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NOTES TO CANTO X V.
Note 1, page 217, stanza xviii.
Great Socrates? And thou Diviner still, etc. As it is necessary in these times to avoid ambiguity, I say, that I mean, by « Diviner still, Christ. If ever God was Man-or Man God—he was both. I never arraigned his creed, but the use-or abuse-made of it. Mr Canning one day quoted christianity to sanction negro slavery, and Mr Wilberforce had little to say in reply. And was Christ crucified, that black men might be scourged? If so, he had better been born a Mulatto, to give both colours an equal chance of freedom, or at least salvation.
Note 2, page 222, stanza xxxv.
When Rapp the harmonist embargoed marriage etc. This extraordinary and flourishing German colony in America does not entirely exclude matrimony, as the «Shakers» do; but lays such restrictions upon it as prevent more than a certain quantum of births within a certain number of years; which births (as Mr Hulme observes) generally arrive a in a little flock like those of a farmer's lambs, all within the same month perhaps. These Harmonists (so called from the name of their settlement) are represented as a remarkably flourishing, pious, and quiet people. See the various recent writers on America.
Note 3, page 223, stanza xxxvIII.
Nor canvass what « so eminent a hand» meant; etc. Jacob Tonson, according to Mr Pope, was accustomed to call his
writers, wable pens»--- persons of honour, n and especially « eminent hands.» Vide Correspondence, etc. etc.
Note 4, page 233, stanza lxvi.
Young partridge fillets, deck'd with truffles. A dish « à la Lucullus,« This hero, who conquered the East, has left his more extended celebrity to the transplantation of cherries (which he first brought into Europe) and the nomenclature of some very good dishes;—and I am not sure that (barring indigestion) he has not done more service to mankind by his cookery than by his conquests. A cherry-tree may weigh against a bloody laurel: besides, he has contrived to earn celebrity from both.
Note 5, page 233, stanza LXVIII.
Petits puits. » « Petit puits d'amour garnis de confitures, in a classical and wellknown dish for part of the flank of a second course.
Note 6, page 239, stanza Lxxxvi.
For that with me 's a « sine quà.” Subauditur « Non ;» omitted for the sake of euphony.
Note 7, page 243, stanza xcvi.
Like those of the philosopher of Malmsbury. Hobbes; who, doubting of his own soul, paid that compliment to the souls of other people as to decline their visits, of which he had some apprehension.
The antique Persians taught three useful things,
To draw the bow, to ride, and speak the truth. This was the mode of Cyrus, best of kings
A mode adopted since by modern youth. Bows have they, generally with two strings;
Horses they ride without remorse or ruth; At speaking truth perhaps they are less clever, But draw the long-bow better now than ever.
The cause of this effect, or this defect,
« For this effect defective comes by cause,» Is what I have not leisure to inspect;
But this I must say in my own applause, Of all the muses that I recollect,
Whate'er may be her follies or her flaws In some things, mine 's beyond all contradiction The most sincere that ever dealt in fiction.
And as she treats all things, and ne'er retreats
From any thing, this epic will contain A wilderness of the most rare conceits,
Which you might elsewhere hope to find in vain. 'T is true there be some bitters with the sweets,
Yet mix'd so slightly that you can't complain, But wonder they so few are,
tale is « De rebus cunctis et quibusdam aliis.»
But of all truths which she has told, the most
True is that which she is about to tell. I said it was a story of a ghost
What then? I only know it so befel. Have you explored the limits of the coast,
Where all the dwellers of the earth must dwell? 'T is time to strike such puny doubters dumb as The sceptics who would not believe Columbus.
Some people would impose now with authority,
Turpin's or Monmouth Geoffry’s Chronicle;
Is always greatest at a miracle.
Who bids all men believe the impossible, Because 't is so. Who nibble, scribble, quibble, he Quiets at once with « quia impossibile. »
And therefore, mortals, cavil not at all;
Believe if 't is improbable, you must; And if it is impossible, you shall:
'T is always best to take things upon trust. I do not speak profanely, to recal
Those holier mysteries which the wise and just Receive as gospel, and which grow more rooted, As all truths must, the more they are disputed.
I merely mean to say what Johnson said,
years, All nations have believed that from the dead
A visitant at intervals appears;
Is, that whatever bar the reason rears 'Gainst such belief, there 's something stronger still In its behalf, let those deny who will.
The dinner and the soirée too were done,
The supper too discuss'd, the dames admired, The banqueteers had dropped off one by one
The song was silent, and the dance expired : The last thin petticoats were vanish'd, gone
Like fleecy clouds into the sky retired, And nothing brighter gleamed through the saloon Than dying tapers--and the peeping moon.