Observations on the three first volumes of the History of English Poetry. In a familiar letter to the author
YOU will have no reaſon to be either alarmed or offended at a mode of addreſs, which every reader has a right to adopt. The author of a book upon a ſubject deſigned for and attractive of public attention gives a general challenge. If his facts and opinions ſtand the teſt of a fair and candid enquiry, he is entitled to univerſal patronage and approbation: if not, contempt and oblivion ſhould be his fate. The "History of Engliſh Poetry" ſtands high in public estimation; the ſubject is equally curious, intereſting, and abſtruſe: much, very much, of its ſucceſs is, undoubtedly, to be aſcribed to the opinion generally entertained of your veracity and care as a historian; and upon an idea ſo univerſal, ſo ſatisfactory, and hitherto ſo undisturbed, it may ſeem invidious not to have been content entirely to rely. I, however, Sir, am ſomewhat too reſtleſs in my enquiries, too deſirous of being able to judge for myſelf, to be ſatisfyed either with a writers reputation, or with the opinion of the world; at leaſt, when I have it in my power to learn how deſervedly that reputation has been acquired, or how juſtly that opinion is formed. In purſuit of theſe objects, I have read and examined your great and important work with ſome degree of attention and accuracy; and I now preſent you with the reſult of my enquiries: the public discloſure of which will not, I flatter myſelf, either to you, or your numerous readers, prove an unacceptable ſervice. If, in ſome few inſtances, I may be thought to have betrayed a warmth of expreſſion, from which reputation ſo high, abilities ſo uncommon, and a profeſſion ſo ſacred, ought to have been wholely exempt, let me, once for all, obſerve, that, having no other object in view, no other end to anſwer, than truth and justice, I neither wiſh nor intend to conſider you otherwiſe than as author of the work in question. Perſonal motives I cannot poſſibly have been influenced by, and [Page 2] utterly disavow. And were you able to falſify every charge I have here brought againſt you, whatever might be your ſeverity, I ſhould kiſs the rod with reſignation, and even pleaſure: as, I aſſure you, the ſatisfaction I ſhould have experienced, in finding your work entirely free from error, would have been infinitely beyond any I can be ſuppoſed to feel, in thus making myſelf the public inſtrument of its detection.
That "ſome perhaps will be of opinion, that theſe annals ought to have commenced with a view of Saxon poetry," is a very natural and judicious conjecture. "The legitimate illustration of that jejune and intricate ſubject," would undoubtedly "have doubled 'your' labour," and required, I fear, a more profound and extenſive erudition, as well as a more penetrating judgement, than were, perhaps, neceſſary for the aera whence you have thought proper to deduce this important history. "That the Saxon language is familiar only to a few learned antiquaries, that our Saxon poems are little more than religious rhapſodies, and that ſcarce any compoſitions remain marked with the native images of that people in their pagan ſtate (1), we will readyly allow; becauſe, admitting the poſitions to be true, they prove nothing; they are perfectly harmleſs: But, "that the Saxon poetry has NO CONNECTION with the nature and purpoſe of 'your' PRESENT UNDERTAKING," is an aſſertion, one may ſafely venture to ſay, as new as it is ill-grounded, and full of mischief. Though the great revolution produced by the Norman invaders effected "that ſignal change in our policy, conſtitution, and public manners," which has in its conſequences "reached modern times," yet neither the Saxon people nor the Saxon tongue was thereby eradicated. You, Sir, have ſometimes been a blographer; and did you ever find it neceſſary to commence the ſtory of your hero at the 15th or 16th year of his age, and to aſſert that the time of his birth and infancy had no connection with the ſtory of his life, becauſe, forſooth, he was become a very different perſon when grown up and ſent to college, from what he was when born, breeched, and ſent to ſchool? And yet one may well doubt, whether ſuch an apology would not have anſwered your purpoſe juſt as effectually in that caſe, as your reaſon for declining to enter upon the ſtate of [Page 3] the Saxon poetry does in this. The truth is, that the origin and fundamental principles, as well of our language as of our poetry, are to be ſought for among the remains of the Saxon literature (2); and he who ſhall tell us that the Engliſh and Saxon languages have not ſort of connection with each other, is either deceived hisſelf, or finds it his intereſt to deceive others,—by ſheltering his own ignorance or inactivity under a formidable and laboured ſhew of difficulty and uſeleſsneſs, equally viſionary, deluſive, and pernicious.
Whether you have gratifyed "the reader of taſte," by your exertions on this ſubject, I know not; but of this I am confident, that "the antiquarian" will have greater reaſon to be disſatisfyed with being perplexed or misled, than to thank you for having engaged in a taſk for which it will appear you have been ſo little qualifyed.
I ſhall paſs by the two diſſertations which precede your history without obſervation (3); not that I think them altogether juſt and proper, but becauſe I find that a ſtrict examination would require greater leiſure, and more intenſe application, as well as a more frequent reference to the numerous and uncommon books there quoted (many of which I have, by the way, much reaſon to ſuſpect you never conſulted, nor even ever ſaw) than I am at preſent either willing or able to devote to it. I do not, at the ſame time, wiſh to detract from whatever merit you may have in this ingenious ſtructure: I onely deſire the reader to be particularly cautious and distruſtful, as he wanders over theſe extenſive regions of FABLE and ROMANCE. One may, however, venture to aſſert, that, let your facts and reaſonings in the firſt of theſe diſſertations be ever ſo juſt, yet will they by no means prove any thing like what you produce them for,—the introduction of romantic fiction into Europe; which is rather to be ſought for in the history of the Gauls, or other Celtic nations, who were ſettled [Page 4] in Europe ſome thouſand years before you ſuppoſe the Goths to have arrived in this part of the world, and had doubtleſs "a very ſufficient ſtock of lies of their own growth (4)," without being beholden to Aſiatic adventurers.
I ſhall not give myſelf the trouble to minute every inaccuracy I might discover in the citations you have introduced from the old metrical legends, between your 7th and 26th page: I take it for granted they are juſt as correct as I ſhall prove others to be, which you have given from MSS. in the Cotton and Harleian libraries; many of which, as one may eaſyly perceive, by your method of quoting, referring to, or registering them, you have certainly never ſeen.
One cannot help taking notice of your frequent forewardneſs in determining the age of poetical compoſitions, or the MSS. which contain them. In this page you produce a love-ſong, the oldeſt you can discover, which you "would place before or about the year 1200." This you cite from a MS. appearing, as you elſewhere (5) tell us, to be of the hand-writing of the reign of king Edward the firſt: but an Elegy upon his DEATH, which you have printed, in another place (6), from this very MS. might have ſerved to ſhew you the abſurdity of dating it in his LIFE-TIME. The truth is, the book evidently appears to have been written in the reign of his ſon and ſucceſſor; and there is not the leaſt reaſon for concluding any poem in it to be much older than the year 1300.
The Revd. Dr. Percy (now lord biſhop of Dromore), whoſe knowlege in theſe matters ſeems pretty much upon a level with your own, has brought its age down ſo low as the reign of king Richard II. (7)
"With lokkes lefliche and longe." Lefliche, you ſay, is "lively;" and a moſt curious explanation to be ſure it is! The lively locks of a young lady! Charming creature! ſhe muſt have been a perfect Meduſa! But, poſſibly, you mistook lokkes for looks; and then we have the lively and long looks of the ſaid fair one! If this famous history of yours ſhould have the great and unmerited good fortune to come to a ſecond edition, you will do well to ſubtract one fault, by correcting lively to lovely; and another, by writing lure lumes inſtead of bire limmes: for though old poetry may be the ſame thing to you, ſenſe or nonſenſe, it may not be ſo to every one who is tempted to look into your book. The great blank, a few lines [Page 5] further, you may fill up with the little word wes: but, indeed, you would do much better to get a freſh tranſcript, as there are fifty other mistakes in the copy you have printed: and all the reſt of the extracts from this and every other MS. throughout the volume, and indeed the whole work, are in the ſame predicament. It would, moreover, be as well, not to call the verſes beginning "Hyrdmen [hem] hatieth ant vch mones hyne," a different ballad from that on the lawyers; as, had you inſpected the MS. inſtead of the catalogue, you would have found both to be one and the ſame piece.
We are here favoured with a ſatyrical ballad upon Richard king of the Romans, brother to our Henry III. preſerved in the above MS. which you, in a note, tell us you "had tranſcribed from the Britiſh Muſeum, and written the explanations upon, BEFORE 'you' knew that it was printed in the SECOND [FIRST] edition of Doctor Percy's Ballads."—Now, Mr. Warton, liſten to me for a ſingle moment, and "mark how a plain tale ſhall put you down." Dr. (now Bp.) Percy, in printing this ſong, has taken ſome liberties with the orthography and language (and where is the piece with which he has not taken ſuch liberties?) in particular, he has altered the word cop (8), which he did not underſtand, to fot, which, it is to be ſuppoſed, he did. In this alteration, and indeed throughout the whole poem, YOU, Mr. Warton, have followed him with a moſt literal and ſervile exactneſs. Still, however, you might have eſcaped undetected, and have pilfered "your ingenious friend and fellow-labourer" with ſafety; but, unluckyly, his lordſhips accuracy, being much of a piece with your own, ſuffered him to omit a complete ſtanza; which could not poſſibly have eluded the obſervation of a ſecond copyiſt: but I look in vain for it in YOUR (different) tranſcript. However, as it may be ſome ſmall conſolation to you in this unfortunate dilemma, I will here give it you.
Be þe luef be þe loht ſire edward,You ſhalt ride ſporeles o þy lyard.Al þe ryhte way to douere wardShalt þou never more breke forewardAnd þat reweþ ſore.Edward þou dudeſt aſe a ſhrewardFor ſoke þyn emes lore.Richard &c.
[Page 6] This omiſſion of the ingenious prelate is the more aſtoniſhing, not onely as the verſe immediately follows what he has copyed, but becauſe Mr. Wanley ſays, in his catalogue, that the ſong expreſsly mentions prince Edward, which it onely does in this verſe (9).
I ſhall make no remark on the obvious wonder of your forgetting the principal contents of a book, from which you are continually quoting paſſages—as your own; a favour, indeed, that many writers have to acknowlege, beſide his lordſhip of Dromore.
"The king and ys conſeil radde the ſtones for to fette." Radde you boldly ſay is Rode. Writers who want in knowlege ſhould abound in care. Had you read three lines further, you would have discovered that the king and his council did NOT ride.—It means adviſed.
No one, I ſincerely believe, except yourſelf, could have ſuppoſed, for a moment, that the name of HENGIST deſerved the ſlighteſt attention, in giving the etymology of the word STONEHENGE:—than which nothing can be more ſimple and apparent; as it is communicated by the word itsſelf: [...] hanging ſtone.
It may not be improper, once for all, to warn the reader, that you interpret every where at random; and not becauſe you perfectly underſtand, but becauſe you are entirely ignorant of, the word you pretend to explain. I muſt, however, do you the justice to except a variety of words, to which you have affixed [Page 7] the proper meanings, where the mereſt ſchool-boy could not have been at a loſs for them: and for the multitude of really difficult ones which you have left untouched, your readers owe you infinite obligations.
Poor old Cotgrave is here attacked for, what you call, abſurdly interpreting mangoneau (magnel in your text) an old-faſhioned ſling. You, indeed, ſay, "it is a catapult or battering ram (10)." But, pray, Mr. Warton, who told you ſo? or where did you learn that a catapult was the ſame thing as a battering ram? Cotgrave undoubtedly knew a thouſand million times more of the matter than you can do: and, to prove that you know nothing at all about it, let me intreat you to read your own text; you will there find that the magnels were to be uſed by people UPON the wall, againſt thoſe who came to aſſail it. Was that the place and uſe of a battering ram? The very paſſage ſhews Cotgrave to be right: and his explanation is further confirmed by a line at p. 72, where, though the word magneles is joined with ſlinges, and evidently ſignifies ſomething of the ſame nature, you have the confidence to refer the reader to the above nonſenſe at p. 68.
"Sir Robert of Malton. It appears from hence, that he was born at Malton in Lincolnſhire." And why not at Malton in Yorkſhire? or why, indeed, at any Malton? There are ſtill places called Melton. But do you ſuppoſe, that when a perſon is deſigned of ſuch a place, it is always an evidence he was born at it?
"Before theſe expeditions into the Eaſt became faſhionable, the principal and leading ſubjects of the old fablers were the atchievements of king [Page 8] Arthur with his knights of the round table, and of Charlemagne with his twelve peers. But in the romances written after the holy war, a new ſet of champions, of conqueſts and of countries, were introduced. Trebizonde took place of Rouncevalles, and Godfrey of Bulloigne, Solyman, Nouraddin, the caliphs, the ſouldans, and the cities of Aegypt and Syria, became the favourite topics."
