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The brevity and force of the original is évaporated in this long and feeble paraphrase. The third, and three succeeding lines, are languid and verbose, and some of the worst he has written.
Quid cum est Lucilius ausus
What? arm’d for virtue when I point the pen,
That strain , I heard was of a higher mood,
than the original pretends to assume. thor's Horace differs as much from his original as does his Homer; yet both will be always read with great pleasure and applause.
13. Could pension'd Boileau lash, in honest strain,
Flatt'rers and bigots ev’n in Louis' reignis
* Ver. 64..
+ Ver. 105.
Milton's Lycidas, 87.
BOILEAU acted with much caution and circumspection, when he first published his Lutrin, here alluded to; and endeavoured to cover and conceal his subject, by a preface intended to mislead his reader from the real scene of action; which preface is mentioned in the first volume of this Essay, page 214; but it ought to be observed, that he afterwards, in the year 1683, threw aside this disguise; openly avowing the occasion that gave rise to the poem, the scene of which was not Bourges, or Pourges, as before he had said, but Paris itself; the quarrel he celebrated being betwixt the Treasurer* and the Chanter of the Holy Chapel in that city. The canons were so far from being offended, that they shewed their good sense and good temper by joining in the laugh. Upon which Boileau compliments them, and adds, that many of that society were persons of so much wit and learning, that he would as soon consult them upon his
* Ilis name was Barrin; that of the Treasurer was Claude Auvri, Bishop of Coutance, in Normandy. The quarrel began in July, 1667. See Letters of Brossette to Boileau. A Lyon. 1770. Page 242, v. 1.
works, as the members of the French Academy.
14. Quin ubi se a vulgo & scenâ in secreta remorânt
Virtus Scipiadæ & mitis sapientia Læli,
There my retreat the best companions grace;
I know not whether these lines, spirited and splendid as they are, give us more pleasure
, than the natural picture of the great Scipio and Lælius, s unbending themselves from their high occupations, and descending to common, and
* Oeuvres de M. Boileau Despreaux, par M. de Saint
Marc. Tom. ii. 177, Paris, 1747.
+ Ver. 71.
§ Whose character is finely touched by that sweet expres
sion, mitis sapientia.
even trifling sports: for the old commentator says, that they lived in such intimacy with Lucilius, “ ut quodam tempore Lælio circum lectos triclinii fugienti Lucilius superveniens, eum obtortâ mappâ quasi percussurus sequeretur.” For this is the fact to which Horace seems to allude, rather than to what Tully mentions in the second book De Oratore, of their amusing themselves in picking up shells and pebbles on the sea-shore. Bolingbroke is here represented as pouring out himself to his friend, in the most free and unreserved conversations, on topics the most interesting and important. But Pope was deceived; for it is asserted, that the philosopher never discovered his real principles to our poet; who is said, strange as this appears, not even to have been acquainted with the tenets and contents of those very Essays which were addrest to himself, at the beginning of Bolingbroke's Philosophical Works. And it is added, that Pope was surprised, in his last illness, when a common acquaintance informed him, that his Lordship, in a late conversation, had deny’d the moral attributes of God. There is a remarkable passage in
a letter from Bolingbroke to Swift, dated June, 1734 :—“I am glad you approve of his Moral Essays. They will do more good than the sermons and writings of some who had a mind to find great fault with them. And if the doctrines TAUGHT, HINTED AT, and IMPLIED in them, and the TRAINS of CONSEQUENCES DEDUCIBLE from these doctrines, were to be disputed in prose,
I think he would have no reason to apprehend, either the free-thinkers on one hand, or the narrow dogmatists on the other. Some few things may be expressed a little hardly; but none are, I believe, unintelligible.” With respect to the doctrines of the Essay on Man, I shall here insert an anecdote copied exactly from the papers of Mr. Spence, in the words of Pope himself. * In the moral poem, I had written an address to our Saviour, imitated from Lucretius's compliment to Epicurus; but onnitted it, by the advice of Dean Berkeley. One of our priests, who are more narrow than yours, made a less sensible objection to the Epistle on Happiness. He was very angry that there was nothing said in it of our eternal happiness hereafter ; though my subject