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Title: Reflections on Dr. Swift's Letter to Harley (1712) and The British Academy (1712)
Author: Oldmixon, Mr. (John), 1673-1742, Maynwaring, Arthur, 1668-1712
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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       *       *       *       *       *
           *       *       *       *
       *       *       *       *       *

                  Series Six:
             _Poetry and Language_

                     No. 1

       John Oldmixon, _Reflections on Dr.
       Swift’s Letter to Harley_ (1712);


        Arthur Mainwaring, _The British
                Academy_ (1712).

            With an Introduction by
                 Louis A. Landa

          The Augustan Reprint Society
                September, 1948
               _Price: 75 cents_


  RICHARD C. BOYS, _University of Michigan_
  EDWARD NILES HOOKER, _University of California, Los Angeles_
  H. T. SWEDENBERG, JR., _University of California, Los Angeles_


  W. EARL BRITTON, _University of Michigan_


  EMMETT L. AVERY, _State College of Washington_
  BENJAMIN BOYCE, _University of Nebraska_
  LOUIS I. BREDVOLD, _University of Michigan_
  CLEANTH BROOKS, Yale University
  JAMES L. CLIFFORD, _Columbia University_
  ARTHUR FRIEDMAN, _University of Chicago_
  SAMUEL H. MONK, _University of Minnesota_
  ERNEST MOSSNER, _University of Texas_
  JAMES SUTHERLAND, _Queen Mary College, London_

  Lithoprinted from copy supplied by author
  Edwards Brothers, Inc.
  Ann Arbor, Michigan, U.S.A.


The two tracts reprinted here, as well as Swift’s _Proposal for
correcting, improving and ascertaining the English tongue_, which
occasioned them, may be viewed in the context of the many seventeenth-
and eighteenth-century suggestions for the formation of a British
Academy. They are in part a result of the founding of the French Academy
in 1635, although the feeling in England that language needed regulating
to prevent its corruption and decline was not purely derivative. By the
close of the seventeenth century an informed Englishman might have been
familiar with a series of native proposals, ranging from those of Carew
of Antony and Edmund Bolton early in the century to that of Defoe at the
close. Among the familiar figures who urged the advantages of an Academy
were Evelyn, the Earl of Roscommon, and Dryden. Of these Dryden was
particularly vocal; but Evelyn’s suggestion, associated as it was with
the Royal Society, was rather more spectacular. In 1665 he set forth for
the Society’s Committee for Improving the Language an exhaustive
catalogue of the forces tending to the corruption of the English tongue.
Those, he declared, are “victories, plantations, frontiers, staples of
commerce, pedantry of schools, affectation of travellers, translations,
fancy and style of court, vernility and mincing of citizens, pulpits,
political remonstrances, theatres, shops, &c.” There follows Evelyn’s
careful formulation of the problems facing those who would refine the
language and fix its standards.

This sense of the corruption of the language and of the urgent need for
regulation was communicated to the eighteenth century, in which a number
of powerful voices called for action. Early in the period Addison
advocated “something like an Academy that by the best Authorities and
Rules ... shall settle all Controversies between Grammar and Idiom”
(_The Spectator_, No. 135). He was followed by Swift, who in turn was
followed by such diverse persons as Orator Henlay, the Earl of Orrery,
and the Earl of Chesterfield. Curiously, Johnson’s appears to be the
only weighty voice in opposition: “the edicts of an English Academy,” he
insisted, “would probably be read by many, only that they might be sure
to disobey them.”

But if the two tracts reprinted here may be viewed in this context, they
may also be seen from another vantage--as part of the interminable
wrangling in the period between Whigs and Tories, even over a matter so
apparently non-political as the founding of an Academy. Since it was
Swift’s “petty treatise on the English Language”--the epithet is
Johnson’s--which provoked these two replies, we must look briefly at
his handiwork. Swift was undoubtedly guilty of pride of authorship with
respect to his _Proposal_, which appeared on May 17, 1712, in the form
of a _Letter to the Earl of Oxford_. He had touched on the problem
earlier in the _Tatler_ (No. 230), but this is a more considered effort.
In June, 1711, he first broached to Harley the idea of “a society or
academy for correcting and settling our language,” and with Harley’s
approval he began to compose the _Letter_. Yet it was eight months
before the document reached Harley and another two months, during which
it circulated among friends, before Swift retrieved it for the printer.
Thus, and this fact has significance, the _Proposal_ had its inception
and its first consideration in the Tory circles attached to the Harley
ministry. A few days before its publication Swift wrote to Stella:
“I suffer my name to be put at the End of it, wch I nevr did before in
my Life.”

Now this willingness to publish under his own name also has a special
significance. It is not merely, as is often assumed, that he cherished
the project, though very likely that played a part. He was motivated,
I am convinced, by a desire to flaunt the _Proposal_ as a party
document. It is true that he wrote to Stella two weeks after its
publication that “there are 2 Answers come out to it already, tho tis no
Politicks, but a harmless Proposall about the Improvement of the Engl.
Tongue.” “I believe,” he added, “If I writt an Essay upon Straw some
fool would answer it.” But this disclaimer is ingenuous in the light of
the political overtones in the _Proposal_; for example, the extended
praise of Barley as one who saved his country from ruin “by a foreign
war and a domestic faction.” In fact, the lengthy panegyric of the Lord
Treasurer, as well as other matter, is bluntly and deliberately
partisan. It could not conceivably have been interpreted otherwise by
contemporaries; nor could Swift have been unaware of its provocative
impact upon his readers. Oldmixon remarks ironically of this part the
_Proposal_--and small wonder that he does--that it is “incomparable,
full of the most delicate Eulogy In the World.” Furthermore Swift knew,
in view of his position as leading writer for the Tory ministry, that to
sign his name was to invite attack--even if he wrote, as he says, upon

There is no doubt he thought the formation of an Academy a matter of
great importance. Why then did he deliberately introduce controversial
elements and thus make impossible a discussion of his proposal wholly on
its merits? I suggest as a possible answer that he wished the Whigs to
dissociate themselves from the project and that he used the tactics
expected to achieve this end, in the desire that entire credit for the
founding of the Academy should rest with Harley and Harley’s supporters.
The partisan approach was therefore shrewdly calculated to provoke
opposition and to avoid any leaven of Whiggism in the “institution and
patronage” of the Academy. Swift wanted the contemporary prestige, as
well as the favorable verdict of posterity, to be unmistakably placed.
Nevertheless there was no intention of excluding meritorious Whigs from
the original membership--only, as is clear from Swift’s attitude, from
the “institution and patronage” of the Academy. In a list of
Academicians drawn up by Swift and Harley, unhappily not extant, members
of both parties were included--so Swift wrote to Archbishop King in
Dublin, and there is no reason to doubt it. Even Oldmixon grudgingly
reports that Swift had promised “the Whigs that they shall come in if
they will.” However violent his partisanship at times, Swift could and
did respect merit; and Harley was always ready to placate individual
members of the Opposition. There is therefore no need to take seriously,
as Oldmixon and the authors of _The British Academy_ pretend to do, the
list of potential members of the Academy printed first in the _Amsterdam
Gazette_ and quoted in _The British Academy_. It will be seen at a
glance that they constitute that dinner group of Tory “Brothers,” the
Society to which Swift belonged, a group sufficient for its avowed
purpose--“to advance conversation and friendship, and to reward
deserving persons”--but of course he would not have accepted them _in
toto_ for the Academy.

The Whig writers began their attack on the _Proposal_ immediately. In
the _Medley_, founded by Mainwaring and Oldmixon “to provide an Antidote
against the Poison of the Examiner,” there is a brief reference in the
issue of May 19-23, 1712, to “the very extraordinary Letter to a Great
Man,” followed in the next issue by an extended political attack with
the _Proposal_ as the point of departure. Thus at the outset Swift’s
pamphlet was treated as a party document. At the same time the Whig
writers were readying two pamphlets in answer, both announced in the
_Medley_ of May 19-23 as soon to be printed. Apparently neither of these
appeared, at least not under the announced titles; but by May 26
Oldmixon’s _Reflections_ had been published anonymously and was referred
to in the _Medley_ as “a very ingenious Pamphlet.” As any reader of the
_Reflections_ will observe for himself, the pamphlet opens on a violent
political note and sustains it throughout. Although Oldmixon is more
concerned to level charges against Swift--a lewd, irreverent cleric,
a turncoat, a party scribbler, etc.--than to deny the validity of
Swift’s views concerning the language, he does directly challenge
certain points. And he arrives at a conclusion which may well have been
the result of honest conviction rather than mere party opposition: that
it is neither desirable nor possible to fix the language forever. In a
sense this was the chief issue, and the one where the authoritarian view
as represented by Swift and others was most vulnerable. Is it possible,
by the edicts of an academy however eminent its members and respected
its authority, to negate or control the principle of change inherent in
language? Unfortunately Oldmixon did not live long enough to see his
attitude aggressively expounded by one of greater stature who also took
issue with Swift, both in the _Preface to the Dictionary_ and in the
life of Swift.

_The British Academy_, published May 30, 1712 (advertised in the
_Spectator_ of that date), is of composite authorship. The one person
known to have had a hand in it--“a great Hand,” says Oldmixon--is
Arthur Mainwaring (_The life and posthumous works of Arthur Maynwaring,
Esq._ [London, 1715], p. 324; this is the source of most of our
knowledge of Mainwaring.). The identity of Mainwaring’s collaborators is
a matter of conjecture. Perhaps the most eligible are those who assisted
with the _Medley_, as Steele, Anthony Henley, and White Kennett. Among
other possibilities are such active Whig writers as Thomas Burnet and
George Duckett; and even Oldmixon cannot be ruled out. Doubtless
Mainwaring was the inspiring spirit--of this as well as other attacks
on the group surrounding Harley. Poet, ardent Jacobite convert to
Whiggism, member of the Kit Kat Club, member of Parliament, and Auditor
of the Imprest, Mainwaring had a brief but full career. It included a
part in the _Whig Examiner_ and chief responsibility for the _Medley_.
In the course of his political opposition he appears to have developed a
genuine hatred of Swift, to whom he always referred, if Oldmixon’s word
can be trusted, as “one of the wickedest Wretches alive.” By May, 1712,
when _The British Academy_ was published, he was already ill of the
disease which ended in his death a few months later; but he seems to
have retained his vigor and his clear intelligence to the end. _The
British Academy_ is shrewdly conceived to cast odium on Swift’s proposal
for an Academy by identifying its potential members as a Tory faction
and the whole project as merely a scheme to provide Harley with a set of
pensioners who would be obliged in gratitude “to revere his Virtue and
his Memory.” Whereas in the _Reflections_ Swift is assaulted with hard
obvious blows, in _The British Academy_ a more subtle intelligence is
evident: the attack is oblique and ironic, and a tone of Addisonian
urbanity is fairly well maintained. Nevertheless it is not as literature
that these two answers to Swift are to be judged. They are minor, though
interesting, documents in political warfare which cut athwart a
significant cultural controversy.

