Page images
[ocr errors]


In his church he restored the practice of nerosity, it should be remeinbered that he was weekly communion, and distributed the sacra- never rich. The revenue of his deanery was not mental elements in the most solemn and devout much more than seven hundred a year. manner with his own hand. He came to church His beneficence was not graced with tenderevery morning, preached commonly in his turn, ness or civility ; he relieved without pity, and and attended the evening anthem, that it might assisted without kindness; so that those who not be negligently performed.

were fed by him could hardly love him. He read the service “rather with a strong, He made a rule to himself to give but one nervous voice, than in a graceful manner; his piece at a time, and therefore always stored his voice was sharp and high-toned, rather than pocket with coins of different value. harmonious.”

Whatever he did, he seemed willing to do in • He entered upon the clerical state with hope a manner peculiar to himself, without sufficiently to excel in preaching ; but complained, that from considering that singularity, as it implies à conthe time of his political controversies," he could tempt of the general practice, is a kind of defi. only preach pamphlets." This censure of him ance which justly provokes the hostility of sell

, if judgment be made from those sermons ridicule; he, therefore, who indulges peculiar which have been printed, was unreasonably habits is worse than others, if he be not better.

Of his humour, a story told by Pope* may • The suspicions of his irreligion proceeded in afford a specimen. a great measure froin his dread of hypocrisy; “Dr. Swift has an odd blunt way, that is misinstead of wishing to seem better, he delighted taken by strangers for ill-nature. Tis so odd, in seeming worse than he was. ' He went in that there is no describing it but by facts. I'lí London to early prayers, lest he should be seen tell you one that first comes into my head. One at church : he read prayers to his servants every evening, Gay and I went to see him: you know morning with such dexterous secrecy, that Dr. how intimately we were all acquainted. On our Delany was six months in his house before he coming in, Heydey, gentlemen, (says the Docs knew it. He was not only careful to hide the tor,' what's the meaning of this visit? How good which he did, but willingly incurred the came you to leave the great lords that you are so suspicion of evil which he did not. He forgot fond of, to come hither to see a poor Dean ?? what himself had formerly asserted, that hypo-Because we would rather see you than any of crisy is less mischievous than open impiety. Dr. them.'-'Ay, any one that did not know so well Delany, with all his zeal for his honour, has as I do might believe you. But since you are justly condemned this part of his character. come, I must get some supper for you, I sup

The person of Swift had not many recoinmen- pose. No, Doctor, we have supped already dations. He had a kind of muddy complexion, Supped already! that's impossible ! why tis which, though he washed himself with oriental not eight o'clock yet. That's very strange; but scrupulosity, did not look clear. He had a if you had not supped, I must have got something countenance sour and severe, which he seldom for you.-Let me see, what should I have had softened by any appoarance of gayety. He A couple of lobsters ; ay, that would have done stubbornly resisted any tendency to laughter, very well; two shillingstarts, a shilling; but

To his domestics he was naturally rough; and you will drink a glass of wine with me, though a man of rigorous temper, with that vigilance of you supped so much before your usual time only minute attention which his works discover, must to spare my pocket ??--'No, we had rather have been a master that few could bear. That talk with you than drink with you. But if you he was disposed to do his servants good on im- had supped with me, as in all reason you ought portant occasions, is no great mitigation ; bene- to have done, you must then have drank with faction can be but rare, and tyrannic peevishness me.-A bottle of wine, two shillingstwo and is perpetual. He did not spare the servants of two is four, and one is five ; just two and six. others. Once when he dined alone with the pence a-piece. There, Pope, there's half-aEarl of Orrery, he said of one that waited in the crown for you, and there's another for you, Sir; room, "That man has, since we sat at table, for I won't save any thing by you I am detercommitted fifteen faults." What the faults mined.'_ This was all said and done with his were, Lord Orrery, from whom I heard the story, usual seriousness on such occasions; and in spite had not been attentivo enough to discover. My of every thing we could say to the contrary, he number may perhaps not be exact.

