Category Archives: Satire

Item of the Day: Hogarth Moralized (1768)

Full Title:

Hogarth Moralized. Being a Complete Edition of Hogarth’s Works. Containing near fourscore copper-plates, most elegantly engraved : with an explanation, pointing out the many beauties that may have hitherto escaped notice, and a comment on their moral tendency. Calculated to improve the minds of youth, and, convey instruction, under the mask of entertainment. Now first published, with approbation of Jane Hogarth, widow of the late Mr. Hogarth. London: Sold by S. Hooper, the East Corner of the New Church in the Strandl and, Mrs. Hogarth, at her House in Leicester-Fields. Price One Pound Sixteen Shillings, bound. Where may be also had, the originals complete. Price thirteen guineas bound. MDCCLXVII

The Rake’s Progress.

Of all the follies in human life, there is none greater, than that of extravagance, or, profuseness; it being constant labour, without the least ease, or, relaxation. It bears, indeed, the colour of that, which is commendable, and, would fain be thought to take its rise from laudable motives, searching, indefatigably, after true felicity : now, as there can be no true felicity without content, it is this, which every man is in constant hunt after; the learned, for instance, in his industrious quest after knowledge; the merchant, in his dangerous voyages; the ambitious, in his passionate pursuit of honour; the conqueror, in his earnest desires of victory; the politician, in his deep-laid designs; the wanton, in his pleasing charms of beauty; the covetous, in his unwearied heaping up of treasure; and the prodigal, in his general and extravagant indulgence.–Thus far it may be well;–but, so mistaken are we in our road, as, to run on in the, very opposite, tract, which leads, directly, to our ruin. Whatever else we indulge ourselves in, is attended with some small degree of relish, and, has some trifling satisfaction in the enjoyment; but, in this, the farther we go, the more we are lost; and, when arrived at the mark proposed, we are as far from the object we hunt, as when we first set out. Here, then, we are inexcusable, in not attending to the secret dictates of reason, and, in stopping our ears at the timely admonitions of friendship. Headstrong and ungovernable, we pursue our course withot intermission; thoughtless and unwary, we see not the dangers that lie, immediately, before us; but, hurry on, even, without sight of our object, till we bury ourselves in that gulph of woe, where perishes, at once, health, wealth, and, virtue; and, whose dreadful labyrinths admit of no return.

Struck with the foresight of that misery, attendant on a life of debauchery, which is, in fact, the off-spring of prodigality; our author has, in the scenes before us, attempted the reformation of the worldling, by stopping him, as it were, in his career, and, opening to his view, the many doleful calamities awaiting the prosecution of his proposed scheme of life : he has, I say, in hopes of reforming the prodigal, and, at the same time, deterring the rising generation, whom Providence may have blessed with earthly wealth, from entering, at all, into so iniquitous a course, traced out the life of a young man, hurried on, through a various succession of different pursuits, for the few years nature was able to support itself; and, this from the instant, he might be said to enter into the worl, till the time of his leaving it. But, as the vice of avarice is equal to that of prodigality, and, the ruin of children is, often, owing to the indiscretion of their parents, he has opened the piece with a scene, which at the same time, that it exposes the folly of the youth, shews us the imprudence of the father, who is supposed to have hurt the principles of his son, in depriving him of the necessary use of some of that gold, he had, with the greatest covetousness, been hoarding, to no kind of purpose, in his coffers.

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Filed under 1760's, Art, Posted by Matthew Williams, Satire

Item of the Day: Dryden’s Juvenal (1693)

Item of the Day: The Satires of Decimus Junius Juvenalis. Translated into English Verse. By Mr. Dryden, and Several other Eminent Hands. Together with the Satires of Aulus Persius Flaccus. Made English by Mr. Dryden. With Explanatory Notes at the end of Each Satire. To which is prefix’d a Discourse concerning the Original and Progress of Satire. Dedicated to the Right Honourable Charles Earl of Dorset, &c., By Mr. Dryden. London, Printed for Jacob Tonson at the Judge’s-Head in Chancery-Lane, near Fleetstreet. M DC XCIII. Where you may have Compleat Sets of Mr. Dryden’s Works, in Four Volumes in Quarto, the Plays being put in the order they were Written.

The Third Satyr of Juvenal, Translated into English Verse by Mr. Dryden.

Argument of the Third Satyr.

