Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

for the better. For Virgil's 'Age was more Civiliz'd, and better bred; and he writ according to the Politeness of Rome, under the Reign of Augustus . far; not to the Rudeness of Agamemnon's Age, or the Times of Homer. Why should we offer to confine free Spirits to one form, when we cannot so much as confine our Bodies to one Fashion of Apparel? Wou'd not Donn's Satyrs, which abound with so much Wit, appear more charming, if he had taken care of his Words, and of his Numbers?. But he followed Horace so very close, that of Neceffity, he must fall with him: And' I may safely say it of this present Age, That if we are not so great Wits as Donn, yet, certaiıily, we are better Poets.

But I have said enough, and it may be too much, on this Subject. Will your Lordship be pleased to Prolong my Audience, only fo far, till I tell you my own trivial Thoughts, how a Modern Satyr Mou'd be made. I will not deviate in the least from the Precepts and Examples of the Ancients, who were always our best Masters. I will only illustrate them, and discover some of the hidden Beauties in their Deligns that we thereby máy form our own in imitation of them. Will you please but to obferve, that Perlius, the least in Dignity of all the Three, has notwithstanding been the firit, who has discover'd to us this important Secret, in the designing of a perfect Satyr ; that it ought only to treat of one Subject; to be confin'd to one particular Theme; or, at least, to one principally: If other Vices occur in the Management of the Chief, they should only be transiently latha, and nor be infifted on, so as to make the Design double. As in a Play of the English Fashion, which we call a Tragécomedy, there is to be but one máia

d

Design:

Design: And tho' there be an Under-plot, or Second Walk of Comical Characters and Adventures, yet they are subservient to the Chief Fable, carry'd along under it, and helping to it ; so that the Drama may not seem a Monster with two Heads. Thus the Copernican System of the Planets makes the Moon to be mov’d by the motion of the Earth, and carry'd about her Orb, as a Dependent of hers., Mafcardi in his Discourse of the Doppia fa. vola, or double tale in Plays, gives an Instance of it, in the famous Pastoral of Guarini, calid Il Paftor Fido;, where Corisca and the Satyr are the Under-parts: Yet we may observe, that Corisca is brought into the Body of the Plot, and made subfervient to it. 'Tis certain, that the Divine Wit of Horace was not ignorant of this Rule, that a Play, though it consists of many Parts,, must yet be one in the Action, and must drive on the Accomplishment of one design; for he gives this very Precept, Sit quodvis fimplex duntaxat & urum; yet he seems not much to mind it in his Satyrs, many of them consisting of more Arguments than one; and the second without dependance on the first. Casaubon has observ'd this before me, in his Preference of Persius to Horace: and will have his own belov'd Author to be the first, who found out, and introduc'd this Method of confining himself to one Subject. I know it may be urg'd in defence of Horáce, that this Unity is not necessary; because the very Word Satura signifies a Dish plentifully stored with all variety of Fruits and Grains, Yet Juvenal, who calls his Poems a Farrago, which is a Word of the fame signification with Satura, has chosen to follow the same Method of Perfius, and not of Horace. And Boileau, whose Example alone is a fufficient Authority, has wholly con

[ocr errors]

find himself, in all his Satyrs, to this Unity of De-, - lign. That variety which is not to be found in any

one Satyr, is, at least, in many, written on several Occasions. And if Variety be of absolute necesfity in every one of them, according to the Etymology of the Word; yet it may arise, naturally from one Subject, as it is diversly treated, in the several Subordinate Branches of it; all relating to the Chief. It may be illustrated accordingly with variety of Examples in the Subdivisions of it; and with as many Precepts as there are Members of it; which all together may compleat that Olla, or Hotchpotch, which is properly a Satyr.

