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And taught his Romans, in much better metre,
Ver. 9, 10. And taught his Romans, in much better metre,
“ To laugh at Fools who put their trust in Peter.”] The general turn of the thought is from Boileau,
“ Avant lui, Juvénal avoit dit en Latin,
Qu'on est assis à l'aise aux sermons de Cotin.” Ver. 12. Bubo observes,] Some guilty person very fond of making such an observation. P.
Bubo is said to mean Mr. Doddington, afterward Lord Melcombe.
Ver. 13. Horace would say,] The business of the friend here introduced is to dissuade our Poet from personal invectives. But he dexterously turns the very advice he is giving into the bitterest satire. Sir Billy was Sir William Young, who from a great fluency, was often employed to make long speeches till the minister's friends were collected in the House.
Ver. 14. H-ggins] Formerly Gaoler of the Fleet prison, enriched himself by many exactions, for which he was tried and expelled. P.
He was the father of the Author of the absurd and prosaic Translation of Ariosto ; an account of him is given in the Anecdotes of Hogarth. Ver. 15. In Sappho touch] In former Editions,
Sir George of some slight gallantries suspect. Ver. 18. Who cropt our Ears,] Said to be executed by the Captain of a Spanish ship on one Jenkins, a Captain of an English one. He cut off his ears, and bid him carry them to the King his master.
His sly, polite, insinuating style
P. See Sir ROBERT !—hum-
After Ver. 26, in the MS.
There's honest Tacitus* once talk'd as big,
But he is now an independent Whig ? * Mr. Thomas Gordon, who was bought off by a place at
Ver. 22. Screen.]
« Omne vafer vitium ridenti Flaccus amico
Tangit, et admissus circum præcordia ludit.” Pers. A metaphor peculiarly appropriated to a certain person in power. P.
Ver. 24. Patriots there are, &c.] This appellation was generally given to those in opposition to the Court. Though some of them (which our Author hints at) had views too mean and interested to deserve that name.
Ver. 26. The great man] A phrase, by common use, appropriated to the first Minister. P.
Ver. 27. Go see Sir Robert] We must not judge of this minister's character from the Dissertation on Parties, nor from the eloquent Philippics, for eloquent they were, uttered against him in both Houses of Parliament. Hume has drawn his portrait with candour and impartiality. And some of his most vehement antagonists, particularly the great Lord Chatham, lived to allow the merits of that long and pacific ministry, which so much ex
Seen him I have, but in his happier hour
tended the commerce, and consequently enlarged the riches of this country.
Ver. 29. Seen him I have, &c.] This, and other strokes of commendation in the following poem, as well as his regard to Sir Robert Walpole on all occasions, were in acknowledgment of a certain service he had done a friend of Mr. Pope's at his solicitation. Our Poet, when he was about seventeen, had a very ill fever in the country; which it was feared would end fatally. In this condition he wrote to Southcot, a Priest of his acquaintance, then in town, to take his last leave of him. Southcot, with great affection and solicitude, applied to Dr. Radcliffe · for his advice. And not content with that, he rode down post to Mr. Pope, who was then a hundred miles from London, with the Doctor's directions; which had the desired effect. A long time after this, Southcot, who had an interest in the Court of France, writing to a common acquaintance in England, informed him that there was a good abbey void near Avignon, which he had credit enough to get, were it not from an apprehension that his promotion would give umbrage to the English Court; to which he (Southcot) by his intrigues in the Pretender's service, was become very obnoxious. The person to whom this was written happening to acquaint Mr. Pope with the case, he immediately wrote a pleasant letter to Sir R. Walpole in the Priest's behalf. He acquainted the Minister with the grounds of his solicitation, and begged that this embargo, for his Mr. P.'s sake, might be taken off; for that he was indebted to Southcot for his life ; which debt must needs be discharged either here or in purgatory. The Minister received the application favourably, and with much good-nature wrote to his brother, then in France, to remove the obstruction. In consequence of which Southcot got the abbey. Mr. Pope ever after retained a grateful sense of his civility. W.
