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to be nimble and strong enough for hunting down large game. For it hath been observed, both among ancients and moderns, that a true cri. tic hath one quality in common with a whore and an alderman, never to change his title or his nature ; that a grey critic has been certainly a green one, the perfections and acquirements of his age being only the improved talents of his youth; like hemp, which some naturalists inform us is bad for fuffocations, though taken but in the feed. I efieem the invention, or at least the refinement of prologues, to have been owing to these younger proficients, of whom Terence makes frequent and honourable mention, under the name of malevoli.
Now, it is certain the institution of the true critics, was of absolute neceffity to the commonwealth of learning. For all human actions feem to be divided, like Themistocles and his company : One man can fiddle, and another can make a small town a great city; and he that cannot do either one or the other, deserves to be kicked out of the creation. The avoiding of which penalty, has doubtless given the first birth to the nation of critics; and withal, an occasion for their secret detractors to report, that a true critic is a sort of mechanic, fet up with a stock and tools for his trade at as little expence as a taylor; and that there is much analogy between the utensils and abilities of both : That the taylor's hell is the type of a critic's common-place-book, and his wit and learn
iog held forth by the goose; that it requires at least as many of these to the making up of one scholar, as of the others to the composition of a man; that the valour of both is equal, and their weapons near of a size. Much may be said in answer to those invidious reflections : And I can positively affirm the first to be a falsehood : For, on the contrary, nothing is more certain, than that it requires greater layings out to be free of the critic's company, than of any other you can name. For, as to be a true beggar, it will cost the richest candidate every groat he is worth ; fo, before one can commence a true critic, it will cost a man all the good qualities of his mind; which perhaps for a lefs purchase would be thought but an indifferent bargain.
Having thus amply proved the antiquity of criticism, and described the primitive state of it; I shall now examine the present condition of this empire, and shew how well it agrees with its ancient felf. A certain author, whose works have many ages since been entirely lost, does, in his fifth book, and eighth chapter, fay of critics, that their writings are the mirrors of learning *. This I understand in a literal sense; and suppose. our author must mean, that whoever designs to be a perfect writer, must infpect into the books of critics, and correct his invention there, as in a mirNow, whoever confiders, that the mirrors
of A quotation after the manner of a great author. l'ide Dentley's dillertation, br.
of the ancients were made of brass, and fine mercurio, may presently apply the two principal qualifications of a true modern critic; and consequently must needs conclude, that these have always been, and niust be for ever the fame. For brass is an emblem of duration, and, when it is skilfully burnished, will cast reflections from its own superficies, without any affiftance of
mercury from behind. All the other talents of a critic will not require a particular mention, being included, or easily reducible to these. However, I Ihall conclude with three maxims, which may serve both as characteristics to distinguish a true modern critic from a pretender, and will be also of admirable use to those worthy spirits who engage in so useful and honourable an art.
The first is, That criticism, contrary to all other faculties of the intellect, is ever held the truest and best, when it is the very first result of the critic's mind : as fowlers reckon the first aim for the surest, and feldom fail of miffing the mark, if they stay for a second.
Secondly, The true critics are known by their talent of swarming about the nobleft writers, to which they are carried merely by instinct, as a rat .to the best cheese, or a wasp to the fairest fruit. So when the king is on horseback, he is sure to be the dirtiest person of the company; and they that make their court best, are such as bespatter him most. Lastly, A true critic in the perusal of a book, is
like a dog at a feast, whose thoughts and stomach are wholly set upon what the guests fling away; and consequently is apt to snarl most when there are the fewest bones.
Thus much, I think, is fufficient to serve by way of address to my patrons, the true modern critics; and may very well atone for my past filence, as well as that which I am like to observe for the future. ! hope I have deserved so well of their whole body, as to meet with generous and tender usage from their hands. Supported by which expectation, I go on boldly to pursue those adventures already so happily begun.
Have now with much pains and study con
ducted the reader to a period, where he must expect to hear of great revolutions. For no fooner had our learned brother, so often mentioned, got a warm house of his own over his head, than he began to look big, and take mightily upon him ; infomuch that, unless the gentle reader, out of his great candour, will please a little to exalt his idea, I am afraid he will henceforth hardly know the hero of the play, when he happens to meet him ; his part, his dress, and his mien being so much altered.
He told his brothers, he would have them to know that he was their elder, and consequently his father's sole heir; nay, a while after he would not allow them to call him brother, but MR PETER ; and then he must be styled FATHER PETER, and sometimes My LORD PETER. To support this grandeur, which he foon began to consider could not be maintained without a better fonde than what he was born to ; after much thought, he cast about at last to turn projector and virtuofo ; wherein he so well succeeded, that many famous discoveries, projects, and machines, which bear great vogue and practice at present in the world, are owing entirely to LORD PETER's invention. I will deduce the best account I have been able to collect, of the chief amongst them; without considering much the order they came out in; because, I think, authors are not well agreed as to that point.
I hope, when this treatise of mine shall be translated into foreign languages, (as I may without vanity affirm, that the labour of collecting, the faithfulness in recounting, and the great usefulness of the matter to the public, will amply deserve that justice), that the worthy members of the several academies abroad, especially those of France and Italy, will favourably accept these humble offers for the advancement of universal knowledge. I do also advertise the most reve