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Title: Discourses on Satire and on Epic Poetry
Author: Dryden, John
Language: English
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Transcribed from the 1888 Cassell & Company edition by David Price, email

                       CASSELL’S NATIONAL LIBRARY.

                                * * * * *

                           DISCOURSES ON SATIRE
                                  AND ON
                               EPIC POETRY.

                               JOHN DRYDEN.

                      [Picture: Decorative graphic]

                       CASSELL & COMPANY, LIMITED:
                _LONDON_, _PARIS_, _NEW YORK & MELBOURNE_.


DRYDEN’S discourses upon Satire and Epic Poetry belong to the latter
years of his life, and represent maturer thought than is to be found in
his “Essay of Dramatic Poesie.”  That essay, published in 1667, draws its
chief interest from the time when it was written.  A Dutch fleet was at
the mouth of the Thames.  Dryden represents himself taking a boat down
the river with three friends, one of them his brother-in-law Sir Robert
Howard, another Sir Charles Sedley, and another Charles Sackville Lord
Buckhurst to whom, as Earl of Dorset, the “Discourse of Satire” is
inscribed.  They go down the river to hear the guns at sea, and judge by
the sound whether the Dutch fleet be advancing or retreating.  On the way
they talk of the plague of Odes that will follow an English victory;
their talk of verse proceeds to plays, with particular attention to a
question that had been specially argued before the public between Dryden
and his brother-in-law Sir Robert Howard.  The question touched the use
of blank verse in the drama.  Dryden had decided against it as a
worthless measure, and the chief feature of the Essay, which was written
in dialogue, was its support of Dryden’s argument.  But in that year
(1667) “Paradise Lost” was published, and Milton’s blank verse was the
death of Dryden’s theories.  After a few years Dryden recanted his error.
The “Essay of Dramatic Poesie” is interesting as a setting forth in 1667
of mistaken critical opinions which were at that time in the ascendant,
but had not very long to live.  Dryden always wrote good masculine prose,
and all his critical essays are good reading as pieces of English.  His
“Essay of Dramatic Poesie” is good reading as illustrative of the
weakness of our literature in the days of the influence of France after
the Restoration.  The essays on Satire and on Epic Poetry represent also
the influence of the French critical school, but represent it in a larger
way, with indications of its strength as well as of its weakness.  They
represent also Dryden himself with a riper mind covering a larger field
of thought, and showing abundantly the strength and independence of his
own critical judgment, while he cites familiarly and frequently the
critics, little remembered and less cared for now, who then passed for
the arbiters of taste.

If English literature were really taught in schools, and the eldest boys
had received training that brought them in their last school-year to a
knowledge of the changes of intellectual fashion that set their outward
mark upon successive periods, there is no prose writing of Dryden that
could be used by a teacher more instructively than these Discourses on
Satire and on Epic Poetry.  They illustrate abundantly both Dryden and
his time, and give continuous occasion for discussion of first
principles, whether in disagreement or agreement with the text.  Dryden
was on his own ground as a critic of satire; and the ideal of an epic
that the times, and perhaps also the different bent of his own genius,
would not allow him to work out, at least finds such expression as might
be expected from a man who had high aspirations, and whose place, in
times unfavourable to his highest aims, was still among the master-poets
of the world.

The Discourse on Satire was prefixed to a translation of the satires of
Juvenal and Persius, and is dated the 18th of August, 1692, when the
poet’s age was sixty-one.  In translating Juvenal, Dryden was helped by
his sons Charles and John.  William Congreve translated one satire; other
translations were by Nahum Tate and George Stepney.  Time modern reader
of the introductory discourse has first to pass through the unmeasured
compliments to the Earl of Dorset, which represent a real esteem and
gratitude in the extravagant terms then proper to the art of dedication.
We get to the free sea over a slimy shore.  We must remember that Charles
the Second upon his death was praised by Charles Montague, who knew his
faults, as “the best good man that ever filled a throne,” and compared to
God Himself at the end of the first paragraph of Montague’s poem.  But
when we are clear of the conventional unmeasured flatteries, and Dryden
lingers among epic poets on his way to the satirists, there is equal
interest in the mistaken criticisms, in the aspirations that are blended
with them, and in the occasional touches of the poet’s personality in
quiet references to his critics.  The comparisons between Horace and
Juvenal in this discourse, and much of the criticism on Virgil in the
discourse on epic poetry, are the utterances of a poet upon poets, and
full of right suggestions from an artist’s mind.  The second discourse
was prefixed in 1697—three years before Dryden’s death—to his translation
of the Æneid.

                                                                     H. M.




                        ORDER OF THE GARTER, ETC.


THE wishes and desires of all good men, which have attended your lordship
from your first appearance in the world, are at length accomplished, from
your obtaining those honours and dignities which you have so long
deserved.  There are no factions, though irreconcilable to one another,
that are not united in their affection to you, and the respect they pay
you.  They are equally pleased in your prosperity, and would be equally
concerned in your afflictions.  Titus Vespasian was not more the delight
of human kind.  The universal empire made him only more known and more
powerful, but could not make him more beloved.  He had greater ability of
doing good, but your inclination to it is not less: and though you could
not extend your beneficence to so many persons, yet you have lost as few
days as that excellent emperor; and never had his complaint to make when
you went to bed, that the sun had shone upon you in vain, when you had
the opportunity of relieving some unhappy man.  This, my lord, has justly
acquired you as many friends as there are persons who have the honour to
be known to you.  Mere acquaintance you have none; you have drawn them
all into a nearer line; and they who have conversed with you are for ever
after inviolably yours.  This is a truth so generally acknowledged that
it needs no proof: it is of the nature of a first principle, which is
received as soon as it is proposed; and needs not the reformation which
Descartes used to his; for we doubt not, neither can we properly say, we
think we admire and love you above all other men: there is a certainty in
the proposition, and we know it.  With the same assurance I can say, you
neither have enemies, nor can scarce have any; for they who have never
heard of you can neither love or hate you; and they who have, can have no
other notion of you than that which they receive from the public, that
you are the best of men.  After this, my testimony can be of no farther
use, than to declare it to be daylight at high noon: and all who have the
benefit of sight can look up as well and see the sun.

It is true, I have one privilege which is almost particular to myself,
that I saw you in the east at your first arising above the hemisphere: I
was as soon sensible as any man of that light when it was but just
shooting out and beginning to travel upwards to the meridian.  I made my
early addresses to your lordship in my “Essay of Dramatic Poetry,” and
therein bespoke you to the world; wherein I have the right of a first
discoverer.  When I was myself in the rudiments of my poetry, without
name or reputation in the world, having rather the ambition of a writer
than the skill; when I was drawing the outlines of an art, without any
living master to instruct me in it—an art which had been better praised
than studied here in England; wherein Shakespeare, who created the stage
among us, had rather written happily than knowingly and justly; and
Jonson, who, by studying Horace, had been acquainted with the rules, yet
seemed to envy to posterity that knowledge, and, like an inventor of some
useful art, to make a monopoly of his learning—when thus, as I may say,
before the use of the loadstone or knowledge of the compass, I was
sailing in a vast ocean without other help than the pole-star of the
ancients and the rules of the French stage amongst the moderns (which are
extremely different from ours, by reason of their opposite taste), yet
even then I had the presumption to dedicate to your lordship—a very
unfinished piece, I must confess, and which only can be excused by the
little experience of the author and the modesty of the title—“An Essay.”
Yet I was stronger in prophecy than I was in criticism: I was inspired to
foretell you to mankind as the restorer of poetry, the greatest genius,
the truest judge, and the best patron.

Good sense and good nature are never separated, though the ignorant world
has thought otherwise.  Good nature, by which I mean beneficence and
candour, is the product of right reason; which of necessity will give
allowance to the failings of others by considering that there is nothing
perfect in mankind; and by distinguishing that which comes nearest to
excellency, though not absolutely free from faults, will certainly
produce a candour in the judge.  It is incident to an elevated
understanding like your lordship’s to find out the errors of other men;
but it is your prerogative to pardon them; to look with pleasure on those
things which are somewhat congenial and of a remote kindred to your own
conceptions; and to forgive the many failings of those who, with their
wretched art, cannot arrive to those heights that you possess from a
happy, abundant, and native genius which are as inborn to you as they
were to Shakespeare, and, for aught I know, to Homer; in either of whom
we find all arts and sciences, all moral and natural philosophy, without
knowing that they ever studied them.

There is not an English writer this day living who is not perfectly
convinced that your lordship excels all others in all the several parts
of poetry which you have undertaken to adorn.  The most vain and the most
ambitions of our age have not dared to assume so much as the competitors
of Themistocles: they have yielded the first place without dispute; and
have been arrogantly content to be esteemed as second to your lordship,
and even that also with a _longo_, _sed proximi intervallo_.  If there
have been, or are, any who go farther in their self-conceit, they must be
very singular in their opinion; they must be like the officer in a play
who was called captain, lieutenant, and company.  The world will easily
conclude whether such unattended generals can ever be capable of making a
revolution in Parnassus.

I will not attempt in this place to say anything particular of your lyric
poems, though they are the delight and wonder of the age, and will be the
envy of the next.  The subject of this book confines me to satire; and in
that an author of your own quality, whose ashes I will not disturb, has
given you all the commendation which his self-sufficiency could afford to
any man—“The best good man, with the worst-natured muse.”  In that
character, methinks, I am reading Jonson’s verses to the memory of
Shakespeare; an insolent, sparing, and invidious panegyric: where good
nature—the most godlike commendation of a man—is only attributed to your
person, and denied to your writings; for they are everywhere so full of
candour, that, like Horace, you only expose the follies of men without
arraigning their vices; and in this excel him, that you add that
pointedness of thought which is visibly wanting in our great Roman.
There is more of salt in all your verses than I have seen in any of the
moderns, or even of the ancients: but you have been sparing of the gall;
by which means you have pleased all readers and offended none.  Donne
alone, of all our countrymen, had your talent, but was not happy enough
to arrive at your versification; and were he translated into numbers and
English, he would yet be wanting in the dignity of expression.  That
which is the prime virtue and chief ornament of Virgil, which
distinguishes him from the rest of writers, is so conspicuous in your
verses that it casts a shadow on all your contemporaries; we cannot be
seen, or but obscurely, while you are present.  You equal Donne in the
variety, multiplicity, and choice of thoughts; you excel him in the
manner and the words.  I read you both with the same admiration, but not
with the same delight.  He affects the metaphysics, not only in his
satires, but in his amorous verses, where Nature only should reign; and
perplexes the minds of the fair sex with nice speculations of philosophy,
when he should engage their hearts and entertain them with the softnesses
of love.  In this (if I may be pardoned for so bold a truth) Mr. Cowley
has copied him to a fault: so great a one, in my opinion, that it throws
his “Mistress” infinitely below his “Pindarics” and his later
compositions, which are undoubtedly the best of his poems and the most
correct.  For my own part I must avow it freely to the world that I never
attempted anything in satire wherein I have not studied your writings as
the most perfect model.  I have continually laid them before me; and the
greatest commendation which my own partiality can give to my productions
is that they are copies, and no farther to be allowed than as they have
something more or less of the original.  Some few touches of your
lordship, some secret graces which I have endeavoured to express after
your manner, have made whole poems of mine to pass with approbation: but
take your verses all together, and they are inimitable.  If, therefore, I
have not written better, it is because you have not written more.  You
have not set me sufficient copy to transcribe; and I cannot add one
letter of my own invention of which I have not the example there.

It is a general complaint against your lordship, and I must have leave to
upbraid you with it, that, because you need not write, you will not.
Mankind that wishes you so well in all things that relate to your
prosperity, have their intervals of wishing for themselves, and are
within a little of grudging you the fulness of your fortune: they would
be more malicious if you used it not so well and with so much generosity.

Fame is in itself a real good, if we may believe Cicero, who was perhaps
too fond of it; but even fame, as Virgil tells us, acquires strength by
going forward.  Let Epicurus give indolency as an attribute to his gods,
and place in it the happiness of the blest: the Divinity which we worship
has given us not only a precept against it, but His own example to the
contrary.  The world, my lord, would be content to allow you a seventh
day for rest; or, if you thought that hard upon you, we would not refuse
you half your time: if you came out, like some great monarch, to take a
town but once a year, as it were for your diversion, though you had no
need to extend your territories.  In short, if you were a bad, or, which
is worse, an indifferent poet, we would thank you for our own quiet, and
not expose you to the want of yours.  But when you are so great, and so
successful, and when we have that necessity of your writing that we
cannot subsist entirely without it, any more (I may almost say) than the
world without the daily course of ordinary Providence, methinks this
argument might prevail with you, my lord, to forego a little of your
repose for the public benefit.  It is not that you are under any force of
working daily miracles to prove your being, but now and then somewhat of
extraordinary—that is, anything of your production—is requisite to
refresh your character.

This, I think, my lord, is a sufficient reproach to you, and should I
carry it as far as mankind would authorise me, would be little less than
satire.  And indeed a provocation is almost necessary, in behalf of the
world, that you might be induced sometimes to write; and in relation to a
multitude of scribblers, who daily pester the world with their
insufferable stuff, that they might be discouraged from writing any more.
I complain not of their lampoons and libels, though I have been the
public mark for many years.  I am vindictive enough to have repelled
force by force if I could imagine that any of them had ever reached me:
but they either shot at rovers, and therefore missed; or their powder was
so weak that I might safely stand them at the nearest distance.  I
answered not the “Rehearsal” because I knew the author sat to himself
when he drew the picture, and was the very Bayes of his own farce;
because also I knew that my betters were more concerned than I was in
that satire; and, lastly, because Mr. Smith and Mr. Johnson, the main
pillars of it, were two such languishing gentlemen in their conversation
that I could liken them to nothing but to their own relations, those
noble characters of men of wit and pleasure about the town.  The like
considerations have hindered me from dealing with the lamentable
companions of their prose and doggerel.  I am so far from defending my
poetry against them that I will not so much as expose theirs.  And for my
morals, if they are not proof against their attacks, let me be thought by
posterity what those authors would be thought if any memory of them or of
their writings could endure so long as to another age.  But these dull
makers of lampoons, as harmless as they have been to me, are yet of
dangerous example to the public.  Some witty men may perhaps succeed to
their designs, and, mixing sense with malice, blast the reputation of the
most innocent amongst men, and the most virtuous amongst women.

Heaven be praised, our common libellers are as free from the imputation
of wit as of morality, and therefore whatever mischief they have designed
they have performed but little of it.  Yet these ill writers, in all
justice, ought themselves to be exposed, as Persius has given us a fair
example in his first Satire, which is levelled particularly at them; and
none is so fit to correct their faults as he who is not only clear from
any in his own writings, but is also so just that he will never defame
the good, and is armed with the power of verse to punish and make
examples of the bad.  But of this I shall have occasion to speak further
when I come to give the definition and character of true satires.

In the meantime, as a counsellor bred up in the knowledge of the
municipal and statute laws may honestly inform a just prince how far his
prerogative extends, so I may be allowed to tell your lordship, who by an
undisputed title are the king of poets, what an extent of power you have,
and how lawfully you may exercise it over the petulant scribblers of this
age.  As Lord Chamberlain, I know, you are absolute by your office in all
that belongs to the decency and good manners of the stage.  You can
banish from thence scurrility and profaneness, and restrain the
licentious insolence of poets and their actors in all things that shock
the public quiet, or the reputation of private persons, under the notion
of humour.  But I mean not the authority which is annexed to your office,
I speak of that only which is inborn and inherent to your person; what is
produced in you by an excellent wit, a masterly and commanding genius
over all writers: whereby you are empowered, when you please, to give the
final decision of wit, to put your stamp on all that ought to pass for
current and set a brand of reprobation on clipped poetry and false coin.
A shilling dipped in the bath may go for gold amongst the ignorant, but
the sceptres on the guineas show the difference.  That your lordship is
formed by nature for this supremacy I could easily prove (were it not
already granted by the world) from the distinguishing character of your
writing, which is so visible to me that I never could be imposed on to
receive for yours what was written by any others, or to mistake your
genuine poetry for their spurious productions.  I can farther add with
truth, though not without some vanity in saying it, that in the same
paper written by divers hands, whereof your lordship’s was only part, I
could separate your gold from their copper; and though I could not give
back to every author his own brass (for there is not the same rule for
distinguishing betwixt bad and bad as betwixt ill and excellently good),
yet I never failed of knowing what was yours and what was not, and was
absolutely certain that this or the other part was positively yours, and
could not possibly be written by any other.

True it is that some bad poems, though not all, carry their owners’ marks
about them.  There is some peculiar awkwardness, false grammar, imperfect
sense, or, at the least, obscurity; some brand or other on this buttock
or that ear that it is notorious who are the owners of the cattle, though
they should not sign it with their names.  But your lordship, on the
contrary, is distinguished not only by the excellency of your thoughts,
but by your style and manner of expressing them.  A painter judging of
some admirable piece may affirm with certainty that it was of Holbein or
Vandyck; but vulgar designs and common draughts are easily mistaken and
misapplied.  Thus, by my long study of your lordship, I am arrived at the
knowledge of your particular manner.  In the good poems of other men,
like those artists, I can only say, “This is like the draught of such a
one, or like the colouring of another;” in short, I can only be sure that
it is the hand of a good master: but in your performances it is scarcely
possible for me to be deceived.  If you write in your strength, you stand
revealed at the first view, and should you write under it, you cannot
avoid some peculiar graces which only cost me a second consideration to
discover you: for I may say it with all the severity of truth, that every
line of yours is precious.  Your lordship’s only fault is that you have
not written more, unless I could add another, and that yet greater, but I
fear for the public the accusation would not be true—that you have
written, and out of a vicious modesty will not publish.

Virgil has confined his works within the compass of eighteen thousand
lines, and has not treated many subjects, yet he ever had, and ever will
have, the reputation of the best poet.  Martial says of him that he could
have excelled Varius in tragedy and Horace in lyric poetry, but out of
deference to his friends he attempted neither.

The same prevalence of genius is in your lordship, but the world cannot
pardon your concealing it on the same consideration, because we have
neither a living Varius nor a Horace, in whose excellences both of poems,
odes, and satires, you had equalled them, if our language had not yielded
to the Roman majesty, and length of time had not added a reverence to the
works of Horace.  For good sense is the same in all or most ages, and
course of time rather improves nature than impairs her.  What has been,
may be again; another Homer and another Virgil may possible arise from
those very causes which produced the first, though it would be impudence
to affirm that any such have yet appeared.

It is manifest that some particular ages have been more happy than others
in the production of great men in all sorts of arts and sciences, as that
of Euripides, Sophocles, Aristophanes, and the rest, for stage-poetry
amongst the Greeks; that of Augustus for heroic, lyric, dramatic,
elegiac, and indeed all sorts of poetry in the persons of Virgil, Horace,
Varius, Ovid, and many others, especially if we take into that century
the latter end of the commonwealth, wherein we find Varro, Lucretius, and
Catullus; and at the same time lived Cicero and Sallust and Cæsar.  A
famous age in modern times for learning in every kind was that of Lorenzo
de Medici and his son Leo the Tenth, wherein painting was revived, and
poetry flourished, and the Greek language was restored.

Examples in all these are obvious, but what I would infer is this—that in
such an age it is possible some great genius may arise to equal any of
the ancients, abating only for the language; for great contemporaries
whet and cultivate each other, and mutual borrowing and commerce makes
the common riches of learning, as it does of the civil government.

But suppose that Homer and Virgil were the only of their species, and
that nature was so much worn out in producing them that she is never able
to hear the like again, yet the example only holds in heroic poetry; in
tragedy and satire I offer myself to maintain, against some of our modern
critics, that this age and the last, particularly in England, have
excelled the ancients in both those kinds, and I would instance in
Shakespeare of the former, of your lordship in the latter sort.

Thus I might safely confine myself to my native country.  But if I would
only cross the seas, I might find in France a living Horace and a Juvenal
in the person of the admirable Boileau, whose numbers are excellent,
whose expressions are noble, whose thoughts are just, whose language is
pure, whose satire is pointed and whose sense is close.  What he borrows
from the ancients, he repays with usury of his own in coin as good and
almost as universally valuable: for, setting prejudice and partiality
apart, though he is our enemy, the stamp of a Louis, the patron of all
arts, is not much inferior to the medal of an Augustus Cæsar.  Let this
be said without entering into the interests of factions and parties, and
relating only to the bounty of that king to men of learning and merit—a
praise so just that even we, who are his enemies, cannot refuse it to

Now if it may be permitted me to go back again to the consideration of
epic poetry, I have confessed that no man hitherto has reached or so much
as approached to the excellences of Homer or of Virgil; I must farther
add that Statius, the best versificator next to Virgil, knew not how to
design after him, though he had the model in his eye; that Lucan is
wanting both in design and subject, and is besides too full of heat and
affectation; that amongst the moderns, Ariosto neither designed justly
nor observed any unity of action, or compass of time, or moderation in
the vastness of his draught: his style is luxurious without majesty or
decency, and his adventures without the compass of nature and
possibility.  Tasso, whose design was regular, and who observed the roles
of unity in time and place more closely than Virgil, yet was not so happy
in his action: he confesses himself to have been too lyrical—that is, to
have written beneath the dignity of heroic verse—in his episodes of
Sophronia, Erminia, and Armida.  His story is not so pleasing as
Ariosto’s; he is too flatulent sometimes, and sometimes too dry; many
times unequal, and almost always forced; and, besides, is full of
conceits, points of epigram, and witticisms; all which are not only below
the dignity of heroic verse, but contrary to its nature: Virgil and Homer
have not one of them.  And those who are guilty of so boyish an ambition
in so grave a subject are so far from being considered as heroic poets
that they ought to be turned down from Homer to the “Anthologia,” from
Virgil to Martial and Owen’s Epigrams, and from Spenser to Flecknoe—that
is, from the top to the bottom of all poetry.  But to return to Tasso: he
borrows from the invention of Boiardo, and in his alteration of his poem,
which is infinitely for the worse, imitates Homer so very servilely that
(for example) he gives the King of Jerusalem fifty sons, only because
Homer had bestowed the like number on King Priam; he kills the youngest
in the same manner; and has provided his hero with a Patroclus, under
another name, only to bring him back to the wars when his friend was
killed.  The French have performed nothing in this kind which is not far
below those two Italians, and subject to a thousand more reflections,
without examining their “St. Louis,” their “Pucelle,” or their “Alaric.”
The English have only to boast of Spenser and Milton, who neither of them
wanted either genius or learning to have been perfect poets; and yet both
of them are liable to many censures.  For there is no uniformity in the
design of Spenser; he aims at the accomplishment of no one action; he
raises up a hero for every one of his adventures, and endows each of them
with some particular moral virtue, which renders them all equal, without
subordination or preference: every one is most valiant in his own legend:
only we must do him that justice to observe that magnanimity, which is
the character of Prince Arthur, shines throughout the whole poem, and
succours the rest when they are in distress.  The original of every
knight was then living in the court of Queen Elizabeth, and he attributed
to each of them that virtue which he thought was most conspicuous in
them—an ingenious piece of flattery, though it turned not much to his
account.  Had he lived to finish his poem in the six remaining legends,
it had certainly been more of a piece; but could not have been perfect,
because the model was not true.  But Prince Arthur, or his chief patron
Sir Philip Sidney, whom he intended to make happy by the marriage of his
Gloriana, dying before him, deprived the poet both of means and spirit to
accomplish his design.  For the rest, his obsolete language and the ill
choice of his stanza are faults but of the second magnitude; for,
notwithstanding the first, he is still intelligible—at least, after a
little practice; and for the last, he is the more to be admired that,
labouring under such a difficulty, his verses are so numerous, so various
and so harmonious, that only Virgil, whom he professedly imitated, has
surpassed him among the Romans, and only Mr. Waller among the English.

As for Mr. Milton, whom we all admire with so much justice, his subject
is not that of an heroic poem, properly so called.  His design is the
losing of our happiness; his event is not prosperous, like that of all
other epic works; his heavenly machines are many, and his human persons
are but two.  But I will not take Mr. Rymer’s work out of his hands: he
has promised the world a critique on that author wherein, though he will
not allow his poem for heroic, I hope he will grant us that his thoughts
are elevated, his words sounding, and that no man has so happily copied
the manner of Homer, or so copiously translated his Grecisms and the
Latin elegances of Virgil.  It is true, he runs into a flat of thought,
sometimes for a hundred lines together, but it is when he has got into a
track of Scripture.  His antiquated words were his choice, not his
necessity; for therein he imitated Spenser, as Spencer did Chaucer.  And
though, perhaps, the love of their masters may have transported both too
far in the frequent use of them, yet in my opinion obsolete words may
then be laudably revived when either they are more sounding or more
significant than those in practice, and when their obscurity is taken
away by joining other words to them which clear the sense—according to
the rule of Horace for the admission of new words.  But in both cases a
moderation is to be observed in the use of them; for unnecessary coinage,
as well as unnecessary revival, runs into affectation—a fault to be
avoided on either hand.  Neither will I justify Milton for his blank
verse, though I may excuse him by the example of Hannibal Caro and other
Italians who have used it; for, whatever causes he alleges for the
abolishing of rhyme (which I have not now the leisure to examine), his
own particular reason is plainly this—that rhyme was not his talent; he
had neither the ease of doing it, nor the graces of it: which is manifest
in his “Juvenilia” or verses written in his youth, where his rhyme is
always constrained and forced, and comes hardly from him, at an age when
the soul is most pliant, and the passion of love makes almost every man a
rhymer, though not a poet.

By this time, my lord, I doubt not but that you wonder why I have run off
from my bias so long together, and made so tedious a digression from
satire to heroic poetry; but if you will not excuse it by the tattling
quality of age (which, as Sir William Davenant says, is always
narrative), yet I hope the usefulness of what I have to say on this
subject will qualify the remoteness of it; and this is the last time I
will commit the crime of prefaces, or trouble the world with my notions
of anything that relates to verse.  I have then, as you see, observed the
failings of many great wits amongst the moderns who have attempted to
write an epic poem.  Besides these, or the like animadversions of them by
other men, there is yet a farther reason given why they cannot possibly
succeed so well as the ancients, even though we could allow them not to
be inferior either in genius or learning, or the tongue in which they
write, or all those other wonderful qualifications which are necessary to
the forming of a true accomplished heroic poet.  The fault is laid on our
religion; they say that Christianity is not capable of those
embellishments which are afforded in the belief of those ancient

And it is true that in the severe notions of our faith the fortitude of a
Christian consists in patience, and suffering for the love of God
whatever hardships can befall in the world—not in any great attempt, or
in performance of those enterprises which the poets call heroic, and
which are commonly the effects of interest, ostentation, pride, and
worldly honour; that humility and resignation are our prime virtues; and
that these include no action but that of the soul, whereas, on the
contrary, an heroic poem requires to its necessary design, and as its
last perfection, some great action of war, the accomplishment of some
extraordinary undertaking, which requires the strength and vigour of the
body, the duty of a soldier, the capacity and prudence of a general, and,
in short, as much or more of the active virtue than the suffering.  But
to this the answer is very obvious.  God has placed us in our several
stations; the virtues of a private Christian are patience, obedience,
submission, and the like; but those of a magistrate or a general or a
king are prudence, counsel, active fortitude, coercive power, awful
command, and the exercise of magnanimity as well as justice.  So that
this objection hinders not but that an epic poem, or the heroic action of
some great commander, enterprised for the common good and honour of the
Christian cause, and executed happily, may be as well written now as it
was of old by the heathens, provided the poet be endued with the same
talents; and the language, though not of equal dignity, yet as near
approaching to it as our modern barbarism will allow—which is all that
can be expected from our own or any other now extant, though more
refined; and therefore we are to rest contented with that only
inferiority, which is not possibly to be remedied.

I wish I could as easily remove that other difficulty which yet remains.
It is objected by a great French critic as well as an admirable poet, yet
living, and whom I have mentioned with that honour which his merit exacts
from me (I mean, Boileau), that the machines of our Christian religion in
heroic poetry are much more feeble to support that weight than those of
heathenism.  Their doctrine, grounded as it was on ridiculous fables, was
yet the belief of the two victorious monarchies, the Grecian and Roman.
Their gods did not only interest themselves in the event of wars (which
is the effect of a superior Providence), but also espoused the several
parties in a visible corporeal descent, managed their intrigues and
fought their battles, sometimes in opposition to each other; though
Virgil (more discreet than Homer in that last particular) has contented
himself with the partiality of his deities, their favours, their counsels
or commands, to those whose cause they had espoused, without bringing
them to the outrageousness of blows.  Now our religion, says he, is
deprived of the greatest part of those machines—at least, the most
shining in epic poetry.  Though St. Michael in Ariosto seeks out Discord
to send her amongst the Pagans, and finds her in a convent of friars,
where peace should reign (which indeed is fine satire); and Satan in
Tasso excites Soliman to an attempt by night on the Christian camp, and
brings a host of devils to his assistance; yet the Archangel in the
former example, when Discord was restive and would not be drawn from her
beloved monastery with fair words, has the whip-hand of her, drags her
out with many stripes, sets her on God’s name about her business, and
makes her know the difference of strength betwixt a nuncio of heaven and
a minister of hell.  The same angel in the latter instance from Tasso (as
if God had never another messenger belonging to the court, but was
confined, like Jupiter to Mercury, and Juno to Iris), when he sees his
time—that is, when half of the Christians are already killed, and all the
rest are in a fair way to be routed—stickles betwixt the remainders of
God’s host and the race of fiends, pulls the devils backward by the
tails, and drives them from their quarry; or otherwise the whole business
had miscarried, and Jerusalem remained untaken.  This, says Boileau, is a
very unequal match for the poor devils, who are sure to come by the worst
of it in the combat; for nothing is more easy than for an Almighty Power
to bring His old rebels to reason when He pleases.  Consequently what
pleasure, what entertainment, can be raised from so pitiful a machine,
where we see the success of the battle from the very beginning of it?
unless that as we are Christians, we are glad that we have gotten God on
our side to maul our enemies when we cannot do the work ourselves.  For
if the poet had given the faithful more courage, which had cost him
nothing, or at least have made them exceed the Turks in number, he might
have gained the victory for us Christians without interesting Heaven in
the quarrel, and that with as much ease and as little credit to the
conqueror as when a party of a hundred soldiers defeats another which
consists only of fifty.

This, my lord, I confess is such an argument against our modern poetry as
cannot be answered by those mediums which have been used.  We cannot
hitherto boast that our religion has furnished us with any such machines
as have made the strength and beauty of the ancient buildings.

But what if I venture to advance an invention of my own to supply the
manifest defect of our new writers?  I am sufficiently sensible of my
weakness, and it is not very probable that I should succeed in such a
project, whereof I have not had the least hint from any of my
predecessors the poets, or any of their seconds or coadjutors the
critics.  Yet we see the art of war is improved in sieges, and new
instruments of death are invented daily.  Something new in philosophy and
the mechanics is discovered almost every year, and the science of former
ages is improved by the succeeding.  I will not detain you with a long
preamble to that which better judges will, perhaps, conclude to be little

It is this, in short—that Christian poets have not hitherto been
acquainted with their own strength.  If they had searched the Old
Testament as they ought, they might there have found the machines which
are proper for their work, and those more certain in their effect than it
may be the New Testament is in the rules sufficient for salvation.  The
perusing of one chapter in the prophecy of Daniel, and accommodating what
there they find with the principles of Platonic philosophy as it is now
Christianised, would have made the ministry of angels as strong an engine
for the working up heroic poetry in our religion as that of the ancients
has been to raise theirs by all the fables of their gods, which were only
received for truths by the most ignorant and weakest of the people.

It is a doctrine almost universally received by Christians, as well
Protestants as Catholics, that there are guardian angels appointed by God
Almighty as His vicegerents for the protection and government of cities,
provinces, kingdoms, and monarchies; and those as well of heathens as of
true believers.  All this is so plainly proved from those texts of Daniel
that it admits of no farther controversy.  The prince of the Persians,
and that other of the Grecians, are granted to be the guardians and
protecting ministers of those empires.  It cannot be denied that they
were opposite and resisted one another.  St. Michael is mentioned by his
name as the patron of the Jews, and is now taken by the Christians as the
protector-general of our religion.  These tutelar genii, who presided
over the several people and regions committed to their charge, were
watchful over them for good, as far as their commissions could possibly
extend.  The general purpose and design of all was certainly the service
of their great Creator.  But it is an undoubted truth that, for ends best
known to the Almighty Majesty of Heaven, His providential designs for the
benefit of His creatures, for the debasing and punishing of some nations,
and the exaltation and temporal reward of others, were not wholly known
to these His ministers; else why those factious quarrels, controversies,
and battles amongst themselves, when they were all united in the same
design, the service and honour of their common master?  But being
instructed only in the general, and zealous of the main design, and as
finite beings not admitted into the secrets of government, the last
resorts of Providence, or capable of discovering the final purposes of
God (who can work good out of evil as He pleases, and irresistibly sways
all manner of events on earth, directing them finally for the best to His
creation in general, and to the ultimate end of His own glory in
particular), they must of necessity be sometimes ignorant of the means
conducing to those ends, in which alone they can jar and oppose each
other—one angel, as we may suppose (the Prince of Persia, as he is
called), judging that it would be more for God’s honour and the benefit
of His people that the Median and Persian monarchy, which delivered them
from the Babylonish captivity, should still be uppermost; and the patron
of the Grecians, to whom the will of God might be more particularly
revealed, contending on the other side for the rise of Alexander and his
successors, who were appointed to punish the backsliding Jews, and
thereby to put them in mind of their offences, that they might repent and
become more virtuous and more observant of the law revealed.  But how far
these controversies and appearing enmities of those glorious creatures
may be carried; how these oppositions may be best managed, and by what
means conducted, is not my business to show or determine: these things
must be left to the invention and judgment of the poet, if any of so
happy a genius be now living, or any future age can produce a man who,
being conversant in the philosophy of Plato as it is now accommodated to
Christian use (for, as Virgil gives us to understand by his example, that
is the only proper, of all others, for an epic poem), who to his natural
endowments of a large invention, a ripe judgment, and a strong memory,
has joined the knowledge of the liberal arts and sciences (and
particularly moral philosophy, the mathematics, geography, and history),
and with all these qualifications is born a poet, knows, and can practise
the variety of numbers, and is master of the language in which he
writes—if such a man, I say, be now arisen, or shall arise, I am vain
enough to think that I have proposed a model to him by which he may build
a nobler, a more beautiful, and more perfect poem than any yet extant
since the ancients.

There is another part of these machines yet wanting; but by what I have
said, it would have been easily supplied by a judicious writer.  He could
not have failed to add the opposition of ill spirits to the good; they
have also their design, ever opposite to that of Heaven; and this alone
has hitherto been the practice of the moderns: but this imperfect system,
if I may call it such, which I have given, will infinitely advance and
carry farther that hypothesis of the evil spirits contending with the
good.  For being so much weaker since their fall than those blessed
beings, they are yet supposed to have a permitted power from God of
acting ill, as from their own depraved nature they have always the will
of designing it—a great testimony of which we find in Holy Writ, when God
Almighty suffered Satan to appear in the holy synod of the angels (a
thing not hitherto drawn into example by any of the poets), and also gave
him power over all things belonging to his servant Job, excepting only

Now what these wicked spirits cannot compass by the vast disproportion of
their forces to those of the superior beings, they may by their fraud and
cunning carry farther in a seeming league, confederacy, or subserviency
to the designs of some good angel, as far as consists with his purity to
suffer such an aid, the end of which may possibly be disguised and
concealed from his finite knowledge.  This is indeed to suppose a great
error in such a being; yet since a devil can appear like an angel of
light, since craft and malice may sometimes blind for a while a more
perfect understanding; and lastly, since Milton has given us an example
of the like nature, when Satan, appearing like a cherub to Uriel, the
intelligence of the sun, circumvented him even in his own province, and
passed only for a curious traveller through those new-created regions,
that he might observe therein the workmanship of God and praise Him in
His works—I know not why, upon the same supposition, or some other, a
fiend may not deceive a creature of more excellency than himself, but yet
a creature; at least, by the connivance or tacit permission of the
Omniscient Being.

