Obrázky na stránke

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
Perfectly all this town; yet there's one state

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.



[blocks in formation]

Donne an office in the council. In the entertaining account of
that conversation, which Ben Jonfon is faid to have held with Mr.
Drummond, of Hauthornden in Scotland, in the year 1619, con-
taining his judgments of the English Poets, he fpeaks thus of
Donne, (who was his intimate friend, and had frequently addressed
him in various poems :) "Donne was originally a poet; his grand-
father, on the mother's fide, was Heywood the epigrammatift;
but for not being understood, he would perish. He esteemed
him the first poet in the world for fome things; his Verses of the
Loft Ochadine, he had by heart; and that paffage of the Calm,
"That duft and feather, did not ftir, all was fo quiet." He af-
firmed, that Donne wrote all his beft pieces before he was twenty-
five years
of age. The conceit of Donne's transformation, or me-
tempfychofis, was, that he fought the foul of that apple which Eve
pulled, and hereafter made it the foul of a bitch, then of a fhe
wolf, and fo of a woman; his general purpose was to have brought
it into all the bodies of the heretics, from the foul of Cain, and
at last left it in the body of Calvin. He only wrote one sheet of
this; and fince he was made Doctor, repented heartily, and refolv-
ed to deftroy all his poems. He told Donne, that his Anniver
fary was prophane; that if it had been written on the Virgin Mary,
it had been tolerable; to which Donne anfwered, That he de-
scribed the idea of a woman, and not as fhe was."



[ocr errors]

Though Poetry, indeed, be fuch a fin,

As, I think, that brings Dearth and Spaniards in:
Though like the peftilence, and old-fashion'd love,
Ridlingly it catch men, and doth remove
Never, till it be starv'd out; yet their state
Is poor, difarm'd, like Papists, not worth hate.

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,
(Starving himself,) to live by's labour'd scenes.
As in fome Organs, Puppits dance above,
And bellows pant below, which them do move.

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,
Are they not like fingers at doors for meat?
And they who write, because all write, have ftill
That 'fcufe for writing, and for writing ill.



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!
Here a lean Bard, whofe wit could never give
Himself a dinner, makes an Actor live:
The Thief condemn'd, in law already dead,
So prompts, and faves a rogue who cannot read.
Thus as the pipes of fome carv'd Organ move,
The gilded puppets dance and mount above.
Heav'd by the breath, th' inspiring bellows blow:
Th' infpiring bellows lie and pant below.

One fings the Fair; but fongs no longer move;
No rat is rhym'd to death, nor maid to love:
In love's, in nature's fpite, the fiege they hold,
And fcorn the flefh, the dev'l, and all but gold.

These write to Lords, fome mean reward to get,

As needy beggars fing at doors for meat.
Those write because all write, and so have still
Excufe for writing, and for writing ill.







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.


« PredošláPokračovať »