 -- Louis A. Landa
    Princeton University

John Oldmixon’s _Reflections on Dr. Swift’s Letter to Harley_ (1712) is
reproduced here, with permission, from the copy owned by the University
of Chicago Library; Mainwaring’s _British Academy_ (1712) is reproduced
here, with permission, from the copy owned by the Newberry Library,

       *       *       *       *       *
           *       *       *       *



                 Dr. _Swift_’s


                     to the

               Earl of _OXFORD_,

                   About The

               _English_ Tongue.


  Sold by _A. Baldwin_ at the _Oxford Arms_ in
       _Warwick-Lane_. (Price Six Pence.)


_The Bold Manner of publishing the +Letter+ for +correcting, improving+,
and +ascertaining the+ English +Tongue+, made me conclude there was
something very extraordinary in it, and more than any one could expect
from Persons that were never thought to trouble themselves much about
+Fine Language+. But upon dipping into it, I found there was nothing
worthy the Character the Author acquir’d by other Ingenious Pieces in
our Tongue, tho’ I confess, it was not so much for the Beauty of his
Style as for other Qualities, some of which a Divine need not brag of._

_’Tis probable, our late Correspondence with +France+ put such a Whim
into some Folks Heads, and because they have an +Academy+ for the same
Use at +Paris+, we forsooth must have one at +London+. The Foreign News,
which sometimes tells us more Truth of our doings here than our own, has
the very Names of the Members of the +Academy+ which the Doctor speaks
of. I do not find that it is come to any thing more yet than meeting
over a Bottle once a Week, and being Merry. At which Times People mind
talking much, more than talking well. I shou’d have taken what is
printed in the +Amsterdam+ Gazette to have been only a dull +Dutch+ Jest
upon those Men, if this +Letter+ had not been written, and some broad
Hints given, that we are to be happier than we thought of, and to be
surpriz’d with a Society that shall make us as Polite as that of
+Reformation+ has made us +Godly+; and I wish it may answer the Ends of
it with all my Heart. But the more I reflected upon this +Project+ and
the +Projectors+, the more I was diffident of it, for the Reasons
mention’d in the following Pages._

_I know very well the Epistle has but a sorry Reputation, even with the
Writer’s own +Party+, that it is looked upon as a silly superficial
Performance, and to be design’d only for an Opportunity to shew what a
+Nack+ he has at +Panegyrick+. Be that as it will, after I had
consider’d the Subject he writes more leisurely than I was won’t to do,
I was loth to lose those Considerations; and having put ’em into this
Form, I flatter’d my self the Publick would not receive them ill; at
least all those whom Faction and Prejudice have not render’d Insensible
of Truth and Reason, and to such, a Man must be well set to work that
writes a Task suitable to the Integrity and Ability of +Abel+ and his
Brethren, among whom I am very unwilling to reckon our Author._



             Dr. _Swift_’s Letter,


          Refining the ENGLISH TONGUE.

I should be guilty of the greatest Folly in the World, if I should go
about to give a Character of Persons of whom I have no manner of
Knowledge. To speak well or ill of ’em wou’d be equally Ridiculous and
Dangerous: For it must be all Invention, and I might then abuse a Man
both in my Praise and Dispraise. It is thus with me with Respect to the
Author of the Letter lately publish’d about our Language, and to his
Patron. I know neither of them, and if I say a Word more than
themselves, or the World have said of them, I must have recourse to
Fiction, which I cannot think of without abhorrence, where Reputation is

That good old Church Martyr the Earl of _Strafford_ was of Opinion,
_Common Fame_ was enough to hang a Man, as in the Case of the Duke of
_Buckingham_, when he was impeach’d by the Commons for Male Practices in
his Ministry; and there were no better Grounds for accusing him, than
that every Body said so. I am quite of another Mind, and let the World
say what they will of any one, I am for condemning no body but whom the
Law Condemns, and therefore in these Reflections I shall not consider so
much how to please the Spleen of one Party, as how to expose the
Arrogance of another, who would lord it over us in every Thing, and not
only force their Principles upon us, but their Language, wherein they
endeavour to ape their good Friends the _French_, who for these three or
fourscore Years have been attempting to make their Tongue as Imperious
as their Power.

This most Ingenious Writer has so great a Value for his own Judgment in
Matters of Stile, that he has put his Name to his Letter, and a Name
greater than his own, as if he meant to Bully us into his Methods for
pinning down our Language and making it as Criminal to admit Foreign
Words as Foreign Trades, tho’ our Tongue may be enrich’d by the one, as
much as our Traffick by the other. [Sidenote: _Page 28._] He would have
it _corrected, enlarg’d and ascertain’d_ and who must do it? He tells
you with great Modesty and Discernment in the 27th Page, _The Choice of
Hands should be left to him_, and _he would then assign it over to the
Women_, because they are softer mouth’d, and are more for _Liquids_ than
the Men, as he try’d himself in a very notable Experiment. I wonder a
grave, serious Divine, who is so well vers’d in College Learning, should
in Compliment to a certain Lady, whose Breeding and Conversation must
have given her wonderful Opportunities to refine our Tongue, imagine,
that the Two Universities would give up so Essential a Branch of their
Privileges to the Ladies, and take from them the Standard of _English_.
This puts me in mind of _Fontenelle_’s way of Learning a Language, which
he recommends to be by having an Intrigue with some Fair Foreigner; and
beginning with the Verb _I Love, You Love_, &c. It is well enough from
Him, a _Papist_, or _Layman_, but for a Protestant Divine to erect an
Academy of Women to improve our Stile, is very extraordinary and
gallant, and little agrees with the cruel Quotation of the Author of
_the Tale of a Tub_, p. 163.

  ---- _Cunnus Teterrimi Belli_
  _Causa_ ------------

That Excellent Moralist has not been pleas’d to discover himself, nor to
Print his Name, but has set his Mark to his Works, which he has
Embellish’d with new Flowers of Rhetorick, that shew what a Genius he
has for refining Language, and how happily one may use the Figures of
Cursing, Swearing, and Bawdy, which before were entirely exploded. Tho’
we cannot well suppose the Writer of that _Merry Tale_ is any way
related to the Author of the Letter, yet out of my great Zeal to promote
his Project of polishing Us, I must refer to some shining Passages in
that incomparable Treatise, and let the World judge if any Man can be
more fit to Preside in a Society for refining the _English_ Tongue.

[Sidenote: _Tale of a Tub. p. 109_] _Z---nds where’s the wonder of that?
By G--- I saw a large House of Lime and Stone travel over Sea and Land.
By G--- Gentlemen, I tell you nothing but Truth, and the Devil broil
them eternally that will not believe me._ If there is any Thing like
this in our Language from the lewdest of our Stage-Writers, I give them
over to Mr. _Collier_ and the Reformers to do with them what they
please. Yet I am inform’d these Florid Strokes came from the Pen of a
Reverend Doctor, who has sollicited lately for a Deanery, and sets up
mightily for a Refiner of our Tongue, which he would adorn with some
more such graces of Speech; as, [Sidenote: _Preface, p. 21._] _Lord,
what a Filthy Croud is here; Bless me! what Devil has rak’d this Rabble
together; Z---nds, what squeezing is this! A Plague confound you for an
overgrown Sloven? Who in the Devil’s Name, I wonder, helps to make up
the Crowd half so much as your self? Don’t you consider with a Pox, that
you take up more room with that Carcass than any Five here? Bring your
own Guts to a reasonable Compass, and be d----d._ I tremble while I
repeat such Stuff, which I defy any Man to match in any Language, Dead
or Living, _Pagan_ or _Christian_; and yet this is the Eloquence, as is
pretended, of a sound Orthodox Divine; one of the Champions of our
Church, and the design’d Chairman of a new Academy to reform and improve
our Stile. I shall only add here another Flower in p. 101. _If you fail
hereof G---- damn you and yours to all Eternity_, says the same Reverend
Author, whose Works on some other Occasion I shall examine, as to their
Divinity, Piety, and other Merit, that the World may see on what Foot
that Author has establish’d his Fame, and how judiciously a Man of his
Cloth made himself first known to the World. Whether the late
_Examiner_, the _Miscellanies in Prose and Verse_ publish’d by
_Morphew_, and some more such Political and Pious Productions, did not
come from the same Hand, I shall not determine. They are generally said
to be written by the same Person, and how nearly related that Person is
to our Letter Writer, is as well known as that he is a Doctor of
Divinity, and hopes to make his Fortune by Preferments in that Church of
which he is so bright an Ornament, as appears by what has been already
quoted; by which one may perceive, how well qualify’d he is to form
Schemes, for the _refining of our Tongue_, and the _Advancement of
Religion_; of both which he has written. The latter does not come under
Consideration so naturally in this Discourse as it will in another, and
therefore it shall be deferr’d till such an Opportunity offers. Perhaps
Our Elegant Writer will pretend to justify these Innovations in our
Speech, for which the best Critick upon him would be my Lord Chief
Justice, by the Example of our Modern Poets, and the Oaths and Curies of
the Stage, where I never heard any thing so very Lewd, in Defyance of
our Religion, Laws, and whatever is held Sacred by Christians, and
Protestants. If he had a hand in the _Conduct of the Allies_, the
_Remarks_, and other such Factious Papers, as is reported, and he never
once thought fit to disown, being more Proud of the Honour done him in
it, than asham’d of the Falshood and Scandal of those Libels, it is no
strange Matter that a Man of such a Conscience should do or write any
Thing; Cursing and Swearing being not so bad as the Robberies that
Libeller has committed on the good Name of the best and greatest Men of
this Age and Nation.

