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Cum magnis vixisse invita fatebitur usque
nisi quid tu, docte Trebati, Dissentis.
T. 'Equidem nihil hîc diffingere possum.
H. Esto, si quis mala : sed bona si quis Judice condiderit laudatus CÆSARE? si quis
Peterborough, who in the year 1705 took Barcelona, and in the winter following, with only 280 horse and 900 foot, enterprised and accomplished the conquest of Valentia.- Pope.
Ver. 133. Envy must own,] Pope has omitted an elegant allusion. Horace seems to have been particularly fond of those exquisite morsels of wit and genius, the old Æsopic fables. He frequently alludes to them, but always with a brevity very different from our modern writers of fable. Even the natural La Fontaine has added a quaint and witty thought to this very fable. The File says to the Viper, Fab. 98 :
“ Tu le romprois toutes les dents,
Je ne crains que celles du temps." —Warton. Ver. 135. With eyes that pry not,] Pope triumphs and felicitates himself upon having lived with the great, without descending into one of those characters which he thinks it unavoidable to escape in such a situation. From the generosity and openness of Horace's character, I think he might be pronounced equally free (at least from the last) of these imputations. There must have been something uncommonly captivating in the temper and manners of Horace, that could have made Augustus so fond of him, though he had been so avowed an enemy, and served under Brutus. I have seen some manuscript letters of Shaftesbury, in which he has ranged, in three different classes, the ethical writings of Horace, according to the different periods of his life in which he supposes them to have been written. The first during the time he professed the stoic philosophy; and was a friend of Brutus. The second, after he became dissolute and debauched at the court of Augustus. The third, when he repented of this abandoned Epicurean life, wished to retire from the city and court, and become a private man and a philosopher. I have read a poem, which may one day see the light, in which Horace is represented as meeting Brutus in Elysium, who will not deign to hold any conversation with our Court-poet, but turns away from him with the sullen silence and haughty disdain with which Ajax treats Ulysses in the Odyssey.Warton.
Ver. 146. A man was hang’d, &c.] Si mala condiderit-- A great French lawyer explains this matter very truly. “ L'aristocratie est le gouverne
Envy must own, I live among the great, No pimp of pleasure, and no spy of state, With eyes
that pry not, tongue that ne'er repeats,
135 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 say, 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,
ment qui proscrit le plus les ouvrages satiriques. Les magistrats y sont de petits souverains, qui ne sont pas assez grands pour mépriser les injures. Si dans la monarchie quelque trait va contre le monarque, il est si haut que le trait n'arrive point jusqu'à lui ; un seigneur aristocratique en est percé de part en part. Aussi les Decemvirs, qui formoient une aristocratie, punirent-ils de mort les écrits satiriques.” De L'Esprit des Loix, l. xii. c. 13.-Warburton.
Ver. 146. A man was hang’d] This may put the reader in mind of the ridiculous circumstance in Shakespear's Julius Cæsar ; where poor Cinna the poet, when attacked by the mob, exclaims :
“ I am not Cinna the conspirator, I am Cinna the poct.”
“ No matter ; tear him for his bad verses !"-Bowles. Ver. 150, 151, Libels and Satires ! lawless things indeed !
But grave Epistles, &c.] The legal objection is here more justly and decently taken off than in the original. Horace evades the force of'it with a quibble :
Esto, si quis mala, sed bona si quismia But the imitator's grave Epistles show the satire to be a serious reproof, and
Opprobriis dignum laceraverit, integer ipse?
therefore justifiable ; which the integer ipse of the original does not. Warburton. Ver. 153. F. Indeed ?] Hor.
“ Solventur risu tabula." Some critics tell us, it is want of taste to put this line in the mouth of Trebatius. But our Poet confutes this censure, by showing how well the sense of it agrees to his friend's character. The lawyer is cautious and fearful ; but as soon as Sir ROBERT, the patron both of law and gospel, is named as approving them, he changes his note, and, in the language of old Plowden, owns, the case is altered. Now was it not as natural, when Horace had given him a hint that Augustus himself supported him, for
Such as Sir ROBERT would approve
F. Indeed ?
Trebatius, a court advocate, who had been long a client to him and his uncle, to confess the case was altered ?-Warburton.
To laugh at the solemnity of Trebatius, which throughout the dialogue is exactly kept up, Horace puts him off with a mere play upon words. But our important lawyer takes no notice of the jest, and finishes with a gravity suited to his character :
“ Solventur risu tabulæ : tu missus abibis."-Warton.