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He, who still wanting, though he lives on theft,
All these, my modest satire bade translate,
Peace to all such! but were there one whose fires
And wonder with a foolish face of praise-
25 See their works, in the translations of classical books by several hands. 26 It was a great falsehood, which some of the libels reported, that this character was written after the gentleman's death: which see refuted in the Testimonies prefixed to the Dunciad. But the occasion of writing it was such as he would not make public out of regard to his memory; and all that could further be done was to omit the name, in the edition of his works [Pope first published this celebrated Satire in the Miscellanies, 1727. But it had been published by Mr. Jeremiah Markland in 1723, in a pamphlet entitled 'Cytherea;" and afterwards by Curll. See also Life of Pope in this edition, Vol. I, p. 101.]
What though my name stood rubric on the walls, 215 Or plaster'd posts, with claps, in capitals? Or smoking forth, a hundred hawkers load,
On wings of winds came flying all abroad? 27
I sought no homage from the race that write;
I kept, like Asian monarchs, from their sight:
No more than thou, great George! a birthday song.
I ne'er with wits or witlings pass'd my days,
To spread about the itch of verse and praise;
On the line, "Who would not weep if Atticus were he?" Warburton has the following note, dictated, no doubt, by Pope :-"But when we come to know it belongs to Atticus-i. e. to one whose more obvious qualities had before engaged our love or esteem, then friendship, in spite of ridicule, will make a separation: our old impressions will get the better of our new; or at least suffer themselves to be no farther impaired than by the admission of a mixture of pity and concern."
It appears from a letter of Atterbury's that copies of the verses were circulated before February, 1721-2. "No small piece of your writing," he says, "has been ever sought after so much it has pleased every man without exception to whom it has been read." Pope added a note to this passage in the correspondence, stating that" an imperfect copy had got out, very much to the author's surprise, who never would give any." Even Spence doubts this. Most of the sentiments and imagery in the satire are contained in a letter to Craggs, July 15, 1715. "I translated Homer for the public in general; he (Tickell) to gratify the inordinate desires of one man only. We have, it seems, a great Turk in poetry, who can never bear a brother on the throne; and he has his mutes, too, a set of nodders, winkers, and whisperers, whose business is to strangle all other offsprings of wit in their birth. The new translator of Homer is the humblest slave he has, that is to say, his first minister; let him receive the honours he gives me, but receive them with fear and trembling; let him be proud of the approbation of his absolute lord, I appeal to the people as my rightful judges and masters; and if they are not inclined to condemn me, I fear no arbitrary, high-flying proceeding from the small Court-faction at Button's. But after all I have said of this great man, there is no rupture between us. We are each of us so civil and obliging, that neither thinks he is obliged: and I, for my part, treat with him as we do with the Grand Monarch, who has too many good qualities not to be respected, though we know he watches any occasion to oppress us." With respect to the merits of this memorable quarrel, we have spoken in the sketch of Pope's life.] 27 Hopkins in the 104th Psalm.
But sick of fops, and poetry, and prate,
Proud as Apollo on his forked hill,
Who first his judgment asked, and then a place:
Much they extoll'd his pictures, much his seat,
He paid some bards with port, and some with praise,
Dryden alone (what wonder?) came not nigh,
But still the great have kindness in reserve,
May every Bavius have his Bufo still!
So when a statesman wants a day's defence, 32
28 [The Earl of Halifax. See Note at the end of the Epistle.] 29 After ver. 234, in the MS.
"To bards reciting he vouchsafed a nod,
And snuff"'d their incense like a gracious god."
30 Ridicules the affectation of antiquaries, who frequently exhibit the headless trunks and terms of statues, for Plato, Homer, Pindar, &c. Vide Fulv. Ursin, &c.
31 Mr. Dryden, after having lived in exigencies, had a magnificent funeral bestowed upon him by the contribution of several persons of quality.
32 [Warburton remarks-" Notwithstanding this ridicule on the public necessities of the great, our Poet was candid enough to confess that they are not always to be imputed to them, as their private may. For (when uninfected by the neighbourhood of Party) he speaks of those distresses much more dispassionately.
'Our Ministers like gladiators live,
'Tis half their bus'ness blows to ward, or give;
The good their virtue would effect, or sense,
Dies between exigents and self-defence.'-MS."]
Or simple pride for flattery makes demands,
May dunce by dunce be whistled off my hands!
Of all thy blameless life the sole return
My verse, and QUEENSBERRY weeping o'er thy urn!
(To live and die is all I have to do :)
Maintain a poet's dignity and ease,
And see what friends, and read what books I please:
Above a patron, though I condescend
Sometimes to call a minister my friend.
I was not born for courts or great affairs:
pay my debts, believe, and say my prayers; Can sleep without a poem in my head,
Nor know if Dennis be alive or dead. 33
Why am I ask'd what next shall see the light?
Heavens! was I born for nothing but to write ?
"I found him close with Swift-Indeed? no doubt
(Cries prating Balbus) something will come out." 'Tis all in vain, deny it as I will:
"No, such a genius never can lie still;" And then for mine obligingly mistakes
The first lampoon Sir Will or Bubo makes.34
33 After ver. 270 in the MS.,
Friendships from youth I sought, and seek them still:
And in a course of flattery lived no fool."
34 [Sir William Yonge, Secretary-at-War. He had been in Parliament from 1722, and filled various offices. Sir Robert Walpole used to say that nothing short of Yonge's talents could have supported his character, and nothing but his character could have kept down his talents. Horace Walpole remarks that his eloquence seemed to come upon him by inspiration, for he could scarce talk common sense in private on political subjects, on which in public he would be the most animated speaker. Yonge ventured also on poetical epistles, but was less successful than in prose. He died at his seat at Escott, near Honiton, in 1755. Bubo was Bubb Dodington, afterwards Lord Melcombe. See Notes to Moral Essays, Ep. IV.]
Poor guiltless I! and can I choose but smile,
Cursed be the verse, how well soe'er it flow,
Or from the soft-eyed virgin steal a tear!
But he who hurts a harmless neighbour's peace,
That fop, whose pride affects a patron's name,
And sees at Canons what was never there; 36
A lash like mine no honest man shall dread,
But all such babbling blockheads in his stead.
Let Sporus tremble 37-A. What? that thing of silk, 305 Sporus, that mere white curd of ass's milk?
35 After ver. 282 in the MS.,
"P. What if I sing, Augustus, great and good?
Be nice no more, but, with a mouth profound,
36 Meaning the man who would have persuaded the Duke of Chandos that Mr. P. meant him in those circumstances ridiculed in the Epistle on Taste. 37 [Lord Hervey. See Note. In the first edition the name was "Paris."]