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Towards the end of his life he went with his wife to France; but after a while, finding his health declining, he returned alone to England, and died in April, 1765.
He was twice married, and by his first wife had several children. One daughter, who married an Italian of rank named Cilesia, wrote a tragedy called Almida, which was acted at Drury-lane. His second wife was the daughter of a nobleman's steward,
a who had a considerable fortune, which she took care to retain in her own hands. His stature was diminutive, but he was regularly formed; his appearance, till he
1 grew corpulent, was agreeable, and he suffered it to want no recommendation that dress could give it. His conversation was elegant and easy. The rest of his character may, without injury to his memory, sink into silence.
As a writer, he cannot be placed in any high class. There is no species of composition in which he was eminent. His dramas had their day, a short day, and are forgotten; his blank verse seems to my ear the echo of Thomson. His Life of Bacon is known, as it is appended to Bacon's volumes, but is no longer mentioned. His works are such as a writer, bustling in the world, showing himself in public, and emerging occasionally from time to time into notice, might keep alive by his personal influence; but which, conveying little information, and giving no great pleasure, must soon give way, as the succession of things produces new topics of conversation and other modes of amusement.
THE RIGHT HONOURABLE
WILLIAM, LORD MANSFIELD,
LORD CHIEF JUSTICE OF ENGLAND.
JANUARY 1, 1759.
No man, in ancient Rome, my lord, would have been surprised, I believe,
, , to see a poet inscribe his works, either to Cicero, or the younger Pliny ; not to mention any more amongst her most celebrated names. They were both, it is true, public magistrates of the first distinction, and had applied themselves severely to the study of the laws; in which both eminently excelled. They were, at the same time, illustrious orators, and employed their eloquence in the service of their clients and their country. But, as they had both embellished their other talents by early cultivating the finer arts, and which has spread, we see, a peculiar light and grace over all their productions; no species of polite literature could be foreign to their taste or patronage. And, in effect, we find they were the friends and protectors of the best respective ages produced.
It is from a parity of character, my lord, and which will occur obviously to every eye, that I am induced to place your name at the head of this collection, such as it is, of the different things I have written.
Nec Phæbo gratior ulla
Quam sibi quæ Vari præscripsit pagina nomen. And were I as sure, my lord, that it is deserving of your regard, as I am that these verses were not applied with more propriety at first than they are now; the public would universally justify my ambition in presenting it to you. But, of that, the public only must and will judge, in the last appeal. There is but one thing, to bespeak their favour and your friendship, that I dare be positive in : without which, you are the last person in Britain to whom I should bave thought of addressing it. And this any man may affirm of himself, without vanity; because it is equally in every man's power.
Of all that I have written, on any occasion, there is not a line, which I am afraid to own, either as an honest man, a good subject, or a true lover of my country.
I have thus, my lord, dedicated some few moments, the first day of this new year, to send you, according to good old custom, a present. An humble one, I confess it is; and that can have little other value but what arises from the disposition of the sender. On that account, perhaps, it may not be altogether unacceptable ; for it is indeed an offering rather of the heart than the head; an effusion of those sentiments, which great merit, employed to the best
purposes, naturally creates. May you enjoy, my lord, through the whole course of this and many more years, that sound health of mind and body, which your important labours for the public so much want, and so justly merit! And may you soon have the satisfaction to see, what I know you so ardently wish, this destructive war, however necessary on our part, concluded by a safe and lasting peace! Then, and not till then, all the noble arts, no less useful than ornamental to human life, and that now languish, may again flourish, under the eye and encouragement of those few, who think and feel as you do, for the advantage and honour of Great Britain. I am, with the sincerest attachment,
your most faithful
TO THE FIRST AND SECOND EDITIONS.
'Tis thine, O Pope, who choose the better part, To tell how false, how vain, the scholiast's art,
Which nor to taste, nor genius has pretence, VERBAL CRITICISM.
And, if 'tis learning, is not common sense.
