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PRIMA dicte mihi, *summâ dicende camœnâ, Spectatum satis, et donatum jam rude, quæris, Mæcenas, iterum antiquo me includere ludo.
Non eadem est ætas, non mens. Veianius, armis
Herculis ad postem fixis, latet abditus agro; Ne populum extremâ toties exoret arenâ.
Ver. 1. whose love] Equal to the affection which Horace in the original professes for Mæcenas. It has been suspected that his affection to his friend was so strong, as to make him resolve not to outlive him; and that he actually put into execution his promise of "ibimus, ibimus." Od. xvii. lib. 3. Both died in the end of the year 746; Horace only three weeks after Mæcenas, November 27. Nothing can be so different as the plain and manly style of the former, in comparison of what Quintilian calls the calamistros of the latter, for which Sanctorius and Macrobius, cap. 86, say Augustus frequently ridiculed him, though Augustus himself was guilty of the same fault: as when he said, vapidè se habere for malè. Warton.
Ver. 3. Sabbath of my days?] i. e. The 49th year, the age of the author. Warburton.
Ver. 8. Hang their old trophies o'er the garden gates,] An occasional stroke of satire on ill-placed ornaments. He has more openly ridiculed them in his Epistle on Taste:
"Load some vain church with old theatric state,
Turn arcs of triumph to a garden gate."
He is said to have alluded to the entrance of Lord Peterborough's lawn at Bevismount, near Southampton.
There is more pleasantry and humour in Horace's comparing himself to an old gladiator, worn out in the service of the public,
TO LORD BOLINGBROKE.
ST. JOHN, whose love indulged my labours past,
See, modest Cibber now has left the stage:
Nor 'fond of bleeding, even in BRUNSWICK'S cause.
from which he had often begged his life, and has now at last been dismissed with the usual ceremonies, than for Pope to compare himself to an old actor or retired general. Pope was in his fortyninth year, and Horace probably in his forty-seventh, when he wrote this Epistle. Bentley has arranged the writings of Horace in the following order. He composed the first book of his Satires between the twenty-sixth and twenty-eighth year of his age; the second book, from the year thirty-one to thirty-three; next, the Epodes, in his thirty-fourth and fifth year; next, the first book of his Odes, in three years, from his thirty-sixth to his thirty-eighth year; the second book in the two next years; then the first book of the Epistles, in his forty-sixth and seventh year; next to that, the fourth book of his Odes, in his forty-ninth year: lastly, the Art of Poetry, and second book of the Epistles, to which an exact date cannot be assigned. Warton.
Ver. 10. even in BRUNSWICK's cause.] In the former editions it was Britain's cause. But the terms are synonymous. Warburton,
'Est mihi purgatam crebrò qui personet aurem; Solve 'senescentem maturè sanus equum, ne Peccet ad extremum ridendus, et ilia ducat. Nunc itaque et "versus, et cætera ludicra pono: Quid verum atque decens curo et rogo, et omnis in hoc sum:
*Condo, et compono, quæ mox depromere possim. Ac ne fortè roges, 'quo me duce, quo Lare tuter: Nullius addictus jurare in verba magistri, "Quò me cunque rapit tempestas, deferor hospes. Nunc agilis fio, et mersor "civilibus undis, Virtutis veræ custos, rigidusque satelles:
Ver. 15. Lest stiff] He has excelled Boileau's imitation of these verses, Ep. 10. v. 44. And indeed Boileau himself is excelled by an old French poet, whom he has frequently imitated, that is, Le Fresnaie Vauquelin, whose Poems were published 1612. Vauquelin says, that he profited much by reading the Satires of Ariosto; he also wrote an Art of Poetry; one of his best pieces is an imitation of Horace's Trebatius, being a dialogue between himself and the Chancellor of France. Warton.
Ver. 16. You limp, like Blackmore on a Lord Mayor's horse.] The fame of this heavy Poet, however problematical elsewhere, was universally received in the city of London. His versification is here exactly described: stiff, and not strong; stately, and yet dull, like the sober and slow-paced animal generally employed to mount the Lord Mayor: and therefore here humorously opposed to Pegasus. Pope.
Ver. 26. And house with Montaigne now, or now with Locke :] i. c. Chuse either an active or a contemplative life, as is most fitted to the season and circumstances. For he regarded these writers as the best schools to form a man for the world; or to give him a knowledge of himself; Montaigne excelling in his observations on social and civil life; and Locke, in developing the faculties, and explaining the operations of the human mind. Warburton,
'A voice there is, that whispers in my ear,
('Tis reason's voice, which sometimes one can hear,) "Friend Pope! be prudent; let your Muse take
And never gallop Pegasus to death;
Lest stiff and stately, void of fire or force,
You limp, like Blackmore on a Lord Mayor's
Farewell then "verse, and love, and every toy, The rhymes and rattles of the man or boy; What 'right, what true, what fit we justly call, Let this be all my care-for this is all: To lay this harvest up, and hoard with haste What every day will want, and most, the last.
But ask not, to what 'doctors I apply;
Sworn to no master, of no sect am I;
As drives the storm, at any door I knock,
Mix with the world, and battle for the state,
Ver. 29. Free as young Lyttelton,] A just, and not overcharged encomium, on an excellent man, who had always served his friends with warmth, (witness his kindness to Thomson,) and his country with activity and zeal. His Poems and Dialogues of the Dead are written with elegance and ease; his observations on the Conversion of St. Paul, with clearness and closeness of reasoning; and his History of Henry II. with accuracy and knowledge of those early times and of the English Constitution; and which was compiled from a laborious search into authentic documents, and the records lodged in the Tower and at the Rolls. A little before he
Nunc in Aristippi 'furtim præcepta relabor,
died, he told me, that he had determined to throw out of the collection of all his works, which was then to be published, his first juvenile performance, the Persian Letters, written 1735, in imitation of those of his friend Montesquieu, whom he had known and admired in England, in which he said there were principles and remarks that he wished to retract and alter. I told him, that notwithstanding his caution, the booksellers, as in fact they have done, would preserve and insert these letters. Another little piece, written also in his early youth, does him much honour; the Observations on the Life of Tully; in which, perhaps, a more dispassionate and impartial character of Tully is exhibited than in the panegyrical volumes of Middleton. Warton.
Warton has paid a just tribute of applause to Lyttelton. Lyttelton consulted Pope about his Pastorals. As it elucidates Pope's concern in his young friend's Poems, the reader, perhaps, will excuse my inserting an original letter from Lyttelton to Dodington, on this subject.
Hagley, November 24, 1731.
"Dear Sir, "The approbation you express of my verses, and the praise you bestow, cannot but be extremely pleasing to me, as they are the effects of a friendship upon which I set so high a value. When I sent my Pastorals to Mr. Pope, I desired him to make any corrections he should judge proper, and accordingly he has favoured me with some alterations, which I beg you will give yourself the trouble of inserting in your copy. At the end of the first page, after this line:
'When now the setting sun less fiercely burn'd;'
be pleased to add the two following:
'Blue vapours rose along the mazy rills,
And light's last blushes tinged the distant hills.'
Omnis Aristippum decuit color, et status, et res.
+ Four Pastorals by Lord Lyttelton, published in Dodsley's