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Ye antique Satires! how I bless your days,

That brook'd your bolder style, their own dispraise ;

And well-near wish (yet joy my wish is vain)

I had been then-or they been now again!




By H. Bryer, Bridge-Street, Blackfriars.

Lp 15.18.09

Harvard College Library
Gift of

Morris H. Morgan
Jan. 1, 1910




IT has been usual to prefix to works of this kind a discussion of the respective merits of the three heroes of Roman Satire. Dryden has a spirited introduction of this kind, though too much besprinkled with fulsome flattery addressed to his patron. Mr. Gifford also has given us in his Juvenal an Essay on the origin, progress, and genius of the Roman Satire, which, with Dryden's prefatory Dedication, comprises all that is really valuable on the subject, exhibited in the most pleasing form. In each perhaps is discernible a little partial biass in favour of their own author, which would be very venial, even if it were justly to be called prejudice,but which ought not, I think, in all cases, to be termed such. There are authors who, from obscurity of style or austerity of manner, do not please much on a first perusal, but who nevertheless, on a closer survey, rise upon the reader's esteem. The mind is at first so embarrassed with perplexities, that it has scarcely sufficient leisure to apprehend the detached beauties, much less the general spirit and effect. In examining the parts too closely and in detail, we overlook their mutual relation and the chain of thought which connects the whole. Like pioneers, we are so deeply occupied in clearing away the briars and brambles, that we lose the beauty of the surrounding scenery. By degrees, the ruggedness of the path is either levelled or familiarity reconciles us

to it, and then at last we begin to enjoy,-and to enjoy the more perhaps from the self-gratulation which is felt in looking back on difficulties surmounted. Obscurity is in itself undoubtedly a fault: but when it overshadows intrinsic excellence, the merits of a performance cannot be justly appreciated on a first or a careless perusal; and thus the enthusiasm with which a Translator speaks of his author, may sometimes be erroneously imputed to foolish partiality, while it really is the result of a clearer insight into its beauties. The reader will by this time have suspected the truth; that in pleading for others, I have an eye to myself. In fact, the admirers of Horace's light badinage and Juvenal's dignified invective are in general so liberal of their contempt to the grave Persius (as he is often called), and the praises which they heap upon their respective favourites are in general bestowed so exclusively, that I feel half afraid to profess myself, though without detracting from the merits of the other two, a warm admirer of Persius.

To inquire generally in what order of merit the three Roman Satirists are to be placed, uter utro sit prior,appears to me a frivolous and indefinite sort of speculation. Ratio, say the Mathematicians, can exist only between homogeneous quantities and in like manner a critic may observe, that the respective objects, manners, and tempers of these satirists are so different, that a comparison which weighs their various merits in the same scale, must of necessity be unfair and inconclusive.

It is a question which cannot be referred to any fixed standard; since every reader will adopt as his favorite, him whose turn is most congenial with his own. He that is fond of arch raillery at the foibles of mankind, will

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prefer Horace; he that burns with indignation at its vices, will cry up Juvenal: and a third, who relishes keen irony and jeering sarcasms at its absurdities, will attach himself to Persius. But while each set of readers admit that the other two writers have merit in their way, their tastes, though different, are not absolutely contradictory.

There is however, another light in which these three Satirists may be viewed by the side of each other with some degree of advantage: I mean, if, after discerning in what particulars they differ, we ask why they so differ; and whether there be any known circumstances of time, place, parentage, &c. which conspired with natural temperament in determining each of them to be what he


Of Lucilius, the father of the legitimate Roman Satire, we have only a few scattered fragments remaining. These however are sufficient to show that the judgment which Horace has past upon him in the fourth and tenth Satires of his first Book, is at once just and candid. Lucilius's Şatire was personal in the highest degree. He attacked vice and folly by exposing to ridicule the vitious and the foolish; and this object he pursued with unreserved severity, and a boldness truly republican. He lived at a time when the government had not yet made liberty of speech a crime, and when every instance of vice or vanity appeared the more striking from being contrasted with the general simplicity and integrity of the age. His birth, rank, and intimacy with some of the best and greatest men of his time, entitled him to lash the bad of every degree, without molestation or fear from their resentment. It must also be recollected that the old

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