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[Written in 1738, when Pope was in his forty-ninth year. Hence the allusion in the opening lines to the Sabbath of his days. Bolingbroke was then sixty, and it is curious to find the younger friend gently reproach his older philosophical associate for breaking the sacred calm of his poetic retirement. The restless peer was then in France. Unable to procure a restoration to his seat in the House of Lords, he had for ten years waged a war of pamphlets and newspaper essays against the Walpole administration, till, tired of the fruitless contest, and quarrelling with his own party, he again retired to France, and remained there from 1735 to 1742.]

ST. JOHN, whose love indulged my labours past,
Matures my present, and shall bound my last!
Why will you break the Sabbath of my days?
Now sick alike of envy and of praise.
Public too long, ah, let me hide my age!
See modest Cibber now has left the stage:
Our generals now, retired to their estates,
Hang their old trophies o'er the garden gates;
In life's cool evening satiate of applause,
Nor fond of bleeding, even in Brunswick's cause.
A voice there is, that whispers in my ear,

('Tis Reason's voice, which sometimes one can hear)
"Friend Pope! be prudent, let your Muse take breath,
And never gallop Pegasus to death;

Lest stiff, and stately, void of fire or force,

You limp, like Blackmore on a Lord Mayor's horse." 1




1 [Sir Richard Blackmore, also conspicuous in the Dunciad; a good man, but a heavy, pompous, and unreadable poet. His epics were a fair subject for ridicule, but the satirist might have stopped at the grave: Blackmore had been nine years dead when this Epistle was written.]

Farewell, then, verse, and love, and every toy,
The rhymes and rattles of the man or boy;
What right, what true, what fit we justly call,
Let this be all my care, for this is all:
To lay this harvest up, and hoard with haste,
What every day will want, and most, the last.
But ask not, to what doctors I apply?
Sworn to no master, of no sect am I:

As drives the storm, at any door I knock:

And house with Montaigne now, or now with Locke;
Sometimes a patriot, active in debate,

Mix with the world, and battle for the state,

Free as young Lyttelton,2 her cause pursue,
Still true to virtue, and as warm as true;
Sometimes with Aristippus, or St. Paul,
Indulge my candour, and grow all to all;
Back to my native moderation slide,
And win my way by yielding to the tide.

Long, as to him who works for debt, the day,
Long as the night to her whose love 's away,
Long as the year's dull circle seems to run,
When the brisk minor pants for twenty-one ;
So slow the unprofitable moments roll,
That lock up all the functions of my soul;
That keep me from myself; and still delay
Life's instant business to a future day:
That task, which as we follow or despise,
The eldest is a fool, the youngest wise:
Which done, the poorest can no wants endure;
And which, not done, the richest must be poor.

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2 [George, first-Lord Lyttelton, then Secretary to the Prince of Wales, in which capacity he was highly serviceable to Thomson, Mallet, and other men of letters. His Poems, Dialogues of the Dead, History of Henry II., and Dissertation on the Conversion of St. Paul, have given him a respectable rank in literature. It appears from Lyttelton's Correspondence, published in 1845, that he wrote his treatise on St. Paul's conversion chiefly with a view to meet the case of Thomson, who, in that sceptical age, was troubled with sceptical doubts. Lyttelton was anxious that the amiable poet should unite the faith to the heart of a Christian, "for the latter he always had." The circumstance is highly honourable to Lyttelton, and is another instance of that warmth of friendship which Thomson inspired.]

Late as it is, I put myself to school,
And feel some comfort, not to be a fool.
Weak though I am of limb, and short of sight,
Far from a lynx, and not a giant quite;
I'll do what Mead and Cheselden advise,3
To keep these limbs, and to preserve these eyes.
Not to go back, is somewhat to advance,
And men must walk at least before they dance.
Say, does thy blood rebel, thy bosom move
With wretched avarice, or as wretched love?

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Know, there are words, and spells, which can control
Between the fits this fever of the soul:

Know, there are rhymes, which, fresh and fresh applied,

Will cure the arrant'st puppy of his pride.


Be furious, envious, slothful, mad, or drunk,
Slave to a wife, or vassal to a punk,

A Switz, a High-Dutch, or a Low-Dutch bear;
All that we ask is but a patient ear.

"Tis the first virtue, vices to abhor:

And the first wisdom, to be fool no more.
But to the world no bugbear is so great,
As want of figure, and a small estate.
To either India see the merchant fly,
Scared at the spectre of pale poverty!
See him, with pains of body, pangs of soul,
Burn through the tropic, freeze beneath the pole !
Wilt thou do nothing for a noble end,
Nothing, to make philosophy thy friend?
To stop thy foolish views, thy long desires,
And ease thy heart of all that it admires?

