Pope’s Caricature of Lord Hervey
Let Paris tremble ‘What? that Thing of silk,
Paris, that mere white Curd of Ass’s milk?
Satire or Shame alas! can Paris feel?
Who breaks a Butterfly upon a Wheel?’
Yet let me slap this Bug with gilded wings,
This painted Child of Dirt that stinks and stings;
Whose Buss the Witty and the Fair annoys,
Yet Wit ne’er tastes, and Beauty ne’er enjoys,
So well-bred Spaniels civilly delight
In mumbling of the Game they dare not bite.
Eternal Smiles his Emptiness betray,
As shallow streams run dimpling all the way.
Whether in florid Impotence he speaks,
And, as the Prompter breathes, the Puppet squeaks;
Or at the Ear of Eve, familiar Toad,
Half Froth, half Venom, spits himself abroad,
In Puns, or Politicks, or Tales, or Lyes,
Or Spite, or Smut, or Rymes, or Blasphemies. [lines 301-18, p. 21]
Did ever Smock-face act so vile a Part?
A trifling Head, and a corrupted Heart!
Eve’s Tempter thus the Rabbins have exprest,
A Cherub’s face, a Reptile all the rest;
Beauty that shocks you, Parts that none will trust,
Wit that can creep, and Pride that licks the dust.
Not Fortune’s Worshipper, nor Fashion’s Fool,
Nor Lucre’s Madman, nor Ambition’s Tool,
Not proud, nor servile, be one Poet’s praise
That, if he pleas’d, he pleas’d by manly ways;
That Flatt’ry, ev’n to Kings, he held a shame,
And thought a Lye in Verse or Prose the same:
In Fancy’s Maze that wand’ring not too long,
He stoop’d to Truth, and moraliz’d his song:
That not for Fame, but Virtue’s better end,
He stood the furious Foe, the timid Friend,
The damning Critic, half approving Wit,
The Coxcomb hit, or fearing to be hit;
Laugh’s at the Loss of Friends he never had,
The dull, the proud, the wicked, and the mad. [lines 319-38, p. 22]
NOTE: The preceding lines were composed in August 1734, and published in January 1735 in Alexander Pope, An Epistle from Mr. Pope, to Dr. Arbuthnot (London: Printed by J. Wright, for Lawton Gilliver, 1734 [i.e. 1735 in the new style calendar]. However, several months later (in The Works of Alexander Pope, Esq;, 6 vols, vol. 2 (printed for L. Gilliver, 1735, p. 21), Pope revised the passage, changing the name ‘Paris’ to ‘Sporus’ Nero’s castrated lover and replacing the lines: ‘Did ever Smock-face act so vile a Part? / A trifling Head, and a corrupted Heart!’ with the following:
Pope had obviously taken hints from Pulteney's A Proper Reply to a Late Scurrilous Libel, which had introduced the term "Master-Miss".
His wit all see-saw between that and this,
Now high, now low, now master, up now miss,
And he himself one vile Antithesis.
Amphibious thing! that acting either part,
The trifling head, or the corrupted heart,
Fop at the toilet, flatt’rer at the board,
Now trips a Lady, and now struts a Lord.
SOURCES: Alexander Pope, An Epistle from Mr. Pope, to Dr. Arbuthnot, London: Printed by J. Wright, for Lawton Gilliver at Homer’s Head in Fleetstreet, 1734, pp. 21-2; and Alexander Pope, The Works of Alexander Pope, Esq;, 6 vols, vol. 2 (printed for L. Gilliver, 1735), ‘The Last Edition Corrected, with Explanatory Notes and Additions never before printed’, p. 21.
CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following citation:
Rictor Norton (Ed.), "Pope's Caricature of Lord Hervey, 1735",
Homosexuality in Eighteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook, 12 April 2003, updated 16 June 2005