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I sit with sad civility! I read
With honest anguish, and an aching head ;
And drop at last, but in unwilling ears,
This saving counsel, “ Keep your piece nine years."
“Nine years !” cries he, who, high in Drury Lane,
Lulld by soft zephyrs through the broken pane,
Rhymes e'er he wakes, and prints before term ends,
Oblig'd by hunger, and request of friends :
“ The piece, you think, is incorrect? Why take it;
I'm all submission; what you'd have it, make it.”
Three things another's modest wishes bound,
My friendship, and a prologue, and ten pound.
Pitholeon sends to me: “ You know his grace ;
I want a patron : ask him for a place.”
Pitholeon libellid me~" But here's a letter
Informs you, sir,'t was when he knew no better.
Dare you refuse him? Curll invites to dine,
He'll write a journal, or he'll turn divine.”
Bless me! a packet.-—"'T is a stranger sues,
A virgin tragedy, an orphan muse."
If I dislike it, “ furies, death, and rage.”
If I approve, “Commend it to the stage.”
There (thank my stars), my whole commission ends,
The players and I are luckily, no friends.
Fird that the house reject him, “ 'Sdeath! I'll print it,
And shame the fools-Your interest, sir, with Lintot.”
“ Lintot, dull rogue ! will think your price too much :"
“ Not, sir, if you revise it, and retouch."
All my demurs but double his attacks :
At last he whispers, “ Do; and we go snacks.”
Glad of a quarrel, straight I clap the door ;
“ Sir, let me see your works, and you no more.”
7 Then from the Mint walks forth the man of rhyme,
Happy to catch me, just at dinner-time. The precincts of the Mint, in those days, included a jail for debtors. It was shabby of the poor devils of authors to take advantage of the poet's dinner-hour; but was it quite magnani. mous in the poet to say so? If his father had not left him an independence, he might have found even himself hard pushed sometimes for a meal. Pope was a little too fond of taking his pecuniary advantages for merits. He did not see (so blind respecting themselves are the acutest satirists) that this inabili:y
to forego a false ground of superiority originated in an instinct of weakness.
& Curll invites to dine.--Curll was the chief scandalous bookseller of that time.
CHARACTERS AND RULING PASSIONS.
CHARACTER OF THE DUKE OF WHARTON
Manners with fortunes, humors turn with climes,
Tenets with books, and principles with times.
Search then the Ruling Passion : there, alone,
The wild are constant, and the cunning known;
The fool consistent, and the false sincere;
Priests, princes, women, no dissemblers here.
This clue once found, unravels all the rest,
The prospect clears, and Wharton stands confest
Wharton the scorn and wonder of our days,
Whose ruling passion was the lust of praise :
Born with whate'er could win it from the wise,
Women and fools must like him, or he dies :
Though wondering senates hung on all he spoke,
The club must hail him master of the joke.
Shall parts so various aim at nothing new ?
He'll shine a Tully and a Wilmot too.
Then turns repentant, and his God adores,
With the same spirit that he drinks and whores."
Enough if all around him but admire,
And now the punk applaud, and now the friar.
Thus with each gift of nature and of art
And wanting nothing but an honest heart;
Grown all to all, from no one vice exempt;
And most contemptible, to shun contempt;
His passion still to covet general praise ;
His life, to forfeit it a thousand ways;
A constant bounty, which no friend has made;
An angel tongue, which no man can persuade ;
A fool, with more of wit than half mankind;
Too rash for thought, for action too refind
A tyrant to the wife his heart approves ;
A rejel to the very king he loves ;
He dies, sad outcast of each church and state,
And, harder still! flagitious, yet not great.
Ask you why Wharton broke through every rule?
'Twas all for fear that knaves should call him fool.40
• Then turns repentant, and his God adores,
With the same spirit that he drinks and whores. The reader must bear in mind that all which is considered coarse language now, was not so considered in Pope's time; and that words, which cannot any longer be read out loud in mixed company, may still have the benefit of that recollection, and be silently endured.
