Billeder på siden

"The Gods espoused the cause of the conquerors, but Cato espoused the cause of the vanquished. The misfortune is, that this verse was not written of Eato the Censor, but of Cato of Utica. How Mr. Bickerstaffe, who has written in favour of a party that is not vanquished, resembles the younger Cato, who was not a Roman censor, I do not well conceive, unless it be in struggling for the liberty of his country. To say therefore that the censor of Great Britain resembles that famous censor of Rome in nothing but espousing the cause of the vanquished, is just the same as if one should say, in regard to the many obscure truths and secret histories that are brought to light in this letter; that the author of these new revelationis resembles the ancient author of the Revelatjons in nothing but venturing his head. Besides that there would be no ground for such a resemblance, would not'a mani be laughed at by every common reader, should he thus mistake one St: John for another, and apply that to St. John the Evangelist which relates to St. John the Baptist, who died many years before him, 4 lunis) - Another smart touch of the author we meet with in the fifth page; where, without any preparation, he breaks out all on a sudden into a vein of poetry, and, inslead of writing a letter to the Examiner, gives adviče to a painter in these strong lines: 9 Paint, Sir, with that force which you are master of, the present state of the war abroad;, and expose to the public view those principles upon which, of late, it has been carried on, so different from those upon which it was originally entered intor's Collect. some féwil of the indignities which have been this year offered to her majesty, and of those unnatural struggles which have betrayed the weakness of a shattered constitution. By the way, a man may be said to paint a battle, or, if you please, a war; but I do not see how it is possible to paint the present state of a war. So a man may be said to ded scribe or to collect accounts of indignities and unna. tural struggles; but to collect the things themselves is a figure which this gentleman has introduced into our English prose. Well, but what will be the use of this picture of a state of the war? and this collection of indignities and struggles? It seems the chief design of them is to make a dead man blush, as we may see in those inimitable lines which immediately follow: "And when this is done, Deon shall blush in his grave among the dead, We among the living, and even Vole shall feel some remorse.' Was there ever any thing, I will not say so stiff and so unnatural, but so' brutal and so silly! this is downright hacking and hewing in satire. But we see a master-piece of this kind of writing in the twelfth page; where, without any respect to'a duchess of Great Britain, a princess of the empire, and one who was a bosom friend of her royal mistress, he calls a great lady'an insolent woman, the worst of her sex, a fury, an executioner of divine vengeance, a plague;' and applies to her a line which Virgil writ originally upon Alecto. One would think this foul-mouthed writer must have received some particular injuries, either from this great lady or from her husband; and these the world shall be soon acquainted with, by'a book which is now in the press, entitled, “ An Essay towards proving that Gratitude is no Virtue.' This author is so full of satire, and is so angry with every one that is pleased with the Duke of Marlborough's victories, that he goes out of his way to abuse one of the queen's singing men, who, it seems, did his best to celebrate a thanksgiving day in an anthem; as you may see in that passage : Towns have been taken, and battles have been won; the mob has huzzaed round bonfires, the stentor of the chapel has strained his throat in the gallery, and the stentor of Som has deafened his audience from the pulpit.' Thus you see how like a true son of the high-church he falls upon a learned and reverend prelate, and for no other crime, but for preaching with an audible voice. If a man lifts up his voice like a trumpet to preach sedition, he is received by some men as a confessor; but if he cries, aloud, and spares, not to animate people with, devotion and gratitude, for the greatest public blessings that ever were bestowed on a şinful nation, he is reviled as a Stentor. I

