and the dullest Metals, were upon the touch of that Lydian Monarch immediately chang'd into fine Gold; so the finest Gold upon this Author's handling it, in a moment loses both its lustre and its weight, and is immediately turn'd to Lead.

A fourth thing that shews him a young man, is the not knowing his own mind, and his frequent Contradictions of himself. His Title seems to promise an Essay upon Criti­cism in general, which afterwards dwindles to an Essay upon Criticism in Poetry. And after all, he is all along giving Rules, such as they are, for Writing rather than Judging. In the beginning of the 8th Page the Rules are nothing but Nature.

These Rules of old discover'd, not devis'd,
Are Nature still, but Nature methodiz'd.

But no sooner is he come to the 10th Page, but the Rules and Nature are two different things.

[Page 7]
When first great Maro, in his boundless mind.
A Work t'outlast immortal Rome design'd,
Perhaps he seem'd above the Critick's Law,
And but from Nature's Fountains scorn'd to draw.

But in the last Line of this very Paragraph they are the same things again.

Learn hence for ancient Rules and just Esteem,
To copy Nature is to copy them.

But to this he will answer, That he is guilty of no Con­tradiction, that he is only shewing that Virgil was guilty of Error and Ignorance; who first absurdly began to write his Aeneis, and afterwards sate down to learn the Rules of Wri­ting; which when he began to write that Poem, he took to be things distinct from Nature; but that after he had wrote part of it, he fell to the reading of Homer, and that undeceiv'd him. That while he is talking of Virgil's Er­ror and Ignorance, he is making a Parade of his own in­comparable Wisdom and Knowledge; and not contradict­ing himself, but Virgil, or rather making him appear in­consistent with and contradicting himself: for that tho' Vir­gil took the Rules and Nature to be distinct from each other, for his own part he is wiser, and knows better things. Now is not this a very modest and a very judicious Gentleman?

A fifth Sign of his being a young Author is his being almost perpetually in the wrong. And here in relation to the foregoing passage, I might desire to ask him one or two civil Questions. First, who acquainted him with that noble Particularity of Virgil's Life, that he designed to write his Aeneis without Art? Had he it from ancient or modern Authors, or does he owe it to a noble Effort of his own sagacious Soul? If Virgil had so little Know­ledge of the Rules of his own Art, and so very little true Judgment within him, as to be capable of such an Extravagance, an Extravagance which, says this Essayer, nothing but the reading of Homer was able to correct, how comes he so far to have surpass'd his Master in the admirable Contrivance of his Poem. But secondly, what [Page 8] does he mean by Maro's designing a Work to outlast immortal Rome? Does he pretend to put that Figure, call'd a Bull upon Virgil? Or would he ambitiously have it pass for his own? 'Tis no wonder that one who is ca­pable of imputing so great an Extravagance to Virgil, should be capable of writing himself without any manner of meaning.

Whenever we find a Simile, the first Line of it is like a Warning-piece, to give us notice that something ex­traordinary false or foolish is to follow. We have one in the 6th Page, where the former and the latter part have not the least relation, and bear not the least proportion to one another.

As on the Land while here the Ocean gains,
In other Parts it leaves wide sandy Plains:
Thus in the Soul while Memory prevails,
The solid Power of Understanding fails;
Where Beams of warm Imagination play,
The Memory's soft Figures melt away.

Here the Soul in the third Verse is made to answer to Land in the first, and Memory to Ocean, which in the fourth Verse is chang'd for Understanding; tho' in this Simile the Author shews neither Memory nor Under­standing; for there are as many Absurdities in it as there are Lines. At this rate a man may make a thou­sand Similes in an hour! Any thing may become like to any thing. Jungentur jam Gryphes Equis. But what a thoughtless Creature is this Essayer, to deny in these very Rhimes, by which he pretends to shew both Poetry and Criticism, the co-existence of those Qualities, without which 'tis impossible to be both Poet and Critick? Be­sides, how wrong is this; and how many Persons have I known who have had all these Qualities at the same time in a very great degree? What follows is more wrong and more absurd:

One Science only will one Genius fit,
So vast is Art, so narrow Human Wit.

[Page 9] Is not this a rare Pretender to Poetry and Criticism, who talks at this rate, when all the World knows that 'tis impos­sible for a Man with only one Science to be either Poet or Critick? Which is so much the more unlucky, because the very Fathers of Poetry and Criticism Homer and Aristotle, whom he mentions so often in this Essay, are believed to have had all the Sciences. 'Tis now between Two and three thousand Years since Aristotle wrote his Morals, his Politicks, his Rhetorick, and his Poetick; and three of these are the very best in their kinds to this very day, and have infinitely the Advantage of all those several thousand Treatises that have been writ since. What fol­lows is still more false and more abominable.

Not only bounded to peculiar Arts,
But ev'n in those confin'd to single Parts.

What a wretched narrow Soul hath this Essayer? And what a thoughtless one—when Homer, whom he men­tions so often in this Essay, had as admirable a Talent for Pleasantry, as he had a Genius equal to the most exalted Poetry? To come to the Romans, Horace is famous both for Elevation and Pleasantry. Virgil suc­ceeded in his Bucolicks and Georgicks, as well as he did in his Aeneis. To descend to the Moderns, Shakespear had a very good Genius for Tragedy, and a very good Talent for Comedy. And since him Otway had likewise a Talent for both.

But in the next Page there is likewise a Simile; and therefore we may be sure, as we observ'd above, that most of that Page is one continued Absurdity. P. 7.