Thus, my lord, I have, as briefly as I could, given your lordship, and by
you the world, a rude draught of what I have been long labouring in my
imagination, and what I had intended to have put in practice (though far
unable for the attempt of such a poem), and to have left the stage, to
which my genius never much inclined me, for a work which would have taken
up my life in the performance of it.  This, too, I had intended chiefly
for the honour of my native country, to which a poet is particularly
obliged.  Of two subjects, both relating to it, I was doubtful—whether I
should choose that of King Arthur conquering the Saxons (which, being
farther distant in time, gives the greater scope to my invention), or
that of Edward the Black Prince in subduing Spain and restoring it to the
lawful prince, though a great tyrant, Don Pedro the Cruel—which for the
compass of time, including only the expedition of one year; for the
greatness of the action, and its answerable event; for the magnanimity of
the English hero, opposed to the ingratitude of the person whom he
restored; and for the many beautiful episodes which I had interwoven with
the principal design, together with the characters of the chiefest
English persons (wherein, after Virgil and Spenser, I would have taken
occasion to represent my living friends and patrons of the noblest
families, and also shadowed the events of future ages in the succession
of our imperial line)—with these helps, and those of the machines which I
have mentioned, I might perhaps have done as well as some of my
predecessors, or at least chalked out a way for others to amend my errors
in a like design; but being encouraged only with fair words by King
Charles the Second, my little salary ill paid, and no prospect of a
future subsistence, I was then discouraged in the beginning of my
attempt; and now age has overtaken me, and want (a more insufferable
evil) through the change of the times has wholly disenabled me; though I
must ever acknowledge, to the honour of your lordship, and the eternal
memory of your charity, that since this Revolution, wherein I have
patiently suffered the ruin of my small fortune, and the loss of that
poor subsistence which I had from two kings, whom I had served more
faithfully than profitably to myself—then your lordship was pleased, out
of no other motive but your own nobleness, without any desert of mine, or
the least solicitation from me, to make me a most bountiful present,
which at that time, when I was most in want of it, came most seasonably
and unexpectedly to my relief.  That favour, my lord, is of itself
sufficient to bind any grateful man to a perpetual acknowledgment, and to
all the future service which one of my mean condition can be ever able to
perform.  May the Almighty God return it for me, both in blessing you
here and rewarding you hereafter!  I must not presume to defend the cause
for which I now suffer, because your lordship is engaged against it; but
the more you are so, the greater is my obligation to you for your laying
aside all the considerations of factions and parties to do an action of
pure disinterested charity.  This is one amongst many of your shining
qualities which distinguish you from others of your rank.  But let me add
a farther truth—that without these ties of gratitude, and abstracting
from them all, I have a most particular inclination to honour you, and,
if it were not too bold an expression, to say I love you.  It is no shame
to be a poet, though it is to be a bad one.  Augustus Cæsar of old, and
Cardinal Richelieu of late, would willingly have been such; and David and
Solomon were such.  You who, without flattery, are the best of the
present age in England, and would have been so had you been born in any
other country, will receive more honour in future ages by that one
excellency than by all those honours to which your birth has entitled
you, or your merits have acquired you.

             “_Ne fortè pudori_
    _Sit tibi Musa lyræ solers_, _et cantor Apollo_.”

I have formerly said in this epistle that I could distinguish your
writings from those of any others; it is now time to clear myself from
any imputation of self-conceit on that subject.  I assume not to myself
any particular lights in this discovery; they are such only as are
obvious to every man of sense and judgment who loves poetry and
understands it.  Your thoughts are always so remote from the common way
of thinking that they are, as I may say, of another species than the
conceptions of other poets; yet you go not out of nature for any of them.
Gold is never bred upon the surface of the ground, but lies so hidden and
so deep that the mines of it are seldom found; but the force of waters
casts it out from the bowels of mountains, and exposes it amongst the
sands of rivers, giving us of her bounty what we could not hope for by
our search.  This success attends your lordship’s thoughts, which would
look like chance if it were not perpetual and always of the same tenor.
If I grant that there is care in it, it is such a care as would be
ineffectual and fruitless in other men; it is the _curiosa felicitas_
which Petronius ascribes to Horace in his odes.  We have not wherewithal
to imagine so strongly, so justly, and so pleasantly: in short, if we
have the same knowledge, we cannot draw out of it the same quintessence;
we cannot give it such a turn, such a propriety, and such a beauty.
Something is deficient in the manner or the words, but more in the
nobleness of our conception.  Yet when you have finished all, and it
appears in its full lustre; when the diamond is not only found, but the
roughness smoothed; when it is cut into a form and set in gold, then we
cannot but acknowledge that it is the perfect work of art and nature; and
every one will be so vain to think he himself could have performed the
like until he attempts it.  It is just the description that Horace makes
of such a finished piece; it appears so easy,

                “_Ut sibi quivis_
    _Speret idem_, _sudet multum_, _frustraque laboret_,
    _Ausus idem_.”

And besides all this, it is your lordship’s particular talent to lay your
thoughts so chose together that, were they closer, they would be crowded,
and even a due connection would be wanting.  We are not kept in
expectation of two good lines which are to come after a long parenthesis
of twenty bad; which is the April poetry of other writers, a mixture of
rain and sunshine by fits: you are always bright, even almost to a fault,
by reason of the excess.  There is continual abundance, a magazine of
thought, and yet a perpetual variety of entertainment; which creates such
an appetite in your reader that he is not cloyed with anything, but
satisfied with all.  It is that which the Romans call _cæna dubia_; where
there is such plenty, yet withal so much diversity, and so good order,
that the choice is difficult betwixt one excellency and another; and yet
the conclusion, by a due climax, is evermore the best—that is, as a
conclusion ought to be, ever the most proper for its place.  See, my
lord, whether I have not studied your lordship with some application: and
since you are so modest that you will not be judge and party, I appeal to
the whole world if I have not drawn your picture to a great degree of
likeness, though it is but in miniature, and that some of the best
features are yet wanting.  Yet what I have done is enough to distinguish
you from any other, which is the proposition that I took upon me to

And now, my lord, to apply what I have said to my present business: the
satires of Juvenal and Persius, appearing in this new English dress,
cannot so properly be inscribed to any man as to your lordship, who are
the first of the age in that way of writing.  Your lordship, amongst many
other favours, has given me your permission for this address; and you
have particularly encouraged me by your perusal and approbation of the
sixth and tenth satires of Juvenal as I have translated them.  My
fellow-labourers have likewise commissioned me to perform in their behalf
this office of a dedication to you, and will acknowledge, with all
possible respect and gratitude, your acceptance of their work.  Some of
them have the honour to be known to your lordship already; and they who
have not yet that happiness, desire it now.  Be pleased to receive our
common endeavours with your wonted candour, without entitling you to the
protection of our common failings in so difficult an undertaking.  And
allow me your patience, if it be not already tired with this long
epistle, to give you from the best authors the origin, the antiquity, the
growth, the change, and the completement of satire among the Romans; to
describe, if not define, the nature of that poem, with its several
qualifications and virtues, together with the several sorts of it; to
compare the excellencies of Horace, Persius, and Juvenal, and show the
particular manners of their satires; and, lastly, to give an account of
this new way of version which is attempted in our performance: all which,
according to the weakness of my ability, and the best lights which I can
get from others, shall be the subject of my following discourse.

The most perfect work of poetry, says our master Aristotle, is tragedy.
His reason is because it is the most united; being more severely confined
within the rules of action, time, and place.  The action is entire of a
piece, and one without episodes; the time limited to a natural day; and
the place circumscribed at least within the compass of one town or city.
Being exactly proportioned thus, and uniform in all its parts, the mind
is more capable of comprehending the whole beauty of it without

But after all these advantages an heroic poem is certainly the greatest
work of human nature.  The beauties and perfections of the other are but
mechanical; those of the epic are more noble.  Though Homer has limited
his place to Troy and the fields about it; his actions to forty-eight
natural days, whereof twelve are holidays, or cessation from business
during the funeral of Patroclus.  To proceed: the action of the epic is
greater; the extension of time enlarges the pleasure of the reader, and
the episodes give it more ornament and more variety.  The instruction is
equal; but the first is only instructive, the latter forms a hero and a

If it signifies anything which of them is of the more ancient family, the
best and most absolute heroic poem was written by Homer long before
tragedy was invented.  But if we consider the natural endowments and
acquired parts which are necessary to make an accomplished writer in
either kind, tragedy requires a less and more confined knowledge;
moderate learning and observation of the rules is sufficient if a genius
be not wanting.  But in an epic poet, one who is worthy of that name,
besides an universal genius is required universal learning, together with
all those qualities and acquisitions which I have named above, and as
many more as I have through haste or negligence omitted.  And, after all,
he must have exactly studied Homer and Virgil as his patterns, Aristotle
and Horace as his guides, and Vida and Bossu as their commentators, with
many others (both Italian and French critics) which I want leisure here
to recommend.

In a word, what I have to say in relation to this subject, which does not
particularly concern satire, is that the greatness of an heroic poem
beyond that of a tragedy may easily be discovered by observing how few
have attempted that work, in comparison to those who have written dramas;
and of those few, how small a number have succeeded.  But leaving the
critics on either side to contend about the preference due to this or
that sort of poetry, I will hasten to my present business, which is the
antiquity and origin of satire, according to those informations which I
have received from the learned Casaubon, Heinsius, Rigaltius, Dacier, and
the Dauphin’s Juvenal, to which I shall add some observations of my own.

There has been a long dispute among the modern critics whether the Romans
derived their satire from the Grecians or first invented it themselves.
Julius Scaliger and Heinsius are of the first opinion; Casaubon,
Rigaltius, Dacier, and the publisher of Dauphin’s Juvenal maintain the
latter.  If we take satire in the general signification of the word, as
it is used in all modern languages, for an invective, it is certain that
it is almost as old as verse; and though hymns, which are praises of God,
may be allowed to have been before it, yet the defamation of others was
not long after it.  After God had cursed Adam and Eve in Paradise, the
husband and wife excused themselves by laying the blame on one another,
and gave a beginning to those conjugal dialogues in prose which the poets
have perfected in verse.  The third chapter of Job is one of the first
instances of this poem in Holy Scripture, unless we will take it higher,
from the latter end of the second, where his wife advises him to curse
his Maker.

This original, I confess, is not much to the honour of satire; but here
it was nature, and that depraved: when it became an art, it bore better
fruit.  Only we have learnt thus much already—that scoffs and revilings
are of the growth of all nations; and consequently that neither the Greek
poets borrowed from other people their art of railing, neither needed the
Romans to take it from them.  But considering satire as a species of
poetry, here the war begins amongst the critics.  Scaliger, the father,
will have it descend from Greece to Rome; and derives the word “satire”
from Satyrus, that mixed kind of animal (or, as the ancients thought him,
rural god) made up betwixt a man and a goat, with a human head, hooked
nose, pouting lips, a bunch or struma under the chin, pricked ears, and
upright horns; the body shagged with hair, especially from the waist, and
ending in a goat, with the legs and feet of that creature.  But Casaubon
and his followers, with reason, condemn this derivation, and prove that
from Satyrus the word _satira_, as it signifies a poem, cannot possibly
descend.  For _satira_ is not properly a substantive, but an adjective;
to which the word _lanx_ (in English a “charger” or “large platter”) is
understood: so that the Greek poem made according to the manners of a
Satyr, and expressing his qualities, must properly be called satirical,
and not satire.  And thus far it is allowed that the Grecians had such
poems, but that they were wholly different in species from that to which
the Romans gave the name of satire.

Aristotle divides all poetry, in relation to the progress of it, into
nature without art, art begun, and art completed.  Mankind, even the most
barbarous, have the seeds of poetry implanted in them.  The first
specimen of it was certainly shown in the praises of the Deity and
prayers to Him; and as they are of natural obligation, so they are
likewise of divine institution: which Milton observing, introduces Adam
and Eve every morning adoring God in hymns and prayers.  The first poetry
was thus begun in the wild notes of natural poetry before the invention
of feet and measures.  The Grecians and Romans had no other original of
their poetry.  Festivals and holidays soon succeeded to private worship,
and we need not doubt but they were enjoined by the true God to His own
people, as they were afterwards imitated by the heathens; who by the
light of reason knew they were to invoke some superior being in their
necessities, and to thank him for his benefits.  Thus the Grecian
holidays were celebrated with offerings to Bacchus and Ceres and other
deities, to whose bounty they supposed they were owing for their corn and
wine and other helps of life.  And the ancient Romans, as Horace tells
us, paid their thanks to Mother Earth or Vesta, to Silvanus, and their
Genius in the same manner.  But as all festivals have a double reason of
their institution—the first of religion, the other of recreation for the
unbending of our minds—so both the Grecians and Romans agreed (after
their sacrifices were performed) to spend the remainder of the day in
sports and merriments; amongst which songs and dances, and that which
they called wit (for want of knowing better), were the chiefest
entertainments.  The Grecians had a notion of Satyrs, whom I have already
described; and taking them and the Sileni—that is, the young Satyrs and
the old—for the tutors, attendants, and humble companions of their
Bacchus, habited themselves like those rural deities, and imitated them
in their rustic dances, to which they joined songs with some sort of rude
harmony, but without certain numbers; and to these they added a kind of

The Romans also, as nature is the same in all places, though they knew
nothing of those Grecian demi-gods, nor had any communication with
Greece, yet had certain young men who at their festivals danced and sang
after their uncouth manner to a certain kind of verse which they called
Saturnian.  What it was we have no certain light from antiquity to
discover; but we may conclude that, like the Grecian, it was void of art,
or, at least, with very feeble beginnings of it.  Those ancient Romans at
these holy days, which were a mixture of devotion and debauchery, had a
custom of reproaching each other with their faults in a sort of
_extempore_ poetry, or rather of tunable hobbling verse, and they
answered in the same kind of gross raillery—their wit and their music
being of a piece.  The Grecians, says Casaubon, had formerly done the
same in the persons of their petulant Satyrs; but I am afraid he mistakes
the matter, and confounds the singing and dancing of the Satyrs with the
rustical entertainments of the first Romans.  The reason of my opinion is
this: that Casaubon finding little light from antiquity of these
beginnings of poetry amongst the Grecians, but only these representations
of Satyrs who carried canisters and cornucopias full of several fruits in
their hands, and danced with them at their public feasts, and afterwards
reading Horace, who makes mention of his homely Romans jesting at one
another in the same kind of solemnities, might suppose those wanton
Satyrs did the same; and especially because Horace possibly might seem to
him to have shown the original of all poetry in general (including the
Grecians as well as Romans), though it is plainly otherwise that he only
described the beginning and first rudiments of poetry in his own country.
The verses are these, which he cites from the First Epistle of the Second
Book, which was written to Augustus:—

    “_Agricolæ prisci_, _fortes_, _parvoque beati_,
    _Condita post frumenta_, _levantes tempore festo_
    _Corpus_, _et ipsum animum spe finis dura ferentem_,
    _Cum sociis operum_, _et pueris_, _et conjuge fidâ_,
    _Tellurem porco_, _Silvanum lacte piabant_;
    _Floribus et vino Genium memorem brevis ævi_.
    _Fescennina per hunc inventa licentia morem_
    _Versibus alternis opprobria rustica fudit_.”

    “Our brawny clowns of old, who turned the soil,
    Content with little, and inured to toil,
    At harvest-home, with mirth and country cheer,
    Restored their bodies for another year,
    Refreshed their spirits, and renewed their hope
    Of such a future feast and future crop.
    Then with their fellow-joggers of the ploughs,
    Their little children, and their faithful spouse,
    A sow they slew to Vesta’s deity,
    And kindly milk, Silvanus, poured to thee.
    With flowers and wine their Genius they adored;
    A short life and a merry was the word.
    From flowing cups defaming rhymes ensue,
    And at each other homely taunts they threw.”

Yet since it is a hard conjecture that so great a man as Casaubon should
misapply what Horace writ concerning ancient Rome to the ceremonies and
manners of ancient Greece, I will not insist on this opinion, but rather
judge in general that since all poetry had its original from religion,
that of the Grecians and Rome had the same beginning.  Both were invented
at festivals of thanksgiving, and both were prosecuted with mirth and
raillery and rudiments of verses; amongst the Greeks by those who
represented Satyrs, and amongst the Romans by real clowns.

For, indeed, when I am reading Casaubon on these two subjects methinks I
hear the same story told twice over with very little alteration.  Of
which Dacier, taking notice in his interpretation of the Latin verses
which I have translated, says plainly that the beginning of poetry was
the same, with a small variety, in both countries, and that the mother of
it in all nations was devotion.  But what is yet more wonderful, that
most learned critic takes notice also, in his illustrations on the First
Epistle of the Second Book, that as the poetry of the Romans and that of
the Grecians had the same beginning at feasts and thanksgiving (as it has
been observed), and the old comedy of the Greeks (which was invective)
and the satire of the Romans (which was of the same nature) were begun on
the very same occasion, so the fortune of both in process of time was
just the same—the old comedy of the Grecians was forbidden for its too
much licence in exposing of particular persons, and the rude satire of
the Romans was also punished by a law of the Decemviri, as Horace tells
us in these words:—

    “_Libertasque recurrentes accepta per annos_
    _Lusit amabiliter_; _donec jam sævus apertam_
    _In rabiem verti cæpit jocus_, _et per honestas_
    _Ire domos impune minax_: _doluere cruento_
    _Dente lacessiti_; _fuit intactis quoque cura_
    _Conditione super communi_: _quinetiam lex_,
    _Pænaque lata_, _malo quæ nollet carmine quenquam_
    _Describi_: _vertere modum_, _formidine fustis_
    _Ad benedicendum delectandumque redacti_.”

The law of the Decemviri was this: _Siquis occentassit malum carmen_,
_sive condidissit_, _quod infamiam faxit_, _flagitiumve alteri_, _capital
esto_.  A strange likeness, and barely possible; but the critics being
all of the same opinion, it becomes me to be silent and to submit to
better judgments than my own.

But to return to the Grecians, from whose satiric dramas the elder
Scaliger and Heinsius will have the Roman satire to proceed; I am to take
a view of them first, and see if there be any such descent from them as
those authors have pretended.

Thespis, or whoever he were that invented tragedy (for authors differ),
mingled with them a chorus and dances of Satyrs which had before been
used in the celebration of their festivals, and there they were ever
afterwards retained.  The character of them was also kept, which was
mirth and wantonness; and this was given, I suppose, to the folly of the
common audience, who soon grow weary of good sense, and, as we daily see
in our own age and country, are apt to forsake poetry, and still ready to
return to buffoonery and farce.  From hence it came that in the Olympic
Games, where the poets contended for four prizes, the satiric tragedy was
the last of them, for in the rest the Satyrs were excluded from the
chorus.  Amongst the plays of Euripides which are yet remaining, there is
one of these satirics, which is called _The Cyclops_, in which we may see
the nature of those poems, and from thence conclude what likeness they
have to the Roman satire.

The story of this Cyclops, whose name was Polyphemus (so famous in the
Grecian fables), was that Ulysses, who with his company was driven on the
coast of Sicily, where those Cyclops inhabited, coming to ask relief from
Silenus and the Satyrs, who were herdsmen to that one-eyed giant, was
kindly received by them, and entertained till, being perceived by
Polyphemus, they were made prisoners against the rites of hospitality
(for which Ulysses eloquently pleaded), were afterwards put down into the
den, and some of them devoured; after which Ulysses (having made him
drunk when he was asleep) thrust a great fire-brand into his eye, and so
revenging his dead followers escaped with the remaining party of the
living, and Silenus and the Satyrs were freed from their servitude under
Polyphemus and remitted to their first liberty of attending and
accompanying their patron Bacchus.

This was the subject of the tragedy, which, being one of those that end
with a happy event, is therefore by Aristotle judged below the other
sort, whose success is unfortunate; notwithstanding which, the Satyrs
(who were part of the _dramatis personæ_, as well as the whole chorus)
were properly introduced into the nature of the poem, which is mixed of
farce and tragedy.  The adventure of Ulysses was to entertain the judging
part of the audience, and the uncouth persons of Silenus and the Satyrs
to divert the common people with their gross railleries.

Your lordship has perceived by this time that this satiric tragedy and
the Roman satire have little resemblance in any of their features.  The
very kinds are different; for what has a pastoral tragedy to do with a
paper of verses satirically written?  The character and raillery of the
Satyrs is the only thing that could pretend to a likeness, were Scaliger
and Heinsius alive to maintain their opinion.  And the first farces of
the Romans, which were the rudiments of their poetry, were written before
they had any communication with the Greeks, or indeed any knowledge of
that people.

And here it will be proper to give the definition of the Greek satiric
poem from Casaubon before I leave this subject.  “The ‘satiric,’” says
he, “is a dramatic poem annexed to a tragedy having a chorus which
consists of Satyrs.  The persons represented in it are illustrious men,
the action of it is great, the style is partly serious and partly
jocular, and the event of the action most commonly is happy.”

The Grecians, besides these satiric tragedies, had another kind of poem,
which they called “silli,” which were more of kin to the Roman satire.
Those “silli” were indeed invective poems, but of a different species
from the Roman poems of Ennius, Pacuvius, Lucilius, Horace, and the rest
of their successors.  “They were so called,” says Casaubon in one place,
“from Silenus, the foster-father of Bacchus;” but in another place,
bethinking himself better, he derives their name ὰπὸ τοῦ σιλλαίνειν, from
their scoffing and petulancy.  From some fragments of the “silli” written
by Timon we may find that they were satiric poems, full of parodies; that
is, of verses patched up from great poets, and turned into another sense
than their author intended them.  Such amongst the Romans is the famous
Cento of Ausonius, where the words are Virgil’s, but by applying them to
another sense they are made a relation of a wedding-night, and the act of
consummation fulsomely described in the very words of the most modest
amongst all poets.  Of the same manner are our songs which are turned
into burlesque, and the serious words of the author perverted into a
ridiculous meaning.  Thus in Timon’s “silli” the words are generally
those of Homer and the tragic poets, but he applies them satirically to
some customs and kinds of philosophy which he arraigns.  But the Romans
not using any of these parodies in their satires—sometimes indeed
repeating verses of other men, as Persius cites some of Nero’s, but not
turning them into another meaning—the “silli” cannot be supposed to be
the original of Roman satire.  To these “silli,” consisting of parodies,
we may properly add the satires which were written against particular
persons, such as were the iambics of Archilochus against Lycambes, which
Horace undoubtedly imitated in some of his odes and epodes, whose titles
bear sufficient witness of it: I might also name the invective of Ovid
against Ibis, and many others.  But these are the underwood of satire
rather than the timber-trees; they are not of general extension, as
reaching only to some individual person.  And Horace seems to have purged
himself from those splenetic reflections in those odes and epodes before
he undertook the noble work of satires, which were properly so called.

Thus, my lord, I have at length disengaged myself from those antiquities
of Greece, and have proved, I hope, from the best critics, that the Roman
satire was not borrowed from thence, but of their own manufacture.  I am
now almost gotten into my depth; at least, by the help of Dacier, I am
swimming towards it.  Not that I will promise always to follow him, any
more than he follows Casaubon; but to keep him in my eye as my best and
truest guide; and where I think he may possibly mislead me, there to have
recourse to my own lights, as I expect that others should do by me.

Quintilian says in plain words, _Satira quidem tota nostra est_; and
Horace had said the same thing before him, speaking of his predecessor in
that sort of poetry, _et Græcis intacti carminis auctor_.  Nothing can be
clearer than the opinion of the poet and the orator (both the best
critics of the two best ages of the Roman empire), that satire was wholly
of Latin growth, and not transplanted to Rome from Athens.  Yet, as I
have said, Scaliger the father, according to his custom (that is,
insolently enough), contradicts them both, and gives no better reason
than the derivation of _satyrus_ from σάθυ, _salacitas_; and so, from the
lechery of those fauns, thinks he has sufficiently proved that satire is
derived from them: as if wantonness and lubricity were essential to that
sort of poem, which ought to be avoided in it.  His other allegation,
which I have already mentioned, is as pitiful—that the Satyrs carried
platters and canisters full of fruit in their hands.  If they had entered
empty-handed, had they been ever the less Satyrs?  Or were the fruits and
flowers which they offered anything of kin to satire? or any argument
that this poem was originally Grecian?  Casaubon judged better, and his
opinion is grounded on sure authority: that satire was derived from
_satura_, a Roman word which signifies full and abundant, and full also
of variety, in which nothing is wanting to its due perfection.  It is
thus, says Denier, that we say a full colour, when the wool has taken the
whole tincture and drunk in as much of the dye as it can receive.
According to this derivation, from _setur_ comes _satura_ or _satira_,
according to the new spelling, as _optumus_ and _maxumus_ are now spelled
_optimus_ and _maximus_.  _Satura_, as I have formerly noted, is an
adjective, and relates to the word _lanx_, which is understood; and this
_lanx_ (in English a “charger” or “large platter”) was yearly filled with
all sorts of fruits, which were offered to the gods at their festivals as
the _premices_ or first gatherings.  These offerings of several sorts
thus mingled, it is true, were not unknown to the Grecians, who called
them πανκαρπιὸν θυσίαν, a sacrifice of all sorts of fruits; and
πανπερμίαν, when they offered all kinds of grain.  Virgil has mentioned
these sacrifices in his “Georgics”:—

    “_Lancibus et pandis fumantia reddimus exta_;”

and in another place, _lancesque et liba feremus_—that is, “We offer the
smoking entrails in great platters; and we will offer the chargers and
the cakes.”

This word _satura_ has been afterward applied to many other sorts of
mixtures; as Festus calls it, a kind of _olla_ or hotch-potch made of
several sorts of meats.  Laws were also called _leges saturæ_ when they
were of several heads and titles, like our tacked Bills of Parliament;
and _per saturam legem ferre_ in the Roman senate was to carry a law
without telling the senators, or counting voices, when they were in
haste.  Sallust uses the word, _per saturam sententias exquirere_, when
the majority was visibly on one side.  From hence it might probably be
conjectured that the Discourses or Satires of Ennius, Lucilius, and
Horace, as we now call them, took their name, because they are full of
various matters, and are also written on various subjects—as Porphyrius
says.  But Dacier affirms that it is not immediately from thence that
these satires are so called, for that name had been used formerly for
other things which bore a nearer resemblance to those discourses of
Horace; in explaining of which, continues Dacier, a method is to be
pursued of which Casaubon himself has never thought, and which will put
all things into so clear a light that no further room will be left for
the least dispute.

During the space of almost four hundred years since the building of their
city the Romans had never known any entertainments of the stage.  Chance
and jollity first found out those verses which they called Saturnian and
Fescennine; or rather human nature, which is inclined to poetry, first
produced them rude and barbarous and unpolished, as all other operations
of the soul are in their beginnings before they are cultivated with art
and study.  However, in occasions of merriment, they were first
practised; and this rough-cast, unhewn poetry was instead of stage-plays
for the space of a hundred and twenty years together.  They were made
_extempore_, and were, as the French call them, _impromptus_; for which
the Tarsians of old were much renowned, and we see the daily examples of
them in the Italian farces of Harlequin and Scaramucha.  Such was the
poetry of that savage people before it was tuned into numbers and the
harmony of verse.  Little of the Saturnian verses is now remaining; we
only know from authors that they were nearer prose than poetry, without
feet or measure.  They were ἔυρυθμοι, but not ἔμμετροι.  Perhaps they
might be used in the solemn part of their ceremonies; and the Fescennine,
which were invented after them, in their afternoons’ debauchery, because
they were scoffing and obscene.

The Fescennine and Saturnian were the same; for as they were called
Saturnian from their ancientness, when Saturn reigned in Italy, they were
also called Fescennine, from Fescennia, a town in the same country where
they were first practised.  The actors, with a gross and rustic kind of
raillery, reproached each other with their failings, and at the same time
were nothing sparing of it to their audience.  Somewhat of this custom
was afterwards retained in their Saturnalia, or Feasts of Saturn,
celebrated in December; at least, all kind of freedom in speech was then
allowed to slaves, even against their masters; and we are not without
some imitation of it in our Christmas gambols.  Soldiers also used those
Fescennine verses, after measure and numbers had been added to them, at
the triumph of their generals; of which we have an example in the triumph
of Julius Cæsar over Gaul in these expressions: _Cæsar Gallias subegit_,
_Nicomedes Cæsarem_.  _Ecce Cæsar nunc triumphat_, _qui subegit Gallias_;
_Nicomedes non triumphat_, _qui subegit Cæsarem_.  The vapours of wine
made those first satirical poets amongst the Romans, which, says Dacier,
we cannot better represent than by imagining a company of clowns on a
holiday dancing lubberly and upbraiding one another in _extempore_
doggerel with their defects and vices, and the stories that were told of
them in bake-houses and barbers’ shops.

When they began to be somewhat better bred, and were entering, as I may
say, into the first rudiments of civil conversation, they left these
hedge-notes for another sort of poem, somewhat polished, which was also
full of pleasant raillery, but without any mixture of obscenity.  This
sort of poetry appeared under the name of “satire” because of its
variety; and this satire was adorned with compositions of music, and with
dances; but lascivious postures were banished from it.  In the Tuscan
language, says Livy, the word _hister_ signifies a player; and therefore
those actors which were first brought from Etruria to Rome on occasion of
a pestilence, when the Romans were admonished to avert the anger of the
gods by plays (in the year _ab urbe conditâ_ CCCXC.)—those actors, I say,
were therefore called _histriones_: and that name has since remained, not
only to actors Roman born, but to all others of every nation.  They
played, not the former _extempore_ stuff of Fescennine verses or clownish
jests, but what they acted was a kind of civil cleanly farce, with music
and dances, and motions that were proper to the subject.

In this condition Livius Andronicus found the stage when he attempted
first, instead of farces, to supply it with a nobler entertainment of
tragedies and comedies.  This man was a Grecian born, and being made a
slave by Livius Salinator, and brought to Rome, had the education of his
patron’s children committed to him, which trust he discharged so much to
the satisfaction of his master that he gave him his liberty.

Andronicus, thus become a freeman of Rome, added to his own name that of
Livius, his master; and, as I observed, was the first author of a regular
play in that commonwealth.  Being already instructed in his native
country in the manners and decencies of the Athenian theatre, and
conversant in the _archæa comædia_ or old comedy of Aristophanes and the
rest of the Grecian poets, he took from that model his own designing of
plays for the Roman stage, the first of which was represented in the year
CCCCCXIV. since the building of Rome, as Tully, from the Commentaries of
Atticus, has assured us; it was after the end of the first Punic War, the
year before Atticus was born.  Dacier has not carried the matter
altogether thus far; he only says that one Livius Andronicus was the
first stage-poet at Rome.  But I will adventure on this hint to advance
another proposition, which I hope the learned will approve; and though we
have not anything of Andronicus remaining to justify my conjecture, yet
it is exceeding probable that, having read the works of those Grecian
wits, his countrymen, he imitated not only the groundwork, but also the
manner of their writing; and how grave soever his tragedies might be, yet
in his comedies he expressed the way of Aristophanes, Eupolis, and the
rest, which was to call some persons by their own names, and to expose
their defects to the laughter of the people (the examples of which we
have in the fore-mentioned Aristophanes, who turned the wise Socrates
into ridicule, and is also very free with the management of Cleon,
Alcibiades, and other ministers of the Athenian government).  Now if this
be granted, we may easily suppose that the first hint of satirical plays
on the Roman stage was given by the Greeks—not from the _satirica_, for
that has been reasonably exploded in the former part of this
discourse—but from their old comedy, which was imitated first by Livius
Andronicus.  And then Quintilian and Horace must be cautiously
interpreted, where they affirm that satire is wholly Roman, and a sort of
verse which was not touched on by the Grecians.  The reconcilement of my
opinion to the standard of their judgment is not, however, very
difficult, since they spoke of satire, not as in its first elements, but
as it was formed into a separate work—begun by Ennius, pursued by
Lucilius, and completed afterwards by Horace.  The proof depends only on
this _postalatum_—that the comedies of Andronicus, which were imitations
of the Greek, were also imitations of their railleries and reflections on
particular persons.  For if this be granted me, which is a most probable
supposition, it is easy to infer that the first light which was given to
the Roman theatrical satire was from the plays of Livius Andronicus,
which will be more manifestly discovered when I come to speak of Ennius.
In the meantime I will return to Dacier.

The people, says he, ran in crowds to these new entertainments of
Andronicus, as to pieces which were more noble in their kind, and more
perfect than their former satires, which for some time they neglected and
abandoned; but not long after they took them up again, and then they
joined them to their comedies, playing them at the end of every drama, as
the French continue at this day to act their farces, in the nature of a
separate entertainment from their tragedies.  But more particularly they
were joined to the “Atellane” fables, says Casaubon; which were plays
invented by the Osci.  Those fables, says Valerius Maximus, out of Livy,
were tempered with the Italian severity, and free from any note of infamy
or obsceneness; and, as an old commentator on Juvenal affirms, the
_Exodiarii_, which were singers and dancers, entered to entertain the
people with light songs and mimical gestures, that they might not go away
oppressed with melancholy from those serious pieces of the theatre.  So
that the ancient satire of the Romans was in _extempore_ reproaches; the
next was farce, which was brought from Tuscany; to that succeeded the
plays of Andronicus, from the old comedy of the Grecians; and out of all
these sprang two several branches of new Roman satire, like different
scions from the same root, which I shall prove with as much brevity as
the subject will allow.

A year after Andronicus had opened the Roman stage with his new dramas,
Ennius was born; who, when he was grown to man’s estate, having seriously
considered the genius of the people, and how eagerly they followed the
first satires, thought it would be worth his pains to refine upon the
project, and to write satires, not to be acted on the theatre, but read.
He preserved the groundwork of their pleasantry, their venom, and their
raillery on particular persons and general vices; and by this means,
avoiding the danger of any ill success in a public representation, he
hoped to be as well received in the cabinet as Andronicus had been upon
the stage.  The event was answerable to his expectation.  He made
discourses in several sorts of verse, varied often in the same paper,
retaining still in the title their original name of satire.  Both in
relation to the subjects, and the variety of matters contained in them,
the satires of Horace are entirely like them; only Ennius, as I said,
confines not himself to one sort of verse, as Horace does, but taking
example from the Greeks, and even from Homer himself in his “Margites”
(which is a kind of satire, as Scaliger observes), gives himself the
licence, when one sort of numbers comes not easily, to run into another,
as his fancy dictates; for he makes no difficulty to mingle hexameters
with iambic trimeters or with trochaic tetrameters, as appears by those
fragments which are yet remaining of him.  Horace has thought him worthy
to be copied, inserting many things of his into his own satires, as
Virgil has done into his “Æneids.”

Here we have Dacier making out that Ennius was the first satirist in that
way of writing, which was of his invention—that is, satire abstracted
from the stage and new modelled into papers of verses on several
subjects.  But he will have Ennius take the groundwork of satire from the
first farces of the Romans rather than from the formed plays of Livius
Andronicus, which were copied from the Grecian comedies.  It may possibly
be so; but Dacier knows no more of it than I do.  And it seems to me the
more probable opinion that he rather imitated the fine railleries of the
Greeks, which he saw in the pieces of Andronicus, than the coarseness of
his own countrymen in their clownish extemporary way of jeering.

