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Alexander Pope (1688–1744). Complete Poetical Works. 1903.


Satires, Epistles, and Odes of Horace Imitated. Epilogue to the Satires

  • In Two Dialogues.Written in 1738
  • The first dialogue was originally entitled One Thousand Seven Hundred and thirty-eight, a Dialogue something like Horace. Johnson’s London is said by Boswell to have been published on the same morning of May, 1738, and in spite of its anonymity to have made more stir than Pope’s satire.
  • Dialogue I

  • Fr.NOT twice a twelvemonth you appear in print,

    And when it comes, the Court see nothing in ’t:

    You grow correct, that once with rapture writ,

    And are, besides, too moral for a Wit.

    Decay of parts, alas! we all must feel—

    Why now, this moment, don’t I see you steal?

    ’T is all from Horace; Horace long before ye

    Said ‘Tories call’d him whig, and whigs a tory;’

    And taught his Romans, in much better metre,

    ‘To laugh at fools who put their trust in Peter.’

    But Horace, sir, was delicate, was nice;

    Bubo observes, he lash’d no sort of vice:

    Horace would say, Sir Billy served the crown,

    Blunt could do business, Higgins knew the town;

    In Sappho touch the failings of the sex,

    In rev’rend bishops note some small neglects,

    And own the Spaniards did a waggish thing,

    Who cropt our ears, and sent them to the King.

    His sly, polite, insinuating style

    Could please at court, and make Augustus smile:

    An artful manager, that crept between

    His friend and shame, and was a kind of screen.

    But, ’faith, your very Friends will soon be sore;

    Patriots there are who wish you ’d jest no more.

    And where ’s the glory? ’t will be only thought

    The great man never offer’d you a groat.

    Go see Sir Robert—
    P.See Sir Robert!—hum—

    And never laugh—for all my life to come;

    Seen him I have; but in his happier hour

    Of social Pleasure, ill exchanged for Power;

    Seen him, uncumber’d with a venal tribe,

    Smile without art, and win without a bribe.

    Would he oblige me? let me only find

    He does not think me what he thinks mankind.

    Come, come, at all I laugh he laughs, no doubt;

    The only diff’rence is—I dare laugh out.

    F.Why, yes: with Scripture still you may be free;

    A horse-laugh, if you please, at Honesty;

    A joke on Jekyl, or some odd Old Whig,

    Who never changed his principle or wig.

    A patriot is a fool in ev’ry age,

    Whom all Lord Chamberlains allow the stage:

    These nothing hurts; they keep their fashion still,

    And wear their strange old virtue as they will.

    If any ask you, ‘Who ’s the man so near

    His Prince, that writes in verse, and has his ear?’

    Why, answer, Lyttelton! and I ’ll engage

    The worthy youth shall ne’er be in a rage;

    But were his verses vile, his whisper base,

    You ’d quickly find him in Lord Fanny’s case.

    Sejanus, Wolsey, hurt not honest Fleury,

    But well may put some statesmen in a fury.

    Laugh then at any but at Fools or Foes;

    These you but anger, and you mend not those.

    Laugh at your friends, and if your friends are sore,

    So much the better, you may laugh the more.

    To Vice and Folly to confine the jest

    Sets half the world, God knows, against the rest,

    Did not the sneer of more impartial men

    At Sense and Virtue, balance all again.

    Judicious Wits spread wide the ridicule,

    And charitably comfort knave and fool.

    P.Dear sir, forgive the prejudice of youth:

    Adieu Distinction, Satire, Warmth, and Truth!

    Come, harmless characters that no one hit;

    Come, Henley’s oratory, Osborne’s wit!

    The honey dropping from Favonio’s tongue,

    The flowers of Bubo, and the flow of Yonge!

    The gracious dew of pulpit Eloquence,

    And all the well-whipt cream of courtly Sense

    That first was H[er]vey’s, F[ox]’s next, and then

    The S[ena]te’s, and then H[er]vey’s once again,

    O come! that easy Ciceronian style,

    So Latin, yet so English all the while,

    As, tho’ the pride of Middleton and Bland,

    All boys may read, and girls may understand!

