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do exceedingly differ. One saith * he was educated at home; anothert, that he was bred at St. Omer's by Jesuits; a third I, not at St. Omer's, but at Oxford; a fourth|l, that he had no university education at all. Those who allow him to be bred at home differ as much concerning his tutor : one saith & he was kept by his father on purpose; a second **, that he was an itinerant priest; a third it, that he was a parson: one II calleth him a secular clergyman of ihe church of Rome; another !!!), a monk. As little do they agree about his father, whom f one supposeth, like the father of Hesiod, a tradesman or merchant; anothert, a husbandman; another, a hatter, Sc. Nor has an author been wanting to give our Poet such a father as Apuleius hath to Plato, Jamblichus to Pathagoras, and divers to Homer, namely, a dæmon: for thus Mr. Gildon || ; “ Certain it is that his original is not from Adan,
* Gi Jacob's Lives of the Poets, vol. II. in his life. † Dennis's Reflections on the Essay on Criticism, 9:4.
Dunciad Dissected, p. 4. || Guardian, No. 40. Jacub's Lives, &c, vol. II. ** Durc.ad Dissected, p. 4. tt Faimer P. and his son. 11 Dunciad Dissected, All Characters of the Times, p. 45. + Female Dunciad, p. ult. + Dune ad Dissected. I Roome Paraphrase on ihe 4th of Genesis, printed 1729. Character ci Mr. P. and his writings, in a kerter to a friend, printed for S. Popping, 1716, p. 10. Curl, in his Key to the Dunciad, (first edit. said to be printed for A. Dodd) in the tenth page, declared Gildon to be author of that lib:l; though in the subsequent ed:ons of his Key he left out this assertion, and aitinin d (in the Curlaid, p. 4. and 2.) that it was written Dennis only.
“ but the devil ? and that he wanteth nothing but "horns and tail to be the exact resemblance of his “ infernal father.” Finding, therefore, such contrariety of opinions, and (whatever be ours of this sort of generation) not being fond to enter into controversy, we shall defer writing the Life of our Poet till authors can determine among themselves what parents or education he had, or whether he had any education or parents at all.
Proceed we to what is more certain, his Works; though not less uncertain the judgments concerning them; beginning with his Essay on Criticism, of which hear first the most ancient of critics,
MR. JOHN DENNIS.
“ His precepts are false or trivial, or both; his " thoughts are crude and abortive; his expressions “ absurd, his numbers harsh and unmusical, his " rhymes trivial and common.---Instead of ma“ jesty we have something that is very mean; in"stead of gravity, something that is very boyish; " and instead of perspicuity and lucid order, we “ have but too often obscurity and confusion." And in another place; " What rare Numbers are “ here! would not one swear that this youngster “ had espoused some antiquated Muse, who had « sued out a divorce from some superanuated sin
ner, upon account of impotence, and who being poxed by the former spouse, has got the gout in
" her decrepit age, which makes her hobble so dam“ nably * ?”
No less peremptory is the censure of our hypercritical historian,
" I dare not say any thing of the Essay on Cri“ ticism in verse; but if any more curious reader has “ discovered in it something new, which is not in “ Dryden's Prefaces, Dedications, and his Essay " on Dramatic Poetry, not to mention the French “ critics, I should be very glad to have the benefit of “ the discovery t."
He is followed (as in fame, so in judgment) by the modest and simple-minded
MR. LEONARD WELSTEAD, who, out of great respect to our Poet, not naming him, doth yet glance at his Essay, together with the Duke of Buckingham's, and the Criticisms of Dryden, and of Horace, which he more openly taxeth 1 :
“ As to the numerous treatises, essays, arts, &c. both in verse and prose, that have "s been written by the Moderns on this ground“ work, they do but hackney the same thoughts over " again, making them still more trite. Most of their
* Reflections Critical and Satirical on a Rhapsody called, “ An Essay on Criticism, printed for Bernard Lintor, octavo.
† Essay on Criticism in prose, octavo, 1728, by the author of the Critical History of England.
I Preface to his Posms, p. 18, 53.
" pieces are nothing but a pert, insipid heap of com
mon place. Horace has, even in his Art of Poetry, “thrown out several things which plainly shew he
thought an Art of Poetry was of no use, even while “ he was writing one."
To all which great authorities we can only oppose that of
« * The Art of Criticism,” saith he," which was "published some months since, is a masterpiece in Wits kind. The observations follow one another “ like those in Horace's Art of Poetry, without " that methodical regularity which would have “ been requisite in a prose writer. They are some " of them uncommon, but such as the reader must
assent to, when he sees them explained with that
ease and perspicuity in which they are delivered. " As for those which are the most known, and the
most received, they are placed in so beautiful a light, and illustrated with such apt allusions, " that they have in them all the graces of novelty, " and make the reader, who was before acquainted "! with them, still more convinced of their truth and
solidity. And here give me leave to mention “ what Mons: Boileau has so well enlarged upon
in the Preface to his Works; that wit and fine writing doth not consist so much in advancing " things that are
in giving things
* Spectator, No. 253.
" that are known an agreeable turn. It is im“possible for us, who live in the latter ages if “ the world, to make observations in criticism, “ morality, or any art or science, which have " not been touched upon by others; we bave "little else left us but to represent the common
sense of mankind in more strong, more beau
tiful, or more uncommon lights. If a reader rexamines Horace's Art of Poetry, he will find “ but few precepts in it which he may not meet “ with in Aristotle, and which were not commonly “ known by all the poets of the Augustan ag:: “ His way oi expressing and applying them, not « his invention of them, is what we are chiefly to ad" mire.
Longinus, in his Reflections, has given us the same kind of sublime which he observes in the “ several passages that occasioned them: I can
not but take notice that our English Author " has, after the same man.er, exemplified se“ veral of the precepts in the very precepts them“ selves.” He then produces some instances of a peculiar beauty in the Numbers, and concludes with saying, that " There are three poems in our
tongue of the same nature, and each a masterpiece in its kind; the Essay on Translated
Verse, the Essay on the Art of Poetry, and the “ Essay on Criticism,"
Cf Windsor Forest, positive is the judgment of the affirmat.ve.