Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

where Holiday says, A perpetual Grinn, like that of Horace, rather angers than amends a Man. I cannot give him up the Manner of Horace in low Satyr so easily: Let the Chastisements of Juvenal be never fo necellary for his new kind of Satyr; let him declaim as wittily and sharply as he pleases, yet still the nicest and most delicate touches of Satyr confift in fine Raillery. This, my Lord, is your particular Talent, to which even yuvenal could not arrive. 'Tis not Reading, 'tis not Imitation of an Author, which can produce this Fineness: It must be inborn, it must proceed from a Genius, and particular way of Thinking, which is not to be taught ; and therefore not to be imitated by him who has it not from Nature: How easie it is to call Rogue and Villain, and that wittily! But how hard to make a Man appear a Fool, a Blockhead, or a Knave, without using any of those opprobrious Terms! To spare the grossness of the Names, and to do the thing yet more severely, is to draw a full Face, and to make the Nose and Cheeks stand out, and yet not to employ any Depth of Shadowing. This is the Mystery of that Noble Trade ; which yet no Master can teach to his Apprentice : He may give the Rules, but the Scholar is never the nearer in his Practice. Neither is it true, that this Fineness of Raillery is offensive. A witty Man is tickled while he is hurt in this Manner; and a Fool feels it not. The occasion of an Offence may pofsibly be given, but he cannot take it. If it be granted, that in Effect this way does more Mischief; that a Man is secretly wounded, and tho' he be not sensible himself, yet the malicious World will find it for himı : Yet there is still a vast difference betwixt the Novenly Butchering of a Man, and the Fineness of a Stroke that separates

the

[ocr errors]

1

the Head from the Body, and leaves it standing in its Place. A Man may be capable, as Jack Ketcb's Wife said of his Servant, of a plain Piece of Work, a bare Hanging; but to make a Malefactor die sweetly, was only belonging to her Husband. I wish I could apply it to my self; if the Reader would be kind enough to think it belongs to me. The Character of Zimri in my Abfalom, is, in my Opinion, worth the whole Poem: 'Tis not bloody, but 'tis ridiculous enough: And he for whom it was intended, was too witty to resent it as an Injury. If I had rail'd, I might have suffer'd for it juftly; but I manag'd mine own Work more happily, perhaps more dextrously. I avoided the mention of great Crimes, and apply'd my felf to the representing of Blind-fides, and little Extravagances: To which, the wittier a Man is, he is generally the more obnoxious. It succeeded as I wiihed; the Jeft went round, and he was laugh'd at in his Turn who began the Frolick:

And thus, my Lord, you see I have preferr’d the Manner of Horace, and of your Lordship, in this kind of Satyr, to that of Juvenal; and I think, reasonably. Holiday ought not to have arraigned so great an Author, for that which was his Excellency and his Merit : Or if he did, on such a palpable Mistake, he might expect that some one might possibly arise, either in his own time, or after him, to rectify his Error, and restore to Horace that Commendation, of which he has so unjustly robb'd him. And let the Manes of Juvenal forgive me, if I say, that this way of Horace was the best for amending Manners, as it is the moft difficult. His was, an Enfe refcindendum ; but that of Horace was a pleasant Cure, with all the Limbs preferv'd entire ; and, as our Mountebanks tell us

in their Bills, without keeping the Patient within Doors for a Day. What they promise only, Horace has effe&ually perform'd: Yet I contradict not the Propofition which I formerly advancd : Juvenal's Times requir'd a more painful kind of Operation : But if he had lived in the Age of Horace, I must needs affirm, that he had it not about him. He took the Method which was prescrib'd him by his own Genius; which was sharp and eager; he could not rally, but he could declaim: And as his Provocations were great, he has reveng'd them tragically. This notwithstanding, I am to say another Word, which, as true as it is, will yet displease the partial Admirers of our Ho

I have hinted it before; but 'tis Time for me now to speak more plainly.

