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Title: Parodies of Ballad Criticism (1711-1787) - A Comment Upon the History of Tom Thumb, 1711, by William - Wagstaffe; The Knave of Hearts, 1787, by George Canning
Author: Wagstaffe, William, Griffin, Gregory
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Parodies of Ballad Criticism (1711-1787) - A Comment Upon the History of Tom Thumb, 1711, by William - Wagstaffe; The Knave of Hearts, 1787, by George Canning" ***

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  [In the "Tom Thumb" article, Latin "-que" was abbreviated with a
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  The original texts printed all names in Italic type; italicized
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  marked with *asterisks*. All verse citations were printed in italics.]


         _Parodies of Ballad Criticism_


               William Wagstaffe,
_A Comment Upon the History of Tom Thumb_, 1711

                George Canning,
          _The Knave of Hearts_, 1787

       Selected, with an Introduction, by
            William K. Wimsatt, Jr.

             Publication Number 63

                  Los Angeles
      William Andrews Clark Memorial Library
            University of California

       *       *       *       *       *


  RICHARD C. BOYS, University of Michigan
  RALPH COHEN, University of California, Los Angeles
  VINTON A. DEARING, University of California, Los Angeles
  LAWRENCE CLARK POWELL, Clark Memorial Library


  W. EARL BRITTON, University of Michigan


  EMMETT L. AVERY, State College of Washington
  BENJAMIN BOYCE, Duke University
  LOUIS BREDVOLD, University of Michigan
  JOHN BUTT, King's College, University of Durham
  JAMES L. CLIFFORD, Columbia University
  ARTHUR FRIEDMAN, University of Chicago
  LOUIS A. LANDA, Princeton University
  SAMUEL H. MONK, University of Minnesota
  ERNEST C. MOSSNER, University of Texas
  JAMES SUTHERLAND, University College, London
  H. T. SWEDENBERG, JR., University of California, Los Angeles


  EDNA C. DAVIS, Clark Memorial Library

       *       *       *       *       *

The Augustan Reprint Society regrets to announce the death
of one of its founders and editors, Edward Niles Hooker.
The editors hope, in the near future, to issue a volume
in his memory.

       *       *       *       *       *


Joseph Addison's enthusiasm for ballad poetry (_Spectators_ 70, 74, 85)
was not a sheer novelty. He had a ringing English precedent in Sidney,
whom he quotes. And he may have had one in Jonson; at least he thought
he had. He cited Dryden and Dorset as collectors and readers of ballads;
and he might have cited others. He found comfort in the fact that
Molière's Misanthrope was on his side. The modern or broadside version
of _Chevy Chase_, the one which Addison quoted, had been printed, with a
Latin translation, in the third volume of Dryden's _Miscellany_ (1702)
and had been appreciated along with _The Nut-Brown Maid_ in an essay _Of
the Old English Poets and Poetry_ in _The Muses Mercury_ for June, 1707.
The feelings expressed in Addison's essays on the ballads were part of
the general patriotic archaism which at that time was moving in rapport
with cyclic theories of the robust and the effete, as in Temple's
essays, and was complicating the issue of the classical ancients versus
the moderns. Again, these feelings were in harmony with the new
Longinianism of boldness and bigness, cultivated in one way by Dennis
and in another by Addison himself in later _Spectators_. The tribute to
the old writers in Rowe's Prologue to _Jane Shore_ (1713) is of course
not simply the result of Addison's influence.[1]

  Those venerable ancient Song-Enditers
  Soar'd many a Pitch above our modern Writers.

It is true also that Addison exhibits, at least in the first of the two
essays on _Chevy Chase_, a degree of the normal Augustan condescension
to the archaic--the vision which informs the earlier couplet poem on the
English poets. Both in his quotation from Sidney ("... being so evil
apparelled in the Dust and Cobweb of that uncivil Age, what would it
work trimmed in the gorgeous Eloquence of _Pindar_?") and in his own
apology for the "Simplicity of the Stile" there is sufficient
prescription for all those improvements that either a Ramsay or a Percy
were soon actually to undertake. And some of the Virgilian passages in
_Chevy Chase_ which Addison picked out for admiration were not what
Sidney had known but the literary invention of the more modern broadside

Nevertheless, the two _Spectators_ on _Chevy Chase_ and the sequel on
the _Children in the Wood_ were startling enough. The general
announcement was ample, unabashed, soaring--unmistakable evidence of a
new polite taste for the universally valid utterances of the primitive
heart. The accompanying measurement according to the epic rules and
models was not a qualification of the taste, but only a somewhat awkward
theoretical dimension and justification.

  It is impossible that any thing should be universally tasted and
  approved by a Multitude, tho' they are only the Rabble of a Nation,
  which hath not in it some peculiar Aptness to please and gratify the
  Mind of Man.... an ordinary Song or Ballad that is the Delight of
  the common People, cannot fail to please all such Readers as are not
  unqualified for the Entertainment by their Affectation or Ignorance.

Professor Clarence D. Thorpe is surely correct in his view of Addison as
a "grandfather" of such that would come in romantic aesthetics for the
next hundred years.[2] Not that Addison invents anything; but he catches
every current whisper and swells it to the journalistic audibility.
Here, if we take Addison at his word, are the key ideas for Wordsworth's
Preface on the language of rustic life, for Tolstoy's ruthless reduction
of taste to the peasant norm. Addison went on to urge what was perfectly
just, that the old popular ballads ought to be read and liked; at the
same time he pushed his praise to a rather wild extreme, and he made
some comic comparisons between _Chevy Chase_ and Virgil and Homer.

We know now that he was on the right track; he was riding the wave of
the future. It will be sufficient here merely to allude to that well
established topic of English literary history, the rise of the ballad
during the eighteenth century--in _A Collection of Old Ballads_
(1723-1725), in Ramsay's _Evergreen_ and _Tea-Table_, in Percy's
_Reliques_, and in all the opinions, the critiques, the imitations, the
modern ballads, and the forgeries of that era--in _Henry and Emma_,
_Colin and Lucy_, and _Hardyknute_, in Gay, Shenstone, and Gray, in
Chatterton's Rowley. All these in a sense testified to the influence of
Addison's essays. Addison was often enough given honorable mention and

On the other hand, neo-classic stalwart good sense and the canons of
decorum did not collapse easily, and the cultivation of the ballads had,
as we have suggested, a certain aspect of silliness. It is well known
that Addison's essays elicited the immediate objections of Dennis. The
Spectator's "Design is to see how far he can lead his Reader by the
Nose." He wants "to put Impotence and Imbecility upon us for
Simplicity." Later Johnson in his _Life of Addison_ quoted Dennis and
added his own opinion of _Chevy Chase_: "The story cannot possibly be
told in a manner that shall make less impression on the mind."

It was fairly easy to parody the ballads themselves, or at least the
ballad imitations, as Johnson would demonstrate _ex tempore_. "I put my
hat upon my head And walked into the Strand, And there I met another man
Whose hat was in his hand." And it was just as easy to parody ballad
criticism. The present volume is an anthology of two of the more
deserving mock-criticisms which Addison's effort either wholly or in
part inspired.

An anonymous satirical writer who was later identified, on somewhat
uncertain authority, as the Tory Dr. William Wagstaffe was very prompt
in responding. His _Comment Upon the History of Tom Thumb_ appeared in
1711 perhaps within a week or two of the third guilty _Spectator_ (June
7) and went into a second edition, "Corrected," by August 18. An
advertisement in the _Post Man_ of that day referred to yet a third
"sham" edition, "full of errors."[3] The writer alludes to the author of
the _Spectators_ covertly ("we have had an _enterprising Genius_ of
late") and quotes all three of the ballad essays repeatedly. The choice
of _Tom Thumb_ as the _corpus vile_ was perhaps suggested by Swift's
momentary "handling" of it in _A Tale of a Tub_.[4] The satirical method
is broad and easy and scarcely requires comment. This is the attack
which was supposed by Addison's editor Henry Morley (_Spectator_, 1883,
I, 318) to have caused Addison to "flinch" a little in his revision of
the ballad essays. It is scarcely apparent that he did so. The last
paragraph of the third essay, on the _Children in the Wood_, is a retort
to some other and even prompter unfriendly critics--"little conceited
Wits of the Age," with their "little Images of Ridicule."

