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THE SECOND EPISTLE
SECOND BOOK OF HORACE.
This Epistle is addressed to colonel Cotterell, of Rousham, near Oxford, the descendant of sir Charles Cotterell, who, at the desire of Charles I., translated Davila into English. Pope in this poem once more gracefully alludes to his personal circumstances, his self-taught knowlege, his love of a country life, his indifference to wealth, and the resignation with which he was prepared to give up the great world and life together.
Dear colonel, Cobham's and your country's friend,
4 This lad, sir, is of Blois. A town in Beauce, where the French tongue is spoken in great purity.-Warburton.
A perfect genius at an opera-song:
too much might do my honor wrong.
heart. Once, and but once, I caught him in a lie, And then, unwhipp'd, he had the grace to cry: The fault he has I fairly shall reveal ; (Could you o'erlook but that) it is—to steal.'
20 If, after this, you took the graceless lad, Could you complain, my friend, he proved so bad? Faith, in such case, if you should prosecute, I think sir Godfrey should decide the suit; Who sent the thief that stole the cash away, And punish'd him that put it in his way.
Consider then, and judge me in this light: I told you, when I went, I could not write; You said the same; and are you
discontent With laws, to which you gave your own assent? Nay, worse, to ask for verse at such a time! 31 D'ye think me good for nothing but to rhyme ?
In Anna's wars, a soldier poor and old Had dearly earn'd a little purse of gold : Tired with a tedious march, one luckless night, 35 He slept, poor dog! and lost it, to a doit. This put the man in such a desperate mind, Between revenge, and grief, and hunger join'd, Against the foe, himself, and all mankind,
24 Sir Godfrey. Kneller, whom Pope pleasantly describes
'an eminent justice of peace, who decided much after the manner of Sancho Panza.'
He leap'd the trenches, scaled a castle-wall, 40 Tore down a standard, took the fort and all. * Prodigious well!' his great commander cried ; Gave him much praise, and some reward beside. Next pleased his excellence a town to batter: (Its name I know not, and 'tis no great matter) 45 Go on, my friend,' he cried; see yonder
walls ! Advance and conquer! go where glory calls ! More honors, more rewards, attend the brave.' Don't you remember what reply he gave? ye think
me, noble general, such a sot? Let him take castles who has ne'er a groat.'
Bred up at home, full early I begun
55 To know the good from bad. The original, curvo dignoscere rectum, produces some critical skirmishing. Dacier pronounces it to mean, the study of geometry; Warton pronounces Dacier's meaning to be absurd; Wakefield pronounces that Pope was wrong, and Warton puzzled; and repeats, with Dacier, that the true purport is.—' to distinguish a right line from a curve,' geometry being one of the preliminary studies of the Academy.
57 In Maudlin's learned grove. Pope had a partiality for this college in Oxford, in which he had spent many agreeable days with his friend Mr. Digby, who provided rooms for him at that college.—Warton.
59 Deprived us soon. The apologies of the original for the part which Horace took in the civil wars, are among the happiest instances of his felicitous style:
And certain laws, by sufferers thought unjust, 60
Years following years, steal something every
At last they steal us from ourselves away ;
Dura sed emovere loco me tempora grato;
Versus ut facerem. Warton, in the spirit of a scholar, observes this apologetical delicacy of throwing the blame on necessity, inexperience, and the whirl of the time. Horace had the high command, of a legion ;-a command equivalent to that of a British majorgeneral,
70 Monroes. Dr. Monroe, physician to Bedlam-hospital.
If every wheel of that unwearied mill,
have me do? 80 When out of twenty I can please not two; When this heroics only deigns to praise, Sharp satire that, and that Pindaric lays ? One likes the pheasant's wing, and one the leg ; The vulgar boil, the learned roast an egg ; Hard task ! to hit the palate of such guests, When Oldfield loves what Darteneuf detests.
But grant I may relapse, for want of grace, Again to rhyme; can London be the place ? Who there his Muse, or self, or soul attends, In crowds, and courts, law, business, feasts, and
friends? My counsel sends to execute a deed : A poet begs me I will hear him read: In Palace-yard at nine you'll find me there At ten for certain, sir, in Bloomsbury-square- 95 Before the lords at twelve my cause comes onThere's a rehearsal, sir, exact at one.• 0, but a wit can study in the streets, And raise his mind above the mob he meets.' Not quite so well however as one ought: A hackney-coach may chance to spoil a thought;
83 Pindaric lays? Those unfortunate performances find no mercy from the rough gripe of Warburton :-Of our modern lyrics,' he says, the English are Pindaric, and the Latin Horatian : the former are, like boiled meats, of different tastes, but all insipid ; the latter, like the same meats potted, but all of one taste. The reason assigned for this sweeping condemnation is, that the English ode-makers only imitate Pindar's ideas; the Latin employ Horace's very words.'