actually obliged us to take the money." In his economy he practised a peculiar and In the intercourse of familiar life, he indulged offensive parsimony, without disguise or apology. his disposition to petulance and sarcasm, and The practice of saving being once necessary, be thought himself injured if the licentiousness of came habitual, and grew first ridiculous, and his raillery, the freedom of his censures, or the at last detestable. But his avarice, though it petulance of his frolics, was resented or re might exclude pleasure, was never suffered to pressed. He predominated over his companions encroach upon his virtue. He was frugal by in- with very high ascendency, and probably would clination, but liberal by principle; and if the bear none over whom he could not predominate. purpose to which he destined his little accumu- To give him advice, was, in the style of his lations be remembered, with his distribution of friend Delany, “to venture to speak to him." occasional charity, it will perhaps appear, that This customary superiority soon grew too delid he only liked one mode of expense better than cate for truth; and Swift, with all his penetraz another, and saved merely that he might have tion, allowed himself to be delighted with low something to give. He did not grow rich by in- Aattery: juring his successors, but left both Laracor and On all common occasions, he habitually affects the deanery more valuable than he found them. With all this talk of his covetousness and ge

Spence, ..

a style of arrogance, and dictates rather than with disgust. The ideas of pleasure, even when persuades. This authoritative and magisterial criminal, may solicit the imagination; but what language he expected to be received as his per has disease, deformity, and filth, upon which the culiar mode of jocularity; but he apparently thoughts can be allured to dwell? Delany is Aattered his own arrogance by an assumed im- willing to think that Swift's mind was not much periousness, in which he was ironical only to tainted with this gross corruption before his long the resentful, and to the submissive sufficiently visit to Pope. He does not consider how he deserious.

grades his hero, by making him at fifty-nine the He told stories with great felicity, and de- pupil of turpitude, and liable to the malignant inlighted in doing what he knew himself to do well; Auence of an ascendant mind. But the truth is, he was therefore captivated by the respectful si- that Gulliver had described his Yahoos before lence of a steady listener, and told the same tales the visit; and he that had formed those images too often.

had nothing filthy to learn. : He did not, however, claim the right of talk I have here given the character of Swift as he ing alone; for it was his rule, when he had exhibits himself to my perception ; but now let spoken a minute, to give room by a pause for another be heard who knew him better. Dr. any other speaker. Of time, on all occasions, Delany, after long acquaintance, describes him he was an exact computer, and knew the mi- to Lord Orrery in these terms: nutes required to every common operation. “My Lord, when you consider Swift's singu

It may be justly supposed that there was in lar, peculiar, and most variegated vein of wit, alhis conversation what appears so frequently in ways intended rightly, although not always so his letters, an affectation of familiarity with the rightly directed; delightful in many instances, great, and ambition of momentary equality and salutary even where it is most offensive; sought and enjoyed by the neglect of those cere- when you consider his strict truth, his fortitude monies which custom has established as the bar- in resisting oppression and arbitrary power; his riers between one order of society and another. fidelity in friendship; his sincere love and zeal This transgression of regularity was by himself for religion ; his uprightness in making right reand his admirers termed greatness of soul. But solutions, and his steadiness in adhering to a great mind disdains to hold any thing by cour them: his care of his church, its choir, its ecotesy, and therefore never usurps what a lawful nomy, and its income; his attention to all those claimant may take away. He that encroaches that preached in his cathedral, in order to their on another's dignity puts himself in bis power; amendment in pronunciation and style; as also he is either repelled with helpless indignity or his remarkable attention to the interest of his endured by clemency and condescension. successors, preferably to his own present emo

