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In golden chains, the willing world she draws,
Upon this note Gibbon observes, vol. iv. p. 26 : “Without Warburton's critical Telescope, I should never have seen, in this general picture of triumphant vice, any personal allusion to Theodora." Her infamous conduct may be read in the fourth volume of the Menagiana. What Bayle says of J. Scaliger may be justly applied to many of Warburton's notes : “ Les commentaires qui viennent de lui, sont pleines de conjectures hardies, ingénieuses, et fort sa-' vantes; mais il n'est guères apparent, que les auteurs ayent songés à tout de ce qu'il leur fait dire. On s'éloigne de leur sens aussi bien, quand on a beaucoup d'esprit, que quand on n'en a pas." Repub. des Lett. 1684.
Warton. Ver. 148. And hers the Gospel is, und hers the laws,] i. e. She disposed of the honours of both.
Warburton. Ver. 149. scarlet head,] Alluding to the scarlet whore of the Apocalypse.
Warburton. Ver. 151. Lo! at the wheels) A group of allegorical persons, worthy the pencil of Rubens! and described in expressions worthy of Virgil! This is perhaps the noblest passage in all his works, without any exception whatever.
In soldier, churchman, patriot, man in power,
170 Yet may this verse (if such a verse remain) Show there was one who held it in disdain.
Ver. 162. 'Tis avarice all,] “So far from having the virtues, we have not even the vices of our ancestors,” says Bolingbroke.
Wurton. Ver. 170. “ Nothing is sucred now but villuny.") From the conclusion of this satire, which is highly poetical and animated, one might suppose that there was neither honesty, honour, public spirit, nor virtue, in the nation. We should, however, always keep in mind the agitated state of parties at the time. Tories, Jacobites, disappointed Whigs, all under the name of Patriot, united in one cry against the administration of Walpole, who most truly deserved that distinguished appellation, and by whose firmness, wisdom, and integrity, under Providence, the Protestant succession was in great measure sustained, in the most trying periods, and with it our laws and liberties.
But whatever may be said of the political, of the poetical part, particularly the description of vice, and the noble conclusion, there can be but one opinion. More dignified and impressive numbers, more lofty indignation, more animated appeals, and more rich personifications, never adorned the page of the Satiric Muse.
WRITTEN IN MDCCXXXVIII.
P. Not yet, my friend ! to-morrow, 'faith, it may;
Ver. 1. 'Tis all a libel] The liberty of the press was about this time thought to be in danger; and Milton's noble and nervous discourse on this subject, intitled, Areopagitica, was reprinted in an octavo pamphlet, with a preface written by Thomson, the poet. “If we think to regulate printing," says Milton, " thereby to rectify manners, we must regulate all recreations and pastimes, all that is delightful to man. No music must be heard, no song be set or sung, but what is grave and Doric. He who is made judge to sit upon the birth or death of books, whether they may be wafted into this world or not, had need to be a man above the common measure, both studious, learned, and judicious."
Warton. Ver. 1. Parton] Late solicitor to the Treasury. Warburton.
Feign what I will, and paint it e'er so strong,
F. Yet none but you by name the guilty lash; 10
dice! Come on then, Satire! general, unconfined, Spread thy broad wing, and souse on all the kind. Ye statesmen, priests, of one religion all! Ye tradesmen, vile, in army, court, or hall! Ye reverend atheists ! F. Scandal! name them!
Who? P. Why that's the thing you bid me not to do.
Ver. 8. Feign what I will, &c.] The Poet has here introduced an oblique apology for himself with great art. You attack personal characters, say his enemies. No, replies he, I paint merely from my intention; and then, to prevent a likeness, I aggravate the features. But alas! the growth of vice is so monstrously sudden, that it rises up to a resemblance before I can get from the press.
Warburton. Ver. 11. Even Guthry] The Ordinary of Newgate, who publishes the Memoirs of the Malefactors, and is often prevailed upon to be so tender of their reputation, as to set down no more than the initials of their name.
Pope. Ver. 13. How, Sir / not damn the sharper, but the dice?] It is pity that the liveliness of the reply cannot excuse the bad reasoning: the dice, though they rhyme to vice, can never stand for it; which his argument requires they should do. For dice are only the instruments of fraud; but the question is not, whether the instrument, but whether the act committed by it, should be exposed, instead of the person.
Who starved a sister, who forswore a debt, 20
F. You do.
Ver. 21. the town's inquiring yet.] So true is Swift's observation on personal satire: “I have long observed, that twenty miles from London nobody understands hints, initial letters, or town-facts and passages; and in a few years not even those who live in London.” See verse 258 below, for two asterisks, not filled up or known.
Warton. Ver. 22. F. You mean- -P. I don't.] The same friend is here again introduced making such remonstrances as before. And several parts of the dialogue here are more rapid and short, and approach nearer to common conv
nversation, than any lines he had ever before written; and are examples of that style mentioned by Horace:
-parcentis viribus, atque Extenuantis eas consultò.”
Warton. Ver. 24. The bribing statesman) Corruption was the universal cry at this period, and it had been repeated so long, that people began to think the removal of Sir Robert Walpole would introduce a sort of happiness into the political world, like that of the “millennium :"
No taxes, no corruption, no bribery., Dodington, who was upon terms of the greatest kindness and intimacy with the Walpoles, to secure his election at Portsmouth, had no scruple in making Sir Robert Walpole (to whom he had before addressed his poetical Epistle, as to the Saviour of the Nation) the burden of his song, in the following ballad, which, in the MS. he says, was made in his road to Portsmouth, with a view to the election there, 1741.