First follow Nature, and your Judgment frame
By her just Standard, which is still the same;
Unerring Nature still divinely bright,
One clear, unchang'd, and universal Light,
Life, Force and Beauty next to all impart,
At once the Source, and End, and Test of Art▪

Now here would I fain ask one or two Questions? Is he giving Rules here for Judging or for Writing? And is he prescribing those Rules to the Knowing or the Ig­norant? [Page 10] If he says to the Knowing, what is it that he tells them here? That they must judge according to Na­ture, or write according to Nature. Now does he tell them any thing in this that they did not know before? Well, but he says, he is laying down these Rules for the Ignorant; why then I humbly conceive that he ought to have told them what he means by Nature, and what it is to write or to judge according to Nature. For by expressing himself at the rate that he does, he neither says any thing to the Learned which they did not know before, nor any thing to the Ignorant which they can possibly un­derstand. Horace proceeded in a very different Method from this, when he was to acquaint the Piso's what was the principal Source of good Writing, he not only told them that it was moral Philosophy,

Scribendi recte, sapere est & principium & Fons,

But pointed to the very Books where they might find that moral Philosophy,

Rem tibi Socraticae poterant ostendere Chartae.

So that in one we have a clear and perspicuous Precept, and in the other an obscure and unintelligible Jargon. But let us go on.

That Art is best which most resembles her,
Which still presides, yet never does appear.

That is, as much as to say, Artis est celare artem, the com­mon Subject that Pedants give their Boys to make Themes and Declamations upon. Is not this a noble Discovery? Well but now for the Simile;

In some fair Body thus the sprightly Soul
With Spirit feeds, with Vigor fills the whole,
Each motion guides, and ev'ry nerve sustains,
It self unseen hut in th' effects remains.

This Youngster has not memory enough to know what he said six Lines before;

[Page 11]
Thus in a Soul where memory ne'r prevails,
The solid Power of understanding fails.

In the fifth Line of this Page it was Nature that

Life, force and beauty must to all impart.

And here in the 10th we are told that 'tis Art that

With Spirit feeds, with Vigor fills the whole.

But how absurdly is Art compar'd to the Soul, to which only Genius can be justly compar'd, according to the Ob­servation in the Essay upon Poetry. But let us go on, and we shall find that as all that went before this Simile is un­intelligible, so all is mighty absurd that follows it.

There are whom Heav'n hath bless'd with store of Wit,
Yet want as much again to manage it.

By the way what rare Numbers are here? Would not one swear that this Youngster had espous'd some antiquated Muse, who had sued out a Divorce upon the account of Impotence from some superannuated Sinner; and who ha­ving been pox'd by her former Spouse, has got the Gout in her decrepit Age, which makes her hobble so damnably—Why, this is more dismal than the Italian Opera, both that and the Essay are but sounds; but that is Harmony, and this is Discord.

But now, my dear Friend, if I had young Mr. Bays here, I would desire that I might ask him one Question, and he not be angry. And that is, what he means by

There are whom Heav'n has bless'd with store of Wit,
Yet want as much again to manage it.

But let us go on, and see if 'tis possible to find it out with­out him.

For Wit and Judgment ever are at strife,
Tho' meant each others, are like Man and Wife.

[Page 12] That is as much as to say, there are People who have tha [...] which they call Wit, without one dram of Judgment. [...] not this another wonderful Discovery? But I fancy tha [...] Mr. Bays has the Misfortune to be wrong in the first Vers [...] of the foresaid Couplet.

For Wit and Judgment ever are at strife.

What a Devil, Mr. Bays, they cannot be at strife sure, after they are parted, after Wit has made an Elopement, [...] has been barbarously forsaken by Judgment, or turn'd to se­parate maintenance▪ Much less can they be at strife whe [...] they never came together, which is the Case in the Essay▪ But now we talk of Man and Wife, let us consider the Yoke-fellow to the former Rhime.

Tho' meant each others, and like Man and Wife.

Now cannot I for my Soul conceive the reciprocal Aid that there is between Wit and Judgment. For tho' I can easily conceive how Judgment may keep Wit in her. Senses, yet cannot I possibly understand how Wit can controul, or re­dress, or be a help to Judgment.

If Mr. Bays in that Couplet

There are whom Heav'n has bless'd with store of Wit,
Yet want as much agen to manage it.

Intended to say that People have sometimes store of false Wit without Judgment to manage it, he intended nothing but what all the World knew before. But if he meant to fay this of true Wit, nothing can be more mistaken; for I cannot conceive how any one can have store of Wit without Judgment. I believe that Father Bouheurs has given a to­lerable Description of Wit in his Treatise upon that Sub­ject, C'est un solide qxi brille: ‘Tis a shining Solid, like a Diamond, which the more solid it is, is always the more glittering; and derives its height of Lustre from its per­fect Solidity.’ Now how any thing in the Works of the Mind can be solid without Judgment, I leave Mr. Bays to consider.

[Page 13] But let us pass to the 18th Page, at the bottom of which we shall find another Simile, and consequently another Ab­surdity.

Poets, like Painters, thus unskill'd to trace
The naked Nature and the living Grace,
With Gold and Jewels cover ev'ry part,
And hide with Ornament their want of Art.

Which in Prose and plain English runs thus:

Poets like Painters not having the Skill to draw Nature without Art, hide their want of Art with a super­abundance of Art.

In the 20th Page we have another Simile, and consequent­ly another Absurdity.

But true Expression, like th' unchanging Sun,
Clears and improves whate'er it shines upon.

Which is borrow'd from the Essay on Poetry.

True Wit is everlasting like the Sun,

But awkardly borrow'd, and utterly spoil'd in the remo­val. For what can Expression be properly said to shine upon? True Wit, or Genius; for that the noble Author means, as is plain from several parts of his Poem, shines thro' and discovers it self by the Expression; but Expres­sion, at the very best, can but shine with a borrow'd Light, like the Moon and the rest of the Planets, whereas Genius shines and flames with its own Celestial Fire.

