The works: in verse and prose, of Dr. Thomas Parnell, ... Enlarged with variations and poems, not before publish'd.
SEPT. 25. 1721.
- HESIOD, or the Riſe of Woman. PAGE 1
- Song. PAGE 11, 12, 13
- Anacreontic. PAGE 15, 17
- A Fairy Tale, in the antient Engliſh Style. PAGE 20
- The Vigil of Venus, written in the Time of Julius Caeſar, and by ſome aſcribed to Catullus. PAGE 29
- Battle of the Frogs and Mice. PAGE 43
- To Mr. Pope. PAGE 62
- Part of the firſt Canto of the Rape of the Lock, with a Tranſlation in Leonine Verſe, after the Manner of the antient Monks. PAGE 66
- Health; an Eclogue. PAGE 69
- The Flies; an Eclogue. PAGE 72
- An Elegy. To an old Beauty. PAGE 75
- The Book-Worm. PAGE 78
- An Allegory on Man. PAGE 82
- An Imitation of ſome French Verſes. PAGE 86
- A Night-Piece on Death. PAGE 89
- A Hymn to Contentment. PAGE 93
- The Hermit. PAGE 96
- VISION I. PAGE 109
- Viſion II. PAGE 116
- Viſion III. PAGE 123
- Viſion IV. PAGE 131
- Viſion V. PAGE 132
- [Page] The Life of Zoilus. To which is prefixed a Preface by the Author. PAGE 145
- The Remarks of Zoilus upon Homer's Battle of the Frogs and Mice. PAGE 177
- Variations. PAGE 203
- Bacchus, or the Vines of Leſbos. PAGE 211
- Elyſium. PAGE 215
- To Dr. Swift. PAGE 221
- Piety, or the Viſion. PAGE 225
- Ecſtaſy. PAGE 229
NAMES OF THE MICE.
- PSYCARPAX, One who plunders granaries.
- Troxartas, A bread-eater.
- Lychomile, A licker of meal.
- Pternotroctas, A bacon-eater.
- Lychopinax, A licker of diſhes.
- Embaſichytros, A creeper into pots.
- Lychenor, A name for licking.
- Troglodytes, one who runs into holes.
- Artophagus, Who feeds on bread.
- Tyroglyphus, A cheeſe ſcooper.
- Pternoglyphus, A bacon ſcooper.
- Pternophagus, A bacon-eater.
- Cniſſodioctes, One who follows the ſteam of kitchens.
- Sitophagus, An eater of wheat.
- Meridarpax, One who plunders his ſhare.
NAMES OF THE FROGS.
- PHYSIGNATHUS, One who ſwells his cheeks.
- Pelus, A name from mud.
- Hydromeduſe, A ruler in the waters.
- Hypſiboas, A loud bawler.
- Pelion, From mud.
- Seutlaeus, Call'd from the beets.
- Polyphonus, A great babbler.
- Lymnocharis, One who loves the lake.
- Crambophagus, Cabbage-eater.
- Lymniſius, Call'd from the lake.
- Calaminthius, From the herb.
- Hydrocharis, Who loves the water.
- Borborocates, Who lies in the mud.
- Praſſophagus, An eater of garlick.
- Peluſius, From mud.
- Pelobates, Who walks in the dirt.
- Praſſaens, Call'd from garlick.
- Craugaſides, From croaking.
1.12. PART OF THE FIRST CANTO OF THE RAPE OF THE LOCK. WITH A TRANSLATION IN LEONINE VERSE, AFTER THE MANNER OF THE ANCIENT MONKS.[Page 66]
OUR defects and follies are too often unknown to us; nay, they are ſo far from being known to us, that they paſs for demonſtrations of our worth. This makes us eaſy in the midſt of them, fond to ſhew them, fond to improve in them, and to be eſteemed for them. Then it is that a thouſand unaccountable conceits, gay inventions, and extravagant actions muſt afford us pleaſures, and diſplay as to others in the colours which we ourſelves take a fancy to glory in: and indeed there is ſomething ſo amuſing for the time in this ſtate of vanity and ill-grounded ſatisfaction, that even the wiſer world has choſen an exalted word to deſcribe its enchantments, and called it THE PARADISE OF FOOLS. Perhaps the latter part of this reflection may ſeem a falſe thought to ſome, and bear another turn [Page 110] than what I have given; but it is at preſent none of my buſineſs to look after it, who am going to confeſs that I have been lately amongſt them in a viſion.
Methought I was tranſported to a hill, green, flowery, and of an eaſy aſcent. Upon the broad top of it reſided ſquint-eyed ERROR, and popular OPINION with many heads; two that dealt in ſorcery, and were famous for bewitching people with the love of themſelves. To theſe repaired a multitude from every ſide, by two different paths which lead towards each of them. Some who had the moſt aſſuming air went directly of themſelves to ERROR, without expecting a conductor; others of a ſofter nature went firſt to popular OPINION, from whence as ſhe influenced and engaged them with their own praiſes, ſhe delivered them over to his government.
When we had aſcended to an open part of the ſummit where OPINION abode, we found her entertaining ſeveral who had arrived before us. Her voice was pleaſing; ſhe breathed odours as ſhe ſpoke: ſhe ſeemed to have a tongue for every one; every one thought he heard of ſomething that was valuable in himſelf, and expected a paradiſe which ſhe promiſed as the reward of his merit. Thus we were drawn to follow her, 'till ſhe ſhould bring us where it was to be beſtowed: and it was obſervable, that all the way we went, the company was either praiſing themſelves in their qualifications, or one another for thoſe qualifications which they [Page 111] took to be conſpicuous in their own characters, or diſpraiſing others for wanting theirs, or vying in the degrees of them.
At laſt we approached a bower, at the entrance of which ERROR was ſeated. The trees were thick woven, and the place where he ſat artfully contrived to darken him a little. He was diſguiſed in a whitiſh robe, which he had put on, that he might appear to us with a nearer reſemblance to TRUTH: and as ſhe has a light whereby ſhe manifeſts the beauties of nature to the eyes of her adorers, ſo he had provided himſelf with a magical wand, that he might do ſomething in imitation of it, and pleaſe with deluſions. This he liſted ſolemnly, and muttering to himſelf, bid the glories which he kept under enchantment to appear before us. Immediately we caſt our eyes on that part of the ſky to which he pointed, and obſerved a thin blue proſpect, which cleared as mountains in a Summer morning when the miſts go off, and the palace of VANITY appeared to ſight.
The foundation hardly ſeemed a foundation, but a ſet of curling clouds, which it ſtood upon by magical contrivance. The way by which we aſcended was painted like a rainbow; and as we went the breeze that played about us bewitched the ſenſes. The walls were gilded all for ſhow; the loweſt ſet of pillars were of the ſlight fine Corinthian order, and the top of the building being rounded, bore ſo far the reſemblance of a bubble.
[Page 112] At the gate the travellers neither met with a porter, nor waited 'till one ſhould appear; every one thought his merits a ſufficient paſſport, and preſſed forward. In the hall we met with ſeveral phantoms, that rov'd amongſt us, and rang'd the company according to their ſentiments. There was decreaſing HONOUR, that had nothing to ſhew in but an old coat of his anceſtor's atchievements: there was OSTENTATION, that made himſelf his own conſtant ſubject, and GALLANTRY strutting upon his tip-toes. At the upper end of the hall ſtood a throne, whoſe canopy glitter'd with all the riches that gayety could contrive to laviſh on it; and between the gilded arms ſat VANITY deck'd in the Peacock's feathers, and acknowledged for another Venus by her votaries. The boy who ſtood beſide her for a Cupid, and who made the world to bow before her, was called SELF-CONCEIT. His eyes had every now and then a caſt inwards, to the neglect of all objects about him; and the arms which he made uſe of for conqueſt, were borrowed from thoſe againſt whom he had a deſign. The arrow which he ſhot at the ſoldier, was fledg'd from his own plume of feathers; the dart he directed againſt the man of wit, was winged from the quills he writ with; and that which he ſent againſt thoſe who preſumed upon their riches, was headed with gold out of their treaſuries: he made nets for ſtateſmen from their own contrivances; he took fire from the eyes of ladies, with which he melted their [Page 113] hearts; and lightning from the tongues of the eloquent, to enflame them with their own glories. At the foot of the throne ſat three falſe Graces. FLATTERY with a ſhell of paint, AFFECTATION with a mirrour to practiſe at, and FASHION ever changing the poſture of her cloaths. Theſe applied themſelves to ſecure the conqueſts which SELF-CONCEIT had gotten, and had each of them their particular polities. FLATTERY gave new colours and complexions to all things; AFFECTATION new airs and appearances, which, as ſhe ſaid, were not vulgar; and FASHION both concealed ſome home defects, and added ſome foreign external beauties.
As I was reflecting upon what I ſaw, I heard a voice in the crowd, bemoaning the condition of mankind, which is thus managed by the breath of OPINION, deluded by ERROR, [...]ir'd by SELF-CONCEIT, and given up to be trained in all the courſes of VANITY, 'till SCORN or POVERTY come upon us. Theſe expreſſions were no ſooner handed about, but I immediately ſaw a general diſorder, till at laſt there was a parting in one place, and a grave old man, decent and reſolute, was led forward to be puniſhed for the words he had uttered. He appeared inclined to have ſpoken in his own defence, but I could not obſerve that any one was willing to hear him. VANITY caſt a ſcornful ſmile athim; SELF-CONCEIT was angry; FLATTERY, who knew him for PLAIN-DEALING, put on a vizard, and turned away; AFFECTATION toſſed her fan, made mouths, and called [Page 114] him ENVY or SLANDER; and FASHION would have it, that at leaſt he muſt be ILL-MANNERS. Thus ſlighted and deſpiſed by all, he was driven out for abuſing people of merit and figure; and I heard it firmly reſolved, that he ſhould be uſed no better where-ever they met with him hereafter.
I had already ſeen the meaning of moſt part of that warning which he had given, and was conſidering how the latter words ſhould be fulfilled, when a mighty noiſe was heard without, and the door was blackned by a numerous train of harpies crowding in upon us. FOLLY and BROKEN CREDIT were ſeen in the houſe before they entered. TROUBLE, SHAME, INFAMY, SCORN and POVERTY brought up the rear. VANITY, with her Cupid and Graces, diſappeared; her ſubjects ran into holes and corners; but many of them were found and carried off (as I was told by one who ſtood near me) either to priſons or cellars, ſolitude, or little company, the mean arts or the viler crafts of life. But theſe, added he with a diſdainful air, are ſuch who would fondly live here, when their merits neither matched the luſtre of the place, nor their riches its expences. We have ſeen ſuch ſcenes as theſe before now; the glory you ſaw will all return when the hurry is over. I thank'd him for his information, and believing him ſo incorrigible as that he would ſtay till it was his turn to be taken, I made off to the door, and overtook ſome few, who, though they would not hearken [Page 115] to PLAIN-DEALING, were now terrified to good purpoſe by the example of others: but when they had touched the threſhold, it was a ſtrange ſhock to them to find that the deluſion of ERROR was gone, and they plainly diſcerned the building to hang a little up in the air without any real foundation. At firſt we ſaw nothing but a deſperate leap remained for us, and I a thouſand times blamed my unmeaning curioſity that had brought me into ſo much danger. But as they began to ſink lower in their own minds, methought the palace ſunk along with us; till they were arrived at the due point of ESTEEM which they ought to have for themſelves; then the part of the building in which they ſtood touched the earth, and we departing out, it retired from our eyes. Now, whether they who ſtayed in the palace were ſenſible of this deſcent, I cannot tell; it was then my opinion that they were not. However it be, my dream broke up at it, and has given me occaſion all my life to reflect upon the fatal conſequences of following the ſuggeſtions of VANITY.
HOW are we tortured with the abſence of what we covet to poſſeſs, when it appears to be loſt to us! what excurſions does the ſoul make in imagination after it! and how does it turn into itſelf again, more fooliſhly fond and dejected, at the diſappointment! our grief, inſtead of having recourſe to reaſon, which might reſtrain it, ſearches to find a further nouriſhment. It calls upon memory to relate the ſeveral paſſages and circumſtances of ſatisfactions which we formerly enjoyed; the pleaſures we purchaſed by thoſe riches that are taken from us; or the power and ſplendour of our departed honours; or the voice, the words, the looks, the temper, and affections of our friends that are deceaſed. It needs muſt happen from hence, that the paſſion ſhould often ſwell to ſuch a ſize as to burſt the heart which contains it, if time did not make theſe circumſtances leſs ſtrong and lively, ſo that reaſon ſhould become a more equal match for the paſſion, or [Page 117] if another deſire which becomes more preſent did not overpower them with a livelier repreſentation. Theſe are thoughts which I had, when I fell into a kind of viſion upon this ſubject, and may therefore ſtand for a proper introduction to a relation of it.
I found myſelf upon a naked ſhore, with company whoſe afflicted countenances witneſſed their conditions. Before us flowed a water deep, ſilent, and called the river of TEARS, which iſſuing from two fountains on an upper ground, encompaſſed an iſland that lay before us. The boat which plied in it was old and ſhatter'd, having been ſometimes overſet by the impatience and haſte of ſingle paſſengers to arrive at the other ſide. This immediately was brought to us by MISFORTUNE who ſteers it, and we were all preparing to take our places, when there appeared a woman of a mild and compoſed behaviour, who began to deter us from it, by repreſenting the dangers which would attend our voyage. Hereupon ſome who knew her for PATIENCE, and ſome of thoſe too who 'till then cry'd the loudeſt, were perſuaded by her, and return'd back. The reſt of us went in, and ſhe (whoſe good-nature would not ſuffer her to forſake perſons in trouble) deſired leave to accompany us, that ſhe might at leaſt adminiſter ſome ſmall comfort or advice while we ſailed. We were no ſooner embarked but the boat was puſhed off, the ſheet was ſpread; and being filled with ſighs, which are the winds of that country, we made a paſſage to the farther [Page 118] bank thro' ſeveral difficulties of which t of us ſeem'd utterly regardleſs.
When we landed, we perceived the iſland to be ſtrangely over-caſt with fogs, which no brightneſs could pierce, ſo that a kind of gloomy horror ſat always brooding over it. This had ſomething in it very ſhocking to eaſy tempers, inſomuch that ſome others, whom PATIENCE had by this time gain'd over, left us here, and privily convey'd themſelves round the verge of the iſland to find a ford by which ſhe told them they might eſcape.
