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Such authors as the two last, are a kind of literary harpies ; whatever subject they touch, they debase and defile:
Magnis quatiunt clangoribus alas,
As to Burnet, his character is thus drawn by the very sensible and judicious translator of Polybius, Mr. Hampton, in a pamphlet that deserves to be more known, entitled, Reflections on Ancient and Modern History: printed in quarto, at Oxford, 1746. “ His personal resentment put him upon writing history. He relates the actions of a persecutor and benefactor: and it is easy to believe, that a man in such circumstances must violate the laws of truth. The remembrance of his injuries is always present, and gives venom to his pen. Let us add to this, that intemperate and malicious curiosity, which penetrates into the most private recesses of vice. The greatest of his triumphs is to draw the veil of secret infamy, and expose to view transactions that were before
* Virg. Æn. iii. v. 226.
concealed from the world ; though they serve not in the least either to embellish the style, or convect the series, of his history; and will never obtain more credit, than, perhaps, to suspend the judgment of the reader, since they are supported only by one single, suspected testimony." P. 28.*
12. Yet then did Gildon draw his venal quill;
I wish'd the man a dinner, and sat still :
The $ unexpected turn in the second line of each of these three couplets, contains as cutting and bitter strokes of satire, as perhaps can be written.
# These animadversions obviously relate to the History of his own Times, and not to his History of the Reformation, and his other important works.
+ Ver. 15).
Ingenii plurimum est in eo, & acerbitas mira, & urbanitas, & vis summa ; sed plus stomacho quam consilio dedit. Præterea ut amari sales, ita frequenter amaritudo ipsa ridicula est.
M. F. Quintil. lib. x. c. I.
It is with difficulty we can forgive our author for upbraiding these wretched scribblers for their poverty and distresses, if we do not keep in our minds the grossly abusive pamphlets they published, without previous provocation from him ; and even, allowing this circumstance, we ought to separate rancour from reproof.
13. Yet ne'er one sprig of laurel grac'd these ribalds,
From slashing Bently.*.
Swift imbibed from Sir W. TEMPLE, and Pope from SWIFT, an inveterate and unreasonable aversion and contempt for BENTLEY; whose admirable Boyle's Lectures, Remarks on COLLINS, Emendations of MENANDER and CALLIMACHUS, and Tully's Tuscul. Disp. whose edition of Ho. RACE, and, above all, Dissertation on the Epistles of PHALARIS, (in which he gained the most complete victory over a whole army of wits,) all of them exhibit the most striking marks of accurate and extensive erudition, and a viĝorous and acute understanding. He degraded himself much by his edition of the Paradise Lost, and by his
* Ver. 163.
strange and absurd hypothesis of the faults which Milton's amanuensis introduced into that
poem. But I have been informed, that there was still an additional cause for Pope's resentment ; that ATTERBURY, being in company with BenTLEY and Pope, insisted upon knowing the Doctor's opinion of the English Homer; and that, being earnestly pressed to declare his sentiments freely, he said,
“ The verses are good verses ; but the work is not Homer, it is Spondanus.” It may, however, be observed, in favour of POPE,* that Dr. CLARKE, whose critical exactness is well known, has not been able to point out above three or four mistakes in the sense through the whole Iliad. The real faults of that translation are of a different kind. They are such as remind us of Nero's gilding a brazen statue of Alexander the Great, cast by Lysippus.
down to piddling Tibalds.
* And yet Pope, in a letter which Dr. Rutherforth showed me at Cambridge, in the year 1771, written to a Mr. Bridges, at Fulham, menţions, his consulting Chapman and Hobbes, and talks of their authoritŷ, joined to the knowledge of my own imperfectness in the language, over-ruled me;" are the very words, which I transcribed at that time.
+ Ver. 164.
Yet this very dull and laborious man was the first publisher of Shakespear, that hit upon the true and rational method of correcting and illustrating his author, that is, by reading such books (whatever trash Pope* might call them) as SHAKESPEAR read, and by attending to the genius, learning, and notions of his times.† By pursuing and perfecting which method, the public has lately been presented with a most valuable and complete edition of all his works, by the united labours of such excellent critics as JohnSON, STEEVENS, Tyrwhit, and MALONE. .
15. Each wight, who reads not, and but scans and spells,
Each word-catcher, that lives on syllables.
It is very easy, but very ungrateful, to laugh at collectors of various readings, and adjusters, Q3
* Pope was irritated at the many blunders in his Shake.
spear, that Theobald pointed out,
+ In this manner also has SPENSEB been illustrated. See Observations on the Faery Queene, by T. Warton, A. M. Lon. don, 1762, 8vo. 2d. edit. and the Canterbury Tales of Chaucer, with incomparable remarks by Mr. Tyrwhit,