In errour obstinate, in wrangling loud,
Deep in the darkness of dull authors bred,
With all their refuse lumber'd in his head,
Of literary offals, old or new,
abuse of verbal criticism, the author could not, Of points and letters, chaff and straws, to write: without manifest partiality, overlook the editor Sagely resolv'd to swell each bulky piece of Milton, and the restoier of Shakspeare. With With venerable toys, from Rome and Greece; regard to the latter, he has read over the many How oft, in Homer, Paris curl'd his bair; and ample specimens with which that scholiast If Aristotle's cap were round or square; has already obliged the public: and of these, If in the cave, where Dido first was sped, and these only, he pretends to give his opinion. To Tyre she turn'd her heels, to Troy her head. But, whatever he may think of the critic, not Such the choice anecdotes, profound and vain, bearing the least ill-will to the man, he deferred That store a Bentley's and a Burman's brain : printing these verses, though written several Hence, Plato quoted, or the Stagyrite, months ago, till he heard that the subscription to prove that flame ascends, and suow is white:
for a new edition of Shakspeare was closed. Hence, much hard study, without sense or breeding, He begs leave to add likewise, that this poem was And all the grave impertinence of reading.
undertaken and written entirely without the If Shakspeare says, the noon-day Sun is bright,
But is there then no honour due to age ?
His mangled points and commas to restore, Axong the numerous fools, by Fate design'd Meets he such slight regard in nameless lays, Oft to disturb, and oft divert, mankind,
Whom Bufo treats, and lady Would-be pays? The reading coxcomb is of special note,
Pride of his own, and wonder of this age, By rule a poet, and a judge by rote:
Who first created, and yet rules, the stage, Grave son of idle Industry and Pride,
Bold to design, all-powerful to express, Whom learning but perverts, and books misguide. Shakspeare each passion drew in every dress:
O fam'd for judging, as for writing well, Great above rule, and imitating none;
Rich without borrowing, Nature was his own.
As gold in mines les mix'd with dirt and clay.
Now, eagle-wing'd, his heavenward flight be takes; In this the critic's folly most is shown:
Such was the poet : next the scholiast view; Himself with poring erudition blind,
Condemn’d to dig and dung a barren soil, That writer he selects, with aukward aim
So Florio is a fop, with half a nose :
Thus, gay Petronius was a Dutchman's choice,
And Horace, strange to say, tun'd Bent'ey's voice. By living clients hopeless now of bread,
Horace, whom all the Graces taught to please, He pettyfogs a scrap from authors dead:
Mix'd mirth with morals, eloquence with ease;
Skill'd in that noblest science, how to live;
The St. Johns, Boyles, and Lytteltons, of old. Blest genius! who bestows his oil and pains While Bentley, long to wrangling schools confin'd, On each dull passage, each dull book contains; And, but by books, acquainted with mankind, The toil more grateful, as the task more low: Dares, in the fulness of the pedant's pride, So carrion is the quarry of a crow.
Rhyme, thongh no genius; though no judge, decide. Where his fam'd author's page is flat and poor, Yet he, prime pattern of the captious art, There, most exact the reading to restore;
Out-tibbalding poor Tibbald, tops his part: By dint of plodding, and by sweat of face,
Holds high the scourge o'er each fam'd author's A bull to change, a blunder to replace :
head; Whate'er is refuse critically gleaning,
Nor are their graves a refuge for the dead.
The Roman Muse arraigns bis mangling pen;
A prelate, fam'd for clearing each dark text, Tyrant! more cruel than Procrustes old;
Such is the man, who heaps his head with bays,
Fair-dealing, as the plainest, is the best: " This remarkable bird is called the Strundt- | Long lay the critic's work, with trifles stord, Jager. Here you see how he purchases his food : Admir'd in Latin, but in Greek ador’d. and the same author, from whom this account is taken, tells us further, how he comes by his drink. 4 This sagacious scholiast is pleased to create an You may see him, adds the Dutchman, frequently imaginary editor of Milton; who, he says, by his pursuing a sort of sea-mew, called Kulge-Gehef, blunders, interpolations, and vile alterations, lost whom he torinents incessantly to make him void Paradise a second time. This is a postulatum an excrement; which, being liquid, serves him, I which surely none of his readers can have the heart imagine, for drink. See a Collection of Voyages to deny him; because otherwise he would have to the North.
wanted a fair opportunity of calling Milton himQuis talia fando
self, in the person of this phantom, fool, ignorant, Myrmidonum, Dolopumve, &c.
idiot, and the like critical compellations, which he
plentifully bestows on him. But, though he had 3 See the Dedication of his Remarks on the Dun- 110 taste in poetry, he was otherwise a man of very ciad to Mr. Lewis Theobald.
considerable abilities, and of great erudition.