Imitations of Horace

Original Text: 
Alexander Pope, Imitations of Horace (London: T. Cooper, 1737). E-10 2652 Fisher Rare Book Library (Toronto).
Ne Rubeam, Pingui donatus Munere
          (Horace, Epistles II.i.267)
2The balanc'd world, and open all the main;
3Your country, chief, in arms abroad defend,
4At home, with morals, arts, and laws amend;
5How shall the Muse, from such a monarch steal
6An hour, and not defraud the public weal?
8And virtuous Alfred, a more sacred name,
9After a life of gen'rous toils endur'd,
10The Gaul subdu'd, or property secur'd,
11Ambition humbled, mighty cities storm'd,
12Or laws establish'd, and the world reform'd;
13Clos'd their long glories with a sigh, to find
14Th' unwilling gratitude of base mankind!
15All human virtue, to its latest breath
16Finds envy never conquer'd, but by death.
18Had still this monster to subdue at last.
19Sure fate of all, beneath whose rising ray
20Each star of meaner merit fades away!
21Oppress'd we feel the beam directly beat,
22Those suns of glory please not till they set.
23     To thee the world its present homage pays,
24The harvest early, but mature the praise:
26Above all Greek, above all Roman fame:
27Whose word is truth, as sacred and rever'd,
28As Heav'n's own oracles from altars heard.
29Wonder of kings! like whom, to mortal eyes
30None e'er has risen, and none e'er shall rise.
31     Just in one instance, be it yet confest
32Your people, Sir, are partial in the rest:
33Foes to all living worth except your own,
34And advocates for folly dead and gone.
35Authors, like coins, grow dear as they grow old;
36It is the rust we value, not the gold.
37Chaucer's worst ribaldry is learn'd by rote,
39One likes no language but the Faery Queen ;
41And each true Briton is to Ben so civil,
43     Though justly Greece her eldest sons admires,
44Why should not we be wiser than our sires?
45In ev'ry public virtue we excel:
46We build, we paint, we sing, we dance as well,
47And learned Athens to our art must stoop,
49     If time improve our wit as well as wine,
50Say at what age a poet grows divine?
51Shall we, or shall we not, account him so,
52Who died, perhaps, an hundred years ago?
53End all dispute; and fix the year precise
54When British bards begin t'immortalize?
55     "Who lasts a century can have no flaw,
56I hold that wit a classic, good in law."
57     Suppose he wants a year, will you compound?
58And shall we deem him ancient, right and sound,
59Or damn to all eternity at once,
60At ninety-nine, a modern and a dunce?
61     "We shall not quarrel for a year or two;
62By courtesy of England, he may do."
63     Then by the rule that made the horsetail bare,
64I pluck out year by year, as hair by hair,
65And melt down ancients like a heap of snow:
67And estimating authors by the year,
68Bestow a garland only on a bier.
70Style the divine, the matchless, what you will)
71For gain, not glory, wing'd his roving flight,
72And grew immortal in his own despite.
73Ben, old and poor, as little seem'd to heed
74The life to come, in ev'ry poet's creed.
76His moral pleases, not his pointed wit;
78But still I love the language of his heart.
79     "Yet surely, surely, these were famous men!
80What boy but hears the sayings of old Ben?
81In all debates where critics bear a part,
82Not one but nods, and talks of Jonson's art,
87These, only these, support the crowded stage,
89     All this may be; the people's voice is odd,
90It is, and it is not, the voice of God.
93Or say our fathers never broke a rule;
94Why then, I say, the public is a fool.
95But let them own, that greater faults than we
96They had, and greater virtues, I'll agree.
98And Sidney's verse halts ill on Roman feet:
99Milton's strong pinion now not Heav'n can bound,
100Now serpent-like, in prose he sweeps the ground,
103Not that I'd lop the beauties from his book,
105Or damn all Shakespeare, like th' affected fool
106At court, who hates whate'er he read at school.
108The mob of gentlemen who wrote with ease;
111One simile, that solitary shines
112In the dry desert of a thousand lines,
113Or lengthen'd thought that gleams through many a page,
114Has sanctified whole poems for an age.
115     I lose my patience, and I own it too,
116When works are censur'd, not as bad, but new;
117While if our elders break all reason's laws,
118These fools demand not pardon, but applause.
119     On Avon's bank, where flow'rs eternal blow,
120If I but ask if any weed can grow?