And now, Mr. Warton, after this very ſublime Eaſtern flight, let me aſk, for I dare ſay many of your readers would be glad to know, what time you are pleaſed to call the faſhionable aera of the Cruſade. Was it when Godfrey captured Jeruſalem in 1099? or when Richard I. planted the Engliſh ſtandard upon the walls of Acon in 1191? If the firſt, you will, I am afrayed, be at a loſs to produce a ſingle romance upon the ſubject of king Arthur, of Charlemagne, or of Roncesvalles. If the ſecond, then I am to enquire where a romance is to be found, any way near that age, or, indeed, of any other, which treats of Trebizond, independent of the history of Charlemagne? and, excepting, perhaps, a book or two of the acts of Godfrey and Baldwin, where are theſe favourite romances of Solyman, Nouraddin, the caliphs, the ſoldans, Egypt, and Syria, which cut ſuch a pompous figure in the above extract? Shall I likewiſe give you the trouble to recollect your authority for making the whole body of the troubadours of Provence take up arms, and follow their barons, "in prodigious multitudes," to the conqueſt of Jeruſalem? That ſome few of theſe poets, in the ſervice and courts of princes, ſhould be permitted to accompany their lords to the cruſade, and that others, of inferior rank, might enter into and mix with the army, may be, and I fancy is, very true: but that a ſingle province ſhould, at that or any other time, contain ſuch prodigious multitudes of itinerant minſtrels, is an aſſertion as hypothetic and inſupportable, as it is incredible and abſurd. It will, moreover, appear, that the Provencal troubadours were then (i. e. about the latter cruſade, for you fix upon neither) and for ſome time after, a reſpectable and ſuperior deſcription of men.
"The elder Spaniſh romances have profeſsedly more Arabian alluſions than any other."—Will you, Mr. Warton, do us the favour to name a ſingle one of thoſe elder Spaniſh romances, with any Arabian alluſion? I know you cannot. Cervantes has, indeed, pretended that the author of Don Quixote was an Arabian. And any perſon acquainted with the romantic books publiſhed about his own time (11) will ſee the force and propriety of this piece of ſatyre. Thoſe critics, and we know well enough who they are, that ſuppoſed Spain to have learned the art of romance-writing from the Arabians, and to have afterwards communicated it to the reſt of Europe, were, unfortunately, ignorant that this ſpecies of compoſition was every where cultivated, and had been ſo for centuries, before it is known to have even exiſted in Spain. To prove that the Spaniards imitated the Moors (and they have not a ſingle romance [Page 9] (at leaſt what WE mean by romance) to be given in evidence upon the occaſion) it ſhould firſt be made appear, from better authority than the whimſical reveries of ſelf-conceited hypothetics, that thoſe Arabians had any ſuch performances among them. Huet does not ſeem to favour any ſuch ſystem: he uſes the word romance with the greateſt propriety: and the ſophistry and ignorance of that (would-have-been) univerſal critic (and there was never wanting either a fool to think, or a paraſite to call him ſo) who undertook and pretended to correct him, has been ſufficiently expoſed and chastiſed by one very well acquainted with the merits of both (12).
This faucon brode you moſt ſagaciously interpret to be a BIRD! wonderful genius!—What had not the king to dread from an enemy ſo terribly accoutered! "The Soldan (continues this your admirable expoſition) is repreſented as meeting Richard with a hawk on his fiſt, to ſhew indifference, or a contempt for his adverſary; and that he came rather prepared for the CHACE than the COMBAT." And ſo you go on, through a whole page, and a long note, to prove that other great men formerly carryed hawks on their fiſt, but never, as you very ingeniously conclude, going to battle: and yet the Soldan is here in the midſt of an engagement, and riding full ſpeed to aſſail his antagoniſt, with a FAULCON in (not on) his hand, inſtead of a SABRE!—Though ſuch unparalleled ignorance, ſuch matchleſs effrontery, is not, Mr. Warton, in my humble opinion, worthy of any thing but castigation or contempt, yet, ſhould there be a ſingle perſon, beſide yourſelf, who can mistake the meaning of ſo plain, ſo obvious a paſſage (which I much ſuſpect to have been corrupted in coming through your hands) I ſhall beg leave to inform him, that a FAUCON BRODE is nothing more or leſs than a BROAD FAUCHION."A FAUCON BRODE in honde he bare,"For he thought he wold thare"Have ſlayne Rycharde with treaſowne."
I ſtop here to acquaint you, that ROBERT LE DIABLE is a totally different perſonage from ROBERT OF CICYLE. I ſhall have a little more to ſay to you on your intimacy with theſe two gentlemen by and by.
Pray, Mr. Warton, ſhall I take the liberty to aſk you, in what "ROMANTIC HISTORY OF THE PALADINS" we ſhall find "William Ferrabras and his brethren, ſons of Tancred the Norman, [who] acquired the ſignories of Apulia and Calabria, about the year 1230!"
"It is well known that anciently England LADIES were ſheriffs of counties." This is a circumſtance of which you, who ſeem to know ſo many ſtrange things, may be perfectly ſatisfyed. Some of your readers, though, I imagine, would have been equally obliged to you, if you had condeſcended to produce an inſtance or two of the fact:—but that, I am afrayed, would have been ſomewhat difficult to compaſs (13)
"The metrical romance, entitled, La [Le] Mort Arthure…is ſuppoſed by the learned and accurate Wanley to be a translation from the French: who adds, that it is not perhaps older than the times of Henry the ſeventh. But as it abounds with many Saxon words, and SEEMS to be quoted in Syr Bevys, I have given it a place here (14)."
The learning and accuracy of Mr. Wanley had not, however, it ſhould ſeem, the power to convince you that a poem no older than the reign of Henry VII. could not poſſibly belong to that of Edward II. But it often, indeed, ſuits ones purpoſe beſt to be ignorant. Mr. Wanley ſays, the writer of this romance "uſeth many Saxon or obſolete words:" and Dr. Percy obſerves, that ‘it SEEMS to be quoted in Syr Bevis,’ (your own expreſſion!) which is as unlikely as it is untrue. However, to ſettle all differences upon the ſubject (and you had certainly, Mr. Warton, on theſe puzzling occaſions, better ſuffer yourſelf to be guided by ſo good a judge as Mr. Wanley, than, being blind yourſelt, lead your blind readers into the ditch) I can aſſure you, that this ſame romance (and one might have almoſt gueſsed it by the title) is neither more nor leſs than a good part of CAXTONS Proſe Book reduced into metre; and neither is, nor poſſibly can be, older than the reign of Henry the ſeventh.
"Chaucer mentions in Sir Topaz, among others, the romantic poems of SIR BLANDAMOURE, Sir Libeaux, and Sir Ippotis. Of the former, I find nothing more than the name occurring in SIR LIBEAUX." And do you, Mr. Warton, really find the name there? Dr. Percy, indeed, ſays that the word (Blandamoure, 1 ſuppoſe) occurs in LIBEAUX; and very modeſtly [Page 11] obſerves, "that 'tis poſſible Chaucers memory deceived him!" But you, Mr. Warton, will be pleaſed to mark: 1. that Chaucer does NOT mention SIR BLANDAMOURE (the title is conferred by yourſelf (15)); he onely names Syr Libeaus and Pleindamoure. And, 2. I am credibly informed, that no ſuch name as either Blandamoure or Pleindamoure is to be found in Lybeaus: ſo that, it is probable, either your own eyes, or (as I rather ſuppoſe) thoſe of your right reverend and learned friend, have ſeen the thing which was not.
"Among Tanners manuſcripts (you ſay) we have the Weddynge of Sir Gawain, Numb. 455. Bibl. Bodl." But are you ſure, Mr. Warton, that this reference is accurate:—there was, I am well aſſured, no ſuch thing in the article when it was, not long ſince, inſpected for this very purpoſe.
"Fitz-Stephen mentions, at the end of his tract, "Imperatricem Matildem, Henricum tertium, et beatum Thomam. &c." p. 483." Upon which you make the following profound and ſagacious remark: "Henry the third did not accede till the year 1216. Perhaps he (Fitz-Stephen) implied futurum regem tertium." You conclude then, do doubt, that he ſpoke by the ſpirit of prophecy; for this Henry the third was not born till 1207, thirty-five years after Beckets aſſaſſination, and ſometime, moſt probably, after Fitz-Stephens death. But I will, as I have often done, and ſhall, throughout my letter, have frequent occaſion to do, give you a little information upon this ſubject, of which you ſeem very much in need.
1. You do not (at leaſt did not) underſtand the paſſage you have here imperfectly quoted, or you muſt have perceived that the author only mentions [Page 12] theſe three great perſonages in this place, becauſe they were born in LONDON. 2. Henry the third (who "acceded in 1216") as I think you muſt have been ſome time or other told, was born at WINCHESTER; which place, for aught I know, might likewiſe have the honour of giving birth to yourſelf. 3. Fitz-Stephen is not ſpeaking of a king in futuro, but of one in eſſe, namely, Henry the younger, ſon to Henry II. and grandſon to the empreſs Matilda, who was crowned king in the life-time of his father, and is expreſsly ſtiled HENRICUS TERTIUS, by Mathew Paris, William of Newbury, and ſeveral others of our early historians.—Particulars known to any perſon; but of which I do not at all wonder that YOU ſhould be ignorant, or upon which, that you ſhould write; as you ſeem to be no better acquainted with any one point you have handled in the whole courſe of your blundering work.
This rubbiſh (16) fills up rarely, Mr. Warton! we ſhall ſoon make a volume!
The folly and injustice of your cenſure on Wickliffe, that his attacks on the ſuperſtitions of his age proceeded from reſentment, might have been avoided, had you known when he begun to write, and when he was ejected from his wardenſhip; particulars which you might eaſyly have learned from the Biographia Britannica.
I ſhould be glad to know from what authority, or intrinſic or extrinſic evidence, you infer, that the romance of Alexander, quoted in this page, was written in imitation of the ſtile and manner of Piers Plowman; which it certainly is not. Indeed, it rather ſeems to be a much earlyer compoſition. There is, I can aſſure you, more reaſon againſt LONGLANDS title to the authorſhip of Piers Plowman than you are aware of.
I wiſh not to interrupt the merryment occaſioned by this notable diſcovery:—But, after you have ſufficiently enjoyed your laugh,—let me aſk you, where this ſame diverting double anachroniſm exiſts—out of your own imagination,— [Page 13] fertile enough, perhaps, in creations of this kind. Why might not Creſſid be repreſented by Chaucer as reading the STORY OF THEBES? Was the deſtruction of that city ſubſequent to the ſiege of Troy? And, admitting that Chaucer derived all his own knowlege from the THEBAID, does CASSANDRA ever mention the name of STATIUS?
You are here pleaſed to tell, us, that "AMADIS DE GAUL" had a ſword which baffled the force of enchantments; and refer to Don Quixote as your authority: but you are continually involving yourſelf in ſome unfortunate dilemma. For, in the 1ſt place, Amadis de Gaul had NOT ſuch a ſword: and, 2dly, Don Quixote does NOT ſay he HAD. He, indeed, ſpeaks of the ſword which belonged to "Amadis, quando ſe llamàva, el Cavallero de la ardiente eſpada (17)," when he called himſelf, the Knight of the burning ſword: and, if you had been in the leaſt degree acquainted with the matter, you would have known that it is not to AMADIS DE GAUL, but to AMADIS OF GREECE, he here alludes: which laſt character is known by this very title; and whoſe ſword had actually the qualities which Cervantes aſcribes to it.
- 1. The romance alluded to by Cervantes is intitled, "La Historia de la linda Magalona hija del rey de Napoles y de Pierres de Provença," printed at Seville, 1533, and 1542, 4 to. and is a translation from a much more ancient and very celebrated French romance, under a ſimilar title.
- 2. The ſtory of the wooden horſe, with the pin in its head, is alſo to be found in another old Spaniſh romance (likewiſe from the French) intitled, "La Historia del cavallero Clamades y de la linda Clarmonda," printed at Burgos, 1521, in 4 to.
- 3. The original tale is in the Arabian Nights Entertainments (18)
"The ſtory of Patient Griſilde was the invention of Boccacio." Hardyly and boldly aſſerted.—Blind Bayard never heſitates at a leap. From the circumſtance of there being every reaſon to conclude that Boccace was NOT the author of this ſtory, you very rationally conclude he WAS. In the year 1373 (and not 1374) the Decameron fell into the hands of Petrarch, who tells Boccace, in a letter, he was ſo much affected with this tale, that he had translated it into Latin; adding, that it had always pleaſed him when he had heard [Page 14] it many years before (19); a ſufficient proof that Boccace was not the author. And it would, indeed, appear very ſtrange, if Petrarch had not payed his friend ſome compliment upon the invention of ſo intereſting a ſtory, if he had not been fully appriſed that it was not HIS. Beſides, it is well enough known that this is far from being the onely tale in the Decameron, of which Boccace was not the inventor. The fable of Chaucers interview with Petrarch having been juſtly exploded and given up by every other perſon, YOU are now "inclined to think that he (Chaucer) was one of thoſe friends to whom Petrarch uſed to relate it (i. e. the ſtory of Griſilde) at Padua;" and "this," you ſay, "ſeems ſufficiently pointed out in the words of the prologue;" becauſe the Clerk of Oxenford, who tells the ſtory, there ſays, that HE "lernid it at 'Padow of this worthie clerke." A moſt convincing and ſatisfactory circumſtance truely! But Petrarch does not inform us that he ever uſed to relate the ſtory to his friends at Padua, or anywhere elſe: he onely ſays, he had ſhewn his translation of it to one of them: and from this verſion, which would, moſt probably, be longer and more circumſtantial than Boccacios (and if you think proper, you have it in your power to compare them) there can be little doubt that Chaucer took the ſtory, believing it to be Petrarchs own, and knowing it was not Boccacios.
"There is a curious mixture in CHAUCERS balade to king Henry IV. where Alexander, Hector, Julius Caeſar, Judas Maccabeus, David, Joſhua, Charlemagne, Godfrey of Bulloign, and king Arthur, are all thrown together as antient heroes. v. 281, ſeq."
And pray, Sir, under your good favour, where is the great curioſity of placing the NINE WORTHIES in their proper order? Your learning juſt enabled you to discover, that les neuf preux meant the nine worthies; it was not ſufficient to inform you who they were. But now, Mr. Warton, ſince you are ſo fond of pointing out curioſities, what do you think of the curioſity of JOHN GOWERS balade to Henry IV. being written by CHAUCER?
"Wel ſikerer was his crowing in his loge,"Than was a clock, or abbey horologe."
"A broche ſhe bare upon her low collere,"As brode as is the boſſe of a boklere,"
"It is remarkable," you ſay, "that Wickliffe translates, Luc. i. 21! [i. 15.] "He ſchal not drinke wyn ne ſydyr!" Is this laſt word in any printed or MS. copy of Wickliffes testament; or is it an interpolation of your own? I onely aſk, becauſe a very ancient MS. of it, which has been lately conſulted for the purpoſe, reads "wyne & cyſer," ("vinum et ſiceram;" OXFORD ALE.) And as that ſeems to be the true word, your quotation of the paſſage makes nothing to the purpoſe for which you produce it.
It would have been a curious, though, I ſhould be apt to imagine, a ſomewhat difficult argument, to have endeavoured to prove how Gowers mentioning a great number of ſtones, "vegetable, mineral, and animal," "abundantly confirms" Dr. Warburtons explication of Falſtaffes "TWO ſtones:" which paſſage, you very modeſtly tell us, "the reſt of the commentators do not ſeem to have underſtood;" though, in reality, as "the reſt of the commentators" would tell you, you do not underſtand it yourſelf.
"I have mentioned a Latin romance of Alexander's life, as printed by Frederick Corſellis, about 1468. ſupr. vol. i. p. 131. [where you tell us it is "without date."] On examination, that impreſſion is ſaid to be finiſhed Decemb. 17, 1468. Unluckily, the ſeventeenth day of December was a Sunday that year. A manifeſt proof that the name of Corſellis was forged."
And upon this correction and inevitable concluſion, I ſhall beg leave to hazard a couple of inſignificant remarks. The firſt is, I much doubt whether there be any ſuch book as you refer to, appearing or pretending to be printed by Corſellis in the above year; becauſe, if there be, and we can onely get rid of your "manifeſt proof," I think its existence will go a great way to eſtabliſh not onely the identity of the man, but his reſidence and practice at [Page 16] Oxford in that very early period: a circumſtance ſo much to the credit of Alma Mater, that I am ſurpriſed one of her old fostered children ſhould have ſo readyly given it up, on the ſlight ground of a printers devil finiſhing a book upon a Sunday!
But are you certain, Mr. Warton, that the 17th day of Decem. 1468 was a Sunday? Becauſe I have (and this is my 2d remark) ſome reaſon to believe that it was not; and I'll tell you why:—It was a SATURDAY; the laſt day of the week; the moſt likely of all others for the finiſhing of a laborious work: "a manifeſt proof that the name of Corſellis was NOT forged." For, ſurely, "the colluſion holds good in the exchange."—The Sunday letter for this part of the year, which was leap year (and I appeal to every one capable of calculating it) was B. Sunday muſt, therefor, neceſſaryly fall upon the EIGHTEENTH day of the above month; as any pariſh-clerk is able to inform you. How prudent, Mr. Warton, you ſee it is, always to eſtabliſh your premiſſes upon a ſure foundation, before you venture to draw a concluſion which may, in the end, prove the overthrow of its creator.
—"men knowè well inowe"That combre-world that thou [Death] my mayſter ſlowe."
"He [Whethamſtede] expended upwards of one hundred and TWENTY pounds." Hearne, in the place quoted (20), has "ultra ſummā centū ql qa ginta librar." Is that a hundred and TWENTY?
The extract from Sir Launfal, for which you are obliged to your very accurate and faithful friend and coadjutor, Dr. Thomas Percy (now lord biſhop of Dromore) is in the ſame miſerable ſtate of incorrectneſs as all your other tranſcripts from MSS. But why ſhould you regard what you do not underſtand? I will, 1ſt, give you an inſtance that it is incorrect; and, 2dly, an inſtance that you do not underſtand it.
[Page 17] I could adduce five hundred ſuch inſtances, if I choſe. I may hereafter take ſome notice of your abſurd whim of aſcribing "a ſet of French romances" to "ſome Armorican bard;" as well as of the familiar and confident manner in which you affect to ſpeak of the poets of Britany; of whoſe writings you never ſaw a line, nor can you tell where there is one to be found; and for whoſe history you know not where to look.
You think you "have ſeen ſome evidence to prove that Chestre was author of the Erle of Tholouſe." You THINK ſo! and expect, I ſuppoſe, that your dreams are to paſs upon your readers for fact and history? you never could ſee any ſuch evidence; you never did ſee it.
I onely obſerve, that the Gal, which you have here ſo very ingeniously converted into Sal, and thence into Salisbury, is foiſted in by yourſelf, without the leaſt authority. This Chateau du Gaſt, or Gât, is indeed ſayed to be near Salisbury, but that is a ſufficient proof it was not meant to be the ſame place. You ſhould have proved that the romance of Lancelot had exiſted in Latin, before you mentioned it as a translation from that tongue.
"John Major mentions the beginning of ſome of his [i. e. James I. of Scotlands] other poems, viz. "Yas ſen, &c." and "at Beltayn, &c." Both theſe poems SEEM to be written on his wife." And why do they SEEM ſo? Did you ever ſee them? Can you discover ſo much from the four words and two et ceteras you have printed? or does Major, or any one elſe who knew them, ſay aught to favour ſo idle, and, to my knowlege, falſe a notion?
Where, in the name of all that is wonderful and abſurd, could you poſſibly meet with this precious piece of information? In the ſame authority, no doubt, whence you learned that the EMPEROR was taken priſoner by the FRENCH KING, at the ſiege of PAVIA (21). You muſt either, Mr. Warton, deal in very ſtrange histories, or elſe you are very unmindful of what you read, or careleſs of what you ſay. And, indeed, I cannot but think, if that good and wholeſome diſcipline, which the name of MILTON may probably call to your remembrance, were ſtill in uſe at Trinity College, the more than childiſh ignorance of a certain near friend of yours would hardly eſcape without experiencing its ſalutary effects.
If you had looked further into John Hardings Chronicle, than merely to [Page 18] pick out a ſpecimen of his poetical frigidity, you might have found reaſon to allow, with ſome truth, "that both his proſe and poetry are equally uſeful;" as his book contains many curious and important historical records, and a relation of numerous intereſting facts, in ſome of which he was a performer, to others an eye-witneſs, not to be found in any other of our old writers: and, ſurely, you are not ſo abſurd as to imagine, that the veracity of his narrative is impeached by the flatneſs of his verſe. But, indeed, I am not at all ſurpriſed at the disregard you ſhew for authentic history, after giving us ſuch ſignal proofs how little you are acquainted with it.
"John Scogan is commonly ſuppoſed to have been a cotemporary of Chaucer, but this is a mistake. He was educated at Oriel college in Oxford; and being an excellent mimic, and of great pleaſantry in converſation, became the favourite buffoon of the court of Edward the fourth, in which he paſſed the greateſt part of his life." You could ſcarcely have give the gentleman a more particular deſcription, if you had enjoyed the pleaſure of a tête-à-tête with him. But where is your authority for it? Marry, in "SCOGGINS JESTS;" an admirable ſource, truely, to draw the history of a mans life from. So may the lives of Foote, Garrick, and Sir John Fielding, be compiled, by ſome future Warton, from the jeſt-books extant under their reſpective names. But let us examine the account. This Scogan, or Scoggin, it ſeems was a buffoon in the court of Edward the fourth: how, then, came Falſtaff to break his head, "at the court gate, when he was a crack not thus high;" this was in John of Gaunts time, when Jack "was page to Thomas Mowbray, duke of Norfolk (22)" O! this no doubt, you will ſay, is Shakſpeares own anachroniſm. Ben Jonſon, however, who was as likely to know the fact as you are, expreſsly tells us that Scogan was
And this ſeems to be true; for we have a moral balade royal from "Scogan, unto the lordes and gentlemen of the kynges houſe," and which muſt, as you obſerve, have been written before the year 1447 (meaning, I ſuppoſe, 1412) in his old age, and printed, as you yourſelf tell us, by Caxton, who was, doubtleſs, ſufficiently acquainted with his identity and character; and there is, likewiſe, another from Chaucer to him. So that, notwithſtanding any doubt or uncertainty [Page 19] you may have upon the authenticity of theſe two poems (24), every perſon elſe muſt be convinced that the Scogan, by and to whom they were reſpectively written, could not poſſibly be a buffoon in the court of Edward IV. This was a difficulty you could not reconcile to your hypotheſis: you were, therefor, reſolved to deny, or, at leaſt, to doubt, the evidence that made for the oppoſite ſide of the question, and to cut the knot which you could not untye. For a little enquiry or attention muſt have informed you, that the true name of the poet Scogan was HENRY, and not JOHN. This Mr. Tyrwhitt has clearly ſhewn, and thence (perhaps rather too haſtyly) inferred that the ſtory of Scogan the jeſter was an abſurd and improbable fiction; nay, he has even (contrary to his uſual candour) gone ſo far as to call the jeſt-book, of which you have ſo exalted an opinion, "a collection of fooliſh ſtories." The merits of the work I ſhall leave to be ſettled between yourſelves; but this really learned and ingenious gentleman will not, I truſt, take it amiſs, if I ſhall venture to aſſert, that there actually was ſuch a perſon as JOHN SCOGAN; a totally distinct character from Henry, the poet; and who, though no "jocular bard," (unleſs you will allow the extract in the note ſufficient to authoriſe the title) muſt, in my mind, have been "a fellow of infinite jeſt, of moſt excellent fancy." I do not, in forming this opinion, rely altogether upon your friend Dr. Andrew Borde; though it will appear, that the account given by him is not entirely void of probability (25); neither do I lay much ſtreſs on what Shallow ſays in 2 Hen. IV.—"Bale, inaccurately," you ſay (but why, inaccurately? he certainly knew more about the fellow than you can do) "calls Scogan, the JOCULATOR of Edward the fourth;"—the kings JESTER: there is no inaccuracy in the phraſe, and you admit the fact. But I ſhall produce ſtill better and more unexceptionable authority: and, firſt, we will ſee what master Raphael Hollinshed ſays of him (ſpeaking of the great men of Edward the fourths time). "Skogan, a learned gentleman, and ſtudent for a time in Oxforde, of a pleaſaunte witte, and bent to mery deuiſes, in reſpect whereof he was called [Page 20] into the courte, where giuing himſelfe to his naturall inclination of mirthe and pleaſaunt paſtime, he plaied many ſporting parts, althoughe not in ſuche vnciuill maner as hath bene of hym reported (26)." Secondly, here is his EPITAPH, tranſcribed from an authentic MS. in the Britiſh Muſeum (27), an evidence which muſt be deciſive as to his existence, character, and christian name:— a fine gentleman, and a maſter of artsOf HENRY THE FOURTHS times, that made disguiſesFor the kings ſons, and writ in ballad royalDaintily well (23).
