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Catius 6 is ever moral, ever grave,

Thinks who endures a knave, is next a knave.
Save just at dinner-then prefers, no doubt,
A rogue with venison to a saint without.

Who would not praise Patricio's high desert,7
His hand unstain'd, his uncorrupted heart,
His comprehensive head all interests weigh'd,
All Europe saved, yet Britain not betray'd?
He thanks you not, his pride is in piquet,
Newmarket fame, and judgment at a bet.8

What made (say Montaigne, or more sage Charron!) Otho a warrior, Cromwell a buffoon?



6 [Catius is Charles Dartineuf, whom Gay calls a "grave joker," and who was a noted epicure. He occurs again in the Imitations of Horace.]

7 [Sidney Earl of Godolphin.]

8 [In the early editions the following lines were inserted :

"Triumphant leaders at an army's head,

Hemm'd round with glories, pilfer cloth, or bread;

As meanly plunder as they bravely fought,

Now save a people, and now save a groat."

The satire here is general as respects the army-and nothing could be more lax or extravagant than the system of military accounts and supplies-but the poet evidently points to Marlborough, whose avarice he frequently condemns. The great general did not pilfer, but he had taken presents from army contractors. Never, before or since, was the low vice of avarice united to such transcendant talents as in the case of Marlborough; and it is to be regretted, that Pope did not anatomise his character in the style of Atticus or Atossa. The brilliant lights and strong contrasts-the public glory and private meanness-would have afforded him a noble subject; and the materials were at his hand. The beginning of Marlborough's enormous fortune, it is well known, was a present of £5000, given him by the infamous Duchess of Cleveland, and with this sum the young ensign, old in prudence, purchased an annuity, which was secured on the Earl of Halifax's estate. But one of the most striking illustrations of his penurious habits, and the best comment on Pope's verses, is an anecdote related by Warton, on the authority of Colonel Selwyn. The night before the battle of Blenheim, after a council of war had been held in Marlborough's tent, at which Prince Louis of Baden and Prince Eugene assisted, the latter, after the council had broken up, stepped back to the tent to communicate something he had forgotten, when he found the Duke giving orders to his aide-de-camp at the table, on which there was now only a single light burning, all the others having been extinguished the moment the council was over. "What a man is this," said Prince Eugene, "who at such a time can think of saving the ends of candles!"]

A perjured prince a leaden saint revere,9
A godless regent tremble at a star ?10
The throne a bigot keep, a genius quit,11
Faithless through piety, and duped through wit?
Europe a woman, child, or dotard rule,12
And just her wisest monarch made a fool?

Know, God and Nature only are the same :
In man, the judgment shoots at flying game;
A bird of passage! gone as soon as found,
Now in the moon, perhaps, now under ground.



II. In vain the sage, with retrospective eye, Would from the apparent what conclude the why, Infer the motive from the deed, and show


That what we chanced was what we meant to do.
Behold! if fortune or a mistress frowns,

Some plunge in business, others shave their crowns:


To ease the soul of one oppressive weight,
This quits an empire, that embroils a state:
The same adust complexion has impell'd
Charles to the convent, Philip to the field.13

Not always actions show the man; we find
Who does a kindness, is not therefore kind:
Perhaps prosperity becalm'd his breast,
Perhaps the wind just shifted from the east:


9 Louis XI. of France wore in his hat a leaden image of the Virgin Mary which when he swore by, he feared to break his oath.

10 Philip Duke of Orleans, Regent of France in the minority of Louis XV., superstitious in judicial astrology, though an unbeliever in all religion.

11 Philip V. of Spain, who after renouncing the throne for religion, resumed it to gratify his queen; and Victor Amadeus II., King of Sardinia, who resigned the crown, and, trying to reassume it, was imprisoned till his death.

12 The Czarina, the King of France, the Pope, and the above-mentioned King of Sardinia.

18 [Warburton remarks on this line:-"The atrabilaire complexion of Philip II. is well known, but not so well, that he derived it from his father Charles V., whose health, the historians of his life tell us, was frequently disordered by bilious fevers. But what the author meant principally to observe here was, that this humour made both these princes act contrary to their character; Charles, who was an active man, when he retired into a convent; Philip, who was a man of the closet, when he gave the battle of St. Quentin."]