121One tragic sentence if I dare deride,
125How will our fathers rise up in a rage,
126And swear, all shame is lost in George's age!
127You'd think no fools disgrac'd the former reign,
128Did not some grave examples yet remain,
129Who scorn a lad should teach his father skill,
130And, having once been wrong, will be so still.
131He, who to seem more deep than you or I,
133Mistake him not; he envies, not admires,
134And to debase the sons, exalts the sires.
135Had ancient times conspir'd to disallow
136What then was new, what had been ancient now?
137Or what remain'd, so worthy to be read
138By learned critics, of the mighty dead?
139     In days of ease, when now the weary sword
140Was sheath'd, and luxury with Charles restor'd;
141In ev'ry taste of foreign courts improv'd,
145The soldier breath'd the gallantries of France,
146And ev'ry flow'ry courtier writ romance.
147Then marble, soften'd into life, grew warm,
148And yielding metal flow'd to human form:
150The sleepy eye, that spoke the melting soul.
151No wonder then, when all was love and sport,
152The willing Muses were debauch'd at court:
154To pant or tremble through an eunuch's throat.
155But Britain, changeful as a child at play,
157Now Whig, now Tory, what we lov'd we hate;
158Now all for pleasure, now for Church and state;
159Now for prerogative, and now for laws;
160Effects unhappy! from a noble cause.
161     Time was, a sober Englishman would knock
162His servants up, and rise by five o'clock,
163Instruct his family in ev'ry rule,
164And send his wife to church, his son to school.
165To worship like his fathers was his care;
166To teach their frugal virtues to his heir;
167To prove that luxury could never hold,
168And place, on good security, his gold.
169Now times are chang'd, and one poetic itch
170Has seiz'd the court and city, poor and rich:
171Sons, sires, and grandsires, all will wear the bays,
172Our wives read Milton, and our daughters plays,
173To theatres, and to rehearsals throng,
174And all our grace at table is a song.
175I, who so oft renounce the Muses, lie,
176Not {-}{-}{-}{-}{-}'s self e'er tells more fibs than I;
177When sick of Muse, our follies we deplore,
178And promise our best friends to rhyme no more;
179We wake next morning in a raging fit,
180And call for pen and ink to show our wit.
181     He serv'd a 'prenticeship who sets up shop;
184Nor dare to practise till they've learn'd to dance.
185Who builds a bridge that never drove a pile?
187But those who cannot write, and those who can,
188All rhyme, and scrawl, and scribble, to a man.
189     Yet, Sir, reflect, the mischief is not great;
190These madmen never hurt the Church or state:
191Sometimes the folly benefits mankind;
192And rarely av'rice taints the tuneful mind.
193Allow him but his plaything of a pen,
194He ne'er rebels, or plots, like other men:
196And knows no losses while the Muse is kind.
198The good man heaps up nothing but mere metre,
199Enjoys his garden and his book in quiet;
200And then--a perfect hermit in his diet.
201Of little use the man you may suppose,
202Who says in verse what others say in prose:
203Yet let me show, a poet's of some weight,
205What will a child learn sooner than a song?
206What better teach a foreigner the tongue?
207What's long or short, each accent where to place,
208And speak in public with some sort of grace.
209I scarce can think him such a worthless thing,
210Unless he praise some monster of a king;
211Or virtue or religion turn to sport,
212To please a lewd, or unbelieving court.
213Unhappy Dryden!--In all Charles's days,
215And in our own (excuse some courtly stains)
216No whiter page than Addison remains.
217He, from the taste obscene reclaims our youth,
218And sets the passions on the side of truth,
219Forms the soft bosom with the gentlest art,
220And pours each human virtue in the heart.
221Let Ireland tell, how wit upheld her cause,
223And leave on Swift this grateful verse engrav'd,
225Behold the hand that wrought a nation's cure,
227Proud vice to brand, or injur'd worth adorn,
228And stretch the ray to ages yet unborn.
229Not but there are, who merit other palms;
231The boys and girls whom charity maintains,
232Implore your help in these pathetic strains:
233How could devotion touch the country pews,
234Unless the gods bestow'd a proper Muse?
235Verse cheers their leisure, verse assists their work,
237The silenc'd preacher yields to potent strain,
238And feels that grace his pray'r besought in vain;
239The blessing thrills through all the lab'ring throng,
240And Heav'n is won by violence of song.
