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on their fide shortened the prospect of the Moderns, it was a disadvantage they could not help; but desired them to consider, whether that injury (if it be any) were not largely recompensed by the made and shelter it afforded them : That, as to the levelling or digging down, it was either folly or ignorance to propose it, if they did or did not know, how that side of the hill was an entire rock, which would break their tools and hearts, without any damage to itself: That they would therefore advise the Moderns, rather to raise their own fide of the hill, than dream of pulling down that of the Ancients ; to the former of which they would not only give licence, but also largely contribute. All this was rejected by the Moderns, with much indignation ; who still intifted upon one of the two expedients. And fo this difference broke outinto a long and obstinate war ; maintained on the one part by resolution, and by the courage of certain leaders and allies ; but on the other, by the greatness of their number, upon all dcfcats affording continual recruits. In this quarrel, whole rivulets of ink have been exhausted, and the virulence of both parties enormously augmented. Now, it muft here be understood, that ink is the great misive weapon in all batrles of the learned, which conveyed through a fort of engine called a quill, infinite numbers of these are darted at the enemy, by the valiant on cach side, with equal fkill and violence, as if it were an engagement of porcupines. This malignant liqour Vol. I.
was compounded, by the engineer who invented it, of two ingredients, which are gall and copperas; hy its bitterness and venom, to fuit in fome degree, as well as to foment, the genius of the combatants. And as the Grecians, after an engagement, when they could not agree about the victory, were wont to set up trophies on both fides; the beaten party being content to be at the same expence to keep itself in countenance, (a laudable and ancient custom happily revived of late in the art of war); fo the learned, after a sharp and bloody dispute, do on both sides hang out their trophies too, whichever comes by the worst. These trophies have largely infcribed on them, the merits of the cause; a full impartial account of fuch a battle, and how the victory fell clearly to the party that set them up. They are known to the world under several names; as, Disputes, Arguments, Rejoinders, Brief Considerations, Ansevers, Replies, Remarks, Reflections, Objections, Confutations. For a very few days they are fixed up in all public places, either by themselves or their representatives *, for passengers to gaze at : From whence the chiefest and largest are removed to certain magazines, they call libraries, there to remain in a quarter purposely affigned them, and from thenceforth begin to be called books of controversy.
In these books is wonderfully instilled, and preserved, the spirit of each warrior, while he is
-alive; * Their title-pages.
alive, and after his death, his soul transmigrates there, to inform them. This, at least, is the more common opinion. But I believe, it is with libraries as with other cæmeteries, where fome philosophers affirm, that a certain fpirit, which they call brutum hominis, hovers over the monument, till the body is corrupted, and turns to duft or to worms, but then vanishes or diffolves : So, we may fay, a restless fpirit haunts over every book, till dust or worms have seized upon it; which to some may happen in a few days, but to others later. And therefore, books of controversy, being of all others haunted by the most disorderly fpirits, have always been confined in a separate lodge from the reft ; and for fear of mutual violence against each other, it was thought prudent by our ancestors, to bind then to the peace with strong iron chains. Of which invention the original occasion was this. When the works of Scotus first came out, they were carried to a certain great library, and had lodgings appointed them : But this author was no fooner fettled, than he went to visit his master Aristotle; and there both concerted together to feize Plato by main force, and turn him out from his ancient station among the divines, where he had peaceably dwelt near eight hundred years. The attempt succeeded, and the two ufurpers have reigned ever since in his stead. But to maintain quiet for the future, it was decreed, that all polemics of the larger tize thould be held fast with a chain.
By this expedient, the public peace of libraries might certainly have been preserved, if a new fpecies of controversial books had not arose of late years, instinct with a most malignant spirit
, from the war above mentioned, between the learned, about the higher summity of Parnaffus.
When these books were first admitted into the public libraries, I remember to have said upon occasion, to several persons concerned, how I was sure they would create broils where-ever they came, unless a world of care were taken: And therefore I advised, that the champions of each file should be coupled together, or otherwife mixed; that, like the blending of contrary poisons, their malignity might be employed among themselves. And it fecms I was neither an ill prophet, nor an ill counsellor : For it was nothing else but the neglect of this caution, which gave occasion to the terrible fight that happened on Friday last, between the Ancient and Modern books in the King's library. Now, because the talk of this battle is so fresh in every body's mouth, and the expectation of the town fo great to be informed in the particulars; I, being poffeffed of all qualifications requisite in an historian, and retained by neither party, have resolved to comply with the urgent importunity of my friends, by writing down a full impartial account thereof.
The guardian of the regal library, a person of great valour, but chiefly renowned for his
humanity, humanity *, had been a fierce champion Moderns; and in an engagement upon
Pan had vowed, with his own hands to knock two of the Ancient chiefs, who guarded a hnail pass on the superior rock: But endeavouring to climb up, was cruelly obstructed by his own unhappy weight, and tendency towards his centre : A quality to which those of the Modern party are extreme subject ; for, being light-headed, they have in speculation a wonderful agility, and conceive nothing too high for them to mount; but in reducing to practice, discover a mighty preffure about their posteriors and their heels. Having thus failed in his design, the disappointed champion bore a cruel rancour to the Ancients; which he resolved to gratify, by showing all marks of his favour to the books of their adversaries, and lodging them in the faireft apartments; when at the same time, whatever book had the boldness to own itself for an advo.. cate of the Ancients, was buried alive in some obscure corner, and threatened, upon the least difpleasure, to be turned out of doors. Besides, it so happened, that about this time there was a strange confusion of place among all the books in the library; for which several reasons were af
* The Honourable Mr Boyle, in the preface to his edition of Phalaris, says, he was refused a manufcript by the library-keeper,, pro solita humanitate fua.
Ibid. Dr Bentley was then library-keeper. The two ancients were Phalaris and. Æfop. Hawkes,