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Call Tibbald Shakspeare, and he'll swear the Nine,
please, My dear Tibullus !" if that will not do, “ Let me be Horace, and be Ovid you : Or, I'm content, allow me Dryden's strains, 145 And you shall rise up Otway for
your pains." Much do I suffer, much, to keep in peace This jealous, waspish, wrong-head, rhyming race; And much must flatter, if the whim should bite To court applause by printing that I write : 150 But let the fit pass o'er, I'm wise enough To stop my ears to their confounded stuff.
'In vain, bad Rhymers all mankind reject, They treat themselves with most profound respect;
It has been imagined that Horace laughs at Propertius in that line of the Original,
“Quis, nisi Callimachus?" Ver. 147. Much do I suffer,] Multa fero, in the Original, has been idly interpreted to mean, "I carry with me a great many compliments, soothing speeches," &c.
Ver. 149. if the whim should bite] This expression, and the confounded stuff, in ver. 152, are coarse and vulgar, and unworthy of our Author. So also are the words above, ver. 131, would make you split, which without the addition of the word laughter is not English. Rhyme conceals such defects; as observed before.
Ver. 154. They treat themselves] Literary history scarce affords a more ridiculous example of the vanity and self-applause of
Si taceas, laudant; quidquid scripsere, beati.
NOTES. authors than what is related of Cardinal Richelieu, (in the Melanges d'Histoire of M. de Vigneul Marville), whose tragedy of Europa having been censured by the French Academy, who did not know the author, the Cardinal, in a fit of indignation, tore the copy into a thousand pieces, scattered it about his chamber, and retired of rage to his bed. But at midnight called for light and for his attendant, and with great pains and difficulty, gathered up the fragments of his beloved play and carefully pasted them together.
Ver. 160. That wants or force,] These four words are a striking example of the energy and comprehensiveness of our Author's style; they contain almost a whole system of criticism.
Ver. 162. Nay tho' at Court] Not happily turned from intra penetralia Vestæ. -But he could not forbear a fling at the Court. In ver. 164, why in downright charity?
Ver. 164. revire the dead;} This revival of old words, says Dr. Hurd, is one of those niceties in composition, not to be attempted by any but great masters. It may be done two ways; 1. By restoring such terms as are grown entirely obsolete; or, 2. By selecting out of those, which have still a currency, and are not quite laid aside, such as are most forcible and expressive. For šo I understand a passage in Cicero, who uses this double use of old words, as an argument, to his orator, for the diligent study of the old Latin writers. · His words are these : “ Loquendi elegantia, quanquam expolitur scientia literarum, tamen augetur
'Tis to small
161 Nay tho’ at Court (perhaps) it may find grace :
: Such they'll degrade; and sometimes, in its stead, P In downright charity revive the dead; Mark where a bold expressive phrase appears, 165 Bright through the rubbish of some hundred years ;
legendis oratoribus (veteribus) et poetis : sunt enim illi veteres, qui ornare nondum poterant ea, quæ dicebant, omnes prope præclare locuti--Neque tamen erit utendum verbis iis, quibus jam consuetudo nostra non utitur, nisi quando ornandi causa, parce, quod ostendam; sed usitatis ita poterit uti, lectissimis ut utatur is, qui in veteribus erit scriptis studiose et multum volutatus. (De Orat. 1. iii. c. 10.) These choice words amongst such as are still in use,
I take to be those which are employed by the old writers in some peculiarly strong and energetic sense, yet so as with ad. vantage to be copied by the moderns, without appearing barbarous or affected. (See Hor. lib. ii. ver. 115.) And the reason, by the way, of our finding such words in the old writers of every language, may be this ; when ideas are new to us, they strike us most forcibly, and we endeavour to express, not our sense only, but our sensations, in the terms we use to explain them. The passion of wonder, which philosophy would cure us of, is of singular use in raising the conception, and strengthening the expression of poets. And such is always the condition of old writers, when the arts are reviving, or but beginning to refine. The other use of old terms, i. e. when become obsolete, he says, must be made parce, more sparingly. The contrary would, in oratory, be insufferable affectation. The rule holds in poetry, but with greater latitude ;
Nunc situs informis premit et deserta vetustas :
NOTES. for, as he observes in another place, and the reason of the thing speaks, hæc sunt poetarum licentiæ liberiora. (De 0. iii. 38.) But the elegance of the style, we are told, is increased both ways. The reason is, according to Quinctilian, (who was perfectly of Cicero's mind in this matter. See l. x. c. 1.) “Verba á vetustate repetita afferunt orationi majestatem aliquam non sine delecta. tione ; nam et auctoritatem antiquitatis habent; et, quia intermissa sunt, gratiam novitati similem parant."