For my part, I ſtill went along with thoſe who were for piercing into the centre of the place; and joining ourſelves to others whom we found upon the ſame journey, we marched ſolemnly as at a funeral, thro' bordering hedges of roſemary, and thro' a grove of yew-trees, which love to over-ſhadow tombs and flouriſh in church-yards. Here we heard on every ſide the wailings and complaints of ſeveral of the inhabitants, who had caſt themſelves diſconſolately at the feet of trees; and as we chanc'd to approach any of theſe, we might perceive them wringing their hands, beating their breaſts, tearing their hair, or after ſome other manner viſibly agitated with vexation. Our ſorrows were heightened by the influence of what we heard and ſaw, and one of our number was wrought up to ſuch a pitch of wildneſs, as to talk of hanging himſelf upon a bough which ſhot temptingly a-croſs the path we travelled in; [Page 119] but he was reſtrain'd from it by the kind endeavours of our above-mentioned companion.
We had now gotten into the moſt duſky ſilent part of the iſland, and by the redoubled ſounds of ſighs, which made a doleful whiſtling in the branches, the thickneſs of air which occaſioned faintiſh reſpiration, and the violent throbbings of heart which more and more affected us, we found that we approach'd the GROTTO OF GRIEF. It was a wide, hollow, and melancholy cave, ſunk deep in a dale, and watered by rivulets that had a colour between red and black. Theſe crept ſlow, and half congealed amongſt its windings, and mixed their heavy murmur with the echo of groans that rolled thro' all the paſſages. In the moſt retired part of it ſat the DOLEFUL BEING herſelf; the path to her was ſtrewed with goads, ſtings, and thorns; and the throne on which ſhe ſat was broken into a rock with ragged pieces pointing upwards for her to lean upon. A heavy miſt hung above her, her head oppreſſed with it reclined upon her arm: thus did ſhe reign over her diſconſolate ſubjects, full of herſelf to ſtupidity, in eternal penſiveneſs, and the profoundeſt ſilence. On one ſide of her ſtood DEJECTION juſt dropping into a ſwoon, and PALENESS waſting to a ſkeleton; on the other ſide were CARE inwardly tormented with imaginations, and ANGUISH ſuffering outward TROUBLES to ſuck the blood from her heart in the ſhape of VULTURES. The whole vault had a genuine diſmalneſs in [Page 120] it, which a few ſcattered lamps, whoſe blueiſh flames aroſe and ſunk in their urns, diſcovered to our eyes with encreaſe. Some of us fell down, overcome and ſpent with what they ſuffer'd in the way, and were given over to thoſe tormenters that ſtood on either hand of the preſence; others, galled and mortified with pain, recover'd the entrance, where PATIENCE, whom we had left behind, was ſtill waiting to receive us.
With her (whoſe company was now become more grateful to us by the want we had found of her) we winded round the grotto, and aſcended at the back of it, out of the mournful dale in whoſe bottom it lay. On this eminence we halted, by her advice, to pant for breath; and liſting our eyes, which till then were fixed downwards, felt a ſullen ſort of ſatisfaction, in obſerving thro' the ſhades what numbers had entered the iſland. This ſatisfaction, which appears to have ill-nature in it, was excuſable, becauſe it happened at a time when we were too much taken up with our own concern, to have reſpect to that of others; and therefore we did not conſider them as ſuffering, but ourſelves as not ſuffering in the moſt forlorn eſtate. It had alſo the groundwork of humanity and compaſſion in it, though the mind was then too deeply engaged to perceive it; but as we proceeded onwards it began to diſcover itſelf, and from obſerving that others were unhappy, we came to queſtion one another, when it was that we met, and what were the ſad occaſions that [Page 121] brought us together. Then we heard our ſtories, we compared them, we mutually gave and received pity, and ſo by degrees became tolerable company.
A conſiderable part of the troubleſome road was thus deceived; at length the openings among the trees grew larger, the air ſeemed thinner, it lay with leſs oppreſſion upon us, and we could now and then diſcern tracts in it of a lighter greyneſs, like the breakings of day, ſhort in duration, much enlivening, and called in that country GLEAMS OF AMUSEMENT. Within a ſhort while theſe gleams began to appear more frequent, and then brighter and of a longer continuance; the SIGHS that hitherto filled the air with ſo much dolefulneſs, altered to the ſound of common breezes, and in general the horrors of the iſland were abated.
When we had arrived at laſt at the ford by which we were to paſs out, we met with thoſe faſhionable mourners who had been ferried over along with us, and who being unwilling to go as far as we, had coaſted by the ſhore, to find the place, where they waited our coming; that by ſhewing themſelves to the world only at that time when we did, they might ſeem alſo to have been among the troubles of the grotto. Here the waters, that rolled on the other ſide ſo deep and ſilent, were much dried up, and it was an eaſter matter for us to wade over.
The river being croſſed, we were received upon the further bank by our friends and acquaintance, whom [Page 122] COMFORT had brought out to congratulate our appearance in the world again. Some of theſe blamed us for ſtaying ſo long away from them, others adviſed us againſt all temptations of going back again; every one was cautious not to renew our trouble, by aſking any particulars of the journey; and all concluded, that in a caſe of ſo much affliction, we could not have made choice of a fitter companion than PATIENCE. Here PATIENCE, appearing ſerene at her praiſes, delivered us over to COMFORT. COMFORT ſmiled at his receiving the charge; immediately the ſky purpledon that ſide to which he turned, and double day at once broke in upon me.
Quid mentem traxiſſe polo, quid profuit altumErexiſſe caput? pecudum ſi more pererrant.CLAUD.
I Was conſidering laſt night, when I could not ſleep, how noble a part of the creation Man was deſign'd to be, and how diſtinguiſhed in all his actions above other earthly creatures. From whence I fell to take a view of the change and corruption which he has introduced into his own condition, the groveling appetites, the mean characters of ſenſe, and wild courſes of paſſions, that caſt him from the degree in which Providence had placed him, the debaſing himſelf with qualifications not his own, and his degenerating into a lower ſphere of action. This inſpired me with a mixture of contempt and anger; which, however, was not ſo violent as to hinder the return of ſleep, but grew confuſed as that came upon me, and made me end my [Page 124] reflections with giving mankind the opprobrious names of inconſiderate, mad and fooliſh.
Here methought, where my waking reaſon left the ſubject, my fancy purſued it in a dream; and I imagined myſelf in a loud ſoliloquy of paſſion, railing at my ſpecies, and walking hard to get rid of the company I deſpiſed; when two men who had over-heard me made up on either hand. Theſe I obſerved had many features in common, which might occaſion the miſtake of the one for the other in thoſe to whom they appear ſingle, but I, who ſaw them together, could eaſily perceive, that tho' there was an air of ſeverity in each, it was tempered with a natural ſweetneſs in the one, and by turns conſtrained or tuſſled by the deſigns of malice in the other.
I was at a loſs to know the reaſon of their joining me ſo briſkly, when he whoſe appearance diſpleaſed me moſt, thus addreſſed his companion. Pray, brother, let him alone, and we ſhall immediately ſee him tranſformed into a Tyger. This ſtruck me with horror, which the other perceived, and pitying my diſorder, bid me be of good courage, for tho' I had been ſavage in my treatment of mankind, (whom I ſhould rather reform than rail againſt) he would, however, endeavour to reſcue me from my danger. At this I looked a little more chearful, and while I teſtified my reſignation to him, ve ſaw the angry brother ſling away from us in a paſſion for his diſappointment. Being now left to my [Page 125] friend, I went back with him at his deſire, that might know the meaning of thoſe words which ſo affrightted me.
As we went along, to inform you, ſays he, with whom you have this adventure, my name is REPROOF and his REPROACH, both born of the ſame mother, but of different fathers. TRUTH is our common parent. FRIENDSHIP. who ſaw her, fell in love with her, and ſhe being pleaſed with him, he begat me upon her; but a while after ENMITY lying in ambuſh for her, became the father of him whom you ſaw along with me. The temper of our mother enclines us to the fame ſort of buſineſs, the informing mankind of their faults; but the differing complexions of our fathers make us differ in our deſigns and company. I have a natural benevolence in my mind which engages me with friends, and he a natural impetuoſity in his, which caſts him among enemies.
As he thus diſcourſed he came to a place where there were three entrances into as many ſeveral walks, which lay beſide one another. We paſſed into the middlemoſt, a plain, ſtrait, regular walk, ſet with trees, which added to the beauty of the place, but did not ſo cloſe their boughs over head as to exclude the light from it. Here as we walked I was made to obſerve, how the road on one hand was full of rocks and precipices, over which REPROACH (who had already gotten thither) was furiouſly driving unhappy wretches; the other ſide [Page 126] was all laid out in gardens of gaudy tulips, amongſt whoſe leaves the ſerpents wreath'd, and at the end of every graſſy walk the enchantreſs FLATTERY was weaving bowers to lull ſouls aſleep in. We continued ſtill walking on the middle way, 'till we arrived in a building in which it terminated. This was formerly erected by TRUTH for a watch tower, from whence ſhe took a view of the earth, and, as ſhe ſaw occaſion, ſent out REPROOF, or even REPROACH, for our reformation. Over the door I took notice that a face was carved with a heart upon the lips of it, and preſently call'd to mind that this was the ancients emblem of SINCERITY. In the entrance I met with FREEDOM OF SPEECH and COMPLAISANCE, who had for a long time looked upon one another as enemies; but REPROOF has ſo happily brought them together, that they now act as friends and fellow-agents in the ſame family. Before I aſcended up the ſtairs, I had my eyes purified by a water which made me ſee extremely clear, and I think they ſaid it ſprung in a pit, from whence (as Democritus had reported) they formerly brought up TRUTH, who had hid herſelf in it. I was then admitted to the upper chamber of proſpect, which was called THE KNOWLEDGE OF MANKIND; here the window was no ſooner opened but I perceived the clouds to roll off and part before me, and a ſcene of all the variety of the world preſented itſelf.
But how different was mankind in this view, from [Page 127] what it uſed to appear! methought the very ſhape of moſt of them was loſt; ſome had the heads of Dogs, others of Apes or Parrots, and in ſhort, where-ever any one took upon him the inferior and unworthy qualities of other creatures, the change of his ſoul became viſible in his countenance. The ſtrutting pride of him who is endued with brutality inſtead of courage, made his face ſhoot out in the form of a Horſe's; his eyes became prominent, his noſtrils widened, and his wig untying flowed down on one ſide of his neck in a waving mane. The talkativeneſs of thoſe who love the ill-nature of converſation made them turn into aſſemblies of Geeſe, their lips hardened into bills by eternal uſing, they gabbled for diverſion, they hiſs'd in ſcandal, and their ruffles falling back on their arms, a ſucceſſion of little feathers appeared, which formed wings for them to flutter with from one viſit to another. The envious and malicious lay on the ground with the heads of different ſorts of Serpents, and not endeavouring to erect themſelves, but meditating miſchief to others, they ſuck'd the poiſon of the earth, ſharpened their tongues to ſtings upon the ſtones, and rolled their trains unperceivably beneath their habits. The hypocritical oppreſſors wore the faces of Crocodiles, their mouths were inſtruments of cruelty, their eyes of deceit; they committed wickedneſs, and bemoaned that there ſhould be ſo much of it in the world; they devoured the unwary, and wept over the remains of them. [Page 128] The covetous had ſo hook'd and worn their fingers by counting intereſt upon intereſt, that they converted to the claws of Harpies, and theſe they ſtill were ſtretching out for more, yet ſeem'd unſatisfied with their acquiſitions. The ſharpers had the looks of Camelions; they every minute changed their appearance, and fed on ſwarms of Flies which fell as ſo many Collies amongſt them. The bully ſeemed a dunghil Cock, he creſted well, and bore his comb aloft; he was beaten by almoſt every one, yet ſtill ſung for triumph; and only the mean coward prick'd up the ears of a Hare to fly before him. Critics were turned into Cats, whoſe pleaſure and grumbling go together. Fopes were Apes in embroidered jackets. Flatterers were curled Spaniels, ſawning and crouching. The crafty had the face of a Fox, the ſlothful of an Aſs, the cruel of a Wolf, the ill-bred of a bear, the leachers were Goats, and the gluttons Swine. Drunkenneſs was the only vice that did not change the face of its profeſſors into that of another creature; but this I took to be far from a privilege, for theſe two reaſons; becauſe it ſufficiently deforms them of itſelf, and becauſe none of the lower ranks of beings is guilty of ſo fooliſh an intemperance.
As I was taking a view of theſe repreſentations of things, without any more order than is uſual in a dream, or in the confuſion of the world itſelf, I perceived a concern within me for what I ſaw; my eyes [Page 129] began to moiſten, and as if the virtue of that water with which they were purified was loſt for a time, by their being touched with that which aroſe from a paſſion, the clouds immediately began to gather again, and cloſe from either hand upon the proſpect I then turned towards my guide, who addreſſed himſelf to me after this manner. You have ſeen the condition of mankind when it deſcends from its dignity; now therefore guard yourſelf from that degeneracy by a modeſt greatneſs of ſpirit on one ſide, and a conſcious ſhame on the other. Endeavour alſo with a generoſity of goodneſs to make your friends aware of it; let them know what defects you perceive are growing upon them; handle the matter as you ſee reaſon, either with the airs of ſevere or humourous affection; ſometimes plainly deſcribing the degeneracy in its full proper colours, or at other times letting them know that if they proceed as they have begun, you give them to ſuch a day or ſo many months to turn Bears, Wolves, or Foxes, &c. Neither neglect your more remote acquaintance, where you ſee any worthy and ſuſceptible of admonition; expoſe the beaſts whoſe qualities you ſee them putting on, where you have no mind to engage with their perſons. The poſſibility of their applying this is very obvious: the Egyptians ſaw it ſo clearly, that they made the pictures of animals explain their minds to one another inſtead of writing; and [Page 130] indeed it is hardly to be miſſed, ſince Aeſop took them out of their mute condition, and taught them to ſpeak for themſelves with relation to the actions of mankind.
