« PreviousContinue »
To rest, the Cushion and soft Dean invite,
drawn this Symbol of his Sect out of his mouth on a label. Adjoining to him is an old man, with a squalid beard and habit, leaning on his crouch, and turning his eyes upwards on the Apostle ; but with a countenance so sour and canine, that one cannot hesitate a moment in pronouncing him a Cynic. The next who follows, by his elegance of dress, and placid air of raillery and neglect, proclaims himself an EPICUREAN: as the other which stands close by him, with his finger on his lips, denoting silence, plainly marks out a follower of PYTHAGORAS. After these come a group of figures, cavilling in all the rage of disputation, as criticising the divine Speaker. These plainly design the ACADEMics, the genius of whose school was to debate de quolibet ente, and never come to a conclusion. Without the Circle, and behind the principal figures, are a number of young faces, to represent the scholars and disciples of the several sects.
These are all fronting the Apostle. Behind him are two other figures: one regarding the Apostle's action, with his face turned upwards : in which the passions of malicious zeal and disappointed rage are so strongly marked, that we needed not the red bonnet, to see he was a Jewish Rabbi. The other is a pagan priest, full of anxiety for the danger of the established Worship. i
Thus has this great Master, in order to heighten the dignity of his subject, brought in the heads of every sect of philosophy and religion which were most averse to the principles, and most opposite to the success, of the Gospel ; so that one may truly esteem this cartoon as the greatest effort of his divine genius. W.
I have the authority of two such eminent artists as Sir Joshua Reynolds and Nathaniel Dance, Esq. to say, that this whole criticism, on the cartoons of Raphael, is ill-grounded, and fanciful to the last degree.
Ver. 146. Where sprawl] This single verb has marked with felicity and force the distorted attitudes, the indecent subjects, thewant of nature and grace, so visible in the pieces of these two artists, employed to adorn our royal palaces and chapels. “I cannot help thinking,” says Pope to Mr. Allen, in Letter lxxxix. vol. ix. “and I know you will join with me, who have been making an altar-piece, that the zeal of the first reformers was illplaced, in removing pictures (that is to say, examples) out of
But hark! the chiming Clocks to dinner call ; A hundred footsteps scrape the marble Hall : The rich Buffet well-colour'd Serpents grace, And gaping Tritons spew to wash your
face. Is this a dinner? this a Genial room?
churches ; and yet suffering epitaphs (that is to say, flatteries and false history) to be a burden to church-walls, and the shame as well as derision of all honest men.” This is a sentiment, it may be said, of a papistical poet; and yet it appears to be founded on good sense, and religion well understood. Notwithstanding the many just and well-founded arguments against popery, yet I hope we may still, one day, see our places of worship beautified with proper ornaments, and the generosity and talents of our living artists perpetuated on the naked walls of St. Paul's.
Ver. 146. Verrio or Laguerre,] Verrio (Antonio) painted many cielings, &c. at Windsor, Hampton-Court, &c. and Laguerre at Blenheim-castle, and other places. P.
Ver. 150. Who never mentions Hell to ears polite.] This is a fact: a reverend Dean, preaching at Court, threatened the sinner with punishment in “a place which he thought it not decent to name in so polite an assembly." P.
Ver. 153. Taxes the incongruity of Ornaments (though sometimes practised by the ancients), where an open mouth ejects the water into a fountain, or where the shocking images of serpents, &c. are introduced into Grottos or Buffets. P.
Ver. 155. Is this a dinner ? &c.] The proud Festivals of some men are here set forth to ridicule, where pride destroys the ease, and formal regularity all the pleasurable enjoyment, of the entertainment. P.
Ver. 156. a Hecatomb.] Alluding to the hundred footsteps before. W.This observation is very ridiculously strained.
Ver. 160. Sancho's dread Doctor,] See Don Quixote, chap. xlvii. P.
Between each Act the trembling salvers ring, 161
Yet hence the Poor are cloth'd, the hungry fed ; Health to himself, and to his Infants bread 170 The Lab'rer bears : What his hard heart denies, His charitable Vanity supplies.