The merriest part of the Project he has been hatching, for an _English_
Academy to bring our Tongue to his pitch of Perfection, is that he has
assign’d, that Task to the _Tories_, whose Wit have so distinguish’d
them in all Times. If there had ever been a Man among ’em who had a
right Notion of Letters or Language, who had any relish of Politeness,
it had been something. But as there never was one, unless it were two or
three Apostate Whigs who had been bred up by the Charity of those
Friends they deserted, that had any smattering of Learning, except in
Pedantry, nor Tast of any Books but _Eikon Basilike_, and the
_Thirtieth_ of _January_ Sermons; ’tis amazing that he shou’d be so
foolish as to fancy, that Learning which always goes by the Stile of
Common-wealth, would submit to the Arbitary Government of an Ignorant
and Tyrannical Faction. Nor is it at all strange, that those, who by
their Practices and Principles, have for above Fourscore Years been
doing their utmost to Enslave us, shou’d always have a Contempt for Wit
and Eloquence, which ever have been the Friends of Reason and Liberty.

Whoever reads the Thirty Fifth Chapter of _Longinus_ will find, that
’tis impossible for a Tory to succeed in Eloquence, and that if they
cannot impose so far on Men’s Understandings, as to make Fustian pass
for Oratory, their Project of an Academy, will be as Chimerical as if
they shou’d flatter us with a Trade and Settlements in the Moon. The
Reader will not be displeas’d, to see what the Ancients thought of the
Capacity of Men of such Principles in Matters of Eloquence, and let a
long Experience among us, prove the right Judgment the _Philosopher_ in
_Longinus_ made of them 1500 Years ago. He is treating of the _Causes of
the Decay of Humane Wit_; _I can never enough admire_, said he, _how it
came to pass, that there are so many Orators in our Times, and so few of
’em rise very high in the Sublime; so Steril are our Wits now a Days; is
it not_, continues he, _because what is generally said of Free
Governments, that they nourish and form great Genius’s is true?
especially, since almost all the Famous Orators that ever flourish’d and
liv’d died with them? Indeed, can there be anything that raises the
Souls of Great Men more than Liberty; any thing which can more
powerfully excite and awaken in us that Sentiment of Nature which
provokes us to Emulation, and the glorious desire of seeing our selves
advanc’d above others? Add to this, that the Rewards propos’d in such
Governments, whet and perfectly Polish the Orators Wit and make ’em
cultivate the Talents Nature has given them; insomuch, that we see the
Liberty of their Country shine in their Orations._ He goes on, _but as
for us, who were early taught to endure the Yoke of Domination, and have
been, as it were, wrapt up in the Customs and Ways of Arbitrary Rule;
who in a Word, never tasted that living and Flowing Spring of Eloquence
and Liberty; we commonly, instead of Orators, become pompous Flatterers,
for which reason, I believe a Man Born in Servitude, may be capable of
other Sciencies, but no Slave can ever be an Orator, since when the Mind
is depress’d and broken by Slavery, it will never dare to think, or say
any thing bold. All its Vigour evaporates of it self, and it remains
always as in Bonds; in short, to make use of +Homer+’s Expression._

  _The Day that makes a Free Born Man a Slave,_
  _Robs him of half his Vertue._

It is observable, that _Boileau_ has no manner of remark on all this
Passage; it wou’d not have agreed with his Pension, from his Master the
_French_ King, to have said a Word in praise of it, nor with his
Conscience to have condemn’d it; but _Dacier_, who had a _Hugonot_
Education, observes speaking of Liberty, shining in the Orations of
Orators living in Free States, that as those _Men are their own Masters,
their Mind us’d to this Independence, produces nothing but what has the
Marks of that Liberty, which is the Principal Aim of all their Actions._

Now what a Friend the Letter writer, is to Liberty, we may see in the
_Examiner_ of the 26th of _April_, 1711, which, tho’, it may be he did
not Write himself, whatever some People say to the contrary, he and his
Party have sufficiently own’d to make them accountable for every Word in
that and the rest of them. The reason why _Publick Injuries are so
seldom redress’d is for want of Arbitrary Power_, he calls it
_Discretionary_; ’tis true, and if I have wrong’d him, by putting
Arbitrary in its Place; I ask his Pardon.--

Having said thus much of his Party in general, I might descend to
Particulars, and examine the sufficiency of the Characters of his
Academicians, a List of them being handed up and down, in which the
Author is not forgot. It is set off with Names that must not be
repeated, and amongst the rest are a Doctor or two, two or three Poets
and Tell Tales, and that Learned and Facetious Person Mr. _D----ny_,
whose very Name gives unspeakeable Hopes of the Progress of such a
Society, in refining our Language, which he and most of his Brethren are
so great Masters of, that if twenty of the List will oblige us with as
many Lines of Common Sense and Common Grammar, I will be bound to read
every thing that shall be publish’d by this Famous Academy, that is to
be or under their Auspices, tho’ I had much rather change that Pennance
for _Ogilby_ and _Blome_. To give us the better _Idea_ of his _Scheme,
he has consulted with very Judicious Persons_; we may judge of what
truth there is in his _Panegyricks_, by that of the deceas’d _Examiner_
on himself; where he says, _he had written with so much Reputation, and
so much to the Confusion of the Whigs, that they themselves have a Value
for his Person and Abilities, tho they have an Aversion to his Cause_.
Of the same size, I doubt not, are the able and judicious Persons he has
consulted about his Design, which must be own’d to be very good in it
self, and capable of such Improvement as wou’d make it one of the
Glories of Her Majesty’s most Glorious Reign. But alas, he will never
have the Honour of it. A Noble Lord, on whom he has written _Libels_ and
_Encomiums_, was the first that thought of such a thing, and some Years
since nam’d forty Gentlemen to be Members of an Academy, on a Foundation
refining on the _French_ of which Number I am very well satisfy’d, not a
Man of his most Illustrious Band wou’d ever have been, and that tho’ he
is so generous as to promise the Whigs that they shall come in if they
will, he must look ’em out better Company, or his Academy will have the
Glory of this great Work to themselves. Indeed the way is prepar’d for
them to _Immortality_, two _English_ Grammars having been publish’d
within this Twelvemonth, and it remains to him and his Fraternity, to
add a _Dictionary_ worthy those Immortal Labours; for which, there are
not a Set of Men in _England_ better qualify’d, and so equal to so
honourable a Task.

One wou’d think, that towards advancing this Scheme, all the _Literati_
of this Kingdom had sent their Powers to Him. That all the Whigs as well
as Tories had entrusted him with their Proxies; for he says _I do here
in the Name of all the Learned and Polite Persons of the Nation
complain, &c._ Whereas whatever has been brag’d by him in other Papers
of the Nine in Ten, being on his side for the Land and Church Interest,
not nine in a thousand will trust him with that of Wit. And I do here in
the Name of all the Whigs, protest against all and every thing done or
to be done in it, by him or in his Name; being a Person with whom they
will have no manner of Dealings, as he very well knows, or they might
now have had him Scribbling for them as well as when that Discourse was
written _of the Contests and Dissentions of the Nobles and Commons in
+Athens+ and +Rome+_, wherein it is said, _’tis agreed, that in all
Governments there is an absolute unlimited Power which naturally and
originally seems to be plac’d in the People +in the whole Body+;
wherever the Executive part lies_; again, _this unlimited Power plac’d
fundamentally in the Body of a People, &c._ and that he wrote better
then than he has done since is not to be wonder’d at, if there is any
truth in what _Longinus_’s Philosopher says.

It would be a poor Triumph to convict him of an Error in History 1700
Years ago, where he tells us, That _Cæsar_ never attempted this Island;
_no Conquest was ever attempted till the Time of +Claudius+_, since I do
not find that he or his Brethren have any Notion at all that Truth is
necessary in History: For they deny what was done Yesterday, as frankly
as if it had been in _Julius Cæsar_’s Time; yet he himself has been
sometimes forc’d to confess the Power of Truth, and pay Allegiance to
it; as where he says, the great Reason of the Corruption of the _Roman_
Tongue _was the changing their Government into Tyranny, which ruined the
Study of Eloquence_; and because the _Whigs_ shall have a Share in it,
he adds, and their calling in the _Palatines, their giving several Towns
in +Germany+ the Freedom of the City_. A very pleasant Reason that; for
when the _Roman_ Language was in the height of its Purity in the
_Augustan_ Age, the Cities of _Asia_ and _Africk_ were admitted to that
Privilege, as much as the _Europeans_ were afterwards; and yet it cannot
be pretended the _Moors_ were naturally more Polite than the _Germans_.
It is plain therefore this was a Party Stroke in favour of the
_Naturalization_ Act, to shew what Inconveniences it hinders by
preventing Foreigners coming among us to debauch our Stile, as may be
seen by the prodigious Number of _Dutch_ Words that K. _William_ brought
with him into _England_.

Another Instance of the forc’d Homage he pays to Truth, is his blaming
_the Slavish Disposition of the Senate and People of +Rome+, by which
the Eloquence of the Age was wholly turn’d into Panegyrick_. Now
considering how many Pages he has prodigally bestow’d upon it, in the
very Letter I am taking cognizance of is it not very odd he should call
Panegyrick _a Slavish Disposition_, and worse still that he should term
it the _most barren of all Subjects_; what if I could prove, that above
half of his Three Sheets of Paper are of that kind of Panegyrick, which
is so fatal to great Men. The _Greeks_ said, _Flatterers were like so
many Ravens croaking about them, and that they never lifted a Man up but
as the +Eagle+ does the +Tortoise+, in order to get something by the
fall of him._

It is a sad Case, when Men get a habit of saying what they please, not
caring whether True or False: Who can without pity see our Letter Writer
accuse the Famous _La Bruyere_, for being accessary to the declining of
the _French_ Tongue, by his Affectation; when it is notorious, that _La
Bruyere_ is the most masterly Writer of that Nation, and that his
Affectation was in the Turn of his Thought, which he did to strike his
Readers, who had been too much us’d to dry Lessons to receive any
Impression by them. He says, he has many Hundred _New Words, not to be
found in the Common Dictionaries before his Time_. I should be glad to
know, who are those Lexicographers, whose Knowledge in the _French_
Tongue he prefers to _La Bruyere_’s; since _Richelet_ and the _Academy_
are not of his Æra, I should rejoyce with him, if a way could be found
out to _fix our Language for ever_, that like the _Spanish_ Cloak, it
might always be in Fashion; but I hope he will come into Temper with the
Inconstancy of Peoples Minds, of which he complains, and that we are in
no Fear of the Invasion and Conquest he talks of, comforting himself,
_that the best Writings may be preserved and esteem’d_, meaning his own
and his Friends, which no doubt would fare much better than Mr. _Locks_
or Mr. _Hoadly_’s; for Conquerors are not us’d to take much Care of
those that write against them.

