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You have with you three or four of the best English authors, Dryden, Atterbury, and Swift ; read them with the utmost care, and with a particular view to their language, and they may possibly correct that curious infelicity of diction, which you acquired at Westminster. Mr. Harte excepted, I will admit that you have met with very few English abroad who could improve your style ; and with many, I dare say, who speak as ill as yourself, and it may be worse ; you must therefore take the more pains, and consult your authors and Mr. Harte the more. I need not tell you how attentive the Romans and Greeks, particularly the Athenians were to this object. It is also a study among the Italians and the French, witness their respective Academies and Dictionaries, for improving and fixing their languages. To our shame be it spoken, it is less attended to here than in any polite country; but that is no reason why you should not attend to it; on the contrary it will distinguish you the more. Cicero says, very truly, that it is glorious to excel other men in that very article, in which men excel brutes, speech.
Constant experience has shown me, that great purity and elegance of style, with a graceful elocution, cover a multitude of faults in either a speaker or a writer. For my own part, I confess (and I believe most people are of my mind) that if a speaker should ungracefully mutter or stammer out to me the sense of an angel, deformed by barbarisms and solecisms, or larded with vulgarisms, he should never speak to me a second time, if I could help it. Gain the heart, or you gain nothing ; the eyes and the ears are the only road to the heart. Merit and knowledge will not gain hearts, though they will secure them when gained. Pray have that truth ever in your mind. Engage the eyes by your address, air, and motions ; sooth the ears by the elegance and harmony of your diction ; the heart will certainly follow, and the whole man or woman will as certainly follow the heart. I must repeat it to you over and over again, that with all the knowledge which you may have at present or hereafter acquire, and with all the merit that ever man had, if you have not a graceful address, liberal and engaging manners, a prepossessing air, and a good degree of eloquence in speaking and writing, you will be nobody; but will have the daily mortification of seeing people, with not one-tenth part of your merit or knowledge, get the start of you and disgrace you both in company and in business.
(From the Same.)
I consider you now as at the Court of Augustus, where, if ever the desire of pleasing animated you, it must make you exert all the means of doing it. You will see there, full as well, I dare say as Horace did at Rome, how states are defended by arms, adorned by manners, and improved by laws. Nay, you have an Horace there, as well as an Augustus ; I need not name Voltaire qui nil molitur inepte, as Horace himself said of another poet. I have lately read over all his works that are published, though I had read them more than once before. I was induced to this by his Siècle de Louis XIV. which I have read but four times. In reading over all his works, with more attention I suppose than before, my former admiration of him is, I own, turned into astonishment. There is no one kind of writing in which he has not excelled. You are so severe a classic, that I question whether you will allow me to call his Henriude an epic poem, for want of the proper number of gods, devils, witches, and other absurdities, requisite for the machinery; which machinery is (it seems) necessary to constitute the Epopée. But whether you do or not, I will declare (though possibly to my own shame) that I never read an epic poem with near so much pleasure. I am grown old, and have possibly lost a great deal of that fire, which formerly made me love fire in others at any rate, and however attended with smoke; but now I must have all sense, and cannot, for the sake of five righteous lines, forgive a thousand absurd ones.
In this disposition of mind, judge whether I can read all Homer through tout de suite. I admire his beauties ; but, to tell you the truth, when he slumbers I sleep. Virgil I confess is all sense, and therefore I like him better than his model ; but he is often languid, especially in his five or six last books, during which I am obliged to take a good deal of snuff. Besides I profess myself an ally of Turnus's against the pious Æneas, who, like many soi-disant pious people, does the most flagrant injustice and violence, in order to execute what they impudently call the will of Heaven. But what will you say, when I tell you truly, that I cannot possibly read our countryman Milton through. I acknowledge him to have some most sublime passages, some prodigious flashes of light; but then you must acknowledge that light is often followed by darkness visible, to use his own expression. Besides, not having the honour to be acquainted with any of the parties in his poem, except the Man and the Woman, the characters and speeches of a dozen or two of angels and of as many devils are as much above my reach as my entertainment. Keep this secret for me, for if it should be known, I should be abused by every tasteless pedant and every solid divine in England.
