Obrazy na stronie


" Be sure yourself, and your own reach, to know,
“ How far your genius, taste, and learning go :
Launch not beyond your depth, but be discreet.”

Pope's El. on Crit.
Thus in time paft Dubartas, &c.
Dubartas, a voluminous French author of the sixteenth cena
tury. Among other of his works, we find that one Mr. John
Sylvester, in the reign of James I. translated the following :
The Six Days Work of the Creation; praised by Ben Jonson,
but Dryden had a mean opinion of it. The Triumph of
Faith; the Ark ; Babylon. These two are, I suppose, in this
place alluded to; Jonas, the Fathers, Eden, &c. Dubartas
was a Hugonot, of a noble family ; he commanded a troop of
horse in the service of the King of Navarre, afterwards Henry,
the Great, by whom he was entrusted with the management of
his affairs at different times, in England, Scotland, and Den-

Always let sense accompany, &c.
'Tis not enough no harshness give offence,
“ The sound must seem an eccho to the sense.

Pope's El. on Crit.
If he describes a house, &c.
Scuderi, in his poem of Alaric, lays out above three hundred
lines, in tediously describing, in a palace,

The feftoons, freezes, and the aftragal.
A piece of carved work, representing a wreath or garland, is
called a feftoon. The freeze separates the architrave from the cor-
nice; and the ring at the top or bottom of a column, is called an
afiragal. They are here named on account of their minuteness,
to expose an author's dwelling upon a subject till it becomes

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Happy who in his verse, &c.
“ Omne tulit punctum, qui miscuit utile dulci,
Lectorem delectando, pariterq; movendo, &c."

Hor. de Ar. Po. v. 342.
And the Mock-Tempest was a while renown'd.
The Tempest being revived at the duke's theatre in 1675, a
farce called The Mock-Tempest, or the Inchanted Castle, was


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brought out at the theatre royal. It was purposely written in a burlesque file, and designed to draw people from the representation of the Tempeft, which was greatly followed. It is so fourrilous a piece, that when it was got up on the Dublin Itage, knoft of the persons of fashion quitted the house before the first fcene was ended. The name of the author was Thomas Duffett ; he dealt in remnants of luxury, as well as rags of Parnassus, being a millener in the New Exchange, and is supposed to be the manmillener in a comedy much followed in that age, entitled, Tom Effence, written by Mr. Rawlins, principal engraver of the Mint, both in the reigns of Charles I. and II.

And left the villages to Flecknoe's reign.
That is, to the reign of dullness. We shall have fartl:er oc-
cafion to speak of Flecknoe, when we come to the inimitable fa-
tire distinguished by that name.

Millions of mourning mountains of the slain.
“ De mourans et des morts cent Montagnes plaintives.”

Brebeuf Trad. de Lucain. Cam any thing be more abfurd or bombastic, than a mourning mountain ?

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The fullest verse and the most, &c. " Quamvis enim suaves, gravesq; fententiæ, tamen fi incondi"s tis verbis efferuntur, offendent aures, quarum est judicium fuperbiflimum.

Cic. ad Brut. Fairfax was he, who in that darker age. Edmund Fairfax flourished in the time of Charles I. He tranflated Godfrey of Bulloign, from the Italian of Tasso, into alternate verse: and his translation is even at this time efteemed a very noble production. Mr. Thiresby tells us, there are still some original inanuscripts of this incomparable poet preserved in the library of the church of Leeds.

Then Davenant came, &c. Sir William Davenant was fon to a vintner in Oxford, whose house was often visited by Shakespear; rather, fay fome, for the sake of the handsome landlady, than the good wine. It is said, that the father of our stage encouraged him much, by praising some of his boyish pieces. He was entered of Lincoln-college at the age of fixteen, and was entertained successively in the families of the Dutchess of Richmond and Lord Brook. He succeeded

Ben Jonson, anno 1637, as poet-laureat, and enjoyed the post during the reigns of Charles I. and II. He wrote nineteen dramatic performances, by which he got a good deal of money. Having erected a theatre in little Lincoln's Inn-Fields, and for it obtained a patent, he there first exhibited opera?; and his improvement of scenery being much admired, drew the town to him: the other house bearing before that the preference, as having the best performers. He had been knighted by King Charles I. in 1643, and made general of the ordnance by the Marquis of Newcastle. He wrote his heroic poem, called Gondibert, in France, whither he had retired after the battle of Worcester, and died in 1668, being fixty-three years old. He is buried in WestminsterAbbey, with this epitaph under his bust, imitative of Ben Jonson's:

O rare Sir William Davenant !

