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But sick of fops, and poetry, and prate,
quill! May every Bavius have his Bufo still!
232 Sate full-blown Bufo. This character has been supposed to allude to lord Halifax. Against this supposition, it has been observed, that Halifax died in 1715, when Pope was but twenty-seven. But this was by no means too unripe an age to have sustained injury, or have felt resentment. The character evidently applies to a patron, a poet, and that poet a minister. Halifax was known as the three : if not to bim, to whom else will it apply? Pope was not accustomed to fight with the air. But Halifax deserves the praise at least of liberality: seeing the stage at a low ebb, he offered £500 as a premium for the best comedy; an example more admired than followed by future lord chamberlains.
So when a statesman wants a day's defence,
holds a whole week's war with sense, Or simple pride for flattery makes demands, May dunce by dunce be whistled off
hands! Bless'd be the great, for those they take away, 255 And those they left me; for they left me Gay ; Left me to see neglected genius bloom, Neglected die, and tell it on his tomb: Of all thy blameless life the sole return My verse, and Queensbury weeping o'er thy urn!
260 0, let me live my own, and die so too, (To live and die is all I have to do)
256 They left me Gay. Gentleness of manners and mediocrity of genius were Gay's passports to fame.: he obtained the reputation of a poet by living among poets; and he was suffered to live among them, because, while his manners pleased, his talents were incapable of rivalry. His · Fables' are acknowleged triflings : of the ‘Beggars' Opera' it is impossible that he should bave been more than the nominal author : its sarcastic, searching, and characteristic force was totally beyond his conception : he was capable of neither its wit nor its wickedness. While we have evidence, on the one hand, that the idea of the • Newgate Pastoral' was suggested by Swift, and the plan submitted to Pope; we have, on the other, evidence, in the singular insipidity of his subsequent opera,
Polly,' that Gay was destitute of all dramatic power. His life was vexed by disappointments at court; and Addison has been charged with thus doing injury to the friend of Pope : but the sources were higher—the queen and sir Robert Walpole. Gay had sought preferment through Mrs. Howard, notoriously the king's mistress : and he who sought it through this channel, deserved to lose it. He writes to Swift,— Mrs. Howard has declared herself very strongly to both the king and queen as my protector. The queen, naturally hostile to this species of influence, traversed it on all occasions, and Gay failed. The Beggars' Opera,' which came out soon after, was filled with satire on the minister,
satire which never came from Gay; and the failure was irretrievable.
Maintain a poet's dignity and ease,
265 Sometimes to call a minister my friend. I was not born for courts or great affairs ; I pay my debts, believe, and say my prayers ; Can sleep without a poem in my head, Nor know if Dennis be alive or dead. 270
Why am I ask'd what next shall see the light? Heavens ! was I born for nothing but to write ? Has life no joys for me? or, to be grave, Have I no friend to serve, no soul to save ? • I found him close with Swift.'— Indeed ? no
doubt,' Cries prating Balbus, something will come out.' 'Tis all in vain, deny it as I will : • No, such a genius never can lie still ;' And then for mine obligingly mistakes The first lampoon sir Will or Bubo makes. 280
280 Will or Bubo makes. Sir William Young, and Bubb Doddington, afterwards lord Melcombe. Doddington's name has gone down to perpetual contempt by the avowed baseness of his principles. His well-known ‘Diary' is a trite, trifling, and nearly unintelligible performance; useful only as a proof of the diligence with which a political trader may consign himself to infamy.
Doddington had many advantages of nature and fortune : he was handsome, well-bred, a wit in the court circles, and the possessor of considerable wealth. Lady M. Montague, a sufficient judge of all the merits and demerits of her society, pronounces him the all-accomplished Mr. Doddington.' He was a frequent speaker in the house, and became an ostentatious partisan of Frederic, prince of Wales. Walpole has preserved a curious extravagance of Doddington's sorrow on his death.
Poor guiltless I ! and can I choose but smile,
Cursed be the verse, how well soe'er it flow,
say, And, if he lie not, must at least betray: Who to the dean' and silver bell’ can swear, And sees at Canons what was never there ; 300 Who reads, but with a lust to misapply ; Makes satire a lampoon, and fiction lie ; A lash like mine no honest man shall dread, But all such babbling blockheads in his stead. Let Sporus tremble-A. What? that thing of silk,
305 Sporus, that mere white curd of ass's milk?
305 Let Sporus tremble. Lord Hervey, whom Pope conceived to have joined lady M. Montague in lampooning him. Middleton (Life of Cicero) describes lord Hervey as an intelligent and polished nobleman, steadily patriotic in his views, and remarkable for his literary ardor. Yet we may fairly make some deduction for the language of a preface, and still more for the language of a man like Middleton. In his first edition, Pope had used the more becoming name of Paris : no reason but its bitterness has been assigned for the change.
Satire or sense, alas! can Sporus feel?
P. Yet let me flap this bug with gilded wings, This painted child of dirt, that stinks and stings; Whose buzz the witty and the fair annoys;
311 Yet wit ne'er tastes, and beauty ne'er enjoys: So well-bred spaniels civilly delight In mumbling of the game they dare not bite. Eternal smiles his emptiness betray,
315 As shallow streams run dimpling all the way; Whether in florid impotence he speaks, And, as the prompter breathes, the puppet
squeaks; Or at the ear of Eve, familiar toad, Half froth, half venom, spits himself abroad, 320 In puns, or politics, or tales, or lies, Or spite, or smut, or rhymes, or blasphemies. His wit all seesaw, between that’ and “this,' Now high, now low, now master up, now miss, And he himself one vile antithesis. Amphibious thing! that acting either part, The trifling head, or the corrupted heart, Fop at the toilet, flatterer at the board, Now trips a lady, and now struts a lord. Eve's tempter thus the rabbins have express’d, A cherub's face, a reptile all the rest; Beauty that shocks you, parts that none will
trust, Wit that can creep, and pride that licks the dust.