Imagens da página
PDF
ePub

THE FIRST EPISTLE

OF THE

FIRST BOOK OF HORACE.

TO LORD BOLINGBROKE.

Pope had reached his forty-ninth year at the time of this epistle. Horace is supposed to have been in his fortyseventh when he wrote the original: yet the Roman's age might seem more advanced, from the 'non eadem est ætas, non mens,'--the air of resignation of the world which commences and characterises the poem. Bentley's authority thus gives the eras of Horace :-the first book of the Satires was written between his twenty-sixth and twenty-eighth years; the second, between his thirty-first and thirty-third ; the Epodes, in his thirty-fourth and thirty-fifth; the first book of the Odes, from his thirty-sixth to his thirty-eighth ; the second, in his thirty-ninth and fortieth; the first book of the Epistles, in his forty-sixth and forty-seventh ; the fourth book of the Odes in his forty-ninth; lastly, the Art of Poetry, and the second book of the Epistles, whose exact date is not assignable.

St. John, whose love indulged my labors past,
Matures my present, and shall bound my last !

Why will you break the sabbath of my days?
Now sick alike of envy and of praise.
Public too long, ah, let me hide my age! 5
See, modest Cibber now has left the stage :
Our generals now, retired to their estates,
Hang their old trophies o'er the garden gates,
In life's cool evening satiate of applause,
Nor fond of bleeding, ev'n in Brunswick's cause.

A voice there is, that whispers in my ear, 11 ('Tis reason's voice, which sometimes one can

hear) • Friend Pope! be prudent; let your Muse take

breath, And never gallop Pegasus to death ; Lest, stiff and stately, void of fire or force, 15 You limp, like Blackmore on a lord mayor's

horse.' Farewell then, verse, and love, and every toy, The rhymes and rattles of the man or boy: What right, what true, what fit we justly call, Let this be all my care for this is all : 20 To lay this harvest up, and hoard with haste. What every day will want, and most, the last.

But ask not, to what doctors I apply: Sworn to no master, of no sect am I: As drives the storm, at any door I knock; 25 And house with Montaigne now, or now with

Locke :

26 And now with Montaigne. Warburton tells us, that Pope regarded Montaigne and Locke as the best schools to form a man of the world, or to give him a knowlege of himself; the former as excelling in his observations on social and civil life, and the latter as developing the faculties of the mind.

30

Sometimes a patriot, active in debate,
Mix with the world, and battle for the state;
Free as young Littleton, her cause pursue,
Still true to virtue, and as warm as true :
Sometimes, with Aristippus or St. Paul,
Indulge my candor, and grow all to all;
Back to my native moderation slide,
And win my way by yielding to the tide.
Long as to him who works for debt, the
day;

35
Long as the night to her whose love's away;
Long as the year's dull circle seems to run,
When the brisk minor pants for twenty-one;
So slow the unprofitable moments roll,
That lock up all the functions of my soul;
That keep me from myself, and still delay
Life's instant business to a future day :
That task, which as we follow or despise,
The eldest is a fool, the youngest wise ;
Which done, the poorest can no wants endure;
And which not done, the richest must be poor.

Late as it is, I put myself to school, And feel some comfort not to be a fool.

40

44

29 Free as young Littleton. The name of Littleton seems condemned to an ineffectual labor for fame in English literature. Yet if this writer's poems were feeble, and his · Dialogues of the Dead' common-place, he deserved more honor for his little work on the Conversion of St. Paul ;-a manly retractation of the absurdities of unbelief, with manly reasons for the retractation.

31 Aristippus or St. Paul. Warton justly observes on the indecorum of joining the name of the profligate parasite of Dionysius with the venerated name of the great apostle: but the name belonged to the original,— Nunc in Aristippi furtim præcepta.'

Weak though I am of limb, and short of sight,
Far from a lynx, and not a giant quite, 50
I'll do what Mead and Cheselden advise,
To keep these limbs, and to preserve these eyes.
Not to go back, is somewhat to advance;
And men must walk at least before they dance.

Say, does thy blood rebel, thy bosom move 55 With wretched avarice, or as wretched love? Know, there are words and spells, which can

control, Between the fits, this fever of the soul : Know, there are rhymes, which fresh and fresh

applied, Will cure the arrantest puppy of his pride. 60 Be furious, envious, slothful, mad, or drunk, Slave to a wife, or vassal to a punk, A Switz, a High-Dutch or a Low-Dutch bear; All that we ask is but a patient ear.

'Tis the first virtue, vices to abhor; And the first wisdom, to be fool no more: But to the world no bugbear is so great, As want of figure and a small estate. To either India see the merchant fly, Scared at the spectre of pale poverty! . 70 See him, with pains of body, pangs of soul, Burn through the tropic, freeze beneath the pole! Wilt thou do nothing for a nobler end, Nothing to make philosophy thy friend ? To stop thy foolish views, thy long desires, 75 And ease thy heart of all that it admires ?

51 I'll do what Mead. The celebrated physician.

51 Cheselden. The most adventurous, but the most successful surgical operator of his day: a friend of Pope.

POPE.

II.

Here, Wisdom calls: Seek virtue first, be bold !
As gold to silver, virtue is to gold.'
There, London's voice :- Get money, money

still!
And then let virtue follow, if she will.' 80
This, this the saving doctrine, preach'd to all,
From low St. James's up to high St. Paul;
From him whose quills stand quiver'd at his ear,
To him who notches sticks at Westminster.

Barnard in spirit, sense, and truth abounds; 85 • Pray, then, what wants he?’ Fourscore thousand

pounds; A pension, or such harness for a slave, As Bug now has, and Dorimant would have. Barnard, thou art a cit, with all thy worth; But Bug and D**l, their honors, and so forth.

Yet every child another song will sing : 91 · Virtue, brave boys! 'tis virtue makes a king.' True, conscious honor is to feel no sin; He's arm’d without that's innocent within :

84 Who notches sticks at Westminster, Exchequer tallies. However obscure the existence of this ancient reckoning, its close was sufficiently conspicuous : in 1834, the tallies burned down the two houses of parliament. Some high-toned narrator of the times will yet tell us, that, like Sardanapalus, they set fire to their palace, and expired in the blaze.

85 Barnard. Sir John Barnard, knight, was born at Reading, and brought up at a school at Wandsworth in Surrey : his parents were quakers. In 1703, he quitted the society of quakers, was received into the church by Compton, bishop of London, and continued a member of it. He became a cele. brated member of parliament, and an eminent merchant and magistrate of London.

$8 As Bug now has, and Dorimant. The industry of the commentators has been unable to apply those names.

« AnteriorContinuar »