Hic iacet in tumulo corpus SCOGAN ecce JOHANNISSit tibi pro ſpeculo letus fuit eius in annisLeti tranſibunt tranſitus vitare nequibuntQuo neſcimꝰ ibunt vinoſi cito Ribunt.
This MS. appears to have been written towards the latter part of Edward the fourth's time; ſo that you are peculiarly happy in your conjecture, that Scogan "FLOURISHED about the year 1480 (28)."
"I refer alſo the NOTBROWNE MAYDE to this period (i. e. the reign of Ed. IV.) That is, becauſe you know no better than Prior did, when he called it three hundred years old. It cannot poſſibly be earlyer than Henry the eighths time. You are equally mistaken about "the delectable history of king Edward the fourth and the tanner of Tamworth," which (as we have it now) is certainly not older than the latter part of queen Elizabeths reign. By a parity of reaſoning, I ſuppoſe, if it had been the delectable history of king HENRY the fourth, or king Edward the FIRST, and the aforeſay'd tanner, you would have carryed it fifty or a hundred years ſtill further back. I readyly, however, admit, [Page 21] that the poem has been much moderniſed, and that the original (of which, I am certain, you never before heard) is probably as old as the time you mention, having ſeen and tranſcribed an ancient MS. copy, which appeared to have been written in or about the reign of Henry the ſeventh, intitled, "THE KYNG AND THE BARKER (29)."
Though I very willingly agree with you in determining the poems of Rowley to be modern ill-contrived forgeries, yet I muſt beg leave to think, that neither "MS. Wantn." nor any other, gives you the leaſt authority for ſaying, that "SIR CHARLES BALDWIN was executed at Briſtol in the preſence of Edward the fourth, in the year 1463." This name and circumſtance (if not from Chattertons poem) are entirely of your own invention. And how is it poſſible that ROWLEYS MEMOIRS ſhould be compoſed in 1460, when he ſpeaks of king Edward IV. as the reigning prince, who did not attain the crown till the following year; and expreſsly mentions his Briſtow tragedy: the relation of an event which, according to your own account, did not happen before 1463 (or, as you afterwards correct yourſelf, 1462 or 1461)?
"The reader will obſerve, that whether there are eight or SEVEN lines, I have called it the OCTAVE ſtanza." I ſee you have; and ſhould, from this curious remark, be rather apt, if it were not for better intelligence, to aſſign your birth, parentage, and education, to a country more remarkable for ſuch like obſervations than our own. You are, I imagine, ſo far acquainted with mathematics, as to know that SEVEN is not EIGHT, any more than 4, 6, 9, or 10: for you likewiſe call Spenſers the OCTAVE ſtanza; by the ſame licence, I ſuppoſe, as you elſewhere tell us that a poem, containing SIX lines in each verſe, was "printed in FIVE-LINED STANZAS (30)."
Having displayed your ingenious conjectures, that Ranulph Higden, the chronicler, was author of the Chester Whitſun Plays, you tell us, that "in Piers Plowman, a FRIER ſays, that he is well acquainted with the rimes of Randall of Chester;" and add, "I take this paſſage to allude to THIS VERY PERSON, [Page 22] and to his compoſitions of this kind, for which he was probably ſoon famous." Very well; every thing, you ſuppoſe, is ſo far ſmooth and ſafe. And now, Mr. Warton, let me obſerve two things to you: 1ſt. The fellow, in Piers Plowman, to whom you mean to refer, is NOT a FRIER, but an idle, drunken, SECULAR PRIEST. 2dly. He does NOT ſay, that he is well acquainted with THE "rimes of Randall of Chester;" he onely tells us, that he "CAN rimes of Roben Hode and Randal of Chester." i. e. that he could SING or REPEAT rimes or ſongs (not MADE BY, but) OF AND CONCERNING Robin Hood and Randal of Chester;—not Randal Hygden, but Randal Blundeville, EARL of CHESTER, a cruſader and celebrated hero, greatly in favour with the common people, and contemporary with Robin Hood. You begin now to perceive what a ridiculous figure your concluſion cuts, and into what a miſerable dilemma you have got: for, unleſs you will allow that YOUR frier could ſpout plays written by Robin Hood, you cannot be permitted to ſay, that he alludes to the Whitſun Mummeries of Randal Hygden, how famous ſoever you may ſuppoſe him to have been on that account.
"INFORTUNIO." You had beſt be ſure whether Spenſer ever aſſumed this appellation. In the mean time I will inform you, that the author of this poem, on the miſeries of Edward II. was RALPH STARKEY the antiquary.
"The DEADMAN'S SONG…is worthy of Doctor Percy's excellent collection." I really believe, Mr. Warton, that you are the onely perſon in the world that could think, or would ſay ſo. It is a moſt wretched performance, altogether unworthy of republication: and for the justice of this character, I appeal to the Doctor hisſelf; of whoſe taſte in poetry (that is, where he underſtands it) I have the higheſt opinion; and who may, indeed, eaſyly make it deſerving of a place in his "excellent collection," if he will but take the ſame pains with it, which he has taken with moſt of the other old pieces ſo faithfully reprinted in that celebrated work. It has done HIS buſyneſs, however, and that's enough.
IS THIS a proof, that you, Mr. Warton, have ever read the Somnium Scipionis? or, a proof that you have been in a dream yourſelf? Is it poſſible, think you, for ſuch an abſurdity to have proceeded from any other perſon?
"The HISTORY OF THE SEVEN CHAMPIONS, a book compiled in the reign of JAMES THE FIRST, by one Richard Johnſon, and containing ſome of the capital fictions of the old Arabian romance." It is ſomewhat extraordinary, if this work were written no ſooner, that the AUTHOR of the OBSERVATIONS ON SPENSERS FAIRY QUEEN ſhould have repreſented it as one of thoſe "miraculous books" which were ſo highly faſhionable in the reign of queen Elizabeth, and even as having been of great aſſistance to Spenſer in the formation of that poem. But I well know who corrected him; and I likewiſe believe that the correcter knew very little more of the matter than the corrected. The fact is, that both the author of the Obſervations and the author of the History of Engliſh Poetry is wrong. For, 1ſt. The History of the Seven Champions was not written ſo early as the Fairy Queen: and, 2dly. It was not "compiled in the reign of James the firſt." The firſt poſition is not, indeed, quite ſo eaſy to prove, nor, as you yourſelf here ſuppoſe the contrary, do I much care whether it be true or not: but the other is certain, "The Seven Champions of Chriſtendom" being quoted, as a popular book, by Meres, in his WITS TREASURY, printed in 1598. With reſpect to its containing any fiction of Arabian romance, you ſhould, I think, firſt adduce ſome ſuch romance, containing ſimilar fictions with the Seven Champions, which is a mere olio from Guy, Bevis, and other old Engliſh romances and ſtory-books.
"The criſten mon hedde farly"What hit mihte mene."
Though I have, here and there, haſtyly picked up a good large bavin of your pretended explanations of ancient words, as they lay in my way, I certainly have not made it a point to be very attentive to them. Your blunders are beyond computation, "out of all ceſs;" and I have neither the leiſure nor the patience to detect you in every one. But your ignorance is ſo amazing and unaccountable, in many of them, that I cannot chooſe but beſtow more attention upon them than I otherwiſe would do. For inſtance, how could you contrive to misinterpret, and corrupt the above ſimple phraſe "hedde ferly," as you have done? The loweſt perſon in Trinity college, the porter, nay your old bed-maker, had [Page 24] you aſked them the question, would have immediately informed you its meaning was purely this: The christian man had ferly (i. e. wonder), what it might mean.
"Clere ipavet with gete.""Paved with griff, i. e. ſand, or gravel."
"THESE are the NINE WORTHIES [O, you have found them out at laſt!] to whom Shakeſpeare alludes in Loves Lab. Loſt. "Here is like to be a good preſence of WORTHIES: he preſent Hector of Troy; the Swain, POMPEY THE GREAT; the Pariſh-curate, Alexander; Armado's Page, HERCULES; THE Pedant, Judas Macchabeus, &c." ACT v. Sc. i."
"I believe the editors name (i. e. the name of the editor of Bp. Douglases Virgil, in 1710) wa ROBERT FREEBAIRN, a Scotchman." A moſt aſtoniſhing declaration!—I mean from the unparalleled ignorance of its maker. The editor of his book being well know, by every one any way converſant in, or inquiſitive after, ſuch matters, to have been Mr. THOMAS RUDDIMAN, a learned and ingenious critic, and moſt worthy, amiable, and modeſt man. The reader will ſmile to find ROBERT FREEBAIRN—one of his printers.
Pray, Mr. Warton, will you do me the favour to inform me how you came by theſe?—Few people can write better language than yourſelf; what neceſſity, therefor, could induce you to pilfer from a dead man? I ſay, PILFER; for each of THESE NOTES, as you well know, is STOLEN VERBATIM from the late M. Fawkeses Imitation of Douglas.
What authority can you poſſibly have to pronounce the word gyir a maſke or maſquerade? Moſt ridiculous! "The reid Etin and the gyir catling [carling]," are two of the "pleaſand histories? diſcryved by this worthy knight (31): The laſt edition of whoſe works you "believe" to be "at Edinburght, 1709. 12mo." There haven been, at leaſt half a ſcore impreſſions ſince.
"Oppreſſioun the perſone I leif untill"Pouir mens corne to halde upon the rig"Quhill he get the teynd alhail at his will.
Now why will you be ſo abſurd as to be thus continually buſying yourſelf with paſſages which you do not underſtand, and which nobody could want you to explain if you did? Your attempts are as impertinent as they are unſucceſsful. The rig is the RIDGE of the open field, where the parſon is ſo oppreſſive as to detain the whole of the poor peoples corn till he thinks fit to draw his tithe.
"About the year 1512, MARTIN COCCCAIE of Mantua, whoſe true name was THEOPHILO FOLENGIO, a Benedictine monk of Caſino in Italy, wrote a—burleſque Latin poem, in heroic metre, checquered with ITALIAN and TUSCAN words." This is, ſurely, the moſt curious paſſage that was ever yet found in a history! Any other perſon than yourſelf would have naturally ſuppoſed that a non-existent character could not have written a book; and, if he had ſayed any thing, would have told his readers that ſuch a one, under ſuch an aſſumed name, did ſo and ſo. But it ſeems to be your chief ſtudy (if you ſtudy at all) to court abſurdity, rather than to avoid it: Here being no leſs than three choice blunders in little more than ſo many lines. For, in the firſt place, the aſſumed name of the aobve writer not MARTIN, but MERLIN, Coccaie. 2dly. His true one was not Theophilo FOLENGIO, but [Page 26] Teofilo FOLENGO. And 3dly. The moſt illiterate perſon muſt know that the Italian and Tuscan is either one and the ſame language, or, at leaſt, that Tuscan words muſt neceſſaryly be Italian ones. But, I aſk your pardon, you do not, perhaps, know that Tuscany is in Italy: Ignorant you certainly are, that the dialect made uſe of in the above poem is the Mantuan; which would be almoſt as difficult to a native of Florence, as to a native of Madrid. You have well obſerved that you went out of your way to mention ſuch obſcure verſifyers as Folengus and Arena; for you neither prove that Skelton copyed the manner (indeed, it would have been ſurpriſing if he had, as he wrote before either), nor that their ſingular mode of verſification was known in England, nor his in France or Italy. Indeed you evidently to not know what Macaronic poetry is. The POLEMO-MIDDINIA is undoubtedly the firſt regular imitation of Folengo, I mean the firſt Macaronic poem, by a native of Great Britain, now know. It is a fooliſh conceit that Skeltons mode of writing is deſigned to be ridiculed by Shakſpeare in the paſſage you quote; which is the common jingleing concluſion of ſeveral of Caxton and de Wordes proſe addreſses to their readers.
If the existence of this before unheard of Morality (32) reſt entirely upon the dictum of the author of the History of Engliſh Poetry, I had rather, if you pleaſe, withhold my belief till its production.
"Hamlet ſeems to be quoting an old play, at leaſt an old ſong, on Jepthah's ſtory." You did not then know, it ſeems, that this very ſong was printed by your "learned friend and fellow-labourer" the lord biſhop of Dromore? No more than he did, when giving it as communicated to him by Mr. Steevens from the mouth of a lady, that it was extant in an old black-letter copy in—; but the collection might ſuffer by the discovery (33), which I will not, therefor, make (34).
