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variety of learning they contain ; and it may be worth observing, that the chief of those who have excelled in works of wit and humour, have been men of, extensive learning. We may instance in Lucian, Cervantes, Quevedo, Rabelais, Arbuthnot, Fielding, and Butler; for no work in our language contains more learning than Hudibras. This life of the solemn and absurd pedant, Dr. Scriblerus, is the only imitation we have of the serious manner of Cervantes ;* for it is not easy to say, why Fielding should call his Joseph Andrews, excellent as it is, an imitation of this manner. Arbuthnot, whose humour was exquisite, had a very large share in these Memoirs; and I should guess that the fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, tenth and twelfth chap
* Don Quixote is the most original and unrivalled work of modern times. The great art of Cervantes consists in having painted his mad hero with such a number of amiable qualities, as to make it impossible for us totally to despise him. This light and shade in drawing characters, shews the master. It is thus Addison has represented his Sir Roger, and Shakespeare his Falstaff. How great must be the native force of Cervantes's humour, when it can be relished by readers even unacquainted with Spanish manners, with the institution of chivalry, and with the many passages of old romances, and Italian poems, to which it perpetually alludes.
ters are by his hand ; as they contain allusions to parts of learning and science, with which Pope was little acquainted.
There are few of the many faults and absurdities, of which modern writers are guilty, but what are well exposed in the Bathos ; particularly in chapters tenth, eleventh, and twelfth; and in the Project for Advancement of the Stage, in c. 16. It is rather singular, that some of the most useful criticism in our language, should be delivered in two ludicrous pieces; the Rehearsal and the Bathos. For there is scarcely a fault or absurdity of which a dramatic poet can be guilty, but what is ridiculed in the Rehearsal.
The familiar gossipping style of Burnet in his history, is ridiculed in the Memoirs of a Parish Clerk. The Discourse on the Office and Creation of the Poet Laureat, might be much enriched by the curious particulars which our author's own translator, the ingenious Abbé Du Resnel, has given us in the 15th vol. of the Memoirs of Literature, in his learned researches on poets Laureat. The eight papers in the Guardian are
elegantly written, particularly number 61, on cruelty to animals; and number 91, on a club of little men.
The Preface to his translation of the Iliad, is a declamatory piece of criticism, in the way of Longinus : it is written with force and spirit, but deals too much in generals. The most exceptionable passage
in it, is where he compares the different great Epic poets to different sorts of fire. The Postscript to the Odyssey is better written, and more instructive. So also is the Preface to his Shakespeare : though it appears, by what later authors and editors have done, that he was not sufficiently acquainted with the history of our poetry, nor with the works of Shakespeare's predecessors and contemporaries. The Letters to various friends, occupy three volumes in that * collection of his works, which we pro
His translation of Homer is therefore not here included; the discussion of whose beauties and faults (for faults it has) well deserve a separate volume; a work which, if well executed, would be of the greatest utility in forming a just taste,
fessedly made use of in drawing up these remarks. They appear to have been written with a design to have them one day published. They contain, it must be allowed, many interesting particulars ; but they are tinctured and blemished with a great share of vanity, and self-importance, and with too many commendations of his own integrity, independency, and virtue. Pope, Swift, and Bolingbroke, appear, by the letters, to have formed a kind of haughty triumvirate, in order to issue forth proscriptions against all who would not adopt their sentiments and opinions. And by their own account of themselves, they would have the reader believe, that they had engrossed and monopolized all the genius, and all the honesty, of the age, in which, according to their opinion, they had the misfortune to live.
Thus have I endeavoured to give a critical account, with freedom, but it is hoped with impartiality, of each of Pope's works ; by which review it will appear, that the largest portion of VOL. II.
by shewing readers, especially of the younger sort, how very inferior and unlike it is to the original, and how much overloaded with improper, unnecessary, and Ovidian ornaments.
them is of the didactic, moral, and satyric kind; and consequently, not of the most poetic species of poetry; whence it is manifest, that good sense and judgment were his characteristical excellencies, rather than fancy and invention : not that the author of the Rape of the Lock, and Eloisa, can be thought to want imagination; but because his imagination was not his predominant talent, because he indulged it not, and because he gave not so many proofs of this talent as of the other. This turn of mind led him to admire French models; he studied Boileau attentively; formed himself upon him, as Milton formed himself upon the Grecian and Italian sons of Fancy. He stuck to describing modern manners; but those manners, because they are familiar, uniform, artificial, and polished, are, in their very nature, unfit for any lofty effort of the Muse. He gradually became one of the most correct, even, and exact poets that ever wrote; polishing his pieces with a care and assiduity, that no business or avocation ever interrupted : so that if he does not frequently ravish and transport his reader, yet he does not disgust him with unexpected inequalities, and absurd improprieties. Whatever poeti