The Story of this Satyr speaks it self. Umbritius, the suppos’d Friend of Juvenal, and himself a Poet, is leaving Rome; and retiring to Cumae. Our Author accompanies him out of Town. Before they take leave of each other, Umbritius tells his Friend the Reasons which oblige him to lead a private life in an obscure place. He complains that an honest man cannot get his bread at Rome. That none but Flatterers make their Fortunes there: That Grecians and other Foreigners, raise themselves by those sordid Arts which he describes, and against which he bitterly inveighs. He reckons up the several Inconveniencies which arise from City life; and the many Dangers which attend it. Upbraids the Noblemen with Covetousness, for not Rewarding good Poets; and arraigns the Government for starving them. The great Art of this Satyr is particularly shown, in Common Places; and drawing in as many Vices, as cou’d naturally fall into the compass of it.  

The THIRD SATYR.

Griev’d tho I am, an Ancient Friend to lose,

I like the Solitary Seat he chose:

In quiet Cumae fixing his Repose:

Where, far from Noisy Rome secure he Lives,

And one more Citizen to Sybil Gives.

The Road to Bajae, and that soft Recess

Which all the Gods with all their Bounty bless.

Tho I in Prochyta which greater ease

Cou’d live, than in a Street of Palaces.

What Scene so Desart, or s full of Fright,

As tow’ring Houses tumbling in the Night,

And Rome on Fire beheld by its own Blazing Light?

But worse than all, the clatt’ring Tiles; and worse

Than thousand Padders, is the Poet’s Curse.

Rogues that in Dog-days cannot Rhime forbear;

But without Mercy read, and make you hear.

 

Now while my Friend just ready to depart,

Was packing all his Goods in one poor Cart;

He stopp’d a little at the Conduit-Gate,

Where Numa modell’d one the Roman State,

In Mighty Councels with his Nymphs retir’d:

Though now the Sacred Shades and Founts are hir’d

By Banish’d Jews, who their whole Wealth can lay

In a small Basket, on a Wisp of Hay;

Yet such our Avarice is, that every Tree

Pays for his Head; not Sleep it self is free:

Nor Place, nor Persons now are Sacred held,

From their own Grove the Muses are expell’d.

Into this lonely Vale our Steps we bend,

I and my sullen discontented Friend:

The Marble Caves, and Aquaeducts we view;

But how Adult’rate now, and different from the true!

How much more Beauteous had the Fountain been

Embellish’t with her first Created Green,

Where Crystal Streams through living Turf had run,

Contented with an Urn of Native Stone!

 

Then thus Umbricius, (with an Angry Frown,

And looking back on this degen’rate Town,)

Since Noble Arts in Rome have no support,

And ragged Virtue not a Friend at Court,

No Profit rises from th’ungrateful Stage,

My Poverty encreasing with my Age,

’Tis time to give my just Disdain a vent,

And, Cursing, leave so base a Government.

Where Dedalus his borrow’d Wings laid by,

To that obscure Retreat I chuse to fly:

While yet few furrows on my Face are seen,

While I walk upright, and Old Age is green,

And Lachesis has somewhat left to spin.

Now, now ’tis time to quit this cursed place;

And hide from Villains my too honest Face:

Here let Arturius live, and such as he;

Such Manners will with such a Town agree.

Knaves who in full Assemblies have the knack

Of turning Truth to Lies, and White to Black:

Can hire large Houses, and oppress the Poor

By farm’d Excise, and cleanse the Common-shoare;

And rent the Fishery; can bear the dead;

And teach their Eyes dissembled Tears to shed:

All this for Gain; for Gain they sell their very Head,

These Fellows (see what Fortune’s pow’r can do)

Were once the Minstrels of a Country Show:

Follow’d the Prizes through each paltry Town,

By Trumpet-Cheeks, and Bloated Faces known.

But now, grown rich, on drunken Holy-days,

At their own Costs exhibit Publick Plays;

Where influenc’d by the Rabble’s bloody will,

With Thumbs bent back, they popularly kill.

From thence return’d, their sordid Avarice rakes

In Excrements again, and hires the Jakes.

Why hire they not the Town, not ev’ry thing,

Since such as they have Fortune in a String?

Who, for her pleasure, can her Fools advance;

And toss ’em topmost on the Wheel of Chance.

What’s Rome to me, what bus’ness have I there,

I who can neither Lye nor falsly Swear?

Nor Praise my Patron’s underserving Rhimes,

Nor yet comply with him, nor with his Times;

Unskill’d in Schemes by Planets to foreshow

Like Canting Rascals, how the Wars will go:

I neither will, nor can Prognosticate

To the young gaping Heir, his Father’s Fate:

Nor in the Entrails of a Toad have pry’d,

Nor carry’d Bawdy Presents to a Bride:

For want of these Town Virtues, thus, alone,

I go conducted on my way by none:

Like a dead Member from the Body rent;

Maim’d and unuseful to the Government.

