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Who shames a Scribler ? break one cobweb thro',
NOTES VER. 92. The creature's at his dirty work again,] This metamorphosing, as it were, the Scribler into a Spider is much more poetical than a comparison would have been. But Poets should be cautious how they employ this figure; for where the likeness is not very striking, instead of giving force, they become obscurę. Here, every thing concurs to make them run into one another. They both spin; not from the head [reason] but from the guts (pafsions and prejudices] and fuch a thread that can entangle none but creatures weaker than themselves.
Ver. 98. free-mafons Moor?] He was of this society, and frequently headed their processions.
Of all mad creatures, if the learn’d are right, 105
One dedicates in high heroic prose,
There are, who to my person pay their court:115 I cough like Horace, and, tho' lean, am short, Ammon's great son one shoulder had too high, Such Ovid's nose, and “ Sir! you have an Eye--Go on, obliging creatures, make me fee All that disgrac'd my Betters, met in me. 120
For song, for silence some expect a bribe;
Notes. Ver. 118. Sir, you have an Eye] It is remarkable that amongst these compliments on his infirmities and deformities, he mentions his eye, which was fine, sharp, and piercing. It was done to intimate, that flattery was as odious to him when there was some ground for commendation, as when there was none.
Say for my comfort, languishing in bed,
Why did I write? what sin to me unknown 125
But, friend, this shape, which You and Curl * admire,
Had heir’d as well the virtues of the mind. a Curl set up his head for a sign. b His Father was crooked. ç His Mother was much afflicted with head-achs.
NOTES. VER. 127. As yet a child, &c.] He used to say, that he began to write verses further back than he could remember. When he was eight years old, Ogilby's Homer fell in his way, and delighted him extremely ; it was followed by Sandys'Ovid; and the raptures these then gave him were so strong, that he spoke of them with pleasure ever after. About ten, being at school at Hide-park-corner, where he was much neglected, and suffered to go to the Comedy with the greater boys, he turned the transactions of the Iliad into a play, made up of a number of speeches from Ogilby's translation, tacked together with verses of his own. He had the address to persuade the upper boys to act it; he even prevailed on the Master's Gardener to represent Ajax; and contrived to have all the actors dreiled after the pictures in his favourite Ogilby. At twelve he went with
I left no calling for this idle trade,
But why then publish ? Granville the polite, 135
Notes. his father into the Forest: and then got first acquainted with the writings of Waller, Spencer, and Dryden ; in the order I have named them. On the first sight of Dryden, he found he had what he wanted. His Poems were never out of his hands ; they became his model; and from them alone he learnt the whole magic of his versification. This year he began an epic Poem, the fame which Bp. Atterbury, long afterwards, persuaded him to burn. Besides this, he wrote, in those early days, a Comedy and Tragedy, the latter taken from a story in the Legend of St. Genevieve. They both deservedly underwent the same fate. As he began his Pastorals foon after, he used to say pleasantly, that he had literally followed the example of Virgil, who tells us, Cum canerem reges et prælia, &c.
VER. 130. no father difobey'd.] When Mr. Pope was yet a Child, lis Father, though no Poet, would set him to make English verses. He was pretty difficult to please, and would often fend the boy back to new turn them. When they were to his mind, he took great pleasure in them, and would say, These are good rhymes.
Ver. 139. Talbot, &c.] All these were Patrons or Admirers of Mr. Dryden; though a scandalous libel against him, entitled,
verd Boy back to fure in them, All ther
And St. John's felf (great Dryder's friends before)
Soft were my numbers; who could take offence While puse Description held the place of Senie?
NOTES. Dryden's Satyr të bis 1122, has been printed in the name of the Lord Sorers, of which he was wholly ignorant.
These are the perions to whose account the Author charges the publication of his first pieces : perfons, with whom he was conversant (and he adds beloved) at 16 or 17 years of age; an early period for such acquaintance. The caralogue might be made yet mcre illustrious, had he not confined it to that time when he writ the Patiorals and Ilindjir Forst, on which he paises a sort of Centure in the lines following,
While pure Deicription held the place of Sense ? &c. P. Ver. 146. Burnets, c.] Authors of secret and icandalous History.
Ibid. Burnets, O'dmixons, and Corés.] By no means Au. thors of the fame class, though the violence of party might hurry them into the same mistakes. But if the firft 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 still worse.
Ver. 148. While pure Defcrip:ion held the place of Sense? 1 He uses pure equivocally, to signify either chasłe or empts; and has given in this line what he eficemed the true Character of descriptive poetry, as it is called. A compofition, in his opinion, as absurd as a feast made up of sauces. The use of a pictoresque imagination is to brighten and adorn good sense; fo that to employ it only in description, is like childrens delighting in a prism for the sake of its gaudy colours; which when frugally