But Addison is not the only target of "Wagstaffe's" _Comment_. "Sir
B------ B--------" and his "Arthurs" are another, and "Dr. B--tly"
another. One of the most eloquent moments in the _Comment_ occurs near
the end in a paragraph on what the author conceives to be the follies of
the historical method. The use of the slight vernacular poem to parody
the Bentleyan kind of classical scholarship was to be tried by Addison
himself in _Spectator_ 470 (August 29, 1712) and had a French
counterpart in the _Chef d'oeuvre d'un inconnu_, 1714. A later example
was executed by Defoe's son-in-law Henry Baker in No. XIX of his
_Universal Spectator_, February 15, 1729.[5] And that year too provided
the large-scale demonstration of the _Dunciad Variorum_. The very
"matter" of Tom Thumb reappeared under the same light in Fielding's
_Tragedy of Tragedies or the Life and Death of Tom Thumb the Great with
the Annotations of H. Scriblerus Secundus_, 1731. Addison's criticism of
the ballads was scarcely a legitimate object for this kind of attack,
but Augustan satire and parody were free and hospitable genres, always
ready to entertain more than one kind of "bard and blockhead side by

No less a person than George Canning (as a schoolboy) was the author of
the second of the two parodies reproduced in the present volume. A group
of precocious Eton lads, Canning, J. Hookham Frere, John Smith, and
Robert (Bobus) Smith, during the years 1786-1787 produced forty octavo
numbers of a weekly paper called _The Microcosm_. They succeeded in
exciting some interest among the literati,[7] were coming out in a
"Second Edition" as early as the Christmas vacation of 1786,[8] and in
the end sold their copyright for fifty pounds to their publisher,
Charles Knight of Windsor.[9] Canning wrote Nos. XI and XII (February
12, 1787), a critique of the "Epic Poem" concerning "The Reformation of
the Knave of Hearts."[10] This essay in two parts, running for nearly as
many pages as Wagstaffe's archetypal pamphlet, is a much more systematic
and theoretically ambitious effort than any predecessor. _The Knave of
Hearts_ is praised for its _beginning_ (_in medias res_), its _middle_
(all "bustle and business"), and its _end_ (full of _Poetical Justice_
and superior _Moral_). The earlier writers had directly labored the
resemblance of the ballads to passages in Homer and Virgil. That method
is now hardly invoked at all. Criticism according to the epic rules of
Aristotle had been well enough illustrated by Addison on _Paradise Lost_
(see especially _Spectator_ 267) if not by Addison on ballads. The
decline of simple respect for the "Practice and Authority" of the
ancient models during the neo-classic era, the general advance of
something like reasoning in criticism, finds one of its quainter
testimonials in the Eton schoolboy's cleverness. He would show by
definition and strict deduction that _The Knave of Hearts_ is a "_due
and proper Epic Poem_," having as "good right to that title, from its
adherence to prescribed rules, as any of the celebrated master-pieces of
antiquity." The post-Ramblerian date of the performance and a further if
incidental aim of the satire--a facetious removal from the Augustan
coffeehouse conversation--can be here and there felt in a heavy roll of
the periods, a doubling and redoubling of the abstractions.[11]

The essay, nevertheless, shows sufficient continuity with the earlier
tradition of parody ballad criticism--for it begins by alluding to the
_Spectator's_ critiques of Shakespeare, Milton, and _Chevy Chase_, and
near the end of the first number slides into a remark that "one of the
_Scribleri_, a descendant of the famous _Martinus_, has expressed his
suspicions of the text being corrupted." A page or two of irony
concerning the "plain and simple" opening of the poem seems to hark back
to something more subtle in the Augustans than the Wagstaffian derision,
no doubt to Pope's victory over Philips in a _Guardian_ on pastorals.
"There is no task more difficult to a Poet, than that of _Rejection_.
Ovid, among the ancients, and _Dryden_, among the moderns, were perhaps
the most remarkable for the want of it."[12]

The interest of these little pieces is historical[13] in a fairly strict
sense. Their value is indirect, half accidental, a glancing revelation
of ideas concerning simplicity, feeling, genius, the primitive, the
historical which run steadily beneath all the ripples during the century
that moves from "classic" to "romantic." Not all of Addison's parodists
taken together muster as much fun, as such whimsical charm, as Addison
himself in a single paragraph such as the one on "accidental readings"
which opens the _Spectator_ on the _Children in the Wood_. But this
passage, as it happens, requires only a slightly sophistical application
to be taken as a cue to a useful attitude in our present reading.
"I once met with a Page of _Mr. Baxter_ under a Christmas Pye....
I might likewise mention a Paper-Kite, from which I have received great

  William K. Wimsatt, Jr.
  Yale University


    [Footnote 1: The chief authorities for the history which I am
    summarizing are W. L. Phelps, _The Beginnings of the English
    Romantic Movement_, Boston, 1893, Chapter VII; E. K. Broadus,
    "Addison's Influence on the Development of Interest in Folk-Poetry
    in the Eighteenth Century," _Modern Philology_, VIII (July, 1910),
    123-134; S. B. Hustvedt, _Ballad Criticism in Scandinavia and
    Great Britain During the Eighteenth Century_, New York, 1916.]

    [Footnote 2: "Addison's Contribution to Criticism," in R. F. Jones
    _et al._, _The Seventeenth Century_ (Stanford, 1951), p. 329.]

    [Footnote 3: Edward B. Reed, "Two Notes on Addison," _Modern
    Philology_, VI (October, 1908), 187. The attribution of _A Comment
    Upon Tom Thumb_ and other satirical pieces to the Dr. William
    Wagstaffe who died in 1725 as Physician to St. Bartholomew's
    Hospital depends entirely upon the fact that a collection of such
    pieces was published, with an anonymous memoir, in 1726 under the
    title _Miscellaneous Works of Dr. William Wagstaffe_. Charles
    Dilke, _Papers of a Critic_ (London, 1875), I, 369-382. argues
    that not Wagstaffe but Swift was the author of some of the pieces
    in the volume. The case for Wagstaffe is put by Nicholas Moore in
    a letter to _The Athenaeum_, June 10, 1882 and in his article on
    Wagstaffe in the _DNB_. Paul V. Thompson, "Swift and the Wagstaffe
    Papers," _Notes and Queries_, 175 (1938), 79, supports the notion
    of Wagstaffe as an understrapper of Swift. The negative part of
    Dilke's thesis is perhaps the more plausible. _A Comment Upon Tom
    Thumb_, as Dilke himself confesses (_Papers_, p. 377), scarcely
    sounds very much like Swift.]

    [Footnote 4: Text, p. 6. The nursery rhyme _Tom Thumb, His Life
    and Death_, 1630, and the augmented _History of Tom Thumb_,
    c. 1670, are printed with introductory remarks by W. C. Hazlitt,
    _Remains of the Early Popular Poetry of England_, II (London,
    1866), 166-250.]

    [Footnote 5: Cf. George R. Potter, "Henry Baker, F.R.S.
    (1698-1774)," _Modern Philology_, XXIX (1932), 305. Nathan Drake,
    _The Gleaner_, I (London, 1811), 220 seems mistaken in his remark
    that Baker's Scriblerian commentary (upon the nursery rhyme "Once
    I was a Batchelor, and lived by myself") was the model for later

    [Footnote 6: For another early instance of our genre and a very
    pure one, see an anonymous Cambridge correspondent's critique of
    the burlesque broadside ballad of "Moor of Moore-Hall and the
    Dragon of Wantley," in Nathaniel Mist's _Weekly Journal_ (second
    series), September 2, 1721, reproduced by Roger P. McCutcheon,
    "Another Burlesque of Addison's Ballad Criticism," _Studies in
    Philology_, XXXIII (October, 1926), 451-456.]

    [Footnote 7: _Diary & Letters of Madame d'Arblay_ (London,
    1904-1905), III, 121-122, 295: November 28, 1786; July 29, 1787;
    William Roberts, _Memoirs of the Life and Correspondence of Mrs.
    Hannah More_ (London, 1834), II, 46, letter from W. W. Pepys,
    December 31, 1786.]

    [Footnote 8: Advertisement inserted before No. I in a collected
    volume dated 1787 (Yale 217. 304g).]

    [Footnote 9: The source of the anecdote seems to be William
    Jordan, _National Portrait Gallery_ (London, 1831), II, 3, quoting
    a communication from Charles Knight the publisher, son of Charles
    Knight of Windsor.

    The present reprint of Nos. XI and XII of _The Microcosm_ is from
    the "Second" octavo collected edition, Windsor, 1788. _The
    Microcosm_ had reappeared at least seven times by 1835.]

    [Footnote 10: Iona and Peter Opie, _The Oxford Dictionary of
    Nursery Rhymes_ (Oxford, 1951), are unable to find an earlier
    printed source for this rhyme than the _European Magazine_, I
    (April, 1782), 252.]

    [Footnote 11: No. XXXVI of _The Microcosm_ is a letter from Capel
    Lofft defending the "Middle Style" of Addison in contrast to the
    more modern Johnsonian eloquence. Robert Bell, _The Life of the
    Rt. Hon. George Canning_ (London, 1846), pp. 48-54, in a helpful
    account of _The Microcosm_, stresses its general fidelity to
    _Spectator_ style and themes.]

    [Footnote 12: Canning's critique closes with an appendix of three
    and a half pages alluding to the Eton Shrovetide custom of writing
    Latin verses, known as the "Bacchus." See H. C. Maxwell Lyte,
    _A History of Eton College_ (London, 1911), pp. 146-147.]

    [Footnote 13: As late as the turn of the century the trick was
    still in a manner feasible. The anonymous author of _Literary
    Leisure, or the Recreations of Solomon Saunter, Esq._ (1799-1800)
    divides two numbers, VIII and XV, between other affairs and a
    Shandyesque argument about the nursery charm for the hiccup "Peter
    Piper picked a peck of pickled pepper." This author was most
    likely not Byron's assailant Hewson Clarke (born 1787, author of
    _The Saunterer in 1804_), as asserted in the _Catalogue_ of the
    Hope Collection (Oxford, 1865), p. 128.

