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in describing the objects as they really exist in life, like Hogarth's paintings, without heightening or enlarging them, and without adding any imaginary circumstances. In this way of writing, Swift excelled ; witness his description of a morning in the city, of a city shower, of the house of Baucis and Philemon, and the verses on his own death. These are of the same species with the piece before us. In this also consists the chief beauty of Gay's Trivia, a subject Swift desired him to write upon, and for which he furnished him with many hints. The character of Swift has been scrutinized in so many late writings, that it is superfluous to enter upon it, especially as from many materials judiciously melted down and blended together, Dr. Hawkesworth has set before the public so complete a figure of him. I cannot, however, forbear to mention a remark of Voltaire, who affims, “ that the famous Tale of a Tub is an imitation of the old story of the three invisible rings, which a father bequeathed to his three children. These three rings were the Jewish, Christian, and Mahometan religions. It is, moreover, an imitation of the history of Mero and Enegu, by Fonte
nelle. * Mero was the anagram of Rome, and Enegu of Geneva. These two sisters claimed the succession to the throne of their fathers. Mero reigned first; Fontenelle represents her as a sorceress, or juggler, who could convey away bread, and perform acts of conjuration with dead bodies : This is precisely the Lord Peter of Swift, who presents a piece of bread to his two brothers, and says to them, “This, my good friends, is excellent Burgundy; these partridges have an admirable flavour.' The same Lord Peter in Swift, performs throughout the very part that Mero plays in Fontenelle. Thus all is imitation. The idea of the Persian Letters is taken from the Turkish Spy.
. Boiardo has imitated Pulci, Ariosto has imitated Boiardo. The geniuses, apparently most original, borrow from each other.”+
I shall conclude this section with a story, which Pope himself related, because it is cha
* It was inserted by Bayle, in his Nouvelles, &c. vol. v. p. 88, as a serious narration ; so happily was the allegory disguised.
Oeuvres de Voltaire a Geneve, Tom. 4, pag. 223, 1756.
racteristical of his old friend; and I shall give it in the very words which Pope used when he told it to Mr. Spence. " Dr. Swift has an odd blunt way, that is mistaken by strangers for ill-nature; it is so odd, that there is no describing it but by facts. *
I'll tell you one, the first that comes into my head. One evening Gay and I went to see him. On our coming in, “ Hey-day! gen. tlemen, (says the Dean,) what can be the meaning of this visit? How came you to leave all the
you are so fond of, to come hither to see a poor scurvy Dean?”
" Because we would rather see you than any of them.” any one that did not know you so well as I do, might possibly believe you : but since you are come, I must get some supper for you, I suppose.” “No, Doctor; we have supped already.” “Supped already! that is impossible ; why it is not eight o'clock.”
« Indeed we have." " That's very strange; but if you had not supped, I must have got something for you : let me see, a couple
* The archbishop of Armagh, Dr. Hoadly, happening to object one day, in Swift's company, to an expression of Pope, as not being the purest English, Swift answered, with his usual roughness, “I could never get the blockhead to study his grammar,"
of lobsters would have done very well, two shillings; tarts, a shilling—But you will drink a glass of wine with me, though you supped so much before your time, only to spare my pocket. No, we had rather talk with you, than drink
“ But if you had supped with me, as in all reason you ought to have done, you must then have drank with me. —A bottle of wine, two shillings.—Two and two are four, and one is five.—Just two and sixpence a-piece. There, Pope, there's half a crown for you; and there's another for you, Sir; for I won't save any thing by you, I am determined.” This was all said and done with his usual seriousness on such occasions : and, in spite of every thing we could say to the contrary, he actually obliged us to take the money.
* Transcribed from Mr. Spence's anecdotes.
OF THE ESSAY ON MAN.
If it be a true observation, that for a poet to write happily and well, he must have seen and felt what he describes, and must draw from living models alone ; and if modern times, from their luxury and refinement, afford not manners that will bear to be described ; it will then follow, that those species of poetry bid fairest to succeed at present, which treat of things, not men; which deliver doctrines, not display events. Of this sort is didactic and descriptive poetry. Accordingly the moderns have produced many excellent pieces of this kind. We may mention the Syphilis of Fracastorius, the Silk-worms and Chess of Vida, the Ambra of Politian, the Agriculture of Alamanni, the Art of Poetry of Boileau, the Gardens of Rapin, the Cyder of Phillips, the Chase