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big, burly beggars ! For a century no- Gay. And yet one can barely suppress body has read them, and therefore every- a sigh at all this luxury of levity, when body has admitted them to be great. he remembers that dreadful “ Ubi sæva They are bulky paradoxes, and find a indignatio ulterius cor lacerare nequit,” good reputation in neglect,
and reflects upon the hope deferred which fools pass for philosophers by preserving vented itself in that stinging couplet,a close mouth and a grave countenance. “In every court the parallel will hold; “ Safe in themselves, the ponderous works And kings, like private folks, are bought remain."
and sold." It was a keen sense of this dispropor- I remember a hack-writer,--and of such, tion between size and sense which barbed I am afraid, is too exclusively my literary the sharpest arrows of Dr. Swift. No- kingdom,—who classified the vices which body ever imposed upon him either by Swift smote so fearfully in “ The Voybigness or by bluster. The Devil take age to the Houyhnhnms"; and the curistupidity,” once cried the Dean of St. Pat- ous catalogue contained “ avarice, fraud, rick's, “ that it will not come in to sup- cheating, violence, rapine, extortion, cruply the want of philosophy!” So in the elty, oppression, tyranny, rancor, envy, Introduction to “ The Tale of a Tub," malice, detraction, hatred, revenge, murhe, half in jest and half in earnest, de- der, bribery, corruption, pimping, lying, clares that " wisdom is like a cheese, perjury, subornation, treachery, ingratiwhereof to a judicious taste the maggots tude, gaming, flattery, drunkenness, glutare the best.” Vive la bagatelle ! trembled tony, luxury, vanity, effeminacy, cowardupon his lips at the age of threescore; ice, pride, impudence, hypocrisy, infideliand he amused himself with reading the ty, blasphemy, idolatry, and innumerable most trifling books he could find, and other vices, many of them the notorious writing upon the most trifling subjects. characteristics of the bulk of humankind." Lord Bolingbroke wrote to him to beg Delightful catalogue! How odd, indeed, him “ to put on his philosophical specta- that a man with such work to do should cles," and wrote with but small success. not have sported with Amaryllis, or played Pope wrote to him, “ to beg it of him, as with the tangles of Neæra's hair,—should a piece of mercy, that he would not laugh not have worn well-anointed love-locks at his gravity, but permit him to wear and snowy linen,-should, on the other the beard of a philosopher until he pull- hand, have bared his brawny arm, and ed it off and made a jest of it himself.” sent the hissing fail down swiftly upon Old Weymouth, in the latter part of the waled and blistered back of Sham! Anne's reign, said to him, in his lordly How much better would it have been, if Latin, “ Philosopha verba ignava opera," he had written a history, in twelve eleand Swift frequently repeated the sar- phantine volumes, of the rise, culmina
One cannot figure him as the tion, and decay of the Empire of Bara“ laughing old man " of Anacreon, for taria, which we would have gone to pristhere was certainly a dreadful dash of on, the rack, and the drop, with rapture vinegar in his composition ; but if he did rather than read ! not hate hard enough, hit hard enough, How low seems Fielding, with his potand weigh men, motives, and books, nice- house heroes, Tom Jones, Squire Westly enough to satisfy Dr. Johnson, the ern, and Jonathan Wild, when we conBolt-Courtier must have been a very trast them with the elegant, cleanly-polleech of verjuice. There is a passage in ished, and extremely proper Sir Charles one of his letters to Pope,- I cannot just Grandison! What a coarse drab is Molly now put my hand upon it,-in which he Seagrim, when juxtaposited with the prinsuggests, in rather coarse language, the cess of all prudes, the indomitably virtuous subject of “ The Beggar's Opera” as a Pamela! How childish was it of Cowper capital subject for their common friend, to sing of sofas, poultry, rabbits, orchards, meadows, and barnyards ! How much er than miss the satisfaction of roasting more nobly employed was John Dryden Queen Pintiquiniestra and the pastorals in manufacturing a brand-new, truculent, of Darinel the Shepherd and his damned loud-voiced, massively-calved, ensiferous unintelligible speculations, I would burn Alexander! Who but an addle-headed my own father along with them, if I found sot would have wandered up and down him playing at knight-errantry.” So inthe lanes, like Morland, chalking out pigs to the yard went “ Olivante de Laura, and milkmaids, when he might have been the nonsensical old block head,” “rough painting, like Barry, pictures, by the acre, and dull Florismart of Hyrcania," " noof gods and goddesses enacting incompre- ble Don Platir," with nothing in him “dehensible allegories ! Let us be respect- serving a grain of pity,” Bernardo del able, O my Bobus, and wear good coats Carpio, and Roncesvalles, and Palmerin and the best hats to be bad for money or
