Abbildungen der Seite

Even such small critics some regard may claim, Preserved in Milton's or in Shakespear's name.


altars to Romulus, and sacrificed to the Gods of Latium; in which he was followed by our countryman Baxter, in every thing but in the costliness of his sacrifices.

But if the Greeks cried down Cicero, the Italian critics knew how to support his credit. Every one has heard of the childish excesses into which the ambition of being thought CICERONIANS carried the most celebrated Italians of this time. They abstained from reading the Scriptures for fear of spoiling their style: Cardinal Bembo used to call the Epistles of St. Paul by the contemptuous name of Epistolaccias, great overgrown Epistles. But ERASMUS cured their frenzy by that master-piece of good sense, his Ciceronianus. For which (in the way that lunatics treat their physicians) the elder Scaliger insulted him with all the brutal fury peculiar to his family and profession.

His sons Joseph and Salmasius had indeed such endowments of nature and art, as might have raised modern learning to a rivalship with the ancient. Yet how did they and their adversaries tear and worry one another! The choicest of Joseph's flowers of speech were Stercus Diaboli, and Lutum stercore maceratum. It is true, these were lavished upon his enemies : for his friends he had other things in store. In a letter to Thuanus, speaking of two of them, Clavius and Lipsius, he calls the first a monster of ignorance; and the other, a slave to the Jesuits, and an idiot. But so great was his love of sacred amity at the same time, that he says, I still keep up my correspondence with him, notwithstanding his idiotry, for it is my principle to be constant in my friendships-Je ne reste de luy escrire, nonobstant son idioterie, d'autant que je suis constant en amitié. The character he gives of his own chronology, in the same letter, is no less extraordinary: Vous vous pouvez assurer que nôtre Eusebe sera un trésor des marveilles de la doctrine chronologique. But this modest account of his own work, is nothing in comparison of the idea the father gives his bookseller of his own person.

This bookseller was preparing something of Julius Scaliger’s for the press ; and desired the author would give him directions concerning his picture, which was to be set before the book.

Julius's answer (as it stands in his collection of letters) is, that if the engraver


Pretty! in amber to observe the forms
Of hairs, or straws, or dirt, or grubs, or worms! 170


could collect together the several graces of Masinissa, Xenophon, and Plato, he might then be enabled to give the public some faint and imperfect resemblance of his person. Nor was Salmasius's judgment of his own parts less favourable to himself; as Mr. Colomies tells the story. This critic, on a time, meeting two of his brethren, Messrs. Gaulman and Maussac, in the royal library at Paris, Gaulman, in a virtuous consciousness of their importance, told the other two, that he believed they three could make head against all the learned in Europe. To which the great Salmasius fiercely replied: “Do you and M. Maussac join yourselves to all that are learned in the world, and you shall find that I alone am a match for you

all,” Vossius tells us, that when Laur. Valla had snarled at every name of the first order in antiquity, such as Aristotle, Cicero, and one whom I should have thought this critic the likeliest to reverence, the redoubtable Priscian, he impiously boasted that he had arms even against Christ himself. But Codrus Urcæus went further, and actụally used those arms which the other only threatened with. This man, while he was preparing some trifling piece of criticism for the press, had the misfortune to hear his papers were destroyed by fire; on which he is reported to have broke out: “ Quodnam ego tantum scelus concepi, O Christe! quem ego tuorum unquam læsi, ut ita inexpiabili in me odio debaccheris? Audi ea quæ tibi mentis compos, et ex animo dicam. Si forte, cum ad ultimum vitæ finem pervenero, supplex accedam ad te oratum, neve audias, neve inter tuos accipias oro ; cum infernis Diis in æternum vitam agere decrevi.” Whereupon, says my author, he quitted the converse of men, threw himself into the thickest of a forest, and wore out the wretched remainder of his life in all the agonies of despair.

Warburton. This attack by Warburton upon the early promoters of litera- . ture is much too indiscriminate, and is by no means called for by the passage in Pope, in which he meant only to refer to his contemporary critics and word-catchers. That the Genius, or rather the professors of PHILOLOGY are deservedly characterized by the


The things, we know, are neither rich nor rare, But wonder how the devil they got there.


name of ribalds, is a strange assertion for a commentator who has devoted so considerable a portion of his time to that employment, and has not been sparing of his sarcasms on those who have not always agreed with him in opinion. Of the names mentioned with such contempt by Warburton, many are far beyond his power to depreciate, and the manner in which he speaks of Argyropylus, Lascar, Hermolaus Barburus, Pomponius Lætus, &c. shews that he was but little acquainted with their characters. To cast a ridicule on learning, by repeating a series of absurd imputations on its professors, many of which have not the slightest foundation in truth, is certainly not the business either of a scholar or a divine. That in their dissensions the early critics often transgressed the bounds of civility, and even of decency, is well known; but to revive these exploded calumnies, in order to discredit the study of philology itself, can scarcely be allowed ; particularly when we consider that the person who brings them forward, has both attacked others and been attacked himself, with a degree of asperity and virulence not exceeded by any of the critics of former times, of which a sufficient instance appears in the ensuing notes on ver. 169.

