« 上一頁繼續 »
But hark! the chiming Clocks to dinner call ; A hundred footsteps scrape the marble Hall: The rich Buffet well-colour'd Serpents grace, And gaping Tritons spew to wash your
VER. 150. Who never mentions Hell to ears polite.] This is a fact; a reverend Dean preaching at Court, threatened the finner with punishment in “ a place which he thought it not “ decent to name in so polite an assembly.” P.
VER. 153. Taxes the incongruity of Ornaments, (though Sometimes practised by the ancients) where an open mouth ejects the water into a fountain, or where the shocking images of serpents, &c. are introduced into Grotto's or Buffers. P.
VER. 153. The rich Buffit well-colour'd Serpents grace,] The circumstance of being well-colour'd shews this ornament not only to be very absurd, but very odious too; and has a peculiar beauty, as, in one instance of false Taste, viz. an injudicious choice in imitation, he gives in the epithet employed) the suggestion of another, which is an injudicious manner of it. For those disagreeable objects which, when painted, give pleasure ; if coloured after nature, in relief, become shocking; as a toad, or a dead carcase in wax-work : yet these things are the delight of all people of bad Taste. However, the Ornament itself pretends to science, and would justify its use by antiquity; though it betrays the most miserable ignorance of it. The Serpent, amongst the ancients, was sacred, and full of venerable mysteries. Now things do not excite ideas, so much according to their own natural impressions, as by fictitious ones, arising from foreign and accidental combinations; confequently the view of this animal raifed in them nothing of that abhorrence which it is wont to do in us; but on the contrary, very agreeable sensations, correspondent to those foreign associations. Hence, and more especially, because the Serpent was the peculiar Symbol of health, it became an extreme proper ornament to the genial rooms of the antients. In the mean time, we who are strangers to all this 155
Is this a dinner ? this a Genial room?
NOT E s.
superstition, yet make ourselves liable to one much more absurd, which is idolizing the very fashions that arose from it. So again, it was a practice amongst the Egyptians to make their fountains issue from the mouth of a Lion, because the Nile overflows when the sun is in that sign. But when we, in a senseless affectation of taste in the antique, imitate this significative ornament, which took its rise from the local peculiarities of that country, do we not deserve to be well laughed at? But if these pretenders to Taste can so widely miltake, it is no wonder that those who pretend to none, I mean the verbal Critics, should a little hallucinate in this matter. I remember, when the short Latin inscription on Shakespear's monument was first set up, and in the very style of elegant and simple antiquity, the News-papers were full of these small critics ; in which the only observation that looked like learning, was founded in this ignorance of Taste and Antiquity. One of these Critics objected to the word Mors (in the inscription) because the Roman writers of the purest times scrupled to employ it; but, in its stead, used an improper, that is, a figurative word, or otherwise a circumlocution. But had he confidered, that it was their Superstition of lucky and unlucky words which occasioned this delicacy, he must have seen that a Christian writer, in a Christian inscription, acted with great judgment in avoiding so senseless an affectation of, what he miscalls, classical expression.
Ver. 155. Is this a dinner, &c.]. The proud Festivals of some men are here set forth to ridicule, where pride destroys the ease, and formal regularity all the pleasurable enjoyment of the entertainment. P.
VER. 156. Hecatomb.) Alluding to the hundred footfteps before.
So quick retires each flying course, you'd swear Sancho's dread Doctor, and his Wand were there.
160 Between each Act the trembling salvers ring, From soup to sweet-wine, and God bless the King. In plenty starving, tantaliz'd in state, And complaisantly help'd to all I hate, Treated, carefs'd, and tir'd, I take my leave, 165 Sick of his civil Pride from Morn to Eve; I curse such lavish cost, and little skill, And swear no Day was ever past so ill.
Yet hence the Poor are cloath'd, the Hungry fed; Health to himself, and to his Infants bread 170 The Lab'rer bears: What his hard Heart denies, His charitable Vanity supplies.
Another Age shall see the golden Ear Imbrown the Slope, and nod on the Parterre,
COMMENTARY. VER. 173. Another age, &c.] But now a difficulty sticks with me (answers an objector) this load of evil ftill re. mains a monument of folly to future ages; an incumbrance
NOT E s. Ver. 160. Sancho's dread Doctor] See Don Quixote, chap. xlvii.
P. VER. 169. Yet hence the poor, &c.] The Moral of the whole, where PROVIDENCE is justified in giving Wealth to those who squander it in this manner. A bad Taste employs more hands, and diffufes Expence more than a good one. This recurs to what is laid down in Book I. Ep. ii. Ver. 230" 7, and in the Epistle preceding this, Ver. 161, &c. P.
VER. 173. Another age, &c.] Had the Poet lived but thres
Deep Harvests bury all his pride has plann'd, 175 And laughing Ceres re-assume the land.
to the plain on which it stands; and a nusance to the neighbourhood round about, filling it
“ with imitating fools." ; For men are apt to take the example next at hand; and aptest of all to take a bad one. No fear of that, replies the Poet, (from Ver. 172 to 177.) Nothing absurd or wrong is exempt from the jurisdiction of Time; which is always sure to do full justice on it;
" Another age shall see the golden Ear
" And laughing Ceres re-assume the land.” For the prerogative of
Time fhall make it grow," is only due to the designs of true Taste joined to use: And
“ 'Tis ufe alone that fanctifies ex pence;”. and nothing but the fanctity of that can arrest the justice of Time: And thus the second part concludes: which, confisting of an example of false Taste in every attempt to Mago nificence, is full of concealed precepts for the true: As the first part, which contains precepts for true Taste, is full of examples of the falfe.
NOI E s,
years longer, he had seen his general prophecy against all illjudged magnificence fulfilled in a very particular instance.
VER. 176. And laughing Ceres re-assume the land.] The great beauty of this line is an instance of the art peculiar to our Poet; by which he has so disposed a trite classical figure, as not only to make it do its vulgar office, of representing a
Who then shall grace, or who improve the Soil? Who plants like BATHURST, or who builds
like BoYLE. 'Tis Use alone that sanctifies Expence, And Splendor borrows all her
from Sense. 180
III. Ver. 177. Who then mall grace, &c.] We come now to the third and last part (from Ver. 176 to the end) and, as in the first, the Poet had given 'examples of wrong judged Magnificence, in things of Taste, without Sense; and, in the second, an example in others, without either Sense or Taste; fo the third presents two examples of Magnificence in Planting and Building; where both Sense and Taste highly prevail: The one in him, to whom this Epistle is addresfed; and the other, in the truly noble person whose amiable character bore fo confpicuous a part in the foregoing.
" Who then shall grace, or who improve the Soil?
• Who plants like BATHURST, or who builds like Boyle." Where, in the fine description he gives of these two species of Magnificence, he artfully insinuates, that though, when executed in a true Taste, the great end and aim of both be the same, viz. the general good in use or ornament; yet that their progress to this end is carried on in direct contrary
NOTES. very plentiful harvest, but also to assume the personage of Nature, re-establishing herself in her rights, and mocking the vain efforts of magnificence, which would keep her out of them. Ver. 179, 180. 'Tis use alone that fanctifies Expence,
And Splendor borrows ali ber rays from Senfe.] Here the Poet, to make the examples of good Taste the becter understood, introduces them with a summary of his Precepts, in these two sublime lines; for, the consulting Use is