Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

And great Nassau to Kneller's hand decreed
To fix him graceful on the bounding steed;
So well in paint and stone they judged of merit:
But kings in wit may want discerning spirit. 385
The hero William and the martyr Charles,
One knighted Blackmore, and one pension'd

Quarles ; Which made old Ben and surly Dennis swear, • No Lord's anointed, but a Russian bear.'

Not with such majesty, such bold relief, The forms august of king or conquering chief E’er swell’d on marble, as in verse have shined (In polish'd verse) the manners and the mind. O, could I mount on the Mæonian wing, Your arms, your actions, your repose to sing ! 395 What seas you traversed, and what fields you

fought! Your country's peace, how oft, how dearly bought!

390

choly fate, is not easily comprehended. It is much more probable, that the artist, accustomed to the study of the human features, saw in the countenance of the future victim of faction that feebleness of temperament, and indecision of purpose, which were the true causes of his ruin.

390 Not with such majesty. The close of this poem is a tissue of angry reflections on royal patronage. Pope should ave disdained such querulousness, and enjoyed himself in the knowlege that his genius placed him above the necessity of protection by any rank. Pensions for literature may be im. portant to the character of kings, as a proof that they have the taste or the wisdom to honor the great source of national civi. lisation ; but the writer who feels no dignity in independence can derive no fame from a pension. The craving for ribands and orders belongs to the Continent: no decoration on the coat can add true honor to the man of learning, genius, or virtue. Yet those who are fond of factitious honor will crave alike in every land.

How barbarous rage subsided at your word,
And nations wonderd while they dropp'd the

sword! How, when you nodded, o'er the land and deep, Peace stole her wing, and wrapp'd the world in sleep;

401 Till earth's extremes your mediation own, And Asia's tyrants tremble at your throne! But verse, alas ! your majesty disdains, And I'm not used to panegyric strains : 405 The zeal of fools offends at any time, But most of all the zeal of fools in rhyme. Besides, a fate attends on all I write, That when I aim at praise, they say I bite. A vile encomium doubly ridicules:

410 There's nothing blackens like the ink of fools. If true, a woful likeness; and if lies, • Praise undeserved is scandal in disguise :' Well may he blush, who gives it or receives; And when I flatter, let my dirty leaves 415 (Like Journals, Odes, and such forgotten things As Eusden, Philips, Settle writ of kings) Clothe spice, line trunks, or, fluttering in a row, Befringe the rails of Bedlam and Soho.

THE SECOND EPISTLE

OF THE

SECOND BOOK OF HORACE.

This Epistle is addressed to colonel Cotterell, of Rousham, near Oxford, the descendant of sir Charles Cotterell, who, at the desire of Charles I., translated Davila into English. Pope in this poem once more gracefully alludes to his personal circumstances, his self-taught knowlege, his love of a country life, his indifference to wealth, and the resignation with which he was prepared to give up the great world and life together.

Dear colonel, Cobham's and your country's friend,
You love a verse; take such as I can send.
A Frenchman comes, presents you with his boy ;
Bows, and begins :- This lad, sir, is of Blois :
Observe his shape how clean! his locks how curld!
My only son! I'd have him see the world :
His French is pure; his voice too—you shall hear:
Sir, he's your slave, for twenty pound a year.
Mere wax as yet, you fashion him with ease,
Your barber, cook, upholsterer, what you please :

6

4 This lad, sir, is of Blois. A town in Beauce, where the French tongue is spoken in great purity.-Warburton.

11

20

1

A perfect genius at an opera-song:
To say too much might do my honor wrong.
Take him with all his virtues, on my word;
His whole ambition was to serve a lord :
But, sir, to you, with what would I not part? 15
Though, faith, I fear, 'twill break his mother's

heart.
Once, and but once, I caught him in a lie,
And then, unwhipp'd, he had the grace to cry:
The fault he has I fairly shall reveal;
(Could you o'erlook but that) it is—to steal.'

If, after this, you took the graceless lad,
Could you complain, my friend, he proved so bad?
Faith, in such case, if you

should

prosecute,
I think sir Godfrey should decide the suit;
Who sent the thief that stole the cash away, 25
And punish'd him that put it in his way.

Consider then, and judge me in this light:
I told you, when I went, I could not write;
You said the same; and are you

discontent
With laws, to which you gave your own assent ?
Nay, worse, to ask for verse at such a time! 31
D'ye think me good for nothing but to rhyme?

In Anna's wars, a soldier poor and old
Had dearly earn’d a little purse of gold:
Tired with a tedious march, one luckless night, 35
He slept, poor dog! and lost it, to a doit.
This put the man in such a desperate mind,
Between revenge, and grief, and hunger join'd,
Against the foe, himself, and all mankind,

as

24 Sir Godfrey. Kneller, whom Pope pleasantly describes

an eminent justice of peace, who decided much after the manner of Sancho Panza.'

He leap'd the trenches, scaled a castle-wall, 40 Tore down a standard, took the fort and all. • Prodigious well!' his great commander cried; Gave him much praise, and some reward beside. Next pleased his excellence a town to batter: (Its name I know not, and 'tis no great matter) 45 Go on, my friend,' he cried; see yonder

walls ! Advance and conquer! go where glory calls ! More honors, more rewards, attend the brave.' Don't you remember what reply he gave ? ye think

general, such a sot? Let him take castles who has ne'er a groat.'

Bred up at home, full early I begun
To read in Greek the wrath of Peleus' son.
Besides, my father taught me, from a lad,
The better art to know the good from bad :
And little sure imported to remove,
To hunt for truth in Maudlin's learned grove.
But knottier points, we knew not half so well,
Deprived us soon of our paternal cell;

D'

me, noble

50

55

55 To know the good from bad. The original, curvo dignoscere rectum,' produces some critical skirmishing. Dacier pronounces it to mean, the study of geometry; Warton pronounces Dacier's meaning to be absurd ; Wakefield pronounces that Pope was wrong, and Warton puzzled; and repeats, with Dacier, that the true purport is, to distinguish a right line from a curve,' geometry being one of the preliminary studies of the Academy.

57 In Maudlin's learned grove. Pope had a partiality for this college in Oxford, in which he had spent many agreeable days with his friend Mr. Digby, who provided rooms for him at that college.-Warton.

59 Deprived us soon. The apologies of the original for the

« ForrigeFortsett »