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Whether the darken’d room to muse invite,
long; In flower of age you perish for a song ! Plums and directors, Shylock and his wife, Will club their testers now to take life! P. What ? arm’d for virtue when I point the pen,
105 Brand the bold front of shameless, guilty men, Dash the proud gamester in his gilded car, Bare the mean heart that lurks beneath a star; Can there be wanting to defend her cause, Lights of the church, or guardians of the laws ? 110 Could pension'd Boileau lash in honest strain Flatterers and bigots ev'n in Louis' reign? Could laureat Dryden pimp and friar engage, Yet neither Charles nor James be in a rage ? And I not strip the gilding off a knave, 115 Unplaced, unpension'd, no man's heir or slave?
116 Unplaced, unpension’d. Pope too frequently published his independence : yet, if Warburton be sufficient authority, be was more than once near losing bis boast, if boast it can justly be, to refuse the honors and emoluments offered by government, in the name of the nation, to learning and ability. His tale is curious. Pope was a known tory; yet the tories, preferring the purchase of their enemies to the reward of their friends, neglected this great ornament of their cause. To do him justice was left to the whigs : they were' wiser in their generation ;' and, at the commencement of their ministry under George I. lord Halifax immediately sent for Pope ; told him that the neglect of so powerful a writer was a public scandal ; and offered him a pension unclogged with any conditions. But Pope, as it seems, unnecessarily
I will, or perish in the generous cause :
vines; Or tames the genius of the stubborn plain Almost as quickly as he conquer'd Spain.
and unwisely desiring time to consider of it,' when, in three months after, he touched on the pension in a letter, found that he had ' considered 'too long; in other words, that he had offended the minister. He heard nothing more from lord Halifax.
However, on Craggs, his personal friend, coming into office, he proposed to give him a pension of £300 a year: but this was to be out of the secret service money,
and could be paid without its being known, or ever coming to account.' This evidently altered the whole complexion of the case : a secret pension must imply secret employment; and a man of Pope's character was insulted by the offer of clandestine bounty. It was properly declined. The narrative is amusing, as an instance of the early propensity of tories to admire, and of whigs to remunerate : of course, this state of things has never occurred again.
129 And he, whose lightning, &c. Charles Mordaunt, earl of Peterborough, who in 1705 took Barcelona ; and in the winter following, with only 280 horse and 900 foot, accomplished the conquest of Valencia.
Envy must own,
among great, No pimp of pleasure, and no spy of state, 134 With eyes
that pry not, tongue that ne'er repeats, Fond to spread friendships, but to cover heats ; To help who want, to forward who excel; This all who know me, know; who love me, tell ; And who unknown defame me, let them be Scribblers or peers, alike are mob to me. 140 This is my plea, on this I rest my cause : What saith my counsel, learned in the laws ? F. Your plea is good; but still I
beware! Laws are explain’d by men : so have a care. It stands on record, that in Richard's times 145 A man was hang'd for very honest rhymes. Consult the statute : quart. I think, it is, Edwardi sext. or prim. et quint. Eliz. See · Libels, Satires :' here you have it : read. P. Libels and Satires !' lawless things indeed !
150 But grave Epistles, bringing vice to light, Such as a king might read, a bishop write, Such as sir Robert would approve
F. Indeed ? The case is alter'd : you may then proceed : In such a cause the plaintiff will be hiss'd; 155 My lords the judges laugh, and you're dismiss'd.
THE SECOND SATIRE
SECOND BOOK OF HORACE.
TO MR. BETHEL.
This imitation is confined chiefly to a sketch of the poet's personal habits, and for that reason has a value which may not be always affixed to his more ambitious labors. The details are slight, but they are characteristic; and the language is easy, but elegant. Few things in literature are more attractive than those sudden glimpses into the study, or the bosom, of eminent men. If Shakspeare had given us but a few traits of himself, with what delight would they not have been cherished at this hour! Of the misfortunes of the great poets we know too much, of their manners too little: in negligence or disdain, they have left the world to conjecture; and have thus deprived it of the most interesting portion of the most interesting of all classes of literature, biography.
What, and how great, the virtue and the art
Not when a gilt buffet's reflected pride
Hear Bethel's sermon, one not versed in schools, But strong in sense, and wise without the rules. 10
Go, work, hunt, exercise!' he thus began: • Then scorn a homely dinner, if you can. Your wine lock'd up, your butler strolld abroad, Or fish denied, the river yet unthaw'd ;If then plain bread and milk will do the feat, 15 The pleasure lies in you, and not the meat.
• Preach as I please, I doubt our curious men Will choose a pheasant still before a hen; Yet hens of Guinea full as good I hold, Except you eat the feathers green and gold. 20 Of carps and mullets why prefer the great, Though cut in pieces ere my lord can eat; Yet for small turbots such esteem profess? Because God made these large, the other less. Oldfield, with more than harpy throat endued, 25 Cries, Send me, gods! a whole hog barbecued !'
9 Bethel, a frequent and familiar correspondent of Pope : he performs in this Epistle the part of the Horatian Ofellus,
18 Will choose a pheasant. In the original, a peacock, a stronger contrast. The peacock was among the most costly dishes of Roman epicurism: its price was sometimes fifty denarii, about a guinea and a half. The rearing of peacocks for the table was a trade: a flock of a hundred has been rated at L322 of our money. Aufidius Lurco, according to Varro, made an income of nearly £500 a year by peacocks alone.
25 Oldfield. A fool, who ate himself out of his fortune.
26 Hog barbecued, &c. A West Indian term of gluttony; a hog roasted whole, stuffed with spice, and basted with Madeira wine.-Pope.