Of Swift's general habits of thinking, if his luments; his invincible patriotism, even to a letters can be supposed to afford any evidence, country which he did not love; his very various, he was not a man to be either loved or envied well-devised, well-judged, and extensive chariHe seems to have wasted life in discontent, by ties, throughout his life ; and his whole fortune the rage of neglected pride and the languishment (to say nothing of his wife's) conveyed to the of unsatisfied desire. He is querulous and fas- same Christian purposes at his death; charities, tidious, arrogant and malignant; he scarcely from which he could enjoy no honour, advanspeaks of himself but with indignant lamenta- tage, or satisfaction, of any kind in this world : tions, or of others but with insolent superiority when you consider his ironical and humorous, when he is gay, and with angry contempt when as well as his serious schemes for the promotion he is gloomy. From the letters that passed be of true religion and virtue ; bis success in solitween him and Pope it might be inferred, that citing for the first-fruits and twentieths, to the they, with Arbuthnot and Gay, had engrossed unspeakable benefit of the established church of all the understanding and virtue of mankind; Ireland; and his felicity (to rate it no higher) in that their merits filled the world, or that there giving occasion to the building of fifty new was no hope of more. They show the age in- churches in Londonvolved in darkness, and shade the picture with “All this considered, the character of his life sullen emulation.

will appear like that of his writings: they will When the Queen's death drove him into Ire- both bear to be re-considered and re-examined land, he might be allowed to regret for a time with the utmost attention, and always discover the interception of his views, the extinction of new beauties and excellences upon every exahis hopes, and his ejection from gay scenes, im- mination. portant employment, and splendid friendships ; “They will bear to be considered as the sun, but when time had enabled reason to prevail in which the brightness will hide the blemishes; over vexation, the complaints which at first and whenever petulant ignorance, pride, malice, were natural became ridiculous because they malignity, or envy, interposes to cloud or sullý were useless. But querulousness was now grown his fame, I take upon me to pronounce, that the habitual, and he cried out when he probably had eclipse will not last long. ceased to feel. His reiterated wailings per “To conclude-No man ever deserved better suaded Bolingbroke that he was really willing of any country than Swift did of his; a steady, to quit his deanery for an English parish; and persevering, inflexible friend; a wise, a watchBolingbroke procured an exchange, which was ful, and a faithful counsellor; under many serejected ; and Swift still retained the pleasure of vere trials and bitter persecutions, to the mani. complaining.

fest hazard both of his liberty and fortune. The greatest difficulty that occurs, in analys “He lived a blessing, he died a benefactor, ing his character, is to discover by what depra- and his name will ever live an honour to Irevity of intellect he took delight in revolving ideas land." from which almost every other mind shrinks! In the poetical works of Dr. Swift there is not

much upon which the critic can exercise his would be to tell the reader what he knows alpowers. They are often humorous, almost al- ready, and to find faults of which the author ways light, and have the qualities which recom- could not be ignorant, who certainly wrote often mend such compositions, easiness and gayety. not to his judgment, but his humour. They are, for the most part, what their author It was said, in a preface to one of the Irish intended. The diction is correct, the numbers editions, that Swift had never been known to are smooth, and the rhymes exact. There sel- take a single thought from any writer, ancient dom occurs a hard-laboured expression or a re- or modern. This is not literally true; but perdundant epithet ; all his verses exemplify his own haps no writer can easily be found that has bordefinition of a good style; they consist of "pro- rowed so little, or that in all his excellences and per words in proper places.”

all his defects has so well maintained his claim To divide this collection into classes, and show to be considered as original. how some pieces are gross and some are trifling,


William BROOME was born in Cheshire, as Broome fell the second, sixth, eighth, eleventh, is said, of very mean parents. Of the place of twelfth, sixteenth, eighteenth, and twenty-third, his birth or the first part of his life, I have not together with the burden of writing all the notes. been able to gain any intelligence. He was edu As this translation is a very important event cated upon the foundation at Eton, and was cap- in poetical history, the reader has a right to tain of the school a whole year, without any va- know upon what grounds I establish my narracancy by which he might have obtained a scho- tion. That the version was not wholly Pope's larship at King's College: being by this delay, was always known; he had mentioned the assuch as is said to have happened very rarely, su- sistance of two friends in his proposals, and at perannuated, he was sent to St. John's College the end of the work some account is given by by the contributions of his friends, where he ob- Broome of their different parts, which however tained a small exhibition.