I like extreamly his rejecting the Old Cant of _Forty One_, and giving
the _great Rebellion_ its true Name _Forty Two_: But, if I had been he,
I would not have named it at all. For there are a great many Men in
_England_, who, tho’ they were not concern’d in it themselves, yet they
do not love to hear of it, for the sake of those that were; and it
certainly was an Error in delicacy to touch upon so tender a Part, no
Man of Honour caring to have his Father and Grandfather call’d Rogue and
Rebel to his Face, especially if such Grandfather or Father had no other
Fault in the World but his Rebellion; which after so many Acts of
Oblivion, and a Revolution besides, can not be a Crime of that Nature,
as to last to the 3d and 4th Generation. He is much to be commended
however for his Impartiality, and pleading Guilty to the Charge of the
_Whigs_, that the _Licentiousness_ which enter’d with the
_Rystauration_, infected our Religion and Morals. How it corrupted our
Language I can’t imagine, when the greatest Master of it Arch-Bishop
_Tillotson_, flourish’d all that Time; but I find he is more conversant
in the Court Poetry and the Plays, than the other elegant Writings of
those Times: Be it as it will, he would lay an Infinite Obligation upon
us, if he would recommend us to any Author in the Reign of King
_Charles_ the Martyr, which he distinguishes as the Golden Age of
Politeness; who wrote with the Purity of _Dryden_, _Otway_, and
_Etheridge_, and with less Affectation, which in Comick Writings is
unavoidable, and in the best never us’d but to be expos’d. Yet the
_Poets_ he affirms have _contributed very much to the spoiling the
Tongue_: And who would he have to restore it? Himself, and his Brethren.
Himself a Poet of Renown, and who, if he would once speak his Mind,
I make no question is Prouder of his _Elegy upon Patridge_, and his
Sonnet on Miss _Biddy Floyd_, than of all His Prose Compositions
together, or even that elegant Poem, call’d _The Humble Petition of
+Frances Harris+_, which is the Pink of Simplicity.

  _Therefore all the Money I have, which God knows is a
      very small Stock,_
  _I keep in a Pocket ty’d about my middle, next my Smock:_
  _So when I went to put my Purse, as God would have it,
      my Smock was unript,_
  _And instead of putting it into my Pocket, down it slipt._
  _Then the Bell rung, and I went down to put my Lady to Bed,_
  _And God knows, I thought my Money was as safe as my Maidenhead._

There is a great deal more of it, all as Easy and Natural as this, in
the true Stile of Mrs. _Abigail_, and just as Amphibuous. It is as much
Poetry as Prose, Pretty and Innocent, according to the Rules of
Criticism; which the Author has taken more care not to break, than the
First Commandment; tho’ one wou’d think it was his Business to have been
mindful of it; and if he had left the Smock to be upript by the Butler,
it wou’d have done every whit as well. I cannot help taking notice, that
the Clamour he raises about the Poets of King _Charles_ the Second’s
Reign, the only Age of Poetry in _England_, is for their Contractions
and leaving out the _Eds_ and _Eths_, wherein he offends intollerably in
this very Dogrel of his. Who wou’d have said _Smock unript and down it
slipt_, and not _unripped_ and _slipped_; there is a waggery in it much
better than any _Hudibrastick_; for it wou’d have run thus:

  _So when I went to put my Purse as God wou’d have it,
      my Smock was unripped,_
  _And instead of putting it into my Pocket down it slipped._

It will be no Authority with him, that Mr. _Dryden_ commonly contracted
the Syllables that end _in Ed or Eth_. He was a Poet, and tho’ certainly
in most cases the sound is sweetned by it, yet it offends those who are
not for losing a Letter, and were they _Frenchmen_, would doubtless be
for pronouncing every one of them, as well as Writing, to the great
strengthning of that Enervate Tongue, which languishes in reading for
want of the _Ez’s_ and _Er’s_, so barbarously mangled in Pronounciation.
A great Lord, and one who wou’d be worthy of a Place, which is deny’d
him in this Academy, having written against my Lord _Rochester_ in an
_Essay upon Poetry_, Mr. _Wolseley_, attacks the _Essayer_ in a Preface
written on purpose, and printed before _Valentinian_, wherein he has
criticis’d on his Lordship’s Poem, and on these two Lines in particular.

  _That Author’s Name has undeserved Praise,_
  _Who pall’d the Appetite he meant to raise._

Where he observes the Advantage the Verse had in the _Ed_, for without
it it must have hobled on Nine Feet instead of Ten. _What does that Ed_,
says he, _in +undeserved+ do there? I know no Business it has, unless it
be to crutch a Lame Verse, and each out a scanty Sense; for the Word
that is now used is Undeserv’d. I shou’d not take notice of such a Thing
as this, but that I have to do with a giver of Rules, and a Magisterial
Corrector of other Men; tho’ upon the observing such little Niceties,
does all the Musick of Numbers defend. But the Refinement of our
Versication is a sort of Criticism, which the +Essayer+, if we may judge
of his Knowledge by his Practice, seems yet to learn; for never was
there such a Pack of Stiff ill sounding Rhimes put together as his Essay
is stuff’d with: To add therefore to his other Collections, let him
remember hereafter, that Verses have Feet given ’em either to walk
gracefully and smooth, and sometimes with Majesty and State like
+Virgils+, or to run light and easy like +Ovid+’s, not to stand
stockstill like Dr. +Donne+’s, or to hobble like indigested Prose: That
the counting of the Syllables is the least Part of the Poets Work, in
the turning either of a soft or a Sonorous Line; that the +Ed’s+ went
away with the +For to’s+, and the +Until’s+ in that general Rout that
fell on the whole Body of the +thereon’s+, the +therein’s+, and
+thereby’s+, when those useful +Expletives+, the +altho’s+ and the
+Unto’s+, and those most convenient +Synalæpha’s+ +’midst+, +’mongst+,
+’gainst+, and +’twixt+, were every one +cut off+; which dismal
Slaughter was follow’d with the utter Extirpation of the ancient House
of the +hereof’s+ and the +therefrom’s+, &c. Nor is this Reformation the
Arbitrary Fancy of a Few, who would impose their own Private Opinions
and Practices upon the rest of their Countrymen, but grounded on the
Authority of +Horace+, who tells us in his Epistle +de arte Poetica+,
that Present Use is the final Judge of Language, (the Verse is too well
known to need quoting) and on the common Reason of Mankind, which
forbids us those antiquated Words and obsolete Idioms of Speech, whose
worth Time has worn out, how well soever they may seem to stop a Gap in
Verse, and suit our shapeless Immature Conceptions; for what is grown
Pedantick and unbecoming when ’tis spoke, will not have a jot the better
grace for being writ down._ This Gentleman’s Opinion, and that of
others, which agrees with his, justify’d by the Example of all the
Polite Writers in King _Charles_ the Second’s Reign, which probably may
be the _Augustan_ Age of _English_ Poetry, is not to warrant the
Affectation of such as are for the _Can’ts_, the _Don’ts_, the _Won’ts_,
the _Shan’ts_, &c. but to refer to the Ear the cutting off those useless
Syllables the _Ed’s_ and _Eth’s_ both in Verse and Prose; and I question
whether any one wou’d not be better pleas’d to hear _disturb’d_ read
than _disturbed_, and _rebuk’d_ than _rebuked_, tho’ the Doctor wonders
how it can be endur’d.

How intolerable must those two Lines of _Hudibras_ be to him then, on
more Accounts than one.

  _Hence ’tis that ’cause y’ ’ave gain’d o’ th’ College_
  _A quarter Share at most of Knowledge._

Where there are almost as many Abreviations as there are Words, and I
question whether the being an _Hudibrastick_ is sufficient to excuse it,
if it is, otherwise inexcusable; perhaps the Reader may not be
displeas’d to see the Lines that follow, which are no great Digression
from our Subject.

  _Y’ assume a Pow’r as absolute,
  To judge and censure and controul,
  As if you were the sole, Sir Poll;
  And sawcily pretend to know
  More than your Dividend comes to.
  You’ll find the Thing will not be done
  With Ignorance and Face Alone:
  No, tho’ y’ have purchas’d to your Name,
  In History so great a Fame,
  That now your Talent’s so well known
  For having all belief out grown
  That every strange prodigious Tale
  Is measur’d by your +German+ Scale,
  By which the +Virtuosi+ try
  The Magnitude of every Lye, +&c.+_

Which may very well be introduc’d as often as one has occasion to speak
of the late _Examiner_, or any one that belongs to him. Let this Learned
Doctor and his new Academy do their utmost to furnish our Language with
what the _French_ call _Chevilles_, with his _Thoroughs_, _Althoughs_,
and the whole Army of antiquated Words before-mention’d; I can’t imagine
Mr. _Dryden_’s Poetry will be in any Danger of becoming unintelligible,
tho’ he has us’d Abreviations as much as any Polite Writer; and will
preserve that Character when the Doctor’s is forgotten, unless we should
return to our Original Barbarity, as he says we incline to do. He
complains the Refinement of our Language has hitherto been trusted to
_illiterate Court Fops, Half-witted Poets, and University Boys_. He
would have a thin Society, if he should exclude all such from his own
Academy: And if the Choice be in himself, as he seems to insinuate,
I believe the Reformation of our Language would have just as much
success as the Reformation of our Manners, which, ’tis said, none have
more corrupted than the very Reformers. He gives us his Word, That _the
Style of some great Ministers very much exceed that of any other
Productions_. Where I wonder are the Instances of this Excellence? In
Speeches in Parliament, for themselves or others, or what Works of
theirs has been communicated to him, that he should know more than all
Mankind? One would think he was their Master by what he says, in the
next Page, _What I have most at Heart, is some Method for ascertaining
and fixing our Language for ever._ Now you must know, that this Reverend
Author, who is so concern’d for the Fixing our Language, has himself a
Style of a very deficient Character; in which the Reader will perceive
how much we shou’d be _improv’d_, by having his manner _ascertained and
fixed_; for doubtless he thinks his own the best, and his Friends know
no better than to be of his Mind. _He would be more comprehensive_, says
an Author of Note, _if he would alter and correct his Style, which is
too loose and diffus’d in all Conscience. So that when I read him
sometimes for a good while together, tho’ I go on very evenly and
smoothly, I find it difficult to recollect what I have been doing, and
whether I have been reading or sleeping. My present Advice to him
therefore is, that he would study +Tacitus+, and such other Politicians
as say much in few Words: And if he obstinately persists in the same
Childish fondness for his Style, I shall be obliged to shew in how small
a Compass the whole Substance of what he says, may be contained. All
this vile Drudgery will I submit to for his sake_, &c. But so little
likelihood there is of his mending his Style by reading _Tacitus_, that
he defies him and charges him with the Corruption of the _Roman_ Tongue,
by saying that in Two or Three Words, about which such a Genius as he is
might have employ’d Twenty or Thirty. This Brevity he calls Affectation,
and assures us, it brought Barbarisms into the _Latin_ Tongue, even
before the _Goths_ invaded _Italy_. However he exposes his own
Ignorance, he should have been careful not to have discover’d his
Friends: Does the _Translation_ of the _Bible_ teach us to understand
_Fairfax_? Are that and the _Common-Prayer_ the Standard of Language?
Yet he affirms, that without them one cou’d not understand any thing
written a hundred Years ago. Whereas the _Jerusalem_ of _Fairfax_ is
older than that, and whoever reads it will find the Language as new as
any can be expected from the New Academy these Fifty Years. For our
Tongue is not so variable in the best Authors as the Doctor represents
it, and the difference between the present _English_ and the _English_ a
Hundred Years ago, is not so great as between the Old and Modern
_French_ in that Term. Of all the Parts of Learning, that is surely the
least ally’d to Politeness that deals in Old Musty Manuscripts, and
affects a Knowledge in Tongues which have not one Polite Book to
recommend them. How such a Quality can be serviceable to the Advancement
of Wit and _Eloquence_, I cannot conceive; but there are some Characters
in the World, that encroach upon all others, and some Men that for their
Interest will say any thing that comes uppermost, either for or against
another. The Knowledge of Tongues is certainly very useful; but if a
Person knows a great many Ancient and Modern, and can hardly speak
intelligibly in his own, He shou’d be no Orator for me. I would no more
value his Learning than Sir _Hudibras_’s, of which the Doctor puts me in
mind more than once by his Compliments, especially of this Passage in
the first Canto.