THERE is a ſett of mankind, who are wholly employed in the ill-natured office of gathering up a collection of ſtories that leſſen the reputation of others, and ſpreading them abroad with a certain air of ſatisfaction. Perhaps, indeed, an innocent and unmeaning curioſity, a deſire of being informed concerning thoſe we live with, or a willingneſs to proſit by reflection upon the actions of others, may ſometimes afford an excuſe, or ſometimes a defence, for inquiſitiveneſs; but certainly it is beyond all excuſe, a tranſgreſſion againſt humanity, to carry the matter further, to tear off the dreſſings, as I may ſay, from the wounds of a friend, and expoſe them to the air in cruel fits of diverſion; and yet we have ſomething more to bemoan, an outrage of an higher nature, which mankind is guilty of when they are not content to ſpread the ſtories of folly, frailty and vice, but even enlarge them, or invent new ones, and blacken characters that we may appear ridiculous, [Page 132] or hateful to one another. From ſuch practices as theſe it happens, that ſome feel a ſorrow, and others are agitated with a ſpirit of revenge; that ſcandals or lies are told, becauſe another has told ſuch before; that reſentments and quarrels ariſe, and injuries are given, received, and multiplied, in a ſcene of vengeance.
All this I have often obſerved with abundance of concern; and having a perfect deſire to further the happineſs of mankind, I lately ſet myſelf to conſider the cauſes from whence ſuch evils ariſe, and the remedies which may be applied. Whereupon I ſhut my eyes to prevent diſtraction from outward objects, and a while after ſhot away, upon an impulſe of thought, into the WORLD OF IDEAS, where abſtracted qualities became viſible in ſuch appearances as wer agreeable to each of their natures.
That part of the country, where I happened to light, was the moſt noiſy that I had ever known. The winds whiſtled, the leaves ruſtled, the brooks rumbled, the birds chatter'd, the tongues of men were heard, and the echo mingled ſomething of every ſound in its repetition, ſo that there was a ſtrange confuſion and uproar of ſounds about me. At length, as the noiſe ſtill encreaſed, I could diſcern a man habited like a herald (and as I afterwards underſtood) called NOVELTY, that came forward proclaiming a ſolemn day to be kept at the houſe of COMMON FAME. Immediately behind him [Page 133] advanced three nymphs, who had moſtrous appearances. The firſt of theſe was CURIOSITY, habited like a virgin, and having an hundred ears upon her head to ſerve in her inquiries. The ſecond of theſe was TALKATIVENESS, a little better grown, ſhe ſeemed to be like a young wife, and had an hundred tongues to ſpread her ſtories. The third was CENSORIOUSNESS, habited like a widow, and ſurrounded with an hundred ſquinting eyes of a malignant influence, which ſo obliquely darted on all around, that it was impoſſible to ſay which of them had brought in the informations ſhe boaſted of. Theſe, as I was informed, had been very inſtrumental in preſerving and rearing COMMON FAME, when upon her birth-day ſhe was ſhuffled into a crowd, to eſcape the ſearch which TRUTH might have made after her and her parents. CURIOSITY found here there, TALKATIVENESS convey'd her away, and CENSORIOUSNESS ſo nurſed her up, that in a ſhort time ſhe grew to a prodigious ſize, and obtained an empire over the univerſe; wherefore the POWER, in gratitude for theſe ſervices, has ſince advanced them to her higheſt employments. The next who came forward in this proceſſion was a light damſel, called CREDULITY, who carried behind them the lamp, the ſilver veſſel with a ſpout, and other inſtruments proper for this ſolemn occaſion. She had formerly ſeen theſe three together, and conjecturing from the number of their ears, tongues and eyes, that they might be the [Page 134] proper Genii of ATTENTION, FAMILIAR CONVERSE, and OCULAR DEMONSTRATION, ſhe from that time gave herſelf up to attend them. The laſt who followed were ſome who had cloſely muffled themſelves in upper garments, ſo that I could not diſcern who they were; but juſt as the ſoremoſt of them was come up, I am glad, ſays ſhe, calling me by my name, to meet you at this time, ſtay cloſe by me, and take a ſtrict obſervation of all that paſſes. Her voice was ſweet and commanding, I thought I had ſomewhere heard it; and from her, as I went along, I learned the meaning of every thing which offered.
We now marched forward thro' the ROOKERY OF RUMOURS, which flew thick and with a terrible din all around us. At length we arrived at the houſe of COMMON FAME, where a hecatomb of REPUTATIONS was that day to fall for her pleaſure. The houſe ſtood upon an eminence, having a thouſand paſſages to it, and a thouſand whiſpering holes for the conveyance of found. The hall we entered was formed with the art of a muſic chamber for the improvement of noiſes. REST and SILENCE are baniſhed the place. STORIES of different natures wander in light flocks all about, ſometimes truths and lies, or ſometimes lies themſelves claſhing againſt one another. In the middle ſtood a table painted after the manner of the remoteſt Aſiatic countries, upon which the lamp, the ſilver veſſel, and cups of a white earth, were planted in order. Then [Page 135] dried herbs were brought, collected for the ſolemnity in moon-ſhine, and water being put to them, there was a greeniſh liquor made, to which they added the flower of milk, and an extraction from the canes of America, for performing a libation to the infernal POWERS OF MISCHIEF. After this, CURIOSITY, retiring to a withdrawing-room, brought forth the VICTIMS, being to appearance a ſett of ſmall waxen images, which ſhe laid upon the table one after another. Immediately TALKATIVENESS gave each of them the name of ſome one, whom for the time they were to repreſent; and CENSORIOUSNESS ſtuck them all about with black pins, ſtill pronouncing at every one ſhe ſtuck, ſomething to the prejudice of the perſons repreſented. No ſooner were theſe rites performed, and incantations uttered, but the ſound of a ſpeaking trumpet was heard in the air, by which they knew the Deity of the place was propitiated and aſſiſting. Upon this the ſky grew darker, a ſtorm aroſe, and murmurs, ſighs, groans, cries, and the words of grief or reſentment were heard within it. Thus the three Sorcereſſes diſcovered, that they, whoſe names they had given to the images, were already affected with what was done to them in eſſigy. The knowledge of this was received with the loudeſt laughter, and in many congratulatory words they applauded one another's wit and power.
As matters were at this high point of diſorder, the [Page 136] muffled lady, whom I attended on, being no longer able to endure ſuch barbarous proceedings, threw off her upper garment of RESERVE, and appeared to be TRUTH. As ſoon as ſhe had confeſſed herſelf preſent, the ſpeaking trumpet ceas'd to ſound, the ſky cleared up, the ſtorm abated, the noiſes which were heard in it ended, the laughter of the company was over, and a ſerene light, till then unknown to the place, was diffuſed around it. At this the detected Sorcereſſes endeavoured to eſcape in a cloud which I ſaw began to thicken about them, but it was ſoon diſperſed, their charms being controuled and prevailed over by the ſuperior Divinity. For my part I was exceedingly glad to ſee it ſo, and began to conſider what puniſhments ſhe would inflict upon them. I fancied it would be proper to cut off CURIOSITY'S ears, and ſix them to the eaves of the houſes, to nail the tongue of TALKATIVENESS to Indian tables, and to put out the eyes of CENSORIOUSNESS with a flaſh of her light. In reſpect of CREDULITY I had indeed ſome little pity, and had I been judge, ſhe might, perhaps, have eſcaped with a hearty reproof.
But I ſoon found that the diſcerning Judge had other deſigns, ſhe knew, them for ſuch as will not be deſtroyed entirely while mankind is in being, and yet ought to have a brand and puniſhment affixed to them that they may be avoided. Wherefore ſhe took a ſeat for judgment, and had the Criminals brought forward [Page 137] by SHAME ever bluſhing, and TROUBLE with a whip of many laſhes, two phantoms who had dogged the Proceſſion in diſguiſe, and waited till they had an authority from TRUTH to lay hands upon them. Immediately then ſhe ordered CURIOSITY and TALKATIVENEES to be fettered together, that the one ſhould never ſuffer the other to reſt, nor the other ever let her remain undiſcovered. Light CREDULITY ſhe linkt to SHAME at the tormenter's own requeſt, who was pleaſed to be thus ſecure that her priſoner ſhould not eſcape; and this was done partly for her puniſhment, and partly for her amendment. CENSORIOUSNESS was alſo in like manner begged by TROUBLE, and had her aſſign'd for an eternal companion. After they were thus chain'd with one another, by the judge's order, ſhe drove them from the preſence to wander for ever thro' the world, with NOVELTY ſtalking before them.
The cauſe being now over, ſhe retreated from ſight within the ſplendor of her own glory, which leaving the houſe it had brightned, the ſounds that were proper to the place began to be as loud and conſuſed as when we entered, and there being no longer a clear diſtinguiſhed appearance of any objects repreſented to me, I returned from the excurſion I had made in fancy.
WHATEVER induſtry and eagerneſs the modern diſcoverers have ſhewn for the knowledge of new countries, there yet remains an ample field in the creation to which they are utter ſtrangers, and which all the methods of travelling hitherto invented, will never bring them acquainted with. Of this I can give a very particular inſtance in an accident which lately happened to me.
As I was on the 6th of this inſtant, being February 1715, walking with my eyes caſt upward, I fell into a reflection on the vaſt tracts of air which appear'd before me as uninhabited. And wherefore, ſaid I to myſelf, ſhou'd all this ſpace be created? can it only be for an odd bird to fly through, as now and then a man may paſs a deſart? Or are there alſo kingdoms with their particular polities and people of a ſpecies which we know nothing of, ordain'd to live in it?
It was in this manner I continued my thought, when my feet forſook the level, and I was inſenſibly mounted in the air, till I arriv'd at a footing as firm [Page 139] and level as what I had left. But with what ſurprize did I find myſelf among creatures diſtinct from us in ſhape and cuſtoms?
The inhabitants are of a ſmall ſtature, below thoſe which hiſtory deſcribes for Pigmies. The talleſt of them exceed not fourteen or fifteen inches, and the leaſt are hardly three. This difference proceeds only from their growth before they are brought to light; for after we never obſerve them to grow, unleſs it pleaſe their parents, who have this uncommon method of enabling them: they recall them to the womb, where having been for ſome time, they receive an addition to their bulk, then go back to their houſes, and continue at a ſtand as they did before. The experiment has been often try'd with ſucceſs, but ſome have ſuffered extremely by undergoing it.
Their ſkins are like the ancient Britain, all drawn over with a variety of figures. The colour made uſe of for this end, is generally black. I have indeed obſerved in ſome of the religious, and lawyers of the country, red here and there intermingled, tho' not ſo commonly of late. They tell me too, they often us'd to paint with all colours; and I viſited two or three of the old inhabitants, who were adorn'd in that faſhion: but this is now diſuſed, ſince the new inventions, by which the uſe of a black fountain that belongs to that country, is render'd more uſeful and ſerviceable.
The Cloaths in which they go clad, are the ſkins [Page 140] of beaſts; worn by ſome plain, by others with figure: wrought upon them. Gold is alſo made uſe of by ſome, to beautify their apparel; but very ſeldom ſilver, unleſs, as buckles are by us, for faſtening the garment before. I have ſeen ſome of them go like ſeamen in thin blue ſhirts, others like Indians in a party-colour'd looſe kind of apparel, and others who they told me were the Politicians of the country, go about ſtark naked.
The manner of dreſſing them is this: at firſt when they come into the world, they have a ſuit given them, which if it do not fit exactly, is not, as with us, fitted up again, but the children are in a cruel manner cut and ſqueez'd to bring them to its proportion. Yet this they ſeem not much to regard, provided their principal parts are not affected. When the dreſs is thus ſettled on them, they are clad for life, it being ſeldom their cuſtom to alter it, or put it off: in ſhort, they live in it night and day, and wear it to rags rather than part with it, being ſure of the ſame torture, and a greater danger if they ſhould be dreſs'd a ſecond time. I have further taken notice, that they delight to go open breaſted, moſt of them ſhewing their boſoms ſpeckled. Some Lawyers indeed wear them quite white, perhaps for diſtinction ſake, or to be known at a diſtance. But the fineſt ſhew is among the beaux and ladies, who mightily affect ſomething of gold, both before and behind them.
Food I never ſaw them eat; they being a people, [Page 141] who, as I obſerved, live in air: their houſes are all ſingle and high, having no back rooms, but frequently ſeven or eight ſtories, which are all ſeparate houſes above one another. They have one gate to their city, and generally no doors to their houſes; tho' I have ſometimes ſeen them have particular doors, and even made of glaſs, where the inhabitants have been obſerv'd to ſtand many days, that their fine apparel may be ſeen thro' them. If at any time they lie down, which they do when they come from their habitations (as if coming abroad were their greateſt fatigue) they will lie together in heaps without receiving hurt: though the ſoundeſt ſleep they get, is when they can have duſt enough to cover them over.
The females amongſt them are but few, nothing being there produced by a marriage of ſexes. The males are of a different ſtrength or endowment of parts, ſome having knowledge in an extream degree, and others none at all; yet at the ſame time, they are mighty pretenders to inſtruct others. Their Names, (for as many as wou'd diſcover them to me) I obſerv'd to be the very ſame as ours are upon earth; I met a few who made theirs a myſtery, but why, I am yet to learn. They are ſo communicative, that they will tell all the knowledge they boaſt, if a ſtranger apply himſelf to their converſation: and this may be worth his while, if he conſiders that all languages, arts, and ſciences, are profeſt amongſt them. I think I may ſay it without [Page 142] vanity, that I knew a certain Taliſman, with proper figures and characters inſcrib'd, whereby their greateſt people may be charm'd, brought to reſide with a man, and ſerve him like a familiar in the conduct of life.
There is no ſuch thing as fighting amongſt them, but their controverſies are determin'd by words, wherein they ſeldom own themſelves conquer'd, yet proceed no further than two or three replies: perhaps indeed two others take up their neighbour's quarrel, but then they deſiſt too after the ſame manner; ſometimes however, blows have enſu'd upon their account, though not amongſt them: in ſuch a caſe they have deſcended to inſpire mankind with their ſentiments, and choſen champions from among us, in order to decide it.
The time of their life is very different, ſome die as ſoon as born, and others in their youth; ſome get a new leaſe of life by their entring into the womb again, and if any weather it out to a hundred years, they generally live on to an extreme age. After which it is remarkable, that inſtead of growing weaker as we do, by time, they increaſe in ſtrength, and become at laſt ſo confirm'd in health, that it is the opinion of their country, they never can periſh while the world remains.
