Page images
PDF
EPUB

To Cato, Virgil payed one honest line;
O let my country's friends illumine mine! (no sin;
- What are you thinking? F. 'Faith the thought's
I think your friends are out, and would be in.

P. If merely to come in, sir, they go out,
The way they take is strangely round about.

F. They too may be corrupted, you'll allow?

P. I only call those knaves who are so now.
Is that too little ? Come then, I'll comply-
Spirit of Arnall!" aid me while I lie.
Cobham's a coward, Polwarthis a slave,
And Lyttleton a dark, designing knave.
St. John has ever been a wealthy fool-
But let me add, Sir Robert's mighty dull,
Has never made a friend in private life,
And was, besides, a tyrant to his wife.”

But pray, when others praise him, do I blame?
Call Verres, Wolsey, any odious name?
Why rail they then, if but a wreath of mine,
Oh, all-accomplished St. John! deck thy shrine ?

What? shall each spur-galled hackney of the day, When Paxton gives him double pots and pay, Cr each new-pensioned sycophant, pretend To break my windows, if I treat a friend ? * Then wisely plead, to me they meant no hurt, But 'twas my guest at whom they threw the dirt ? Sure, if I spare the minister, no rules Of honour bind me, not to maul his tools; Sure, if they cannot cut, it may be said His saws are toothless, and his hatchet's lead.

It angered Turenne, once upon a day, To see a footman kicked that took his pay: But when he heard the affront the fellow gave, Knew one a man of honour, one a knave; The prudent gen’ral turned it to a jest, And begged he'd take the pains to kick the rest: Which not at present having time to do you?

F. Hold, sir! for God's sake where's th' affront to

1 Look for him in his place.-"Dunc.” Bk. II. ver. 315.Pope.

2 The Hon. Hugh Hume, son of Alexander Earl of Marchmont, grandson of Patrick Earl of Marchmont, and distinguished, liko them, in the cause of liberty.Pope.

8 The exact reverse was the case of course.

4 This was done one day when Lords Bolingbroke and Bathurst were dining with him at Twickenham, Warton,

Against your worship when had Sherlock writ?
Or Page pour forth the torrent of his wit?'
Or grant the bard whose distich all commend?
[In power a servant, out of power a friend]
To Walpole guilty of some venial sin;
What's that to you who ne'er was out nor in?

The priest whose flattery bedropt the crown,
How hurt he you? he only stained the gown.
And how did, pray, the florid youth“ offend,
Whose speech you took, and gave it to a friend?

P. 'Faith, it imports not much from whom it came; Whoever borrowed, could not be to blame, Since the whole house did afterwards the same. Let courtly wits to wits afford supply, As hog to hog in huts of Westphaly; If one, through nature's bounty or his lord's, Has what the frugal, dirty soil affords, From him the next receives it, thick or thin, As pure a mess almost as it came in; The blessed benefit, not there confined, Drops to the third, who nuzzles close behind; From tail to mouth, they feed and they carouse: The last full fairly gives it to the house.

F. This filthy simile, this beastly line Quite turns my stomach

P. So does flatt’ry mine; And all your courtly civet-cats can vent, Perfume to you, to me is excrement. But hear me further-Japhet, 'tis agreed, Writ not, and Chartresø scarce could write or read, In all the courts of Pindus guiltless quite; But pens can forge, my friend, that cannot write; And must no egg in Japhet's face be thrown,

Because the deed he forged was not my own? · Must never patriot then declaim at gin, Unless, good man! he has been fairly in?

1 Judge Page, said to be a harsh judge.

2 A verse taken out of a poem to Sir R. W.-Pope. Lord Melcomb was the author of this line in a poem to Sir R. Walpole.- Warton.

3 Spoken not of any particular priest, but of many priests.-Pope. Meaning Dr. Alured Clarke, who wrote a panegyric ou Queen Caro. line.- Warton.

4 Lord Hervey, alluding to his painting his face.-Bowles.

6 This seems to allude to a complaint made ver, 71 of the preceding Dialogue.- Pope..

o see the Epistle to Lord Bathurst.-Pope.

No zealous pastor blame a failing spouse,
Without a staring reason on his brows?
And each blasphemer quite escape the rod,
Because the insult's not on man, but God?

Ask you what provocation I have had ?
The strong antipathy of good to bad.
When truth or virtue an affront endures,
The affront is, mine my friend, and should be yours.
Mine, as a foe professed to false pretence,
Who think a coxcomb's honour like his sense;
Mine, as friend to ev'ry worthy mind;
And mine as man, who feel for all mankind.
F. You're strangely proud.

P. So proud I am no slave: So impudent, I own myself no knave: So odd, my country's ruin makes me grave. Yes, I am proud; I must be proud to see Men not afraid of God, afraid of me: Safe from the bar, the pulpit, and the throne, Yet touched and shamed by ridicule alone.

Oh sacred weapon! left for truth's defence,
Sole dread of folly, vice, and insolence!
To all but heav'n-directed hands denied
The muse may give thee, but the gods must guide:
Rev'rent I touch thee! but with honest zeal,
To rouse the watchman of the public weal;
To virtue's work provoke the tardy Hall,
And goad the prelate slumbering in his stall.
Ye tinsel insects! whom a court maintains,
That counts your beauties only by your stains,
Spin all your cobwebs? o'er the eye of day!
The muse's wings shall brush you all away:
All his grace preaches, all his lordship sings,
All that makes saints of queens, and gods of kings.
All, all but truth, drops dead-born from the press,
Like the last gazette, or the last address.

