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Septimus octavo propior jam fugerit annus,
Ver. 85, Since HARLEY bid me] The rise and progress of Swift's intimacy with Lord Oxford is minutely detailed in his very interesting Journal to Stella. And the reasons why a man, that served a ministry so effectually, was so tardily, and so difficultly, and so poorly rewarded, are well explained in Sheridan's Life of Swift, and arose principally from the insuperable aversion the Queen had conceived to the author of a Tale of a Tub as a profane book ; which aversion was kept alive, and increased by the Duchess of Somerset, against whom Swift had written a severe lampoon. It appears from this life that Lords Oxford and Bolingbroke always kept concealed from Swift their inability to serve him. With whatever secrets Swift might have been trusted, it does not appear he knew any thing of a design to bring in the Pretender. Swift was a true Whig. His political principles are amply unfolded in an excellent letter written to Pope, Jan. 20, 1721; and indeed they had been sufficiently displayed, many years before, in The Sentiments of a Church of England Man; a treatise replete with strong sense, sound principles, and clear reasoning. Warton.
The real cause of Swift's disappointment in his hopes of preferment, is explained in Coxe's Memoirs of Walpole. Both Gay and Swift conceived every thing was to be gained by the interest of
'Tis (let me see) three years and more, (October next it will be four) Since HARLEY bid me first attend,
85 And chose me for a humble friend; Would take me in his coach to chat, And question me of this and that; As, “ What's o'clock ?” And “How's the wind ?" “ Who's chariot's that we left behind ?" 90 Or gravely try to read the lines Writ underneath the country signs ; Or, “ Have you nothing new to-day “ From Pope, from Parnelle, or from Gay?" Such tattle often entertains
95 My Lord and me as far as Staines, As once a week we travel down : To Windsor, and again to town,
Where all that passes, inter nos,
Yet some I know with envy swell,
110 I'm stopp'd by all the fools I meet, And catechised in every street.
Mrs. Howard, to whom they paid incessant court. This has been before explained.
Scire, Deos quoniam propiùs contingis, oportet) Num quid de Dacis audîsti? Nil equidem. Ut tu Semper eris derisor! At omnes Di exagitent me, Si quicquam. Quid ? militibus promissa Triquetrà Prædia Cæsar, an est Italà tellure daturus? Jurantem me scire nihil, mirantur, ut unum Scilicet egregii mortalem altique silenti.
Perditur hæc inter misero lux; non sine votis. O rus, quando ego te aspiciam ? quandoque li
cebit, Nunc veterum libris, nunc somno et inertibus horis, Ducere solicitæ jucunda oblivia vitæ ? O quando faba Pythagoræ cognata, simulque Uncta satìs pingui ponentur oluscula lardo ? O noctes, cænæque Deûm! quibus ipse meique, Ante Larem proprium vescor, vernasque procaces Pasco libatis dapibus. Prout cuique libido est, Siccat inæquales calices conviva, solutus Legibus insanis : seu quis capit acria fortis Pocula ; seu modicis uvescit lætiùs. Ergo Sermo oritur, non de villis domibusve alienis,
Ver. 141. Here no man prates] Alcibiades, in the Symposium of Plato, finely compares Socrates, whose face was disgusting and unpromising, to the little statues of Silenus, which had no external beauty; but if you opened them, you found within the figures of all the gods. Rabelais applied this comparison to the Satires of Horace, which at first sight do not seem to contain so many exquisite moral rules. Dacier borrowed this comparison from Rabelais, without acknowledgment, as he has done many remarks from Cruquius and Lambinus, and from the old commentators, Acron and Porphyrius.
Warton. Ver. 142. that Italian sings,] Happily turned from Horace's Dancer, “ Lepos;”-not so, ver. 144, which is political, and not one of the trifting topics here mentioned.
You, Mr. Dean, frequent the great;
Nec malè necne Lepos saltet : sed quod magis ad
Pertinet, et nescire malum est, agitamus; utrumne
sit natura boni, summumque quid ejus.
Ver. 153. Our friend Dan Prior] I have frequently wondered how sparing Pope has been in general in his praises of Prior, especially as the latter was the intimate friend of Swift and Lord Oxford. I imagine this reserve is owing principally to some satirical epigrams that Prior wrote on Atterbury. The Alma is not the only composition of Prior, in which he has displayed a knowledge of the world and of human nature; for I was once permitted to read a curious manuscript, late in the hands of her Grace the Duchess Dowager of Portland, containing essays and dialogues of the dead, on the following subjects, by Prior:
1. Heads for a Treatise on Learning. 2. Essay on Opinion. 3. A Dialogue betwixt Charles the Fifth and Clenard the
Grammarian. 4. Betwixt Locke and Montaigne. 5. The Vicar of Bray and Sir Thomas More. 6. Oliver Cromwell and his Porter.
If these pieces were published, Prior would appear to be as good a prose-writer as a poet. It seems to be growing a little fashionable to decry his great merits as a poet. They who do this, seem not sufficiently to have attended to his admirable Ode to Mr. Charles Montague, afterwards Earl of Halifax; his Ode to the Queen, 1706; his Epistle and Ode to Boileau; most of his Tales; the Alma, here mentioned; the Henry and Emma, (in which surely are many strokes of true tenderness and pathos); and his Solomon, a poem which, however faulty in its plan, has