de Oliva. What a delicious scene it is! upon credit; let us carefully conceal our The fussy barber, tired of reading titles connection with “ The Gotham Revolver," and proceeding to burn by wholesale, although the honest people who print it passing down books in armfuls to the do give us our beer and mutton ; let us eager housekeeper, more ready to burn write great histories which nobody will them than ever she had been to weave read, engage in tractations to which no the finest lace. And how charming is the body will listen, build twelve-storied epics hit of the curate! “ Certainly, these canwhich nobody will publish, and invent not be books of knight-errantry, they are Gordian philosophies which nobody can too small; you'll find they are only pountie. Surely it is quite time for Minerva ets," -- the supplication of the niece that to have a general house-cleaning, to put the singers should not be spared, lest her on a fresh smock, and to live cleanly. uncle, when cured of his knight-errantry, Rabelais shall be washed, and Sterne should read them, become a shepherd, sad-ironed into gravity; De Foe shall be and wander through forests and fields,made as decorous as a tract; Mandeville “nay, and what is more to be dreaded, shall be reburned, and we will kindle the turn poet, which is said to be a disease fire with half the leaves of this dry and absolutely incurable.” So down went yellow Montaigne. Nobody shall ap- “ the longer poems” of Diana de Monteproach the waters of Castaly save upon mayor, the whole of Salmantino, with stilts; and whoever may giggle, as he the Iberian Shepherd and the Nymphs takes his physic, shall be put upon a of Ilenares. The impatience of the cudreadfully plentiful allowance of Guic- rate, who, completely worn out, orders ciardini for bread, and of the poems of all the rest to be burned á carga cerrafor water.
da, fitly rounds the chapter, and sends But, alas! Brother Bobus, where to us in good-humor from the auto da fé, begin our purification, and where to end while the poor knight is in his bedchamit? We may, like the curate in “Don ber, all unconscious of the purification in Quixote,” reprieve Amadis de Gaul, but progress, which, if he had known it, mad shall we, therefore, make Esplandian, as he was, would have made his madness “ his lawful-begotten son,” a foundation starker still, thrashing about with his for the funeral-pile we are to set a-blaz- sword, back-stroke and fore-stroke, and, ing presently? To be sure, there is as Motteux translates it, “ making a heasense in the observation of the good and vy bustle.” 'Tis all droll enough; espeholy priest upon that memorable occa- cially when we find that the housekeeper sion. « This," said the barber, " is Ama- made such clean work of it in the evedis of Greece; and it is my opinion that ning, in spite of the good curate's reserall those upon this side are of the same vations, and burnt all the books, not only family.” “ Then pitch them all into the those in the yard, but all those that were yard,” responded the priest; “ for, rath- in the house ; but I should think twice agen.'"
before I let Freston the necromancer for immortality here, may I be damn'd, into any library with which I am ac- for there's not much danger in a poet's quainted.
being damn'd, Let us be gentle with the denizens of Damnation follows death in other men, Fame's proud temple, no matter how they But your damn'd Poet lives and writes came there. You remember, I suppose, Swift's couplet,
And so they do, even unto the present, "Fame has but two gates,-a white and a otherwise blessed day. But, dear old black one;
friend, is not this sublime sneering ? and The worst they can say is I got in at the
is there not an honest ray or two of truth back one."
mingled here and there in the colder cor“ I have nothing," wrote Pope to his friend uscations of this wit? Of the sincerity Cromwell, “ to say to you in this letter ; of this repudiation and renunciation so but I was resolved to write to tell you so. fashionable in the Pope circle I have Why should not I content myself with nothing to say ; but in certain moods of so many great examples of deep divines, the mind it is vastly entertaining, and profound casuists, grave philosophers, who cures one's melancholy as cautery cures have written, not letters only, but whole certain physical afflictions. It may be tomes and voluminous treatises about amusing for you also to notice that Don nothing? Why should a fellow like me,
Quixote's niece and Pope were of the who all his life does nothing, be ashamed me mind. She called poetry “ a catchto write nothing, and that, too, to one ing and incurable disease," and Pope's who has nothing to do but read it ?” unfortunate Poet “ lives and writes agen.” And so, with “ ex nihilo nil fit,” he laugh- And, after all, Bobus, why should we ingly ends his letter.
