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Something as dim to our internal view,
True some are open, and to all men known;
Ver. 56. Still sits at squat,] No two characters have been painted with more life and truth, and more circumstances nicely discriminated, than those of the artful Blifield and the
Tom Jones, in Fielding's incomparable Comic Epopée, an original and unrivalled work.
Ver. 56. peeps not from its hole.] Which shews (says Scriblerus, idly) that this grave person was content with his present situation, as finding but small satisfaction in what a famous Poet reckons one of the advantages of old age;
“ The soul's dark cottage, batter'd and decay'd,
Scribl. Ver. 57. At half mankind] The character alluded to is the principal one in the Plain Dealer of Wycherly, a comedy taken from the Misanthrope of Moliere, but much inferior to the original. Alcestes has not that bitterness of spirit, and has much more humanity and honour than Manly. Writers transfuse their own characters into their works: Wycherly was a vain aud profligate libertine; Moliere was beloved for his candour, sweetness of temper, and integrity. It is remarkable that the French did not relish this incomparable comedy on the three first representations. The strokes of satire were too subtle and delicate to be felt by the generality of the audience, who expected only the gross diversion of laughing; so that, at the fourth time of its being acted, the author was forced to add to it one of his coarsest farces ; but Boileau in the mean time affirmed that it was the capital work of
When universal homage Umbra pays,
But these plain characters we rarely find;
their stage, and that the people would one time be induced to
Ver. 61. hate it in a Queen,] Meaning Queen Caroline, whom he was fond of censuring; as was Bolingbroke. See vol. i. p.
123 of his Works, for a bitter ridicule on her affectation of science.
Ver. 62. who charms us with his Spleen.] Closely copied from Boileau;
“Un esprit né chagrin plait par son chagrin même." It is a compliment to Swift.
Ver. 69. Unthought-of Frailties] For who could have thought. that Xenophon, during his famous retreat, performed many acts of the most vulgar superstition; that Augustus was alarmed and dispirited if he put on a slipper on his right leg which should have been on his left; that Newton once studied astrology; and that Thuanus, Dryden, and the Chancellor Shaftesbury, calculated nativities; that. Roger Ascham and Dr. Whitby were devoted lovers of cock-fighting, as was Bayle of mountebanks; that Bishop Hoadley was often rallied by Dr. Clarke for his dread of thunder; that Henry IV.. of France was terrified at the jolting of his coach; that Ben Johnson and Addison were hard drinkers, and our Author himself an epicure. The night before the battle' of Blenheim, after a council of war had been held in the Duke of Marlborough's tent, at which Prince Louis of Baden and Prince Eugene had assisted, the latter, after the council had broke up,
See the same man, in vigour, in the gout; Alone, in company; in place, or out ;
stepped back to the tent to communicate something he had forgot to the Duke, whom he found giving orders to his aid-de-camp Colonel Selwyn (who related this fact) at the table, on which there was now only a single taper burning, all the others being extinguished the moment the council was over. “What a man is this,” said Prince Eugene, “who at such a time can think of saving the ends of candles.” Elizabeth was a coquette, and Bacon received a bribe. Dr. Busby had a violent passion for the stage; it was excited in him by the applauses he received in acting the Royal Slave before the king at Christ-church; and he declared that, if the rebellion had not broke out, he had certainly engaged himself as an actor. Luther was so immoderately passionate, that he sometimes boxed Melancthon's ears; and Melancthon himself was a believer in judicial astrology, and an interpreter of dreams. Richelieu and Mazarin were so superstitious as to employ and pen sion Morin, a pretender to astrology, who cast the nativities of those two able politicians. Nor was Tacitus himself, who genes rally appears superior to superstition, untainted with this folly, as may appear from the twenty-second chapter of the sixth book of his Annals. Men of great genius have been somewhere compared to the pillar of fire that conducted the Israelites, which frequently turned a cloudy side towards the spectator.
Ver. 71. See the same man, &c.] Of four causes he here gives EXAMPLES: 1. Of the vivacity of the imagination (from Ver. 70 to 77.)-2. Of the contrariety of Appetites (from Ver. 76 to 81).3. Of Affectations (from Ver. 80 to 87). ---and 4. Of the Inequali, ties of the human mind (from Ver. 86 to 95), W.
Ver. 72, Alone, in company,] The unexpected inequalities of qur minds and tempers is a subject that has been exhausted by Montagne in the 1st chap. of the 2d book of his Essays, which, it iş evident, Pope had been reading. Nothing can be finer than the picture which Tully has given, in his oration for Cælius, of the inconsistencies and varieties of Catiline's conduct; ending with, “Quis clarioribus viris quodam tempore jucundior? Quis turpioribus conjunctior? Quis civis meliorum partium aliquando? Quis tetrior hostis huic civitati? Quis in voluptatibus inquinatior? Quis in laboribus patientior? Quis in rapacitate avarior? Quis in largi
Early at Bus’ness, and at Hazard late;
Catius is ever moral, ever grave,
tione effusior?” The learned Markland, in defending Euripides from a well-known objection made to the inconsistency of the character of Iphigenia, is of opinion, that the Poet's design, through the whole tragedy, was, in general, to shew the inequality and inconsistency of the human character; and gives instances of this inconsistency in the behaviour of Agamemnon, Menelaus, Achilles, the Chorus, and all the persons introduced, except Clytemnestra; intending to display humani animi levitatem et inconstantiam in consiliis suis, et nos omnes æque esse homines.” Eurip. Iphig. Ant. p. 191.
Ver. 77. ever grave,] I here add a sensible reflection of Rochefoucault, that the reader may compare it with one of the great Confucius on the same subject: “Gravity," says the former, “is a mysterious carriage of the body to cover the defects of the mind.”—“Gravity,” says the latter, “is indeed only the rind, or bark, of wisdom; but it preserves it."
Ver. 81. Patritio's high desert,] Meaning Lord Godolphin, of whom, says Prior, in an original letter that I have seen, wise Earl of Godolphin told me when he tụrned me out for having served him ;-- Things change, times change, and men change." Though he was a great gamester, yet he was an able and honest minister.
He thanks you not, his pride is in Picquette, 85
After Ver. 86 in the former Editions,
Triumphant leaders, at an army's head,
Ver. 87. What made] One of the reasons that makes Montagne so agreeable a writer is, that he gives so strong a picture of the way of life of a country gentleman in the reign of Henry III. The descriptions of his castle, of his library, of his travels, of his entertainments, of his diet and dress, are particularly pleasing. Malebranche and Pascal have severely and justly censured his scepticism. Peter Charron contracted a very strict friendship with him, insomuch that Montagne permitted him by his will to bear his arms.
In his Book of Wisdom, which was published at Bourdeaux in the year 1601, he has inserted a great number of Montagne's sentiments. This treatise has been loudly blamed for its freedom by many writers of France, and particularly Garasse the Jesuit. Bayle has remarked, in opposition to these censurers, that, of a hundred thousand readers, there are hardly three to be found in any age who are well qualified to judge of a book, wherein the ideas of an exact and metaphysical reasoning are set in opposition to the most common opinions. Pope has borrowed many sensible remarks from Charron, of whom Bolingbroke was particularly fond.
Who would imagine, from the boldness of Hobbes's sentiments, that he was naturally a great coward ?
Ver. 89. A perjur’d Prince,] Louis XI. of France wore in his hat a leaden image of the Virgin Mary, which, when he swore by, he feared to break his oath. P.
Ver. 90. A godless Regent tremble at a Star?] Philip Duke of