Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

· HORACE, LIB. I. Ep. 6.

This Epistle was written about 1737, before the distinguished person, to whom it is dedicated, had obtained any of his public honors : for it was not until 1742 that lord Mansfield obtained the solicitor-generalship, and came into parliament. Pope, reuniting the old attributes of poet and prophet, announces, in noble language, his future rank among the eminent of mankind:

Conspicuous scene ! another yet is nigh
More silent far, where kings and poets lie;
Where Murray, long enough his country's pride,
Shall be no more than Tully or than Hyde.

That the life of Lord Mansfield has not been authentically written, is, if not an imputation on his accomplished descendants, a serious loss to the general store of public wisdom. Great eloquence, great sagacity, and great learning, rapidly bore him up through the ranks of professional life, until, by common consent, the highest dignities of the law became his natural possession. The chancellorship was three times offered to him. Exhibiting the rare combination of unequalled powers as an advocate with commanding talents for debate, he passed from the bar into parliament, with only an increase of fame. As chancellor of the exchequer, in 1757, he rendered his brief tenure of office memorable, by giving birth to the administration of lord

Chatham, his only rival in eloquence. The arrogant grandeur, bold eccentricities, and splenetic fire, of Chatham's eloquence were irresistible for the time; but after those impetuous bursts, the house loved to repose on the noble suavity and classic eloquence of Mansfield. Yet faction reached him at last : his resistance to the Rockingham ministry, a cabinet which died of decrepitude within the year, raised the whole violence of partisanship against him. Junius, looking round the state for the highest marks for libel, made him an object of envenomed slander : his splendid talents, services, and virtues, were perverted into public crimes : his judicial decisions, unimpeachable in the courts, were pronounced tyranny in the streets ; and his defence of the king was calumniated as a betrayal of the people. This folly passed away; but not until it had imbittered, and even threatened, his life; if it affected neither his firmness nor his philosophy. The king did honor to his merits, and in 1776 he received an earldom : within four years after, he was again assailed by a mob, and his house burned to the ground. Among other slanders, he had been charged with avarice; and he now answered the charge, by refusing to accept of any compensation for the loss of his property. At the close of a few years more, he retired from public life, honored by all who have the power of conferring reputation, valued by his profession as one of its most permanent names, and leaving the example of a great, and a good man, to his country. He died in 1793.

THE SIXTH EPISTLE

OF THE

FIRST BOOK OF HORACE.

, TO MR. MURRAY.

• Not to admire, is all the art I know; To make men happy, and to keep them so.' Plain truth, dear Murray, needs no flowers of

speech, So take it in the very words of Creech.

This vault of air, this congregated ball, 5 Self-centred sun, and stars that rise and fall, There are, my friend! whose philosophic eyes Look through, and trust the Ruler with his skies ; To him commit the hour, the day, the year, And view this dreadful all without a fear. 10 Admire we then what earth's low entrails hold, Arabian shores, or Indian seas infold ; All the mad trade of fools and slaves for gold? Or popularity? or stars and strings ? The mob's applauses, or the gifts of kings? 15

4 The very words of Creech. If Pope could be suspected of sneering, there was pleasant malice in heading his own fuent and forcible lines by this deplorably prosaic couplet of his predecessor.

Say, with what eyes we ought at courts to gaze, And pay the great our homage of amaze.

If weak the pleasure that from these can spring, The fear to want them is as weak a thing : Whether we dread, or whether we desire, 20 In either case, believe me, we admire: Whether we joy or grieve, the same the curse; Surprised at better, or surprised at worse. Thus good or bad to one extreme betray The unbalanced mind, and snatch the man away: For virtue's self may too much zeal be had : 26 The worst of madmen is a saint run mad.

Go then, and if you can, admire the state Of beaming diamonds and reflected plate; Procure a taste to double the surprise, 30 And gaze on Parian charms with learned eyes : Be struck with bright brocade, or Tyrian die, Our birth-day nobles' splendid livery. If not so pleased, at council-board rejoice, To see their judgments hang upon thy voice; 35 From morn to night, at senate, rolls, and hall, Plead much, read more, dine late, or not at all. But wherefore all this labor, all this strife? For fame, for riches, for a noble wife? Shall one, whom nature, learning, birth, conspired

40 To form, not to admire, but be admired, Sigh, while his Chloe, blind to wit and worth, Weds the rich dulness of some son of earth? Yet time ennobles or degrades each line; It brighten’d Craggs's, and may darken thine : 45

45 It brighten'd Craggs's. The secretary was the son of a man originally in a menial situation, yet who by industry and cha.

« AnteriorContinuar »