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Non temerè est animus; Pversus amat, hoc studet
fence of our favourite art, we must here add Dr. Hurd's note on this passage:
“ This apology for poets, and, in them, for poetry itself, though delivered with much apparent negligence and unconcern, yet, if considered, will be found to comprize in it every thing, that any, or all, of its most zealous advocates have ever pretended in its behalf.
“ For it comprehends : I. [From Ver. 118 to 124.] The personal good qualities of the Poet. Nothing is more insisted on by those, who take upon themselves the patronage and recommendation of any art, than that it tends to raise in the professor of it all those virtues which contribute most to his own proper enjoyment, and render him most agreeable to others. Now this it seems may be urged on the side of poetry, with a peculiar force. For not only the study of this art hath a direct tendency to produce a neglect or disregard of worldly honours and emoluments (from the too eager appetite of which almost all the calamities, as well as the more unfriendly vices, of men arise), but he, whom the benign aspect of the muse hath glanced upon and destined for her peculiar service, is, by constitution, which is ever the best security, fortified against the attacks of them. Thus his raptures in the enjoyment of his muse, make him overlook the common accidents of life: (ver. 121.) he is generous, open, and undesigning by nature: (ver. 122.) to which we must not forget to add, that he is temperate, that is to say, poor by profession.
Vivit siliquis et pane secundo. “ II. (From ver. 124 to 139.) The Utility of the Poet to the State: and this both on a Civil and Moral Account. For, 1, the poets, whom we read in our younger years, and from whom we learn the power of words, and hidden harmony of numbers, that is, as a profound Scotchman teaches, the first and most essential principles of eloquence, enable, by degrees, and instruct their pupil to appear with advantage in that extensively useful capacity of a public speaker. And, indeed, graver writers than our poet have sent the ora
Allow him but his P plaything of a pen,
tor to this school. But the pretensions of poetry go on much farther. It delights (from ver. 130 to 132,) to immortalize the triumphs of virtue; to record or feign illustrious examples of heroic worth, for the service of the rising age: and, which is the last and best fruit of philosophy itself, it can relieve even the languor of ill health, and sustain poverty herself under the scorn and insult of contumelious opulence.
“2. In a moral view its services are not less considerable ; (for it may be observed the poet was so far of a mind with the philosopher, to give no quarter to immoral poets ;) and to this end it serves, 1. (ver. 127) in turning the ear of youth from that early corruptor of its innocence, the seducement of a loose and impure communication.
“ 2. Next, (ver. 128) in forming our riper age, (which it does with all the address and tenderness of friendship, Amicis præceptis) by the sanctity and wisdom of its precepts. And, 3, which is the proper office of tragedy, in correcting the excesses of the natural passions (ver. 122).
“ The reader who doth not turn himself to the original, will be apt to mistake this detail of the virtues of poetry, for an account of the policy and legislation of ancient and modern times; whose proudest boast, when the philanthropy of their enthusiastic projectors ran at the highest, was but to prevent the impressions of vice, to form the mind to habits of virtue, and to curb and regu. late the passions.
“III. His Services to Religion. This might well enough be said, whether by religion we understand an internal reverence of the Gods, which poetry first and principally intended, or their popular adorations and worship, which by its fictions, as of necessity conforming to the received fancies of superstition, it must greatly tend to promote and establish; but the Poet, artfully seizing a circumstance, which supposes and concludes in it both these respects, renders his defence vastly interesting.
“ All the customary addresses of heathenism to its gods, more especially on any great and solemn emergency, were the work of
Detrimenta, fugas servorum, incendia ridet;
the Poet. For nature, it seems, had taught the Pagan world, what the Hebrew Prophets themselves did not disdain to practise, that to lift the imagination, and, with it, the sluggish affections of human nature, to Heaven, it was expedient to lay hold on every assistance of art. They therefore presented their supplications to the Divinity in the richest and brightest dress of eloquence, which is poetry. Not to insist, that devotion, when sincere and ardent, from its very nature, enkindles a glow of thought which communicates strongly with the transports of poetry. Hence the language of the Gods (for so was poetry accounted, as well from its being the divinest species of communication our rude conceptions can well frame, even for superior intelligences, as for that it was the fittest vehicle of our applications to them) became not the ornament only, but an essential in the ceremonial of Paganism. And this, together with an allusion to a form of public prayer (for such was his secular ode), composed by himself, gives, at once, a grace and sublimity to this part of the apology, which are perfectly inimitable.
