« 上一頁繼續 »
as we consider this exquisite piece of raillery as a test “ of truth, we shall find it impotent and vain. For “ the question still recurs, whether Martin be a just
emblem of the English nation, Jack of the Scotch, " or Peter of the Roman church. All the points in « debate between the several parties are taken for “ granted in the representation : and we must have « recourse to argument, and that alone, ere we can • determine the merits of the question.
« If we next consider this masterpiece of wit as a “ mode of eloquence; we shall find it indeed of great “ efficacy in confirming every member of the church " of England in his own communion, and in giving “ him a thorough distaste of those of Scotland and “ Rome. And so far as this may be regarded as a “ matter of publick utility, so far the ridicule may be si laudable.
“ But if we extend our views so as to comprehend so a larger plan of moral use; we shall find this me“thod is such as charity can hardly approve of: for krby representing the one of these churches under the “ character of craft and knavery, the other under that “ of incurable madness, it must needs tend to inspire “ every member of the English church who believes “ the representation, with such hatred of the one, and “ contempt of the other, as to prevent all friendly de“ bate, and rational remonstrance.
“ Its effect on those who hold the doctrines of Cal
“ Christianity, &c. where, by the way, the contrast is remark“ able enough, that he should pronounce the Tale of a Tub to “ be a libel on Christianity, while it is in fact, a Vindication “ of our Ecclesiastical Establishment; and at the same time “ entitle his own book, a Vindication of our Ecclesiastical Es* tablishment, while it is in fact a libel on Christianity."
“ vin or of Rome, must be yet worse : unless it can “ be proved, that the way to attract the love and con« vince the reason of mankind, is to show that we “ hate or despise them. While they revere what we “ deride, it is plain, we cannot both view the subject “ in the same light: and though we deride what ap“ pears to us contemptible, we deride what to them “ appears sacred. They will therefore accuse us of " misrepresenting their opinions, and abhor us as “ unjust and impious.
« Thus, although this noted apologue be indeed a “ vindication of our English Church, yet it is such « as had been better spared : because its natural effect ~ is to create prejudice, and inspire the contending “ parties with mutual distaste, contempt, and ha“ tred *.”
According to one of these writers, the Tale of a Tub is a ridicule of all religion ; according to the other, it is a defence of our constitution in church and state, but with an unlawful weapon. And yet how few controversialists do not make use of this weapon when they can lay hold of it! which of them keep themselves within the strict rules of pleadings in the Areopagus ?
But, whatever may be thought of the dean as a Divine, all agree in their elogium of him as a Writer.
“ Few characters could have afforded so great a " variety of faults and beauties. Few men have been “ more known and admired, or more envied or cen« sured, than Dr. Swift.. From the gifts of nature, “ he had great powers; and, from the imperfections “ of humanity, he had many failings. I always con
• Dr. Browne’s Essays on the Characteristics, Essay I, sect. xi, page 100.
« sidered him as an abstract and brief chronicle of the “ times; no man being better acquainted with huinan “ nature, both in the highest and in the lowest scenes s of life. His friends and correspondents were the “ greatest and most eminent men of the age. The “ sages of antiquity were often the companions of his “ closet; and although he industriously avoided an
ostentation of learning, and generally chose to draw « his materials from his own store ; yet his knowledge - in the ancient authors evidently appears, from the “ strength of his sentiments, and the classick correct“ness of his style. If we consider his prose works, “ we shall find a certain masterly conciseness in their " style, that has never been equalled by any other « writer. His poetical performances ought to be « considered as occasional poems, written either to “ please or to vex some particular persons. We - must not suppose them designed for posterity; if « he had cultivated his genius in that way, he must “ certainly have excelled, especially in satire.”
Orrery. « The character of his life will appear like that of « his writings. They will both bear to be reconsi« dered and reexamined with the utmost attention ; « and will always discover new beauties and excellen“ cies upon every examination. They will bear to “ be considered as the sun, in which the brightness “ will hide the blemishes; and whenever petulance, “ ignorance, pride, malice, malignity, or envy, in“ terpose, to cloud or sully his fame, I will take “ upon me to pronounce, that the eclipse will not « last long. No man ever deserved better of any « country than Swift did of his; a steady, perse" vering, inflexible friend; a wise, a watchful, and a
o faithful « faithful counsellor, under many severe trials, and “bitter persecucions, to the manifest hazard both of « his liberty and fortune!-He lived a blessing, he “ died a benefactor, and his name will ever live an “ honour, to Ireland.”
DeLANY. " It happened very luckily, that, a little before I " had resolved on this design, a gentleman had writ“ ten predictions, and two or three pieces in my “ name, which had rendered it famous through all “ parts of Europe ; and, by an inimitable spirit and “ humour, raised it to as high a pitch of reputation “ as it could possibly arrive at. By this good for“ tune the name of Isaac Bickerstaff gained an au“ dience of all who had any taste of wit.” STEELE, Dedication to the first volume of Tatlers.
“My sincere love for this valuable, indeed incom“ parable man, will accompany him through life : “s and pursue his memory, were I to live a hundred “ lives, as many as his works will live; which are “ absolutely original, unequalled, unexampled. His “ humanity, his charity, his condescension, are equal “ to his wit; and require as good and as true a taste " to be equally valued.” Pope, Letter to the earl of Orrery, March 17, 1736.
“He too, from whom attentive Oxford draws « Rules for just thinking, and poetick laws, “ To growing bards his learned aid shall lend, “ The strictest critick, and the kindest friend.”
TICKELL, Prospect of Peace. " It is now about fifty years,” says Dr. Lowth, Gramm. p. iv, “ since Dr. Swift made a publick “ remonstrance, addressed to the earl of Oxford, then « lord treasurer, of the imperfect state of our lan
“ guage ;
“guage; alleging in particular, that in many in“ stances it offended against every part of Grainmar*. “ -Swift must be allowed to have been a good judge « of this matter ; to which he was himself very atten“ tive, both in his own writings, and his remarks “ upon those of his friends : he is one of the most “ correct, and perhaps the best of our prose writers."
" Swift's style has this peculiarity, not to have one “ metaphor in his works. His images are surpri“singly unexpected, and exhibited in their true, “ genuine, native form : this strikes the greatest; “ and, being fetched generally from common life, they “ captivate the lowest of the people.” MELMOTH.
“ Poor Swift, with all his worth, could ne'er, “ He tells us, hope to rise a peer; “ So, to supply it, wrote for fame: “ And well the wit secur'd his aim.” Shenstone.
“ The writer, who gives us the best idea of what " inay be called the genteel in style and manner of “ writing, is, in my opinion, my lord Shaftesbury. “ Then Mr. Addison and Dr. Swift.” Shenstone's Essays on Men, Manners, and Things, p. 175.
“ Swift in poetry deserves a place, somewhere be-' “ tween Butler and Horace. He has the wit of the “ former, and the graceful negligence which we find “ in the latter's epistles and satires. Ibid. p. 205.
“ You have with you three or four of the best “ English authors, Dryden, Atterbury, and Swift; “ read them with the utmost care, and with a parti“ cular view to their language.” CHESTERFIELD, Letter clxxi.
• See Swift's Letter to Lord Oxford, vol. v, page 63.