"Morte Arthur—then recently publiſhed." This very expreſſion I noticed before; but as there were, on that occaſion, onely ſome 20 or 30 years is dispute between us, I did not think it worth my while to interrupt you: I will now, however, beg leave to aſk you, what you mean: Whether that this romance was "recently publiſhed" in Shallows, or Shakſpeares time? In the reign of Henry the fourth, or of queen Elizabeth? You muſt neceſſaryly mean either the one or the other; and you will be above a hundred years wrong, before of behind hand, mean which you will. But I give you this to digeſt at leiſure.
"Leo, while he was pouring the thunder of his anathemas againſt the heretical doctrines of Martin Luther, publiſhed a BULLE OF EXCOMMUNICATION againſt all thoſe who ſhould dare to cenſure the poems of Ariosto."
Everybody would, I believe, be glad to learn where you picked up this curious piece of ſecret history? Some authority you had for it, no doubt, though I much ſuſpect you were aſhamed to mention it. The anecdote reads prettyly enough, to be ſure; what a pity, now, if it ſhould happen not to be true. Paulus Jovius, I dare ſay, among the many ſtrange things he relates, does not tell you this; which, I am apt to imagine, you have caught (at ſecond-hand) from M. de Voltaire. Ah, master Warton, master Warton, I am afrayed he will prove a poor ſupport to you! Good jeſts make onely bad history. But now, what will the world think of you,—nay, what will you think of yourſelf,—(though I confeſs you have a great many literary ſins of much greater conſequence to anſwer for—Ay, and your back is broad enough,—your mind callous enough,—and your face—bold enough, to bear them all, and a thouſand or two more) if this famous BULLE ſhould appear to be (as it certainly is) no more than a common licence to Ariosto, or his bookſeller, to print and publiſh the Furioſo within the papal dominions for a certain number of years, prohibiting every other perſon from printing or publiſhing it within that term? This diſcovery will, I doubt, M. Warton, go near to turn your BULL into a CAFE.
And pray, Mr. Warton, when and where might this ſame pretty little collection be printed, or where can one poſſibly meet with it? For I ſincerely believe it was never heard of before.—What aſtoniſhing ignorance! This ſame "little collection" conſiſts of no leſs than fifty or a hundred ſtory books in 4 to. and 8vo. generally printed at Troyes, and which, like our penny histories, are publiſhed, always ſingly, in a ſmall type, upon coarſe paper, and at low prices, chiefly for the amuſement of the common people in France; and have [Page 28] been quaintly enominated la Bibliotheque bleue (35) from their being uſually coverd with blue paper.
"There is an old Engliſh MORALITY on this tale (i. e. Robert the Devil), under the very corrupt title of ROBERT CICYLL, wich was repreſented at the High-croſs in Chester, in 1529. There is a manuſcript copy of the poem, on vellum, in Trinity college library at Oxford, MSS. Num. LVII. fol." As to the repreſentation of this ſuppoſed Morality, we muſt entirely rely upon what you are pleaſed to ſay: And as the MS. is in your own college (though I do not perfectly know what you mean) it would be extremely uncandid, and even abſurd, to ſuppoſe that you had not looked into it. But whether you have or not [...]s of very little conſequence, as I will take upon myſelf to ſay, that if ROBERT CICYLL be its title it has no more connection with, nor bears any more reſemblance to, the ſtory of Robert the Devil, than it has with, or bears to, that of Jack the Giant-killer, or Tom Thumb. And I appeal to—YOUR—SELF —when you have compared them.
"So our king Richard the firſt, in a fragment of one of his Provencial ſonnets." The line hou have quoted is neither written by RICHARD I. nor is it in the FRAGMENT of a ſonnet: The piece to which it belongs is an entire ſong, compoſed by the emperor Frederick Barbaroſſa.
"Turgot diet in 1015." This is moſt extraordinary. You have elſewhere (36) ſayed, and (what is not very uſual with you) ſayed truely, that he "died biſhop of Saint Andrews, in 1115." The firſt date might therefor have paſsed for an error of the preſs, had you not, unfortunately, made it the foundation of an argument againſt the authenticity of one of Rowleys poems; a purpoſe for which the true date would not have ſerved. You have, Mr. Warton, in the courſe of this idle controverſy acquitted yourſelf with uncommon [Page 29] adroitneſs, and gained every advantage you could wiſh for over your numerous adverſaires. And, while you thus artfully fabricate your own facts, how ſhould it be otherwiſe?
"DISSERTATION ON THE GESTA ROMANORUM." This ingenious contrivance takes up 97 pages. A pretty reaſonable aſſistant! Was it inſerted for any other purpoſe? Has it any particular connection with the history of Engliſh poetry in the 16th century? O, no; but it ſerves to fill up the volume, and that's enough. Excellent historian!
"All the SIKE that to him come"I heled wer ſwithe ſone"Of fet and eke of honde."
Now, would any one who had read a ſingle line of old poetry, or of any thing elſe—could any perſon of common ſenſe conceive it poſſible that a writer who preſumes hisſelf equal to a history of Engliſh poetry, ſhould make ſuch nonſenſe of this ſimple paſſage, as to misinterpret "all the ſike," "ALL THEY SIGHED?" But ſo it is. We are to conſider this, I ſuppoſe, as a ſlight inaccuracy, to which great geniuses are ever moſt ſubject: Hang me, though, Mr. Warton, if I do; I ſay, it proceeds from ignorance, ſheer radical ignorance, and nothing elſe. All the SICK (ſays the poet) that came to him were healed immediately. You reach the extreme of abſurdity if (which I really think is the caſe) you take the letter I for a pronoun.
"When the cloth to ende was wrowght"To the Sowdan ſone hit was browzt,"My fadyr was a noble man,"Of the Sowdan he hyt wan."
You can put your words together very prettyly, I confeſs; but it does not thence follow that you ſhould be acquainted with their origin and deſcent. Points on which even that great luminary, or rather dark-lantern, of literature, Dr. Johnſon, is altogether ignorant. What then could be expected from YOU? The etymology in the quotation is beneath contempt: and could onely have been advanced by a writer equally pert, vain, and injudicious. MAI DUN are two ancient Britiſh words, ſignifying a great hill: Thus Maiden caſtle (Edinburgh) is—not Castrum Puellarum, but—a castle upon a high hill. Bradley (though Saxon) is, comparatively, a modern adjunct. (See BAXTERS Gloſſary, 109.163). That Maidenhead was originally a great PORT, is a discovery which has been entirely reſerved to crown your peculiar ſagacity and ſkill: and great is your merit with the topographer, the antiquary, and the linguiſt.
I had puzzled myſelf for a long time to find out how you could poſſibly become acquainted with the circumſtances of Wyatts obligation to Petrarch. For I can never believe that you ever read the Italian poet. I have, indeed, ſometimes thought that the truely learned Mr. Tyrwhitt might have furniſhed you with this piece of information: But, if you had received many ſuch favours from him, your book would have cut a very different ſigure from what it does; and I ſhould have been deprived of the honour of addreſsing you upon the ſubject. At other times I have doubted whether you were not indebted to your illuſtrious friend the biſhop of Dromore: But alas! I know not that his lordſhip is much better acquainted with Petrarch than yourſelf. I might, indeed, have remained in perpetual ignorance, if I had not accidentally caſt my eye upon the 15th page of the 10th volume of the laſt edition of Shakſpeare; where I find the ingenious Dr. Farmer quoting this very ſonnet, and referring to Wyatts translation with all the particularities you could have deſired. But ſtill I am at a loſs to know how you came to learn that the paſſage in Petrarchs ſonnet, which you have pointed out, "is taken from Meſſen Jordi, a PROVENCIAL poet of VALENCIA." Sure I am that you can know nothing of the Valencian poets: And therefor, though I am pretty well ſatisfyed that no ſuch perſon as MESSEN JORDI ever exiſted, I ſhall not accuſe you of inventing the name and circumſtance alluded to; indeed I ſtrongly ſuſpect whence you drew them, tho' I have it not a preſent in my power to ſatisfy myſelf. Be that as it may, to call him "a PROVENCIAL poet of VALENCIA" [Page 31] is one of thoſe Iriſh-Engliſh bulls for which you alone muſt be anſwerable. A FRENCH poet of SPAIN, or a SPANISH poet of FRANCE! Why would you, my dear ſir, truſt yourſelf ſo far from home; in a ſtrange country, too; and (which is worſt of all) where anybody had been before, or could come after, you?
"The Tragedy of GORDOBUCKE (37), written in 1561." You ſeem to be ſo perfectly acquainted with the title of this play, that one cannot doubt your haveing ſeen it.
"To ſome part of the reign of Henry the eighth I aſſign the Tournament of Tottenham…the ſubſtance of its phraſeology, which I diverſt of its obvious innovations, is not altogether obſolete enough for a higher period. I am aware, that in a manuſcript of the Britiſh Muſeum it is referred to the time of Henry the ſixth. But that manuſcript affords no poſitive indication of that date."
Such a ſhuffleing, nonſenſical paragraph was, I firmly believe, never put together ſince the invention of letters. That which I do not, and which, I think, no one can, underſtand, I ſhall not meddle with. Here is an authentic MS. which not onely Mr. Tyrwhitt (and when I mention him I ſuppoſe I need not care if there be a hundred of a different opinion) but every other perſon who has ſeen it, is ſatisfyed and convinced could not have been written later than the reign of Henry the ſixth. NOW YOU, Mr. Warton, who, to be ſure, muſt be an incomparable judge of what you never ſaw, pronounce it near a century more modern, becauſe, forſooth, it only refers the poem to [Page 32] that age (which it certainly does not) and gives no "poſitive indication" of ſuch a date (which it certainly does). But if the book had been evidently written in Edward the ſeconds time, the ſame abſuid plea would have ſerved you. There is not one MS. out of a hundred that has any "poſitive indication" of the particular period in which it has been written; and yet people who are in the practice of inſpecting and comparing MSS. of different ages, can aſſign to each its proper date, nearly as well as it they had ſound it in the book. But what is all this to you, who know nothing either of ancient writing or of ancient language? For I will venture to ſay, that the ſtile of this very compoſition beſpeaks it at leaſt a hundred years older than the Nutbrowne Mayde, which, not onely without, but againſt, all authority, you have thrown ſo far back as the reign of Henry VI. Your recantation proves nothing but your ignorance (38)
For the purpoſe of obſerving that the ſtanza uſed by one man is the ſame with that uſed by another (a moſt proſound and important remark, and extremely neceſſary, eſpecially in this place!) there was, ſurely, no occaſion to foiſt in a poem of ſixteen ſtanzas. O yes, I beg your pardon, but there was:—To lengthen and ſtuff your work, which without ſuch ingenious contrivances, ſuch adventitious helps, you could never have been able to ſpin out to three large quarto volumes before you come to Spenſers Fairy Queen: The OBSERVATIONS on which (for I ſuppoſe you will of courſe lug in the whole of your former work; and, indeed, as it is entirely forgotten, and may therefor ſafely appear as new matter, one cannot disapprove your oeconomy) will naturally make the ſubject of a fourth; and thus you will proceed, I ſuppoſed, with a volume a year, ſo long as the credulity of the public will keep you in countenance. I love to ſpeak out, Mr. Warton; I really believe you will not, willingly, cloſe the work ſo long as you can make a ſingle guinea by it (39). It is, in my opinion, a moſt extraordinary, and, I hope and believe, unparalleled circumſtance, that a man of eminence in the literary [Page 33] world ſhould, in order to enhance the bulk and price of his writings, hazard his reputation upon, and deſcend to, or rather be guilty of, ſuch low, ſuch paltry, ſuch dishonourable, and even dishoneſt artifices, as almoſt to deſerve the name and puniſhment of a—SWINDLER.
"For the purpoſe of ascertaining or illustrating the age of pieces which have been lately, or will be ſoon produced, I here ſtop to recall the readers attention to the poetry and language of the laſt (ſci. the 15th) century, by exhibiting ſome extracts from the manuſcript romance of YWAIN and GAWAIN, which has ſome great outlines of Gothic painting, and appears to have been written in the reign of HENRY THE SIXTH. I premiſe, that but few circumſtances happened, which contributed to the improvement of our language, within THAT and the PRESENT PERIOD."
