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The courtly Talbot, Somers, Sheffield read,
VER. 139. Talbot, &c.] All these were Patrons or Adnirers of Mr. Dryden ; though a scandalous libel against him, entitled, Dryden's Satyr to his Mufe, has been printed in the name of the Lord Somers, of which he was wholly ignorant.
These are the persons to whose account the Author charges the publication of his first pieces : persons, with whom he was conversant (and he adds beloved) at 16 or 17 years of age ; an early period for such acquaintance. The catalogue might be made yet more illustrious, had he not confined it to that time when he writ the Pastorals and Windsor Forefi, on which he passes a fort of Censure in the lines following,
While pure Description held the place of Sense? &c. P.
Ver. 146. Burnets, &c.) Authors of secret and scandalous History.
Ibid. Burnets, Oldmixons, and Cooks. ] By no means Authors of the same class, though the violence of party might hurry them into the same mistakes. But if the first offended this way, it was only through an honest warmth of temper, that allowed too little to an excellent understanding. The other two, with very bad heads, had hearts fill worse.
Soft were my numbers; who could take offence While pure Description held the place of Sense? Like gentle Fanny's was my flow'ry theme, A painted mistress, or a purling stream.
150 Yet then did Gildon draw his venal quill; I wilh'd the man a dinner, and såte still. Yet then did Dennis rave in furious fret; I. never answer'd, I was not in debt. If want provok’d, or madness made them print, 155 I wag'd no war with Bedlam or the Mint.
Did some more fober Critic come abroad; If wrong, I smild; if right, I kiss’d the rod. Pains, reading, study, are their just pretence, And all they want is fpirit, taste, and sense. 160 Comma's and points they set exactly right, And 'twere a fin to rob them of their mite. Yet ne'er one sprig of laurel grac'd these ribalds, From slashing Bentley down to pidling Tibalds :
VER. 150. A painted meadow, or a purling stream, is a verfe of Mr. Addison.
P. Ver. 164. Nashing Bentley] This great man, with all his faults, deserved to be put into better company. The following words of Cicero describe him not amiss. “ Ha“ buit à natura genus quoddam acuminis, quod etiam arte " limaverat, quod erat in reprehendendis verbis versutum " et follers: fed fæpe ftomachofum, nonnunquam frigi.
dum, interdum etiam facetum.''
Each wight, who reads not, and but fcans and spells,
I excus'd them too;
175 But each man's fecret standard in his mind,
Notes. Ver. 169. Pretty! in amber to observe the forms, &c.] Our Poet had the full pleasure of this amusement soon after the publication of his Shakespear. Nor has his Friend been less entertained since the appearance of his edition of the same poet. The liquid Amber of whose Wit has lately licked up, and enrolled such a quantity of these Infeets, and of tribes so grotesque and various, as would have puzzled Reaumur to give names to. Two or three of them it may not be amiss to preserve and keep alive. Such as the Rev. Mr. 7. Upton, Thomas Eduards, Efq; and, to make up the Triumvirate, their learned Coadjutor, that very respectable personage, Mr. THEOPHILUS Cibber.--As to the poetic imagery of this passage, it has been much and justly admired; for the most detestable things in nature, as a toad, or a beetle, become pleasing when well represented in a work of Art. But it is no less eminent for the beauty of the thought. For though a scribler exifts by being thus incorporated, yet he exists intombed, a lasting monument of the wrath of the Muses.
VER. 173. Were others angry:] The Poets.
That Casting-weight pride adds to emptiness,
190 How did they fume, and stamp, and roar, and chafe! And swear, not ADDISON himself was safe.
VER. 180.-a Persian tale.] Amb. Philips translated a Book called the Persian tales.
P. VER. 184. Steals much, Spends little, and has nothing left:] A fine improvement of this line of Boileau,
Qui toujours emprunt, et jamais ne gagne rien.
Ver. 186. Means not, but blunders round about a mean. ing :] A case common both to Poets and Critics of a cer. sain order ; only with this difference, that the Poet writes himself out of his own meaning ; and the Critic never gets into another man's. Yet both keep going on, and blundering round about their subject, as benighted people are wont to do, who seek for an entrance which they cannot End.
Peace to all such! but were there One whose fires True Genius kindles, and fair Farne inspires; Bleft with each talent and each art to please, 195 And born to write, converse, and live with ease: Should such a man, too fond to rule alone, Bear, like the Turk, no brother near the throne, View him with scornful, yet with jealous eyes, And hate for arts that caus'd himself to rise; Damn with faint praise, assent with civil leer, And without sneering, teach the rest to sneer; Willing to wound, and yet afraid to strike, Just hint a fault, and hesitate dislike; Alike resery'd to blame, or to commend, 205 A tim'rous foe, and a suspicious friend; Dreading ev’n fools, by Flatterers besieg'd, And so obliging, that he ne'er oblig'd;
Notes. Ver.193. But were there one whole fires, &c ] The strokes in this Character are highly @nished. Atterbury so well understood the force of them, that in one of his letters io Mr. Pope he says, “ Since you now know where your
strength lies, I hope you will not suffer that talent to “ lie unemployed.” He did not; and, by that means, brought satiric Poetry to its perfection.
VARIATIONS. After x 208. in the MS.
Who, if two Wits on rival themes contest,
Approves of each, but likes the worst the best. Alluding to Mr. P.'s and Tickell's Translation of the first Book of the Iliad.