« PreviousContinue »
There ST. JOHN mingles with my friendly bowl
And Hɛ, whofe lightning pierc'd th' Iberian Lines,
With eyes that pry not, tongue that ne'er repeats,
build on this admiffion the neceffity of a future ftate of rewards and punishments; but if you fhould find that this future. ftate will not account for God's juftice in the prefent state, which you give up, in oppofition to the atheist, would it not have been better to defend God's justice in this world, against these daring men, by irrefragable reafons, and to have refted the other point on revelation? I do not like conceffions made against demonstration, repair or fupply them how you will. The Epistles I have mentioned will compofe a first book: the plan of the second is fettled. You will not understand by what I have said, that Pope will go fo deep into the argument, or carry it so far as I have hinted." WARTON.
VER. 129. And He, whofe lightning, &c.] Charles Mordaunt Earl of Peterborow, who in the year 1705 took Barcelona, and in the winter following, with only 280 horfe and 900 fcot, enterprifed and accomplished the Conqueft of Valentia. РОРЕ.
VER. 133. Envy must own,] Pope has omitted an elegant allufion. Horace feems to have been particularly fond of those exquifite morfels of wit and genius, the old Æfopic fables. He frequently alludes to them, but always with a brevity very different from our modern writers of fable. Even the natural La Fontaine has added a quaint and witty thought to this very fable. The File fays to the Viper, Fab. 98.
"Tu le romprois toutes les dents,
* nifi quid tu, docte Trebati,
T. Equidem nihil hinc diffingere poffum. Sed tamen ut monitus caveas, ne forte negotî Incutiat tibi quid fanctarum infcitia legum :
m❝ Si mala condiderit in quem quis carmina, jus est "Judiciumque."
H. Esto, fiquis " mala. fed bona fi quis Judice condiderit laudatus CÆSARE? fi quis
VER. 135. With eyes that pry not,] Pope triumphs and felicitates himself upon having lived with the Great, without defcending into one of those characters which he thinks it unavoidable to efcape in fuch a fituation. From the generofity and openness of Horace's character, I think he might be pronounced equally free (at least trom the laft) of these imputations. There must have been fomething uncommonly captivating in the temper and manners of Horace, that could have made Augustus so fond of him, though he had been fo avowed an enemy, and ferved under Brutus. I have seen some manufcript letters of Shaftesbury, in which he has ranged, in three different claffes, the Ethical writings of Horace, according to the different periods of his life in which he fuppofes them to have been written. The first, during the time he profeffed the Stoic philofophy, and was a friend of Brutus. The fecond, after he became diffolute and debauched at the court of Auguftus. The third, when he repented of this abandoned Epicurean life, wished to retire from the city and court, and become a private man and a philofopher. I have read a poem, which may one day fee the light, in which Horace is represented as meeting Brutus in Elyfium, who will not deign to hold any conversation with our Court-poct, but turns away from him with the sullen filence and haughty difdain with which Ajax treats Ulyffes in the Odyffey. WARTON.
To help who want, to forward who excel;
This all who know me, know; who love me, tell;
Confult the Statute: quart. I think, it is, Edwardi fext. or prim. et quint. Eliz.
See Libels, Satires-here you have it—read.
P. Libels and Satires! lawless things indeed! 150
VER. 146. A man was hang'd, &c.] Si mala condiderit-A great French Lawyer explains this matter very truly. "L'Ariftocratie eft le Gouvernement qui profcrit le plus les Ouvrages fatiriques. Les Magiftrats y font de petits Souverains, qui ne font pas affez grands pour meprifer les injures. Si dans la Monarchie. quelque trait va contre le Monarque, il eft fi haut que le trait n'arrive point jufqu'à lui; un Seigneur Ariftocratique en est percé de part en part. Auffi les Decemvirs, qui formoient une Arifto. cratie, punirent-ils de mort les ecrits fatiriques." De L'Esprit des Loix, 1. xii. c. 13. WARBURTON.
