« ZurückWeiter »
He, who still wanting, though he lives on theft, Steals much, spends little, yet has nothing left; And he, who now to sense, now nonsense leaning,
185 Means not, but blunders round about a meaning ; And he, whose fustian 's so sublimely bad, It is not poetry, but prose run mad : All these, my modest satire bade translate, And own'd that nine such poets made a Tate. 190 How did they fume, and stamp, and roar, and
chafe; And swear, not Addison himself was safe! Peace to all such! But were there one whose
fires True genius kindles, and fair fame inspires ; Bless'd with each talent and each art to please; 195 And born to write, converse, and live with ease: Should such a man, too fond to rule alone, Bear, like the Turk, no brother near the throne,
192 Not Addison himself was safe. The true nature of Pope's quarrel with Addison has been disputed : but we have at least the fact, that a quarrel existed, and we have also from Warburton the statement which Pope desired to be considered as true. Pope charges bim severally with having urged the writers of the Examiners to attack him as a tory and jacobite; with having jealously advised him against introducing the sylphid machinery into the · Rape of the Lock;' and with having attempted to thwart the translation of the • Iliad,' by publishing, under the name of Tickell, a translation of the first book from bis own pen. Such are the quarrels of the sons of fame. It is clear, that the first charge is without proof, the second is trilling, and the third might be alike negligence, ambition, or enmity. The character, “Peace to all such,' was sent separately to Addison, in the wrath of the time, and afterwards inserted in the satire : it has always been regarded as one of the finest specimens of the writer's sarcasm, equally elegant, easy, and keen.
View him with scornful, yet with jealous eyes,
song. I ne'er with wits or witlings pass’d my days, To spread about the itch of verse and praise ; Nor like a puppy daggled through the town, 225 To fetch and carry sing-song up and down; Nor at rehearsals sweat, and mouth'd, and
cried, With handkerchief and orange at my side;
But sick of fops, and poetry, and prate,
Proud as Apollo on his forked hill,
quill! May every Bavius have his Bufo still! 250
232 Sate full-blown Bufo. Tbis character has been supposed to allude to lord Halifax. Against this supposition, it has been observed, that Halifax died in 1715, when Pope was but twenty-seven. But this was by no means too unripe an age to have sustained injury, or have felt resentment. The character evidently applies to a patron, a poet, and that poet a minister. Halifax was known as the three : if not to him, to whom else will it apply? Pope was not accustomed to fight with the air. But Halifax deserves the praise at least of liberality: seeing the stage at a low ebb, be offered £500 as a premium for the best comedy; an example more admired than followed by future lord chamberlains.
So when a statesman wants a day's defence,
260 0, let me live my own, and die so too, (To live and die is all I have to do)
256 They left me Gay. Gentleness of manners and mediocrity of genius were Gay's passports to fame : he obtained the reputation of a poet by living among poets; and he was suffered to live among them, because, while his manners pleased, his talents were incapable of rivalry. His · Fables' are acknowleged triflings: of the Beggars' Opera' it is impossible that he should bave been more than the nominal author : its sarcastic, searching, and characteristic force was totally beyond his conception : he was capable of neither its wit nor its wickedness. While we have evidence, on the one hand, that the idea of the · Newgate Pastoral' was suggested by Swift, and the plan submitted to Pope; we have, on the other, evidence, in the singular insipidity of his subsequent opera, • Polly,' that Gay was destitute of all dramatic power. His life was vexed by disappointments at court; and Addison has been charged with thus doing injury to the friend of Pope: but the sources were higher-the queen and sir Robert Walpole. Gay had sought preferment through Mrs. Howard, notoriously the king's mistress : and he who sought it through this channel, deserved to lose it. He writes to Swift, —Mrs. Howard has declared herself very strongly to both the king and queen as my protector. The queen, naturally hostile to this species of influence, traversed it on all occasions, and Gay failed. The Beggars' Opera,' which came out soon after, was filled with satire on the minister, though satire which never came from Gay; and the failure was irretrievable.
Maintain a poet's dignity and ease,
Why am I ask'd what next shall see the light? Heavens ! was I born for nothing but to write ? Has life no joys for me? or, to be grave, Have I no friend to serve, no soul to save ? "I found him close with Swift.'— Indeed ? no doubt,'
275 Cries prating Balbus, something will come out.' 'Tis all in vain, deny it as I will: • No, such a genius never can lie still ;' And then for mine obligingly mistakes The first lampoon sir Will or Bubo makes. 280
280 Will or Bubo makes. Sir William Young, and Bubb Doddington, afterwards lord Melcombe. Doddington's name has gone down to perpetual contempt by the avowed baseness of his principles. His well-known Diary' is a trite, trifling, and nearly unintelligible performance; useful only as a proof of the diligence with which a political trader may consign himself to infamy.
Doddington had many advantages of nature and fortune : he was handsome, well-bred, a wit in the court circles, and the possessor of considerable wealth. Lady M. Montague, a sufficient judge of all the merits and demerits of her society, pronounces him the all-accomplished Mr. Doddington.' He was a frequent speaker in the house, and became an ostentatious partisan of Frederic, prince of Wales. Walpole has preserved a curious extravagance of Doddington's sorrow on his death.