    Then might I sing without the least offence,

    And all I sung should be the ‘Nation’s Sense;’

    Or teach the melancholy Muse to mourn,

    Hang the sad verse on Carolina’s urn,

    And hail her passage to the realms of rest,

    All parts perform’d, and all her children blest!

    So—Satire is no more—I feel it die—

    No Gazetteer more innocent than I—

    And let, a’ God’s name! ev’ry Fool and Knave

    Be graced thro’ life, and flatter’d in his grave.

    F.Why so? if Satire knows its time and place,

    You still may lash the greatest—in disgrace;

    For merit will by turns forsake them all;

    Would you know when? exactly when they fall.

    But let all Satire in all changes spare

    Immortal S[elkir]k, and grave De[lawa]re.

    Silent and soft, as saints remove to Heav’n,

    All ties dissolv’d, and ev’ry sin forgiv’n,

    These may some gentle ministerial wing

    Receive, and place for ever near a King!

    There where no Passion, Pride, or Shame transport,

    Lull’d with the sweet Nepenthe of a Court:

    There where no father’s, brother’s, friend’s disgrace

    Once break their rest, or stir them from their place;

    But past the sense of human miseries,

    All tears are wiped for ever from all eyes;

    No cheek is known to blush, no heart to throb,

    Save when they lose a Question or a Job.

    P.Good Heav’n forbid that I should blast their glory,

    Who know how like Whig ministers to Tory,

    And when three Sov’reigns died could scarce be vext,

    Consid’ring what a gracious Prince was next.

    Have I, in silent wonder, seen such things

    As pride in slaves, and avarice in Kings?

    And at a peer or peeress shall I fret,

    Who starves a sister or forswears a debt?

    Virtue, I grant you, is an empty boast;

    But shall the dignity of Vice be lost?

    Ye Gods! shall Cibber’s son, without rebuke,

    Swear like a Lord; or Rich outwhore a Duke?

    A fav’rite’s porter with his master vie,

    Be bribed as often, and as often lie?

    Shall Ward draw contracts with a statesman’s skill?

    Or Japhet pocket, like His Grace, a will?

    Is it for Bond or Peter (paltry things)

    To pay their debts, or keep their faith, like Kings?

    If Blount dispatch’d himself, he play’d the man,

    And so mayst thou, illustrious Passeran!

    But shall a printer, weary of his life,

    Learn from their books to hang himself and wife?

    This, this, my friend, I cannot, must not bear;

    Vice thus abused demands a nation’s care;

    This calls the Church to deprecate our sin,

    And hurls the thunder of the Laws on Gin.

    Let modest Foster, if he will, excel

    Ten Metropolitans in preaching well;

    A simple quaker, or a quaker’s wife,

    Outdo Landaff in doctrine—yea, in life;

    Let humble Allen, with an awkward shame,

    Do good by stealth, and blush to find it fame.

    Virtue may choose the high or low degree,

    ’T is just alike to Virtue and to me;

    Dwell in a monk, or light upon a King,

    She ’s still the same belov’d, contented thing.

    Vice is undone, if she forgets her birth,

    And stoops from angels to the dregs of earth;

    But ’t is the Fall degrades her to a whore;

    Let Greatness own her, and she ’s mean no more:

    Her birth, her beauty, crowds and courts confess;

    Chaste Matrons praise her, and grave Bishops bless;

    In golden chains the willing world she draws,

    And hers the Gospel is, and hers the Laws;

    Mounts the tribunal, lifts her scarlet head,

    And sees pale Virtue carted in her stead.

    Lo! at the wheels of her triumphal car,

    Old England’s genius, rough with many a scar,

    Dragg’d in the dust! his arms hang idly round,

    His flag inverted trails along the ground!

    Our youth, all liv’ried o’er with foreign gold,

    Before her dance! behind her crawl the old!

    See thronging millions to the pagod run,

    And offer country, parent, wife, or son!

    Hear her black trumpet thro’ the land proclaim,

    That not to be corrupted is the shame.

    In Soldier, Churchman, Patriot, Man in Power,

    ’T is Av’rice all, Ambition is no more!

    See all our nobles begging to be slaves!

    See all our fools aspiring to be knaves!