The ſickneſſes which may take them of, beſides what happens from their natural weakneſs of body, are of different ſorts. One is over-moiſture, which affecting their manſions; makes them loſe their complexions, [Page 143] become deform'd, and rot away inſenſibly: this is often obviated by their not keeping too much within doors. Another is the Worms, which prey upon their bowels: if they be maimed by accidents, they become like us, ſo far uſeleſs; and that maim will ſome time or other be the occaſion of their ruin. However, they periſh by theſe means only in appearance, and like ſpirits, who vaniſh in one place, to be ſeen in another. But as men die of paſſions, ſo Diſeſteem is what the moſt nearly touches them; then they withdraw into holes and corners, and conſume away in darkneſs. Or if they are kept alive a few days by the force of Spices, it is but a ſhort reprieve from their periſhing to eternity; without any honour, but that inſtead of a burial, a ſmall pyre of Paſt ſhould be erected over them, while they, like the antient Romans, are reduc'd to aſhes.1
HAVING ſome time ago heard, that the Tranſlation of HOMER'S ILIAD would be attempted, I reſolv'd to confer with the gentleman who undertook it. I found him of a tall preſence, and thoughtful countenance, with his hands folded, his eyes fix'd, and his beard untrimm'd. This I took to be a good omen, becauſe he thus reſembled the Conſtantinopolitan ſtatue of Homer which Cedrenus deſcribes; and ſurely nothing cou'd have been liker, had he but arriv'd at the character of age and blindneſs. As my buſineſs was to be my introduction, I told him how much I was acquainted with the ſecret hiſtory of Homer; that no one better knows his own horſe, than I do the camel of Bactria, in which his ſoul reſided at the time of the Trojan wars; that my acquaintance continued with him, as he appear'd in the perſon of the Grecian poet; that I knew him in his next tranſmigration into a peacock; was pleas'd with his return to manhood, under the name of Ennius at Rome; and more pleas'd to hear he wou'd ſoon revive under another name, with all his full luſtre, in England. This particular knowledge, added I, which ſprung from the love I bear him, has made me fond of a converſation with you, in order to the ſucceſs of your tranſlation.
The civil manner in which he received my propoſal encouraging me to proceed, I told him, there were arts of ſucceſs, as well as merits to obtain it; and that he, who now dealt in Greek, ſhould not only ſatisfy himſelf with being a good Grecian, but alſo contrive to haſten into the repute of it. He might therefore write in the title-page, TRANSLATED FROM THE ORIGINAL GREEK, and ſelect a motto for his purpoſe out of the ſame language. He might obtain a copy of verſes written in it to prefix to the work; and not call the titles of each book, the firſt, and ſecond, but ILIAD ALPHA, and BETA. He might retain ſome names which the world is leaſt acquainted with, as his old tranſlator Chapman uſes Ephaiſtus [Page 148] inſtead of Vulcan, Baratrum for Hell; and if the notes were filled with Greek verſes, it wou'd more increaſe the wonder of many readers. Thus I went on; when he told me ſmiling, I had ſhewn him indeed a ſet of arts very different from merit, for which reaſon, he thought, he ought not to depend upon them. A ſucceſs, ſays he, founded on the ignorance of others, may bring a temporary advantage, but neither a conſcious ſatisfaction, nor future fame to the author. Men of ſenſe deſpiſe the affectation which they eaſily ſee through, and even they who were dazzled with it at firſt, are no ſooner inform'd of its being an affectation, but they imagine it alſo a veil to cover imperfection.
The next point I ventur'd to ſpeak on, was the ſort of poetry he intended to uſe; how ſome may fancy, a poet of the greateſt fire would be imitated better in the freedom of blank verſe, and the deſcription of war ſounds more pompous out of rhime. But, will the tranſlation, ſaid he, be thus remov'd enough from proſe, without greater inconveniences? what tranſpoſitions is Milton forc'd to, as an equivalent for want of rhime, in the poetry of a language which depends upon a natural order of words? And even this would not have done his buſineſs, had he not given the fulleſt ſcope to his genius, by chuſing a ſubject upon which there could be no hyperboles. We ſee (however he be deſervedly ſucceſsful) that the ridicule of his manner ſucceeds better than the imitation of it; becauſe tranſpoſitions, which are unnatural to a language, are to be fairly derided, if they ruin it by being frequently introduced; and becauſe hyperboles, which outrage every leſſer ſubject where they are ſeriouſly us'd, are often beautiful in ridicule. Let the French, whoſe language is not copious, tranſlate in proſe; but ours, which exceeds it in copiouſneſs of words, may have a more frequent likeneſs of ſounds, to make the uniſon or rhime eaſier; a grace of muſic, that atones for the harſhneſs our conſonants and monoſyllables occaſion.
After this, I demanded what air he would appear with? whether antiquated, like Chapman's Verſion, or modern, like [Page 149] La Motte's Contraction. To which he anſwer'd, by deſiring me to obſerve what a painter does who would always have his pieces in faſhion. He neither chuſes to draw a beauty in a ruff, or a French-head; but with its neck uncover'd, and in its natural ornament of hair curl'd up, or ſpread becomingly ſo may a writer chuſe a natural manner of expreſſing himſelf which will always be in faſhion, without affecting to borrow an odd ſolemnity and unintelligible pomp from the paſt times, or humouring the preſent by falling into its affectations, and thoſe phraſes which are born to die with it.
I aſk'd him, laſtly, whether he would be ſtrictly literal, or expatiate with further licences? I would not be literal, replies he, or ty'd up to line for line in ſuch a manner wherein it is impoſſible to expreſs in one language what has been deliver'd in another. Neither wou'd I ſo expatiate, as to alter my Author's ſentiments, or add others of my own. Theſe errors are to be avoided on either hand, by adhering not only to the word, but the ſpirit and genius of an author; by conſidering what he means, with what beautiful manner he has expreſs'd his meaning in his own tongue, and how he wou'd have expreſs'd himſelf, had it been in ours. Thus we ought to ſeek for Homer in a verſion of Homer: other attempts are but transformations of him; ſuch as Ovid tells us, where the name is retain'd, and the thing alter'd: this will be really what you mention'd in the compliment you began with, a tranſmigration of the Poet from one country into another.
Here ended the ſerious part of our conference. All I remember further was, that having aſk'd him, what he deſign'd with all thoſe editions and comments I obſerv'd in his room he made anſwer, that if any one, who had a mind to find fault with his performance, wou'd but ſtay 'till it was entirely finiſh'd, he ſhou'd have a very cheap bargain of them.
Since this diſcourſe, I have often reſolv'd to try what it was to tranſlate in the ſpirit of a writer, and at laſt, choſe THE BATTLE OF THE FROGS AND MICE, which is aſcrib'd to Homer; and bears a nearer reſemblance, to his Iliad, than [Page 150] the Culex does to the Acneid of Virgil. Statius and others think it a work of youth, written as a prelude to his greater poems. Chapman thinks it the work of his age, after he found men ungrateful; to ſhew he cou'd give ſtrength, lineage and fame as he pleas'd, and praiſe a Mouſe as well as a Man. Thus, ſays he, the Poet profeſſedly flung up the world, and apply'd himſelf at laſt to hymns. Now, tho' this reaſon of his may be nothing more than a ſcheme form'd out of the order in which Homer's works are printed, yet does the conjecture that this poem was written after the Iliad, appear probable, becauſe of its frequent alluſions to that poem; and particularly that there is not a Frog or a Mouſe kill'd, which has not its parallel inſtance there, in the death of ſome warrior or other.
The poem itſelf is of the Epic kind; the time of its action the duration of two days; the ſubject (however its nature frivolous, or ridiculous) rais'd, by having the moſt ſhining words and deeds of Gods and Heroes accommodated to it: and while other poems often compare the illuſtrious exploits of great men to thoſe of brutes, this always heightens the ſubject by compariſons drawn from things above it. We have a great character given it with reſpect to the fable in Gaddius de Script non Eccleſ. It appears, ſays he, nearer perfection than the Iliad, or Odyſſes, and excels both in judgment, wit, and exquiſite texture, ſince it is a poem perfect in its own kind. Nor does Cruſius ſpeak leſs to its honour, with reſpect to the moral, when he cries out in an apoſtrophe to the reader; ‘Whoever you are, mind not the names of theſe little animals, but look into the things they mean; call them men, call them kings, or counſellors, or human polity itſelf, you have here doctrines of every ſort.’ And indeed, when I hear the Frog talk concerning the Mouſe's family, I learn, equality ſhou'd be obſerv'd in making friendſhips; when I hear the Mouſe anſwer the Frog, I remember, that a ſimilitude of manners ſhou'd be regarded in them; when I ſee their councils aſſembling, I think of the buſtles of human prudence: [Page 151] and when I ſee the battle grow warm and glorious, our ſtruggles for honour and empire appear before me.
But as I am averſe from all information which leſſens our ſurprize, I only mention theſe for a handle to quarrel with the cuſtom of long arguments before a poem. It may be neceſſary in books of controverſy or abſtruſe learning, to write an epitome before each part; but it is not kind to foreſtal us in the work of fancy, and make our attention remiſs, by a previous account of the end of it.
The next thing which employ'd my thoughts was the heroes names. It might perhaps take off ſomewhat from the majeſty of the poem, had I caſt away ſuch noble ſounds as, Phyſignathus, Lycopinax, and Crambophagus, to ſubſtitute Bluffcheek, Lickdiſh and Cabbage-eater in their places. It is for this reaſon I have retain'd them untranſlated: however, I place them in Engliſh before the poem, and ſometimes give [Page 152] a ſfort character extracted out of their names; as in Polyphonus, Pternophagus, &c. that the reader may not want ſome light of their humour in the original.
But what gave me a greater difficulty was, to know how I ſhou'd follow the poet, when he inſerted pieces of lines from his Iliad, and ſtruck out a ſprightlineſs by their new application. To ſupply this in my tranſlation, I have added one or two of Homer's particularities; and us'd two or three alluſions to ſome of our Engliſh poets who moſt reſemble him, to keep up ſome image of this ſpirit of the original with an equivalent beauty. To uſe more, might make my performance ſeem a cento rather than a tranſlation, to thoſe who know not the neceſſity I lay under.
I am not ignorant, after all my care, how the world receives the beſt compoſitions of this nature. A man need only go to a painter's, and apply what he hears ſaid of a picture to a tranſlation, to find how he ſhall be us'd upon his own, or his author's account. There one ſpectator tells you, a piece is extremely fine, but he ſets no value on what is not like the face it was drawn for; while a ſecond informs you, ſuch another is extremely like, but he cares not for a piece of deformity, tho' its likeneſs be never ſo exact.
Yet notwithſtanding all which happens to the beſt, when I tranſlate, I have a deſire to be reckon'd amongſt them; and I ſhall obtain this, if the world will be ſo good-natur'd as to believe writers that give their own characters: upon which preſumption, I anſwer to all objections beforehand, as follows:
When I am literal, I regard my author's words; when I am not, I tranſlate in his ſpirit. If I am low, I chuſe the narrative ſtyle; if high, the ſubject requir'd it. When I am enervate, I give an inſtance of ancient ſimplicity; when affected, I ſhow a point of modern delicacy. As for beauties, there never can be one found in me which was not really intended; and for any faults, they proceeded from too unbounded fancy, or too nice judgment, but by no means from any defect in either of thoſe faculties.
THEY who have diſcours'd concerning the nature and extent of criticiſm, take notice, that editions of authors, the interpretations of them, and the judgment which is paſs'd upon each, are the three branches into which the art divides itſelf. But the laſt of theſe, that directs in the choice of books, and takes care to prepare us for reading them, is by the learned Bacon call'd the Chair of the Critics. In this chair (to carry on the figure) have ſate Ariſtotle, Demetrius Phaleraeus, Dionyſius Halicarnaſſenſis, Cicero, Horace, Quintilian, and Longinus; all great names of antiquity, the cenſors of thoſe ages which went before, and the directors of thoſe that come after them, with reſpect to the natural and perſpicuous manners of thought and a expreſſion, by which a correct and [Page 154] judicious genius may be able to write for the pleaſure and profit of mankind.
But whatever has been advanc'd by men really great in themſelves, has been alſo attempted by others of capacities either unequal to the undertaking, or which have been corrupted by their paſſions, and drawn away into partial violences: ſo that we have ſometimes ſeen the province of Criticiſm uſurp'd, by ſuch who judge with an obſcure diligence, and a certain dryneſs of underſtanding, incapable of comprehending a figurative ſtile, or being mov'd by the beauties of imagination; and at other times by ſuch, whoſe natural moroſeneſs in general, or particular deſigns of envy, has render'd them indefatigable againſt the reputation of others.
In this laſt manner is ZOILUS repreſented to us by antiquity, and with a character ſo abandon'd, that his name has been ſince made uſe of to brand all ſucceeding critics of his complexion. He has a load of infamy thrown upon him, great, in proportion to the fame of HOMER, againſt whom he oppos'd himſelf: if the one was eſteem'd as the very reſidence of wit, the other is deſcrib'd as a profligate, who wou'd deſtroy the temple of Apollo and the Muſes, in order to have his memory preſerv'd by the envious action. I imagine it maybe no ungrateful undertaking to write ſome account of this celebrated perſon, from whom ſo many derive their character; and I think the life of a Critic [Page 155] is not unſeaſonably put before the works of his Poet, eſpecially when his cenſures accompany him. If what he advances be juſt, he ſtands here as a cenſor; if otherwiſe, he appears as an addition to the poet's fame, and is placed before him with the juſtice of antiquity in its ſacrifices, when, becauſe ſuch a beaſt had offended ſuch a deity, he was brought annually to his altar to be ſlain upon it.
ZOILUS us was born at Amphipolis a city of Thrace, during the time in which the Macedonian empire flouriſh'd. Who his parents were, is not certainly known; but if the appellation of Thracian Slave, which the world apply'd to him, be not merely an expreſſion of contempt, it proves him of mean extraction. He was a diſciple of one Polycrates a ſophiſt, who had diſtinguiſh'd himſelf by writing againſt the great names of the ages before him; and who, when he is mention'd as his maſter, is ſaid to be particularly famous for a bitter accuſation or invective againſt the memory of Socrates. In this manner is ZOILUS ſet out to poſterity, like a plant naturally baneful, and having its poiſon render'd more acute and ſubtle by a preparation.
