« PreviousContinue »
Proud as Apollo on his forked hill,
Horace and he went hand in hand in song.
And others (harder still) he paid in kind.
After Ver. 234. in the MS.
To Bards reciting he vouchsaf'd a nod,
VER. 232. Bufo] If Pope did not write the fevere character of Addison after he was dead, this, which is intended for Lord Halifax, was written after the death of that nobleman, from whom Pope once expected preferment.
VER. 232. Puff'd by ev'ry quill;] By Addifon, in his Account of Poets; by Steele, in a dedication to the Spectator; by Tickell, to his Homer. The ridicule on the Hind and Panther was the best of Halifax's compofitions. WARTON.
VER. 236. a true Pindar food without a head] Ridicules the affectation of Antiquaries, who frequently exhibit the headless Trunks and Terms of Statues, for Plato, Homer, Pindar, &c. Vide Fulv. Urfin. &c. POPE.
Dryden alone (what wonder?) came not nigh, 245
He help'd to bury whom he help'd to starve.
May fome choice patron bless each grey goofe quill! May ev'ry Bavius have his Bufo still! So when a Statesman wants a day's defence, Or Envy holds a whole week's war with Sense,
VER. 245. Dryden alone] Our Poet, with true gratitude, has feiz'd every opportunity of fhewing his reverence for his great mafter, Dryden; whom Swift as conftantly depreciated and maligned. “I do affirm," says he severely, but with exquisite irony indeed, in the dedication of the Tale of a Tub to Prince Posterity, 66 upon the word of a fincere man, that there is now actually in being a certain poet, called John Dryden, whofe tranflation of Virgil was lately printed in a large folio, well bound, and, if diligent fearch were made, for aught I know, is yet to be feen." And he attacks him again in the Battle of Books. I remember to have heard my father say, that Mr. Elijah Fenton, who was his intimate friend, and had been his mafter, informed him, that Dryden, upon feeing fome of Swift's earliest verses, faid to him, “Young man, you will never be a poet :" And that this was the cause of Swift's rooted averfion to Dryden, mentioned above. Baucis and Philemon was fo much and fo often altered, at the instigation of Addifon, who mentioned this circumstance to my father at Magdalen College, that not above eight lines remain as they originally flood. WARTON.
VER. 248. help'd to buy] Mr. Dryden, after having lived in exigencies, had a magnificent Funeral beftowed upon him by the contribution of feveral perfons of Quality. POPE.
VER. 248 help'd to ftarve.] Alluding to the fubfcription that was made for his funeral. Garth spoke an oratión over him. His neceffities obliged him to produce (befides many other poetical pieces) twenty-feven plays in twenty five years. He got 251. for
Or fimple pride for flatt'ry makes demands,
the copy, and 7cl. for his benefits generally. Dramatic poetry was certainly not his talent. His plays, a very few paffages excepted, are infufferably unnatural. It is remarkable that he did not fcruple to confefs, that he could not relish the pathos and fimplicity of Euripides. When he published his Fables, Tonfon agreed to give him two hundred and fixty-eight pounds for ten thousand verfes. And, to complete the full number of lines ftipulated for, he gave the bookfeller the epiftle to his coufin, and the celebrated Mufic Ode. "Old Jacob Tonson used to say, that Dryden was a little jealous of rivals., He would compliment Crown when a play of his failed, but was very cold to him if he met with fuccefs. He fometimes used to say that Crown had fome genius: but then he added always, that his father and Crown's mother were very well acquainted." Mr. Pope to Mr. Spence. WARTON.
