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With taste superior scorn'd the venal tribe,
Ye deathless Names, ye Sons of endless praise,
By Virtue crown'd with never-fading bays'
Urge, urge thy pow'r, the black attempt confound,
And dash the smoking Censer to the ground.
ON OCCASION OF SOME LIBELS WRITTEN AND PROPAGATED AT COURT, IN THE YEAR 1732-3.
My Lord, Nov. 30, 1733. Your Lordship's epistle has been published some days, but I had not the pleasure and pain of seeing it till yesterday: Pain to think your Lordship should attack me at all; Pleasure, to find that you can attack me so weakly. As I want not the humility, to think myself in every way but one your inferior, it
‘This Letter (which was first printed in the Year 1733) bears the same place in our Author's prose that the Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot does in his poetry. They are both Apologetical, repelling the libellous slanders on his Reputation: with this difference, that the Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot, his friend, was chiefly directed against Grub-street Writers, and this letter to the Noble Lord, his enemy, against Court Scribblers. For the rest, they are both Masterpieces in their kinds; That in verse, more grave, moral, and sublime; This in prose, more lively, critical, and pointed; but equaily conducive to what he had most at heart, the vindication of his moral Character: the only thing he thought worth his care in literary altercations; and the first thing he would expect from the good offices of a surviving Friend. W.
* Intitled, An Epistle to a Doctor of Divinity from a Nobleman
at Hampton-Court, Aug. 28, 1733, and printed the November following for J. Roberts. Fol. W.
seems but reasonable that I should take the only method either of self-defence or retaliation, that is left me against a person of your quality and power. And as by your choice of this weapon, your pen, you generously (and modestly too, no doubt) meant to put yourself upon a level with me; I will as soon believe that your Lordship would give a wound to a man unarmed, as that you would deny me the use of it in my own defence. I presume you will allow me to take the same liberty in my answer to so candid, polite, and ingenious, a Nobleman, which your Lordship took in yours, to so grave, religious, and respectable, a clergyman”: As you answered his Latin in English, permit me to answer your Verse in Prose. And though your Lordship's reasons for not writing in Latin might be stronger than mine for not writing in Verse, yet I may plead Two good ones, for this conduct: the one that I want the talent of spinning a thousand lines in a Day" (which, I think, is as much Time as this subject deserves), and the other, that I take your Lordship's Verse to be as much Prose as this letter. But no doubt it was your choice, in writing to a friend, to renounce all the pomp of Poetry, and give us this excellent model of the familiar. When I consider the great difference betwixt the rank your Lordship holds in the World, and the rank which your writings are like to hold in the learned world, I presume that distinction of style is but ne
“And Pope with justice of such lines may say,
cessary, which you will see observed through this letter. When I speak of you, my Lord, it will be with all the deference due to the inequality which Fortune has made between you and myself: but when I speak of your writings, my Lord, I must, I can do nothing but trifle. I should be obliged indeed to lessen this Respect, if all the Nobility (and especially the elder brothers) are but so many hereditary fools”, if the privilege of Lords be to want brains", if noblemen can hardly write or read", if all their business is but to dress and vote", and all their employment in court, to tell lies, flatter in public, slander in private, be false to each other, and follow nothing but self-interest”. Bless me, my Lord, what an account is this you give of them? and what would have been said of me, had I immolated, in this manner, the whole body of the Nobility, at the stall of a well-fed Prebendary? Were it the mere Ercess of your Lordship's Wit, that carried you thus triumphantly over all the bounds of decency, I might consider your Lordship on your Pegasus, as a sprightly hunter on a mettled horse;
* That to good blood by old prescriptive rules,