How modeſt! how ingenuous!—But, indeed, I ought to apologiſe for this and the other long extracts I have taken the liberty of producing from your celebrated history; however, as the mode has been adopted, rather for the ſake of giving you fair play, and doing you SUBSTANTIAL JUSTICE, than with a view to injure the rapid ſale of the work, you will, I flatter myſelf, have no inclination to be displeaſed at it. But, to return:—And ſo you really thought it neceſſary to go back a full hundred years to new-write the History of Engliſh Poetry during that period. A moſt ſystematical historian, doubtleſs! What would any of Mr. Humes readers have thought of him, if in the middle of Henry the eighths reign he had ſtopped to recall their attention to a new history of the reign of Henry the ſixth? What could there poſſibly be in the ſtate of our language and poetry, at the period you had got to, which could require, could authoriſe, could justify, or even excuſe, your going back a hundred years to begin your ſtory anew? That which you affect "to premiſe," with reſpect to the language having received no improvement between the two periods, is a glaring inconſistency. You wilfully forget, as you wiſh your readers to do, that there has been a SURREY and a WYATT juſt mentioned. If any other perſon had advanced ſuch a groundleſs and abſurd poſition, you muſt have taken him for either a fool or a madman. But the truth, Mr. Warton, the truth is, that you knew nothing of this romance when you might properly enough have introduced it, (not in the reign of Henry VI. for that is an age it does not belong to;) you were as entirely ignorant of the existence of ſuch a poet as Laurence Minot, before you ſaw Mr. Tyrwhitts Chaucer (which, by the way, was publiſhed ſoon enough for you to have made a better uſe of it (40), as you ſtill are of his marit. I know that theſe communications were made to you after the publication of your ſecond volume; but you were reſolved, it ſeems, to drag them, at all events, neck and heels, into your third; and, I am ready to confeſs, they well anſwer the purpoſe for which you introduced them:—they ſtuff your book! But, [Page 34] now, Mr. Warton, ſuffer me, if you pleaſe, to ſay a few words to you upon the age of this ſame MS. COTTON GALB. E. ix. which, by the way, I believe you never ſaw, and yet I can hardly think any other perſon could have been ſo groſsly deceived as to ſuppoſe it of the age of Henry VI. I will venture to aſſure you (and I do not care a farthing whether you believe me or not) that the writing of this book is as old, at leaſt, as the time of king Richard the ſecond. But I well know that all the world will be convinced of your want of judgement before you yourſelf ſuſpect it.
"Lions, beres, both bul and bare,"That rewfully gan rope and rare."
"The ſtore windes blew ful lowd,"So kene cam never are of clowd."
[Page 35] Sty, "that is the FOREST. But I do not preciſely know the meaning of ſty." Then how do you know it means the foreſt? Why do you ſay any thing, when you know nothing? But I cry you mercy; if you had obſerved that plan, we ſhould never have beheld your matchleſs history. For the benefit, however, of your next edition, if it live to ſee one; if not, for the liſt of blunders to your preſent volume (which you will modeſtly entitle, "Emendations and Additions") I ſhall inform you, that ſty is PLACE. [...], Sax. Thus hog-ſty is a place for hogs; and homeſtead, the place where the houſe ſtands. It likewiſe, as place does, ſignifies a houſe. Hence, Steward, [...]. In your quotation from EMARE it is a different word, from [...], a road or way.—After all, however, there are ſeveral lines in this part of the poem evidently and egregiously out of their place: a circumſtance which, had you underſtood what you were printing, and pretend to explain, you could not have failed to perceive.
"Opon a ſawter all of gulde,"To ſay the ſal-mas faſt ſho bigan."
"It is highly probable, that the metrical romances of RICHARD CUER DE LYON, GUY EARL OF WARWICK, and SYR BEVYS OF SOUTHAMPTON, were moderniſed in this reign (ſci. that of Hen. VIII.) from more antient and ſimple narrations." This ingenious conjecture comes, to be ſure, with perfect conſistency from one who has already produced large extracts from theſe very poems, as ſpecimens of the compoſition of Edward the ſeconds time. But, ingenious as it is, it contains neither probability nor truth. All the above romances are extant in MSS. above 300 years old; and, one of them, at leaſt, (Sir Bevis) excepting the typographical incorrectneſs of the old printed copy, differs no otherwiſe from it than in its orthography, and the ſlight variations inſeparable from repeated tranſcription. The ancient MS. copy of Richard Cuer de Lion is as long, at leaſt, as, if not longer than, the old editions: but whether the printed copies agree with the MSS. or not, is a matter of very little conſequence to your hypotheſis. It is a fact, that ſome MS. copies are ſo totally different from each other, as not to have two lines in common; being translations from the French by different hands. This is actually the caſe with reſpect to SIR GUY: there are two diſtinct translations, both very old; one of which is, line for line, the ſame with the printed copy. But it will not be found that the phraſeology or ſtile is more poliſhed, or the ſtory more amplifyed or intricate, in the editions, than they are in the MSS. Simplicity, indeed, is a fault, of which few people will have reaſon to complain in the peruſal of an old metrical romance, let its antiquity be what it may. I ſhall [Page 36] take the liberty to obſerve, in paſsing, that the printed copy of SIR GUY does NOT begin, ITHEN the tyme that God was borne, as you, implicitly following AMES, but, according to your conſtant practice, concealing the name of your informant, have been pleaſed to aſſert (41). Neither is it in octavo, but quarto.
Although you tell us you have ſeen a fragment of the book whence. "The Carol brynging in the bores head" is taken, yet was I not without very ſtrong ſuſpicions that you were indebted, as well for this ſame carol, as for the printers colophon—not to the book itsſelf, but—to your honeſt, industrious, uſeful, and ungratefully requited, friend and aſſistant, Thomas Hearne, in his notes and ſpicilege upon William of Newbury, who had likewiſe, as it appeared, furniſhed you with the anecdote from Hollinshed (p. 745). Theſe ſuſpicions were not weakened on finding, by a compariſon of you and your authority, that ſayed carol and colophon were printed with your uſual accuracy. But, upon further reflection, I am half inclined to question the justice of the above ſuſpicions; for it rather ſeems to me, that you have been, on this occaſion, GUILTY OF PRIVATELY STEALING—from YOURSELF. And I'll tell you how. In that very humourous trifle, intitled and called, "A COMPANION TO THE GUIDE, AND A GUIDE TO THE COMPANION," I ſee that you have inſerted the whole of Mr. Hearnes account verbatim, and with a circumſtance which might, elſewhere, have been more to your honour:—you have given a minute and accurate reference to your real authority. I ſay elſewhere; for it is, in this place, done merely with a view to raiſe a laugh at the expence of that moſt worthy and reſpectable antiquary; whom, I rather think, you have, in the above piece, made ſomewhat too-many attempts to ridicule; forgetting, perhaps, that though he was leſs poliſhed in his taſte, and leſs elegant in his diction than ſome more modern writers, few, if any of them, can boaſt of ſuch a ſacred regard to truth, and of ſuch unimpeached integrity. And whatever his errors are, there is one, in which I wiſh you had imitated him as ſucceſsfully as you have done in many others of a leſs important and commendable nature:—he has never been detected in a wilful falſehood; nor been ever charged with the ſlighteſt misrepreſentation of the minuteſt fact.
Leſt the number and uniformity of theſe dry expostulations ſhould render them too flat and tedious to yourſelf, or my other gentle readers, I ſhall make bold to break the chain, and endeavour to enliven you and them with an old Chriſtmas carol upon bringing up the BOARS HEAD, very different from that printed by Wynken de Worde, and now, for the firſt time, faithfully publiſhed from an ancient MS. in my own poſſeſſion.‘ [Page 37]
"Sir David the Bruſe"Was at diſtanceWhen EDWARD THE BALIOLFE"Rade with his lance."
Baliolfe you tell us means "WARLIKE." How deſpicably ignorant muſt you conceive your readers, to dare, for a moment, to ſuppoſe that ſuch ſtuff ſhould paſs upon them for knowlege in history, criticiſm, and ancient language! Does not every child know that EDWARD III. ſo far from playing the BOAR at Nevils croſs, was not even in England when that affair happened? Indeed, Minot expreſsly mentions his abſence in this very poem. Know, to your confuſion, that Edward the baliolfe is, EDWARD DE BALIOL! who is ſayed, and, as it ſhould ſeem, with truth, to have had a principal command in the Engliſh army. Minot means to reproach David (the Scotiſh king) with cowardice, in keeping out of Baliols way.
"The poetical annals of king Edward the ſixth, who removed thoſe chains of bigottry which his BROTHER Henry had only looſened." King Henry the eighth BROTHER to Edward the ſixth! O by all means, your history of England (43)!
"The firſt Chanſon à Boire, or Drinking-ballad, of any merit in our language, appeared in the year 1551."—" This ſong opens the ſecond act of Gammer Gurtons Needle, a comedy, written and printed in 1551, and ſoon afterwards acted at Chriſt's college in Cambridge." For this date you quote the authority of "MSS. Oldys" (and quere that): but as to the play being ſoon afterwards acted at Chriſts college, we have onely your own. Both aſſertions, however, are undoubtedly falſe. The play was acted BEFORE it was printed; and it was not printed till 1575.
Well, Mr. Warton, you have at length got us dragged though HELL, into which we found ourſelves ſo unexpectedly plunged; and now, perhaps, you will (after I have recovered my fright and breath) give me leave to aſk you a ſingle queſtion: To what purpoſe is all this long diſſertation upon Dante? What poſſible connection is there between the Divina Comedia, and the History of Engliſh Poetry? "Pough, fool! it fills my book up, do'n't it?" Very true, ſir, it certainly does ſo; and, I think, THAT, from you, is ſuch an unanſwerable argument for the neceſſity of this ſort of manoeuvre, that I rather wonder you have not favoured us with a ſimilar account of every epic or other poem of which you know anything, or know nothing ('tis all the ſame), from Homer to Milton. Truſt me, I admire your modesty, though, doubtleſs, we ſhall have more anon. But pray, as you have entertained us with ſo many Italian quotations, give me leave to aſk you, how long it may be ſince you became master of that language? becauſe I have heared, that, once upon a time, when you were ambitious of displaying your erudition, in the OBSERVATIONS ON SPENSERS FAIRY QUEEN, by an extract from Taſſo, (—Taſſo in the original!—) you unfortunately laid hold of a wrong ſtanza, which occaſioned much mirth among thoſe wicked wits, who are ſo maliciously dispoſed as not to ſuffer a man of genius to enjoy the credit of talents and learning which he does not poſſeſs.
"I am not ſure that the translator of Plutarchs Lives in 1579 is the ſame (ſci. as Sir Thomas North)." That is, becauſe you never ſaw the book, nor knew more of it than the common reference, or catalogue title of, Norths Plutarch.
"Dr. Ph. King, author of poems in 1657, ſon of King, biſhop of London." And pray, who told you that the name of this author was Philip? and who told you that he was not a biſhop hisſelf? And who told you (44) that Vaulx was earl of OXFORD? or that Fairfaxes Christian name was EDMUND?
"Shakeſpeare was not the firſt that exhibited this tyrant 45 upon the ſtage. In 1586, a BALLAD was printed, called "A tragick report of kinge Richarde the iii." This piece of information you have from the Stationers book: but whence do you gather that it was a PLAY? or, if a play, that it had been, or ever was, "exhibited upon the ſtage?"
"The imperfect work (ſci. Phaers Virgil) was at length completed in 1583. The whole was printed at London in 1584." By thus boldly aſſuming facts, and ſtudiously concealing authorities, you have to anſwer both for the ignorance of your informers and for your own. The work was perfected and publiſhed upwards of ten years before: Shall I tranſcribe you the title?
"The whole xii Bookes of the Aeneidos of Virgill. Whereof the firſt ix. and part of the tenth, were conuerted into Engliſh Meeter by Thomas Phaër Eſquier, and the reſidue ſupplied, and the whole worke together newly ſet forth, by Thomas Twyne Gentleman. There is added moreouer to this edition, Virgils life out of Donatus, and the Argument before euery booke. ¶ Imprinted at London by Wyllyam How, for Abraham Veale, dwelling in Poules Church-yearde, at the ſigne of the Lambe. 1573." 4 to. b. l.
"I have ſeen an old ballad, called GADSHILL by FAIRE — In the Registers of the Stationers, among ſever Ballettes — one is entitled" The Robery at Gadshill," under the year 1558. I know not how far it might contribute to illuſtrate Shakſpeares Henry the fourth. The title is promiſing." It is ſo—of a robbery. But pray, Mr. Warton, what was the ſubject of THAT BALLAD, which (you ſay) you SAW? Its title is juſt as promiſing as the others; and, moſt propably, it is the very ſame thing.
"Marlowes wit and ſpritelineſs of converſation had often the unhappy effect of tempting him to ſport with ſacred ſubjects; more perhaps from the [Page 40] prepoſterous ambition of courting the caſual applauſe of profligate and unprincipled companions, than from any ſystematic disbelief of religion. His ſcepticiſm, whatever it might be, was conſtrued by the prejudiced and peeviſh puritans into abſolute atheiſm: and they took pains to repreſent the unfortunate cataſtrophe of his untimely death, as an immediate judgment from heaven upon his execrable impiety."
