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If Faith itself has diff'rent dreffes worn,
What wonder modes in Wit should take their turn? Oft', leaving what is natural and fit,
The current folly proves the ready wit;
tiquary Mr. Antony Wood fadly laments the deformation, as he calls it, of that University by the King's Commiffioners; and even records the blafphemous fpeeches of one of them in his own Words-We have fet DUNCE in Beccardo, with all his blind Gloffers, faft nailed up upon pofts in all common houses of easement. Upon which our venerable Antiquary thus exclaims: "If fo be, the com"miffioners had fuch disrespect for that most famous "Author J. Duns, who was fo much admired by our
predeceffors, and so DIFFICULT TO BE UNDER66 STOOD, that the Doctors of thofe times, namely Dr. "William Roper, Dr. John Kynton, Dr. William Mowfe, "etc. profeffed, that, in twenty eight years flady, they "could not understand him rightly, What then had they "for others of an inferior note ?"- -What indeed! But then, If fo be, that most famous F. Duns was fo difficult to be understood (for that this is a moft claffical proof of his great value, who doubts?) I fhould conceive our good old Antiquary to be a little mistaken. And that the nailing up this Proteus was done by the Commissioners in honour of the most famous Duns: There being no other way of catching the fenfe of fo flippery an Author, who had eluded the purfuit of three of their most renowned Doctors, in full cry after him, for twenty eight years together. And this Boccardo in which he was confined, feemed very proper for the purpofe; it being obferved, that men are never more serious and thoughtful than in that place. SCRIBL.
Ibid. Thomifts,] From Thomas Aquinas, a truly great Genius, who was, in those blind ages, the fame in Theology that Friar Bacon was in natural Philofophy: lefs happy than our Countryman in this, that he foon became furrounded with a number of dark Gloffers, who never left him till they had extinguished the radiance of that light which had pierced through the thickest night of Monkery,
And authors think their reputation fafe,
But like a fhadow, proves the substance true;
Monkery, the thirteenth century, when the Waldenfes were fuppreffed, and Wickliffe not yet rifen.
VER. 445. Duck-lane] A place where old and fecond. hand books were fold formerly, near Smithfield.
VER. 447. Between this and ver. 448.
The rhyming Clowns that gladded Shakespear's age,
Or fing their Mistress in Acroftic lays ?
Ev'n pulpits pleas'd with merry puns of yore;
Thus leaving what was natural and fit,
Which liv'd as long as fools were pleas'd to laugh.'
For envy'd Wit, like Sol eclips'd, makes known
When Patriarch-wits furviv'd a thousand years:
VER. 468. For envy'd Wit, like Sol eclips'd, etc.] This fimilitude implies a fact too often verified; and of which we need not seek abroad for examples. It is, that frequently thofe very Authors, who have at firft done all they could to obfcure and depress a rifing genius, have at length, in order to keep themselves in fome little credit, been reduced to borrow from him, imitate his manner, and reflect what they could of his fplendor. Nor hath the poet been lefs artful, to infinuate alfo what is fometimes the cause. A youthful genius, like the Sun rifing towards the Meridian, difplays too firong and powerful beams for the dirty genius of inferior writers, which occafions their gathering, condenfing, and blackening. But as be defcends from the Meridian (the time when the Sun gives its gilding to the furrounding clouds) his rays grow milder, his heat more benign, and then
- ev'n thofe Clouds at laft adorn its way. Reflect new glories, and augment-the day.
Where a new world leaps out at his command,
Unhappy Wit, like most mistaken things,
Like fome fair flow'r the early spring supplies,
And still the more we give, the more requir'd;
Whose fame with pains we guard, but lose with ease, Sure fome to vex, but never all to please ;
'Tis what the vicious fear, the virtuous shun,
By fools 'tis hated, and by knaves undone !
Of old, thofe met rewards who could excell, 510
Crowns were referv'd to grace the foldiers too.
VER. 507 - by knaves undane !]. By which the Poet would infinuate, a common but fhameful truth, That Men in power, if they got into it by illiberal arts, generally left Wit and Science to ftarve,
Now, they who reach Parnaffus' lofty crown,
Are mortals urg'd thro' facred luft of praise!
Ah ne'er fo dire a thirft of glory boast,
Nor in the Critic let the Man be loft.
Good-nature and good-sense must ever join; 525
But if in noble minds fome dregs remain
Tho' wit and art confpire to move your mind;
As fhameful fure as Impotence in love.
VER. 519. But fill the Worft with most regret commend, For each ill Author is as bad a Friend.] As Ignorance, when joined with Humility, produces ftupid admiration, on which account it is fo commonly obferved to be the mother of Devotion and blind homage; fo when' joined with Vanity (as it always is in bad Critics) it gives. birth to every iniquity of impudent abuse and flander. See an example (for want of a better) in a late worthlefs and now forgotten thing, called the Life of Socrates. Where the bead of the Author (as a man of wit obferved on reading the book) had just made a fhift to do the office of a Camera obfcura, to represent things in an inverted order himself above, and Sprat, Rollin, Voltaire, and every other Author of reputation, below.