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IF the moderns have excelled the ancients in any species of writing, it seems to be in satire ; and, particularly in that kind of fatire which is conveyed in the form of the epopee, a pleasing vehicle of satire, seldom, if ever, used by the ancients; for we know so little of the Margites of Homer, that it cannot well be produced as an example. As the poet disappears in this way of writing, and does not deliver the intended censure in his own proper person, the satire becomes more delicate, because more oblique. Add to this, that a tale or story more strongly engages and interests the reader, than a series of precepts or reproofs, or even of characters themselves, however lively or natural. An heroi-comic poem may therefore be justly esteemed the most excellent kind of satire. The invention of it is usually ascribed to Alessandro Taffoni ; who, in the year 1622, published at Paris a poem composed by him, in a few months of the year 1611, entitled, La Secchia Rapita, or The Rape of the Bucket. To avoid giving offence, it was first printed under the name of Androvini Melisoni. It was afterwards reprinted at Venice, corrected with the name of the author, and with some illustrations of Gasparo Salviani. But the learned and curious Crescembini, in his Istoria della Volgar Poesia *, informs us, that it is doubtful whether the invention of the theroi-comic poem ought to be, ascribed to Tafsoni, or to Francesco Bracciolini, who wrote Lo Scherno degli Dei, which performance, though it was printed four years after La Secchia, is nevertheless declared, in an epistle prefixed, to have been written many years sooner. The real subject of Taffoni's poem was the war which the inhabitants of Modena declared against those of Bologna, on the refusal of the latter to restore to them fome towns, which had been detained ever

* Lib. i. p. 78. In Roma, per il Chracas, 1698.

+ E tal poesia puo diffinirsi, e chiamarsi, immitazione d'azione seria fatto con riso. Crescembini, ibid. See Quadrio also.

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since the time of the Emperor Frederic II. The author artfully made use of a popular tradition, according to which it was believed, that a certain wooden bucket, which is kept at Modena, in the treasury of the cathedral, came from Bologna, and that it had been forcibly taken away by the Modenese. Crescembini adds, that becaufe Tassoni had severely ridiculed the Bolognese, Bartolomeo Bocchini, to revenge his countrymen, printed, at Venice, 1641, a tragico-heroi-comic poem, entitled, Le Pazzie dei Savi, ovvero, Il Lambertaccio, in which the Modenese are spoken of with much contempt. The Italians have a fine turn for works of humour, in which they abound. They have another poem of this species, called Malmantile Racquistato, written by Lorenzo Lippi, in the year 1676, which Crescembini highly commends, calling it, “ Spiritofiffimo e leggiadriflimo poema giocoso.” It was afterwards reprinted at Florence, 1688, with the useful annotations of Puccio Lamoni, a Florentine painter, who was himself no contemptible poet. To these must be added, the lively and amusing poem called Ricciardetto.' In the Adventurer, No. 133, I formerly endeavoured to thew the fuperiority of the moderns over the ancients, in all the species of ridicule, and to point out some of the reasons for this supposed Superiority. It is a subject that deserves a much longer discussion. Among other reasons given, it is there faid, that though democracies may be the nurses of true sublimity, yet monarchy and courts are more productive of politeness. Hence the arts of civility, and the decencies of conversation, as they unite men more closely, and bring them together more frequently, multiply opportunities of observing those incongruities and abfurdities of behaviour, on which ridicule is founded. The ancients had more liberty and seriousness; the moderns more luxury and laughter. In a word, our forms of government, the various confequent ranks in society, our commerce, manners, habits, riches, courts, religious controversies, intercourse with women, late age of the world in which we live, and new arts, have opened fources of ridicule unavoidably unknown to the ancients.

The Rape of the Lock is the fourth, and most excellent of the heroi-comic poems. The subject was a quarrel, occafioned by a little piece of gallantry of Lord Petre, who, in a party of pleasure, found means to cut off a favourite lock of Mrs. Arabella Fermor's hair. On fo fight a foundation has he raised this beautiful superstructure ; like a Fairy palace in a desart. Pope was accustomed to say, “ what I wrote faltest always pleased most.”