241     Our rural ancestors, with little blest,
242Patient of labour when the end was rest,
243Indulg'd the day that hous'd their annual grain,
244With feasts, and off'rings, and a thankful strain:
245The joy their wives, their sons, and servants share,
246Ease of their toil, and part'ners of their care:
247The laugh, the jest, attendants on the bowl,
248Smooth'd ev'ry brow, and open'd ev'ry soul:
249With growing years the pleasing licence grew,
250And taunts alternate innocently flew.
251But times corrupt, and nature, ill-inclin'd,
252Produc'd the point that left a sting behind;
253Till friend with friend, and families at strife,
254Triumphant malice rag'd through private life.
255Who felt the wrong, or fear'd it, took th' alarm,
256Appeal'd to law, and justice lent her arm.
258The poets learn'd to please, and not to wound:
259Most warp'd to flatt'ry's side; but some, more nice,
260Preserv'd the freedom, and forbore the vice.
261Hence satire rose, that just the medium hit,
262And heals with morals what it hurts with wit.
263     We conquer'd France, but felt our captive's charms;
264Her arts victorious triumph'd o'er our arms;
265Britain to soft refinements less a foe,
266Wit grew polite, and numbers learn'd to flow.
268The varying verse, the full-resounding line,
269The long majestic march, and energy divine.
270Though still some traces of our rustic vein
271And splayfoot verse remain'd, and will remain.
272Late, very late, correctness grew our care,
273When the tir'd nation breath'd from civil war.
274Exact Racine, and Corneille's noble fire
275Show'd us that France had something to admire.
276Not but the tragic spirit was our own,
278But Otway fail'd to polish or refine,
280Ev'n copious Dryden wanted, or forgot,
281The last and greatest art, the art to blot.
282     Some doubt, if equal pains, or equal fire
283The humbler Muse of comedy require.
285The labour greater, as th' indulgence less.
286Observe how seldom ev'n the best succeed:
291Who fairly puts all characters to bed!
292And idle Cibber, how he breaks the laws,
294But fill their purse, our poet's work is done,
295Alike to them, by pathos or by pun.
296     O you! whom vanity's light bark conveys
297On fame's mad voyage by the wind of praise,
298With what a shifting gale your course you ply,
299For ever sunk too low, or borne too high!
300Who pants for glory finds but short repose,
301A breath revives him, or a breath o'erthrows.
302Farewell the stage! if just as thrives the play,
303The silly bard grows fat, or falls away.
304     There still remains, to mortify a wit,
305The many-headed monster of the pit:
306A senseless, worthless, and unhonour'd crowd;
307Who, to disturb their betters mighty proud,
308Clatt'ring their sticks before ten lines are spoke,
310What dear delight to Britons farce affords!
311Farce once the taste of mobs, but now of lords;
312(For taste, eternal wanderer, now flies
314The play stands still; damn action and discourse,
316Pageants on pageants, in long order drawn,
317Peers, heralds, bishops, ermine, gold, and lawn;
318The champion too! and, to complete the jest,
321Had he beheld an audience gape so wide.
322Let bear or elephant be e'er so white,
323The people, sure, the people are the sight!
324Ah luckless poet! stretch thy lungs and roar,
325That bear or elephant shall heed thee more;
326While all its throats the gallery extends,
327And all the thunder of the pit ascends!
329Howl to the roarings of the Northern deep.
330Such is the shout, the long-applauding note,
333Sinks the lost actor in the tawdry load.
334Booth enters--hark! the universal peal!
335"But has he spoken?" Not a syllable.
336"What shook the stage, and made the people stare?"
339Or praise malignly arts I cannot reach,
340Let me for once presume t'instruct the times,
341To know the poet from the man of rhymes:
342'Tis he, who gives my breast a thousand pains,
343Can make me feel each passion that he feigns;
344Enrage, compose, with more than magic art,
345With pity and with terror tear my heart;
346And snatch me o'er the earth or thro' the air,
347To Thebes, to Athens, when he will, and where.
348     But not this part of the poetic state
349Alone, deserves the favour of the great:
350Think of those authors, Sir, who would rely
351More on a reader's sense, than gazer's eye.
352Or who shall wander where the Muses sing?
356     My Liege! why writers little claim your thought,
357I guess: and, with their leave, will tell the fault:
358We poets are (upon a poet's word)
359Of all mankind, the creatures most absurd:
360The season, when to come, and when to go,
361To sing, or cease to sing, we never know;
362And if we will recite nine hours in ten,
363You lose your patience, just like other men.
