Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

That very

Cæfar born in Scipio's days,
Had aim'd, like him, by Chastity at praise.
Lucullus, when Frugality could charm,
Had roasted turnips in the Sabin farm.
In vain th' observer eyes the builder's toil, 220
But quite mistakes the scaffold for the pile.
In this one Passion man can strength enjoy,
As Fits give vigour, just when they destroy.

COMMENTARY.
Ver. 222. In this one Paffon, &c.] But now it may

be objected to our philosophic Poet, that he has indeed Mewn the true means of coming to the knowledge and characters of men, by a Principle certain and infallible, when found; yet it is, by his own account, of so difficult investigation, that its Counterfeit (and it is always attended with one) may be easily mistaken for it. To remove this difficulty, therefore, and consequently the objection that arises from it, the Poet has given (from Ý 221 to 228.) one certain and infal. lible criterion of the Ruling Passion; which is this, that all the other passions, in the course of time, change and wear away; while this is ever constant and vigorous; and still going on from ftrength to strength, to the very moment of its demolishing the miserable machine which it has now at length, over-worked. Of this great truth, the Poet (from ver. 227 to the end) gives various instances, in all the principal Ruling Passions of our nature, as they are to be found in the Man of business, the Man of pleasure, the

Notes. VER. 223. As Fits give vigour, juft when they destroy.] The similitude is extremely apposite; as most of the instances he has afterwards given of the vigorous exertion of the Ruling Passion in the last moments, are from such who had hastened their death by an immoderate indulgence of that paflion.

Time, that on all things lays his lenient hand,
Yet tames not this; it sticks to our last fand. 225
Consistent in our follies and our sins,
Here honeft Nature ends as fhe begins.

Old Politicians chew on wisdom past,
And totter on in bus'ness to the last;
As weak, as earnest; and as gravely out, 230
As fober Lanesb'row dancing in the gout.

Behold a rev'rend fire, whom want of grace Has made the father of a nameless race, Shov'd from the wall perhaps, or rudely press’d By his own son, that passes by unbless’d: 235

COMMENTARY. Epicure, the Parfimonious, the Toall, the Courtier, the Miser, and the Patriot; which last instance, the Poet has had the art, under the appearance of satire, to turn into the noblest compliment on the person to whom the epistle is addressed.

NOTE s. VER. 225.-- It flicks to our laft fand.) “ M. de Lagny “ mourut le 12 Avril, 1734. Dans les derniers momens, " ou il ne connoissoit plus aucun de ceux qui etoient au

tour de son lit, quelqu'un, pour faire une experience philosophique, s'avisa de lui demander quel étoit le

quarré de douze : Il repondit dans l'instant, et appare: “ ment sans favoir qu'il repondit, cent quarante quatre.”. Fontanelle, Eloge de M. de Lagny.

VER. 227. Here honeft Nature ends as foe begins.) Human nature is here humorously called honest, as the impulse of the ruling paffion (which she gives and cherishes) makes her more and more impatient of disguise. VER. 231. Lanesb'row] An ancient Nobleman, who con

[ocr errors]

Still to his wench he crawls on knocking knees,
And envies ev'ry sparrow that he sees.

A falmon's belly, Helluo, was thy fate;
The doctor call'd, declares all help too late :
“ Mercy ! cries Helluo, mercy on my fou!! 240
" Is there no hope? --Alas!-then bring the jowl.”

The frugal Crone, whom praying priests attend,
Still tries to save the hallow'd taper's end,
Collects her breath, as ebbing life retires,
For one puff more, and in that puff expires. 245

66 Odious! in woollen ! 'twould a Saint provoke,
(Were the last words that poor Narcissa spoke)
“ No, let a charming Chintz, and Brussels lace
“ Wrap my cold limbs, and shade my lifeless face:
« One would not, sure, be frightful when one's dead
66 And-Betty-give this Cheek a little Red.” 258

The Courtier smooth, who forty years had shin'd An humble servant to all human kind,

NOTES. tinued this practice long after his legs were disabled by the gout. Upon the death of Prince George of Denmark, he demanded an audience of the Queen, to advise her to preserve her health and dispel her grief by Dancing. P.

VER. 242. The frugal Crone,] A fact told him, by Lady Bol. of an old Countess at Paris.

VER. 247.--the last words that poor Narcisa spoke] This story, as well as the others, is founded on fact, tho' the author had the goodness not to mention the names. Several attribute this in particular to a very celebrated Actress, who, in detestation of the thought of being buried in woollen, gave these her last orders with her dying breath. P.

256

Just brought out this, when scarce his tongue could stir, “ If-where I'm going—I could serve you, Sir?”

“ I give and I devise (old Euclio said, And figh’d)“ my lands and tenements to Ned. Your money, Sir?-"My money, Sir, what all? ? " Why,—if I must-(then wept) I give it Paul. “ The Manor, Sir?—“ The Manor ! hold, he cry’d, “ Not that, I cannot part with that”_and dy'd.

And you ! brave COBHAM, to the latest breath Shall feel your ruling passion strong in death: Such in thofe moments as in all the past; « Oh, fave my Country, Heav'n!” shall be your last.

NOTE s. VER. 255.) A Pawnbroker of Paris, in his last agonies, observing that the Priest, as usual, presented a little Silver Crucifix before his eyes, mistook it for a pawn; and had just strength enough left to say, Alas! I can afford but a small matter upon that.

3

[blocks in formation]

NOT

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

OTHING so true as what

you once let fall, 6 Most Women have no Characters at all.” Matter too soft a lasting mark to bear, And best distinguish'd by black, brown, or fair.

NOTE s. Of the Chara&ters of Women] There is nothing in Mr. Pope's works more highly finish d, or written with greater spirit, than this Epistie: Yet its success was in no proportion to the pains he took in composing it, or the effort of genius displayed in adorning it. Something he chanced to drop in a short advertisement prefixed to it, on its first publication, may perhaps account for the small attention the Public gave to it. He said, that no one character in it was drawn from the Life. They believed him on his

and expressed little curiosity about a satire in which there was nothing personal.

Ver. 1. Nothing so true, &c.] The reader perhaps may be disappointed to find that this epifle, which proposes the

[ocr errors]

word;

« ZurückWeiter »