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PREFIXED TO THE SATIRES IN THE SECOND VOLUME
OF THE WORKS OF POPE, IN FOLIO. 1735.
The occasion of publishing these Imitations was the clamour raised on some of my Epistles. An answer from Horace was both more full, and of more dignity, than any I could have made in my own person ; and the example of much greater freedom in so eminent a divine as Dr. Donne, seemed a proof with what indignation and contempt a Christian may treat vice or folly, in ever so low, or ever so high a station. Both these authors were acceptable to the Princes and Ministers under whom they lived. The Satires of Dr. Donne I versified, at the desire of the Earl of Oxford, while he was Lord Treasurer, and of the Duke of Shrewsbury, who had been Secretary of State; neither of whom looked upon a satire on vicious Courts as any reflection on those they served in. And indeed there is not in the world a greater error, than that which fools are so apt to fall into, and knaves with good reason to encourage, the mistaking a Satirist for a Libeller; whereas to a true Satirist nothing is so odious as a Libeller, for the same reason as to a man truly virtuous nothing is so hateful as a hypocrite:
Uni æquus virtuti atque ejus amicis.
WHOEVER expects a Paraphrase of Horace, or a faithful copy of his genius, or manner of writing, in these IMITATIONS, will be much disappointed. Our author uses the Roman poet for little more than his canvas ; and if the old design or colouring chance to suit his purpose, it is well; if not, he employs his own, without scruple or ceremony. Hence it is, he is so frequently serious when Horace is in jest; and at ease where Horace is disturbed. In a word, he regulates his movements no further on his original, than was necessary for his concurrence, in promoting their common plan of reformation of manners.
Had it been his purpose merely to paraphrase an ancient satirist, he had hardly made choice of Horace; with whom, as a poet, he held little in common, besides a comprehensive knowledge of life and manners, and a certain curious felicity of expression, which consists in using the simplest language with dignity, and the most ornamented with ease. For the rest, his barmony and strength of numbers, his force and splendor of colouring, his gravity and sublime of sentiment, would have rather led him to another model. Nor was his temper less unlike that of Horace, than his talents. What Horace would only smile at, Mr. Pope would treat with the grave severity of Persius ; and what Mr. Pope would strike with the caustic lightning of Juvenal, Horace would content himself with turning into ridicule.
If it be asked then, why he took any body at all to imitate, he has informed us in his Advertisement. To which we may add, that this sort of imitation, which is of the nature of Parody, throws reflected grace and splendor on original wit. Besides, he deemed it more modest to give the name of Imitations to his Satires, than, like Despreaux, to give the name of Satires to Imitations.
The following Satire was first published in 1733, in folio, under the title of Dialogue between Alexander Pope of Twickenham, in Com. Midd. on the one part, and the learned counsel on the other. The learned counsel was Mr. Fortescue, successively a Baron of the Exchequer, and Master of the Rolls, with whom the poet lived on terms of the most friendly intimacy.