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[The Satires of Pope, which form the fourth volume of Warburton's edition, were published very nearly in the order in which they stand, vizFirst Satire of Second Book of Horace
1734 (written 1732) Epistle to Dr Ärbuthnot "Prologue io Satires)
One Thousand Seven Hundred and Thirty-eight
} 1738 They originated in a happy suggestion of Bolingbroke's, made to Pope on a visit to the latter in the winter of 1732, at the time when the composition of the Essay on Man was interrupted by a slight attack of fever which confined the poet to his room for a few days. Bolingbroke, happening to take up a Horace and to light on the First Satire of the Second Book, was struck by its applicability to the position of Pope, and recommended him to translate it into English. This Pope accomplished in a morning or two; and the success of the first attempt led him to repeat the experiment until to his surprise he found he had reproduced more than a third of the Latin poet's Satires and Epistles in an English dress.
Even the Imitations of Horace proper are something very different from mere free translations or paraphrases; the Prologue and Epilogue are independent satires, the former in the form of an Epistle, the latter in that of Dialogues; and the Versified Satires of Dr Donne, written by Pope (as he informs us) several years before their publication, were merely retouched with allusions which make them to a certain degree harmonise with the rest of the series. It will therefore be most convenient to prefix to the Prologue, the Imitations and the Epilogue independently, such remarks as are suggested by the characters of each; and to distinguish from all these the paraphrase of Donne's Satires. The common characteristics of the entire group need little demonstration. In versification and diction generally, these Satires are Pope's master-pieces. The spirit which dictated them is the same: a strong and not unworthy self-consciousness, combined with a relentless desire to damage the reputation of all to whom the poet was opposed on public or on private grounds. It would be unjust to attribute to personal spleen and personal animosity the whole of Pope's scathing invective; a zeal for public morality accompanies a genuine respect for individual merit; but no private enemy of the poet's, no political opponent of his friends, has a chance of candid and fair treatment. Even Sir Robert Walpole is only incidentally recognized as not wholly without virtues, because he had once conferred a personal favour upon Pope; even Addison's moral purity only meets with recognition because the quarrel between him and Pope was at an end with the death of the former. The endless egotism of Pope, and the standard by which in the end he measured his opinion of others, accordingly deprive him of the right to be esteemed a moralist in these his most brilliant efforts; and notwithstanding his deprecation of the term, he can only be regarded, with reference to them, as a wit.]
EPISTLE TO DR ARBUTHNOT.
To the first publication of this Epistle. This paper is a sort of bill of complaint, begun many years since, and drawn up by snatches, as the several occasions offered. I had no thoughts of publishing it, till it pleased some Persons of Rank and Fortune (the Au ors of Verses to the Imitator of Horace, and of an Epistle to a Doctor of Divinity from a Nobleman at Hampton Court)? to attack, in a very extraordinary manner, not only my Writings (of which, being public, the Public is judge) but my Person, Morals, and Family, whereof, to those who know me not, a truer information may be requisite. Being divided between the necessity to say something of myself, and my own laziness to undertake so awkward a task, I thought it the shortest way to put the last hand to this Epistle. If it have any thing pleasing, it will be that by which I am most desirous to please, the Truth and the Sentiment; and if any thing offensive, it will be only to those I am least sorry to offend, the vicious or the ungenerous.
Many will know their own pictures in it, there being not a circumstance but what is true; but I have, for the most part, spared their Names, and they may escape. being laughed at, if they please.
I would have some of them know, it was owing to the request of the learned and candid Friend to whom it is inscribed, that I make not as free use of theirs as they have done of mine. However, I shall have this advantage, and honour, on my side, that whereas, by their proceeding, any abuse may be directed at any man, no injury can possibly be done by mine, since a nameless character can never be found out, but by its truth and likeness. P.
[Parts of this poem, and notably the famous passage relating to Addison, had been written many years previously and published as fragments. But there is no trace of disjointedness in this, one of the most finished of Pope's compositions, which may be almost regarded in the light of a poetical apology pro vitâ, and an attempt for ever to silence the most notable of the poet's detractors. It was appropriately addressed to the most generally esteemed member of Pope's circle of friends and literary associates--one who in the last letter which he wrote to Pope (Arbuthnot died about a month after the publication of the Epistle) expressed his belief, that since their first acquaintance there had not been any of those little suspicions or jealousies that often affect the sincerest friendships;' and his certainty that there had been none such on his own side. Pope was about this time in need of the support of such approval as the judgment of his friends as well as his own self-consciousness could bestow, to support him in the tempest which he had raised not only by his Dunciad among the small fry of his literary enemies, but by his first Imitations of Horace among former friends, such as Lady Mary, Wortley Montagu and Lord Hervey (see note to v. 305). The Epistle, singularly perfect and rounded in form is, notwithstanding its fragmentary origin, of the highest interest from an ethical as well as a literary point of view; nor is it possible to forbear from admiring its lofty conclusion, where that Resignation is upheld to which in actual life it was never given to the poet attain.]
[Of these squibs the former was said to be a Hervey alone. See Carruthers' Life of Pope, joint production of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu ch. viii.] and Lord Hervey; the latter was written by
EPISTLE TO DR ARBUTHNOT?,
PROLOGUE TO THE SATIRES.
P. HUT, shut the door, good John?! fatigu'd, I said,
What walls can guard me, or what shades can hide?
Is there a Parson, much bemus'd in beer,
! (John Arbuthnot (born in 1675, died in 1735) Satire.) besides being a most distinguished member of his 4 Mint.] A place to which insolvent debtors profession, the medical, was eminent as a mathe- retired, to enjoy an illegal protection, which they matician and a classical scholar. As a politician were there suffered to afford one another, from he was firmly attached to the Tory party, and the persecution of their creditors. Warburton. with Swift became a member of the October Club, 5 Some lines in this Epistle had been used in established in 1710 by Oxford, Bolingbroke and a letter to Thomson [the author of the Seasons] their political and literary friends. He was also when he was in Italy, and transferred from him a member of the Scriblerus Club, and to him is to Arbuthnot, which naturally displeased the attributed the chief share in the famous treatise former, though they lived always on terms of of M.S. on the Art of Sinking in Poetry, which civility and friendship: and Pope earnestly exerted was published in the Miscellanies of Pope and himself, and used all his interest to promote Swift. The History of John Bull, the art of the success of Thomson's Agamemnon. Warton. Political Lying and other jeux d'esprit of the [The readers of the Seasons will remember the same kind, were Arbuthnot's own. On the acces- poet's tribute to the virtues of the 'brown October sion of George I. Arbuthnot was deprived of his in Autumn.] post as Physician extraordinary at Court. Of 6 The idea is from Boileau's Art of PoetryPope's sentiments towards Arbuthnot this Epistle 'charbonner les murailles.' Bowles, offers the best testimony; Swift said of him 7 After v. 20 in the MS., that he has more wit than we all have; and 'Is there a Bard in durance ? turn them free, more humanity than wit.']
With all their brandish'd reams they run to me: ? Shut, shut the door, good John!). John Is there a Prentice, having seen two plays, Searl, his old and faithful servant: whom he has Who would do something in his Sempstress' remembered, under that character, in his Will. praise.'
8 [As to Pope's Villa at Twickenham, or 3 (See Pers. Sat. 111. V. 5. Several touches in "Twitenham' as he preferred to write the name, the Epistle appear to be derived from the same see Introductory Memoir, p. xxxiv.]