I promised in the next place to consider the language of this excellent author, who, I find, takes himself for an orator. In the first page he censures several for the poison which they profusely scatter through the nation; that is, in plaip English, for squandering away their poison. In the second, he talks of carry, ing probability through the thread of a fable; and, in the third, of laying an odium at a man's door.' In the fourth he rises in his expressions; where he speaks of those who would persuade the people, that the G--), the quondam Tr, and the Jitto, are the only objects.of the confidence of the allies, and of the fears of the enemies." I would advise this author to try the beauty of this expression, Suppose a foreign minister should address ber majesty in the following manner, (for certainly it is her majesty, only to whom the sense of the compliment ought to be paid,) Madam, you are the object of the confidence of the allies; or, Madam, your majesty is the only object of the fears of the enemies. Would a man think that he had learned English? I would have the author try, by the same rule, some of the other phrases, as page 7, where he tells us, that the balance of power in Europe would be still precarious." What would a tradesman think, if one should tell him," in a passion, that his scales were precarious; and mean by it, that they were not fixed? In the thirteenth page he speaks of certain ' profligate wretches, who, having usurped the royal seat, resolved to venture overturning the chariot of government, rather than to lose their place in it.' A plain-spoken man would have left the chariot out of the sentence, and so have made it good English. As it is there, it is not only an impropriety of speech, but of metaphor; it being impossible for a man to have a place in the chariot which he drives. I would therefore advise this gentleman, in the next edition of his letter, to change the chariot of government into the chaise of government, which will sound as well, and serve his turn much better. I could be longer on the errata of this very small work, but will conelude this head with taking notice of a certain figure, which was unknown to the ancients, and in which this letter-writer very much excels. This is called 'by some an anti-climax, an instance of which we have in the tenth page; where he tells us, that Britain may expect to have this only glory left her, that she has proved a farm to the Bank, ir province to Holland, and a jest to the whole world. I never met with so sudden a downfal in so promising a sentence; à jest to the whole world, gives such an unexpected turn to 'this happy period, 'that I'was heartily troubled and surprised to meet with it. I do not remember, in all my reading, to have observeił more than two couplets of verses that have been writ; ten in this figure, the first' are thus quoted by Mr. Dryden.

Not only London echoes with thy fame,

But also Islington has heard the same. The other are in French !

Allez vous, lui dit il, suns bruit chez vos parens,

vous avez laissé votre honneur et vos gans. But we need not go further than the letter before its for examples of this nature, as we may find in page the eleventh, Mankind remains convinced, that a queen possessed of all the virtues requisite to bless a nation, or make a private family happy, sits on the throne.' Is this panegyric or burlesque? To see so glorious a queen celebrated in such a manner, gives every good subject a secret indignation; and looks like Scarron's character of the great Queen Semiramis, who, says that author, was the founder of Babylon, conqueror of the East, and an excellent housewife.'

The third subject being the argumentative part of this letter, I shall leave till another occasion.



-Non defensoribus istis Tempus eget. I was once talking with an old humdrum fellow, and, before I had heard his story out, was called away by business. About three years after I met him again, when he immediately reassumed the thread of his story, and began his salutation with, 'But, Sir, as I was telling you.' The same method has been made use of by very polite writers; as, in particular, the author of Don Quixote, who inserts several novels in his works, and, after a parenthesis of about a dozen leaves, returns again to his story. Hudibras has broke off the Adventure of the Bear and the Fiddle. The Tatler has frequently interrupted the course of a Lucubration, and taken it up again after a fortnight's respite; as the Examiner, who is capable of imitating him in this particular, has likewise done.

This may serve as an apology for my postponing the examination of the argumentative part of the Letter to the Examiner to a further day, though I must confess, this was occasioned by a letter which I received last post. Upon opening it, I found it to contain a very curious piece of antiquity, which, without preface or application, was introduced as follows.

* Alcibiades was a man of wit and pleasure, bred up in the school of Socrates, and one of the best orators of his age, notwithstanding he lived at a time when learning was at its highest pitch: he was likewise very famous for his military exploits, having gained great conquests over the Lacedæmonians, who had formerly been the confederates of his countrymen against the great king of Persia, but were at that time in alliance with the Persians. He had been once so far misrepresented and traduced by the malice of his enemies, that the priests cursed him. But, after the greạt ser

« ForrigeFortsæt »