not be tender with all the gentlemen who And now, while I am at it, I must crowd the catalogues and slumber upon quote a passage, somewhat germane, from the shelves ? It may be all very well for the very next letter, which Pope wrote
you or me, whose legend should be to the same friend : You talk of fame
“ Prandeo, poto, cano, ludo, lego, cæno, and glory, and of the great men of an- quiesco," tiquity. Pray, tell me, what are all your to laugh at them; but who shall say that great dead men, but so many living let- they did not do their best, and, if they ters? What a vast reward is here for
were stupid, pavonian, arrogant, self-sufall the ink wasted by writers and all the ficient, and top-heavy, that they were not blood spilt by princes! There was in honestly so? I always liked that boast old time one Severus, a Roman Emper- of Flaccus about his “monument harder
I dare say you never called him than brass.” It is a cheerful sight to see by any other name in your life ; and a poor devil of an author in his garret, yet in his days he was styled Lucius, snapping his fingers at the critics. Septimius, Severus, Pius, Pertinax, Au- beggar,” wrote Pope, “is so poor but he gustus, Parthicus, Adiabenicus, Arabicus, can keep a cur, and no author so beggarMaximus, and what not ? What a pro- ly but he can keep a critic.” And, after digious waste of letters has time made ! all, abuse is pleasanter than contemptuWhat a number have here dropped off, ous and silent neglect. I do honestly beand left the poor surviving seven unat- lieve, that, if it were not for a little too tended! For my own part, four are much false modesty, every author, and esall I have to take care of; and I'll be pecially the poets, would boldly and pubjudged by you, if any man could live in licly anticipate posthumous fame. Do you less compass. Well, for the future, I'll think that Sir Thomas Urquhart, when drown all high thoughts in the Lethe of he wrote his “EKSKYBAAAYPON, or, cowslip-wine; as for fame, renown, repu- The Discovery of a most Precious Jewtation, take 'em, critics ! If ever I seek el,” etc., fancied that the world would
willingly let his reverberating words faint and port forever? Very, very few of us into whispers, and, at last, into utter si- can join in Sir Boyle Roche's blundering lence ?—his “metonymical, ironical, met- sneer at posterity, and with the hope of aphorical, and "synecdochal instruments immortality mingles a dread of utter obof elocution, in all their several kinds, livion here. Will it not be consoling, artificially affected, according to the na- standing close by the graves which have ture of the subject, with emphatical ex- been prepared for us, to leave the world pressions in things of great concernment, some little legacy of wisdom sedulously with catachrestical in matters of meaner gleaned from the fields of the fading past, moment; attended on each side respec- —some intangible, but honest wealth, the tively with an epiplectic and exegetic not altogether worthless accumulation of modification, with hyperbolical, either ep- an humble, but earnest life,-something itatically or hypocoristically, as the pur- which may lighten the load of a sad expose required to be elated or extenuated, perience, illuminate the dark hours which they qualifying metaphors, and accom- as they have come to all must come to panied with apostrophes; and, lastly, with all through all the ages, or at least diallegories of all sorts, whether apologal, vert without debauching the mind of the affabulatory, parabolary, ænigmatic, or idler, the trifler, and the macaroni ? I paræmial”? Would you have thought believe this ingenuous feeling to be very that so much sesquipedality could die ? far removed from the wheezy aspirations Certainly the Knight of Cromartie did not, of windy ignorance, or the spasms for and fully believing Posterity would feel fame which afflict with colic the bowels, an interest in himself unaccorded to any empty and flatulent, of sheer scribblers one of his contemporaries, he kindly and and dunces who take a mean advantage prudently appended the pedigree of the of the invention of printing. Let us be family of Urquharts, preserving every tender of the honest gentlemen who, to step from Adam to himself. This may quote Cervantes, " aim at somewhat, but have been a vanity, but after all it was a conclude nothing." I cannot smile at good sturdy one, worthy of a gentleman the hopes of the boy Burns,who could not say “ the sun was setting,”
“That he, for poor auld Scotland's sake, but who could and did
Some usefu' plan or beuk could make, dental rays of Phæbus were upon their Or sing a sang at least.” turning oriental to the other hemisphere
And while I am in a humor for quotaof the terrestrial globe." Alas! poor Sir Thomas, who must needs babble the fool
tion, I must give you this muscular verse ish hopes which wiser men reticently the Soul”: –
from Henry More's “ Platonic Song of keep cloistered in their own bosoms! who confessed what every scribbler thinks, and “ Their rotten relics lurk close under ground; so gets laughed at,—as wantons are car- With living weight no sense or sympathy ried to the round-house for airing their in