mentions only five books as written by the At this college he lived for some time in the coadjutors; the fourth and twentieth by Fensame chamber with the well-known Ford, by ton; the sixth, the eleventh, and the eighteenth, whom I have formerly heard him described as a by himself; though Pope, in an advertisement contracted scholar and a mere versifier, unac-prefixed afterwards to a new volume of his quainted with life and unskilful in conversation. works, claimed only twelve. A natural curiosity His addiction to metre was then such, that his after the real conduct of so great an undertak. companions familiarly called him Poet. When ing incited me once to inquire of Dr. Warburton, he had opportunities of mingling with mankind, who told me, in his warm language, that he he cleared himself, as Ford likewise owned, from thought the relation given in the note “a lie;". the great part of his scholastic rust.

but that he was not able to ascertain the several He appeared early in the world as a trans- shares. The intelligence which Dr. Warburton lator of the “Iliads” into prose, in conjunction could not afford me I obtained from Mr. Langton, with Ozell and Oldisworth. How the several to whom Mr. Spence had imparted it. parts were distributed is not known. This is The price at which Pope purchased this as the translation of which Ozell boasted as supe- sistance was three hundred pounds paid to Fenrior, in Toland's opinion, to that of Pope: it has ton, and five hundred to Broome, with as many long since vanished, and is now in no danger copies as he wanted for his friends, which from the critics.

amounted to one hundred more. The payment He was introduced to Mr. Pope, who was made to Fenton I know not but by hearsay ; then visiting Sir John Cotton at Madingley near Broome's is very distinctly told by Pope, in the Cambridge, and gained so much of his esteem, notes to the “Dunciad.” that he was employed, I believe, to make ex It is evident, that, according to Pope's own tracts from Eustathius for the notes to the trans- estimate, Broome was unkindly treated. If lation of the “Iliad;" and in the volumes of four books could merit three hundred pounds, poetry published by Lintot, commonly called eight and all the notes, equivalent at least to · Pope's Miscellanies,” many of his early pieces four, had certainly a right to more than six. were inserted.

Broome probably considered himself as inPore and Broome were to be yet more closely jured, and there was for some time more than connected. When the success of the “Iliad” coldness between him and his employer. He gave encouragement to a version of the “Odys- always spoke of Pope as too much a lover of sey,". Pope, weary of the toil, called Fenton money; and Pope pursued him with avowed and Broome to his assistance; and, taking only hostility; for he not only named him disrespecthalf the work upon himself, divided the other fully in the “ Dunciad,” but quoted him more half between his partners, giving four books to than once in the “Bathos," as a proficient in Fenton and sight to Broome. Fenton's books the “Art of Sinking ;” and in his enumeration I have enumerated in his life: to the lot of of the different kinds of poets distinguished for

the profound, he reckons Broome among "the sand elegant, His rhymes are sometimes un, parrots who repeat another's words in such a suitable; in his “Melancholy," he makes breath hoarse odd tone as makes them seem their own." rhyme to birth in one place, and to earth in I have been told that they were afterwards re- another. Those faults occur but seldom ; and conciled; but I am afraid their peace was-with- he had such power of words and numbers as out friendship.

fitted him for translation; but in his original He afterwards published a Miscellany of works, recollection seems to have been his busiPoems, which is inserted, with corrections, in ness more than invention. His imitations are the late compilation.

so apparent, that it is a part of his reader's emHe never rose to a very high dignity in the ployment to recall the verses of some former church. He was some time rector of Sturston poet. Sometimes he copies the most popular m Suffolk, where he married a wealthy widow ; writers, for he seems scarcely to endeavour at and afterwards, when the king visited Cam- concealment; and sometimes he picks up frag. bridge (1728) became doctor of laws. He was ments in obscure corners. His lines to Fenton, (in August 1728) presented by the crown to the Serene, the sting of pain thy thoughts beguile, rectory of Pulham in Norfolk, which he held And make afflictions objects of a smile, with Oakley Magna in Suffolk, given him by brought to my mind some lines on the death the Lord Cornwallis, to whom he was chaplain, of Queen Mary, written by Barnes, of whom who added the vicarage of Eye in Suffolk; he I should not have expected to find an imitator : then resigned Pulham, and retained the other two. But thou, o Muse! whose sweet nepenthean tonguo

