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Decay of parts, alas! we all must feel
Why now, this moment, don't I see you steal? 'Tis all from Horace; Horace long before ye Said, "Tories call'd him Whig, and Whigs a Tory;" And taught his Romans, in much better metre, "To laugh at fools who put their trust in Peter."
But Horace, Sir, was delicate, was nice;
Bubo observes, he lash'd no sort of vice :
In reverend bishops note some small neglects,
Ver. 9, 10. And taught his Romans, in much better metre, "To laugh at fools who put their trust in Peter ?"]
The general turn of the thought is from Boileau:
"Avant lui, Juvénal avoit dit en Latin,
Qu'on est assis à l'aise aux sermons de Cotin." Warton. Ver. 12. Bubo observes,] Some guilty person, very fond of making such an observation. Bubo is said to mean Mr. Doddington, afterward Lord Melcombe. Warton.
Ver. 13. Horace would say,] The business of the friend here introduced is to dissuade our Poet from personal invectives. But he dexterously turns the very advice he is giving into the bitterest satire. Sir Billy was Sir William Young, who, from a great fluency, was often employed to make long speeches till the minister's friends were collected in the House. Warton.
Ver. 14. H-ggins] Formerly gaoler of the Fleet prison, enriched himself by many exactions, for which he was tried and expelled. Pope.
He was the father of the author of the absurd and prosaic Translation of Ariosto; an account of him is given in the Anecdotes of Hogarth.
And own, the Spaniard did a waggish thing,
Could please at court, and make AUGUSTUS Smile :
His friend and shame, and was a kind of screen. But, 'faith, your very friends will soon be sore; Patriots there are, who wish you'd jest no more
Ver. 18. Who cropped our ears,] Said to be executed by the Captain of a Spanish ship on one Jenkins, a Captain of an English one. He cut off his ears, and bid him carry them to the king his master. Pope.
Ver. 18. Who cropped our ears,] This circumstance has been ludicrously called by Burke, "The Fable of Captain Jenkins's ears!" See Coxe's Memoirs.
Ver. 22. screen.]
"Omne vafer vitium ridenti Flaccus amico
Tangit, et admissus circum præcordia ludit." PERS.
A metaphor peculiarly appropriated to a certain person in power.
Ver. 24. Patriots there are, &c.] This appellation was generally given to those in opposition to the Court. Though some of them (which our author hints at) had views too mean and interested to deserve that name.
Ver. 15. In former editions:
Sir George of some slight gallantries suspect.
Ver. 16. In the first edition:
In Reverend S- -n note a small neglect.
Alluding to Sir Robert Sutton.
After Ver. 26 in the MS.
There's honest Tacitus* once talk'd as big,
* Mr. Thomas Gordon, who was bought off by a place at
And where's the glory? 'twill be only thought 25 The great man never offer'd you a groat.
Go see Sir ROBERT
P. See Sir ROBERT!-hum
And never laugh-for all my life to come?
Ver. 26. The great man] A phrase, by common use, appropriated to the first Minister.
Ver. 27. Go see Sir ROBERT- -] We must not judge of this minister's character from the Dissertation on Parties, nor from the eloquent Philippics, for eloquent they were, uttered against him in both Houses of Parliament. Hume has drawn his portrait with candour and impartiality. And some of his most vehement antagonists, particularly the great Lord Chatham, lived to allow the merits of that long and pacific ministry, which so much extended the commerce, and consequently enlarged the riches of this country. Warton.
The noblest monument that has been raised to the memory of Sir Robert Walpole, has been by Mr. Coxe, who, from sources of authentic information, has most ably illustrated the eventful period of our history, during the administration of Sir Robert. There is not a circumstance or character connected with the history of the time, but what has received new light from that accurate and elegant historian. Bowles.
Ver. 29. Seen him I have, &c.] The pleasant, amiable character of Sir Robert in private life, is here most admirably touched. Lady M. W. Montagu's portrait of this eminent statesman, in his character as a private man, gives also a most pleasing idea of him :
On seeing a Portrait of Sir Robert Walpole.
Seen him, uncumber'd with the venal tribe,
He does not think me what he thinks mankind.
Ver. 29. Seen him I have, &c.] This, and other strokes of commendation in the following poem, as well as his regard to Sir Robert Walpole on all occasions, were in acknowledgment of a certain service he had done a friend of Mr. Pope's at his solicitation. Our Poet, when he was about seventeen, had a very ill fever in the country; which, it was feared, would end fatally. In this condition he wrote to Southcote, a priest of his acquaintance, then in town, to take his last leave of him. Southcote, with great affection and solicitude, applied to Dr. Radcliffe for his advice. And not content with that, he rode down post to Mr. Pope, who was then an hundred miles from London, with the Doctor's directions; which had the desired effect. A long time after this, Southcote, who had an interest in the Court of France, writing to a common acquaintance in England, informed him that there was a good abbey void near Avignon, which he had credit enough to get, were it not from an apprehension that his promotion would give umbrage to the English Court; to which he (Southcote) by his intrigues in the Pretender's service, was become very obnoxious. The person to whom this was written happening to acquaint Mr. Pope with the case, he immediately wrote a pleasant letter to Sir R. Walpole in the priest's behalf: he acquainted the Minister with the grounds of his solicitation, and begged that this embargo, for his, Mr. P.'s sake, might be taken off; for that he was indebted to Southcote for his life; which debt must needs be discharged either here or in purgatory. The Minister received the application favourably, and with much good-nature wrote to his brother, then in France, to remove the obstruction. In consequence of which Southcote got the abbey. Mr. Pope ever after retained a grateful sense of his civility. Warburton.
To the account given in this note may be added, that in gratitude for this favour conferred on his friend, Pope presented to Mr. Horatio Walpole, afterwards Lord Walpole, a set of his Works in quarto, richly bound; which are now in the library at Wolterton.
Come, come, at all I laugh, he laughs no doubt; 35 The only difference is, I dare laugh out.
Ver. 31. Seen him, uncumber'd] These two verses were originally in the poem, though omitted in all the first editions. Ver. 34. He does not think me] In former editions:
He thinks me poet of no venal kind.
Ver. 34. what he thinks mankind.] This request appears somewhat absurd: but not more so than the principle it refers to. That great Minister, it seems, thought all mankind rogues; and that every one had his price. It was usually given as a proof of his penetration, and extensive knowledge of the world. Others perhaps would think it the mark of a bounded capacity; which, from a few of Rochefoucault's maxims, and the corrupt practice of those he commonly conversed with, would thus boldly pronounce upon the character of his species. It is certain, that a Keeper of Newgate, who should make the same conclusion, would be heartily laughed at. Warburton.
Just before Atterbury went into exile, a large fine dropped to him as Dean of Westminster, but he could have no right to receive it, without the seal being set to the lease in a full chapter. Sir Robert Walpole earnestly inquired, if a chapter could not be held in the Tower, that the Bishop might receive the benefit of this fine. A chapter was accordingly there held, and the Bishop received a thousand pounds for his share of the fine. This anecdote, which is well authenticated, does great credit to the liberality and good temper of Sir Robert Walpole. Warton.
The circumstance, concerning which so much has been said, that Sir Robert considered every one as equally venal, and that all had their price, is satisfactorily explained by Mr. Coxe:
Although it is not possible to justify him entirely, yet this part of his conduct has been greatly exaggerated. The political axiom attributed to him, that all men have their price, and which has been so often repeated in verse and prose, was perverted by leaving out the word those. Flowery oratory he despised; he ascribed to the interested views of themselves or their relatives, the declaration of the pretended Patriots, of whom he said: "All