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by the rhythm. See notes on Epistle to Augustus, 304-337. ley; originally a patch-work dress of highly-colored bits of cloth; the costume of the clown or professional jester. As applied here to life, it implies a sneer as well as a description. man was of a piece, that is, when men were more consistent than they are now. Doubtless the satirists of the time of Democritus likewise looked back to some Golden Age that existed only in their imaginations. a new-made mayor's unwieldy state; a reference to the Lord Mayor's Show, a civic parade that still takes place annually in London on the 9th of November, when the new Mayor is inaugurated. Attentive goes with thou (61). robes and veils are subjects of were (65). canvass; not in our modern (American) sense of 'to solicit,' but in the old sense of 'to examine,’ literally, ‘to sift through canvas' (bolting-cloth).
73-82. On every stage: on every stage of the suppliants' progress to wealth and power. Love ends with hope: as soon as their hope of patronage is disappointed, their love for their patron ends. Sinking and growing are the emphatic words in their respective sentences.
83-90. the painted face: the portrait of our former hero and patron. palladium : Cl. Myths, p. 305. better; this must be taken sarcastically. For gives the reason for the sarcastic better : being degenerate, we are unable to see heroic worth in the features where once we found it. The form distorted (in our pejorative imagination) justifies us in taking down the picture of him who was once our hero; we detest what formerly we loved, and indignantly rid our house of its presence. (I am aware that the subjective interpretation of this difficult passage is not free from objec. tions, but an objective interpretation creates even more difficulties, ir seems to me, while a mixture of the two methods produces hopeless confusion.)
91-98. remonstrance rings. It is difficult to surmise what period of English History Johnson had in mind, as the Tory party, of which he was a staunch adherent, has never been noted for assaults upon aristocratic and kingly power. Lines 95 and 96 seem to refer to the premiership of Henry Pelham, who, at the time this satire was written, had almost broken up the Opposition that destroyed Walpole by taking into the Cabinet the most distinguished members of that Opposition. septennial. Members of the House of Commons hold office for seven years, unless the Crown orders a dissolution and a new election within that time. This prerogative of the Crown is now lodged practically in the hands of the Prime Minister. full is best taken as an adverb with riot and rail.
99-120. Wolsey in this sketch takes the place of Juvenal's Sejanus. For the latter, consult a History of Rome under the years 14-31 A.D. For the idealized Wolsey, see Shakespeare's Henry vill.; for the real Wolsey, Green, Chapter vr. Sec. 5. the regal palace; Hampton Court, ten miles west of the city of London. Wolsey's arms are still to be seen above the clock-tower, and the magnificent carved roof of the hall was begun by him. Hampton Court was the favorite residence of Cromwell and of William III.
121-134. Villiers : great is hardly an appropriate adjective for George Villiers, first Duke of Buckingham, the frivolous and unprincipled favorite of James 1. and Charles 1. He was stabbed to the heart by Felton in 1628. Harley, when a member of the Cabinet (1711), was stabbed with a pen-knife by a French refugee named Guiscard. The wound was not serious and brought Harley a good deal of cheap popularity. Intemperance rather than this wound fixed disease on Harley's closing life. What Johnson, in his Tory fashion, calls the murder of Wentworth (better known as Strafford) was in reality a perfectly legal and richly deserved execution for treason (1641). Hyde. Edward Hyde, Earl of Clarendon, Prime Minister of Charles II., was impeached in 1667 and fed to France. Refusing to return and stand his trial, he was banished for life. He has left a History of the Rebellion and Civil Wars in England, much admired — by Tory writers.
135-164. the gown. The cap and gown are still worn by students at Oxford and Cambridge. Bodley; Sir Thomas Bodley, an Elizabethan diplomatist who founded the Bodleian Library at Oxford. Bacon's mansion. There is a tradition that the study of Friar Bacon, built on an arch over the bridge, will fall when a man greater than Bacon shall pass under it.' — Johnson. Novelty thy cell refrain Novelty refrain from approaching thy cell. So in the ballad of Robin Hood and Little John (Childs, v. 222):
the whole train the grove did refrain
And unto their caves they did go. Lines 153-4 are a bit of autobiography. pause
from learning, to be wise. Compare Tennyson's Locksley Hall, 143-4;
Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers, and he bears a laden breast,
Full of sad experience, moving toward the stillness of his rest. the patron and the jail are placed in admirable juxtaposition. Some six years after writing this Satire, Johnson, in his celebrated letter to Lord Chesterfield, gave 'noble' patronage in Literature a knockdown blow from which it has never recovered. nations
meanly just. 'Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites ! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, and say: If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. Matt. XXIII. 29–30. Lydiat, who died in 1646, suffered persecution not because he was a mathematician, but because he was a Royalist. This is but one instance of others we have noticed, where the good Doctor looks at history through Tory spectacles. Galileo's experiences with the Inquisition are too well known to call for recital here. He died in 1642.