    A historical interest may be not only retrospective but
    contemporary. The reader of the present volume will appreciate
    "How to Criticize a Poem (In the Manner of Certain Contemporary
    Poets)", a critique of the mnemonic rhyme "Thirty days hath
    September," in the _New Republic_, December 6, 1943.]

       *       *       *       *       *
           *       *       *       *



                    upon the



                   Tom Thumb.

    ----Juvat immemorata ferentem
    Ingenuis oculis[que] legi manibus[que] teneri._


 Printed for _J. Morphew_ near _Stationers-Hall_.
     1711.    Price 3 _d._


    upon the


It is a surprising thing that in an Age so Polite as this, in which we
have such a Number of Poets, Criticks and Commentators, some of the best
things that are extant in our Language shou'd pass unobserv'd amidst a
Croud of inferiour Productions, and lie so long buried as it were, among
those that profess such a Readiness to give Life to every thing that is
valuable. Indeed we have had an Enterprising Genius of late, that has
thought fit to disclose the Beauties of some Pieces to the World, that
might have been otherwise indiscernable, and believ'd to have been
trifling and insipid, for no other Reason but their unpolish'd
Homeliness of Dress. And if we were to apply our selves, instead of the
Classicks, to the Study of Ballads and other ingenious Composures of
that Nature, in such Periods of our Lives, when we are arriv'd to a
Maturity of Judgment, it is impossible to say what Improvement might be
made to Wit in general, and the Art of Poetry in particular: And
certainly our Passions are describ'd in them so naturally, in such
lively, tho' simple, Colours, that how far they may fall short of the
Artfulness and Embellishments of the _Romans_ in their Way of Writing,
_yet cannot fail to please all such Readers as are not unqualify'd for
the Entertainment by their Affectation or Ignorance_.

It was my good Fortune some time ago to have the Library of a School-Boy
committed to my Charge, where, among other undiscover'd valuable
Authors, I pitch'd upon _Tom Thumb_ and _Tom Hickathrift_, Authors
indeed more proper to adorn the Shelves of _Bodley_ or the _Vatican_,
than to be confin'd to the Retirement and Obscurity of a private Study.
I have perus'd the first of these with an infinite Pleasure, and a more
than ordinary Application, and have made some Observations on it, which
may not, I hope, prove unacceptable to the Publick; and however it may
have been ridicul'd, and look'd upon as an Entertainment only for
Children, and those of younger Years, may be found perhaps a Performance
not unworthy the Perusal of the Judicious, and the Model superiour to
either of those incomparable Poems of _Chevy Chase_, or _The Children in
the Wood_. The Design was undoubtedly to recommend Virtue, and to shew
that however any one may labour under the Disadvantages of Stature or
Deformity, or the Meanness of Parentage, yet if his Mind and Actions are
above the ordinary Level, those very Disadvantages that seem to depress
him, shall add a Lustre to his Character.

There are Variety of Incidents, dispers'd thro' the whole Series of this
Historical Poem, that give an agreeable Delight and Surprise, _and are
such as *Virgil* himself wou'd have touch'd upon, had the like Story
been told by that Divine Poet_, viz. his falling into the Pudding-Bowl
and others; which shew the Courage and Constancy, the Intrepidity and
Greatness of Soul of this little Hero, amidst the greatest Dangers that
cou'd possibly befall him, and which are the unavoidable Attendants of
human Life.

  Si fractus illabatur orbis,
  Impavidum ferient ruinæ.

The Author of this was unquestionably a Person of an Universal Genius,
and if we consider that the Age he wrote in, must be an Age of the most
profound Ignorance, as appears from the second Stanza of the first
_Canto_, he was a Miracle of a Man.

I have consulted Monsieur _Le Clerk_, and my Friend Dr. _B--ly_
concerning the Chronology of this Author, who both assure me, tho'
Neither can settle the Matter exactly, that he is the most ancient of
our Poets, and 'tis very probable he was a _Druid_, who, as _Julius
Cæsar_ mentions in his _Commentaries_, us'd to deliver their Precepts in
Poetry and Metre. The Author of _The Tale of a Tub_, believes he was a
_Pythagorean_ Philosopher, and held the _Metempsichosis_; and Others
that he had read _Ovid's Metamorphosis_, and was the first Person that
ever found out the Philosopher's Stone. A certain Antiquary of my
Acquaintance, who is willing to forget every thing he shou'd remember,
tells me, He can scarcely believe him to be Genuine, but if he is, he
must have liv'd some time before the _Barons_ Wars; which he proves, as
he does the Establishment of Religion in this Nation, upon the Credit of
an old Monument.

There is another Matter which deserves to be clear'd, whether this is a
Fiction, or whether there was really such a Person as _Tom Thumb_. As to
this, my Friends tell me, 'Twas Matter of Fact, and that 'twas an
unpardonable Omission in a certain Author never once to mention him in
his _Arthur_'s, when nothing is more certain than that he was the
greatest Favourite of that Prince, and a Person who had perform'd some
very eminent Services for his Country. And indeed I can't excuse his
taking no Notice of our Poet who has afforded him such Helps, and to
whom he is so much oblig'd for the Model of those Productions: Besides
it had been but a Debt of Gratitude, as Sir _R---- B----_ was a Member
of the Faculty, to have made honourable mention of him who has spoke so
honourably of the Profession, on the Account of the Sickness of his

I have an old Edition of this Author by me, the Title of which is more
Sonorous and Heroical, than those of later Date, which for the better
Information of the Reader, it may not be improper to insert in this
Place. _*Tom Thumb* his Life and Death, wherein is declar'd his many
marvellous Acts of Manhood, full of Wonder and strange Merriment_: Then
he adds, _which little Knight liv'd in King *Arthur*'s Time in the Court
of *Great Britain*_. Indeed there are so many spurious Editions of this
Piece upon one Account or other, that I wou'd advise my Readers to be
very cautious in their Choice, and it would be very wisely done, if they
wou'd consult the curious _Ælianus_ concerning this Matter, who has the
choicest Collection of any Man in _England_, and understands the most
correct Editions of Books of this Nature.

I have took a great deal of Pains to set these Matters of Importance in
as clear a Light as we Criticks generally do, and shall begin with the
first _Canto_, which treats of our Hero's Birth and Parentage, and
Education, with some other Circumstances which you'll find are carry'd
on in a manner not very inelegant, _and cannot fail to please those who
are not Judges of Language, or those who notwithstanding they are Judges
of Language, have a genuine and unprejudic'd Tast of Nature_.

  In _Arthur's_ Court _Tom Thumb_ did live;
  A Man of mickle Might,
  The best of all the Table round,
  And eke a doubty Knight,
  In Stature but an Inch in Height,
  Or quarter of a Span;
  Then think you not this worthy Knight
  Was prov'd a valiant Man.

This Beginning is agreeable to the best of the Greek and Latin Poets;
_Homer_ and _Virgil_ give an Idea of the whole Poem in a few of the
first Lines, and here our Author draws the Character of his Hero, and
shews what you may expect from a Person so well qualify'd for the
greatest Undertakings.

In the Description of him, which is very fine, he insinuates, that tho'
perhaps his Person may appear despicable and little, yet you'll find him
an Hero of the most consummate Bravery and Conduct, and is almost the
same Account _Statius_ gives of _Tydeus_.

  --------Totos infusa per artus,
  Major in exiguo regnabat corpore virtus.

If any suppose the Notion of such an Hero improbable, they'll find the
Character _Virgil_ gives _Camilla_ to be as far stretch'd:

  Illa vel Intactæ segetis per summa volaret
  Gramina, nec teneras cursu læsisset Aristas:
  Vel mare per medium, fluctu suspensa tumenti
  Ferret Iter: celeres nec tingeret æquore plantas.

But to proceed,

  His Father was a Plowman plain,
  His Mother milk'd the Cow,
  And yet a Way to get a Son
  This Couple knew not how,
  Until such time the good old Man
  To learned _Merlin_ goes,
  And there to him in deep Distress
  In secret Manner shows,
  How in his Heart he wish'd to have,
  A Child in time to come,
  To be his Heir, tho' it might be
  No bigger than his Thumb.
  Of which old _Merlin_ was foretold,
  That he his Wish should have,
  And so a Son of Stature small
  The Charmer to him gave.

There is nothing more common throughout the Poets of the finest Taste,
than to give an Account of the Pedigree of their Hero. So _Virgil_,

  ----Æneas quem Dardanio Anchisæ
  Alma Venus Phrygii genuit Simoentis ad undas.

And the Manner of the Countryman's going to consult _Merlin_, is like
that of _Æneas_'s approaching the Oracle of _Delphos_.

  ----Egressi veneramur Apollinis Urbem.

And how naturally and poetically does he describe the Modesty of the
Man, who wou'd be content, if _Merlin_ wou'd grant him his Request, with
a Son no bigger than his Thumb.

The Two next Stanza's carry on the Idea with a great deal of Probability
and Consistence; and to convince the World that he was born to be
something more than Man, he produces a Miracle to bring him into it.