364Then too we hurt ourselves, when to defend
365A single verse, we quarrel with a friend;
366Repeat unask'd; lament, the wit's too fine
367For vulgar eyes, and point out ev'ry line.
368But most, when straining with too weak a wing,
369We needs will write epistles to the king;
370And from the moment we oblige the town,
371Expect a place, or pension from the Crown;
372Or dubb'd historians by express command,
373T'enroll your triumphs o'er the seas and land,
374Be call'd to court to plan some work divine,
376     Yet think, great Sir! (so many virtues shown)
377Ah think, what poet best may make them known?
378Or choose at least some minister of grace,
380     Charles, to late times to be transmitted fair,
383To fix him graceful on the bounding steed;
384So well in paint and stone they judg'd of merit:
385But kings in wit may want discerning spirit.
386The hero William, and the martyr Charles,
388Which made old Ben, and surly Dennis swear,
389"No Lord's anointed, but a Russian bear."
390     Not with such majesty, such bold relief,
391The forms august, of king, or conqu'ring chief,
392E'er swell'd on marble; as in verse have shin'd
393(In polish'd verse) the manners and the mind.
395Your arms, your actions, your repose to sing!
396What seas you travers'd! and what fields you fought!
397Your country's peace, how oft, how dearly bought!
398How barb'rous rage subsided at your word,
399And nations wonder'd while they dropp'd the sword!
400How, when you nodded, o'er the land and deep,
401Peace stole her wing, and wrapp'd the world in sleep;
402Till earth's extremes your mediation own,
403And Asia's tyrants tremble at your throne--
404But verse, alas! your Majesty disdains;
405And I'm not us'd to panegyric strains:
406The zeal of fools offends at any time,
407But most of all, the zeal of fools in rhyme,
408Besides, a fate attends on all I write,
409That when I aim at praise, they say I bite.
410A vile encomium doubly ridicules:
411There's nothing blackens like the ink of fools;
412If true, a woeful likeness; and if lies,
413"Praise undeserv'd is scandal in disguise."
415And when I flatter, let my dirty leaves
416(Like journals, odes, and such forgotten things
418Clothe spice, line trunks, or flutt'ring in a row,
419Befringe the rails of Bedlam and Soho.


1] Pope began his Imitations of Horace around 1733, presumably on a hint or suggestion from Bolingbroke. Epistle II, i, usually called the Epistle to Augustus, was written in 1736 and first published in May 1737. By 1737 George II had become sufficiently unpopular that it was safe for Pope to publish this ironic version of Horace's tribute to the Emperor Augustus. While Horace's Augustus might have questioned the usefulness of poets to the state, he had been a major ruler, who had demonstrated qualities of leadership, integrity, sagacity, and intelligence. The monarch to whom Pope addressed his poem was hardly able to speak English and was antagonistic to learning and the arts. George II, although having personal courage, had little else a monarch required. His desire for personal glory was frustrated by Walpole's pacifism, while his blind egoism prevented him from realizing that the royal power was actually controlled by Queen Caroline. These qualities, coupled with George's indifference to English culture, made him the ideal recipient for Pope's poem, which is an apology for the arts and an ironic defence of cultural values.
Pope's summary is as follows: "The reflections of Horace, and the judgments passed in his pistle to Augustus, seemed so seasonable to the present times that I could not help applying them to the use of my own country. The author thought them considerable enough to address them to his Prince; whom he paints with all the great and good qualities of a monarch upon whom the Romans depended for the increase of an absolute empire. But to make the poem entirely English, I was willing to add one or two of those which contribute to the happiness of a free people, and are more consistent with the welfare of our neighbours. This epistle will show the learned world to have fallen into two mistakes: one, that Augustus was a patron of poets in general; whereas he not only prohibited all but the best writers to name him, but recommended that care even to the civil magistrate: Admonebat Praetores ne paterentur Nomen suum obsolefieri, etc. The other, that this piece was only a general discourse of poetry; whereas it was an apology for the poets, in order to render Augustus more their Patron. Horace here pleads the cause of his contemporaries, first against the taste of the town, whose humour it was to magnify the authors of the preceding age; secondly against the court and nobility, who encouraged only the writers for the theatre; and lastly against the emperor himself, who had conceived them of little use to the government. He shows (by a view of the progress of learning, and the change of taste among the Romans) that the introduction of the polite arts of Greece had given the writers of his time great advantages over their predecessors; that their morals were much improved, and the licence of those ancient poets restrained; that satire and comedy were become more just and useful; that whatever extravagances were left on the stage were owing to the ill taste of the nobility; that poets, under due regulations, were in many respects useful to the state, and concludes, that it was upon them the emperor himself must depend for his fame with posterity. We may farther learn from this epistle that Horace made his court to this great prince by writing with a decent freedom toward him, with a just contempt of his low flatterers, and with a manly regard to his own character.
