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SATIRES AND EPISTLES.
The occasion of publishing these imitations was the clamour raised on some of my Epistles. An answer from Horace was both more full, and of more dignity, than any I could have made in my own person; and the example of much greater freedom in so eminent a divine as Dr. Donne, seemed a proof with what indignation and contempt a Christian may treat vice or folly, in ever so low or ever so high a station. Both these authors were acceptable to the princes and ministers under whom they lived. The satires of Dr. Donne I versified at the desire of the earl of Oxford while he was lord treasurer, and of the duke of Shrewsbury, who had been secretary of state; neither of whom looked upon a satire on vicious courts as any reflection on those they served in. And, indeed, there is not in the world a greater error, than that which fools are so apt to fall into, and knaves with good reason to encourage the mistaking a satirist for a libeller; whereas to a true satirist nothing is so odious as a libeller, for the same reason as to a man truly virtuous nothing is so hateful as a hypocrite.
Uni æquus virtuti atque ejus amicis.
Whoever expects a paraphrase of Horace, or a faithful copy of his genius, or manner of writing, in these imitations, will be much disappointed. Our author uses the Roman poet for little more than his canvass: and if the old design or colouring chance to suit his purpose, it is well; if not, he employs his own, without scruple or ceremony. Hence it is, he is so frequently serious where Horace is in jest, and at ease where Horace is disturbed. In a word, he regulates his movements no further on his original, than was necessary for his concurrence in promoting their common plan of reformation of manners.
Had it been his purpose merely to paraphrase an ancient satirist, he had hardly made choice of Horace; with whom, as a poet, he held little in common, besides a comprehensive knowledge of life and manners, and a certain curious felicity of expression, which consists in using the simplest language with dignity, and the most ornamented with ease. For the rest, his harmony and strength of numbers, his force and splendour of colouring, his gravity and sublimity of sentiment, would have rather led him to another model. Nor was his temper less unlike that of Horace, than his talents. What Horace would only smile at, Mr. Pope would treat with the grave severity of Persius; and what Mr. Pope would strike with the caustic lightning of Juvenal, Horace would content himself in turning into ridicule.
If it be asked then, why he took any body at all to imitate, he has informed us in his advertisement. To which we may add, that this sort of imitations, which are of the nature of parodies, adds reflected grace and splendour on original wit. Besides, he deemed it more modest to give the name of imitations to his satire, than, like Despréaux, to give the name of satires to imitations.
BOOK II. SATIRE I.
TO MR. FORTESCUE.
P. THERE are (I scarce can think it, but am told) There are, to whom my satire seems too bold;
Scarce to wise Peter complaisant enough,
And something said of Chartres much too rough.
F. I'd write no more.
P. Not write? but then I think,
And for my soul I cannot sleep a wink.
I nod in company, I wake at night,
F. You could not do a worse thing for your life. Why, if the night seems tedious---take a wife:
Or rather truly, if your point be rest,
Lettuce and cowslip wine; probatum est.
Hartshorn, or something that shall close your eyes.
P. What? like sir Richard, rumbling, rough, and
With arms and George and Brunswick crowd the
Rend with tremendous sound your ears asunder, With gun, drum, trumpet, blunderbuss, and thunder?
Or nobly wild, with Budgell's fire and force,
F. Then all your muse's softer art display,
F. Better be Cibber, I'll maintain it still,
And laugh at peers that put their trust in Peter.
P. What should ail 'em?
F. A hundred smart in Timon and in Balaam:
P. Each mortal has his pleasure: none deny
The soul stood forth, nor kept a thought within;
Papist or Protestant, or both between,
While Tories call me Whig, and Whigs a Tory.
Then, learned sir! (to cut the matter short)
F. Alas, young man! your days can ne'er be long, In flower of age you perish for a song!
Plums and directors, Shylock and his wife,