  Begot, and born in half an Hour,
  To fit his Father's Will.

The following Stanza continues the Miracle, and brings the _Fairy Queen_
and her Subjects, who gives him his Name, and makes him a Present of his

  Whereas she cloath'd him fine and brave,
  In Garments richly fair,
  The which did serve him many Years
  In seemly sort to wear.

So _Virgil_ of Queen _Dido_'s Present to _Ascanius_:

  Hoc Juvenem egregium præstanti munere donat.

And again,

  --------Quem candida Dido
  Esse sui dederat Monumentum & pignus Amoris.

The Description of his Dress is very agreeable, and is not unlike what I
have met with somewhere of a Giant going a Fishing, with an Account of
his Implements equal to his Proportion.

  His Hat made of an Oaken Leaf,
    His Shirt a Spider's Web,
  Both light and soft for these his Limbs
    That were so smally bred.
  His Hose and Doublet Thistle Down,
    Together weav'd full fine;
  His Stockings of an Apple green,
    Made of the outward Rind;
  His Garters were two little Hairs
    Pluck'd from his Mothers Eye;
  His Shooes made of a Mouse's Skin,
    And Tann'd most curiously.

The next Stanza's relate his Diversions, bearing some Analogy to those
of _Ascanius_ and other Lads in _Virgil_:

  Thus like a valiant Gallant He
    Adventures forth to go,
  With other Children in the Street,
    His pretty Tricks to show.

  Una Acies Juvenum ducit quam Parvus Ovantem
  Nomen Avi referens Priamus.

There is a Piece of Revenge our little Hero took upon a Play-fellow,
which proves, to what an height Mechanical and Experimental Philosophy
was arriv'd to in that Age, and may be worth while to be considered by
the _Royal Society_.

  Of whom to be reveng'd, he took
    In Mirth and pleasant Game,
  Black Pots and Glasses, which he hung
    Upon a bright Sun-Beam.

The third Line is a Demonstration of the Antiquity of Drinking out of
Black-Pots, which still prevails in most Counties of this Nation, among
the Justices of Peace at their Petty and Quarter Sessions.

The last four Lines of this Canto, and the beginning of the next,
contain the miraculous Adventure of the Pudding-Bowl: And, by the by,
we may observe, That it was the Custom of the _Christians_ at that time,
to make Hog-Puddings instead of Minc'd-Pies at _Christmas_; a laudable
Custom very probably brought up to distinguish 'em more particularly
from the _Jews_.

  Whereas about a _Christmas_ time,
    His Father an Hog had kill'd,
  And _Tom_ to see the Pudding made,
    Fear that it should be spill'd;
  He sat, the Candle for to Light,
    Upon the Pudding-Bowl:
  Of which there is unto this Day
    A pretty Pastime told:
      For _Tom_ fell in----

Perhaps some may think it below our Hero to stoop to such a mean
Employment as the Poet has here enjoyn'd him, of holding the Candle, and
that it looks too much like a _Citizen_, or a _Cot_, as the Women call
it: But if we reflect on the Obedience due to Parents, as our Author
undoubtedly did, and the Necessities those People labour'd under, we
cannot but admire at his ready Compliance with what could by no Means be
agreeable to the Heroical Bent of his Inclinations, and perceive what a
tender Regard he had for the Wellfare of his Family, when he took the
strictest Care imaginable for the Preservation of the Hog-Pudding. And
what can be more remarkable? What can raise the Sentiments of Pity and
Compassion to an higher Pitch, than to see an Hero fall into such an
unforeseen Disaster in the honourable Execution of his Office? _This
certainly is conformable to the way of Thinking among the Ancient Poets,
and what a good-natur'd Reader cannot but be affected with._

The following Part of this Canto is the Relation of our Hero's being put
into a Pudding, and convey'd away in a Tinker's Budget; which is
design'd by our Author to prove, if it is understood literally, That the
greatest Men are subject to Misfortunes. But it is thought by Dr.
_B--tly_ to be all Mythology, and to contain the Doctrine of the
Transmutation of Metals, and is design'd to shew, that all Matter is the
same, tho' very differently Modified. He tells me, he intends to publish
a distinct Treatise of this Canto; and I don't question, but he'll
manage the Dispute with the same Learning, Conduct, and good Manners,
he has done others, and as Dr. _Salmon_ uses in his Corrections of Dr.
_Sydenham_ and the _Dispensatory_.

The next Canto is the Story of _Tom Thumb_'s being Swallow'd by a Cow,
and his Deliverance out of her, which is treated of at large by
_Giordano Bruno_ in his _Spaccio de la Bestia trionfante_; which Book,
tho' very scarce, yet a _certain Gentleman_, who has it in his
Possession, has been so obliging as to let every Body know where to meet
with it. After this, you find him carried off by a Raven, and swallow'd
by a Giant; and 'tis almost the same Story as that of _Ganimede_, and
the Eagle in _Ovid_.

  Now by a Raven of great Strength,
    Away poor _Tom_ was born.

  Nec mora: percusso mendacibus aere pennis
  Abripit Iliaden.

A certain great _Critick_ and _Schoolmaster_ who has publish'd such
Notes upon _Horace_ as were never seen before, is of Opinion, and has
very good Authority for what he says, that 'twas rather an Owl than a
Raven; for, as he observes with a wonderful deal of Penetration and
Sagacity, our Hero's Shoes were made of a Mouse's Skin which might
induce the Owl to run away with him. The Giant, he owns, looks very
probable, because we find 'em swallowing People very fast in almost all

This Canto concludes with our Hero's Arrival at Court; after he had
spent a considerable Part of his Youth in Labours and Fatigues, had been
inur'd to nothing else but Hardships and Adventures, we see him receive
the Recompence of his Merit, and become the Favourite of his Prince: And
here we may perceive all the Fineness of the Gentleman, mixt with all
the Resolution and Courage of the Warriour; We may behold him as ready
to oblige the Ladies with a Dance, as he was to draw his Sword in their

  Amongst the Deeds of Courtship done,
    His Highness did command,
  That he shou'd dance a Galliard brave
    Upon the Queen's Left Hand.
  The which he did----

This shews he had all the Accomplishments of _Achilles_ who was
undoubtedly one of the best Dancers in the Age he liv'd, according to
the Character _Homer_ gives him so frequently of the Agility of his
Feet. I have consulted a Master of the Profession of Dancing, who is
excellently vers'd in the Chronology of all Dances, he tells me that
this _Galliard_ came into Vogue about the latter End of the Reign of
_Uter Pendragon_, and continu'd during that of King _Arthur_, which is
Demonstration to me that our Poet liv'd about that Age.

It is asserted very positively in the later Editions of this Poem, that
the four following Lines are a Relation of the King and _Tom Thumb_'s
going together an Hunting, but I have took indefatigable Pains to
consult all the _Manuscripts_ in _Europe_ concerning this Matter, and I
find it an _Interpolation_. I have also an _Arabick Copy_ by me, which I
got a _Friend_ to translate, being unacquainted with the Language, and
it is plain by the Translation that 'tis there also _interpolated_.

  Now after that the King wou'd not
    Abroad for Pleasure go,
  But still _Tom Thumb_ must go with him
   Plac'd on his Saddle Bow.

  ----Ipse Uno graditur comitatus Achate.

There is scarcely any Scene more moving than this that follows, and is
_such an one as wou'd have shined in *Homer* or *Virgil*_. When he was
favour'd with his Prince's Ear, and might have ask'd the most profitable
and important Posts in the Government, and been indemnified if guilty of
a _Peculatus_; He only used his Interest to relieve the Necessities of
his Parents, when another _Person_ wou'd have scarcely own'd 'em for his
_Relations_. This discovers such a Generosity of Soul, such an Humility
in the greatest Prosperity, such a tender Affection for his Parents, as
is hardly to be met with, but in our Author.

  And being near his Highness Heart
    He crav'd a wealthy Boon,
  A noble Gift, the which the King
    Commanded to be done;
  To relieve his Father's Wants,
    And Mother being old.

The rest of this Canto relates the Visit to his Father, in which there
is something very soft and tender, something _that may move the Mind of
the most polite Reader, with the inward Meltings of Humanity and

The Next Canto of the Tilts and Tournaments, is much like the Fifth Book
of _Virgil_, and tho' we can't suppose our Poet ever saw that Author,
yet we may believe he was directed to almost the same Passages, _by the
same kind of Poetical Genius, and the same Copyings after Nature_.

  Now he with Tilts and Tournaments,
    Was entertained so,
  That all the rest of _Arthur_'s Knights
    Did him much Pleasure show;
  And good Sir _Lancelot_ of _Lake_,
    Sir _Tristram_, and Sir _Guy_;
  But none like to _Tom Thumb_
    For Acts of Chivalry.

  Longeque ante omnia Corpora Nisus

And agen,

  Post Elymus subit, & nunc tertia palma Diores.

  In Honour of which noble Day,
    And for his Lady's Sake,
  A Challenge in King _Arthur_'s Court,
    _Tom Thumb_ did bravely make.

