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have made fo wretched an use of it. He is an intoxicated philosopher, who never writ but when he was in liquor.
DEAN Swift is Rabelais in his fenfes, and frequenting the politest company. The former indeed is not so gay as the latter, but then he possesses all the delicacy, the justness, the choice, the good taste, in all which particulars our gigling rural vicar Rabelais is wanting. The poetical numbers of Dean Swift are of a singular and almost inimitable taste; true humour, whether in prose or verse, seems to be his peculiar talent; but whoever is desirous of understanding him perfectly, must visit the island in which he was born.
'Twill be much easier for you to form an idea of Mr. Pope's works. He is, in my opinion, the most elegant, the most correct poet; and at the same time the most harmonious (a circumstance which redounds very much to the honour of this, muse) that England ever gave birth to. He has mellowed the harth sounds of the English trumpet to the soft accents of the flute, His compositions may be easily translated, because they are vastly clear and perspicuous; besides, most of his subjects are general, and relative to all nations.
His Esay on Criticism will soon be known in France, by the translation which l’Abbé de Renel has made of it.
Here is an extract from his poem entitled the Rape of the Lock, which I just now translated with the latitude I usually take on these occasions; for once again, nothing can be more ridiculous than to translate a poet literally. UMBRIEL, à l'instant, vieil Gnome
rechigné, Va d'une aile pesante & d'un' air ren
frogné Chercher en murmurant la Caverne pro
65 du vent, La quinteuse Déesse incessamment repose, Le cæur gros de chagrin, sans en savoir la
cause. N'aiant penseé jamaisl'esprit toujours
troublé, L’æil chargé, le teint pile, & hypocondre
enfé. Lamedisante Envie, est asise auprès d'elle, Vicil Spectre féminin, décrépite pucelle,
Avec un air devot déchirant son prochain, Et chansonnant les Gens l'Evangile à la
main. Sur un lit plein de fleurs negligemment pan
chée Une jeune Beauté non loin d'elle est couchée, Ceš l’Affe&tation qui grafaie en parlant, Ecoute Jans entendre, & lorgne en regar
dant. Qui rougit sans pudeur, & rit de tout fans
joże, De cent maux différens prétend qu'elle est la
proïe; Et pleine de santé sous le rouge & le fard, Se plaint avec mclele, & se pame avec Art.
UMBRIEL, a dusky, melancholy Sprite
Spleen. Swift on his footy Pinions flits the Gnome And in a Vapour reach'd the dismal Dome, No chearful Breeze this sullen Region knows. The dreaded East is all the Wind that
blows. Here, in a Grotto, Melter'd close from
Air, And screen'd in Shades from Day's detested Glare,
She fighs for ever on her pensive Bed,
in Place, But diff' ring far in Figure and in Face, Here stood Ill-nature like an ancient Maid, Her wrinkled Form in black and white ar
ray'd ; With Store of Prayers for Mornings,
Nights, and Noons, Her Hand is filld; ber Bofom with Lam
This extract in the original, (not in the faint translation I have given you of it) may be compared to the description of La Molese (softness or effeminacy) in Boileau's Lutrin.
METHINKS I now have given you specimens enough from the English poets. I have made some transient mention of their philosophers, but as for good historians among them, I don't know of any; and
indeed a French Man was forced to write their history. Polibly the English genius, which is either languid or impetuous, has not yet acquired that unaffected eloquence, that plain but majestic air which history requires. Possibly too, the spirit of party, which exhibits objects in a dim and confuled light, may have sunk the credit of their historians. One half of the nation is always at variance with the other half. I have met with people who assured me that the duke of Marlborough was a coward, and that Mr. Pope was a fool; just as some Fesuits in France declare Pafchal to have been a man of little or no genius; and fome Jansenists affirm father Bourdeloüe to have been a mere babbler. The Jacobites consider Mary queen of Scots as a pious heroine, but those of an opposite party look upon her as a prostitute, an adulteress, a murderer. Thus the Englis have memorials of the several reigns, but no such thing as a history. There is indeed now living, one Mr. Gordon, (the publick are obliged to him for a translation of Tacitus) who is very capable of writing the history of his own country, but Rapin de Thcyras got the start of him. To conclude, in my opinion, the Englis have not such good historians as the French, have no such thing as a real tragedy, have several de lightful comedies, some wonderful passages