His Instructions, his Assertions, his Commendations, his Censures, his Advice, wherever they are his own, are ei­ther false or trivial, or both. Such is that in the beginning of the twelfth Page.

And tho' the Ancients thus their Rules invade,
As Kings dispense with Laws themselves have made.
Moderns beware.

[Page 14] Thus is this Essayer for a double Dispensing Power in Kings and ancient Authors, and is for making the Mo­derns doubly Slaves, Slaves in their Actions, and Slaves in their Writings. But as we boldly deny that Kings have either Power to make Laws, or to dispense with them after they are made; so those Laws of Writing were nei­ther made by the Ancients, nor can those Ancients dis­pense with them. As they are the Laws of Nature, and not of Men, as he has himself hinted in the beginning of the 8th Page.

Those Rules of old discover'd, not devis'd,
Are Nature still, but Nature methodiz'd.

They are eternal and irrevocable, and never to be dis­pens'd with but by Nature that made them; and the only Rule for that Dispensation is this, that a less Law may be violated to avoid the infringing of a greater; and 'tis e­qually the Duty both of Ancients and Moderns, to break thro' a less important Rule, when without that Infringe­ment a greater must be violated, or the great End of all the Rules neglected. The great End of all the Rules is to instruct, and the subordinate End is to please, by moving of Passion, and particularly that kind of Passion which ought chiefly to reign in that sort of Poetry in which the Poet writes. Now 'tis a Rule in Poetry, that the notori­ous Events of History are not to be falsifyed, nor the Pe­riods of Time transpos'd or confounded. And yet Virgil in the fourth of his Aeneis, broke thro' this Rule at once by a bold and a judicious Anachronism, in order to make his Poem more admirable, and the more to exalt the Glory of the Roman Name. Whatever the Ancients justly did, the Moderns may justly do. 'Tis ridiculous and pedan­tick to imagine, that the natural Powers of the Soul were stronger or more excellent in the Ancients than they are in the Moderns. And as to Experience we have vastly the Advantage of them. When we consider Experience, as my Lord Bacon observes, we are properly the Ancients, who live in the elder Ages of the World, and have the Advantage of the Knowledge of Three thousand Years over the first Writers. Not but that at the same time that I assert the Equality of Faculties in the Moderns, [Page 15] and the Advantage of their Experience, I freely acknow­ledge the actual Preheminence that several of the Ancients have over the Moderns; but I have sufficiently shewn in the Advancement of Modern Poetry, that that actual Pre­heminence proceeded from accidental Causes, and not from any Superiority of Faculties in those ancient Au­thors.

At the bottom of the same Page 12. there is something asserted that is both false and impudent; where speaking of the Ancients, he tells us,

Those are but Stratagems which Errors seem,
Nor is it Homer nods but we that dream.

Which is a presumptuous Contradiction of Horace

Aliquando bonus dormitat Homerus.

And of my Lord Roscommon.

His reeling Hero's, and his wounded Gods
Make some suspect he snores as well as nods.

And is in effect to declare that Horace was a Dreamer, and my Lord Roscommon a Dotard, and I, my Masters, on­ly I, am alerte and eueillè, only I am the man of Im­portance.

In the beginning of the 21st Page there is something too very wrong.

In Words as Fashions the same Rule will bold,
Alike fantastick if too new or old,
Be not the first by whom the new are try'd,
Nor yet the last to lay the old aside.

This being directed to all without Exception, and deliver'd without Limitation or Restriction, is another flat Contra­diction of Horace.

Si forte necesse est
Indiciis monstr are recentibus abdita rerum:
Fingere cinctutis non exaudita Cethegis
Continget, dabitur (que) licentia sumpta pudenter.
[Page 16] Et nova ficta (que) nuper habebunt verba fidem, si
Graeco fonte cadant parce detorta.

This is likewise a Libel upon the memory of Mr. Dryden whom he pretends to admire; for never any one was a greater Coiner than he, and it is directly contrary to the Improvement of Languages; for it Chaucer and succeeding Authors had had this Advice given them, and had been weak enough to take it, how could our Language ever have improv'd in Purity, in Force, in Grace, or in Har­mony? But if it was allow'd to Chaucer, and those who im­mediately follow'd him, why must it be deny'd to those who have liv'd since.

quid autem
Caecilio, Plauto (que) dabit Romanus ademptum
Virgilio, Varroque? Ego cur acquir [...]re pauca
Si possim, invideor? Quum lingua Catonis & Enni,
Sermonem patrium ditaverit, & nova rerum
Nomina protulerit, licuit semper (que) licebit
Signatum praesente nota procudere nomen.

I must confess if we speak with relation to the constant and general Practice of a Writer, he ought to take what the French call the best Use, for the Mistress of the Lan­guage in which he writes; but a great Poet if he writes in the Language which he was born to speak, may be al­low'd the Privilege sometimes to coin new words, and some­times to revive the old, which last succeeded so well to Milton.

About the middle of the 22d Page he gives Advice, which shews him very inconsistent with himself.

And praise the easie Vigor of a Line,
Where Denham's Strength and Waller's Sweetness join.

How vastly different is this from what he pretends to ad­vise at the bottom of the 9th Page.

Be Homer's Works your Study day and night,
Read them by day, and meditate by night;
[Page 17] Thence form your Judgment, thence your Notions bring,
And trace the Muses upward to their Spring;
Still with it self compar'd, his Text peruse,
And let your Comment be the Mantuan Muse.

