« FöregåendeFortsätt »
not equal in the Ixii The DEDICATION always suspicious, when the Privileges of Subjects were concern'd.
It had been much fairer, if the modern Criticks, who have embark'd in the Quarrels of their Favorite Authors, had rather given to each his proper Due; without taking from another's Heap, to raise their own. There is Praise enough for each of them in particular, without encroaching on his Fellows, and detracting from them, or enriching themfelves with the Spoils of others. But to come to Particulars: Heinsins and Dacier are the most principal of those, who raise Horace above • venal and Persius. Scaliger the Father, Rigaltius, and many others, debase Horace, that they may fet up. Juvenal : And Casaubon, who is almost single, throws Dirt on Juvenal and Horace, that he may exalt Persius, whom he understood particularly well, and better than any of the former Commentators; even Stelluti, who succeeded him. I will begin with him, who, in my Opinion, defends · the weakest Cause, which is that of Perhius; and labouring, as Tacitus professes of his own Writings, to diveft my self of Partiality, or Prejudice, confider Persius, 'not as a Poet whom I have wholly translated, and who has coft me more Labour and Time than Juvenal ; but according to what I judge to be his own Merit ; which I think
. race; and yet in some things to be preferred to both of them.
First, then, for the Verse, neither Cafaxbon himfelf, nor any for him, can defend either his Numbers, or the Purity of his Latin, Casaubon gives this point for loft; and pretends not to justify el ther the Measures, or the Words of Perfias He 'is evidently beneath Horace and Juvenal, in both.
Then, as his Verse is fcabrous, and hobling, and his Words not every where well chosen, the Purity of Latin being more corrupted, than the time of Juvenal, and confequently of Horace, who writ when the Language was in the height of its Perfection; so his Didion is hard; his Figures are generally too bold and daring; and his Tropes, particularly his Metaphors, insufferably Atrain'd.
In the third Place, notwithstanding all the Diligence of Casaubon, Stelluti, and a Scotch Gentleman (whom I have heard extreamly commended for his Illustrations of him;) yet he is still obscure: Whether he affected not to be understood, but with Difficulty; or whether the fear of his Safety under Nero, compell'd him to this Darkness in some places; or that it was occafioned by his clofe way of thinking, and the Brevity of his Style
, and crowding of his Figures; or lastly, whether after so long a time, many of his Words have
been corrupted, and many Customs, and Stories T relating to them, loft to us; whether some of these
Realons, or all, concur'd to render him fo cloudy; we may be bold to Affirm, that the best of Commentators can but guess at his Meaning, in many. Passages : -Aqd none can be certain that he has divin’d rightly. A rida
After all, he was a young Man, like his Friend and Conteinporary Lucan Both of them Men
of extraordinary Parts, and great acquir'd Knowledge, considering their Youth. Bat neither of them had
ariv'd to that Maturity of Judgment, which is * necessary to the accomplishing of a form’d Poet. i And this Confideration, as on the one hand it lays
fome Imperfections to their Change; so, on the other fide, is a candid Excuse for whole Failings, 4
which are incident to Youth and Inexperience; and we have more reason to wonder, how they, who died before the Thirtieth year of their Age, cou'd writé so well, and think fo ftrongly, than to accuse them of those Faults, from which Human Nature, and more especially in Youth, can never poflibly be exempted.
To consider Perhus yet more closely: He rather insulted over Vice and Folly, than expos'd them, like Juvenal and Horace. And as chaste and modest as he is esteem'd, it cannot be deny'd, but that in fome Places he is broad and fulsom, as the latter Verses of the Fourth Satyr, and of the Sixth, sufficiently witness. And 'tis to be believ'd, that he who commits the fame Crime often, and without Necefsity, cannot but do it with some kind of Pleasure.
