« PreviousContinue »
SATIRES AND EPISTLES OF HORACE
"Ludentis speciem dabit, et torquebitur."-HOR.
["He seems with freedom, what with pain he proves,
[THE first of these satires was published in 1733, and is addressed to Mr. Fortescue, then a barrister, and afterwards a Judge and Master of the Rolls. In one of his conversations with Spence, Pope said that when confined to his room one winter in London, with a slight attack of fever, Lord Bolingbroke called upon him, and taking up a Horace which lay on the table, dipped into the first satire of the second book. "He observed, how well that would suit my case if I were to imitate it in English. After he was gone, I read it over, translated it in a morning or two, and sent it to press in a week or a fortnight after. And this was the occasion of my imitating some other of the Satires and Epistles." They are among the happiest of his works, and, compared with other translations and imitations of Horace, realise Denham's lines,
"They but preserve the ashes; he the flame,
The legal friend to whom Pope applies for advice, as Horace applied to the Roman lawyer, C. Trevatius Testa, had previously given him proofs both of his wit and his judgment. Fortescue was the author of the humorous report in Scriblerus, "Stradling versus Stiles," in which this nice point is discussed with professional phraseology and due gravity: "Sir John Swale, of Swale Hall, in Swale-dale, by the river Swale, Knight, made his last will and testament, in which, among other bequests was this, viz.: ' Out of the kind love and respect that I bear unto my much honoured and good friend, Mr. Matthew Stradling, gent., I do bequeath unto the said Matthew Stradling, gent., all m black and white horses.' The testator had six black horses, six white horses, and six pied horses. The debate, therefore, was whether or no the said Matthew Stradling should have the said pied horses by virtue of the said bequest." The case is ably debated, though not at such length as legal cases usually are, when it is suddenly terminated by a motion in arrest of udgment that the pied horses were mares; and thereupon an inspection
was prayed!" Fortescue would have been a valuable member of the Scriblerus Club, if their extensive scheme had proceeded, but he found ample employ ment in his profession. Having been called to the bar in 1715, he soon gained extensive practice; was promoted to the bench of the Exchequer in 1735; from thence to the Common Pleas in 1738; and in 1741 he was made Master of the Rolls. He died in 1749. Fortescue was consulted by Pope about all his affairs, as well as those of Martha Blount, and, as may be gathered from the ninth and tenth lines in this satire, he gave his advice without a fee. The intercourse between the poet and his "learned counsel" was cordial and sincere, and of the letters that passed between them, sixty. eight have been published, ranging from 1714 to the last year of Pope's life. They are short, unaffected letters-more truly letters than any others in the series.
On publishing the second volume of his Poetical Works in 1735, the poet prefixed to the Satires the following
"The occasion of publishing these Imitations, was the clamour raised on some of my Epistles. An answer from Horace was both more full, and of more dignity, than any I could have made in my own person; and the example of much greater freedom in so eminent a Divine as Dr. Donne, seemed a proof with what indignation and contempt a Christian may treat 'vice or folly, in ever so low or ever so high a station. Both these authors were acceptable to the Princes and Ministers under whom they lived. The Satires of Dr. Donne I versified at the desire of the Earl of Oxford, while he was Lord Treasurer, and of the Duke of Shrewsbury, who had been Secretary of State neither of whom looked upon a Satire on vicious Courts as any reflection on those they served in. And indeed there is not in the world a greater error, than that which fools are so apt to fall into, and knaves with good reason to encourage, the mistaking a Satirist for a Libeller; whereas to a true Satirist nothing is so odious as a Libeller, for the same reason as to a man truly virtuous nothing is so hateful as a hypocrite.
Uni æquus Virtuti atque ejus Amicis."]
TO MR. FORTESCUE.
You'll give me, like a friend both sage and free,
P. Not write? but then I think,
F. You could not do a worse thing for your life.
P. What! like Sir Richard, rumbling, rough, and fierce, With ARMS and GEORGE and BRUNSWICK crowd the verse, Rend with tremendous sound your ears asunder, With gun, drum, trumpet, blunderbuss, and thunder? Or, nobly wild, with Budgell's fire and force, Paint angels trembling round his falling horse?1 F. Then all your Muse's softer art display, Let Carolina smooth the tuneful lay, Lull with Amelia's liquid name the Nine,2 And sweetly flow through all the Royal line. P. Alas! few verses touch their nicer ear; They scarce can bear their Laureate twice a year; And justly Cæsar scorns the poet's lays,It is to history he trusts for praise.
F. Better be Cibber, I'll maintain it still,
P. What should ail them?
1 [The horse on which his majesty charged at the battle of Oudenarde; when the Pretender, and the princes of the blood of France, fled before him.— Warburton.]
2 [Queen Caroline and the Princess Amelia.]
8 [Peter Walter, the scrivener and land-steward, whom Pope so frequently mentions.]
The fewer still you name, you wound the more;
P. Each mortal has his pleasure: none deny
Like good Erasmus, in an honest mean,
4 [Lord Scarsdale and Mr. Dartineuf. See Additional Notes.] 5 [The F- who loved the senate, was most likely the celebrated Henry Fox, first Lord Holland, and father of the more celebrated Ch James Fox. His brother, Stephen Fox (who was second to Lord Hervey in his duel with Pulteney) was raised to the Peerage in 1741, as Lord Ilchester. Pope again alludes to Henry Fox in the Epilogue to the Satires. Dial. I., verse 71.
6 [Harley, Earl of Oxford, used to term Prior his verse-man, and Erasmus Lewis his prose-man.]
7 [Cardinal Fleury, prime minister of France under Louis XV.; born in
Whoe'er offends, at some unlucky time
Slander or poison dread from Delia's rage,8
Then, learned sir! (to cut the matter short)
F. Alas, young man! your days can ne'er be long,
1653; died in 1743. The good cardinal was not very successful in preserving peace, though it was more his study and "dear delight" than it was that of the poet who here claims sympathy with him in his pacific intentions.]
8 [Countess of Deloraine.]
9 [Judge Page. See Notes to Dunciad.]
10 [For remarks on this allusion see Notes at the end of the Satire. The line was originally,
"From furious Sappho yet a sadder fate."]
11 [Budgell we have again in the Dunciad and Epistles. Nathaniel Lee, the dramatist, had frequent attacks of insanity, and was at one period of his life four years in Bedlam. He wrote eleven plays, and possessed genius (as Addison admitted), well adapted for tragedy, though clouded by occasional rant, obscurity, and bombast. Latterly, this ill-starred poet depended for subsistence on a small weekly allowance from the theatre. He died in 1691 or 1692.]