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in the will did therefore require fome allowance, and a favourable interpretation, and ought to be understood cum grano falis.
Bur fathions perpetually altering in that age, the fcholaftic brother grew weary of fearching farther evafions, and folving everlafting contradictions. Refolved therefore, at all hazards, to comply with the modes of the world, they concerted matters together, and agreed unanimoufly to lock up their father's will in a frong box, brought out of Greece or Italy, I have forgot which; and trouble themselves no farther to examine it, but only refer to its authority whenever they thought fit. In confequence whereof, a while after, it grew a general inode to wear an infinite number of points, most of them tagged with filver. Upon which the scholar pronounced ex cathedra, that points were abfolutely jure paterno, as they might very well remember. It is true Indeed, the fashion prescribed somewhat more than were directly named in the will; however, that they, as heirs general of their father, had power to make and add certain claufes for public emolument, tho' not deducible, totidem verbis, from the letter of the will; or elfe multa abjurda fequerentur. This was understood for canonical; and therefore on the following Sunday they came to church, all covered with points.
THE learned brother fo often mentioned, was reckoned the beft fcholar in all that or the next street to it; infomuch as, having run fomething behind-hand in the world,
*The Papifts formerly forbade the people the ufe of Scripture in a vulgar tongue: Peter therefore locks up his father's will in, a Strong box, brought out of Greece or Italy. These countries are named, because the New Teftament is written in Greek; and the vulgar Latin, which is the authentic edition of the Bible in the church of Rome, is in the language of old Italy. W. Wotton.
The Popes, in their decretals and bulls, have given their fanction to very many gainful doctrines, which are now received in the church of Rome, that are not mentioned in Scripture, and are unknown to the primitive church. Peter accordingly pronounces ex cathedra, That points tagged with filver were abfolutely jure paterno: and fo they wore them in great numbers. W. Wotton.
world, he obtained the favour of a certain Lord ‡, to receive him into his houfe, and to teach his children. A while after, the Lord died; and he, by long practice of his father's will, found the way of contriving a deed of conveyance of that houfe to himself and his heirs. Upon which he took poffeffion, turned the young fquires outs and received his brothers in their stead ||.
HOUGH I have been hitherto as cautious as F TH T could, upon all occafions, moft nicely to follow the rules and methods of writing laid down by the example of our illuftrious moderns; yet has the unhappy fhortness of my memory led me into an error; from which I mut extricate myself, before I can decently purfue my principal fubje&t. I confefs with fhame, it was an unpardonable omiffion to proceed so far as I have already done, before I had performed the due difcourfes, expoftulatory, fapplicatory, or deprecatory, with my good Lords the critics. Towards fome atonement for this grievous neglect, I do here make humbly bold to prefent them with a fhort account of themselves and their art, by looking into the original and pedigree of the word, as it is generally understood among us, and very briefly confidering the antient and present ftave thereof.
This was Conftantine the Great, from whom the Popes pre"tend a donation of St. Peter's patrimony, which they have been never able to produce.
Ibid. The Bishops of Rome enjoyed their privileges in Rome at first by the favour of Emperors, whom at laft they shut out of their own capital city, and then forged a donation from Conftantine the Great, the better to justify what they did. In imitation of this, Peter, " having run fomething behind-hand in, the world, obtained leave of a certain Lord, &c." W. Wotton..
By the word critic, at this day fo frequent in all converfations, there have fometimes been distinguished three very different species of mortal men, according as I have read in antient books and pamphlets. For, firft, by this term was understood fuch perfons as invented or drew up rules for themselves and the world; by obferving which a careful reader might be able to pronounce upon the productions of the learned, form his tafte to a true relish of the fublime and the admirable, and divide every beauty of matter or of ftyle from the corruption that apes it in their common perufal of books, fingling out the errors and defects, the nauseous, the fulfome, the dull, and the impertinent, with the caution of a man that walks thro' Edinburgh ftreets in a morning; who is indeed as careful as he can, to watch diligently and spy out the filth in his way; not that he is curious to obferve the colour and complexion of the ordure, or take its dimenfions, much less to be paddling in, or tafting it; but only with a defign to come out as cleanly as he may. These men feem, tho' very erroneously, to have understood the appellation of critic in a literal fenfe; that one principal part of his office was to praife and acquit; and that a critic who fets up to read only for an occafion of cenfure and reproof, is a creature as barbarous as a judge, who should take up a resolution to hang all men that came before him upon a trial.
