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F. Why, yes; with Scripture still you may be free;
A horse-laugh, if you please, at honesty;
Whom all Lord Chamberlains allow the stage:
If any ask you, "Who's the man so near His prince, that writes in verse, and has his ear?"
those men have their price;" and in the event many of them justified his observations."* Memoirs of Sir R. W., p. 250.
Ver. 37. Why, yes; with Scripture, &c.] A scribbler, whose only chance for reputation is the falling in with the fashion, is apt to employ this infamous expedient for the preservation of a transitory name. But a true genius could not do a foolisher thing, or sooner defeat his own aim. The sage Boileau used to say on this occasion: "Une ouvrage sévère peut bien plaire aux libertins; mais une ouvrage trop libre ne plaira jamais aux personnes sévères." Warburton.
Ver. 37. Why, yes; with Scripture still you may be free;] Thus the Man, commonly called Mother Osborne, (who was in the Minister's pay, and wrote Coffee-house Journals,) for one Paper in behalf of Sir Robert, had frequently two against J. C.
Ver. 39. A joke on JEKYL,] Sir Joseph Jekyl, Master of the Rolls, a true Whig in his principles, and a man of the utmost probity. He sometimes voted against the Court, which drew upon him the laugh here described of ONE who bestowed it equally upon religion and honesty. He died a few months after the publication of this Poem.
From Lord Orford, and the late Lord John Cavendish.
Why, answer, LYTTELTON, and I'll engage
Ver. 47. Why, answer, LYTTELTON,] George Lyttelton, Secretary to the Prince of Wales, distinguished both for his writings and speeches in the spirit of liberty. Pope.
Ver. 51. In the first edition :
Ægysthus, Verres, hurt not honest Fleury.
Ver. 51. Sejanus,] This profligate Minister prevailed on the Senate to order a book of Crematius Cordus, in praise of Brutus and Cassius, to be burnt. This prohibition naturally increased the circulation of the work. "Libros cremandos," says Tacitus, "censuere patres; sed manserunt occultati, etenim punitis ingeniis, gliscit auctoritas." "The punishing of wits enhances their authority," says Lord Bacon; "and a forbidden writing is thought to be a certain spark of truth, that flies up in the faces of them who seek to tread it out." Warton.
Ver. 51. Sejanus, Wolsey,] The one the wicked minister of Tiberius; the other, of Henry VIII. The writers against the Court usually bestowed these and other odious names on the Minister, without distinction, and in the most injurious manner. See Dial. II. ver. 137. Pope.
Ver. 51. FLEURY,] Cardinal; and Minister to Louis XV. It was a patriot-fashion, at that time, to cry up his wisdom and honesty. Pope.
Ver. 51. honest FLEURY,] Fontenelle, who had been acquainted with the Cardinal before his ministry, visiting him and finding him in his usual serenity and gaiety of temper, said to him: "Is it possible that your Eminence still continues to be happy?" The short billets which the Cardinal wrote to Fontenelle, and which are preserved in the 11th volume of his works, are full of wit, elegance, and pleasantry.
Laugh then at any, but at fools or foes;
These you but anger,
and you mend not those.
Laugh at your friends, and if your friends are
So much the better, you may laugh the more.
Sets half the world, God knows, against the rest ;
P. Dear Sir, forgive the prejudice of youth :
And all the well-whipp'd cream of courtly sense, 70
A curious account is given of the rise and fortunes of Cardinal Fleury, in the first volume of St. Simon's Memoirs. Warton. Ver. 66. Henley-Osborn,] See them in their places in the Dunciad.
Ver. 68. The flowers of Bubo, and the flow of Y-ng!] Sir William Young. We cannot, now, conceive the reason of Pope's coupling so constantly, as he does, the names of Bubo and Sir William Young. We have
"The first lampoon, Sir Will or Bubo makes." I have thought it possible he might here mean Dr. Young, to whom Dodington (Bubo) was a kind and constant friend.
