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He that is pleased with himself easily ima-1 Walsh, a name yet preserved among the gines that he shall please others. Sir William minor poets, was one of his first encouragers, Trumbull, who had been ambassador at Con- His regard was gained by the Pastorals, and stantinople, and secretary of state, when he from him Pope received the counsel by which he retired from business, fixed his residence in the seems to have regulated his studies. Walsh neighbourhood of Binfield. Pope, not yet six- advised him to correctness, which, as he told teen, was introduced to the statesman of sixty, him, the English poets had hitherto neglected, and so distinguished himself, that their inter- and which therefore was left to him as a basis of views ended in friendship and correspondence. fame: and, being delighted with rural poems, Pope was, through his whole life, ambitious of recommended to him to write a pastoral comedy, splendid acquaintance; and he seems to have like those which are read so eagerly in Italy; a wanted neither diligence nor success in attract- design which Pope probably did not approve, as ing the notice of the great ; for, from his first be did not follow it. entrance into the world, and his entrance was Pope had now declared himself a poet; and, very early, he was admitted to familiarity with thinking himself entitled to poetical conversa. those whose rank or station made them most tion, began at seventeen to frequent Will's, a conspicuous.
coffee-house on the north side of Russell-street From the age of sixteen the life of Pope, as in Covent-garden, where the wits of that time an author, may be properly computed. He now used to assemble, and where Dryden had, when wrote his Pastorals, which were shown to the he lived, been accustomed to preside. poets and critics of that time : as they well de During this period of his life he was indefaserved, they were read with admiration, and tigably diligent and insatiably curious ; wanting many praises were bestowed upon them and health for violent and money for expensive upon the Preface, which is both elegant and pleasures; and having excited in himself very learned in a high degree; they were, however, strong desires of intellectual eminence, he spent not published till five years afterwards. much of his time over his books; but he read
Cowley, Milton, and Pope, are distinguished only to store his mind with facts and images, among the English poets by the early exertion of seizing all that his authors presented with undistheir powers, but the works of Cowley alone tinguishable voracity, and with an appetite for were published in his childhood, and therefore knowledge too eager to be nice. In a mind of him only can it be certain that his puerile like his, however, all the faculties were at once performances received no improvement from his involuntarily improving. Judgment is forced maturer studies.
upon us by experience. He that reads many At this time began his acquaintance with books must compare one opinion or one style Wycherley, a man who seems to have had with another; and, when he compares, must among his contemporaries his full share of repu- necessarily distinguish, reject, and prefer. But tation, to have been esteemed without virtue, the account given by himself of his studies was, and caressed without good humour. Pope was that from fourteen to twenty he read only for proud of his notice; Wycherley wrote verses amusement, from twenty to twenty-seven for in his praise, which he was charged by Dennis improvement and instruction; that in the first with writing to himself, and they agreed for part of this time he desired only to know, and a while to flatter one another. It is pleasant to in the second he endeavoured to judge. remark how soon Pope learned the cant of an The Pastorals, which had been for some time author, and began to treat critics with contempt, handed about among poets and critics, were at though he had yet suffered nothing from them. last printed (1709) in Tonson's “ Miscellany,"
But the fondness of Wycherley was too vio- in a volume which began with the Pastorals of lent to last. His esteem of Pope was such, that Philips and ended with those of Pope. he submitted some poems to his revision; and The same year was written the “Essay on when Pope, perhaps proud of such confidence, Criticism ;” a work which displays such extent was sufficiently bold in his criticisms and liberal of comprehension, such nicely of distinotion, in his alterations, the old scribbler was angry to such acquaintance with mankind, and such see his pages defaced, and felt more pain from knowledge both of ancient and modern learn. the detection, than content from the amendment | ing, as are not often attained by the maturest of his faults. They parted; but Pope always age and longest experience. It was published considered him with kindness, and visited him a about two years afterwards ; and, being praised little time before he died.
by Addison in “The Spectator"* with sufficient Another of his early correspondents was Mr. liberality, met with so much favour as enraged Cromwell, of whom I have learned nothing par- Dennis, “who,” he says, “ found himself atticular but that he used to ride a hunting in a tacked, without any manner of provocation on tiewig. He was fond, and perhaps vain, of his side, and attacked in his person, instead of amusing himself with poetry and criticism; and his writings, by one who was wholly a stranger sometimes sent his performances to Pope, who to him, at a time when all the world knew he did not forbear such remarks as were now and was persecuted by fortune; and not only saw then unwelcome. Pope, in his turn, put the that this was attempted in a clandestine manner, juvenile version of “Statius” into his hands for with the utmost falsehood and calumny, but correction.
found that all this was done by a little affected Their correspondence afforded the public its hypocrite, who had nothing in his mouth at the first knowledge of Pope's epistolary powers; for same time but truth, candour, friendship, goodhis Letters were given by Cromwell to one Mrs. nature, humanity, and magnanimity.”. Thomas; and she many years afterwards sold them to Curll, who inserted them in a volume of displeased ai one pasaage, in which Addison censure.