Who now is lov’d, but he who loves the Times,

Conscious of close Intrigues, and dipt in Crimes:

Lab’ring with Secrets which his Bosom burn,

Yet never must to publick light return;

They get Reward alone who can Betray:

For keeping honest Counsels none will pay.

He who can Verres, when he will, accuse,

The Purse of Verres may at Pleasure use:

But let not all the Gold which Tagus hides,

And pays the Sea in Tributary Tides,

Be Bribe sufficient to corrupt thy Breast;

Or violate with Dreams thy peaceful rest.

Great Men with jealous Eyes the Freind behold,

Whose secrecy they purchase with their Gold.

I haste to tell thee, nor shall some oppose,

What Confidents our Wealthy Romans chose:

And whom I most abhor: To speak my Mind,

I hate, in Rome, a Grecian Town to find:

To see the Scum of Greece transplanted here,

Receiv’d like Gods, is what I cannot bear.

Nor Greeks alone, but Syrians here abound,

Obscene Orontes diving under Ground,

Conveys his Wealth to Tyber’s hungry Shoars,

And fattens Italy with Foreign Whores:

Hether their crooked Harps and Customs come;

All find Receipt in Hospitable Rome.

The Barbarous Harlots croud the Publick Place:

Go Fools, and purchase the unclean Embrace;

The painted Mitre court, and the more painted Face.

Old Romulus, and Father Mars look down,

Your Herdsman Primitive, your homely Clown

Is turn’s a Beau in a loose tawdry Gown.

His once unkem’d, and horrid Locks, behold

Stilling sweet Oul; his Neck inchain’d with Gold:

Aping the Foreigners, in ev’ry Dress;

Which, bought at greater cost, becomes him less.

Mean time they wisely leave their Native Land,

From Sycion, Samos, and from Alaband,

And Amydon, to Rome they Swarm in Shoals:

So Sweet and Easie is the Gain from Fools.

Poor Refugies at first, they purchase here:

Ans, soon as Denizen’d, they domineer.

Grow to the Great, a flatt’ring Servile Rout:

Work themselves inward, and their Patrons out.

Quick Witted, Brazen-fac’d, with fluent Tongues,

Patient of Labours, and dissembling Wrongs.

Riddle me this, and guess him if you can,

Who bears a Nation in a single Man?

A Cook, a Conjurer, a Rhetorician,

A Painter, Pedant, a Geometrician,

A Dancer on the Ropes, and a Physician.

All things the hungry Greek exactly knows:

And bid him go to Heav’n, to Heav’n he goes.

In short, no Scythian, Moor, or Thracian Born,

But in that Town which Arms and Arts adorn.

Shall he be plac’d above me at the Board,

In Purple Cloath’d, and lolling like a Lord?

Shall he before me sign, whom t’other Day

A small-craft Vessel hither did convey;

Where, stow’d with Prunes, and rotten Figs, he lay?

How little is the Priviledge become

Of being born a Citizen of Rome! […]

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Filed under 1690's, Literature, Poetry, Posted by Matthew Williams, Satire, Translation

Item of the Day: Pope’s Dunciad (1770)

Full Title: The Works of Alexander Pope, Esq. Volume V. Containing the Dunciad in Four Books. London: Printed for C. Bathurst, W. Strahan, J. and F. Rivington, R. Baldwin, W. Johnston, T. Caslon, T. Longman, B. Law, Johnson and Davenport, T. Davies, T. Cadell, and W. and J. Richardson. MDCCLXX.

The Dunciad in Four Books, with the Prolegomena of Scriblerus, the Hypercritics of Aristarchus, and Notes Variorum.

Martinus Scriblerus of the Poem.

This poem, as it celebrateth the most grave and ancient things, Chaos, Night, and Dulness; so is it of the most grave and ancient kind. Homer (saith Aristotle) was the first person gave the Form, and (saith Horace) who adapted the Measure, to heroic poesy. But even before this, may be rationally presumed from what the Ancients have left written, was a piece by Homer composed, of like nature and matter with this of our Poet. For of Epic sort it appeareth to have been, yet of matter surely not unpleasant, witness what is reported of it by the learned archbishop Eustathius, in Odyss. x. And accordingly Aristotle, in his Poetic, chap. iv. doth further set forth, that as the Iliad and Odyssey gave example to Tragedy, so did this poem to Comedy its first idea.

