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by confidering that there is nothing perfect in mankind; and by diftinguishing that which comes neareft to excellency, tho not abfolutely free from faults, will certainly produce a candor in the judge. It is incident to an elevated understanding, like your lordship's, to find out the errors of other men: but it is your prerogative to pardon them; to look with pleasure on those things, which are fomewhat congenial, and of a remote kindred to your own conceptions: and to forgive the many failings of thofe, who with their wretched art, cannot arrive to thofe heights that you poffefs, from a happy, abundant, and native genius: which are as inborn to you, as they were to Shakespear; and for ought I know, to Homer; in either of whom we find all arts and fciences, all moral and natural philofophy, without knowing that they ever ftudied them.

There is not an English writer this day living, who is not perfectly convinced, that your Lordship excels all others, in all the feveral parts of Poetry which you have undertaken to adorn. The most vain, and the most ambitious of our age, have not dared to affume fo much, as the competitors of Themiftocles : they have yielded the first place without difpute; and have been arrogantly content to be efteemed as fecond to your lordship; and even that alfo with a Long fed proximi intervallo. If there have been, or are any, who go farther in their felf-conceit, they muft be very fingular in their opinion: they must be like the Officer in a play, who was called Captain, Lieutenant and Company. The world will eafily conclude, whether fuch unattended generals can ever be capable of making a revolution in Parnaffus.

I will not attempt, in this place to fay any thing particular of your Lyric Poems, though they are the delight and wonder of this age, and will be the envy of the next. The fubject of this book confines me to Satyr; and in that, an author of your own quality, (whofe afhes I will not disturb) has given you all the commendation, which his felf-fufficiency could afford to any man: "The best good man, with the worst-natur'd Mufe." In that character, methinks, I am reading Jonfon's verses to the memory of Shakespear: an infolent, fparing, and invidious panegyric: where good nature, the most godlike commendation of a man, is only attributed to your perfon, and deny'd to your writings for they are every where fo full of candor, that, like Horace, you only expofe the follies of men, without arraigning their vices; and in this excel him, that you add that pointedness of thought, which is vifibly wanting in our great Roman. There is more of falt in all your verfes, than I have feen in any of the VOL. IV.


moderns, or even of the ancients: but you have been sparing of the gall; by which means you have pleased all readers, and oftended none. Donn alone, of all our countrymen, had your talent; but was not happy enough to arrive at your versification. And were he tranflated into numbers, and English, he would yet be wanting in the dignity of expreffion. That which is the prime virtue, and chief ornament of Virgil, which diftinguishes him from the reft of writers, is fo confpicuous in your verses, that it cafts a shadow on all your contemporaries; we cannot be feen, or but obfcurely, while you are prefent. 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 metaphyfics, not only in his fatires, but in his amorous verfes, where nature only fhould reign; and perplexes the minds of the fair fex with nice fpeculations of philofophy, when he fhould engage their hearts, and entertain them with the foftnefs of love. In this (if I may be pardoned for fo bold a truth) Mr. Cowley has copied him to a fault; fo great a one in my opinion, that it throws his miftrefs infinitely below his Pindariques, and his latter compofitions, which are undoubtedly the beft of his Poems, and the most correct. For my own part, I must avow it freely to the world, that I never attempted any thing in fatyr, wherein I have not ftudied your writings as the most perfect 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 allowed, than as they have fomething more or lefs of the original. Some few touches of your lordship, fome fecret graces which I have endeavoured to exprefs after your manner, have made whole poems of mine to pafs with approbation: but take your verses altogether, and they are inimitable. If therefore I have not written better, it is because you have not written more. You have not fet me fufficient copy to transcribe; and I cannot add one letter of my own invention, of which I have not the example there.

It is 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 fo well, in all things that relate to your profperity, have their intervals of wifhing for themfelves, and are within a little of grudging you the fullness of your fortune: they would be more malicious if you ufed it not fo well, and with fo much generofity.

Fame is in itfelf a real good, if we may believe Cicero, who was perhaps too fond of it. But even fame, as Virgil tells us, acquires ftrength by going forward. Let Epicurus give indolence as an attribute to his Gods, and place in it the happiness of the bleft: the divinity which we wofhip has given us not only a precept against it, but his own example to the contrary. The world, my Lord, would be content to allow you a feventh day for reft; or if you thought that hard upon you, we would not refufe you half your time: if you come out, like fome great monarch, to take a town but once a year, as it were for your divertion, though you had no need to extend you: territories: in fhort, if you were a bad, or which is worfe, an indifferent poet, we would thank you for our own quiet, and not expose you to the want of yours. But when you are fo great and fo fuccefsful, and when we have that neceflity of your writing, that we cannot fubfift intirely without it; any more (I may almoft fay) than the world without the daily courfe of ordinary Providence, methinks this argument might prevail with you, my Lord, = to forego a little of your repofe for the public benefit. It is not that you are under any force of working daily miracles, to prove your being; but now and then fomewhat of extraordinary, that is any thing of your production, is requifite to refresh your cha


