[Footnote 1: quis Temeros oculus mihi fascinat Agnos.—Virg.]
[Footnote 2: This letter is by John Hughes.]
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No. 253. Thursday, December 20, 1711. Addison.
Indignor quicquam reprehendi, non quia
Compositum, illepideve putetur, sed quia nuper.
There is nothing which more denotes a great Mind, than the Abhorrence of Envy and Detraction. This Passion reigns more among bad Poets, than among any other Set of Men.
As there are none more ambitious of Fame, than those who are conversant in Poetry, it is very natural for such as have not succeeded in it to depreciate the Works of those who have. For since they cannot raise themselves to the Reputation of their Fellow-Writers, they must endeavour to sink it to their own Pitch, if they would still keep themselves upon a Level with them.
The greatest Wits that ever were produced in one Age, lived together in so good an Understanding, and celebrated one another with so much Generosity, that each of them receives an additional Lustre from his Contemporaries, and is more famous for having lived with Men of so extraordinary a Genius, than if he had himself been the [sole Wonder ] of the Age. I need not tell my Reader, that I here point at the Reign of Augustus, and I believe he will be of my Opinion, that neither Virgil nor Horace would have gained so great a Reputation in the World, had they not been the Friends and Admirers of each other. Indeed all the great Writers of that Age, for whom singly we have so great an Esteem, stand up together as Vouchers for one anothers Reputation. But at the same time that Virgil was celebrated by Gallus, Propertius, Horace, Varius, Tucca and Ovid, we know that Bavius and Maevius were his declared Foes and Calumniators.