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TO MR. THOMAS SOUTHERN,
ON HIS BIRTH-DAY, 1742.
RESIGN'D to live, prepar❜d to die,
VER. 3. This day Tom's] This amiable writer lived the longeft, and died one of the richeft, of all our poets. In 1737, Mr. Gray, writing to a friend, fays very agreeably, "We have here old Mr. Southern, who often comes to fee us; he is now seventyfeven years old, and has almost wholly loft his memory; but is as agreeable an old man as can be, at least I perfuade myself fo, when I look at him, and think of Isabella and Oroonoko." He was certainly a great mafter of the pathetic; and in the latter part of his life became fenfible of the impropriety he had been guilty of in mixing Tragedy with Comedy. He was the first play-writer that had the benefit of a third night. He told Dryden that he once had cleared feven hundred pounds by one of his plays.
VER. 6. A table,] Mr. Southern was invited to dine on his birthday with this nobleman (Lord Orrery), who had prepared for him the entertainment of which the bill of fare is here fet down.
VER. 8. Prefents her Harp] The Harp is generally wove on the WARBURTON. Irish linen; fuch as table-cloths, &c.
The feast, his tow'ring genius marks
May Toм, whom heav'n fent down to raise
VER. 16. The price of Prologues and of Plays,] This alludes to a story Mr. Southern told of Dryden, about the fame time, to Mr. P. and Mr. W.-When Southern firft wrote for the stage, Dryden was fo famous for his Prologues, that the Players would act nothing without that decoration. His ufual price till then had been four guineas; but when Southern came to him for the Prologue he had befpoke, Dryden told him he must have fix guineas for it; "which (faid he) young man, is out of no disrespect to you, but the Players have had my goods too cheap."-We now look upon thefe Prologues with the fame admiration that the Virtuofi do on the Apothecaries' pots painted by Raphael. WARBURTON.
ROXANA, OR THE DRAWING-ROOM.
ROXANA from the court returning late,
Sigh'd her foft forrow at St. James's gate: Such heavy thoughts lay brooding in her breast; Not her own chairmen with more weight oppreft: They curfe the cruel weight they're doom'd to bear; She in more gentle founds exprefs'd her care.
Was it for this, that I thefe roses wear?
This King, I never could attend too foon;
Sermons I fought, and with a mien severe,
Cenfur'd my neighbours, and faid daily pray❜r.
The reputation, which fo dear had coft;
When bloom and beauty bid me fhew my face,
Oft had your drawing-room been fadly thin,
And fav'd your Highness from the dire disgrace:
When all my duty and my merit fails:
That Cockatilla, whofe deluding airs
VER. 26. What-d'ye-call-it] Gay's farce, fo called. VER. 34. foreigners] The attendants of George the First, from Hanover.
I know the court, with all its treach'rous wiles,
Mr. DALLAWAY fays, this Eclogue was written in the year 1715, and he gives very fatisfactory reasons for attributing it to Lady Mary Montagu. I am inclined to think, by Roxana was meant the Duchefs of Marlborough. It is well known, that after the acceffion of George the First, the Duke was among the diffatisfied; for, though he was appointed Commander in Chief, yet he did not enjoy the smallest share of confidence or power. The Duchefs, no doubt, partook of his fpleen. The "Princess" was Caroline, then Princefs of Wales; and Cockatilla, Mrs. Howard, made bed-chamber woman to the Princefs. This is my idea, but it is of little confequence to illuftrate a poem, which Pope, perhaps, never wrote.