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Swift's boast with respect to the invention of
" Which I was born to introduce,
Refin'd it first, and shew'd its use,"
can be allowed to be true only in part.
The controversy between them being undecided, the Apothecary, to clench his pretensions
as a liar of the first magnitude,” by a coup-degrace, says to the Pedlar, “ You are an honest man," but this home-thrust is somehow ingeniously parried. The Apothecary and Pardoner fall to their narrative vein again ; and the latter tells a story of fetching a young woman from the lower world, from which I shall only give one specimen more as an instance of ludicrous and fantastic exaggeration. By the help of a passport from Lucifer, “ given in the furnace of our palace," he obtains a safe conduct from one of the subordinate imps to his master's presence.
« This devil and I walked arm in arm
So far, 'till he had brought me thither,
The master-devil sat in his jacket,
friend I saw no whit,
The piece concludes with some good wholesome advice from the Pedlar, who here, as well as in the poem of the Excursion, performs the part of Old Morality; but he does not seem, as in the latter case, to be acquainted with the
mighty stream of Tendency.” He is more “full of wise saws than modern instances;" as prosing, but less paradoxical !
“ But where ye doubt, the truth not knowing,
Believing the best, good may be growing.
Nothing can be clearer than this.
The RETURN FROM PARNASSUS was licly acted,” as the title-page imports, "by the Students in St. John's College, in Cambridge.” It is a very singular, a very ingenious, and as I think, a very interesting performance. It contains criticisms on contemporary authors, strictures on living manners, and the earliest denunciation (I know of) of the miseries and unprofitableness of a scholar's life. The only part I object to in our author's criticism is his abuse of Marston; and that, not because he says what is severe, but because he says what is not true of him. Anger may sharpen our insight into men's defects; but nothing should make us blind to their excellences. The whole passage is, however, so curious in itself (like the Edinburgh Review lately published for the year 1755) that I cannot forbear quoting a great part of it. We find in the list of candidates for praise many a
“ That like a trumpet, makes the spirits dance:"
there are others that have long since sunk to the bottom of the stream of time, and no Humane Society of Antiquarians and Critics is ever likely to fish them up again.
“ Read the names," says Judicio.
Ingenioso. So I will, if thou wilt help me to censure them. Edmund Spenser,
John Marston, Henry Constable,
Kit. Marlowe, Thomas Lodge
William Shakespear;"and Samuel Daniel,
one Churchyard (who Thomas Watson,
is consigned to an upMichael Drayton,
timely grave.] John Davis,
“Good men and true, stand together, hear your censure what's thy judgment of Spenser?
Jud. A sweeter swan than ever sung in Po;
Careless even to prevent his exequy,
Ing. Pity it is that gentler wits should breed,
But I pray thee proceed briefly in thy censure, that I may be proud of myself, as in the first, so in the last, my censure may jump with thine. Henry Constable, Samuel Daniel, Thomas Lodge, Thomas Watson.
Jud. Sweet Constable doth take the wondering ear,
Ing. Michael Drayton.
Jud: Drayton's sweet Muse is like a sanguine dye, Able to ravish the rash gazer's eye.
Ing. However, he wants one true note of a poet of our times; and that is this, he cannot swagger in a tavern, nor domineer in a hot-house. John Davis
Jud. Acute John Davis, I affect thy rhymes,