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passed in his Epistle to Augustus, seemed fo seafonable to the present Times, that I could not help applying them to the use of my own Country. The Author thought them considerable enough to address them to his Prince; whom he paints with all the great and good qualities of a Monarch, upon whom the Romans depended for the Increase of an Absolute Empire. But to make the Poem entirely English, I was willing to add one or two of those which contribute to the Happiness of a Free People, and are more consistent with the Welfare of our Neighbours.
This Epistle will shew the learned World to have fallen into two mistakes: one, that Augustus was a Patron of Poets in general ; whereas he not only prohibited all but the Best Writers to name him, but recommended that Care even to the Civil Magistrate : Admonebat Prætores, ne paterentur Nomen suum obsolefieri, &c. The other, that this Piece was only a general Discourse of Poetry; whereas it was an Apology for the Poets, in order to render Augustus more their Patron. Horace here pleads the Cause of his Cotemporaries, first against the Taste of the Town, whose humour it was to magnify the Authors of the preceding Age; secondly against the Court and Nobility, who encouraged only the Writers for the Theatre;
and lastly against the Emperor himself, who had conceived them of little Use to the Government. He fhews (by a View of the Progress of Learning, and the Change of Taste among the Romans) that the Introduction of the Polite Arts of Greece had given the Writers of his Time great advantages over their Predecessors; that their Morals were much improv, ed, and the Licence of those ancient Poets restrained: that Satire and Comedy were become more just and useful; that whatever extravagancies were left on the Stage, were owing to the Ill Taste of the Nobility; that Poets, under due Regulations, were in many respects useful to the State; and concludes, that it was upon them the Emperor himself must depend, for his Fame with Posterity.
We may further learn from this Epistle, that Horace made his Court to this Great Prince by writing with a decent Freedom toward him, with a just Contempt of his low Flatterers, and with a manly regard to his own Character.
Um tot a sustineas et tanta negotia folus,
Rex Italas armis tuteris, moribus ornes, Legibus emendes; in publica commoda peccem, Si longo sermone morer tua tempora, Cæfar.
“Romulus *, et Liber pater, et cum Caftore Pollux, Poft ingentia facta, ' Deorum in templa recepti,
* Romulus,] Dion Caffius informs us, book 53. that Augustus was particularly pleased to be called Romulus. WARTUN.
VER. 1. While you, great Patron] All those nauseous and out. rageous compliments, which Horace, in a strain of abject adulation, degraded himself by paying to Auguftus, Pope has converted into bitter and pointed sarcasms, conveyed under the form of the most artful irony.
" Horace,” says Pope, in the advertisement to this piece, “ made his court to this great prinee, (or rather this cool and subtle tyrant,) by writing with a decent freedom towards him, with a just contempt of his low flatterers, and with a manly regard to his own character.” Surely he forgot the 15th and 16th lines :
Jurandasque tibi per numen ponimus aras,
Nil oriturum alias, nil ortum tale fatentes, &c. WARTON. Ver. 2. open all the Main ;] This has been thought a very obscure expression ; but it should be remembered that irony is the leading feature of this Epistle. It was written in 1737, at the time when the Spanish depredations at sea were such, that there was an universal cry that the British flag had been insulted, and the contemprible and degraded English braved on their own element. At this period, says Mr. Coxe, “ the House was daily inundated 3
WHILE you, great Patron of Mankind! • sustain
The balanc'd World, and open all the Main; Your Country, chief, in Arms abroad defend, At home, with Morals, Arts, and Laws amend;
How shall the Muse, from such a Monarch, steal 5 An hour, and not defraud the Public Weal ?
· Edward and Henry, now the Boast of Fame, And virtuous Alfred, a more " sacred Name,
" with petitions and papers relating to the inhumanities commit“ted on the English prisoners taken on board of trading veffels.”
Opening all the Main,” therefore, means that the King was LIBERAL as to leave it OPEN TO THE SPANIARDS, who committed with impunity whatever outrages they pleased, on those who were before considered the almost exclusive masters of it. The same explanation may be given of
“ Your Country, chief, in arms abroad defend." This line meáns quite the contrary. The people were wearied with so long a period of peace, and in 1738 the public mind was agitated almost to phrenzy, and the cry of instant war, retaliation, and revenge, resounded from one part of England to the other; it is therefore with the bitterest sarcasm that Pope exclaims,
“ Your Country, chief, IN ARMS ABROAD DEFEND!” It was not till two years afterwards, October 19th, 1739,
that war, so long insisted on, was declared, which declaration was received with the greatest demonstrations of enthusiasm and joy. How then could any one at the time be ignorant of the real meaning of Pope's expreffions ?
VER. 5. from such a Monarch.] This fine imitation was first published in 1737. The strong satire with which it abounds was
Dum terras hominumque colunt genus, afpera bella
* Urit enim fulgore suo, qui prægravat artes Infra fe pofitas : extinctus amabitur idem.
5. Fræsenti tibi maturos largimur honores,
Nil oriturum alias, nil ortum tale fatentes.
concealed with such delicate art and address, that
many persons, and some of the highest rank in the court, as I have been well informed, read it as a panegyric on the king and ministry, and congratulated themselves that Pope had left the opposition, in which he had been engaged. But it may seem ftrange they Thould not see the drift and intention of such lines, as, the fix first, the twenty ninth, the three hundred and fifty.fourth, the three hundred and fifty-sixth, the three hundred and seventy-fixth, the three hundred and winety-fourth, and many other lines.