    The wit of cheats, the courage of a whore,

    Are what ten thousand envy and adore:

    All, all look up with reverential awe,

    At crimes that ’scape, or triumph o’er the law:

    While Truth, Worth, Wisdom, daily they decry—

    ‘Nothing is sacred now but Villany.’

    Yet may this verse (if such a verse remain)

    Show there was one who held it in disdain.

    Dialogue II

    Fr.’T IS all a libel—Paxton, Sir, will say.

    P.Not yet, my friend! to-morrow ’faith it may;

    And for that very cause I print to-day.

    How should I fret to mangle ev’ry line

    In rev’rence to the sins of Thirty-nine!

    Vice with such giant strides comes on amain,

    Invention strives to be before in vain;

    Feign what I will, and paint it e’er so strong,

    Some rising genius sins up to my song.

    F.Yet none but you by name the guilty lash;

    Ev’n Guthry saves half Newgate by a dash.

    Spare then the Person, and expose the Vice.

    P.How, Sir! not damn the Sharper, but the Dice?

    Come on then, Satire! gen’ral, unconfin’d,

    Spread thy broad wing, and souse on all the kind.

    Ye statesmen, priests, of one religion all!

    Ye tradesmen vile, in army, court, or hall!

    Ye rev’rend atheists!F.Scandal! name them, who?

    P.Why that ’s the thing you bid me not to do.

    Who starv’d a sister, who forswore a debt,

    I never named; the town ’s inquiring yet.

    The pois’ning Dame—F.You mean—P.I don’t.F.You do.

    P.See, now I keep the secret, and not you!

    The bribing Statesman—F.Hold, too high you go.

    P.The bribed Elector—F.There you stoop too low.

    P.I fain would please you, if I knew with what.

    Tell me, which knave is lawful game, which not?

    Must great offenders, once escaped the crown,

    Like royal harts, be never more run down?

    Admit your law to spare the Knight requires.

    As beasts of Nature may we hunt the Squires?

    Suppose I censure—you know what I mean—

    To save a Bishop, may I name a Dean?

    F.A Dean, sir? no: his fortune is not made;

    You hurt a man that ’s rising in the trade.

    P.If not the tradesman who set up to-day,

    Much less the ’prentice who to-morrow may.

    Down, down, proud Satire! tho’ a realm be spoil’d,

    Arraign no mightier thief than wretched Wild;

    Or, if a court or country ’s made a job,

    Go drench a pickpocket, and join the Mob.

    But, Sir, I beg you—for the love of Vice—

    The matter’s weighty, pray consider twice—

    Have you less pity for the needy cheat,

    The poor and friendless villain, than the great?

    Alas! the small discredit of a bribe

    Scarce hurts the Lawyer, but undoes the Scribe.

    Then better sure it charity becomes

    To tax Directors, who (thank God!) have plums;

    Still better Ministers, or if the thing

    May pinch ev’n there—why, lay it on a King.

    F.Stop! stop!
    P.Must Satire then nor rise nor fall?

    Speak out, and bid me blame no rogues at all.

    F.Yes, strike that Wild, I ’ll justify the blow.

    P.Strike? why the man was hang’d ten years ago:

    Who now that obsolete example fears?

    Ev’n Peter trembles only for his ears.

    F.What, always Peter? Peter thinks you mad;

    You make men desp’rate, if they once are bad;

    Else might he take to Virtue some years hence—

    P.As S[elkir]k, if he lives, will love the Prince.

    F.Strange spleen to S[elkir]k!
    P.Do I wrong the man?

    God knows I praise a Courtier where I can.

    When I confess there is who feels for fame,

    And melts to goodness, need I Scarb’row name?

    Pleased let me own, in Esher’s peaceful grove

    (Where Kent and Nature vie for Pelham’s love),

    The scene, the master, opening to my view,

    I sit and dream I see my Craggs anew!

    Ev’n in a Bishop I can spy desert;

    Secker is decent, Rundel has a heart;

    Manners with candour are to Benson giv’n;

    To Berkley ev’ry virtue under Heav’n.

    But does the Court a worthy man remove?

    That instant, I declare, he has my love:

    I shun his zenith, court his mild decline.

