Digital Paxton: Digital Collection, Critical Edition, and Teaching Platform

A Humble Attempt at Scurrility - 29

Owls of the College to talk of observing in the Dark, as they have been of late so much employed in Works of Darkness, yet as Mr. H—s does not pretend to be one of those favourite Birds of Wisdom, so neither does he incline to deprive them of the Honour of their own dark Observations. In truth he has not made use of such an Expression: All that he is ambitious of, in conveying his Sentiments, is to [write] and speak plain English, unornamented even by Hibernian Tropes and Figures; notwithstanding what Butler alledges,
That he, who is but able to express
No Sense at all in several Languages,
Will pass for learneder, than he, that’s known
To speak the strongest Reason in his own.
The Sentence to which the above Quotation from our Author alludes, is this: “But as I am fully persuaded of the Truth of what he [Mr. F—n] asserted in the Remarks, That his Reputation is dearer to him than Life, I think it would be as inconsistent with the Esteem and Friendship I have long professed for him, were I to see his Character so insidiously and infamously attacked, without my appearing in his Behalf, as it would be for me to observe a Ruffian attempting to stab him in the Back, without my offering to avert the Blow.” — “Now it may be curious to observe, how” our Author, by altering, transposing, and adding to the Words of the latter Part of this Sentence, without paying any Regard to their Connection with the former Part, has, as he thinks, furnished himself with an Opportunity of displaying an infinite deal of Wit and Humour. This indeed is no uncommon Practice with Men of heavy Intellects, who having no genuine Wit of their own, are obliged to study how to be witty. Thus have I observed some of your second Rate Punsters, who not being able to start a Pun off hand on Things as they occur in the Course of Conversation (without which the best is scarcely tolerable) do therefore labour hard to force the Discourse to such Subjects as may properly

Contents of this annotation: