Page images

* Detrahere et pellem, nitidus qua quifque per ora
Cederet, introrfum turpi; num Lælius, et qui
Duxit ab oppreffa meritum Carthagine nomen,
Ingenio offenfi? aut læfo doluere Metello,
Famofifque Lupo cooperto verfibus? atqui
Primores populi arripuit populumque tributim;



fhews the Poet had faid no more of their avarice than was true. His abundance of wit has made his readers backward in acknowledging his talent for humour. But the veins are equally rich; and the one flows with eafe, and the other is always placed with propriety. WARBURTON.

VER. 105. What? arm'd for Virtue] From this line to Ver. 140. is a paffage of as much force and energy as any that can be produced in the English language, in rhyme..


VER. 110. Lights of the Church, or Guardians of the Laws?] Becaufe juft Satire is an useful fupplement to the fanctions of Law and Religion; and has, therefore, a claim to the protection of those who prefide in the administration either of Church or State. WARBURTON.

VER 111. Could Boileau-Could Dryden] I believe neither of them would have been fuffered to do this, had they not been egre. gious flatterers of the feveral Courts to which they belonged.


Ibid. Could penfion'd Boileau -Could Laureate Dryden] It was Horace's purpose to compliment the former times; and therefore he gives the virtuous examples of Scipio and Lælius. it was Mr. Pope's defign to fatirize the prefent; and therefore he gives the vicious examples of Louis, Charles, and James. Either way the inftances are fully pertinent; but in the latter they have rather greater force. Only the line,

"Uni æquus virtuti atque ejus amicis,"

lofes fomething of its fpirit in the imitation; for the amici, referred to, were Scipio and Lælius. WARBURTON.

VER. 111. Could penfion'd Boileau] Boileau acted with much caution and circumfpection when he first published his Lutrin here alluded to, and endeavoured to cover and conceal his subject by a



Dafh the proud Gamester in his gilded Car;
Bare the mean Heart that lurks beneath a Star;
Can there be wanting, to defend Her cause,
Lights of the Church, or Guardians of the Laws?
Could penfion'd Boileau lash in honest strain
Flatt'rers and Bigots e'en in Louis' reign?
Could Laureate Dryden Pimp and Fry'r engage,
Yet neither Charles nor James be in a rage?
And Į not strip the gilding off a Knave,
Unplac'd, unpenfion'd, no man's heir, or flave?




I will,

preface intended to mislead his reader from the real fcene of action; but it ought to be obferved, that he afterwards, in the Fear 1683, threw afide this difguife, openly avowing the occafion that gave life to the poem, the fcene of which was not Bourges or Pourges, as before he had said, but Paris itself; the quarrel he celebrated being betwixt the treasurer and the chanter of the Holy Chapel in that city. The canons were so far from being offended, that they fhewed their good sense and good temper by joining in the laugh. Upon which Boileau compliments them, and adds, that many of that fociety were perfons of fo much wit and learning, that he would as foon confult them upon his Works as the members of the French Academy. The name of the chanter was Barrin; that of the treasurer, Claude Avri, bishop of Conftance in Normandy. The quarrel began in July 1667. Letters of Broffette to Boileau: à Lyon, 1770; p. 242. v. 1.; et Œuvres de M. Boileau, Defpreaux, par M. de Saint Marc, tom ii. 77. Paris, 1747. He juftly fays, "e'en in Louis reign;" for his bigotry was equally contemptible and cruel; and, if we may credit St. Simon, he actually died a jefuit. WARTON. VER. 116. Unplac'd, unpenfion'd, no-man's heir, or flave?] Mr. Pope, it is well known, made his fortune by his Homers. Lord Treasurer Oxford affected to discourage that defign; for fo great a genius (he faid) ought not to be confined to Tranflation. He always ufed Mr. Pope civilly; and would often express his concern that his religion rendered him incapable of a place. At the





Quin ubi se a vulgo et scena in fecreta remôrant Virtus Scipiada et mitis fapientia Lali,

Nugari cum illo, et difcincti ludere, donec

Decoqueretur olus, foliti.