Towards the close of his life he grew again Canst stinging plagues with easy thoughts beguile, poetical, and amused himself with translating Make pains and tortures objects of a smile. Odes of Anacreon, which he published in the

To detect his imitations were tedious and use“Gentleman's Magazine” under the name of Jess. What he takes he seldom makes worse ; Chester. He died at Bath, November 16,1745, and was whom Pope chose for an associate, and whose

and he cannot be justly thought a mean man buried in the Abbey Church.

co-operation was considered by Pope's enemies Of Broome, though it cannot be said that he as so important, that he was atiacked by Henley was a great poet, it would be unjust to deny with this ludicrous distich: that he was an excellent versifier ; his lines are

Pope came off clean with Homer; but they say smooth and sonorous, and his diction is select Broome went before, and kindly swept the way.


ALEXANDER Pope was born in London,* May, perhaps ended with his childhood. His voice, 22, 1688, of parents whose rank or station was when he was young, was so pleasing, that he never ascertained; we are informed that they was called in fondness “the little Nightingale." were of “gentle blood ;" that his father was of Being not sent early to school, he was taught a family of which the Earl of Downe was the to read by an aunt; and when he was seven or head; and that his mother was the daughter of eight years old became a lover of books. He William Turner, Esquire, of York, who had first learned to write by imitating printed books; likewise three sons, one of whom had the ho- a species of penmanship in which he retained nour of being killed, and the other of dying in great excellence through his whole life, though the service of Charles the First; the third was his ordinary hand was not elegant. made a general officer in Spain, from whom the When he was about eight, he was placed in sister inherited what sequestrations and for- Hampshire, under Taverner, a Romish priest, feitures had left in the family,

who, by a method very rarely practised, taught This, and this only, is told by Pope, who is him the Greek and Latin rudiments together. more willing, as I have heard observed, to show He was now first regularly initiated in poetry what his father was not, than what he was. by the perusal of " Ogilby's Homers and It is allowed that he grew rich by trade ; but “Sandys Ovid.” Ogilby's assistance he never whether in a shop or on the exchange, was ne- repaid with any praise; but of Sandys, he dever discovered till Mr. Tyres told, on the au-clared, in his notes to the “ Iliad,” that English thority of Mrs. Racket, that he was a linen- poetry owed much of its beauty to his transladraper in the Strand. Both parents were tion. Sandys very rarely atiempted original papists.

composition. Pope was from his birth of a constitution From the care of Taverner, under whom his tender and delicate; but is said to have shown proficiency was considerable, he was removed remarkable gentleness and sweetness of disposi- io a school at Twyford, near Winchester, and tion. The weakness of his body continued through his life;t but the mildness of his mind stays, as I have been assured by a water man at Twick

enham, who, in lifting him into his boat, bad often felt

them. His method of taking the air on the water was to In Lombard-street, according to Dr. Warton.-C. | This weakness was so greal, that he constantly wore glasses down.--AL

have a sedan chair in the boat, in which he sat with the

again to another school, about Hyde-park Cor- paid him, and foreseen the greatness of his ner; from which he used sometimes to stroll to young admirer ? the playhouse, and was so delighted with thea The earliest of Pope's productions is his “Ode trical exhibition, that he formed a kind of play on Solitude," written before he was twelve, in from “Ogilby's Iliad,” with some verses of his which there is nothing more than other forward own intermixed, which he persuaded his school boys have attained, and which is not equal to fellows to act, with the addition of his master's Cowley's performances at the same age. gardener, who personated Ajax.

