« AnteriorContinuar »
ÀÑ endeavouring on all'occasions that happen in conversation, tođepressthät foó
fish pride of human nature, which makes us fo apt to over-value búr felves, as well as to défpise all other creatures: And I grow from every dispute more confirm'd in my own opinion, by the ignorance and conceitedness I meet with in those who contradict it.
If we could imagine a pack of hounds extremely despising the huntsmen, and firmly believing all that noise and clutter was only intended by providence to make sport for a few dogs; the men (I suppose) would think them as ridiculous animals, as I do now the huntsmen for the same reason. Therefore, in my opinion, none of their old definitions of a rational animal, or a laughing animal, expresses the peculiar nature of man half so rightly, as that of a vain animal. For though
most despicable creatures our selves, yet we
Yet while I thus blame others, it occurs
town the P somer
with That house
ctilys is dim nes
, and pridele faying
HERE have been always Criticks; and some few good, among a great
many bad ones; but I believe there was never such an age and nation for that humour as ours is at present. In so great a town as London, there is always a little of the Plague in some odd corner or other ; but sometimes 'tis epidemical, and sweeps all away. Just so 'tis now with Criticism, which without the least distinction spares nobody. That I mean, which is vented in eatinghouses, coffee-houses, and play-houses; and is nothing in the world but a mixture of ill-nature and ignorance. But, the worst is, these bleak winds are ever blasting all our hopeful blossoms; for they hinder the modestest and best wits from writing ; but, like winds too, they can hardly hurt what is well ripened, and come forth : For 'tis almost in
fallible that a real good thing will bear out it felf, and in a little time get the better of all opposition. Time therefore, in all matters of writing, is the only true touchstone of merit; which at length will prevail over all the folly and faction imaginable.
As in old Rome, what made such excel, lent orators above any since, but the univer. sal endeavour of all mankind then to be eloquent ? So here, among so many Criticks, 'tis imposible but some few must be fitted by nature for such an exact judgment of things; and it being so much the fashion, they cannot fail by art and practice. to improve their talent,
The business of a Critick is mightily mistaken among us; for our Town-sparks think it consists in nothing but finding fault). which is but the least half of their work. Every man who drinks his pot, can judge a paultry picture in an alehouse to be worth nothing; but how few can discern the best touches, and judge of a good collection!
'Tis surely not undecent to mention one's self, when 'tis rather with censure than approbation. When I came first abroad into the world, being extremely young, I thought it a fine thing to laugh at every body, to
shew my wit ; and fancied my self the better;" as I represented others to be worse: but now I despise that affectation, which is as ridiculous, as if a Lady would sweep out the naftiness of a room, to shew her own neatness. Let the half-wits do it, 'tis their drudgery. .
I confess I am still very difficult in matters of writing, and seldom find any thing worth commending, because of those great Idea's I have of the Antients : which make me yet more unsatisfied with my self than with any body else. But when I meet with any thing that deserves it, I approve it gladly, both for the justice of the thing, and because I give some proof of my own candour and easiness of humour, which (without partiality) hath nothing of the envy so common nowa-days even among our best wits. Yet
perhaps this may proceed from a sort of vanity, of which I am as apt to suspect my self guilty, as any body; knowing so well that all sort of writers, especially Poets, are too much inclined to it.
"An ill Critick is, I think, of all sorts of writers the most contemptible ; a very fop of a Wit. Yet such as Wo--Y, &c. are even below that. They are no better than little dogs that bark at a traveller; if he be such