But besides this, it is universally granted that Ennius, though an
Italian, was excellently learned in the Greek language.  His verses were
stuffed with fragments of it, even to a fault; and he himself believed,
according to the Pythagorean opinion, that the soul of Homer was
transfused into him, which Persius observes in his sixth satire—_postquam
destertuit esse Mæonides_.  But this being only the private opinion of so
inconsiderable a man as I am, I leave it to the further disquisition of
the critics, if they think it worth their notice.  Most evident it is
that, whether he imitated the Roman farce or the Greek comedies, he is to
be acknowledged for the first author of Roman satire, as it is properly
so called, and distinguished from any sort of stage-play.

Of Pacuvius, who succeeded him, there is little to be said, because there
is so little remaining of him; only that he is taken to be the nephew of
Ennius, his sister’s son; that in probability he was instructed by his
uncle in his way of satire, which we are told he has copied; but what
advances he made, we know not.

Lucilius came into the world when Pacuvius flourished most.  He also made
satires after the manner of Ennius; but he gave them a more graceful
turn, and endeavoured to imitate more closely the _vetus comædia_ of the
Greeks, of the which the old original Roman satire had no idea till the
time of Livius Andronicus.  And though Horace seems to have made Lucilius
the first author of satire in verse amongst the Romans in these words—

          “_Quid_? _cum est Lucilius auses_
    _Primus in hunc operis componere carmina morem_”—

he is only thus to be understood—that Lucilius had given a more graceful
turn to the satire of Ennius and Pacuvius, not that he invented a new
satire of his own; and Quintilian seems to explain this passage of Horace
in these words: _Satira quidem tota nostra est_; _in quâ primus insignem
laudem adeptus est Luciluis_.

Thus both Horace and Quintilian give a kind of primacy of honour to
Lucilius amongst the Latin satirists; for as the Roman language grew more
refined, so much more capable it was of receiving the Grecian beauties,
in his time.  Horace and Quintilian could mean no more than that Lucilius
writ better than Ennius and Pacuvius, and on the same account we prefer
Horace to Lucilius.  Both of them imitated the old Greek comedy; and so
did Ennius and Pacuvius before them.  The polishing of the Latin tongue,
in the succession of times, made the only difference; and Horace himself
in two of his satires, written purposely on this subject, thinks the
Romans of his age were too partial in their commendations of Lucilius,
who writ not only loosely and muddily, with little art and much less
care, but also in a time when the Latin tongue was not yet sufficiently
purged from the dregs of barbarism; and many significant and sounding
words which the Romans wanted were not admitted even in the times of
Lucretius and Cicero, of which both complain.

But to proceed: Dacier justly taxes Casaubon for saying that the satires
of Lucilius were wholly different in species from those of Ennius and
Pacuvius, Casaubon was led into that mistake by Diomedes the grammarian,
who in effect says this:—“Satire amongst the Romans but not amongst the
Greeks, was a biting invective poem, made after the model of the ancient
comedy, for the reprehension of vices; such as were the poems of
Lucilius, of Horace, and of Persius.  But in former times the name of
satire was given to poems which were composed of several sorts of verses,
such as were made by Ennius and Pacuvius”—more fully expressing the
etymology of the word satire from _satura_, which we have observed.  Here
it is manifest that Diomedes makes a specifical distinction betwixt the
satires of Ennius and those of Lucilius.  But this, as we say in English,
is only a distinction without a difference; for the reason of it is
ridiculous and absolutely false.  This was that which cozened honest
Casaubon, who, relying on Diomedes, had not sufficiently examined the
origin and nature of those two satires, which were entirely the same both
in the matter and the form; for all that Lucilius performed beyond his
predecessors, Ennius and Pacuvius, was only the adding of more politeness
and more salt, without any change in the substance of the poem.  And
though Lucilius put not together in the same satire several sorts of
verses, as Ennius did, yet he composed several satires of several sorts
of verses, and mingled them with Greek verses: one poem consisted only of
hexameters, and another was entirely of iambics; a third of trochaics; as
is visible by the fragments yet remaining of his works.  In short, if the
satires of Lucilius are therefore said to be wholly different from those
of Ennius because he added much more of beauty and polishing to his own
poems than are to be found in those before him, it will follow from hence
that the satires of Horace are wholly different from those of Lucilius,
because Horace has not less surpassed Lucilius in the elegancy of his
writing than Lucilius surpassed Ennius in the turn and ornament of his.
This passage of Diomedes has also drawn Dousa the son into the same error
of Casaubon, which I say, not to expose the little failings of those
judicious men, but only to make it appear with how much diffidence and
caution we are to read their works when they treat a subject of so much
obscurity and so very ancient as is this of satire.

Having thus brought down the history of satire from its original to the
times of Horace, and shown the several changes of it, I should here
discover some of those graces which Horace added to it, but that I think
it will be more proper to defer that undertaking till I make the
comparison betwixt him and Juvenal.  In the meanwhile, following the
order of time, it will be necessary to say somewhat of another kind of
satire which also was descended from the ancient; it is that which we
call the Varronian satire (but which Varro himself calls the Menippean)
because Varro, the most learned of the Romans, was the first author of
it, who imitated in his works the manners of Menippus the Gadarenian, who
professed the philosophy of the Cynics.

This sort of satire was not only composed of several sorts of verse, like
those of Ennius, but was also mixed with prose, and Greek was sprinkled
amongst the Latin.  Quintilian, after he had spoken of the satire of
Lucilius, adds what follows:—“There is another and former kind of satire,
composed by Terentius Varro, the most learned of the Romans, in which he
was not satisfied alone with mingling in it several sorts of verse.”  The
only difficulty of this passage is that Quintilian tells us that this
satire of Varro was of a former kind; for how can we possibly imagine
this to be, since Varro, who was contemporary to Cicero, must
consequently be after Lucilius?  But Quintilian meant not that the satire
of Varro was in order of time before Lucilius; he would only give us to
understand that the Varronian satire, with mixture of several sorts of
verses, was more after the manner of Ennius and Pacuvius than that of
Lucilius, who was more severe and more correct, and gave himself less
liberty in the mixture of his verses in the same poem.

We have nothing remaining of those Varronian satires excepting some
inconsiderable fragments, and those for the most part much corrupted.
The tithes of many of them are indeed preserved, and they are generally
double; from whence, at least, we may understand how many various
subjects were treated by that author.  Tully in his “Academics”
introduces Varro himself giving us some light concerning the scope and
design of those works; wherein, after he had shown his reasons why he did
not _ex professo_ write of philosophy, he adds what
follows:—“Notwithstanding,” says he, “that those pieces of mine wherein I
have imitated Menippus, though I have not translated him, are sprinkled
with a kind of mirth and gaiety, yet many things are there inserted which
are drawn from the very entrails of philosophy, and many things severely
argued which I have mingled with pleasantries on purpose that they may
more easily go down with the common sort of unlearned readers.”  The rest
of the sentence is so lame that we can only make thus much out of it—that
in the composition of his satires he so tempered philology with
philosophy that his work was a mixture of them both.  And Tully himself
confirms us in this opinion when a little after he addresses himself to
Varro in these words:—“And you yourself have composed a most elegant and
complete poem; you have begun philosophy in many places; sufficient to
incite us, though too little to instruct us.”  Thus it appears that Varro
was one of those writers whom they called σπουδογελοῖοι (studious of
laughter); and that, as learned as he was, his business was more to
divert his reader than to teach him.  And he entitled his own satires
Menippean; not that Menippus had written any satires (for his were either
dialogues or epistles), but that Varro imitated his style, his manner,
and his facetiousness.  All that we know further of Menippus and his
writings, which are wholly lost, is that by some he is esteemed, as,
amongst the rest, by Varro; by others he is noted of cynical impudence
and obscenity; that he was much given to those parodies which I have
already mentioned (that is, he often quoted the verses of Homer and the
tragic poets, and turned their serious meaning into something that was
ridiculous); whereas Varro’s satires are by Tully called absolute, and
most elegant and various poems.  Lucian, who was emulous of this
Menippus, seems to have imitated both his manners and his style in many
of his dialogues, where Menippus himself is often introduced as a speaker
in them and as a perpetual buffoon; particularly his character is
expressed in the beginning of that dialogue which is called Νεκυομαντία.
But Varro in imitating him avoids his impudence and filthiness, and only
expresses his witty pleasantry.

This we may believe for certain—that as his subjects were various, so
most of them were tales or stories of his own invention; which is also
manifest from antiquity by those authors who are acknowledged to have
written Varronian satires in imitation of his—of whom the chief is
Petronius Arbiter, whose satire, they say, is now printing in Holland,
wholly recovered, and made complete; when it is made public, it will
easily be seen by any one sentence whether it be supposititious or
genuine.  Many of Lucian’s dialogues may also properly be called
Varronian satires, particularly his true history; and consequently the
“Golden Ass” of Apuleius, which is taken from him.  Of the same stamp is
the mock deification of Claudius by Seneca, and the Symposium or “Cæsars”
of Julian the Emperor.  Amongst the moderns we may reckon the “Encomium
Moriæ” of Erasmus, Barclay’s “Euphormio,” and a volume of German authors
which my ingenious friend Mr. Charles Killigrew once lent me.  In the
English I remember none which are mixed with prose as Varro’s were; but
of the same kind is “Mother Hubbard’s Tale” in Spenser, and (if it be not
too vain to mention anything of my own) the poems of “Absalom” and

This is what I have to say in general of satire: only, as Dacier has
observed before me, we may take notice that the word satire is of a more
general signification in Latin than in French or English; for amongst the
Romans it was not only used for those discourses which decried vice or
exposed folly, but for others also, where virtue was recommended.  But in
our modern languages we apply it only to invective poems, where the very
name of satire is formidable to those persons who would appear to the
world what they are not in themselves; for in English, to say satire is
to mean reflection, as we use that word in the worst sense; or as the
French call it, more properly, _médisance_.  In the criticism of
spelling, it ought to be with _i_, and not with _y_, to distinguish its
true derivation from _satura_, not from _Satyrus_; and if this be so,
then it is false spelled throughout this book, for here it is written
“satyr,” which having not considered at the first, I thought it not worth
correcting afterwards.  But the French are more nice, and never spell it
any otherwise than “satire.”

I am now arrived at the most difficult part of my undertaking, which is
to compare Horace with Juvenal and Persius.  It is observed by Rigaltius
in his preface before Juvenal, written to Thuanus, that these three poets
have all their particular partisans and favourers.  Every commentator, as
he has taken pains with any of them, thinks himself obliged to prefer his
author to the other two; to find out their failings, and decry them, that
he may make room for his own darling.  Such is the partiality of mankind,
to set up that interest which they have once espoused, though it be to
the prejudice of truth, morality, and common justice, and especially in
the productions of the brain.  As authors generally think themselves the
best poets, because they cannot go out of themselves to judge sincerely
of their betters, so it is with critics, who, having first taken a liking
to one of these poets, proceed to comment on him and to illustrate him;
after which they fall in love with their own labours to that degree of
blind fondness that at length they defend and exalt their author, not so
much for his sake as for their own.  It is a folly of the same nature
with that of the Romans themselves in their games of the circus.  The
spectators were divided in their factions betwixt the Veneti and the
Prasini; some were for the charioteer in blue, and some for him in green.
The colours themselves were but a fancy; but when once a man had taken
pains to set out those of his party, and had been at the trouble of
procuring voices for them, the case was altered: he was concerned for his
own labour, and that so earnestly that disputes and quarrels,
animosities, commotions, and bloodshed often happened; and in the
declension of the Grecian empire, the very sovereigns themselves engaged
in it, even when the barbarians were at their doors, and stickled for the
preference of colours when the safety of their people was in question.  I
am now myself on the brink of the same precipice; I have spent some time
on the translation of Juvenal and Persius, and it behoves me to be wary,
lest for that reason I should be partial to them, or take a prejudice
against Horace.  Yet on the other side I would not be like some of our
judges, who would give the cause for a poor man right or wrong; for
though that be an error on the better hand, yet it is still a partiality,
and a rich man unheard cannot be concluded an oppressor.  I remember a
saying of King Charles II. on Sir Matthew Hale (who was doubtless an
uncorrupt and upright man), that his servants were sure to be cast on any
trial which was heard before him; not that he thought the judge was
possibly to be bribed, but that his integrity might be too scrupulous,
and that the causes of the Crown were always suspicious when the
privileges of subjects were concerned.

It had been much fairer if the modern critics who have embarked in the
quarrels of their favourite authors had rather given to each his proper
due without taking from another’s heap to raise their own.  There is
praise enough for each of them in particular, without encroaching on his
fellows, and detracting from them or enriching themselves with the spoils
of others.  But to come to particulars: Heinsius and Dacier are the most
principal of those who raise Horace above Juvenal and Persius.  Scaliger
the father, Rigaltius, and many others debase Horace that they may set up
Juvenal; and Casaubon, who is almost single, throws dirt on Juvenal and
Horace that he may exalt Persius, whom he understood particularly well,
and better than any of his former commentators, even Stelluti, who
succeeded him.  I will begin with him who, in my opinion, defends the
weakest cause, which is that of Persius; and labouring, as Tacitus
professes of his own writing, to divest myself of partiality or
prejudice, consider Persius, not as a poet whom I have wholly translated,
and who has cost me more labour and time than Juvenal, but according to
what I judge to be his own merit, which I think not equal in the main to
that of Juvenal or Horace, and yet in some things to be preferred to both
of them.

First, then, for the verse; neither Casaubon himself, nor any for him,
can defend either his numbers or the purity of his Latin.  Casaubon gives
this point for lost, and pretends not to justify either the measures or
the words of Persius; he is evidently beneath Horace and Juvenal in both.

Then, as his verse is scabrous and hobbling, and his words not everywhere
well chosen (the purity of Latin being more corrupted than in the time of
Juvenal, and consequently of Horace, who wrote when the language was in
the height of its perfection), so his diction is hard, his figures are
generally too bold and daring, and his tropes, particularly his
metaphors, insufferably strained.

In the third place, notwithstanding all the diligence of Casaubon,
Stelluti, and a Scotch gentleman whom I have heard extremely commended
for his illustrations of him, yet he is still obscure; whether he
affected not to be understood but with difficulty; or whether the fear of
his safety under Nero compelled him to this darkness in some places, or
that it was occasioned by his close way of thinking, and the brevity of
his style and crowding of his figures; or lastly, whether after so long a
time many of his words have been corrupted, and many customs and stories
relating to them lost to us; whether some of these reasons, or all,
concurred to render him so cloudy, we may be bold to affirm that the best
of commentators can but guess at his meaning in many passages, and none
can be certain that he has divined rightly.

After all he was a young man, like his friend and contemporary Lucan—both
of them men of extraordinary parts and great acquired knowledge,
considering their youth; but neither of them had arrived to that maturity
of judgment which is necessary to the accomplishing of a formed poet.
And this consideration, as on the one hand it lays some imperfections to
their charge, so on the other side it is a candid excuse for those
failings which are incident to youth and inexperience; and we have more
reason to wonder how they, who died before the thirtieth year of their
age, could write so well and think so strongly, than to accuse them of
those faults from which human nature (and more especially in youth) can
never possibly be exempted.

To consider Persius yet more closely: he rather insulted over vice and
folly than exposed them like Juvenal and Horace; and as chaste and modest
as he is esteemed, it cannot be denied but that in some places he is
broad and fulsome, as the latter verses of the fourth satire and of the
sixth sufficiently witness.  And it is to be believed that he who commits
the same crime often and without necessity cannot but do it with some
kind of pleasure.

To come to a conclusion: he is manifestly below Horace because he borrows
most of his greatest beauties from him; and Casaubon is so far from
denying this that he has written a treatise purposely concerning it,
wherein he shows a multitude of his translations from Horace, and his
imitations of him, for the credit of his author, which he calls “Imitatio

To these defects (which I casually observed while I was translating this
author) Scaliger has added others; he calls him in plain terms a silly
writer and a trifler, full of ostentation of his learning, and, after
all, unworthy to come into competition with Juvenal and Horace.

After such terrible accusations, it is time to hear what his patron
Casaubon can allege in his defence.  Instead of answering, he excuses for
the most part; and when he cannot, accuses others of the same crimes.  He
deals with Scaliger as a modest scholar with a master.  He compliments
him with so much reverence that one would swear he feared him as much at
least as he respected him.  Scaliger will not allow Persius to have any
wit; Casaubon interprets this in the mildest sense, and confesses his
author was not good at turning things into a pleasant ridicule, or, in
other words, that he was not a laughable writer.  That he was _ineptus_,
indeed, but that was _non aptissimus ad jocandum_; but that he was
ostentatious of his learning, that by Scaliger’s good favour he denies.
Persius showed his learning, but was no boaster of it; he did
_ostendere_, but not _ostentare_; and so, he says, did Scaliger (where,
methinks, Casaubon turns it handsomely upon that supercilious critic, and
silently insinuates that he himself was sufficiently vain-glorious and a
boaster of his own knowledge).  All the writings of this venerable
censor, continues Casaubon, which are χρυσοῦ χρυσότερα (more golden than
gold itself), are everywhere smelling of that thyme which, like a bee, he
has gathered from ancient authors; but far be ostentation and vain-glory
from a gentleman so well born and so nobly educated as Scaliger.  But,
says Scaliger, he is so obscure that he has got himself the name of
Scotinus—a dark writer.  “Now,” says Casaubon, “it is a wonder to me that
anything could be obscure to the divine wit of Scaliger, from which
nothing could be hidden.”  This is, indeed, a strong compliment, but no
defence; and Casaubon, who could not but be sensible of his author’s
blind side, thinks it time to abandon a post that was untenable.  He
acknowledges that Persius is obscure in some places; but so is Plato, so
is Thucydides; so are Pindar, Theocritus, and Aristophanes amongst the
Greek poets; and even Horace and Juvenal, he might have added, amongst
the Romans.  The truth is, Persius is not sometimes, but generally
obscure; and therefore Casaubon at last is forced to excuse him by
alleging that it was _se defendendo_, for fear of Nero, and that he was
commanded to write so cloudily by Cornutus, in virtue of holy obedience
to his master.  I cannot help my own opinion; I think Cornutus needed not
to have read many lectures to him on that subject.  Persius was an apt
scholar, and when he was bidden to be obscure in some places where his
life and safety were in question, took the same counsel for all his book,
and never afterwards wrote ten lines together clearly.  Casaubon, being
upon this chapter, has not failed, we may be sure, of making a compliment
to his own dear comment.  “If Persius,” says he, “be in himself obscure,
yet my interpretation has made him intelligible.”  There is no question
but he deserves that praise which he has given to himself; but the nature
of the thing, as Lucretius says, will not admit of a perfect explanation.
Besides many examples which I could urge, the very last verse of his last
satire (upon which he particularly values himself in his preface) is not
yet sufficiently explicated.  It is true, Holyday has endeavoured to
justify his construction; but Stelluti is against it: and, for my part, I
can have but a very dark notion of it.  As for the chastity of his
thoughts, Casaubon denies not but that one particular passage in the
fourth satire (_At_, _si unctus cesses_, &c.) is not only the most
obscure, but the most obscene, of all his works.  I understood it, but
for that reason turned it over.  In defence of his boisterous metaphors
he quotes Longinus, who accounts them as instruments of the sublime, fit
to move and stir up the affections, particularly in narration; to which
it may be replied that where the trope is far-fetched and hard, it is fit
for nothing but to puzzle the understanding, and may be reckoned amongst
those things of Demosthenes which Æschines called θαύματα, not
ῥήματα—that is, prodigies, not words.  It must be granted to Casaubon
that the knowledge of many things is lost in our modern ages which were
of familiar notice to the ancients, and that satire is a poem of a
difficult nature in itself, and is not written to vulgar readers; and
(through the relation which it has to comedy) the frequent change of
persons makes the sense perplexed, when we can but divine who it is that
speaks—whether Persius himself, or his friend and monitor, or, in some
places, a third person.  But Casaubon comes back always to himself, and
concludes that if Persius had not been obscure, there had been no need of
him for an interpreter.  Yet when he had once enjoined himself so hard a
task, he then considered the Greek proverb, that he must χελώνης φαγεῖν,
ἢ μὴ φαγεῖν (either eat the whole snail or let it quite alone); and so he
went through with his laborious task, as I have done with my difficult

Thus far, my lord, you see it has gone very hard with Persius.  I think
he cannot be allowed to stand in competition either with Juvenal or
Horace.  Yet, for once, I will venture to be so vain as to affirm that
none of his hard metaphors or forced expressions are in my translation.
But more of this in its proper place, where I shall say somewhat in
particular of our general performance in making these two authors
English.  In the meantime I think myself obliged to give Persius his
undoubted due, and to acquaint the world, with Casaubon, in what he has
equalled and in what excelled his two competitors.

A man who is resolved to praise an author with any appearance of justice
must be sure to take him on the strongest side, and where he is least
liable to exceptions; he is therefore obliged to choose his mediums
accordingly.  Casaubon (who saw that Persius could not laugh with a
becoming grace, that he was not made for jesting, and that a merry
conceit was not his talent) turned his feather, like an Indian, to
another light, that he might give it the better gloss.  “Moral doctrine,”
says he, “and urbanity or well-mannered wit are the two things which
constitute the Roman satire; but of the two, that which is most essential
to this poem, and is, as it were, the very soul which animates it, is the
scourging of vice and exhortation to virtue.”  Thus wit, for a good
reason, is already almost out of doors, and allowed only for an
instrument—a kind of tool or a weapon, as he calls it—of which the
satirist makes use in the compassing of his design.  The end and aim of
our three rivals is consequently the same; but by what methods they have
prosecuted their intention is further to be considered.  Satire is of the
nature of moral philosophy, as being instructive; he therefore who
instructs most usefully will carry the palm from his two antagonists.
The philosophy in which Persius was educated, and which he professes
through his whole book, is the Stoic—the most noble, most generous, most
beneficial to humankind amongst all the sects who have given us the rules
of ethics, thereby to form a severe virtue in the soul, to raise in us an
undaunted courage against the assaults of fortune, to esteem as nothing
the things that are without us, because they are not in our power; not to
value riches, beauty, honours, fame, or health any farther than as
conveniences and so many helps to living as we ought, and doing good in
our generation.  In short, to be always happy while we possess our minds
with a good conscience, are free from the slavery of vices, and conform
our actions and conversation to the rules of right reason.  See here, my
lord, an epitome of Epictetus, the doctrine of Zeno, and the education of
our Persius; and this he expressed, not only in all his satires, but in
the manner of his life.  I will not lessen this commendation of the Stoic
philosophy by giving you an account of some absurdities in their
doctrine, and some perhaps impieties (if we consider them by the standard
of Christian faith).  Persius has fallen into none of them, and therefore
is free from those imputations.  What he teaches might be taught from
pulpits with more profit to the audience than all the nice speculations
of divinity and controversies concerning faith, which are more for the
profit of the shepherd than for the edification of the flock.  Passion,
interest, ambition, and all their bloody consequences of discord and of
war are banished from this doctrine.  Here is nothing proposed but the
quiet and tranquillity of the mind; virtue lodged at home, and afterwards
diffused in her general effects to the improvement and good of humankind.
And therefore I wonder not that the present Bishop of Salisbury has
recommended this our author and the tenth satire of Juvenal (in his
pastoral letter) to the serious perusal and practice of the divines in
his diocese as the best commonplaces for their sermons, as the
storehouses and magazines of moral virtues, from whence they may draw
out, as they have occasion, all manner of assistance for the
accomplishment of a virtuous life, which the Stoics have assigned for the
great end and perfection of mankind.  Herein, then, it is that Persius
has excelled both Juvenal and Horace.  He sticks to his own philosophy;
he shifts not sides, like Horace (who is sometimes an Epicurean,
sometimes a Stoic, sometimes an Eclectic, as his present humour leads
him), nor declaims, like Juvenal, against vices more like an orator than
a philosopher.  Persius is everywhere the same—true to the dogmas of his
master.  What he has learnt, he teaches vehemently; and what he teaches,
that he practises himself.  There is a spirit of sincerity in all he
says; you may easily discern that he is in earnest, and is persuaded of
that truth which he inculcates.  In this I am of opinion that he excels
Horace, who is commonly in jest, and laughs while he instructs; and is
equal to Juvenal, who was as honest and serious as Persius, and more he
could not be.

Hitherto I have followed Casaubon, and enlarged upon him, because I am
satisfied that he says no more than truth; the rest is almost all
frivolous.  For he says that Horace, being the son of a tax-gatherer (or
a collector, as we call it) smells everywhere of the meanness of his
birth and education; his conceits are vulgar, like the subjects of his
satires; that he does _plebeium sepere_, and writes not with that
elevation which becomes a satirist; that Persius, being nobly born and of
an opulent family, had likewise the advantage of a better master
(Cornutus being the most learned of his time, a man of a most holy life,
the chief of the Stoic sect at Rome, and not only a great philosopher,
but a poet himself, and in probability a coadjutor of Persius): that as
for Juvenal, he was long a declaimer, came late to poetry, and had not
been much conversant in philosophy.

It is granted that the father of Horace was _libertinus_—that is, one
degree removed from his grandfather, who had been once a slave.  But
Horace, speaking of him, gives him the best character of a father which I
ever read in history; and I wish a witty friend of mine, now living, had
such another.  He bred him in the best school, and with the best company
of young noblemen; and Horace, by his gratitude to his memory, gives a
certain testimony that his education was ingenuous.  After this he formed
himself abroad by the conversation of great men.  Brutus found him at
Athens, and was so pleased with him that he took him thence into the
army, and made him _Tribunus Militum_ (a colonel in a legion), which was
the preferment of an old soldier.  All this was before his acquaintance
with Mæcenas, and his introduction into the court of Augustus, and the
familiarity of that great emperor; which, had he not been well bred
before, had been enough to civilise his conversation, and render him
accomplished and knowing in all the arts of complacency and good
behaviour; and, in short, an agreeable companion for the retired hours
and privacies of a favourite who was first minister.  So that upon the
whole matter Persius may be acknowledged to be equal with him in those
respects, though better born, and Juvenal inferior to both.  If the
advantage be anywhere, it is on the side of Horace, as much as the court
of Augustus Cæsar was superior to that of Nero.  As for the subjects
which they treated, it will appear hereafter that Horace wrote not
vulgarly on vulgar subjects, nor always chose them.  His style is
constantly accommodated to his subject, either high or low.  If his fault
be too much lowness, that of Persius is the fault of the hardness of his
metaphors and obscurity; and so they are equal in the failings of their
style, where Juvenal manifestly triumphs over both of them.

The comparison betwixt Horace and Juvenal is more difficult, because
their forces were more equal.  A dispute has always been, and ever will
continue, betwixt the favourers of the two poets.  _Non nostrum est
tantas componere lites_.  I shall only venture to give my own opinion,
and leave it for better judges to determine.  If it be only argued in
general which of them was the better poet, the victory is already gained
on the side of Horace.  Virgil himself must yield to him in the delicacy
of his turns, his choice of words, and perhaps the purity of his Latin.
He who says that Pindar is inimitable, is himself inimitable in his odes;
but the contention betwixt these two great masters is for the prize of
satire, in which controversy all the odes and epodes of Horace are to
stand excluded.  I say this because Horace has written many of them
satirically against his private enemies; yet these, if justly considered,
are somewhat of the nature of the Greek _silli_, which were invectives
against particular sects and persons.  But Horace had purged himself of
this choler before he entered on those discourses which are more properly
called the Roman satire.  He has not now to do with a Lyce, a Canidia, a
Cassius Severus, or a Menas; but is to correct the vices and the follies
of his time, and to give the rules of a happy and virtuous life.  In a
word, that former sort of satire which is known in England by the name of
lampoon is a dangerous sort of weapon, and for the most part unlawful.
We have no moral right on the reputation of other men; it is taking from
them what we cannot restore to them.  There are only two reasons for
which we may be permitted to write lampoons, and I will not promise that
they can always justify us.  The first is revenge, when we have been
affronted in the same nature, or have been anywise notoriously abused,
and can make ourselves no other reparation.  And yet we know that in
Christian charity all offences are to be forgiven, as we expect the like
pardon for those which we daily commit against Almighty God.  And this
consideration has often made me tremble when I was saying our Saviour’s
prayer, for the plain condition of the forgiveness which we beg is the
pardoning of others the offences which they have done to us; for which
reason I have many times avoided the commission of that fault, even when
I have been notoriously provoked.  Let not this, my lord, pass for vanity
in me; for it is truth.  More libels have been written against me than
almost any man now living; and I had reason on my side to have defended
my own innocence.  I speak not of my poetry, which I have wholly given up
to the critics—let them use it as they please—posterity, perhaps, may be
more favourable to me; for interest and passion will lie buried in
another age, and partiality and prejudice be forgotten.  I speak of my
morals, which have been sufficiently aspersed—that only sort of
reputation ought to be dear to every honest man, and is to me.  But let
the world witness for me that I have been often wanting to myself in that
particular; I have seldom answered any scurrilous lampoon when it was in
my power to have exposed my enemies; and, being naturally vindicative,
have suffered in silence, and possessed my soul in quiet.

Anything, though never so little, which a man speaks of himself, in my
opinion, is still too much; and therefore I will waive this subject, and
proceed to give the second reason which may justify a poet when he writes
against a particular person, and that is when he is become a public
nuisance.  All those whom Horace in his satires, and Persius and Juvenal
have mentioned in theirs with a brand of infamy, are wholly such.  It is
an action of virtue to make examples of vicious men.  They may and ought
to be upbraided with their crimes and follies, both for their own
amendment (if they are not yet incorrigible), and for the terror of
others, to hinder them from falling into those enormities, which they see
are so severely punished in the persons of others.  The first reason was
only an excuse for revenge; but this second is absolutely of a poet’s
office to perform.  But how few lampooners are there now living who are
capable of this duty!  When they come in my way, it is impossible
sometimes to avoid reading them.  But, good God! how remote they are in
common justice from the choice of such persons as are the proper subject
of satire, and how little wit they bring for the support of their
injustice!  The weaker sex is their most ordinary theme; and the best and
fairest are sure to be the most severely handled.  Amongst men, those who
are prosperously unjust are entitled to a panegyric, but afflicted virtue
is insolently stabbed with all manner of reproaches; no decency is
considered, no fulsomeness omitted; no venom is wanting, as far as
dulness can supply it, for there is a perpetual dearth of wit, a
barrenness of good sense and entertainment.  The neglect of the readers
will soon put an end to this sort of scribbling.  There can be no
pleasantry where there is no wit, no impression can be made where there
is no truth for the foundation.  To conclude: they are like the fruits of
the earth in this unnatural season; the corn which held up its head is
spoiled with rankness, but the greater part of the harvest is laid along,
and little of good income and wholesome nourishment is received into the
barns.  This is almost a digression, I confess to your lordship; but a
just indignation forced it from me.  Now I have removed this rubbish I
will return to the comparison of Juvenal and Horace.

I would willingly divide the palm betwixt them upon the two heads of
profit and delight, which are the two ends of poetry in general.  It must
be granted by the favourers of Juvenal that Horace is the more copious
and more profitable in his instructions of human life; but in my
particular opinion, which I set not up for a standard to better
judgments, Juvenal is the more delightful author.  I am profited by both,
I am pleased with both; but I owe more to Horace for my instruction, and
more to Juvenal for my pleasure.  This, as I said, is my particular taste
of these two authors.  They who will have either of them to excel the
other in both qualities, can scarce give better reasons for their opinion
than I for mine.  But all unbiassed readers will conclude that my
moderation is not to be condemned; to such impartial men I must appeal,
for they who have already formed their judgment may justly stand
suspected of prejudice; and though all who are my readers will set up to
be my judges, I enter my caveat against them, that they ought not so much
as to be of my jury; or; if they be admitted, it is but reason that they
should first hear what I have to urge in the defence of my opinion.

That Horace is somewhat the better instructor of the two is proved from
hence—that his instructions are more general, Juvenal’s more limited.  So
that, granting that the counsels which they give are equally good for
moral use, Horace, who gives the most various advice, and most applicable
to all occasions which can occur to us in the course of our lives—as
including in his discourses not only all the rules of morality, but also
of civil conversation—is undoubtedly to be preferred to him, who is more
circumscribed in his instructions, makes them to fewer people, and on
fewer occasions, than the other.  I may be pardoned for using an old
saying, since it is true and to the purpose: _Bonum quò communius_, _eò
melius_.  Juvenal, excepting only his first satire, is in all the rest
confined to the exposing of some particular vice; that he lashes, and
there he sticks.  His sentences are truly shining and instructive; but
they are sprinkled here and there.  Horace is teaching us in every line,
and is perpetually moral; he had found out the skill of Virgil to hide
his sentences, to give you the virtue of them without showing them in
their full extent, which is the ostentation of a poet, and not his art.
And this Petronius charges on the authors of his time as a vice of
writing, which was then growing on the age: _ne sententiæ extra corpus
orationis emineant_; he would have them weaved into the body of the work,
and not appear embossed upon it, and striking directly on the reader’s
view.  Folly was the proper quarry of Horace, and not vice; and as there
are but few notoriously wicked men in comparison with a shoal of fools
and fops, so it is a harder thing to make a man wise than to make him
honest; for the will is only to be reclaimed in the one, but the
understanding is to be informed in the other.  There are blind sides and
follies even in the professors of moral philosophy, and there is not any
one sect of them that Horace has not exposed; which, as it was not the
design of Juvenal, who was wholly employed in lashing vices (some of them
the most enormous that can be imagined), so perhaps it was not so much
his talent.

    “_Omne vafer vitium ridenti Flaccus amico_
    _Tangit_, _et admissus circum præcordia ludit_.”

This was the commendation which Persius gave him; where by _vitium_ he
means those little vices which we call follies, the defects of human
understanding, or at most the peccadilloes of life, rather than the
tragical vices to which men are hurried by their unruly passions and
exorbitant desires.  But in the word _omne_, which is universal, he
concludes with me that the divine wit of Horace left nothing untouched;
that he entered into the inmost recesses of nature; found out the
imperfections even of the most wise and grave, as well as of the common
people; discovering even in the great Trebatius (to whom he addresses the
first satire) his hunting after business and following the court, as well
as in the prosecutor Crispinus, his impertinence and importunity.  It is
true, he exposes Crispinus openly as a common nuisance; but he rallies
the other, as a friend, more finely.  The exhortations of Persius are
confined to noblemen, and the Stoic philosophy is that alone which he
recommends to them; Juvenal exhorts to particular virtues, as they are
opposed to those vices against which he declaims; but Horace laughs to
shame all follies, and insinuates virtue rather by familiar examples than
by the severity of precepts.