  _We grant, altho’ he had much Wit,
  He was very shy of using it,
  As being loth to wear it out.
  And therefore bore it not about,
  Unless on Holydays or so,
  As Men their best Apparel do.
  Besides, ’tis known he could speak +Greek+
  As naturally as Pigs squeak.:
  That +Latin+ was no more difficile
  Than to a Blackbird ’tis to whistle;
  Being rich in both he never scanted
  His Bounty unto such as wanted;
  But much of either wou’d afford,
  To many that had not one Word:
  For +Hebrew+ Roots altho they’re found
  To flourish but in barren Ground,
  He had such Plenty as suffic’d
  To make some think him circumcis’d._

The rest of Sir _Hudibras_’s Merit in Letters is of a Piece, and set off
with a Puritanical Air, that renders the whole truly Ridiculous, and
makes a good Comment on several Pages of the Doctor’s Epistle, which is
most valuable for the great Judgment and Sincerity that he has shewn
in it.

It has already been observ’d, that _Horace_ asserts _Osse_ to be the
only Rule of Language; and the Letter-Writer repeats what he says, _of
Words going off and perishing like Leaves, and new ones coming in their
Places_, which he tells us did not approve of _Horace_, notwithstanding
his own Law of paying Obedience to usage. For if that were necessary,
what, according to our Author, would become of his _Monumentum Ære
perennius_? Did not the _Roman_ Tongue even by his own confession,
change as much as ours has done. _The Latin Three Hundred Years before
Tully was as unintelligible in his Time as the +English+ and +French+ of
the same Period are now._ And the Corruptions afterwards by the
_Barbarians_ made it as different from _Cicero_’s as _Ennius_’s; yet
amidst all those variations, _Horace_’s Works are still _Monumentum ære
perennius_. When a Tongue is come to any degree of Perfection, whoever
writes well in it will Live; there’s a Thirst after Wit in all Ages, and
those that have a Taste of it will distinguish the Thought from the
Diction. _Chaucer_ will, no doubt, be admir’d as long as the _English_
Tongue has a Being; and the Changes that have happen’d to our Language
have not hinder’d his Works out living their Contemporary Monuments of
Brass or Marble.

The Doctor may as well set up a Society to find out the _Grand Elixir_,
the _Perpetual Motion_, the _Longitude_, and other such Discoveries, as
to fix our Language beyond their own Times. The Test of their Successors
will vary with the Age, and their Rules grow obsolete as well as their
Words. He would make us believe, that the _French_ Academy have not been
able to preserve their Language from Decay, and who are the Men in
_Britain_ who pretend to greater Genius for Eloquence than the most
Polite of the Politest Nation in _Europe_. Mr. _Waller_ Elegantly
complains of the Change which necessarily happens to Stile, and does it
however in Language which shews, that the Doctor need not be afraid of
People’s forgetting his Patron a Hundred Years hence, if he can write as
good _English_ upon him now, as Mr. _Waller_ did on this Subject
Threescore Years ago.

  _But who can hope his Lines should long
  Last, in a daily changing Tongue,
  While they are new, Envy prevails,
  And as that dies, our Language fails._

  _When Architects have done their Part,
  The Matter may betray their Art,
  Time, if we use ill Chosen Stone,
  Soon brings a well-built Palace down._

  _Poets that Lasting Marble seek,
  Must carve in +Latin+ or in +Greek+,
  We write in Sand, our Language grows,
  And like our Tide, Ours overflows._

Our Author sees _no necessity of this Changing our Language_. What has
been the Fate of all Tongues Ancient and Modern, and for the same
Reasons will Eternally be so, he wou’d defend ours from, because the
Chinese _have Books in their Tongue above 2000 Years Old_; And a History
of 30000 Years Period with a Succession of Kings, 20000 Years before
_Adam_. It wou’d be a Discovery worthy those Men who have lately been
reconciling Contradictions, and building Arguments upon Nonsence, to
find out that _certain Standard for our Tongue, to which, if it were
refin’d_, he assures us, _it might be fixt for Ever_. This wou’d be
doing what was never done before, what neither _Roman_ nor _Greek_,
which lasted the longest of any in its Purity, could pretend to. And
this would not be the only strange thing that has lately happen’d to us,
which never happen’d to a Nation before. It will be in vain to pretend
to _ascertain_ Language, unless they had the Secret of setting Rules for
Thinking, and could bring Thought to a Standard too. For every Age, as
well as every Nation, has its different manner of Thinking, of which the
Expression and Words will always have a Relish, and be Barbarous or
Polite, according as the Times take their Turn. If from the abundance of
good Sense which appears lately in every thing we do, The Doctor can
demonstrate, that we never were in a better way towards the Perfection
of Thought and Language, let him set about his Academy as soon as he
pleases. But if the contrary is apparent, it may not be improper to wait
for some more propitious Opportunity. Besides, there will in all times
be irregular Genius’s, who out of Humour will prefer Affectation to
Nature, and mistake Novelty for Beauty. _Boileau_ in his Reflections
upon _Longinus_, has several Observations of this kind, which will shew
the difference between true and false Judgment, by comparing what he
writes with several Passages in the Doctor’s Letter; he is speaking of
the Famous _Ronsard_ and his Imitators, _Du-Bellai_, _Du Bartas_,
_Desportes_, and other _French_ Poets in the Reigns of _Henry_ III. and
IV. who were in great Fame for a long while, and when he wrote, sunk
into the last Contempt. _The same among the_ +Romans+, says he, _was the
Fate of_ +Nævius+, +Livius+, _and_ +Ennius+_,

  who in _Horace_’s time had a great many Admirers as that Poet
  informs us, but at last they were entirely decry’d. And it must not
  be imagin’d that the Fall of these Authors, as well _French_ as
  _Latin_, was owing to the Change of their Languages. The true Reason
  was, they did not know how to hit the Point of Solidity and
  Perfection in those Languages, which is necessary to make a Work
  last, and set a Value upon it for ever. In effect, the _Latin_
  Tongue, as it was written by _Cicero_ and _Virgil_, was very much
  chang’d in _Quintilian_’s Time, and still more in the Time of _Aulus
  Gellus_. However _Cicero_ and _Virgil_ were then more esteem’d than
  even in their own Time, because they attain’d the height of
  Perfection, of which I have spoken. It is not therefore on account
  of the antiquated Words and Expressions in _Ronsard_, that _Ronsard_
  has lost the Reputation he once had, but because the Beauties which
  were thought to be in him, appear’d all at once to be no Beauties at

Thus we see, that in order to bring us to the degree of Perfection with
which the Doctor flatters us by means of his new Academy, they must
teach us first to think justly, to distinguish false Beauty from true,
and glaring from Brightness, to banish those that write by Humour, and
receive only such as aim at Solidity in their Writings. How the
Celebrated _Tale_ of a Tub will come off then with the best Judges,
I can easily guess, that excellent Treatise being much of the same
nature as _Rabelais_, of whom _La Bruyere_ says, _+Rabelais+ is
incomprehensible: His Book is an inexplicable Enigma, a meer Chimera; It
has a Woman’s Face, with the Feet and Tail of a Serpent, or some Beast
more deform’d. ’Tis a Monstrous Collection of Political and Ingenious
Morality, with a Mixture of Beastliness; where ’tis bad ’tis abominable,
and fit for the Diversion of the Rabble, and where ’tis good ’tis
exquisite, and may entertain the most delicate._

People very often apply those Faults to the Expression and Words which
are originally in the thought. The Merit of such as write by Humour,
Changes with the Mode, and their Language savouring of their Sentiments,
must of course grow out of Fashion. _Ronsard_ the _French_ Poet was so
far from writing ill _French_, that _Pasquier_ thought the _French_
Tongue in its Perfection in his Writings and yet upon the Appearance of
_Malherb_ and _Bacan_, he was no more read nor talk’d of; Whereas there
were Authors before him, whose Writings are now in general Esteem, as
_Marot_ and St. _Galais_, for the kind of Poetry in which they excell’d,
and their Stile is imitated for its Simplicity, by which _la Fountain_
acquir’d his Fame.

Instances of this kind may be given in our own Tongue, which has
improv’d in Refinement as much as the _French_. Our _Shakespear_ shone
on the Stage, with all the Qualities of a Dramatick Poet, and _Diction_
in particular, when the _French_ Stage was Barbarous. His Style has its
Beauties now, and is newer than many who have since Writ, and for a
while with Reputation.

