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What walls can guard me, or what shades can hide?
Is there a parson much bemused in beer, 15
Usefulness of Mathematical Learning, and his Treatise on Air and Aliment, are sufficient proofs. His tables of ancient coins, weights, and measures, are the work of a man intimately acquainted with ancient history and literature, and are enlivened with many
curious and interesting particulars of the manners and ways of living of the ancients. The History of John Bull, the best parts of the Memoirs of Scriblerus, the Art of Political Lying, the Freeholder's Catechism, It cannot rain but it pours, &c. abound in strokes of the most exquisite humour. It is known that he gave
numberless hints to Swift, and Pope, and Gay, of some of the most striking parts of their works. He was so neglectful of his writings that his children tore his manuscripts and made paper-kites of them. Few letters in the English language are so interesting, and contain such marks of Christian resignation and calmness of mind, as one that he wrote to Swift a little before his death, and is inserted in the third volume of Letters, p. 157. He frequently, and ably, and warmly, in many conversations, defended the cause of revelation against the attacks of Bolingbroke and Chesterfield.
Warton. Ver. 13. Mint] A place to which insolvent debtors retired, to enjoy an illegal protection, which they were there suffered to afford to one another, from the persecution of their creditors.
Warburton. Ver. 15. Is there a parson] Some lines in this Epistle to Arbuthnot had been used in a letter to Thomson when he was in
A clerk, foredoom'd his father's soul to cross,
Friend to my life, (which did not you prolong,
Italy, and transferred from him to Arbuthnot, which naturally displeased the former, though they lived always on terms of civility and friendship; and Pope earnestly exerted himself, and used all his interest to promote the success of Thomson's Agamemnon, and attended the first night of its being performed. Warton.
Ver. 20. desperate charcoal] The idea is from Boileau's Art of Poetry—“Charbonner les murailles.”
Bowles. Ver. 23. Arthur,] Arthur Moore, Esq. Warburton.
Is there a bard in durance? turn them free,
Who would do something in his sempstress' praise-
Dear Doctor, tell me, is not this a curse?
Seized and tied down to judge, how wretched I!
“Nine years !” cries he, who high in Drury-lane, Lull’d by soft zephyrs through the broken pane, Rhymes ere he wakes, and prints before Term ends, Obliged by hunger and request of friends : “The piece, you think, is incorrect? why, take it; I'm all submission; what you'd have it, make it.”
Three things another's modest wishes bound, My friendship, and a prologue, and ten pound.
Pitholeon sends to me: “ You know his Grace; I want a patron; ask him for a place.”
50 Pitholeon libell'd me" but here's a letter Informs you, Sir, 'twas when he knew no better.
Ver. 33. Seized and tied down to judge,] Alluding to the scene in the Plain-Dealer, where Oldfox gags and ties down the Widow, to hear his well-penned stanzas.
Warburton. Rather from Horace; vide his Druso. Warton.
Ver. 40. “ Keep your piece nine years."] Boileau employed eleven years in his short satire of L'Equivoque. Patru was four years altering and correcting the first paragraph of his translation of the Oration for Archias.
Warton. Ver. 49. Pitholeon] The name taken from a foolish poet of Rhodes, who pretended much to Greek. Schol. in Horat. 1. i. Dr. Bentley pretends that this Pitholeon libelled Cæsar also. See notes on Hor. Sat. 10. 1. i.
Dare you refuse him? Curll invites to dine;
Bless me! a packet.—“ 'Tis a stranger sues, 55
60 Fired that the house reject him, “Sdeath, I'll print
it, And shame the fools-Your interest, Sir, with
Ver. 54. He'll write a Journal,] Meaning the London Journal; a paper in favour of Sir R. Walpole's ministry. Bishop Hoadley wrote in it, as did Dr. Bland.
Warton. Ver. 55. A packet.] Alludes to a tragedy called the Virgin Queen, by Mr. R. Barford, published 1729, who displeased Pope by daring to adopt the fine machinery of his Sylphs in an heroicomical poem called the Assembly. 1726.
Warton. Ver. 60. The players and I, &c.] On this passage, Cibber, in his curious letter, printed in 1742, addressed to Pope, has the following observation :
“ I am glad to find in your smaller edition, that your conscience has since given this line some correction ; for there you have taken off a little of its edge: it there runs only thus :
The players and I are luckily no friends. This is so uncommon an instance of your checking your temper, and taking a little shame to yourself, that I cannot in justice omit my notice of it.”
Ver. 53. in the MS.
If you refuse, he goes, as fates incline,
To plague Sir Robert, or to turn Divine. Ver. 60. in the former Ed.
Cibber and I are luckily no friends.
Lintot, dull rogue! will think your price too much: “ Not, Sir, if you revise it and retouch." All my demurs but double his attacks;
65 At last he whispers, “Do; and we go snacks.” Glad of a quarrel, straight I clap the door: Sir, let me see your works and you no more.”'
'Tis sung, when Midas' ears began to spring, (Midas, a sacred person and a king)
70 His very minister who spied them first, (Some say his queen,) was forced to speak or burst.
Ver. 69. 'Tis sung when Midas', $c.] The poet means, sung by Persius; and the words alluded to are
Vidi, vidi ipse, Libelle !
Auriculas asini Midas rex habet. The transition is fine, but obscure; for he has here imitated the manner of that mysterious writer, as well as taken up his image. Our author had been hitherto complaining of the folly and importunity of indigent scribblers; he now insinuates that he suffered as much of both, from poetasters of quality. Warburton.
Ver. 69. 'Tis sung, when Midas'] The abruptness with which this story from Persius is introduced, occasions an obscurity in the passage ; for there is no connexion with the foregoing paragraph. Boileau says, Sat. ix. v. 221, I have nothing to do with Chapelain's honour, or candour, or civility, or complaisance ; but if you hold him up as a model of good writing, and as the king of authors,
Ma bile alors s'échauffe, et je brûle d'écrire;
Midas, le Roi Midas, a des oreilles d'ane. There is much humour in making the prying and watchful eyes of the minister, instead of the barber, first discover the ass's ears ; and the word perks has particular force and emphasis. Sir Robert Walpole and Queen Caroline were here pointed at. Warton.