This last consideration seems to incline the balance on the side of
Horace, and to give him the preference to Juvenal, not only in profit,
but in pleasure.  But, after all, I must confess that the delight which
Horace gives me is but languishing (be pleased still to understand that I
speak of my own taste only); he may ravish other men, but I am too stupid
and insensible to be tickled.  Where he barely grins himself, and, as
Scaliger says, only shows his white teeth, he cannot provoke me to any
laughter.  His urbanity—that is, his good manners—are to be commended;
but his wit is faint, and his salt (if I may dare to say so) almost
insipid.  Juvenal is of a more vigorous and masculine wit; he gives me as
much pleasure as I can bear; he fully satisfies my expectation; he treats
his subject home; his spleen is raised, and he raises mine.  I have the
pleasure of concernment in all he says; he drives his reader along with
him, and when he is at the end of his way, I willingly stop with him.  If
he went another stage, it would be too far; it would make a journey of a
progress, and turn delight into fatigue.  When he gives over, it is a
sign the subject is exhausted, and the wit of man can carry it no
farther.  If a fault can be justly found in him, it is that he is
sometimes too luxuriant, too redundant; says more than he needs, like my
friend “the Plain Dealer,” but never more than pleases.  Add to this that
his thoughts are as just as those of Horace, and much more elevated; his
expressions are sonorous and more noble; his verse more numerous; and his
words are suitable to his thoughts, sublime and lofty.  All these
contribute to the pleasure of the reader; and the greater the soul of him
who reads, his transports are the greater.  Horace is always on the
amble, Juvenal on the gallop, but his way is perpetually on
carpet-ground.  He goes with more impetuosity than Horace, but as
securely; and the swiftness adds a more lively agitation to the spirits.
The low style of Horace is according to his subject—that is, generally
grovelling.  I question not but he could have raised it, for the first
epistle of the second book, which he writes to Augustus (a most
instructive satire concerning poetry), is of so much dignity in the
words, and of so much elegancy in the numbers, that the author plainly
shows the _sermo pedestris_ in his other satires was rather his choice
than his necessity.  He was a rival to Lucilius, his predecessor, and was
resolved to surpass him in his own manner.  Lucilius, as we see by his
remaining fragments, minded neither his style, nor his numbers, nor his
purity of words, nor his run of verse.  Horace therefore copes with him
in that humble way of satire, writes under his own force, and carries a
dead weight, that he may match his competitor in the race.  This, I
imagine, was the chief reason why he minded only the clearness of his
satire, and the cleanness of expression, without ascending to those
heights to which his own vigour might have carried him.  But limiting his
desires only to the conquest of Lucilius, he had his ends of his rival,
who lived before him, but made way for a new conquest over himself by
Juvenal his successor.  He could not give an equal pleasure to his
reader, because he used not equal instruments.  The fault was in the
tools, and not in the workman.  But versification and numbers are the
greatest pleasures of poetry.  Virgil knew it, and practised both so
happily that, for aught I know, his greatest excellency is in his
diction.  In all other parts of poetry he is faultless, but in this he
placed his chief perfection.  And give me leave, my lord, since I have
here an apt occasion, to say that Virgil could have written sharper
satires than either Horace or Juvenal if he would have employed his
talent that way.  I will produce a verse and half of his, in one of his
Eclogues, to justify my opinion, and with commas after every word, to
show that he has given almost as many lashes as he has written syllables.
It is against a bad poet, whose ill verses he describes:—

          “_Non tu_, _in triviis indocte_, _solebas_
    _Stridenti_, _miserum_, _stipulâ_, _disperdere carmen_?”

But to return to my purpose.  When there is anything deficient in numbers
and sound, the reader is uneasy and unsatisfied; he wants something of
his complement, desires somewhat which he finds not: and this being the
manifest defect of Horace, it is no wonder that, finding it supplied in
Juvenal, we are more delighted with him.  And besides this, the sauce of
Juvenal is more poignant, to create in us an appetite of reading him.
The meat of Horace is more nourishing, but the cookery of Juvenal more
exquisite; so that, granting Horace to be the more general philosopher,
we cannot deny that Juvenal was the greater poet—I mean, in satire.  His
thoughts are sharper, his indignation against vice is more vehement, his
spirit has more of the commonwealth genius; he treats tyranny, and all
the vices attending it, as they deserve, with the utmost rigour; and
consequently a noble soul is better pleased with a zealous vindicator of
Roman liberty than with a temporising poet, a well-mannered court slave,
and a man who is often afraid of laughing in the right place—who is ever
decent, because he is naturally servile.

After all, Horace had the disadvantage of the times in which he lived;
they were better for the man, but worse for the satirist.  It is
generally said that those enormous vices which were practised under the
reign of Domitian were unknown in the time of Augustus Cæsar; that
therefore Juvenal had a larger field than Horace.  Little follies were
out of doors when oppression was to be scourged instead of avarice; it
was no longer time to turn into ridicule the false opinions of
philosophers when the Roman liberty was to be asserted.  There was more
need of a Brutus in Domitian’s days to redeem or mend, than of a Horace,
if he had then been living, to laugh at a fly-catcher.  This reflection
at the same time excuses Horace, but exalts Juvenal.  I have ended,
before I was aware, the comparison of Horace and Juvenal upon the topics
of instruction and delight; and indeed I may safely here conclude that
commonplace: for if we make Horace our minister of state in satire, and
Juvenal of our private pleasures, I think the latter has no ill bargain
of it.  Let profit have the pre-eminence of honour in the end of poetry;
pleasure, though but the second in degree, is the first in favour.  And
who would not choose to be loved better rather than to be more esteemed!
But I am entered already upon another topic, which concerns the
particular merits of these two satirists.  However, I will pursue my
business where I left it, and carry it farther than that common
observation of the several ages in which these authors flourished.

When Horace writ his satires, the monarchy of his Cæsar was in its
newness, and the government but just made easy to the conquered people.
They could not possibly have forgotten the usurpation of that prince upon
their freedom, nor the violent methods which he had used in the
compassing of that vast design; they yet remembered his proscriptions,
and the slaughter of so many noble Romans their defenders—amongst the
rest, that horrible action of his when he forced Livia from the arms of
her husband (who was constrained to see her married, as Dion relates the
story), and, big with child as she was, conveyed to the bed of his
insulting rival.  The same Dion Cassius gives us another instance of the
crime before mentioned—that Cornelius Sisenna, being reproached in full
senate with the licentious conduct of his wife, returned this answer:
that he had married her by the counsel of Augustus (intimating, says my
author, that Augustus had obliged him to that marriage, that he might
under that covert have the more free access to her).  His adulteries were
still before their eyes, but they must be patient where they had not
power.  In other things that emperor was moderate enough; propriety was
generally secured, and the people entertained with public shows and
donatives, to make them more easily digest their lost liberty.  But
Augustus, who was conscious to himself of so many crimes which he had
committed, thought in the first place to provide for his own reputation
by making an edict against lampoons and satires, and the authors of those
defamatory writings, which my author Tacitus, from the law-term, calls
_famosos libellos_.

In the first book of his Annals he gives the following account of it in
these words:—_Primus Augustus cognitionem de famosis libellis_, _specie
legis ejus_, _tractavit_; _commotus Cassii Severi libidine_, _quâ viros
fæminasque illustres procacibus scriptis diffamaverat_.  Thus in
English:—“Augustus was the first who, under the colour of that law, took
cognisance of lampoons, being provoked to it by the petulancy of Cassius
Severus, who had defamed many illustrious persons of both sexes in his
writings.”  The law to which Tacitus refers was _Lex læsæ majestatis_;
commonly called, for the sake of brevity, _majestas_; or, as we say,
high-treason.  He means not that this law had not been enacted formerly
(for it had been made by the Decemviri, and was inscribed amongst the
rest in the Twelve Tables, to prevent the aspersion of the Roman majesty,
either of the people themselves, or their religion, or their magistrates;
and the infringement of it was capital—that is, the offender was whipped
to death with the fasces which were borne before their chief officers of
Rome), but Augustus was the first who restored that intermitted law.  By
the words “under colour of that law” he insinuates that Augustus caused
it to be executed on pretence of those libels which were written by
Cassius Severus against the nobility, but in truth to save himself from
such defamatory verses.  Suetonius likewise makes mention of it
thus:—_Sparsos de se in curiâ famosos libellos_, _nec exparit_, _et magnâ
curâ redarguit_.  _Ac ne requisitis quidem auctoribus_, _id modo
censuit_, _cognoscendum posthac de iis qui libellos aut carmina ad
infamiam cujuspiam sub alieno nomine edant_.  “Augustus was not afraid of
libels,” says that author, “yet he took all care imaginable to have them
answered, and then decreed that for the time to come the authors of them
should be punished.”  But Aurelius makes it yet more clear, according to
my sense, that this emperor for his own sake durst not permit
them:—_Fecit id Augustus in speciem_, _et quasi gratificaretur populo
Romano_, _et primoribus urbis_; _sed revera ut sibi consuleret_: _nam
habuit in animo comprimere nimiam quorundam procacitatem in loquendo_, _à
quâ nec ipse exemptus fuit_.  _Nam suo nomine compescere erat
invidiosum_, _sub alieno facile et utile_.  _Ergo specie legis
tractavit_, _quasi populi Romani majestas infamaretur_.  This, I think,
is a sufficient comment on that passage of Tacitus.  I will add only by
the way that the whole family of the Cæsars and all their relations were
included in the law, because the majesty of the Romans in the time of the
Empire was wholly in that house: _Omnia Cæsar erat_; they were all
accounted sacred who belonged to him.  As for Cassius Severus, he was
contemporary with Horace, and was the same poet against whom he writes in
his epodes under this title, _In Cassium Severum_, _maledicum
poctam_—perhaps intending to kill two crows, according to our proverb,
with one stone, and revenge both himself and his emperor together.

From hence I may reasonably conclude that Augustus, who was not
altogether so good as he was wise, had some by-respect in the enacting of
this law; for to do anything for nothing was not his maxim.  Horace, as
he was a courtier, complied with the interest of his master; and,
avoiding the lashing of greater crimes, confined himself to the
ridiculing of petty vices and common follies, excepting only some
reserved cases in his odes and epodes of his own particular quarrels
(which either with permission of the magistrate or without it, every man
will revenge, though I say not that he should; for _prior læsit_ is a
good excuse in the civil law if Christianity had not taught us to
forgive).  However, he was not the proper man to arraign great vices; at
least, if the stories which we hear of him are true—that he practised
some which I will not here mention, out of honour to him.  It was not for
a Clodius to accuse adulterers, especially when Augustus was of that
number.  So that, though his age was not exempted from the worst of
villainies, there was no freedom left to reprehend them by reason of the
edict; and our poet was not fit to represent them in an odious character,
because himself was dipped in the same actions.  Upon this account,
without further insisting on the different tempers of Juvenal and Horace,
I conclude that the subjects which Horace chose for satire are of a lower
nature than those of which Juvenal has written.

Thus I have treated, in a new method, the comparison betwixt Horace,
Juvenal, and Persius.  Somewhat of their particular manner, belonging to
all of them, is yet remaining to be considered.  Persius was grave, and
particularly opposed his gravity to lewdness, which was the predominant
vice in Nero’s court at the time when he published his satires, which was
before that emperor fell into the excess of cruelty.  Horace was a mild
admonisher, a court satirist, fit for the gentle times of Augustus, and
more fit for the reasons which I have already given.  Juvenal was as
proper for his times as they for theirs; his was an age that deserved a
more severe chastisement; vices were more gross and open, more
flagitious, more encouraged by the example of a tyrant, and more
protected by his authority.  Therefore, wheresoever Juvenal mentions
Nero, he means Domitian, whom he dares not attack in his own person, but
scourges him by proxy.  Heinsius urges in praise of Horace that,
according to the ancient art and law of satire, it should be nearer to
comedy than to tragedy; not declaiming against vice, but only laughing at
it.  Neither Persius nor Juvenal was ignorant of this, for they had both
studied Horace.  And the thing itself is plainly true.  But as they had
read Horace, they had likewise read Lucilius, of whom Persius says,
_Secuit urbem_; . . . _et genuinum fregit in illis_; meaning Mutius and
Lupus; and Juvenal also mentions him in these words:—

    “_Ense velut stricto_, _quoties Lucilius ardens_
    _Infremuit_, _rubet auditor_, _cui frigida mens est_
    _Criminibus_, _tacitá sulant præcordia culpâ_.”

So that they thought the imitation of Lucilius was more proper to their
purpose than that of Horace.  “They changed satire,” says Holyday, “but
they changed it for the better; for the business being to reform great
vices, chastisement goes farther than admonition; whereas a perpetual
grin, like that of Horace, does rather anger than amend a man.”

Thus far that learned critic Barten Holyday, whose interpretation and
illustrations of Juvenal are as excellent as the verse of his translation
and his English are lame and pitiful; for it is not enough to give us the
meaning of a poet (which I acknowledge him to have performed most
faithfully) but he must also imitate his genius and his numbers as far as
the English will come up to the elegance of the original.  In few words,
it is only for a poet to translate a poet.  Holyday and Stapleton had not
enough considered this when they attempted Juvenal; but I forbear
reflections: only I beg leave to take notice of this sentence, where
Holyday says, “a perpetual grin, like that of Horace, rather angers than
amends a man.”  I cannot give him up the manner of Horace in low satire
so easily.  Let the chastisements of Juvenal be never so necessary for
his new kind of satire, let him declaim as wittily and sharply as he
pleases, yet still the nicest and most delicate touches of satire consist
in fine raillery.  This, my lord, is your particular talent, to which
even Juvenal could not arrive.  It is not reading, it is not imitation
of, an author which can produce this fineness; it must be inborn; it must
proceed from a genius, and particular way of thinking, which is not to be
taught, and therefore not to be imitated by him who has it not from
nature.  How easy it is to call rogue and villain, and that wittily! but
how hard to make a man appear a fool, a blockhead, or a knave, without
using any of those opprobrious terms!  To spare the grossness of the
names, and to do the thing yet more severely, is to draw a full face and
to make the nose and cheeks stand out, and yet not to employ any depth of
shadowing.  This is the mystery of that noble trade, which yet no master
can teach to his apprentice; he may give the rules, but the scholar is
never the nearer in his practice.  Neither is it true that this fineness
of raillery is offensive; a witty man is tickled, while he is hurt in
this manner; and a fool feels it not.  The occasion of an offence may
possibly be given, but he cannot take it.  If it be granted that in
effect this way does more mischief; that a man is secretly wounded, and
though he be not sensible himself, yet the malicious world will find it
for him; yet there is still a vast difference betwixt the slovenly
butchering of a man, and the fineness of a stroke that separates the head
from the body and leaves it standing in its place.  A man may be capable,
as Jack Ketch’s wife said of his servant, of a plain piece of work, a
bare hanging; but to make a malefactor die sweetly was only belonging to
her husband.  I wish I could apply it to myself, if the reader would be
kind enough to think it belongs to me.  The character of Zimri, in my
“Absalom” is, in my opinion, worth the whole poem; it is not bloody, but
it is ridiculous enough; and he for whom it was intended was too witty to
resent it as an injury.  If I had railed, I might have suffered for it
justly; but I managed my own work more happily, perhaps more dexterously.
I avoided the mention of great crimes, and applied myself to the
representing of blind-sides and little extravagances; to which the
wittier a man is, he is generally the more obnoxious.  It succeeded as I
wished; the jest went round, and he was laughed at in his turn who began
the frolic.

And thus, my lord, you see I have preferred the manner of Horace and of
your lordship in this kind of satire to that of Juvenal, and, I think,
reasonably.  Holyday ought not to have arraigned so great an author for
that which was his excellency and his merit; or, if he did, on such a
palpable mistake he might expect that some one might possibly arise
(either in his own time, or after him) to rectify his error, and restore
to Horace that commendation of which he has so unjustly robbed him.  And
let the manes of Juvenal forgive me if I say that this way of Horace was
the best for amending manners, as it is the most difficult.  His was an
_ense rescindendum_; but that of Horace was a pleasant cure, with all the
limbs preserved entire, and, as our mountebanks tell us in their bills,
without keeping the patient within doors for a day.  What they promise
only, Horace has effectually performed.  Yet I contradict not the
proposition which I formerly advanced.  Juvenal’s times required a more
painful kind of operation; but if he had lived in the age of Horace, I
must needs affirm that he had it not about him.  He took the method which
was prescribed him by his own genius, which was sharp and eager; he could
not railly, but he could declaim: and as his provocations were great, he
has revenged them tragically.  This, notwithstanding I am to say another
word which, as true as it is, will yet displease the partial admirers of
our Horace; I have hinted it before, but it is time for me now to speak
more plainly.

This manner of Horace is indeed the best; but Horace has not executed it
altogether so happily—at least, not often.  The manner of Juvenal is
confessed to be inferior to the former; but Juvenal has excelled him in
his performance.  Juvenal has railed more wittily than Horace has
rallied.  Horace means to make his reader laugh, but he is not sure of
his experiment.  Juvenal always intends to move your indignation, and he
always brings about his purpose.  Horace, for aught I know, might have
tickled the people of his age, but amongst the moderns he is not so
successful.  They who say he entertains so pleasantly, may perhaps value
themselves on the quickness of their own understandings, that they can
see a jest farther off than other men; they may find occasion of laughter
in the wit-battle of the two buffoons Sarmentus and Cicerrus, and hold
their sides for fear of bursting when Rupilius and Persius are scolding.
For my own part, I can only like the characters of all four, which are
judiciously given; but for my heart I cannot so much as smile at their
insipid raillery.  I see not why Persius should call upon Brutus to
revenge him on his adversary; and that because he had killed Julius Cæsar
for endeavouring to be a king, therefore he should be desired to murder
Rupilius, only because his name was Mr. King.  A miserable clench, in my
opinion, for Horace to record; I have heard honest Mr. Swan make many a
better, and yet have had the grace to hold my countenance.  But it may be
puns were then in fashion, as they were wit in the sermons of the last
age, and in the court of King Charles the Second.  I am sorry to say it,
for the sake of Horace; but certain it is, he has no fine palate who can
feed so heartily on garbage.

But I have already wearied myself, and doubt not but I have tired your
lordship’s patience, with this long, rambling, and, I fear, trivial
discourse.  Upon the one-half of the merits, that is, pleasure, I cannot
but conclude that Juvenal was the better satirist.  They who will descend
into his particular praises may find them at large in the dissertation of
the learned Rigaltius to Thuanus.  As for Persius, I have given the
reasons why I think him inferior to both of them; yet I have one thing to
add on that subject.

Barten Holyday, who translated both Juvenal and Persius, has made this
distinction betwixt them, which is no less true than witty—that in
Persius, the difficulty is to find a meaning; in Juvenal, to choose a
meaning; so crabbed is Persius, and so copious is Juvenal; so much the
understanding is employed in one, and so much the judgment in the other;
so difficult is it to find any sense in the former, and the best sense of
the latter.

If, on the other side, any one suppose I have commended Horace below his
merit, when I have allowed him but the second place, I desire him to
consider if Juvenal (a man of excellent natural endowments, besides the
advantages of diligence and study, and coming after him and building upon
his foundations) might not probably, with all these helps, surpass him;
and whether it be any dishonour to Horace to be thus surpassed, since no
art or science is at once begun and perfected but that it must pass first
through many hands and even through several ages.  If Lucilius could add
to Ennius and Horace to Lucilius, why, without any diminution to the fame
of Horace, might not Juvenal give the last perfection to that work?  Or
rather, what disreputation is it to Horace that Juvenal excels in the
tragical satire, as Horace does in the comical?  I have read over
attentively both Heinsius and Dacier in their commendations of Horace,
but I can find no more in either of them for the preference of him to
Juvenal than the instructive part (the part of wisdom, and not that of
pleasure), which therefore is here allowed him, notwithstanding what
Scaliger and Rigaltius have pleaded to the contrary for Juvenal.  And to
show I am impartial I will here translate what Dacier has said on that

    “I cannot give a more just idea of the two books of satires made by
    Horace than by comparing them to the statues of the Sileni, to which
    Alcibiades compares Socrates in the Symposium.  They were figures
    which had nothing of agreeable, nothing of beauty on their outside;
    but when any one took the pains to open them and search into them, he
    there found the figures of all the deities.  So in the shape that
    Horace presents himself to us in his satires we see nothing at the
    first view which deserves our attention; it seems that he is rather
    an amusement for children than for the serious consideration of men.
    But when we take away his crust, and that which hides him from our
    sight, when we discover him to the bottom, then we find all the
    divinities in a full assembly—that is to say, all the virtues which
    ought to be the continual exercise of those who seriously endeavour
    to correct their vices.”

It is easy to observe that Dacier, in this noble similitude, has confined
the praise of his author wholly to the instructive part the commendation
turns on this, and so does that which follows:—

    “In these two books of satire it is the business of Horace to
    instruct us how to combat our vices, to regulate our passions, to
    follow nature, to give bounds to our desires, to distinguish betwixt
    truth and falsehood, and betwixt our conceptions of things and things
    themselves; to come back from our prejudicate opinions, to understand
    exactly the principles and motives of all our actions; and to avoid
    the ridicule into which all men necessarily fall who are intoxicated
    with those notions which they have received from their masters, and
    which they obstinately retain without examining whether or no they be
    founded on right reason.

    “In a word, he labours to render us happy in relation to ourselves;
    agreeable and faithful to our friends; and discreet, serviceable, and
    well-bred in relation to those with whom we are obliged to live and
    to converse.  To make his figures intelligible, to conduct his
    readers through the labyrinth of some perplexed sentence or obscure
    parenthesis, is no great matter; and, as Epictetus says, there is
    nothing of beauty in all this, or what is worthy of a prudent man.
    The principal business, and which is of most importance to us, is to
    show the use, the reason, and the proof of his precepts.

    “They who endeavour not to correct themselves according to so exact a
    model are just like the patients who have open before them a book of
    admirable receipts for their diseases, and please themselves with
    reading it without comprehending the nature of the remedies or how to
    apply them to their cure.”

Let Horace go off with these encomiums, which he has so well deserved.

To conclude the contention betwixt our three poets I will use the words
of Virgil in his fifth Æneid, where Æneas proposes the rewards of the
foot-race to the three first who should reach the goal:—

             “_Tres præmia primi_ . . .
    _Accipient_, _flauâque caput nectentur olivâ_.”

Let these three ancients be preferred to all the moderns as first
arriving at the goal; let them all be crowned as victors with the wreath
that properly belongs to satire.  But after that, with this distinction
amongst themselves:—

    “_Primus equum phaleris insignem victor habeto_.”

Let Juvenal ride first in triumph.

    “_Alter Amazoniam pharetram_, _plenamque sagittis_
    _Threiciis_, _lato quam circumplectitur auro_
    _Balteus_, _et tereti subnectit fibula gemmâ_.”

Let Horace, who is the second (and but just the second), carry off the
quiver and the arrows as the badges of his satire, and the golden belt
and the diamond button.

    “_Tertius Argolico hoc clypeo contentus abito_.”

And let Persius, the last of the first three worthies, be contented with
this Grecian shield, and with victory—not only over all the Grecians, who
were ignorant of the Roman satire—but over all the moderns in succeeding
ages, excepting Boileau and your lordship.

And thus I have given the history of satire, and derived it as far as
from Ennius to your lordship—that is, from its first rudiments of
barbarity to its last polishing and perfection; which is, with Virgil, in
his address to Augustus—

          “_Nomen famâ tot ferre per annos_, . . .
    _Tithoni primâ quot abest ab origine Cæsar_.”

I said only from Ennius, but I may safely carry it higher, as far as
Livius Andronicus, who, as I have said formerly, taught the first play at
Rome in the year _ab urbe conditâ_ CCCCCXIV.  I have since desired my
learned friend Mr. Maidwell to compute the difference of times betwixt
Aristophanes and Livius Andronicus; and he assures me from the best
chronologers that _Plutus_, the last of Aristophanes’ plays, was
represented at Athens in the year of the 97th Olympiad, which agrees with
the year _urbis conditæ_ CCCLXIV.  So that the difference of years
betwixt Aristophanes and Andronicus is 150; from whence I have probably
deduced that Livius Andronicus, who was a Grecian, had read the plays of
the old comedy, which were satirical, and also of the new; for Menander
was fifty years before him, which must needs be a great light to him in
his own plays that were of the satirical nature.  That the Romans had
farces before this, it is true; but then they had no communication with
Greece; so that Andronicus was the first who wrote after the manner of
the old comedy, in his plays: he was imitated by Ennius about thirty
years afterwards.  Though the former writ fables, the latter, speaking
properly, began the Roman satire, according to that description which
Juvenal gives of it in his first:—

    “_Quicquid agunt homines_, _votum_, _timor_, _ira voluptas_,
    _Gaudia_, _discurses_, _nostri est farrago libelli_.”

This is that in which I have made hold to differ from Casaubon,
Rigaltius, Dacier, and indeed from all the modern critics—that not
Ennius, but Andronicus, was the first who, by the _archæa comedia_ of the
Greeks, added many beauties to the first rude and barbarous Roman satire;
which sort of poem, though we had not derived from Rome, yet nature
teaches it mankind in all ages and in every country.

It is but necessary that, after so much has been said of satire, some
definition of it should be given.  Heinsius, in his Dissertations on
Horace, makes it for me in these words:—“Satire is a kind of poetry,
without a series of action, invented for the purging of our minds; in
which human vices, ignorance, and errors, and all things besides which
are produced from them in every man, are severely reprehended—partly
dramatically, partly simply, and sometimes in both kinds of speaking, but
for the most part figuratively and occultly; consisting, in a low
familiar way, chiefly in a sharp and pungent manner of speech, but partly
also in a facetious and civil way of jesting, by which either hatred or
laughter or indignation is moved.”  Where I cannot but observe that this
obscure and perplexed definition, or rather description of satire, is
wholly accommodated to the Horatian way, and excluding the works of
Juvenal and Persius as foreign from that kind of poem.  The clause in the
beginning of it, “without a series of action,” distinguishes satire
properly from stage-plays, which are all of one action and one continued
series of action.  The end or scope of satire is to purge the passions;
so far it is common to the satires of Juvenal and Persius.  The rest
which follows is also generally belonging to all three, till he comes
upon us with the excluding clause, “consisting, in a low familiar way of
speech” which is the proper character of Horace, and from which the other
two (for their honour be it spoken) are far distant.  But how come
lowness of style and the familiarity of words to be so much the propriety
of satire that without them a poet can be no more a satirist than without
risibility he can be a man?  Is the fault of Horace to be made the virtue
and standing rule of this poem?  Is the _grande sophos_ of Persius, and
the sublimity of Juvenal, to be circumscribed with the meanness of words
and vulgarity of expression?  If Horace refused the pains of numbers and
the loftiness of figures are they bound to follow so ill a precedent?
Let him walk afoot with his pad in his hand for his own pleasure, but let
not them be accounted no poets who choose to mount and show their
horsemanship.  Holyday is not afraid to say that there was never such a
fall as from his odes to his satires, and that he, injuriously to
himself, untuned his harp.  The majestic way of Persius and Juvenal was
new when they began it, but it is old to us; and what poems have not,
with time, received an alteration in their fashion?—“which alteration,”
says Holyday, “is to after-times as good a warrant as the first.”  Has
not Virgil changed the manners of Homer’s heroes in his Æneis?  Certainly
he has, and for the better; for Virgil’s age was more civilised and
better bred, and he writ according to the politeness of Rome under the
reign of Augustus Cæsar, not to the rudeness of Agamemnon’s age or the
times of Homer.  Why should we offer to confine free spirits to one form
when we cannot so much as confine our bodies to one fashion of apparel?
Would not Donne’s satires, which abound with so much wit, appear more
charming if he had taken care of his words and of his numbers?  But he
followed Horace so very close that of necessity he must fall with him;
and I may safely say it of this present age, that if we are not so great
wits as Donne, yet certainly we are better poets.

But I have said enough, and it may be too much, on this subject.  Will
your lordship be pleased to prolong my audience only so far till I tell
you my own trivial thoughts how a modern satire should be made?  I will
not deviate in the least from the precepts and examples of the ancients,
who were always our best masters; I will only illustrate them, and
discover some of the hidden beauties in their designs, that we thereby
may form our own in imitation of them.  Will you please but to observe
that Persius, the least in dignity of all the three, has,
notwithstanding, been the first who has discovered to us this important
secret in the designing of a perfect satire—that it ought only to treat
of one subject; to be confined to one particular theme, or, at least, to
one principally?  If other vices occur in the management of the chief,
they should only be transiently lashed, and not be insisted on, so as to
make the design double.  As in a play of the English fashion which we
call a tragicomedy, there is to be but one main design, and though there
be an under-plot or second walk of comical characters and adventures, yet
they are subservient to the chief fable, carried along under it and
helping to it, so that the drama may not seem a monster with two heads.
Thus the Copernican system of the planets makes the moon to be moved by
the motion of the earth, and carried about her orb as a dependent of
hers.  Mascardi, in his discourse of the “Doppia Favola,” or double tale
in plays, gives an instance of it in the famous pastoral of Guarini,
called _Il Pastor Fido_, where Corisca and the Satyr are the under-parts;
yet we may observe that Corisca is brought into the body of the plot and
made subservient to it.  It is certain that the divine wit of Horace was
not ignorant of this rule—that a play, though it consists of many parts,
must yet be one in the action, and must drive on the accomplishment of
one design—for he gives this very precept, _Sit quod vis simplex
duntaxat_, _et unum_; yet he seems not much to mind it in his satires,
many of them consisting of more arguments than one, and the second
without dependence on the first.  Casaubon has observed this before me in
his preference of Persius to Horace, and will have his own beloved author
to be the first who found out and introduced this method of confining
himself to one subject.

I know it may be urged in defence of Horace that this unity is not
necessary, because the very word _satura_ signifies a dish plentifully
stored with all variety of fruits and grains.  Yet Juvenal, who calls his
poems a _farrago_ (which is a word of the same signification with
_satura_), has chosen to follow the same method of Persius and not of
Horace; and Boileau, whose example alone is a sufficient authority, has
wholly confined himself in all his satires to this unity of design.  That
variety which is not to be found in any one satire is at least in many,
written on several occasions; and if variety be of absolute necessity in
every one of them, according to the etymology of the word, yet it may
arise naturally from one subject, as it is diversely treated in the
several subordinate branches of it, all relating to the chief.  It may be
illustrated accordingly with variety of examples in the subdivisions of
it, and with as many precepts as there are members of it, which all
together may complete that _olla_ or hotch-potch which is properly a

Under this unity of theme or subject is comprehended another rule for
perfecting the design of true satire.  The poet is bound, and that _ex
officio_, to give his reader some one precept of moral virtue, and to
caution him against some one particular vice or folly.  Other virtues,
subordinate to the first, may be recommended under that chief head, and
other vices or follies may be scourged, besides that which he principally
intends; but he is chiefly to inculcate one virtue, and insist on that.
Thus Juvenal, in every satire excepting the first, ties himself to one
principal instructive point, or to the shunning of moral evil.  Even in
the sixth, which seems only an arraignment of the whole sex of womankind,
there is a latent admonition to avoid ill women, by showing how very few
who are virtuous and good are to be found amongst them.  But this, though
the wittiest of all his satires, has yet the least of truth or
instruction in it; he has run himself into his old declamatory way, and
almost forgotten that he was now setting up for a moral poet.

Persius is never wanting to us in some profitable doctrine, and in
exposing the opposite vices to it.  His kind of philosophy is one, which
is the Stoic, and every satire is a comment on one particular dogma of
that sect, unless we will except the first, which is against bad writers;
and yet even there he forgets not the precepts of the “porch.”  In
general, all virtues are everywhere to be praised and recommended to
practice, and all vices to be reprehended and made either odious or
ridiculous, or else there is a fundamental error in the whole design.

I have already declared who are the only persons that are the adequate
object of private satire, and who they are that may properly be exposed
by name for public examples of vices and follies, and therefore I will
trouble your lordship no further with them.  Of the best and finest
manner of satire, I have said enough in the comparison betwixt Juvenal
and Horace; it is that sharp well-mannered way of laughing a folly out of
countenance, of which your lordship is the best master in this age.  I
will proceed to the versification which is most proper for it, and add
somewhat to what I have said already on that subject.  The sort of verse
which is called “burlesque,” consisting of eight syllables or four feet,
is that which our excellent Hudibras has chosen.  I ought to have
mentioned him before when I spoke of Donne, but by a slip of an old man’s
memory he was forgotten.  The worth of his poem is too well known to need
my commendation, and he is above my censure.  His satire is of the
Varronian kind, though unmixed with prose.  The choice of his numbers is
suitable enough to his design as he has managed it; but in any other hand
the shortness of his verse, and the quick returns of rhyme, had debased
the dignity of style.  And besides, the double rhyme (a necessary
companion of burlesque writing) is not so proper for manly satire, for it
turns earnest too much to jest, and gives us a boyish kind of pleasure.
It tickles awkwardly, with a kind of pain to the best sort of readers; we
are pleased ungratefully, and, if I may say so, against our liking.  We
thank him not for giving us that unseasonable delight, when we know he
could have given us a better and more solid.  He might have left that
task to others who, not being able to put in thought, can only makes us
grin with the excrescence of a word of two or three syllables in the
close.  It is, indeed, below so great a master to make use of such a
little instrument.  But his good sense is perpetually shining through all
he writes; it affords us not the time of finding faults: we pass through
the levity of his rhyme, and are immediately carried into some admirable
useful thought.  After all, he has chosen this kind of verse, and has
written the best in it, and had he taken another he would always have
excelled; as we say of a court favourite, that whatsoever his office be,
he still makes it uppermost and most beneficial to himself.

The quickness of your imagination, my lord, has already prevented me; and
you know beforehand that I would prefer the verse of ten syllables, which
we call the English heroic, to that of eight.  This is truly my opinion,
for this sort of number is more roomy; the thought can turn itself with
greater ease in a larger compass.  When the rhyme comes too thick upon
us, it straitens the expression; we are thinking of the close when we
should be employed in adorning the thought.  It makes a poet giddy with
turning in a space too narrow for his imagination; he loses many beauties
without gaining one advantage.  For a burlesque rhyme I have already
concluded to be none; or, if it were, it is more easily purchased in ten
syllables than in eight.  In both occasions it is as in a tennis-court,
when the strokes of greater force are given, when we strike out and play
at length.  Tassoni and Boileau have left us the best examples of this
way in the “Seechia Rapita” and the “Lutrin,” and next them Merlin
Cocaius in his “Baldus.”  I will speak only of the two former, because
the last is written in Latin verse.  The “Secchia Rapita” is an Italian
poem, a satire of the Varronian kind.  It is written in the stanza of
eight, which is their measure for heroic verse.  The words are stately,
the numbers smooth; the turn both of thoughts and words is happy.  The
first six lines of the stanza seem majestical and severe, but the two
last turn them all into a pleasant ridicule.  Boileau, if I am not much
deceived, has modelled from hence his famous “Lutrin.”  He had read the
burlesque poetry of Scarron with some kind of indignation, as witty as it
was, and found nothing in France that was worthy of his imitation; but he
copied the Italian so well that his own may pass for an original.  He
writes it in the French heroic verse, and calls it an heroic poem; his
subject is trivial, but his verse is noble.  I doubt not but he had
Virgil in his eye, for we find many admirable imitations of him, and some
parodies, as particularly this passage in the fourth of the Æneids—

    “_Nec tibi diva parens_, _generis nec Dardanus auctor_,
    _Perfide_; _sed duris genuit te cautibus horrens_
    _Caucasus_, _Hyrrcanæque admôrunt ubera tigres_:”

which he thus translates, keeping to the words, but altering the sense:—

    “_Non_, _ton père à Paris_, _ne fut point boulanger_:
    _Et tu n’es point du sang de Gervais_, _l’horloger_;
    _Ta mère ne fut point la maîtresse d’un coche_;
    _Caucase dans ses flancs te forma d’une roché_;
    _Une tigresse affreuse_, _en quelque antre écarté_,
    _Te fit_, _avec son lait_, _succer sa cruauté_.”

And as Virgil in his fourth Georgic of the bees, perpetually raises the
lowness of his subject by the loftiness of his words, and ennobles it by
comparisons drawn from empires and from monarchs—

    “_Admiranda tibi levium spectacula rerum_,
    _Magnanimosque duces_, _totiusque ordine gentis_
    _Mores et studia_, _et populos_, _et prælia dicam_;”

and again—

    “_At genus immortale manet_, _multosque per annos_
    _Stat fortuna domûs_, _et avi numerantur avorum_;”

we see Boileau pursuing him in the same flights, and scarcely yielding to
his master.  This I think, my lord, to be the most beautiful and most
noble kind of satire.  Here is the majesty of the heroic finely mixed
with the venom of the other, and raising the delight, which otherwise
would be flat and vulgar, by the sublimity of the expression.  I could
say somewhat more of the delicacy of this and some other of his satires,
but it might turn to his prejudice if it were carried back to France.

