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mongst them; and I shall obtain this, if the world will be so good-natured as to believe writers that give their own characters : upon which presumption, I anfwer to all objections before-band, as follows:
When I am literal, I regard my author's words ; when I am not, I translate in spirit. If I am low, I choose the narrative stile; if high, the subject required it. When I am enervate,. I give an instance of antient simplicity ; when affected, 1 jew a point of modern delicacy. As for beauties, there never can be one found in me which was not really intended ; and for any faults, they proceeded from too unbounded fancy, or too nice judgment, but by no means from any defect in either of those faculties.
HEY who have discoursed concerning the
nature and extent of criticism, take notice, that editions of authors, the interpretations of them, and the judgment which is passed upon each, are the three branches into which the art divides itself. But the last of these, that directs the choice of books, and takes care to prepare us for reading them, is, by the learned Bacon, called the chair of the critics. In this chair, to carry on the figure, have fat Aristotle, Demetrius Phalereus, Dionysius Halicarnassensis, Cicero, Horace, Quintilian, and Longinus ; all great names of antiquity, the censors of those ages which went before them, and the directors of, those that come after them, with respect to the natural and perfpicuous manner of thought and exprerfion, by which a correct and judicious genius may be able to write for the pleasure and profit of mankind.
But whatever has been advanced by men really great in themselves, has been also attempted by others of capacities either unequal to the undertaking, or which have been corrupted by their passions, and drawn away into partial violences : so that we have sometimes seen the province of criticism usurpeding by such who judge with an obscure diligence, and a certain dryness of understanding, incapable of comprehending a figurative stile, or being moved by the beauties of imagination ; and at other times. by such, whose natural moroseness in general, or particular designs of envy, has rendered them indefatigable against the reputation of others.
In this last manner is Zoilus represented to us by antiquity, and with a character so abandoned, that his name has been fince made use of to brand all succeeding critics of his complexion. He has a load of infamy thrown upon him, great, in proportion to the fame of HOMER, against whom he opposed himself: if the one was esteemed as the very residue of wit, the other is described as a proAligate, who would destroy the temple of Apollo and the muses, in order to have his memory preserved by the envious action. I imagine it may be no ungrateful undertaking to write some account of
celebrated person, from whom so many derive their character; and I think the life of a critic is not unseasonably put before the works of his poet, especially when his censures accompany him. If what he advances be just, he stands here as a censor ; if otherwise, he appears as an addition to the poet's fame, and is placed before him with the justice of antiquity in its sacrifices, when, because such a beast had offended such a deity, he was brought annually to his altar to be slain upon it.
ZOILUS was born at Amphipolis, a city of Thrace, during the times in which the Macedonian empire Aourished. Who his parents were is not certainly known, but if the appellation of Thracian Slave, which the world applied to him, be not merely an expression of contempt, it proves him of mean extraction. He was a disciple of one Poly. crates a sophist, who had distinguished himself by writing against the names of the ages before him; and who, when he is mentioned as his master, is faid to be particularly famous for a bitter accusation or invective against the memory of Socrates. In: this manner is ZOILUS set out to posterity, like a plant naturally baneful, and having its poison rendered more acute and fubtile by a preparation.
In his person he was tall and meagre, his complexion was pale, and all the motions of his face were sharp.. He is represented by Ælian, with a beard nourished to a prodigious length, and his head kept close shaved, to give him a magisterial