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I shun his Zenith, court his mild Decline;
Names, which I long have lov'd, nor lov'd in vain,
Rank'd with their Friends, not number'd with their Train;
And if yet higher the proud List should end 11,
Still let me say: No Follower, but a Friend.
Yet think not, Friendship only prompts my lays;
I follow Virtue; where she shines, I praise:
Point she to Priest or Elder, Whig or Tory,
Din'd with the MAN of Ross 12, or my LORD MAY'R 13.
Somers] John Lord Somers died in 1716. He had been Lord Keeper in the reign of William III. who took from him the seals in 1700. The author had the honour of knowing him in 1706. A faithful, able, and incorrupt minister; who, to the qualities of a consummate statesman, added those of a man of Learning and Politeness. P.
2 Halifax] A peer, no less distinguished by his love of letters than his abilities in Parliament. He was disgraced in 1710, on the Change of Q. Anne's ministry. P.
3 Shrewsbury,] Charles Talbot, Duke of Shrewsbury, had been Secretary of state, Embassador in France, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Lord Chamberlain, and Lord Treasurer. He several times quitted his employments, and was often recalled. He died in 1718. P.
4 Carleton] Hen. Boyle, Lord Carleton (nephew of the famous Robert Boyle), who was Secretary of state under William III. and President of the Council under Q. Anne. P.
5 Stanhope] James Earl Stanhope. A Nobleman of equal courage, spirit, and learning. General in Spain, and Secretary of state. P. [The first Earl Stanhope, and the uncle of Chatham.]
6 [Francis Atterbury, bishop of Rochester, the friend of Pope and Swift and a consistent Jacobite, was arrested in 1722 on a charge of treasonable complicity in a plot for bringing back the Pretender, and sentenced to banishment. He joined the Pretender's Court, and for some time directed his affairs. He died in 1731.]
7 [William Pulteney (Earl of Bath in 1742),
the great opponent of Sir Robert Walpole; eloquent as an orator and witty as a pamphleteer.]
8 Chesterfield] Philip Earl of Chesterfield, commonly given by Writers of all Parties for an EXAMPLE to the Age he lives in, of superior talents, and public Virtue. Warburton. (Philip Dormer, Earl of Chesterfield, lord lieutenant of Ireland in 1744 and Secretary of State in 1747. His Irish administration is the highest point in his political career. As a writer he is famous for the sceptical Letters to his Son; of his wit some instances are given in Hayward's Essay on Lord C.]
9 [This Duke of Argyll, after defending Scotland against the Pretender's invasion of 1715. played a very changeful part in political life; and at his death in 1744 was one of the chiefs of the opposition against the Whigs. The two lines in the text are said to have been added in consequence of a threat of the Duke's that he would run any man through the body who should dare to use his name in an invective.]
10 Wyndham] Sir William Wyndham, Chancellor of the Exchequer under Queen Anne, made early a considerable figure; but since a much greater both by his ability and eloquence, joined with the utmost judgment and temper. P. [Bolingbroke's friend.]
11 And if yet higher, etc.] He was at this time honoured with the esteem and favour of his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales. Warburton.
12 [cf. Moral Essays, Ep. 111.]
Some, in their choice of Friends (nay, look not grave)
To find an honest man I beat about,
And love him, court him, praise him, in or out.
F. Then why so few commended?
P. Not so fierce!
No Pow'r, when Virtue claims it, can withstand:
O let my Country's Friends illumine mine!
-What are you thinking? F. 'Faith the thought's no sin:
I think your Friends are out, and would be in.
The way they take is strangely round about.
F. They too may be corrupted, you'll allow?
But pray, when others praise him, do I blame?
Call Verres, Wolsey, any odious name?
Louis scarce could gain,] By this expression finely insinuating, that the great Boileau always falls below himself in those passages where he flatters his Master. Warburton.
2 To Cato, Virgil pay'd one honest line.] It is in the En. [VIII. 670] His dantem jura CatoWarburton.
3 Spirit of Arnall!] Look for him in his
place. Dunc. B. II. v. 315. P.
4 Polwarth.] The Hon. Hugh Hume, Son of Alexander Earl of Marchmont, Grandson of Patrick Earl of Marchmont, and distinguished, like them, in the cause of Liberty. P. [Afterwards one of Pope's Executors.]
5 Walpole's maxim was 'to go his own way, and let madam go hers.' Carruthers.
To break my Windows, if I treat a Friend?
Of Honour bind me, not to maul his Tools;
His Saws are toothless, and his Hatchet's Lead.
To see a Footman kick'd that took his pay:
And begg'd, he'd take the pains to kick the rest:
F. Hold, Sir! for God's sake where's th' Affront to you?
Or P-ge pour'd forth the Torrent of his Wit 2?
The Priest whose Flattery be-dropt the Crown*,
Since the whole House did afterwards the same.