• No. 253. But, according to Dr. Warton, Pope war his Miscellanies
che admission of some strokes of il-nature.".C.
How the attack was clandestine is not easily | take into his company, as a double foil to his perceived, nor how his person is depreciated; person and capacity. Inquire between Sunbut he seems to have known something of ninghill and Oakenham, for a young, short, Pope's character, in whom may be discovered squab gentleman, the very bow of the god of an appetite to talk too frequently of his own love, and tell me whether he be a proper author virtues.
to make personal reflections? He may extol The pamphlet is such as rage might be ex- the ancients, but he has reason to thank the pected to dictate. He supposes himself to be gods that he was born a modern; for had he asked two questions; whether the Essay will been born of Grecian parents, and his father succeed, and who or what is the author. consequently had by law had the absolute dis
Its success he admits to be secured by the posal of him, his life had been no longer than false opinions then prevalent; the author he that of one of his poems, the life of half a day. concludes to be “ young and raw."
Let the person of a gentleman of his parts be “First, because he discovers a sufficiency be- never so contemptible, his inward man is ten yond his little ability, and hath rashly under- times more ridiculous ; it being impossible that taken a task infinitely above his force. Secondly, his outward form, though it be that of downwhile this little author struts, and affects the right monkey, should differ so much from hudictatorian air, he plainly shows, that at the man shape, as his unthinking immaterial part same time he is under the rod; and, while he does from human understanding.” Thus began pretends to give laws to others, is a pedantic the hostility between Pope and Dennis, which, slave to authority and opinion. Thirdly, he though it was suspended for a short time, never hath, like schoolboys, borrowed both from was appeased. Pope seems, at first, to have living and dead. Fourthly, he knows not his attacked him wantonly; but, though he always own mind, and frequently contradicts himself. professed to despise him, he discovers, by menFifthly, he is almost perpetually in the wrong." tioning him very often, that he felt his force or
All these positions he attempts to prove by his venom. quotations and remarks; but his desire to do Of this essay, Pope declared, that he did not mischief is greater than his power. He has, expect the sale to be quick, because “not one however, justly criticised some passages in these gentleman in sixty, even of liberal ėducation, lines:
could understand it.” The gentlemen and the
education of that time seem to have been of a There are whom heav'n has bless'd with store of wit, Yet want as much again to manage it ;
lower character than they are of this. He For Wit and Judgment ever are at strife
mentioned a thousand copies as a numerous
impression. It is apparent that wit has two meanings, and
Dennis was not his only censurer: the zealthat what is wanted, though called wit, is truly ous papists thought the monks treated with too judgment. So far Dennis is undoubtedly right: much contempt, and Erasmus too studiously but not content with argument, he will have a little mirth, and triumphs over the first couplet much regard.
praised; but to these objections he had not in terms too elegant to be forgotten. “ By the
The Essay has been translated into French by way, what rare numbers are here! Would not Hamilton, author of the “Comte de Grammont,“ one swear that this youngster had espoused some whose version was never printed, by Robotham, antiquated muse, who had sued out a divorce on secretary to the King for Hanover, and by Resaccount of impotence from some superannuated nel; and commented by Dr. Warburton, who sinner; and, having been poxed' by her former has discovered in it such order and connexion spouse, has got the gout in her decrepit age as was not perceived by Addison, nor, as is said, which makes her hobble so damnably?" This intended by the author. was the man who would reform a nation sink
Almost every poem consisting of precepts is ing into barbarity. In another place Pope himself allowed that of the paragraphs may change places with no
so far arbitrary and immethodical, that many Dennis had detected one of those blunders which apparent inconvenience ; for of two or more po, are called “ bulls." The first edition had this sitions depending upon some remote and general line :
principle, there is seldom any cogent reason why What is thig wit Where wanted, scorn'd; and envied where acquired ? in which they stand, whatever it be, a little in
one should precede the other. But for the order “How,” says the critic, “ can wit be scorned genuity may easily give a reason. " It is poswhere it is not? Is not this a figure frequently sible," says Hooker, " that by long circumducemployed in Hibernian land? The person that tion, from any one truth all truth may be inwants this wit may indeed be scorned, but the ferred.” Of all homogeneous truths, at least of scorn shows the honour which the contemner all truths respecting the same general end, in has for wit.” Of this remark Pope made the whatever series they may be produced, a conproper use, by correcting the passage.