Now he who is familiar with Homer, and intimate with Virgil, will not be extremely affected either with the Sweetness of Waller, or the Force of Denham. He re­quires something that is far above the Level of modern Authors, something that is great and wonderful. If I were to recommend a British Poet to one who has been ha­bituated to Homer and Virgil, I would for the Honour of my Country, and of my own Judgment advise him to read Milton; who very often equals both the Graecian and the Roman in their extraordinary Qualities, and sometimes surpasses them, is more lofty, more terrible, more vehe­ment, more astonishing, and has more impetuous and more divine Raptures. I will not deny but that Waller has Sweetness, and Denham Force; but their good and their shining Qualities are so sophisticated and debauch'd with these modern Vices of Conceit, and Point, and Turn, and Epigram, that 'tis impossible they can affect in an extraor­dinary manner those who have been long acquainted with the Ancients.

There is in the 38th and the 39th Pages another Incon­sistency, which I desire to lay before the Reader. In the 38th Page he speaks of Horace thus:

He who supreme in Judgment as in Wit,
Might boldly censure as he boldly writ;
Yet judg'd with Coolness, tho' he sung with Fire
His Precepts teach but what his Works inspire.
Our Criticks take a contrary Extreme,
They judge with Fury, but they write with Flegm.

Before he goes ten Lines farther, he forgets himself, and commends Longinus for the very contrary Quality for which he commended Horace, and for the very same thing for which he condemns his Contemporaries.

The Muses sure Longinus did inspire,
And blest their Critick with a Poet's Fire:
[Page 18] An ardent Judge that zealous in his Trust
With warmth gives Judgment, yet is always just;
Whose own Example strengthens all his Laws,
And is himself that great Sublime he draws.

He commends Horace for judging cooly in Verse, and ex­tols Longinus for criticizing with Fire in Prose. What a miserable Slave is this Author to Opinion? Can any thing be more plain, than that he condemns his Contempora­ries for no other reason but because they are his Contem­poraries; and commends Longinus for no other reason but because he has been approv'd of by others. For why should not a modern Critick imitate the great Qualities of Longinus; and when he treats of a Subject which is sub­lime, treat of it sublimely? Now he who writes any thing with Sublimity, let it be Prose or Verse, let it be Criticism or Poetry, writes sometimes with Fury, as Lon­ginus hath shewn both by his Doctrine and his Example in the first Chapter of his Treatise.

But pray who are these Moderns that judge with Fury, and write with Flegm? Who are they that have writ both Criticism and Poetry, who have not in their Poetry shewn a thousand times this Essayer's Fire? Who is there among them that is not above borrowing so openly and so awkwardly from the most known Authors? For what Reader is so unacquainted with our English Poe­try, as not to know that he has taken this last Couplet with a very little variation from the Essay on Translated Verse?

Thus make the proper Use of each Extreme,
And write with Fury, but correct with Flegm.

But what is a perspicuous sensible Precept in my Lord Ros­common, as soon as this Essayer handles it, becomes a gros [...] Absurdity and a palpable Contradiction.

In the 28th Page there are no less than two or three Absurdities in the compass of four Lines.

Now length of Fame our second Life is lost,
And bare Threescore is all ev'n that can boast.
[Page 19] Our Sons their Fathers failing Language see,
And such as Chaucer is shall Dryden be.

Now what does young Mr. Bays mean by our second Life, and by bare Threescore? If he speaks of himself, and means threescore Days, he means too much in Reason: But if he speaks of Chaucer, Spencer, and Shakespear, and means threescore Years, he means too little in Conscience. 'Tis now a hundred Years since Shakespear began to write, more since Spencer flourished, and above 300 Years since Chaucer died. And yet the Fame of none of these is extinguish'd. The Reason that he gives for this is false too.

Our Sons their Fathers failing Language see,

Mr. Waller may suffice to shew the Falsity of this, 'Tis above threescore Years since that Gentleman began to write, and yet his Language is still good and new. Thus we find that the Assertion is false here, the Reason of it false; and we shall find anon that the Inference is false too.

And such as Chaucer is shall Dryden be;

That is, shall grow obsolete and neglected, and be either forgot, or be read but by a few.

Whether the Language of Mr. Dryden will ever be as obsolete as is at present that of Chaucer, is what neither this Author nor any one else can tell. For ev'ry Lan­guage hath its particular period of Time to bring it to Perfection, I mean to all the Perfection of which that Language is capable. And they who are alive cannot possibly tell whether that period hath happen'd or not: If that period has not yet happen'd; yet 'tis not the Obsoleteness of Language which makes a Poet fall from the Reputation which he once enjoy'd, provided the Language in which that Poet wrote was at the Time of his Writing come to be capable of Harmony. For Spen­cer is obsolete, yet is still renown'd. That which makes an Author fall from his former Reputation, is, says Boi­leau, in his seventh Reflection upon Longinus, his not [Page 20] having attain'd to that Point of Solidity and Perfection, which are necessary to give a never dying Esteem to his Works. For Example, says he, the Latin Tongue in which Cicero and Virgil wrote, was already very much alter'd in the Time of Quintilian and of Aulus Gellius; and yet Cicero and Virgil were more esteem'd when those Criticks wrote, than they were in their own Age, be­cause they had as it were by their Writings fix'd the Roman Language, having attain'd to that Point of Soli­dity and Perfection which I have mention'd above.

