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MISCELLANIES.

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EPISTLE

то

ROBERT EARL OF OXFORD, AND EARL OF MORTIMER.

SUCH were the notes thy once-lov'd Poet fung,
Till Death untimely stop'd his tuneful tongue.
Oh just beheld, and lost! admir'd and mourn'd!
With foftest manners, gentleft arts adorn'd!

NOTES.

Bleft

Epifle to Robert Earl of Oxford.] This Epiftle was fent to the Earl of Oxford with Dr. Parnelle's Poems published by our Author, after the said Earl's imprisonment in the Tower, and retreat into the country, in the Year 1721.

POPE.

VER. 1. Such were the notes] The notes were charming indeed! We have few pieces of Poetry fuperior to Parnelle's Rife of Woman; the Fairy Tale; the Hymn to Contentment; Health, an Eclogue; the Vigil of Venus; the Night piece on Death; the Allegory on Man; and the Hermit. The beft account of the ori. ginal of this laft exquifite poem is given in the third volume of the History of English Poetry, p. 31.; from whence it appears that it was taken from the eightieth chapter of that curious repofitory of ancient tales, the Gefta Romanorum. The story is related in the fourth volume of Howel's Letters, who fays he found it in Sir Philip Herbert's Conceptions; but this fine Apologue was much better related in the Divine Dialogues of Dr. Henry More, Dial. ii. part 1.; and Parnelle feems to have copied it chiefly from this Platonic Theologist, who had not lefs imagination than learn. ing. Pope used to say that it was originally written in Spanish :

from

Bleft in each science, blest in ev'ry strain!

Dear to the Muse!-to HARLEY dear-in vain!
For him, thou oft haft bid the World attend,
Fond to forget the Statesman in the Friend;
For SWIFT and him, defpis'd the farce of state,
The fober follies of the wife and great;

Dextrous, the craving, fawning crowd to quit,
And pleas'd to 'fcape from Flattery to Wit.
Abfent or dead, ftill let a friend be dear,
(A figh the abfent claims, the dead a tear)
Recall thofe nights that clos'd thy toilfome days,
Still hear thy Parnelle in his living lays,
Who, careless now of Int'rest, Fame, or Fate,
Perhaps forgets that OXFORD e'er was great;
Or deeming meaneft what we greatest call,
Beholds thee glorious only in thy fall.

And fure, if aught below the feats divine
Can touch Immortals, 'tis a Soul like thine:

NOTES.

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A Soul

from the early connection between the Spaniards and Arabians, it may be fufpected that it was an Oriental tale. Voltaire has in ferted it in his Zadig, without mentioning a syllable of the place whence he borrowed it. WARTON.

VER. 21. And fure, if aught] Strength of mind appears to have been the predominant characteristic of Lord Oxford; of which he gave the moft ftriking proofs when he was ftabbed, difplaced, imprisoned. These noble and nervous lines allude to these circumftances; of his fortitude and firmnefs another ftriking proof remains, in a letter which the Earl wrote from the Tower to a friend, who advised him to meditate an escape, and which is worthy of the greatest hero of antiquity. This extraordinary letter I had the

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A Soul fupreme, in each hard instance try'd,
Above all Pain, all Paffion, and all Pride,
The rage of Pow'r, the blaft of public breath,
The luft of Lucre, and the dread of Death.

In vain to Deserts thy retreat is made;
The Mufe attends thee to thy filent fhade:

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'Tis her's, the brave man's latest steps to trace, Rejudge his acts, and dignify difgrace.

30

When Int'reft calls off all her fneaking train,
And all th❜ oblig'd defert, and all the vain ;

NOTES.

She

the pleasure of reading, by the favour of the Earl's excellent grand-daughter, the late Dutchefs Dowager of Portland, who inherited that love of literature and science, fo peculiar to her ancestors and family.

I am well informed that Bolingbroke was greatly mortified at Pope's bestowing these praises on his old antagonist, whom he mortally hated; yet I have feen two original letters in the hands of the fame Dutchefs of Portland, of Lord Bolingbroke to Lord Oxford, full of the most fulfome flattery of the man whom he affected to despise, and of very idle and profane applications of Scripture.

The Vifions of Parnelle, at the end of his Poems, published in the Guardian, are in a rugged inharmonious ftyle; as indeed is the Life of Zoilus, printed 1717; and also the Effay on the Life of Homer, prefixed to our Author's tranflation: and his Effay on the Different Styles in Poetry is rather a mean performance.

WARTON.

VER. 24. Above all Pain, &c.] This alludes to the excruciating pains he suffered from the ftone; "all Paffion," means his general equanimity.

VER. 24. all pride,] He was fo amiable and condefcending, that one of the accufations against him by the Whigs was, that he treated the black-coats (clergy) like gentlemen!

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