wittiest of his pieces, ending with a spirited rush. Pope's ' Epistle to Arbuthnot ' may have owed something to this 'Letter.' There is more bitterness, but equal vivacity, in his 'Satire addressed to a Friend about to leave the University and come abroad in the World,' which closes with a fable, excellently told. More ambitious, but really inadequate and low in tone, is the 'Satire' in which Spenser is introduced, 'dissuading the Author from the Study of Poetry.' The passage referring to the calamities of authors has been often quoted.
While in 'original' satire Oldham cannot be said to have reached the height to which he was desirous of climbing, he is memorable in our poetic literature as one of the predecessors of Pope in the 'imitative' or adapting species of satirical and didactic verse. Boileau (certain of whose imitations were in their turn imitated by Oldham) had revived the popularity of the device of paraphrasing Latin satirical poetry while applying to modem instances it references and allusions. Oldham's first attempt in this direction seems to have been nis 'Horace's Art of Poetry, imitated in English, addressed by way of Letter to a Friend,' 1681 (see the ' Preface '). But the same 'libertine' way, as he calls it, was more lightly and yet more completely pursued by him in his imitation of Horace's 'Satires,' i. ix. ('Ibam forte via sacra' — ' As I was walking in the Mall of late '), and in the other Horatian paraphrases and similar pieces published by him in the same year. Most of these, which include reproductions of Horace, Juvenal, Virgil, Ovid, Catullus, Martial, as well as of Bion and Moschus, the Psalms, and Boileau, are in the heroic couplet ; but some of the lyrics are translated in Pindaric, i.e. irregular, metre.
Oldham's verse lacks finish, a defect specially noticeable in a looseness of rhyme and in what Dryden censured as
The harsh Cadence of a rugged Line.
Of prose Oldham left behind him nothing beyond the 'Character of a certain Ugly Old Priest,' an unpleasing effort in the grotesque, and a skotch entitled 'A Sunday Thought in Sickness,' which contains certain resemblances, probably unintentional, to the closing scene of Marlowe's 'Doctor Faustus.'
An edition of ' Poems and Translations ' by Oldham was published in 1683, and one of his ' Remains in Verse and Prose,' with a series of commendatory verses (including Dryden's ), in the following year. Subsequent editions of his works are dated 1685, 1686, 1688, 1703, and 1722 ; but some of these may be merely made up by booksellers. Those of 1685 and 1686 are identical, except as to the date. The most complete edition is that cited in the text, by the eccentric' half-pay poet ' Edward Thompson, in 3 vols. 12mo, 1770. It is prefaced by a brief memoir, and a statement of the editors 'point of view.' The notes are meagre and inaccurate.
[The Compositions in Prose and Verse of Mr. John Oldham, to which are added Memoirs of his Life ... by Edward Thompson, 3 vols. 1770; Granger^s Biog. Hist. 1779, if. 48; Wood's Athenæ Oxon. ed. Bliss, iv. 119; Biog. Brit. ; Seward's Anecdotes, ii. 167 ; Pope's Works, ed. Elwin and Courthope, passim; Wood's Life and Times (Oxf. Hist. Soc.), iii. 82- 83 ; Dunton's Life and Errors ; Chalmers s Biog. Diet.]