“ Thus hath the great Poet, in the compass of a few lines, drawn together a complete defence of his art; for what more could the warmest admirer of poetry, or, because zeal is quickened by opposition, what more could the vehement declaimer against Plato (who proscribed it) urge in its behalf, than that it furnishes, to the Poet himself, the surest means of solitary and social enjoyment; and further serves to the most important civil, moral, and religious purposes."
Warton. Ver. 195. Flight of Cashiers,] Alluding to Mr. Knight's (one of the Cashiers of the South Sea Company) flying into France on the failure of that bubble, by which Pope was a considerable sufferer.
Warton. Ver. 195. Flight of Cashiers,] See in Coxe's interesting Memoirs of Sir Robert Walpole, an account of the panic of the nation, the extreme violence of the people against the Directors of the South Sea Company, and the flight of Knight, the Cashier :
“ A committee
'Flight of cashiers, or mobs, he'll never mind; 195
“ A committee of secrecy being appointed by the Commons to examine all the books, papers, and proceedings relating to the execution of the South Sea act, the members were chosen from the most violent of those who were advocates for indiscriminate and unrelenting severity. Alarmed at these proceedings, Knight, cashier of the company, who alone was privy to all the secret transactions, escaped from England, soon after his first examination, carrying with him the register called the green book, and it was generally suspected, that he took this step with the connivance of government. The committee having ręported this event to the House, the Commons ordered the doors to be locked, and the keys laid on the table. General Ross then stated, that the committee had discovered, “a train of the deepest villany and fraud hell ever contrived to ruin a nation, which, in due time, should be laid before the House.” In consequence of this vague assertion, four of the direetors, who were members, were expelled the house, and taken into custody. The other directors shared the same fate; all their books, papers, and effects were seized, and the royal assent was given to a bill, for restraining them from leaving the kingdom, discovering their estates, and disqualifying them for holding offices in any of the companies." Bowles.
Ver. 197. To cheat u Friend,] The Friend, perhaps, was George Pitt, Esq., of Shroton, in the county of Dorset, ancestor of the present Lord Rivers. He lived abroad, and, during his absence, intrusted the management of his estates to Walter. Though it appears that Peter went down but once in a year from London to Shroton, merely to receive the annual rents, at the same time that he visited his own estate in Dorsetshire, yet he had 400l. per annum for his trouble. Besides this, he brought in a claim of 8001. for extra services. This was contested in Chancery, and the case
'Militiæ quanquam piger et malus, utilis urbi; Si das hoc, parvis quoque rebus magna juvari; "Os tenerum pueri balbumque poëta figurat :
is now before me, from which it appears how justly Pope described him.
Bowles. Ver. 201. Of little use] Except these two lines, "vivit siliquis," and “militiæ quanquam piger et malus,” all that follows is serious in the original. And I do not think “ tenerum” is ridicule.
Warton. Ver. 204. And (though no soldier)] Horace had not acquitted himself much to his credit in this capacity (non bene relicta parmula) in the battle of Philippi. It is manifest he alludes to himself, in this whole account of the Poet's character; but with an intermixture of irony: Vivit siliquis et pune secundo, has a relation to his Epicurism: Os tenerum pueri, is ridicule: The nobler office of a poet follows; Torquet ab obscænis-Mor etiam pectus-Recte facta refert, &c., which the Imitator has applied where he thinks it more due than to himself.
He hopes to be pardoned, if, as he is sincerely inclined to praise what deserves to be praised, he arraigns what deserves to be arraigned, in the 210, 211, and 212th
Pope. Ver. 215. excuse some courtly stains] We are not to understand this as a disapprobation of Mr. Addison for celebrating the virtues of the present Royal Family. It relates to a certain circumstance, in which he thought that amiable Poet did not act with the ingenuity that became his character.
When Mr. Addison, in the year 1713, had finished his Cato, he brought it to Mr. Pope for his judgment. Our Poet, who thought the sentiments excellent, but the action not enough theatrical, gave him his opinion fairly; and told him that he had better not bring it upon the stage, but print it like a classical performance, which would perfectly answer his design. Mr. Addison approved of this advice; and seemed disposed to follow it. But soon after, he came to Mr. Pope, and told him, that some friends, whom he could not disoblige, insisted on his having it acted. However, he assured Mr. Pope, that it was with no party views; and desired him to satisfy the Treasurer and the Secretary in that particnlar ;