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" At length corruption, like a general flood, 135 (So long by watchful Ministers withstood,) Shall deluge all; and avarice creeping on, Spread like a low-born mist, and blot the sun; Statesman and patriot ply alike the stocks, Peeress and butler share alike the box,

140 And judges job, and bishops bite the town, And mighty dukes pack cards for half a crown. See Britain sunk in lucre's sordid charms, And France reveng’d on ANNE's and EDWARD's arms!" 'Twas no Court-badge, great Scrivener! fir’d thy brain, Nor lordly luxury, nor city gain:

146 No, 'twas thy righteous end, ashan’d to see Senates degenerate, patriots disagree, And nobly wishing party rage to cease, To buy both sides, and give thy country peace.

150 “ All this is madness,” cries a sober sage: But who, my friend, has reason in his rage?

COMMENTARY.

Ver. 151. “ All this is madness,” 8c.] But now the Sage, who has confined himself to books, which prescribe the government of the passions ; and never looked out upon the world, where he might see them let loose, and, like Milton's devils, riding the air in whirlwind, cries out, All this is madness. True, replies the Poet (from ver. 151 to 177), but this madness is a common one ; and only to be prevented by a severe attention to the rule laid down in the Essay:

“Reason still use, to Reason still attend ;” Ep. ii. ver. 68. for amongst the generality of men, and without the greatest circumspection,

“The ruling Passion, be it what it will,
The ruling Passion conquers Reason still.

(But

NOTES

stantly in this very style he declaimed against the corruption and luxury of the age, the partiality of Parliaments, and the misery of party spirit. Hc was particularly eloquent against avarice in great and noble persons, of which he had indeed lived to see many miserable examples. He died in the year

1732.Pope. Ver. 137.

avarice creeping on,

Spread like a low-born mist, and blot the sun ;] The similitude is extremely apposite, implying that this vice is of base and mean original ; hatched and nursed up among scriveners and stock-jobbers, and unknown, till of late, to the Nobles of this land : but now, in the fulness of time, she rears her head, and aspires to cover the most illustrious stations in her dark and pestilential shade. The Sun, and other luminaries of Heaven, signifying, in the high eastern style, the Grandees and Nobles of the earth. SCRIBL.-Warburton.

" The Ruling Passion, be it what it will,
The Ruling Passion conquers Reason still.”
Less mad the wildest whimsey we can frame, 155
Than even that passion, if it has no aim;
For tho' such motives folly you may call,
The folly's greater to have none at all.
Hear then the truth : “ 'Tis Heaven each passion

sends,
And different men directs to different ends.

160 Extremes in Nature equal good produce; Extremes in Man concur to general use.” Ask me what makes one keep, and one bestow? That power who bids the ocean ebb and flow,

COMMENTARY.

But then (continues he), as senseless as this passion appears, by the sway of its overbearing bias, it would be still more senseless had it no bias at all : you have seen us here intermix with the real, the most fantastical and extravagant that imagination could invent ; yet even these are less extravagant than a ruling Passion without a constant aim. Would you know the reason ? then listen to this important truth : ''Tis Heaven itself that gives the ruling Passion, and thereby directs different men to different ends : but these being exerted through the ministry of NATURE (of whom the great Philosopher truly observes, modum tenere nescia est, Aug. Scient. 1. ii. c. 13), they are very apt to run into extremes : to correct which, Heaven, at the same time, added the moderatrix Reason ; not to take the ruling Passion out of the hands and ministry of Nature, but to restrain and rectify its irregular impulses (see Essay, Ep. ii. ver. 151, et seq.); and what extremes, after this, remained uncorrected in the administration of this weak Queen (ver. 140. Ep. ii.), the Divine Artist himself bas, in his heavenly skill and bounty, set to rights ; by so ordering, that these of the moral world, like those of the natural, should, even by the very means of their contrariety and diversity, concur to defeat the malignity of one another :

“ Extremes in Nature equal good produce ;

Extremes in Man concur to general use." For as the various seasons of the year are supported and sustained by the reconciled extremes of wet and dry, cold and heat ; so all the orders and degrees of civil life are kept up by avarice and profusion, selfishness and vanity. The Miser being but the steward of the Prodigal ; and only so much the more backward as the other is precipitate :

“ This year a reservoir, to keep and spare ;

The next, a fountain, spouting thro' his heir."

NOTES.

Ver. 154. conquers Reason still.”] See what is said before of the pernicious tenet of a Ruling Passion.Warton.

And see also the Preliminary Note on the first of these Moral Epistles. Ver. 158. The folly's greater] Verbatim from Rochefoucault.-Warton.

Bids seed-time, harvest, equal course maintain, 165
Thro' reconcil'd extremes of drought and rain,
Builds life on death, on change duration founds,
And gives th' eternal wheels to know their rounds.

Riches, like insects, when conceal’d they lie,
Wait but for wings, and in their season fly. 170
Who sees pale Mammon pine amidst his store,
Sees but a backward steward for the poor;
This year a reservoir, to keep and spare;
The next, a fountain, spouting thro' his heir,
In lavish streams to quench a country's thirst, 175
And men and dogs shall drink him till they burst.

Old Cotta sham'd his fortune and his birth, Yet was not Cotta void of wit or worth :

COMMENTARY.

Ver. 177. Old Cotta sham'd his fortune, 8c.] The Poet now proceeds to support the principles of his Philosophy by examples ; but before we come to these, it will be necessary to look back upon the general economy of the Poem.