In his perſon he was tall and meagre, his complexion was pale, and all the motions of his face were ſharp. He is repreſented by Aelian, with a beard nouriſh'd to a prodigious length, and his head kept cloſe ſhav'd, to give him a magiſterial appearance: his coat hung over his knees in a ſlovenly faſhion; his manners [Page 156] were form'd upon an averſion to the cuſtoms of the world. He was fond of ſpeaking ill, diligent to ſow diſſenſion, and from the conſtant bent of his thought, had obtain'd that ſort of readineſs for ſlander or reproach, which is eſteem'd wit by the light opinion of ſome, who take the remarks of ill-nature, for an underſtanding of mankind, and the abrupt laſhes of rudeneſs for the ſpirit of expreſſion. This, at laſt, grew to ſuch a height in him, that he became careleſs of concealing it; he threw off all reſerves and managements in reſpect of others, and the paſſion ſo far took the turn of a frenzy, that being one day ask'd, why he ſpoke ill of every one? ‘It is (ſays he) becauſe I am not able to do them ill, tho' I have ſo great a mind to it.’ Such extravagant declarations of his general enmity made men deal with him as with the creature he affected to be; they no more ſpoke of him as belonging to the ſpecies he hated; and from henceforth his learned ſpeeches or fine remarks cou'd obtain no other title for him, but that of THE RHETORICAL DOG.
While he was in Macedon he employ'd his time in writing, and reciting what he had written in the ſchools of ſophiſts. His oratory (ſays Dionyſius Halicarnaſſenſis) was always of the demonſtrative kind, which concerns itſelf about praiſe or diſpraiſe. His ſubjects were the moſt approv'd authors, whom he choſe to abuſe upon the account of their reputation; and to [Page 157] whom, without going round the matter in faint praiſes or artificial inſinuations, he us'd to deny their own characteriſtics. With this gallantry of oppoſition did he cenſure Xenophon for affectation, Plato for vulgar notions, and Iſocrates for incorrectneſs. Demoſthenes, in his opinion, wanted fire, Ariſtotle ſubtilty, and Ariſtophanes humour. But, as to have reputation was with him a ſufficient cauſe of enmity, ſo to have that reputation univerſal, was what wrought his frenzy to its wildeſt degree; for which reaſon it was HOMER with whom he was moſt implacably angry. And certainly, if envy chooſe its object for the power to give torment, it ſhou'd here (if ever) have the glory of fully anſwering its intentions; for the Poet was ſo worſhip'd by the whole age, that his Critic had not the common alleviation of the opinion of one other man, to concur in his condemnation.
ZOILUS however went on with indefatigable induſtry in a voluminous work, which he intitled, THE [...], or CENSURE OF HOMER: 'till having at laſt finiſh'd it, he prepares to ſend it into the world with a pompous title at the head, invented for himſelf by way of excellency, and thus inſerted after the manner of the ancients.‘ZOILUS, the ſcourge of HOMER, writ this againſt that lover of fables.’
- IL. 1. He ſays, HOMER is very ridiculous (a word he was noted to apply to him) when he makes ſuch a God as APOLLO employ himſelf in killing dogs and mules.
- IL. 5. HOMER is very ridiculous in deſcribing DIOMEDES' helmet and armour, as ſparkling, and in a blaze of fire about him; for then why was he not burn'd by it?
- IL. 5. When IDAEUS quitted his fine chariot, which was entangl'd in the fight, and for which he might have been ſlain, the Poet was a fool for making him leave his chariot, he had better have run away in it.
- IL. 24. When ACHILLES makes PRIAM lie out of his tent, leſt the Greeks ſhou'd hear of his being there, the Poet had no breeding, to turn a king out in that manner.
- OD. 9. The Poet ſays, ULYSSES loſt an equal number out of each ſhip. The Critic ſays, that's impoſſible.
- OD. 10. He derides the men who were turn'd into ſwine, and calls them HOMER'S poor little blubbering pigs. The firſt five of theſe remarks are found in DIDYMUS, the laſt in LONGINUS.
[Page 159] Such as theſe are the cold jeſts and trifling quarrels, which have been regiſtred from a compoſition, that (according to the repreſentation handed down to us) was born in envy, liv'd a ſhort life in contempt, and lies for ever bury'd with infamy.
But, as his deſign was judg'd by himſelf wonderfully well accompliſh'd, Macedon began to be eſteem'd a ſtage too narrow for his glory; and Egypt, which had then taken learning into its patronage, the proper place where it ought to diffuſe its beams, to the ſurprize of all whom he wou'd perſuade to reckon themſelves hitherto in the dark, and under the prejudices of a falſe admiration. However, as he had prepar'd himſelf for the journey, he was ſuddenly diverted for a while by the rumour of the Olympic games, which were at that time to be celebrated. Thither he ſteer'd his courſe, full of the memory of Herodotus, and others who had ſucceſsfully recited in that large aſſembly; and pleas'd to imagine he ſhou'd alter all Greece in their notions of wit before he left it.
Upon his arrival, he found the field in its preparation for diverſion. The chariots ſtood for the race, carv'd and gilded, the horſes were led in coſtly trappings, ſome practis'd to wreſtle, ſome to dart the ſpear, (or whatever they deſign'd to engage at) in a kind of flouriſh beforehand: others were looking on, to amuſe themſelves; and all gaily dreſs'd, according to the cuſtom of thoſe places. Through theſe did ZOITUS move [Page 160] forward, bald-headed, bearded to the middle, its a long ſad-colour'd veſtment, and inflexibly ſtretching forth his hands fill'd with volumes roll'd up to a vaſt thickneſs: a figure moſt venerably ſlovenly! able to demand attention upon account of its oddneſs. And indeed, he had no ſooner fix'd himſelf upon an eminence, but a crowd flock'd about him to know what he intended. Then the Critic caſting his eyes on the ring, open'd his volume ſlowly, as conſidering with what part be might moſt properly entertain his audience. It happen'd, that the games at Patroclus' obſequies came firſt into his thought; whether it was that he judg'd it ſuitable to the place, or knew that he had fall'n as well upon the games themſelves, as upon HOMER for celebrating them, and cou'd not reſiſt his natural diſpoſition to give mankind offence. Every one was now intently faſten'd upon him, while he undertook to prove, that thoſe games ſignify'd nothing to the taking of Troy, and therefore only furniſh'd an impertinent Epiſode: that the fall of the leſſer Ajax in cow-dung, the ſquabble of the chariot-race, and other accidents which attend ſuch ſports, are mean or trifling: and a world of other remarks, for which he ſtill affirm'd HOMER to be a fool, and which they that heard him took for ſtudy'd invectives againſt thoſe exerciſes they were then employ'd in. Men who frequent ſports, as they are of a chearful diſpoſtion, ſo are they lovers of poetry: this, together with the opinion they were affronted, [Page 161] wrought them up to impatience and further licences: there was particularly a young Athenian gentleman, who was to run three chariots in thoſe games, who being an admirer of HOMER, could no longer contain himſelf, but cry'd out, ‘What in the name of CASTOR have we here, ZOILUS from Thrace?’ and as he ſaid it, ſtruck him with a chariot-whip. Immediately then a hundred whips were ſeen curling round his head; ſo that his face, naturally deform'd, and heighten'd by pain to its utmoſt Caricatura, appear'd in the midſt of them, as we may fancy the viſage of Envy, if at any time her ſnakes riſe in rebellion to laſh their miſtreſs. Nor was this all the puniſhment they decreed him, when once they imagin'd he was ZOILUS: the Scyronian rocks were near 'em, and thither they hurried him with a general cry, to that ſpeedy juſtice which is practis'd at places of diverſion.
It is here, that, according to SUIDAS, the critic expir'd. But we following the more numerous teſtimonies of other authors, conclude he eſcap'd either by the lowneſs of thoſe rocks whence he was thruſt, or by buſhes which might break his fall; and ſoon after following the courſes of his firſt intention, he ſet ſail for Egypt.
Egypt was at this time govern'd by Ptolemy Philadelphus, a prince paſſionately fond of learning, and learned men; particularly an admirer of HOMER, to [Page 162] adoration. He had built the fineſt library in the world, and made the choiceſt, as well as moſt numerous collection of books. No encouragements were wanting from him to allure men of the brighteſt genius to his court, and no time thought too much which he ſpent in their company. From hence it is that we hear of ERATOSTHENES and ARISTOPHANES, thoſe univerſal ſcholars, and candid judges of other mens performances: CALLIMACHUS, a poet of the moſt eaſy, courteous delicacy, famous for a poem on the cutting of Berenice's hair, and whom OVID ſo much admired as to ſay, ‘It was reaſon enough for him to love a woman, if ſhe would but tell him he exceeded CALLIMACHUS;’ THEOCRITUS, the moſt famous in the paſtoral way of writing; and among the young men, ARISTARCHUS and APOLLONIUS RHODIUS, the one of whom prov'd a moſt judicious critic, the other a poet of no mean character.
Theſe and many more fill'd the court of that munificent prince, whoſe liberal diſpenſations of wealth and favour became encouragements to every one to exert their parts to the utmoſt; like ſtreams which flow through different ſorts of ſoils, and improve each in that for which it was adapted by nature.
Such was the court when ZOILUS arriv'd; but before he enter'd Alexandria, he ſpent a night in the temple of Iſis, to enquire of the ſucceſs of his undertaking; not that he doubted the worth of his works, [Page 163] but his late misfortune had inſtructed him, that others might be ignorant of it. Having therefore perform'd the accuſtom'd ſacrifice, and compos'd himſelf to reſt upon the hide, he had a viſion which foretold of his future fame.
He found himſelf ſitting under the ſhade of a dark yew, which was cover'd with hellebore and hemlock, and near the mouth of a cave, where ſat a monſter, pale, waſted, ſurrounded with ſnakes, foſt'ring a cockatrice in her boſom; and curſing the ſun, for making the work of the deities appear in its beauty. The ſight of this bred fear in him; when ſhe ſubddenly turning her ſunk eyes, put on a hideous kind of a loving grin, in which he diſcover'd a reſemblance to ſome of his own features. Then turning up her ſnakes, and interlacing them in the form of a turbant, to give him leſs diſguſt, thus ſhe addreſs'd herſelf: ‘Go on, my ſon, in whom I am renew'd, and proſper in thy brave undertakings on mankind: aſſert their wit to be dulneſs; prove their ſenſe to be folly; know truth only when it is on thy own ſide; and acknowledge learning at no other time to be uſeful. Spare not an author of any rank or ſize; let not thy tongue or pen know pity; make the living feel thy accuſations; make the ghoſts of the dead groan in their tombs for their violated fame. But why do I ſpend time in needleſs advice, which may be better uſed in encouragement? Let thy eyes delight themſelves with [Page 164] the future recompence which I have reſerv'd for thy merit.’ Thus ſpoke the monſter, and ſhriek'd the name of ZOILUS: the ſhades, who were to bear the ſame name after him, became obedient; and the mouth of the cave was fill'd with ſtrange ſupercilious countenances, which all crowded to make their appearance. Theſe began to march before him with an imitation of his mien and manners: ſome crowned with wild ſorrel, others having leaves of dead bays mingled amongſt it; whilſt the monſter ſtill deſcrib'd them as he paſs'd, and touch'd each with a livid track of malignant light, that ſhot from her eye, to point where ſhe meant the deſcription. ‘They (ſays ſhe) in the chaplets of wild ſorrel, are my writers of proſe, who erect ſcandal into criticiſm: they who wear the wither'd bay with it, are ſuch who write poems, which are profeſſedly to anſwer all rules, and be left for patterns to men of genius. Theſe that follow ſhall attack others, becauſe they are excell'd by them. The next rank ſhall make an author's being read, a ſufficient ground of oppoſition. Here march my grammarians, ſkill'd to torture words; there my ſons of ſophiſtry, ever ready to wreſt a meaning. Obſerve how faint the foremoſt of the proceſſion appear; and how they are now loſt in yonder miſts, which roll about the cave of oblivion! this ſhews, it is not for themſelves that they are to be known; the world will conſider them only as managing a part of thy endowments, [Page 165] and ſo know them by thy name while they live, that their own ſhall be loſt for ever. But ſee how my cave ſtill ſwarms! how every age produces men, upon whom the preſervation of thy memory devolves. My darling, the fates have decreed it! thou art ZOILUS, and ZOILUS ſhall be eternal. Come, my ſerpents, applaud him with your hiſſes, that is all which now can be done; in modern times, my ſons ſhall invent louder inſtruments, and artificial imitations; noiſes which drown the voice of merit, ſhall furniſh a concert to delight them.’ Here ſhe aroſe to claſp him in her arms, a ſtrange noiſe was heard, the critic ſtarted at it, and his viſion forſook him.
It was with ſome confuſion, that he lay muſing a while upon what he had ſeen; but reflecting, that the Goddeſs had given him no anſwer concerning his ſucceſs in Egypt, he ſtrengthen'd his heart in his ancient ſelf-love and enmity to others, and took all for an idle dream born of the fumes of indigeſtion, or produc'd by the dizzy motion of his voyage. In this opinion, he told it at his departure to the prieſt, who admiring the extraordinary relation, regiſtred it in hieroglyphics at Canopus.
The day when he came to Alexandria was one on which the king had appointed games to APOLLO and the MUSES, and honours and rewards for ſuch writers as ſhou'd appear in them. This he took for a happy [Page 166] omen at his entrance, and, not to loſe an opportunity of ſhewing himſelf, repair'd immediately to the public theatre; where, as if every thing was to favour him, the very firſt accident gave his ſpleen a diverſion, which we find at large in the proem of the ſeventh book of VITRUVIUS. It happen'd that when the poets had recited, ſix of the judges decreed the prizes with a full approbation of all the audience. From this, Ariſtophanes alone diſſented, and demanded the firſt prize for a perſon whoſe baſhful and interrupted manner of ſpeaking made him appear the moſt diſguſtful: for he (ſays the judge) is alone a poet, and all the reſt reciters; and they who are judges, ſhou'd not approve thefts, but writings. To maintain his aſſertion, thoſe volumes were produc'd from whence they had been ſtoll'n: upon which, the king order'd them to be formally try'd for theft, and diſmiſs'd with infamy; but placed Ariſtophanes over his library, as one, who had given a proof of his knowledge in books. This paſſage ZOILUS often afterwards repeated with pleaſure, for the number of diſgraces which happen'd in it to the pretenders in poetry; tho' his envy made him ſtill careful not to name Ariſtophanes, but a judge in general.
However, criticiſm had only a ſhort triumph over poetry, when he made the next turn his own, by ſtepping forward into the place of reciting. Here he immediately rais'd the curioſity, and drew the attention [Page 167] of both king and people: but, as it happen'd, neither the one nor the other laſted; for the firſt ſentence where he had regiſtred his own name, ſatisfied their curioſity; and the next, where he offer'd to prove to a court ſo devoted to HOMER, that he was ridiculous in every thing; went near to finiſh his audience. He was nevertheleſs heard quietly for ſome time, till the king ſeeing no end of his abuſing the prince of philological learning, (as Vitruvius words it) departed in diſdain. The judges follow'd, deriding his attempt as an extravagance which cou'd not demand their gravity; and the people taking a licence from the precedent, hooted him away with obloquy and indignation. Thus ZOILUS fail'd at his firſt appearance, and was forc'd to retire, ſtung with a moſt impatient ſenſe of public contempt.