Among all the various ways in which we of late have endeavour’d to
endear our selves to the _French_, and make ’em forgive us for beating
them so, nothing certainly will oblige ’em more than our affecting to
imitate them in our Political Style. Of this Nature is that Novelty the
Reverend Author has introduc’d into our Language, where the Term _Prime
Minister_ has no more a Place than _Will and Pleasure_. Pray who among
the many Ministers Her Majesty is so happily serv’d by, does she Honour
with that Name, and how comes it that _Prime_ does not go with
Precedence? What Law of ours Impowers any body to order our Language to
be _Inspected_, and who is there that wou’d think himself oblig’d to
obey him in it? Is there no difference between the Ministers of a
Despotick Monarchy, and the Servants of a limited one, who have no Rule
but the Law, and are as accountable to it as the vilest of their
Flatterers. We see how our Tongue would be improv’d and enlarg’d, had
the Doctor and his Brethren the ordering of it. He has already impos’d
on us the Court Style of _France_, and their Politicks wou’d soon come
after it. He pastes a particular Compliment on our Tongue and his
Patron, that they have not Merit enough to subsist a Hundred Years
without mending. As bad as our _English_ is, I’ll engage it will subsist
in the History of another great Man of this Nation, as long as the Names
of _Edward_ the III. or _Henry_ V. shall be remembred in _Britain_.
There being some Characters so illustrious that without the Ornaments of
Stile or the Beauties of Wit, they Shine in their Native Dress, and make
every thing look Glorious about them. Others there are which require all
the Advantages of Language and Invention, and darken every Thing that
comes near them. The best of it is, the Contempt with which he treats
the _English_ Tongue, is not like to do it any harm, for whatever
becomes of any ones History a Hundred Years hence, the Doctor’s will
certainly be of much shorter Date, unless his Censurers should preserve
the Memory of him, or he thinks fit to own at last some other of his
Productions, when ’tis probable Fortune has done her best or her worst
for him.

I have several very good Reasons why, if I were to be of this Academy,
I would banish the word Dozen out of our Dictionary, and the Doctor has
no doubt his to be fond of it, and fixing it there for ever. The
_French_ King says _he has given about half a dozen Pensions to Learned
Men in several Parts of +Europe+, and perhaps a dozen in his own
Kingdom_; which, he said, purely out of Affection to the Word Dozen,
because he knew full well the _French_ King bestows Pensions on a
Hundred Men in several Parts of _Europe_; and on a Thousand in his own
Kingdom, who excel in Arts and Literature, _which, including the whole,
do not amount to half the Income of many a Private Commoner in
+England+_. Whereas I will engage to name Him a Hundred Pensions in
_France_ that have been given to Men of Letters, every one of which
shall amount to more than half the Income of a dozen Lords, let me have
the naming of them too. The History of his Reign, which has been so long
Writing, has cost him near threescore Thousand Pounds Sterling.
_Boileau_ himself, after he had liv’d a Life of Affluence and Pleasure,
keeping a Country-House and City-House, dy’d worth above Five or Six
Thousand Pounds, which he had wholly from the King. Not to mention the
Rewards _Racine_, _Valincourt_, and other Poets and Historians had, who
were imployed about his History; Nor those to all Academies of Sciences
founded by him, and the great Pensions he allow’d the Professors. The
prodigious Expences he has been at in Printing only at the _Louvre_,
would perhaps amount to a Sum equal to the whole Income of several
Dozens that might be thought of above the Rank of Commoners.

The last Pages of the Doctor’s Book are incomparable, full of most
delicate Eulogy in the World, which I cannot read without calling to
mind that Verse of _Despreaux_ to Monsieur _Seignelai_.

  _Tout Eloge imposteur blesse une ame sincere._

  To paint a _Mecænas_ like a _Mars_, and confound Men’s Qualities, is
    a Stale Practice of sorded Flatterers, which Men of Merit reject
    with Disdain.

  _Un Cœur Noble est content de ce qu’il trouve en lui._
  _Et ne Supplaudit point de Qualitez d’autrui._

  A great Soul scorns to usurp another’s worth, and is always content
    with its own.

The Doctor seems to have an Opinion, that every body loves Flattery as
well as himself, and will take any Thing kindly that is said in their
Favour. A little more Sincerity would not be amiss in the Composition of
a Clergy-man and if this is the way to get the _Medal_ he talks of, it
will be dearly purchas’d.

I shall be heartily glad to see some of those Productions from Men above
Money, that shall deserve the Laurel he has prepar’d for them. People,
I doubt not, will crowd to get their Scriptions in, as they do to get
Money into the Lottery; but certainly, the Society will take care of
themselves, and if there’s any thing to be got have the Forestalling of
the Market. The Design itself is useful, and cannot meet with too much
Encouragement, Her Majesty, always willing to promote the Good of our
Country, will, it is hop’d, hearken to it in due time; but if it _be
defer’d till Peace_ there will be no great Harm in it, tho’ he is
pleas’d to rally one of the late M------rs, as much above his Satyr as
his Panagyrick, for being so silly as to prefer Necessity to

The want of a _Grammar_ and _Dictionary_ has been long complain’d of;
and we cannot expect our Tongue will ever spread abroad, unless
Foreigners are put into a more regular Method of learning it. To
distribute Rewards to Merit, is the Duty of a good Ministry, and nothing
contributes more to the Glory of a Country than Works of _Eloquence_ and
_Wit_; but he has assum’d a Post that will not be allow’d him. He has
set himself in the Director’s Chair of an _English_ Academy; before he
has past Examination whether he is fit for a Place at the Board; Members
are nam’d that have no Right to such Honour, unless it is a Privilege
that is Inseperable from their Posts and Peerage; and he has given us
Assurance of fine Pieces of _Wit_ and _Eloquence_ from a Quarter it
never yet came.

Projectors, like Quacks, promise Wonders but ’tis always the Labour of
the Mountain------I might enlarge on this Head if I had not run my
Reflections too far already. I shall therefore conclude with a
Discription of one of those Quacks and Pretenders, as I find it in the
Speech of the famous _Alexander Bendo_, who, as much a Quack as he was,
understood our Tongue and our Constitution as well as the Doctor and his

_Reflect a little_, says he, _what a kind of Creature a Quack is._ Mind
what follows. _He is one who is fain to supply some higher Ability he
pretends to with Craft. He draws great Companies to him by undertaking
strange Things which can never be effected._ The rest is so valuable,
that tho I digress’d in it Ten times more than I do, I would present the
Doctor with it, and leave it to his serious Consideration.

_The Politician by his Example, no doubt, finding how the People are
taken with specious, miraculous Impossibilities, plays the same Game,
protests, declares, promises, I know not what things, which he is sure
can ne’er be brought about. The People believe, are deluded, and
pleased; the Expectation of a future Good, which shall never befal them,
draws their Eyes off of a present Evil. Thus they are kept and
establish’d in Subjection, Peace and Obedience, and he in Greatness,
Wealth, and Power: So you see the Politician is, and must be a Quack in
State Affairs and the Quack (no doubt if he thrives) is an Errant
Politician in Physick._


       *       *       *       *       *
           *       *       *       *


                    being a
              New-Erected SOCIETY

                    for the
        Advancement of Wit and Learning:

          Some few OBSERVATIONS upon it.

    ----_Hæ +Tibi+ erunt Artes:_
    _Pacisq; imponere Morem._      Virgil.


          Printed in the Year MDCCXII.

                Price Two-pence.


  _British_ Academy, _&c._

Such is our Case at present, that if we have a Mind to be agreeably
entertain’d with the State of our own Affairs, we must look into Foreign
Papers, rather than into those that are publish’d here by Authority; and
therefore I often read the _Dutch_ Prints with the same Eagerness and
Pleasure, as the _French_ at _Paris_ read the _Post Boy_. If we have no
good News for Our selves here, we may sometimes find some from
_Holland_; and what is good, is so rare, that I had rather have it from
any Place, than not at all. I was so delighted with the following
Paragraph in the _Amsterdam_ Gazette of the 20th of _May_ 1712. _N.S._
that I cou’d not help transcribing, and turning it into _English_, that
such Comfortable Tidings to _Men of Obscure Merit_, might be convey’d
all over the Nation. And I shall endeavour to prove, that the Design
there mention’d, is much likelier to succeed in _England_, than ever it
was in _France_.

The Words of the _Dutch_ Gazette are as follows, in the Article from

_Il s’est formé ici depuis peu +une Societé pour recompenser &
encourager le Mérite, par report aux beaux Arts+. Elle doit être
composée de 21 Membres, dont il y en a déja 19 d’Arretez savoir les
Ducs de Beaufort & d’Ormond; les Comites d’Arran & d’Orrery: les Lords
Duplin, Gendre du Grand Tresorier; Harley, Fils dudit Tresorier;
Lansdowne, Secretaire des Guerres; Masham & Bathurst: les Chevalier
Windham: Messieurs St. Jean, Secretaire d’Etat: Harcourt Fils du Garde
des Seaux; Raymond Solliciteur-General; les Colonels Hill & Desney;
Swif, Docteur en Theologie; Prior Arbuthnott, Medicin de la Reine; &
Friend, Medicin du Duc d’Ormond. Ces Messieurs, qui ont reservé de
Nommer les Deux autre, Membres lors qu’ils le jugeront à propos,
s’assemblant tous les Jeudis, & ont déja fait des gratifications à
quelques Auteurs dont les ouvrages ont été goûtez, & recommandé d’autres
aux Ministres d’Etat pour avoir quelque Etablissement._

There has been lately form’d here _a Society to Reward and Encourage
Merit, with respect to the Liberal Arts and Sciences_. It is to be
composed of 21 Members, of which Number there are already 19 chosen:
That is to say, The Dukes of _Beaufort_ and _Ormond_; the Earls of
_Arran_ and _Orrory_; the Lords _Duplin_, Son-in-Law of the Great
Treasurer; _Harley_, Son of the said Treasurer; _Lansdown_, Secretary of
War; _Masham_ and _Bathurst_; Sir _W. Windham_; Mr. _St. John_,
Secretary of State; _Harcourt_, Son of the Lord Keeper; and _Raymond_,
Sollicitor-General: The Colonels _Hill_ and _Desney_; _Swift_, Doctor of
Divinity; _Prior_, _Arbuthnott_ the Queen’s Physician; and _Friend_,
Physician to the Duke of _Ormond_. These Gentlemen who have deferr’d
naming the other Two Members till such time as they think fit, do now
assemble every _Thursday_, and have already given Rewards to some
Authors, whose Works have been approved of, and have recommended Others
to the Ministers of State, that they may have some Establishment.