AGAIN, by the word critic, have been meant the reftorers of antient learning from the worms, and graves, and duft of manufcripts.
Now, the races of thefe two have been for fome ages utterly extinct; and, befides, to difcourfe any farther of them would not be at all to my purpose.
THE third and nobleft fort, is that of the TRUE CRITIC, whofe original is the most antient of all. Every true critic is a hero born, defcending in a direct line from a celeftial ftem, by Momus and Hybris, who begat Zoilus, who begat Tigellius, who begat Etcætera the elder, who begat Bentley, and Rymer, and Wotton, and Perrault, and Dennis, who begat Etcætera the younger.
AND thefe are the critics, from whom the commonwealth of learning has in all ages received fuch immenfe
benefits, that the gratitude of their admirers placed their origine in heaven, among thofe of Hercules, Thefeus, Perfeus, and other great defervers of mankind. But heroic virtue itself hath not been exempt from the obloquy of evil tongues. For it hath been objected, that those antient heroes, famous for their combating so many giants, and dragons, and robbers, were in their own perfons a greater nufance to mankind than any of those monsters they fubdued; and therefore to render their obligations more compleat, when all other vermin were destroyed, should in confcience have concluded with the fame juftice upon themfelves; as Hercules moft generoufly did; and hath, upon that score, procured to himfelf more temples and votaries than the beft of his fellows. For these reasons, I fuppofe, it is, why fome have conceived, it would be very expedient for the public good of learning, that every true critic, as foon as he had finished his talk affigned, fhould immediately deliver himself up to ratsbane or hemp, or from fome convenient altitude; and that no man's pretenfions to fo illustrious a character should by any means be received, before that operation were performed.
Now, from this heavenly defcent of criticism, and the close analogy it bears to heroic virtue, 'tis easy to affign the proper employment of a true, antient, genuine critic; which is, to travel thro' this vaft world of writings; to purfue and hunt those monftrous faults bred within them; to drag out the lurking errors, like Cacus from his den; to multiply them like Hydra's heads, and rake them together like Augeas's dung; or elfe drive away a fort of dangerous fowl, who have a perverfe inclination to plunder the best branches of the tree of knowledge; like those Stymphalian birds that eat up the fruit.
THESE reafonings will furnish us with an adequate definition of a true critic; that he is a discoverer and collector of writers faults: which may be farther put beyond difpute by the following demonftration: That whoever will examine the writings in all kinds, wherewith this antient fest has honoured the world, fhall immediately find, from the whole thread and tenor of them, that the ideas of the authors have been altogether converfant and
taken up with the faults, and blemishes, and overfights, and mistakes of other writers; and let the subject treated on be whatever it will, their imaginations are fo entirely poffeffed and replete with the defects of other pens, that the very quinteffence of what is bad does of neceffity diftill into their own; by which means, the whole appears to be nothing elfe but an abftract of the criticifms themselves have made.
HAVING thus briefly confidered the original and office of a critic, as the word is understood in its most noble and univerfal acceptation, I proceed to refute the objections of those who argue from the filence and pretermiffion of authors; by which they pretend to prove, that the very art of criticifm, as now exercised, and by me explained, is wholly modern; and confequently, that the critics of Great Britain and France, have no title to an original fo antient and illuftrious as I have deduced. Now, if I can clearly make out, on the contrary, that the moft antient writers have particularly defcribed both the perfon and the office of a true critic, agreeable to the definition laid down by me; their grand objection from the filence of authors will fall to the ground.
I confefs to have for a long time born a part in this general error; from which I fhould never have acquitted myfelf, but through the affiftance of our noble moderns; whose most edifying volumes I turn indefatigably over night and day, for the improvement of my mind, and the good of my country. Thefe have with unwearied pains made many ufeful fearches into the weak fides of the antients, and given us a comprehenfive lift of them +. Befides, they have proved, beyond contradiction, that the very finest things delivered of old, have been long fince invented, and brought to light by much later pens; and that the nobleft discoveries thofe antients ever made, of art or nature, have all been produced by the tranfcending genius of the prefent age: which clearly fhews how little merit thofe antients can juftly pretend to; and takes off that blind admiration paid them by men in a corner, who have the unhappinefs of converfing too little
↑ See Wotton of antient and modern learning.