To the account given in this note may be added, that in gratitude for this favour conferred on his friend, Pope presented to Mr. Horatio Walpole, afterward Lord Walpole, a set of his Works in quarto, richly bound; which are now in the library at Wolterton.
Seen him, uncumber'd with the venal tribe,
Ver. 31. Seen him, uncumber'd] These two verses were originally in the Poem, though omitted in all the first editions. P. . Ver. 34. He does not think me) In former editions,
He thinks me Poet of no venal kind. Ver. 34. what he thinks mankind.] This request appears somewhat absurd: but not more so than the principle it refers to. That great Minister, it seems, thought all mankind Rogues ; and that every one had his price. It was usually given as a proof of his penetration, and extensive knowledge of the world. Others perhaps would think it the mark of a bounded capacity; which, from a few of Rochefoucault's marims, and the corrupt practice of those he commonly conversed with, would thus boldly pronounce upon the character of his Species. It is certain, that a Keeper of Newgate, who should make the same conclusion, would be heartily laughed at. W.
If Walpole really thought so ill of mankind, which may be doubted, it may remind us of what Suetonius says of Nero, c. 29: “ Ex nonnullis comperi, persuasissimum habuisse eum, neminem hominum pudicum esse; verum plerosque dissimulare vitium, calliditate obtegere.” When Pulteney and the Patriots had resolved not to oppose Sir Robert's famous Excise scheme, as really thinking it a wise, expeditious, and certain method of collecting the Revenue, Lord Bolingbroke went round to them all, in a great hurry, and earnestly told them they must oppose it, unless they wished Sir Robert to be Minister for ever. “The wiser any measure is,” added he, “ the more those that are in opposition, and out of place, should oppose it; a foolish scheme falls to the ground of itself.”
Just before Atterbury went into exile, a large fine dropped to him as Dean of Westminster, but he could have no right to receive it, without the seal being set to the lease in a full chapter. Sir Robert Walpole earnestly inquired, if a chapter could not be held in the tower, that the Bishop might receive the benefit of this fine. A chapter was accordingly there held, and the Bishop received a thousand pounds for his share of the fine. This anec
Come, come, at all I laugh he laughs, no doubt The only diff'rence is, I dare laugh out. 36 F. Why, yes : with Scripture still you may be
free; A Horse-laugh, if you please, at Honesty : A Joke on JEKYL, or some odd Old Whig Who never chang’d his Principle, or Wig: 40
dote, which is well authenticated, does great credit to the liberality and good temper of Sir Robert Walpole.
Ver. 37. IVhy, yes : with Scripture, &c.] A scribler, whose only chance for reputation is the falling in with the fashion, is apt to employ this infamous expedient for the preservation of a transitory name. But a true Genius could not do a foolisher thing, or sooner defeat his own aim. The sage Boileau used to say on this occasion, “ Un ouvrage severe peut bien plaire aux libertins; mais un ouvrage trop libre ne plaira jamais aux personnes severes.” W.
Ver. 37. Why, yes: with Scripture still you may be free;] Thus the Man, commonly called Mother Osborne (who was in the Minister's pay, and wrote Coffee-house Journals) for one Paper in behalf of Sir Robert, had frequently two against J. C. W.
Ver. 38. A horse-laugh,] When the Abbé Terrai, Comptroller of the Finances in France, under Louis XV. was once informed that one of his oppressive and iniquitous measures was universally condemned, he only replied coolly, “ Who pretends that it is just ?”—an answer exactly suited to a Minister of a despotic Prince. The Abbé had swallowed a proper dose of that useful nepenthe mentioned below at verse 96.
Ver. 39. A Joke on JEKYL,] Sir Joseph Jekyl, Master of the Rolls, a true Whig in his principles, and a man of the utmost probity. He sometimes voted against the Court, which drew upon him the laugh here described of ONE who bestowed it equally upon Religion and Honesty. He died a few months after the publication of this Poem. P.
Ver. 39. some odd Old Whig] Whose principles are, or ought to be; “ That the government of one, for the sake of one, is Tyranny; and so is the Government of a few, for the sake of themselves : but Government executed for the good of all, and with the consent of all, is Liberty.”