From these authors also it should seem, that the Hero, or chief personage of it was no less obscure, and his understanding and sentiments no less quaint and strange (if indeed not more so) than any of the actors of our poem. Margites was the name of this personage, whom Antiquity recordeth to have been Dunce the first; and surely from what we hear of him, not unworthy to be the   root of so spreading a tree, and so numerous a posterity. The poem therefore celebrating him was properly and absolutely a Dunciad; which though now unhappily lost, yet is its nature sufficiently known by the infallible tokens aforesaid. And thus it doth appear, that the first Dunciad was the first Epic poem, written by Homer himself, and anterior even to the Iliad or Odyssey. 

Now, forasmuch as our poet hath translated those two famous works of Homer which are yet left, he did conceive it in some sort his duty yo imitate that also which was lost; and was therefore induced to bestow on it the same form which Homer’s is reported to have had, namely that of Epic poem; with a title also framed after the ancient Greek manner, to wit, that of the Dunciad.

Wonderful it is, that so few of the moderns have been stimulated to attempt some Dunciad! since in the opinion of the multitude, it might cost less pain and toil than an imitation of the greater Epic. But possible it is also, that, on due reflection, the maker might find it easier to paint a Charlemagne, a Brute, or a Godfrey, with just pomp and dignity heroic, than a Margites, a Codrus or a Fleckno.

We shall next declare the occasion and the cause which moved our poet to this particular work. He lived in those days, when (after Providence had permitted the invention of Printing as a scourge for the sins of the learned) Paper also became so cheap, and Printers so numerous, that a deluge of Authors covered the land: whereby not only the peace of the honest unwriting subject was daily molested, but unmerciful demands were made of his applause, yea of his money, by such as would neither earn the one, nor deserve the other. At the same time, the licence of the press was such, that it grew dangerous to refuse them either: for they would forthwith publish slanders unpunished, the authors being anonymous, and skulking under the wings of Publishers, a set of men who never scrupled to vend either calumny or blasphemy, as long as the Town would call for it.

Now our author, living in those times, did conceive it an endeavor well worthy an honest satyrist, to dissuade the dull, and punish the wicked, the only way that was left. In that public-spirited view he laid the plan of this poem, as the greatest service he was capable (without must hurt, or being slain) to render his dear country. First taking things from their original, he considereth the causes creative of such Authors, namely Dulness and Poverty the one born with them, the other contracted by neglect of their proper talents, through self-conceit of greater abilities. This truth he wrappeth in an Allegory (as the construction of Epic poesy requireth), and feigns that one of these Goddesses had taken up her abode with the other, and that they jointly inspired all such writers and such works. He proceedeth to shew the qualities they bestow on these authors, and the effects they produce; then the materials, or stock, with which they furnish them; and (above all) that self-opinion, which causeth it to seem to themselves vastly greater than it is, and it the prime motive of their setting up in this sad and sorry merchandise. The great power of these Goddesses acting in alliance (whereof as the one is the mother of Industry, so is the other of Plodding) was to be exemplified in some one, great and remarkable action. And none could be more so than that which our poet hath chosen, viz. the restoration of the reign of Chaos and Night, by the ministry of Dulness their daughter, in the removal of her imperial seat from the City to the polite World; as the action of the Aeneid is the restoration of the empire of Troy, by the removal of the race from thence to Latium. But as Homer singing only the wrath of Achilles, yet includes in his poem the whole history of the Trojan War; in like manner our author hath drawn into this single action the whole history of Dulness and her children.

Person must next be fixed upon to support this Action. This phantom in the poet’s mind must have a Name: he finds it to be ___; and he becomes of course the Hero of the poem.    

The Fable being thus, according to the best example, one and entire, as contained in the proposition; the Machineryis a continued chain of Allegories, setting forth the whole Power, Ministry, and Empire of Dulness, extended through her subordinate instruments, in all he various operations.

This is branched into Episodes, each of which hath its Moral apart, though all conducive to the main end. The Crowd, assembled in the second book, demonstrates the design to be more extensive than to bad poets only, and that we may expect other Episodes of the Patrons, Encouragers or Paymasters of such authors as occasion shall bring them forth. And the third book, if well considered, seemeth to embrace the whole World. Each of the Games relateth to some or other vile class of writers: the first concerneth the plagiary, to whom he giveth the name of More; the second the libelous Novelist, whom he styleth Eliza; the third, the flattering Dedicator; the fourth, the bawling Critic, or noisy Poet; the fifth, the dark and dirty Party-writer; and so of the rest; assigning to each some proper name or other, such as he could find.