When black ambition stains a public cause,
A monarch's sword when mad vain-glory draws,
Not Waller's wreath can hide the nation's scar,

1 Weak and slight sophisms against virtue and honour. Thin colours over vice, as unable to hide the light of truth, as cobwebs to shade the sun.-Pope.

2 The cause of Cromwell in the civil war of England; (ver. 229) and of Louis XIV. in his conquest of the Low Countries. --Po

e, Waller wrote a “ Panegyric to my•Lord Protector."

Nor Boileau turn the feather to a star."

Not so, when diademed with rays divine, Touched with the flame that breaks from virtue's Her priestess muse forbids the good to die, [shrine,

And opes the temple of eternity.
· There, other trophies deck the truly brave,

Than such as Anstiscasts into the grave;
Far other stars than Kent and Grafton wear,
And may descend to Mordington from Stair: *
(Such as on Hough’só unsullied mitre shine,
Or beam, good Digby, from a heart like thine)
Let envy howl, while heav'n's whole chorus sings,
And bark at honour not conferred by kings;
Let flatt'ry sickening see the incense rise,
Sweet to the world, and grateful to the skies:
Truth guards the poet, sanctifies the line,
And makes immortal, verse as mean as mine.

Yes, the last pen for freedom let me draw,
When truth stands trembling on the edge of law;
Here, last of Britons ! let your names be read;
Are none, none living ? let me praise the dead,
And for that cause which made your fathers shine,
Fall by the votes of their degen’rate line.

F. Ålas! alas! pray end what you began, And write next winter more essays on man..

I See his “Ode on Namur;" where (to use his own words) « Il a fait un Astre de la Plume blanche que le Roy porte ordinairement à son Chapeau, et qui est en effet un espèce de Comète, fatale à nos ennemis."-Pope.

2 The chief Herald-at-arms. It is the custom, at the funeral of great peers, to cast into the grave the broken staves and ensigns of honour.- Pope.

3 I have some notion Lord Mordington kept a gaming houseBennet.

4 John Dalrymple, Earl of Stair, Knight of the Thistle: served in all the wars under the Duke of Marlborough; and afterwards as ambassador in France.-Pope.

6 Dr. John Hough, Bishop of Worcester, and the Lord Dicby. The one an assertor of the Church of England in opposition to the false measures of King James II. The other as firmly attached to the cause of that king. Both acting out of principle, and equally men of honour and virtue.-Pope. 6 Ver. 255 in the MS.

Quit, quit these themes, and write essays on man. This was the last poem of the kind printed by our author, with a resolution to publish no more; but to enter thus, in the most plain and solemn manner he could, a sort of protest against that insuperable corruption and depravity of manners which he had been so unhappy as to live to see. Could he have hoped to have amended any, he had continued those attacks; but bad men were grown so shameless and so powerful, that ridicule was become as unsafe as it was ineffectual. The poem raised him, as he knew it would, somo enemies: but he had reason to be satisfied with the approbation of good men, and the testimony of his own conscience.-Pope,

EPISTLES.

EPISTLE TO ROBERT, EARL OF OXFORD,

AND EARL MORTIMER.”
Such were the notes thy once loved poet sung,
Till death untimely stopped his tuneful tongue.
Oh just beheld, and lost! admired and mourned!
With softest manners, gentlest arts adorned!
Blessed in each science, blessed in every strain!
Dear to the muse! to Harley dear-in vain!

For him, thou oft hast bid the world attend,
Fond to forget the statesman in the friend ;
For Swift and him despised the farce of state,
The sober follies of the wise and great ;
Dextrous the craving, fawning crowd to quit,
And pleased to 'scape from flattery to wit.

Absent or dead, still let a friend be dear
(A sigh the absent claims, the dead a tear);
Recall those nights that closed thy toilsome days;
Still hear thy Parnell in his living lays,
Who, careless now of int’rest, fame, or fate,
Perhaps forgets that Oxford e'er was great ;
Or, deeming meanest what we greatest call,
Beholds thee glorious only in thy fall.

And sure, if aught below the seats divine
Can touch immortals, 'tis a soul like thine :
A soul supreme in each hard instance tried,
Above all pain, all passion, and all pride,
The rage of power, the blast of public breath,
The lust of lucre, and the dread of death.

1 Robert Harley, Earl of Oxford, was born 1661, died 1724. He was the distinguished minister of the last days of Queen Anne. To Lord Oxford we are indebted for forming the splendid collection known as the “Harleian MSS.” They contain information on nearly every subject, and were much referred to by Macaulay in his “ History of England.” Lord Oxford was a great patron of literary men. He was impeached for treason by the Whigs in 1715 and con, mitted to the Tower; but the Commons refused to prosecute, and he was released.

2 This epistle was sent to the Earl of Oxford with Dr. Parnell's poems published by our author, after the said earl's imprisonment in the Tower, and retreat into the country, in the year 1721.--Pope,

« PreviousContinue »