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turn of Palamon to Athens. I had thought for the honour of our nation, and more particularly for his, whose laurel, though unworthy, I have worn after him, that this story was of English growth, and Chaucer's own : but I was undeceived by Boccace ; for casually looking on the end of his seventh Giornata, I found Dioneo (under which name he shadows himself) and Fiametta (who represents his mistress the natural daughter of Robert king of Naples) of whom these words are spoken, “ Dioneo e la Fiametta granpezza conta
insieme d' Arcita, e di Palamone :" by which it appears that this story was written before the time of Boccace; but the name of its author being wholly loft, Chaucer is now become an original; and I question not but the poem has received many beauties by passing through his noble hands. Besides this tale, there is another of his own invention, after the manner of the Provençals, called The Flower and the Leaf; with which I was so particularly pleased, both for the invention and the moral, that I cannot hinder myself from recommending it to the reader.
As 'a corollary to this preface, in which I have done justice to others, I owe somewhat to myself: not that I think it worth my time to enter the lists with one Milbourn, and one Blackmore, but barely to take notice, that such men there are who have written fcurrilously against me, without any provocation. Milbourn who is in Orders, pretends amongst the rest this quarrel to me, that I have fallen foul on priesthood : if I have, I am only to ask pardon of good priests, and am afraid his
part of the reparation will come to little. Let him be satisfied that he shall not be able to force himseif upon me for an adversary. I contemn him too much to enter into competition with him. His own translations of Virgil have answered his criticisms on mine. If (as they say, he has declared in print) he prefers the verfion of Ogilby to mine, the world has made him the same compliment : for it is agreed on all hands, that he writes even below Ogilby : that, you will say, is not easily to be done; but what cannot Milbourn bring about? I am fatisfied however, that while he and I live together, I shall not be thought the worst poet of the age. It looks as if I had desired him underhand to write so ill against me: but upon my honest word I have not bribed him to do me this service, and am wholly guiltless of his pamphlet. It is true, I should be glad, if I could persuade him to continue his good offices, and write such another critique on any thing of mine : for I find by experience he has a great stroke with the reader, when he condemns any of my poems, to make the world have a better opinion of them. He has taken some pains with my poetry; but nobody will be persuaded to take the fame with his. If I had taken to the church (as he affirms, but which was never in my thoughts) I should have had more sense, if not more grace, than to have turned myself oật of my benefice by writing libels on my parishioners. But his account of my manners and my principles, are of a piece with his cavils and his poetry: and so I have done with him for ever.
As for the City Bard, or Knight Physician, I hear his quarrel to me is, that I was the author of Abfalom and Achitophel, which he thinks is a little hard on his fanatic patrons in London.
But I will deal the more civilly with his two poems, because nothing ill is to be spoken of the dead : and therefore peace be to the Manes of his Arthurs. I will only fay, that it was not for this noble kright that I drew the plan of an Epic poem on king Arthur, in my preface to the translation of Juvenal. The guardian angels of kingdoms were machines too ponderous for him to manage; and therefore he rejected them, as Dares did the whirlbats of Eryx, when they were thrown hefore him by Entellus. Yet from that preface he plainly took his hint: for he began immediately upon the story; though he had the baseness not to acknowledge his benefactor; but instead of it, to traduce me in a libel.
I fall say the less of Mr Collier, because in many things he has taxed me justly; and I have pleaded guilty to all thoughts and expressions of mine, which can be truly argued of obscenity, profaneness, or immorality; and retract them. If he be my enemy, let him triumph; if he be my friend, as I have given him no personal occasion to be otherwise, he will be glad of my repentance. It becomes me not to draw my pen in the defence of a bad cause, when I have so often drawn it for a good one. Yet it were not difficult to prove, that in many places he has perverted my meaning by his glosses; and interpreted my words into blafphemy and
baudry, of which they were not guilty ; besides that he is too much given to horse-play in his raillery; and comes to battle like a dictator from the plough. I will not say, The zeal of God's house has eaten him up; but I am sure it has devoured some part of his goodmanners and civility. It might also be doubted whether it were altogether zeal, which prompted him to this rough manner of proceeding ; perhaps it became not one of his function to rake into the rubbish of ancient and modern plays; a divine might have employed his pains to better purpose, than in the nastiness of Plautus and Ariftophanes; whose examples, as they excuse not me, to it might be possibly supposed, that he read them not without some pleasure. They who have written commentaries on those poets, or on Horace, Juvenal, and Martial, have explained some vices, which without their interpretation had been unknown to modern times. Neither has he judged impartially betwixt the former
There is more baudry in one play of Fletcher's, cal. led The Custom of the Country, than in all ours together. Yet this has been often acted on the stage in
my remembrance. Are the times so much more reformed now, than they were five and twenty years ago ? If they are, I congratulate the amendment of our morals. But I am not to prejudice the cause of my fellow-poets, though I abandon my own defence : they have some of them answered for themselves, and neither they nor I can think Mr. Collier so formidable an enemy, that we fhould fhun him. He has loft ground at the latter end
of the day, by pursuing his point too far, like the prince of Conde at the battle of Senneph : from immoral plays, to no plays; “ab abusu ad usum, non valet “ consequentia.” But being a party, I am not to erect myself into a judge. As for the rest of those who have written against me, they are such scoundrels, that they deserve not the least notice to be taken of them. Blackmore and Milbourn are only distinguished from the crowd, by being remembered to their infamy,
“ Demetri, Teque Tigelli