This Fact being thus fairly related, the Reader is desired to observe,
That it was in the Year 1629, under the single Ministry of Cardinal
_Richlieu_, when a Society of such great Wits was first form’d at
_Paris_; which was soon after establish’d, by an Edict of the King,
with the Style and Title of the _French_ Academy. And it is left to be
determin’d by all Judicious Readers, whether this _British_ Seminary of
Wit and Learning is not a Copy of that Renown’d Society in _France_; and
whether the Design and Model of it has not been approved of there, since
our happy Correspondence with that Ingenious Nation.

The _French_ Society consisted only at their first Meeting, of Seven or
Eight Men of Letters, who met together to talk about their Books and
Writings: And it was some time before Monsieur _Servien_, Secretary of
State, and other Persons, distinguish’d by their Condition, as well as
by their Merit, were added to the Company. But here we see the _British_
Society, at the very first Formation of it, is compos’d of no less than
Two Dukes, not only capable of _Rewarding_, but of Judging, as well as
of Writing: And likewise of Two Earls; Five Lords; One Knight; One
Secretary of State; Two Colonels of Foot, and One Squire: Not to mention
the Lawyer; the Doctors; the Religious Priest; and the Poet. What
therefore may we not expect from the future Progress of this Society,
which sets out with so much greater Lustre, than that of its Original at
_Paris_; so famous now all over _Europe_.

The Great End and Business of the _French_ Academy, was to correct and
refine their Language, as may be seen at large in the History of that
Academy, written by Monsieur _Pelisson_: And we have already a Proposal,
publish’d the 17th of _May_ 1712, _for Correcting, Improving, and
Ascertaining the +English+ Tongue, in a Letter to the most Honourable
+Robert+ Earl of +Oxford+ and +Mortimer+, Lord High Treasurer of +Great
Britain+: By +Jonathan Swift+, D.D._

_Louis_, King of France, by Letters Patents, in the Year 1635, having
mention’d the Great Things done for the Glory and Embellishment of
_France_, by his dearly belov’d Cousin the Cardinal _Richlieu_, His
Principal Minister of State, gives that Minister Power and Authority to
call himself the Chief, and the Protector of the _French_ Academy: And
doubtless the Scheme of this _British_ Academy is form’d with a View no
less Glorious; That the Great and Memorable Actions of this _Minister_;
the mighty Things perfom’d for the Allies and the Common Cause; the vast
Successes against the Enemy; and, above all, the Restoring of Credit,
and Paying the Publick Debts, may be fairly transmitted to Posterity.

That this is the chief Design of our _new Erected Society_, is plainly
insinuated by the Author of the Letter before mentioned; for which the
Reader may please to see his own Words: _If Things go on_, says he, _at
the present Rate_, (that is, if our Language be not corrected, improved,
and ascertain’d,) _all I can promise your Lordship, is, That about Two
hundred Years hence some painful Compiler, who will be at the Trouble of
studying old Language, may inform the World, that in the Reign of +Queen
ANNE+, +ROBERT Earl of OXFORD, a very Wise and Excellent Man+, was made
+High Treasurer+, and saved his Countrey._ [Mark those last Words, pray,
as you go along.] _Thus much he may be able to pick out, and willing to
transfer into his New History; but the rest of your Character which I,
or any other Writer, may value our selves by drawing: And the Particular
Account of the +great+ Things, done under your Ministry, for which you
are already so Celebrated in +most+ Parts of +Europe+, will probably be
dropt._ So far that Author: But I cannot help differing with him in one
Particular: For I am firmly of Opinion, that altho our Language should
happen not to be _improved_ or _ascertain’d_, yet the _great Things_
done by that _very Wise and Excellent Man_, will not so easily be
forgotten; nor the _rest_ of his Character be _dropt_, for which he is
already _so celebrated in most Parts of +Europe+_.

Besides, as there seems to be an Exact Agreement between the intended
Protector of this Society, and that of the _French_ Academy in its
Infancy, there can be no Doubt but the great Work will be carried on
after much the same Manner, and under the same Statutes and Regulations.
And it appears in Monsieur _Pelisson_’s History of the _French_ Academy,
That every Member of it, both Present and Future, Friend or Foe, was
oblig’d in Gratitude to their Protector, to _revere his Virtue and his
Memory_. The _British_ Academicians being therefore under the same
Obligation, how is it possible that their _Protector_’s _Vertue_ or
_Memory_ should ever be forgotten?

And there is one considerable Advantage, which our New Academy will have
above the _French_. For it appears by the History just mention’d, that
after the _French_ King had given his Consent, that his dear Cousin
should be Chief of the Academy, the Parliament could not for a long
while be brought to confirm the Patent. And Monsieur _Pelisson_ gives
the Reasons of it. _Cardinal +Richlieu+_, says he, _having carried the
+Royal Authority+ a great deal higher than any one had done before him;
tho belov’d by some, was envy’d by others, hated and detested by many,
fear’d and dreaded by all. His Creatures_, continues he, _talk’d of this
Design with excessive Encomiums. Never_, said they, _were the past Ages
possest of so much Eloquence as ours is like to be. We shall out-do all
that went before us, and all that shall come after. And the greatest
Share of the Glory will redound to the Academy and the Cardinal. Others,
on the contrary, treated this Design as ridiculous. They accused the
Academy as aiming to give Laws to Things not susceptible of them, and
were perpetually falling upon them with Jests and Satyrs. Distrustful
People could not tell but there might be a Snake in the Grass; and were
afraid the establishing this Society would be a new Support of his
Domination, that they were only his Pensioners, maintain’d by him to
justify all his Actions, and make Observations on those of others._
These were the Difficulties in France: But our New Society need fear no
such Opposition as the _Frenchmen_ found from their Parliament of
_Paris_. Our _Parl----t_ will most certainly be as forward to pass an
Act in Favour of them and their Protector, as they have been to do so
many great Things already for him and the Nation, and even to pass a
Vote in his Praise. Besides, there is no Body can pretend that _he has
ever carried the Royal Authority higher than any one had done before
him_; nor can it be imagin’d that he has a thousandth Part of the
Enemies that Cardinal _Richlieu_ had: And I am fully persuaded, that all
Things being consider’d, both at Home and Abroad, there is not a Man in
the World that _envies_ him. And tho he has been suspected to _maintain
Pensioners to justify his own Actions, and make Observations on those of
others_; yet, whoever will look carefully over the List of the Members,
must needs acquit him of that Calumny, and confess, that he who pick’d
out such a Set of _Wits_ and _Patrons_, could have no such base Thoughts
in his Head.

When the _French_ Academy had settled their Statutes, the next Thing
they did was to get a Seal. And what was the Impression? Why, only their
Protectors Picture; not engrav’d like a _Seneca_’s Head, but drawn at
length with a modest Word on the Reverse. _To Immortality._ Something
like this may be very easily done here. But I am not for putting on the
Reverse, _the Bill for the Protestant Succession_; tho it may be seen in
the Protector’s Hand at Sir _G. Kneller_’s: For that is too gross, even
for a common Picture. But what think you of his own Head on one Side and
Twelve Lords on the Reverse? Or since all other Societies have taken
their _Motto’s_ from the Old World, suppose he fetch’d one from the New;
and clapp’d his own Face upon the Frontispiece, with this Word on the
Reverse, written in Cyphers, _THE SOUTH-SEA_.

I have but one or two Objections to the Statutes in _France_, which I
cannot get over. One is, they must not meddle with Matters of Religion.
This might have very ill Consequences, and hinder their Top Wit from
shewing his Talents: I mean that Orthodox Divine, who it is well known
was never half so witty upon any other Subject, as upon that of
Religion. Another Law of theirs that gives me Offence, is, The Law by
which they are oblig’d to judge of no-body’s Works but their own. For
perhaps our Academy may not be in a Humour to write any Thing these
Hundred Years, except a Trifle now and then, as an _Examiner_,
a _Conduct_, a _John Bull_, or so. All which Works are allowable,
because the _French_ Statute says, _Political Matters may be treated of
conformably to the Authority of the State_.

There was one Rule more among the _French_ Academicians, that will never
do in _England_ which is their forbidding the Academy’s Certificate to
be printed before the Writings of the Members, and allowing ’em only to
put, _Par un tel de l’Academie Francoise_; As if one should say, _By
such a Person of the +British+ Academy_. This would make mad Work here:
Every little _Grubstreet_ Scribler would presently be publishing his
Trash, with the stolen Title of _My Lord such a one, or Brigadier such a
one, of the +British+ Academy._ And how should we be able to distinguish
the Right from the Wrong, unless their License be printed before in
Form, like a Privilege Royal, _To our Trusty and Well-beloved +Abel
Roper+, of +London+, Bookseller_.

Having just mention’d _Abel_, it puts me in Mind of a certain Officer
belonging to the _French_ Academy, call’d a Library-Keeper. This was
given to one _Camusat_, the most Eminent Bookseller then in _Paris_: And
I presume no body will say that Trusty _Abel_ is not the fittest Man in
_England_ for that Office: He being supposed not only to have printed,
but even to have father’d some considerable Works of the most Elegant of
all our Academicians.

There’s nothing else very remarkable in the Laws of the _French
Academy_, except their forbidding any Member to write in their Defence,
which it is probable will be thought worth observing here. For if our
Society should pretend to answer every impertinent Thing that will be
written against them, they would be finely set to Work. If therefore
they should happen to be daily pelted at, the shortest way will be to
despise their Opponents, and to consider themselves as Persons above the
Reach of Malice; incorporated under a glorious Protector for some good
End or other; and in daily Expectation of having a Charter and an Act of
Parliament to back them; and of being made Wits by the Laws of the Land.

I cannot conclude without observing how pat every Thing happens: The
_French_ Society met on _Thursdays_. So the News tells us, the _English_
do; with this good difference: The _French_ met after they had din’d.
The _English_, they say, dine together, and drink a chearful Glass
afterwards; which has great Efficacy in Matters of Wit and Eloquence, as
well for those that are to _write_, as those that are to _reward_. Wine
is therefore call’d _Generous_, and is as nearly ally’d to Wit, as Wit
is to Madness. How much wittier are some Men over the third Bottle than
over the first! A strong Reason that the Meeting should be at a Tavern,
and not any private House, which the _French_ Academy found very
inconvenient; for whenever the Members, at whose Houses they met, took a
Fancy to Marry, their Wives turn’d the Wits out of Doors; as it happen’d
in the Case of Monsieur _Conrart_ and some others. Thus they were driven
from one place to another, till their Protector got them a Room in the
King’s own Palace; which cannot conveniently be done in _England_ whilst
Lodgings are so scarce: And therefore I hope they will drink on as they
do, till _Whitehall_ is rebuilt. And here I will leave them for the
present: When their two other Members are chosen, it may perhaps be not
unseasonable to acquaint the Publick with the further Progress of this
hopeful Society; and to shew all the World how far we not only imitate
or copy, but even excel our Friends the _French_. In the mean time,
I hope, some of their best Writers will be order’d to give us a short
Touch or Essay of their Eloquence, upon _our late Glorious Enterprize
against the +French+, on +Tuesday+ the 20th of this present +May+, under
the Command of his Grace the D. of +Orm--d+._


       *       *       *       *       *
           *       *       *       *


                 Announces Its

 _Publications for the Third Year (1948-1949)_

  [Transcriber’s Note:
  Where available, Doctrine Publishing Corporation e-text numbers are shown in
  brackets, along with other information. Some announced titles were
  published in a later year, or not at all.]