VER. 146. A man was hang'd] This may put the reader in mind of the ridiculous circumftance in Shakespear's Julius Cæfar: where poor Cinna the Poet, when attacked by the mob, exclaims,
"I am not Cinna the Conspirator, I am Cinna the Poet."
VER. 150,151. Libels and Satires! lawless things indeed!
The legal objection is here more justly and decently taken off than in the original. Horace evades the force of it with a quibble,
"Efto, fiquis mala, fed bona fi quis”
Opprobriis dignum laceraverit, integer ipfe?
T. Solventur rifu tabulæ : tu miffus abibis.
But the Imitator's grave Epiftles thew the fatire to be a serious re proof, and therefore juftifiable; which the integer ipfe of the ori ginal does not. WARBURTON.
VER. 153 F. Indeed ?] Hor.
"Solventur rifu tabulæ."
Some Critics tell us, it is want of Tafte to put this line in the mouth of Trebatius. But our Poet confutes this cenfure, by fhewing how well the fenfe of it agrees to his Friend's Character. The Lawyer is cautious and fearful; but as soon as Sir ROBERT, the Patron both of Law and Gospel, is named as approving them, he changes his note, and, in the language of old Plouden, owns, the Cafe is alter'd Now was it not as natural, when Horace had given him a hint that Auguftus himfelf fupported him, for Trebatius, a Court Advocate, who had been long a Client to him and his uncle, to confefs the Cafe was alter'd? WARBURTON.
To laugh at the folemnity of Trebatius, which throughout the Dialogue is exactly kept up, Horace puts him off with a mere play upon words. But our important Lawyer takes no notice of the jeft, and finishes with a gravity fuited to his character: WARTON.
"Solventur rifu tabulæ : tu miffus abibis."
Four lines in this Imitation " gave great offence," fays Ruff. head, (and well they might,) "to two court Ladies." The perfons he means were M. W. Montagu, defignated by Sappho, and Lady Deloraine, supposed to be intended by Delia. Lady M. W. Montagu requested Lord Peterborough to expoftulate with Pope.
Pope's defence, as usual, was half fubterfuge, and half falsehood. Lord Peterborough, in his answer to Lady M., fays,
"He (Pope) named to me four remarkable poetesses and scribblers, Mrs. Behn, Mra. Centlivre, Mrs. Haywood, and Mrs. Manly, famous in their generation, &c affuring me that fuch only were the objects of his fatire. I hope this affurance will prevent further mistake, and any consequences upon fo ODD a fubject.
Your Ladyfhip's, &c.
But grave Epistles, bringing Vice to light,
The Cafe is alter'd-you may then proceed;
At the time this Poem was written, there was a great outcry by the Oppofition against the "Standing Army:" Hence Pope's oblique Satire, Save but our Army!"
In a debate on this fubject in the Houfe of Commons, Lord Hervey faid, "The reduction of the army was always the occafion of fome machination against us. In the late King's reign, the fmall number of forces was the cause of the Rebellion in 1715. When that disturbance was quelled, the army was no fooner reduced, but we were threatened with infurrection at home, and invafion from Spain." He added, "Though every thing be now quiet, yet the libels that are every day published against the Government, and the many fcribblers employed to fow diffenfion and difaffection, is an evident fign that we have many enemies in our bofom, who would probably think of other weapons than the pen, if we should make a great reduction in our army."
Mr. Plumer, in reply, faid, "He could not fee how the number of fcribblers was a fufficient reason for a itanding army; if fcribbling made the Government uneafy, the best way would be to employ an army of fcribblers to defend them.”
Parliamentary Debates for 1732 Lord Hervey's antipathy to scribblers may be eafily accounted for. What Plumer recommended, was the very system Sir Robert Walpole purfued. He had his Hoft of Scribblers, against the formidable Artillery of the Craftsman, a paper directed by Bolingbroke; his own unfhaken confidence, and manly energies in the House, against the wit of Pulteney, the eloquence of Chefterfield, and all the arts, fchemes, and contrivances of Bolingbroke,