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Odisti & fugis, ut Drusonem debitor æris ;
Few passages in Horace are more full of humour than this ludicrous punishment of the poor creditor.
4. Nine years! cries he, who high in Drury-Lane,
Lull'd by soft zephyrs thro' the broken pane,
Qui facit in parva sublimia carmina cella.f
Lo! what from cellars rise, what rush from high,
5. Bless me! a packet-'tis a stranger sues,
A virgin tragedy, an orphan muse.
This alludes to a tragedy acted at the TheatreRoyal in Lincoln's Inn-Fields, and published in the year 1729, called, The Virgin Queen, written by Mr. Richard Barford; who dared to adopt the fine machinery of the Sylphs, in an heroicomical poem, called The Assembly, in five cantos, published 1726, and not well received.
6. 'Tis sung, when Midas' ears began to spring,
(Midas, a sacred person, and a king,)
The abruptness with which this story from Persius is introduced, occasions an obscurity in the passage ; for there is no connection with the foregoing paragraph. Boileau says, Satire ix. v. 221, I have nothing to do with Chapelain'st honor, or probity, or candor, or civility,
* Ver. 69.
+ Notwithstanding his La Pucelle was so dull and tiresome an epic poem, yet was Chapelain a man of learning, and a good critic, and treated too harshly by Boileau. His avarice
or complaisance: but if you hold him up as a model of good writing, and as the king of au thors,
Ma bile alors s' echauffe, & je brûle d'ecrire;
Midas, le Roi Midas a des oreilles d'Asne.”
There is more humour in making the prying and watchful eyes of the minister, instead of the barber, first discover the ass's ears; and the word perks has particular force and emphasis. Sir Robert Walpole and Queen Caroline were here pointed at.
The candid Abbé d'Olivet, in the 2d. tom. of his History of the French Academy, p. 145, has zealously defended the abilities and character of Chapelain. It was at the desire of Mal. herbe and Vaugelas, that Chapelain wrote the famous Preface to the Adone of Marino. And it was he who corrected the
very first poetical composition of Racine, his Ode to the Queen, who introduced Racine to Colbert, and procured him a pension. It is remarkable, that Chapelain should be the person who first pointed out to Cardinal Richlieu, and the poets whom he em. ployed, the necessity of observing the three unities in a drama.
7. Who shames a scribbler ? break one cobweb thro',
He spins the slight, self-pleasing thread anew :
The metaphor f is most happily carried on through a variety of corresponding particulars, that exactly hit the natures of the two insects in question. It is not pursued too far, nor jaded out, so as to become quaint and affected, as is the case of many, perhaps, in Congrede's too
* Ver. 89.
+ Berkeley, in his Alciphron, Dialogue vi. p. 107, has beautifully employed an image of this sort, on a more serious sub. ject. “ To tax or strike at this divine doctrine, on account of things foreign and adventitious, the speculations and disputes of curious men, is, in my mind, an absurdity of the same kind, as it would be to cut down a fine tree, yielding fruit and shade, because its leaves afforded nourishment to caterpillars, or because spiders may now and then weave cobwebs among the branches.” Berkeley had a brilliant imagination. See his charming description of the island Inarime, in Letters to P. vol. vii. p. 330. I have been told, that Blackwell received his just idea of Homer, and of the reasons and causes of Homer's superior excellence, from Berkeley, with whom he had been connected, and had travelled with him.
witty Comedies, particularly in the Way of the World, and in Young's Satires. For instance :
Critics on verse, as squibs on triumphs, wait,
The epithets envious, and proud, have nothing to do with squibs. The last line is brilliant and ingenious, but perhaps too much so.
- 8. There are who to my person pay their court:
I cough like Horace; and tho' lear, am short ;
The smallest personal particularities are interesting in eminent men. We listen with pleasure to Montaigne, when he familiarly tells us, “My face is not puff’d, but full, and my complexion between jovial and melancholy, moderately sanguine and hot. In dancing, tennis, or wrest
* See also a passage in his two Epistles, where the transmigrations of Proteus are adapted to the various shapes as. sumed by modern scribblers.
+ Universal Passion, Sat. iii.