10 Ask you why Wharton broke through every rule ?
'Twas all for fear that knaves should call him fool. Perhaps, if it were required to select from all Pope's writings the passage most calculated to have a practical effect on readers in want of it, it would be this couplet. The address of it is exquisite. The obvious conclusion is, that it is better to be thought a fool by a knave than by a man of genius.
A man's true merit is not hard to find;
But each man's secret standard in his mind
(That casting-weight pride adds to emptiness)
This, who can gratify? for who can guess ?
The bard whom pilfer'd pastorals renown,
Who turns a Persian tale for half-a-crown ;?
He, who still wanting, though he lives on thest,
Steals much, spends little, yet has nothing left;
And he who now to sense, now nonsense leaning,
Means not, but blunders round about a meaning i
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.
How did they fume, and stamp, and roar, and charc, .
Aud swear nut Addison himself was safe.
Peace to all such! But were there one whose fires
True genius kindles, and fair fame inspires ;
Blest with each talent and each art to please,
And born to write, conferse, and live with ease;
Should such a man, too fond to rule alone,
Bear like the Turk no brother near the throne ;
View him with scornful, yet with jealous eyes,
And hate for arts that caus'd himself to rise ;
Damn with faint praise, assent with civil leer,
And without sneering teach the rest to sneer;
Willing to wound and yet afraid to strike,
Just hint a fault and hesitate dislike ;
Alike reserv'd to blame, or to commend,
A timorous foe and a suspicious friend;
Dreading e'en fools, by flatterers besieg'd,
And so obliging, that he ne'er obliged ;
Like Cato, give his little senate laws,
And sit attentive to his own applause;
While wits and templars every sentence raise,
And wonder with a foolish face of praise-
Who but must laugh, if such a man there be ?
Who would not weep, if Atticus were he ?13
11-Each man's secret standard in his mind
(That casting-weight pride adds to emptiness)
This, who cun gratify ? for who can guess ? Exquisite discernment, as exquisitely expressed. This is the whole secret of arrogance, and (in ninety-nine cases out of a hun. dred) of ordinary sullenness and exaction. The standard is in. visible, and no arbiter is allowed.
1 The bard whom pilfer'd pastorals renown,
Who turns a Persian tale for half-a-crown. This was Ambrose Philips, a man of genius, whose half-jest. ing, half-serious poems in short verses were of a delicacy not sufficiently appreciated; and whose mistake in pastoral writing was, at all events, not so bad as Pope's, who never forgave the superiority awarded to him in that direction by Steele and others. What is meant by the pastorals being “ pilfered," I forget; if that they were imitated from Spenser and others, Pope's may be said to have been all pilfered from classical common.places. The accusation of the half-crown is, of course, not true; and if it were, would be no disgrace but to the accuser and the bookseller. Suppose Philips had described Pope as the man
Who turns a page of Greek for eighteen-pence!
The tales here alluded to were the delightful Persian Tales, translated from the French of Petit de la Croix. They aro of genuine Eastern origin, and worthy brothers of the enchanting Arabian Nights.
13 Who would not weep, if Atticus were he. It is well known and obvious that this character of Atticus was meant for Addison. A doubt has existed whether Pope was right in supposing Addison to have been jealous; and perhaps he was not : but the coldness, reserve, and management, in the disposition of the lord of Button' Coffee house, not unnaturally gave rise to the suspicion: and the exquisite expression of the language in which it is conveyed has all the eloquence of belief.
CHARACTER OF THE DUKE OF BUCKINGHAM.
Behold what blessings wealth to life can lend,
And see what comfort it affords our end.
In the worst inn's worst room, with mat half hung,
The floor of plaster, and the walls of dung,
On once a flock-bed, but repair’d with straw,
With tape-ty'd 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;
Or just as gay at council, in a ring
of mimick'd statesmen, and their merry king.
No wit to flatter, lest of all his store !:
No fool to laugh at, which he valued more.
There, victor of his health, of fortune, friends,
And fame, this lord of useless thousands ends.
14 In the worst inn's worst roum, &c.—It is a pity that Pope wrote this character of Buckingham after Dryden's; for, though cele. brated and worth repeating, it is very inferior, and, in the details, of very questionable truth. In fact, the superlative way of talking throughout it (the “worst inn's worst room,” the introduction