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Give Virtue fcandal, Innocence a fear,
And show the sense of it without the love;
VER. 285. Give Virtue fcandal, &c.] The whole of this paffage is beautifully worked up; were Satire only fo employed, we should hail it as the aid of virtue, if not the corrector of vice. If there be a tone of asperity here, it appears the natural warmth of genuine and honeft feelings, and it is rendered more pleafing on account of the sentiments, which Pope did not always, I fear, remember :
Curft be the verfe, how well foe'er it flow,
Or from the foft-ey'd Virgin steal a tear !
The mufical flow of the paffage, and the force of the words, need not be pointed out; who can read it, and not fay,
O fi, fic omnia?
Who reads, but with a luft to mifapply,
Let Sporus tremble-A. What? that thing of filk, Sporus, that mere white curd of Afs's milk?
VER. 299. Who to the Dean, and filver bell, &c.] Meaning the man who would have perfuaded the Duke of Chandos that Mr. Pope meant him in those circumstances ridiculed in the Epistle on Take. See Mr. Pope's letter to the Earl of Burlington concerning this matter. POPE.
VER. 305. Let Sporus tremble] Language cannot afford more glowing or more forcible terms to exprefs the utmost bitterness of contempt. We think we are here reading Milton against Salmafius. The raillery is carried to the very verge of railing, fome will fay ribaldry. He has armed his muse with a scalping-knife. The portrait is certainly over-charged: for Lord H. for whom it was defign'd, whatever his morals might be, had yet confiderable abilities, though marred by affectation. Some of his speeches in parliament were much beyond florid impotence. They were, it is true, in favour of Sir R. Walpole; and this was fufficiently offenfive to Pope. The fact that particularly excited his indignation, was Lord H.'s Epiftle to a Doctor of Divinity (Dr. Sherwin) from a Nobleman at Hampton Court, 1733; as well as his having been concerned with Lady M. W. M. in Verses to the Imitator of Horace, 1732. This Lady's beauty, wit, genius, and travels, of which fhe gave an account in a series of elegant and entertaining letters, very characteristical of the manners of the Turks, and of which many are addreffed to Pope; are well known, and juftly celebrated. With both noble perfonages had Pope lived in a state of intimacy. And juftice obligeth us to confefs that he was the aggreffor in the quarrel with them; as he firft affaulted and affronted Lord H. by these two lines in his Imitation of the firft Satire of Horace's fecond Book;
Satire or Sense, alas! can Sporus feel?
The lines are weak, another's pleas'd to say,
Lord Fanny fpins a thousand such a day.
And Lady M. W. M. by the eighty-third line of the fame piece, too gross to be here repeated.
But can this be the nobleman (we are apt to afk) whom Middleton, in his Dedication to the Hiftory of the Life of Tully, has fo seriously and so earnestly praised, for his ftrong good fenfe, his confummate politenefs, his real patriotifm, his rigid temperance,' his thorough knowledge and defence of the laws of his country, his accurate skill in history, his unexampled and unremitted diligence in literary pursuits, who added credit to this very history, as Scipio and Lælius did to that of Polybius, by revifing and correcting it; and brightening it, as he expreffes it, by the ftrokes of his pencil? The man that had written this splendid encomium on Lord H. could not, we may imagine, be very well affected to the bard who had painted Lord Fanny in fo ridiculous a light. We find him writing thus to Dr. Warburton, January 7, 1740: "You have evinced the orthodoxy of Mr. Pope's principles; but, like the old commentators on his Homer, will be thought perhaps, in fome places, to have found a meaning for him, that he himself never dreamt of. However, if you did not find him a philofopher, you will make him one; for he will be wife enough to take the benefit of your reading, and make his future Effays more clear and confiftent." WARTON.
VER. 306. white curd] Lord Hervey, to prevent the attacks of an epilepfy, perfifted in a strict regimen of daily food, which was a fmall quantity of affes milk and a flour biscuit, with an apple once a week; and he used a little paint to soften his ghaftly WARTON.
I must refer the reader to Mr. Coxe's humane and manly fentiments upon this occafion, Coxe's Walpole, oct. edit. vol. ii. p. 164.
VER. 307. can Sporus feel?] In the firft edition, Pope had the name "Paris," instead of Sporus; it seems a more fuitable name. There is, I believe, no account why it was altered.
P. Yet let me flap this bug with gilded wings,
This painted child of dirt, that ftinks and ftings; 310
Yet wit ne'er taftes, and beauty ne'er enjoys;
In mumbling of the game they dare not bite.
As fhallow ftreams run dimpling all the way.
And, as the prompter breathes, the puppet squeaks;
Half froth, half venom, fpits himself abroad,
In puns, or politics, or tales, or lies,
Or fpite, or fmut, or rhymes, or blafphemies.
A Cherub's face, a reptile all the rest,
Beauty that shocks you, parts that none will trust, Wit that can creep, and pride that licks the dust,
VER. 319. See Milton, Book iv,
VER. 322. or blafphemies.] In former editions these two lines followed immediately;
Did ever Smock-face act fo vile a part,
A trifling head, and a corrupted heart.
Not Fortune's worshipper, nor Fashion's fool,
VER. 340. That not in Fancy's maze he wander'd long,] His merit in this will appear very great, if we confider, that in this walk he had all the advantages which the moft poetic Imagination could give to a great Genius. M. Voltaire, in a MS. letter now before me, writes thus from England to a friend in Paris: “ I intend to fend you two or three poems of Mr. Pope, the best Poet of England, and at prefent of all the world. I hope you are ac quainted enough with the English tongue, to be fenfible of all the charms of his works. For my part, I look upon his poem called the Essay on Criticism as fuperior to the Art of Poetry of Horace ; and his Rape of the Lock is, in my opinion, above the Lutrin of Defpreaux. I never faw fo amiable an imagination, fo gentle graces, fo great variety, so much wit, and fo refined knowledge of the world, as in this little performance." MS. Lett. Oct. 15, 1726. WARBURTON.
VER. 341. But ftoop'd to Truth, and moraliz'd his fong:] This may be faid no lefs in commendation of his literary, than of his moral character. And his fuperior excellence in poetry is owing to it. He foon discovered in what his force lay; and he made the beft of that advantage, by a fedulous cultivation of his proper talent. For having read Quintilian early, this precept did not escape him, Sunt hac duo vitanda prorfus: unum ne tentes quod effici non poffit; alerum, ne ab eo, quod quis optime facit, in aliud, cui minus eft idoneus, transferas. It was in this knowledge and cultivation of his genius that he had principally the advantage of his great mafter, Dryden; who, by his Mac- Flecno, his Absolom and Achitophel, but chiefly by his Prologues and Epilogues, appears to have had great talents for this fpecies of moral poetry; but, unluckily, he seemed neither to understand nor attend to it.