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WRITTEN IN MDCCXXXVIII.
FR. TIs all a Libel-Paxton (Sir) will fay.
And for that very cause I print to-day.
VER. 1. 'Tis all a Libel] The King of Pruffia obferving from his window, a mob affembled to read a paper fixed on a wall, ordered one of his pages to fee what it contained, who informed him that it was a vile and fevere invective against his Majefty. "Take it down, faid the King, and place it lower on the wall, that it may be more easily and more univerfally read."" Rien ne raccourcit plus des grands hommes," fays Montefquieu, "que l'attention qu'ils donnent à de certaines procedés perfonels. J'en connois deux, qui ont été abfolument infenfibles, Cæfar & le Duc d' Orleans regent."
The liberty of the Prefs was about this time thought to be in danger; and Milton's noble and nervous discourse on this fubject, intitled, Areopagitica, was reprinted in an octavo pamphlet, with a preface written by Thomson, the poet. "If we think to regulate printing," fays Milton, "thereby to rectify manners, we must regulate all recreations and paftimes, all that is delightful to man. No music must be heard, no fong be fet or fung, but what is grave and Doric.-He who is made judge to fit upon the birth or
How fhould I fret to mangle ev'ry line,
Vice with fuch Giant ftrides comes on amain,
F. Yet none but you by Name the guilty lafh; 10 Ev'n Guthry faves half Newgate by a Dash. Spare then the Person, and expose the Vice.
P. How, Sir! not damn the Sharper, but the Dice? Come
death of books, whether they may be wafted into this world or not, had need to be a man above the common measure, both ftudious, learned, and judicious.”—“ It seems not more reasonable,” fays Johnson, "to leave the right of printing unreftrained, because writers may be afterwards cenfured, than it would be to fleep with doors unbolted, because by our laws we can hang a thief." To which Mr. Hayley anfwers, "To fuffer no book to be published without a licence, is tyranny as abfurd, as it would be to suffer no traveller to pass along the highway, without producing a certifi cate that he is not a robber."
VER. 1. Paxton] Late folicitor to the Treafury.
VER. 8. Feign what I will, &c.] The Poet has here introduced. an oblique apology for himself with great art. You attack perfonal characters, fay his enemies. No, replies he, I paint merely from my invention; and then, to prevent a likeness, I aggravate the features. But alas! the growth of vice is fo monftrously fudden, that it rifes up to a resemblance before I can get from the prefs.
VER. 11. Ev'n Guthry] The Ordinary of Newgate, who publishes the Memoirs of the Malefactors, and is often prevailed upon to be fo tender of their reputation, as to fet down no more than the initials of their name. P.
VER. 13. How, Sir! not damn the Sharper, but the Dice?] It is pity that the livelinefs of the reply cannot excufe the bad reasoning: The dice, though they rhyme to vice, can never ftand for it;
Come on then, Satire! gen'ral, unconfin'd,
Ye Tradefmen, vile, in Army, Court, or Hall!
I never nam'd; the Town's enquiring yet.
F. You do.
P. See, now I keep the Secret, and not you! The bribing Statesman-F. Hold, too high you go. P. The brib'd Elector-F. There you ftoop too low. P. I fain would please you, if I knew with what; Tell me, which Knave is lawful Game, which not? Muft
which his argument requires they should do. For dice are only the inftruments of fraud; but the queftion is not, whether the inftrument, but whether the a committed by it, fhould be expofed, inftead of the perfon.
VER. 21. The Town's enquiring yet.] So true is Swift's observation on perfonal fatire; " I have long obferved, that twenty miles from London nobody understands, hints, initial letters, or townfacts and paffages; and in a few years not even those who live in London." See verfe 238 below, for two afterisks, not filled up or known. A mortifying reflection to the writers of satire, and daily topics of cenfure!
VER. 22. F. You mean-P. I don't.] The fame friend is here again introduced making fuch remonftrances as before. And feveral parts of the dialogue here are more rapid and short, and approach nearer to common conversation than any lines he had ever before written; and are examples of that ftyle mentioned by Horace,
-parcentis viribus, atque
Extenuantis eas confultò."
Muft great Offenders, once efcap'd the Crown,
F. A Dean, Sir? No: his Fortune is not made, You hurt a man that's rifing in the Trade.
P. If not the Tradefman who fet up to-day,
Much less the 'Prentice who to-morrow may.
Down, down, proud Satire! though a realm be fpoil'd,
Arraign no mightier Thief than wretched Wild,
VER. 29. Like Royal Harts, &c.] Alluding to the old Game laws; when our Kings spent all the time they could spare from human flaughter, in Woods and Foreffs.
VER. 31. As beafts of Nature may we hunt the Squires?] The expreffion is rough, like the fubject, but without reflection: For if beafts of Nature, then not beafts of their own making; a fault too frequently objected to country Squires. However, the Latin is nobler; Fera natura, Things uncivilized and free. Fera, as the Critics fay, being from the Hebrew, Pere, Afinus filveftris. SCRIBL.
VER. 35. You hurt a man] In a former Edition there was the following note on this line: "For as the reasonable De la Bruyere obferves, Qui ne fait être un Erafme, doit penfer à être Eveque." Dr. Warburton omitted it after he got a feat on the Bench.
VER. 35. Rifing in the Trade.] This was as offenfive to fome ambitious Ecclefiaftics, as was the late propofal to put a stop to tranflations of Bishops.
VER. 39. Wretched Wild;] Jonathan Wild, a famous Thief, and Thief-Impeacher, who was at laft caught in his own train, and hanged.
Or, if a Court or Country's made a job,
But, Sir, I beg you (for the Love of Vice!)
The poor and friendless Villain, than the Great? 45
Scarce hurts the Lawyer, but undoes the Scribe.
To tax Directors, who (thank God) have Plums;
P. Muft Satire, then, not rife nor fall? Speak out, and bid me blame no Rogues at all. F. Yes, strike that Wild, I'll justify the blow. P. Strike? why the man was hang'd ten years ago: Who now that obfolete Example fears?
Ev'n Peter trembles only for his Ears.
F. What always Peter? Peter thinks you mad, You make men desp'rate if they once are bad: Elfe might he take to virtue fome years henceP. As S-k, if he lives, will love the PRINCE. 61 F. Strange
VER. 51. Why lay it on a King.] He is ferious in the foregoing fubjects of Satire, but ironical here; and only alludes to the common practice of Minifters, in laying their own miscarriages on their Masters.
VER. 57. Ev'n Peter trembles only for his Ears.] Peter had, the year before this, narrowly escaped the Pillory for forgery; and got off with a fevere rebuke only from the bench. P.