_At least two_ items will be printed from each of the _three_
following groups:

Series IV: Men, Manners, and Critics

  Sir John Falstaff (pseud.), _The Theatre_ (1720).  [15999]
  Aaron Hill, Preface to _The Creation_; and Thomas Brereton,
    Preface to _Esther_.  [15870: Hill article, and anonymous article
    _Of Genius_]
  Ned Ward, Selected Tracts.

Series V: Drama

  Edward Moore, _The Gamester_ (1753).  [16267]
  Nevil Payne,  _Fatal Jealousy_ (1673).  [16916]
  Mrs. Centlivre, _The Busie Body_ (1709).  [16740: Year 4]
  Charles Macklin, _Man of the World_ (1781).  [14463: Year 5]

Series VI: Poetry and Language

  John Oldmixon, _Reflections on Dr. Swift’s Letter to Harley_ (1712);
    and Arthur Mainwaring, _The British Academy_ (1712).
  Pierre Nicole, _De Epigrammate_.
    [In preparation as “An Essay on True and Apparent Beauty in Which
    from Settled Principles is Rendered the Grounds for Choosing and
    Rejecting Epigrams”]
  Andre Dacier, Essay on Lyric Poetry.
    [Published in year 13 as “The preface to Aristotle’s Art of poetry”]

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                                         and third year_

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run without overhead expense. By careful management it is able to offer
at least six publications each year at the unusually low membership fee
of $2.50 per year in the United States and Canada, and $2.75 in Great
Britain and the continent.

Libraries as well as individuals are eligible for membership. Since the
publications are issued without profit, however, no discount can be
allowed to libraries, agents, or booksellers.

New members may still obtain a complete run of the first year’s
publications for $2.50, the annual membership fee.

During the first two years the publications are issued in three series:
I. Essays on Wit; II. Essays on Poetry and Language; and III. Essays on
the Stage.


MAY, 1946: Series I, No. 1--Richard Blackmore’s _Essay upon Wit_ (1716),
and Addison’s _Freeholder_ No. 45 (1716).  [13484]

JULY, 1946: Series II, No. 1--Samuel Cobb’s _Of Poetry and Discourse on
Criticism_ (1707).  [14528]

SEPT., 1946: Series III, No. 1--Anon., _Letter to A. H. Esq.; concerning
the Stage_ (1698), and Richard Willis’ _Occasional Paper_ No. IX (1698).

NOV., 1946: Series I, No. 2--Anon., _Essay on Wit_ (1748), together with
Characters by Flecknoe, and Joseph Warton’s _Adventurer_ Nos. 127 and
133.  [14973]

JAN., 1947: Series II, No. 2--Samuel Wesley’s _Epistle to a Friend
Concerning Poetry_ (1700) and _Essay on Heroic Poetry_ (1693).  [16506]

MARCH, 1947: Series III, No. 2--Anon., _Representation of the Impiety
and Immorality of the Stage_ (1704) and anon., _Some Thoughts Concerning
the Stage_ (1704).  [15656]


MAY, 1947: Series I, No. 3--John Gay’s _The Present State of Wit_; and a
section on Wit from _The English Theophrastus_. With an Introduction by
Donald Bond.  [14800]

JULY, 1947: Series II, No. 3--Rapin’s _De Carmine Pastorali_, translated
by Creech. With an Introduction by J. E. Congleton.  [14495]

SEPT., 1947: Series III, No. 3--T. Hanmer’s (?) _Some Remarks on the
Tragedy of Hamlet_. With an Introduction by Clarence D. Thorpe.  [14899]

NOV., 1947: Series I, No. 4--Corbyn Morris’ _Essay towards Fixing the
True Standards of Wit_, etc. With an Introduction by James L. Clifford.

JAN., 1948: Series II, No. 4--Thomas Purney’s _Discourse on the
Pastoral_. With an Introduction by Earl Wasserman.  [15313]

MARCH, 1948: Series III, No. 4--Essays on the Stage, selected, with an
Introduction by Joseph Wood Krutch.  [16335]

The list of publications is subject to modification in response to
requests by members. From time to time Bibliographical Notes will be
included in the issues. Each issue contains an Introduction by a
of special competence in the field represented.

The Augustan Reprints are available only to members. They will never be
offered at “remainder” prices.


  RICHARD C. BOYS, _University of Michigan_
  EDWARD NILES HOOKER, _University of California, Los Angeles_
  H. T. SWEDENBERG, JR., _University of California, Los Angeles_


  EMMETT L. AVERY, _State College of Washington_
  LOUIS I. BREDVOLD, _University of Michigan_
  BENJAMIN BOYCE, _University of Nebraska_
  CLEANTH BROOKS, _Louisiana State University_
  JAMES L. CLIFFORD, _Columbia University_
  ARTHUR FRIEDMAN, _University of Chicago_
  SAMUEL H. MONK, _University of Minnesota_
  JAMES SUTHERLAND, _Queen Mary College, London_

Address communications to any of the General Editors. Applications for
membership, together with membership fee, should be sent to




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Errata (noted by transcriber)

  The word “tho’” is written both with and without final apostrophe.

Typographical Errors and Inconsistencies

  those of Carew of Antony and Edmund Bolton  [_text unchanged_]
  we are to be happier than we thought of  [thonght]
  and are more for _Liquids_ than the Men  [more sor]
  I give them over to Mr _Collier_  [_anomalous missing ._]
  26th of _April_, 1711.  [_. for ,_]
  and some Years since  [_“some-/Years” at line break_]
  originally seems to be plac’d in the People  [to to]
  the Smock to be upript by the Butler
    [_text unchanged: quoted passage has “unript”_]
  went away with the For to’s,  [_. for ,_]
  No, tho’ y’ have purchas’d to your Name  [y have]
  or what Works of theirs  [theris]
  _Horace_ asserts _Osse_ to be the only Rule of  [_text unchanged_]
  As naturally as Pigs squeak.:  [_punctuation unchanged_]
  did not approve of _Horace_,  [_text unchanged_]
  _Monumentum Ære perennius_?  [pereunius]
  as unintelligible in his Time  [unintelligable]
  _Horace_’s Works are still  [ere]
  there’s a Thirst after Wit  [ther’es]
  the Thought from the Diction.  [_missing ._]
  when the _French_ Stage was Barbarous  [the the]
  to see some of those Productions  [of of]
  to rally one of the late M------rs  [ofs the]
  an Errant Politician in Physick  [en Physick]

  _with the +For to’s+ and the +Until’s+ in that general Rout that_ ...
    [The italics are garbled in these lines: as printed,
    _with the For to’s_ and the _Until’s_ in that general _Rout that_
      or (with de-italicized text in +marks+)
    _with the For to’s +and the+ Until’s +in that general+ Rout that_]

Mechanical Errors

  Unless otherwise noted, the error is an invisible apostrophe. In
  phrases containing more than one apostrophe, the relevant word is
  given in brackets.

  I am very unwilling to reckon our Author.  [invisible .]
  one of the Champions of our Church  [invisible u in “Church”]
  Publick Injuries are so seldom redress’d
  I am very well satisfy’d,
  his Academy will have the Glory of  [invisible o in “of”]
  for want of the _Ez’s_ and _Er’s_  [_Ez s_]
  he has criticis’d on his Lordship’s Poem  [Lordship s]
  Who pall’d the Appetite he meant to raise.
  not to stand stockstill like Dr. +Donne+’s,
  the +thereon’s+, the +therein’s+,  [therein s]
  the ancient House of the +hereof’s+
  his Epistle +de arte Poetica+, that  [invisible a in “that”]
  the Example of all the Polite Writers  [invisible f in “of”]
  whether any one wou’d not be better pleas’d  [pleas d]
  very much chang’d in _Quintilian_’s Time  [_Quintilian_ s]
  where ’tis bad ’tis abominable  [tis bad]
  confound Men’s Qualities
  of sorded Flatterers  [invisible r in “sorded”]
  _Un Cœur Noble est content de ce qu’il trouve en lui
  as much above his Satyr  [invisible a in “his”]
  has been long complain’d of
  he has assum’d a Post
  Members are nam’d
  strange Things which can never be effected.  [invisible .]

Horace, _Ars Poetica_ (or _De Arte Poetica_) ll. 52-62

  +Horace+, who tells us in his Epistle +de arte Poetica+,
    that Present Use is the final Judge of Language,
    (the Verse is too well known to need quoting)
  Words going off and perishing like Leaves, and new ones coming in
    their Places_,  [60-62]

    et nova fictaque nuper habebunt verba fidem si
    Graeco fonte cadent, parce detorta. quid autem
    Caecilio Plautoque dabit Romanus ademptum         55
    Vergilio Varioque? ego cur, acquirere pauca
    si possum, invideor, cum lingua Catonis et Enni
    sermonem patrium ditaverit et nova rerum
    signatum praesente nota producere nomen.
    ut silvae foliis privos mutantur in annos,        60
    prima cadunt ita verborum vetus interit aetas
    et iuvenum ritu florent modo nata vigentque.

_Il s’est formé_ ...

Except for clear typographical errors, the French text was left
unchanged because it is impossible to know where the errors originated.
All accents are as printed.

  les Ducs [text has Dues]
  les Comites [spelling unchanged: modern form is Comtes]
  les Chevalier Windham  [error for le]
  Fils du Garde des Seaux
    [Error for Sceaux? In modern French, “seau” is a coal-scuttle while
    “sceau” is a seal (here, Lord Keeper of the Seal)]
  Swif [error for Swift]
  Prior Arbuthnott [missing , or ; between names]
  Medicin du Duc [text has Due, as above; spelling “Medicin” unchanged]
  les Deux autre, [error for autres]
  s’assemblant tous les Jeudis  [text has tons]

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