  Talis prima Dares caput altum in prælia tollit,
  Ostendit[que] humeros latos, alterna[que] Iactat
  Brachia portendens, & verberat Ictibus auras,
  Quæritur huic alius:----

  'Gainst whom those noble Knights did run,
    Sir _Chion_ and the rest,
  But, still _Tom Thumb_ with all his Might
    Did bear away the best.

  Et primum ante omnes victorem appellat Acesten.

At the same time our Poet shews a laudable Partiality for his Hero, he
represents Sir _Lancelot_ after a manner not unbecoming so bold and
brave a Knight.

  At last Sir _Lancelot_ of _Lake_,
    In manly sort came in,
  And with this stout and hardy Knight
    A Battle to begin.

  Huic contra Æneas, speculatus in agmine longo
  Obvius ire parat----

  Which made the Courtiers all aghast.

  Obstupuere animi----

This Canto concludes with the Presents made by the King to the Champion
according to the Custom of the _Greeks_ and _Romans_ in such Cases; only
his tumbling thro' the Queen's Ring is observable, and may serve to give
some Light into the Original of that ingenious Exercise so much
practis'd by the Moderns, of tumbling thro' an Hoop.

The last Canto treats of the Champion's Sickness and Death, and whoever
considers the Beauty, Regularity and majestic Simplicity of the
Relation, cannot but be surpris'd at the Advances that may be made in
Poetry by the Strength of an uncultivated Genius, and may see how far
Nature can proceed without the Ornamental Helps and Assistances of Art.
The Poet don't attribute his Sickness to a Debauch, to the Irregularity
or Intemperance of his Life, but to an Exercise becoming an Hero; and
tho' he dies quietly in his Bed, he may be said in some measure to die
in the Bed of Honour. And to shew the great Affection the King had for
him, he sends for his Physicians, and orders all the Care imaginable to
be taken for the Conservation of his Life.

  He being slender and tall,
    This cunning Doctor took
  A fine perspective Glass, with which,
    He did in Secret look.

It is a Wonder that the learned World shou'd differ so in their Opinions
concerning the Invention and Antiquity of Optic Glasses, and that any
one should contend for _Metius_ of _Alcmaer_, or, as Dr. _Plot_ does,
for _Fryar Bacon_, when, if this Author had been consulted, Matters
might have been so easily adjusted. Some great Men indeed wou'd prove
from hence, our Knight was the Inventor of 'em, that his Valet might the
more commodiously see to dress him; but if we consider there were no
Beau's in that Age, or reflect more maturely on the Epithet here given
to the Doctor, we may readily conclude, that the Honour of this
Invention belongs more particularly to that ingenious Profession.

How lovely is the Account of the Departure of his Soul from his Body:

  And so with Peace and Quietness
    He left the World below.

  Placida[que] demum ibi morte quievit.

  And up into the Fairy Land
    His Soul did fleeting go.

  ----At Æthereas repetit mens ignea sedes.

  Whereas the Fairy Queen receiv'd
    With happy Mourning Cheer
  The Body of this valiant Knight,
    Whom she esteem'd so dear;
  For with her dancing Nymphs in Green
    She fetch'd him from his Bed,
  With Musick and with Melody,
    As soon as Life was fled.

  ----Et fotum gremio Dea tollit in Altos
  Idaliæ lucos----

So one of our Modern Poets;

  Thither the Fairys and their Train resort,
  And leave their Revels, and their midnight Sport.

We find in all the most celebrated Poets some Goddess that takes upon
her to be the peculiar Guardian of the Hero, which has been carry'd on
very elegantly in this Author.

But agen;

  For whom King _Arthur_ and his Knights,
    Full forty Days did mourn,
  And in Remembrance of his name,
    Who was so strangely born,
  He built a Tomb of Marble grey,
    And Year by Year did come,
  To celebrate the Mournful Day,
    And Burial of _Tom Thumb_,
  Whose Fame lives here in _England_ still,
    Among the Country sort,
  Of whom their Wives and Children small,
    Tell Tales of pleasant Sport.

So _Ovid_;

  ----Luctus monumenta manebunt
  Semper Adoni mei, repetita[que] mortis Imago
  Annua plangoris peragit simulamina Nostri.

Nor is this Conclusion unlike one of the best Latin Poems this Age has

  Tu Taffi Æternum vives, tua munera Cambri
  Nunc etiam Celebrant, quoties[que] revolvitur Annus
  Te memorant, Patrium Gens tota tuetur Honorem,
  Et cingunt viridi redolentia tempora Porro.

And now, tho' I am very well satisfied with this Performance, yet,
according to the usual Modesty of us Authors, I am oblig'd to tell the
World, _it will be a great Satisfaction to me, knowing my own
Insufficiency_, if I have given but some Hints of the Beauties of this
Poem, which are capable of being improv'd by those of greater Learning
and Abilities. And I am glad to find by a Letter I have receiv'd from
one of the _Literati_ in _Holland_, That the learned _Huffius_, a great
Man of our Nation, is about the Translation of this Piece into _Latin_
Verse, which he assures me will be done with a great deal of Judgment,
in case he has enough of that Language to furnish out the Undertaking.
I am very well Appris'd, That there has been publish'd Two Poems lately,
Intituled, The Second and Third Parts of this Author; which treat of our
little Hero's rising from the Dead in the Days of King _Edgar_: But I am
inform'd by my Friend the _Schoolmaster_, and others, That they were
compos'd by an Enthusiast in the last Century, and have been since
Printed for the Establishment of the Doctrine of Monsieur _Marion_ and
his Followers, and the Resurrection of Dr. _Ems_.

I hope no Body will be offended at my asserting Things so positively,
since 'tis the Priviledge of us _Commentators_, who understand the
meaning of an Author Seventeen Hundred Years after he has wrote, much
better than ever he cou'd be suppos'd to do himself. And certainly,
a Critick ought not only to know what his Authors Thoughts were when he
was Writing such and such Passages, but how those Thoughts came into his
Head, where he was when he wrote, or what he was doing of; whether he
wrote in a Garden, a Garret, or a Coach; upon a Lady, or a Milkmaid;
whether at that Time he was scratching his Elbow, drinking a Bottle,
or playing at Questions and Commands. These are material and important
Circumstances so well known to the _True Commentator_, that were
_Virgil_ and _Horace_ to revisit the World at this time, they'd be
wonderfully surpris'd to see the minutest of their Perfections
discover'd by the Assistances of _Modern Criticism_. Nor have the
Classicks only reap'd Benefit from Inquiries of this Nature, but
Divinity it self seems to be render'd more intelligible. I know a
Divine, who understands what St. _Paul_ meant by _Higher Powers_, much
better than that Apostle cou'd pretend to do; and another, That can
unfold all the Mysteries of the _Revelations_ without Spectacles.

I know there are some People that cast an Odium on me, and others, for
pointing out the Beauties of such Authors, as have, they say, been
hitherto unknown, and argue, That 'tis a sort of Heresie in Wit, and is
like the fruitless Endeavours of proving the Apostolical Constitutions
_Genuine_, that have been indisputably _Spurious_ for so many Ages: But
let these Gentlemen consider, whether they pass not the same Judgment on
an Author, as a Woman does on a Man, by the gayety of his Dress, or the
gaudy Equipage of his Epithets. And however they may call me
_second-sighted_, for discerning what they are Blind to, I must tell
them this Poem has not been altogether so obscure, but that the most
refin'd _Writers_ of this Age have been delighted with the reading it.
Mr. _Tho. D'Urfey_, I am told, is an Admirer, and Mr. _John Dunton_ has
been heard to say, more than once, he had rather be the Author of it
than all his Works.

How often, _says my Author_, have I seen the Tears trickle down the Face
of the Polite _Woodwardius_ upon reading some of the most pathetical
Encounters of _Tom Thumb_! How soft, how musically sorrowful was his
Voice! How good Natur'd, how gentle, how unaffected was the Ceremoniale
of his Gesture, and how unfit for a Profession so Merciless and

I was persuaded by a Friend to write some Copies of Verses and place 'em
in the Frontispiece of this Poem, in Commendation of My self and my
_Comment_, suppos'd to be compos'd by _AG. FT. LM. RW._ and so forth.
_To their very worthy and honour'd Friend_ C. D. upon his admirable and
useful _Comment_ on the History of _Tom Thumb_; but my Bookseller told
me the Trick was so common, 'twou'd not answer. Then I propos'd a
Dedication to my Lord _such an One_, or Sir _Thomas such an One_; but he
told me the Stock to be rais'd on Dedications was so small now a Days,
and the Discount to my Lord's Gentleman, _&c._ so high, that 'twou'd not
be worth while; besides, says he, it is the Opinion of some Patrons,
that a Dinner now and then, with, _Sir, I shall expect to see you
sometimes_, is a suitable Reward for a publick Compliment in Print. But
if, continues my Bookseller, you have a Mind it shou'd turn to
Advantage, write Treason or Heresy, get censur'd by the Parliament or
Convocation, and condemn'd to be burnt by the Hands of the common
Hangman, and you can't fail having a Multitude of Readers, by the same
Reason, _A notorious Rogue has such a Number of Followers to the


       *       *       *       *       *
           *       *       *       *


                THE MICROCOSM.