165-174. Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury and Chief Persecutor of the Puritans, was executed by order of the House of Commons in 1645. Macaulay, as strong a Whig as Johnson was a Tory, also disapproved of the execution of Laud, but for not exactly the same
• The severest punishment which the two Houses could have inflicted on him would have been to set him at liberty, and send him to Oxford. There he might have stayed, tortured by his own diabolical temper — hungering for Puritans to pillory and mangle; plaguing the Cavaliers, for want of somebody else to plague, with his peevishness and absurdity; performing grimaces and antics in the Cathedral; continuing that incomparable Diary, which we never see without forgetting the vices of his heart in the imbecility of his intellect, minuting down his dreams, counting the drops of blood which fell from his nose, watching the direction of the salt, and listening for the notes of the screech-owls. Contemptuous mercy was the only vengeance which it became the Parliament to take on such a ridiculous old bigot.' — Essay on Hallam.
175-190. the rapid Greek: Alexander, whose Asiatic conquests were completed between 334 and 323 B.C. This praise, etc., The desire for praise has such power over men that virtue (valor?]
scarce incite them to arduous deeds till fame lends her aid. everlasting debt. When Johnson wrote this satire, the English National Debt was about £78,000,000. In 1860, our National Debt was $64,842,287. In 1865 (August 31) it was $2,844,649,626.
191-222. Swedish Charles; Charles xii. (1697-1718). His life has been written by Voltaire. Juvenal uses Hannibal as his example of the emptiness of military glory. adamant; one of the finest words in our language. Look up the etymology. Surrounding kings; Peter the Great (Russia), Augustus (Saxony and Poland), Frederick iv. (Denmark). one capitulate; Frederick iv. in 1700. one resign; Augustus. In 1706, Charles compelled him to resign his claim to the Polish crown in favor of Stanislas Lesczinski. Moscow's walls. After his defeat at Smolensk (1708)
Peter the Great made overtures for peace. Charles is said to have replied, “I will treat with the Czar at Moscow.' Pultowa, where Charles was totally defeated, July 8, 1709. distant lands. Charles fled to Turkey and succeeded in embroiling that country in a war with Russia. In 1714 he returned to Sweden. petty fortress : Frederickshall in Norway. dubious hand. It was long disputed whether the fatal bullet came from an enemy in the front or a traitor in the rear. In 1859 it was proved by an examination of the King's skull that he had been shot from the front. It would be well for you to commit to memory this fine passage (191-222), of which lines 196 and 221–222 have become household words. If you compare this characterization of Charles xii. with that of Villiers (Absalom and Achitophel, I. 544-568) you will see that where Johnson draws a type, Dryden paints a man.
223-240. Persia's tyrant; Xerxes. See a History of Greece, under the years 486-479 B.C., and compare the third and fourth stanzas of Byron's Isles of Greece (p. 152 of this book).
241-254. The bold Bavarian; Charles Albert, Elector of Bavaria ; elected Emperor of Germany in 1742 under the title of Charles vii. Cæsarean Imperial. “Kaiser’and • Czar’ are both derived from
Cæsar.' fair Austria ; Maria Theresa, Archduchess of Austria. Upon the death of her father Charles vi. in 1740, she was treacherously attacked by Prussia, France, Bavaria and Saxony. Her people rallied around her with enthusiasm ; after an heroic resistance, peace was made with Prussia, and the Bavarian troops, at first successful, were driven back. The Austrian cavalry, composed largely of Croats and Hussars, over-ran Bavaria, and the unlucky Charles, deserted by his allies and a prey to disappointed ambition, died after an inglorious Kaisership of only three years. lively picture of these events, see the opening pages of Macaulay's Essay on Frederick the Great.
255-282. This is one side of Old Age, and admirably drawn. Compare As You Like It, ii. 6 (near the end):
The sixth age shifts
But there is another and a pleasanter side to Old Age. See Thackeray's touching description of the last days of Colonel Newcome (The Newcomes, Chapters Lxxv. and Lxxx.); also the character of Adam in As You Like It.
283-290. The Miser; a favorite theme with great descriptive writers. Well-known types are Golden Trapbois in Scott's Fortunes of Nigel, Harpagon in Molière's L'Avare and Père Grandet in Balzac's Eugénie Grandet.
291-310. prime; the first part, the spring of life. Superfluous lags the vet'ran on the stage; a famous line - and famous because the poet has herein expressed, in striking phrase, an observation on life that we instantly recognize as true.
311-318. Lydia's monarch; Cræsus, renowned for his wealth. The story goes that Cræsus, exhibiting his treasures to Solon, asked the sage if he did not consider the owner of such treasures a happy man. To this Solon replied, “Count no man happy until he is dead.' This story is probably apocryphal. Marlb'rough died in 1722. Johnson seems to have drawn upon his imagination and his Tory prejudice for this line. The comparison would be extremely effective did it not lack the first condition of effective comparison — Truth. Swift was hopelessly insane for some five years before his death (1745).
343-368. The poet has now enumerated some of the chief blessings that men long for in this troublous world — Wealth, Political Power, Literary Fame, Military Glory, Long Life, Beauty. He has shown often by concrete examples — that these so-called blessings are more often curses in disguise. Is there then nothing for which we may safely petition heaven? • Yes,' he replies, but very little.' Lines 360–368 tell us what this little is. They contain the sum and substance of that somewhat melancholy but thoroughly sincere philosophy by which Johnson bravely lived his own life, — a life not unacquainted with grief.