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If Blount despatch'd himself, he play'd the man,
123 If Blount desputch'd himself. He was the younger son of sir Henry Blount, who wrote an admirable account of a Voyage to the Levant, 1636 ; and younger brother of sir Thomas Pope Blount, who wrote the • Censura Authorum ;' and this Charles Blount was not only the author of the Oracles of Reason,' but of an infidel treatise, intitled Anima Mundi, and of the Life of Apollonius Tyanæus,' in folio, 1680 ; with notes said to be taken from the manuscript of lord Herbert of Cherbury. It was his sister-in-law with whom he was in love, when he destroyed himself.
124 Passeran. A Piedmontese nobleman, who wrote a: Philosophical Discourse on Death,' in defence of suicide. He was banished from Piedmont for his excesses, and lived long in misery; but at length recanted his philosophical absurdities, and died in penitence.
125 But shall a printer. A fact that happened in London a few years past. The unhappy man left bebind him a paper justifying his action by the reasonings of some of these authors.Pope.
126 Learn, from their books, to hang. The circumstance alluded to in the preceding note excited much commiseration at the time. It was the case of an unfortunate debtor of the name of Smith, a bookbinder, who with his wife was found hanging in his room in the King's Bench: they were within a few yards of each other, both dead; and their infant, two years old, lay, shot dead, in its cradle. The suicide had evidently been of the most deliberate kind : the husband and wife were dressed with peculiar neatness ; a curtain was drawn between them, as if to conceal theirdying struggles from each other; and a loaded pistol lay at the foot of the man, and a knife near the woman, apparently to complete the catastrophe if the ropes should fail. Two letters lay on the table, one to their landlord relative to his rent, and the other to a Mr. Brindley, attempting to jus. tify their suicide.
This calls the church to deprecate our sin,
Let modest Foster, if he will, excel
129 This calls the church to deprecate our sin. Alluding to the forms of prayer composed in the times of public calamity and distress.
130 Gin. A spirituous liquor, the exorbitant use of which had almost destroyed the lowest rank of the people, till it was restrained by an act of parliament in 1736.--Pope.
131 Foster. A preacher of celebrity among the dissenters; he wrote a “Defence of Christianity' against Toland. Warburton, angry for once with Pope, quotes Hobbes,' that there be very few bishops that can act a sermon so well as divers presbyterians and fanatic preachers can do.'
133 Quaker's wife. A Mrs. Drummond, a preacher.
134 Outdo Llandaff. A prelate of irreproachable character, who is said never to have offended Pope; and whose son is no small ornament to his profession, Dr. Harris, of Doctors' Commons.- Warton.
135 Humble Allen. Allen of Bath. Pope, in the first edition of this poem, had written low-born,' a depth, to which Allen's humility did not descend ; the epithet was therefore changed, and an apologetical letter sent in explanation. It seems probable, that the rich man was not much more captivated by his new epithet than his old. The affair was obviously too delicate even for Pope's dexterity; and he found that there are virtues for which even their possessors are not too willing to be praised.
Vice is undone, if she forgets her birth,
claim, That not to be corrupted is the shame! 160
144 Let greutness own her. Warburton, who, if not the deposi. tary of Pope's secrets, was at least the instrument by which he conveyed his intentions to the public, affirms that all this bold and highly-wrought passage alluded only to Theodora, the profligate empress of Justinian. But a moral drawn from an oriental libertine, and drawn through the dreary lapse of a thousand years, is too unlike the author's keen sense of living incidents, to be taken as his object. The court in his day offered more than one Theodora; or if England were unproductive, France teemed. The last century, on the continent, was the reign of mistresses.
148 And hers the Gospel. An unbecoming phrase; but meant merely to signify that the disposal of honors in church as well as state rested in impure hands.
In soldier, churchman, patriot, man in power,
170 Yet may this verse, if such a verse remain, Show there was one who held it in disdain.
162 'Tis avarice all. Warton quotes Bolingbroke's antithetical expression,— So far from having the virtues, we have not even the vices of our ancestors.' Bolingbroke himself the living example of specious degeneracy!
F. 'Tis all a libel-Paxton, sir, will say.
F. Yet none but you by name the guilty lash; Ev'n Guthrie saves half Newgate by a dash: 11
I Paxton. Solicitor to the treasury, whose office was to denounce attacks on the government.
11 Ev’n Guthrie. The ordinary of Newgate, who publishes the · Memoirs of the Malefactors,' and is often prevailed on to be so tender of their reputation, as to set down no more than the initials of their names.-Pope.