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Till Kings call forth th' Ideas of
195 (Proud to accomplish what such hands design'd), Bid Harbours open, public Ways extend, Bid Temples, worthier of the God, ascend; Bid the broad Arch the dang’rous Flood contain, The mole projected break the roaring Main; 200
280, full of curious particulars. Dr. Clarke, of All Souls College, Oxford, had Jones's Palladio, with his own notes and observations in Italian, which the Doctor bequeathed to Worcester College.
Ver. 195, 197, &c. Till Kings-Bid Harbours open, &c.] The Poet, after having touched upon the proper objects of Magnificence and Expense, in the private works of great men, comes to those great and public works which become a prince. This Poem was published in the year 1732, when some of the new-built churches, by the act of Queen Anne, were ready to fall, being founded in boggy land (which is satirically alluded to in our Author's imitation of Horace, Lib. ii. Sat. 2.
"Shall half the new-built Churches round thee fall"). Others were vilely executed, through fraudulent cabals between undertakers, officers, &c. Dagenham-breach had done very great mischiefs ; many of the Highways throughout England were hardly passable; and most of those which were repaired by Turnpikes were made jobs for private lucre, and infamously executed, even to the entrance of London itself. The proposal of building a Bridge at Westminster had been petitioned against and rejected; but in two years after the publication of this poem, an Act for building a Bridge passed through both Houses. After
many debates in the committee, the execution was left to the carpenter above mentioned, who would have made it a wooden one ; to which our Author alludes in these lines,
“Who builds a Bridge that never drove a pile?
Should Ripley venture, all the world would smile." See the notes on that place P.
Ver. 197. Bid Harbours open,] No country has been enriched and adorned, within a period of thirty or forty years, with so many works of public spirit, as Great Britain has been ; witness Back to his bounds their subject Sea command, And roll obedient Rivers through the Land : These Honours, Peace to happy BRITAIN brings, These are Imperial Works, and worthy Kings.
our many extensive roads, our inland navigations (some of which excel the boasted canal of Languedoc), the lighting, and the paving, and beautifying, our cities, and our various and magni. ficent edifices. A general good taste has been diffused in gardening, planting, and building. The ruins of Palmyra, the antiquities of Athens and Spalatro, and the Ionian antiquities, by Wood, Stuart, Adam, and Chandler, are such magnificent monuments of learned curiosity as no country in Europe can equal. Let it be remembered, that these fine lines of Pope were written when we had no Wyatt or Brown, Brindley or Reynolds ; no Westminster Bridge, no Pantheon, no Royal Academy, no king that is at once a judge and a patron of all those fine arts which ought to be employed in raising and beautifying a palace equal to his dignity and his taste.
On the whole, this Epistle contains rather strictures on the false taste, than illustrations of the true; which circumstance gave room to Mr. Mason to treat the subject in a more open and ornamental manner, and with more picturesque and poetical imagery in his English Garden.
Ver. 203. These Honours, Peace] One of the chief sources of the great riches of this country was, the long Peace which was enjoyed during the ministry of Sir Robert Walpole; who, however he may have been censured, deserved high praise on this account.
TO MR. ADDISON.
OCCASIONED BY HIS DIALOGUES ON MEDALS.
SEE the wild Waste of all-devouring years ! How Rome her own sad Sepulchre appears !
This was originally written in the year 1715, when Mr. Addison intended to publish his book of Medals ; it was some time before he was Secretary of State; but not published till Mr. Tickell's Edition of his works: at which time the verses on Mr. Craggs, which conclude the poem, were added, viz. in 1720. P.
Ver. 1. See the wild Waste] This treatise on Medals was written by Addison in that pleasing form of composition, so unsuccessfully attempted by many modern authors, Dialogues. In no one species of writing have the ancients so indisputable a superiority over us. The dialogues of Plato and Cicero, especially the former, are perfect dramas; where the characters are supported with consistency and nature, and the reasoning suited to the characters.
“ There are in English three dialogues, and but three,” says a learned and ingenious author, who has himself practised this. agreeable way of writing, “ that deserve commendation, namely, the Moralists in Lord Shaftesbury, Mr. Addison's Treatise on Medals, and the Minute Philosophy of Bishop Berkeley.” Alciphron did, indeed, well deserve to be mentioned on this occasion ; notwithstanding it has been treated with contempt by writers much inferior to Berkeley in learning, genius, and taste. Omitting those passages in the fourth dialogue, where he has introduced his fanciful and whimsical opinions about vision, an attentive reader will find that there is scarce a single argument that can be urged in defence of Revelation, but what is here placed in the clearest light, and in the most beautiful diction. In this work there is a happy union of reasoning and imagination. The two different characters of the two different sorts of
With nodding arches, broken temples, spread !
free-thinkers, the sensual and the refined, are strongly contrasted with each other, and with the plainness and simplicity of Euphranor.
These dialogues of Addison are written with that sweetness and purity of style which constitute him one of the first of our prose writers. The Pleasures of Imagination, the Essay on the Georgics, and his last papers in the Spectator and Guardian, are models of language. And some late writers, who seem to have mistaken stiffness for strength, and are grown popular by a pompous rotundity of phrase, make one wish that the rising generation may abandon this unnatural, false, inflated, and florid style, and form themselves on the chaster model of Addison. The chief imperfection of his Treatise on Medals, is, the persons introduced as speakers, in direct contradiction to the practice of the ancients, are fictitious not real; for Cynthio*, Philander, Palæmon, Eugenio, and Theocles, cannot equally excite and engage the attention of the reader, with Socrates and Alcibiades, Atticus and Brutus, Cowley and Spratt, Maynard and Somers. It is somewhat singular, that so many of the modern dialoguewriters should have failed in this particular, when so many the most celebrated wits of modern Italy had given them eminent examples of the contrary proceeding, and closely following the steps of the ancients, constantly introduced living and real persons in their numerous compositions of this sort; in which they were so fond of delivering their sentiments, both on moral and critical subjects ; witness the Il Cortegiano of B. Castiglione, the Asolani of P. Bembo, Dialoghi del S. Sperone, and the great Galileo, the Naugerius of Fracastorius, and Lil. Gyraldus de Poetis, and many others. In all which pieces the famous and living geniuses of Italy are introduced discussing the several different topics before them. Ver. 2. her own sad Sepulchre] St. Jerome says,
66 Roma quondam orbis caput, postea populi Romani sepulcrum."
* How ill the forms, and ceremonies, and compliments, of modern good-breeding, would bear to be exactly represented; see Characteristics, vol. i. p. 209.