Ne Rubeam, ... : lest I have to blush at (when presented with) the stupid gift. Back to Line
7] Edward: Edward III. Henry: Henry V. England's warrior king. Back to Line
17] Alcides: Hercules. Back to Line
25] liberty. The Tories charged that liberty was being lost in George II's reign. Back to Line
38] Skelton "[Pope] Poet Laureate to Henry VIII, a volume of whose verses has been lately reprinted, consisting almost wholly of ribaldry, obscenity and scurrilous language." Back to Line
40] Christ's Kirk o' the Green: "[Pope] A ballad made by a King of Scotland." Usually attributed to James I or James V. Back to Line
42] "[Pope] The Devil's Tavern, where Ben Jonson held his Poetical Club."
Devil: rhymes with civil, (dívil). Back to Line
48] Refers to contemporary pantomime. Back to Line
66] Stowe: an Elizabethan chronicler. Back to Line
69] "[Pope] Shakespeare and Ben Jonson may truly be said not much to have thought of this immortality, the one in many pieces composed in haste for the stage; the other in his latter works in general which Dryden called his Dotages [in An Essay of Dramatic Poesy." Back to Line
75] Cowley: Abraham Cowley (1618-1667), a metaphysical poet whom Pope considered a "fine poet,in spite of all his faults." Back to Line
77] Pindaric Art: "[Pope] which has much more merit than his Epic: but very unlike the character, as well as numbers of Pindar." Back to Line
83] Pope satirizes the chatter of would-be men of taste employing the critical clichés of his day. Back to Line
84] Beamount ... Fletcher: see note to Dryden's To My Dear Friend Mr. Congreve, line 20. Back to Line
85] Shadwell ... Wycherly. "[Pope] Nothing was less true than this particular: But the whole paragraph has a mixture of irony, and must not altogether be taken for Horace's own judgment, only the common chatt of the pretenders to criticism; in some things right, in others wrong: as he tells us in his answer, Interdum vulgus rectum videt, est ubi peccat (Sometimes the public sees right: sometimes they err) II, i, 63."
Shadwell: see notes to MacFlecknoe.
Wycherley: see notes to To My Dear Friend Mr. Congreve, line 30. Back to Line
86] Southerne: Thomas Southerne (1660-1746), dramatist; a writer of "pathetic" tragedy, e.g., The Fatal Marriage (1694).
Rowe: Nicholas Rowe (1674-1718), considered chief tragic dramatist in the reign of Queen Anne; also the first editor of Shakespeare and a friend of Pope's. Back to Line
88] Heywood: John Heywood (1497?-1580?), the author of several interludes.
Cibber: see notes to The Dunciad. Back to Line
91] Gammer Gurton: "[Pope] a piece of very low humour, one of the first printed plays in English, and therefore much valued by some antiquaries." In Pope's time, before the discovery of an earlier example, it was believed to the earliest. Back to Line
92] the Careless Husband: one of Cibber's successful comedies. Back to Line
97] Spenser ... absolute: "[Pope] Particularly in the Shepherd's Calendar, where he imitates the unequal measures, as well as the language, of Chaucer." Back to Line
101] Quibbles: see Paradise Lost, VI, 609-28. Back to Line
102] School Divine: see Paradise Lost, II, 80-134. Back to Line
104] slashing Bentley. Bentley was generally ridiculed for his heavily amended edition of Paradise Lost (1732). For further information see Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot, note on line 164. hook: (1) a pruning tool, (2) the square brackets that Bentley used to indicate passages that he thought were spurious in Milton. Back to Line
107] days ... ease: a rhyme in Pope's day. Back to Line
109] Sprat: Thomas Sprat (1635-1713), writer and divine, who became Bishop of Rochester in 1684. He is noted for his prose writing, especially his History of the Royal Society (1667), which had an important influence on the prose style of Pope's day.
Carew: Thomas Carew (1595?-1639?), a lyric poet in the cavalier tradition.
