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Great wits sometimes may gloriously offend,'
Quintil lib. ii. cap. 13.−
* Dryden's Aurengzebe: Mean soul, and dar'st not gloriously offend I —STEEVENS.
* This couplet, in the quarto of 1743, was for the first time placed immediately after the triplet which ends at ver. 160. The effect of this arrangement was that “Pegasus,” instead of the “great wits,” became the antecedent to the lines, “From vulgar bounds,” &c., and the poetic steed was said to “snatch a grace.” Warton commented upon the absurdity of using such language of a horse, and since it is evident that Pope must have overlooked the incongruity, when he adopted the transposition, the lines were restored to their original order in the editions of Warton, Bowles, and Roscoe.
* So Soame and Dryden of the Ode, in the Translation of Boileau's Art of Poetry: Her generous style at random oft will part, And by a brave disorder shows her art. And again: A generous Muse, [art, When too much fettered with the rules of
May from her stricter bounds and limits part.—WAKErie LD.
* This allusion is perhaps inaccurate. The shapeless rock, and hanging precipice do not rise out of nature's common order. These objects are characteristic of some of the features of nature, of those especially that are picturesque. If he had said that amid cultivated scenery we are pleased with a hanging rock, the allusion would have been accurate. — Bowles. The criticism of Bowles does not apply to the passage in Sprat's Account of Cowley, from which Pope borrowed his comparison: “He knew that in diverting men's minds there should be the same variety observed as in the prospects of their eyes, where a rock, a precipice, or a rising wave is often more delightful than a smooth even ground, or a calm sea.” * Another couplet originally followed here: But care in poetry must still be had ; It asks discretion ev'n in running mad : And though, &c. which is the insamire cum ratione taken from Terence by Horace, at Sat. ii. 3, 271.-WAKEFIELD. 6 “Their” means “their own.” —WARTON. 7 Dryden in his dedication to the
Let it be seldom, and compelled by need; tgs
AEneis: “Wirgil might make this
Each object must be fixed in the due place, And diff'ring parts have corresponding grace.
* Olov ri troudtow of ppóvuot a spatmad-
Variety and contrast are necessary,
Still green with bays each ancient altar stands, Above the reach of sacrilegious hands;" Secure from flames, from envy's fiercer rage, Destructive war, and all-involving age.” See, from each clime, the learn'd their incense bring; 185 Hear, in all tongues consenting Paeans ring ! In praise so just let ev'ry voice be joined, And fill the gen'ral chorus of mankind.” Hail, bards triumphant born in happier days;" Immortal heirs of universal praise! 190
Whose honours with increase of ages grow,
eorum legentibus placere, quam multa
Destructive war, and all-devouring age,
as a metaphor much more perspicu-
Magnanimi heroes! nati melioribus annis.
Dryden's Religio Laici:
Nations unborn your mighty names shall sound, And worlds applaud, that must not yet be found !' O may some spark of your celestial fire, 195 The last, the meanest of your sons inspire, (That on weak wings, from far, pursues your flights; Glows while he reads, but trembles as he writes,) To teach vain wits a science little known, || To admire superior sense, and doubt their own I/ 200
Of all the causes which conspire to blind Man's erring judgment, and misguide the mind, What the weak head with strongest bias rules, Is pride, the never-failing vice of fools. Whatever nature has in worth denied,” 205 She gives in large recruits of needful pride; For as in bodies, thus in souls, we find What wants in blood and spirits, swelled with wind:" Pride, where wit fails, steps in to our defence, And fills up all the mighty void of sense. 210 If once right reason drives that cloud away, Truth breaks upon us with resistless day.
In a note he gave the line from Virgil of which his own was a translation.
* An imitation of Cowley, David. ii. 833 : Round the whole earth his dreaded name shall sound
And reach to worlds that must not yet be found.—WAKE FIELD.
* Oldham's Elegies: What nature has in bulk to me denied.
* “Everybody allows,” says Malebranche, “that the animal spirits are the most subtle and agitated parts of the blood. These spirits are carried with the rest of the blood to the brain,
and are there separated by some organ destined to the purpose.” Pope adopted the doctrine “allowed by everybody,” but which consisted of assumptions without proof. The very existence of these fluid spirits had never been ascertained. The remaining physiology of Pope's couplet was erroneous. When there is a deficiency of blood, its place is not supplied by wind. The grammatical construction, again, is vicious, and ascribes “blood and spirits” to souls as well as to bodies. The moral reflection illustrated by the simile is but little more correct. Men in general are not proud in proportion as they have nothing to be proud of.
Trust not yourself; but your defects to know,
* Pope is commonly considered to have laid down the general proposition that total ignorance was preferable to imperfect knowledge. The context shows that he was speaking only of conceited critics, who were presumptuous because they were ill-informed. He tells such persons that the more enlightened they become the humbler they will grow. * In the early editions, Fired with the charms fair science does impart. Though “does” is removed, “with what ” is less dignified and graceful than “with the charms.” The diction of the couplet is prosaic and devoid of elegance.—WAKEFIELD. * Dryden, in the State of Innocence, Act i. Sc. i. : Nor need we tempt those heights which angels keep.–WAKEFIELD.
* The proper word would have been “beyond.”
* [Much we begin to doubt and much to fear
Our sight less trusting as we see more clear.]
So pleased at first the tow'ring Alps to try,
Filled with ideas of fair Italy,
The traveller beholds with cheerful eyes
The less'ning vales, and seems to tread the skies.—Pope.
The couplet between brackets is from