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Whoever expects a paraphrase of Horace, or a faithful copy of his genius, or manner of writing, in these imitations, will be much disappointed. Our author uses the Roman poet for little more than his canvass: and if the old design or colouring chance to suit his purpose, it is well; if not, he employs his own, without scruple or ceremony. Hence it is, he is so frequently serious where Horace is in jest, and at ease where Horace is disturbed. In a word, he regulates his movements no further on his original, than was necessary for his concurrence in promoting their common plan of reformation of manners.
Had it been his purpose merely to paraphrase an ancient satirist, he had hardly made choice of Horace; with whom, as a poet, he held litile in com. mon, besides a comprehensive knowledge of life and manners, and a certain curious felicity of expression, which consists in using the simplest language with dignity, and the most ornamented with ease. For the rest, his harmony and strength of numbers, his force and splendour of colouring, bis gravity and sublimity of sentiment, would have rather led him to another model. Nor was his temper less unlike that of Horace, than his talents. What Horace would only smile at, Mr. Pope would treat with the grave severity of Persius; and what Mr. Pope would strike with the caustic lightning of Juvenal, Horace would content himself in turning into ridicule.
If it be asked then, why he took any body at all to imitate, he has informed us in his advertisement. To which we may add, that this sort of imitations, which are of the nature of parodies, adds reflected grace and splendour on original wit. Besides, he deemed it more modest to give the name of inita. tions to his satire, than, like Despreaux, to give the name of satires to imitations.
BOOK II. SATIRE I.
TO MR. FORTESCUE.
P.ITWHERE are (I scarce can think it, but an told)
I There are, to whom my satire seems too bold;
P. Not write? but then I think,
F. You could not do a worse thing for your life.
fierce, With arms and George and Brunswick crowd the
verse, Rend with tremendous sound your ears asunder, With gun, drum, trumpet, blunderbuss, and thunder?
Or nobly wild, with Budgell's fire and force,
F. Then all your muse's softer art display,
P. Alas! few verses touch their nicer ear;
F. Better be Cibber, I'll maintain it still,
P. What should ail'em?
P. Each mortal has his pleasure: none deny
Papist or Protestant, or both between,
Satire's my weapon, but I'm too discreet
Slander or poison dread from Delia's rage;
Then, learned sir! (to cut the matter short)
P. What ? arm'd för virtue when I point the pen, Brand the bold front of shameless guilty men; Dash the proud gamester in his gilded car; Bare the mean heart that lurks beneath a star; Can there be wanting, to defend her cause, Lights of the church, or guardians of the laws ? Could pension's Boileau lash in honest strain Flatterers and bigots ev'n in Louis' reign? Could laureat Dryden pimp and friar engage, Yet neither Charles nor James be in a rage?. And I not strip the gilding off a knave, Unplac'd, unpension'd, no man's heir or slave? I will, or perish in the generous cause: Hear this and tremble! you who 'scape the laws. Yes, while I live, no rich or noble knave Shall walk the world in credit to his grave: To virtue only and her friends a friend, The world beside may murmur or commend. Know, all the distant din that world can keep, Rolls o'er my grotto, and but sooths my sleep. There, my retreat the best companions grace, Chiefs out of war, and statesmen out of place. There St. John mingles with my friendly bowl The feast of reason and the flow of soul : And he, whose lightning pierc'd th' Iberian lines, Now forms my quincunx, and now ranks my vines; Or tames the genius of the stubborn plain, Almost as quickly as he conquer'd Spain.
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 ;) 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, tel And who unknown defame me, let them be. Scribblers or peers, alike are mob to me. 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,