If we reflect upon that miserable Tast which reigns now among our Readers, and that want of Genius which is so deplorable in our present Writers, and that Tast and Genius daily more and more decline, we may with­out being Prophets foretel, according to the foremen­tion'd Observation of the Solidity and Perfection of Po­ems, that the Language is not like to alter to the Dis­advantage of those Poets, whose Works are the only Remains of them here below. But be that as it will, yet this is certain, that Mr. Dryden had one Quality in his Language, which Chaucer had not, and which must always remain. For having acquir'd some Justness of Numbers, and some Truth of Harmony and of Versi­fication, to which Chaucer thro' the Rudeness of the Language, or want of Ear, or want of Experience, or rather perhaps a mixture of all, could not possibly at­tain, that Justness of Numbers, and Truth of Harmony and of Versification can never be destroy'd by any altera­tion of Language; and therefore Mr. Dryden whatever alteration happens to the Language, can never be like to Chaucer.

Wherever this Gentleman talks of Wit, he is sure to say something that is very foolish, as Page 29.

What is this Wit that does our Cares employ,
The Owner's Wife that other Men enjoy?
The more his Trouble as the more admir'd,
Where wanted scorn'd, and envy'd where acquir'd.

Here again I desire leave to ask two or three Que­stions. First, how can Wit be scorn'd where it is not? Is not this a Figure frequently employ'd in Hibernian [Page 21] Land? The Person who wants this Wit may indeed be scorn'd; but such a Contempt declares the Honour that the Contemner has for Wit. But secondly, what does he mean by acquir'd Wit? Does he mean Genius by the word Wit, or Conceit and Point? If he means Ge­nius, that is certainly never to be acquir'd; and the Person who should pretend to acquire it, would be al­ways secure from Envy. But if by Wit he means Con­ceit and Point, those are things that ought never to be in Poetry, unless by chance sometimes in the Epigram, or in Comedy, where it is proper to the Character and the Occasion; and ev'n in Comedy it ought always to give place to Humour, and ev'n to be lost and absorp'd in that, according to the Precept of the noble Author of the Essay on Poetry.

That silly thing Men call sheer Wit avoid,
With which our Age so nauseously is cloy'd;
Humour is all, Wit should be only brought
To turn agreeably some proper Thought.

In the beginning of the 33d Page there is a Couplet of Advice, the first line of which is very impertinent, and the second very wrong.

Be silent always when you doubt your Sense.

Now who are the Persons to whom he is giving Advice here? Why, to Poets or Criticks, or both; but the Per­sons to whom he ought to be speaking are Criticks, that is, People who pretend to instruct others. But can any man of common Sense want to be told, that he ought not to pretend to instruct others, as long as he doubts of the Truth of his own Precepts?

But what can be more wrong or more absurd than the latter Verse of the Couplet?

Speak when you're sure, yet speak with Diffidence.

Now I should think that when a man is sure, 'tis his Duty to speak with a modest Assurance; since in do­ing otherwise he betrays the Truth, especially when he [Page 22] speaks to those who are guided more by Imagination than they are by Judgment, which is the Case of three parts of the World, and three parts of the other Part.

He is so great a Lover of Falshood, that whenever he has a mind to calumniate his Contemporaries, he up­braids them with some Defect, which is just contrary to some good Quality for which all their Friends and their Acquaintance commend them. As for Example, if a Man is remarkable for the extraordinary Deference which he pays to the Opinions and the Remonstrances of his Friends, him he Libels for his Impatience under Reproof. On the contrary, if he has a mind to extol the Ancients, he passes by either thro' Envy or Igno­rance all the great Qualities which they have, and ex­tols them for some peculiar one, the very want of which is known to all the World to be their Infirmity and their Defect. Thus in the 37th Page he takes occasion to commend Aristotle for what he wrote in Physicks, a great deal of which is so justly censur'd and condemn'd ev'n by the same learned and judicious Men, who allow his Aethicks, his Politicks, his Rhetorick, and his Poe­tick, to be worthy of the greatest Philosopher. And here as the Commendation which he gives him is false, the manner of giving it is still more false. For, says he,

Not only Nature did his Laws obey,
But Fancy's boundless Empire own'd his Sway.

The Expression in the first Verse is not only absurd, but blasphemous. The Laws of Nature are unalterable and indispensable but by God himself; and the greatest Excel­lence to which the wisest Philosopher can attain, is not to controul, but to obey Nature.

In the Libel upon King Charles the Second, he has not only endeavour'd to brand the Memory of that Prince for something which is utterly false, but for something which if it had been true had been an Ex­cellence in that Prince. For Wits, says he, in that Mo­narch's Reign had Pensions, when all the World knows that it was one of the Faults of that Reign that none [Page 23] of the politer Arts were then encourag'd. For of this we may be sure, that whenever we have a Prince and Ministers, who truly understand either their own Inte­rest, or that of the Publick, Arts and Learning will be then encourag'd; I mean not speciously and pretended­ly, but really and sincerely.

The King of France pretended to encourage Arts by allowing Pensions to some few Professors of them, where­as at the same time he was and is doing a thing, which has a natural Tendency to the driving them out of Eu­rope. For by kindling and prosecuting an unjust War thro' so many different Nations, he has gone a very great way towards the barbarizing the Christian World; and the Arts would have been at a much greater height, than they are now, without any manner of Encouragement from him, if they had been suffer'd to have enjoy'd the Quiet of an universal Peace. In the same manner some Persons of Quality in Great Britain have been kind to some par­ticular Professors of Poetry; but at the very same time, by not only introducing the Italian Opera among us, but by continuing constant Encouragers of it to this very day, they are doing a thing which will drive the very Art it self out of the Kingdom, as it has been already driven out of every other Nation; and are depriving their Favourite Authors of more than ever they yet be­stow'd upon them. Any great Minister would now have a glorious Opportunity of being a true Encourager of Poe­try, and ev'ry other generous Art, by representing ef­fectually to her Majesty the Mischief that the Italians do both to her Subjects, and to the Arts, and so driving those melodious Ballad-Singers out of the Na­tion.