A great deal has been ſayed about Marlow, his opinions and exit, from age to age; from Beard to Warton: the oldeſt writers ("prejudiced and peeviſh puritans") directly arraigning him of atheiſm and blasphemy; and thoſe of more modern times (pious and orthodox churchmen) generously labouring to reſcue his character; either by boldly denying, or artfully extenuating the crimes alledged againſt him: but not an iota of evidence has been produced on either ſide. I have a great reſpect for Marlow as an ingenious poet, but I have a much higher regard for truth and justice; and will therefor take the liberty to produce the ſtrongeſt (if not the whole) proof that now remains of his diabolical tenets, and debauched morals; and if you, Mr. Warton, ſtill chooſe to think him innocent of the charge, I ſhall be very glad to ſee him thoroughly white-waſhed in your next edition. The paper is tranſcribed from an old MS. in the Harleian library, cited in one of your notes (46.), and was never before printed.‘
1.3.1. A note contayning the opinion of one Chriſtofer Marlye concernynge his Damnable opinions and Judgment of Relygion and Scorne of Gods worde (47)..
That Moyſes made the Jewes to travell fortie yeers in the wildernes (wth iorny might have ben don in Leſſe then one yeer) er they came to the promiſed Lande to the intente that thoſe whoe wer privei to moſt of his ſubtileteis might periſh, and ſo an ever laſtinge ſuꝑſticion remayne in the harts of the people.
That yf ther be any God or good Religion, then it is in the papiſts becavſe the ſervice of god is ꝑformed wth more ceremonyes, as elevacōn of the maſſe, Organs, ſinginge men ſhaven crownes, &c. That all protestants ar hipocritall aſses.
That all the Appostels wer fishermen and baſe fellowes, nether of witt nor worth, that Pawle only had witt, that he was a timerous fellow in biddinge men to be ſubiect to magistrates againſt his conſcience.
That he had as good right to Coyne as the Queen of England, and that he was acquainted wth one poole a priſoner in Newgate whoe hath great ſkill in mixture of mettalls, and havinge Learned ſome things of him he ment through help of a cvnnynge ſtampe maker to coyne french crownes, pistoletts and engliſhe Shillings.
That one Richard Cholmelei hath confeſsed that he was ꝑſwaded by Marloes reaſon to become an athieſte. [Note: He is ſayd for (48)."]
Theis things wth many other ſhall by good and honeſt men be proved to be his opinions and com̄on ſpeeches, and that this marloe com̄eth, ꝑſwadeth men to Athieſme, willinge them not to be afrayed of bugbeares and Hobgoblins, and vtterly Scornynge both God and his ministers as J Richard Bome will Justify both by my othe and the testimony of many honeſt men, and almoſt all men wch whome he hath converſed any tyme will testefy the ſame And as J thincke all men in christiantei ought to endevor that the mouth of ſo dangerous a member may be ſtopped.
He ſayeth moreour that he hath coated a numbe of contrarieties out of the ſcriptures, wth he hath geeven to ſome great men whoe in convenient [Page 42] ſhalbe named. when theis things ſhalbe called in question, the witneſses ſhalbe ꝓduced (49).
From the above curious Confeſſion of Faith it appears, I doubt, but too plain, that theſe "prejudiced peeviſh puritans" had ſufficient authority to aſſert, that Marlow" denied God, and his ſonne Chriſt, and nor onely in word blaſphemed the Trinity, but alſo (as 'was' credibly reported) wrote bookes againſt it, affirming our Sauiour to be but a deceiuer, and Moſes to be but a coniurer and ſeducer of the people, and the holy Bible to bee but vaine and idle ſtories, and all religion but a deuice of policie (50).
"An affray enſued (ſci. between Marlow and a ſervingman, his rival); in which the antagoniſt, having by ſuperior agility gained an opportunity of ſtrongly graſping Marlow's wriſt, plunged his dagger with his own hand into his own BOSOM."
Your propenſity to corruption and falſehood ſeems ſo natural, that I have been ſometimes tempted to believe, you often ſubſtitute a lye in the place of a fact without knowing it. How elſe you came to tell us that Marlow was ſtabbed in the BOSOM I cannot conceive. It could not, ſurely, be for the ſmoothneſs of the paragraph? All former writers, and Wood, amongſt the reſt, whom you expreſsly quote, and (which does not always follow) by a ſlight peculiarity in your expreſſion, I think you muſt have conſulted, ſay it was in his HEAD.
"IGNOTO, Raleighs CONSTANT SIGNATURE." Always confident, and always wrong! The publiſher of Englands Helicon never conceals the names of his writers where he knows them; where he does not, he ſubſcribes the word IGNOTO (Anonymous). And this is ſo frequently the caſe, that a great number of the poems which he has ſo distinguiſhed have been ſince referred to their true authors: Some to Shakſpeace; others to Spenſer; but not one of them, if we except the reply to Marlow, has been ever ſuppoſed to be Raleighs: To whom if you had not been generously pleaſed to give the Imitation you mention, it might have remained in want of an owner till doomsday. Of this discovery, therefor, your profound ſagacity may ſafely claim the ſole credit.
"As a peotical novel of Greece, it will not be improper to mention here, the Clitophon and Leucippe of Achilles Tatius." Pray, what do you mean by [Page 43] calling this a POETICAL novel? Both the original and the translation (neither of which, it is probable, you have ever ſeen, or know any thing about) are in downright proſe.
"He [Boccace] was ſoon imitated—by many of his countrymen, Poggio, Bandello, the anonymous author of LE CIENTO NOVELLE ANTIKE, Clinthio, Firenzuola, Maleſpini, and others." Not to enquire how an author can be "SOON imitated" by thoſe who are not born till near a couple of centuries after him, I would be glad to know where you, Mr. Warton, discovered that Boccace was "imitated" by the compiler of the Novelle Antike (whom you have, doubtleſs, ſufficient authority for placing after Bndello), as I am given to underſtand that the Italian literati univerſally believe, not onely that he was, at leaſt, contemporary with Boccace, but alſo that his tales are of much higher antiquity; indeed, the earlyeſt compoſitions of this ſort the Italians have.
"In Shakeſpeare's Much ado about nothing, Beatrice ſuſpects ſhe ſhall be toldſhe had "her good wit out of the Hundred merry tales." This is juſt as accurate as every other extract or alluſion is throughout the work. She does NOT ſuſpect that ſhe SHALL BE told ſo for Benedick has ALREADY whiſpered her that ſome one had actually ſayed ſo of her. I was rather ſurpriſed that you had not taken more particular notice of the paſſage, when I found that, according to your uſual and laudable custom, you had been pecking and pilfering from Mr. Steevenses note upon it: whence, I ſee, you got your report that the Cent nouvelles nouvelles were written by ſome of the royal family of France: But I am afrayed that the ingenious commentator confounded this work with a quite different one,—the Queen of Navarres Tales.
"Among Mr. Oldys's books was the "Life of Sir Meliado a Brittiſh knight," translated from the Italian, in 1572. By the way, we are not here to ſuppoſe that BRITTISH means ENGLISH. A BRITTISH knight means a knight of BRETAGNE or BRITANNY, in France. This is a common mistake, ariſing from an equivocation which has converted many a French knight into an Engliſhman. The learned Nicholas Antonio, in his SPANISH LIBRARY, affords a remarkable example of this confuſion, and a proof of its frequency, where he is ſpeaking of the Spaniſh translation of the romance of TIRANTE THE WHITE, in 1480. ‘Ad fabularum artificem ſtylum convertimus, Joannem Martorell Valentiae regni civem, cujus eſt liber hujus commatis, TIRANT LE BLANCH inſcriptus, atque anno 1480, ut aiunt, Valentiae in folio editus. More hic aliorum talium otioſorum conſueto, fingit ſe librum ex ANGLICA in Luſitanam, deinde Luſitana in Valentinam linguam, anno, 1460, transtuliſſe, [Page 44] &c.’ That is, ‘I now turn to a writer of fabulous adventures, John Martorell of the kingdom of Valencia, who wrote a book of this caſt, entitled TIRANTE the WHITE, printed in folio at Valencia (51) in 1480. This writer, according to a practice common to ſuch idle historians, pretends he translated this book from Engliſh into Portugueze, and from thence into the Valencian language.’ The hero is a gentleman of BRETAGNE, and the book was FIRST WRITTEN IN THE LANGUAGE OF THAT COUNTRY. I take this opportunity of obſerving, that theſe mistakes of ENGLAND for BRITANNY, tend to confirm MY HYPOTHESIS, that Bretagne, or Armorica, was antiently a copious ſource of romance: an hypotheſis, which I have the happineſs to find was the opinion of the moſt learned and ingenious M. La Croze. &c.—(p. 447.) "OUR KING ARTHUR was ſometimes called ARTHUR of LITTLE BRITTAYNE, and there is a romance with that title, reprinted in 1609."
I trouble you, Mr. Warton, with this long extract, becauſe it is ſo very intereſting, and I have ſuch a great deal to ſay to you upon it, that nothing leſs, perhaps, would have anſwered either your purpoſe or mine.
Though I never met with the "LIFE OF SIR MELIADO," nor with any other notice of it, I muſt be content to ſuppoſe it to have actually been where you ſay it was. But you ought, certainly, to have been better acquainted with it before you had ſo peremptoryly decided upon the meaning of the word "BRITTISH," which, with equal abſurdity and preſumption, you would confine to BRETAGNE or Britany in France. To be ſure, you are rather got into your Iriſh ſtile when you attempt to prove that BRITISH does NOT mean ENGLISH, as no one, I believe, excepting yourſelf, could poſſibly have imagined that it did. It is, at the ſame time, very curious, to find a perſon, who either is, or pretends to be, a ſcholar, hardyly contending that this country was never called BRITAIN, nor its inhabitants BRITISH! That the ſun gives no light, and the night brings no darkneſ! The notion is, in the utmoſt degree, contemptible and abſurd. Armorica was by the French called LA PETITE BRETAGNE, by us, LITTLE BRITAIN, merely to distinguiſh it from the iland of GREAT BRITAIN, by the ſtiled LA GRANDE BRETAGNE. The name BRITISH may, for aught I know, be common to both countries, but I firmly believe the inhabitants of BRITANY were never ſo called, much leſs distinguiſhed, by any writer, Engliſh of foreign, before the ſagacious Mr. Warton (52). But, let the word BRITISH mean what it will, how does it connect with or apply to the quotation from Nicholas Antonio? He ſays nothing at all about BRITISH; he expreſly tells us, that Martorell pretended to have translated the romance of Tirante, "EX ANGLICA," out of ENGLISH. I have not, in the whole [Page 45] courſe of this ſtrange history, been aſtoniſhed at any-thing more than at your aſſertion that "the hero is a gentleman of BRETAGNE." Becauſe I can onely conclude it to be a gueſs; and it happens to be as lucky as it was bold. You are not quite ſo fortunate, however, in your equally dogmatical poſition, that "the book was FIRST WRITTEN IN THE LANGUAGE OF THAT COUNTRY:" than which nothing can be more inſupportable, more ill-grounded, or more falſe. I muſt, indeed, confeſs, that it was not without reaſon you concluded every one to be as ignorant about the matter as yourſelf; and that you might ſafely advance whatever you choſe without the ſmalleſt fear of detection. But, alas! how miſerably have you been deceived! John or Joanot Martorell, the author of the above romance of TIRANT LO BLANCH (which, by the way, was not printed at Valencia in 1480, but at Barcelona in 1497, and no where elſe during the 15th century) in his dedication thereof to Don Ferdinand, prince of Portugal, and duke of Viſeo, brother of Alphonſus V. and then (ſci. in 1460) preſumptive heir to the crown, to which his ſon Emanuel afterwards ſucceeded, poſitively declares, that the history and acts of the ſaid TIRANT were written in the Engliſh tongue, "EN LENGUA ANGLESA;" that he had TRANSLATED them out of THAT LANGUAGE into PORTUGUESE, at the direct inſtance of the above prince, who thought, that, as he (Martorell) had been ſometime in England, "EN LA ILLA DE ANGLETERRA (53), he would know the tongue better than others; that he had ſince translated the book out of Portugueſe into his native dialect the VALENCIAN (54); and apologiſes for the defects of his verſion, as being in ſome meaſure occaſioned by the peculiar difficulties of the Engliſh language, which he had, in many places, found it impracticable to translate. But, as you appear to underſtand Valencian (55), I ſhall give you his own words: "Car ſi d'faliments algūs hi ſon certament ſenyor nes en part cauſa da dita LENGUA ĀGLESA de la qual en algunes partides es inpoſſible poder be girar los vocables." It is ſtrange enough, that an author, more eſpecially of Martorells conſequence, who is ſtiled "lo magnifich e virtuos cavaller," ſhould have the conſidence to impoſe upon his patron not onely a feigned original, but a feigned command to translate it, and an imaginary translation too. This is an enigma we cannot at preſent ſolve. It is not impoſſible, however, that Martorell might actually pick up ſome part of his ſubject during his reſidence in England. What makes this conjecture the leſs [Page 46] improbable is the uſe he has made of the ſtory of "Comte gillem de uaroych", (Guy of Warwick) which we know to have been then extant in Engliſh. The origin of THE GARTER, the magnificent celebration of the nuptials of the king of England (alluding, moſt likely, to thoſe of Richard II.) with the king of France's daughter, and ſome few other particulars, he may, undoubtedly, have got here: Though one might, perhaps, be led to think that he has derived his principal information on theſe heads from old Froiſſart, a favourite historian during the continuance of chivalry. But, independent of his own aſſertions, the venial deceits of a romantic age, there is the ſtrongeſt and moſt concluſive evidence, as well intrinſic as extrinſic, that Martorell, whether he wrote firſt in Portugueſe or Valencian, was the original author. As to the work itſelf, it is a moſt ingenious and admirable performance, well deſerving the praiſes beſtowed upon it by Cervantes (56), and much beyond any thing of the kind ever produced in England, or even (if one dare venture to ſay it) capable of being ſo.