Yet notwithſtanding all this, he did not omit his attendance at court on the day following, with a petition that he might be put upon the eſtabliſhment of learning, and allow'd a penſion. This the king read, but return'd no anſwer: ſo great was the ſcorn he conceiv'd againſt him. But ZOILUS ſtill undauntedly renew'd his petitions, 'till PTOLEMY, being weary of his perſecution, gave him a flat denial. HOMER, (ſays the prince) who has been dead theſe thouſand years, has maintain'd thouſands of people; and ZOILUS, who boaſts he has more wit than he, ought not only to maintain himſelf, but many others alſo.
[Page 168] His petitions being thrown careleſly about, were fall'n into the hands of men of wit, whom, according to his cuſtom, he had provok'd, and whom it is unſafe to provoke if you wou'd live unexpos'd. I can compare them to nothing more properly, than to the Bee, a creature wing'd and lively, fond to rove through the choiceſt flowers of nature, and bleſt at home among the ſweets of its own compoſition: not ill-natur'd, yet quick to revenge an injury; not wearing its ſting out of the ſheath; yet able to wound more ſorely than its appearance would threaten. Now theſe being made perſonal enemies by his malicious expreſſions, the court rung with petitions of ZOILUS tranſvers'd; new petitions drawn up for him; catalogues of his merits, ſuppos'd to be collected by himſelf; his complaints of man's injuſtice ſet to a harp out of tune, and a hundred other ſports of fancy, with which their epigrams play'd upon him. Theſe were the ways of writing which ZOILUS hated, becauſe they were not only read, but retain'd eaſily, by reaſon of their ſpirit, humour, and brevity; and becauſe they not only make the man a jeſt upon whom they are written, but a farther jeſt, if he attempt to anſwer them gravely. However, he did what he cou'd in revenge, he endeavour'd to ſet thoſe whom he envy'd at variance among themſelves, and invented lyes to promote his deſign. He told Eratoſthenes, that Callimachus ſaid, his extent of learning conſiſted but in a ſuperficial knowledge of the ſciences; [Page 169] and whiſper'd Callimachus, that Eratoſthenes only allow'd him to have an artful habitual knack of verſifying. He would have made Ariſtophanes believe, that Theocritus rally'd his knowledge in editions, as a curious kind of trifling; and Theocritus, that Ariſtophanes derided the ruſtical ſimplicity of his ſhepherds. Tho' of all his ſtories, that which be moſt valu'd himſelf for, was his conſtant report, that every one whom he hated was a friend to ANTIOCHUS king of Syria, the enemy of PTOLEMY.
But malice is unſucceſsful when the character of its agent is known: they grew more friends to one another, by imagining, that even what had been ſaid, as well as what had not, was all of ZOILUS'S invention; and as he grew more and more the common jeſt, their deriſion of him became a kind of life and cement to their converſation.
Contempt, poverty, and other misfortunes had now ſo aſſaulted him, that even they who abhorr'd his temper, contributed ſomething to his ſupport, in common humanity. Yet ſtill his envy, like a vitiated ſtomach, converted every kindneſs to the nouriſhment of his diſeaſe; and 'twas the whole buſineſs of his life to revile HOMER, and thoſe by whom he himſelf ſubſiſted. In this humour he had days, which were ſo given up to impatient ill-nature, that he could neither write any thing, nor converſe with anyone. Theſe he ſometimes employ'd in throwing ſtones at children; which was [Page 170] once ſo unhappily return'd upon him, that he was taken up for dead: and this occaſion'd the report in ſome authors, of his being ſtoned to death in Egypt. Or, ſometimes he convey'd himſelf into the library, where he blotted the name of HOMER wherever he could meet it, and tore the beſt editions of ſeveral volumes; for which the librarians debarr'd him the privilege of that place. Theſe and other miſchiefs made him univerſally ſhunn'd; nay, to ſuch an extravagance was his character of envy carry'd, that the more ſuperſtitious Egyptians imagin'd they were faſcinated by him, if the day were darker, or themſelves a little heavier than ordinary; ſome wore ſprigs of rue, by way of prevention; and others, rings made of the hoof of a wild aſs for amulets, leſt they ſhould ſuffer, by his fixing an eye upon them.
It was now near the time, when that ſplendid temple which PTOLEMY built in honour of HOMER, was to be open'd with a ſolemn magnificence: for this the men of genius were employ'd in finding a proper pageant. At laſt, they agreed by one conſent, to have ZOILUS, the utter enemy of HOMER, hang'd in effigy; and the day being come, it was on this manner they form'd the proceſſion. Twelve beautiful boys, lightly habited in white, with purple wings repreſenting the HOURS, went on the foremoſt: after theſe, came a chariot exceeding high and ſtately, where ſat one repreſenting APOLLO; with another at his feet, who in thig pomp [Page 171] ſuſtain'd the perſon of HOMER: Apollo's laurel had little gilded points, like the appearance of rays between its leaves; HOMER's was bound with a blue ſillet, like that which is worn by the prieſts of the Deity: Apollo was diſtinguiſh'd by the golden harp he bore; Homer, by a volume, richly beautify'd with horns of inlaid ivory, and taſſels of ſilver depending from them. Behind theſe came three chariots, in which rode nine damſels, each of them with that inſtrument which is proper to each of the Muſes; among whom, CALLIOPE, to give her the honour of the day, ſate in the middle of the ſecond chariot, known by her richer veſtments. After theſe march'd a ſolemn train aptly habited, like thoſe ſciences which acknowledge their riſe or improvement from this Poet. Then the men of learning who attended the court, with wreaths, and rods or ſcepters of laurel, as taking upon themſelves the repreſentation of Rhapſodiſts, to do honour, for the time, to HOMER. In the rear of all was ſlowly drawn along an odd carriage, rather than a chariot, which had its ſides artfully turn'd, and carv'd ſo as to bear a reſemblance to the heads of ſnarling maſtiffs. In this was borne, as led in triumph, a tall image of deformity, whoſe head was bald, and wound about with nettles for a chaplet. The tongue lay lolling out, to ſhew a contempt of mankind, and was fork'd at the end, to confeſs its love to detraction. The hands were manacled behind, and the fingers arm'd with long nails, to cut deep through [Page 172] the margins of authors. Its veſture was of the paper of Nilus, bearing inſcrib'd upon its breaſt in capital letters, ZOILUS THE HOMERO-MASTIX; and all the reſt of it was ſcrawl'd with various monſters of that river, as emblems of thoſe productions with which that critic us'd to fill his papers. When they had reach'd the temple, where the king and his court were already plac'd to behold them from its galleries, the image of ZOILUS was hung upon a gibbet, there erected for it, with ſuch loud acclamations as witneſs'd the people's ſatisfaction. This being finiſh'd, the HOURS knock'd at the gates; which flew open, and diſcover'd the ſtatue of HOMER magnificently ſeated, with the pictures of thoſe cities which contended for his birth, rang'd in order around him. Then they who repreſented the Deities in the proceſſion, laying aſide their enſigns of divinity, uſher'd in the men of learning with a ſound of voices, and their various inſtruments, to aſſiſt at a ſacrifice in honour of APOLLO and his favourite HOMER.
It may be eaſily believ'd, that ZOILUS concluded his affairs were at the utmoſt point of deſperation in Egypt; wherefore, fill'd with pride, ſcorn, anger, vexation, envy, (and whatever cou'd torment him) except the knowledge of his unworthineſs) he flung himſelf aboard the firſt ſhip which left that country. As it happen'd, the veſſel he ſail'd in was bound for Aſia Minor, and this landing him at a port the neareſt to Smyrna, he was à little pleas'd amidſt his miſery to think of decrying [Page 173] HOMER in another place where he was ador'd, and which chiefly pretended to his birth. So incorrigible was his diſpoſition; that no experience taught him anything which might contribute to his eaſe and ſafety.
And as his experience wrought nothing on him, ſo neither did the accidents, which the opinion of thoſe times took for ominous warnings: for, he is reported to have ſeen, the night he came to Smyrna, a venerable perſon, ſuch as HOMER is deſcribed by antiquity, threatning him in a dream; and in the morning he found a part of his works gnaw'd by Mice, which, ſays Aelian, are of all beaſts the moſt prophetic; inſomuch. that they know when to leave a houſe, even before its fall is ſuſpected. Envy, which has no relaxation, ſtill hurry'd him forward; for it is certainly true that a man has not firmer reſolution from reaſon, to ſtand by a good principle, than obſtinacy from perverted nature, to adhere to a bad one.
In the morning as he walk'd the ſtreet, he obſerv'd in ſome plates inſcriptions concerning HOMER, which inform'd him where he liv'd, where he had taught ſchool, and ſeveral other particularities which the Smyrneans glory to have recorded of him; all which awaken'd and irritated the paſſions of ZOILUS. But hit temper was quite overthrown, by the venerable appearance which he ſaw, upon entring the Homereum: which is a building compos'd of a library, porch, and temple erected to HOMER. Here a phrenzy ſeited him [Page 174] which knew no bounds; he rav'd violently againſt the Poet, and all his admirers; he trampled on his works, he ſpurn'd about his commentators, he tore down his buſts from the niches, threw the medals that were caſt of him out of the windows, and paſſing from one place to another, beat the aged prieſts, and broke down the altar. The cries which were occaſioned by this means brought in many upon him; who obſerv'd with horror how the moſt ſacred honours of their city were prophan'd by the frantic impiety of a ſtranger; and immediately dragg'd him to puniſhment before their magiſtrates, who were then ſitting. He was no ſooner there, but known for ZOILUS by ſome in court, a name a long time moſt hateful to Smyrna; which, as it valu'd itſelf upon the birth of HOMER, ſo bore more impatiently than other places, the abuſes offer'd him. This made them eager to propitiate his ſhade, and claim to themſelves a ſecond merit by the death of ZOILUS; wherefore they ſentenc'd him to ſuller by fire, as the due reward of his deſecrations; and order'd, that their city ſhou'd be purify'd by a luſtration, for having entertain'd ſo impious a gueſt. In purſuance to this ſentence, he was led away with his compoſitions born before him by the public executioner: then was he faſten'd to the ſtake, propheſying all the while how many ſhou'd ariſe to revenge his quarrel; particularly, that when Greek ſhou'd be no more a language, there ſhall be a Nation which will both tranſlate [Page 175] HOMER into Proſe, and contract him in Verſe. At laſt, his compoſitions were lighted to ſet the pile on fire, and he expir'd ſighing for the loſs of them, more than for the pain he ſuffer'd: and perhaps too, becauſe he might foreſee in his prophetic rapture, that there ſhou'd ariſe a poet in another nation, able to do HOMER juſtice, and make him known amongſt his people to future ages.
Thus dy'd this noted critic, of whom we may obſerve from the courſe of the hiſtory, that as ſeveral cities contended for the honour of the birth of HOMER, ſo ſeveral have contended for the honour of the death of ZOILUS. With him likewiſe periſh'd his great work on the ILIAD, and the ODYSSE; concerning which we obſerve alſo, that as the known worth of HOMER'S poetry makes him ſurvive himſelf with glory; ſo the bare memory of ZOILUS'S criticiſm makes him ſurvive himſelf with infamy. Theſe are deſervedly the conſequences of that Ill-nature which made him fond of detraction; that Envy, which made him chooſe ſo excellent a character for its object; and thoſe partial Methods of Injuſtice, with which he treated the object he had choſen.
Yet how many commence critics after him, upon the ſame unhappy principles? How many labour to deſtroy the monuments of the dead, and ſummon up the great from their graves to anſwer for trifles before them? how many, by miſrepreſentations, both hinder the world [Page 176] from favouring men of genius, and diſcourage them in themſelves; like boughs of a baneful and barren nature, that ſhoot a-croſs a fruit-tree; at once to ſcreen the ſun from it, and hinder it by their droppings from producing any thing of value? but if theſe who thus follow ZOILUS, meet not the ſame ſeverities of fate, becauſe they come ſhort of his indefatigableneſs, or their object is not ſo univerſally the concern of mankind; they ſhall nevertheleſs meet a proportion of it in the inward trouble they give themſelves, and the outward contempt others fling upon them: a puniſhment which every one has hitherto felt, who has really deſerv'd to be call'd a ZOILUS; and which will always be the natural reward of ſuch mens actions, as long as ZOILUS is the proper name of Envy.
Ingenium magni livor detrectat amici,Quiſquis et ex illo, Zoile, nomen habes.
I MUST do my Reader the juſtice, before I enter upon theſe NOTES of ZOILUS, to inform him, that I have not in any author met this work aſcrib'd to him by its title, which has made me not mention it in the LIFE. But thus much in general appears, that he wrote ſeveral things beſides his cenſure on the ILIAD, which, as it gives ground for this opinion, encourages me to offer an account of the Treatiſe.
Being acquainted with a grave gentleman who ſearches after Editions, purchaſes Manuſcripts, and collects Copies, I apply'd to him for ſome Editions of this Poem, which he readily oblig'd me with. But, added he, taking down a paper, I doubt I ſhall diſcourage you from your tranſlation, when I ſhow this work, which is written upon the original, by ZOILUS, the famous adverſary of HOMER. ZOILUS! ſaid I with [Page 178] ſurprize; I thought his works had long ſince periſh'd. They have ſo, anſwer'd he, all, except this little Piece, which has a PREFACE annex'd to it accounting for its preſervation. It ſeems, when he parted from Macedon, he left this behind him where he lodg'd, and where no one enter'd for a long time, in deteſtation of the odiouſneſs of his character, 'till Maevius arriving there in his travels, and being deſirous to lie in the ſame room, luckily found it, and brought it away with him. This the author of the PREFACE imagines the reaſon of Horace's wiſhing Maevius, in the 10th EPODE, ſuch a ſhipwreck as HOMER deſcribes; as it were with an eye to his having done ſomething diſadvantageous to that Poet. From Maevius, the piece came into the hand of Carbilius Pictor, (who, when he wrote againſt Virgil, call'd his book, with a reſpectful imitation of ZOILUS, the AENEIDOMASTIX) and from him into the hands of others who are unknown, becauſe the world apply'd to them no other name than that of ZOILUS, in order to ſink their own in oblivion. Thus it ever found ſome learned philologiſt or critic, to keep it ſecret from the rage of HOMER's admirers; yet not ſo ſecret, but that it has ſtill been communicated among the LITERATI. I am of opinion, that our great SCALIGER borrow'd it, to work him up when he writ ſo ſharply againſt Cardan; and perhaps Le Clerc too, when he prov'd Q. Curtius ignorant of every particular branch of learning.