As for the Characters, the public hath already acknowledged how justly they are drawn: The manners are so depicted, and the sentiments so peculiar to those to whom applied, that surely to transfer them to any other or wiser personages, would be exceeding difficult: And certain it it, that every person concerned, being consulted apart, hath readily owned the resemblance of every portrait, his own excepted. So Mr. Cibber calls them, “a parcel of poor wretches, so many silly flies: but adds, our Author’s wit is remarkably more bare and barren, whenever it would fall foul on Cibber, than upon any other person whatever.”

The Descriptions are singular, the Comparisons very quaint, the Narration various, yet of one colour: The purity and chastity of Diction is so preserved, that in the places most suspicious, not the words but only the images have been censured, and yet are those images no other than have been sanctified by ancient and classical Authority (though, as was the manner of those good times, not so curiously wrapped up) yea, and commented upon by the most grave Doctors, and approved Critics.

As it beareth the name of Epic, it is thereby subjected to such severe indispensible rules as are laid on all Neoterics, a strict imitation of the Ancients; insomuch that any deviation, accompanied with whatever poetic beauties, hath always been censured by the sound Critic. How exact that Imitation hath been in this piece, appeareth not only by its general structure, but by particular allusions infinite, many whereof have escaped both the commentator and poet himself, yea divers by his exceeding diligence are so altered and interwoven with the rest, that several have already been, and more will be, by the ignorant abused, as altogether and originally his own.

In a word, the whole poem proveth itself to be the work of our Author, when his faculties were in full vigour and perfection: at that exact time when years have ripened the Judgment without diminishing the Imagination: which by good Critics is held to be punctually at forty. For at that season it was that Virgil finished his Georgics; and Sir Richard Blackmore, at the like age composing his Arthurs, declared the same to be the very Acme and pitch of life for Epic poesy: Though since he hath altered it to sixty, the year in which he published his Alfred. True it is, that the talents for Criticism, namely smartness, quick censure, vivacity of remark, certainty of asservation, indeed all by acerbity, seem rather the gifts of youth than of riper age: But it is far otherwise in Poetry; witness the works of Mr. Rymer and Mr. Dennis, who beginning with Criticism, became afterwards such Poets as no age hath paralleled. With good reason therefore did our author chuse to write his Essay on that subject at twenty, and reserve for his maturer years this great and wonderful work of the Dunciad.

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Filed under 1770's, Criticism, Literature, Posted by Matthew Williams, Satire

Item of the Day: Junius’ Letters (1772)

Full Title:  The Letters of Junius.   Vol. I. London:  Printed for Henry Sampson Woodfall, in Pater Noster Row. MDCCLXXII. *

LETTER VII.

To Sir William Draper, Knight of the Bath.

SIR,

An academical education has given you an unlimited command over the most beautiful figures of speech. Masks, hatchets, racks, and vipers, dance through your letters in all the mazes of metaphorical confusion. These are the gloomy companions of a disturbed imagination; the melancholy madness of poetry, without the inspiration. I will not contend with you in point of composition. You are a scholar, Sir William, and, if I am truly informed, you write Latin with almost as much purity as English. Suffer me then, for I am a plain, unlettered man, to continue that stile of interrogation, which suits my capacity, and to which, considering the readiness of your answers, you ought to have no objection. Even Mr. Bingley promises to answer, if put to the torture.  

Do you then really think that, if i were to ask a most virtuous man whether he ever committed theft, or murder, it would disturb his peace of mind? Such a question might perhaps discompose the gravity of his muscles, but I believe it would little affect the tranquility of his conscience. Examine your own breast, Sir William, and you will discover, that reproaches and enquiries have no power to afflict either the man of unblemished integrity or the abandoned profligate. It is the middle compound character which alone is vulnerable: the man, who, without firmness enough to avoid a dishonourable action, has feeling enough to be ashamed of it.

I thank you for the hint of the decalogue, and shall take an opportunity of applying it to some of your most virtuous friends in both houses of parliament,

You seem to have dropped the affair of your regiment; so let it rest. When you are appointed to another, I dare say you will not sell it either for a gross sum, or for any annuity upon lives.

I am truly glad (for really, Sir William, I am not your enemy, nor did I begin this contest with you) that you have been able to clear yourself of a crime, though at the expence of the highest indiscretion. You say that your half-pay was given you by way of pension. I will not dwell upon the singularity of uniting in your own person two sorts of provisions, which in their own nature, and in all military and parliamentary views, are incompatible; but I call upon you to justiy that declaration, wherein you charge your ____ with having done an act in your favour notoriously against the law. The half-pay, both in Ireland and England, is appropriated by parliament; and if it be given to persons, who, like you, are legally incapable of holding it, it is a breach of law. It would have been more decent in you to have called this dishonourable transaction by its true name; a job to accomodate two persons, by particular interest and management of the castle. What sense must government have had of your services, when the rewards they have given you are only a disgrace to you!