You will not deſire me to take further notice of your aſſertion, that this romance was firſt written in the language of Britany. I have, I think, ſayed enough to make you completely aſhamed of yourſelf, if you have a particle of modesty in your compoſition. But what credit, let me aſk, is a reader to place in the reveries and confident declarations of ſo ignorant, ſo falſe, and ſo conceited a writer?
Your HYPOTHESIS, as you call it, is ſo falſe, ſo groundleſs, ſo viſionary, and abſurd, that I am equally willing to believe it your own, and to leave you in peacable poſſeſſion of it. Neither have I any thing, at preſent, to ſay to "the moſt learned and ingenious M. La Croze;" of whom I muſt with ſhame acknowlege, I never before heared: If, therefor, it be ſuch an amazing happyneſs to find one ſingle perſon in the whole world of the ſame opinion with yourſelf, enjoy it.
That "our king Arthur" might be "ſometimes called Arthur of Little: Brittayne," as he is ſuppoſed to have been king of both countries, is probable enough, though I do not believe it. I am, however, ready to allow that "there is a romance with that title," which may, for any thing I know to the contrary, have been "reprinted in 1609." But they who told you that ſhould, at the ſame time, have informed you that Arthur of Little Britain, the hero of that romance, is a very different perſon from king Arthur of Great Britain. And ſo much for you, and your hypotheſis.
The old verſion of TASSO, being registered by Ames, and at preſent exiſting, to my knowlege, in more libraries than one, is no ſuch mighty discovery as you ſeem to flatter yourſelf. However, if you think its full title, and a ſpecimen of the translators poetical talents, worthy of a place in your next [Page 47] edition, if your admirable history arrive at that honour, or even in the liſt of blunders,—"Emendations and additions," I ſhould ſay,—to Volume the third, you are heartyly welcome to both. Onely take care, I beſeech you, and print them correctly; and I ſhall ſpace you the mortification of telling to whom you are obliged.
"Godfrey of Bulloigne, or the Recouerie of Hieruſalem. An Heroicall poeme written in Italian by Seig. Torquato Taſſo, and tranſlated into Engliſh by R. C. Eſquire: And now the firſt part containing fiue Cantos, Imprinted in both Languages. London Imprinted by Iohn Windet for Thomas Man dwelling in Pater noſter-Row." 410.
"I ſing the goodly armes, and that Chieftaine"Who great Sepulchre of our Lord did free,"Much with his hande, much wrought he with his braine:"Much in that glorious conqueſt ſuffred hee:"And hell in vaine hitſelfe oppoſde, in vaine"The mixed troopes Aſian and Libick flee"To armes, for heauen him fauour'd, and he drew"To ſacred enſignes his ſtraid mates anew."
The Italian text is on the oppoſite page. And The Addreſs, "To the Reader" is dated "From Exeter the laſt of Februarie, 1594." and ſigned "C. H." i. e. Christopher Hunt, who ſeems to have been the proprietor of the edition, and whoſe name, as it ſhould appear from Ames, was prefixed to ſome copies inſtead of Mans. R. C. it may be, is Richard Carew.
I have at length, Mr. Warton, completed my deſign of expoſing to the public eye a tolerable ſpecimen of the numerous errors, falſities, and plagiariſms, of which you have been guilty in the courſe of your celebrated History. And, though I am conſcious of having left conſiderable gleanings to any who may be inclined to follow me, I truſt I have given you much reaſon to be ſorry, and more to be aſhamed: But whether my arguments will produce any ſuch effects, I, really, neither know, nor care.
Next to the civil history of a country, an account of its language, literature, and poetry is, both to natives and ſtrangers, the moſt intereſting and important ſubject that can be conceived. A ſubject which requires and deſerves the greateſt talents and moſt unremiting industry. But this is a taſk for which you, of all men who have ever pretended to write history, are the leaſt qualifyed. Your language, I confeſs, is eaſy and elegant; but your indolence in collecting and examining materials; and, beyond every thing, your ignorance of the ſubject, ſhould have prevented you from engaging in a work of ſuch great and general conſequence; in which, whatever might be your progreſs, how uninformed ſoever you might esteem the bulk of your readers, you were certain, at laſt, of encountering detection and disgrace. You have entitled your performance the HISTORY of Engliſh Poetry. It is the extreme of hyperbole, and a groſs inſult to common ſenſe! Could you flatter yourſelf [Page 48] that your calling it a HISTORY would induce the public to accept it for one. Alas! what do they perceive, but an injudicious farrago, a gallimawfry of things which both do and do not belong to the ſubject, thrown and jumbled together, without ſystem, arrangement, or perſpicuity:
The reader is bewildered in mazes; he turns round and round; and wanders backward and foreward, and foreward and backward, and at laſt finds hisſelf juſt where he ſet out, heartyly tired, and without anything to conſole him for the tediousneſs and labour of the journey;—unleſs he can pick a flower or two (for flowers there certainly are) from amongſt the numerous weeds and briars which intercept his paſſage, and entangle his footſteps. Want of method, however, is the leaſt fault of which you can be accuſed. If your collections had been authentic, though of theirſelves no history, nor capable, in your hands, of becoming one, they might at leaſt have been uſeful to ſome ſubſequent writer better qualifyed for the purpoſe. But we ſee (as has been here ſufficiently proved) you are not to be relyed on in a ſingle inſtance; the work being a continued tiſſue of falſehood from beginning to end. Suffer me, as a friend,—to your ſubject, at leaſt,—to recommend it to you, to take all the advice and aſſistance you can get from the moſt able literary characters who may be willing to render you either, and immediately ſet abous a diligent reviſal and correction (57) of your three volumes already publiſhed, deferring the remainder of the work till it be worthy of the light; do justice to thoſe writers to whom you have been actually indebted; and omit that which is unneceſſary, and which you have, from the vileſt motive, inſerted merely to extend and enlarge the work; even if, by ſo doing, your three volumes ſhould be reduced to two: That the work may not remain a monument of disgrace to yourſelf and your country. Of all men living, the learned and intelligent editor of The CANTERBURY TALES is the beſt able to afford you the requiſite help; and, ſurely, in a matter of ſuch univerſal concern, if you apply to him with ſincerity, he will not withhold it. His publication of Chaucer is the moſt erudite, curious and valuable performance that (excepting onely that mine of literary treaſure Dr. Hickeses Theſaurus, which never had, nor ever will have, its equal) has yet appeared in this country. I do not, however, mean to pronounce it entirely faultleſs: It undoubtedly contains ſome mistakes (58); but they are very few; and, being [Page 49] chiefly confined to matter of opinion, will be thought rather trifleing than important, rather innocent than dangerous. Even the errors of SUCH MEN are intitled to reſpect. And, for the later periods of our literary history, who is there ſo well informed, ſo judicious, or ſo liberal, as the worthy and amiable writer of the "Eſſay on the Learning of Shakeſpeare?" Thus aſſiſted, Mr. Warton, you might, probably, render your work, in reality, what you have had the modesty to entitle it. Not that I have, after all, the ſlighteſt expectation of your taking any further trouble about the matter; unleſs, indeed, the ſale of the reviſed work ſhould appear likely to produce you ſome conſiderable advantage. However, you are equally obliged to me for my good advice, whether you embrace it or not. And as I am ſatisfyed that you will continue to write upon the ſubject, ſo long as you can find materials, however, flimſy, or purchaſers, however ſimple, I beg leave to recommend to a reſpectable department in your ſeventh volume, or rather to a volume or two of its own, a Virgin Article for which I have higheſt regard:—The Poetical Annals of the Britiſh Nurſery:—With two learned Differtations—I. On the origin and uſe of the ancient Lullabies; II. On the GESTA ROMANORUM of the Nurſery—Mother Gooſe's Tales. You could not reaſonably deſire a more ample field for the display of your amazing erudition in all its branches. Your "epiſode" (and the more "disproportionate" it is, the better) on a theatre, which, as you very juſtly obſerve, is "of the loweſt ſpecies, and the higheſt antiquity," will be allowed to comprehend the whole history of the genuine mode of ſcenic repreſentiation, from Thespis to Flockton; interſperſed with a variety of ſurpriſing obſervations, and unheared of facts. Theſe will eke out many a looſe and eaſy page; while your disquiſitions upon Puerile Architecture, or the art of conſtructing Castles of Cards, will not onely involve the riſe, progreſs, and grand arcana of Free-maſonry, which are all compriſed in this curious and antique proceſs, but give you, at the ſame time, a fine opportunity of exhibiting your whole fund of knowlege in the ſcience, of which you have induced us to believe that you are perfect master; and by not writing, at leaſt not publiſhing, your promiſed work, have been wiſe enough not to undeceive us. One cannot eaſyly imagine a more pleaſing or fruitful ſubject, nor a historian better qualifyed to do it justice; unleſs, indeed, your want of fidelity and care may be thought an inſuperable objection: But I am not without hope that even the preſent addreſs will have the good fortune to make you a little more cautious on thoſe heads in your future lucubrations.—a darkIllimitable ocean, without bound,Without dimenſion, where length, breadth, and highth,And time and place are loſt!
I have the honour to be, Sir, Your moſt obedient, and moſt humble ſervant.
If the above MORAL BALADE be "the dulleſt ſermon that ever was written," and if it, and other things equally dull, be the whole of Scogans poetical remains, whence ariſes your authority for giving him the very familiar appellation of "our JOCULAR BARD?" ſince, by your own account, his jeſts and his poetry had not the remoteſt connection. It is not unlikely, however, (to allow you all poſſible juſtice) that, in thus ſumming up his character in two words, you had your eye upon the following ingenious compoſition, which he wrote at Oxford, on taking his degree of A. M. and wherein both his talents are united.
"A Master of Art is not worth a fart,"Except he be in ſchools;"A Batchelour of Law is not worth a ſtraw,"Except he be among fools."
His. Eng. II: 1355. By "vnciuill" reports, he evidently alludes to Dr. Bordes Story-book; a circumſtance of which the reader will have little doubt, on peruſing the following mery jeſt. intituled, "How Scogin let a fart, and ſaid it was worth forty pounds."
"That time that Scogin was converſant, both in the kings chamber, and in the quens, Scogin would peak here and there, about in the queens chamber or lodging; the queen by custom (as moſt commonly all great women and ladies and gentlewomen do) let a fart, ſaying. The ſame is worth to me twenty pound. Scogin hearing this, girt out a fart like a horſe or mare, ſaying, if that fart be ſo dear, of twenty pound, my fart is worth forty pounds." (p. 23.)
The title of the book is, "Scogins Jeſts: Full of witty mirth, and pleaſant ſhifts; done by him in France, and other places. Being a preſervative againſt melancholy. Gathered by Andrew. Board, doctor of phyſick."
Amongſt theſe ancient and vulgar pleaſantries is the (ſuppoſedly modern) ſtory of the French quack, and his flea-powder, and Smollets tale of the three black crows (here augmented to twenty-one). There is likewiſe the joke of the Oxford ſcholars proving two eggs to be three; and that of the ſharpers convincing the fellow that his ſheep were hogs: beſides many other ſuch-like things, uſually met with in more modern books.