Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

contempt. We think we are here reading MilTon against SALMASIUS.* The raillery is carried to the very verge of railing, some will say ribaldry. He has armed his muse with a scalpingknife. The portrait is certainly overcharged: for Lord H. for whom it was designed, whatever his morals might be, had yet considerable abilities, though marred indeed by affectation. Some of his speeches in parliament were much beyond florid impotence. They were, it is true, in favour of Sir R. Walpole,t and this was sufficiently offensive to Pope. The fact that particularly incited his indignation, was Lord H.'s Epistle to a Doctor of Divinity, (Dr. Sherwin) from a Nobleman at Hampton Court, 1733; as well as his having been concerned with Lady

M. W. M.

* That strong expression in the discourse pro Populo Anglicano, of Nerone ipso Neronior," applied to Charles I. is taken from what Peter, King of Arragon, wrote to Charles, Duke of Anjou, who had caused to be beheaded the son of the Emperor Conrad.

+ Lord H. fought a duel with Mr. Pulteney upon a political quarrel. See also a pamphlet, entitled, The Court Secret, occasioned by Lord Scarborough's death, for a severe character of Ibrahim, intended for this Lord. Printed 8vo. 1741.

M. W. M. in * Verses to the Imitator of Horace, 1732. This lady's beauty, wit, genius, and travels, of which she gave an account in a series of elegant and entertaining letters, very characteristical of the manners of the Turks, and of which many are addressed to Pope, are well known, and justly celebrated. With both these noble personages had Pope lived in a state of intimacy. And justice obligeth us to confess, that he himself was the aggressor in the quarrel with them ; as he first assaulted and affronted Lord H. by these two lines in his imitation of the 1st Sat. of Horace's second book :

The lines are weak, another's pleas'd to say ;
Lord Fanny spins a thousand such a day.

And

.

* After her quarrel with Mr. Pope, which Lord Peterborough in vain endeavoured to reconcile, she wrote thus from Florence, to the Countess of

• The word malignity, and a passage in your letter, call to my mind the wicked wasp of Twickenham ; his lyes affect me now no more; they will be all as much despised as the story of the seraglio and the handkerchief, of which I am persuaded he was the only inventor. That man has a malignant and ungenerous heart; and he is base enough to assume the mask of a moralist, in order to decry human nature, and to give a decent vent to his hatred of man and womankind."

And Lady M. W. M. by the eighty-third line of the same piece, too gross * to be here repeated.

It is a singular circunstance, that our author's indignation was so vehement and inexhaustible, that it furnished him with another invective, of equal power,

in prose, which is to be found at the end of the eighth volume, containing his letters. The reader that turns to it, page 253, (for it is too long to be here inserted, and too full of matter to be abridged,) will find, that it abounds in so many new modes of irony, in so many unexpected strokes of sarcasm, in so many sudden and repeated blows, that he does not allow the

peer a moment's breathingtime :

poor devoted

Nunc dextrâ ingeminans ictus, nunc ille sinistra ;
Nec mora, nec requies; quam multâ grandine nimbi
Culminibus crepitant; sic densis ictibus heros
Creber utrâque manû pulsat, versatque.t-

It

* So also are lines 87, 88, 89, 90, of the third epistle con. cerning Fulvia and Old Narses. But let us remember, that

As the soft plume gives swiftness to the dart,
Good-breeding sends the satire to the heart,

YOUNG.

Æn. V. ver. 457.

It is, indeed, the master-piece of invective, and perhaps excels the character of Sporus itself, capital as that is, above quoted. Who, however, would wish to be the author of such a cutting invective? But can this be the nobleman (we are apt to ask) whom Middleton, in his dedication to the History of the Life of Tully, has so seriously and earnestly praised, for his strong good sense, his consummate politeness, his real patriotism, his rigid temperance, his thorough knowledge and defence of the laws of his country, his accurate skill in history, his unexampled and unremitted diligence in literary pursuits; who added credit to this very history, as Scipio and Lælius did to that of Polybius, by revising and correcting it; and brightening it,* as he expresses

it,

* The Life of Tully procured Dr. Middleton a great reputation, and a great sum of money. It is a pleasing and useful work, especially to younger readers, as it gives a comprehensive view of a most interesting period in the Roman history, and of the characters principally concerned in those important events. It may be worth observing, that he is much indebted, without acknowledging it, to a curious book, little known, entitled, G. Bellendini, Scoti, de Tribus Luminibus Romanorum, Libri 16. Parisiis Apud Tassanum du Bray. 1634. Folio; dedicated to King Charles. It comprehends á

history

it, by the strokes of his pencil ? The man that had written this splevdid encomium on Lord H. could not, we may imagine, be very well affected to the bard who had painted Lord Fanny in so ridiculous a light. We find him writing thus to

Dr.

history of Rome, from the foundation of the city to the time of Augustus, drawn up in the very words of Cicero, without any alteration of any expression. In this book Middleton found every part of Cicero's own history, in his own words, and his works arranged in chronological order, without farther trouble. The impression of this work being shipped for England, was lost in the vessel, which was cast away, and only a few copies remained, that had been left in France. I venture to say, that the style of Middleton, which is commonly esteemed very pure, is blemished with many vulgar and cant terms. Such as Pompey had a month's mind, &c. He has not been successful in the translations of those many epistles of Tully which he has inserted; which, however curious, yet break the thread of the narration. Mongault and Melmoth have far exceeded him in their excellent translations of these pieces, which are, after all, some of the most precious remains of antiquity. What a treasure would it have been, if the letters of Tully to Julius Cæsar had remained ! As also his Journal and Ephemerides; and the Commentaries of Sylla, Lucullus, and Pollio.' It is usual to lament the loss of the Decads of Livy; but surely we might as much wish to recover the lost books of Diodorus Siculus, and Polybius, and the account of Annibal mentioned by Cornelius Nepos. I will just add, that great part of Middleton's Letter from Rome, is taken from a little unknown French book, entitled, Les Conformites des Ceremonies Modern avec les Anciennes. A Leydæ, chez l. Sambix, 1667.

« AnteriorContinuar »