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ever be capable of making a Revolution in Parnalus.
I will not attempt, in this place, to say any thing particular of your Lyrick Poems, tho' they are the Delight and Wonder of this Age, and will be the Envy of the next. The Subject of this Book confines me to Satyr ; and in that, an Author of your own Quality, (whose Ashes I will not difturb, ) has given you all the commendation, which his Self-sufficiency cou'd afford to any Man: The best good Man, with the worst-natura Muse. In that Character, methinks, I am reading Johnson's Verfes to the Memory of Shakespear : An Insolent, Sparing, and Invidious Panegyrick: Where good Nature, the most Godlike Commendation of a Man, it only attributed to your Perfon, and deny'd to your Writings: For they are every-where so full of Candor, that, like Horace, you only expose the Follies of Men, without ar: raigning their Vices; and in this excel him, thar you add that pointedness of Thought, which is vifibly wanting in our great Roman. There is more of Salt in all your Verses, than I have seen in any of the Moderns, or even of the Ancients : But you have been sparing of the Gall; by which means you have pleas'd all Readers, and offended none. 'Donn alone, of all our Country-men, had your Talent ; but was not happy enough to arrive at your Versification. And were he translated into Numbers, and English, he wou'd yet be Wanting in the Dignity of Expression. That which is the Prime Virtue, and chief Ornament of Virgil, which distinguishes him from the rest of Writers, is so confpicuous in your Verses, that it cafts Shadow on all your Contemporaries; we cannot be seen, or but obscurely, while you are present.
You equal Donn in the Variety, Multiplicity, and Choice of Thoughts ; you excel him in the Manner, and the Words. I read you both, with the fame Admiration, but not with the fame Delight. He affects the Metaphyficks, not only in his Satyrs, but in his amorous Verses, where Nature only should reign; and perplexes the Minds of the fair' Sex with nice Speculations of Philosophy, when he shou'd engage their Hearts, and entertain them with the Softness of Love. In this (if I may be pardon’d for so bold a Truth) Mr. Cowley has copy'd him to a Fault; so great a one in my Opinion, that it throws his Mistress infinitely below his Pindariques, and his latter Compositions, which are undoubtedly the best of his Poems, and the molt correct. For my own part, I must avow it freely to the World, that I never attempted any thing in Satyr, wherein I have not study’d your Writings as the most perfe& Model. I have continually laid them before me; and the greatest Commendation, which my own Partiality can give to my Productions, is, that they are Copies, and no farther to be allow'd, than as they have some. thing more or less of the Original. Some few Touches of your Lordship, some secret Graces which I have endeavour'd to express after your manner, have made whole Poems of mine to pass with Approbation: But take your Verses altogether, and they are inimitable. If therefore I have not written better, 'tis because you have not written more. You have not set me fufficient Copy to transcribe; and I cannot add one Letter of my own Invention, of which I have not the Example there.
'Tis a general Complaint against your Lordship, and I must have leave to upbraid you with it, that, because you need not write, you will not.
Mankind that wishes you so well, in all things that relate to your Prosperity, have their Intervals of wishing for themselves, and are within a little of grudging you the Fulness of your Fortune: They wou'd be more malicious if you us'd it not so well, and with so much Generosity.
Fame is in it self a real Good, if we may be lieve Cicero, who was perhaps too fond of it. But even Fame, as Virgil tells us, acquires strength by going forward. Let Epicurus give Indolency as an Attribute to his Gods, and place in it the Happiness of the Blest: The Divinity which we worlhip, has given us not only a Precept against it, but his own Example to the contrary. The World, my Lord, wou'd be content to allow you a Seventh Day for Reft ; or if you thought that hard upon you, we wou'd not refuse you half your time: If you came out, like some Great Monarch, to take a Town but once a Year, as it were for your Diversion, tho’ you had no need to ex
Territories : In short, if you were a bad, or which is worse, an indifferent Poet, we wou'd thank you for our own Quiet, and not expose you to the want of yours. But when you are so great and so successful, and when we have that necefsity of your Writing, that we cannot fublilt intirely without it; any more (I may almost lay) than the World without the daily Course of ordinary Providence, methinks this Argument might prevail with you, my Lord, to forego a little of your Repose for the publick Benefit. ?Tis not that you are under any force of working daily Miracles, to prove your Being ; but now and then somewhat of extraordinary, that is any thing of your Produ&ion, is requisite to refresh your Characters
This, I think, my Lord, is a sufficient Reproach to you; and thou'd I carry it as far as Mankind wou'd authorize me, wou'd be little less than Satyr. And, indeed, a Provocation is almost necefsary, in behalf of the World, that you might be induc'd sometimes to write; and in relation to a multitude of Scriblers, who daily pester the World with their infufferablé stuff, that they might be discouraged from Writing any more.' I complain not of their Lampoons and 'Libels, tho' I have been the publick Mark for many Years. I am vindi&tive enough to have repelled Force by Force, if I cou'd imagine that any of them had ever reach'd me; but they either shot at Rovers, and therefore missed, or their Powder was so weak, that I might safely stand them, at the nearest Distance. I answer'd not the Rehearsal, because I knew the Author fate to himself when he drew the Picture, and was the very Bays of his own Farce. Because also I knew, that my Betters were more concerned than I was in that Satyr: and, lastly, because Mr. Smith and Mr. Johnson, the main Pillars of it, were two such languishing Gentlemen in their Conversation, that I cou'd liken them to nothing but to their own Relations, those Noble Characters of Men of Wit and Pleasure about the Town. The like Confiderations have hinder'd me from dealing with the lamentable Companions of their Profe and Doggrel, I am so far from defending iny Poetry against them, that I will not so much as expose theirs. And for my Morals, if they are not Proof againt their Attacks, let me be thought by Posterity, what those Authors wou'd be thought, if any Memory of them, or of their Writings, cou'd endure so long, as to another Age. But these dull Makers of Lampoons, as harmless as
they have been to me, are yet of dangerous Example to the Publick : Some witty Men may perhaps succeed to their Designs, and mixing Sense with Malice, blast the Reputation of the most Innocent amongft Men, and the most Virtuous de mongst Women.
Heaven be prais'd, our common Libellers are as free from the imputation of Wit, as of Morality; and therefore whatever Mischief they have design'd, they have perform'd but little of it. Yet these ill Writers, in all Justice, ought themselves to be expos'd: As Persius has given us a fair Example in his First Satyr; which is leveli'd particularly at them: And none is fo fit to correct their Faults, as he who is not only clear from any in his own Writings, but is also fo just, that he will never defame the Good; and is armed with the Power of Verse, to punish and make Examples of the Bad. But of this I shall have occasion to speak further, when I come to give the Definition and Character of true Satyrs.
In the mean time, as a Counsellor bred up in the - Knowledge of the Municipal and StatuteLaws, may honestly inform a Just Prince how far his Prerogative extends ; fo I may be allowed to tell your Lordship, who by an undisputed Title, are the King of Poets, what an extent of Power you have, and how lawfully you may exercise it, over the petulant Scriblers of this Age. As Lord Chamberlain, I know, you are absolute by your Office, in all that belongs to the Decency and Good Manners of the Stage. You can banish from thence Scurrility and Profaneness, and restrain the licencious Infolence of Poets and their Actors in all things that shock the publick Quiet; or the Re putation of Private Persons, under the Notion of