Sedley: Sir Charles Sedley (1639-1701), a lyric poet of the Restoration court circle. Pope had little respect for these three as poets. Back to Line
110] Miscellanies: collections of poems by various writers. Back to Line
122] Betterton: Thomas Betterton (1635?-1710), the leading tragic actor during the Restoration periodand an intimate friend of Pope's. Back to Line
123] Booth: Barton Booth (1681-1733), a well-known eighteenth century tragic actor who played the title role in Addison's Cato (1713). Back to Line
124] "[Pope] An absurd custom of several actors, to pronounce with emphasis the mere proper names of Greeks or Romans, which (as they call it) fill the mouth of the player." Back to Line
132] Merlin's prophecy: translated from the Welsh unto Latin by Geoffrey of Monmouth in Book VII of his Historia Regium Brittaniae. English translations appeared in 1641 and 1718. Back to Line
142] "[Pope] A verse of Lord Landsdowne" (George Granville) from The Progress of Beauty. Back to Line
143] "[Pope] The Duke of Newcastle's Book of Horsemanship: the Romance of Parthenissa by the Earl of Orrery, and most of the French romances translated by persons of quality." Back to Line
144] Newmarket: a race track frequented by Charles II. Back to Line
149] Lely: Sir Peter Lely (1618--1680), a Dutch portrait paunter who came to England in 1641 with William III. Back to Line
153] "[Pope] The Siege of Rhodes (1656) by Sir William Davenant, the first opera sung in England." Back to Line
156] Refers to the exile of Charles I and the recall of Charles II, the exile of James II and the invitation to William and Mary, and finally the invitation to the Hanovarians. Back to Line
182] Ward: "[Pope] A famous Empiric, whose Pill and Drop had several surprising effects, and were one of the principal subjects of writing and conversation at this time." Back to Line
183] Radcliff: Dr. John Radcliffe (1653-1714), a London physician noted as a diagnostician, who left a large fortune in trust for building and for travelling medical fellowships at Oxford. Back to Line
186] Ripley: See Moral Epistle IV, 18. Back to Line
195] Flight of cashiers: refers to the flight of the cashiers of the South Sea Company to France, after being found guilty of a breach of trust. Pope often refers to the South Sea Bubble. Back to Line
197] Peter: Peter Walter (1664?-1746), politician, M.P., and moneylender, who was notorious for usurious practices. He is the original of Fielding's Peter Pounce in Joseph Andrews. Back to Line
204] "[Pope] Horace had not acquitted himself much to his credit in this capacity; (non bene relicta parmula [Odes, II, vii, 10]) in the battle of Philippi. It is manifest he alludes to himselí in this whole account of a poet's character; but with an intermixture of irony: Vivit siliquis et pane secundo has a relation to his Epicurism; os tenerum pueri is ridicule: The nobler office of a poet follows, Torquet ab obscoenis--Mox etiam pectus--Recte facta refert, etc. which the imitator has applied where he thinks it more due than to himself. He hopes to be pardoned, if, as he is sincerely inclined to praise what deserves to be praised, he arraigns what deserves to be arraigned, in the 210, 211 and 212th verses. Back to Line
214] Roscommon: see Essay On Criticism, note on line 725. Back to Line
222] Her trade supported: refers to Swift's proposals to improve the economy of Ireland in his Proposal for the Universal Use of Irish Manufacture (1720).
