« הקודםהמשך »
They neither added nor confounded;
Nor good, nor bad, nor fools, nor wise,
LIFE OF BLACKMORE.
RICHARD BLACKMORE was the son of Robert Blackmore, supposed to have been an attorney of Corsham, in Wiltshire. At thirteen, he was sent to the Westminster School; and, in 1668, became a member of Edmund Hall, in Oxford. After the unusual residence of thirteen years, he travelled on the continent to perfect his education ; was made a Doctor of Physic at Padua ; and returned to England, in about eighteen months.
At some period of his life, he was necessitated to teach a school : his enemies did not forget to keep him reminded of the circumstance afterwards;
and let it be remembered for his honour, (says Dr. Johnson, who had himself laboured in the same vocation,) that to have been once a schoolmaster is the only reproach, which all the perspicacity of malice, animated by wit, has ever fixed upon his private life.' To make this sentence forcible, the angry biographer was obliged to call this the only reproach, which had ever been fixed upon Blackmore, as a man; for, if this was the only reproach, Dr. Johnson was the last person to think it worthy of much solicitude. We learn in the same page, however, that another part of Blackmore's private life was a topic of reproach. He commenced physician ; acquired extensive practice; and, on
the 12th of April, 1687, was elected Fellow of the College. He resided himself at Sadler's Hall, in Cheapside; and his friends were, for the most part, in the city. “In the early part of Blackmore's time, (says our biographer,) a citizen was a term of reproach; and his place of abode was another topic to which his adversaries had recourse, in the penury of scandal.'
In 1695, Blackmore burst upon the world with Prince Arthur, an epic poem, in ten books; written, according to his own account, 'by such catches and starts, and in such occasional uncertain hours as his profession afforded, and for the greatest part in Coffee-houses, or in passing up and down the streets.' This is what Dryden called, writing to the rumbling of his coach wheels. But, however it was written, the public demanded three edi. tions in two years. Dennis attacked it in form: Locke praised, and Molineaux admired it. It is probable, the author knew how good an omen it was, to be assailed by Dennis; and, so little did the insolence of the critic affect him, that he afterwards became his friend, and said, in a later work, that he was equal to Boileau in poetry, and superior to him in critical abilities. This was grateful. Dennis had never been so well repaid for the friendly office of writing other poets into celebrity.
An inexperienced man has little conception of the pile, which is accumulated in no great length of time, by catches and starts' of composition. Blackmore continued to visit his patients, and devise scraps of poetry by the way; and, in two years from the publication of Prince Arthur, in ten books, behold King Arthur, in twelve! This enormity was not to be tolerated. Such a presumption, though we feel disposed to forgive the first offence, becomes outrageous at its repetition; and the wits and critics united in the common cause, against a marauder, who seemed bent upon laying waste the common