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(Such as on Hough's unsully’d Mitre shine, 240 Or beam, good Digby, from a Heart like thine;) Let Envy howl, while Heav'n's whole Chorus
sings, And bark at Honour not conferr'd by Kings ; Let Flatt'ry sick’ning see the Incense rise, Sweet to the World, and grateful to the Skies : 245 Truth guards the Poet, sanctifies the line, And makes immortal, Verse as mean as mine.
Yes, the last Pen for Freedom let me draw, When Truth stands trembling on the edge of Law;
Notes. Ver. 240. on Hough's unsully’d] In the fifty-seventh Persian Letter, is an elegant and well-written eulogium on this excellent prelate by Lord Lyttleton. These Letters have been too much depreciated and neglected.
Ver. 240, 241. Hough and DIGBY] Dr. John Hough, Bishop of Worcester; and the Lord Digby. The one an assertor of the Church of England in opposition to the false measures of King James II. The other as firmly attached to the cause of that King. Both acting out of principle, and equally men of honour and virtue. P. Ver. 249. When Truth stands trembling]
England with all thy faults, I love thee still,
Of golden fruitage and her myrtle bow'rs. Lines of the tender and benevolent Cowper, which I here insert, in order to put us again in good humour with our country, after having just seen her placed in a disagreeable light.
Here, Last of Britons ! let your Names be read;
Fr. Alas! alas ! pray end what you began,
Ver. 255. in the MS.
Quit, quit these themes and write Essays on Man.
Ver. 253. of their degen'rate Line.] Such was the language at that time, used by our Author and his friends and associates. Lord Chesterfield ends the account of his friend Hammond, author of the Love Elegies, with these words : “ He looked back with a kind of religious awe and delight, upon these glorious and happy times of Greece and Rome, when wisdom, virlie, and liberty formed the only triumvirates; in these sentiments he lived, and would have lived, even in these times : in these sentiments he died; but in these times too, ut non erepta a diis immortalibus vita, sed donata, mors videatur. Speaking of the effects of satire, says a certain wit, “Cette scene du monde, presque de tous les temps, & de tous les lieux, vous voudriez la changer ! voilà votre folie, à vous autres moralistes. Montez en chaire avec Bourdaloue, ou prenez la plume avec La Bruyere, temps perdu; le monde ira toujours comme il va."
In every age, and in every nation, there is a constant progression of manners; “ For the manners of a people, seldom stand still, but are either POLISHING or SPOILING.”
Ver. 254. pray end what] We must own that these Dialogues, excellent as they are, exhibit many and strong marks of our Author's petulance, party-spirit, and self-importance; and of assuming to himself the charitcter of censor-general; who, alas! if he had possessed a thousand times more genius, integrity, and ability, than he actually enjoyed, could not have altered or amended the manners of a rich and commercial, and consequently of a luxurious and dissipated nation. But we make ourselves únhappy, by hoping to possess incompatible things; we want to have wealth without corruption, and liberty without virtue !
Ver. ult.] This was the last Poem of the kind printed by our Author, with a resolution to publish no more; but to enter thus, in the most plain and solemn manner he could, a sort of PROTEST against that insuperable corruption and depravity of manners, which he had been so unlappy as to live to see. Could he have hoped to have amended any, he had continued those attacks; but bad men were grown so shameless and so powerful, that Ridicule was become as unsafe as it was ineffectual. The poem raised him, as he knew it would, some enemies; but he had reason to be satisfied with the approbation of good men, and the testimony of his own conscience. P.
ON RECEIVING FROM
THE RIGHT HONOURABLE
THE LADY FRANCES SHIRLEY
A STANDISH AND TWO PENS.
Yes, I beheld th' Athenian Queen
Descend in all her sober charms; " And take (she said, and smil'd serene),
Take at this hand celestial arms;
The Lady Frances Shirley) A Lady whose great Merit Mr. Pope took a real pleasure in celebrating. W.
Yes, I beheld, &c.] To enter into the spirit of this Address, it is necessary to premise, that the Poet was threatened with a prosecution in the House of Lords, for the two foregoing poems, the Epilogue to the Satires. On which, with great resentment against his enemies, for not being willing to distinguish between
Grace Epistles bringing Vice to light, and licentious Libels, he began a third Dialogue, more severe and sublime than the first and second ; which being no secret, matters were soon compromised. His enemies agreed to drop the prosecution, and he promised to leave the third Dialogue unfinished and suppressed. This affair occasioned this little beautiful poem, to which it alludes throughout, but more especially in the four last stanzas. W.
These stanzas are obscure and hard, and below the usual precision and elegance of our Author. See particularly the second, third, fifth, and eighth stanzas.