And now, Sir William, I shall take my leave of you for ever. Motives, very different from any apprehension of your resentment, make it impossible you should ever know me. In truth, you have some reason to hold yourself indebted to me. From the lessons I have given, you may collect a profitable instruction for your future life. They will either teach you to regulate your conduct, as to be able to set the most malicious inquiries at defiance; or, if that be a lost hope, they will teach you prudence enough not to attract the public attention upon a character, which will only pass without censure, when it passes without observation.

JUNIUS. 

* See previous entry on Junius for context and a biographical account at: https://18thcenturyreadingroom.wordpress.com/2006/03/06/item-of-the-day-junius-revisited-1769/

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Filed under 1770's, Political Commentary, Posted by Matthew Williams, Satire

Item of the Day: Walpole on Politics, Satire, etc. (1820)

Full Title: Private Correspondence of Horace Walpole, Earl or Orford. Now First Collected. In Four Volumes. Vol. III. 1735-1756. London: Printed for Rodwell and Martin, Bond-Street; and Colburn and Co., Conduit-Street. 1820.

To George Montagu, Esq.

Strawberry-hill, May 26, 1765.

If one of the one hundred events, and one hundredth part of the one hundred thousand reports that have passed, and been spread in this last month, have reached your solitary hill, you must be surprised at not a single word from me during that period. The number of events is my excuse. Though mine is the pen of a pretty ready writer, I could not keep pace with the revolutions of each day, each hour. I had not time to begin the narrative, much less to finish it: no, I must keep the whole to tell you at once, or to read it to you, for I think I shall write the history, which, let me tell you, Buckinger himself could not have crowded into a nut-shell.

For your part, you will be content, though the house of Montagu has not made an advantageous figure in this political warfare, yet it is crowded with victory, and laurels you know compensate for every scar. You went out of town fightened out of your sense at the giant prerogative: alack! he is grown so tame, that, as you said of our earthquake, you may stroke him. The regency bill, not quite calculated with that intent, has produced four regents, king Bedford, king Grenville, king Halifax, and king Twitcher. Lord Holland is turned out, and Stuart Mackenzie. Charles Townshend is paymaster, and lord Bute annihilated; and all done without the help of the Whigs. You love to guess what one is going to say; now you may guess what I am going to say. Your newspapers perhaps have given you a long roll of opposition names, who were coming into place, and so all the world thought; but the wind turned quite round, and left them on the strand, and just where they were, except in opposition, which is declared to be at an end. Enigma as all this may sound, the key would open it all to you in the twinkling of an administration. In the mean time, we have family reconciliations without end. The king and the duke of Cumberland have been shut up together day and night; lord Temple and George Grenville are sworn brothers; well, but Mr. Pitt, where is he? In the clouds, for aught I know, in one of which he may descend like the kings of Bantam, and take quiet possession of the throne again.

As a thorough-bass to these squabbles, we have had an insurrection, and a siege. Bedford-house, though garrisoned by horse and foot-guards, was on the point of being taken. The besieged are in their turn triumphant; and if any body now was to publish Droit le Duc, I do not think the House of Lords would censure his book. Indeed the regents may do what they please, and turn out whom they will; I see nothing to resist them. Lord Bute will not easily be tempted to rebel when the last struggle has cost him so dear.

I am sorry for some of my friends, to whom I wished more fortune. For myself, I am but just where I should have been, had they succeeded. It is satisfaction enough to me to be delivered from politics, which you know I have long detested. When I was tranquil enough to write Castles of Otranto, in the midst of grave nonsense, and foolish councils of war, I am not likely to distub myself with the diversions of the court, where I am connected with a soul. As it has proved to be the interest of the present ministers, however contrary to their former views, to lower the crown, they will scarce be in a hurry to aggrandize it again. That will satisfy you, and I you know am satisfied if I have any thing to laugh at–’tis a lucky age for a man who is so easily contented.    

The poor Chute has had another relapse, but is out of bed again. I am thinking of my journey to France, but as Mr. Conway has a mind I should wait for him, I don’t know whether it will take place before the autumn. I will by no means release you from your promise of making me a visit here before I go.