                Gregory Griffin.

  No. XI. of the


  MONDAY, _February_ 12, 1787.

  Res gestæ regumque, ducumque, et tristia bella,
  _Quo scribi possint numero, monstravit Homerus_.--HOR.
  By Homer taught, the modern poet sings,
  _In Epic strains, of heroes, wars, and Kings_.--FRANCIS.

There are certain forms and etiquettes in life, which, though the
neglect of them does not amount to the commission of a crime, or the
violation of a duty, are yet so established by example, and sanctioned
by custom, as to pass into Statutes, equally acknowledged by society,
and almost equally binding to individuals, with the laws of the land,
or the precepts of morality. A man guilty of breaking these, though he
cannot be transported for a felon, or indicted for treasonable
practices, is yet, in the High Court of Custom, branded as a flagrant
offender against decorum, as notorious for an unprecedented infringement
on propriety.

There is no race of men on whom these laws are more severe than Authors;
and no species of Authors more subject to them, than Periodical
Essayists. _Homer_ having prescribed the form, or to use a more modern
phrase, _set the fashion_ of _Epic Poems_, whoever presumes to deviate
from his plan, must not hope to participate his dignity: And whatever
method, _The Spectator_, _The Guardian_, and others, who first adopted
this species of writing, have pursued in their undertaking, is set down
as a rule for the conduct of their followers; which, whoever is bold
enough to transgress, is accused of a deviation from the original
design, and a breach of established regulation.

It has hitherto been customary for all Periodical Writers, to take some
opportunity, in the course of their labours, to display their Critical
abilities, either by making observations on some popular Author, and
work of known character, or by bringing forth the performances of hidden
merit, and throwing light on genius in obscurity. To the critiques of
_The Spectator_, _Shakespear_, and more particularly, _Milton_, are
indebted, for no inconsiderable share of the reputation, which they now
so universally enjoy; and by his means were the ruder graces, and more
simple beauties of _Chevy Chace_ held up to public view, and recommended
to general admiration.

I should probably be accused of swerving from the imitation of so great
an example, were not I to take occasion to shew that I too am not
entirely destitute of abilities of this kind; but that by possessing a
decent share of critical discernment, and critical jargon, I am capable
of becoming a very tolerable commentator. For the proof of which,
I shall rather prefer calling the attention of my readers to an object
as yet untreated of by any of my immediate predecessors, than venture to
throw in my observations on any work which has before passed the ordeal
of frequent examination. And this I shall do for two reasons; partly,
because were I to choose a field, how fertile soever, of which many
others had before me been reaping the fruits, mine would be at best but
the gleanings of criticism; and partly, from a more interested view,
from a selfish desire of accumulated praise; since, by making a work,
as yet almost wholly unknown, the subject of my consideration, I shall
acquire the reputation of taste, as well as judgement;--of judiciousness
in selection, as well as justness in observation;--of propriety in
choosing the object, as well as skill in using the language, of

The _Epic Poem_ on which I shall ground my present critique, has for its
chief characteristics, brevity and simplicity. The Author,--whose name I
lament that I am, in some degree, prevented from consecrating to
immortal fame, by not knowing what it is--the Author, I say, has not
branched his poem into excressences of episode, or prolixities of
digression; it is neither variegated with diversity of unmeaning
similitudes, nor glaring with the varnish of unnatural metaphor. The
whole is plain and uniform; so much so indeed, that I should hardly be
surprised, if some morose readers were to conjecture, that the poet had
been thus simple rather from necessity than choice; that he had been
restrained not so much by chastity of judgement, as sterility of

Nay, some there may be perhaps, who will dispute his claim to the title
of an _Epic Poet_; and will endeavour to degrade him even to the rank of
a _ballad-monger_. But I, as his Commentator, will contend for the
dignity of my Author; and will plainly demonstrate his Poem to be an
_Epic Poem_, agreeable to the example of all Poets, and the consent of
all Critics heretofore.

First, it is universally agreed, that an _Epic Poem_ should have three
component parts, _a beginning_, _a middle_, and _an end_;--secondly,
it is allowed, that it should have one _grand action_, or _main design_,
to the forwarding of which, all the parts of it should directly or
indirectly tend; and that this design should be in some measure
consonant with, and conducive to, the purposes of _Morality_;--and
thirdly, it is indisputably settled, that it should have _a Hero_.
I trust that in none of these points the poem before us will be found
deficient. There are other inferior properties, which I shall consider
in due order.

Not to keep my readers longer in suspense, the subject of the poem is
"_The Reformation of the Knave of Hearts_." It is not improbable, that
some may object to me that a _Knave_ is an unworthy Hero for an Epic
Poem; that a Hero ought to be all that is great and good. The objection
is frivolous. The greatest work of this kind that the World has ever
produced, has "_The Devil_" for its hero; and supported as my author is
by so great a precedent, I contend, that his Hero is a very decent Hero;
and especially as he has the advantage of _Milton_'s, by reforming at
the end, is evidently entitled to a competent share of celebrity.

I shall now proceed in the more immediate examination of the poem in its
different parts. The _beginning_, say the Critics, ought to be plain and
simple; neither embellished with the flowers of poetry, nor turgid with
pomposity of diction. In this how exactly does our Author conform to the
established opinion! he begins thus,

    "The Queen of Hearts
    "She made some Tarts"--

Can any thing be more clear! more natural! more agreeable to the true
spirit of simplicity! Here are no tropes,--no figurative
expressions,--not even so much as an invocation to the Muse. He does not
detain his readers by any needless circumlocution; by unnecessarily
informing them, what he _is_ going to sing; or still more unnecessarily
enumerating what he _is not_ going to sing: but according to the precept
of Horace,

  ----in medias res,
  Non secus ac notas, auditorem rapit,----

That is, he at once introduces us, and sets us on the most easy and
familiar footing imaginable, with her Majesty of Hearts, and interests
us deeply in her domestic concerns. But to proceed,

    "The Queen of Hearts
    "She made some Tarts,
  "All on a Summer's Day."

Here indeed the prospect brightens, and we are led to expect some
liveliness of imagery, some warmth of poetical colouring;--but here is
no such thing.--There is no task more difficult to a Poet, than that of
_Rejection_. _Ovid_, among the ancients, and _Dryden_, among the
moderns, were perhaps the most remarkable for the want of it. The latter
from the haste in which he generally produced his compositions, seldom
paid much attention to the "_limæ labor_," "the labour of correction,"
and seldom therefore rejected the assistance of any idea that presented
itself. _Ovid_, not content with catching the leading features of any
scene or character, indulged himself in a thousand minutiæ of
description, a thousand puerile prettinesses, which were in themselves
uninteresting, and took off greatly from the effect of the whole; as the
numberless suckers, and straggling branches of a fruit tree, if
permitted to shoot out unrestrained, while they are themselves barren
and useless, diminish considerably the vigour of the parent stock.
_Ovid_ had more genius, but less judgement than _Virgil_; _Dryden_ more
imagination, but less correctness than _Pope_; had they not been
deficient in these points, the former would certainly have equalled, the
latter infinitely outshone the merits of his countryman.--_Our Author_
was undoubtedly possessed of that power which they wanted; and was
cautious not to indulge too far the sallies of a lively imagination.
Omitting therefore any mention of--sultry Sirius,--silvan
shade,--sequestered glade,--verdant hills,--purling rills,--mossy
mountains,--gurgling fountains,--&c. &c.--he simply tells us that it was
"_All on a Summers Day_." For my own part, I confess, that I find myself
rather flattered than disappointed; and consider the Poet as rather
paying a compliment to the abilities of his readers, than baulking their
expectations. It is certainly a great pleasure to see a picture well
painted; but it is a much greater to paint it well oneself. This
therefore I look upon as a stroke of excellent management in the Poet.
Here every reader is at liberty to gratify his own taste; to design for
himself just what sort of "_Summer's Day_" he likes best; to choose his
own scenery; dispose his lights and shades as he pleases; to solace
himself with a rivulet or a horse-pond,--a shower, or a sun-beam,--a
grove, or a kitchen garden,--according to his fancy. How much more
considerate this, than if the Poet had, from an affected accuracy of
description, thrown us into an unmannerly perspiration by the heat of
the atmosphere; forced us into a landscape of his own planning, with
perhaps a paltry good-for-nothing zephyr or two, and a limited quantity
of wood and water.--All this _Ovid_ would undoubtedly have done. Nay,
to use the expression of a learned brother-commentator, "_quovis pignore
decertem_" "I would lay any wager," that he would have gone so far as to
tell us what the tarts were made of; and perhaps wandered into an
episode on the art of preserving cherries. But _our Poet_, above such
considerations, leaves every reader to choose his own ingredients, and
sweeten them to his own liking; wisely foreseeing, no doubt, that the
more palatable each had rendered them to his own taste, the more he
would be affected at their approaching loss.

  "All on a Summer's Day."

