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WRITTEN IN MDCCXXXVIII.
Is all a Libel-Paxton (Sir) will fay.
P. Not yet, my Friend! to-morrow 'faith it may;
And for that very cause I print to-day.
VER. 1. 'Tis all a Libel] The liberty of the Prefs was about this time thought to be in danger; and Milton's noble and nervous discourse on this fubject, intitled, Areopagitica, was reprinted in an octavo pamphlet, with a preface written by Thomfon, the poet." If we think to regulate printing," fays Milton, "thereby to rectify manners, we muft regulate all recreations and paftimes, all that is delightful to man. No mufic must be heard, no fong be set or fung, but what is grave and Doric.He who is made judge to fit upon the birth or death of books, whether they may be wafted into this world or not, had need to be a man above the common measure, both studious, learned, and judicious." WARTON.
VER. 1. Paxton] Late folicitor to the Treasury.
Vice with fuch Giant ftrides comes on amain,
F. Yet none but you by Name the guilty lafh; 10
P. How, Sir! not damn the Sharper, but the Dice? Come on then, Satire! genʼral, unconfin❜d, Spread thy broad wing, and foufe on all the kind. Ye Satesmen, Priefts, of one Religion all! 16 Ye Tradefmen, vile, in Army, Court, or Hall! Ye Rev'rend Atheists. F. Scandal! name them, Who? P. Why that's the thing you bid me not to do.
VER. 8. Feign what I will, &c.] The Poet has here introduced an oblique apology for himself with great art. You attack perfonal characters, fay his enemics. No, replies he, I paint merely from my invention; and then, to prevent a likeness, I aggravate the features. But alas! the growth of vice is so monftrously fudden, that it rifes up to a refemblance before I can get from the prefs. WARBURTON.
VER. 11. Ev'n Guthry] The Ordinary of Newgate, who publifhes the Memoirs of the Malefactors, and is often prevailed upon to be so tender of their reputation, as to fet down no more than the initials of their name. POPE.
VER. 13. How, Sir ! not damn the Sharper, but the Dice?] It is pity that the liveliness of the reply cannot excuse the bad reason. ing: The dice, though they rhyme to vice, can never stand for it; which his argument requires they fhould do. For dice are only the inftruments of fraud; but the question is not, whether the infirument, but whether the a committed by it, fhould be expofed, inftead of the perfon. WARBURTON.
Who ftarv'd a Sifter, who forfwore a Debt,
P. See, now I keep the Secret, and not you!
VER. 21. the Town's enquiring yet.] So true is Swift's observation on perfonal fatire; "I have long obferved, that twenty miles from London nobody understands hints, initial letters, or town-facts and passages; and in a few years not even those who live in London." See verse 238 below, for two aferisks, not filled up or known. WARTON.
If the Town" be inquiring yet," it is plain, Pope made his bare furmife, the foundation of the fevereft fatire.
VER. 22. F. You mean-P. I don't.] The fame friend is here again introduced making such remonftrances as before. And feveral parts of the dialogue here are more rapid and short, and approach nearer to common conversation, than any lines he had ever-before written; and are examples of that ftyle mentioned by Horace,
-parcentis viribus, atque Extenuantis eas confultò."
VER. 24. The bribing Statesman] Corruption was the univerfal cry at this period, and it had been repeated fo long, that people began to think the removal of Sir Robert Walpole would introduce a fort of happiness into the political world, like that of the "millenium :"
No taxes, no corruption, no bribery.
Dodington, who was upon terms of the greatest kindness and intimacy with the Walpoles, to fecure his election at Portsmouth, had no fcruple in making Sir Robert Walpole (to whom he had before addreffed his poetical Epiftle, as to the Saviour of the Nation) the burden of his fong, in the following ballad, which, in the MS. he fays, was made in his road to Portsmouth, with a view to the Election there 1741.
P. I fain would please you, if I knew with what; Tell me, which Knave is lawful Game, which not? Muft great Offenders, once efcap'd the Crown, Like Royal Harts, be never more run down? Admit your Law to fpare the Knight requires, 30 As beasts of Nature may we hunt the Squires?
STANZAS, 1740, on the road to Portsmouth.
Now, Britain, is the Crifis of thy fate,
View the heap'd pile with undefiring eyes,
Survey thy King,-juft, valiant, and fincere.
Since then the difference of their fouls we fee,
VER. 29. Like Royal Harts, &c.] Alluding to the old Game laws; when our Kings spent all the time they could spare from human flaughter, in Woods and Forefts. WARBURTON.
VER. 31. As beafs of Nature may we hunt the Squires ?] The expreffion is rough, like the fubject, but without reflection: For if beafts of Nature, then not beasts of their own making; a fault too frequently objected to country Squires. However, the Latin is nobler; Fere nature, Things uncivilized, and free. Fere, as the Critics fay, being from the Hebrew, Pere, Afinus filveftris. SCRIBLERUS.
Suppose I cenfure-you know what I mean-
F. A Dean, Sir? No: his Fortune is not made,
P. If not the Tradef:nan who set up to-day,
Arraign no mightier Thief than wretched Wild;
But, Sir, I beg you (for the Love of Vice!)
poor and friendless Villain, than the Great? 45 Alas! the fmall Difcredit of a Bribe
Scarce hurts the Lawyer, but undoes the Scribe.
To tax Directors, who (thank God) have Plums;
VER 35. You hurt a man] In a former Edition there was the following note on this line: "For as the reasonable De la Bruyere obferves, Qui ne fait être une Erafme, doit penser à être Eveque." Dr. Warburton omitted it after he got a feat on the Bench. WARTON.
VER. 39, wretched Wild ;] Jonathan Wild, a famous Thief, and Thief-Impeacher, who was at laft caught in his own train, and hanged.