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Tantost en un village, et tantost en un bois,
Et tantost par les lieux solitaires et cois.
J'aime fort les jardins qui sentent le sauvage,
J'aime le flot de l'eau qui gazou'ille au rivage.

Still, methinks, there was a book in the hand of the grave and learned
poet; still thou wouldst carry thy Horace, thy Catullus, thy Theocritus,
through the gem-like weather of the _Renouveau_, when the woods
were enamelled with flowers, and the young Spring was lodged, like a
wandering prince, in his great palaces hung with green:

Orgueilleux de ses fleurs, enflé de sa jeunesse,
Logé comme un grand Prince en ses vertes maisons!

Thou sawest, in these woods by Loire side, the fair shapes of old
religion, Fauns, Nymphs, and Satyrs, and heard'st in the nightingale's
music the plaint of Philomel. The ancient poets came back in the train
of thyself and of the Spring, and learning was scarce less dear to thee
than love; and thy ladies seemed fairer for the names they borrowed from
the beauties of forgotten days, Helen and Cassandra. How sweetly didst
thou sing to them thine old morality, and how gravely didst thou teach
the lesson of the Roses! Well didst thou know it, well didst thou love
the Rose, since thy nurse, carrying thee, an infant, to the holy font,
let fall on thee the sacred water brimmed with floating blossoms of the
Rose!

Mignonne, allons voir si la Rose,
Qui ce matin avoit desclose
Sa robe de pourpre au soleil,
A point perdu ceste vespree
Les plis de sa robe pourpree,
Et son teint au votre pareil.

And again,

La belle Rose du Printemps,
Aubert, admoneste les hommes
Passer joyeusement le temps,
Et pendant que jeunes nous sommes,
Esbattre la fleur de nos ans.

In the same mood, looking far down the future, thou sangest of thy
lady's age, the most sad, the most beautiful of thy sad and beautiful
lays; for if thy bees gathered much honey 't was somewhat bitter to
taste, as that of the Sardinian yews. How clearly we see the great hall,
the grey lady spinning and humming among her drowsy maids, and how
they waken at the word, and she sees her spring in their eyes, and they
forecast their winter in her face, when she murmurs ''Twas Ronsard sang
of me.'

Winter, and summer, and spring, how swiftly they pass, and how early
time brought thee his sorrows, and grief cast her dust upon thy head.

Adieu ma Lyre, adieu fillettes,
Jadis mes douces amourettes,
Adieu, je sens venir ma fin,
Nul passetemps de ma jeunesse
Ne m'accompagne en la vieillesse,
Que le feu, le lict et le vin.

Wine, and a soft bed, and a bright fire: to this trinity of poor
pleasures we come soon, if, indeed, wine be left to us. Poetry herself
deserts us; is it not said that Bacchus never forgives a renegade? and
most of us turn recreants to Bacchus. Even the bright fire, I fear,
was not always there to warm thine old blood, Master, or, if fire there
were, the wood was not bought with thy book-seller's money. When autumn
was drawing in during thine early old age, in 1584, didst thou not write
that thou hadst never received a sou at the hands of all the publishers
who vended thy books? And as thou wert about putting forth the folio
edition of 1584, thou didst pray Buon, the bookseller, to give thee
sixty crowns to buy wood withal, and make thee a bright fire in winter
weather, and comfort thine old age with thy friend Gallandius. And if
Buon will not pay, then to try the other book-sellers, 'that wish to
take everything and give nothing.'

Was it knowledge of this passage, Master, or ignorance of everything
else, that made certain of the common steadfast dunces of our days speak
of thee as if thou hadst been a starveling, neglected poetaster, jealous
forsooth, of Maitre Francoys Rabelais? See how ignorantly M. Fleury
writes, who teaches French literature withal to them of Muscovy, and
hath indited a Life of Rabelais. 'Rabelais était revétu d'un emploi
honorable; Ronsard était traité en subalterne,' quoth this wondrous
professor. What! Pierre de Ronsard, a gentleman of a noble house,
holding the revenue of many abbeys, the friend of Mary Stuart, of the
Duc d'Orléans, of Charles IX., _he_ is _traité en subalterne_, and is
jealous of a frocked or unfrocked _manant_ like Maitre Francoys! And
then this amazing Fleury falls foul of thine epitaph on Mai'tre Francoys
and cries, 'Ronsard a voulu faire des vers méchants; il n'a fait que de
méchants vers.' More truly saith M. Sainte-Beuve, 'If the good Rabelais
had returned to Meudon on the day when this epitaph was made over the
wine, he would, methinks, have laughed heartily.' But what shall be said
of a Professor like the egregious M. Fleury, who holds that Ronsard was
despised at Court? Was there a party at tennis when the king would not
fain have had thee on his side, declaring that he ever won when Ronsard
was his partner? Did he not give thee benefices, and many priories, and
call thee his father in Apollo, and even, so they say, bid thee sit down
beside him on his throne? Away, ye scandalous folk, who tell us that
there was strife between the Prince of Poets and the King of Mirth.
Naught have ye by way of proof of your slander but the talk of Jean
Bernier, a scurrilous, starveling apothecary, who put forth his fables
in 1697, a century and a half after Mai'tre Francoys died. Bayle quoted
this fellow in a note, and ye all steal the tattle one from another
in your dull manner, and know not whence it comes, nor even that Bayle
would none of it and mocked its author. With so little knowledge is
history written, and thus doth each chattering brook of a 'Life swell
with its tribute, that great Mississippi of falsehood,' Biography.




