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And is not mine, my friend, a forer cafe,
I'd never name queens, minifters, or kings;
You think this cruel? take it for a rule,
Ver. 80. That fecret to each fool, that he's an afs:] i. e: that his ears (his marks of folly) are visible.
Ver. 88. Alluding to Horace,
Si fractus illabatur orbis,
Ver. 98. Free-mafons Moore ?] He was of this fociety, and frequently headed their proceffions.
Does not one table Bavius still admit ?
No names---be calm,---learn prudence of a friend;
But foes like thefe----P. One flatt'rer's worse than
Of all mad creatures, if the learn'd are right, 105
Ver. III. in the MS.
For fong, for filence fome expect a bribe;
Ver. 118. Sir, you have an eye----] It is remarkable, that amongst these compliments on his infirmities and deformi ties, he mentions his eye, which was fine, fharp, and piercing. It was done to intimate, that flattery was as odious to him when there was fome ground for commendation, as when there was none.
Go on, obliging creatures, make me fee
Juft fo immortal Maro held his head:"
Ver. 127. As yet a child, &c.] Mr Pope began to write verfes farther back than he could remember. When he was eight years old, Ogilby's Homer fell in his way, and delighted him extremely; and foon after Sandys' Ovid. He was then fo charmed with these books, that he spoke of them with pleasure ever after. About ten, he turned the tranfactions of the Iliad into a play, made up of speeches from Ogilby's tranflation, tacked together with verfes of his own; and had the address to perfuade his school-fellows to act it. At twelve he went with his father into Windfor-forest; and then got firft acquainted with the wri tings of Waller, Spenfer, and Dryden. On the first fight of Dryden, he found he had what he wanted. His poems were never out of his hands; they became his model; and from them alone he learned the whole magic of his verfification. In that year he began an epic poem, which Bp. Atterbury long afterward perfuaded him to burn.
VARIATIONS. After ver. 124. in the MS.
But, friend, this fhape, which you and Curll* admire, Came not from Ammon's fon, but from my fire t: And for my head, if you'll the truth excufe, I had it from my mother ‡, not the mufe. Happy, if he in whom these frailties join'd, Had heir'd as well the virtues of the mind. Curll fet up his head for a fign. t His father was crooked. His mother was much afflicted with head-achs.
I left no calling for this idle trade,
wrote too, in thofe early days, a comedy and tragedy, the latter taken from a story in the legend of St Genevieve; both which underwent the fame fate. As he began his pa ftorals foon after, he used to fay pleasantly, that he had literally followed the example of Virgil, who says, " Cum canerem reges et prælia," &c. Ecl. 6. ver. 3. &c.
Ver. 130. no father disobey'd] When Mr Pope was yet a child, his father, though no poet, would fet him to make English verfes. He was pretty difficult to please, and would often fend the boy back to new-turn them. When they were to his mind, he took great pleasure in them, and would fay, "Thefe are good rhymes."
Ver. 139. Talbot, &c.] All these were patrons or admirers of Mr Dryden; though a fcandalous libel against him, entitled, Dryden's fatire to his mufe, has been printed in the name of the Lord Somers, of which he was wholly ignorant.
These are the persons to whose account the author charges the publication of his first pieces: Perfons with whom he was converfant (and he adds beloved) at fixteen or seventeen years of age; an early period for fuch acquaintance. The catalogue might be made more illuftrious, had he not confined it to that time when he writ the Paftorals and Windfor-foreft, on which he paffes a fort of cenfure in the Kines following,
While pure defcription held the place of fense? &c.
And St John's felf (great Dryden's friends before) With open arms receiv'd one poet more. Happy my ftudies, when by thefe approv'd! Happier their author, when by these belov'd! From these the world will judge of men and books, 145
Not from the Burnets, Oldmixons, and Cooks.
Soft were my numbers; who could take offence While pure defcription held the place of fenfe? Like gentle Fanny's was my flow'ry theme, A painted miftrefs, or a purling fream. Yet then did Gildon draw his venal quill; I wish'd the man a dinner, and fat still. Yet then did Dennis rave in furious fret; I never anfwer'd, I was not in debt. If want provok'd, or madnefs made them print, I wag'd no war with Bedlam or the Mint.
Did fome more fober critic come abroad; If wrong, I fmil'd; if right, I kifs'd the rod. Pains, reading, ftudy, are their just pretence; And all they want, is fpirit, tafte, and fenfe. 160 Commas and points they fet exactly right, And 'twere a fin to rob them of their mite.
Ver. 146. Burnets. &c.] Authors, fays Mr Pope, of fecret and scandalous history ;-----but by no means, fays Mr Warburton, of the fame clafs, though the violence of party might hurry them into the fame miftake. If the firft (adds he) offended this way, it was only through an honest warmth of temper, that allowed too little to an excellent underRanding. The other two, with very bad heads, had hearts ftill worse.
Ver. 150. A painted meadow, or a purling stream, is a verie of Mr Addison.