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Rev'rent I touch thee! but with honeft zeal; 216
When black Ambition ftains a public caufe,
Ver. 219. And goad the prelate flumbʼring in his fall.] The good Eufebius, in his Evangelical Preparation, draws a long parallel between the Ox and the Chriftian Priesthood. Hence the dignified clergy, out of mere humility, have ever fince called their thrones by the name of falls. To which a great prelate of Winchefter, one W. Edinton, modeftly alluding, (who otherwife had been long fince forgotten), has rendered his name immortal by this ecclefiaftical aphorifm, Canterbury is the higher rack, but Winchefter is the better manger. By which, however, it appears, that he was not one of thofe here condemned, who fumber in their stalls.
Ver. 222. Cobwebs] Weak and flight sophistry against virtue and honour. Thin colours over vice, as unable to hide the light of truth, as cobwebs to fhade the fun.
Ver. 228. When black ambition, &c.] The case of Cromwell in the civil war of England; and (ver. 229.) of Louis XIV. in his conqueft of the Low Countries.
After ver. 227. in the MS.
Where's now the ftar that lighted Charles to rife?
Not Waller's wreath can hide the nation's fcar,
Not fo when diadem'd with rays divine, Touch'd with the flame that breaks from Virtue's fhrine,
Her prieftefs Mufe forbids the good to die,
There, other tropies deck the truly brave,
Ver. 231. Nor Boileau turn the feather to a star.] See his ode on Namur: where (to ufe his own words) "Il a fait un Aftre de la Plume blanche que le Roy porte ordinairement a fon chapeau, et qui est en effet une espece de Comere, fattale a nos ennemis."
Ver. 137. Anftis] The chief herald at arms. It is the cuftom, at the funeral of great peers, to caft into the grave the broken staves and enfigns of honour.
Ver 239. Stair] John Dalrymple, Earl of Stair, knight of the thistle; ferved in all the wars under the Duke of Marlborough; and afterwards as ambaffador in France.
Ver. 240, 241. Hough and Digby] Dr John Hough, Bishop of Worcester, and the Lord Digby. The one an afferter of the church of England, in oppofition to the false measures of King James II. The other as firmly attached to the cause of that King. Both acting out of principle, and equally men of honour and virtue.
Let Flatt'ry fick'ning fee the incenfe rife,
Yes, the last pen for freedom let me draw,
Fr. Alas! alas! pray end what you began,
Ver. ult.] This was the lat poem of the kind printed by our author, with a resolution to publish no more; but to enter thus in the most plain and folemn manner he could, a fort of PROTEST against that infuperable corruption and depravity of manners, which he had been fo unhappy as to live to fee. Could he have hoped to have amended any, he had continued thofe attacks; but bad men were grown fo fhameless, and fo powerful, that Ridicule was become as unfafe as it was ineffectual. The poem raifed him, as he knew it would, fome enemies; but he had reafon to be fas tisfied with the approbation of good men, and the testimony of his own conscience.
Ver. 255. in the MS.
Quit, quit, these themes, and write Effays on Man:
Receiving from the Right Hon. the Lady
FRANCES SHIRLEY *
A STANDISH and Two Pens.
"ES, I beheld th' Athenian Queen
"And take (she said, and fmil'd ferene), Take at this hand celeftial arms:
Secure the radiant weapons wield;
This golden lance shall guard Defert, And if a Vice dares keep the field,
This fteel fhall ftab it to the heart."
Aw'd, on my bended knees I fell,
Receiv'd the weapons of the sky; And dipt them in the fable Well,
The fount of Fame or Infamy.
"What Well? what Weapon? (Flavia cries),
*A lady whofe great merit Mr Pope took a real pleasure in celebrating.
† A famous toy-fhop at Bath.
But, friend, take heed whom you attack;
You'd write'as fmooth again on glass,
As not to ftick at fool or afs*.
Athenian Queen! and fober charms!
I tell ye, fool, there's nothing in't:
Come, if you'll be a quiet foul,
That dares tell neither truth nor lies ¶,
Of those that fing of these poor eyes."
+ The Epistle to Dr Arbuthnot.
Such toys being the ufual prefents from lovers to their miftreffes.
When the delivers Æneas a fuit of heavenly armour. Tie. If you have neither the courage to write fatire, nor he application to attempt an epic poem.---He was then meditating on fuch a work.