    Thus Somers once and Halifax were mine:

    Oft in the clear still mirror of retreat

    I studied Shrewsbury, the wise and great:

    Carleton’s calm sense and Stanhope’s noble flame

    Compared, and knew their gen’rous end the same;

    How pleasing Atterbury’s softer hour!

    How shined the soul, unconquer’d, in the Tower!

    How can I Pulteney, Chesterfield, forget,

    While Roman Spirit charms, and Attic Wit?

    Argyle, the state’s whole thunder born to wield,

    And shake alike the senate and the field?

    Or Wyndham, just to freedom and the throne,

    The Master of our Passions and his own?

    Names which I long have lov’d, nor lov’d in vain,

    Rank’d with their friends, not number’d with their train;

    And if yet higher the proud list should end,

    Still let me say,—no foll’wer, but a Friend.

    Yet think not friendship only prompts my lays;

    I follow Virtue; where she shines I praise,

    Point she to priest or elder, Whig, or Tory,

    Or round a quaker’s beaver cast a glory.

    I never (to my sorrow I declare)

    Dined with the Man of Ross or my Lord Mayor.

    Some in their choice of friends (nay, look not grave)

    Have still a secret bias to a knave:

    To find an honest man I beat about,

    And love him, court him, praise him, in or out.

    F.Then why so few commended?
    P.Not so fierce;

    Find you the Virtue, and I ’ll find the Verse.

    But random praise—the task can ne’er be done;

    Each mother asks it for her booby son;

    Each widow asks it for the best of men,

    For him she weeps, for him she weds again.

    Praise cannot stoop, like Satire, to the ground;

    The number may be hang’d, but not be crown’d.

    Enough for half the greatest of these days

    To ’scape my Censure, not expect my Praise.

    Are they not rich? what more can they pretend?

    Dare they to hope a poet for their friend?—

    What Richelieu wanted, Louis scarce could gain,

    And what young Ammon wish’d, but wish’d in vain.

    No power the Muse’s friendship can command;

    No power, when Virtue claims it, can withstand.

    To Cato, Virgil paid one honest line;

    O let my country’s friends illumine mine!

    —What are you thinking?F.Faith, the thought’s no sin;

    I think your friends are out, and would be in.

    P.If merely to come in, Sir, they go out,

    The way they take is strangely round about.

    F.They too may be corrupted, you ’ll allow?

    P.I only call those knaves who are so now.

    Is that-too little? come, then, I ’ll comply—

    Spirit of Arnall, aid me while I lie!

    Cobham ’s a coward! Polworth is a slave!

    And Lyttelton a dark designing knave!

    St. John has ever been a wealthy fool!—

    But let me add, Sir Robert ’s mighty dull,

    Has never made a friend in private life,

    And was, besides, a tyrant to his wife!

    But pray, when others praise him, do I blame?

    Call Verres, Wolsey, any odious name?

    Why rail they then if but a wreath of mine,

    O all-accomplish’d St. John! deck thy shrine?

    What! shall each spur-gall’d hackney of the day,

    When Paxton gives him double pots and pay,

    Or each new-pension’d Sycophant, pretend

    To break my windows if I treat a friend;

    Then, wisely plead, to me they meant no hurt,

    But ’t was my guest at whom they threw the dirt?

    Sure if I spare the Minister, no rules

    Of honour bind me not to maul his Tools;

    Sure if they cannot cut, it may be said

    His saws are toothless, and his hatchet’s lead.

    It anger’d Turenne, once upon a day,

    To see a footman kick’d that took his pay;

    But when he heard th’ affront the fellow gave,

    Knew one a Man of Honour, one a Knave,

    The prudent Gen’ral turn’d it to a jest,

    And begg’d he ’d take the pains to kick the rest;

    Which not at present having time to do—

    F.Hold, Sir! for God’s sake, where ’s th’ affront to you?

    Against your worship when had S[herloc]k writ,

    Or P[a]ge pour’d forth the torrent of his wit?

    Or grant the bard whose distich all commend

    (‘In power a servant, out of power a friend’)

    To W[alpo]le guilty of some venial sin,

    What ’s that to you who ne’er was out nor in?

    The Priest whose flattery bedropp’d the crown,

    How hurt he you? he only stain’d the gown.

    And how did, pray, the florid youth offend,

    Whose speech you took, and gave it to a friend?

