« ZurückWeiter »
P. Yet let me flap this bug with gilded wings,
written this splendid encomium on Lord H. could not, we may imagine, be very well affected to the bard who had painted Lord Fanny in so ridiculous a light. We find him writing thus to Dr. Warburton, January 7, 1740: “ You have evinced the orthodoxy of Mr. Pope's principles; but, like the old commentators on his Homer, will be thought perhaps, in some places, to have found a meaning for him, that he himself never dreamt of. However, if you did not find him a philosopher, you will make him one; for he will be wise enough to take the benefit of your reading, and make his future Essays more clear and consistent.”
Ver. 306. white curd] Methinks this was too personal. Lord Hervey, to prevent the attacks of an epilepsy, persisted in a strict regimen of daily food, which was a small quantity of asses milk and a flour biscuit, with an apple once a week; and he used a little paint to soften his ghastly appearance.
Ver. 308. upon a wheel?] It ought to be the wheel. The indefinite article is used for the definite.
Ver. 319. See Milton, Book iv. P.
Ver. 322. or blasphemies.] In former editions these two lines followed immediately:
Did ever Smock-face act so vile a part,
His wit all sea-saw, between that and this,
Not Fortune's worshipper, 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 Lie in verse or prose the same. That not in Fancy's maze he wander'd long, 340 But stoop'd to Truth, and moraliz'd his song :
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 three poems 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 sensible of all the charms of his works. For my part, I look upon his
poem called the Essay on Criticism as superior to the Art of Poetry of Horace; and his Rape of the Lock is, in my opinion, above the Lutrin of Despreaux. 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 performance.” MS. Lett. Oct. 15, 1726. W.
That not for Fame, but Virtue's better end,
Ver. 341. But stoop'd to Truth, and moraliz’d his song :] This 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 possit ; alterum, ne ab eo, quod quis optime facit, in aliud, cui minus est 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 Mac-Flecno, his Absalom and Achitophel, but chiefly by his Prologues and Epilogues, appears to have had great talents for this species of moral poetry; but, unluckily, he seemed neither to understand nor attend to it. W.
Ibid. But stoop'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. W.
Ver. 343. He stood the furious foe,] Stood, improperly used for withstood.
Ver. 350. The tale reviv’d,] Formerly, “ The tales of vengeance.”
Ver. 350, the lie so oft o’erthrown,] As, that he received subscriptions for Shakspeare, that he set his name to Mr. Broome's verses, &c. which, though publicly disproved, were nevertheless
The morals blacken'd when the writings 'scape,
355 The whisper, that to Greatness still too near, Perhaps, yet vibrates on his Sov'Reign's Ear
shamelessly repeated in the Libels, and even in that called the Nobleman's Epistle. P.
Ver. 351. Th’ imputed trash,] Such as profane Psalms, Court Poems, and other scandalous things, printed in his name by Curl and others. W.
Ver. 353. the pictur'd shape ;] Hay, in his essay on Deformity, has remarked, that Pope was so hurt by the caricatura of his figure, as to rank it among the most atrocious injuries he received from his enemies. Hay, with much pleasantry, jesting on his own deformity, has added, “In person I resemble Æsop, the Prince of Orange, Marshal Luxemburg, Lord Treasurer Salisbury, Scarron, and Mr. Pope; not to mention Thersites and Richard the Third, whom I do not claim as members of our society; the first being a child of the poet's fancy; the last, misrepresented by historians. Let me not be unthankful that I was not born in Sparta ! where I had no sooner seen the light but I should have been deprived of it, and have been thrown, as a useless thing, into a cavern by Mount Taygetus.”
Ver. 354. Abuse, on all he lov'd, or lov'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. Welsted, Tho. Bentley, and cther obscure persons. P.
Ver. 356. The whisper, that to Greatness still too neur,] By the whisper is meant calumniating honest characters. Shakspeare has finely expressed this office of the sycophant of Greatness in the following line;
“Rain sacrificial whisp'rings in his ear." By which is meant the immolating men's reputations to the vice or vanity of his Patron. W.---Did Shakspeare mean this ?
Welcome for thee, fair Virtue ! all the past :
A. But why insult the poor, affront the great?
361 Alike my scorn, if he succeed or fail, Sporus at court, or Japhet in a jail, A hireling scribbler, 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.
Yet soft by nature, more a dupe than wit, Sappho can tell you how this man was bit: This dreaded Sat’rist Dennis will confess 370 Foe to his pride, but Friend to his distress : So humble, he has knock'd at Tibbald's door, Has drunk with Cibber, nay has rhym'd for Moore, Full ten years slander'd, did he once reply? Three thousand suns went down on Welsted's lie,
Ver. 368 in the MS.
Once, and but once, his heedless Youth was bit,
Ver. 359. For thee, fair Virtue! welcome ev'n 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. W.
Ver. 363. Sporus at court,] In former editions, Glencus at court.
Ver. 374. ten years] It was so long after many libels before VOL. IV.