Ver. 69. The gracious dew] Alludes to some Court sermons,
That first was H-vy's, F-'s next, and then
So Latin, yet so English all the while,
and florid panegyrical speeches; particularly one very full of puerilities and flatteries; which afterwards got into an address in the same pretty style; and was lastly served up in an Epitaph, between Latin and English, published by its author. Pope.
Ver. 69. The gracious dew of pulpit eloquence,] Our moral Bard was no great adept in theology, nor did he enter into the depths of pulpit eloquence. This rendered his judgment of things, on certain occasions, but slight and superficial. It is plain here he gibeth at this master-stroke of pulpit eloquence: but Master Doctor Thomas Playfere might have taught him better. This eminent Court Divine, in his Spital sermon, preached in the year 1595, layeth open the whole mystery. "The voice of a preacher (saith he, himselfe a powerful preacher,) ought to be the voice of a Crier, which should not pipe to make the people dance, but mourne to make them weep. Hence it is, that in the oulde law, none that was blinde, or had anie blemishe in his eye, might serve at the aulter; because for that impediment in his eye he could not well shew his inwarde sorrowing by his outward weeping. And when they offered up their first-borne, who was ordinarily in every family their prieste, or their preacher, they offered also with him a paire of turtle-doves or two young pigeons. That paire of turtledoves did signify a paire of mournfull eyes: those two younge pigeons did signifie likewise two weeping eyes: and at that offering they prayed for their first-borne, that afterwards he might have such eyes himselfe. For indeed, as Austin witnesseth, THERE IS MORE GOOD TO BE DONE with sighing than with speaking, with weeping than with words. Plus gemitibus quam sermonibus, plus fletu quam affatu." SCRIBL. Warburton.
Ver. 73. O come, that easy, Ciceronian style,] Dr. Bland, of Eton, was a very bad writer, Dr. Middleton a remarkable good one; perhaps our best: but he was the friend of Pope's enemy, Lord Hervey: hinc illæ lachrymæ ! Bennet.
As, though the pride of Middleton and Bland, 75 All boys may read, and girls may understand!
Ver. 75. pride of Middleton] The life of Tully, the most important of his works, procured Dr. Middleton a great reputation, and a great sum of money, which he generously gave to his nieces. It is a most pleasing and useful work, and gives a comprehensive view of a most interesting period in the Roman history, and of the characters principally concerned in those important events. It may be worth observing, that he is much indebted, without acknowledging it, to a curious book little known, intitled, G. Bellendini, Scoti, de Tribus Luminibus Romanorum, Libri 16. Parisiis. Apud Tassanum du Bray: 1634, folio; dedicated to King Charles. It comprehends a history of Rome from the foundation of the city to the time of Augustus, drawn up in the very words of Cicero, without any alteration of any expression. In this book Middleton found every part of Cicero's own history in his own words, and his works arranged in chronological order, without farther trouble. The impression of this work being shipped for England, was lost in the vessel, which was cast away, and only a few copies remained that had been left in France. I venture to say, that the style of Middleton, which is commonly esteemed very pure, is blemished with many vulgar and cant terms; such as,
Pompey had a month's mind: on that score; these advances; this squeamishness," &c. He has not been successful in the translations of those many Epistles of Tully which he has inserted; which, however curious, yet break the thread of the narration. Mongault and Melmoth have far exceeded him in their excellent translations of those pieces. Warton.
The book mentioned by Warton, Bellendenus, has been edited by a profound scholar, and eloquent writer, Dr. Samuel Parr, whose animated preface, &c. is in the hands of every scholar. He speaks with a warmth that does honour to his heart, respecting Dr. Middleton's conduct, in not avowing to whom he was so much indebted.. Bowles.
Ver. 75. and Bland,] He had been master of Eton College, and a friend of Sir Robert Walpole. He translated into Latin, with