This Manner of Horace is indeed the best ; but Horace has not executed it altogether so happily, at least not often. The Manner of Juvenal is confessed to be inferior to the former; but Yuvenal has excelled him in his Performance. Juvenal has rail'd more wittily than Horace has rally'd. Horace means to make his Reader laugh ; but he is not sure of his Experiment. Juvenal always intends to move your Indignation; and he always brings about his 'Purpose. Horace, for ought' I know, might have tickled the People of his Age; but amongst the Moderns he is not so successful. They who say he entertains so pleasantly, may perhaps value themselves on the Quickness of their own Understandings, that they can see a Jeft farther off than other Men: They may find occasion of Laughter in the Wit-battle of the two Buffoons, Sormentus and Cicerrus; and hold their Sides for. fear of Bursting, when Rupilius and Perfius are fcolding. For my own Part, I can only like the

Characters

Characters of all Four, which are judiciously given: But for my Heart I cannot so much as Imile at their infipid Raillery. I see not why Perfius should call upon Brutus, to revenge him on his Adversary; and that because he had killed Yulius Cæfar for endeavouring to be a King; therefore he Thou'd be delir'd to murder Rupilius, only because his Name was Mr. King. A miserable Clench, in my opinion, for Horace to record : I have heard honest Mr. Swan make many a better, and yet have had the Grace to hold my Countenance. But it may be Punns were then in Fashion, as they were Wit in the Sermons of the last Age, and in the Court of King Charles II. I am sorry to say it, for the sake of Horace; but certain it is, he has no fine Palate who can feed so heartilyon Garbage.

But I have already wearied my self, and doubt not but I have tir'd your Lordship’s Patience, with this long, rambling, and I fear trivial Discourse. Upon the one half of the Merits, that is, Pleasure, I cannot but conclude that Juvenal was the better Satyrist: They who will defeend into his particular Praises may find them at large in the Difsertation of the Learned Rigaltius to Thuanus. As for Persius, I have given the Reasons why I think him inferior to both of them: Yet I have one thing to add on that Subject.

Barten Holiday, who translated both Juvenal and Persius, has made this Distinction betwixt them, which is no lefs true than witty; That, in Persius, the Difficulty is to find a Meaning; in Juvenal to chuse a Meaning : So Crabbed is Perfius, and fo Copious is Juvenal: So much the Understanding is employ'd in one, and so much the Judgment in the other. So difficult it is to find

any

any Sense in the former, and the best Sense of the latter.

If, on the other side, any one suppose I have commended Horace below his Merit, when I have allow'd him but the Second Place, I defire him to consider, if yuvenal, a Man of excellent Natural Endowments, besides the Advantages of Diligence and Study, and coming after him, and building upon his Foundations, might not probably, with all these Helps, surpass him? And whether it be any Dishonour to Horace to be thus surpassed; fince no Art, or Science, is at once begun and perfected, but that it must pass first through many Hands, and even through leveral Ages? If Lucie lius cou'd add to Ennius, and Horace to Lucilius, why, without any Diminution to the Fame of Horace, might not Juvenal give the last Perfe&tion to that Work? Or rather, what Disreputation is it to Horace, that Juvenal excels in the Tragical Satyr, as Horace does in the Comical? I have read over attentively both Heinsius and Dacier, in their Commendations of Horace; but I can find no more in either of them, for the preference of him to 'yuvenal. than the instructive Part; the Part of Wifdom, and not that of Pleasure; which therefore is here allow'd him, notwithstanding what Scaliger and Rigaltius have pleaded to the contrary for fuvenal. And to new that I am impartial, I will bere Translate what Dacier has said on that Subject.

I cannot give a more just Idea of the Two Books of Satyrs made by Horace, than by comparing them to the Statues of the Sileni, to which Alcibiaaes compares Socrates, in the Symposium.

were Figures, which had nothing of Agreeable, nothing of Beauty on their Qut-hde: But

when

They

« FöregåendeFortsätt »