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Dr. Warton informs us, "that the colloquial and burlesque style and measure of Swift, here adopted, did not suit the genius and manner of our author, who frequently falls back, as was natural, from the familiar, into his own more laboured, high, and pompous manner.”
On this Mr. Bowles observes, " that the observation is so far just, that Pope certainly does not display, in his Imitations of Horace, the ease and familiarity of Swift; but this does not detract from their merit any farther than as professed imitations of Swift;" to which he adds, that “ neither are the least like Horace."
Whether the public will implicitly adopt the opinions of the above critics, whose observations seem generally intended to preoccupy the judgment of the reader in a manner as unfavourable as possible to the author, may perhaps be doubted. Certain however it is, that such decisions are perfectly, irreconcileable with the degree of estimation in which these lighter imitations of Horace have been held by former editors, and perhaps by all who are capable of forming an unprejudiced judgment respecting them. Warburton was of opinion, " that although Pope excelled his friend Swift in his own way of modernizing Horace, yet that this way was infinitely inferior to his own.” For which he assigns as a reason “that though Horace be easy, he is not familiar; or if he be, it is the familiarity of courts, which is never without its dignity; these things burlesque verse cannot reconcile, nor indeed any other but that of these imitations.” Dr. Warton has also pointed out in his introductory note to these pieces, several of Mr. Christopher Pitt's translations of Horace, which he assures us, “ if carefully and candidly inspected, will be found really equal to any of Pope's Imitations; and are executed with a dignified familiarity and
ease, in the very manner of Horace.” Through what motives or with what propriety the Imitations of Pope are brought into comparison with the translations of Pitt, does not appear; but it is not improbable that the decision which inclines strongly to the latter, as being in the very manner of Horace, was founded on the peculiar habits and profession of the critic, and that the humour, the discursiveness, and the elegance of Pope, did not accord with the ideas of Warton so well the re exact and classical translations of Pitt.
QUINQUE dies tibi pollicitus me rure futurum,
Non, quo more pyris vesci Calaber jubet hospes,
IMITATED IN THE MANNER OF DR. SWIFT.
is true, my Lord, I gave my word,
“ The Dog-days are no more the case.”
you shall see, the first warm weather, Me and the butterflies together.
My Lord, your favours, well I know,
Jam satis est. At tu quantumvis tolle. Benignè.
Fortè per angustam tenuis vulpecula rimam
Ver. 45. the lively eye,] It is said that Pope's eyes were remarkably expressive. He seems often in his writings to keep this in mind; but the passage is very unequal to the closeness and pleasing painting of the original. Perhaps four lines never were so well expressed, as forming a delineation or accurate portrait of the Roman bard. We see—the “ forte latus," " nigros angustå fronte capillos ;” the " dulce loqui," and "ridere decorum." The words of the first line set the person of Horace immediately before us, and nothing can be so characteristic of his style in his Epistles, as the words DULCE LOQUI; RIDERE DECORUM.
Bowles. The lines of Pope are perhaps in no respect inferior to those of Horace; and the
laugh'd down many a summer sun,
And kept you up so oft till one,” is more sprightly, as well as more decent than the
Inter vina fugam Cynaræ, &c. Ver. 50. As when Belindu] A compliment he pays himself and the public on his Rape of the Lock.