Whatever I have said to the disadvantage of these three poems, holds much stronger against Tasso's Gierusalemme : it is true he has very fine and glaring rays of poetry ; but then they are only meteors, they dazzle, then disappear, and are succeeded by false thoughts, poor concetti, and absurd impossibilities : witness the Fish and the Parrot extravagances, unworthy of an heroic poem, and would much better become Ariosto, who professes le coglionerie.
I have never read the Lusiade of Camoens except in a prose translation, consequently I have never read it at all, so shall say nothing of it ; but the Henriade is all sense from beginning to end, often adorned by the justest and liveliest reflections, the most beautiful descriptions, the noblest images, and the sublimest sentiments ; not to mention the harmony of the verse, in which Voltaire undoubtedly exceeds all the French poets ; should you insist upon an exception in favour of Racine, I must insist, on my part, that he at least equals him. What hero ever interested more than Henry the Fourth, who, according to the rules of epic poetry, carries on one great and long action, and succeeds in it at last ? What description ever excited more horror than those, first of the massacre, then of the famine, at Paris ? Was love ever painted with more truth and morbidezza than in the ninth book ? Not better, in my mind, even in the fourth of Virgil. Upon the whole, with all your classical rigour, if you will but suppose St. Louis a god, a devil, or a witch, and that he appears in person, and not in a dream, the Henriade will be an epic poem, according to the strictest statute laws of the Epopée; but in my Court of Equity it is one as it is.
(From the Same.)
[William Warburton, the son of the town-clerk of Newark, was born Dec. 24, 1698. He was educated at the Grammar-schools of Oakham and Newark, but did not proceed to the University, and at sixteen entered an attorney's office. In private however he studied with great diligence, and at twenty-five was admitted to orders in the Church of England. His first work, An Alliance between Church and State (1736), attracted considerable attention, but it was not until the publication of his great book, The Divine Legation of Moses (Books i. -iii., 1738 ; iv.-vi., 1740) that his native powers and the extensive learning he had acquired were accorded full recognition. This is a very remarkable, and in many respects a very able work, but without any real or enduring value, and aptly described by Gibbon as “a monument already crumbling in the dust of the vigour and weakness of the human mind.” One of the excursions, with which it abounds, into all manner of side issues, afterwards drew forth an early work of Gibbon, Critical Observations on the Sixth Book of the Æneid (1770). In 1739 Warburton replied to an attack made upon Pope's Essay on Man as irreligious by Crousaz, a Swiss divine, and the defence won for him the gratitude and life-long friendship of the poet, who introduced him to many of his own powerful friends, and at death left him his literary executor—a bequest valued by Johnson at £4000. Warburton married Gertrude Tucker, a niece of Ralph Allen, in 1745, and his preferment was rapid-Preacher at Lincoln's Inn, 1746 ; Prebendary of Gloucester, 1753 ; King's Chaplain, 1754 ; Dean of Bristol, 1757 ; and on the nomination of Pitt, Allen's strong friend, Bishop of Gloucester, 1759. His life was a series of fierce debates, not only with his natural enemies, the Deists and Freethinkers, but also with theologians whose tenets at all differed from his own. Hume, Lowth, Voltaire, Jortin, Wesley were each in turn the object of his controversial fury. Beside the works above mentioned the most noticeable of Warburton's writings are Julian (1750), The Principles of Natural and Revealed Religion (3 vols. 1753-67), and The Doctrine of Grace (1762), an attack upon Wesley. Warburton deviated from polemics into literary criticism only to produce the worst Shakespeare commentary ever published. He died in 1779.]
To take by storm the Temple of Fame seems to have been the valiant resolve of the once-renowned author of The Divine Legation of Moses. He flung its warders a loud defiant summons to surrender, and thundered at its doors. Had violence