Page images
PDF
EPUB

my head,

Maintain a poet's dignity and ease,
And see what friends, and read what books I

please :
Above a patron, tho’I condescend

265 Sometimes to call a minister my friend. I was not born for Courts or great affairs ; I pay my debts, believe, and say my prayers ; Can sleep without a poem

in Nor know if Dennis be alive or dead.

270 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," (Cries prating Balbus) “ something will come out.” 'Tis all in vain, deny it as I will: “ No, such a genius never can lie still;"

NOTES,

Ver. 261. Oh let me live] In the first edition:

Give me on Thames's banks, in honest ease,

To see what friends, or read what books I please. Ver. 271. Why am I ask'd, &c.] This is intended as a reproof of those impertinent complaints, which were continually made to him by those who called themselves his friends, for not entertaining the town as often as it wanted amusement. A French writer says well on this occasion: Dès qu'on est auteur, il semble qu'on soit aux gages d’un tas de fainéans, pour leur fournir de quoi amuser leur oisiveté.

Warburton.
VARIATIONS.
After Ver. 270 in the MS.

Friendships from youth I sought, and seek them still :
Fame, like the wind, may breathe where'er it will;
The world I knew, but made it not my school,
And in a course of flattery lived no fool,

!

1

And then for mine obligingly mistakes
The first lampoon Sir Will or Bubo makes. 280
Poor guiltless I! and can I chuse but smile,
When every coxcomb knows me by my style ?

NOTES.

Ver. 280. Sir Will] Sir William Young. Bowles.

Ver. 280. or Bubo makes.] By Bubo, it is universally considered, Pope meant Bubb Dodington, afterwards Lord Melcombe. By the kindness of Mr. Wyndham, member for Wiltshire, I have been able to examine all Lord Melcombe's correspondence with

many of the first characters in point of rank and literature: and it is singular, though there are letters from so many literary men, and upon literary subjects, particularly from Voltaire, Young, Thomson, &c. Pope's name is never once mentioned. Dodington, although it appears his governing principle was to side with that party by which he could get most, had in other respects many good qualities. He was a liberal patron, and kind friend. His magnificent house at Easbury was the resort of men of genius. Thomson was enabled, by his liberal bounty, to travel into France and Italy; and his letters to Dodington from thence are very interesting, and expressive of the utmost respect and gratitude.

He was handsome, and of a striking figure, and was certainly possessed of wit and talents, if not of great parts. Some of his verses are written with great elegance and beauty, and are particularly animated. Lady M. W. Montagu in her letter calls him the all accomplished Mr. Dodington.

The mansion which he built at Easbury, near Blandford, did not long survive him. It came into the possession of the Marquis of Buckingham, and was taken down a few years since. Part of the offices were left standing, and have been turned into a very convenient and handsome house, now in the possession of J. Wedgewood, Esq. who purchased the estate of the Marquis of Buckingham.

Bowles. Ver. 282. When every corcomb knows me by my style ?] The discovery of a concealed author by his style, not only requires a perfect intimacy with his writings, but great skill in the nature of composition. But, in the practice of these critics, knowing an

author

a

Curs'd be the verse, how well soe'er it flow, That tends to make one worthy man my foe,

NOTES.

a

a

author by his style, is like judging of a man's whole person from the view of one of his moles.

When Mr. Pope wrote the Advertisement to the first edition of the New Dunciad, intimating, that " it was by a different hand from the other, and found in detached pieces, incorrect and unfinished," I objected to him the affectation of using so unpromising an attempt to mislead his reader. He replied, that I thought too highly of the public taste; that, most commonly, it was formed on that of half a dozen people in fashion, who took the lead, and who sometimes have intruded on the town the dullest performances for works of wit, while, at the same time, some true effort of genius, without name or recommendation, hath passed by the public eye unobserved or neglected ; that he once before made the trial I now objected to, with success, in the Essay on Man: which was at first given (as he told me) to Dr. Young, to Dr. Desaguliers, to Lord Bolingbroke, to Lord Paget, and, in short, to every body but to him who was capable of writing it. However, to make him amends, this same public, when let into the secret, would, for some time after, suffer no poem with a moral title, to pass for any man's but his. So the Essay on Human Life, the Essay on Reason, and many others of a worse tendency, were very liberally bestowed upon him. Warburton.

