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Who can your merit selfifoly 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, 10 call you friend, Yet wants the honour, injur'd, to defends] 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 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 indifference.
VER. 299. Who to the Dean, and filver 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 Taffe. See Mr. Pope's Letter to the Earl of Burlington concerning this matter.
Who reads, but with a luft 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, Or spite, or smut, or rhymes, or blasphemies.
See Milton, Book iv. P. Ver. 320. Half froth,] Alluding to those frothy excretions, called by the people, Toad-Spits, seen in summertime hanging upon plants, and emitted by young inseats which lie hid in the midst of them, for their preservation, while in their helpless Atate.
His wit all see-saw, between that and this,
Not Fortune's worshipper, nor Fashion's fool,
Notes. Ver. 340. That not in Fancy's maze he quander'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 three poems of Mr. Pope, the best poet of England, " 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 Esay on Criticism as su
perior to the Art of poetry of Horace; and his Rape • of ebe Lock is, in my opinion, above the Lutrin of Def.
That not in Fancy's maze he wander'd long,
349 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, so
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 ípirit, which sometimes wantons at large in airy circles beforc it regards, or floops to, its prey.
VER. 350, the lye yo oft oe'rtbrown As, that he received subscriptions for Shakespear, that he fet his name to Mr. Broome's verses, &c. which, tho' publicly dir. proved were nevertheless shamelessly repeated in the Libels, and even in that called the Nobleman's Epifle. P.
Ver. 351. Th’ imputed trafh] Such as profane Psalms, Court-Poems, and other fcandalous things, printed in his Name by Curland 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 scribler, 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 low'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 evin 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.