« PreviousContinue »
Parliament to Westminster Abbey ; and of the well-turned and unexpected compliment he has paid to his illustrious friend. The character of Lord Chancellor CLARENDON * seems to grow every day brighter, the more it is scrutinized; and his integrity and abilities are more ascertained and acknowledged, even from the publication of private papers, never intended to see the light.
vis rectè vivere ? quis non ? Si virtus hoc una potest dare, fortis omissis Hoc age deliciis
* During his retirement in Jersey, he writes thus to Dr. G. Sheldon : - That
you may not think I am idle, I have read over Livy, and Tacitus, and almost Tully's works.” They who censure his style as too diffuse, and too much embarrassed with parentheses, may consult the 3d volume of the learned Lord Monboddo's Origin of Languages. When Clarendon was going from court, just after his profligate and ungrateful master had obliged him to resign the Great Seal, the Duchess of Portsmouth meanly insulted him from a window in the palace. He looked up at her, and only said, with a calm and contemptuous dignity, “ Madam, if you live, you will grow old."
4 Ver. 29.
Would ye be blest? despise low joys, low gains ;
This again is superior to the original ; where quis non, is feeble and flat : and the mention of a particular shining character gives a force and spirit to the line. This amiable young nobleman wrote, from Paris, 1752, a very pressing remonstrance to Mr. Mallet, to dissuade him, but in vain, from publishing a very offensive † digres
☆ It appears that Swift suspected the irreligious principles of Bolingbroke, so early as the year 1724; for he makes for himself the following apology to the Dean :-" I must on this occasion set you right, as to an opinion, which I should be very sorry to have you entertain concerning me. The term esprit fort, in English, free-thinker, is, according to my observation, usually applied to them whom I look upon to be the pests of society ; because their endeavours are directed to loosen the bands of it, and to take at least one curb out of the mouth of that wild beast man, when it would be well if he was checked by half a score others.”
One of thesse pesls, however, he chose to become, by strictly enjoining Mr. Mallet to publish the writings he left against religion. See Jetters of Swift by Hawkesworth, vol. ii, p. 200. In this
sion on the Old Testament, in Lord Bolingbroke's Letters on History. “ I must say to you, Sir, for the world's sake, and for his sake, that part of the work ought by no means to be communicated further. If this digression be made public, it will be censured ; it must be censured; it ought to be censured. It will be criticised too by able pens, whose erudition, as well as their reasonings, will not easily be answered.” He concludes by saying, “I therefore recommend to you to suppress
that part of the work, as a good citizen of the world, for the world's peace, as one intrusted and obliged by Lord Bolingbroke, not to raise new storms to his memory.”
Virtutem verba putas, ut
collection is the very entertaining journal which Swift wrote daily to Mrs. Johnson, containing a minute account, and many private anecdotes, of the ministry of Queen Anne. Perhaps the inside of a court (vitæ postscenia) was never so clearly displayed. But yet Swift does not seem to have known all the intrigues then carried on.
* Ver. 31.
But art thou one whom new opinions sway;
Here we have a direct and decisive censure of a celebrated infidel writer: at this time, therefore, which was 1737, POPE was strongly and openly on the side of religion, as he knew the great lawyer to be to whom he was writing. Horace, it is said, alludes to the words of a dying Hercules in a Greek tragedy; and Dion Cassius relates, in the 27th book of his history, that these were the words which Brutus used just before he stabbed himself, after his defeat at Philippi. But it is observable, that this fact rests solely on the credit of this fawning and fulsome court historian ; and that Plutarch, who treats largely of Brutus, is silent on the subject. If Brutus had adopted this passage, I cannot bring myself to believe, that Horace would so far have forgotten his old republican principles, as to have mentioned the words adopted by the dying patriot, with a mark of reproach and reprobation.
* Ver. 63.
58. Scilicet uxorem cum dote, fidemque & amicos,
Et genus & formam * regina Pecunia donat,
For niark th' advantage; just so many score
Not imitated with the vigour and energy
of the original. The first line is weak and languid. Three Divinities, for such he makes them, PECUNIA, SUADELA, and Venus, conspire in giving their accomplishments to this favourite of fortune. Modern images could not be found to answer these prosopopæias.
• The Duke of M. dining with Prince Eugene, in a very large company, spoke in high terms of his Queen, Anne. The Prince whispered to the oldest and most venerable general officer now living, Regina Pecunia ; “that's his Queen.” And the Prince immediately added, " There is a great difference in making war en maitre, or en advocat."
+ Ver. 38.