« FöregåendeFortsätt »
So each back of offender my weapon assails
Will doubtless exclaim, 'tis a cat with nine tails;
But if idiots will arrogate Wisdom's array,
They deserve to be laugh’d at as donkeys that bray:
Thus having spoke plain to each genius and doodle,
They know what they have to expect from Sir
Who now ends his comment with counsel that's
Let men learn to read ere they venture to write.
Since man in his nature cannot control wit,
Poeta, says Ovid, is born and Non fit. (c)
writing such a poem, it is the folly of having addressed it, with a very silly introductory letter, to the writers of the Athenian Oracle; a set of people whose conceit in offering to answer all questions, ignorance in giving solutions, and credulity in listening to the grossest falsehoods, is rendered conspicuous throughout the work in question. At the period when the above mentioned ode was written, Swift had attained the age of twentyfour.
(c) The following quotation, from a modern author, is inserted, as peculiarly applicable to the above line :
As the grand Mart that issues most trash that
Is close to the Temple of Pray’r, fam'd Saint Paul's;
“ To ye, all Authors' known propellers,
I tune my lays, renown’d Booksellers !
Ye, from whose spacious shops doth issue
Of printed nonsense ev'ry tissue;
"Tis you yield foreigners' oblations,
By patronizing dull Translations ;
With eagerness strive to ensure
The marv'llous Travel-vapid Tour:
Nor let me here discountenance
The choicest food, yclep'd Romance;
Or Novel, which the damsel fetters,
So it be not compos'd in letters :
These are your glories, volume venders,
My literary trash defenders,
So calculated to dissect,
And knock down stable intellect;
Wherefore ye give as much delight
As those who print, and such as write.
In consequence of which, dear asses,
I see no difference in your classes;
But hold, downright, that you all three
Are rank'd of Zany's company.”
Lo! I on the gold ball aloft take my stand,
To view all the scribbling tribe of our land;
And as I my comments thus chaunt from above,
I scorn Folly's anger, revere Wisdom's love;
With Swift I must cry, may it e'er be my fate,
By fools to be hated as Folly I hate.
Good Lord, from this summit what tribes meet my
Of asses, how many of wise men, how few!
The friend of Rebigion by dulness inspir’d;
The Methodist Ranter with blasphemy fir’d;
The Moralist tame on the virtues he handles;
The Politic Wight penning trash to light candles ;
Historian with mind just obscur'd in a mist,
As dense as his brother dull Topographist.
Next Surgeons and Doctors prescribe horrid lotion ;
The Satyrist puts gaping feeling in motion;
Biographer comes to assume leaden station,
And wretched pretenders to new Education ;
With whom Commentators may well assume place,
And grave Antiquarians, a maniac race.
Next follow the Poets; my stars, what a number !
Romancers and Novelists, Folly's true lumber;
The stay at-home writers of Travels and Tours,
Of snug chimney corners renown'd connoisseurs;
While Dramaists vapid alike join the band,
And Musical Doctors that dance hand in hand.
To these let us add the poor drudge, Pamphleteer,
Periodical Writers that sot over beer,
The Scribes Miscellaneous, but mere hodge-podge
Great Lexicographers and Catalogue-makers:
In fine, the amalgama serves as a mark,
To point out the tenants of Noah's great ark;
Since by all that is holy, with beast and with bird
You'll find as good company I'll pledge my word. (d)
The Greeks and the Romans had Poets we know,
Who felt of Apollo the exquisite glow;
(d) Difficile est satiram non scribere.
Such is the situation of things that it is difficult to avoid writing satire,
An Homer, with Hesiod and Pindar, combine
The soul-thrilling flights of a Fancy divine;
While Horace and Virgil, with Ovid, proclaim
The genius that blazon'd the old Roman name :
But of Data more recent, our England has shown
That talent adorn’d once Britannia's bright zone.
For imag’ry Spenser (e) ranks first ’midst the band;
A Shakespeare and Milton illumin'd the land;
(e) With all due deference to Sir Noodle's perspicuity, I conceive that he has not done justice to the republic of letters in Great Britain, by placing Spenser as the leading star in our literary hemisphere. Though the phraseology be uncouth, nevertheless every thing is due to the lucubrations of venerable Chaucer. The sweetness of Lord Surry, who infused the tenderness of Petrarch throughout his sonnets, must always confer
age when his effusions met publicity. Nor be the name of Sir Thomas More forgotten, who, for energy
and perspicuousness of style, is not inferior to any subsequent writer whatsoever; and whose great abilities are summed up in the following words by Burnet, in his Specimens of English Prose Writers, vol. i.
“ Sir Thomas More is justly regarded as one of the chief “ revivers of classical literature in England. He both wrote