I have given your lordship but this bare hint—in what verse and in what
manner this sort of satire may be best managed.  Had I time I could
enlarge on the beautiful turns of words and thoughts which are as
requisite in this as in heroic poetry itself, of which the satire is
undoubtedly a species.  With these beautiful turns I confess myself to
have been unacquainted till about twenty years ago.  In a conversation
which I had with that noble wit of Scotland, Sir George Mackenzie, he
asked me why I did not imitate in my verses the turns of Mr. Waller and
Sir John Denham, of which he repeated many to me.  I had often read with
pleasure, and with some profit, those two fathers of our English poetry,
but had not seriously enough considered those beauties which give the
last perfection to their works.  Some sprinklings of this kind I had also
formerly in my plays; but they were casual, and not designed.  But this
hint, thus seasonably given me, first made me sensible of my own wants,
and brought me afterwards to seek for the supply of them in other English
authors.  I looked over the darling of my youth, the famous Cowley; there
I found, instead of them, the points of wit and quirks of epigram, even
in the “Davideis” (an heroic poem which is of an opposite nature to those
puerilities), but no elegant turns, either on the word or on the thought.
Then I consulted a greater genius (without offence to the manes of that
noble author)—I mean Milton; but as he endeavours everywhere to express
Homer, whose age had not arrived to that fineness, I found in him a true
sublimity, lofty thoughts which were clothed with admirable Grecisms and
ancient words, which he had been digging from the minds of Chaucer and
Spenser, and which, with all their rusticity, had somewhat of venerable
in them.  But I found not there neither that for which I looked.  At last
I had recourse to his master, Spenser, the author of that immortal poem
called the “Faerie Queen,” and there I met with that which I had been
looking for so long in vain.  Spenser had studied Virgil to as much
advantage as Milton had done Homer, and amongst the rest of his
excellences had copied that.  Looking farther into the Italian, I found
Tasso had done the same; nay, more, that all the sonnets in that language
are on the turn of the first thought—which Mr. Walsh, in his late
ingenious preface to his poems, has observed.  In short, Virgil and Ovid
are the two principal fountains of them in Latin poetry.  And the French
at this day are so fond of them that they judge them to be the first
beauties; _delicate_, _et bien tourné_, are the highest commendations
which they bestow on somewhat which they think a masterpiece.

An example of the turn of words, amongst a thousand others, is that in
the last book of Ovid’s “Metamorphoses”:—

    “_Heu_! _quantum scelus est_, _in viscera_, _viscera condi_!
    _Congestoque avidum pinguescere corpore corpus_;
    _Alteriusque animantem animantis vivere leto_.”

An example on the turn both of thoughts and words is to be found in
Catullus in the complaint of Ariadne when she was left by Theseus:—

    “_Tum jam nulla viro juranti fæmina credat_;
    _Nulla viri speret sermones esse fideles_;
    _Qui_, _dum aliquid cupiens animus prægestit apisci_,
    _Nil metuunt jurare_, _nihil promittere parcunt_:
    _Sed simul ac cupidæ mentis satiata libido est_,
    _Dicta nihil metuere_, _nihil perjuria curant_.”

An extraordinary turn upon the words is that in Ovid’s “Epistolæ
Heroidum” of Sappho to Phaon:—

    “_Si_, _nisi quæ formâ poterit te digna videri_,
    _Nulla futura tua est_, _nulla futura tua est_.”

Lastly a turn, which I cannot say is absolutely on words—for the thought
turns with them—is in the fourth Georgic of Virgil, where Orpheus is to
receive his wife from hell on express condition not to look on her till
she was come on earth:—

    “Cum subita incautum dementia cepit amantem;
    Ignoscenda quidem, scirent si ignoscere Manes.”

I will not burthen your lordship with more of them, for I write to a
master who understands them better than myself; but I may safely conclude
them to be great beauties.  I might descend also to the mechanic beauties
of heroic verse; but we have yet no English Prosodia, not so much as a
tolerable dictionary or a grammar (so that our language is in a manner
barbarous); and what Government will encourage any one, or more, who are
capable of refining it, I know not: but nothing under a public expense
can go through with it.  And I rather fear a declination of the language
than hope an advancement of it in the present age.

I am still speaking to you, my lord, though in all probability you are
already out of hearing.  Nothing which my meanness can produce is worthy
of this long attention.  But I am come to the last petition of Abraham:
if there be ten righteous lines in this vast preface, spare it for their
sake; and also spare the next city, because it is but a little one.

I would excuse the performance of this translation if it were all my own;
but the better, though not the greater, part being the work of some
gentlemen who have succeeded very happily in their undertaking, let their
excellences atone for my imperfections and those of my sons.  I have
perused some of the Satires which are done by other hands, and they seem
to me as perfect in their kind as anything I have seen in English verse.
The common way which we have taken is not a literal translation, but a
kind of paraphrase; or somewhat which is yet more loose, betwixt a
paraphrase and imitation.  It was not possible for us, or any men, to
have made it pleasant any other way.  If rendering the exact sense of
these authors, almost line for line, had been our business, Barten
Holyday had done it already to our hands; and by the help of his learned
notes and illustrations, not only Juvenal and Persius, but, what yet is
more obscure, his own verses might be understood.

But he wrote for fame, and wrote to scholars; we write only for the
pleasure and entertainment of those gentlemen and ladies who, though they
are not scholars, are not ignorant—persons of understanding and good
sense, who, not having been conversant in the original (or, at least, not
having made Latin verse so much their business as to be critics in it),
would be glad to find if the wit of our two great authors be answerable
to their fame and reputation in the world.  We have therefore endeavoured
to give the public all the satisfaction we are able in this kind.

And if we are not altogether so faithful to our author as our
predecessors Holyday and Stapleton, yet we may challenge to ourselves
this praise—that we shall be far more pleasing to our readers.  We have
followed our authors at greater distance, though not step by step as they
have done; for oftentimes they have gone so close that they have trod on
the heels of Juvenal and Persius, and hurt them by their too near
approach.  A noble author would not be pursued too close by a translator.
We lose his spirit when we think to take his body.  The grosser part
remains with us, but the soul is flown away in some noble expression, or
some delicate turn of words or thought.  Thus Holyday, who made this way
his choice, seized the meaning of Juvenal, but the poetry has always
escaped him.

They who will not grant me that pleasure is one of the ends of poetry,
but that it is only a means of compassing the only end (which is
instruction), must yet allow that without the means of pleasure the
instruction is but a bare and dry philosophy, a crude preparation of
morals which we may have from Aristotle and Epictetus with more profit
than from any poet.  Neither Holyday nor Stapleton have imitated Juvenal
in the poetical part of him, his diction, and his elocution.  Nor, had
they been poets (as neither of them were), yet in the way they took, it
was impossible for them to have succeeded in the poetic part.

The English verse which we call heroic consists of no more than ten
syllables; the Latin hexameter sometimes rises to seventeen; as, for
example, this verse in Virgil:—

    “Pulverulenta putrem sonitu quatit ungula campum.”

Here is the difference of no less than seven syllables in a line betwixt
the English and the Latin.  Now the medium of these is about fourteen
syllables, because the dactyl is a more frequent foot in hexameters than
the spondee.  But Holyday (without considering that he writ with the
disadvantage of four syllables less in every verse) endeavours to make
one of his lines to comprehend the sense of one of Juvenal’s.  According
to the falsity of the proposition was the success.  He was forced to
crowd his verse with ill-sounding monosyllables (of which our barbarous
language affords him a wild plenty), and by that means he arrived at his
pedantic end, which was to make a literal translation.  His verses have
nothing of verse in them, but only the worst part of it—the rhyme; and
that, into the bargain, is far from good.  But, which is more
intolerable, by cramming his ill-chosen and worse-sounding monosyllables
so close together, the very sense which he endeavours to explain is
become more obscure than that of his author; so that Holyday himself
cannot be understood without as large a commentary as that which he makes
on his two authors.  For my own part, I can make a shift to find the
meaning of Juvenal without his notes, but his translation is more
difficult than his author.  And I find beauties in the Latin to
recompense my pains; but in Holyday and Stapleton my ears, in the first
place, are mortally offended, and then their sense is so perplexed that I
return to the original as the more pleasing task as well as the more

This must be said for our translation—that if we give not the whole sense
of Juvenal, yet we give the most considerable part of it; we give it, in
general, so clearly that few notes are sufficient to make us
intelligible.  We make our author at least appear in a poetic dress.  We
have actually made him more sounding and more elegant than he was before
in English, and have endeavoured to make him speak that kind of English
which he would have spoken had he lived in England and had written to
this age.  If sometimes any of us (and it is but seldom) make him express
the customs and manners of our native country rather than of Rome, it is
either when there was some kind of analogy betwixt their customs and
ours, or when (to make him more easy to vulgar understandings) we gave
him those manners which are familiar to us.  But I defend not this
innovation; it is enough if I can excuse it.  For (to speak sincerely)
the manners of nations and ages are not to be confounded; we should
either make them English or leave them Roman.  If this can neither be
defended nor excused, let it be pardoned at least, because it is
acknowledged; and so much the more easily as being a fault which is never
committed without some pleasure to the reader.

Thus, my lord, having troubled you with a tedious visit, the best manners
will be shown in the least ceremony.  I will slip away while your back is
turned, and while you are otherwise employed; with great confusion for
having entertained you so long with this discourse, and for having no
other recompense to make you than the worthy labours of my
fellow-undertakers in this work, and the thankful acknowledgments,
prayers, and perpetual good wishes of,

My Lord,

                             Your Lordship’s

                                            Most obliged, most humble, and
                                                    Most obedient servant,

                                                              JOHN DRYDEN.



                     JOHN, LORD MARQUIS OF NORMANBY,


AN HEROIC poem (truly such) is undoubtedly the greatest work which the
soul of man is capable to perform.  The design of it is to form the mind
to heroic virtue by example; it is conveyed in verse that it may delight
while it instructs.  The action of it is always one, entire, and great.
The least and most trivial episodes or under-actions which are interwoven
in it are parts either necessary or convenient to carry on the main
design—either so necessary that without them the poem must be imperfect,
or so convenient that no others can be imagined more suitable to the
place in which they are.  There is nothing to be left void in a firm
building; even the cavities ought not to be filled with rubbish which is
of a perishable kind—destructive to the strength—but with brick or stone
(though of less pieces, yet of the same nature), and fitted to the
crannies.  Even the least portions of them must be of the epic kind; all
things must be grave, majestical, and sublime; nothing of a foreign
nature, like the trifling novels which Ariosto and others have inserted
in their poems, by which the reader is misled into another sort of
pleasure, opposite to that which is designed in an epic poem.  One raises
the soul and hardens it to virtue; the other softens it again and unbends
it into vice.  One conduces to the poet’s aim (the completing of his
work), which he is driving on, labouring, and hastening in every line;
the other slackens his pace, diverts him from his way, and locks him up
like a knight-errant in an enchanted castle when he should be pursuing
his first adventure.  Statius (as Bossu has well observed) was ambitions
of trying his strength with his master, Virgil, as Virgil had before
tried his with Homer.  The Grecian gave the two Romans an example in the
games which were celebrated at the funerals of Patroclus.  Virgil
imitated the invention of Homer, but changed the sports.  But both the
Greek and Latin poet took their occasions from the subject, though (to
confess the truth) they were both ornamental, or, at best, convenient
parts of it, rather than of necessity arising from it.  Statius (who
through his whole poem is noted for want of conduct and judgment),
instead of staying, as he might have done, for the death of Capaneus,
Hippomedon, Tydeus, or some other of his Seven Champions (who are heroes
all alike), or more properly for the tragical end of the two brothers
whose exequies the next successor had leisure to perform when the siege
was raised, and in the interval betwixt the poet’s first action and his
second, went out of his way—as it were, on prepense malice—to commit a
fault; for he took his opportunity to kill a royal infant by the means of
a serpent (that author of all evil) to make way for those funeral honours
which he intended for him.  Now if this innocent had been of any relation
to his Thebais, if he had either farthered or hindered the taking of the
town, the poet might have found some sorry excuse at least for detaining
the reader from the promised siege.  On these terms this Capaneus of a
poet engaged his two immortal predecessors, and his success was
answerable to his enterprise.

If this economy must be observed in the minutest parts of an epic poem,
which to a common reader seem to be detached from the body, and almost
independent of it, what soul, though sent into the world with great
advantages of nature, cultivated with the liberal arts and sciences,
conversant with histories of the dead, and enriched with observations on
the living, can be sufficient to inform the whole body of so great a
work?  I touch here but transiently, without any strict method, on some
few of those many rules of imitating nature which Aristotle drew from
Homer’s “Iliads” and “Odysses,” and which he fitted to the
drama—furnishing himself also with observations from the practice of the
theatre when it flourished under Æschylus, Euripides, and Sophocles (for
the original of the stage was from the epic poem).  Narration, doubtless,
preceded acting, and gave laws to it.  What at first was told artfully
was in process of time represented gracefully to the sight and hearing.
Those episodes of Homer which were proper for the stage, the poets
amplified each into an action.  Out of his limbs they formed their
bodies; what he had contracted, they enlarged; out of one Hercules were
made infinity of pigmies, yet all endued with human souls; for from him,
their great creator, they have each of them the _divinæ particulam auræ_.
They flowed from him at first, and are at last resolved into him.  Nor
were they only animated by him, but their measure and symmetry was owing
to him.  His one, entire, and great action was copied by them, according
to the proportions of the drama.  If he finished his orb within the year,
it sufficed to teach them that their action being less, and being also
less diversified with incidents, their orb, of consequence, must be
circumscribed in a less compass, which they reduced within the limits
either of a natural or an artificial day.  So that, as he taught them to
amplify what he had shortened, by the same rule applied the contrary way
he taught them to shorten what he had amplified.  Tragedy is the
miniature of human life; an epic poem is the draft at length.  Here, my
lord, I must contract also, for before I was aware I was almost running
into a long digression to prove that there is no such absolute necessity
that the time of a stage-action should so strictly be confined to
twenty-four hours as never to exceed them (for which Aristotle contends,
and the Grecian stage has practised).  Some longer space on some
occasions, I think, may be allowed, especially for the English theatre,
which requires more variety of incidents than the French.  Corneille
himself, after long practice, was inclined to think that the time
allotted by the ancients was too short to raise and finish a great
action; and better a mechanic rule were stretched or broken than a great
beauty were omitted.  To raise, and afterwards to calm, the passions; to
purge the soul from pride by the examples of human miseries which befall
the greatest; in few words, to expel arrogance and introduce compassion,
are the great effects of tragedy—great, I must confess, if they were
altogether as true as they are pompous.  But are habits to be introduced
at three hours’ warning?  Are radical diseases so suddenly removed?  A
mountebank may promise such a cure, but a skilful physician will not
undertake it.  An epic poem is not in so much haste; it works leisurely:
the changes which it makes are slow, but the cure is likely to be more
perfect.  The effects of tragedy, as I said, are too violent to be
lasting.  If it be answered, that for this reason tragedies are often to
be seen, and the dose to be repeated, this is tacitly to confess that
there is more virtue in one heroic poem than in many tragedies.  A man is
humbled one day, and his pride returns the next.  Chemical medicines are
observed to relieve oftener than to cure; for it is the nature of spirits
to make swift impressions, but not deep.  Galenical decoctions, to which
I may properly compare an epic poem, have more of body in them; they work
by their substance and their weight.

It is one reason of Aristotle’s to prove that tragedy is the more noble,
because it turns in a shorter compass—the whole action being
circumscribed within the space of four-and-twenty hours.  He might prove
as well that a mushroom is to be preferred before a peach, because it
shoots up in the compass of a night.  A chariot may be driven round the
pillar in less space than a large machine, because the bulk is not so
great.  Is the moon a more noble planet than Saturn, because she makes
her revolution in less than thirty days, and he in little less than
thirty years?  Both their orbs are in proportion to their several
magnitudes; and consequently the quickness or slowness of their motion,
and the time of their circumvolutions, is no argument of the greater or
less perfection.  And besides, what virtue is there in a tragedy which is
not contained in an epic poem, where pride is humbled, virtue rewarded,
and vice punished, and those more amply treated than the narrowness of
the drama can admit?  The shining quality of an epic hero, his
magnanimity, his constancy, his patience, his piety, or whatever
characteristical virtue his poet gives him, raises first our admiration;
we are naturally prone to imitate what we admire, and frequent acts
produce a habit.  If the hero’s chief quality be vicious—as, for example,
the choler and obstinate desire of vengeance in Achilles—yet the moral is
instructive; and besides, we are informed in the very proposition of the
“Iliads” that this anger was pernicious, that it brought a thousand ills
on the Grecian camp.  The courage of Achilles is proposed to imitation,
not his pride and disobedience to his general; nor his brutal cruelty to
his dead enemy, nor the selling his body to his father.  We abhor these
actions while we read them, and what we abhor we never imitate; the poet
only shows them, like rocks or quicksands to be shunned.

By this example the critics have concluded that it is not necessary the
manners of the hero should be virtuous (they are poetically good if they
are of a piece); though where a character of perfect virtue is set before
us, it is more lovely; for there the whole hero is to be imitated.  This
is the Æneas of our author; this is that idea of perfection in an epic
poem which painters and statuaries have only in their minds, and which no
hands are able to express.  These are the beauties of a God in a human
body.  When the picture of Achilles is drawn in tragedy, he is taken with
those warts and moles and hard features by those who represent him on the
stage, or he is no more Achilles; for his creator, Homer, has so
described him.  Yet even thus he appears a perfect hero, though an
imperfect character of virtue.  Horace paints him after Homer, and
delivers him to be copied on the stage with all those imperfections.
Therefore they are either not faults in an heroic poem, or faults common
to the drama.

After all, on the whole merits of the cause, it must be acknowledged that
the epic poem is more for the manners, and tragedy for the passions.  The
passions, as I have said, are violent; and acute distempers require
medicines of a strong and speedy operation.  Ill habits of the mind are,
like chronical diseases, to be corrected by degrees, and cured by
alteratives; wherein, though purges are sometimes necessary, yet diet,
good air, and moderate exercise have the greatest part.  The matter being
thus stated, it will appear that both sorts of poetry are of use for
their proper ends.  The stage is more active, the epic poem works at
greater leisure; yet is active too when need requires, for dialogue is
imitated by the drama from the more active parts of it.  One puts off a
fit, like the quinquina, and relieves us only for a time; the other roots
out the distemper, and gives a healthful habit.  The sun enlightens and
cheers us, dispels fogs, and warms the ground with his daily beams; but
the corn is sowed, increases, is ripened, and is reaped for use in
process of time and in its proper season.

I proceed from the greatness of the action to the dignity of the actors—I
mean, to the persons employed in both poems.  There likewise tragedy will
be seen to borrow from the epopee; and that which borrows is always of
less dignity, because it has not of its own.  A subject, it is true, may
lend to his sovereign; but the act of borrowing makes the king inferior,
because he wants and the subject supplies.  And suppose the persons of
the drama wholly fabulous, or of the poet’s invention, yet heroic poetry
gave him the examples of that invention, because it was first, and Homer
the common father of the stage.  I know not of any one advantage which
tragedy can boast above heroic poetry but that it is represented to the
view as well as read, and instructs in the closet as well as on the
theatre.  This is an uncontended excellence, and a chief branch of its
prerogative; yet I may be allowed to say without partiality that herein
the actors share the poet’s praise.  Your lordship knows some modern
tragedies which are beautiful on the stage, and yet I am confident you
would not read them.  Tryphon the stationer complains they are seldom
asked for in his shop.  The poet who flourished in the scene is damned in
the _ruelle_; nay, more, he is not esteemed a good poet by those who see
and hear his extravagances with delight.  They are a sort of stately
fustian and lofty childishness.  Nothing but nature can give a sincere
pleasure; where that is not imitated, it is grotesque painting; the fine
woman ends in a fish’s tail.

I might also add that many things which not only please, but are real
beauties in the reading, would appear absurd upon the stage; and those
not only the _speciosa miracula_, as Horace calls them, of
transformations of Scylla, Antiphates, and the Læstrygons (which cannot
be represented even in operas), but the prowess of Achilles or Æneas
would appear ridiculous in our dwarf-heroes of the theatre.  We can
believe they routed armies in Homer or in Virgil, but _ne Hercules contra
duos_ in the drama.  I forbear to instance in many things which the stage
cannot or ought not to represent; for I have said already more than I
intended on this subject, and should fear it might be turned against me
that I plead for the pre-eminence of epic poetry because I have taken
some pains in translating Virgil, if this were the first time that I had
delivered my opinion in this dispute; but I have more than once already
maintained the rights of my two masters against their rivals of the
scene, even while I wrote tragedies myself and had no thoughts of this
present undertaking.  I submit my opinion to your judgment, who are
better qualified than any man I know to decide this controversy.  You
come, my lord, instructed in the cause, and needed not that I should open
it.  Your “Essay of Poetry,” which was published without a name, and of
which I was not honoured with the confidence, I read over and over with
much delight and as much instruction, and without flattering you, or
making myself more moral than I am, not without some envy.  I was loth to
be informed how an epic poem should be written, or how a tragedy should
be contrived and managed, in better verse and with more judgment than I
could teach others.  A native of Parnassus, and bred up in the studies of
its fundamental laws, may receive new lights from his contemporaries, but
it is a grudging kind of praise which he gives his benefactors.  He is
more obliged than he is willing to acknowledge; there is a tincture of
malice in his commendations: for where I own I am taught, I confess my
want of knowledge.  A judge upon the bench may, out of good nature, or,
at least, interest, encourage the pleadings of a puny counsellor, but he
does not willingly commend his brother-serjeant at the bar, especially
when he controls his law, and exposes that ignorance which is made sacred
by his place.  I gave the unknown author his due commendation, I must
confess; but who can answer for me, and for the rest of the poets who
heard me read the poem, whether we should not have been better pleased to
have seen our own names at the bottom of the title-page?  Perhaps we
commended it the more that we might seem to be above the censure.  We are
naturally displeased with an unknown critic, as the ladies are with a
lampooner, because we are bitten in the dark, and know not where to
fasten our revenge; but great excellences will work their way through all
sorts of opposition.  I applauded rather out of decency than affection;
and was ambitious, as some yet can witness, to be acquainted with a man
with whom I had the honour to converse, and that almost daily, for so
many years together.  Heaven knows if I have heartily forgiven you this
deceit.  You extorted a praise, which I should willingly have given had I
known you.  Nothing had been more easy than to commend a patron of a long
standing.  The world would join with me if the encomiums were just, and
if unjust would excuse a grateful flatterer.  But to come anonymous upon
me, and force me to commend you against my interest, was not altogether
so fair, give me leave to say, as it was politic; for by concealing your
quality you might clearly understand how your work succeeded, and that
the general approbation was given to your merit, not your titles.  Thus,
like Apelles, you stood unseen behind your own Venus, and received the
praises of the passing multitude.  The work was commended, not the
author; and, I doubt not, this was one of the most pleasing adventures of
your life.

I have detained your lordship longer than I intended in this dispute of
preference betwixt the epic poem and the drama, and yet have not formally
answered any of the arguments which are brought by Aristotle on the other
side, and set in the fairest light by Dacier.  But I suppose without
looking on the book, I may have touched on some of the objections; for in
this address to your lordship I design not a treatise of heroic poetry,
but write in a loose epistolary way somewhat tending to that subject,
after the example of Horace in his first epistle of the second book to
Augustus Cæsar, and of that to the Pisos, which we call his “Art of
Poetry,” in both of which he observes no method that I can trace,
whatever Scaliger the father, or Heinsius may have seen, or rather think
they had seen.  I have taken up, laid down, and resumed, as often as I
pleased, the same subject, and this loose proceeding I shall use through
all this prefatory dedication.  Yet all this while I have been sailing
with some side-wind or other toward the point I proposed in the
beginning—the greatness and excellence of an heroic poem, with some of
the difficulties which attend that work.  The comparison therefore which
I made betwixt the epopee and the tragedy was not altogether a
digression, for it is concluded on all hands that they are both the
masterpieces of human wit.

In the meantime I may be bold to draw this corollary from what has been
already said—that the file of heroic poets is very short; all are not
such who have assumed that lofty title in ancient or modern ages, or have
been so esteemed by their partial and ignorant admirers.

There have been but one great “Ilias” and one “Æneis” in so many ages;
the next (but the next with a long interval betwixt) was the
“Jerusalem”—I mean, not so much in distance of time as in excellence.
After these three are entered, some Lord Chamberlain should be appointed,
some critic of authority should be set before the door to keep out a
crowd of little poets who press for admission, and are not of quality.
Mævius would be deafening your lordship’s ears with his

    “_Fortunam Priami cantabo_, _et nobile bellum_.”

Mere fustian (as Horace would tell you from behind, without pressing
forward), and more smoke than fire.  Pulci, Boiardo, and Ariosto would
cry out, “Make room for the Italian poets, the descendants of Virgil in a
right line.”  Father Le Moine with his “Saint Louis,” and Scudery with
his “Alaric” (for a godly king and a Gothic conqueror); and Chapelain
would take it ill that his “Maid” should be refused a place with Helen
and Lavinia.  Spenser has a better plea for his “Faerie Queen,” had his
action been finished, or had been one; and Milton, if the devil had not
been his hero instead of Adam; if the giant had not foiled the knight,
and driven him out of his stronghold to wander through the world with his
lady-errant; and if there had not been more machining persons than human
in his poem.  After these the rest of our English poets shall not be
mentioned; I have that honour for them which I ought to have; but if they
are worthies, they are not to be ranked amongst the three whom I have
named, and who are established in their reputation.

Before I quitted the comparison betwixt epic poetry and tragedy I should
have acquainted my judge with one advantage of the former over the
latter, which I now casually remember out of the preface of Segrais
before his translation of the “Æneis,” or out of Bossu—no matter which:
“The style of the heroic poem is, and ought to be, more lofty than that
of the drama.”  The critic is certainly in the right, for the reason
already urged—the work of tragedy is on the passions, and in dialogue;
both of them abhor strong metaphors, in which the epopee delights.  A
poet cannot speak too plainly on the stage, for _volat irrevocabile
verbum_ (the sense is lost if it be not taken flying) but what we read
alone we have leisure to digest.  There an author may beautify his sense
by the boldness of his expression, which if we understand not fully at
the first we may dwell upon it till we find the secret force and
excellence.  That which cures the manners by alterative physic, as I said
before, must proceed by insensible degrees; but that which purges the
passions must do its business all at once, or wholly fail of its
effect—at least, in the present operation—and without repeated doses.  We
must beat the iron while it is hot, but we may polish it at leisure.
Thus, my lord, you pay the fine of my forgetfulness; and yet the merits
of both causes are where they were, and undecided, till you declare
whether it be more for the benefit of mankind to have their manners in
general corrected, or their pride and hard-heartedness removed.

I must now come closer to my present business, and not think of making
more invasive wars abroad, when, like Hannibal, I am called back to the
defence of my own country.  Virgil is attacked by many enemies; he has a
whole confederacy against him; and I must endeavour to defend him as well
as I am able.  But their principal objections being against his moral,
the duration or length of time taken up in the action of the poem, and
what they have to urge against the manners of his hero, I shall omit the
rest as mere cavils of grammarians—at the worst but casual slips of a
great man’s pen, or inconsiderable faults of an admirable poem, which the
author had not leisure to review before his death.  Macrobius has
answered what the ancients could urge against him, and some things I have
lately read in Tannegui le Febvre, Valois, and another whom I name not,
which are scarce worth answering.  They begin with the moral of his poem,
which I have elsewhere confessed, and still must own, not to be so noble
as that of Homer.  But let both be fairly stated, and without
contradicting my first opinion I can show that Virgil’s was as useful to
the Romans of his age as Homer’s was to the Grecians of his, in what time
soever he may be supposed to have lived and flourished.  Homer’s moral
was to urge the necessity of union, and of a good understanding betwixt
confederate states and princes engaged in a war with a mighty monarch; as
also of discipline in an army, and obedience in the several chiefs to the
supreme commander of the joint forces.  To inculcate this, he sets forth
the ruinous effects of discord in the camp of those allies, occasioned by
the quarrel betwixt the general and one of the next in office under him.
Agamemnon gives the provocation, and Achilles resents the injury.  Both
parties are faulty in the quarrel, and accordingly they are both
punished; the aggressor is forced to sue for peace to his inferior on
dishonourable conditions; the deserter refuses the satisfaction offered,
and his obstinacy costs him his best friend.  This works the natural
effect of choler, and turns his rage against him by whom he was last
affronted, and most sensibly.  The greater anger expels the less, but his
character is still preserved.  In the meantime the Grecian army receives
loss on loss, and is half destroyed by a pestilence into the bargain:—

    “_Quicquid delirant reges_, _plectuntur Achivi_.”

As the poet in the first part of the example had shown the bad effects of
discord, so after the reconcilement he gives the good effects of unity;
for Hector is slain, and then Troy must fall.  By this it is probable
that Homer lived when the Median monarchy was grown formidable to the
Grecians, and that the joint endeavours of his countrymen were little
enough to preserve their common freedom from an encroaching enemy.  Such
was his moral, which all critics have allowed to be more noble than that
of Virgil, though not adapted to the times in which the Roman poet lived.
Had Virgil flourished in the age of Ennius and addressed to Scipio, he
had probably taken the same moral, or some other not unlike it; for then
the Romans were in as much danger from the Carthaginian commonwealth as
the Grecians were from the Assyrian or Median monarchy.  But we are to
consider him as writing his poem in a time when the old form of
government was subverted, and a new one just established by Octavius
Cæsar—in effect, by force of arms, but seemingly by the consent of the
Roman people.  The commonwealth had received a deadly wound in the former
civil wars betwixt Marius and Sylla.  The commons, while the first
prevailed, had almost shaken off the yoke of the nobility; and Marius and
Cinna (like the captains of the mob), under the specious pretence of the
public good and of doing justice on the oppressors of their liberty,
revenged themselves without form of law on their private enemies.  Sylla,
in his turn, proscribed the heads of the adverse party.  He, too, had
nothing but liberty and reformation in his mouth; for the cause of
religion is but a modern motive to rebellion, invented by the Christian
priesthood refining on the heathen.  Sylla, to be sure, meant no more
good to the Roman people than Marius before him, whatever he declared;
but sacrificed the lives and took the estates of all his enemies to
gratify those who brought him into power.  Such was the reformation of
the government by both parties.  The senate and the commons were the two
bases on which it stood, and the two champions of either faction each
destroyed the foundations of the other side; so the fabric, of
consequence, must fall betwixt them, and tyranny must be built upon their
ruins.  _This comes of altering fundamental laws and constitutions_; like
him who, being in good health, lodged himself in a physician’s house, and
was over-persuaded by his landlord to take physic (of which be died) for
the benefit of his doctor.  “_Stavo ben_,” was written on his monument,
“_ma_, _per star meglio_, _sto qui_.”

After the death of those two usurpers the commonwealth seemed to recover,
and held up its head for a little time, but it was all the while in a
deep consumption, which is a flattering disease.  Pompey, Crassus, and
Cæsar had found the sweets of arbitrary power, and each being a check to
the other’s growth, struck up a false friendship amongst themselves and
divided the government betwixt them, which none of them was able to
assume alone.  These were the public-spirited men of their age—that is,
patriots for their own interest.  The commonwealth looked with a florid
countenance in their management; spread in bulk, and all the while was
wasting in the vitals.  Not to trouble your lordship with the repetition
of what you know, after the death of Crassus Pompey found himself
outwitted by Cæsar, broke with him, overpowered him in the senate, and
caused many unjust decrees to pass against him.  Cæsar thus injured, and
unable to resist the faction of the nobles which was now uppermost (for
he was a Marian), had recourse to arms, and his cause was just against
Pompey, but not against his country, whose constitution ought to have
been sacred to him, and never to have been violated on the account of any
private wrong.  But he prevailed, and Heaven declaring for him, he became
a providential monarch under the title of Perpetual Dictator.  He being
murdered by his own son (whom I neither dare commend nor can justly
blame, though Dante in his “Inferno” has put him and Cassius, and Judas
Iscariot betwixt them, into the great devil’s mouth), the commonwealth
popped up its head for the third time under Brutus and Cassius, and then
sank for ever.

Thus the Roman people were grossly gulled twice or thrice over, and as
often enslaved, in one century, and under the same pretence of
reformation.  At last the two battles of Philippi gave the decisive
stroke against liberty, and not long after the commonwealth was turned
into a monarchy by the conduct and good fortune of Augustus.  It is true
that the despotic power could not have fallen into better hands than
those of the first and second Cæsar.  Your lordship well knows what
obligations Virgil had to the latter of them.  He saw, beside, that the
commonwealth was lost without resource; the heads of it destroyed; the
senate, new moulded, grown degenerate, and either bought off or thrusting
their own necks into the yoke out of fear of being forced.  Yet I may
safely affirm for our great author (as men of good sense are generally
honest) that he was still of republican principles in heart.

    “_Secretosque pios_; _his dantem jura Catonem_.”

I think I need use no other argument to justify my opinion than that of
this one line taken from the eighth book of the Æneis.  If he had not
well studied his patron’s temper it might have ruined him with another
prince.  But Augustus was not discontented (at least, that we can find)
that Cato was placed by his own poet in Elysium, and there giving laws to
the holy souls who deserved to be separated from the vulgar sort of good
spirits; for his conscience could not but whisper to the arbitrary
monarch that the kings of Rome were at first elective, and governed not
without a senate; that Romulus was no hereditary prince, and though after
his death he received divine honours for the good he did on earth, yet he
was but a god of their own making; that the last Tarquin was expelled
justly for overt acts of tyranny and mal-administration (for such are the
conditions of an elective kingdom, and I meddle not with others, being,
for my own opinion, of Montange’s principles—that an honest man ought to
be contented with that form of government, and with those fundamental
constitutions of it, which he received from his ancestors, and under
which himself was born, though at the same time he confessed freely that
if he could have chosen his place of birth it should have been at Venice,
which for many reasons I dislike, and am better pleased to have been born
an Englishman).

But to return from my long rambling; I say that Virgil having maturely
weighed the condition of the times in which he lived; that an entire
liberty was not to be retrieved; that the present settlement had the
prospect of a long continuance in the same family or those adopted into
it; that he held his paternal estate from the bounty of the conqueror, by
whom he was likewise enriched, esteemed, and cherished; that this
conqueror, though of a bad kind, was the very best of it; that the arts
of peace flourished under him; that all men might be happy if they would
be quiet; that now he was in possession of the whole, yet he shared a
great part of his authority with the senate; that he would be chosen into
the ancient offices of the commonwealth, and ruled by the power which he
derived from them, and prorogued his government from time to time, still,
as it were, threatening to dismiss himself from public cares, which he
exercised more for the common good than for any delight he took in
greatness—these things, I say, being considered by the poet, he concluded
it to be the interest of his country to be so governed, to infuse an
awful respect into the people towards such a prince, by that respect to
confirm their obedience to him, and by that obedience to make them happy.
This was the moral of his divine poem; honest in the poet, honourable to
the emperor (whom he derives from a divine extraction), and reflecting
part of that honour on the Roman people (whom he derives also from the
Trojans), and not only profitable, but necessary, to the present age, and
likely to be such to their posterity.  That it was the received opinion
that the Romans were descended from the Trojans, and Julius Cæsar from
Iulus, the son of Æneas, was enough for Virgil, though perhaps he thought
not so himself, or that Æneas ever was in Italy, which Bochartus
manifestly proves.  And Homer (where he says that Jupiter hated the house
of Priam, and was resolved to transfer the kingdom to the family of
Æneas) yet mentions nothing of his leading a colony into a foreign
country and settling there.  But that the Romans valued themselves on
their Trojan ancestry is so undoubted a truth that I need not prove it.
Even the seals which we have remaining of Julius Cæsar (which we know to
be antique) have the star of Venus over them—though they were all graven
after his death—as a note that he was deified.  I doubt not but one
reason why Augustus should be so passionately concerned for the
preservation of the “Æneis,” which its author had condemned to be burnt
as an imperfect poem by his last will and testament, was because it did
him a real service as well as an honour; that a work should not be lost
where his divine original was celebrated in verse which had the character
of immortality stamped upon it.