[Page 179] This formal account made me give attention to what the book contain'd; and I muſt acknowledge, that whether it be his, or the work of ſome grammarian, it appears to be writ in his ſpirit. The open profeſſion of enmity to great genius's, and the fear of nothing ſo much as that he may not be able to find faults enough, are ſuch reſemblances of his ſtrongeſt features, that any one might take it for his own production. To give the world a notion of this, I have made a collection of ſome REMARKS, which moſt ſtruck me, during that ſhort time in which I was allow'd to peruſe the Manuſcript.
TO FILL MY RISING SONG.] ‘As Protagoras the ſophiſt found fault with the beginning of the ILIAD, for its ſpeaking to the Muſe rather with an abrupt command, than a ſolemn invocation; ſo I, ſays ZOILUs, doon the other hand find fault with him for uſing any invocation at all before this poem, or any ſuch trifles as he is the author of If he muſt uſe one, Protagoras is in the right; if not, I am: this I hold for true criticiſm, notwithſtanding the opinion of Ariſtotle againſt us. Nor let any one lay [Page 181] a ſtreſs on Ariſtotle in this point; he alas ! knows nothing of Poetry but what he has read in HOMER; his rules are all extracted from him, or founded in him. In ſhort, HOMER'S works are the examples of Ariſtotle's precepts; and Ariſtotle's precepts the methods HOMER wrought by.’ From hence it is to be concluded as the opinion of this Critic, that whoever wou'd entirely deſtroy the reputation of HOMER, muſt renounce the authority of Ariſtotle before-hand. The rules of building may be of ſervice to us, if we deſign to judge of an edifice, and diſcover what may be amiſs in it for the advantage of future artificers; but they are of no uſe to thoſe who only intend to overthrow it utterly.
After the word [SONG,] in the firſt line the original adds, [WHAT I HAVE WRITTEN IN MY TABLETS.] Theſe words, which are dropp'd in the tranſlation as of no conſequence, the great ZOILUS has thought fit to expunge; aſſerting for a reaſon, without backing it with farther proof, ‘That tablets were it not of fo early invention.’ Now, it muſt be granted, this manner of proving by affirmation is of an extraordinary nature; but however it has its end with a ſet of readers for whom it is adapted. One part of the world knows not with what aſſurance another part can expreſs itſelf. They imagine a reaſonable creature will not have the face to ſay any thing which has not ſome ſhadow of reaſon to ſupport it; and run implicitly [Page 182] into the ſnare which is laid for good-nature, by theſe daring authors of definitive ſentences upon bare aſſertion.
Pag. 43. Ver. 15. WHOM CATS PURSU'D.] The Greek word here expreſly ſignifies a Cat: ZOILUS, whom Perizonius follows, affirms, ‘It was Weezels which the Mouſe fled from;’ and then objects againſt its probability. But it is common with one ſort of Critics, to ſhew an author means differently from what he really did; and then to prove, that the meaning which they find out for him is good for nothing.
Pag. 44. Ver. 7. IF WORTHY FRIENDSHIP.] In this propoſal begins the moral of the whole piece, which is, that haſty, ill-founded, or unnatural friendſhips and leagues, will naturally end in war and diſcord. But ZOILUS, who is here mightily concern'd to take off from HOMER all the honour of having deſign'd a moral, aſſerts on the other hand, ‘That the Poet's whole intent was to make a Fable; that a Fable he has made, and one very idle and trifling; that many things are aſcrib'd to HOMER, which poor HOMER never dream'd of; and he who finds them out, rather ſhews his own parts than diſcovers his author's beauties.’ In this opinion has he been follow'd by ſeveral of thoſe Critics, who only dip into authors when they have occaſion to write againſt them: and yet even theſe ſhall ſpeak differently concerning the writers, if the queſtion be of their own performances; [Page 183] for to their own works they write Prefaces, to diſplay the grandneſs of the moral, regularity of the ſcheme, number and brightneſs of the figures, and a thouſand other excellencies, which if they did not tell, no one wou'd ever imagine. For others, they write Remarks, which tend to contract their excellencies within the narrow compaſs of their partial appreheſion. It were well if they cou'd allow ſuch to be as wiſe as themſelves, whom the world allows to be much wiſer; but their being naturally friends to themſelves, and profeſſedly adverſaries to ſome greater genius, eaſily accounts for theſe different manners of ſpeaking. I will not leave this note, without giving you an inſtance of its practice in the great JULIUS SCALIGER: he has been free enough with HOMER in the Remarks he makes upon him; but when he ſpeaks of himſelf, I deſire my reader wou'd take notice of his modeſty; I give his own words, Lib. 3. Poet. Cap. 112. ‘In Deum Patrem Hymnum cum ſcriberemus, tanquam rerum omnium conditorem, ab orbis ipſius creatione ad nos noſtraque uſque duximus. —In quo abduximus animum noſtrum a corporis carcere ad liberos campos contemplationis, quae me in illum transformaret. Tum autem ſanctiſſimi Spiritus ineffabilis vigor ille canto ardore celebratus eſt, ut cum leniſſimis numeris eſſet inchoatus Hymnus, repentino divini Ignis impetu conſlagravit.’
[Page 184] Pag. 45. Ver. 7. THE CIRCLED LOAVES.] ‘ZOILUS here finds fault with the mention of loaves, tripes, bacon and cheeſe, as words below the dignity of the EPIC, as much (ſays he) as it wou'd be to have opprobrious names given in it.’ By which expreſſion we eaſily ſee, he hints at the firſt book of the ILIAD. Now, we muſt conſider in anſwer, that it is a Mouſe which is ſpoken of, that eating is the moſt appearing chatacteriſtic of that creature, that theſe foods are ſuch as pleaſe it moſt; and to have deſcrib'd particular pleaſures for it in any other way, wou'd have been as incongruous, as to have deſcrib'd a haughty loud anger without thoſe names which it throws out in its fierceneſs, and which raiſe it to its pitch of phrenzy. In the one inſtance you ſtill ſee a Mouſe before you, however the Poet raiſes it to a man; in the other, you ſhall ſee a man before you; however, the Poet raiſes him to a Demi-God. But ſome call that LOW, which others call NATURAL. Every thing has two handles, and the critic who ſets himſelf to cenſure all he meets, is under an obligation ſtill to lay hold on the worſt of them.
Pag. 46. Ver. 1. BUT ME, NOR STALKS.] In this place ZOILUS ‘laughs at the ridiculouſneſs of the Poet, who (according to his repreſentation) makes a prince refuſe an invitation in heroics, becauſe he did not like the meat he was invited to.’ And, that the ridicule may appear in as ſtrong a light to others [Page 185] as to himſelf, he puts as much of the ſpeech as concerns it into burleſque airs, and expreſſions. This is indeed a common trick with Remarkers, which they either practiſe by precedent from their maſter ZOILUS, or are beholden for it to the ſame turn of temper. We acknowledge it a fine piece of ſatire, when there is folly in a paſſage, to lay it open in the way by which it naturally requires to be expos'd: do this handſomely, and the author is deſervedly a jeſt [...], on the contrary, you dreſs a paſſage which was not originally fooliſh, in the higheſt humour of ridicule, you only frame ſomething which the author himſelf might laugh at, without being more nearly concerned than another render.
Pag. 47. Ver. 1. SO PASS'D EUROPA] This ſimile makes ZOILUS, who ſets up for a profeſs'd enemy of Fables, to exclaim violently. ‘We had, ſays he, a Frog and a Mouſe hitherto, and now we get a Bull and a Princeſs to illuſtrate their actions: when will there be an end of this Fabling-folly and Poetry, which I value myſelf for being unacquainted with? O great POLYCRATES, how happily haſt thou obſerv?d in thy accuſation againſt SOCRATES, That whatever he was before, he deſerv'd his poiſon when he began to make verſes!’ Now, if the queſtion be concerning HOMER'S good or bad Poetry, this is an unqualifying ſpeech, which affords his friends juſt grounds of exception againſt the Critic. Wherefore [Page 186] be it known to all preſent and future Cenfors, who haver, or ſhall preſume to glory, in an ignorance of Poetry, and at the ſame time take upon them to judge of Poets, that they are in all their degrees for evere excluded the poſt they would uſurp. In the firſt place, they who know neither the uſe, nor practice of the art; in the ſecond, they who know, it but by halves, Who have hearts inſenſible of the beauties of Poetry, and are however able to find fault by rules; and thirdly, they who, when they are capable of perceiving beauties and pointing out defects, are ſtill ſo ignorant in the nature of their buſineſs, as to imagine the province of Criticiſm extends itſelf only on the ſide of diſpraiſe and reprehenſion. How cou'd any one at this rate be ſeen with his proper balance of perfection and error? or what were the beſt performances in this indulgence of ill-nature, but as apartments hung with the deformities of humanity, done by ſome great hand, which are the more to be abhorr'd, becauſe the praiſe and honour they receive, reſults from the degree of uneaſineſs, to which they put every temper of common goodneſs?
Pag. 47. Ver. 28. YE MICE, YE MICE.] The ancients believ'd that heroes were turn'd into Demi-Gods at their death; and in general, that departing fouls have ſomething of a ſight into futurity. It is either this notion, or a care which the Gods may take to abate the pride of inſulting adverſaries, which a [Page 187] Poet goes upon, when he makes his leaders die foretelling the end of thoſe by whom they are ſlain. ZOILUS however is againſt this paſſage. He ſays, ‘That every character ought to be ſtrictly kept; that a general ought not to invade the character of a prophet, nor a prophet of a general.’ He is poſitive, ‘that nothing ſhou'd be done by any one, without having been hinted at in ſome previous account of him.’ And this he aſſerts, without any allowance made either for a change of ſtates, or the deſign of the Gods. To confirm this obſervation, he ſtrengthens it with a quotation out of his larger work on the ILIAD, where he has theſe words upon the death of HECTOR: ‘How fooliſh is it in HOMER to make HECTOR (who thro' the whole courſe of the ILIAD had made uſe of HELENUS, to learn the will of the Gods) becomes prophet juſt at his death? Let every one be what he ought, without falling into thoſe parts which others are to ſuſtain in a poem.’ This he has ſaid, not diſtinguiſhing rightly between our natural diſpoſtions and accidental offices. And this he has ſaid again, not minding, that tho' it be taken from another book, it is ſtill from the ſame author. However, vanity loves to gratify itſelf by the repetition of what it eſteems, to be written with ſpirit, and even when we repeat it ourſelves, provided another hears us. Hence has he been follow'd by a magiſterial ſet of men who quote themſelves, and ſwell their new perfomances with what [Page 188] they admire in their former Treatiſes. This is a moſt extraordinary knack of arguing, whereby a man can never want a proof, if he be allow'd to become an authority for his own opinion.
Pag. 48. Ver. 16. AND NO KIND BILLOW.] ‘How impertinent is this caſe of pity, ſays ZOILUS, to bemoan, that the prince was not toſs'd towards land: It is enough he loſt his life, and there is an end of his ſuffering where there is an end of his feeling. To carry the matter farther, is juſt the ſame fooliſh management as HOMER has ſhewn in his ILIADS, which he ſpins out into forty trifles beyond the death of HECTOR.’ But the Critic muſt allow me to put the renders in mind, that death was not the laſt diſtreſs the Ancients believ'd was to be met upon earth. The laſt was the remaining unbury'd, which had this miſery annex'd, that while the body was without its funeral-rites in this world, the ſoul was ſuppos'd to be without reſt in the next. which was the caſe of the Mouſe before us. And accordingly the AJAX of SOPHOCLES continues after the death of its hero more than an act, upon the conteſt concerning his burial. All this ZOILUS knew very well: but ZOILUS is not the only one, who diſputes for victory rather than truth. Theſe fooliſh, to ſhew how much they can write againſt an author. They act unfairly, that they may be ſure to be ſharp enough; and trifle with the reader, in order [Page 189] to be voluminous. It is needleſs to wiſh them the return they deſerve: their diſregard to candour is no ſooner diſcover'd, but they are for ever baniſh'd from the eyes of men of ſenſe, and condemn'd to wander from ſtall to ſtall, for a temporary refuge from that oblivion which they can't eſcape.
Pag. 49. Ver. 1. OUR ELDEST PERISH'D.] ZOILUS had here taken ‘the recapitulation of thoſe miſfortunes which happen'd to the Royal Family, as an impertinence that expatiates from the ſubject;’ tho' indeed there ſeems nothing more proper to raiſe that ſort of compaſſion, which was to inſlame his audience to war. But what appears extremely pleaſant is, that at the ſame time he condemns the paſſage, he ſhou'd make uſe of it as an opportunity, to fall into ‘an ample digreſſion on the various kinds of Mouſetraps,’ and diſplay that minute learning which every Critic of his ſort is fond to ſhew himſelf maſter of. This they imagine is tracing of knowledge thro' its hidden veins, and bringing diſcoveries to daylight, which time had cover'd over. Indefatigable and uſeleſs mortals! who value themſelves for knowledge of no conſequence, and think of gaining applauſe by what the reader is careful to paſs over unread. What did the diſquiſition ſignify formerly, whether Ulyſſes's Son, or his Dog, was the elder? or how can the account of a Veſture, or a Player's Maſque, deſerve that any ſhou'd write the bulk of a treatiſe, or others read [Page 190] it when it is written? A vanity, thus poorly ſupported, which neither affords pleaſure nor profit, is the unſubſtantial amuſement of a dream to ourſelves, and a provoking occaſion of our deriſion to others.
Pag. 49. Ver. 15, 16. QUILLS APTLY BOUND—FAC'D WITH THE PLUNDER OF A CAT THEY FLAY'D.] This paſſage is ſomething difficult in the original, which gave ZOILUS the opportunity of inventing an expreſſion, which his followers conceitedly uſe when any thing appears dark to them. ‘This, ſay they, let Phoebus explain;’ as if what exceeds their capacity muſt of neceſſity demand oracular interpretations, and an interpoſal of the God of Wit and Learning. The baſis of ſuch arrogance is the opinion they have of that knowledge they aſcribe to themſelves. They take Criticiſm to be beyond every other part of learning, becauſe it gives judgment upon books written in every other part. They think in conſequence, that every Critic muſt be a greater Genius than any Author whom he cenſures; and therefore if they eſteem themſelves Critics, they ſet enthron'd Infancy at the head of Literature. Criticiſm indeed deſerves a noble Elogy, when it is enlarg'd by ſuch a comprehenſive learning as Ariſtotle and Cicero were maſters of; when it adorns its precepts with the conſummate exactneſs of Quintilian, or is exalted into the ſublime ſentiments of Longinus. But let not ſuch men tell us they participate in the glory of theſe great men, and place themſelves [Page 191] next to PHOEBUS, who, like ZOILUS, entangle an author in the wrangles of grammarians, or try him with a poſitive air and barren imagination, by the ſet of rules they have collected out of others.
