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B. And what ? no monument, inscription, stone ?
blaze, &c.] In this sublime apostrophe, proud Courts are not bid to blush because outstripp'd in virtue; for no such contention is supposed: but for being outshined in their own proper pretensions to splendor and magnificence. SCRIBL.
Warburton. Ver. 284. his name almost unknown] See a further account of the Man of Ross at the end of the present Epistle: p. 365.
Ver. 286. Will never mark] As Voltaire did at Ferney, with this inscription : “ Deo erexit Voltaire.”
Warton. Ver. 287. Go, search it there,] The Parish-register, Warburton. Ver. 293. Should'ring God's altar a vile image stands,
Belies his features, nay, extends his hands ;] The description is inimitable. We see his shouldering the altar like one who impiously affected to draw off the reverence of God's worshippers, from the sacred table; upon himself; whose features too the sculptor had belied, by giving them the traces of humanity:
Ver. 287.] Thus in the MS.
The Register inrolls him with his poor,
That live-long wig which Gorgon's self might own, Eternal buckle takes in Parian stone.
296 Behold what blessings wealth to life can lend ! And see, what comfort it affords our end.
Ver. 297. Behold what blessings wealth to life can lend !
And see, what comfort it affords our end.] In the first part of this Epistle, the author had shewn, from Reason, that Riches abused afford no comfort either in life or death. In this part, where the same truth is taught by examples, he had, in the case of Cotta and his son, shewn, that they afford no comfort in life: the other member of the division remained to be spoken to :
“ Now see what comfort they afford our end.” And this he illustrates (from ver. 298 to 335.) in the unhappy deaths of the last Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, and Sir J. Cutler; whose profusion and avarice he has beautifully contrasted. The miserable end of these two extraordinary persons naturally leads the Poet into this reflection, truly humane, however ludicrously as well as ironically expressed :
“Say, for such worth, are other worlds prepar'd ?
Or are they both, in this, their own reward ?" And now, as if fully determined to resolve this doubtful question, he assumes the air and importance of a Professor, ready addressed to plunge himself into the very depths of Theology:
“ A knotty point! to which we now proceedwhen, on a sudden, the whole sense is changed,
“ But you are tir'd—I'll tell a tale. Agreed.” And thus, by the most easy transition, we are come to the concluding doctrine of his poem.
and what is still more impudent flattery, had insinuated by extending his hands, as if that humanity had been, some time or other, put into act.
Warburton. Ver. 296. Eternal buckle takes in Parian stone.] The Poet ridicules the wretched taste of carving large periwigs on bustos, of which there are several vile examples in the tombs at Westminster, and elsewhere.
In the worst inn's worst room, with mat half
hung, The floors of plaister, and the walls of dung, 300On once a flock-bed, but repair'd with straw, With tape-tied curtains, never meant to draw, The George and Garter dangling from that bed Where tawdry yellow strove with dirty red, Great Villiers lies—alas! how chang'd from him, That life of pleasure, and that soul of whim! Gallant and gay, in Cliveden's proud alcove, The bower of wanton Shrewsbury and love;
Ver. 305. Great Villiers lies--] This Lord, yet more famous for his vices than his misfortunes, having been possessed of about 50,0001. a-year, and passed through many of the highest posts in the kingdom, died in the year 1687, in a remote inn in Yorkshire, reduced to the utmost misery.
Pope. “ When this extraordinary man, with the figure and genius of Alcibiades, could equally charm the presbyterian Fairfax, and the . dissolute Charles ; when he alike ridiculed that witty king, and his solemn chancellor ; when he plotted the ruin of his country with a cabal of bad ministers; or, equally unprincipled, supported its cause with bad patriots; one laments that such parts should have been devoid of every virtue. But when Alcibiades turns chymist; when he is a real bubble, and a visionary miser; when ambition is but a frolic; when the worst designs are for the foolishest ends; contempt extinguishes all reflections on his character. The portrait of this duke has been drawn by four masterly hands : Burnet has hewn it with a rough chisel : Count Hamilton touched it with that slight delicacy that finishes while it seems to sketch: Dryden catched the living likeness : Pope completed the historical resemblance. Yet the abilities of this Lord appear in no instance more amazing, than that being exposed by two of the greatest Poets, he has exposed one of them ten times more severely. Zimri is an admirable portrait; but Bayes an original creation. Dryden satirized Buckingham; but Villiers made Dryden satirize himself.” Catalogue of Noble Authors, vol. ii. p. 77.
Or just as gay, at council, in a ring
Ver. 307. Cliveden) A delightful palace, on the banks of the Thames, built by the Duke of Buckingham.
Pope. Ver. 308. Shrewsbury] The Countess of Shrewsbury, a woman abandoned to gallantries. The Earl her husband was killed by the Duke of Buckingham in a duel; and it has been said, that during the combat she held the Duke's horses in the habit of a page.
Pope. Ver. 308. The bower] This very infamous Countess of Shrewsbury was eldest daughter of Robert Brudenel, Earl of Cardigan. Her husband was killed March 16, 1667. She afterwards married George Rodney Bridges, Esq. second son of Sir Thomas Bridges of Keynsham in Somersetshire, Knt. and died April 20, 1702. The noble house of Cliveden, so delightfully and superbly situated on the banks of the Thames, which had been the residence of Frederick Prince of Wales, who lived in it for many years with a proper dignity and magnificence, attended by many of the first geniuses of the age, was unfortunately burnt to the ground in May, 1795, and nothing of its elegant furniture preserved from the flames but the fine tapestry that represented the Duke of Marlborough’s víctories. The beautiful Mask of Alfred was written and acted at Cliveden in 1744. In the duel mentioned above, the Duke of Buckingham had for his two seconds, captain Holmes and Mr. Jenkins. The Earl of Shrewsbury's seconds were Sir John Talbot of Laycock, and Mr. Bernard Howard. The Duke of Buckingham mortally wounded the Earl.
Warton. Ver. 312. No fool to laugh at, which he valued more.] That is, he liked disguised flattery better than the more direct and open. And no wonder, a man of wit should have this taste. For the taking pleasure in fools for the sake of laughing at them, is nothing else but the complaisance of flattering ourselves, by an advantageous comparison which the mind makes between itself and the object laughed at. Hence too, we may see the reason of
There, victor of his health, of fortune, friends,
His Grace's fate sage Cutler could foresee, 315
men's preferring this to every other kind of flattery. For we are always inclined to think that work done best which we do ourselves.
Ver. 337.] In the former editions :
That knotty point, my Lord, shall I discuss,