Poor Mr. Bentley, I doubt, is under the greatest difficulties of any body. His poem, which he modestly delivered over to immortality, must be cut and turned, for lord Halifax and lord Bute cannot sit in the same canto together; then the horns and hoofs, that he had bestowed on lord Temple, must be pared away, and beams of glory distributed over his whole person. ‘Tis a dangerous thing to write political panegyrics or satires; it draws the unhappy bard into a thousand scrapes and contradictions. The edifices and inscriptions at Stowe should be a lesson not to erect monuments to the living. I will not place an ossuarium in my garden for my cat, before her bones are ready to be placed in it. I hold contradictions to be as essential to the definition of a political man, as any visible or featherless quality can be to man in general. Good night.

Yours ever.

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Filed under 1760's, 1820's, Letters, Political Commentary, Posted by Matthew Williams, Satire

Item of the Day: The Art of Sinking in Poetry (1751)

Full Title: Miscellanies.  The Second Volume. By D. Swift, Dr. Arbuthnot, and Mr. Pope.  London, Printed for Charles Bathurst, and sold by T. Woodward, C. Davis, C. Hitch, R. Dosley, and W. Bowyer.  MDCCLI.

Martinus Scriblerus,

П Е Р І   В А Θ О Υ Σ:

or, Of the Art of Sinking in Poetry.

[by Alexander Pope] 

CHAP. V.

Of the true Genius for the Profound, and by what it is constituted.

AND I will venture to lay it down, as the first Maxim and Corner-stone of this our Art; that whosoever would excel therein, must studiously avoid, detest, and turn his head from all the ideas, ways, and workings of that pestilent Foe to Wit, and Destroyer of fine Figures, which is known by the name of Common Sense. His business must be to contract the true Gout de travers; and to acquire a most happy, uncommon, unaccountable Way of Thinking. 

He is to consider himself as a Grotesque Painter, whose works would be spoil’d by an imitation of nature or uniformity of design. He is to mingle bits of the most various, or discordant kinds of landscape, history, portraits, animals, and connect them with a great deal of flourishing, by head or by tail, as it shall please his imagination, and contribute to his principal end, which is to glare by strong oppositions of colours, and surprize by contrariety of images.

Serpentes avibus geminentur, trigibus agni.  HOR.

His design ought to be like a labyrinth, out of which no body can get clear by himself. And since the great Art of all Poetry is to mix Truth with Fiction, in order to join the Credible with the Surprizing; our author shall produce the Credible, by painting nature in her lowest simplicity; and the Surprizing, by contradicting common opinion. In the very Manners he will affect the Marvellous; he will draw Achilles with the patience of a Job; a prince talking like a Jack-pudding; a Maid of honour selling bargains; a footman speaking like a philosopher; and a fine gentleman like a scholar.  Whoever is conversant in modern Plays, may make a most noble collection of this kind, and at the same time, form a complete body of modern Ethics and Morality

Nothing seem’d more plain to our great authors, than that the world had long been weary of natural things. How much the contrary are form’d to please, is evident from the universal applause daily given to the admirable entertainments of Harlequins and Magicians on our stage. When an audience behold a couch turn’d into a wheelbarrow, a conjurer into an old woman, or a man’s head where his heels should be; how are they struck with transport and delight? Which can only be imputed to this cause, that each object is chang’d into that which hath been suggested to them by their own ideas before.

He ought therefore to render himself master of this happy and anti-natural way of thinking to such a degree, as to be able, on the appearance of any object, to furnish his imagination with ideas infinitely below it.  And his eyes should be like unto the wrong end of a perpective glass, by which all the objects of nature are lessen’d.

For Example; when a true genius looks upon the Sky, he immediately catches the idea of a piece of blue lute-string, or a child’s mantle.

The Skies, whose spreading volumes scarce have room,
Spun thin, and wove in nature’s finest loom,
The new-born world in their soft lap embrac’d,
And all around their starry mantle cast. *

If he looks upon a Tempest, he shall have an image of a tumbled bed, and describe a succeeding calm in this manner;

The Ocean, joy’d to see the tempest fled,
New lays his waves, and smooths his ruffled bed. **
____________________________
* Prince Arthur, p. 41, 42.
** p. 14

NB. In order to do justice to these great Poets, our Citations are taken from the best, the last, and most correct Editions of their Works.  That which we use of Prince Arthur, is in duodecimo, 1714. the fourth Edition revised.

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Filed under 1750's, Common sense, Criticism, Poetry, Posted by Matthew Williams, Satire

Item of the Day: [Peter] Porcupine’s Last Will and Testament (1797)

In: Porcupine’s Political Censor, for March 1797. Philadelphia: Published by William Cobbett, opposite Christ’s Church, Where all letter to the Publisher are desired to be addressed, post paid, [1797].

WILL AND TESTAMENT.

