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Satire or Senfe, alas! can Sporus feel?
The lines are weak, another's pleas'd to say,
Lord Fanny fpins a thoufand fuch a day.
And Lady M. W. M. by the eighty-third line of the fame piece, too gross to be here repeated.
But can this be the nobleman (we are apt to afk) whom Middleton, in his Dedication to the Hiftory of the Life of Tully, has fo seriously and so earnestly praised, for his ftrong good fenfe, his confummate politenefs, his real patriotifm, his rigid temperance, his thorough knowledge and defence of the laws of his country, his accurate skill in history, his unexampled and unremitted diligence in literary pursuits, who added credit to this very history, as Scipio and Lælius did to that of Polybius, by revifing and correcting it; and brightening it, as he expreffes it, by the strokes of his pencil? The man that had written this splendid encomium on Lord H. could not, we may imagine, be very well affected to the bard who had painted Lord Fanny in fo ridiculous a light. We find him writing thus to Dr. Warburton, January 7, 1740: "You have evinced the orthodoxy of Mr. Pope's principles; but, like the old commentators on his Homer, will be thought perhaps, in fome places, to have found a meaning for him, that he himself never dreamt of. However, if you did not find him a philofopher, you will make him one; for he will be wife enough to take the benefit of your reading, and make his future Essays more clear and confiftent." WARTON.
VER. 306. white curd] Lord Hervey, to prevent the attacks of an epilepfy, perfifted in a strict regimen of daily food, which was a fmall quantity of affes milk and a flour biscuit, with an apple once a week; and he used a little paint to foften his ghaftly appearance. WARTON.
I must refer the reader to Mr. Coxe's humane and manly fentiments upon this occafion, Coxe's Walpole, oct. edit. vol. ii. p. 164.
VER. 307. can Sporus feel?] In the first edition, Pope had the name "Paris," instead of Sporus; it seems a more fuitable name. There is, I believe, no account why it was
P. Yet let me flap this bug with gilded wings,
This painted child of dirt, that ftinks and ftings; 310
Yet wit ne'er taftes, and beauty ne'er enjoys:
In mumbling of the game they dare not bite.
As fhallow ftreams run dimpling all the
And, as the prompter breathes, the puppet fqueaks; Or at the ear of Eve, familiar Toad,
Half froth, half venom, fpits himself abroad,
In puns, or politics, or tales, or lies,
Or fpite, or fmut, or rhymes, or blafphemies.
Amphibious thing! that acting either part,
VER. 319. See Milton, Book iv.
VER. 322. or blafphemies.] In former editions these two lines followed immediately:
Did ever Smock-face act fo vile a part,
A trifling head, and a corrupted heart.
Not Fortune's worshipper, nor Fashion's fool,
VER. 340. That not in Fancy's maze he wander'd long,] His merit in this will appear very great, if we confider, that in this walk he had all the advantages which the moft poetic Imagination could give to a great Genius. M. Voltaire, in a MS. letter now before me, writes thus from England to a friend in Paris: “I intend to fend you two or three poems of Mr. Pope, the best Poet of England, and at present of all the world. I hope you are acquainted enough with the English tongue, to be fenfible of all the charms of his works. For my part, I look upon his poem called the Effay on Criticifm as fuperior to the Art of Poetry of Horace ; and his Rape of the Lock is, in my opinion, above the Lutrin of Defpreaux. I never faw fo amiable an imagination, fo gentle graces, so great variety, so much wit, and fo refined knowledge of the world, as in this little performance." MS. Lett. O&. 15, 1726. WARBURTON.
VER. 341. But Stoop'd to Truth, and moralix'd his fong:] This may be faid no lefs in commendation of his literary, than of his moral character. And his fuperior excellence in poetry is owing to it. He foon discovered in what his force lay; and he made the best of that advantage, by a fedulous cultivation of his proper talent. For having read Quintilian early, this precept did not escape him, Sunt hæc duo vitanda prorfus: unum ne tentes quod effici non poffit; alerum, ne ab eo, quod quis optime facit, in aliud, cui minus eft idoneus, transferas. It was in this knowledge and cultivation of his genius that he had principally the advantage of his great mafter, Dryden; who, by his Mac-Flecno, his Abfolom and Achitophel, but chiefly by his Prologues and Epilogues, appears to have had great talents for this fpecies of moral poetry; but, unluckily, he seemed neither to understand nor attend to it.
That not for Fame, but Virtue's better end,
VER. 341. But floop'd to Truth,] The term is from falconry; and the allufion to one of thofe untam'd birds of spirit, which fometimes wantons at large in airy circles before it regards, or floops to, its prey. WARBURTON.
VER. 343. He flood the furious foe,] Stood, ufed for withflood.
VER. 345. The coxcomb hit, &c.] Pope here enumerates the provocations he fuffered from his enemies, and points to particular accufations, and perfons-By the furious foe, perhaps, he means Phillips. The daring Critic, and half-approving Wit, I have no doubt were meant for Dennis and Addison, &c. "The distant threats of vengeance," that he was threatened with a whip; "the blow unfelt," that he had been beat; "the tear he never fhed," that he cried, &c.: these were ftories at the time publifhed against him.
VER. 350. The tale reviv'd,] Probably the ftory of his hav ing been whipped in Ham walks. A paper was published with the following title: "A true and faithful account of the horrid whipping committed on the body of Sawney Pope, a Poet; as he was walking in Ham walks, near the river Thames, meditating verfes for the good of the publick."
VER. 350. the lie fo oft o'erthrown,] As, that he received fubfcriptions for Shakespear, that he fet his name to Mr. Broome's verfes, &c. which, though publicly difproved, were nevertheless fhamelessly repeated in the Libels, and even in that called the Nobleman's Epifile.
The morals blacken'd when the writings 'fcape,
The whisper, that to Greatness ftill too near,
VER. 351. Th' imputed trafb,] Such as profane Pfalms, Court Poems, and other fcandalous things, printed in his name by Curl and others. WARBURTON.
VER. 353. The bell'd perfon,] Caricatures published of him. VER. 353. the pictur'd shape;] Hay, in his effay on Deformity, has remarked, that Pope was fo hurt by the caricatura of his figure, as to rank it among the most atrocious injuries he received from his enemies. WARTON.
VER. 354. Abufe, on all he lov'd, or lov'd him, fpread,] Namely, on the Duke of Buckingham, the Earl of Burlington, Lord Bathurft, Lord Bolingbroke, Bishop Atterbury, Dr Swift, Dr. Arbuthot, Mr. Gay, his Friends, his Parents, and his very Nurfe, afperfed in printed papers, by James Moore, G. Ducket, L. Welfted, Tho. Bentley, and other obfcure perfons. POPE.
VER. 355. A friend in exile,] The Bishop of Rochester. VER. 356. The whisper, that to Greatnefs fill too near,] By the whisper is meant calumniating honeft characters. Shakespear has finely expreffed this office of the fycophant of Greatness in the folling line:
"Rain facrificial whifp'rings in his ear."
By which is meant the immolating men's reputations to the vice. or vanity of his Patron. WARBURTON. Warton naturally afks, "Did Shakespear mean this?" VER. 357. Perhaps, yet vibrates, &c.] To crown the whole of thefe provocations, he mentions the circumitance which he appears to have felt moft, of Lord Hervey having infinuated fomething against him to George II. Pope was never a favourite at court; how could he have been, when he continually direct