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Give Virtue scandal, Innocence a fear, - 285
NOTES. derstood. He was not mistaken. This fcurth book, the most ftudied and highly finished of all his Poems, was esteemed obscure (a name, which, in excess of modesty, the Reader gives to what he does not understand) and but a faint imitation, by some common hand, of the other three. He had, himself, the malicious pleasure to hear this judgment passed on his favourite Work by several of his Acquaintance; a pleasure more to his taste than the flatteries they used to entertain him with, and were then intentionally paying him. Of which he gave me another instance, that afforded him much diversion. While these acquaintance read the Elay on Man as the work of an unknown author, they fairly owned they did not understand it, but when the reputation of the poem became secured by the knowledge of the Writer, it foon grew so clear and intelligible, that, on the appearance of the Comment on it, they told him, they wondered the Editos should think a large and minute in. terpretation necessary, • VER. 293.-— felfishly 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 ;] 1. e, will never suffer the admiration of an excellence to produce any esteem for him, to whom it belongs.
Who has the vanity to call you friend,
Let Sporus tremble ---A.What? that thing of filk,
NOTES. VER. 295. Who has the vanity to call you friend, Yet 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 fallly accused, it is natural to think, that a sense of gratitude for lo agreeable an obligation, or a sense 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 Thews 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 indif.
Ver. 299. Who to the Dean, and silver bell &c.) Meaning the man who would have persuaded the Duke of Chandos that Mr. P. meant him in those circumstances ridiculed in the Epistle on Tafe. See Mr. Pope's Letter to the Earl of Burlington concerning this matter.
on Tafe. See Min in those circumftanthe Duke of
P. Yet let me flap this bug with gilded wings,
Notes, Ver. 319. Cee Milton, Book iv.
Ver. 326. Half froth,] Alluding to those frothy excretions, called by the people, Toad-spits, seen in summer time hanging upon plants, and emitted by young insects which lie hid in the midst of them, for their preservation, while in their helpless ftate.
called by the and emitted preservation,
Fop at the toilet, flatt'rer at the board,
Not Fortune's worshiper, 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., That not in Fancy's maze he wander'd long, 340 But floop'd to 'Truth, and moraliz’d his song:
NOT E S.
Ver. 340. That not in Fancy's maze he wander'd long,] His merit 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 thrce pocms of Mr. Pope, the • best poet of England, and at present of all the world. I hope « you are acquainted enough with the English tongue, to be “ scofible of all the charms of his works. For my part, I look cupon his poem called the Ejay on Criticism as superior to " the Art of poetry of Horace; and his Rape of the Lock is, in "s my opinion, above the Lutrin of Despreaux. I never saw “ fo amiable an imagination, so gentle graces, so great variety, " so much wit, and so refined knowledge of the world, as in 66 this little perforinance.” MS. Let. Oct. 15, 1726.
VER. 341. L'ut fiecpidio Truth, and moraliz'd his song :) This
That not for Fame, but Virtue's better end,
NOTE s. may be said no less in commendation of his literary, than of his moral character. And his superior excellence in poetry is owing to it. He soon discovered in what his force lay; and he made the best of that advantage, by a sedulous cultivation of his proper talent. For having read Quintilian early, this precept did not escape him, Sunt hæc duo vitanda prorsus : unum ne tentes quod effici non poffit ; alterum, ne ab eo, quod quis optime facit, in aliud, cui minus eft idoneus, transferas. It was in this knowledge and cultivation of his genius that he had principally the advantage of his great master, Dryden ; who, by his MacFlecno, his Absolom and Achitophel, but chiefly by his Prologues and Epilogues, appears to have had great talents for this species of moral poetry; but, unluckily, he seem'd neither to understand nor attend to it.
Ibid. But floop'd to Truth] The term is from falconry; and the allusion to one of those untamed birds of spirit, which sometimes wantons at large in airy circles before it regards, or stoops to, its prey.
Ver. 350. the lye fo oft o’erthrown] As, that he received subfcriptions for Shakespear, that he set his name to Mr. Broome's verses, &c. which, tho' publicly disproved, were neverthuis Thamelessly repeated in the Libels, and even in that called the Nobleman's Epistle.