SINCE I took up the calling that I new follow, I have received about forty threatening letters; some talk of fisticuff, others of kicks, but far the greater part menace me with out-right murder. Several friends (whom by the bye I sincerely thank) have called to caution me against the lurking cut-throats; and it seems to be the persuasion of every one, that my brains are to be knocked out the first time I venture from home in the dark.

Under these terrific circumstances, it is impossible that Death should not stare me in the face: I have therefore got myself into as good a state of preparation as my sinful profession will, I am afraid, admit of; and as to my worldly affairs, I have settled them in the following Will, which I publish, in order that my dear friends, the Legatees, may, if they think themselves injured or neglected, have an opportunity of complaining before it be too late.

In the name of Fun, Amen. I Peter Porcupine, Pamphleteer and News-Monger, being (as yet) found both in body and in mind, do, this fifteenth day of April, in the Year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and ninety-seven, make, declare, and publish, this my Last Will and Testament, in manner, form, and substance following; to wit:

IN PRIMIS, I LEAVE to Doctor Michael Lieb, a member of the Legislature of Pennsylvania, to be by him dissected (if he knows how to do it) in presence of the Rump of the Democratic Society. In it they will find a heart that held them in abhorrence, that never palpitated at their threats, and that, to its last beat, bade them defiance. But my chief motive for making this bequest is, that my spirit may look down with contempt on their cannibal-like triumph over a breathless corps.

Item, As I make no doubt that the above said Doctor Lieb (and some other Doctors that I could mention) would like very well to skin me, I request that they, or one of them, may do it, and that the said Lieb’s father may tan my skin; after which I desire my Executors to have seven copies of my Works complete, bound in it, one copy to be presented to the five Sultans of France, one to each of their Divans, one to the governor of Pennsylvania, to citizens Maddison , Giles, and Gallatine one each, and the remaining one to the Democratic Society of Philadelphia, to be carefully preserved among their archieves [sic].

Item, To the Mayor, Aldermen and Councils of the City of Philadelphia, I bequeath all the sturdy young hucksters, who infest the market, and who to maintain their bastards, tax the honest inhabitants many thousand pounds annually. I request them to take them into their worshipful keeping; to chasten their bodies for the good of their souls; and moreover, to keep a sharp look-out after their gallants: and remind the latter of the old proverb: Touch pot, touch penny.

Item, To T —– J—–son, Philosopher, I leave a curious Norway Spider, with a hundred legs and nine pair of eyes; likewise the first black cut-throat general he can catch hold of, to be stead alive, in order to determine with more certainty the real cause of the dark colour of his skin: and should the said T—-s J—–son survive Banneker the Almanack-maker;I request he will get the brains of said Philomath carefully dissected, to satisfy the world in what respects they differ from those of a white man.

Item, To the Philosophical Society of Philadelphia, I will and bequeath a correct copy of Thornton’s plan for abolishing the use of the English language; and for introducing in its stead a republican one, the representative characters of which bear a strong resemblance to pot-hooks and hangers; and for the discovery of which plan, the said society did, in the year 1793, grant to the said language maker 500 dollars premium. –It is my earnest desire, that the copy of this valuable performance, which I hereby present, may be shown to all the travelling literati, as a proof of the ingenuity of the author and of the wisdom of the society.

Item, to Doctor Benjamin Rush, I will and bequeath a copy of the Censor for January, 1797; but, upon the express condition, that he does not in any wise or guise, either at the time of my death, or six months after, pretend to speak, write or publish an eulogium on me, my calling or character, either literary, military, civil, or political.

Item, To my dear fellow labourer Noah Webster, “gentleman citizen” Esq. and News-man, I will and bequeath a prognosticating barometer of curious construction and great utility, by which, at a single glance, the said Noah will be able to discern the exact state that the public mind will be in the ensuing year, and will thereby be enabled to trim by degrees and not expose himself to detection, as he now does by his sudden lee-shore tacks. I likewise bequeath to the said “gentleman citizen,” six Spanish milled dollars, to be expended on a new plate of his portrait at the head of his spelling-book, that which graces it at present being so ugly that it scares the children from their lessons; but this legacy is to be paid him only upon condition that he leave out the title of “Squire” at the bottom of said picture, which is extremely odious in an American school-book, and must inevitably tend to corrupt the political principles of the republican babies that behold it. And I do most earnestly desire, exhort and conjure the said “Squire-news-man,” to change the title of his paper, The Minerva, for that of The Political Centaur. . . .

Peter Porcupine

 

 

 

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Filed under 1790's, Political Commentary, Political Pamphlets, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, Satire