Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

And I cannot conceal, without ingratitude, the great assistance I have received from those two illustrious writers, Mr Ozell * and Captain Stevens. These, and some others of distinguished eminence, in whose company I have passed so many agreeable hours, as they have been the great refiners of our language, so it has been my chief ambition to imitate them. Let the Popes, the Gays, the Arbuthnots, the Youngs, and the rest of that snarling brood, burst with envy at the praises we receive from the court and kingdom.

[ocr errors]

* John Ozell was educated for holy orders, but preferred a situation in a public office of accounts; a choice which, according to Cibber or Shiels, is sufficient to “ denominate him a little tinctured with dulness.” He was a good linguist, and made various translations, especially from the French, Italian, and Spanish, of which his Don Quixote is now alone remembered. Pope, in passing, galled him by a single allusion in the Dunciad, which produced the following extraordinary advertisement, published in the Weekly Medley, Sept. 1729 : “ As to my learning, this envious wretch knew, and every body knows, that the whole bench of bishops, not long ago, were pleased to give me a purse of guineas for discovering the erroneous translations of the Common Prayer in Portugueze, Spanish, French, Italian, &c. As for my genius, let Mr Cleland shew better verses, in all Pope's works, than Ozell's Version of Boileau's Lutrin ; which the late lord Halifax was so pleased with, that he complimented him with leave to dedicate it to him, &c. &c. Let him shew better and truer poetry in the Rape of the Lock than in Ozell’s Rape of the Bucket, which, because an ingenious author happened to mention in the same breath with Pope's, viz.

Let Ozell sing the Bucket, Pope the Lock,' the little gentleman had like to have run mad: And Mr Toland and Mr Gildon publicly declared Ozell's Translation of Homer to be, as it was prior, so likewise superior to Pope's.-Surely, surely, every man is free to deserve well of his country! John Ozell." --CIBBER'S Lives of the Poets, vol. iv. p. 355.

But to return from this digression.

The reader will find that the following collection of polite expressions will easily incorporate with all subjects of genteel and fashionable life. Those which are proper for morning tea will be equally useful at the same entertainment in the afternoon, even in the same company, only by shifting the several questions, answers, and replies into different hands; and such as are adapted to meals will indifferently serve for dinners or suppers, only distinguishing between day-light and candle-light. By this method no diligent person of a tolerable memory can ever be at a loss.

It has been my constant opinion, that every man who is intrusted by nature with any useful talent of the mind, is bound by all the ties of honour, and that justice which we all owe our country, to propose to himself some one illustrious action to be performed in his life, for the public emolument and I freely confess, that so grand, so important an enterprise as I have undertaken, and executed to the best of my power, well deserved a much abler hand, as well as a liberal encouragement from the crown. However, I am bound so far to acquit myself, as to declare, that I have often and most earnestly entreated several of my above-named friends, universally allowed to be of the first rank in wit and politeness, that they would undertake a work so honourable to themselves, and so beneficial to the kingdom ; but so great was their modesty, that they all thought fit to excuse themselves, and impose the task on me; yet in so obliging a manner, and attended with such compliments on my poor qualifications, that I dare not repeat. And at last their entreaties, or rather their commands, added

to that inviolable love I bear to the land of

my nativity, prevailed upon me to engage in so bold an attempt. I

may venture to affirm, without the least violation of modesty, that there is no man now alive, who has, by many degrees, so just pretensions as myself to the highest encouragement from the crown, the parliament, and the ministry, toward bringing this work to due perfection. I have been assured, that several great heroes of antiquity were worshipped as gods, upon the merit of having civilized a fierce and barbarous people. It is manifest I could have no other intentions ; and I dare appeal to my very enemies, if such a treatise as mine had been published some years ago, and with as much success as I am confident this will meet, I mean, by turning the thoughts of the whole nobility and gentry to the study and practice of polite conversation, whether such mean stupid writers as the Craftsman, and his abettors, could have been able to corrupt the principles of so many hundred thousand subjects, as, to the shame and grief of every whiggish, loyal, and true protestant heart, it is too manifest they have done. For I desire the honest judicious reader to make one remark, that, after having exhausted the whole in sickly pay-day * (if I may so call it) of politeness and refinement, and faithfully digested it into the following dialogues, there cannot be found one expression relating to politics; that the ministry is never mentioned, nor the word king, above twice or thrice, and then only to the honour of his majesty ; so very čautious were our wiser ancestors in forming rules for conversation, as never to give offence to crowned heads, nor interfere with party-disputes in the state. And, indeed, although there seems to be a close resemblance between the two words politeness and politics, yet no ideas are more inconsistent in their natures. However, to avoid all appearance of disaffection, I have taken care to enforce loyalty by an invincible argument, drawn from the very fountain of this noble science, in the following short terms, that ought to be writ. in gold, “Must is for the king :" which uncontrollable maxim I took particular care of introducing in the first page of my book, thereby to in. stil early the best protestant loyal notions into the minds of my readers. Neither is it merely my own private opinion, that politeness is the firmest foundation upon which loyalty can be supported ; * for thus happily sings the divine Mr Tibbalds, † or Theobalds, in one of his birth-day poems :

* This word is spelt by Latinists Encyclopædia ; but the judicious author wisely prefers the polite reading before the pedantic.

I am no scollard, but I am polite;
Therefore be sure I'm no jacobite.

* The edition 1772 has this additional passage and note, levelled at Lord Harvey, the antagonist of Pope, and Stephen Duck, the favourite poet of Queen Caroline :" For thus happily sings the never-to-be-too-much-admired 'Lord H- in his truly sublime poem, called Loyalty Defined :

Who's not polite, for the pretender, is

A jacobite, I know him by his pbiz.” It is erroneously printed, in the London edition, Mr Stephen Duck. + The well-known quarrel between Pope and Theobald, which began in their undertaking rival editions of Shakespeare, and ended in the latter being for a time exalted to the throne of the Dun ciad, must be familiar to every reader.

1

that great

Hear, likewise, to the same purpose, master of the whole poetic choir, our most illustrious laureat, Mr Colley Cibber :

Who in his talk can't speak a polite thing,

Will never loyal be to George our king. I could produce many more shining passages, out of our principal poets of both sexes, to confirm this momentous truth: Whence I think it may be fairly concluded, that whoever can most contribute toward propagating the science contained in the following sheets through the kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland, may justly demand all the favour that the wisest court, and most judicious senate, are able to confer on the most deserving subject. I leave the application to my readers.

This is the work which I have been so hardy as to attempt, and without the least mercenary view. Neither do I doubt of succeeding to my full wish, except among the tories and their abettors, who, being all jacobites, and consequently papists in their hearts, from a want of true taste, or by strong affectation, may perhaps resolve not to read my book, choosing rather to deny themselves the pleasure and honour of shining in polite company, among the principal geniuses of both sexes throughout the kingdom, than adorn their minds with this noble art; and probably apprehending (as I confess nothing is more likely to happen,) that a true spirit of loyalty to the protestant succession should steal in along with it.

If my favourable and gentle readers could possibly conceive the perpetual watchings, the numberless toils, the frequent risings in the night, to

« AnteriorContinuar »