Let Courtly Wits to Wits afford supply,
As Hog to Hog in huts of Westphaly;
If one, thro' Nature's Bounty or his Lord's,
Drops to the third, who nuzzles close behind;
From tail to mouth, they feed and they carouse:
Quite turns my stomach
P. So does Flatt'ry mine;
And all your courtly Civet-cats can vent,
1 [Dr Wm. Sherlock, Dean of St Paul's, and the bête noire of the Nonjurors in the reign of William III.]
[Judge Page. Warton.] [Sir Francis Page, who seems to have deserved his soubriquet of 'the hanging judge.' He died, according to Carruthers, in 1741.]
3 the Bard] A verse taken out of a poem to Sir R. W. P. By Lord Melcombe [Bubb Doddington]. Warton. Some years afterwards Lord M. addressed the same epistle to Lord
The Priest, etc.] Spoken not of any par ticular priest, but of many priests. P. [Meaning Dr Alured Clarke, who wrote a panegyric on Queen Caroline.] Warton.
5 Lord Hervey. Alluding to his painting himself. Bowles.
6 And how did, etc.] This seems to allude to a complaint made v. 71 of the preceding Dialogue., P.
Perfume to you, to me is Excrement.
But hear me further-Japhet, 'tis agreed,
Writ not, and Chartres scarce could write or read,
But Pens can forge, my Friend, that cannot write;
Th' Affront is mine, my friend, and should be yours.
Who think a Coxcomb's Honour like his Sense;
Mine, as a Friend to ev'ry worthy mind;
P. So proud, I am no Slave:
So odd, my Country's Ruin makes me grave.
Safe from the Bar, the Pulpit, and the Throne,
Yet touch'd and sham'd by Ridicule alone.
O sacred weapon! left for Truth's defence,
The Muse may give thee, but the Gods must guide:
All that makes Saints of Queens, and Gods of Kings.
Faphet-Chartres] See the Epistle to Lord Bathurst. P. 2 [The Gin Act, passed in 1731, was repealed in 1743.]
And mine as Man, who feel for all mankind.] From Terence: "Homo sum: humani nihil a me alienum puto." P.
4 [Then let him boast that honourable crime
Of making those who fear not God, fear HIM. Lord Hervey's Difference between Verbal and Practical Virtue, &c.]
5 Cobwebs] Weak and slight sophistry against virtue and honour. Thin colours over vice, as unable to hide the light of Truth, as cobwebs to shade the sun. P.
Like the last Gazette, or the last Address1.
Touch'd with the Flame that breaks from Virtue's Shrine,
And opes the Temple of Eternity.
Her Priestless Muse forbids the Good to die,
There, other Trophies deck the truly brave,
And may descend to Mordington from STAIR 5:
Let Envy howl, while Heav'n's whole Chorus sings,
And bark at Honour not conferr'd by Kings;
FR. Alas! alas! pray end what you began, And write next winter more Essays on Man".
After v. 227 in the MS.
'Where's now the Star that lighted Charles to rise?
-With that which follow'd Julius to the skies.
2 When black Ambition, etc.] The cause of Cromwell in the civil war of England; (v. 229) of Louis XIV. in his conquest of the Low Countries. P. [Waller's Panegyric to my Lord Protector was written about 1654.]
3 Nor Boileau turn the Feather to a Star.] See his Ode on Namur; where (to use his own words) “il a fait un Astre de la Plume blanche que le Roy porte ordinairement à son Chapeau, et qui est en effet une espèce de Comète, fatale à nos ennemis." P.
4 Anstis] The chief Herald at Arms. It is the custom, at the funeral of great peers, toast into the grave the broken staves and ensigns of honour. P.
5 Stair] John Dalrymple, Earl of Stair, Knight of the Thistle; served in all the wars
under the Duke of Marlborough; and afterwards as Ambassador in France. P. [Bennet, who supplies the blanks in v. 239 by the names of Kent and Grafton has 'some notion that Lord Mordington kept a gaming-house.']
6 Hough and Digby] Dr John Hough, Bishop of Worcester, and the Lord Digby. The one an assertor of the Church of England in opposition to the false measures of King James II. The other as firmly attached to the cause of that King. Both acting out of principle, and equally men of honour and virtue. P.
7 Ver. 255 in the MS. Quit, quit these themes, and write Essays on Man.
This was the last poem of the kind printed by our author, with a resolution to publish no more; but to enter thus, in the most plain and solemn manner he could, a sort of PROTEST against that insuperable corruption and depravity of manners, which he had been so unhappy as to live to see. Could he have hoped to have amended any, he had continued those attacks; but bad men were grown so shameless and so powerful, that Ridicule was become as unsafe as it was ineffectual. The Poem raised him, as he knew it would, some enemies; but he had reason to be satisfied with the approbation of good men, and the testimony of his own conscience. P.