I cannot leave this line without remarking, that one of the _Scribleri_,
a descendant of the famous _Martinus_, has expressed his suspicions of
the text being corrupted here, and proposes, instead of "_All on_"
reading "_Alone_," alledging, in favour of this alteration, the effect
of Solitude in raising the passions. But _Hiccius Doctius_, a High Dutch
commentator, one nevertheless well versed in British literature, in a
note of his usual length and learning, has confuted the arguments of
_Scriblerus_. In support of the present reading, he quotes a passage
from a poem written about the same period with our author's, by the
celebrated _Johannes Pastor_[*], intituled "_An Elegiac Epistle to the
Turnkey of Newgate_," wherein the gentleman declares, that rather indeed
in compliance with an old custom, than to gratify any particular will of
his own, he is going

  --------"All hanged for to be
  "Upon that fatal Tyburn tree."----

    [Footnote *: More commonly known, I believe, by the appellation of
    "_Jack Shepherd_."]

Now as nothing throws greater light on an author, than the concurrence
of a contemporary writer, I am inclined to be of _Hiccius's_ opinion,
and to consider the "_All_" as an elegant expletive, or, as he more
aptly phrases it "_elegans expletivum_." The passage therefore must
stand thus,

    "The Queen of Hearts
    "She made some Tarts,
  "All on a Summer's Day."

And thus ends the first part, or _beginning_; which is simple and
unembellished; opens the subject in a natural and easy manner; excites,
but does not too far gratify our curiosity: for a reader of accurate
observation may easily discover, that the _Hero_ of the Poem has not,
as yet, made his appearance.

I could not continue my examination at present through the whole of this
Poem, without far exceeding the limits of a single paper. I have
therefore divided it into two; but shall not delay the publication of
the second to another week,--as that, besides breaking the connection of
criticism, would materially injure the _unities_ of the Poem.

  No. XII.

  of the


  MONDAY, _February 12, 1787_.

  --------Servetur ad imum,
  Qualis ab incepto processerit, et sibi constet.


  From his first Entrance to the closing Scene,
  Let him one equal Character maintain.


Having thus gone through the first part, or _beginning_ of the Poem,
we may naturally enough proceed to the consideration of the second.

The second part, or _middle_, is the proper place for bustle and
business; for incident and adventure.

    "The Knave of Hearts
    "He stole those Tarts."

Here attention is awakened; and our whole souls are intent upon the
first appearance of the Hero. Some readers may perhaps be offended at
his making his _entré_ in so disadvantageous a character as that of a
_thief_. To this I plead precedent.

The Hero of the Iliad, as I observed in a former paper, is made to
lament very pathetically,--that "life is not like all other possessions,
to be acquired by theft."--A reflection, in my opinion, evidently
shewing, that, if he _did_ refrain from the practice of this ingenious
art, it was not from want of an inclination that way. We may remember
too, that in _Virgil's_ poem, almost the first light in which the _Pious
Æneas_ appears to us, is a _deer-stealer_; nor is it much excuse for
him, that the deer were wandering without keepers; for however he might,
from this circumstance, have been unable to ascertain whose property
they were; he might, I think, have been pretty well assured that they
were not _his_.

Having thus acquitted our Hero of misconduct, by the example of his
betters, I proceed to what I think the Master-Stroke of the Poet.

    "The Knave of Hearts
    "He stole those Tarts,
  "And----took them----quite away!!"

Here, whoever has an ear for harmony, and a heart for feeling, must be
touched! There is a desponding melancholy in the run of the last line!
an air of tender regret in the addition of "_quite away!_" a something
so expressive of irrecoverable loss! so forcibly intimating the "_Ah
nunquam reditura!_" "They never can return!" in short, such an union of
sound and sense, as we rarely, if ever meet with in any author, ancient
or modern. Our feelings are all alive--but the Poet, wisely dreading
that our sympathy with the injured Queen might alienate our affections
from his Hero, contrives immediately to awaken our fears for him,
by telling us, that

    "The King of Hearts
    "Call'd for those Tarts,"--

We are all conscious of the fault of our Hero, and all tremble with him,
for the punishment which the enraged Monarch may inflict;

  "And beat the Knave--full sore!"

The fatal blow is struck! We cannot but rejoice that guilt is justly
punished, though we sympathize with the guilty object of punishment.
Here _Scriblerus_, who, by the bye, is very fond of making unnecessary
alterations, proposes reading "_Score_" instead of "_sore_," meaning
thereby to particularize, that the beating bestowed by this Monarch,
consisted of _twenty_ stripes. But this proceeds from his ignorance of
the genius of our language, which does not admit of such an expression
as "_full score_," but would require the insertion of the particle
"_a_," which cannot be, on account of the metre. And this is another
great artifice of the Poet: by leaving the quantity of beating
indeterminate, he gives every reader the liberty to administer it, in
exact proportion to the sum of indignation which he may have conceived
against his Hero; that by thus amply satisfying their resentment, they
may be the more easily reconciled to him afterwards.

    "The King of Hearts
    "Call'd for those Tarts,
  "And beat the Knave full sore!"

Here ends the second part, or _middle_ of the poem; in which we see the
character, and exploits of the Hero, pourtrayed with the hand of a

Nothing now remains to be examined, but the third part, or _End_. In the
_End_, it is a rule pretty well established, that the Work should draw
towards a conclusion, which our Author manages thus.

    "The Knave of Hearts
    "Brought back those Tarts."

Here every thing is at length settled; the theft is compensated; the
tarts restored to their right owner; and _Poetical Justice_, in every
respect, strictly, and impartially administered.

We may observe, that there is nothing in which our Poet has better
succeeded, than in keeping up an unremitted attention in his readers to
the main instruments, the machinery of his poem, viz. The _Tarts_;
insomuch, that the aforementioned _Scriblerus_ has sagely observed, that
"he can't tell, but he doesn't know, but the tarts may be reckoned the
heroes of the Poem." _Scriblerus_, though a man of learning, and
frequently right in his opinion, has here certainly hazarded a rash
conjecture. His arguments are overthrown entirely by his great opponent,
_Hiccius_, who concludes, by triumphantly asking, "Had the tarts been
eaten, how could the Poet have compensated for the loss of his Heroes?"

We are now come to the _denouèment_, the setting all to rights: and our
Poet, in the management of his _moral_, is certainly superior to his
great ancient predecessors. The moral of their fables, if any they have,
is so interwoven with the main body of their work, that in endeavouring
to unravel it, we should tear the whole. _Our Author_ has very properly
preserved his whole and entire for the _end_ of his poem, where he
completes his _main design_, the _Reformation_ of his Hero, thus,

  "And vow'd he'd steal no more."

Having in the course of his work, shewn the bad effects arising from
theft, he evidently means this last moral reflection, to operate with
his readers as a gentle and polite dissuasive from stealing.

    "The Knave of Hearts
    "Brought back those Tarts,
  "And vow'd he'd steal no more!"

Thus have I industriously gone through the several parts of this
wonderful Work; and clearly proved it, in every one of these parts, and
in all of them together, to be a _due and proper Epic Poem_; and to have
as good a right to that title, from its adherence to prescribed rules,
as any of the celebrated master-pieces of antiquity. And here I cannot
help again lamenting, that, by not knowing the name of the Author, I am
unable to twine our laurels together; and to transmit to posterity the
mingled praises of Genius, and Judgment; of the Poet, and his

Having some space left in this paper, I will now, with the permission of
my readers of the _great world_, address myself more particularly to my

To them, the essay which I have here presented, will, I flatter myself,
be peculiarly serviceable at this time; and I would earnestly recommend
an attentive perusal of it, to all of them whose muses are engaged in
compositions of the Epic kind.--I am very much afraid that I may run
into the error, which I have myself pointed out, of becoming too
_local_,--but where it is evidently intended for the good of my fellow
citizens, it may, I hope, be now and then pardonable. At the present
juncture, as many have applied for my assistance, I cannot find in my
heart to refuse it them. Were I to attempt fully explaining, why, at the
_present juncture_, I fear it would be vain. Would it not seem
incredible to the Ladies, were I to tell them, that the period
approaches, when upwards of a hundred _Epic Poems_ will be exposed to
public view, most of them nearly of equal length, and many of them
nearly of equal merit, with the one which I have here taken into
consideration; illustrated moreover with elegant etchings, designed
either as _hieroglyphical_ explanations of the subject, or as _practical
puns_ on the name of the author?--And yet in truth so it is,--and on
this subject I wish to give a word of advice to my countrymen.

