« PreviousContinue »
YES, I beheld th’ Athenian Queen
Descend in all her sober charms; " And take (she said, and smil'd serene),
Take at this hand celestial arms;
NOTES. The Lady Frances Shirley] A Lady whose great Merit Mr. Pope took a real pleasure in celebrating. W. :
Yes, I beheld, &c.] To enter into the spirit of this Address, it is necessary to premise, that the Poet was threatened with a prosecution in the House of Lords, for the two foregoing poems, the Epilogue to the Satires. On which, with great resentment against his enemies, for not being willing to distinguish between
Grave Epistles bringing Vice to light, and licentious Libels, he began a third Dialogue, more severe and sublime than the first and second; which being no secret, matters were soon compromised. His enemies agreed to drop the prosecution, and he promised to leave the third Dialogue unfinished and suppressed. This affair occasioned this little beautiful poem, to which it alludes throughout, but more especially in the four last stanzas. W.
These stanzas are obscure and hard, and below the usual precision and elegance of our Author. See particularly the second, third, fifth, and eighth stanzas.
“ Secure, the radiant weapons wield ;
This golden lance shall guard Desert, And if a Vice dares keep the field,
This steel shall stab it to the heart.”
Aw'd, on my bended knees I fell,
Receiv'd the weapons of the sky; And dipt them in the sable Well,
The Fount of Fame or Infamy.
“ What Well? what Weapon? (Flavia cries)
A standish, steel and golden pen!
I gave it you to write again.
“ But, Friend, take heed whom you attack;
You'll bring a House (I mean of Peers) Red, Blue, and Green, nay white and black, · L- and all about your ears.
“ You'd write as smooth again on glass,
And run, on ivory, so glib, As not to stick at fool or asst,
Nor stop at Flattery or Fibt.
“ Athenian Queen ! and sober charms !
I tell ye, fool, there's nothing in’t : 'Tis Venus, Venus gives these arms* ;
In Dryden's Virgil see the printt.
“ Come, if you'll be a quiet soul,
That dares tell neither Truth nor Liest, I'll list you in the harmless roll
Of those that sing of these poor eyes.”
* Such toys being the usual presents from lovers to their mistresses.
+ When she delivers Æneas a suit of heavenly armour. W.
i. e. If you have neither the courage to write Satire, nor the application to attempt an Epic Poem.—He was then meditating on such a work. W.