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Waller came laft, &c. Edmund Waller, Esq; the son of a very eminent lawyer, who dying when he was young, left him with a patrimony of 3500 1. per annum, to the care of a mother, who spared no pains in 'his education. From Eton college, where he remained for some time, he was removed to King's college, Cambridge. Being a lad of extraordinary shining parts, he was chosen to represent Agmondesham in the last parliament of James I. being then only seventeen years old. He was careffed by the best and wittiest people of his time, and was fined in the sum of 10,000 l. and then banished, under the usurpation of Cromwell, for being concerned in some things that tended to promote the royal interest. Charles II. was very fond of him ; and indeed he was universally admired for the elegance of his manners, his delicacy of taste, and elevated genius. He was the first person who refined our language, adorning it with all the smoothness of versification, and variety of harmony, that we at present can boast of; for to him we certainly owe as much as the French do to Cardinal Richlieu and the whole academy.

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But find your faithful friends, &c.
“ Trust not yourself; but your defects to know,
- Make use of every friend, &c.


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Yet still he says you may, &c.
" Et verum, inquis, amo: Verum mihi dicite de me.”

Pers. Sat. I.

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Quinault, a poet of some reputation, is levelled at here, who fought the friendship of Boileau, after he had been treated by him with severity in his fatires. “This man, Boileau used to say, has fi reconciled himself to me, and visits me often to talk of his * own poetry; but he never takes an opportunity to say a word 6 of mine,"


In this and the following canto, we find a division and examination of the different species of poetry; among which pastoral juftly leads the way, as being certainly the most antient.

You'd swear that Randal, &c. Mr. Samuel Johnson thinks, that this should be Randolph, Ben Johnson's adopted fon, who wrote fome paftorals. In the origi

. nal mention is made in this place of Pierre Ronsaid, a poet of he fixteenth century, in great esteem with Henry II. Francis JI. Henry III. and Charles the IXth, Kings of France. He wrote eclogues, in whịch he puerilized the names of Henry and Charles, both of them his sovereigns, into Henriot and Carlin : he called Catherine de Medicis familiarly Catin, &c.

A faultless fonnet, &c, The provincial poets used to wander from town to town, and court to court, singing or reciting verses: they are by some supposed to have given Petrarch the hint of writing those beautiful sonnets which he has left us,

among us.

The lawyer with conceit adorn'd, &c, Eloquence was but in an indifferent state in the beginning of the seventeenth century, but rather worse in France than

Both the pulpit and bar were abused with Greek and Latin quotations inceffantly made, and often not to the purpofe. These gave way to quirks, quibbles, quaint conceits, and other pieces of false wit. No man contributed more to destroy those innovations


tafte than Boileau,


Our author has discoursed largely and learnedly upon this fpecies of poetical writing in his dedication of Juvenal, to which we refer the reader,

Horace his pleasing wit to this, &c.
« Omne valer vitium ridenti flaccus ainico
Tangit, et admiflus circum præcordia ludit,
• Callidus excuffo populum suspendere nalo.Pers. Sat. I.

Makes David Logan, &c.
A noted engraver.



's not a monster bred, &c.
This fimile is borrowed from Aristotle, who says, “ Nothing

pleases mankind so much as imitation : therefore we are fond
of painting ; altho it may exhibit the most hideous objects, the

originals of which we should abhor. The more perfect the
" imitation, continues he) the greater the satisfaction ; but this

satisfaction arises from reason and comparison, not from the ac-
"v tual beauty of the original copied. It is the skill of the artist
" that communicates the pleasure.”
See Arist. Poetic. ch. iv. and on Rhet, l. i. ch. xi. pref. 28.

tragedy in tears
For Oedipus, provokes our hapes, and

fears :
For parricide Orestes asks relief, &c.
I believe the Edipus of Sophocles, and the Orestes of Euripi.
des, were meant here by the translator as well as the author.
However, there is a note in all the editions that I have seen of this
poem, that gives the mention of Edipus as a compliment to Dry-
den from Sir William Soamęs,

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A Spanish poet may, &c.
Lopez de Vega, a famous Spanish poet, has left behind him a
great number of plays, deemed masterpieces of genius, tho void
of regularity. His Valentine and Orson are born in the first
act, and well advanced in years in the last. Shakespear has been
guilty of some similar oversights ; for example, in his Winter's
Tale. His Othello too is transported by the shifting of a scene
from Venice to Cyprus. He often carries us by the same ma-
chine, in the same space from England to France and back again.
His Hamlet makes a sea-voyage.

But we that are by reason's rules, &c.
What our author says here of the rules proper for tragedy, with
its rise and progress, he owes to Aristotle, Horace, and Diog. Laer,

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