IV. To Herodotus.



To Herodotus of Halicarnassus, greeting. - Concerning the matters set
forth in your histories, and the tales you tell about both Greeks and
barbarians, whether they be true, or whether they be false, men dispute
not little but a great deal. Wherefore I, being concerned to know the
verity, did set forth to make search in every manner, and came in my
quest even unto the ends of the earth. For there is an island of the
Cimmerians beyond the Straits of Heracles, some three days' voyage to a
ship that hath a fair following wind in her sails; and there it is
said that men know many things from of old: thither, then, I came in my
inquiry. Now, the island is not small, but large, greater than the whole
of Hellas; and they call it Britain. In that island the east wind
blows for ten parts of the year, and the people know not how to cover
themselves from the cold. But for the other two months of the year the
sun shines fiercely, so that some of them die thereof, and others die of
the frozen mixed drinks; for they have ice even in the summer, and this
ice they put to their liquor. Through the whole of this island, from the
west even to the east, there flows a river called Thames: a great river
and a laborious, but not to be likened to the River of Egypt.

The mouth of this river, where I stepped out from my ship, is
exceedingly foul and of an evil savour by reason of the city on the
banks. Now this city is several hundred parasangs in circumference. Yet
a man that needed not to breathe the air might go round it in one hour,
in chariots that run under the earth; and these chariots are drawn by
creatures that breathe smoke and sulphur, such as Orpheus mentions in
his 'Argonautica,' if it be by Orpheus. The people of the town, when
I inquired of them concerning Herodotus of Halicarnassus, looked on me
with amazement, and went straightway about their business, - namely,
to seek out whatsoever new thing is coming to pass all over the whole
inhabited world, and as for things old, they take no keep of them.

Nevertheless, by diligence I learned that he who in this land knew most
concerning Herodotus was a priest, and dwelt in the priests' city on the
river which is called the City of the Ford of the Ox. But whether Io,
when she wore a cow's shape, had passed by that way in her wanderings,
and thence comes the name of that city, I could not (though I asked all
men I met) learn aught with certainty. But to me, considering this, it
seemed that Io must have come thither. And now farewell to Io.

To the City of the Priests there are two roads: one by land; and one by
water, following the river. To a well-girdled man, the land journey is
but one day's travel; by the river it is longer but more pleasant. Now
that river flows, as I said, from the west to the east. And there is in
it a fish called chub, which they catch; but they do not eat it, for a
certain sacred reason. Also there is a fish called trout, and this is
the manner of his catching. They build far this purpose great dams of
wood, which they call weirs. Having built the weir they sit upon it with
rods in their hands, and a line on the rod, and at the end of the line a
little fish. There then they 'sit and spin in the sun,' as one of their
poets says, not for a short time but for many days, having rods in their
hands and eating and drinking. In this wise they angle for the fish
called trout; but whether they ever catch him or not, not having
seen it, I cannot say; for it is not pleasant to me to speak things
concerning which I know not the truth.

Now, after sailing and rowing against the stream for certain days, I
came to the City of the Ford of the Ox. Here the river changes his name,
and is called Isis, after the name of the goddess of the Egyptians. But
whether the Britons brought the name from Egypt or whether the Egyptians
took it from the Britons, not knowing I prefer not to say. But to me it
seems that the Britons are a colony of the Egyptians, or the Egyptians
a colony of the Britons. Moreover, when I was in Egypt I saw certain
soldiers in white helmets, who were certainly British. But what they did
there (as Egypt neither belongs to Britain nor Britain to Egypt) I know
not, neither could they tell me. But one of them replied to me in that
line of Homer (if the Odyssey be Homer's), 'We have come to a sorry
Cyprus, and a sad Egypt.' Others told me that they once marched against
the Ethiopians, and having defeated them several times, then came back
again, leaving their property to the Ethiopians. But as to the truth of
this I leave it to every man to form his own opinion.

Having come into the City of the Priests, I went forth into the street,
and found a priest of the baser sort, who for a piece of silver led me
hither and thither among the temples, discoursing of many things.

Now it seemed to me a strange thing that the city was empty, and no man
dwelling therein, save a few priests only, and their wives, and their
children, who are drawn to and fro in little carriages dragged by women,
but the priest told me that during half the year the city was desolate,
for that there came somewhat called 'The Long,' or 'The Vac,' and drave
out the young priests. And he said that these did no other thing but row
boats, and throw balls from one to the other, and this they were made to
do, he said, that the young priests might learn to be humble, for they
are the proudest of men. But whether he spoke truth or not I know not,
only I set down what he told me. But to anyone considering it, this
appears rather to jump with his story - namely, that the young priests
have houses on the river, painted of divers colours, all of them empty.

Then the priest, at my desire, brought me to one of the temples, that I
might seek out all things concerning Herodotus the Halicarnassian, from
one who knew. Now this temple is not the fairest in the city, but less
fair and goodly than the old temples, yet goodlier and more fair than
the new temples; and over the roof there is the image of an eagle made
of stone - no small marvel, but a great one, how men came to fashion him;
and that temple is called the House of Queens. Here they sacrifice a
boar once every year; and concerning this they tell a certain sacred
story which I know but will not utter.

Then I was brought to the priest who had a name for knowing most about
Egypt, and the Egyptians, and the Assyrians, and the Cappadocians, and
all the kingdoms of the Great King. He came out to me, being attired in
a black robe, and wearing on his head a square cap. But why the
priests have square caps I know, and he who has been initiated into
the mysteries which they call 'Matric' knows, but I prefer not to tell.
Concerning the square cap, then, let this be sufficient. Now, the priest
received me courteously, and when I asked him, concerning Herodotus,
whether he were a true man or not, he smiled, and answered 'Abu Goosh,'
which, in the tongue of the Arabians, means 'The Father of Liars.' Then
he went on to speak concerning Herodotus, and he said in his discourse
that Herodotus not only told the thing which was not, but that he did so
wilfully, as one knowing the truth but concealing it. For example, quoth
he, 'Solon never went to see Croesus, as Herodotus avers; nor did those
about Xerxes ever dream dreams; but Herodotus, out of his abundant
wickedness, invented these things.

'Now behold,' he went on, 'how the curse of the Gods falls upon
Herodotus. For he pretends that he saw Cadmeian inscriptions at Thebes.
Now I do not believe there were any Cadmeian inscriptions there:
therefore Herodotus is most manifestly lying. Moreover, this Herodotus
never speaks of Sophocles the Athenian, and why not? Because he, being a
child at school, did not learn Sophocles by heart: for the tragedies
of Sophocles could not have been learned at school before they were
written, nor can any man quote a poet whom he never learned at school.
Moreover, as all those about Herodotus knew Sophocles well, he could
not appear to them to be learned by showing that he knew what they knew
also.' Then I thought the priest was making game and sport, saying first
that Herodotus could know no poet whom he had not learned at school,
and then saying that all the men of his time well knew this poet, 'about
whom everyone was talking'. But the priest seemed not to know that
Herodotus and Sophocles were friends, which is proved by this, that
Sophocles wrote an ode in praise of Herodotus.

Then he went on, and though I were to write with a hundred hands (like
Briareus, of whom Homer makes mention) I could not tell you all the
things that the priest said against Herodotus, speaking truly, or not
truly, or sometimes correctly and sometimes not, as often befalls mortal
men. For Herodotus, he said, was chiefly concerned to steal the lore of
those who came before him, such as Hecataeus, and then to escape notice
as having stolen it. Also he said that, being himself cunning and
deceitful, Herodotus was easily beguiled by the cunning of others,
and believed in things manifestly false, such as the story of the
Phoenix-bird.