Another Age shall see the golden Ear Imbrown the Slope, and nod on the Parterre, Deep Harvests bury all his pride has plann'd, 175 And laughing Ceres reassume the land.
Ver. 169. Yet hence the Poor, &c.] This is the Moral of the whole; where PROVIDENCE is justified in giving Riches to those who squander them in this manner. A bad Taste employs more hands, and diffuses wealth more usefully, than a good one.
This recurs to what is laid down in Book I. Ep. ii. Ver. 230—7, and in the Epistle preceding this, Ver. 161, &c. P.
This reflection is very different from the flagitious principle of Mandeville, that private vices are public benefits. Of whom, says Hume very shrewdly, “Is it not very inconsistent for an author to assert in one page, that moral distinctions are inventions of politicians for public interest; and in the next page maintain, that vice is advantageous to the public ?"
Ver. 173. Another Age, &c.] Had the Poet lived but three years longer, he had seen his general prophecy against all illjudged magnificence fulfilled in a very particular instance. W.
In the edition of 1751, this note ran thus : “Had the Poet lived three years longer he had seen this prophecy fulfilled :" which so plainly pointed at what had happened at Canons, that it was altered as it here stands.
Ver. 176. And laughing Ceres reassume the land.] The great
- the forhand
Who then shall grace, or who improve the Soil ? Who plants like BATHURST, or who builds like
beauty of this line is an instance of the art peculiar to our Poet; by which he has so disposed a trite classical figure, as not only to make it do its vulgar office, of representing a very plentiful harvest, but also to assume the personage of Nature, re-establishing herself in her rights, and mocking the vain efforts of magnificence, which would keep her out of them. W. Ver. 179, 180. 'Tis Use alone that sanctifies Expense,
And Splendour borrows all her rays from Sense.] Here the Poet, to make the examples of good Taste the better understood, introduces them with a summary of his Precepts, in these two sublime lines; for, the consulting Use is beginning with Sense, and the making Splendour or Taste borrow all its rays from thence, is going on with Sense, after she has led us up to Taste. The art of this disposition of the thought can never be sufficiently admired. But the Expression is equal to the Thought. This sanctifying of expense gives us the idea of something consecrated and set apart for sacred uses; and indeed it is the idea under which it
be properly considered : for wealth employed according to the intention of Providence is its true consecration; and the real uses of humanity were certainly first in its intention. W.
Lord Chesterfield wrote the following lives, intending to shew that Lord Burlington did not always attend tô this rule of our Poet:
Possest of one great hall for state,
And all mankind, how ill you dwell.
Whose ample Lawns are not asham'd to feed 185
You too proceed ! make falling Arts your care,
Ver. 185. not asham'd to feed] Cattle, and not deer.
Ver. 191. You too proceed!] This is not fulsome adulation, but only such honest praise as the noble Lord, whom he addressed, strictly deserved; who inherited all that love of science and useful knowledge for which his family has been so famous. The name of Boyle is indeed auspicious to literature. That sublime genius and good man, Bishop Berkeley, owed his preferment chiefly to this accomplished peer: for it was he that recommended him to the Duke of Grafton, in the year 1721, who took him over with him to Ireland when he was Lord-Lieutenant, and promoted him to the deanery of Derry in the year 1724. Berkeley gained the patronage and friendship of Lord Burlington, not only by his true politeness, and the peculiar charms of his conversation, which was exquisite, but by his profound and perfect skill in architecture; an art which he had very particularly and accurately studied in Italy, when he went and continued abroad four years with Mr. Ashe, son of the Bishop of Clogher. With an insatiable and philosophic attention, Berkeley surveyed and examined every object of curiosity. He not only made the usual tour, but went over Apulia and Calabria, and even travelled on foot through Sicily, and drew up an account of that very classical ground; which was lost in a voyage to Naples, and cannot be sufficiently regretted. His generous project for erecting a university at Bermudas, the effort of a mind truly active, benevolent, and patriotic, is sufficiently known.
Ver. 193. Jones] See an accurate and judicious account of his Works in Walpole’s Anecdotes, vol. ii. from page 261 to page VOL. III.