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Libris et curis, statuå taciturnius exit
mFrater erat Romæ consulti rhetor; ut alter
Carmina compono, hic elegos; mirabile visu, Cælatumque novem Musis opus. Aspice primum,
Ver. 123. court, and city roars,] Not so strong as the original metaphor :
Fluctibus in mediis, et tempestatibus urbis, Milton wrote his Paradise Lost in London, as did Thomson his three last Seasons, and his charming Castle of Indolence; and Armstrong his Art of Preserving Health, a fine classical poem, omitted in the Collection of English Poets.
Warton. Ver. 132, And shook his head at MURRAY, as a wit] It is the silly consolation of blockheads in all professions, that he, whom nature has formed to excel, does it not by his superior knowledge, but his wit; and so they keep themselves in countenance as not fairly outdone, but only outwitted. The miserable glory of knowing nothing but in their own trade, M. de Voltaire has well exposed, where, speaking of a great French Lawyer, of the like genius and talents with our admirable countryman, he says:
· II faisait ressouvenir la France de ces tems, où les plus austères Magistrats, consommés comme lui dans l'étude des Lois, se delassoient des fatigues de leur état, dans les travaux de la literature, Que ceux qui méprisent ces travaux amiables; que ceux qui mettent je ne sai quelle miserable grandeur à se renfermer dans le cercle étroit de leurs emplois, sont à plaindre! ignorent ils que Ciceron, après avoir rempli la première place du monde, plaidoit encore les causes des Citoyens, écrivoit sur la nature des Dieux, conferoit avec des Philosophes ; qu'il alloit au Théatre; qu'il daignoit cultiver l'amitié d'Esopus et de Roscius, et laissoit
And here, while town, and court, and city roars, With mobs, and duns, and soldiers, at their doors, Shall I, in London, act this idle part ? 125 Composing songs, for fools to get by heart ?
*The Temple late two brother serjeants saw, Who deem'd each other oracles of law ; With equal talents, these congenial souls, One lulld th’Exchequer, and one stunn'd the Rolls; Each had a gravity would make you split, And shook his head at MURRAY, as a wit. 'Twas, “Sir,your law,"and, “Sir,your eloquence,”Yours, Cowper's manner"-"and yours, Talbot's
sense.” *Thus we dispose of all poetic merit, 135 Yours Milton's genius, and mine Homer's spirit.
aux petits esprits, leur constante gravité, qui n'est que
de la mediocrité ?"
The miserable malice of the human heart has been always backward to confess that great parts and great science were to be found together. The eminent person, here mentioned, hath long triumphed over so vile a prejudice. BACON was not so happy. The blemishes in his moral character disabled him from stemming and subduing it. Indeed, enoy was ever unwilling to allow any man to excel in more than one accomplishment. As to the particular application of this wayward judgment, it is sometimes right and sometimes wrong,
Thus, for instance, when the public would not allow the great lawyer, Coke, to be a classic scholar and a wit too, (though he had given so many delectable specimens of both) they were perhaps in the right. But when they assumed (though they spoke by the organ of Queen Elizabeth herself) that Bacon, a great philosopher, was yet no lawyer, they were certainly in the wrong.
Warburton, Ver. 132. Murray, as a wit.] Alluding to the common cant of that time, as if this eminent and accomplished person was more of
Quanto cum fastu, quanto molimine circum-
a polite scholar than a profound lawyer; as if law and literature were incompatible; a notion that might easily be confuted by the examples of Lords Somers and Hardwicke, Mr. Yorke and Judge Blackstone, and many others.
Warton. Ver. 135. all poetic merit,] The words of the original alluded to, contain a beautiful metaphor of a work, Cælatum Musis Novem, polished and finished by the hands of the Muses themselves. Bentley has wantonly and tastelessly altered the word to Sacratum; as he has done the word alterius, ver. 176, to alternis, and the word contracta, ver. 80, to non tacta : and in ver. 90, he has chang. ed derat for dersat; and in ver. 87, frater for pactus; and would have procul repeated, ver. 199.' Pauperies immunda procul, procul
Warton. Ver. 140. but Stephen,] Mr. Stephen Duck, a modest and worthy man, who had the honour (which many who thought themselves his betters in poetry, had not) of being esteemed by Mr. Pope.Queen Caroline, who moderated in a sovereign between the two great philosophers, Clarke and Leibnitz, in the most sublime points in metaphysics and natural philosophy, chose this man for her favourite Poet.
Warburton. By the interest of Mr. Spence, who had a sincere regard for
Stephen Call Tibbald Shakespear, and he'll swear the Nine, Dear Cibber! never match'd one Ode of thine.' Lord! how we strut through Merlin's cave, to see No poets there, but Stephen, you, and me. 140 Walk with respect behind, while we at ease Weave laurel crowns, and take what names we
please. My dear Tibullus !” if that will not do, “Let me be Horace, and be Ovid you: Or, I'm content, allow me Dryden's strains, 145 And you shall rise up Otway for your pains.” Much do I suffer, much, to keep in peace This jealous, waspish, wrong-head, rhyming race; And much must flatter, if the whim should bite To court applause by printing what I write : 150 But let the fit pass o'er, I'm wise enough To stop my ears to their confounded stuff.
Stephen Duck, whose life he wrote, and published his poems, he obtained the living of Byfleet in Surrey. He was unfortunately drowned at Reading, 1756.
Warton. Ver. 145. allow me Dryden's strains,] The older he grew, the better Dryden wrote. We may apply to him, what Oppian says the spirited horses of Cappadocia : χραίπνοτεροι δε πελάσιν όσω μαλά γήρασκεσι.
Lib. i. Cynegytic, ver. 201. It has been imagined that Horace laughs at Propertius in that line of the original : " Quis, nisi Callimachus ?"
Warton. Ver. 147. Much do I suffer,] Multa fero, in the original, has been idly interpreted to mean : "I carry with me a great many compliments, soothing speeches," &c.
Warton. VOL. VI.
Obturem patulas impunè legentibus aures.
*Ridentur mala qui componunt carmina: verum Gaudent scribentes ; et se venerantur, et ultro, Si taceas, laudant quidquid scripsere beati. At qui legitimum cupiet fecisse poëma, Cum tabulis animum censoris sumet honesti: Audebit, quæcunque parum splendoris habebunt, Et sine pondere erunt, et honore indigna ferentur. Verba movere loco, quamvis invita recedant, Et versentur adhuc intra penetralia Vestæ : P Obscurata diu populo bonus eruet, atque
Ver. 154. They treat themselves] Literary history scarce affords a more ridiculous example of the vanity and self-applause of authors, than what is related of Cardinal Richlieu, (in the Mélanges d'Histoire of M. de Vigneul Marville,) whose tragedy of Europa having been censured by the French Academy, who did not know the author, the Cardinal, in a fit of indignation, tore the copy into a thousand pieces, scattered it about his chamber, and retired full of rage to his bed. But at midnight, called for light and for his attendant, and with great pains and difficulty gathered up the fragments of his beloved play, and carefully pasted them together.
Warton, Ver. 162. Nay, tho' at Court] Not happily turned from intra penetralia Vestæ.—But he could not forbear a fling at the Court. In ver. 164, why, “in downright charity?"
Warton. Ver. 167. Command old words that long have slept, to wake,] The imagery is here very sublime. It turns the poet to a magician, evoking the dead from their sepulchres :
“ Et mugire solum, manesque erire sepulchris.” Horace has not the same force: “ Proferet in lucem speciosa vocabula rerum.”
Warburton. Ver. 167. old words] Mr. Harte told me, he had often talked on this subject with his friend Pope, and the following was the