YET still the nicest and most delicate touches of Satire consist in fine Raillery. This, my Lord, is your particular Talent, to which even Juvenal could not arrive. 'Tis not Reading, 'tis not imitation of an Author, which can produce this fineness: it must be inborn; it must proceed from a Genius, and particular way of thinking, which is not to be taught; and therefore not to be imitated by him who has it not from Nature: How easy is it to call Rogue and Villain, and that wittily! But how hard to make a Man appear a Fool, a Blockhead, or a Knave, without using any of those opprobrious terms! To spare the grossness of the Names, and to do the thing yet more severely, is to draw a full Face, and to make the Nose and Cheeks stand out, and yet not to employ any depth of Shadowing. This is the Mystery of that Noble Trade, which yet no Master can teach to his Apprentice: He may give the Rules, but the Scholar is never the nearer in his practice. Neither is it true, that this fineness of Raillery is offensive. A witty Man is tickled while he is hurt in this manner, and a Fool feels it not. The occasion of an Offence may possibly be given, but he cannot take it. If it be granted that in effect this way does more Mischief; that a Man is secretly wounded, and though he be not sensible himself, yet the malicious World will find it for him: yet there is still a vast difference betwixt the slovenly Butchering of a Man, and the fineness of a stroke that separates the Head from the Body, and leaves it standing in its place. A man may be capable, as Jack Ketch's Wife said of his Servant, of a plain piece of Work, a bare Hanging; but to make a malefactor die sweetly was only belonging to her Husband. I wish I could apply it to my self, if the Reader would be kind enough to think it belongs to me. The character of Zimri in my Absalom is, in my opinion, worth the whole Poem: 'Tis not bloody, but 'tis ridiculous enough; and he for whom it was intended, was too witty to resent it as an injury. If I had railed, I might have suffered for it justly; but I managed my own Work more happily, perhaps more dexterously. I avoided the mention of great Crimes, and applied myself to the representing of Blindsides, and little Extravagancies: to which, the wittier a Man is, he is generally the more obnoxious. It succeeded as I wished; the Jest went round, and he was laughed at in his turn who began the Frolic.
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