Then I spoke, and said that Herodotus himself declared that he could
not believe that story; but the priest regarded me not. And he said that
Herodotus had never caught a crocodile with cold pig, nor did he ever
visit Assyria, nor Babylon, nor Elephantine; but, saying that he had
been in these lands, said that which was not true. He also declared
that Herodotus, when he travelled, knew none of the Fat Ones of the
Egyptians, but only those of the baser sort. And he called Herodotus a
thief and a beguiler, and 'the same with intent to deceive,' as one of
their own poets writes, and, to be short, Herodotus, I could not tell
you in one day all the charges which are now brought against you; but
concerning the truth of these things, _you_ know, not least, but most,
as to yourself being guilty or innocent. Wherefore, if you have anything
to show or set forth whereby you may be relieved from the burden of
these accusations, now is the time. Be no more silent; but, whether
through the Oracle of the Dead, or the Oracle of Branchidae, or that in
Delphi, or Dodona, or of Amphiaraus at Oropus, speak to your friends and
lovers (whereof I am one from of old) and let men know the very truth.

Now, concerning the priests in the City of the Ford of the Ox, it is to
be said that of all men whom we know they receive strangers most gladly,
feasting them all day. Moreover, they have many drinks, cunningly mixed,
and of these the best is that they call Archdeacon, naming it from
one of the priests' offices. Truly, as Homer says (if the Odyssey be
Homer's), 'when that draught is poured into the bowl then it is no
pleasure to refrain.'

Drinking of this wine, or nectar, Herodotus, I pledge you, and pour
forth some deal on the ground, to Herodotus of Halicarnassus, in the
House of Hades.

And I wish you farewell, and good be with you. Whether the priest spoke
truly, or not truly, even so may such good things betide you as befall
dead men.




V. Epistle to Mr. Alexander Pope.



From mortal Gratitude, decide, my Pope,
Have Wits Immortal more to fear or hope?
Wits toil and travail round the Plant of Fame,
Their Works its Garden, and its Growth their Aim,
Then Commentators, in unwieldy Dance,
Break down the Barriers of the trim Pleasance,
Pursue the Poet, like Actaeon's Hounds,
Beyond the fences of his Garden Grounds,
Rend from the singing Robes each borrowed gem,
Rend from the laurel'd Brows the Diadem,
And, if one Rag of Character they spare,
Comes the Biographer, and strips it bare!

Such, Pope, has been thy Fortune, such thy Doom.
Swift the Ghouls gathered at the Poet's Tomb,
With Dust of Notes to clog each lordly Line,
Warburton, Warton, Croker, Bowles, combine!
Collecting Cackle, Johnson condescends
To _interview_ the Drudges of your Friends.
Though still your Courthope holds your merits high,
And still proclaims your Poems poetry,
Biographers, un-Boswell-like, have sneered,
And Dunces edit him whom Dunces feared!

They say; what say they? Not in vain You ask.
To tell you what they say, behold my Task!
'Methinks already I your Tears survey'
As I repeat 'the horrid Things they say.' (1)


(1) _Rape of the Lock_.


Comes El - n first: I fancy you'll agree
Not frenzied Dennis smote so fell as he;
For El - n's Introduction, crabbed and dry,
Like Churchill's Cudgel's (2) marked with Lie, and Lie!

(2) In Mr Hogarth's Caricatura.


'Too dull to know what his own System meant,
Pope yet was skilled new Treasons to invent;
A Snake that puffed himself and stung his Friends,
Few Lied so frequent, for such little Ends;
His mind, like Flesh inflamed, (3) was raw and sore,
And still, the more he writhed, he stung the more!
Oft in a Quarrel, never in the Right,
His Spirit sank when he was called to fight.
Pope, in the Darkness mining like a Mole,
Forged on Himself, as from Himself he stole,
And what for Caryll once he feigned to feel,
Transferred, in Letters never sent, to Steele!
Still he denied the Letters he had writ,
And still mistook Indecency for Wit.
His very Grammar, so De Quincey cries,
"Detains the Reader, and at times defies!"'


(3) Elwyn's Pope, ii. 15.


Fierce El - n thus: no Line escapes his Rage,
And furious Foot-notes growl 'neath every Page:
See St-ph-n next take up the woful Tale,
Prolong the Preaching, and protract the Wail!
'Some forage Falsehoods from the North and South,
But Pope, poor D - -l, lied from Hand to Mouth; (1)
Affected, hypocritical, and vain,
A Book in Breeches, and a Fop in Grain;
A Fox that found not the high Clusters sour,
The Fanfaron of Vice beyond his power,
Pope yet possessed' - (the Praise will make you start) -
'Mean, morbid, vain, he yet possessed a Heart!
And still we marvel at the Man, and still
Admire his Finish, and applaud his Skill:
Though, as that fabled Barque, a phantom Form,
Eternal strains, nor rounds the Cape of Storm,
Even so Pope strove, nor ever crossed the Line
That from the Noble separates the Fine!'


