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Theirs is the Vanity, the Learning thine: 45 Touch'd by thy hand, again Rome's glories shine ; Her Gods, and godlike Heroes, rise to view, And all her faded garlands bloom anew. Nor blush, these studies thy regard engage; These pleas'd the Fathers of poetic rage ; 50
celebrated virtuoso at Florence, said to Mr. Spence, “ Addison did not go any great depth in the study of medals; all the knowledge he had of that kind, I believe, he received of me; and I did not give him above twenty lessons on that subject.”
Ver. 48. her faded] In Winkelman's History of Art among the Ancients, is to be found perhaps the best account of the gradual decay of painting, architecture, and medals, that can be read; abounding with many instances of the fate that has befallen many exquisite pieces of art. Among the rest he says, that when the Austrians took Madrid, Lord Galloway searched for a very celebrated Busto of Caligula, that he knew Cardinal G. Colonna had conveyed to Spain; which fine Busto he at last found in the Escurial, where it served for a weight of the church-clock. What Winkelman says of the Laocoon, vol. ii. sect. 3, is a capital piece of criticism and just taste; which he finishes by mentioning a matchless absurdity, worthy of the country where it is to be found, that in the Castle of St. Ildephonso in Spain there is a Relief of this group of Laocoon and his sons, with a figure of Cupid Auttering over their heads, as if flying to their assistance. As to the revival of arts in Italy, we have lately been gratified with a curious account of this important event, in the elegant History of the Life of Lorenzo de Medici, their chief restorer and protector. See particularly, chapter ix. p. 196.
Ver. 49. Nor blush, these studies thy regard engage;] A senseless affectation, which some Authors of eminence have betrayed; who, when fortune or their talents have raised them to a condition to do without those arts, for which only they gained our esteem, have pretended to think letters below their character. This false shame M. Voltaire has very well, and with proper indignation, exposed in his account of Mr. Congreve: “ He had one defect, which was, his entertaining too mean an idea of his first profession (that of a Writer), though it was to this he owed his fame and fortune. He
The verse and sculpture bore as equal part,
Oh when shall Britain, conscious of her claim,
60 Or in fair series laureld Bards be shown, A Virgil there, and here an Addison. Then shall thy CRAGGs (and let me call him mine) On the cast ore, another Pollio, shine; With aspect open, shall erect his head,
65 And round the orb in lasting notes be read,
NOTES. spoke of his works as of trifles that were beneath him; and hinted to me, in our first conversation, that I should visit him upon no other foot than that of a gentleman, who led a life of plainness and simplicity. I answered, that had he been so unfortunate as to be a mere gentleman, I should never have come to see him ; and I was very much disgusted at so unseasonable a piece of vanity.” Letters concerning the English Nation, xix. W.
Ver. 53. Oh when shall Britain, &c.] A compliment to one of Mr. Addison's papers, in the Spectator, on this subject. W.
Ver. 62. A Virgil there,] Copied evidently from Tickell to Addison on his Rosamond ;
“ Which gain'd a Virgil and an Addison." This elegant copy of Verses was so acceptable to Addison, that it was the foundation of a lasting friendship betwixt them. Tickell deserves a higher place among poets than is usually allotted to him.
“ Statesman, yet friend to Truth ! of soul sincere,
Ver. 67. Statesman, yet friend to Truth, &c.] It should be remembered, that this poem was composed to be printed before Mr. Addison's Discourse on Medals, in which there is the following censure of long legends upon coins : “ The first fault I find with a modern legend is its diffusiveness. You have sometimes the whole side of a medal overrun with it. One would fancy the Author had a design of being Ciceronian-but it is not only the tediousness of these inscriptions that I find fault with; supposing them of a moderate length, why must they be in verse ? We should be surprised to see the title of a serious book in rhyme.” Dial. iii. W.
Ver. 67. Statesman,] These nervous and finished lines were afterward inscribed as an epitaph on this worthy man's monument in Westminster Abbey, with the alteration of two words in the last verse; which there stands thus :
“Prais’d, wept, and honour'd, by the Muse he lov’d.” It was Craggs, who raised himself by his abilities, his father being a barber, that, in the most friendly and alluring manner, offered our Author a pension of three hundred pounds per annum; which if he had accepted we should have been deprived of his best satires. Poets have a high spirit of liberty and independence. They neither seek or expect rewards.
Mæcenases do not create geniuses. Neither Spenser, nor Milton, nor Dante, nor Tasso, nor Corneille, were patronised by the governments under which they lived. And Horace, and Virgil, and Boileau, were formed before they had an opportunity of flattering Augustus and Lewis XIV.
Though Pope enlisted under the banner of Bolingbroke, in what was called the country party, and in violent opposition to the measures of Walpole, yet his clear and good sense enabled him to see the follies and virulence of all parties; and it was his favourite maxim, that, however factious men thought proper to
Ennobled by himself, by all approv'd,
distinguish themselves by names, yet when they got into power, they all acted much in the same manner; saying,
“I know how like Whig ministers to Tory." And among his manuscripts were four very sensible, though not very poetical lines, which contain the most solid apology that can be made for a minister of this country :
“Our ministers like gladiators live:
Dies between exigents and self-defence.” Yet he appears sometimes to have forgotten this candid reflection.
Ver. ult. And prais'd unenvied, by the Muse he lov’d.] It was not likely that men acting in so different spheres, as were those of Mr. Craggs and Mr. Pope, should have their friendship disturbed by envy. We must suppose then that some circumstances in the friendship of Mr. Pope and Mr. Addison are hinted at in this place. W.