Pag. 50. Ver. 1. YE FROGS! THE MICE.] At this ſpeech of the Herald's, which recites the cauſe of the war, ZOILUS is angry with the Author, ‘for not finding out a cauſe entirely juſt; for, ſays he, it appears not from his own Fable, that Phyſignathus invited the prince with any malicious intention to make him away.’ To this we anſwer, 1ſt, That it is not neceſſary in relating facts to make every war have a juſt beginning. 2dly, This doubtful cauſe agrees better with the moral, by ſhewing that ill-founded leagues have accidents to deſtroy them, even without the intention of parties. 3dly, There was all appearance imaginable againſt the frogs; and if we may be allow'd to retort on our adverſary the practice of his poſterity, there is more humanity in an hoſtility proclaim'd upon the appearance of injuſtice done us, than in their cuſtom of attacking the works of others as ſoon as they come out, purely becauſe they are eſteem'd to be good. Their performances, which cou'd derive no merit from their own names, are then ſold upon the merit of their antagoniſt: and if they are ſo ſenſible of fame, or even of envy, they have the mortification to remember, how much by this means they become indebted to thoſe they injure.
[Page 192] Pag. 50. Ver. 21. WHERE HIGH THE BANKS.] This project is not put in practice during the following battle, by reaſon of the fury of the combatants: yet the mention of it is not impertinent in this place, foraſmuch as the probable face of ſucceſs which it carties with it tended to animate the Frogs. ZOILUS however cannot be ſo ſatisfied; ‘It were better, ſays he, to cut it intirely out; nor won'd HOMER be the worſe if half of him were ſerv'd in the ſame manner; ſo, continues he, they will find it, whoever in any country, ſhall hereafter undertake ſo odd a taſk, as that of tranſlating him.’ Thus Envy finds words to put in the mouth of Ignorance; and the time will come, when Ignorance ſhall repeat what Envy has pronounced ſo raſhly.
Pag. 51. Ver. 13. AND TAP'RING SEA-REEDS.] If we here take the reed for that of our own growth, it is no ſpear to match the long ſort of needles with which the Mice had arm'd themſelves; but the cane, which is rather intended, has its ſplinters ſtiff and ſharp, to anſwer all the uſes of a ſpear in battle. Nor is it here to be lightly paſt over, ſince ZOILUS moves a queſtion upon it, that the Poet cou'd not chooſe a more proper weapon for the Frogs, than that which they chooſe for themſelves in a defenſive war they maintain with the ſerpents of Nile. ‘They have this ſtratagem, ſays Aelian, to protect themſelves; they ſwim with pieces of cane acroſs their mouths, of too great a length [Page 193] for the breadth of the ſerpents throats; by which means they are preſerv'd from being ſwallow'd by them.’ This is a quotation ſo much to the point, that I ought to have uſher'd in my Author with more pomp to dazzle the reader. ZOILUS and his followers, who ſeldom praiſe any man, are however careful to do it for their own ſakes, if at any time they get an author of their opinion: tho' indeed it muſt be allow'd, they ſtill have a draw-back in their manner of praiſe, and rather chooſe to drop the name of their man, or darkly hint him in a periphraſis, than to have it appear that they have directly aſſiſted the perpetuating of any one's memory. Thus, if a Dutch Critic were to introduce for example MARTIAL, he would, inſtead of naming him, ſay, INGENIOSUS ILLE EPIGRAMMATICUS BILBILICUS. Or, if one of our own were to quote from among ourſelves, he wou'd tell us how it has been remark'd ‘in the works of a learned Writer, to whom the world is obliged for many excellent productions,’ etc. All which proceeding is like boaſting of our great friends, when it is to do ourſelves an honour, or the ſhift of dreſſing up one who might otherwiſe be diſregarded, to make him paſs upon the world for a reſponſible voucher to our own aſſertions.
Pag. 51. Ver. 17. BUT NOW WHERE JOVE'S.] At this fine Epiſode, in which the Gods are introduced, ZOILUS has no patience left him to remark; but runs ſome lines with a long ſtring of ſuch expreſſions, as [Page 194] "Trifler, Fabler, Lyar, fooliſh, impious," all which he laviſhly heaps upon the Poet. From this knack of calling names, join'd with the ſeveral arts of finding fault, it is to be ſuſpected, that our ZOILUS'S might make very able libellers, and dangerous men to the government, if they did not rather turn themſelves to be ridiculous cenſors: for which reaſon I cannot but reckon the ſtate oblig'd to men of wit; and under a kind of debt in gratitude, when they take off ſo much ſpleen, turbulency, and ill-nature, as might otherwiſe ſpend itſelf to the detriment of the public.
Pag. 52. Ver. 5. IF MY DAUGHTER'S MIND.] This ſpeech, which Jupiter ſpeaks to Pallas with a pleaſant kind of air, ZOILUS takes gravely to pieces; and affirms, ‘It is below Jupiter's wiſdom, and only agreeable with HOMER'S folly, that he ſhou'd borrow a reaſon for her aſſiſting the Mice from their attendance in the temple, when they waited to prey upon thoſe things which were ſacred to her.’ But the air of the ſpeech rendering a grave anſwer unneceſſary; I ſhall only offer ZOILUS an obſervation in return for his. There are upon the ſtone which is carv'd for the apotheoſis of HOMER, figures of Mice by his footſtool, which, according to Cuperus, its interpreter, ſome have taken to ſignify this Poem; and others thoſe Critics, who tear or vilify the works of great men. Now if ſuch can be compar'd to Mice, let the words of ZOILUS be brought home to himſelf and his followers [Page 195] for their mortification. ‘That no one ought to think of meriting in the ſtate of learning only by debaſing the beſt performances, and as it were preying upon thoſe things which ſhou'd be ſacred in it.’
Pag. 52. Ver. 13. IN VAIN MY FATHER.] The ſpeech of Pallas is diſlik'd by ZOILUS, ‘becauſe it makes the Goddeſs carry a reſentment againſt ſuch inconſiderable creatures;’ tho' he ought to eſteem them otherwiſe when they repreſent the perſons and actions of men, and teach us how the Gods, diſregard thoſe in their adverſities who provoke them in proſperity. But, if we conſider Pallas as the patroneſs of learning, we may by an allegorical application of the Mice and Frogs, find in this ſpeech two ſorts of enemies to learning; they who are maliciouſly miſchievous, as the Mice; and they who are turbulent through oſtentation, as the Frogs. The firſt are enemies to excellency upon principle; the ſecond accidentally by the error of ſelf-love, which does not quarrel with the excellence itſelf, but only with thoſe people who get more praiſe than themſelves by it. Thus, tho' they have not the ſame perverſeneſs with the others, they are however drawn into the ſame practices, while they ruin reputations, leſt they ſhou'd not ſeem to be learn'd; as ſome women turn proſtitutes, leſt they ſhou'd not be thought handſome enough to have admirers.
Pag. 54. Ver. 5. THEIR DREADFUL TRUMPETS.] Upon the reading of this, ZOILUS becomes full of diſcoveries. [Page 196] He recollects, ‘that Homer makes his Greeks come to battle with ſilence, and his Trojans with ſhouts;’ from whence he diſcovers, ‘that he knew nothing of trumpets.’ Again, he ſees, ‘that the hornet is made a trumpeter to the battle;’ and hence he diſcovers, ‘that the line muſt not be HOMER'S.’ Now had he drawn his conſequences fairly, he cou'd only have found by the one, that trumpets were not in uſe at the taking of Troy; and by the other, that the battle of Frogs and Mice was laid by the Poet for a later ſcene of action than that of the ILIAD. But the boaſt of diſcoveries accompanies the affectation of knowledge; and the affectation of knowledge is taken up with a deſign to gain a command over the opinions of others. It is too heavy a taſk for ſome Critics to ſway our rational judgments by rational inferences; a pompous pretence muſt occaſion admiration, the eyes of mankind muſt be obſcur'd by a glare of pedantry, that they may conſent to be led blindfold, and permit that an opinion ſhou'd be dictated to them without demanding that they may be reaſon'd into it.
Pag. 54. Ver. 24. BIG SEUTLAEUS TUMBLING.] ZOILUS has happen'd to bruſh the duſt of ſome old manuſcript, in which the line that kills SEUTLAEUS is wanting. And for this cauſe he fixes a general concluſion, ‘that there is no dependance upon any thing which is handed down for HOMER'S, ſo as to allow it [Page 197] praiſe; ſince the different copies vary amongſt themſelves.’ But is it fair in ZOILUS, or any of his followers, to oppoſe one copy to a thouſand? and are they impartial who wou'd paſs this upon us for an honeſt balance of evidence? When there is ſuch an inequality on each ſide, is it not more than probable that the number carry the author's ſenſe in them, and the ſingle one its tranſcriber's errors? It is folly or madneſs of paſſion to be thus given over to partiality and prejudices. Men may flouriſh as much as they pleaſe concerning the value of a new-found edition, in order to byaſs the world to particular parts of it; but in a matter eaſily decided by common ſenſe, it will ſtill continue of its own opinion.
Pag. 56. Ver. 17. WITH BORBOCAETES FIGHTS] Through the grammatical part of ZOILUS'S work he frequently rails at HOMER for his dialects. "Theſe," ſays he in one place, ‘the Poet made uſe of becauſe he could not write pure Greek;’ and in another, ‘they ſtrangely contributed to his fame, by making ſeveral cities who obſerv'd ſomething of their own in his mix'd language, contend for his being one of their natives.’ Now ſince I have here practis'd a licence in imitation of his, by ſhortning the word BORBOCAETES a whole ſyllable, it ſeems a good opportunity to ſpeak for him where I defend myſelf. Remember then, that any great genius, who introduces Poetry into a language, has a power to poliſh it, and of all the [Page 198] manners of ſpeaking then in uſe, to ſettle that for Poetical which he judges moſt adapted to the art. Take notice too, that HOMER has not only done this for neceſſity, but for ornament, ſince he uſes various dialects to humour his ſenſe with ſounds which are expreſſive of it. Thus much in behalf of my Author to anſwer ZOILUS: as for myſelf, who deal with his followers, I muſt argue from neceſſity, that the word was ſtubborn and wou'd not ply to the quantities of an Engliſh Verſe, and therefore I alter'd it by the Dialect we call Poetical, which makes my line ſo much ſmoother, that I am ready to cry with their brother LIPSIUS, when he turn'd an O into an I, ‘Vel ego me amo, vel me amavit Phoebus quando hoc correxi.’ To this let me add a recrimination upon ſome of them: As 1ſt, ſuch as chooſe words written after the manner of thoſe who preceded the pureſt age of a language, without the neceſſity I have pleaded, as ‘regundi for regendi, perduit for perdidit,’ which reſtoration of obſolete words deſerves to be call'd a Critical Licence or Dialect. 2dly, Thoſe who pretending to verſe without an ear, uſe the Poetical Dialect of Abbreviation, ſo that the lines ſhall run the rougher for it. And 3dly, thoſe who preſume by their Critical Licences to alter the ſpellings of words; an affectation which deſtroys the etymology of a language, and being carry'd on by private hands for fancy or faſhion, wou'd be a thing we ſhou'd never have an end.
[Page 199] Pag. 59. Ver. 13. NOR PALLAS, JOVE!] ‘I cannot, ſays ZOILUS, reflect upon this ſpeech of Mars, is where a Mouſe is oppos'd to the God of War, the Goddeſs of Valour, the thunder of Jupiter, and all the Gods at once, but I rejoice to think that PYTHAGORAS ſaw HOMER'S ſoul in hell, hanging on a tree, and ſurrounded with ſerpents, for what he ſaid of the Gods.’ Thus he who hates Fables anſwers one with another, and can rejoice in them when they flatter his envy. He appears at the head of his ſquadron of Critics, in the full ſpirit of one utterly devoted to a party; with whom truth is a lye, or as bad as a lye, when it makes againſt him; and falſe quotations, paſs for truth, or as good as truth, when they are neceſſary to a cauſe.
Pag. 61. Ver. 11. AND A WHOLE WAR.] ‘Here, ſays ZOILUS, is an end of a very fooliſh Poem, of which by this time I have effectually convinc'd the world, and ſilenc'd all ſuch for the future, who, like HOMER, write Fables to which others find Morals, characters whoſe juſtneſs is queſtion'd, unneceſſary digreſſions, and impious epiſodes.’ But what aſſurance can ſuch a ZOILUS have, that the world will ever be convinc'd againſt an eſtabliſh'd reputation, by ſuch people whoſe faults in writing are ſo very notorious? who judge againſt rules, affirm without reaſons, and cenſure without manners? who quote themſelves for a ſupport of their opinions, found their pride upon [Page 200] a learning in trifles, and their ſuperiority upon the claims they magiſterially make? who write of beauties in a harſh ſtyle, judge of excellency with a lowneſs of ſpirit, and purſue their deſire to decry it with every artifice of envy? There is no diſgrace in being cenſur'd, where there is no credit to be favour'd. But, on the contrary, Envy gives a teſtimony of ſome perfection in another; and one who is attack'd by many, is like a hero whom his enemies acknowledge for ſuch, when they point all the ſpears of a battle againſt him. In ſhort, an author who writes for every age, may even erect himſelf a monument of thoſe ſtones which Envy throws at him: while the Critic who writes againſt him can have no fame becauſe he had no ſucceſs; or if he fancies he may ſucceed, he ſhou'd remember, that by the nature of his undertaking he wou'd but undermine his own foundation; for he is to ſink of courſe, when the book which he writes againſt, and for which alone he is read, is loſt in diſrepute or oblivion.
The following VARIATIONS are taken from a MS. communicated by a Gentleman of Taſte in Ireland; and are publiſhed as a Specimen of Mr. POPE'S Alterations of the Verſes of his Friend, ſuch as he has himſelf given of his own Verſes, in the lateſt Editions of his Works.