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"But ease in writing flows from art, not chance;
If such the plague and pains to write by rule,
Who, though the House was up, delighted sate,
In all but this, a man of sober life,
Not quite a madman, though a pasty fell,
Him, the damn'd doctors and his friends immured,
They bled, they cupp'd, they purged; in short, they cured:
Whereat the gentleman began to stare
My friends!" he cried, "pox take you for your care! 195 That, from a patriot of distinguish'd note,
Have bled and purged me to a simple vote."
Well, on the whole, plain prose must be my fate:
Wisdom (curse on it!) will come soon or late.
There is a time when poets will grow dull:
I'll e'en leave verses to the boys at school:
To rules of poetry no more confined,
I'll learn to smooth and harmonize my mind,
Teach every thought within its bounds to roll,
Soon as I enter at my country door,
My mind resumes the thread it dropp'd before;
I ask these sober questions of my heart:
If, when the more you drink, the more you crave,
You tell the doctor; when the more you have,
The more you want, why not with equal ease
The heart resolves this matter in a trice,
5 [Two lines in the Essay on Criticism.]
When golden angels cease to cure the evil:
If there be truth in law, and use can give A property, that's yours on which you live. Delightful Abbs Court,9 if its fields afford Their fruits to you, confesses you its lord:
All Worldly's hens, nay, partridge, sold to town,
He bought at thousands, what with better wit
You purchase as you want, and bit by bit;
Now, or long since, what difference will be found?
Heathcote himself, and such large-acred men,10 Lords of fat E'sham, or of Lincoln-fen,
6 Dr. Ken-t.
[Dr. White Kennet had made a fulsome dedication of one of his works to the Duke of Devonshire, through whose influence he was made Dean of Peterborough. In 1718 he was promoted to the bishopric of Peterborough, which he held till his death in 1728. There were two circumstances which must have marked out this divine as a fit object for Pope's satire. He had written against Atterbury on the subject of the Convocation, and he had seceded from the Tory party to join the Whigs. Dr. Walton, the rector of Whitechapel, put up a painting of the Last Supper as an altar-piece in his church, and Dr. Kennet was represented in the character of Judas!]
[The "dirty D--," was the Duke of Devonshire-William, the third Duke, a stanch Whig, of whom Horace Walpole said, "the Duke's outside was unpolished, his inside unpolishable."]
8 [Devonshire, the Duke previously alluded to.]
9 [Abbs Court, near Hampton Court. The "Worldly" mentioned in the next couplet was probably Edward Wortley Montagu, whose general avarice, and practice of selling his game, Pope satirizes in his imitation of the second satire of the second book of Horace.]
10 [Sir Gilbert Heathcote. See Moral Essays, Ep. III.]
Buy every stick of wood that lends them heat;
Yet these are wights, who fondly call their own
Estates have wings, and hang in Fortune's power
By sale, at least by death, to change their lord.
Man? and for ever? wretch! what wouldst thou have?
Heir urges heir, like wave impelling wave.
Enclose whole downs in walls,— 'tis all a joke!
And trees, and stones, and farms, and farmer fall.
Gold, silver, ivory, vases sculptured high,
Paint, marble, gems, and robes of Persian dye,
Talk what you will of taste, my friend, you'll find
11 Lord Townshend, Secretary of State to George the First and Second.When this great statesman retired from business, he amused himself in husbandry and was particularly fond of that kind of rural improvement which arises from turnips; it was the favourite subject of his conversation.
[Charles, the second Viscount Townshend, brother-in-law of Sir Robert Walpole. Lady Mary Wortley Montagu's notice of this nobleman is to the same effect as Pope's sarcasm. He had that sort of understanding, she observes, "which commonly makes men honest in the first part of their lives; they follow the instruction of their tutor, and, till somebody thinks it worth
Bows and votes on, in court and parliament;
while to show them a new path, go regularly on in the road where they are
12 ["Bu-," Bubb Dodington, afterwards Lord Melcombe.]
One, driven by strong benevolence of soul,
Yes, sir, how small soever be my heap,
A part I will enjoy, as well as keep;
My heir may sigh, and think it want of grace
Glad, like a boy, to snatch the first good day,
What is 't to me (a passenger, God wot,)
13 Employed in settling the colony of Georgia. [General Oglethorpe was a remarkable man. He had served under Prince Eugene, and in 1733 he entered upon those services for founding the colony of Georgia which the poet has so finely commemorated. The two eminent brothers, John and Samuel Wesley, accompanied him to Georgia. He returned in 1734, bringing some Indian chiefs with him; and two years afterwards he repaired again to Georgia, accompanied by a second body of emigrants. The war with Spain threatened the destruction of the colony, but Oglethorpe repelled the Spaniards, though he was unsuccessful in an expedition he made against St. Augustin. On his return to England he was employed against the followers of Charles Edward in Scotland, in 1745. He could not come up with them, and was tried for neglect of duty, but acquitted. The circumstance that Oglethorpe was a decided Jacobite, perhaps led to this slur on his military character, as it led to subsequent neglect on the part of the court and ministry. The general, however, was repaid by the praises of Pope, Thomson, and Dr. Johnson, and by the regard which his amiable character and intelligence inspired. He died in 1785.]
14 Alluding to the statutes made in England and Ireland, to regulate the succession of Papists, &c.