Under this Ünity of Theme, or Subject, is. comprehended another Rule for perfe&ting the Design of true Satyt. The Poet is bound, and that ex officio, to give his Reader fome one Precept of moral Virtue; and to caution him against some one particular Vice or Folly. Other Virtues, subordinate to the first, may be recommended, under that Chief Head; and other Vices or Follies may be scourged, besides that which he principally ina tends. But he is chiefly to inculcate one Virtue, and infilt on that.' Thus Juvenal in every Satyr, ex

cepting the first, ties himfelf to one Principal inj

ftru&ive Point, or to the shunning of Moral Evil. Even in the fixth, which seems only an Arraign

ment of the whole Sex of Womankind; there is i a latent Admonition to avoid Ill Women, by shew

ing how very few, who are Virtuous and Good, are to be found amongst them. But this, tho' the wittiest of all his Satyrs, has yet the least of Truth or Instruction in it. He has run himself into his old declamatory way, and almost forgotten that be was now setting up for a Moral Poet.

-11

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

Persius is never wanting to us in foine profitable Do&rine, and in exposing the opposite Vices to it. His kind of Philosophy is one, which is the Stoique; and every Satyr is a Comment on one particular Dogma of that Sect; unless we will ercept the first, which is against bad Writers; and yet even there he forgets not the Precepts of the Porch. In general, ali Virtues are every where to be praised and recommended to Practice; and all Vices to be reprehended, and made either Odious or Ridiculous; or else there is a Fundamental Error in the whole Design.

I have already declar'd who are the oniy Perfons that are the Adequate Object of private Satyr, and who they are that may properly be exposed by Name for publick Examples of Vices and Follies; and therefore I will trouble your Lordship no farther with them. Of the best and finest manner of Satyr, I have said enough in the Comparison betwixt Juvenal and Horace: 'Tis that sharp, wellmanner'd way, of laughing a Folly out of Countenance, of which your Lordship is the best Master in this Age. I will proceed to the Versification, which is most proper for it, and add somewhat to what I have said already on that Subject. The fort of Verse which is calíd Burlesque, consisting of Eight Syllables, or Four Feet, is that which our excellent Hudibras. has chosen. I ought to have mentioned him before, when I spake of Donn; but by a nip of an Old Man's Memory he was forgotten. The Worth of his 'Poem is too well known to need any Commendation, and he is above my Censure: His Satyr is of the Varronian kind, tho' unmix'd with Profe.' The Choice of his Numbers is suitable enough to his Design, as he has manag'd it: But in any other Hand, the 5

Shortness

Shortness of his Verse, and the quick' returns of Rhyme, had debased the Dignity of Style. And besides, the double Rhyme, (a neceffary Companion of Burlesque Writing) is not so proper for Manly Satyr, for it turns Earnest too much to Jeft, and gives us a Boyish kind of Pleasure. It tickles aukwardly with a kind of Pain, to the belt fort of Readers ; we are pleased ungratefully, and if I may say so, against our liking. We thank him not for giving us that unseasonable Delight, when we know he could have given us a better, and more folid. He might have left that Task to others, who not being able to put in Thought, can only make us grin with the Excrefcence of a Word of two or three Syllables in the Close. ''Tis, indeed, below so great a Master to make use of such a little Inftrument. But his good Sense is perpetually shining through all he writes; it affords us not the time of finding Faults. We pass through the Levity of h's Rhyme, and are iinmediately carry'd into some admirable useful Thought. After all, he has chosen this kind of Verse; and has written the beft in it: And had he taken another, he would always have excelled. As we fay of a Court-Favourite, that whatsoever his Office be, he ftill makes it uppermost, and most beneficial to himself.

The Quickness of your Imagination, my Lord, has already prevented me; and you know beforehand, that I wou'd prefer the Verfe of Ten Syllables, which we call the English Heroique, to that of Eight. This is truly my Opinion: For this fort of Number is more roomy: The Thought can turn it self with greater ease in a larger in compass. When the Rhyme comes too thick upon us, it straitens the Expression ; we are thinking of the Close, when we shou'd be employ'd in adorning

the

d 3

« FöregåendeFortsätt »