Ver. 164. slashing Bentley] This great man, with all his faults, deserved however to be put into better company. The following words of Cicero describe him not amiss : “ Habuit à natura genus quoddam acuminis, quod etiam arte limaverat, quod erat in reprehendendis verbis versutum et solers ; sed sæpe stomachosum, nonnunquam frigidum, interdum etiam facetum.” Warburton.

Ver. 164. slashing Bentley] The following epigram by Pope, on Bentley's edition of Milton, to which the epithet “slashing" alludes, I have found in his hand-writing:

“ Did Milton's prose, O Charles ! thy death defend?

A furious foe unconscious proves a friend.
On Milton's verse did Bentley comment ?—Know,
A weak officious friend becomes a foe.
While he but sought his author's fame to further,
murderous critic has avenged thy murder.” Bowles.

Were others angry: I excused them too; Well might they rage, I gave them but their due.


This epigram is rendered quite unintelligible in Mr. Bowles's edition, by a misprint in the third line, where we read,

“ On Milton's verse did Milton comment," &c. Ver. 169. Pretty! in amber to observe the forms, &c.] Our poet had the full pleasure of this amusement soon after the publication of his Shakespear. Nor has his friend been less entertained since the appearance of his edition of the same poet ; the liquid amber of whose wit has lately licked up and enrolled such a quantity of these insects, and of tribes so grotesque and various, as would have puzzled Reaumur to give names to. Two or three of them it may not be amiss to preserve and keep alive: Such as the Rev. Dr. Zachary Grey, Thomas Edwards, Esq. and, to make up

the 1 triumvirate, their learned coadjutor, that very respectable personage, Mr. Theophilus Cibber. As to the poetiç imagery of this passage, it has been much and justly admired; for the most detestable things in nature, as a toad or a beetle, become pleasing, when well represented in a work of art. But it is no less eminent for the beauty of the thought; for though a scribbler exists by being thus incorporated, yet he exists entombed. The last of them, one Capell, has been something less happy. He sticks in the surface, has stuck there these twenty years, and will stick for

Sedet, æternumque sedebit, infelix Theseus; so that instead of being embalmed, he is gibbetted; a lasting example of the wrath of the Muses !

Warburton. For this lively sally Warburton was attacked by Thomas Edwards, a barrister of Lincoln's-inn, and a gentleman of independent fortune, who, if he did not pour forth as many sonnets against Warburton as Father Lazzarelli did against Bonaventura Arrighini, under the name of Don Ciccio, honoured him at least with some, not exceeded in severity by any in that celebrated collection,

The Canons of Criticism of Edwards have given him a permanent rank amongst our first critics. Of this work a sixth edition, with additions, was printed in 1758, 8vo.


A man's true merit 'tis not hard to find ; 175
But each man's secret standard in his mind,
That casting-weight pride adds to emptiness,
This, who can gratify? for who can guess ?
The bard whom pilfer'd Pastorals renown,
Who turns a Persian tale for half a crown, 180
Just writes to make his barrenness appear,
And strains, from hard-bound brains, eight lines

He, who still wanting, though he lives on theft,
Steals much, spends little, yet has nothing left:
And he, who ňow to sense, now nonsense leaning,
Means not, but blunders round about a meaning:
And he, whose fustian's so sublimely bad,
It is not poetry, but prose run mad :
All these, my modest satire bade translate,
And own'd that nine such poets made a Tate. 190


Ver. 180. a Persian tale] Amb. Philips translated a book called the Persian Tales.

Pope. Philips, certainly not a very animated or first-rate writer, yet appears not to deserve quite so much contempt, if we look at his first and fifth Pastoral, his Epistle from Copenhagen, his Ode on the Death of Earl Cowper, his translations of the two first Olympic Odes of Pindar, the two Odes of Sappho, and, above all, his pleasing tragedy of the Distressed Mother. The secret grounds of Philips's malignity to Pope, are said to be the ridicule and laughter he met with from all the Hanover Club, of which he was secretary, for mistaking the incomparable ironical paper in the Guardian, No. 40, which was written by Pope, for a serious criticism on pastoral poetry.

Warton. Ver. 189. All these, my modest satire bade translate,] See their works, in the Translations of classical books by several hands.

Pope. Ver. 190. And own'd that nine such poets] Before this piece


« ZurückWeiter »