Many of them have applied to me by letter, to assist them with designs
for prefixing to their poems; and this I should very willingly have
done, had those gentlemen been kind enough to subscribe their real names
to their requests: whereas, all that I have received have been signed,
_Tom Long_, _Philosophus_, _Philalethes_, and such like. I have
therefore been prevented from affording them the assistance I wished;
and cannot help wondering, that the gentlemen did not consider, that it
was impossible for me to provide _typical references_ for feigned names;
as, for ought I know, the person who signs himself _Tom Long_ may not be
four feet high; _Philosophus_ may be possessed of a considerable share
of folly; and _Philalethes_ may be as arrant a liar as any in the

It may not however be useless to offer some general reflections for all
who may require them. It is not improbable, that, as the subject of
their poems is the _Restoration_, many of my fellow-citizens may choose
to adorn their _title-pages_ with the representation of His Majesty,
Charles the Second, escaping the vigilance of his pursuers in the _Royal
Oak_. There are some particularities generally observable in this
picture, which I shall point out to them, lest they fall into similar
errors. Though I am as far as any other Briton can be, from wishing to
"curtail" his Majesty's Wig "of its fair proportion;" yet I have
sometimes been apt to think it rather improper, to make the Wig, as is
usually done, of larger dimensions than the tree in which it and his
Majesty are concealed. It is a rule in Logic, and I believe may hold
good in most other Sciences, that "_omne majus continet in se minus_,"
that "every thing larger can hold any thing that is less;" but I own,
I never heard the contrary advanced or defended with any plausible
arguments, viz. "that every little thing can hold one larger."
I therefore humbly propose, that there should be at least an edge of
foliage round the outskirts of the said wig; and that its curls should
not exceed in number the leaves of the tree. There is also another
practice almost equally prevalent, of which I am sceptic enough to doubt
the propriety. I own, I cannot think it by any means conducive to the
more effectual concealment of his Majesty, that there should be three
Regal Crowns stuck on three different branches of the tree. Horace says

  --------Pictoribus atque Poetis,
  Quidlibet audendi semper fuit æqua potestas.

  Painters and Poets our indulgence claim,
  _Their daring equal, and their art the same._--FRAN.

And this may be reckoned a very allowable _poetical licence_; inasmuch
as it lets the spectator into the secret, _who is in the tree_. But it
is apt to make him at the same time throw the accusation of negligence
and want of penetration on the three dragoons, who are usually depicted
on the foreground, cantering along very composedly, with serene
countenances, erect persons, and drawn swords, very little longer than

       *       *       *       *       *
           *       *       *       *


  [Transcriber's Note:
  Many of the listed titles are or will be available from Project
  Gutenberg. Where possible, the e-text number is given in brackets.]

*First Year (1946-1947)*

Numbers 1-6 out of print.

   1. Richard Blackmore's _Essay upon Wit_ (1716), and Addison's
      _Freeholder_ No. 45 (1716). [13484]
   2. Anon., _Essay on Wit_ (1748), together with Characters by
      Flecknoe, and Joseph Warton's _Adventurer_ Nos. 127 and 133.
   3. Anon., _Letter to A. H. Esq.; concerning the Stage_ (1698), and
      Richard Willis' _Occasional Paper_ No. IX (1698). [14047]
   4. Samuel Cobb's _Of Poetry_ and _Discourse on Criticism_ (1707).
   5. Samuel Wesley's _Epistle to a Friend Concerning Poetry_ (1700)
      and _Essay on Heroic Poetry_ (1693). [16506]
   6. Anon., _Representation of the Impiety and Immorality of the Stage_
      (1704) and anon., _Some Thoughts Concerning the Stage_ (1704).
      [15656] ]

*Second Year (1947-1948)*

 7. John Gay's _The Present State of Wit_ (1711); and a section on Wit
    from _The English Theophrastus_ (1702). [#14800]

 8. Rapin's _De Carmine Pastorali_, translated by Creech (1684).

 9. T. Hanmer's (?) _Some Remarks on the Tragedy of Hamlet_ (1736).

10. Corbyn Morris' _Essay towards Fixing the True Standards of Wit,
    etc._ (1744). [#16233]

11. Thomas Purney's _Discourse on the Pastoral_ (1717). [#15313]

12. Essays on the Stage, selected, with an Introduction by Joseph
    Wood Krutch. [#16335]

*Third Year (1948-1949)*

13. Sir John Falstaff (pseud.), _The Theatre_ (1720). [#15999]

14. Edward Moore's _The Gamester_ (1753). [#16267]

15. John Oldmixon's _Reflections on Dr. Swift's Letter to Harley_
    (1712); and Arthur Mainwaring's _The British Academy_ (1712).
    [In preparation]

16. Nevil Payne's _Fatal Jealousy_ (1673). [#16916]

17. Nicholas Rowe's _Some Account of the Life of Mr. William
    Shakespeare_ (1709). [#16275]

18. "Of Genius," in _The Occasional Paper_, Vol. III, No. 10 (1719);
    and Aaron Hill's Preface to _The Creation_ (1720). [#15870]

*Fourth Year (1949-1950)*

19. Susanna Centlivre's _The Busie Body_ (1709). [#16740]

20. Lewis Theobold's _Preface to The Works of Shakespeare_ (1734).

21. _Critical Remarks on Sir Charles Grandison, Clarissa, and Pamela_

22. Samuel Johnson's _The Vanity of Human Wishes_ (1749) and Two
    _Rambler_ papers (1750). [#13350]

23. John Dryden's _His Majesties Declaration Defended_ (1681). [#15074]

24. Pierre Nicole's _An Essay on True and Apparent Beauty in Which
    from Settled Principles is Rendered the Grounds for Choosing and
    Rejecting Epigrams_, translated by J. V. Cunningham.

*Fifth Year (1950-1951)*

25. Thomas Baker's _The Fine Lady's Airs_ (1709). [#14467]

26. Charles Macklin's _The Man of the World_ (1792). [#14463]

27. Out of print.

    [Frances Reynolds' _An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Taste,
    and of the Origin of Our Ideas of Beauty, etc._ (1785). [#13485] ]

28. John Evelyn's _An Apologie for the Royal Party_ (1659); and
    _A Panegyric to Charles the Second_ (1661). [#17833]

29. Daniel Defoe's _A Vindication of the Press_ (1718). [#14084]

30. Essays on Taste from John Gilbert Cooper's _Letters Concerning
    Taste_, 3rd edition (1757), & John Armstrong's _Miscellanies_
    (1770). [#13464]

*Sixth Year (1951-1952)*

31. Thomas Gray's _An Elegy Wrote in a Country Church Yard_ (1751);
    and _The Eton College Manuscript_. [#15409]

32. Prefaces to Fiction; Georges de Scudéry's Preface to _Ibrahim_
    (1674), etc. [#14525]

33. Henry Gally's _A Critical Essay_ on Characteristic-Writings (1725).

34. Thomas Tyers' A Biographical Sketch of Dr. Samuel Johnson (1785).

35. James Roswell, Andrew Erskine, and George Dempster. _Critical
    Strictures on the New Tragedy of Elvira, Written by Mr. David
    Malloch_ (1763). [#15857]

36. Joseph Harris's _The City Bride_ (1696). [In preparation]

*Seventh Year (1952-1953)*

37. Thomas Morrison's _A Pindarick Ode on Painting_ (1767). [In

38. John Phillips' _A Satyr Against Hypocrites_ (1655).

39. Thomas Warton's _A History of English Poetry_.

40. Edward Bysshe's _The Art of English Poetry_ (1708).

41. Bernard Mandeville's "A Letter to Dion" (1732).

42. Prefaces to Four Seventeenth-Century Romances.

*Eighth Year (1953-1954)*

43. John Baillie's _An Essay on the Sublime_ (1747).

44. Mathias Casimire Sarbiewski's _The Odes of Casimire_, Translated
    by G. Hils (1646).

45. John Robert Scott's _Dissertation on the Progress of the Fine Arts._

46. Selections from Seventeenth Century Songbooks.

47. Contemporaries of the _Tatler_ and _Spectator_.

48. Samuel Richardson's Introduction to _Pamela_.

*Ninth Year (1954-1955)*

49. Two St. Cecilia's Day Sermons (1696-1697).

50. Hervey Aston's _A Sermon Before the Sons of the Clergy_ (1745).

51. Lewis Maidwell's _An Essay upon the Necessity and Excellency of
    Education_ (1705).

52. Pappity Stampoy's _A Collection of Scotch Proverbs_ (1663). [#7018]

53. Urian Oakes' _The Soveriegn Efficacy of Divine Providence_ (1682).

54. Mary Davys' _Familiar Letters Betwixt a Gentleman and a Lady_

*Tenth Year (1955-1956)*

55. Samuel Say's _An Essay on the Harmony, Variety, and Power of
    Numbers_ (1745).

56. _Theologia Ruris, sive Schola & Scala Naturae_ (1686).

57. Henry Fielding's _Shamela_ (1741).

58. Eighteenth Century Book Illustrations.

59. Samuel Johnson's _Notes to Shakespeare_. Vol. I, Comedies, Part I.

60. Samuel Johnson's _Notes to Shakespeare_. Vol. I, Comedies, Part II.

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

Errors corrected by transcriber:

  the _Spectator's_ critiques of Shakespeare
    [not underlined in original]
  Artfulness and Embellishments of the _Romans_
    [text reads "Embel/llishments" at line break]
  the first Person that ever found out the Philosopher's Stone
    [text reads "that that"]
  But if, continues my Bookseller
    [text reads "conti/tinues" at line break]
    _accent unchanged (grave on second "e")_
  every thing larger can hold any thing that is less
    [text reads "every think"]

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Parodies of Ballad Criticism (1711-1787) - A Comment Upon the History of Tom Thumb, 1711, by William - Wagstaffe; The Knave of Hearts, 1787, by George Canning" ***

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