Ver. 167. Command old words that long have slept, to wake,) The imagery is here very sublime. It turns the Poet to a Magician, evoking the dead from their sepulchres.
“ Et mugire solum, manesque exire sepulcris.” Horace has not the same force,
“ Proferet in lucem speciosa vocabula rerum." W. Ver. 167. old words] Mr. Harte told me he had often talked on this subject with his friend Pope, and the following was the result of their conversations : “That language of ours may be called Classical English, which is to be found in a few chosen writers inclusively from the times of Spenser till the death of Mr. Pope ; for false refinements, after a language has arisen to a certain degree of perfection, give reasons to suspect that a language is
the decline. The same circumstances have happened formerly, and the event has been almost invariably the same. Compare Statius and Claudian with Virgil and Horace ; and yet the former was, if one may so speak, immediate heir at law to the latter.
“I have known some of my contemporary poets (and those not very voluminous writers), who have coined their one or two hundred words a man; whereas Dryden and Pope devised only about threescore words between them; many of which were compound epithets. But most of the words which they introduced into our language, proved in the event to be vigorous and perennial plants, being chosen and raised from excellent off-sets. Indeed, the former Author revived also a great number of ancient words and expressions; and this he did (beginning at Chaucer) with so much delicacy of choice, and in a manner so compre
Command old words that long have slept, to wake, Words, that wise Bacon, or brave Raleigh spake;
hensive, that he left the latter Author (who was in that point equally judicious and sagacious) very little to do, or next to nothing.
“Some few of Dryden's revived words I have presumed to continue; of which take the following instances : as, gridéline, filamet, and carmine (with reference to colours and mixture of colours), cymar, eygre, trine, EYPHKA, paraclete, panoply, rood, dorp, eglantine, orisons, aspirations, &c. I mention this lest any one should be angry with me, or pleased with me in particular places, where I discover neither boldness nor invention.--I owe also to Fenton the participle meander'd; and to Sir W. Dave, nant the Latinism of funeral ILIÇET,
“As to compound-epithets, those ambitiosa ornamenta of modern poetry, Dryden has devised a few of them, with equal dif. fidence and caution ; but those few are exquisitely beautiful,
1 Mr. Pope seized on them as family diamonds, and added thereto an equal number, dug from his own mines, and heightened by his own polishing.
Compound-epithets first came into their great vogue about the year 1598. Shakspeare and Ben Jonson both ridiculed the ostentatious and immoderate use of them, in their prologues to Troilus and Cressida, and to Every Man in his Humour. By the above-named prologues it appears that bombast grew fashionable about the same era, Now in both instances an affected taste is the same as a false taste. The author of Hieronimo (who, I may venture to assure the reader, was one John Smith*) first led up
the dance. Then came the bold and self-sufficient translator of Du Bartast, who broke down all the flood-gates of the true stream of eloquence (which formerly preserved the river clear, within due bounds, and full to its banks), and like the rat in the low country diķes, mischievously or wantonly deluged the whole land.
“Of innovated phrases and words, of words revived, of compound-epithets, &c. I may one day or other say more, in a dis, tinct Criticism on Dryden's Poetry. It shall therefore only suf:
* John Smith writ also the Hector of Germany,