VER. 256. left me GAY ;] The sweetness and fimplicity of Gay's temper and manners much endeared him to all his acquaintance, and made them always speak of him with particular fondnefs and attachment Trivia appears to be the best of his poems, in which are many ftrokes of genuine humour and pictures of London-life, which are now become curious, because our manners, as well as our dreffes, have been fo much altered and changed within a few years. His Fables, the moft popular of all his works, have the fault of many modern fable-writers, the afcribing, to the different animals and objects introduced, fpeeches and actions inconfiftent with their feveral natures. Let every man of letters, who wishes for patronage, read D'Alembert's Effay on living with the Great, before he enters the house of a patron: And let him always remember the fate of Racine, who having drawn up, at Madame Maintenon's fecret requeft, a memorial that strongly painted the diftreffes of the French nation, the weight of their taxes, and the expences of the court, fhe could not resist the importunity of Lewis XIV. but fhewed him her friend's paper,
Left me to fee neglected Genius bloom,
against whom the king immediately conceived a violent indignation, because a poet should dare to busy himself with politics. Racine had the weakness to take this anger fo much to heart, that it brought on a low fever which haftened his death. The Duchefs of Queensberry would not so have betrayed her poetical friend Gay. WARTON.
VER. 256. GAY;] Warton fays, Spence informed him that Addison accused himself on his death-bed to Gay, of having injured him. This, no doubt, came from Pope; but the real cause of Gay's being neglected at Court, appears in Coxe's Walpole. He expected preferment through the intereft of Mrs. Howard, mistress to George II., afterwards countess of Suffolk. As this point is fo curious, and fo clearly afcertained, I beg to quote the words of that interesting and able Historian :
"Swift was convinced that the minifter had prevented the bounty of Queen Caroline from being fhewn to the author of the Hare and many Friends; and he obferves, alluding to it in a copy of verfes addreffed to Gay;
"Fain would I think our female friend fincere,
In another place, Swift afferts, that it was principally owing to the dedication prefixed to the Paftorals, in honour of Bolingbroke, and to fome expreffions in his fables, which displeased the court. He repeats this accufation in his letters and works, and had even the rudeness to hint it to Sir Robert Walpole himfelf, when he dined with him at Chelsea. Gay was of the fame opinion; and in the second part of his fables, which were not printed till after his death, is full of farcaftic and fplenetic allufions to the minifter. But as Walpole was neither of a jealous or vindictive disposition, there is no reason to give credit to the afperfions of his enemies, and to fuppofe that he used his influence
Oh let me live my own, and die fo too! (To live and die is all I have to do :) Maintain a Poet's dignity and ease,
And fee what friends, and read what books I please: Above a Patron, tho' I condefcend
Sometimes to call a Minifter my friend.
I was not born for Courts or great affairs;
pay my debts, believe, and say my pray❜rs;
VER. 261. Oh let me live] In the first edition ;
Give me on Thames's banks, in honest ease,
To fee what friends, or read what books I pleafe.
over queen Caroline, for the purpofe of injuring Gay, particularly when another, and a more natural, motive of her conduct. may be fuggested.
In fact, Gay was the innocent caufe of his own disgrace; for he thought that Mrs. Howard was all-powerful at court, and that he, whom Swift humorously calls one of her led captains, should rise by her recommendation. Pope alfo, in a letter to Swift, alluding to Mrs. Howard, fays, Gay puts his whole trust in that Lady whom I defcribed to you, and whom you take to be an allegorical creature of fancy. And Gay thus expreffes himself to Swift, "Mrs. Howard has declared herfelf very strongly, both to the king and queen, as my protector." But in thefe words, they unconsciously declare the caufe of his disfavour. The queen's jealousy of the interference and credit of the mistress obftructed his promotion; and his own indifcretion afterwards, destroyed every hope. Soon after this disappointment, he produced the Beggars' Opera; and both his converfation and writings were fo full of invectives against the court, that all expectations of further notice from the queen were obviously relinquished." Coxe's Memoirs.
VER. 264. And fee what friends, &c.] This probably alludes to the circumftance of his windows having been broken by the mob, when Atterbury, &c. was with him. It is impoffible to read the paffage refpe&ting "his great condefcenfion in calling a minifter his friend," without thinking of his own Memoirs of P. P." or the Importance of a Man to himself.”