But to return to the Reign of King Charles the Se­cond, from which I may seem to have in some measure digress'd; there was then indeed a favourable regard shewn to Wit, but no real Encouragement. Butler was starv'd at the same time that the King had his Book in his Poc­ket. Another great Wit lay seven Years in Prison for an inconsiderable Debt, and Otway dar'd not to shew his Head for fear of the same Fate. These are some of the Glories of that Reign according to this Author. For if it be a Vice in a Prince to encourage an Art, 'tis a Vertue [Page 24] to neglect it. What a wretched Creature is this Pretender to Criticism and Poetry to keep such a pother about an Art, the Encouragement of which he imputes as Infamy to King Charles the Second?

Well! but he tells us that not only

The Wits had Pensions, but young Lords had Wit.

Here in the compass of one poor Line are two devilish Bobs for the Court. But 'tis no easy matter to tell which way the latter squinting Reflection looks. For if he pretends to reflect upon that Prince, for receiving Persons of Quality who had Wit into his Court, can any thing be more imper­tinent than twice in one Line to libel a Monarch for being favourable to that very thing, which he takes so much pains in this very Book to recommend to the World? If he means that the young Lords of the Court who pretended to Wit had it not, can any thing be more arrogant than to fly in the Face of all Mankind, and to contradict almost the only thing in which all sorts of People agree, ev'n in this divided Age, Britons and Foreigners, Protestants and Papists, Whigs and Tories, Churchmen and Dissenters, and to pre­tend to reflect upon Persons whose very Names are their Panegyricks? The young Lords who had Wit in the Court of King Charles the Second, are these: The young former Duke of Buckingham, the young Earl of Mulgrave now Duke of Buckingham, the young Lord Buckhurst afterwards Earl of Dorset and Middlesex, and the young Marquess of Halifax; the young Earl of Rochester, the young Lord Vaughan now Lord Carbury, and several others. If the looking favou­rably upon young Persons of Quality who had Wit, may be imputed as Scandal to the Court of King Charles the Se­cond, that Court was certainly the most scandalous one in Europe. But if he says on the other side that 'tis disho­nourable to a Prince to be mistaken in this Point, and to look with a favourable Eye on Pretenders instead of real Masters; to that all the World with one accord wlll an­swer that never Prince had a clearer Reputation in this Point.

Thus are his Assertions, and his Precepts frequently false or trivial, or both, his Thoughts very often crude and abortive, his Expressions absurd, his Numbers often harsh [Page 25] and unmusical, without Cadence and without Variety, his Rhimes trivial and common. He dictates perpetually, and pretends to give Law without any thing of the Simplicity or Majesty of a Legislator, and pronounces Sentence with­out any thing of the Plainness or Clearness, or Gravity of a Judge. Instead of Simplicity we have little Conceit and Epigram, and Affectation. Instead of Majesty we have something that is very mean, and instead of Gravity we have something that is very boyish. And instead of Per­spicuity and lucid Order, we have but too often Obscurity and Confusion.

But what most shews him a very young Author, is, that with all these Faults and this Weakness he has the Insolence of a Hero, and is a downright Bully of Parnassus, who is ev'ry moment thundr'ing out Fool, Sot, Fop, Coxcomb, Blockhead, and thinks to hide his want of Sense by his pretended Contempt of others, as a Hector does his want of Courage by his perpetual blustring and roaring; and is sagaciously of Opinion, that he arrogates so much Sense to himself as he imputes Folly to other People.

Thus a wild Tartar when he spies
A Man that's handsome, valiant, wise,
Thinks if he kills him to inherit
His Wit, his Beauty, and his Spirit,
As if just so much he enjoy'd
As in another he destroy'd.

By what he says Page the 25th, and his returning to the Charge, Page 34, his particular Pique seems to be at People of Quality, for whom he appears to have a very great Contempt, I mean for the Authors of that Rank; as if a Man were to assert his Title to Parnassus, by proving himself a Plebeian in Great Britain; or as if an English So­vereign by making a Man honourable, made him dull. Good Gods, how absolute would our Princes be at that rate! when they would have the very Understandings of their Subjects at their disposal, and would need only to prefer the Disobedient to chastise them.

I hope, I may without offence, gently put young Mr. Bays in mind, that the Subordination which is abso­lutely necessary to the Government of the World requires [Page 26] that Respect should be paid to Persons of Quality, ev'n where Esteem cannot be paid to them; but that in this case they both may and ought to have our Respect and Esteem together. For I know very few People of Quality who have applied themselves to Poetry, who have not suc­ceeded; on the other side 'tis known to all the World that some of them have been admirable. For nothing is more certain than that supposing equal Talent and equal Appli­cation, a Man of Quality has great Advantages over the rest of Men. But can any thing be more stupidly impu­dent and impertinent, than that this little Gentleman should rail thus at the Writings of People of Quality in this very Essay, the one half of which he has borrow'd from two noble Authors, and appropriated it to himself, by the same Method by which a Jack-pudding engrosses a Sack-posset, viz. by mingling some Beastliness with it, which does not fail to render it nauseous to those who made it. This extraordinary Proceeding of borrowing and railing puts me in mind of a Passage in Mr. Cowley.

'Tis now become the frugal Fashion
Rather to bide than pay the Obligation;
Nay Wrongs and Outrages we do,
Lest Men should think we Owe.

But the Men of Quality, as they want not the Discern­ment, will have the Satisfaction to see, that as there is a great deal of Venom in this little Gentleman's Temper, Nature has very wisely corrected it with a great deal of Dulness.

His rankest Libels lull asleep his Foes,
As Vipers blood in Treacle makes us dose.

As there is no Creature in Nature so venomous, there is nothing so stupid and so impotent as a hunch-back'd Toad; and a Man must be very quiet and very passive, and stand still to let him fasten his Teeth and his Claws, or be sur­priz'd sleeping by him, before that Animal can have any power to hurt him.

Thus in order to find out his outward Person, have we taken a Survey of his inward Man, in his several noble Ta­lents [Page 27] and Vertues, his Poetry, his Criticism, his Modesty, his Humility, his Gratitude, and his good Breeding. Let us now take a Survey of his Politicks, and his Religion, not by any means by way of Reflection; for Poetry and Criticism are of no Party, and of no Religion, but only to find who he is.

I find then that in the compass of one Page, which is the thirty first, he has Libell'd two Monarchs and two Na­tions. The two Monarchs are King Charles and King William: The two Nations are the Dutch and our own. The Dutch we are told are a parcel of Sharpers, and we are downright Bubbles and Fools. King Charles the Se­cond was too much a Libertine, and too much an Encou­rager of Wit for him; King William the Third was too much a Socinian. But tho' he has without Mercy con­demn'd the Reigns of the foremention'd Monarchs, he is graciously pleas'd to pass over in silence that which comes between them. In the beginning of the 12th Page, we find what that is which so happily reconcil'd him to it, and that was the Dispensing Pow'r, which was set on foot in order to introduce and to establish Popery, and to make it the National Religion. Now I humbly conceive that he who Libels our Confederates, must be by Politicks a Jacobite; and he who Libels all the Protestant Kings that we have had in this Island these threescore Years, and who justifies the Dispensing Pow'r so long after we are free'd from it, a Pow'r which as was hinted above was set on foot on purpose to introduce Popery: He who justifies this when he lyes under the Tye of no Necessity, nor ev'n Conveniency to approve of it, must, I humbly conceive, derive his Religion from St. Omer's, as he seems to have done his Humanity and his Criticism; and is, I suppose, politickly setting up for Poet-Laureat against the coming over of the Pretender, which by his Insolence he seems to believe approaching, as People of his Capacity are gene­rally very sanguine.

Let us now see if we can find any thing in his Rhimes, which may direct us to his Coffee-house, or to his Booksellers. By his taking three Opportunities to commend Mr. Dryden, in so small a compass as p. 23, 27, 28, I fancy we may hear of him at Shakespear's Head, or at Will's, for to revive old Quarrels which [Page 28] have been long out of doors, and to renew the memo­ry of Poetical Wars wag'd formerly between Sir R. B. Mr. L. M. and Mr. Dryden, can be agreeable to none but a very few of the Frequenters of those Places. This is to run counter to his own Direction; for he tells us Page 27. that formerly

Pride, Malice, Folly against Dryden rose
In various shapes of Parsons, Criticks, Beaus.

Upon which, Page 28, he gives this grave Advice,

Be thou the first true Merit to befriend,
His Praise is lost who stays till all commend.

The appearing in Mr. Dryden's behalf now is too late. 'Tis like offering a Man's self for a Second, after the Princi­pal has been whipp'd through the Lungs. Now Mr. Dry­den is dead, he commends him with the rest of the World. But if this little Gentleman had been his Contemporary thirty Years ago, why then I can tell a very damn'd shape that Pride and Malice, and Folly would have appear'd in against Mr. Dryden.

For his Acquaintance he names Mr. Walsh. I had the good Fortune to know Mr. Walsh very well; who was a learned, candid, judicious Gentleman. But he had by no means the Qualification which this Author reckons abso­lutely necessary to a Critick; it being certain that Mr. Walsh was like this Essayer a very indifferent Poet; but he was a Man of a very good Understanding, in spight of his being a Beau. He lov'd to be well dress'd, as Do­rimant says, and thought it no Disparagement to his Un­derstanding; and I remember a little young Gentleman, with all the Qualifications which we have found to be in this Author, whom Mr. Walsh us'd sometimes to take in­to his Company as a double Foil to his Person, and his Ca­pacity. It has been observ'd that of late Years a certain Spectre exactly in the shape of that little Gentleman, has haunted a certain ancient Wit, and has been by the Peo­ple of Covent-Garden styl'd his evil Genius. For it hath been extremely remarkable, that while that Spectre hath haunted that ancient Wit, he has never been able to write [Page 29] or talk like himself: Which has by no means happen'd by any Decay of his natural Parts, but by the wonderful Pow'r of Magick. For as soon as the dumb Conjurer has been employ'd to lay the Spectre for three or four months, either in the midst of the Red Sea, or the mid­dle of Windsor-Forest, the old Gentleman has strait been his own Man as perfectly as ever he was in his Life.