:

VARIATIONS.

After Ver. 282. in the MS.
P. What if I sing Augustus; great and good ?
A. You did so lately; was it understood ?
P. Be nice no more, but with a mouth profound,

As rumbling D- -s or a Norfolk hound;
With GEORGE and FREDERIC roughen every verse,

Then smooth up all, and CAROLINE rehearse.
A. No- the high task to lift up kings to gods,

Leave to court-sermons and to birth-day odes.
On themes like these, superior far to thine,

Let laurell’d Cibber, and great Arnall shine.
P. Why write at all?—A. Yes, silence if you keep,

-A
The town, the court, the wits, the dunces weep.

[ocr errors]

Give virtue scandal, innocence a fear,

285
Or from the soft-eyed virgin steal a tear!
But he who hurts a harmless neighbour's peace,
Insults fallen worth, or beauty in distress,
Who loves a lie, lame slanders helps about,
Who writes a libel, or who copies out; 290
That fop, whose pride affects a patron's name,
Yet absent, wounds an author's honest fame :
Who can your merit selfishly approve,
And show the sense of it without the love;
Who has the vanity to call you friend, 295
Yet wants the honour, injured, to defend ;

NOTES.

Ver. 295, 296. Who has the vanity to call you friend,

Yet wants the honour, injured, to defend ;]
When a great genius, whose writings have afforded the world
much pleasure and instruction, happens to be enviously attacked,
or falsely accused, it is natural to think, that a sense of gratitude
for so agreeable an obligation, or a sense of that honour resulting
to our country from such a writer, should raise amongst those who
call themselves his friends a pretty general indignation. But every
day's experience shews us the very contrary. Some take a malig-
nant satisfaction in the attack; others a foolish pleasure in a lite-
rary conflict; and the far greater part look on with a selfish in-
difference. Horace warned his friend against this excessive sel-
fishness, not to say, baseness of mind :

Ut penitus notum, si tentent crimina, serves,
Tuterisque tuo fidentem præsidio : qui
Dente Theonino cum circumroditur, ecquid

Ad te post paulo ventura pericula sentis ?
A late imitator of Horace, in the manner of Mr. Pope, has
turned this with great elegance and spirit; which, because it so
well suits the occasion, I shall here transcribe:

But should the man in whom (rare union !) shine
Wit's glowing graces, reason's spark divine,

Whose

Who tells whate'er you think, whate'er you say,
And, if he lie not, must at least betray :
Who to the Dean and silver bell can swear,
And sees at Canons what was never there; 300
Who reads, but with a lust to misapply,
Makes satire a lampoon, and fiction lie;
A lash like mine no honest man shall dread,
But all such babbling blockheads in his stead.

LetSporus tremble-A. What ? that thing of silk, Sporus, that mere white curd of ass's milk?

NOTES.

Whose modest manners virtue's self approves,
Whom wisdom leads through learning's inmost groves,
Stand the fierce rage of envy's motley train,
The proyd, the bigotted, the dull, the vain,
Arise ! and nobly feeling for your friend,
His morals vindicate, his fame defend,
Till bursting through the cloud, with brightening ray
Truth bids his worth blaze forth in open day.
18 E. 1 1. imitated by Mr. Neville.

Warburton. Ver. 299. Who to the Dean, and silver bell, &c.] Meaning the man who would have persuaded the Duke of Chandos that Mr. Pope meant him in those circumstances ridiculed in the Epistle on Taste. See Mr. Pope's letter to the Earl of Burlington concerning this matter.

Pope. Ver. 305. Let Sporus tremble-] Language cannot afford more glowing or more forcible terms to express the utmost bitterness of contempt. We think we are here reading Milton against Salmasius. The raillery is carried to the very verge of railing, some will

say ribaldry. He has armed his muse with a scalping knife. The portrait is certainly over-charged: for Lord H., for whom it was designed, whatever his morals might be, had yet considerable abilities, though marred by affectation. Some of his speeches in parliament were much beyond florid impotence. They were, it is true, in favour of Sir R. Walpole ; and this was sufficiently offensive to Pope. The fact that particularly excited his indigna

tion

« PreviousContinue »