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Or Death's black wing already be display'd, 95
long; In flower of age you perish for a song ! Plums and Directors, Shylock and his wife, Will club their testers, now, to take your life! P. •What ? arm'd for virtue when I point the pen,
105 Brand the bold front of shameless guilty men, Dash the proud gamester in his gilded car, Bare the mean heart that lurks beneath a star; Can there be wanting to defend her cause, Lights of the church, or guardians of the laws ? 110 Could pension’d Boileau lash in honest strain Flatterers and bigots even in Louis' reign ?
His abundance of wit has made his readers backward in acknowledging his talent for humour. But the veins are equally rich ; and the one flows with ease, and the other is always placed with propriety.
Warburton. Ver. 105. What? arm’d for virtue] From this line to Ver. 140 is a passage of as much force and energy as any that can be produced in the English language, in rhyme.
Warton. Ver. 110. Lights of the church, or guardians of the laws ?] Because just satire is an useful supplement to the sanctions of law and religion; and has, therefore, a claim to the protection of those who preside in the administration either of church or state.
Warburton. Ver. 111. Could Boileau-could Dryden) I believe neither of
'Detrahere et pellem, nitidus quâ quisque per ora Cederet, introrsum turpis ; num Lælius, et qui Duxit ab oppressâ meritum Carthagine nomen,
NOTES. them would have been suffered to do this, had they not been egregious flatterers of the several Courts to which they belonged.
Warburton. Ver. 111. Could pension'd Boileau—Could Laureate Dryden] It was Horace's purpose to compliment the former times ; and therefore he gives the virtuous examples of Scipio and Lælius : it was Mr.Pope's design to satirize the present; and therefore he gives the vicious examples of Louis, Charles, and James. Either way the instances are fully pertinent; but in the latter they have rather greater force. Only the line,
“ Uni æquus virtuti atque ejus amicis,” loses something of its spirit in the Imitation; for the amici referred to, were Scipio and Lælius.
Warburton. Ver. 111. Could pension'd Boileau] Boileau acted with much caution and circumspection when he first published his Lutrin bere alluded :o, and endeavoured to cover and conceal his subject by a preface intended to mislead his reader from the real scene of action; but it ought to be observed, that he afterwards, in the year 1683, threw aside this disguise, openly avowing the occasion that gave rise to the poem, the scene of which was not Bourges or Pourges, as before he had said, but Paris itself; the quarrel he celebrated being betwixt the treasurer and the chanter of the Holy Chapel in that city. The canons were so far from being offended, that they shewed their good sense and good temper by joining in the laugh. Upon which Boileau compliments them, and adds, that many of that society were persons of so much wit and learning, that he would as soon consult them upon his works as the members of the French Academy. The name of the chanter was Barrin; that of the treasurer, Claude Avri, bishop of Constance in Normandy. The quarrel began in July, 1667. See Letters of Brossette to Boileau : à Lyon, 1770, p. 242, v.1; et (Euvres de M. Boileau Despreaux, par M. de Saint Marc, tom. ii. 177, Paris, 1747. He justly says, “e'en in Louis' reign;" for his bigotry was equally contemptible and cruel; and, if we may credit St. Simon, he actually died a Jesuit.
Could laureate Dryden pimp and friar engage,
Ver. 116. Unplaced, unpension’d, no man's heir, or slave?] Mr. Pope, it is well known, made his fortune by his Homers. Lord Treasurer Oxford affected to discourage that design; for so great a genius (he said) ought not to be confined to translation. He always used Mr. Pope civilly; and would often express his concern that his religion rendered him incapable of a place. At the same time, he never spoke one word of a pension. For this offer, he was solely indebted to the Whig Ministers. In the beginning of George I., Lord Halifax, of his own motion, sent for Mr. Pope, and told him, it had often given him concern that so great a Poet had never been distinguished; that he was glad it was now in his power to serve him ; and, if he cared to accept of it, he should have a pension not clogged with any engagements. Mr. Pope thanked him, and desired time to consider of it. After three months (having heard nothing further from that Lord) he wrote him a letter to repeat his thanks ; in which he took occasion to mention the affair of the pension with much indifference. So the thing dropped, till Mr. Craggs came into the ministry. The affair of the pension was then resumed. And this minister, in a very frank and friendly manner, told Mr. Pope, that three hundred pounds a-year were then at his service: he had the management of the secret service money, and could pay him such a pension without its being known, or ever coming to account. But now Mr. Pope declined the offer without hesitation : only, in return for so friendly a proposal, he told the Secretary, that if at any time he wanted money, he would draw upon him for 100 or 2001. Which liberty, however, he did not take. Mr. Craggs more than once pressed him on this head, and urged to him the conveniency of a chariot; which Mr. Pope was sensible enough of: but the precariousness of that supply made him very prudently decline the thoughts of an equipage; which it was much better never to set up, than not properly to support. From Spence.
Warburton. VOL. VI.
Ingenio offensi ? aut læso doluere Metello,
Quidquid sum ego, quamvis
Ver. 125. There, my retreat] I know not whether these lines, spirited and splendid as they are, give us more pleasure than the natural picture of the great Scipio and Lælius, unbending themselves from their high occupations, and descending to common and even trilling sports: for the old commentator says, that they lived in such intimacy with Lucilius, " ut quodam tempore Lælio circum lectos triclinii fugienti Lucilius superveniens, eum obtortà mappá quasi percussurus sequeretur.” For this is the fact to which Horace seems to allude, rather than to what Tully mentions in the second book De Oratore, of their amusing themselves in picking up shells and pebbles on the sea-shore.
Warton. Ver. 129. And He, whose lightning, &c.] Charles Mordaunt, Earl of Peterborough, who in the year 1705 took Barcelona, and in the winter following, with only 280 horse and 900 foot, enterprised and accomplished the conquest of Valentia.
Pope. Ver. 133. Envy must own,] Pope has omitted an elegant allusion. Horace seems to have been particularly fond of those exquisite morsels of wit and genius, the old Æsopic fables. He frequently alludes to them, but always with a brevity very different from our modern writers of fable. Even the natural La Fontaine has added a quaint and witty thought to this very fable. The File says to the Viper, Fab. 98:
I will, or perish in the generous cause :
Envy must own, I live among the great,
“ Tu le romprois toutes les dents,
Warton. Ver. 135. With eyes that pry not,] Pope triumphs and felicitates himself upon having lived with the great, without descending into one of those characters which he thinks it unavoidable to escape in such a situation. From the generosity and openness of Horace's character, I think he might be pronounced equally free (at least from the last) of these imputations. There must have been something uncommonly captivating in the temper and manners of Horace, that could have made Augustus so fond of him, though he had been so avowed an enemy, and served under Brutus. I have