catenation by intermediate ideas may be formed, I have preserved, I think, all that is reason- such as, when it is once shown, shall appear na abie in Dennis's Criticism; it remains that jus- tural ; but if this order be reversed, another tice be done to his delicacy. “For his ac- mode of connexion equally specious may be quaintance (says Dennis) he names Mr. Walsh, found or made. Aristotle is praised for naming who had by no means the qualification which Fortitude first of the cardinal virtues, as that this author reckons absolutely necessary to a without which no other virtue can steadily be critic, it being very certain that he was, like practised; but he might, with equal propriety, this Essayer, a very indifferent poet ; he loved have placed Prudence and Justice before it, since to be well dressed; and I remember a little without Prudence, Fortitude is mad; without young gentleman whom Mr. Walsh used to Justice it is mischievous.
As the end of method is perspicuity, that might bring both the parties to a better temper. series is sufficiently regular that avoids obscu- In compliance with Caryl's request, though his rity; and where there is no obscurity, it will name was for a long time marked only by the not be difficult to discover method.
first and last letters, C-1, a poem of two cantos In “ The Spectator" was published the Mes was written, (1711,) as is said, in a fortnight, siah, which he first submitted to the perusal of and sent to the offended lady, who liked it well Steele, and corrected in compliance with his cri- enough to show it; and, with the usual process ticisms.
of literary transactions, the author, dreading a It is reasonable to infer, from his Letters, that surreptitious edition, was forced to publish it. the “ Verses on the Unfortunate Lady,” were The event is said to have been such as was written about the time when his Essay was pub- desired, the pacification and diversion of all to lished. The lady's name and adventures I have whom it related, except Sir George Brown, who sought with fruitless inquiry.*
complained with some bitterness, that, in the I can therefore tell no more than I have character of Sir Plume, he was made to talk learned from Mr. Ruffhead, who writes with the nonsense. Whether all this be true I have confidence of one who could trust his informa- some doubt; for at Paris, a few years ago, a tion. She was a woman of eminent rank and niece of Mrs. Fermor, who presided in an Englarge fortune, the ward of an uncle, who, having lish convent, mentioned Pope's work with very given her a proper education, expected like other little gratitude, rather as an insult than an guardians that she should make at least an equal honour; and she may be supposed to have inmatch ; and such he proposed to her, but found herited ihe opinion of her family. it rejected in favour of a young gentleman of At its first appearance it was termed by Addiinferior condition.
son merum sal. Pope, however, saw that it was Having discovered the correspondence be- capable of improvement; and, having luckily tween the two lovers, and finding the young contrived to borrow his machinery from the lady determined to abide by her own choice, he Rosicrucians, imparted the scheme with which supposed that separation might do what can his head was teeming to Addison, who told him rarely be done by arguments, and sent her into that his work as it stood, was “a delicious little a foreign country, where she was obliged to con. thing," and gave him no encouragement to reverse only with those from whom her uncle had touch it. nothing to fear.
This has been too hastily considered as an Her lover took care to repeat his vows; but instance of Addison's jealousy; for, as he could his letters were intercepted and carried to her not guess the conduct of the new design, or the guardian, who directed her to be watched with possibilities of pleasure comprised in a fiction of still greater vigilance, till of this restraint she which there had been no examples, he might very grew so impatient, that she bribed a woman reasonably and kindly persuade the author to servant to procure her a sword, which she di acquiesce in his own prosperity, and forbear an rected to her heart.
attempt which he considered as an unnecessary From this account, given with evident inten- hazard. tion to raise the lady's character, it does not ap
Addison's counsel was happily rejected. Pope pear that she had any claim to praise, nor much foresaw the future efflorescence of imagery then to compassion. She seems to have been impa- budding in his mind, and resolved to spare no tient, violent, and ungovernable. Her uncle's art or industry of cultivation. The soft luxupower could not have lasted long; the hour of riance of his fancy was already shooting, and all liberty and choice would have come in time. the gay varieties of diction were ready at his hand But her desires were too hot for delay, and she to colour and embellish it. liked self-murder better than suspense.
His attempt was justified by its success. “The Nor is it discovered that the uncle, whoever Rape of the Lock” stands forward, in the classes he was, is with much justice delivered to pos- of literature, as the most exquisite example of terity as “a false Guardian ;” he seems to have ludicrous poetry. Berkeley congratulated him done only that for which a guardian is appointed; upon the display of powers more truly poetical he endeavoured to direct his niece till she should than he had shown before: with elegance of be able to direct herself. Poetry has not often description, and justness of precepts, he had now been worse employed than in dignifying the exhibited boundless fertility of invention. amorous fury of a raving girl.
