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PREFIXED TO THE SATIRES IN THE SECOND VOLUME
OF THE WORKS OF POPE, IN FOLIO. 1735.
The occasion of publishing these Imitations was the clamour raised on some of my Epistles. An answer from Horace was both more full, and of more dignity, than any I could have made in my own person; and the example of much greater freedom in so eminent a divine as Dr. Donne, seemed a proof with what indignation and contempt a Christian may treat vice or folly, in ever so low, or ever so high a station. Both these authors were acceptable to the Princes and Ministers under whom they lived. The Satires of Dr. Donne I versified, at the desire of the Earl of Oxford, while he was Lord Treasurer, and of the Duke of Shrewsbury, who had been Secretary of State; neither of whom looked upon a satire on vicious Courts as any reflection on those they served in. And indeed there is not in the world a greater error, than that which fools are so apt to fall into, and knaves with good reason to encourage, the mistaking a Satirist for a Libeller; whereas to a true Satirist nothing is so odious as a Libeller, for the same reason as to a man truly virtuous nothing is so hateful as a hypocrite: Uni æquus virtuti atque ejus amicis.
WHOEVER expects a Paraphruse of Horace, or a faithful copy of his genius, or manner of writing, in these IMITATIONS, will be much disappointed. Our author uses the Roman poet for little more than his canvas; and if the old design or colouring chance to suit his purpose, it is well; if not, he employs his own, without scruple or ceremony. Hence it is, he is so frequently serious when Horace is in jest; and at ease where Horace is disturbed. In a word, he regulates his movements no further on his original, than was necessary for his concurrence, in promoting their common plan of reformation of manners.
Had it been his purpose merely to paraphrase an ancient satirist, he had hardly made choice of Horace; with whom, as a poet, he held little in common, besides a comprehensive knowledge of life and manners, and a certain curious felicity of expression, which consists in using the simplest language with dignity, and the most ornamented with ease. For the rest, his harmony and strength of numbers, his force and splendor of colouring, his gravity and sublime of sentiment, would have rather led him to another model. Nor was his temper less unlike that of Horace, than his talents. What Horace would only smile at, Mr. Pope would treat with the grave severity of Persius ; and what Mr. Pope would strike with the caustic lightning of Juvenal, Horace would content himself with turning into ridicule.
If it be asked then, why he took any body at all to imitate, he has informed us in his Advertisement. To which we may add, that this sort of imitation, which is of the nature of Parody, throws reflected grace and splendor on original wit. Besides, he deemed it more modest to give the name of Imitations to his Satires, than, like Despreaux, to give the name of Satires to Imitations.
The following Satire was first published in 1733, in folio, under the title of Dialogue between Alexander Pope of Twickenham, in Com. Midd. on the one part, and the learned counsel on the other. The learned counsel was Mr. Fortescue, successively a Baron of the Exchequer, and Master of the Rolls, with whom the poet
lived on terms of the most friendly intimacy.
SATIRA PRIM A.
'Sunt quibus in Satira videar nimis acer, et ultra Legem tendere opus. "Sine nervis altera, quid
Ver. 1. There are,] “ When I had a fever one winter in town," said Pope to Mr. Spence, " that confined me to my room for five or six days, Lord Bolingbroke came to see me, happened to take up a Horace that lay on the table, and in turning it over, dipped on the first satire of the second book. He observed how well that would suit my case, if I were to imitate it in English. After he was gone,
I read it over, translated it in a morning or two, and sent it to press in a week or a fortnight after. And this was the occasion of my imitating some other of the Satires and Epistles.” “ To how casual a beginning," adds Spence,“ we are obliged for the most delightful things in our language! When I was saying to him that he had already imitated near a third part of Horace's satires and epistles, and how much it was to be wished that he would go on with them, he could not believe that he had gone so far; but, upon computing it, it appeared to be above a third. He seemed on this not disinclined to carry it farther ; but his last illness was then growing upon him, and robbed us of him, and of all hopes of that kind, in a few months.”
Transcribed from Spence's Anecdotes, 1754. No parts of our author's works have been more admired than those Imitations. The aptness of the allusions, and the happiness of many of the parallels, give a pleasure that is always no SATIRE I.
TO MR. FORTESCUE.
HERE are, (I scarce can think it, but am told), * There are, to whom my satire seems too bold : Scarce to wise Peter complaisant enough, And something said of Chartres much too rough. "The lines are weak, another's pleased to say; Lord Fanny spins a thousand such a day. Timorous by nature, of the rich in awe, I come to counsel learned in the law : You'll give me, like a friend both sage and free, Advice; and (as you use) without a fee. 10
small one to the mind of a reader—the pleasure of comparison. He that has the least acquaintance with these pieces of Horace, which resemble the Old Comedy, immediately perceives, indeed, that our author has assumed a higher tone, and frequently has deserted the free colloquial air, the insinuating Socratic manner of his original: and that he clearly resembles in his style, as he did in his natural temper, the severe and serious Juvenal, more than the smiling and sportive Horace. Let us select some passages in which he may be thought to have equalled, excelled, or fallen short of the original ; the latter of which cannot be deemed a disgrace to our poet, or to any other writer, if we consider the extreme difficulty of transfusing into another language the subtle beauties of Horace's dignified familiarity, and the uncommon union of so much facility and force.
Warton. Ver. 10. Advice; und (as you use)] Horace, with much seeming seriousness, applies for advice to the celebrated Roman lawyer, C. Trebatius Testa, an intimate friend of Julius Cæsar and of VOL. VI.