Neither were the great Roman families which flourished in his time less
obliged by him than the emperor.  Your lordship knows with what address
he makes mention of them as captains of ships or leaders in the war; and
even some of Italian extraction are not forgotten.  These are the single
stars which are sprinkled through the “Æneis,” but there are whole
constellations of them in the fifth book; and I could not but take
notice, when I translated it, of some favourite families to which he
gives the victory and awards the prizes, in the person of his hero, at
the funeral games which were celebrated in honour of Anchises.  I insist
not on their names, but am pleased to find the Memmii amongst them,
derived from Mnestheus, because Lucretius dedicates to one of that
family, a branch of which destroyed Corinth.  I likewise either found or
formed an image to myself of the contrary kind—that those who lost the
prizes were such as had disobliged the poet, or were in disgrace with
Augustus, or enemies to Mæcenas; and this was the poetical revenge he
took, for _genus irritabile vatum_, as Horace says.  When a poet is
thoroughly provoked, he will do himself justice, how ever dear it cost
him, _animamque in vulnere ponit_.  I think these are not bare
imaginations of my own, though I find no trace of them in the
commentators; but one poet may judge of another by himself.  The
vengeance we defer is not forgotten.  I hinted before that the whole
Roman people were obliged by Virgil in deriving them from Troy, an
ancestry which they affected.  We and the French are of the same humour:
they would be thought to descend from a son, I think, of Hector; and we
would have our Britain both named and planted by a descendant of Æneas.
Spenser favours this opinion what he can.  His Prince Arthur, or whoever
he intends by him, is a Trojan.  Thus the hero of Homer was a Grecian; of
Virgil, a Roman; of Tasso, an Italian.

I have transgressed my bounds and gone farther than the moral led me; but
if your lordship is not tired, I am safe enough.

Thus far, I think, my author is defended.  But as Augustus is still
shadowed in the person of Æneas (of which I shall say more when I come to
the manners which the poet gives his hero), I must prepare that subject
by showing how dexterously he managed both the prince and people, so as
to displease neither, and to do good to both—which is the part of a wise
and an honest man, and proves that it is possible for a courtier not to
be a knave.  I shall continue still to speak my thoughts like a free-born
subject, as I am, though such things perhaps as no Dutch commentator
could, and I am sure no Frenchman durst.  I have already told your
lordship my opinion of Virgil—that he was no arbitrary man.  Obliged he
was to his master for his bounty, and he repays him with good counsel how
to behave himself in his new monarchy so as to gain the affections of his
subjects, and deserve to be called the “Father of His Country.”  From
this consideration it is that he chose for the groundwork of his poem one
empire destroyed, and another raised from the ruins of it.  This was just
the parallel.  Æneas could not pretend to be Priam’s heir in a lineal
succession, for Anchises, the hero’s father, was only of the second
branch of the royal family, and Helenus, a son of Priam, was yet
surviving, and might lawfully claim before him.  It may be, Virgil
mentions him on that account.  Neither has he forgotten Priamus, in the
fifth of his “Æneis,” the son of Polites, youngest son to Priam, who was
slain by Pyrrhus in the second book.  Æneas had only married Creusa,
Priam’s daughter, and by her could have no title while any of the male
issue were remaining.  In this case the poet gave him the next title,
which is that of an Elective King.  The remaining Trojans chose him to
lead them forth and settle them in some foreign country.  Ilioneus in his
speech to Dido calls him expressly by the name of king.  Our poet, who
all this while had Augustus in his eye, had no desire he should seem to
succeed by any right of inheritance derived from Julius Cæsar, such a
title being but one degree removed from conquest: for what was introduced
by force, by force may be removed.  It was better for the people that
they should give than he should take, since that gift was indeed no more
at bottom than a trust.  Virgil gives us an example of this in the person
of Mezentius.  He governed arbitrarily; he was expelled and came to the
deserved end of all tyrants.  Our author shows us another sort of
kingship in the person of Latinus.  He was descended from Saturn, and, as
I remember, in the third degree.  He is described a just and a gracious
prince, solicitous for the welfare of his people, always consulting with
his senate to promote the common good.  We find him at the head of them
when he enters into the council-hall—speaking first, but still demanding
their advice, and steering by it, as far as the iniquity of the times
would suffer him.  And this is the proper character of a king by
inheritance, who is born a father of his country.  Æneas, though he
married the heiress of the crown, yet claimed no title to it during the
life of his father-in-law.  _Socer arma Latinus hebeto_, &c., are
Virgil’s words.  As for himself, he was contented to take care of his
country gods, who were not those of Latium; wherein our divine author
seems to relate to the after-practice of the Romans, which was to adopt
the gods of those they conquered or received as members of their
commonwealth.  Yet, withal, he plainly touches at the office of the
high-priesthood, with which Augustus was invested and which made his
person more sacred and inviolable than even the tribunitial power.  It
was not therefore for nothing that the most judicious of all poets made
that office vacant by the death of Pantheus, in the second book of the
“Æneis,” for his hero to succeed in it, and consequently for Augustus to
enjoy.  I know not that any of the commentators have taken notice of that
passage.  If they have not, I am sure they ought; and if they have, I am
not indebted to them for the observation.  The words of Virgil are very

    “_Sacra suosque tibi commendat Troja Penates_.”

As for Augustus or his uncle Julius claiming by descent from Æneas, that
title is already out of doors.  Æneas succeeded not, but was elected.
Troy was fore-doomed to fall for ever:—

    “_Postquam res Asiæ_, _Priamique evertere gentem_,
    _Immeritam visum superis_.”—ÆNEIS, I. iii., line 1.

Augustus, it is true, had once resolved to rebuild that city, and there
to make the seat of the Empire; but Horace writes an ode on purpose to
deter him from that thought, declaring the place to be accursed, and that
the gods would as often destroy it as it should be raised.  Hereupon the
emperor laid aside a project so ungrateful to the Roman people.  But by
this, my lord, we may conclude that he had still his pedigree in his
head, and had an itch of being thought a divine king if his poets had not
given him better counsel.

I will pass by many less material objections for want of room to answer
them.  What follows next is of great importance, if the critics can make
out their charge, for it is levelled at the manners which our poet gives
his hero, and which are the same which were eminently seen in his
Augustus.  Those manners were piety to the gods and a dutiful affection
to his father, love to his relations, care of his people, courage and
conduct in the wars, gratitude to those who had obliged him, and justice
in general to mankind.

Piety, as your lordship sees, takes place of all as the chief part of his
character; and the word in Latin is more full than it can possibly be
expressed in any modern language, for there it comprehends not only
devotion to the gods, but filial love and tender affection to relations
of all sorts.  As instances of this the deities of Troy and his own
Penates are made the companions of his flight; they appear to him in his
voyage and advise him, and at last he replaces them in Italy, their
native country.  For his father, he takes him on his back.  He leads his
little son, his wife follows him; but losing his footsteps through fear
or ignorance he goes back into the midst of his enemies to find her, and
leaves not his pursuit till her ghost appears to forbid his farther
search.  I will say nothing of his duty to his father while he lived, his
sorrow for his death, of the games instituted in honour of his memory, or
seeking him by his command even after death in the Elysian fields.  I
will not mention his tenderness for his son, which everywhere is visible;
of his raising a tomb for Polydorus; the obsequies for Misenus; his pious
remembrance of Deiphobus; the funerals of his nurse; his grief for
Pallas, and his revenge taken on his murderer, whom otherwise, by his
natural compassion, he had forgiven: and then the poem had been left
imperfect, for we could have had no certain prospect of his happiness
while the last obstacle to it was unremoved.

Of the other parts which compose his character as a king or as a general
I need say nothing; the whole “Æneis” is one continued instance of some
one or other of them; and where I find anything of them taxed, it shall
suffice me (as briefly as I can) to vindicate my divine master to your
lordship, and by you to the reader.  But herein Segrais, in his admirable
preface to his translation of the “Æneis,” as the author of the Dauphin’s
“Virgil” justly calls it, has prevented me.  Him I follow, and what I
borrow from him am ready to acknowledge to him, for, impartially
speaking, the French are as much better critics than the English as they
are worse poets.  Thus we generally allow that they better understand the
management of a war than our islanders, but we know we are superior to
them in the day of battle; they value themselves on their generals, we on
our soldiers.  But this is not the proper place to decide that question,
if they make it one.  I shall say perhaps as much of other nations and
their poets (excepting only Tasso), and hope to make my assertion good,
which is but doing justice to my country—part of which honour will
reflect on your lordship, whose thoughts are always just, your numbers
harmonious, your words chosen, your expressions strong and manly, your
verse flowing, and your turns as happy as they are easy.  If you would
set us more copies, your example would make all precepts needless.  In
the meantime that little you have written is owned, and that particularly
by the poets (who are a nation not over-lavish of praise to their
contemporaries), as a principal ornament of our language; but the
sweetest essences are always confined in the smallest glasses.

When I speak of your lordship, it is never a digression, and therefore I
need beg no pardon for it, but take up Segrais where I left him, and
shall use him less often than I have occasion for him.  For his preface
is a perfect piece of criticism, full and clear, and digested into an
exact method; mine is loose and, as I intended it, epistolary.  Yet I
dwell on many things which he durst not touch, for it is dangerous to
offend an arbitrary master, and every patron who has the power of
Augustus has not his clemency.  In short, my lord, I would not translate
him because I would bring you somewhat of my own.  His notes and
observations on every book are of the same excellency, and for the same
reason I omit the greater part.

He takes no notice that Virgil is arraigned for placing piety before
valour, and making that piety the chief character of his hero.  I have
said already from Bossu, that a poet is not obliged to make his hero a
virtuous man; therefore neither Homer nor Tasso are to be blamed for
giving what predominant quality they pleased to their first character.
But Virgil, who designed to form a perfect prince, and would insinuate
that Augustus (whom he calls Æneas in his poem) was truly such, found
himself obliged to make him without blemish—thoroughly virtuous; and a
thorough virtue both begins and ends in piety.  Tasso without question
observed this before me, and therefore split his hero in two; he gave
Godfrey piety, and Rinaldo fortitude, for their chief qualities or
manners.  Homer, who had chosen another moral, makes both Agamemnon and
Achilles vicious; for his design was to instruct in virtue by showing the
deformity of vice.  I avoid repetition of that I have said above.  What
follows is translated literally from Segrais:—

“Virgil had considered that the greatest virtues of Augustus consisted in
the perfect art of governing his people, which caused him to reign for
more than forty years in great felicity.  He considered that his emperor
was valiant, civil, popular, eloquent, politic, and religious; he has
given all these qualities to Æneas.  But knowing that piety alone
comprehends the whole duty of man towards the gods, towards his country,
and towards his relations, he judged that this ought to be his first
character whom he would set for a pattern of perfection.  In reality,
they who believe that the praises which arise from valour are superior to
those which proceed from any other virtues, have not considered, as they
ought, that valour, destitute of other virtues, cannot render a man
worthy of any true esteem.  That quality, which signifies no more than an
intrepid courage, may he separated from many others which are good, and
accompanied with many which are ill.  A man may be very valiant, and yet
impious and vicious; but the same cannot be said of piety, which excludes
all ill qualities, and comprehends even valour itself, with all other
qualities which are good.  Can we, for example, give the praise of valour
to a man who should see his gods profaned, and should want the courage to
defend them? to a man who should abandon his father, or desert his king,
in his last necessity?”

Thus far Segrais, in giving the preference to piety before valour; I will
now follow him where he considers this valour or intrepid courage singly
in itself; and this also Virgil gives to his Æneas, and that in a
heroical degree.

Having first concluded that our poet did for the best in taking the first
character of his hero from that essential virtue on which the rest
depend, he proceeds to tell us that in the ten years’ war of Troy he was
considered as the second champion of his country, allowing Hector the
first place; and this even by the confession of Homer, who took all
occasions of setting up his own countrymen the Grecians, and of
undervaluing the Trojan chiefs.  But Virgil (whom Segrais forgot to cite)
makes Diomede give him a higher character for strength and courage.  His
testimony is this, in the eleventh book:—

             “_Stetimus tela aspera contra_,
    _Contulimusque manus_: _experto credite_, _quantus_
    _In clypeum adsurgat_, _quo turbine torqueat hastam_.
    _Si duo præterea tales Inachias venisset ad urbes_
    _Dardanus_, _et versis lugeret Græcia fatis_.
    _Quicquid apud duræ cessatum est mænia Trojæ_,
    _Hectoris Æneæque manu victoria Grajûm_
    _Hæsit_, _et in decumum vestigia retulit annum_.
    _Ambo animis_, _ambo insignes præstantibus armis_:
    _Hic pietate prior_.”

I give not here my translation of these verses, though I think I have not
ill succeeded in them, because your lordship is so great a master of the
original that I have no reason to desire you should see Virgil and me so
near together.  But you may please, my lord, to take notice that the
Latin author refines upon the Greek, and insinuates that Homer had done
his hero wrong in giving the advantage of the duel to his own countryman,
though Diomedes was manifestly the second champion of the Grecians; and
Ulysses preferred him before Ajax when he chose him for the companion of
his nightly expedition, for he had a headpiece of his own, and wanted
only the fortitude of another to bring him off with safety, and that he
might compass his design with honour.

The French translator thus proceeds:—“They who accuse Æneas for want of
courage, either understand not Virgil or have read him slightly;
otherwise they would not raise an objection so easy to be answered.”
Hereupon he gives so many instances of the hero’s valour that to repeat
them after him would tire your lordship, and put me to the unnecessary
trouble of transcribing the greatest part of the three last Æneids.  In
short, more could not be expected from an Amadis, a Sir Lancelot, or the
whole Round Table than he performs.  _Proxima quæque metit galdio_ is the
perfect account of a knight-errant.  If it be replied, continues Segrais,
that it was not difficult for him to undertake and achieve such hardy
enterprises because he wore enchanted arms, that accusation in the first
place must fall on Homer ere it can reach Virgil.  Achilles was as well
provided with them as Æneas, though he was invulnerable without them; and
Ariosto, the two Tassos (Bernardo and Torquato), even our own Spenser—in
a word, all modern poets—have copied Homer, as well as Virgil; he is
neither the first nor last, but in the midst of them, and therefore is
safe if they are so.  Who knows, says Segrais, but that his fated armour
was only an allegorical defence, and signified no more than that he was
under the peculiar protection of the gods? born, as the astrologers will
tell us out of Virgil (who was well versed in the Chaldean mysteries),
under the favourable influence of Jupiter, Venus, and the Sun?  But I
insist not on this because I know you believe not there is such an art;
though not only Horace and Persius, but Augustus himself, thought
otherwise.  But in defence of Virgil, I dare positively say that he has
been more cautious in this particular than either his predecessor or his
descendants; for Æneas was actually wounded in the twelfth of the
“Æneis,” though he had the same godsmith to forge his arms as had
Achilles.  It seems he was no “war-luck,” as the Scots commonly call such
men, who, they say, are iron-free or lead-free.  Yet after this
experiment that his arms were not impenetrable (when he was cured indeed
by his mother’s help, because he was that day to conclude the war by the
death of Turnus), the poet durst not carry the miracle too far and
restore him wholly to his former vigour; he was still too weak to
overtake his enemy, yet we see with what courage he attacks Turnus when
he faces and renews the combat.  I need say no more, for Virgil defends
himself without needing my assistance, and proves his hero truly to
deserve that name.  He was not, then, a second-rate champion, as they
would have him who think fortitude the first virtue in a hero.

But being beaten from this hold, they will not yet allow him to be
valiant, because he wept more often, as they think, than well becomes a
man of courage.

In the first place, if tears are arguments of cowardice, what shall I say
of Homer’s hero?  Shall Achilles pass for timorous because he wept, and
wept on less occasions than Æneas?  Herein Virgil must be granted to have
excelled his master; for once both heroes are described lamenting their
lost loves: Briseis was taken away by force from the Grecians, Creusa was
lost for ever to her husband.  But Achilles went roaring along the salt
sea-shore, and, like a booby, was complaining to his mother when he
should have revenged his injury by arms: Æneas took a nobler course; for,
having secured his father and his son, he repeated all his former dangers
to have found his wife, if she had been above ground.  And here your
lordship may observe the address of Virgil; it was not for nothing that
this passage was related, with all these tender circumstances.  Æneas
told it, Dido heard it.  That he had been so affectionate a husband was
no ill argument to the coming dowager that he might prove as kind to her.
Virgil has a thousand secret beauties, though I have not leisure to
remark them.

Segrais, on this subject of a hero’s shedding tears, observes that
historians commend Alexander for weeping when he read the mighty actions
of Achilles; and Julius Cæsar is likewise praised when out of the same
noble envy, he wept at the victories of Alexander.  But if we observe
more closely, we shall find that the tears of Æneas were always on a
laudable occasion.  Thus he weeps out of compassion and tenderness of
nature when in the temple of Carthage he beholds the pictures of his
friends who sacrificed their lives in defence of their country.  He
deplores the lamentable end of his pilot Palinurus, the untimely death of
young Pallas his confederate, and the rest which I omit.  Yet even for
these tears his wretched critics dare condemn him; they make Æneas little
better than a kind of St. Swithin hero, always raining.  One of these
censors was bold enough to argue him of cowardice, when in the beginning
of the first book he not only weeps, but trembles, at an approaching

    “_Extemplo Æneæ solvuntur frigore membra_:
    _Ingemit_, _et duplices tendens ad sidera palmas_,” &c.

But to this I have answered formerly that his fear was not for himself,
but for his people.  And who can give a sovereign a better commendation,
or recommend a hero more to the affection of the reader?  They were
threatened with a tempest, and he wept; he was promised Italy, and
therefore he prayed for the accomplishment of that promise;—all this in
the beginning of a storm; therefore he showed the more early piety and
the quicker sense of compassion.  Thus much I have urged elsewhere in the
defence of Virgil: and since, I have been informed by Mr. Moyle, a young
gentleman whom I can never sufficiently commend, that the ancients
accounted drowning an accursed death.  So that if we grant him to have
been afraid, he had just occasion for that fear, both in relation to
himself and to his subjects.  I think our adversaries can carry this
argument no farther, unless they tell us that he ought to have had more
confidence in the promise of the gods.  But how was he assured that he
had understood their oracles aright?  Helenus might be mistaken; Phoebus
might speak doubtfully; even his mother might flatter him that he might
prosecute his voyage, which if it succeeded happily he should be the
founder of an empire: for that she herself was doubtful of his fortune is
apparent by the address she made to Jupiter on his behalf; to which the
god makes answer in these words:—

    “_Parce metu_, _Cytherea_, _manent immota tuorum_
    _Fata tibi_,” &c.

Notwithstanding which the goddess, though comforted, was not assured; for
even after this, through the course of the whole “Æneis,” she still
apprehends the interest which Juno might make with Jupiter against her
son.  For it was a moot point in heaven whether he could alter fate or
not; and indeed some passages in Virgil would make us suspect that he was
of opinion Jupiter might defer fate, though he could not alter it; for in
the latter end of the tenth book he introduces Juno begging for the life
of Turnus, and flattering her husband with the power of changing destiny,
_tua_, _qui potes_, _orsa reflectas_!  To which he graciously answers—

    “_Si mora præsentis leti_, _tempusque caduco_
    _Oratur juveni_, _meque hoc ita ponere sentis_,
    _Tolle fugâ Turnum_, _atquc instantibus eripe fatis_.
    _Hactenus indulsisse vacat_.  _Sin altior istis_
    _Sub precibus venia ulla latet_, _totumque moveri_
    _Mutarive putas bellum_, _spes pascis inanis_.”

But that he could not alter those decrees the king of gods himself
confesses in the book above cited, when he comforts Hercules for the
death of Pallas, who had invoked his aid before he threw his lance at

             “_Trojæ sub mænibus altis_
    _Tot nati cecidere deûm_; _quin occidit unà_
    _Sarpedon_, _mea progenies_; _etiam sua Turnum_
    _Fata vocant_, _metasque dati pervenit ad ævi_.”

Where he plainly acknowledges that he could not save his own son, or
prevent the death which he foresaw.  Of his power to defer the blow, I
once occasionally discoursed with that excellent person Sir Robert
Howard, who is better conversant than any man that I know in the doctrine
of the Stoics, and he set me right, from the concurrent testimony of
philosophers and poets, that Jupiter could not retard the effects of
fate, even for a moment; for when I cited Virgil as favouring the
contrary opinion in that verse—

    “_Tolle fugâ Turnum_, _atque instantibus eripe fatis_”—

he replied, and I think with exact judgment, that when Jupiter gave Juno
leave to withdraw Turnus from the present danger, it was because he
certainly foreknew that his fatal hour was not come, that it was in
destiny for Juno at that time to save him, and that himself obeyed
destiny in giving her that leave.

I need say no more in justification of our hero’s courage, and am much
deceived if he ever be attacked on this side of his character again.  But
he is arraigned with more show of reason by the ladies, who will make a
numerous party against him, for being false to love in forsaking Dido;
and I cannot much blame them, for, to say the truth, it is an ill
precedent for their gallants to follow.  Yet if I can bring him off with
flying colours, they may learn experience at her cost; and for her sake
avoid a cave as the worse shelter they can choose from a shower of rain,
especially when they have a lover in their company.

In the first place, Segrais observes with much acuteness that they who
blame Æneas for his insensibility of love when he left Carthage,
contradict their former accusation of him for being always crying,
compassionate, and effeminately sensible of those misfortunes which
befell others.  They give him two contrary characters; but Virgil makes
him of a piece, always grateful, always tender-hearted.  But they are
impudent enough to discharge themselves of this blunder by laying the
contradiction at Virgil’s door.  He, they say, has shown his hero with
these inconsistent characters—acknowledging and ungrateful, compassionate
and hard-hearted, but at the bottom fickle and self-interested; for Dido
had not only received his weather-beaten troops before she saw him, and
given them her protection, but had also offered them an equal share in
her dominion:—

    “_Vultis et his mecum pariter considere regnis_?
    _Urbem quam statuo_, _vesra est_.”

This was an obligement never to be forgotten, and the more to be
considered because antecedent to her love.  That passion, it is true,
produced the usual effects of generosity, gallantry, and care to please,
and thither we refer them; but when she had made all these advances, it
was still in his power to have refused them.  After the intrigue of the
cave—call it marriage, or enjoyment only—he was no longer free to take or
leave; he had accepted the favour, and was obliged to be constant, if he
would be grateful.

My lord, I have set this argument in the best light I can, that the
ladies may not think I write booty; and perhaps it may happen to me, as
it did to Doctor Cudworth, who has raised such strong objections against
the being of a God and Providence, that many think he has not answered
them.  You may please at least to hear the adverse party.  Segrais pleads
for Virgil that no less than an absolute command from Jupiter could
excuse this insensibility of the hero, and this abrupt departure, which
looks so like extreme ingratitude; but at the same time he does wisely to
remember you that Virgil had made piety the first character of Æneas; and
this being allowed, as I am afraid it must, he was obliged, antecedent to
all other considerations, to search an asylum for his gods in Italy—for
those very gods, I say, who had promised to his race the universal
empire.  Could a pious man dispense with the commands of Jupiter to
satisfy his passion, or—take it in the strongest sense—to comply with the
obligations of his gratitude?  Religion, it is true, must have moral
honesty for its groundwork, or we shall be apt to suspect its truth; but
an immediate revelation dispenses with all duties of morality.  All
casuists agree that theft is a breach of the moral law; yet if I might
presume to mingle things sacred with profane, the Israelites only spoiled
the Egyptians, not robbed them, because the propriety was transferred by
a revelation to their lawgiver.  I confess Dido was a very infidel in
this point; for she would not believe, as Virgil makes her say, that ever
Jupiter would send Mercury on such an immoral errand.  But this needs no
answer—at least, no more than Virgil gives it:—

    “_Fata obstant_, _placidasque viri Deus obstruit aures_.”

This notwithstanding, as Segrais confesses, he might have shown a little
more sensibility when he left her, for that had been according to his

But let Virgil answer for himself.  He still loved her, and struggled
with his inclinations to obey the gods:—

          “_Curam sub corde premebat_,
    _Multa gemens_, _magnoque animum labefactus amore_.”

Upon the whole matter, and humanly speaking, I doubt there was a fault
somewhere, and Jupiter is better able to bear the blame than either
Virgil or Æneas.  The poet, it seems, had found it out, and therefore
brings the deserting hero and the forsaken lady to meet together in the
lower regions, where he excuses himself when it is too late, and
accordingly she will take no satisfaction, nor so much as hear him.  Now
Segrais is forced to abandon his defence, and excuses his author by
saying that the “Æneis” is an imperfect work, and that death prevented
the divine poet from reviewing it, and for that reason he had condemned
it to the fire, though at the same time his two translators must
acknowledge that the sixth book is the most correct of the whole “Æneis.”
Oh, how convenient is a machine sometimes in a heroic poem!  This of
Mercury is plainly one; and Virgil was constrained to use it here, or the
honesty of his hero would be ill defended; and the fair sex, however, if
they had the deserter in their power, would certainly have shown him no
more mercy than the Bacchanals did Orpheus: for if too much constancy may
be a fault sometimes, then want of constancy, and ingratitude after the
last favour, is a crime that never will be forgiven.  But of machines,
more in their proper place, where I shall show with how much judgment
they have been used by Virgil; and in the meantime pass to another
article of his defence on the present subject, where, if I cannot clear
the hero, I hope at least to bring off the poet, for here I must divide
their causes.  Let Æneas trust to his machine, which will only help to
break his fall; but the address is incomparable.  Plato, who borrowed so
much from Homer, and yet concluded for the banishment of all poets, would
at least have rewarded Virgil before he sent him into exile; but I go
farther, and say that he ought to be acquitted, and deserved, beside, the
bounty of Augustus and the gratitude of the Roman people.  If after this
the ladies will stand out, let them remember that the jury is not all
agreed; for Octavia was of his party, and was of the first quality in
Rome: she was also present at the reading of the sixth Æneid, and we know
not that she condemned Æneas, but we are sure she presented the poet for
his admirable elegy on her son Marcellus.

But let us consider the secret reasons which Virgil had for thus framing
this noble episode, wherein the whole passion of love is more exactly
described than in any other poet.  Love was the theme of his fourth book;
and though it is the shortest of the whole “Æneis,” yet there he has
given its beginning, its progress, its traverses, and its conclusion; and
had exhausted so entirely this subject that he could resume it but very
slightly in the eight ensuing books.

She was warmed with the graceful appearance of the hero; she smothered
those sparkles out of decency, but conversation blew them up into a
flame.  Then she was forced to make a confidante of her whom she best
might trust, her own sister, who approves the passion, and thereby
augments it; then succeeds her public owning it; and after that the
consummation.  Of Venus and Juno, Jupiter and Mercury, I say nothing (for
they were all machining work); but possession having cooled his love, as
it increased hers, she soon perceived the change, or at least grew
suspicious of a change.  This suspicion soon turned to jealousy, and
jealousy to rage; then she disdains and threatens, and again is humble
and entreats: and, nothing availing, despairs, curses, and at last
becomes her own executioner.  See here the whole process of that passion,
to which nothing can be added.  I dare go no farther, lest I should lose
the connection of my discourse.

To love our native country, and to study its benefit and its glory; to be
interested in its concerns, is natural to all men, and is indeed our
common duty.  A poet makes a farther step for endeavouring to do honour
to it.  It is allowable in him even to be partial in its cause; for he is
not tied to truth, or fettered by the laws of history.  Homer and Tasso
are justly praised for choosing their heroes out of Greece and Italy;
Virgil, indeed, made his a Trojan, but it was to derive the Romans and
his own Augustus from him; but all the three poets are manifestly partial
to their heroes in favour of their country.  For Dares Phrygius reports
of Hector that he was slain cowardly; Æneas, according to the best
account, slew not Mezentius, but was slain by him; and the chronicles of
Italy tell us little of that Rinaldo d’Este who conquers Jerusalem in
Tasso.  He might be a champion of the Church, but we know not that he was
so much as present at the siege.  To apply this to Virgil, he thought
himself engaged in honour to espouse the cause and quarrel of his country
against Carthage.  He knew he could not please the Romans better, or
oblige them more to patronise his poem, than by disgracing the foundress
of that city.  He shows her ungrateful to the memory of her first
husband, doting on a stranger, enjoyed and afterwards forsaken by him.
This was the original, says he, of the immortal hatred betwixt the two
rival nations.  It is true, he colours the falsehood of Æneas by an
express command from Jupiter to forsake the queen who had obliged him;
but he knew the Romans were to be his readers, and them he bribed—perhaps
at the expense of his hero’s honesty; but he gained his cause, however,
as pleading before corrupt judges.  They were content to see their
founder false to love, for still he had the advantage of the amour.  It
was their enemy whom he forsook, and she might have forsaken him if he
had not got the start of her.  She had already forgotten her vows to her
Sichæus, and _varium et nutabile semper femina_ is the sharpest satire in
the fewest words that ever was made on womankind; for both the adjectives
are neuter, and _animal_ must be understood to make them grammar.  Virgil
does well to put those words into the mouth of Mercury.  If a god had not
spoken them, neither durst he have written them, nor I translated them.
Yet the deity was forced to come twice on the same errand; and the second
time, as much a hero as Æneas was, he frighted him.  It seems he feared
not Jupiter so much as Dido; for your lordship may observe that, as much
intent as he was upon his voyage, yet he still delayed it, till the
messenger was obliged to tell him plainly that if he weighed not anchor
in the night the queen would be with him in the morning, _notumque furens
quid femina possit_: she was injured, she was revengeful, she was
powerful.  The poet had likewise before hinted that the people were
naturally perfidious, for he gives their character in the queen, and
makes a proverb of _Punica fides_ many ages before it was invented.

Thus I hope, my lord, that I have made good my promise, and justified the
poet, whatever becomes of the false knight.  And, sure, a poet is as much
privileged to lie as an ambassador for the honour and interest of his
country—at least, as Sir Henry Wotton has defined.

This naturally leads me to the defence of the famous anachronism in
making Æneas and Dido contemporaries, for it is certain that the hero
lived almost two hundred years before the building of Carthage.  One who
imitates Boccalini says that Virgil was accused before Apollo for this
error.  The god soon found that he was not able to defend his favourite
by reason, for the case was clear; he therefore gave this middle
sentence: that anything might be allowed to his son Virgil on the account
of his other merits; that, being a monarch, he had a dispensing power,
and pardoned him.  But that this special act of grace might never be
drawn into example, or pleaded by his puny successors in justification of
their ignorance, he decreed for the future—no poet should presume to make
a lady die for love two hundred years before her birth.  To moralise this
story, Virgil is the Apollo who has this dispensing power.  His great
judgment made the laws of poetry, but he never made himself a slave to
them; chronology at best is but a cobweb law, and he broke through it
with his weight.  They who will imitate him wisely must choose, as he
did, an obscure and a remote era, where they may invent at pleasure, and
not be easily contradicted.  Neither he nor the Romans had ever read the
Bible, by which only his false computation of times can be made out
against him.  This Segrais says in his defence, and proves it from his
learned friend Bochartus, whose letter on this subject he has printed at
the end of the fourth Æneid, to which I refer your lordship and the
reader.  Yet the credit of Virgil was so great that he made this fable of
his own invention pass for an authentic history, or at least as credible
as anything in Homer.  Ovid takes it up after him even in the same age,
and makes an ancient heroine of Virgil’s new-created Dido; dictates a
letter for her, just before her death, to the ingrateful fugitive; and,
very unluckily for himself, is for measuring a sword with a man so much
superior in force to him on the same subject.  I think I may be judge of
this, because I have translated both.  The famous author of “The Art of
Love” has nothing of his own; he borrows all from a greater master in his
own profession, and, which is worse, improves nothing which he finds.
Nature fails him; and, being forced to his old shift, he has recourse to
witticism.  This passes, indeed, with his soft admirers, and gives him
the preference to Virgil in their esteem; but let them like for
themselves, and not prescribe to others, for our author needs not their

The motive that induced Virgil to coin this fable I have showed already,
and have also begun to show that he might make this anachronism, by
superseding the mechanic rules of poetry, for the same reason that a
monarch may dispense with or suspend his own laws when he finds it
necessary so to do, especially if those laws are not altogether
fundamental.  Nothing is to be called a fault in poetry, says Aristotle,
but what is against the art; therefore a man may be an admirable poet
without being an exact chronologer.  Shall we dare, continues Segrais, to
condemn Virgil for having made a fiction against the order of time, when
we commend Ovid and other poets who have made many of their fictions
against the order of nature?  For what else are the splendid miracles of
the “Metamorphoses?”  Yet these are beautiful as they are related, and
have also deep learning and instructive mythologies couched under them.
But to give, as Virgil does in this episode, the original cause of the
long wars betwixt Rome and Carthage; to draw truth out of fiction after
so probable a manner, with so much beauty, and so much for the honour of
his country, was proper only to the divine wit of Maro; and Tasso, in one
of his discourses, admires him for this particularly.  It is not lawful
indeed to contradict a point of history which is known to all the
world—as, for example, to make Hannibal and Scipio contemporaries with
Alexander—but in the dark recesses of antiquity a great poet may and
ought to feign such things as he finds not there, if they can be brought
to embellish that subject which he treats.  On the other side, the pains
and diligence of ill poets is but thrown away when they want the genius
to invent and feign agreeably.  But if the fictions be delightful (which
they always are if they be natural) if they be of a piece; if the
beginning, the middle, and the end be in their due places, and artfully
united to each other, such works can never fail of their deserved
success.  And such is Virgil’s episode of Dido and Æneas, where the
sourest critic must acknowledge that if he had deprived his “Æneis” of so
great an ornament, because he found no traces of it in antiquity, he had
avoided their unjust censure, but had wanted one of the greatest beauties
of his poem.

I shall say more of this in the next article of their charge against him,
which is—want of invention.  In the meantime I may affirm, in honour of
this episode, that it is not only now esteemed the most pleasing
entertainment of the “Æneis,” but was so accounted in his own age, and
before it was mellowed into that reputation which time has given it; for
which I need produce no other testimony than that of Ovid, his

    “_Nec pars ulla magis legitur de corpore toto_,
    _Quam non legitimo fædere junctus amor_.”

Where, by the way, you may observe, my lord, that Ovid in those words,
_non legitimo fædere junctus amor_, will by no means allow it to be a
lawful marriage betwixt Dido and Æneas.  He was in banishment when he
wrote those verses, which I cite from his letter to Augustus.  “You,
sir,” saith he, “have sent me into exile for writing my ‘Art of Love’ and
my wanton elegies; yet your own poet was happy in your good graces,
though he brought Dido and Æneas into a cave, and left them there not
over-honestly together: may I be so bold to ask your majesty is it a
greater fault to teach the art of unlawful love than to show it in the
action?”  But was Ovid the court-poet so bad a courtier as to find no
other plea to excuse himself than by a plain accusation of his master?
Virgil confessed it was a lawful marriage betwixt the lovers; that Juno,
the goddess of matrimony, had ratified it by her presence (for it was her
business to bring matters to that issue): that the ceremonies were short
we may believe, for Dido was not only amorous, but a widow.  Mercury
himself, though employed on a quite contrary errand, yet owns it a
marriage by an innuendo—_pulchramque uxorius urbem extruis_.  He calls
Æneas not only a husband, but upbraids him for being a fond husband, as
the word _uxorius_ implies.  Now mark a little, if your lordship pleases,
why Virgil is so much concerned to make this marriage (for he seems to be
the father of the bride himself, and to give her to the bridegroom); it
was to make way for the divorce which he intended afterwards, for he was
a finer flatterer than Ovid, and I more than conjecture that he had in
his eye the divorce which not long before had passed betwixt the emperor
and Scribonia.  He drew this dimple in the cheek of Æneas to prove
Augustus of the same family by so remarkable a feature in the same place.
Thus, as we say in our home-spun English proverb, he killed two birds
with one stone—pleased the emperor by giving him the resemblance of his
ancestor, and gave him such a resemblance as was not scandalous in that
age (for to leave one wife and take another was but a matter of gallantry
at that time of day among the Romans).  _Neque hæc in fædera veni_ is the
very excuse which Æneas makes when he leaves his lady.  “I made no such
bargain with you at our marriage to live always drudging on at Carthage;
my business was Italy, and I never made a secret of it.  If I took my
pleasure, had not you your share of it?  I leave you free at my departure
to comfort yourself with the next stranger who happens to be shipwrecked
on your coast; be as kind an hostess as you have been to me, and you can
never fail of another husband.  In the meantime I call the gods to
witness that I leave your shore unwillingly; for though Juno made the
marriage, yet Jupiter commands me to forsake you.”  This is the effect of
what he saith when it is dishonoured out of Latin verse into English
prose.  If the poet argued not aright, we must pardon him for a poor
blind heathen, who knew no better morals.

