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Theirs is the Vanity, the Learning thine:
Touch'd by thy hand, again Rome's glories shine;
the Court, because he sold Louis XIV. an Otho that was not genuine. Patin's Treatise on Medals is a good one. Ficoroni, the celebrated virtuoso at Florence, said to Mr. Spence, “Addison did not go any great depth in the study of medals; all the knowledge he had of that kind, I believe, he received of me; and I did not give him above twenty lessons on that subject." Warton.
Ver. 48. her faded] In Winkelman's History of Art among the Ancients, is to be found perhaps the best account of the gradual decay of painting, architecture, and medals, that can be read; abounding with many instances of the fate that has befallen many exquisite pieces of art. Amongst the rest he says, that when the Austrians took Madrid, Lord Galloway searched for a very celebrated Busto of Caligula, that he knew Cardinal G. Colonna had conveyed to Spain; which fine Busto he at last found in the Escurial, where it served for a weight of the church-clock. What Winkelman says of the Laocoon, vol. ii. sect. 3. is a capital piece of criticism and just taste; which he finishes by mentioning a matchless absurdity, worthy of the country where it is to be found, that in the Castle of St. Ildephonso in Spain, there is a Relief of this group of Laocoon and his sons, with a figure of Cupid fluttering over their heads, as if flying to their assistance. As to the revival of arts in Italy, we have lately been gratified with a curious account of this important event, in the elegant History of the Life of Lorenzo de' Medici, their chief restorer and protector. See, particularly, chapter ix. p. 196. Warton.
Ver. 49. Nor blush, these studies thy regard engage ;] A senseless affectation, which some Authors of eminence have betrayed; who, when fortune or their talents have raised them to a condition to do without those arts, for which only they gained our esteem, have pretended to think letters below their character. This false shame
The verse and sculpture bore an equal part,
Oh when shall Britain, conscious of her claim, Stand emulous of Greek and Roman fame? In living medals see her wars enroll'd, And vanquish'd realms supply recording gold? Here, rising bold, the Patriot's honest face; There Warriors frowning in historic brass: Then future ages with delight shall see How Plato's, Bacon's, Newton's looks agree; Or in fair series laurel'd Bards be shown, A Virgil there, and here an Addison.
Then shall thy CRAGGS (and let me call him mine) On the cast ore, another Pollio, shine;
M. Voltaire has very well, and with proper indignation, exposed in his account of Mr. Congreve: " He had one defect, which was, his entertaining too mean an idea of his first profession, (that of a Writer,) though it was to this he owed his fame and fortune. He spoke of his works as of trifles that were beneath him; and hinted to me, in our first conversation, that I should visit him upon no other footing than that of a gentleman who led a life of plainness and simplicity. I answered, that had he been so unfortunate as to be a mere gentleman, I should never have come to see him; and I was very much disgusted at so unseasonable a piece of vanity." Letters concerning the English Nation, xix. Warburton.
Ver. 53. Oh when shall Britain, &c.] A compliment to one of Mr. Addison's papers in the Spectator, on this subject. Warburton. Ver. 62. A Virgil there,] Copied evidently from Tickell to Addison on his Rosamond:
"Which gain'd a Virgil and an Addison." This elegant copy of Verses was so acceptable to Addison, that it was the foundation of a lasting friendship betwixt them. Tickell deserves a higher place among poets than is usually allotted to him. Warton.
With aspect open, shall erect his head,
And round the orb in lasting notes be read, "Statesman, yet friend to Truth! of soul sincere, "In action faithful, and in honour clear;
Ver. 67. Statesman, yet friend to Truth, &c.] It should be remembered, that this poem was composed to be printed before Mr. Addison's Discourse on Medals, in which there is the following censure of long legends upon coins: "The first fault I find with a modern legend is its diffusiveness. You have sometimes the whole side of a medal over-run with it. One would fancy the Author had a design of being Ciceronian-but it is not only the tediousness of these inscriptions that I find fault with; supposing them of a moderate length, why must they be in verse? We should be surprised to see the title of a serious book in rhyme." Dial. iii. Warburton.
Ver. 67. Statesman,] These nervous and finished lines were afterwards inscribed as an epitaph on this worthy man's monument in Westminster Abbey, with the alteration of two words in the last verse, which there stands thus:
Prais'd, wept, and honour'd by the Muse he lov'd."
It was Craggs, who, having raised himself by his abilities, in the most friendly manner offered our Author a pension of three hundred pounds per annum.
Though Pope enlisted under the banner of Bolingbroke, in what was called the country party, and in violent opposition to the measures of Walpole, yet his clear and good sense enabled him to see the follies and virulence of all parties; and it was his favourite maxim, that, however factious men thought proper to distinguish themselves by names, yet, when they got into power, they all acted much in the same manner; saying,
"I know how like Whig ministers to Tory."
And among his manuscripts were four very sensible, though not very poetical lines, which contain the most solid apology that can be made for a minister of this country:
"Our ministers like gladiators live:
"Tis half their business blows to ward, or give:
"Who broke no promise, serv'd no private end, "Who gain'd no title, and who lost no friend; 70 Ennobled by himself, by all approv'd,
And prais'd unenvy'd, by the Muse he lov'd."
Yet he appears sometimes to have forgotten this candid reflec
Ver. 72. And prais'd unenvy'd, by the Muse he lov'd.] It was not likely that men acting in so different spheres, as were those of Mr. Craggs and Mr. Pope, should have their friendship disturbed by Envy. We must suppose then that some circumstances in the friendship of Mr. Pope and Mr. Addison are hinted at in this place. Warburton.
ROBERT EARL OF OXFORD, AND
PREFIXED TO dr. parnelle's poems, published after
HIS DEATH BY MR. POPE.
SUCH were the notes thy once-lov'd Poet sung, Till Death untimely stopp'd his tuneful tongue. Oh just beheld, and lost! admir'd and mourn'd! With softest manners, gentlest arts adorn'd!
Epistle to Robert Earl of Oxford.] This Epistle was sent 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. P.
Ver. 1. Such were the notes] The notes were charming indeed! We have few pieces of Poetry superior to Parnelle's Rise 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 best account of the original of this last exquisite 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 repository of ancient tales, the Gesta Romanorum. The story is related in the fourth volume of Howel's Letters, who says 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 seems to have copied it chiefly from this Platonic Theologist, who had not less imagination than learning. Pope used to say that it was originally written in Spanish: from