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And is not mine, my friend, a sorer case,
You think this cruel ? take it for a rule, No creature smarts so little as a fool. Let peals of laughter, Codrus ! round thee break, Thou unconcern'd canst hear the mighty crack : Pit, box, and gallery in convulsions hurld, Thou stand’st unshook amidst a bursting world.
Ver. 72. queen,] The story is told, by some, of his barber, but by Chaucer, of his queen. See Wife of Bath's Tale in Dryden's Fables.
Pope. Ver. 80. That secret to each fool, that he's an ass : ] i. e. that his ears (his marks of folly) are visible.
Warburton. Ver. 86. the mighty crack :] A parody on Addison's translation of Horace, Ode iii. b. 3.
Should the whole frame of Nature round them break
In ruin and confusion hurld,
And stand secure amidst a falling world. On which lines he observes, in the Bathos : “Sometimes a single word (as crack) will vulgarize a poetical idea.”
Warton. Ver. 88.] Si fractus illabatur orbis, Impavidum ferient ruinæ. Hor.
Who shames a. scribbler ? Break one cobweb
through, He spins the slight, self-pleasing thread anew : 90 Destroy his fib, or sophistry; in vain! The creature's at his dirty work again, Throned in the centre of his thin designs, Proud of a vast extent of flimsy lines. Whom have I hurt ? has poet yet, or peer,
95 Lost the arch'd eye-brow, or Parnassian sneer ? And has not Colley still his lord and whore ? His butchers Henley, his free-masons Moore ? Does not one table Bavius still admit ? Still to one bishop Philips seem a wit ? 100
Ver. 90. He spins the slight,] The metaphor in our author is most happily carried on through a variety of corresponding particulars, that exactly hit the nature of the two insects in question. It is not pursued too far, nor jaded out, so as to become quaint and affected; as is the case in many of Congreve's too witty comedies, particularly in the Way of the World, and in Young's Satires. For instance:
Critics on verse, as squibs on triumphs, wait,
Burn, hiss, and bounce, waste paper, stink, and die !
Warton. Ver. 98. free-masons Moore?] He was of this society, and frequently headed their processions.
Warburton. Ver. 98. His butchers Henley,] This alludes to Henley, commonly called Orator Henley, who declaimed on Sundays on religious subjects, and on Wednesdays on the sciences ;--one shilling was the price of admittance. His oratory was among the butchers in Newport Market and Butcher Row.
Still Sappho--A. Hold! for God's sake-you'll of
fend. No names—be calm—learn prudence of a friend : I too could write, and I am twice as tall; But foes like these-P. One flatterer's worse than
all. Of all mad creatures, if the learn'd are right, 105 It is the slaver kills, and not the bite. A fool quite angry is quite innocent: Alas! 'tis ten times worse when they repent.
Ver. 100. Still to one bishop] Bishop Boulter, who was Ambrose Philips's great friend and patron. Boulter wrote, in conjunction with Philips, a paper called the Freethinker. He was then only minister of a parish in Southwark; but being considered of consequence to Government, he was first made Dean of St. Paul's, and afterwards Primate of Ireland; where, adds Johnson, his piety and charity will be long remembered. Bowles.
Ver. 103. I too could write, &c.] Mr. Pope used to say, that of all the men he ever met with, Dr. Arbuthnot had the most prolific wit; and that here, Swift only held the second place. Nothing occurred of any consequence, but the Doctor wrote a pleasant essay upon it. A large folio paper-book, which used to lie in his parlour, was employed for this purpose; of which, however, he was so negligent, that while he was writing at one end, he would suffer his children to tear out what he had written at the other, for their paper-kites. The thing in which he was most serious, was the cause of religion. In a letter to Dr. Swift, in 1732, he has these words—“But, thank God, he has not taken from me the freedom: I have been accustomed to in my discourse (even with the greatest persons to whom I have access) in defending the cause of liberty, virtue, and religion : for the last, I have the satisfaction of suffering some of the ignominy that belonged to the first professors. This has been my lot, from a steady resolution I have taken, of giving these ignorant fellows battle upon all occasions.”
One dedicates in high heroic prose, And ridicules beyond a hundred foes :
110 One from all Grub-street will my fame defend, And, more abusive, calls himself my friend. This prints my Letters, that expects a bribe, And others roar aloud, “Subscribe, subscribe !"
There are, who to my person pay their court: 115 I cough like Horace, and, tho' lean, am short; Ammon's great son one shoulder had too high; Such Ovid's nose; and “Sir! you have an eye."
Ver. 115. There are, who to my person] What Addison says in jest, and with his usual humour, is true in fact : “I have observed that a reader seldom peruses a book with pleasure till he knows whether the writer of it be a black or fair man, of a mild or choleric disposition, married or a bachelor.” What passages in Horace are more agreeable than when he tells us he was fat and sleek, “præcanum, solibus aptum,” prone to anger, but soon appeased. And again, how pleasing the detail he gives of his way of life, the descriptions of his mule, his dinner, his supper, his furniture, his amusements, his walks, his time of bathing and sleeping, from the 105th line to the end of the sixth satire of the first book. And Boileau, in his tenth epistle, has done the same in giving many amusing particulars of his father, family, and fortunes.
Warton. Ver. 118. “Sir! you have an eye."] It is remarkable that, amongst the compliments on his infirmities and deformities, he mentions his eye, which was fine, sharp, and piercing. done to intimate, that flattery was as odious to him when there was some ground for commendation, as when there was none.
Ver. 111 in the MS.
song, for silence, some expect a bribe;
Go on, obliging creatures, make me see
120 Say for my comfort, languishing in bed, “ Just so immortal Maro held his head :" And when I die, be sure you let me know Great Homer died three thousand years ago.
Why did I write? what sin to me unknown 125 Dipp'd me in ink? my parents', or my own? As yet a child, nor yet a fool to fame, I lisp'd in numbers, for the numbers came. I left no calling for this idle trade, No duty broke, no father disobey'd.
130 The muse but served to ease some friend, not wife, To help me through this long disease, my life; To second, ARBUTHNOT! thy art and care, And teach, the being you preserved, to bear.
Ver. 128. I lisp'd in numbers,]
Sponte suà carmen numeros veniebat ad aptos,
Et quod conabar scribere, versus erat." Warton. Ver. 130. no father disobey'd.] When Mr. Pope was yet a child, his father, though no poet, would set him to make English
He was pretty difficult to please, and would often send the boy back to new-turn them. When they were to his mind, he took great pleasure in them, and would say, These are good rhymes.
But, friend, this shape, which you and Curll admire,