I have detained your lordship longer than I intended on this objection,
which would indeed weigh something in a Spiritual Court;—but I am not to
defend our poet there.  The next, I think, is but a cavil, though the cry
is great against him, and hath continued from the time of Macrobius to
this present age; I hinted it before.  They lay no less than want of
invention to his charge—a capital charge, I must acknowledge; for a poet
is a maker, as the word signifies; and who cannot make—that is,
invent—hath his name for nothing.  That which makes this accusation look
so strong at the first sight is that he has borrowed so many things from
Homer, Apollonius Rhodius, and others who preceded him.  But in the first
place, if invention is to be taken in so strict a sense that the matter
of a poem must be wholly new, and that in all its parts, then Scaliger
hath made out, saith Segrais, that the history of Troy was no more the
invention of Homer than of Virgil.  There was not an old woman or almost
a child, but had it in their mouths before the Greek poet or his friends
digested it into this admirable order in which we read it.  At this rate,
as Solomon hath told us, there is nothing new beneath the sun.  Who,
then, can pass for an inventor if Homer as well as Virgil must be
deprived of that glory!  Is Versailles the less a new building because
the architect of that palace hath imitated others which were built before
it?  Walls, doors and windows, apartments, offices, rooms of convenience
and magnificence, are in all great houses.  So descriptions, figures,
fables, and the rest, must be in all heroic poems; they are the common
materials of poetry, furnished from the magazine of nature: every poet
hath as much right to them as every man hath to air or water:

    “_Quid prohibetis aquas_?  _Usus communis aquarum est_.”

But the argument of the work (that is to say, its principal action), the
economy and disposition of it—these are the things which distinguish
copies from originals.  The Poet who borrows nothing from others is yet
to be born; he and the Jews’ Messias will come together.  There are parts
of the “Æneis” which resemble some parts both of the “Ilias” and of the
“Odysses;” as, for example, Æneas descended into hell, and Ulysses had
been there before him; Æneas loved Dido, and Ulysses loved Calypso: in
few words, Virgil hath imitated Homer’s “Odysses” in his first six books,
and in his six last the “Ilias.”  But from hence can we infer that the
two poets write the same history?  Is there no invention in some other
parts of Virgil’s “Æneis?”  The disposition of so many various matters,
is not that his own?  From what book of Homer had Virgil his episode of
Nysus and Euryalus, of Mezentius and Lausus?  From whence did he borrow
his design of bringing Æneas into Italy? of establishing the Roman Empire
on the foundations of a Trojan colony? to say nothing of the honour he
did his patron, not only in his descent from Venus, but in making him so
like her in his best features that the goddess might have mistaken
Augustus for her son.  He had indeed the story from common fame, as Homer
had his from the Egyptian priestess.  _Æneadum genetriæ_ was no more
unknown to Lucretius than to him; but Lucretius taught him not to form
his hero, to give him piety or valour for his manners—and both in so
eminent a degree that, having done what was possible for man to save his
king and country, his mother was forced to appear to him and restrain his
fury, which hurried him to death in their revenge.  But the poet made his
piety more successful; he brought off his father and his son; and his
gods witnessed to his devotion by putting themselves under his
protection, to be replaced by him in their promised Italy.  Neither the
invention nor the conduct of this great action were owing to Homer or any
other poet; it is one thing to copy, and another thing to imitate from
nature.  The copier is that servile imitator to whom Horace gives no
better a name than that of animal; he will not so much as allow him to be
a man.  Raffaelle imitated nature; they who copy one of Raffaelle’s
pieces, imitate but him, for his work is their original.  They translate
him, as I do Virgil; and fall as short of him as I of Virgil.  There is a
kind of invention in the imitation of Raffaelle; for though the thing was
in nature, yet the idea of it was his own.  Ulysses travelled, so did
Æneas; but neither of them were the first travellers: for Cain went into
the land of Nod before they were born, and neither of the poets ever
heard of such a man.  If Ulysses had been killed at Troy, yet Æneas must
have gone to sea, or he could never have arrived in Italy; but the
designs of the two poets were as different as the courses of their
heroes—one went home, and the other sought a home.

To return to my first similitude.  Suppose Apelles and Raffaelle had each
of them painted a burning Troy, might not the modern painter have
succeeded as well as the ancient, though neither of them had seen the
town on fire?  For the drafts of both were taken from the ideas which
they had of nature.  Cities have been burnt before either of them were in
being.  But to close the simile as I began it: they would not have
designed it after the same manner; Apelles would have distinguished
Pyrrhus from the rest of all the Grecians, and showed him forcing his
entrance into Priam’s palace; there he had set him in the fairest light,
and given him the chief place of all his figures, because he was a
Grecian and he would do honour to his country.  Raffaelle, who was an
Italian, and descended from the Trojans, would have made Æneas the hero
of his piece, and perhaps not with his father on his back, his son in one
hand, his bundle of gods in the other, and his wife following (for an act
of piety is not half so graceful in a picture as an act of courage); he
would rather have drawn him killing Androgeus or some other hand to hand,
and the blaze of the fires should have darted full upon his face, to make
him conspicuous amongst his Trojans.  This, I think, is a just comparison
betwixt the two poets in the conduct of their several designs.  Virgil
cannot be said to copy Homer; the Grecian had only the advantage of
writing first.  If it be urged that I have granted a resemblance in some
parts, yet therein Virgil has excelled him; for what are the tears of
Calypso for being left, to the fury and death of Dido?  Where is there
the whole process of her passion and all its violent effects to be found
in the languishing episode of the “Odysses”?  If this be to copy, let the
critics show us the same disposition, features, or colouring in their
original.  The like may be said of the descent to hell, which was not of
Homer’s invention either; he had it from the story of Orpheus and
Eurydice.  But to what end did Ulysses make that journey?  Æneas
undertook it by the express commandment of his father’s ghost.  There he
was to show him all the succeeding heroes of his race, and next to
Romulus (mark, if you please the address of Virgil) his own patron,
Augustus Cæsar.  Anchises was likewise to instruct him how to manage the
Italian war, and how to conclude it with his honour—that is, in other
words, to lay the foundations of that empire which Augustus was to
govern.  This is the noble invention of our author, but it hath been
copied by so many sign-post daubers that now it is grown fulsome, rather
by their want of skill than by the commonness.

In the last place.  I may safely grant that by reading Homer, Virgil was
taught to imitate his invention—that is to imitate like him (which is no
more than if a painter studied Raffaelle that he might learn to design
after his manner).  And thus I might imitate Virgil if I were capable of
writing an heroic poem, and yet the invention be my own; but I should
endeavour to avoid a servile copying.  I would not give the same story
under other names, with the same characters, in the same order, and with
the same sequel, for every common reader to find me out at the first
sight for a plagiary, and cry, “This I read before in Virgil in a better
language and in better verse.”  This is like Merry-Andrew on the low rope
copying lubberly the same tricks which his master is so dexterously
performing on the high.

I will trouble your lordship but with one objection more, which I know
not whether I found in Le Febvre or Valois, but I am sure I have read it
in another French critic, whom I will not name because I think it is not
much for his reputation.  Virgil in the heat of action—suppose, for
example, in describing the fury of his hero in a battle (when he is
endeavouring to raise our concernments to the highest pitch)—turns short
on the sudden into some similitude which diverts, say they, your
attention from the main subject, and misspends it on some trivial image.
He pours cold water into the caldron when his business is to make it

This accusation is general against all who would be thought heroic poets,
but I think it touches Virgil less than any; he is too great a master of
his art to make a blot which may so easily be hit.  Similitudes (as I
have said) are not for tragedy, which is all violent, and where the
passions are in a perpetual ferment; for there they deaden, where they
should animate; they are not of the nature of dialogue unless in comedy.
A metaphor is almost all the stage can suffer, which is a kind of
similitude comprehended in a word.  But this figure has a contrary effect
in heroic poetry; there it is employed to raise the admiration, which is
its proper business; and admiration is not of so violent a nature as fear
or hope, compassion or horror, or any concernment we can have for such or
such a person on the stage.  Not but I confess that similitudes and
descriptions when drawn into an unreasonable length must needs nauseate
the reader.  Once I remember (and but once) Virgil makes a similitude of
fourteen lines, and his description of Fame is about the same number.  He
is blamed for both, and I doubt not but he would have contracted them had
be lived to have reviewed his work; but faults are no precedents.  This I
have observed of his similitudes in general—that they are not placed (as
our unobserving critics tell us) in the heat of any action, but commonly
in its declining; when he has warmed us in his description as much as
possibly he can, then (lest that warmth should languish) he renews it by
some apt similitude which illustrates his subject and yet palls not his
audience.  I need give your lordship but one example of this kind, and
leave the rest to your observation when next you review the whole “Æneis”
in the original, unblemished by my rude translation; it is in the first
hook, where the poet describes Neptune composing the ocean, on which
Æolus had raised a tempest without his permission.  He had already
chidden the rebellious winds for obeying the commands of their usurping
master; he had warned them from the seas; he had beaten down the billows
with his mace; dispelled the clouds, restored the sunshine, while Triton
and Cymothoe were heaving the ships from off the quicksands, before the
poet would offer at a similitude for illustration:—

    “_Ac_, _veluti magno in populo cum sæpe coorta est_
    _Seditio_, _sævitque animis ignobile vulgus_;
    _Jamque faces_, _et saxa volant_; _furor arma ministrat_;
    _Tum_, _pietate gravem ac meritis si forte virum quem_
    _Conspexere_, _silent_, _arrectisque auribus adstant_:
    _Ille regit dictis animos_, _et pectora mulcet_:
    _Sic cunctus pelagi cecidit fragor_, _æquora postquam_
    _Prospiciens genitor_, _coeloque invectus aperto_
    _Flectit equos_, _curruque volans dat lora secundo_.”

This is the first similitude which Virgil makes in this poem, and one of
the longest in the whole, for which reason I the rather cite it.  While
the storm was in its fury, any allusion had been improper; for the poet
could have compared it to nothing more impetuous than itself;
consequently he could have made no illustration.  If he could have
illustrated, it had been an ambitious ornament out of season, and would
have diverted our concernment (_nunc non erat his locus_), and therefore
he deferred it to its proper place.

These are the criticisms of most moment which have been made against the
“Æneis” by the ancients or moderns.  As for the particular exceptions
against this or that passage, Macrobius and Pontanus have answered them
already.  If I desired to appear more learned than I am, it had been as
easy for me to have taken their objections and solutions as it is for a
country parson to take the expositions of the Fathers out of Junius and
Tremellius, or not to have named the authors from whence I had them; for
so Ruæus (otherwise a most judicious commentator on Virgil’s works) has
used Pontanus, his greatest benefactor, of whom he is very silent, and I
do not remember that he once cites him.

What follows next is no objection; for that implies a fault, and it had
been none in Virgil if he had extended the time of his action beyond a
year—at least, Aristotle has set no precise limits to it.  Homer’s, we
know, was within two months; Tasso; I am sure, exceeds not a summer, and
if I examined him perhaps he might be reduced into a much less compass.
Bossu leaves it doubtful whether Virgil’s action were within the year, or
took up some months beyond it.  Indeed, the whole dispute is of no more
concernment to the common reader than it is to a ploughman whether
February this year had twenty-eight or twenty-nine days in it; but for
the satisfaction of the more curious (of which number I am sure your
lordship is one) I will translate what I think convenient out of Segrais,
whom perhaps you have not read, for he has made it highly probable that
the action of the “Æneis” began in the spring, and was not extended
beyond the autumn; and we have known campaigns that have begun sooner and
have ended later.

Ronsard and the rest whom Segrais names, who are of opinion that the
action of this poem takes up almost a year and half, ground their
calculation thus:—Anchises died in Sicily at the end of winter or
beginning of the spring.  Æneas, immediately after the interment of his
father, puts to sea for Italy; he is surprised by the tempest described
in the beginning of the first book; and there it is that the scene of the
poem opens, and where the action must commence.  He is driven by this
storm on the coasts of Africa; he stays at Carthage all that summer, and
almost all the winter following; sets sail again for Italy just before
the beginning of the spring; meets with contrary winds, and makes Sicily
the second time.  This part of the action completes the year.  Then he
celebrates the anniversary of his father’s funerals, and shortly after
arrives at Cumes.  And from thence his time is taken up in his first
treaty with Latinus; the overture of the war; the siege of his camp by
Turnus; his going for succours to relieve it; his return; the raising of
the siege by the first battle; the twelve days’ truce; the second battle;
the assault of Laurentum, and the single fight with Turnus—all which,
they say, cannot take up less than four or five months more, by which
account we cannot suppose the entire action to be contained in a much
less compass than a year and half.

Segrais reckons another way, and his computation is not condemned by the
learned Ruæus, who compiled and published the commentaries on our poet
which we call the “Dauphin’s Virgil.”  He allows the time of year when
Anchises died to be in the latter end of winter or the beginning of the
spring; he acknowledges that when Æneas is first seen at sea afterwards,
and is driven by the tempest on the coast of Africa, is the time when the
action is naturally to begin; he confesses farther, that Æneas left
Carthage in the latter end of winter, for Dido tells him in express
terms, as an argument for his longer stay—

    “_Quin etiam hiberno moliris sidere classem_.”

But whereas Ronsard’s followers suppose that when Æneas had buried his
father he set sail immediately for Italy (though the tempest drove him on
the coast of Carthage), Segrais will by no means allow that supposition,
but thinks it much more probable that he remained in Sicily till the
midst of July or the beginning of August, at which time he places the
first appearance of his hero on the sea, and there opens the action of
the poem.  From which beginning, to the death of Turnus, which concludes
the action, there need not be supposed above ten months of intermediate
time; for arriving at Carthage in the latter end of summer, staying there
the winter following, departing thence in the very beginning of the
spring, making a short abode in Sicily the second time, landing in Italy,
and making the war, may be reasonably judged the business but of ten
months.  To this the Ronsardians reply that, having been for seven years
before in quest of Italy, and having no more to do in Sicily than to
inter his father—after that office was performed, what remained for him
but without delay to pursue his first adventure?  To which Segrais
answers that the obsequies of his father, according to the rites of the
Greeks and Romans, would detain him for many days; that a longer time
must be taken up in the re-fitting of his ships after so tedious a
voyage, and in refreshing his weather-beaten soldiers on a friendly
coast.  These indeed are but suppositions on both sides, yet those of
Segrais seem better grounded; for the feast of Dido, when she entertained
Æneas first, has the appearance of a summer’s night, which seems already
almost ended, when he begins his story.  Therefore the love was made in
autumn; the hunting followed properly, when the heats of that scorching
country were declining.  The winter was passed in jollity, as the season
and their love required; and he left her in the latter end of winter, as
is already proved.  This opinion is fortified by the arrival of Æneas at
the mouth of Tiber, which marks the season of the spring, that season
being perfectly described by the singing of the birds saluting the dawn,
and by the beauty of the place, which the poet seems to have painted
expressly in the seventh Æneid:—

    “_Aurora in roseis fulgebat lutea bigis_,
    _Cùm venti posuere_ . . .
    . . . _variæ circumque supraque_
    _Assuetæ ripis volucres_, _et fluminis alveo_,
    _Æthera mulcebant cantu_.”

The remainder of the action required but three months more; for when
Æneas went for succour to the Tuscans, he found their army in a readiness
to march and wanting only a commander: so that, according to this
calculation, the “Æneas” takes not up above a year complete, and may be
comprehended in less compass.

This, amongst other circumstances treated more at large by Segrais,
agrees with the rising of Orion, which caused the tempest described in
the beginning of the first book.  By some passages in the “Pastorals,”
but more particularly in the “Georgics,” our poet is found to be an exact
astronomer, according to the knowledge of that age.  Now Ilioneus, whom
Virgil twice employs in embassies as the best speaker of the Trojans,
attributes that tempest to Orion in his speech to Dido:—

    “Cum subito assurgens fluctu nimbosus Orion.”

He must mean either the heliacal or achronical rising of that sign.  The
heliacal rising of a constellation is when it comes from under the rays
of the sun, and begins to appear before daylight.  The achronical rising,
on the contrary, is when it appears at the close of day, and in
opposition of the sun’s diurnal course.  The heliacal rising of Orion is
at present computed to be about the 6th of July; and about that time it
is that he either causes or presages tempests on the seas.

Segrais has observed farther, that when Anna counsels Dido to stay Æneas
during the winter, she speaks also of Orion:—

    “_Dum pelago desævit hiems_, _et aquosus Orion_.”

If therefore Ilioneus, according to our supposition, understand the
heliacal rising of Orion, Anna must mean the achronical, which the
different epithets given to that constellation seem to manifest.
Ilioneus calls him _nimbosus_, Anna, _aquosus_.  He is tempestuous in the
summer, when he rises heliacally; and rainy in the winter, when he rises
achronically.  Your lordship will pardon me for the frequent repetition
of these cant words, which I could not avoid in this abbreviation of
Segrais, who, I think, deserves no little commendation in this new

I have yet a word or two to say of Virgil’s machines, from my own
observation of them.  He has imitated those of Homer, but not copied
them.  It was established long before this time, in the Roman religion as
well as in the Greek, that there were gods, and both nations for the most
part worshipped the same deities, as did also the Trojans (from whom the
Romans, I suppose, would rather be thought to derive the rites of their
religion than from the Grecians, because they thought themselves
descended from them).  Each of those gods had his proper office, and the
chief of them their particular attendants.  Thus Jupiter had in propriety
Ganymede and Mercury, and Juno had Iris.  It was not for Virgil, then, to
Create new ministers; he must take what he found in his religion.  It
cannot therefore be said that he borrowed them from Homer, any more than
from Apollo, Diana, and the rest, whom he uses as he finds occasion for
them, as the Grecian poet did; but he invents the occasions for which he
uses them.  Venus, after the destruction of Troy, had gained Neptune
entirely to her party; therefore we find him busy in the beginning of the
“Æneis” to calm the tempest raised by Æolus, and afterwards conducting
the Trojan fleet to Cumes in safety, with the loss only of their pilot,
for whom he bargains.  I name those two examples—amongst a hundred which
I omit—to prove that Virgil, generally speaking, employed his machines in
performing those things which might possibly have been done without them.
What more frequent than a storm at sea upon the rising of Orion?  What
wonder if amongst so many ships there should one be overset, which was
commanded by Orontes, though half the winds had not been there which
Æolus employed?  Might not Palinurus, without a miracle, fall asleep and
drop into the sea, having been over-wearied with watching, and secure of
a quiet passage by his observation of the skies?  At least Æneas, who
knew nothing of the machine of Somnus, takes it plainly in this sense:—

    “_O nimium coelo et pelago confise sereno_,
    _Nudus in ignotâ_, _Palinure_, _jacebis arenâ_.”

But machines sometimes are specious things to amuse the reader, and give
a colour of probability to things otherwise incredible; and, besides, it
soothed the vanity of the Romans to find the gods so visibly concerned in
all the actions of their predecessors.  We who are better taught by our
religion, yet own every wonderful accident which befalls us for the best,
to be brought to pass by some special providence of Almighty God, and by
the care of guardian angels; and from hence I might infer that no heroic
poem can be writ on the Epicurean principles, which I could easily
demonstrate if there were need to prove it or I had leisure.

When Venus opens the eyes of her son Æneas to behold the gods who
combated against Troy in that fatal night when it was surprised, we share
the pleasure of that glorious vision (which Tasso has not ill copied in
the sacking of Jerusalem).  But the Greeks had done their business though
neither Neptune, Juno, or Pallas had given them their divine assistance.
The most crude machine which Virgil uses is in the episode of Camilla,
where Opis by the command of her mistress kills Aruns.  The next is in
the twelfth Æneid, where Venus cures her son Æneas.  But in the last of
these the poet was driven to a necessity, for Turnus was to be slain that
very day; and Æneas, wounded as he was, could not have engaged him in
single combat unless his hurt had been miraculously healed and the poet
had considered that the dittany which she brought from Crete could not
have wrought so speedy an effect without the juice of ambrosia which she
mingled with it.  After all, that his machine might not seem too violent,
we see the hero limping after Turnus; the wound was skinned, but the
strength of his thigh was not restored.  But what reason had our author
to wound Æneas at so critical a time?  And how came the cuishes to be
worse tempered than the rest of his armour, which was all wrought by
Vulcan and his journeymen?  These difficulties are not easily to be
solved without confessing that Virgil had not life enough to correct his
work, though he had reviewed it and found those errors, which he resolved
to mend; but being prevented by death, and not willing to leave an
imperfect work behind him, he ordained by his last testament that his
“Æneis” should be burned.  As for the death of Aruns, who was shot by a
goddess, the machine was not altogether so outrageous as the wounding
Mars and Venus by the sword of Diomede.  Two divinities, one would have
thought, might have pleaded their prerogative of impassibility, or at
least not have been wounded by any mortal hand.  Beside that, the ἴχωρ
which they shed was so very like our common blood that it was not to be
distinguished from it but only by the name and colour.  As for what
Horace says in his “Art of Poetry,” that no machines are to be used
unless on some extraordinary occasion—

    “_Nec deus intersit_, _nisi dignus vindice nodus_”—

that rule is to be applied to the theatre, of which he is then speaking,
and means no more than this—that when the knot of the play is to be
untied, and no other way is left for making the discovery, then, and not
otherwise, let a god descend upon a rope, and clear the business to the
audience.  But this has no relation to the machines which are used in an
epic poem.

In the last place, for the dira, or flying pest which, flapping on the
shield of Turnus and fluttering about his head, disheartened him in the
duel, and presaged to him his approaching death—I might have placed it
more properly amongst the objections, for the critics who lay want of
courage to the charge of Virgil’s hero quote this passage as a main proof
of their assertion.  They say our author had not only secured him before
the duel, but also in the beginning of it had given him the advantage in
impenetrable arms and in his sword; for that of Turnus was not his own
(which was forged by Vulcan for his father), but a weapon which he had
snatched in haste, and by mistake, belonging to his charioteer Metiscus.
That after all this Jupiter, who was partial to the Trojan, and
distrustful of the event, though he had hung the balance and given it a
jog of his hand to weigh down Turnus, thought convenient to give the
Fates a collateral security by sending the screech-owl to discourage him;
for which they quote these words of Virgil:—

          “_Non me tua turbida virtus_
    _Terret_, _ait_; _dii me terrent_, _et Jupiter hostis_.”

In answer to which, I say that this machine is one of those which the
poet uses only for ornament, and not out of necessity.  Nothing can be
more beautiful or more poetical than his description of the three Diræ,
or the setting of the balance, which our Milton has borrowed from him,
but employed to a different end; for, first, he makes God Almighty set
the scales for St. Gabriel and Satan, when he knew no combat was to
follow; then he makes the good angel’s scale descend, and the devil’s
mount—quite contrary to Virgil, if I have translated the three verses
according to my author’s sense:—

    “_Jupiter ipse duas æquota examine lances_
    _Sustinet_, _et fata imponit diversa duorum_;
    _Quem damnet labor_, _et quo vergat pondere letum_.”

For I have taken these words _Quem damnet labor_ in the sense which
Virgil gives them in another place (_Damnabis tu quoque votis_), to
signify a prosperous event.  Yet I dare not condemn so great a genius as
Milton; for I am much mistaken if he alludes not to the text in Daniel
where Belshazzar was put into the balance and found too light.  This is
digression, and I return to my subject.  I said above that these two
machines of the balance and the Dira were only ornamental, and that the
success of the duel had been the same without them; for when Æneas and
Turnus stood fronting each other before the altar, Turnus looked
dejected, and his colour faded in his face, as if he desponded of the
victory before the fight; and not only he, but all his party, when the
strength of the two champions was judged by the proportion of their
limbs, concluded it was _impar pugna_, and that their chief was
overmatched.  Whereupon Juturna, who was of the same opinion, took this
opportunity to break the treaty and renew the war.  Juno herself had
plainly told the nymph beforehand that her brother was to fight

    “_Imparibus fatis_; _nec diis_, _nec viribus æquis_;”

so that there was no need of an apparition to fright Turnus, he had the
presage within himself of his impending destiny.  The Dira only served to
confirm him in his first opinion, that it was his destiny to die in the
ensuing combat.  And in this sense are those words of Virgil to be taken—

          “_Non me tua turbida virtus_
    _Terret_, _ait_; _dii me terrent_, _et Jupiter hostis_.”

I doubt not but the adverb _solum_ is to be understood (“It is not your
valour only that gives me this concernment, but I find also by this
portent that Jupiter is my enemy”); for Turnus fled before, when his
first sword was broken, till his sister supplied him with a better, which
indeed he could not use because Æneas kept him at a distance with his
spear.  I wonder Ruæus saw not this, where he charges his author so
unjustly for giving Turnus a second sword to no purpose.  How could he
fasten a blow or make a thrust, when he was not suffered to approach?
Besides, the chief errand of the Dira was to warn Juturna from the field,
for she could have brought the chariot again when she saw her brother
worsted in the duel.  I might farther add that Æneas was so eager of the
fight that he left the city, now almost in his possession, to decide his
quarrel with Turnus by the sword; whereas Turnus had manifestly declined
the combat, and suffered his sister to convey him as far from the reach
of his enemy as she could.  I say, not only suffered her, but consented
to it; for it is plain he knew her by these words:—

    “_O soror_, _et dudum agnovi_, _cum prima per artem_
    _Fædera turbasti_, _teque hæc in bella dedisti_;
    _Et tunc necquicquam fallis dea_.”

I have dwelt so long on this subject that I must contract what I have to
say in reference to my translation, unless I would swell my preface into
a volume, and make it formidable to your lordship, when you see so many
pages yet behind.  And, indeed, what I have already written, either in
justification or praise of Virgil, is against myself for presuming to
copy in my coarse English the thoughts and beautiful expressions of this
inimitable poet, who flourished in an age when his language was brought
to its last perfection, for which it was particularly owing to him and
Horace.  I will give your lordship my opinion that those two friends had
consulted each other’s judgment wherein they should endeavour to excel;
and they seem to have pitched on propriety of thought, elegance of words,
and harmony of numbers.  According to this model, Horace wrote his odes
and epodes; for his satires and epistles, being intended wholly for
instruction, required another style—

    “Ornari res ipsa negat, contenta doceri”—

and therefore, as he himself professes, are _sermoni propriora_ (nearer
prose than verse).  But Virgil, who never attempted the lyric verse, is
everywhere elegant, sweet, and flowing in his hexameters.  His words are
not only chosen, but the places in which he ranks them for the sound; he
who removes them from the station wherein their master sets them spoils
the harmony.  What he says of the Sibyl’s prophecies may be as properly
applied to every word of his—they must be read in order as they lie; the
least breath discomposes them, and somewhat of their divinity is lost.  I
cannot boast that I have been thus exact in my verses; but I have
endeavoured to follow the example of my master, and am the first
Englishman perhaps who made it his design to copy him in his numbers, his
choice of words, and his placing them for the sweetness of the sound.  On
this last consideration I have shunned the cæsura as much as possibly I
could; for wherever that is used, it gives a roughness to the verse, of
which we can have little need in a language which is overstocked with
consonants.  Such is not the Latin where the vowels and consonants are
mixed in proportion to each other; yet Virgil judged the vowels to have
somewhat of an over-balance, and therefore tempers their sweetness with
cæsuras.  Such difference there is in tongues that the same figure which
roughens one, gives majesty to another; and that was it which Virgil
studied in his verses.  Ovid uses it but rarely; and hence it is that his
versification cannot so properly be called sweet as luscious.  The
Italians are forced upon it once or twice in every line, because they
have a redundancy of vowels in their language; their metal is so soft
that it will not coin without alloy to harden it.  On the other side, for
the reason already named, it is all we can do to give sufficient
sweetness to our language; we must not only choose our words for
elegance, but for sound—to perform which a mastery in the language is
required; the poet must have a magazine of words, and have the art to
manage his few vowels to the best advantage, that they may go the
farther.  He must also know the nature of the vowels—which are more
sonorous, and which more soft and sweet—and so dispose them as his
present occasions require; all which, and a thousand secrets of
versification beside, he may learn from Virgil, if he will take him for
his guide.  If he be above Virgil, and is resolved to follow his own
_verve_ (as the French call it), the proverb will fall heavily upon him:
“Who teaches himself has a fool for his master.”

Virgil employed eleven years upon his “Æneis,” yet he left it, as he
thought himself, imperfect; which, when I seriously consider, I wish
that, instead of three years which I have spent in the translation of his
works, I had four years more allowed me to correct my errors, that I
might make my version somewhat more tolerable than it is; for a poet
cannot have too great a reverence for his readers if he expects his
labours should survive him.  Yet I will neither plead my age nor sickness
in excuse of the faults which I have made.  That I wanted time is all I
have to say; for some of my subscribers grew so clamorous that I could no
longer defer the publication.  I hope, from the candour of your lordship,
and your often-experienced goodness to me, that if the faults are not too
many you will make allowances, with Horace:—

    “_Si plura nitent in carmine_, _non ego paucis_
    _Offendar maculis_, _quas aut incuria fudit_,
    _Aut humana parùm cavit natura_.”

You may please also to observe that there is not, to the best of my
remembrance, one vowel gaping on another for want of a cæsura in this
whole poem.  But where a vowel ends a word the next begins either with a
consonant or what is its equivalent; for our _w_ and _h_ aspirate, and
our diphthongs, are plainly such.  The greatest latitude I take is in the
letter _y_ when it concludes a word and the first syllable of the next
begins with a vowel.  Neither need I have called this a latitude, which
is only an explanation of this general rule—that no vowel can be cut off
before another when we cannot sink the pronunciation of it, as _he_,
_she_, _me_, _I_, &c.  Virgil thinks it sometimes a beauty to imitate the
licence of the Greeks, and leave two vowels opening on each other, as in
that verse of the third pastoral—

    “_Et succus pecori_, _et lac subducitur agnis_.”

But _nobis non licet esse tam disertis_—at least, if we study to refine
our numbers.  I have long had by me the materials of an English
“Prosodia,” containing all the mechanical rules of versification, wherein
I have treated with some exactness of the feet, the quantities, and the
pauses.  The French and Italians know nothing of the two first—at least,
their best poets have not practised them.  As for the pauses, Malherbe
first brought them into France within this last century, and we see how
they adorn their Alexandrines.  But as Virgil propounds a riddle which he
leaves unsolved—

    “_Dic quibus in terris_, _inscripti nomina regum_
    _Nascantur flores_, _et Phyllida solus habeto_”—

so I will give your lordship another, and leave the exposition of it to
your acute judgment.  I am sure there are few who make verses have
observed the sweetness of these two lines in “Cooper’s Hill”—

    “Though deep, yet clear; though gentle, yet not dull;
    Strong without rage; without o’erflowing, full”—

and there are yet fewer who can find the reason of that sweetness.  I
have given it to some of my friends in conversation, and they have
allowed the criticism to be just.  But since the evil of false quantities
is difficult to be cured in any modern language; since the French and the
Italians, as well as we, are yet ignorant what feet are to be used in
heroic poetry; since I have not strictly observed those rules myself
which I can teach others; since I pretend to no dictatorship among my
fellow-poets; since, if I should instruct some of them to make
well-running verses, they want genius to give them strength as well as
sweetness; and, above all, since your lordship has advised me not to
publish that little which I know, I look on your counsel as your command,
which I shall observe inviolably till you shall please to revoke it and
leave me at liberty to make my thoughts public.  In the meantime, that I
may arrogate nothing to myself, I must acknowledge that Virgil in Latin
and Spenser in English have been my masters.  Spenser has also given me
the boldness to make use sometimes of his Alexandrine line, which we
call, though improperly, the Pindaric, because Mr. Cowley has often
employed it in his odes.  It adds a certain majesty to the verse when it
is used with judgment, and stops the sense from overflowing into another
line.  Formerly the French, like us and the Italians, had but five feet
or ten syllables in their heroic verse; but since Ronsard’s time, as I
suppose, they found their tongue too weak to support their epic poetry
without the addition of another foot.  That indeed has given it somewhat
of the run and measure of a trimetre, but it runs with more activity than
strength.  Their language is not strong with sinews, like our English; it
has the nimbleness of a greyhound, but not the bulk and body of a
mastiff.  Our men and our verses overbear them by their weight; and
_pondere_, _non numero_ is the British motto.  The French have set up
purity for the standard of their language; and a masculine vigour is that
of ours.  Like their tongue is the genius of their poets, light and
trifling in comparison of the English—more proper for sonnets, madrigals,
and elegies than heroic poetry.  The turn on thoughts and words is their
chief talent: but the epic poem is too stately to receive those little
ornaments.  The painters draw their nymphs in thin and airy habits, but
the weight of gold and of embroideries is reserved for queens and
goddesses.  Virgil is never frequent in those turns, like Ovid, but much
more sparing of them in his “Æneis” than in his Pastorals and Georgics.

    “_Ignoscenda quidem_, _scirent si ignoscere manes_.”

That turn is beautiful indeed; but he employs it in the story of Orpheus
and Eurydice, not in his great poem.  I have used that licence in his
“Æneis” sometimes, but I own it as my fault; it was given to those who
understand no better.  It is like Ovid’s

    “_Semivirumque bovem_, _semibovemque virum_.”

The poet found it before his critics, but it was a darling sin which he
would not be persuaded to reform.

The want of genius, of which I have accused the French, is laid to their
charge by one of their own great authors, though I have forgotten his
name, and where I read it.  If rewards could make good poets, their great
master has not been wanting on his part in his bountiful encouragements;
for he is wise enough to imitate Augustus if he had a Maro.  The Triumvir
and Proscriber had descended to us in a more hideous form than they now
appear, if the emperor had not taken care to make friends of him and
Horace.  I confess the banishment of Ovid was a blot in his escutcheon;
yet he was only banished, and who knows but his crime was capital?  And
then his exile was a favour.  Ariosto, who, with all his faults, must be
acknowledged a great poet, has put these words into the mouth of an
Evangelist; but whether they will pass for gospel now I cannot tell:—

    “Non fu si santo ni benigno Augusto,
    Come la tuba di Virgilio suona;
    L’haver havuto in poesia buon gusto,
    La proscrittione iniqua gli pardona.”