(1) 'Poor Pope was always a hand-to-mouth liar.'
- _Pope_, by Leslie Stephen, 139.


The Learned thus, and who can quite reply,
Reverse the Judgment, and Retort the Lie?
You reap, in arméd Hates that haunt Your name,
Reap what you sowed, the Dragon's Teeth of Fame:
You could not write, and from unenvious Time
Expect the Wreath that crowns the lofty Rhyme,
You still must fight, retreat, attack, defend,
And oft, to snatch a Laurel, lose a Friend!

The Pity of it! And the changing Taste
Of changing Time leaves half your Work a Waste!
My Childhood fled your couplet's clarion tone,
And sought for Homer in the Prose of Bohn.
Still through the Dust of that dim Prose appears
The Flight of Arrows and the Sheen of Spears;
Still we may trace what Hearts heroic feel,
And hear the Bronze that hurtles on the Steel!
But, ah, your Iliad seems a half-pretence,
Where Wits, not Heroes, prove their Skill in Fence,
And great Achilles' Eloquence doth show
As if no Centaur trained him, but Boileau!
Again, your Verse is orderly, - and more, -
'The Waves behind impel the Waves before;'
Monotonously musical they glide,
Till Couplet unto Couplet hath replied.
But turn to Homer! How his Verses sweep!
Surge answers Surge and Deep doth call on Deep;
This Line in Foam and Thunder issues forth,
Spurred by the West or smitten by the North,
Sombre in all its sullen Deeps, and all
Clear at the Crest, and foaming to the Fall,
The next with silver Murmur dies away,
Like Tides that falter to Calypso's Bay!

Thus Time, with sordid Alchemy and dread,
Turns half the Glory of your Gold to Lead;
Thus Time, - at Ronsard's wreath that vainly bit, -
Has marred the Poet to preserve the Wit,
Who almost left on Addison a stain,
Whose knife cut cleanest with a poisoned pain, -
Yet Thou (strange Fate that clings to all of Thine!)
When most a Wit dost most a Poet shine.
In Poetry thy Dunciad expires,
When Wit has shot 'her momentary Fires.'
'T is Tragedy that watches by the Bed
'Where tawdry Yellow strove with dirty Red,'
And men, remembering all, can scarce deny
To lay the Laurel where thine Ashes lie!




VI. To Lucian of Samosata.



In what bower, oh Lucian, of your rediscovered Islands Fortunate are you
now reclining; the delight of the fair, the learned, the witty, and the
brave? In that clear and tranquil climate, whose air breathes of 'violet
and lily, myrtle, and the flower of the vine,'

Where the daisies are rose-scented,
And the Rose herself has got
Perfume which on earth is not,

among the music of all birds, and the wind-blown notes of flutes hanging
on the trees, methinks that your laughter sounds most silvery sweet,
and that Helen and fair Charmides are still of your company. Master of
mirth, and Soul the best contented of all that have seen the world's
ways clearly, most clear-sighted of all that have made tranquillity
their bride, what other laughers dwell with you, where the crystal and
fragrant waters wander round the shining palaces and the temples of
amethyst?

Heine surely is with you; if, indeed, it was not one Syrian soul that
dwelt among alien men, Germans and Romans, in the bodily tabernacles of
Heine and of Lucian. But he was fallen on evil times and evil tongues;
while Lucian, as witty as he, as bitter in mockery, as happily dowered
with the magic of words, lived long and happily and honoured, imprisoned
in no 'mattress-grave.' Without Rabelais, without Voltaire, without
Heine, you would find, methinks, even the joys of your Happy Islands
lacking in zest; and, unless Plato came by your way, none of the
ancients could meet you in the lists of sportive dialogue.

There, among the vines that bear twelve times in the year, more
excellent than all the vineyards of Touraine, while the song-birds bring
you flowers from vales enchanted, and the shapes of the Blessed come
and go, beautiful in wind-woven raiment of sunset hues; there, in a land
that knows not age nor winter, midnight, nor autumn, nor noon, where the
silver twilight of summer-dawn is perennial, where youth does not wax
spectre-pale and die; there, my Lucian, you are crowned the Prince of
the Paradise of Mirth.

Who would bring you, if he had the power, from the banquet where Homer
sings: Homer, who, in mockery of commentators, past and to come, German
and Greek, informed you that he was by birth a Babylonian? Yet, if
you, who first wrote Dialogues of the Dead, could hear the prayer of
an epistle wafted to 'lands indiscoverable in the unheard-of West,' you
might visit once more a world so worthy of such a mocker, so like the


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