Not therefore humble he who seeks retreat,

Pride guides his steps, and bids him shun the great:

Who combats bravely is not therefore brave,


He dreads a death-bed like the meanest slave:

Who reasons wisely is not therefore wise,

His pride in reasoning, not in acting, lies.

But grant that actions best discover man;

Take the most strong, and sort them as you can:


The few that glare, each character must mark,
You balance not the many in the dark.
What will you do with such as disagree?
Suppress them, or miscall them policy?
Must then at once (the character to save)
The plain rough hero turn a crafty knave?
Alas! in truth the man but changed his mind,
Perhaps was sick, in love, or had not dined.
Ask why from Britain Cæsar would retreat?
Cæsar himself might whisper he was beat.
Why risk the world's great empire for a punk ?14
Cæsar perhaps might answer, he was drunk.
But, sage historians! 'tis your task to prove
One action, conduct; one, heroic love.

A saint in crape is twice a saint in lawn:
A judge is just, a chancellor juster still;



'Tis from high life high characters are drawn


A gownman, learn'd; a bishop, what you will;
Wise, if a minister; but, if a king,

More wise, more learn'd, more just, more everything.
Court-virtues bear, like gems, the highest rate,
Born where Heaven's influence scarce can penetrate:
In life's low vale, the soil the virtues like,
They please as beauties, here as wonders strike.
Though the same sun with all diffusive rays
Blush in the rose, and in the diamond blaze,



14 [Cleopatra. This couplet stood originally:

"The mighty Czar what mov'd to wed a punk?

The mighty Czar might answer, he was drunk.”

The alteration, as Warton says, is for the worse, because drunkenness was not a vice of Cæsar's, and, indeed, could not co-exist with his ambition and energy of character.]

We prize the stronger effort of his power,
And justly set the gem above the flower.

"Tis education forms the common mind,
Just as the twig is bent, the tree's inclined.
Boastful and rough, your first son is a squire;
The next a tradesman, meek, and much a liar :
Tom struts a soldier, open, bold, and brave;
Will sneaks a scrivener, an exceeding knave.
Is he a churchman? then he's fond of power:
A quaker? sly: a presbyterian? sour:
A smart free-thinker? all things in an hour.

Ask men's opinions: Scoto now shall tell15
How trade increases, and the world goes well;
Strike off his pension, by the setting sun,
And Britain, if not Europe, is undone.

That gay free-thinker, a fine talker once,
'What turns him now a stupid silent dunce ?
Some god, or spirit, he has lately found;
Or chanced to meet a minister that frown'd.
Judge we by nature? Habit can efface,
Interest o'ercome, or policy take place:
By actions? those uncertainty divides;
By passions? these dissimulation hides:





Opinions? they still take a wider range:


Find, if you can, in what you cannot change.

Manners with fortunes, humours turn with climes,

Tenets with books, and principles with times.

III. 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 clew once found unravels all the rest,

The prospect clears, and WHARTON stands confess'd.16
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:

15 [In the first edition:-"J-n now shall tell;" meaning perhaps Johnston the Scottish Secretary, afterwards Lord Register. He lived to a great age, and was a neighbour of Pope's at Twickenham.]

16 [In the first edition :-"Clodio stands confess'd."]

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.17
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 refined;
A tyrant to the wife his heart approves;



A rebel 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 the knaves should call him fool. Nature well known, no prodigies remain, Comets are regular, and WHARTON plain.

Yet, in this search, the wisest may mistake,


If second qualities for first they take.
When Cataline by rapine swell'd his store;
When Cæsar made a noble dame a whore; 18

17 John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester, famous for his wit and extravagancies in the time of Charles II.

[Servilia. Warton quotes

18 The sister of Cato and the mother of Brutus. a fine reflection on this passage from St. Real. "How great must have been her affliction at the death of Cæsar, her lover, massacred by the hand of her own son, who perhaps hoped to efface this suspicion of his bastardy by this very action! Historians have neglected to inform us of the fate of this most unhappy mistress and mother. Nothing could have been more interesting than the history of Servilia after this event. Next to Cleopatra she was the most beloved of all Cæsar's mistresses; and Suetonius says, Cæsar bought for her a single jewel at the price of £50,000."]

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