To come to a conclufion, he is manifestly below Horace; because he borrows most of his greatest Beauties from him: And Casaubon is so far from denying this, that he has written a Treatise purposely concerning it; wherein he thews a multitude of his Tran Nations from Horace, and his Imitations of him, for the Credit of his Author, which he calls Imitatio Horatiana. To these Defects, which I 'casually observ'd
, while I was Tranflating this Author, Scaliger has added others: He calls him, in plain Terms, a filly Writer, and a Trifler; full of Ostentation of Learning; and after all, unworthy to come into Competition with Juvenal and Horace.
After such terrible Accusations, 'tis time to hear what his Patron Casaubon can alledge in his Defence. Instead of answering, he excuses for the most part; and when he cannot, accuses others of the same Crimes. He deals with Scaliger, as a
modest Scholar with a Mater. He Compliinents him with so much Reverence, that one wou'd swear he fear'd him as much at least as he respected him. Scaliger will not allow Perhus to have any Wie: Casaubon interprets this in the mildest Sense; and confesses bis Author was not good at turning things into a pleasant Ridicule; or in other words, that he was not a laughable Writer. That he was ineptus, indeed, but that was non aptiffimus ad jocandum. But that he was oftentatious of his Learning, that, by Scaliger's good Favour, he denies. Perfius hew'd his Learning, but was no Boafter of it, he did oftendere, but not oftentare; and fo, he says, did Scaliger : Where, methinks, Casaubon turns it handsomely upon that supercilious Critick, and filently insinuates, that he himself was sufficiently Vain-glorious; and a Boaster of his own Knowledge. All the Writings of this Venerable Cenfor, continues Casaubon, which are xpuas x puoótee", more golden than Gold it felf, are every where smelling of that Thyme, which, like a Bee, he has gather'd from ancient Authors: But far be oftentation and Vain-glory from a Gentleman, so well Born, and fo nobly Educated as Scaliger. But, says Scaliger, he is so obscure, that he has got himself the Name of Scotinus, a dark Writer : Now, says Casaubon, 'tis a wonder to me that any thing cou'd be obfcure to the Divine Wit of Scar liger; from which nothing cou'd be hidden. This is indeed a strong Compliment, but no Defence. And Casaubon, who cou'd not but be sensible of his Author's blind lide, thinks it time to abandon a Po that was untenable. He acknowledges that Persius is obscure in fome Places: but fo is Plato, fo is Thucydides; To are Pindar, Theocritus and Aristophanes, amongAt the Greek, Poets; and even
Horace and Juvenal, he might have added, amongat the Romans. The Truth is, Persius is not fometimes, but generally obscure; and therefore Casaubon, at laft, is forc'd to excuse him, by alledging that it was fe defendendo, for fear of Nero; and that he was commanded to write so cloudily by Coro natus, in vertue of holy Obedience to his Mafter. I cannot help my own 'Opinion; I think Cornutus needed not to have read many Lectures to him on that Subject. Perfius was an apt Scholar; and when he was bidden to be obscure in some places, where his Life and Safety were in question, took the same Counsel for all his Book; and never afterwards wrote ten Lines together clearly. Casaubon, being upon this Chapter, has not fail’d, we may be ture, of making a Compliment to his own dear Comment. If Persius, says he, be in himself obscure, yet my Interpretation has made him intelligible. There is no question but he deserves that Praise, which he has given to himfelf: But the nature of the thing, as Lucretius says, will not admit of a perfect Explanation. Besides many Examples which I cou'd urge, the very last Verse of his last Satyr, upon which he particularly values himself in his Preface, is not yet sufficiently explicated. 'Tis true, Holiday has endeavour'd to justifie his Construction; bút Stelluti is againit it: And, for iny part, I can have but a very dark Notion of it. As for the Chastity of his Thoughts, Casaubon denies not but that one particular Pallage, in the Fourth Satyr, At, si un&ius ceffes, &c. is not only the most obscure, but the moit obscene of all his Works: I understood it; but for that Reason turn'd it over. In defence of his boisterous Metaphors, he: quotes Longinus, who accounts them? as Inftruments of the Sablime; fit to move and