supplied: to supplement. Back to Line
224] Refers to his attack on a court-approved project that would have debased the Irish monetary system. For this he chose the person of a Dublin drapier; consequently, the work is called The Drapier's Letters. Back to Line
226] the idiot and the poor: " [Pope] A foundation for the maintenance of idiots, and a fund for assisting the poor, by lending small sums of money on demand." Back to Line
230] Hopkins and Sternhold: authors of a naive, sixteenth-century metrical version of the Psalms. Back to Line
236] .... or ... Turk: alludes to the closing line in the prayer at the end of the Hopkins-Sternhold version, "From Pope and Turk defend us, Lord." Pope, of course, is playing on his name as well. Back to Line
257] statutes: here, of course, the various laws concerning libel. Back to Line
267] "[Pope] Mr. Waller, about this time [1664] with the Earl of Dorset, Mr. Godolphin, and others, translated the Pompey of Corneille; and the more correct French Poets began to be in reputation." Back to Line
277] Otway: Thomas Otway (1652-1685), tragic dramatist of the Restoration, whose plays included Venice Preserved. Back to Line
279] fluent ... blot: refers to Ben Jonson's Discoveries where he had observed: "Shakespeare ... never blotted out a line. My answer hath been, would he had blotted a thousand." Back to Line
284] images of life: i.e., critical commonplaces. Back to Line
287] Congreve's fools: e.g., Witwoud in The Way of the World, or Brisk in The Double Dealer. Back to Line
288] Farqu'ar: George Farquhar (1677-1707), Restoration comic dramatist. Back to Line
289] Van: Sir John Vanbrugh (1664-1726), comic dramatist and architect. His literary works include The Provoked Wife and his architectural works Blenheim Palace and the Clarendon Building, Oxford. Back to Line
290] Astraea: "[Pope] A name taken by Aphra Behn, Authoress of several obscene Plays." Astraea was goddess of justice. Back to Line
293] Pinky: William Penkethman, a comic actor, notorious for having, in a performance of Cibber's Loves Makes Man, eaten two chickens in three seconds. Back to Line
309] Black Joke. The Coal Black Joke was a popular air to which various indecent songs were set. Back to Line
313] "From Plays to Opera, and from Operas to Pantomimes" (Warburton). Cf. Dunciad IV, 45-60. Back to Line
315] scenes: painted flats, which when parted, revealed the inner stage. Hence the equivalent of the modern curtain. Back to Line
319] "[Pope] The Coronation of Henry VIII and Queen Anne Boleyn, in which the Playhouses vied with each other to represent all the pomp of a Coronation. In this noble contention, the Armour of one of the Kings of England was borrowed from the Tower to dress the Champion." Back to Line
320] Democritus: A Greek atomist and philosopher (460 B.C.), who was described by Juvenal as ever laughing at the follies of mankind, and therefore came to be known as "the laughing philosopher" in opposition to the melancholy Heraclitus. Back to Line
328] Orcas: "[Pope] The farthest Northern Promontory of Scotland, opposite to the Orcades." Back to Line
331] .... Quin's ... Oldfield's ...: James Quin and Mrs. Oldfield, most popular comic actor and actress of the time. Back to Line
332] birthday suit: one of the magnificent suits worn at royal birthday celebrations. Cf. Rape of the Lock, note on line 23. Back to Line
337] Cato ... chair: from Addison's Cato where the stage direction for the opening of the last act reads: "Cato, solus, sitting in a thoughtful posture." Back to Line
338] rally: rail (spelt "railly" in the eighteenth century). Back to Line
353] mountain ... spring: Parnassus and the Pierian spring. Back to Line
354] "[Pope] Munus Apolline dignum. The Palatine Library then building by Augustus" (refers to 1. 217 of Latin text). Back to Line
355] Merlin's cave: "[Pope] A Building in the Royal Gardens of Richmond, where is a small, but choice Collection of Books." (Pope is ironically comparing Queen Caroline's collection of wax figures and a few books with Augustus' building of the great Palatine Library.) Back to Line
375] Under Charles II, Dryden was the royal historiographer, while Louis XIV made Racine and Boileau, France's great neo-classical poet and critic, royal historiographers. Back to Line
379] The Laureate had not been a poet of note since Dryden was replaced in 1688. Back to Line
381] Bernini: (1598-1680) the architect who designed the great colonnade at St. Peter's. His bust of Charles I (now destroyed) was made in Rome, 1636-37, from a triple portrait by Vandyke. Back to Line
382] Kneller: Sir Godfrey Kneller (1646-1723), German-born portrait painter who settled in England in 1675. He was a neighbour and acquaintance of Pope's, who at his death requested Pope write his epitaph. Back to Line
387] Blackmore: Sir Richard Blackmore (1655?-1729), physician to William III, notorious for long prosaic poems, such as Prince Arthur (1695), an epic, and Creation, a philosophic poem.
Quarles: nothing is known of Quarles' pension. Back to Line
394] Maeonian. Homeric; see Essay on Criticism, note to line 648. Back to Line
414] i.e., King George or his Laureate, Cibber. Back to Line
417] Eusden: Laurence Eusden (1688-1730), Poet Laureate in 1718 after Rhodes' death, a person often attacked by Pope. He had written a number of birthday odes to the King. Philips: see Epistle to Arbuthnot, notes to lines 100 and 179-82. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
D. F. Theall
RPO Edition: 
3RP 2.164.