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3 [Dr. Mead's name occurs frequently in Pope. He was then physician to the king, and he kept his high position in his profession till his death. Dr. Cheselden was a skilful and popular surgeon and anatomist- “ the most noted and most deserving man in the whole profession of chirurgery," as Pope, in a letter to Swift, describes him. He obtained much praise for an operation performed on a youth who had been blind from his birth: the operation was completely successful in giving sight to the youth, and an account of it which Cheselden drew up for the Philosophical Transactions is highly interesting. He was afterwards much employed as an oculist. This eminent surgeon attended Pope in his last illness. His own death took place in 1754.]

Here Wisdom calls: "Seek Virtue first, be bold!
As gold to silver, virtue is to gold."

There, London's voice: "Get money, money still!
And then let Virtue follow, if she will."


This, this the saving doctrine, preach'd to all,
From low St. James's up to high St. Paul!*


From him whose quills stand quiver'd at his ear,
To him who notches sticks at Westminster.5
Barnard in spirit, sense, and truth abounds;6
"Pray, then, what wants he?" Fourscore thousand pounds;
A pension, or such harness for a slave

As Bug now has, and Dorimant would have.7
Barnard, thou art a cit, with all thy worth;
But Bug and D*1, their honours, and so forth.


4 [An allusion to the Low Church opinions then prevalent at the Court at St. James's, and patronized by Queen Caroline.]

5 [The Exchequer tallies. Payments used to be made into the Exchequer in coin by weight and tale (counting), and the sums engrossed upon parchment. Hence the office of Clerk of the Pells (pellis, a skin), who engrossed the bill upon parchment, and the Clerk of the Pipe, who tossed it down through a pipe or funnel to the court below. See the system described in Knight's London. The whole of this cumbrous machinery has been swept away.]

6 [Sir John Barnard, whom Chatham styled "the great commoner," was at this time Lord Mayor of London. He had been knighted some years before on occasion of presenting a congratulatory address from the city to her Majesty at Kensington. He represented the city in Parliament for forty years, and was an able, independent member. He had strenuously opposed Walpole's Excise Bill, and was mainly instrumental in defeating that minister; whence probably the warmth of Pope's eulogium. In 1749 Sir John became the father of the city, and his brother merchants erected a statue of him in the Royal Exchange. The death of this patriotic citizen took place in 1764, when he had attained to the age of seventy-nine. Sir John was a native of Reading in Berkshire, and was the son of Quaker parents. At the age of nineteen, as the result of study of the Scriptures, he renounced Quakerism, and was received into the church by Dr. Compton, Bishop of London.]

7 [Warton remarks, "It cannot now be discovered to whom these names belong-so soon does satire become unintelligible. The same may be said of verse 112." In the first edition the names are "Bestia and Bug." The latter may have meant Lord Hervey (the "bug with gilded wings" in the Prologue to the Satires) and Dorimant may stand for that venal but goodhumoured politician, Bubb Dodington. The circumstances and character in each case will apply. "D" was probably Delaval, the first lord of that


Yet every child another song will sing,

"Virtue, brave boys! 'tis virtue makes a king."
True, conscious honour is to feel no sin,
He's arm'd without that 's innocent within ;
Be this thy screen, and this thy wall of brass;
Compared to this a minister 's an ass.

And say, to which shall our applause belong,
This new Court-jargon, or the good old song?
The modern language of corrupted peers,
Or what was spoke at Cressy or Poitiers?

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Who counsels best? who whispers, "Be but great,
With praise or infamy leave that to fate;
Get place and wealth-if possible with grace;
If not, by any means, get wealth and place."

For what? to have a box where eunuchs sing,
And foremost in the circle eye a king.


Or he, who bids thee face with steady view

Proud fortune, and look shallow greatness through:
And, while he bids thee, sets the example too?

If such a doctrine, in St. James's air,


Should chance to make the well-dressed rabble stare;

If honest S*z 8 take scandal at a spark,

That less admires the palace than the park:

Faith I shall give the answer Reynard gave:

"I cannot like, dread sir, your royal cave: Because I see, by all the tracks about,


Full many a beast goes in, but none come out."

Adieu to Virtue, if you 're once a slave:

Send her to court, you send her to her grave.
Well, if a king's a lion, at the least


The people are a many-headed beast:
Can they direct what measures to pursue,
Who know themselves so little what to do?

8 [Augustus Schutz, "the elder of two sons of Baron Schutz, a German, who came over with George I., and settled his family in England. Augustus had been Equerry to George II., when Prince, and became Master of the Robes and Privy Purse to the king, with whom he was in great personal favour."-Note by Mr. Croker in Lord Hervey's Memoirs. Schutz seems to have been acquainted both with Pope and Martha Blount-no doubt through Mrs. Howard. Lord Hervey speaks of him as a dull courtier, and Pope's mention of him is to the same effect. He died in 1757.]

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