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"No, let a charming Chintz and Bruffels lace "Wrap my cold limbs, and fhade my lifelefs face: "One would not, fure, be frightful when one's "dead250
"And-Betty-give this Cheek a little Red."
The Courtier smooth, who forty years had fhin'd An humble fervant to all human kind,
Juft brought out this, when scarce his tongue could ftir,
"If-where I'm going-I could ferve you, Sir?"
And you, brave COBHAM! to the latest breath, 262 Shall feel your Ruling Paffion strong in death :
particular to a very celebrated Actrefs, who, in deteftation of the thought of being buried in woollen, gave thefe her laft orders with her dying breath. POPE.
VER. 251. Betty-] The Betty here mentioned was Mrs. Saunders, Mrs. Oldfield's friend and confidante; a good actress in parts of decayed widows and old maids.
VER. 261. and dy'd.] Sir William Bateman used those very words on his death-bed. No comic nor fatyric writer has ever carried their defcriptions of avarice or gluttony fo far as what has happened in real life. Other vices have been exaggerated; these two never have been. WARTON.
VER. 262. And you, brave COBHAM!] Lord Cobham had perused this Epistle in manuscript, as appears from the following Letter (from Ruffhead):
Such in thofe moments as in all the paft; "Oh, fave my Country, Heav'n!" fhall be your
"Though I have not modefty enough to be pleased with your extraordinary compliment, I have wit enough to know how little I deserve it. I am afraid I fhall not pass for an abfolute Patriot ; however, I have the honour of having received a public teftimony of your efteem and friendship; and am as proud of it as I could be of any advantage that could happen to me. As I remember, when I faw the brouillion of this Epiftle, it was perplexed; you have now made it the contrary, &c."
From another Letter it appears that Pope adopted Lord Cobham's hints:
"Stowe, Nov. 8.
and the Glutton is a very good epigram. They are both appetites that from Nature we indulge, as well for her ends as our pleasure. A cardinal in his way of pleasure, would have been a better inftance. What do you think of an old Lady dreffing her filver-locks with pink, and ordering her coffin to be lined with quilted fattin; or Counsellor Vernon, &c." I mean, that a passion, or habit, that has not a natural foundation, falls in with your fubject better than any of our natural wants, which in fome degree we cannot avoid pursuing to the laft, &c."
Ruffhead juftly obferves, that from thefe Letters his Lordship appears to have been a man of sense and vivacity. It is to be wished that Pope, who faw the good fenfe of his Lordship's opinion, had gone a step farther, and, inftead of "hortening" the character of the Old Debauchee, had left it entirely out.
I CANNOT help making a few more observations on this Epistle. Johnson has very juftly remarked, that Pope has confounded. Paffions, Habits, and Appetites! The examples are humourous, and the ftories well told; but it is rather an odd circumftance, that, although the profeffed fubject of this Epiftle is "the Characters of Men," Pope has taken two of the examples to
illuftrate his theory from Women, the "frugal Crone,” and 66 poor Narciffa ;" and yet he fays, in the next Epiftle on Women,
"In Men, we various RULING PASSIONS find;
The Love of Pleafure, and the Love of Sway!"
Neither of thefe Paffions belonged to the Women, whofe example he has introduced to illuftrate the Character and ruling Paffions of Men.
When Warburton firft faw this Epiftle, it was entirely disjointed, and without "connection, order, or dependence." It was, he says, fo jumbled together, as if the feveral parts of a Poem were rolled up together, drawn at random, and fet down as they rofe. The regular difpofition of it was entirely owing to Warburton. This is not faying much in favour of Pope's being such a mighty "Man of method," as he would willingly perfuade us he was. In my opinion this is the worst of Pope's Epiftles: it is founded upon an abfurd and unphilofophical principle; and, though it is enlivened by humourous and accurate touches of character, it neither exhibits much extent of thought, or fuperior happiness of fancy. Warton has obferved with his natural warmth, that the lines 166 to 174. difplay a "perfe& anatomy of the human mind!" but, if we can neither judge of Men's Characters by Paffions or Actions, the Ruling Paffion lies under the fame difficulty. If Adions can denote the Ruling Paffion, and no other, there is little obfervation required: but the whole theory is full of inconfiftency.
TO A LADY,
Of the CHARACTERS of WOMEN.
NOTHING fo true as what you once let fall,
"Moft Women have no Characters at all." Matter too soft a lasting mark to bear,
And best distinguish'd by black, brown, or fair.
Of the Characters of WOMEN.] There is nothing in Mr. Pope's Works more highly finished, or written with greater spirit, than this Epistle: Yet its fuccefs was in no proportion to the pains he took in compofing it, or the effort of genius displayed in adorning it. Something he chanced to drop in a fhort advertisement prefixed to it, on its first publication, may perhaps account for the fmall attention the Public gave to it. He said, that no one Characer in it was drawn from the Life. They believed him on his word; and expreffed little curiofity about a fatire in which there was nothing perfonal. WARBURTON.
VER. 1. Nothing fo true] Bolingbroke, a judge of the fubject, thought this Epistle the matter-piece of Pope. But the bitterness of the fatire is not always concealed in a laugh. The characters are lively, though uncommon. I fcarcely remember one of them in our comic writers of the best order. The ridiculous is heightened by many ftrokes, of humour, carried even to the borders of extravagance, as much as the two laft lines of Boileau, quoted in the next page. The female foibles have been the subject of perhaps more wit in every language, than any other topic that can be named. The fixth fatire of Juvenal, though deteftable for its
How many pictures of one Nymph we view,
obfcenity, is undoubtedly the moft witty of all his fixteen, and is curious for the picture it exhibits of the private lives of the Roman ladies. If this Epiftle yields, in any respect, to the tenth fatire of Boileau on the same subject, it is in the delicacy and variety of the tranfitions by which the French writer paffes from one character to another, always connecting each with the foregoing. It was a common faying of Boileau, speaking of La .Bruyere, that one of the moft difficult parts of compofition was the art of transition. That we may fee how happily Pope has caught the manner of Boileau, let us survey one of his portraits: it fhall be that of his learned lady :
Qui s'offrira d'abord? c'eft cette Scavante,
D'où vient qu'elle a l'œil trouble, et le teint fi terni ?
Un Aftrolabe en main, elle a dans fa goûtiere
VER. 5. How many pictures] The Poet's purpose here is to shew, that the characters of Women are generally inconfiftent with themfelves; and this he illuftrates by fo happy a fimilitude, that we fee the folly described in it arifes from that very principle which gives birth to this inconfiftency of character. WARBURTON.
VER. 7, 8. 10, &c. Arcadia's Countefs,-Paftora by a fountain,— Leda with a Swan,-Magdalen,-Cecilia-] Attitudes in which several ladies affected to be drawn, and fometimes one lady in them all: