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Of gentle blood (part shed in honour's cause,
And better got than Bestia's from the throne.
The good man walk'd innoxious through his age,
Who sprung from kings shall know less joy than I.
With lenient arts extend a mother's breath,
SATIRES AND EPISTLES
OF HORACE, IMITATED.
The occasion of publishing these Imitations was the clamour raised on some of my Epistles. An answer from Horace was both more full, and of more dignity, than any I could have made in my own person and the example of much greater freedom in so eminent a divine as Dr. Donne, seemed a proof with what indignation and contempt a Christian may treat vice or folly, in ever so low or ever so high a station. Both these authors were acceptable to the princes and ministers under whom they lived, The satires of Dr. Donne I versified at the desire of the Earl of Oxford while he was lord treasurer, and of the duke of Shrewsbury, who had been secretary of state; neither of whom looked upon a satire on vicious courts as any reflection on those they served in. And indeed, there is not in the world a greater error, than that which fools are so apt to fall into, and knaves with good reason to encourage, the mistaking a satirist for a libeller; whereas to a true satirist, nothing is so odious as a libeller, for the same reason as to a man truly virtuous nothing is so hateful as a hypocrite.
Uni æquus virtuti atque ejus amicis.
Whoever expects a paraphrase of Horace, or a faithful copy of his genius, or manner of writing, in these imitations, will be much disappointed. Our author uses the Roman poet for little more than his canvass and if the old design or colouring chance to suit his purpose, it is well; if not, he emyloys his own, without scruple or ceremony. Hence it is, he is so frequently serious where Horace is in jest, and at ease where Horace is disturbed. In a word, he regulates his movements no further on his original, than was necessary for his concurrence in promoting their common plan of reformirtion of manners.
Had it been his purpose merely to paraphrase an ancient satirist, he had hardly made choice of Horace; with whom, as a poet, he Vol. II.
held little in common, besides a comprehensive knowledge of life and manners, and a certain curious felicity of expression, which con. sists in using the simplest language with dignity, and the most ornamented with ease. For the rest, his harmony and strength of numbers, his force and splendour of colouring, his gravity and sublimity of sentiment, would have rather led him to another model. Nor was his temper less unlike that of Horace, than his talents. What Horace would only smile at, Mr. Pope would treat with the grave severity of Persius; and what Mr. Pope would strike with the caustic lightning of Juvenal, Horace would content himself in turning into ridicule.
If it be asked then, why he took any body at all to imitate, he has informed us in his advertisement. To which we may add, that this sort of imitations which are of the nature of parodies, adds reflected grace and splendour on original wit. Besides, he deemed it more modest to give the name of imitations to his satire, than like Des. preaux, to give the name of satires to imitations.
BOOK II. SATIRE I.
TO MR. FORTESCUE.
P. THERE are (I scarce can think it, but am told
You'll give me, like a friend, both sage and free,
F. I'd write no more.
P. Not write? but then I think,
F. You could not do a worse thing for your
P. What, like sir Richard, rumbling, rough, and
P. Alas! few verses touch their nicer ear;
F. Better be Cibber, I'll maintain it still,
P. What should ail 'em?
F. A hundred smart in Timon and in Balaam : The fewer still you name, you wound the more; Bond is but one, but Harpax is a score.
P. Each mortal has his pleasure: none deny
Scarsdale his bottle, Darty his ham-pie:
The soul stood forth, nor kept a thought within;
Like good Erasmus in an honest mean.
Thieves, supercargoes, sharpers, and directors.
Swords, pikes, and guns, with everlasting rust!
But touch me, and no minister so sore.