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over, since ZOILUS moves a question upon it, that. the poet could not choose a more proper weapon for the Frogs, than that which they choose for themselves in a defensive war they maintain with the serpents of Nile.
They have this Aratagem, says Ælian, to proteet themselves; they swim with pieces of cane a-cross their mouths, of too great a length for the breadth of the serpents throats; by which means they are preserved from being swallowed by thema This is a quotation so much to the point, that I ought to have ushered in my author with more pomp to dazzle the reader. Zoilus and his followers, who seldom praise any man, are however careful to do it for their own fakes, if at any time they get an author of their opinion: though indeed it must be allowed, they still have a draw-back in their manner of praise, and rather choose to drop the name of their man, or darkly hint him in a periphrafis, than to have it appear that they have directly affisted the perpetuating of any one's memory. Thus, if a Dutch critic were to introduce for example, Martial, he would, instead of naming him, say, Ingeniofus ille epigrammaticus bilbilicus. Or, if one of our own were tu quote from among ourselves, he would tell us how it has been remarked in the works of a learned writer, to whom the world is obliged for many excellent productions, & c. All which proceeding is like boasting of our great friends, when it is to do ourselves an honour, or the shift of dresling up one who might otherwise be disregarded, to make him pass upon the world for a responsible voucher to our own assertions.
Book II. page 76. ver. 17. But now where Jove’s.] At this fine episode, in which the God's are introduced, Zoilus has no patience left him to remark; but runs some lines with a long string of fuch expressions as trifler, fabler, liar, foolis, impious, all which he lavishly heaps upon the poet. From this knack of calling names, joined with the several arts of finding fault, it is to be suspected, that our Zoi LUSES might make very able libellers, and dangerous men to the government, if they did not rather turn themselves to be ridiculous censors : for which reason I cannot but reckon the state obliged to men of wit; and under a kind of debt in gratitude, when they take off so much spleen, turbulency, and ill-nature, as might otherwise spend itself to the de, triment of the public.
Book II. page 77. ver. 13. If my Daughter's mind.] This speech, which Jupiter speaks to Pallas with a pleasant kind of air, Zoilus takes gravely to pieces ; and affirms, It is below Jupiter's wisdom, and only agreeable with Homer's folly, that he should borrow a reason for her allifting the Mice from their attendance in the temple, when they waited 'to prey upon those things which were sacred to her. But the air of the speech rendered a grave answer unnecessary ; I shall only offer Zoilus an observation in return for his. There are upon the stone which is carved for the Apotheosis of HOMER, figures of Mice by his
footstool, which, according to Cuperus, its inter preter, some have taken to signify this poem; and others those critics, who tear or vilify the works of great men.
Now, if such can be compared to Mice, let the words of Zoilus be brought home to himself and his followers for their mortification : That no one ought to think of meriting in the state of learning, only by debasing the best performances, and as it were preying upon those things which should be sacred in it.
Book II. page 78. ver. 1. In vain my father.] The speech of Pallas is disliked by Zoilus,, because it makes the Goddess carry a resentment against such inconsiderable creatures; though he ought to esteem them otherwise when they represent the persons and actions of men, and teach us how the Gods disregard those in their adversities who provoke them in prosperity. But, if we consider Pallas as the patronefs of learning, we may by an allegorical application of the Mice and Frogs, find in this speech two sorts of enemies to learning ; they who are maliciously mischievous, as the Mice; and they who are turbulent through oftentation, as the Frogs. The first are enemies to excellency upon principle ; the second accidentally by the error of self-love, which does not quarrel with the excellence itself, but only with thofe people who get more praise than themselves by it. Thus, though they have not the fame perverseness with the others, they are however drawn into the same practices, while they ruin re
putations, left they should not seem to be learned ; as some women turn prostitutes, left they should not be thought handsome enough to have admirers.
Book III. page 80. ver. 5. Their dreadful Trumpets.] Upon the reading of this, Zoilus becomes full of discoveries.
He recollects, that HOMER makes bis Greits comme to battle with silence, and his Trojans with fbouts, from whence he discovers, that he knew nothing of trumpets. Again, he sees, that the hornet is made a trumpeter to the battle, and hence he discovers, that the line must not be HOMER's. Now had he drawn his consequences fairly, he could only have found by the one, that trumpets were not in use at the taking of Troy ; and by the other, that the battle of Frogs and Mice was laid by the poet for a later scene of action than that of the Iliad. But the boast of discoveries accompanies the affectation of knowledge ; and the affectation of knowledge is taken up with a design to gain a command over the opinions of others. It is too heavy a taík for some critics to sway our rational judgments by rational inferences ; a ponpous pretence must occafion admiration, the eyes of mankind must be obscured by a glare of pedantry, that they may consent to be led blindfold, and permit that an opinion should be dictated to them without demanding that they may be reasoned into it, Book III.
page 81. ver. 8. And big Scutlæus tumbling.] ZOILUS has happened to brush the dust off some old manuscript, in which the line that kills
Scutlæus is wanting. And for this cause he fixes a general conclufion, that there is no dependence upon any thing which is handed down for HOMER's, so as to allow it praise ; since the different copies vary amongst themselves. But is it fair in ZOILUs, or any of his followers, to oppose one copy to a thousand ? and are they impartial who would pass this upon us for an honeft ballance of evidence? when there is such an inequality on each side, is it not more than probable that the number carry the author's sense in them, and the single one its transcriber's errors? It is folly or madness of passion to be thus given over to partiality and prejudices. Men may flourish as much as they please concerning the value of a newfound edition, in order to biass the world to partiçular parts of it; but in a matter easily decided by common sense, it will still continue of its own opinion.
Book III. page 83. ver. 13. With Borbocætes fights.] Through the grammatical part of Zoilus's work he frequently rails at HOMER for his dialects. These, says he in one place, the poet made use of because he could not write pure Greek; and in another, they strangely contributed to his fame, by making several cities who observed something of their own in his mixed language, contend for his being one of their natives. Now since I have here practised a licence in imitation of his, by shortening the word Borbocætes a whole syllable, it seems a good opportunity to speak for him where I defend myself, Remember then,