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All, all but Truth, drops dead-born from the Press, Like the last Gazette, or the last Address.
When black Ambition stains a public Cause, A Monarch's sword when mad Vain-glory draws, Not Waller's Wreath can hide the Nation's Scar, Nor Boileau turn the Feather to a Star.
- With that which follow'd Julius to the Skies.
nod, when luckless Sorel fell ?
Ver. 227. Like the last Gazette,] If these Satires are not now read with the avidity and applause with which they were perused fifty years ago, it must be attributed to the reason assigned by D'Olidet, for the present neglect of La Bruyere's Characters in France. “ Tant qu'on a cru voir dans ce livre les portraits de gens vivants, on l'a devoré, pour se nourrir du triste plaisir que donne la satire personelle. Mais a mesure que ces gens-là ont disparu, il a cessé de plaire si fort par la matière.” Histoire de l'Academie, p. 339.
Ver. 228. When black Ambition, &c.] The case of Cromwell in the civil war of England ; and (Ver. 229.) of Louis XIV. in his conquest of the Low Countries. P.
Ver. 230. Not Waller's Wreath] “Such a series of verses," says Dr. Johnson, "as the Panegyric on Cromwell, had hardly appeared before in the English language." I cannot forbear adding, that I am surprised Waller should never name Milton, who was of the same party, and which he had so many opportunities of doing in his works. But Waller was not of Milton's school.
Ver. 231. Nor Boileau turn the Feather to a Star.] See bis Ode on Namur; where (to use his own words) “ Il a fait un
Not so, when diadem'd with
rays divine, Touch'd with the Flame that breaks from Virtue's
wear, And may descend to Mordington from STAIR;
Astre de la Plume blanche que le Roy porte ordinairement à son Chapeau, et qui est en effet une espece de Comete, fatale à nos ennemis.” P.
Prior burlesqued this Ode with infinite pleasantry and humour. And the same may be said of Prior's Epistle tu Boileau. Louis XIV. who had a personal regard for Prior, did not, we may well imagine, know that he had ridiculed his favourite Poet. Another French flatterer read to Malherbe some fulsome verses, in which he had represented France as moving out of its place to receive the King. “Though this,” says the honest Malherbe,
my time, yet I protest I do not remember it.” Ver. 235. And opes] From Milton's Comus, ver. 14.
“ That opes the Palace of Eternity." Ver. 236. There, other Trophies deck the truly brave,
Than such as Anstis casts into the Grade ;] Shakspeare tells us, that the Poet's Creation
26 Gives to AIRY NOTHING
A local HABITATION and a Name;" just so, the King's, i. e. a Seat and a TITLE. W.
Ver. 237. Anstis] The chief Herald at Arms. It is the custom, at the funeral of great peers, to cast into the grave the broken staves and ensigns of honour. P.
Ver. 239. Stair;] John Dalrymple, Earl of Stair, Knight of the Thistle, served in all the wars under the Duke of Marlborough ; and afterward as Ambassador in France. P.
(Such as on Hough's unsully'd Mitre shine, 240 Or beam, good Digby, from a Heart like thine;) Let Envy howl, while Heav’n’s whole Chorus
sings, And bark at Honour not conferr'd by Kings; Let Flattry sick’ning see the Incense rise, Sweet to the World, and grateful to the Skies : 245 Truth guards the Poet, sanctifies the line, And makes immortal, Verse as mean as mine.
Yes, the last Pen for Freedom let me draw, When Truth stands trembling on the edge of Law;
Ver. 240. on Hough's unsully'd] In the fifty-seventh Persian Letter, is an elegant and well-written eulogium on this excellent prelate by Lord Lyttleton. These Letters have been too much depreciated and neglected.
Ver. 240, 241. Hough and DIGBY] Dr. John Hough, Bishop of Worcester; and the Lord Digby. The one an assertor of the Church of England in opposition to the false measures of King James II. The other as firmly attached to the cause of that King. Both acting out of principle, and equally men of honour and virtue. P. Ver. 249. IVhen Truth stands trembling]
England with all thy faults, I love thee still,
Of golden fruitage and her myrtle bow'rs. Lines of the tender and benevolent Cowper, which I here insert, in order to put us again in good humour with our country, after having just seen her placed in a disagreeable light.
Here, Last of Britons ! let your Names be read;
! And write next winter more Essays on Man. 255
VARIATIONS. Ver. 255. in the MS.
Quit, quit these themes and write Essays on Man.
Ver. 253. of their degen'rate Line.] Such was the language at that time, used by our Author and his friends and associates. Lord Chesterfield ends the account of his friend Hammond, author of the Love Elegies, with these words : “ He looked back with a kind of religious awe and delight, upon these glo
a rious and happy times of Greece and Rome, when wisdom, virtre, and liberty formed the only triumvirates; in these sentiments he lived, and would have lived, even in these times : in these sentiments he died; but in these times too, ut non erepta a diis immortalibus vita, sed donata, mors videatur. Speaking of the effects of satire, says a certain wit, “ Cette scene du monde, presque de tous les temps, & de tous les lieux, vous voudriez la changer ! voilà votre folie, à vous autres moralistes. Montez en chaire avec Bourdaloue, ou prenez la plume avec La Bruyere, temps perdu; le monde ira toujours comme il va.” In every age,
and in every nation, there is a constant progression of manners ; “ For the manners of a people, seldom stand still, but are either Polishing or Spoiling.”
Ver. 254. pray end what] We must own that these Dialogues, excellent as they are, exhibit many and strong marks of our Author's petulance, party-spirit, and self-importance; and of assuming to himself the character of censor-general; who, alas! if he had possessed a thousand times more genius, integrity, and ability, than he actually enjoyed, could not have altered or amended the manners of a rich and commercial, and consequently of a luxurious and dissipated nation. But we make ourselves unhappy, by hoping to possess incompatible things; we want to have wealth without corruption, and liberty without rirtue !
Ver. ult.] This was the last Poem of the kind printed by our Author, with a resolution to publish no more; but to enter thus, in the most plain and solemn manner he could, a sort of PROTEST against that insuperable corruption and depravity of manners, which he had been so unhappy as to live to see. Could he have hoped to have amended any, he had continued those attacks; but bad men were grown so shameless and so powerful, that Ridicule was become as unsafe as it was ineffectual. The poem raised him, as he knew it would, some enemies; but he had reason to be satisfied with the approbation of good men, and the testimony of his own conscience. P.