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which he was a member. He had a genius either for poetry or oratory, and, though very young, composed several very agreeable pieces. In all probability he would have wrote as finely as his brother did nobly. He might have been the Waller, as the other was the Milton, of his time. The one might celebrate Marlborough, the other his beautiful offspring. This had not been so fit to describe the actions of heroes as the virtues of private men. In a word, he had been fitter for my place; and, while his brother was writing upon the greatest men that any age ever produced, in a style equal to them, he might have served as a panegyrist on him.
This is all I think necessary to say of his family. I shall proceed to himself and his writings; which I shall first treat of, because I know they are censured by some out of envy, and more out of ignorance.
The Splendid Shilling, which is far the least considerable, has the more general reputation, and perhaps hinders the character of the rest. The style agreed so well with the burlesque, that the ignorant thought it could become
nothing else. Every body is pleased with that work. But to judge rightly of the other re'. quires a perfect mastery of poetry and criticism, a just contempt of the littie turns and witticisms now in vogue, and, above all, a perfect understanding of poetical diction and description.
All that have any taste of poetry will agree, that the great burlesque is much to be preferred to the low. It is much easier to make a great thing appear little, than a little one great: Cotton and others of a very low genius have done the former ; but Philips, Garth, and Boileau, only the latter.
A picture in miniature is every painter's talent; but a piece for a cupola, where all the figures are enlarged, yet proportioned to the eye, requires a master's hand.
It must still be more acceptable than the low burlesque, because the images of the latter are mean and filthy, and the language itself entirely unknown to all men of good breeding. The style of Billingsgate would not make a very agreeable figure at St. James's. A gentleman
would take but little pleasure in language, which he would think it hard to be accosted in, or in reading words which he could not pronounce without blushing. The lofty burlesque is the more to be admired, because, to write it, the author must be master of two of the most different talents in nature. A talent to find out and expose what is ridiculous, is very different from that which is to raise, and elevate. We must read Virgil and Milton for the one, and Horace and Hudibras for the other. Weknow that the authors of excellent comedies have often failed in the
grave style, and the tragedian as often in comedy. Admiration and Laughter are of such opposite natures, that they are seldom created by the same person. The man of mirth is always observing the follies and weaknesses, the ferious writer the virtues or crimes, of mankind; one is pleased with contemplating a beau, the other a hero: even from the same object they would draw different ideas: Achilles would appear in very different lights to Therlites and Alexander; the one would admire the courage and greatness of his soul; the other would ridicule the vanity and rashness of his temper. As the fatyrist says to Hanibal:
I curre per Alpes
The contrariety of style to the subject pleases the more strongly, because it is more surprising; the expectation of the reader is pleasantly deceived, who expects an humble style from the subject, or a great subject from the style. It pleases the more universally, because it is agreeable to the taste both of the grave and the merry; but more particularly fo to those who have a relish of the best writers, and the noblest sort of poetry. I shall produce only one passage out of this poet, which is the misfortune of his Galligaskins:
My Galligaskins, which have long withstood
This is admirably fathetical, and shews very well the vcissitudes of fublunary things. The rest goes on to a prodigious height; and a man in Greenland could hardly have made a more pathetick and terrible complaint. Is it not , surprising that the subject should be so mean, and the verse so pompous, that the least things in his poetry, as in a microscope, should grow
great and formidable to the eye; especially considering that, not understanding French, he had no model for his style? that he should have no writer to imitate, and himself be inimitable ? that he should do all this before he was twenty ? at an age which is usually pleafed with a glare of false thoughts, little turns, and unnatural fustian? at an age, at which Cowley, Dryden, and I had almost said Virgil, were inconsiderable! So soon was his imagination at its full strength, his judgement ripe, and his humour complete.
This poem was written for his own diverfion, without any design of publication. It was communicated but to me : but soon spread, and fell into the hands of pirates. It was put out, vilely mangled, by Ben Bragge; and impudently said to be corrected by the author. This grievance is now grown more epidemical; and no man now has a right to his own thoughts; or a title to his own writings. Xenophon answered the Persian, who demanded his arms, “ We have nothing now 66 left but our arms and our valour; if we 66 surrender the one, how shall we make use 6 of the other ?” Poes have nothing but