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H. Esto, si quis "mala: sed bona si quis
Ver. 150, 151. Libels and Satires! lawless things indeed!
The legal objection is here more justly and decently taken off than in the original. Horace evades the force of it with a quibble.
Esto, si quis mala, sed bona si quis
But the Imitator's grave Epistles shew the satire to be a serious reproof, and therefore justifiable; which in the integer ipse of the original does not: for however this might plead in mitigation of the offence, nothing but their being grave Epistles could justify the attack. W.-This remark is ill-founded and far-sought. Ver. 153. F. Indeed?] Hor.
"Solventur risu tabulæ."
Some Critics tell us, it is want of Taste to put this line in the mouth of Trebatius. But our Poet confutes this censure, by shewing how well the sense of it agrees to his Friend's Character. The lawyer is cautious and fearful; but as soon as Sir ROBERT,
See Libels, Satires,-here you have it-read.
P. "Libels and Satires! lawless things indeed! 150 But grave Epistles, bringing Vice to light, Such as a King might read, a Bishop write, Such as Sir ROBERT would approve
The case is alter'd-you may then proceed;
the Patron both of Law and Gospel, is named as approving them, he changes his note, and, in the language of old Plouden, owns, the Case is alter'd. Now was it not as natural, when Horace had given a hint that Augustus himself supported him, for Trebatius, a Court Advocate, who had been long a client to him and his uncle, to confess the Case was alter'd? W.- -To laugh at the solemnity of Trebatius, which throughout the Dialogue is exactly kept up, Horace puts him off with a mere play upon words. But our important Lawyer takes no notice of the jest, and finishes with a gravity suited to his character:
"Solventur risu tabulæ: tu missus abibis."
"QUÆ virtus et quanta, boni, sit vivere parvo, (Nec meus hic sermo; sed quæ præcepit Ofellus, Rusticus, abnormis Sapiens, crassaque Minerva,) Discite, non inter lances mensasque nitentes; Cum stupet insanis acies fulgoribus, et cum Acclinis falsis animus meliora recusat:
Verum hic impransi mecum disquirite. Cur hoc?
Ver. 2. To live on little.] This discourse in praise of temperance loses much of its grace and propriety by being put into the mouth of a person of a much higher rank in life than the honest countryman Ofellus; whose patrimony had been seized by Augustus, and given to one of his soldiers named Umbrenus, and whom, perhaps, Horace recommended to the Emperor, by making him the chief speaker in this very satire. We may imagine that a discourse on temperance from Horace raised a laugh among the courtiers of Augustus; and we see he could not venture to deliver it in his own person.
This Imitation of Pope is not equal to most of his others. Whenever I have ventured to censure any passage of Pope, I wish constantly to add the following words of Fontenelle: "La censure que l'on exerce sur les ouvrages d'Autrui, n'engage point à en faire de meilleurs, à moins qu'elle ne soit amere, chagrine, et orgueilleuse."