The

Among oth It is a subject fome of thelients, in all the thew the

The first sketch of this exquisite piece, which Addison called Merum Sal, was written in less than a fortnight, in two Cantos only; but it was so universally applauded, that, in the next year, our poet enriched it with the machinery of the Sylphs, and extended it to five Cantos ; when it was printed, with a Letter to Mrs. Fermor, far superior to any of Voiture. The insertion of the machinery of the Sylphs in proper places, without the least appearance of its being aukwardly stitched in, is one of the happieft efforts of judgement and art. He took the idea of these invitible beings, so proper to be employed in a poem of this nature, from a little French book entitled, Le Comte de Gabalis, of which is given the following account, in an entertaining writer. “ The Abbé Villars, who came from Thoulouse to Paris, to make his fortune by 'preaching, is the author of this diverting work. The five dialogues of which it confifts, are the result of those gay conversations, in which the Abbé was engaged, with a small circle of men, of fine wit and humour, like himself. When this book firit appeared, it was universally read, as innocent and amufing. But at length its consequences were perceived, and reckoned dangerous, at a time when this sort of curiosities began to gain credit. Our devout preacher was denied the chair, and his book forbidden to be read. It was not clear whether the author intended to be ironical, or spoke all seriously. The second volume, which he promised, would have decided the question; but the unfortunate Abbé was soon afterwards assaffinated by ruffians, on the road to Lyons. The laughers gave out, that the Gnomes and Sylphs, disguised like ruffians, had shot him, as a punishment for revealing the secrets of the Cabala ; a crime not to be pardoned by these jealous fpirits, as Villars himself has declared in his book.”

The motto to the second edition, when it was enlarged into five cantos, printed in octavo for Lintot, 1714, was from Ovid ; as was that to the first:

«a tonfo eft hoc nomen adepta capillo.” Both mottos seem to be happily chosen. No writer has equalled Addison in the happy and dextrous application of passages from the classics for his mottos. Such as that prefixed to the fine paper on the Hoop-petticoat, No. 116 of the Tatler ;

« Pars minima eft ipfa puella fibi.”
To the account of the Spectator's Club, No. 2.

" aft alii sex
Et plures uno conclamant ore"

but the unforte road to Lyonsa like rufans. Labala; a crime ruffians, on d'Sylphs, disguise fecrets

To No. 8, On Masquerades ;
“ At Venus obscuro gradientes aëre sepsit,

Et multo nebulæ circum Dea fudit ami&tu:
Cernere nequis eos”

VIRG.
To No. 23, On Anonymous Satires ;

“ Sævit atrox Volscens, nec teli confpicit usquam

Auctorem, nec quo se ardens immittere poffit.” VIRG. and many others. The mottos prefixed to the papers in the Rambler and Adventurer, were not so happy. The attempt to translate them was absurd. The one prefixed to Philips's Cyder was elegant.

- “Honos erit huic quoque pomo?” Atterbury suggested the interrogation point. Warburton was commended for despising common antagonists, and saying,

« Optat aprum, aut fulvum descendere monte leonem." But Harrington had said this, in his Oceana, of an adversary. Mr. Walpole, to intimate his high and just opinion of Gray's Ode on Eton College as a first production, wrote on it this line of Lucan;

“ Nec licuit populis parvum te Nile videre.” I dare believe the learned and amiable author did not know that Fontenelle had applied the very same line to Newton. A motto to Mr. Gray's few, but exquisite, poems might be, from Lucretius, lib. 4.

« Suavidicis potius quàm multis versibus edam,

Parvus ut eft cycni melior canor."

THE RAPE OF THE LOCK.

a Nolueram, Belinda, tuos violare capillos ;

Sed juvat, hoc precibus me tribuisse tuis.

Mart.

CANTO 1.
W hat dire offence from am'rous causes springs,

W What mighty contests rise from trivial things,
I sing—This verse to Caryl, Muse! is due:
This, ev’n Belinda may vouchsafe to view:

Slight NOTES. * It appears by this Motto, that the following Poem was written or published at the Lady's request. But there are some further circumstances not unworthy relating. Mr. Caryl (a Gentleman who was Secretary to Queen Mary, wife of James II. whose fortunes he followed into France, Author of the comedy of Sir Solomon Single, and of several translations in Dryden's Miscellanies) originally proposed the subject to him, in a view of putting an end, by this piece of ridicule, to a quarrel that was risen between two noble Families, those of Lord Petre and of Mrs. Fermor, on the trilling occasion of his having cut off a lock of her hair. The Author sent it to the Lady, with whom he was acquainted ; and she took it so well as to give about copies of it. That first sketch (we learn from one of his letters) was written in less than a fortnight, in 1711, in two Cantos only, and it was so printed; first, in a Miscellany of Bern. Lintot's, without the name of the Author. But it was received so well, that he made it more considerable the next year by the addition of the machinery of the Sylphs, and extended it to five Canto's. We shall give the reader the pleasure of seeing in what manner these additions were inserted, so as to seem not to be added, but to grow out of the Poem. See Notes, Cant. I. ver. 19, &c.

two noble Familice of ridicule, it to him, in

Fermor, on

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