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consists. But in writing a florid and artificial style, neither the same range of invention nor the same quick sense of propriety — nothing but learning is required. If you know the words and their general meaning, it is sufficient it is impossible you should know the nicer inflections of signification, depending on an endless variety of application, in expressions borrowed from a foreign or dead language. They all impose upon the ear alike, because they are not familiar to it; the only distinction left is between the pompous and the plain. The sesquipedalia verba have this advantage, that they are all of one length; and any words are equally fit for a learned style, so that we have never heard them before. Themistocles thought that the same sounding epithets could not suit all subjects, as the same dress does not fit all persons. The style of our modern prose-writers is very fine in itself, but it wants variety of inflection and adaptation; it hinders us from seeing the differences of the things it undertakes to describe.

What I have here insisted on will be found to be the leading distinction between the style of Swift, Arbuthnot, Steele, and the other writers of the age of Queen Anne, and the style of Dr. Johnson, which succeeded to it.

The one is English, and the other is not. The writers first mentioned, in order to express their thoughts, looked about them for the properest word to convey any idea that the language which they spoke, and which their countrymen understood, afforded; Dr. Johnson takes the first English word that offers, and by translating it at a venture into the first Greek or Latin word he can think of, only retaining the English termination, produces an extraordinary effect upon the reader by much the same sort of mechanical process that Trim converted the old jack-boots into a pair of new mortars.

Dr. Johnson was a lazy learned man who liked to think and talk better than to read or write, who, however, wrote much and well, but too often by rote. His long compound Latin phrases required less thought and took up more room than others. What shows the facilities afforded by this style of imposing generalization is that it was instantly adopted with success by all those who were writers by profession, or who were not, and that at present we cannot see a lottery puff or a quack advertisement pasted against a wall that is not perfectly Johnsonian in style. Formerly, the learned had the privilege of translating their notions into Latin; and a great privilege it

was, as it confined the reputation and emoluments of learning to themselves. Dr. Johnson may be said to have naturalized this privilege, by inventing a sort of jargon translated half-way out of one language into the other, which raised the Doctor's reputation, and confounded all ranks in literature.

In the short period above alluded to, authors professed to write as other men spoke; everybody now affects to speak as authors write; and any one who retains the use of his mothertongue either in writing or conversation is looked upon as a very illiterate character.

Prior and Gay belong, in the characteristic excellences of their style, to the same class of writers with Suckling, Rochester, and Sedley : the former imbibed most of the licentious levity of the age of Charles II., and carried it on beyond the Revolution under King William. Prior has left no single work equal to Gay's Fables or the Beggar's Opera.' But in his lyrical and fugitive pieces he has shown even more genius, more playfulness, more mischievous gayety. No one has exceeded him in the laughing grace with which he glances at a subject that will not bear examining, with which he gently hints at what cannot be directly insisted on, with which he half conceals and half draws

aside the veil from some of the Muses' nicest mysteries. His Muse is, in fact, a giddy, wanton flirt, who spends her time in playing at snap-dragon and blind-man's-buff, who tells what she should not, and knows more than she tells. She laughs at the tricks she shows us, and blushes, or would be thought to do so, at what she keeps concealed. Prior has translated several of Fontaine's Tales from the French; and they have lost nothing in the translation either of their wit or malice. I need not name them, but the one I like the most is that of Cupid in Search of Venus's Doves. No one could insinuate a knavish plot, a tender point, a loose moral with such unconscious archness and careless raillery, as if he gained new selfpossession and adroitness from the perplexity and confusion into which he throws scrupulous imaginations, and knew how to seize on all the ticklish parts of his subject, from their involuntarily shrinking under his grasp. Some of his imitations of Boileau's servile addresses to Louis XIV., which he has applied with a happy mixture of wit and patriotic enthusiasm to King William, or, as he familiarly calls him, to

'Little Will, the scourge of France,
No Godhead, but the first of men,'

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are excellent, and show the same talent for double-entendre and the same gallantry of spirit, whether in the softer lyric or the more lively heroic. Some of Prior's bons mots are the best that are recorded. His serious poetry, as his 'Solomon,' is as heavy as his familiar style was light and agreeable. His moral Muse is a Magdalen, and should not have obtruded herself on public view. Henry and Emma' is a paraphrase of the old ballad of the Nut-brown Maid,' and not so good as the original. In short, as we often see in other cases, where men thwart their own genius, Prior's sentimental and romantic productions are mere affectation, the result, not of powerful impulse or real feeling, but of a consciousness of his deficiencies and a wish to supply their place by labour and art.

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Gay was sometimes grosser than Prior, not systematically, but inadvertently, from not being so well aware of what he was about; nor was there the same necessity for caution, for his grossness is by no means so seductive or inviting.

Gay's Fables are certainly a work of great merit, both as to the quantity of invention implied, and as to the elegance and facility of the execution. They are, however, spun out too

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