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EPILOGUE TO THE SATIRES.
WRITTEN IN MDCCXXXVIII.
Fr. 'Tis all a Libel-Paxton (Sir) will say. .
P. Not yet, my Friend ! to-morrow 'faith it may; And for that very cause I print to-day.
Ver. 1. 'Tis all a Libel] The King of Prussia observing from his window a mob assembled to read a paper fixed on a wall, ordered one of his pages to see what it contained, who informed him that it was a vile and severe invective against his Majesty. “ Take it down," said the King, “and place it lower on the wall, that it may be more easily and more universally read.” "Rien ne raccourcit plus des grands hommes," says Montesquieu, “que l'attention qu'ils donnent à de certaines procedés personels. J'en connois deur, qui ont été absolument insensibles, Cæsar et le Duc d'Orleans regent.”
The liberty of the Press was about this time thought to be in danger; and Milton's noble and nervous discourse on this subject, entitled, Areopagitica, was reprinted in an octavo pamphlet, with a preface written by Thomson, the poet. “If we think to regulate printing,” says Milton, “thereby to rectify manners, we must regulate all recreations and pastimes, all that is delightful to man.
No music must be heard, no song be set or sung, but what is grave and Doric.--He who is made judge to sit upon the birth or death of books, whether they may be wafted into this world or not, had need to be a man above the common measure, both studious, learned, and judicious.”—“It seems not more reasonable," says Johnson, “to leave the right of printing
How should I fret to mangle ev'ry line,
F. Yet none but you by Name the guilty lash; 10 Ev’n Guthry saves half Newgate by a Dash. Spare then the Person, and expose the Vice. P. How, Sir! not damn the Sharper, but the
unrestrained, because writers may be afterward censured, than it would be to sleep with doors unbolted, because by our laws we can hang a thief.” To which Mr. Hayley answers,
" To suffer no book to be published without a licence, is tyranny as absurd, as it would be to suffer no traveller to pass along the highway, without producing a certificate that he is not a robber."
Ver. 1. Paxton] Late solicitor to the Treasury. W.
Ver. 8. Feige what I will, &c.] The Poet has here introduced an oblique apology for himself with great art. You attack personal characters, say his enemies. No, replies he, I paint merely from my invention ; and then, to prevent a likeness, I aggravate the features. But alas! the growth of vice is so monstrously sudden, that it rises up to a resemblance before I can get from the press. W.
Ver. 11. Ev'n Guthry] The Ordinary of Newgate, who publishes the Memoirs of the Malefactors, and is often prevailed upon to be so tender of their reputation, as to set down no more than the initials of their name. P.
Ver. 13. How, Sir! not damn the Sharper, but the Dice ?] It is a pity that the liveliness of the reply cannot excuse the bad reasoning: the dice, though they rhyme to vice, can never stand for it: which his argument requires they should do. For dice are only the instruments of fraud: but the question is not, whether the instrument, but whether the act committed by it, should be exposed, instead of the person.
Come on then, Satire! gen’ral, unconfin'd,
P. Why that's the thing you bid me not to do.
F. You do. P. See, now I keep the Secret, and not you ! The bribing Statesman-F. Hold, too high you go.
P. The brib’d Elector-F. There you stoop too
P. I fain would please you, if I knew with what; Tell me, which Knave is lawful Game, which not? Must great Offenders, once escap'd the Crown, Like Royal Harts, be never more run down?
Ver. 21. the Town's inquiring yet.] So true is Swift's observation on personal satire; “I have long observed, that twenty miles from London nobody understands, hints, initial letters, or townfacts and passages; and in a few years not even those who live in London.” See verse 238 below, for two asterisks, not filled up or known. A mortifying reflection to the writers of satire, and daily topics of censure !
Ver. 22. F. You mean-P. I don't.] The same friend is here again introduced making such remonstrances as before. And several parts of the dialogue here are more rapid and short, and approach nearer to common conversation, than any lines he had ever before written; and are examples of that style mentioned by Horace,
-parcentis viribus, atque Extenuantis eas consulto.” Ver. 29. Like Royal Harts, &c.] Alluding to the old Game
Admit your Law to spare the Knight requires, 30
F. A Dean, Sir? No: his Fortune is not made, You hurt a man that's rising in the Trade. 35
P. If not the Tradesman who set up to-day, Much less the 'Prentice who to-morrow may. Down, down, proud Satire! though a realm bë
spoild, Arraign no mightier Thief than wretched Wild, Or, if a Court or Country's made a job,
40 Go drench a Pickpocket, and join the Mob. But, Sir, I beg you (for the Love of Vice !)
laws'; when our Kings spent all the time they could spare
from human slaughter, in Woods and Forests. W.
Ver. 31. As beasts of Nature may we hunt the Squires?] The expression is rough, like the subject, but without reflection : for if beasts of Nature, then not beasts of their own making; a fault too frequently objected to country Squires. However, the Latin is nobler; Feræ Naturæ, Things uncivilized and free. Feræ, as the Critics say, being from the Hebrew, Pere, Asinus silvestris. Scribl. W.
Ver. 35. You hurt a man] In a former Edition there was the following note on this line : “For as the reasonable De la Bruyere observes, Qui ne sait être un Erasme, doit penser à être Eveque.” Dr. Warburton omitted it after he got a seat on the Bench.
Ver. 35. rising in the Trade.] This was as offensive to some ambitious Ecclesiastics, as was the late proposal to put a stop to translations of Bishops.
Ver. 39. Wretched Wild ;] Jonathan Wild, a famous Thief, and Thief-Impeacher, who was at last caught in his own train, and hanged. P.
Have you less pity for the needy Cheat,
50 May pinch ev’n there—why lay it on a King. F. Stop ! stop!
P. Must Satire, then, not rise nor fall? Speak out, and bid me blame no Rogues at all.
F. Yes, strike that Wild, I'll justify the blow.
P. Strike? why the man was hang'd ten years ago: Who now that obsolete Example fears ?
56 Ev'n Peter trembles only for his Ears.
F. What always Peter ? Peter thinks you mad, You make men desp’rate if they once are bad : Else might he take to virtue some years hence
P. As S-k, if he lives, will love the PRINCE. 61 F. Strange spleen to S-k!
P. Do I wrong the Man? God knows, I praise a Courtier where I can. When I confess, there is who feels for Fame, 64 And melts to Goodness, need I SCARB’Row name?
Ver. 51. why lay it on a King.] He is serious in the foregoing subjects of Satire, but ironical here; and only alludes to the common practice of Ministers, in laying their own miscarriages on their Masters. W.
Ver. 57. Ed’n Peter trembles only for his Ears.] Peter had, the year before this, narrowly escaped the Pillory for forgery; and got off with a severe rebuke only from the bench. P.
Ver. 65. SCARB'ROW] Earl of, and Knight of the Garter,