But heroic poetry is not of the growth of France, as it might be of
England if it were cultivated.  Spenser wanted only to have read the
rules of Bossu, for no man was ever born with a greater genius or had
more knowledge to support it.  But the performance of the French is not
equal to their skill; and hitherto we have wanted skill to perform
better.  Segrais, whose preface is so wonderfully good, yet is wholly
destitute of elevation; though his version is much better than that of
the two brothers, or any of the rest who have attempted Virgil.  Annibale
Caro is a great name amongst the Italians, yet his translation of the
“Æneis” is most scandalously mean, though he has taken the advantage of
writing in blank verse, and freed himself from the shackles of modern
rhyme—if it be modern; for Le Clerc has told us lately, and I believe has
made it out, that David’s Psalms were written in as errant rhyme as they
are translated.  Now if a Muse cannot run when she is unfettered, it is a
sign she has but little speed.  I will not make a digression here, though
I am strangely tempted to it, but will only say that he who can write
well in rhyme may write better in blank verse.  Rhyme is certainly a
constraint even to the best poets, and those who make it with most ease;
though perhaps I have as little reason to complain of that hardship as
any man, excepting Quarles and Withers.  What it adds to sweetness, it
takes away from sense; and he who loses the least by it may be called a
gainer; it often makes us swerve from an author’s meaning.  As if a mark
he set up for an archer at a great distance, let him aim as exactly as he
can, the least wind will take his arrow and divert it from the white.

I return to our Italian translator of the “Æneis;” he is a foot-poet; he
lackeys by the side of Virgil at the best, but never mounts behind him.
Doctor Morelli, who is no mean critic in our poetry, and therefore may be
presumed to be a better in his own language, has confirmed me in this
opinion by his judgment, and thinks withal that he has often mistaken his
master’s sense.  I would say so if I durst, but am afraid I have
committed the same fault more often and more grossly; for I have forsaken
Ruæus (whom generally I follow) in many places, and made expositions of
my own in some, quite contrary to him, of which I will give but two
examples, because they are so near each other in the tenth Æneid:—

    “_Sorti pater æquus utrique_.”

Pallas says it to Turnus just before they fight.  Ruæus thinks that the
word _pater_ is to be referred to Evander, the father of Pallas; but how
could he imagine that it was the same thing to Evander if his son were
slain, or if he overcame?  The poet certainly intended Jupiter, the
common father of mankind, who, as Pallas hoped, would stand an impartial
spectator of the combat, and not be more favourable to Turnus than to
him.  The second is not long after it, and both before the duel is begun.
They are the words of Jupiter, who comforts Hercules for the death of
Pallas, which was immediately to ensue, and which Hercules could not
hinder, though the young hero had addressed his prayers to him for his
assistance, because the gods cannot control destiny.  The verse follows—

    “_Sic ait_; _atque oculos Rutulorum rejicit arvis_”—

which the same Ruæus thus construes: “Jupiter, after he had said this,
immediately turns his eyes to the Rutulian fields and beholds the duel.”
I have given this place another exposition—that he turned his eyes from
the field of combat that he might not behold a sight so unpleasing to
him.  The word _rejicit_, I know, will admit of both senses; but Jupiter
having confessed that he could not alter fate, and being grieved he could
not in consideration of Hercules, it seems to me that he should avert his
eyes rather than take pleasure in the spectacle.  But of this I am not so
confident as the other, though I think I have followed Virgil’s sense.

What I have said, though it has the face of arrogance, yet is intended
for the honour of my country, and therefore I will boldly own that this
English translation has more of Virgil’s spirit in it than either the
French or the Italian.  Some of our countrymen have translated episodes
and other parts of Virgil with great success; as particularly your
lordship, whose version of Orpheus and Eurydice is eminently good.
Amongst the dead authors, the Silenus of my Lord Rescommon cannot be too
much commended.  I say nothing of Sir John Denham, Mr. Waller, and Mr.
Cowley; it is the utmost of my ambition to be thought their equal, or not
to be much inferior to them and some others of the living.  But it is one
thing to take pains on a fragment and translate it perfectly, and another
thing to have the weight of a whole author on my shoulders.  They who
believe the burden light, let them attempt the fourth, sixth, or eighth
Pastoral; the first or fourth Georgic; and, amongst the Æneids, the
fourth, the fifth, the seventh, the ninth, the tenth, the eleventh, or
the twelfth, for in these I think I have succeeded best.

Long before I undertook this work I was no stranger to the original.  I
had also studied Virgil’s design, his disposition of it, his manners, his
judicious management of the figures, the sober retrenchments of his
sense, which always leaves somewhat to gratify our imagination, on which
it may enlarge at pleasure; but, above all, the elegance of his
expressions and the harmony of his numbers.  For, as I have said in a
former dissertation, the words are in poetry what the colours are in
painting.  If the design be good, and the draft be true, the colouring is
the first beauty that strikes the eye.  Spenser and Milton are the
nearest in English to Virgil and Horace in the Latin, and I have
endeavoured to form my style by imitating their masters.  I will farther
own to you, my lord, that my chief ambition is to please those readers
who have discernment enough to prefer Virgil before any other poet in the
Latin tongue.  Such spirits as he desired to please, such would I choose
for my judges, and would stand or fall by them alone.  Segrais has
distinguished the readers of poetry, according to their capacity of
judging, into three classes (he might have said the same of writers, too,
if he had pleased).  In the lowest form he places those whom he calls
_les petits esprits_—such things as are our upper-gallery audience in a
playhouse, who like nothing but the husk and rind of wit; prefer a
quibble, a conceit, an epigram, before solid sense and elegant
expression.  These are mob-readers.  If Virgil and Martial steed for
Parliament-men, we know already who would carry it.  But though they make
the greatest appearance in the field, and cry the loudest, the best of it
is they are but a sort of French Huguenots, or Dutch boors, brought ever
in herds, but not naturalised, who have not land of two pounds per annum
in Parnassus, and therefore are not privileged to poll.  Their authors
are of the same level; fit to represent them on a mountebank’s stage, or
to be masters of the ceremonies in a bear-garden.  Yet these are they who
have the most admirers.  But it often happens, to their mortification,
that as their readers improve their stock of sense (as they may by
reading better books, and by conversation with men of judgment), they
soon forsake them; and when the torrent from the mountains falls no more,
the swelling writer is reduced into his shallow bed, like the Mançanares
at Madrid, with scarce water to moisten his own pebbles.  There are a
middle sort of readers (as we held there is a middle state of souls),
such as have a farther insight than the former, yet have not the capacity
of judging right; for I speak not of those who are bribed by a party, and
knew better if they were not corrupted, but I mean a company of warm
young men, who are not yet arrived so far as to discern the difference
betwixt fustian or ostentations sentences and the true sublime.  These
are above liking Martial or Owen’s epigrams, but they would certainly set
Virgil below Statius or Lucan.  I need not say their poets are of the
same paste with their admirers.  They affect greatness in all they write,
but it is a bladdered greatness, like that of the vain man whom Seneca
describes an ill habit of body, full of humours, and swelled with dropsy.
Even these, too, desert their authors as their judgment ripens.  The
young gentlemen themselves are commonly misled by their pedagogue at
school, their tutor at the university, or their governor in their
travels, and many of these three sorts are the most positive blockheads
in the world.  How many of these flatulent writers have I known who have
sunk in their reputation after seven or eight editions of their works!
for indeed they are poets only for young men.  They had great success at
their first appearance, but not being of God, as a wit said formerly,
they could not stand.

I have already named two sorts of judges, but Virgil wrote for neither of
them, and by his example I am not ambitious of pleasing the lowest or the
middle form of readers.  He chose to please the most judicious souls, of
the highest rank and truest understanding.  These are few in number; but
whoever is so happy as to gain their approbation can never lose it,
because they never give it blindly.  Then they have a certain magnetism
in their judgment which attracts others to their sense.  Every day they
gain some new proselyte, and in time become the Church.  For this reason
a well-weighed judicious poem, which at its first appearance gains no
more upon the world than to be just received, and rather not blamed than
much applauded, insinuates itself by insensible degrees into the liking
of the reader; the more he studies it, the more it grows upon him, every
time he takes it up he discovers some new graces in it.  And whereas
poems which are produced by the vigour of imagination only have a gloss
upon them at the first (which time wears off), the works of judgment are
like the diamond, the more they are polished the more lustre they
receive.  Such is the difference betwixt Virgil’s “Æneis” and Marini’s
“Adone.”  And if I may be allowed to change the metaphor, I would say
that Virgil is like the Fame which he describes:—

    “_Mobilitate viget_, _viresque acquirit eundo_.”

Such a sort of reputation is my aim, though in a far inferior degree,
according to my motto in the title-page—_sequiturque patrem non passibus
æquis_—and therefore I appeal to the highest court of judicature, like
that of the peers, of which your lordship is so great an ornament.

Without this ambition which I own, of desiring to please the _judices
natos_, I could never have been able to have done anything at this age,
when the fire of poetry is commonly extinguished in other men.  Yet
Virgil has given me the example of Entellus for my encouragement; when he
was well heated, the younger champion could not stand before him.  And we
find the elder contended not for the gift, but for the honour (_nec dona
moror_); for Dampier has informed us in his “Voyages” that the air of the
country which produces gold is never wholesome.

I had long since considered that the way to please the best judges is not
to translate a poet literally, and Virgil least of any other; for his
peculiar beauty lying in his choice of words, I am excluded from it by
the narrow compass of our heroic verse, unless I would make use of
monosyllables only, and these clogged with consonants, which are the dead
weight of our mother tongue.  It is possible, I confess, though it rarely
happens, that a verse of monosyllables may sound harmoniously; and some
examples of it I have seen.  My first line of the “Æneis” is not harsh—

    “Arms, and the man I sing, who forced by Fate,” &c.—

but a much better instance may be given from the last line of Manilius,
made English by our learned and judicious Mr. Creech—

    “Nor could the world have borne so fierce a flame”—

where the many liquid consonants are placed so artfully that they give a
pleasing sound to the words, though they are all of one syllable.  It is
true, I have been sometimes forced upon it in other places of this work,
but I never did it out of choice: I was either in haste, or Virgil gave
me no occasion for the ornament of words; for it seldom happens but a
monosyllable line turns verse to prose, and even that prose is rugged and
unharmonious.  Philarchus, I remember, taxes Balzac for placing twenty
monosyllables in file without one dissyllable betwixt them.

The way I have taken is not so strait as metaphrase, nor so loose as
paraphrase; some things, too, I have omitted, and sometimes have added of
my own.  Yet the omissions, I hope, are but of circumstances, and such as
would have no grace in English; and the additions, I also hope, are
easily deduced from Virgil’s sense.  They will seem (at least, I have the
vanity to think so), not stuck into him, but growing out of him.  He
studies brevity more than any other poet; but he had the advantage of a
language wherein much may be comprehended in a little space.  We and all
the modern tongues have more articles and pronouns, besides signs of
tenses and cases, and other barbarities on which our speech is built, by
the faults of our forefathers.  The Romans founded theirs upon the Greek;
and the Greeks, we know, were labouring many hundred years upon their
language before they brought it to perfection.  They rejected all those
signs, and cut off as many articles as they could spare, comprehending in
one word what we are constrained to express in two; which is one reason
why we cannot write so concisely as they have done.  The word _pater_,
for example, signifies not only “a father,” but “your father,” “my
father,” “his or her father”—all included in a word.

This inconvenience is common to all modern tongues, and this alone
constrains us to employ more words than the ancients needed.  But having
before observed that Virgil endeavours to be short, and at the same time
elegant, I pursue the excellence and forsake the brevity.  For there he
is like ambergris, a rich perfume, but of so close and glutinous a body
that it must be opened with inferior scents of musk or civet, or the
sweetness will not be drawn out into another language.

On the whole matter I thought fit to steer betwixt the two extremes of
paraphrase and literal translation; to keep as near my author as I could
without losing all his graces, the most eminent of which are in the
beauty of his words: and those words, I must add, are always figurative.
Such of these as would retain their elegance in our tongue, I have
endeavoured to graff on it; but most of them are of necessity to be lest,
because they will not shine in any but their own.  Virgil has sometimes
two of them in a line; but the scantiness of our heroic verse is not
capable of receiving more than one; and that, too, must expiate for many
others which have none.  Such is the difference of the languages, or such
my want of skill in choosing words.  Yet I may presume to say, and I hope
with as much reason as the French translator, that, taking all the
materials of this divine author, I have endeavoured to make Virgil speak
such English as he would himself have spoken if he had been born in
England and in this present age.  I acknowledge, with Segrais, that I
have not succeeded in this attempt according to my desire; yet I shall
not be wholly without praise, if in some sort I may be allowed to have
copied the clearness, the purity, the easiness, and the magnificence of
his style.  But I shall have occasion to speak farther on this subject
before I end the preface.

When I mentioned the Pindaric line, I should have added that I take
another licence in my verses; for I frequently make use of triplet
rhymes, and for the same reason—because they bound the sense.  And
therefore I generally join these two licences together, and make the last
verse of the triplet a Pindaric; for besides the majesty which it gives,
it confines the sense within the barriers of three lines, which would
languish if it were lengthened into four.  Spenser is my example for both
these privileges of English verses; and Chapman has followed him in his
translation of Homer.  Mr. Cowley has given in to them after both; and
all succeeding writers after him.  I regard them now as the _Magna
Charta_ of heroic poetry; and am too much an Englishman to lose what my
ancestors have gained for me.  Let the French and Italians value
themselves on their regularity; strength and elevation are our standard.
I said before, and I repeat it, that the affected purity of the French
has unsinewed their heroic verse.  The language of an epic poem is almost
wholly figurative; yet they are so fearful of a metaphor that no example
of Virgil can encourage them to be bold with safety.  Sure, they might
warm themselves by that sprightly blaze, without approaching it so close
as to singe their wings; they may come as near it as their master.  Not
that I would discourage that purity of diction in which he excels all
other poets; but he knows how far to extend his franchises, and advances
to the verge without venturing a foot beyond it.  On the other side,
without being injurious to the memory of our English Pindar, I will
presume to say that his metaphors are sometimes too violent, and his
language is not always pure.  But at the same time I must excuse him, for
through the iniquity of the times he was forced to travel at an age when,
instead of learning foreign languages, he should have studied the
beauties of his mother tongue, which, like all other speeches, is to be
cultivated early, or we shall never write it with any kind of elegance.
Thus by gaining abroad he lost at home, like the painter in the
“Arcadia,” who, going to see a skirmish, had his arms lopped off, and
returned, says Sir Philip Sidney, well instructed how to draw a battle,
but without a hand to perform his work.

There is another thing in which I have presumed to deviate from him and
Spenser.  They both make hemistichs, or half-verses, breaking off in the
middle of a line.  I confess there are not many such in the “Faërie
Queen,” and even those few might be occasioned by his unhappy choice of
so long a stanza.  Mr. Cowley had found out that no kind of staff is
proper for an heroic poem, as being all too lyrical; yet though he wrote
in couplets, where rhyme is freer from constraint, he frequently affects
half-verses, of which we find not one in Homer, and I think not in any of
the Greek poets or the Latin, excepting only Virgil: and there is no
question but he thought he had Virgil’s authority for that licence.  But
I am confident our poet never meant to leave him or any other such a
precedent; and I ground my opinion on these two reasons: first, we find
no example of a hemistich in any of his Pastorals or Georgics, for he had
given the last finishing strokes to both these poems; but his “Æneis” he
left so incorrect, at least so short of that perfection at which he
aimed, that we know how hard a sentence he passed upon it.  And, in the
second place, I reasonably presume that he intended to have filled up all
these hemistichs, because in one of them we find the sense imperfect:—

    “_Quem tibi jam Troja_ . . . ” (“Æn.” iii. 340.)

which some foolish grammarian has ended for him with a half-line of

    “_Peperit fumante Creusa_.”

For Ascanius must have been born some years before the burning of that
city, which I need not prove.  On the other side we find also that he
himself filled up one line in the sixth Æneid, the enthusiasm seizing him
while he was reading to Augustus:—

    “_Misenum Æolidem_, _quo non præstantior alter_
    _Ære ciere viros_, . . . ”

to which he added in that transport, _Martemque accendare cantu_, and
never was any line more nobly finished, for the reasons which I have
given in the “Book of Painting.”

On these considerations I have shunned hemistichs, not being willing to
imitate Virgil to a fault, like Alexander’s courtiers, who affected to
hold their necks awry because he could not help it.  I am confident your
lordship is by this time of my opinion, and that you will look on those
half-lines hereafter as the imperfect products of a hasty muse, like the
frogs and serpents in the Nile, part of them kindled into life, and part
a lump of unformed, unanimated mud.

I am sensible that many of my whole verses are as imperfect as those
halves, for want of time to digest them better.  But give me leave to
make the excuse of Boccace, who, when he was upbraided that some of his
novels had not the spirit of the rest, returned this answer: that
Charlemagne, who made the Paladins, was never able to raise an army of
them.  The leaders may be heroes, but the multitude must consist of
common men.

I am also bound to tell your lordship, in my own defence, that from the
beginning of the first Georgic to the end of the last Æneid, I found the
difficulty of translation growing on me in every succeeding book.  For
Virgil, above all poets, had a stock which I may call almost
inexhaustible, of figurative, elegant, and sounding words.  I, who
inherit but a small portion of his genius, and write in a language so
much inferior to the Latin, have found it very painful to vary phrases
when the same sense returns upon me.  Even he himself, whether out of
necessity or choice, has often expressed the same thing in the same
words, and often repeated two or three whole verses which he had used
before.  Words are not so easily coined as money; and yet we see that the
credit not only of banks, but of exchequers, cracks when little comes in
and much goes out.  Virgil called upon me in every line for some new
word, and I paid so long that I was almost bankrupt; so that the latter
end must needs be more burthensome than the beginning or the middle; and
consequently the twelfth Æneid cost me double the time of the first and
second.  What had become of me, if Virgil had taxed me with another book?
I had certainly been reduced to pay the public in hammered money for want
of milled; that is, in the same old words which I had used before; and
the receivers must have been forced to have taken anything, where there
was so little to be had.

Besides this difficulty with which I have struggled and made a shift to
pass it ever, there is one remaining, which is insuperable to all
translators.  We are bound to our author’s sense, though with the
latitudes already mentioned; for I think it not so sacred as that one
iota must not be added or diminished, on pain of an anathema.  But slaves
we are, and labour on another man’s plantation; we dress the vineyard,
but the wine is the owner’s.  If the soil be sometimes barren, then we
are sure of being scourged; if it be fruitful, and our care succeeds, we
are not thanked; for the proud reader will only say—the poor drudge has
done his duty.  But this is nothing to what follows; for being obliged to
make his sense intelligible, we are forced to untune our own verses that
we may give his meaning to the reader.  He who invents is master of his
thoughts and words: he can turn and vary them as he pleases, till he
renders them harmonious.  But the wretched translator has no such
privilege, for being tied to the thoughts, he must make what music he can
in the expression; and for this reason it cannot always be so sweet as
that of the original.  There is a beauty of sound, as Segrais has
observed, in some Latin words, which is wholly lost in any modern
language.  He instances in that _mollis amaracus_, on which Venus lays
Cupid in the first Æneid.  If I should translate it sweet-marjoram, as
the word signifies, the reader would think I had mistaken Virgil; for
these village-words, as I may call them, give us a mean idea of the
thing; but the sound of the Latin is so much more pleasing, by the just
mixture of the vowels with the consonants, that it raises our fancies to
conceive somewhat more noble than a common herb, and to spread roses
under him, and strew lilies over him—a bed not unworthy the grandson of
the goddess.

If I cannot copy his harmonious numbers, how shall I imitate his noble
flights, where his thoughts and words are equally sublime?  _Quem_

    “ . . . _quisquis studet æmulari_,
    . . . _cæratis ope Dedaleâ_
    _Nititur pennis_, _vitreo daturus_
          _Nomina ponto_.”

What modern language or what poet can express the majestic beauty of this
one verse, amongst a thousand others?

    “_Aude_, _hospes_, _contemnere opes_, _et te quoque dignum_
    _Finge Deo_ . . . ”

For my part, I am lost in the admiration of it.  I contemn the world when
I think on it, and myself when I translate it.

Lay by Virgil, I beseech your lordship and all my better sort of judges,
when you take up my version, and it will appear a passable beauty when
the original muse is absent; but like Spenser’s false Florimel, made of
snow, it melts and vanishes when the true one comes in sight.

I will not excuse, but justify, myself for one pretended crime with which
I am liable to be charged by false critics, not only in this translation,
but in many of my original poems—that I Latinise too much.  It is true,
that when I find an English word significant and sounding, I neither
borrow from the Latin nor any other language; but when I want at home, I
must seek abroad.  If sounding words are not of our growth and
manufacture, who shall hinder me to import them from a foreign country?
I carry not out the treasure of the nation which is never to return, but
what I bring from Italy I spend in England.  Here it remains and here it
circulates, for if the coin be good it will pass from one hand to
another.  I trade both with the living and the dead for the enrichment of
our native language.  We have enough in England to supply our necessity;
but if we will have things of magnificence and splendour, we must get
them by commerce.  Poetry requires ornament, and that is not to be had
from our old Teuton monosyllables; therefore, if I find any elegant word
in a classic author, I propose it to be naturalised by using it myself;
and if the public approves of it, the bill passes.  But every man cannot
distinguish betwixt pedantry and poetry; every man, therefore, is not fit
to innovate.

Upon the whole matter, a poet must first be certain that the word he
would introduce is beautiful in the Latin; and is to consider, in the
next place, whether it will agree with the English idiom.  After this he
ought to take the opinion of judicious friends, such as are learned in
both languages; and lastly, since no man is infallible, let him use this
licence very sparingly; for if too many foreign words are poured in upon
us, it looks as if they were designed not to assist the natives, but to
conquer them.

I am now drawing towards a conclusion, and suspect your lordship is very
glad of it.  But permit me first to own what helps I have had in this
undertaking.  The late Earl of Lauderdale sent me over his new
translation of the “Æneis,” which he had ended before I engaged in the
same design.  Neither did I then intend it; but some proposals being
afterwards made me by my bookseller, I desired his lordship’s leave that
I might accept them, which he freely granted, and I have his letter yet
to show for that permission.  He resolved to have printed his work, which
he might have done two years before I could publish mine; and had
performed it, if death had not prevented him.  But having his manuscript
in my hands, I consulted it as often as I doubted of my author’s sense,
for no man understood Virgil better than that learned nobleman.  His
friends, I hear, have yet another and more correct copy of that
translation by them, which had they pleased to have given the public, the
judges must have been convinced that I have not flattered him.

Besides this help, which was not inconsiderable, Mr. Congreve has done me
the favour to review the “Æneis,” and compare my version with the
original.  I shall never be ashamed to own that this excellent young man
has shown me many faults, which I have endeavoured to correct.  It is
true he might have easily found more, and then my translation had been
more perfect.

Two other worthy friends of mine, who desire to have their names
concealed, seeing me straitened in my time, took pity on me and gave me
the life of Virgil, the two prefaces—to the Pastorals and the
Georgics—and all the arguments in prose to the whole translation; which
perhaps has caused a report that the two first poems are not mine.  If it
had been true that I had taken their verses for my own, I might have
gloried in their aid; and like Terence, have farthered the opinion that
Scipio and Lælius joined with me.  But the same style being continued
through the whole, and the same laws of versification observed, are
proofs sufficient that this is one man’s work; and your lordship is too
well acquainted with my manner to doubt that any part of it is another’s.

That your lordship may see I was in earnest when I premised to hasten to
an end, I will not give the reasons why I writ not always in the proper
terms of navigation, land-service, or in the cant of any profession.  I
will only say that Virgil has avoided these proprieties, because he writ
not to mariners, soldiers, astronomers, gardeners, peasants, &c., but to
all in general, and in particular to men and ladies of the first quality,
who have been better bred than to be too nicely knowing in the terms.  In
such cases, it is enough for a poet to write so plainly that he may be
understood by his readers; to avoid impropriety, and not affect to be
thought learned in all things.

I have emitted the four preliminary lines of the first Æneid, because I
think them inferior to any four others in the whole poem; and
consequently believe they are not Virgil’s.  There is too great a gap
betwixt the adjective _vicina_ in the second line, and the substantive
_arva_ in the latter end of the third; which keeps his meaning in
obscurity too long, and is contrary to the clearness of his style.  _Ut
quamvis avido_ is too ambitious an ornament to be his, and _gratum opus
agricolis_ are all words unnecessary, and independent of what he had said
before.  _Horrentia Martis arma_ is worse than any of the rest.
_Horrentia_ is such a flat epithet as Tully would have given us in his
verses.  It is a mere filler to stop a vacancy in the hexameter, and
connect the preface to the work of Virgil.

Our author seems to sound a charge, and begins like the clangour of a

    “_Arma_, _virumque cano_, _Trojæ qui primus ab oris_,”—

Scarce a word without an _r_, and the vowels for the greater part
sonorous.  The prefacer began with _Ille ego_, which he was constrained
to patch up in the fourth line with _at nunc_ to make the sense cohere;
and if both those words are not notorious botches I am much deceived,
though the French translator thinks otherwise.  For my own part, I am
rather of the opinion that they were added by Tucca and Varius, than

I know it may be answered by such as think Virgil the author of the four
lines—that he asserts his title to the “Æneis” in the beginning of this
work, as he did to the two former, in the last lines of the fourth
Georgic.  I will not reply otherwise to this, than by desiring them to
compare these four lines with the four others, which we know are his,
because no poet but he alone could write them.  If they cannot
distinguish creeping from flying, let them lay down Virgil, and take up
Ovid de Ponto in his stead.  My master needed not the assistance of that
preliminary poet to prove his claim: his own majestic mien discovers him
to be the king amidst a thousand courtiers.  It was a superfluous office,
and therefore I would not set those verses in the front of Virgil; but
have rejected them to my own preface:

    “I, who before, with shepherds in the groves,
    Sung to my oaten pipe their rural loves,
    And issuing thence, compelled the neighb’ring field
    A plenteous crop of rising corn to yield;
    Manured the glebe, and stocked the fruitful plain
    (A poem grateful to the greedy swain),” &c.

If there be not a tolerable line in all these six, the prefacer gave me
no occasion to write better.  This is a just apology in this place; but I
have done great wrong to Virgil in the whole translation.  Want of time,
the inferiority of our language, the inconvenience of rhyme, and all the
other excuses I have made, may alleviate my fault, but cannot justify the
boldness of my undertaking.  What avails it me to acknowledge freely that
I have not been able to do him right in any line?  For even my own
confession makes against me; and it will always be returned upon me,
“Why, then, did you attempt it?”  To which no other answer can be made,
than that I have done him less injury than any of his former libellers.

What they called his picture had been drawn at length so many times by
the daubers of almost all nations, and still so unlike him, that I
snatched up the pencil with disdain, being satisfied beforehand that I
could make some small resemblance of him, though I must be content with a
worse likeness.  A sixth Pastoral, a Pharmaceutria, a single Orpheus, and
some other features have been exactly taken.  But those holiday authors
writ for pleasure, and only showed us what they could have done if they
would have taken pains to perform the whole.

Be pleased, my lord, to accept with your wonted goodness this unworthy
present which I make you.  I have taken off one trouble from you, of
defending it, by acknowledging its imperfections; and though some part of
them are covered in the verse (as Ericthonius rode always in a chariot to
hide his lameness), such of them as cannot be concealed you will please
to connive at, though in the strictness of your judgment you cannot
pardon.  If Homer was allowed to nod sometimes, in so long a work it will
be no wonder if I often fall asleep.  You took my “Aurengzebe” into your
protection with all his faults; and I hope here cannot be so many,
because I translate an author who gives me such examples of correctness.
What my jury may be I know not; but it is good for a criminal to plead
before a favourable judge: if I had said partial, would your lordship
have forgiven me?  Or will you give me leave to acquaint the world that I
have many times been obliged to your bounty since the Revolution?  Though
I never was reduced to beg a charity, nor ever had the impudence to ask
one, either of your lordship or your noble kinsman the Earl of Dorset,
much less of any other, yet when I least expected it you have both
remembered me, so inherent it is in your family not to forget an old
servant.  It looks rather like ingratitude on my part, that where I have
been so often obliged, I have appeared so seldom to return my thanks, and
where I was also so sure of being well received.  Somewhat of laziness
was in the case, and somewhat too of modesty; but nothing of disrespect
or of unthankfulness.  I will not say that your lordship has encouraged
me to this presumption, lest, if my labours meet with no success in
public, I may expose your judgment to be censured.  As for my own
enemies, I shall never think them worth an answer; and if your lordship
has any, they will not dare to arraign you for want of knowledge in this
art till they can produce somewhat better of their own than your “Essay
on Poetry.”  It was on this consideration that I have drawn out my
preface to so great a length.  Had I not addressed to a poet and a critic
of the first magnitude, I had myself been taxed for want of judgment, and
shamed my patron for want of understanding.  But neither will you, my
lord, so soon be tired as any other, because the discourse is on your
art; neither will the learned reader think it tedious, because it is _ad
Clerum_: at least, when he begins to be weary, the church doors are open.
That I may pursue the allegory with a short prayer after a long sermon.

May you live happily and long for the service of your country, the
encouragement of good letters and the ornament of poetry, which cannot be
wished more earnestly by any man than by

                       Your Lordship’s most humble,

                                                     Most obliged and most
                                                         Obedient servant,

                                                              JOHN DRYDEN.


WHAT Virgil wrote in the vigour of his age (in plenty and at ease) I have
undertaken to translate in my declining years; struggling with wants,
oppressed by sickness, curbed in my genius, liable to be misconstrued in
all I write; and my judges, if they are not very equitable, already
prejudiced against me by the lying character which has been given them of
my morals.  Yet steady to my principles, and not dispirited with my
afflictions, I have, by the blessing of God on my endeavours, overcome
all difficulties; and, in some measure, acquitted myself of the debt
which I owed the public when I undertook this work.  In the first place,
therefore, I thankfully acknowledge to the Almighty Power the assistance
He has given me in the beginning, the prosecution, and conclusion of my
present studies, which are more happily performed than I could have
promised to myself when I laboured under such discouragements.  For what
I have done, imperfect as it is for want of health and leisure to correct
it, will be judged in after-ages, and possibly in the present, to be no
dishonour to my native country, whose language and poetry would be more
esteemed abroad if they were better understood.  Somewhat (give me leave
to say) I have added to both of them in the choice of words and harmony
of numbers, which were wanting, especially the last, in all our poets;
even in those who being endued with genius yet have not cultivated their
mother-tongue with sufficient care, or, relying on the beauty of their
thoughts, have judged the ornament of words and sweetness of sound
unnecessary.  One is for raking in Chaucer (our English Ennius) for
antiquated words, which are never to be revived but when sound or
significancy is wanting in the present language.  But many of his deserve
not this redemption any more than the crowds of men who daily die, or are
slain for sixpence in a battle, merit to be restored to life if a wish
could revive them.  Others have no ear for verse, nor choice of words,
nor distinction of thoughts, but mingle farthings with their gold to make
up the sum.  Here is a field of satire opened to me, but since the
Revolution I have wholly renounced that talent.  For who would give
physic to the great, when he is uncalled, to do his patient no good and
endanger himself for his prescription?  Neither am I ignorant but I may
justly be condemned for many of these faults of which I have too
liberally arraigned others:

          “_Cynthius aurem_
    _Vellit_, _et admonuit_.”

It is enough for me if the government will let me pass unquestioned.  In
the meantime I am obliged in gratitude to return my thanks to many of
them, who have not only distinguished me from others of the same party by
a particular exception of grace, but without considering the man have
been bountiful to the poet, have encouraged Virgil to speak such English
as I could teach him, and rewarded his interpreter for the pains he has
taken in bringing him over into Britain by defraying the charges of his
voyage.  Even Cerberus, when he had received the sop, permitted Æneas to
pass freely to Elysium.  Had it been offered me and I had refused it, yet
still some gratitude is due to such who were willing to oblige me.  But
how much more to those from whom I have received the favours which they
have offered to one of a different persuasion; amongst whom I cannot omit
naming the Earls of Derby and of Peterborough.  To the first of these I
have not the honour to be known, and therefore his liberality [was] as
much unexpected as it was undeserved.  The present Earl of Peterborough
has been pleased long since to accept the tenders of my service: his
favours are so frequent to me that I receive them almost by prescription.
No difference of interests or opinion has been able to withdraw his
protection from me, and I might justly be condemned for the most
unthankful of mankind if I did not always preserve for him a most
profound respect and inviolable gratitude.  I must also add that if the
last Æneid shine amongst its fellows, it is owing to the commands of Sir
William Trumbull, one of the principal Secretaries of State, who
recommended it, as his favourite, to my care; and for his sake
particularly I have made it mine.  For who would confess weariness when
he enjoined a fresh labour?  I could not but invoke the assistance of a
muse for this last office:—

    “_Extremum hunc_, _Arethusa_; . . .
    . . . _neget quis carmina Gallo_?”

Neither am I to forget the noble present which was made me by Gilbert
Dolben, Esq., the worthy son of the late Archbishop of York, who (when I
began this work) enriched me with all the several editions of Virgil and
all the commentaries of those editions in Latin, amongst which I could
not but prefer the Dauphin’s as the last, the shortest, and the most
judicious.  Fabrini I had also sent me from Italy, but either he
understands Virgil very imperfectly or I have no knowledge of my author.

Being invited by that worthy gentleman, Sir William Bowyer, to Denham
Court, I translated the first Georgic at his house and the greatest part
of the last Æneid.  A more friendly entertainment no man ever found.  No
wonder, therefore, if both these versions surpass the rest; and own the
satisfaction I received in his converse, with whom I had the honour to be
bred in Cambridge, and in the same college.  The seventh Æneid was made
English at Burghley, the magnificent abode of the Earl of Exeter.  In a
village belonging to his family I was born, and under his roof I
endeavoured to make that Æneid appear in English with as much lustre as I
could, though my author has not given the finishing strokes either to it
or to the eleventh, as I perhaps could prove in both if I durst presume
to criticise my master.

By a letter from William Walsh, Esq., of Abberley (who has so long
honoured me with his friendship, and who, without flattery, is the best
critic of our nation), I have been informed that his Grace the Duke of
Shrewsbury has procured a printed copy of the Pastorals, Georgics, and
six first Æneids from my bookseller, and has read them in the country
together with my friend.  This noble person (having been pleased to give
them a commendation which I presume not to insert) has made me vain
enough to boast of so great a favour, and to think I have succeeded
beyond my hopes; the character of his excellent judgment, the acuteness
of his wit, and his general knowledge of good letters, being known as
well to all the world as the sweetness of his disposition, his humanity,
his easiness of access, and desire of obliging those who stand in need of
his protection are known to all who have approached him, and to me in
particular, who have formerly had the honour of his conversation.
Whoever has given the world the translation of part of the third Georgic
(which he calls “The Power of Love”) has put me to sufficient pains to
make my own not inferior to his; as my Lord Roscommon’s “Silenus” had
formerly given me the same trouble.  The most ingenious Mr. Addison, of
Oxford, has also been as troublesome to me as the other two, and on the
same account; after his bees my latter swarm is scarcely worth the
hiving.  Mr. Cowley’s praise of a country life is excellent, but it is
rather an imitation of Virgil than a version.  That I have recovered in
some measure the health which I had lost by too much application to this
work, is owing (next to God’s mercy) to the skill and care of Dr.
Guibbons and Dr. Hobbs (the two ornaments of their profession), whom I
can only pay by this acknowledgment.  The whole faculty has always been
ready to oblige me, and the only one of them who endeavoured to defame me
had it not in his power.  I desire pardon from my readers for saying so
much in relation to myself which concerns not them; and with my
acknowledgments to all my subscribers, have only to add that the few
notes which follow are _par manière d’acquit_, because I had obliged
myself by articles to do somewhat of that kind.  These scattering
observations are rather guesses at my author’s meaning in some passages
than proofs that so he meant.  The unlearned may have recourse to any
poetical dictionary in English for the names of persons, places, or
fables, which the learned need not, but that little which I say is either
new or necessary, and the first of these qualifications never fails to
invite a reader, if not to please him.

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