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THE wit, the vigour, and the honefty of Mr. Pope's Satiric Writings had raised a great clamour against him, as if the Supple ment, as he calls it, to the Public Laws, was a violation of morality and fociety. In anfwer to this charge he had it in his purpose to shew, that two of the most respectable characters in the modeft and virtuous age of Elizabeth, Dr. Donne and Bishop Hall, had arraigned Vice publicly, and shewn it in ftronger colours, than he had done, whether they found it,
"On the Pillory, or near the Throne."
In pursuance of this purpose, our Poet hath admirably verfified, as he expreffes it, two or three Satires of Dr. Donne. He intended to have given two or three of Bishop Hall's likewife, whose force and claffical elegance he much admired; but as Hall was a better verfifier, and as a mere Academic, had not his vein viciated like Donne's, by the fantastic language of Courts, Mr. Pope's purpose was only to correct a little, and smooth the verfification, In the first edition of Hall's Satires, which was in Mr. Pope's library, we find that long Satire, called the first of the Sixth Book, corrected throughout, and the verfification mended for his ufe. He intitles it, in the beginning of his corrections, by the name of Sat. Opt. This writer Hall fell under a fevere examiner of his wit and reasoning, in the famous Milton. For Hall, a little before the unhappy breach between Charles I. and the long Parliament, having written in defence of Epifcopacy, Milton, who first fet out an advocate for Prefbytery, thought fit to take Hall's defence to task. And as he rarely gave quarter to his adversaries, from the Bishop's theologic writings, he fell upon his Poetry. But a ftronger proof of the excellency of these Satires can hardly be given, than that all he could find to cavil at, was the title to the three firft Books, which Hall, ridiculously enough, calls TOOTHLESS SATIRES: on this, for want of better hold, Milton faftens, and fufficiently mumbles.
SIR, though (I thank God for it) I do hate
In all ill things, fo excellently beft,
That hate towards them, breeds pity towards the rest. Though
VER. 1. Yes; thank my ftars!] Two noblemen of tafte and learning, the Duke of Shrewsbury and the Earl of Oxford, defired Pope to melt down and caft anew, the weighty bullion of Dr. Donne's Satires; who had degraded and deformed a vast fund of fterling wit and ftrong fenfe, by the most harfh and uncouth diction. Pope fucceeded in giving harmony to a writer, more rough and rugged than even any of his age, and who profited fo little by the example Spencer had fet, of a moft mufical and mellifluous verfification; far beyond the verfification of Fairfax, who is frequently mentioned as the greatest improver of the harmony of our language. The Satires of Hall, written in very smooth and pleas ing numbers, preceded thofe of Donne many years; for his Virgidemiarum were published, in fix books, in the year 1597; in which he calls himself the very first English Satirist. This, however, was not true in fact; for Sir Thomas Wyatt, of Allington Castle in Kent, the friend and favourite of Henry VIII. and, as was fuggefted, of Ann Boleyn, was our firft writer of Satire worth notice. But it was not in his numbers only that Donne was reprehensible. He abounds in false thoughts, in far-fought sentiments, in forced unnatural conceits. He was the firft corrupter of Cowley. Dryden was the first who called him a metaphyfical poet. He had a confiderable fhare of learning, and though he entered late into orders, yet he was esteemed a good divine. James I. was fo earnest to prefer him in the church, that he even refused the Earl of Somerfet, his favourite, the requeft he earnestly made, of giving Donne
YES; my ftars! as early as I knew
This Town, I had the fenfe to hate it too: Yet here, as ev'n in Hell, there must be still One Giant-Vice, fo excellently ill,
That all befide, one pities, not abhors;
As who knows Sappho, fmiles at other whores.
Donne an office in the council. In the entertaining account of
Though Poetry, indeed, be fuch a fin,
As, I think, that brings Dearth and Spaniards in:
One (like a wretch, which at barre judg❜d as dead, Yet prompts him which stands next, and cannot read,
And faves his life) gives Idiot Actors means,
One would move love by rythmes; but witchcraft's
Bring not now their old fears, nor their old harms: Rams and flings now are filly battery,
Pistolets are the best artillery.
And they who write to Lords, rewards to get,
Donne was one of our Poets who wrote elegantly in Latin ; as did Ben Jonfon, Cowley, Milton, Addison, and Gray. In Donne's Introduction to his Witty Catalogue of Imaginary Books, (which Swift has imitated before the Tale of a Tub,) there is a paffage fo minutely applicable to the present times, that I am tempted to transcribe it: "Evum fortiti fumus, quo plane indoctis nihil turpius, plenè doctis nihil rarius. Tam omnes in literis aliquid sciunt, tam nemo omnia. Mediâ igitur plerumque itur viâ, & ad
I grant that Poetry's a crying fin;
It brought (no doubt) th' Excife and Army in:
Catch'd like the Plague, or Love, the Lord knows
But that the cure is starving, all allow.
Yet like the Papift's, is the Poet's state,
Poor and difarm'd, and hardly worth your hate!
One fings the Fair; but fongs no longer move;
These write to Lords, fome mean reward to get,
As needy beggars fing at doors for meat.
evitandam ignorantiæ turpitudinem, & legendi faftidium." Mr. Moore has lately anfwered Donne's Paradox on Self-Murder Vol. 2. p. 2. 41. The private character of Donne, the inconvenience he underwent on account of his early marriage, and his remarkable fenfibility of temper, render him very amiable.
VER. 27. Those write] The Original required little alteration.