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ARCHI-RABBI SOPHI DIOTREPHES, &c. .
The following ludicrous letter, composed in ridicule of the practice of using hard words, which he detested, is ascribed to Swift, in a Dublin collection of his pieces, called “ The Drapier's Miscellany:"
“ A Letter, which was actually sent to a young country clergyman, (who used hard words in his sermon,) in behalf of his poor ignorant congregation, by a gentleman who accidentally heard him.”
“ To the most Deuteronomical Polydoxologist, Panto
philological Linguist, Mr Archi-Rabbi Sophi Dictrephes, &c.
SIR,—The unanimous and humillemous desiderations, as well of your parochian, ac hic-et-ubique semipaganian auditors, beg leave submissively to remonstrate, That although by your specious proems and spacious introductions, promising great perspicuity in predication, you endeavour to inveigle our affections, in order to indoctrinate our agricolated intellects; yet, through the caliginous imbecillity of internexed conundrums, tonitruating with obstreperous cadences, you rather obfusiate than illuminate our A-B-C-darian conceptions, so that we generally return not at all edified, but puzzled; confounded, and astonished : We, therefore, for our souls' good, (en bonne esperance that your urbanity will not be exasperated at the presentation of these our cordial desires,) do, from the nadir of our rusticity, almacantarize to the very zenith of your unparalleled sphere of activity, in beseeching your exuberant genius to nutriate our rational appetites with intelligible theology, suited to our plebeian apprehensions, and to recondite your acroamaticall locutions for more scholastic auscultators. For while our first, second, and third selves, together with our domestics, all of Ignoramus's offspring, hear you gigantize in Lycophonian and Pharigenous raptures, in words we never met with in holy writ, as corollaries, ephemeris, and such other heterogeneal language, without delucidation of their original signification, we lose the whole system of your doctrine in admiration of your agemious erudition. Being, therefore, under a panic timidity, lest we should see a restoration of the dialect of Babel, and that some sesquipedalian circumforaneous saltimbanco should mount the rostrum, and, after your example, should, in spagirical bombast, repuzzle the quintessential of our ingeniosities, with more amalgamations, cohabitations, and fexations; we beg you to call to mind St Austin's saying, Mallem ut reprehendant grammatici, quam non intelligant populi ; • I had rather that the grammarians should blame, than that the people should not understand me.'
“ And now, egregious Sir, we supplicate your clemency, not to look upon these lines as derogatory to your most excellent parts and profound science, for we rather admire such superlative acquisitions, which, however, we humbly opine are more proper to be displayed among learned academicians than mechanical and agrestical auditors. And we estimate ourselves abundantly
justified, in this our humble application, in the authority of St Paul, much greater than that of St Austin, who says, interpreted in plain English, “If I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian, and he that speaketh shall be a barbarian unto me.' 1 Cor. xiv. And thus having copulated our plebeian endeuvours, we exosculate the subumbrations of your subligacles; and sooner shall the surges
of the sandiferous sea ignify and evaporate, than the cone of our duty towards you be in the least uncatenate or dissolved ; always wishing you health and happiness.
A, B. C, D, &c.
“ P. S. To render our petition in this epistle the more acceptable to you, we prevailed with the schools master to draw it up in a style as near as he could to CHARACTER OF DR SHERIDAN.
WRITTEN IN THE YEAR 1738. *
DOCTOR THOMAS SHERIDAN died at Rathfarnham, the 10th of October, 1738, at three of the clock in the afternoon: his diseases were a dropsy and asthma. He was doubtless the best instructor of youth in these kingdoms, or, perhaps, in Europe ; and as great a master of the Greek and Roman languages. He had a very fruitful invention, and a talent for poetry. His English verses were full of wit and humour, but neither his prose nor verse sufficiently correct : however, he would readily submit to any friend who had a true taste in prose or verse.
He has left behind him a very great collection, in several volumes, of stories, humorous, witty, wise, or some way useful, gathered from a vast number
* As Swift advanced in years and infirmities, it became more difficult to please him, or even to sooth his habitual irritation. We have mentioned, in his Life, his unfortunate quarrel with Sheridan, the most sincere, as well as the most officious of his friends and admirers. The present Character retains some traces of friendship become cold and broken. The defects of imprudence are more strongly insisted upon,
than is consistent with the respect due to the memory of a departed friend; nor has the praise that affectionate warmth which the long and revered attachment of the deceased so particularly deserved.
of Greek, Roman, Italian, Spanish, French, and English writers. I believe I
I believe I may have seen about thirty, large enough to make as many moderate books in octavo. But among these extracts, there were many not worth regard; for five or six, at least, were of little use or entertainment. He was (as it is frequently the case in men of wit and learning) what the French call a dupe, and in a very high degree. The greatest dunce of a tradesman could impose upon him, for he was altogether ignorant in worldly management. His chief shining quality was that of a schoolmaster : here he shone in his proper element. He had so much skill and practice in the physiognomy of boys, that he rarely mistook at the first view. His scholars loved and feared him. He often rather chose to shame the stupid, but punish the idle, and expose them to all the lads, which was more severe than lashing. Among the gentlemen in this kingdom who have any share of education, the scholars of Dr Sheridan infinitely excel, in number and knowledge, all their brethren sent from other schools.
To look on the doctor in some other lights, he was in many things very indiscreet, to say no worse. He acted like too many clergymen, who are in haste to get married when very young; and from hence proceeded all the miseries of his life. The portion he got proved to be just the reverse of 500l., for he was poorer by a thousand : so many incumbrances of a mother-in-law, and poor relations, whom he was forced to support for many years. Instead of breeding up his daughters to housewifery and plain clothes, he got them at a great expense, to be clad like ladies who had plentiful fortunes ; made them only learn to sing and dance, to draw and design, to give them rich silks and other fopperies; and