And now if you have a mind to enquire between Sun­ning-Hill and Ockingham, for a young, squab, short Gentle­man, with the forementioned Qualifications, an eternal Writer of Amorous Pastoral Madrigals, and the very Bow of the God of Love, you will be soon directed to him. And pray as soon as you have taken a Survey of him, tell me whether he is a proper Author to make per­sonal Reflections on others; and tell him if he does not like my Person, 'tis because he is an ungrateful Creature, since his Conscience tells him, that I have been always in­finitely delighted with his: So delighted, that I have lately drawn a very graphical Picture of it; but I believe I shall keep the Dutch Piece from ever seeing the Light, as a certain old Gentleman in Windsor-Forest would have done by the Original, if he durst have been half as im­partial to his own Draught as I have been to mine. This little Author may extol the Ancients as much and as long as he pleases, but he has reason to thank the good Gods that he was born a Modern. For had he been born of Graecian Parents, and his Father by consequence had by Law had the absolute Disposal of him, his Life had been no longer than that of one of his Poems, the Life of half a day. Instead of setting his Picture to show, I have taken a keener Revenge, and expos'd his Intellectuals, as duly considering that let the Person of a Gentleman of his Parts be never so contemptible, his inward Man is ten times more ridiculous; it being impossible that his outward Form, tho' it should be that of downright Monkey, should differ so much from human Shape, as his immaterial unthinking part does from human Understanding. How agreeable it is to be in a Libel with so much good Compa­ny as I have been, with two great Monarchs, two mighty Nations, and especially the People of Quality of Great Britain, and this Libel compos'd by a little Gentleman, who has writ a Panegyrick upon himself! Which Panegy­rick [Page 30] if it was not writ with Judgment, yet was it pub­lish'd with Discretion, for it was publish'd in Mr. W [...]'s Name; so that by this wise Proceeding he had the Benefit of the Encomium, and Mr. W [...] had the Scandal of the Poetry: which it brought upon him to such a degree, that 'tis ten to one if ever he recovers the Reputation of a good Versifyer. And thus for the present I take my leave of you and of this little Critick and his Book; a Book throughout which Folly and Ignorance, those Brethren so lame and so impotent, do ridiculously at one and the same time look ve­ry big and very dull, and strut, and hobble cheek by jowl with their Arms on Kimbo, being led and supported, and Bully-back'd by that blind Hector Impudence. I am,

SIR,
Your, &c.

ANNOTATIONS.

1. First follow Nature, p. 7.

Horace has giv'n a Precept, which may be quoted by undi­stinguishing People to keep this in countenance.

Respicere exemplar vitae, morum (que) jubebo
Doctum imitatorem & veras hinc Ducere voces.

For he bids the Person to whom this is directed consult Na­ture; but then he does three things, which vastly distin­guish him from the Writer of the Essay: For first he makes it very plain what sort of Person this is to whom he directs himself, and that is Doctus Imitator, one who is both Poet and Critick, Dramatick Poet, and Dramatick Critick; one who writes Plays, and understands the Rules, and knows the Secrets of his Art; notwithstanding which, he may be ignorant of that important one, which Horace is about to discover to him; or in case he does already know it, he may want to be put in mind of it, because his Interest, as we shall find anon, is a strong Temptation to deviate from it. But secondly Horace tells us very intelligibly what he [Page 31] means by Nature here, and that is, human Life, and the manners of Men. Thirdly, he makes it as clear as the Sun, what it is to follow Nature in giving a draught of human Life, and of the manners of Men, and that is not to draw after particular Men, who are but Copies and imperfect Co­pies of the great universal Pattern; but to consult that innate Original, and that universal Idea, which the Crea­tor has fix'd in the minds of ev'ry reasonable Creature, and so to make a true and a just Draught. For as ev'ry Copy deviates from the Original both in Life and Grace, and Resemblance, a Poet who designs to give a true Draught of human Life and Manners, must consult the universal Idea, and not particular Persons. For Example, when a Poet would draw the Character of a covetous or a revengeful person, he is not to draw after Lucius or Caius; but to con­sult the universal pattern within him, and there to behold what Revenge or Covetousness would do in such and such Natures, upon such and such Occasions. For if he draws after Lucius or Caius, the workings of Revenge and Cove­tousness in these two, being but Copies and imperfect Co­pies of their workings according to the universal Idea, and the Poet degenerating in his Draught ev'n from those faint and imperfect Copies, whenever a just and discerning Judge comes to compare that Draught with the Original within him, he immediately finds that that Draught falls extreme­ly short of the Truth of Nature, and immediately disap­proves of it, as a second, ungraceful, faint, unresembling Copy. Agreeable to this is that passage of the most discer­ning Author of the Essay upon Poetry.

If once the Justness of each part is lost,
Well may we laugh, but at the Poet's cost.

Thus Horace here speaks to the Knowing, yet tells them something that several of them want to be taught, and se­veral to be put in mind of. For it has been a Complaint of Two thousand Years standing, that Poets have been us'd to violate their Subjects, and to force their Characters out of complaisance to their Actors, that is, to their Interest. Most of the Writers for the Stage in my time, have not only adapted their Characters to their Actors, but those Actors have as it were sate for them. For which reason the [Page 32] Lustre of the most shining of their Characters must decay with the Actors, while those of Sophocles, Euripides, Terence, and Ben Johnson will eternally remain.

2. Still green with Bays each ancient Altar stands, p. 13.

If Mr. Bays should say here that by each ancient Altar he does not mean ev'ry ancient Poet, but only those few who have been admir'd by all succeeding Ages; to this I answer, that besides that the Expression will by no means bear this Sense, it appears plainly from the two first lines of p. 12. that he speaks of the Ancients in general.

And tho' the Ancients thus their Rules invade,
As Kings dispense with Laws themselves have made.
Moderns beware. p. 12.

I think nothing can be more plain, than that here he pre­fers all the Ancients before all the Moderns, treating the former as so many Monarchs and Legislators at the same time in the Regions of Sense, and the latter as so many Slaves. Besides that these Verses manifestly relate rather to the indifferent Poets among the Ancients, than to those who are admirable; for the indifferent ones have most and oftnest invaded the Rules, Indeed they have scarce ever observ'd them; as Homer and Virgil have scarce ever trans­gress'd them.

FINIS.

This keyboarded and encoded edition of the work described above is co-owned by the institutions providing financial support to the Text Creation Partnership. This Phase I text is available for reuse, according to the terms of Creative Commons 0 1.0 Universal. The text can be copied, modified, distributed and performed, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission.