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Who can your merit selfishly approve,
Notes, Ver. 293. --selfishly approve,] Because to deny, or pretend not to see, a well established merit, would impeach his own heart or understanding.
Ver. 294. And how the sense of it without the love ;] i. e. will never suffer the admiration of an excellence to produce any esteem for him, to whom it belongs.
Ver. 295. Who has the vanity to call you friend, Yes wants the honour, injur'd, to defend;] When a great Genius, whose writings have afforded the world much pleasure and instruction, happens to be enviously attacked, or falsely accused, it is natural to think, that a sense of gratitude for so agreeable an obligation, or a senle of that honour resulting to our Country from such a Writer, should raise amongst those who call themselves his friends, a pretty general indignation. But every day's experience shews us the very contrary. Some take a malignant satisfaction in the attack; others a foolish pleasure in a literary conflict; and the far greater part look on with a selfish indifference.
Ver. 299. Who to the Dean, and silver bell, &c.] Meaning the man who would have perfuaded the Duke of Chandos that Mr. P. meant him in those circumstances ridiculed in the Epistle on Taste. See Mr. Pope's Letter to the Earl of Burlington concerning this matter.
Who reads, but with a lust to misapply,
Let Sporus tremble--A. What? that thing of filk,
315 As shallow streams run dimpling all the way. Whether in florid impotence he speaks, And, as the prompter breathes, the puppet squeaks ; Or at the ear of Eve, familiar Toad, Half froth, half venom, spits himself abroad, 320 In
puns, or politics, or tales, or lies,
VER. 320. Half froth,] Alluding to those frothy excretions, called by the people, Toad-Spits, seen in summertine hanging upon plants, and emitted by young insects wluch lichid in the midst of them, for their preservation, wuio in cheis helpless state.
His wit all see-saw, between that and this,
Not Fortune's worshipper, nor Fashion's fool, Not Lucre's madman, nor Ambition's tool, 335 Not proud, nor servile; Be one Poet's praise, That, if he pleas'd, he pleas'd by manly ways: That Flatt’ry, ev'n to Kings, he held a shame, And thought a Lye in verse or prose the same.
Notes. VER. 340. That not in Fancy's maze he wander'd long, ] His inerit in this will appear very great, if we consider, that in this walk he had all the advantages which the most poetic Imagination could give to a great Genius. M. Voltaire in a MS, letter now before me, writes thus from England to a friend in Paris. “ I intend to send you two
or three poems of Mr. Pope, the best poet of England, os and at present of all the world. I hope you are ac
quainted enough with the English tongue, to be senfi" ble of all the charms of his works. For my part, I “ look upon his poem called the Essay on Criticism as su
perior to the Art of poetry of Horace; and his Rape of tbe Lock is, in my opinion, above the Lutrin of Def
That not in Fancy's maze he wander'd long,
340 But stoop'd to Truth, and moraliz'd his song: That not for Fame, but Virtue's better end, He stood the furious foe, the timid friend, The damning critic, half approving wit, The coxcomb hit, or fearing to be hit;
345 Laugh’d at the loss of friends he never had, The dull, the proud, the wicked, and the mad; The distant threats of vengeance on his head, The blow unfelt, the tear he never shed; The tale reviv'd, the lye so oft o’erthrown, 350 Th'imputed trash, and dulness not his own;
preaux. I never saw so amiable an imagination, fo
gentle graces, so great variety, so much wit, and so “ refined knowledge of the world, as in this little perform" ance.” MS. Let. Oet. 15, 1726.
VER. 341. But ftoop'd to Truth). The term is from falconry ; and the allusion to one of those untamed birds of fpirit, which sometimes wantons at large in airy circles beforc it regards, or stoops to, its prey.
Ver. 350. the lze so oft oe'rthrown] As, that he received subscriptions for Shakespear, that he set his name to Mr. Broome's verses, &c. which, tho' publicly dis. proved were nevertheless shamelessly repeated in the Libels, and even in that called the Nobleman's Epifle. P.
VER. 351. Th' imputed trah] Such as profane Psalms, Court-Poeins, and other scandalous things, printed in his Name by Curl and others,
The morals blacken'd when the writings scape,
A. But why insult the poor, affront the great? 360 P. A. knave's a knave, to me, in ev'ry state: Alike my scorn, if he succeed or fail, Sporus at court, or Japhet in a jail, A hireling fcribler, or a hireling peer, Knight of the post corrupt, or of the shire; 365 If on a Pillory, or near a Throne, He gain his Prince's ear, or lose his own.
Notes. VER. 354. Abuse, on all he lov'd, or lov'd him, Spread.] Namely on the Duke of Buckingham, the Earl of Burlington, Lord Bathurst, Lord Bolingbroke, Bishop Atterbury, Dr. Swift, Dr. Arbuthnot, Mr. Gay, his Friends, his Parents, and his very Nurse, aspersed in printed papers, by James Moore, G. Ducket, L. Welfted, Tho. Bentley, and other obscure persons.
P. VER. 359. For thee, fair Virtue ! welcome ev’n the last!] This line is remarkable for presenting us with the most amiable image of steady Virtue, mixed with a modest concern for his being forced to undergo the severest proofs of his love for it, which was the being thought hardly of by his SOVEREIGN.