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That not for fame, but virtue's better end,
of the world, as in this little performance." MS. Lett. Oct, 15, 1726.
Warburton. Ver. 341. But stoop'd to truth, and moralized his song ;] This may be said no less in commendation of his literary, than of his moral character; and his superior excellence in poetry is owing to it. He soon discovered in what his force lay; and he made the best of that advantage, by a sedulous cultivation of his proper talent. For having read Quintilian early, this precept did not escape him, Sunt hæc duo vitanda prorsus : unum, ne tentes quod effici non possit ; alterum, ne ab eo, quod quis optime facit, in aliud, cui minus est idoneus, transferas. It was in this knowledge and cultivation of his genius that he had principally the advantage of his great master, Dryden, who, by his Mac-Flecno, his Absalom and Achitophel, but chiefly by his Prologues and Epilogues, appears to have had great talents for this species of moral poetry, but, unluckily, he seemed neither to understand nor attend to it.
Warburton. Ver. 341. But stoop'd to truth,] The term is from falconry; and the allusion to one of those untamed birds of spirit, which sometimes wantons at large in airy circles, before it regards, or stoops to, its prey.
Warburton. Ver. 350. the lie so oft o'erthrown,] As, that he received subscriptions for Shakespear, that he set his name to Mr. Broome's verses, &c. which, though publicly disproved, were nevertheless shamelessly repeated in the libels, and even in that called the Nobleman's Epistle.
The morals blacken'd, when the writings 'scape,
A. But why insult the poor, affront the great ? P. A knave's a knave to me, in every state;
Ver. 351. Th' imputed trash,] Such as profane Psalms, Court Poems, and other scandalous things, printed in his name by Curll and others.
Warburton. Ver. 353. the pictured shape ;] Hay, in his Essay on Deformity, has remarked, that Pope was so hurt by the caricatura of his figure, as to rank it among the most atrocious injuries he received from his enemies.
Warton. Ver. 354. Abuse, on all he loved, or loved him, spread,] Namely, on the Duke of Buckingham, the Earl of Burlington, Lord Bathurst; Lord Bolingbroke, Bishop Atterbury, Dr. Swift, Dr. Arbuthnot, Mr. Gay, his friends, his parents, and his very nurse, aspersed in printed papers, by James Moore, G. Ducket, L. Wel. sted, Tho. Bentley, and other obscure persons.
Pope. Ver. 356. The whisper, that to greatness still too near,] By the whisper is meant calumniating honest characters. Shakespear has finely expressed this office of the sycophant of greatness in the following line :
“ Rain sacrificial whisperings in his ear.” By which is meant the immolating men's reputations to the vice or vanity of his patron.
Warburton. Ver. 359. For thee, fair Virtue ! welcome, &c.] This line is remarkable for presenting us with the most amiable image of steady virtue, mixed with a modest concern for his being forced to undergo the severest proofs of his love for it; which was the being thought hardly of by his SOVEREIGN.
Alike my scorn, if he succeed or fail,
Yet soft by nature, more a dupe than wit,
Ver. 369. Sporus at court,] In former editions, Glencus at court.
Warton. In the folio edition of 1735, it is Sporus.
Ver. 374. ten years] It was so long after many libels, before the author of the Dunciad published that poem; till when, he never writ a word in answer to the many scurrilities and falsehoods concerning him.
Pope. Ver. 375. Welsted's lic.] This man had the impudence to tell in print, that Mr. P. had oceasioned a Lady's deuth, and to name a person he never heard of. He also published that he libelled the Duke of Chandos ; with whom (it was added) that he had lived
in VARIATIONS. Ver. 368. in the MS.
Once, and but once, his heedless youth was bit,
To please his mistress, one aspersed his life;
in familiarity, and received from him a present of five hundred pounds; the falsehood of both which is known to his Grace. Mr. P. never received any present, farther than the subscription for Homer, from him, or from any great man whatsoever. Pope.
Ver. 378. Let Budgel] Budgel, in a weekly pamphlet, called the Bee, bestowed much abuse on him, in the imagination that he writ some things about the Last Will of Dr. Tindal, in the Grubstreet Journal ; a paper wherein he never had the least hand, direction, or supervisal, nor the least knowledge of its author.
Pope. Ver. 379. except his will;] Alluding to Tindal's will: by which, and other indirect practices, Budgel, to the exclusion of the next heir, a nephew, got to himself almost the whole fortune of a man entirely unrelated to him.
Pope. Respecting the circumstance hinted at, of Eustace Budgel having forged Dr. Tindal's will, the reader might perhaps wish to have some further account. Dr. Tindal, of All Souls College, Oxford, of notorious character, the author of Christianity as old as the Creation, left the following will:
“ I Matthew Tindal, &c. (after a legacy to his maid servant) give and bequeath to Eustace Budgel, the sum of two thousand one hundred pounds, that his greut talents may serde his country, &c. my strong box, my diamond ring, MS. books, &c.
(Signed) Mat. TINDAL." The reverend Nicholas Tindal, his nephew, author of the Continuation of Rapin, declared his suspicion that this will was forged. This was generally credited, and Budgel, in 1737, threw himself out of a boat and was drowned. He wrote several of the Spectators; the History of the Boyles, Earls of Shannon, &e, and a weekly pamphlet called the Bee. The cause of his death was supposed to have been in relation to this will.
Yet why? that father held it for a rule,
Of gentle blood (part shed in honour's cause,
Ver. 381. His father, mother, &c.] In some of Curll's and other pamphlets, Mr. Pope's father was said to be a mechanic, a hatter, a farmer, nay a bankrupt. But, what is stranger, a nobleman (if such a reflection could be thought to come from a nobleman) had dropped an allusion to that pitiful untruth, in a paper called an Epistle to a Doctor of Divinity; and the following line,
“ Hard as thy heart, and as thy birth obscure,” had fallen from a like courtly pen, in certain Verses to the Imitator of Horace. Mr. Pope's father was of a gentleman's family in Oxfordshire, the head of which was the Earl of Downe, whose sole heiress married the Earl of Lindsay. His mother was the daughter of William Turner, Esq. of York : she had three bro. thers, one of whom was killed ; another died in the service of King Charles; the eldest following his fortunes, and becoming a general officer in Spain, left her what estate remained after the sequestrations and forfeitures of her family. Mr. Pope died in 1717, aged 75; she in 1733, aged 93, a very few weeks after this poem was finished. The following inscription was placed by their son on their monument in the parish of Twickenham, in Middlesex :
D. O. M.
QUI. VIXIT. ANNOS. LXXV. OB. MDCCXVII.
ET. EDITHÆ. CONIVGI. INCVLPABILI.
PIENTISSIMÆ, QUÆ. VIXIT. ANNOS.
XCIII. OB. MDCCXXXIII.