His time was now wholly spent in reading At the two last schools he used to represent and writing: As he read the classics, he amused himself as having lost part of what Taverner himself with translating them; and at fourteen had taught him; and on his master at Twyford made a version of the first book of “The Thehe had already exercised his poetry in a lam- bais," which, with some revision, he afterwards poon. Yet under those masters he translated published. He must have been at this time, if more than a fourth part of the “Metamor- he had no help, a considerable proficient in the phoses.” If he kept the same proportion in his Latin tongue. other exercises, it cannot be thought that his loss By Dryden's Fables, which had then been not was great.

long published, and were much in the hands He tells of himself, in his poems, that “he of poetical readers, he was tempted to try his lisped in numbers ;” and used to say that he own skill in giving Chaucer a more fashionable could not remember the time when he began to appearance, and put “January and May,” and make verses. In the style of fiction it might the “Prologue of the Wife of Bath,” into modern have been said of him as of Pindar, that, when English. He translated likewise the epistle of he lay in his cradle, “the bees swarmed about Sappho to Phaon,” from Ovid, to complete his mouth.”

the version which was before imperfect ;-and About the time of the Revolution, his father, wrote some other small pieces, which he afterwho was undoubtedly disappointed by the sud- wards printed. den blast of popish prosperity, quitted his trade, He sometimes imitated the English poets, and and retired to Binfield in Windsor Forest, with professed to have written at fourteen his poem about twenty thousand pounds; for which, be- upon "Silence," after Rochester's “ Nothing." ing conscientiously determined not to entrust it He had now formed his versification, and the to the government, he found no better use than smoothness of his numbers surpassed his orithat of locking it up in a chest, and taking from ginal; but this is a small part of his praise; he it what his expenses required: and his life was discovers such acquaintance both with human long enough to consume a great part of it before life and public affairs, as is not easily conceived his son came to the inheritance.

to have been attainable by a boy of fourteen in To Binfield, Pope was called by his father Windsor Forest. when he was about twelve years old; and there Next year he was desirous of opening to himhe had, for a few months, the assistance of one self new sources of knowledge, by making himDeane, another priest, of whom he learned only self acquainted with modern languages; and to construe a little of " Tully's Offices.". How removed for a time to London, that he might Mr. Deane could spend, with a boy who had study French and Italian, which, as he desired translated so much of Ovid, some months over nothing more than to read them, were by diligent a small part of “Tully's Offices," it is now vain application soon despatched. Of Italian learnto inquire.

ing he does not appear to have ever made much Of a youth so successfully employed, and so use in his subsequent studies. conspicuously improved, a minute account must He then returned to Binfield, and delighted be naturally desired; but curiosity must be con- himself with his own poetry. He tried all styles tented with confused, imperfect, and sometimes and many subjects. "He wrote a comedy, a improbable intelligence. Pope, finding little tragedy, an epic poem, with panegyrics on all advantage from external help, resolved thence the princes of Europe; and, as he confesses, forward to direct himself, and at twelve formed “ thought himself the greatest genius that ever a plan of study, which he completed with little was." Self-confidence is the first requisite to other incitement than the desire of excellence. great undertakings. He, indeed, who forms

His primary and principal purpose was to be his opinion of himself in solitude without knowá poet, with which his father accidentally con- ing the powers of other men, is very liable to curred by proposing subjects, and obliging him error; but it was the felicity of Pope to rate. to correct his performances by many revisals ; himself at his real value. after which, the old gentleman, when he was Most of his puerile productions were, by his satisfied, would say, " these are good rhymes." maturer judgment, afterwards destroyed. “Al

In his perusal of the English poets he soon cander," the Epic poem, was burned by the perdistinguished the versification of Dryden, which suasion of Atterbury. The tragedy was founded he considered as the model to be studied, and on the legend of St. Genevieve. Of the comedy was impressed with such veneration for his there is no account. instructor, that he persuaded some friends to Concerning his studies it is related, that he take him to the coffee-house which Dryden fre- translated "Tully on Old Age;" and that be, quented, and pleased himself with having seen sides his books of poetry and criticism, he read him.

“Temple’s Essays” and “Locke on Human - Dryden died May 1, 1701, some days before Understanding." His reading, though his faPope was twelve ; so early must he therefore vourite authors are not known, appears to have have felt the power of harmony and the zeal of been sufficiently extensive and multifarious ; for genius. Who does not wish that Dryden could his early pieces show, with sufficient evidence, have known the value of the homage that was his knowledge of books.

« EelmineJätka »