Tais, I think, my Lord, is a fufficient reproach to you; and fhould carry it as far as mankind would authorife me, would be little less than fater. And, indeed, a provocation is almost neceffary, in behalf of the world, that you might be induced fometimes to write; and in relation to a multitude of fcriblers, who daily pefter the world with their infufferable fluff, that they might be difcouraged from writing any more. I complain not of their lampoons and libels, though I have been the public mark for many years. I am vindictive enough to have repelled force by force, if I could imagine that any of them had ever reached me; but they either fhot at rovers, and therefore mified, or their power was fo weak, that I might fafely ftand them, at the neareft diftance. I anfwered not the Rehearfal, becaufe 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 fatyr: and, lafly, because Mr. Smith and Mr. Johnfon, the main pillars of it, were two fuch languishing gentlemen in their converfation, that I could liken them to nothing but to their own relations, thofe noble characters of men of wit and pleasure

about the town. The like confiderations have hindered me from dealing with the lamentable companions of their profe and doggrel; I am fo far from defending my Poetry agaiaft them, that I will not fo much as expofe theirs. And for my morals, if they are not proof against their attacks, let me be thought by pofterity, what thofe authors would be thought, if any memory of them, or of their writings, could endure fo long, as to another age. But thefe dull makers of lampoons, as harmless as they have been to me, are yet of dangerous example to the public fome witty men may perhaps fucceed to their defigns, and mixing fenfe with malice, blaft the reputation of the most innocent amongst men, and the most virtuous amongst women.

Heaven be praised, our common libellers are as free from the imputation of wit, as of morality; and therefore whatever mifchief they have defigned, they have performed but little of it. Yet thefe ill writers, in all juftice, ought themselves to be expofed as Perfius has given us a fair example in his first fatyr; which is levelled 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 alfo fo juft, that he will never defame the good; and is armed with the power of verfe, to punifh and make examples of the bad. But of this I fhall have occafion to speak further, when I come to give the definition and character of true fatires.

In the mean time, as a counsellor bred up in the knowledge of the municipal and ftatute laws, may honeftly inform a juft prince how far his prerogative extends; fo I may be allowed to tell your Lordship, who, by an undifputed title, are the king of Poets, what an extent of power you have, and how lawfully you may exercise it, over the petulant fcriblers of this age. As Lord Chamberlain, I know, you are abfolute by your office, in all that belongs to the decency and good manners of the Stage. You can banish from thence fcurrility and prophaneness, and reftrain the licentious infolence of Poets and their Actors in all things that fhock the public quiet, or the reputation of private perfons, under the notion of Humour. But I mean not the authority, which is annexed to your office: I fpeak of that only which is inborn and inherent to your perfon. What is produced in you by an excellent wit, a masterly and commanding genius over all writers: whereby you are impowered, when you please, to give the final decifion of wit; to put your ftamp on all that ought to pafs for current; and fet a brand of reprobation on

clipt poetry, and falfe coin. A fhilling dipt in the Bath may go for gold amongft the ignorant, but the fceptres on the guineas fhew the difference. That your Lordship is formed by nature for this fupremacy, I could eafily prove, (were it not already granted by the world) from the diftinguishing character of your writing. Which is fo vifible to me that I never could be imposed on to receive for yours, what is written by any others; or to mistake your genuine poetry for their spurious productions. I can farther add with truth (though not without fome vanity in saying it) that in the fame paper, written by divers hands, whereof your Lordfhip was only part, I could separate your gold from their copper: and though I could not give back to every author his own brafs, (for there is not the fame rule for diftinguishing betwixt bad and bad, as betwixt ill and excellently good) yet I never failed of knowing what was yours, and what was not and was abfolutely certain, that this, or the other part, was pofitively yours, and could not poffibly be written by any other.

True it is, that fome bad poems, though not all, carry their owners marks about them. There is fome peculiar aukwardness, falfe grammar, imperfect fenfe, or, at the leaft, obfcurity; fome brand or other on this buttock, or that ear, that it is notorious who the owners of the cattle, though they fhould not fign it with their names. But your Lordship, on the contrary, is diftinguished, not only by the excellency of your thoughts, but by your ftyle and manner of expreffing them. A painter judging of fome admirable piece, may affirm with certainty, that it was of Holben, or Vandike: but vulgar defigns, and common draughts, are easily mistaken, and mifapplied. Thus, by my long ftudy of your Lordship, I am arrived at the knowledge of your particular manner. In the good poems of other men, like thofe artifts, I can only fay, this is like the draught of such a one, or like the colouring of another. In fhort, I can only be fure, that it is the hand of a good mafter; but in your performances, it is fcarcely poffible for me to be deceived. If you write in your ftrength, you ftand revealed at the first view; and fhould you write under it, you cannot avoid fome peculiar graces, which only coft me a fecond confideration to difcover you: for I must fay it, with all the feverity of truth, that every line of yours is precious. Your Lordship's only fault is, that you have not written more; unless I could add another, and that yet a greater, but I fear for the public the accufation would not

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