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TO LORD BOLINGBROKE.
ST. JOHN, whose love indulg'd my labours past, Matures my present, and shall bound my last!
Why will you break the Sabbath of my days?
Now sick alike of Envy and of Praise.
Public too long, ah let me hide my Age!
See modest Cibber now has left the Stage:
Our Gen'rals now, retir'd to their Estates,
Nor 'fond of bleeding, e'en in BRUNSWICK's cause.
Ver. 8. Hang their old Trophies o'er the Garden gates,] An occasional stroke of Satire on ill-placed ornaments. He has more openly ridiculed them in his Epistle on Taste:
"Load some vain Church with old theatric state,
He is said to have alluded to the entrance of Lord Peterborough's Lawn at Bevismount, near Southampton.
There is more pleasantry and humour in Horace's comparing himself to an old gladiator, worn out in the service of the public, from which he had often begged his life, and has now at last been dismissed with the usual ceremonies, than for Pope to compare himself to an old actor or retired general. Pope was in his forty-ninth year, and Horace probably in his forty-seventh year, when he wrote this Epistle. Bentley has arranged the writings of Horace in the following order. He composed the first book of his Satires between the twenty-sixth and twenty-eighth year of his age; the second book, from the year thirty-one to thirty
'Est mihi purgatam crebro qui personet aurem ;
Solve senescentem mature sanus equum, ne
Peccet ad extremum ridendus, et ilia ducat.
Nunc itaque et versus et cætera ludicra pono: Quid 'verum atque decens, curo et rogo, et omnis in hoc sum:
*Condo, et compono, quæ mox depromere possim. Ac ne forte roges, 'quo me duce, quo Lare tuter: Nullius addictus jurare in verba magistri, "Quo me cunque rapit tempestas, deferor hospes. Nunc agilis fio, et mersor civilibus undis,
three; next, the Epodes, in his thirty-fourth and fifth year; next, the first book of his Odes, in three years, from his thirty-sixth to his thirty-eighth year; the second book in the two next years; then, the first book of the Epistles, in his forty-sixth and seventh year; next to that, the fourth book of his Odes, in his forty-ninth year: lastly, the Art of Poetry, and second book of the Epistles, to which an exact date cannot be assigned.
Ver. 10. Ev'n in BRUNSWICK's cause.] In the former Editions it was Britain's cause. But the terms are synonimous. W.
Ver. 15. Lest stiff,] He has excelled Boileau's imitation of these verses, Ep. 10. v. 44. And indeed Boileau himself is excelled by an old French Poet, whom he has frequently imitated, that is, Le Frasnaie Vauquelin, whose Poems were published 1612. Vauquelin says, that he profited much by reading the Satires of Ariosto; he also wrote an art of Poetry; one of his best pieces is an imitation of Horace's Trebatius, being a dialogue between himself and the Chancellor of France.
Ver. 16. You limp, like Blackmore on a Lord Mayor's horse.] The fame of this heavy Poet, however problematical elsewhere,
A voice there is, that whispers in my ear,
('Tis Reason's voice, which sometimes one can hear,) "Friend Pope! be prudent, let your Muse take breath,
And never gallop Pegasus to death;
Lest stiff, and stately, void of fire or force,
Farewell then Verse, and Love, and ev'ry Toy, The Rhymes and Rattles of the Man or Boy; What 'right, what true, what fit, we justly call, Lest this be all my care-for this is All: To lay this harvest up and hoard with haste What ev'ry day will want, and most, the last. But ask not, to what 'Doctors I apply?
Sworn to no Master, of no Sect am I :
As drives the storm, at any door I knock:
And house with Montaigne now, or now with
Sometimes a "Patriot, active in debate,
Mix with the World, and battle for the State,
was universally received in the City of London. His versification is here exactly described; stiff, and not strong; stately, and yet dull, like the sober and slow-paced animal generally employed to mount the Lord Mayor: and therefore here humorously opposed to Pegasus. P.
Ver. 26. And house with Montaigne now, or now with Locke.] i. e. Choose either an active or a contemplative life, as is most fitted to the season and circumstances. For he regarded these Writers as the best Schools to form a man for the world; or to give him a knowledge of himself: Montaigne excelling in his observations on social and civil life; and Locke, in developing the faculties, and explaining the operations of the human mind. W.
Virtutis veræ custos, rigidusque satelles :
"Ut nox longa, quibus mentitur amica; diesque
* Omnis Aristippum decuit color, et status, et res. P.
Ver. 29. Free as young Lyttleton,] A just, and not overcharged encomium, on an excellent man, who had always served his friends with warmth (witness his kindness to Thomson), and his country with activity and zeal. His Poems and Dialogues of the Dead are written with elegance and ease; his observations on the Conversion of St. Paul, with clearness and closeness of reasoning; and his History of Henry II. with accuracy and knowledge of those early times and of the English Constitution; and which was compiled from a laborious search into authentic documents, and the records lodged in the Tower and at the Rolls. A little before he died, he told me, that he had determined to throw out of the collection of all his works, which was then to be published, his first juvenile performance, the Persian Letters, written 1735, in imitation of those of his friend Montesquieu, whom he had known and admired in England, in which he said there were principles and remarks that he wished to retract and alter. I told him, that, notwithstanding his caution, the booksellers, as in fact they have done, would preserve and insert these letters. Another little piece, written also in his early youth, does him much honour; the Observations on the Life of Tully,
Free as young Lyttleton, her cause pursue,
'Long, as to him who works for Debt, the day, Long as the Night to her whose Love's away, Long as the Year's dull circle seems to run, When the brisk Minor pants for Twenty-one : So slow th' 'unprofitable moments roll, That lock up all the Functions of the soul; That keep me from myself; and still delay Life's instant business to a future day: That 'task, which as we follow or despise, The eldest is a fool, the youngest wise. Which done the poorest can no wants endure; And which not done, the richest must be poor.
in which perhaps a more dispassionate and impartial character of Tully is exhibited than in the panegyrical volumes of Middleton.
Ver. 31. Aristippus, or St. Paul,] There is an impropriety and indecorum, in joining the name of the most profligate parasite of the court of Dionysius, with that of an Apostle. In a few lines before, the name of Montaigne is not sufficiently contrasted by the name of Locke; the place required that two philosophers, holding very different tenets, should have been introduced. Hobbes might have been opposed to Hutcheson. I know not why he omitted a strong sentiment that follows immediately.
"Et mihi res, non me rebus, subjungere conor;" Ver. 20. which line Corneille took for his motto.
Ver. 45. can no wants endure ;] i, e. Can want nothing: badly expressed. W.