« PreviousContinue »
Not fo, when diadem'd with
rays divine, Touch'd with the Flame that breaks from Virtue's
Her Priestess Mufe forbids the Good to die,
There, other Trophies deck the truly brave,
And may defcend to Mordington from STAIR;
Prior burlesqued this Ode with infinite pleasantry and humour. And the fame may be said of Prior's Epistle to Boileau. Louis XIV. who had a personal regard for Prior, did not, we may well imagine, know that he had ridiculed his favourite Poet. Another French flatterer read to Malherbe fome fulfome verses, in which he had reprefented France as moving out of its place to receive the King. "Though this," said the honest Malherbe, " was in my time, yet I proteit I do not remember it."
VER. 233 Not fo, when diadem'd with rays divine,
Touch'd with the Flame that breaks from Virtue's Shrine.] The whole of this paffage is highly animated and beautiful. The word dialem'd has a lofty and ftriking effect. In the whole paffage, Pope had a view to Horace and Milton.
VER. 235. And opes] From Milton's Comus, ver. 14. "That opes the Palace of Eternity."
VER. 237. Anfis] The chief Herald at Arms. tom at the funeral of great peers, to caft into broken ftaves and enfigns of honour.
It is the cuf
the grave the POPE. VER 238. For other Stars than * and ** wear,] That is, Kent and Grafton. The next line wants explanation. I have fome notion Lord Mordington kept a gaming-house. BENNET.
VER. 239. STAIR;] John Dalrymple Earl of Stair, Knight of the Thistle, ferved in all the wars under the Duke of Marlborough; and afterwards as Embaffador in France.
(Such as on HOUGH's unfully'd Mitre shine,
Sweet to the World, and grateful to the Skies: 245
Yes, the laft Pen for Freedom let me draw, When Truth stands trembling on the edge of Law; Here,
VER. 240, 241. HOUCH and DIGBY] Dr. John Hough, Biship of Worcester; and the Lord Digby. The one an affertor of the Church of England in oppofition 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.
VER. 240. (Such as on HOUGH's unfull,'d mitre fhine,] Dr. John Hough, fucceffively Bishop of Oxford, Lichfield, and Worcester, was born in 1655, and died May 8, 1743, at the very advanced age of ninety two, after an episcopacy of fifty three years.
VER. 240. on HOUGH's unfolly'd] In the fifty-feventh Perfin Letter, is an elegant and well written eulogium on this excellent prelate, by Lord Lyttelton. Thefe Letters have been too much depreciated and neglected. WARTON.
VER. 249. When Truth ftands trembling]
England, with all thy faults, I love thee ftill,
Here, Laft of Britons! let your Names be read; Are none, none living? let me praise the Dead, And for that Caufe which made your Fathers fhine, Fall by the Votes of their degen'rate Line.
Fr. Alas! alas! pray end what you began, And write next winter more Essays on Man.
VER. 255. in the MS.
Quit, quit thefe themes and write Effays on Man.
Lines of the tender and benevolent Cowper, which I here infert, in order to put us again in good humour with our country, after having juft feen her placed in a disagreeable light.
VER. 253 of their degen'rate Line.] Such was the language at that time, ufed by our Author and his friends and affociates. Lord Chesterfield ends the account of his friend Hammond, author of the Love Elegies, with these words: "He looked back with a kind of religious awe and delight, upon thefe glori ous and happy times of Greece and Rome, when wisdom, virtue, and liberty formed the only triumvirates; in thefe fentiments he lived, and would have lived, even in these times; in thefe fentiments he died; but in these times too, ut non erepta a diis immortalibus vita, fed donata, mors videatur.
In every age, and in every nation, there is a conftant progreffion manners; "For the manners of a people seldom ftand ftill, but are either POLISHING or SPOILING." WARTON.
VER. 254. pray end what] We muft own that thefe Dialogues, excellent as they are, exhibit many and ftrong marks of our Author's petulance, party-fpirit, and felf-importance; and of affuming to himself the character of cenfor-general; who, alas! if he had poffeffed a thousand times more genius, integrity, and ability, than he actually enjoyed, could not have altered or amended the manners of a rich and commercial, and confequently of a luxurious and diffipated nation. But we make ourfelves unhappy, by hoping to poffefs incompatible things; we want to have wealth without corruption, and liberty without virtue !
VER. ult.] This was the laft Poem of the kind printed by our Author, with a resolution to publish no more; but to enter thus, in the most plain and folemn manner he could, a fort of PROTEST against that infuperable corruption and depravity of manners, which he had been fo unhappy as to live to fee. Could he have hoped to have amended any, he had continued those attacks; but bad men were grown fo fhameless and so powerful, that Ridicule was become as unfafe as it was ineffectual. The Poem raised him, as he knew it would, fome enemies; but he had reason to be fatisfied with the approbation of good men, and the testimony of his own confcience. POPE.
Could Pope, with his good fenfe, unless self-love had blinded him, seriously believe, that his pen could effect fuch mighty purposes, even if the objects of his Satire were fo notorious, that every good and wife man would have been on his fide, and nothing was dictated by private spleen, and political afperity! Alas, we might fay, in the language of Poor Cowper,
"Leviathan is not so tam'd;
Laugh'd at, he laughs again, and ftricken hard