« PreviousContinue »
Est "animus tibi, sunt mores, est lingua, fidesque:
Sed quadringentis sex septem millia desint;
Plebs eris. At pueri ludentes, Rex eris, aiunt,
Si rectè facies. Hic murus aheneus esto,
Nil conscire sibi, nullâ pallescere culpâ.
'Roscia, dic sodes, melior lex, an puerorum est
"Vilius est auro argentum, virtutibus aurum ;"
which only says, That as silver is of less value than gold, so gold is of less value than virtue: in which, simple inferiority, and not the proportion of it, is implied. For it was as contrary to the author's purpose, as it is to common sense, to suppose, that virtue was but just as much better than gold, as gold is better than silver. Yet Mr. Pope, too attentive to his constant object, conciseness, has, before he was aware, fallen into this absurd meaning. However, this and many other inaccuracies in his works had been corrected, had he lived; as many, that now first appear in this edition, were actually corrected a little before his death.
And here I cannot but do justice to one of his many good qualities, a very rare one, indeed, and what none but a truly great genius can afford to indulge; I mean his extreme readiness, and unfeigned pleasure, in acknowledging his mistakes: this, with an impatience to reform them, he possessed in a greater degree, and with less affectation, than any man I ever knew. Warburton. Ver. 84. notches sticks] Exchequer tallies. Warburton.
Ver. 85. Barnard in spirit, sense, and truth abounds;] Sir John Barnard. It was the Poet's purpose to say, that this great man (who does so much honour to his country) had a fine genius, improved and put in use by a true understanding; and both, under the guidance of an integrity superior to all the temptations of interest, honours, or any meaner passion. Many events, since the paying this tribute to his virtue, have shewn how much, and how particularly it was due to him. Warburton.
Ver. 85. Barnard] Sir John Barnard, Knight, was born at Reading, and brought up at a school at Wandsworth, in Surrey; his parents were Quakers. In 1703, he quitted the Society of
From him whose "quills stand quiver'd at his ear, To him who notches sticks at Westminster.
Barnard in "spirit, sense, and truth abounds; 85 Pray then, what wants he?" Fourscore thousand pounds;
A pension, or such harness for a slave
As Bug now has, and Dorimant would have.
But Bug and D**1, their Honours, and so forth. 90
Virtue, brave boys! 'tis virtue makes a king."
True, conscious honour is to feel no sin;
He's arm'd without that's innocent within;
'And say, to which shall our applause belong? This new court jargon, or the good old song?
Quakers, was received into the church by Compton, bishop of London, and continued a member of it. Bowles.
Ver. 88. Bug, and Dorimant] It cannot now be discovered to whom these names belong. So soon does satire become unintelligible. The same may be said of ver. 112.
Ver. 95. Be this thy screen, and this thy wall of brass ;]
"Hic murus aheneus esto."
Dacier laughs at an able critic, who was scandalized, that the ancient scholiasts had not explained what Horace meant by a wall of brass; for, says Dacier: "Chacun se fait des difficultés à sa mode, et demande des rémarques proportionnées à son goût." He then sets himself in good earnest about this important inquiry; and, by a passage in Vegetius, luckily discovers, that it signified an old veteran, armed cap-a-pie in brass, and PLACED TO COVER HIS FELLOW. Our Poet has happily served himself of this impertinence to convey a very fine stroke of satire. Warburton.
Nænia, quæ regnum rectè facientibus offert,
'Isne tibi meliùs suadet, qui, "Rem facias; rem, Si possis, rectè; si non, quocunque modo rem.” Ut "propius spectes lacrymosa poëmata Pupî! An qui fortunæ te responsare superbæ
Liberum et erectum, præsens hortatur et aptat?
Respondit, referam: Quia me vestigia terrent
Pars hominum gestit conducere publica: sunt qui
Ver. 116. Because I see,] Both poets have told this fable, which Plato also was fond of, with an elegant brevity, a quality for which Babrius was eminent, and in which our modern fabulists miserably fail. Why did Pope omit ægroto? And why would he connect the passage that immediately follows in a forced and quaint manner, which Horace never thought of? As if the word bellua had any relation to the lion before mentioned? Warton.
Ver. 128. some farm the poor-box,] Alluding most probably to a Society, calling itself the "Charitable Corporation;" by which thousands were cheated and ruined. Bowles.
The modern language of corrupted peers,
Or what was spoke at CRESSY and POITIERS? 100 Who counsels best? who whispers: "Be but great; 'With praise or infamy, leave that to fate;
Get place and wealth, if possible, with grace:
Or "he, who bids thee face with steady view
And, while he bids thee, sets the example too?
The 'people are a many-headed beast.
Alike in nothing but one lust of gold,
Just half the land would buy, and half be sold: 125 Their country's wealth our mightier misers drain, Or cross, to plunder provinces, the main ;
The rest, some farm the poor-box, some the pews; Some keep assemblies, and would keep the stews;
"Crustis et pomis viduas venentur avaras, Excipiantque senes, quos in vivaria mittant:
* Multis occulto crescit res fœnore. Verùm
Ver. 130. doturds fawn;] The legacy-hunters, the hæredipetæ, were a more common character among the ancients than with us. The ridicule, therefore, is now not so striking. Lucian has five pleasant dialogues on the subject, from page 343 to 363, in the quarto edition of Hemsterhusius. Horace himself appears to have failed more in exposing this folly, than in any other of his Satires; and principally so, by mixing ancient with modern manners, and making Tiresias instruct Ulysses in petty frauds, and artifices too subtle for the old prophet and hero to dictate and to practise. Sat. v. lib. ii.
Ben Jonson's Fox is not much relished from our not being acquainted with such characters, which are finely ridiculed by Plautus, in the Soldier, 3d Act.
Illi apud me edunt, me curant, visunt quid agam ecquid velim;
Ver. 138. Sir Job] Superior to the original; a pleasing little landscape is added to the Satire. But Greenwich-hill is not an exact parallel for Baiæ; where the Romans of the best taste and fashion built their villas. Pope's is the villa of a citizen. The absurd and awkward magnificence of some opulent citizens has, of late, been frequently exposed; but nowhere with more humour. than in the Connoisseur, and in the characters of Sterling and Mrs.