They have at all; nor hollow thundering
sound continent phraseology in the street, while
Of roaring winds that cold mortality Blowsalinda reads romances in her cham
Can wake, ywrapt in sad Fatality: ber without blushing. Modesty is very To horse's hoof that beats his grassie dore well; but, after all, do not the least self- He answers not: the moon in silency sufficient of us hope for something more
Doth passe by night, and all bedew him o'er
With her cold, humid rayes; but he feels not than the dirty dollars,—for kindness, af
Heaven's power.” fection, loving perusal, and fostering shelter, long after our brains have moulder- How we shiver in the icy, midnight mooned, and the light of our eyes has been beams of the recluse of Christ's College ! quenched, and our deft fingers have lost How preciously golden seem the links their cunning, and the places that knew of our universal brotherhood, when the us have forgotten our mien and speech Fates are waving their dark wings around us, and menace us with their sundering! merchants of stock-fish, dry meat, and I am not sure, my worthy Wagonero, not men for my market; then vanish!" that, rather than see my own little cord Barrow said that “ poetry was a kind finally cut, I would not consent to be of ingenious nonsense”; and I think, that, laughed at by a dozen generations, in deceived by the glut, the present time is the hope that it might happen to me that very much of Barrow's mind. But, courthe thirteenth, out of sheer weariness at age, my music-making' masters! Your the prolonged lampooning, might grow warbling, if it be of genuine quality, shall pitiful at my purgatorial experiences, and echo upon the other side of the hill which so betake itself to nursing and fondling hides the unborn years. Only be sure, me into repute, furnishing me with half- the song be pure; and you may “give a-dozen of those lynx-eyed commentators the fico to your adversaries." You may who would discern innumerable beauties live in the hearts and upon the lips of and veracities through the calfskin walls men and women yet unborn ; and should of my beatified bantling. They might the worst come, you may figure in “ The find, at last, that I had “ the gold-strung Bibliographer's Manual,” with a star of harp of Apollo ” and played a “most ex- honor against your name, to indicate that cellent diapason, --celestial music of the you are exceedingly scarce and proporspheres,”—hearing the harmony
tionally valuable; rival collectors, with
fury in their faces, will run you up to a " As plainly as ever Pythagoras did,"
fabulous price at the auction, and you when “ Venus the treble ran sweet divis- will at last be put into free quarters for ion upon Saturn the bass.”
life in some shady alcove upon some lofWrite for posterity! Pray, whom should ty shelf, with unlimited rations of dust, we write for, in this age which makes its as you glide into a vermiculate dotage. own epic upon sounding anvils, and whose Why should you be faint-hearted, when lyric is yelled from the locomotive run- the men of the stalls ask such a breathning a muck through forest and field and stretching price for the productions of beside the waters no longer still ? Write William Whitehead, Esq., who used to poetry now, when noise has become nor- celebrate the birthdays of old George mal, and we are like the Egyptians, who the Third after this fashion :never heard the roaring of the fall of Ni
" And shall the Britislı lyre be mute, lus, because the racket was so familiar to Nor thrill through all its trembling strings, them! The age “ capers in its own fee With oaten reed and pastoral flute simple" and cries with the Host in “ The While every vale responsive rings ? " Merry Devil of Edmonton,” “Away with Ben Jonson called Inigo Jones Sir Lanpunctilios and orthography!” Write poe- thorn Leatherhead, but St. Paul's still try now! Thank you, my ancient friend! stands; and how many flies are there in
My fiddlestick cannot play without ros- the sparkling amber of “ The Dunciad”! in.” To be sure, I am, like most min- Have the critics, poor birdling, torn your strels, ready for an offer; and should any wings, and mocked at your recording? lover of melody propose
I know, as Howell wrote to “ Father “ Two hundred crowns, and twenty pounds a Ben,” that “the fangs of a bear and the year
tusks of a wild-boar don't bite worse and For three good lives,"
make deeper gashes than a goose-quill I should not be slow in responding, “Car- sometimes ; no, not the badger himself, go! hai Trincalo!” and in presently get- who is said to be so tenacious of his bite ting into the best possible trim and tune. that he will not give over his hold until But the poet may say now, with the But- he feels bis teeth meet and bone crack.” ler in the old play, “ Mine are precious I know all about it, my minstrel boy ! cabinets, and must have precious jewels for have I not, in my day, given and put into them; and I know you to be taken, and shouldered back again when