In the first part, to ver. 109, the use and abuse of Riches are satirically delivered in precept. From thence to ver. 177, the causes of the abuse are philosophically inquired into : and from thence to the end, the use and abuse are historically illustrated by examples. Where we may observe, that the conclusion of the first part, concerning the Miser's cruelty to others, naturally introduceth the second, by a satirical apology, which shows that he is full as cruel to himself. The explanation of this extraordinary phenomenon brings the author into the Philosophy of his subject; and this ending in an observation of avarice and profusion's correcting and reconciling one another, as naturally introduces the third, which proves the truth of the observation from fact. And thus the Philosophy of his subject standing between his Precepts and Examples, gives strength and light to both, and receives it reflected back again from both.

He first gives us two examples (from ver. 176 to 219) of these opposite ruling Passions, and (to see them in their full force) taken from subjects, as he tells us, not void of wit or worth ; from such as could reason themselves (as we see by ver. 183, et seq. and ver. 205, et seq.) into the whole length of each extreme : for the Poet had observed of the ruling Passion, that,

Wit, spirit, faculties, but make it worse ;
Reason itself but gives it edge and power.”

Essay, Ep. ii. ver. 146. Old Cotta and his Son therefore afforded him the most happy illustration of his doctrine.

66

NOTES.

Ver. 173. This year a reservoir,] The same comparison was before used by Young, Sat. vi. line 34. Pope collected gold from many a dunghill ; for this allusion is taken from Fuller's Church History, p. 28. -Warton.

What tho' (the use of barbarous spits forgot)
His kitchen vied in coolness with his grot? 180
His court with nettles, moats with cresses stor'd,
With soups unbought and salads bless'd his board ?
If Cotta liv'd on pulse, it was no more
Than bramins, saints, and sages did before.
To cram the rich was prodigal expense,

185
And who would take the poor from Providence ?
Like some lone Chartreux stands the good old hall,
Silence without, and fasts within the wall;
No rafter'd roofs with dance and tabor sound,
No noon-tide bell invites the country round: 190
Tenants with sighs the smokeless towers survey,
And turn th' unwilling steeds another way:
Benighted wanderers, the forest o'er,
Curse the sav'd candle, and unopening door;
While the gaunt mastiff, growling at the gate, 195
Affrights the beggar whom he longs to eat.

Not so his son, he mark'd this oversight,
And then mistook reverse of wrong for right.
For what to shun will no great knowledge need,
But what to follow, is a task indeed.

200

NOTES.

Ver. 199. For what to shun will no great knowledge need,

But what to follow, is a task indeed.] The Poet is here speaking only of the knowledge gained by experience. Now there are so many miserable examples of ill conduct, that no one, with his eyes open, can be at a loss to know what to shun ; but, very inviting examples of a good conduct are extremely rare. Besides, the mischiefs of folly are eminent and obvious ; but the fruits of prudence, remote and retired from common observation ; and, if seen at all, yet their dependence on their causes not being direct and immediate, they are not easily understood.-Warburton. Ver. 200.) Here I found two lines in the Poet's MS.

" Yet sure, of qualities deserving praise,

More go to ruin fortunes, than to raise ;" which, as they seemed to be necessary to do justice to the imaginary character going to be described, I advised him to insert in their place. -Warburton.

The expression of “ more qualities go,” is surely faulty.—Warton.

IMITATIONS.

Ver. 182. With soups unbought]

dapibus mensas onerabat inemptis.” Virg.—Pope.

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Yet sure, of qualities deserving praise,
More go to ruin fortunes, than to raise.
What slaughter'd hecatombs, what floods of wine,
Fill the capacious 'squire, and deep divine !
Yet no mean motive this profusion draws,

205
His oxen perish in his country's cause;
'Tis GEORGE and LIBERTY that crowns the cup,
And zeal for that great House which eats him up.
The woods recede around the naked seat,
The sylvans groan—no matter—for the fleet: 210
Next goes his wool—to clothe our valiant bands;
Last, for his country's love, he sells his lands.
To town he comes, completes the nation's hope,
And heads the bold train-bands, and burns a Pope.
And shall not Britain now regard his toils, 215
Britain, that pays her patriots with her spoils?
In vain at Court the bankrupt pleads his cause;
His thankless country leaves him to her laws.

The sense to value Riches, with the art T enjoy them, and the virtue to impart,

220

COMMENTARY.

Ver. 219. The sense to value Riches, &c.] The author having now largely exposed the Abuse of Riches by example ; not only the Plan, but the Philosophy of his Poem, required that he should, in the same way, show the Use likewise ; he, therefore, (from ver. 218 to 249,) calls for an

NOTES.

Ver. 218.] It is to be regretted, that the political feelings of Pope have in this instance been indulged so far as to induce him to injure his argument for the sake of a sarcasm on the House of Hanover. What he had undertaken to demonstrate was, that the injurious effects of the father's avarice were obviated by the conduct of the son, who disperses 'his immense wealth in the service of his country ; but, from the irony that runs through the whole passage we are led to conclude that he could scarcely have devoted it to a worse purpose, and that it did as much harm in its overflow as it did in its restraint ; a result which can scarcely be said to show that

“ Extremes in man concur to general use." Ver. 219, 220. The sense to value Riches, with the art

T" enjoy them, and the virtue to impart,]

VARIATIONS.

Aster ver. 218, in the MS.

Where one lean herring furnish'd Cotta's board,
And nettles grew, fit porridge for their Lord ;

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