Quidquid fum ego, quamvis

Infra Lucili cenfum, ingeniumque; tamen me



After three

fame time, he never spoke one word of a penfion. For this offer, he was folely indebted to the Whig Minifters. In the beginning of George I. Lord Halifax, of his own motion, fent for Mr. Pope, and told him, it had often given him concern that fo great a Poet had never been distinguished; that he was glad it was now in his power to ferve him; and, if he cared to accept of it, he should have a penfion not clogged with any engagements. Mr. Pope thanked him, and defired time to confider of it. months (having heard nothing further from that Lord) he wrote him a Letter to repeat his Thanks; in which he took occafion to mention the affair of the penfion with much Indifference. So the thing dropt, till Mr. Craggs came into the Miniftry. The affair of the penfion was then refumed. And this Minifter, in a very frank and friendly manner, told Mr. Pope, that three hundred pounds a-year were then at his fervice: he had the management of the fecret fervice money, and could pay him fuch a penfion without its being known, or ever coming to account. But now Mr. Pope declined the offer without hesitation: only, in return for fo friendly a propofal, he told the Secretary, that if at any time he wanted Money, he would draw upon him for 100 or zool. Which liberty, however, he did not take. Mr. Craggs more than once preffed him on this head, and urged to him the conveniency of a Chariot; which Mr. Pope was fenfible enough of: But the Precarioufnefs of that supply made him very prudently decline the thoughts of an Equipage; which it was much better never to fet up, than not properly to fupport. From Spence. WARBURTON.

VER. 125. There, my retreat] I know not whether thefe lines, fpirited and fplendid as they are, give us more pleasure than the natural picture of the great Scipio and Lælius, unbending them.

I will, or perifh in the gen'rous caufe:

Hear this, and tremble! you, who 'scape the Laws.

Yes, while I live, no rich or noble knave

Shall walk the world, in credit, to his grave,



The World befide may murmur, or commend.
Know, all the diftant din that world can keep,


Rolls o'er my Grotto, and but fooths my fleep.

There, my retreat the best Companions grace, 125 Chiefs out of war, and Statesmen out of place.



felves from their high occupations, and defcending to common and even trifling sports: for the old commentator fays, that they lived in fuch intimacy with Lucilius, "ut quodam tempore Lælio circum lectos triclinii fugienti Lucilius fuperveniens, eum obtortâ mappâ quafi percuffurus fequeretur." For this is the fact to which Horace feems to allude, rather than to what Tully mentions in the fecond book De Oratore, of their amusing themfelves in picking up fhells and pebbles on the sea-shore.

Bolingbroke is here reprefented as pouring out himself to his friend in the most free and unreserved converfations on topics the most interesting and important But Pope was deceived: for it is afferted that the philofopher never discovered his real principles to our Poet; who is faid, ftrange as it appears, not even to have been acquainted with the tenets and contents of those very essays which were addreffed to himself, at the beginning of Bolingbroke's Philofophical Works. And it is added, that Pope was surprised, in his last illness, when a common acquaintance informed him that his Lordship, in a late converfation, had denied the moral attributes of God. There is a remarkable paffage in a letter from Bolingbroke to Swift, dated June 1734: "I am glad you approve of his Moral Effays. They will do more good than the fermons and writings of fome, who had a mind to find great fault with them. And if the doctrines taught, hinted at, and implied in them, and the trains of confequences deducible from these doctrines, were to be difputed in profe, I think he would have no



* Cum magnis vixiffe invita fatebitur ufque

Invidia; et fragili quærens illidere dentem,



reason to apprehend either the free-thinkers on one hand, or the narrow dogmatifts on the other. Some few things may be expreffed a little hardly; but none are, I believe, unintelligible." With refpect to the doctrines in the Effay on Man, I shall here infert an anecdote copied exactly from the papers of Mr. Spence in the words of Pope himself: "In the moral poem, I had written an address to our Saviour, imitated from Lucretius's compliments to Epicurus, but omitted it by the advice of Dean Berkley. One of our priests, who are more narrow than your's, made a lefs fenfible objection to the Epiftle on Happiness. He was very angry that there was nothing faid in it of our eternal happiness hereafter; though my subject was exprefsly to treat only of the ftate of man here."

If Bolingbroke concealed his real opinions from Pope, yet furely he speaks out plainly and loudly to Swift in one of his letters, and openly tells him he difmiffes from his creed the belief of a future ftate, as fuperfluous, and unneceffary to be called in tovindicate the general plan of Providence.

"Does Pope talk to you of the noble work which, at my in. figation, he has begun in such a manner that he must be convinced by this time I judged better of his talents than he did. The first Epiftle, which confiders Man relatively to the whole fyftem of univerfal Being: The fecond, which confiders him in his own habitation, in himself: And the third, which fhews how an universal cause works to one end, but works by various laws : how man, and beaft, and vegetable, are linked in a mutual dependency; parts neceffary to each other, and neceffary to the whole : how human focieties were formed; from what fpring true religion and true policy are derived: how God has made our greatest interefts and our plaineft duty indivisibly the fame: These three Epiftles, I fay, are finished. The fourth he is now intent upon. It is a noble subject: he pleads the cause of God. I use Seneca's expreffion against that famous charge which atheists in all ages have brought the fuppofed unequal difpenfations of Providence ;. a charge which I cannot heartily forgive your divines for admitting. You admit it, indeed, for an extreme good purpose, and

« PreviousContinue »