    P.Faith, it imports not much from whom it came;

    Whoever borrow’d could not be to blame,

    Since the whole House did afterwards the same.

    Let courtly Wits to Wits afford supply,

    As hog to hog in huts of Westphaly:

    If one, thro’ Nature’s bounty or his Lord’s

    Has what the frugal dirty soil affords,

    From him the next receives it, thick or thin,

    As pure a mess almost as it came in;

    The blessed benefit, not there confin’d,

    Drops to the third, who nuzzles close behind;

    From tail to mouth they feed and they carouse;

    The last full fairly gives it to the House.

    F.This filthy simile, this beastly line,

    Quite turns my stomach—P.So does flatt’ry mine;

    And all your courtly civet-cats can vent,

    Perfume to you, to me is excrement.

    But hear me further—Japhet, ’t is agreed,

    Writ not, and Chartres scarce could write or read

    In all the courts of Pindus, guiltless quite;

    But pens can forge, my friend, that cannot write,

    And must no egg in Japhet’s face be thrown,

    Because the deed he forged was not my own?

    Must never Patriot then declaim at Gin

    Unless, good man! he has been fairly in?

    No zealous Pastor blame a failing spouse

    Without a staring reason on his brows?

    And each blasphemer quite escape the rod,

    Because the insult ’s not on man but God?

    Ask you what provocation I have had?

    The strong antipathy of good to bad.

    When Truth or Virtue an affront endures,

    Th’ affront is mine, my friend, and should be yours.

    Mine, as a foe profess’d to false pretence,

    Who think a coxcomb’s honour like his sense;

    Mine, as a friend to ev’ry worthy mind;

    And mine as man, who feel for all mankind.

    F.You ’re strangely proud.
    P.So proud, I am no slave;

    So impudent, I own myself no knave;

    So odd, my country’s ruin makes me grave.

    Yes, I am proud; I must be proud to see

    Men, not afraid of God, afraid of me;

    Safe from the Bar, the Pulpit, and the Throne,

    Yet touch’d and shamed by Ridicule alone.

    O sacred weapon! left for Truth’s defence,

    Sole dread of Folly, Vice, and Insolence,

    To all but Heav’n-directed hands denied,

    The Muse may give thee, but the Gods must guide!

    Rev’rent I touch thee! but with honest zeal,

    To rouse the watchmen of the public weal,

    To Virtue’s work provoke the tardy hall,

    And goad the Prelate, slumb’ring in his stall.

    Ye tinsel insects! whom a Court maintains,

    That counts your beauties only by your stains,

    Spin all your cobwebs o’er the eye of day!

    The Muse’s wing shall brush you all away.

    All His Grace preaches, all His Lordship sings,

    All that makes Saints of Queens, and Gods of Kings;

    All, all but Truth, drops dead-born from the press,

    Like the last Gazette, or the last Address.

    When black Ambition stains a public cause,

    A Monarch’s sword when mad Vainglory draws,

    Not Waller’s wreath can hide the nation’s scar,

    Nor Boileau turn the feather to a star.

    Not so when, diadem’d with rays divine,

    Touch’d with the flame that breaks from Virtue’s shrine,

    Her priestess Muse forbids the good to die,

    And opes the Temple of Eternity.

    There other trophies deck the truly brave

    Than such as Anstis casts into the grave;

    Far other stars than [Kent] and [Grafton] wear,

    And may descend to Mordington from Stair;—

    Such as on Hough’s unsullied mitre shine,

    Or beam, good Digby! from a heart like thine.

    Let envy howl, while heav’n’s whole chorus sings,

    And bark at honour not conferr’d by Kings;

    Let Flatt’ry sick’ning see the incense rise,

    Sweet to the world, and grateful to the skies:

    Truth guards the Poet, sanctifies the line,

    And makes immortal, verse as mean as mine.

    Yes, the last pen for Freedom let me draw,

    When Truth stands trembling on the edge of law

    Here, last of Britons! let your names be read;

    Are none, none living? let me praise the dead;

    And for that cause which made your fathers shine

    Fall by the votes of their degen’rate line.

    F.Alas! alas! pray end what you began,

    And write next winter more Essays on Man.