He always considered the intermixture of the Not long after, he wrote “ The Rape of the machinery with the action as his most successful Lock,” the most airy, the most ingenious, and exertion of poetical art. He indeed could never the most delightful of all his compositions, occa- afterwards produce any thing of such unex. sioned by a frolic of gallantry, rather too fami- ampled excellence. Those performances which liar, in which Lord Petre cut off a lock of Mrs. strike with wonder are combinations of skilful Arabella Fermor's hair. This, whether stealth genius with happy casualty ; and it is not likely or violence, was so much resented, that the com- that any felicity like the discovery of a new race merce of the two families, before very friendly, of preternatural agents should happen twice to was interrupted. Mr. Caryl, a gentleman who, the same man. being secretary to King James's queen, had Of this poem the author was, I think, allowed followed his inistress into France, and who, to enjoy the praise for a long time without disbeing the author of " Sir Solomon Single," a turbance. Many years afterwards, Dennis pubcomedy, and some translations, was entitled to lished some remarks upon it, with very little force, the notice of a wit, solicited Pope to endeavour and with no effect; for the opinion of the public a reconciliation by a ludierous poem, which was already settled, and it was no longer at the
mercy of criticism. + See Gent. Mag, vol. li. p. 314.-N.
About this time he published “ The Temple
of Fame," which, as he tells Steele in their cor- is so ingeniously dissembled, and the feeble lines respondence, he had written two years before ; of Philips so skilfully preferred, that Steele, be. that is, when he was only twenty-two years old, ing deceived, was unwilling to print the paper, an early time of life for so much learning and so lest Pope should be offended. Addison immemuch observation as that work exhibits. diately saw the writer's design; and, as it seems,
On this poem Dennis afterwards published had malice enough to conceal his discovery, and some remarks, of which the most reasonable is, to permit a publication which, by making his that some of the lines represent Motion as exhi- friend Philips ridiculous, made him for ever an bited by Sculpture.
enemy to Pope. Of the epistle from “Eloisa to Abelard,” I It appears that about this time Pope had a do not know the date. His first inclination to strong inclination to unite the art of painting attempt a composition of that tender kind arose, with that of poetry, and put himself under the as Mr. Savage told me, from his perusal of tuition of Jervas. He was near-sighted, and Prior's “Nutbrown Maid.” How much he has therefore not formed by nature for a painter; surpassed Prior's work it is not necessary to he tried, however, how far he could advance, mention, when perhaps it may be said with jus- and sometimes persuaded his friends to sit. A tice, that he has excelled every composition of picture of Betterton, supposed to be drawn by the same kind. The mixture of religious hope him, was in the possession of Lord Mansfield : * and resignation gives an elevation and dignity to if this was taken from the life, he must have bedisappointed love which images merely natural gun to paint earlier ; for Betterton was now cannot bestow. The gloom of a convent strikes dead. Pope's ambition of this new art produced the imagination with far greater force than the some encomiastic verses to Jervas, which cersolitude of a grove.
tainly show his power as a poet; but I have been This piece was, however, not much his favour- told that they betray his ignorance of painting. ite in his latter years, though I never heard upon He appears to have regarded Betterton with what principle he slighted it.
kindness and esteem; and after his death pubIn the next year (1713) he published “Wind- lished, under his name, a version into modera sor Forest ;" of which part was, as he relates, English of Chaucer's Prologues, and one of his written at sixteen, about the same time as his Tales, which, as was related by Mr. Harte, were Pastorals, and the latter part was added after- believed to have been the performance of Pope wards:
where the addition begins, we are not himself by Fenton, who made him a gay offer of told. The lines relating to the peace confess five pounds, if he would show them in the hand their own date. It is dedicated to Lord Lans- of Betterton. downe, who was then high in reputation and The next year (1713) produced a bolder atinfluence among the tories; and it is said, that tempt, by which profit was sought as well as the conclusion of the poem gave great pain to praise. The poems which he had hitherto writAddison, both as a poet and a politician. Re- ten, however they might have diffused his name, ports like this are always spread with boldness had made very little addition to his fortune. very disproportionate to their evidence. Why The allowance which his father made him, should Addison receive any particular disturb- though, proportioned to what he had, it might ance from the last lines of " Windsor Forest ?" be liberal, could not be large; his religion binIf contrariety of opinion could poison a politician, dered him from the occupation of any civil em. he would not live a day; and, as a poet, he must ployment; and he complained that he wanted have felt Pope's force of genius much more from even money to buy books.f many other parts of his works.
He therefore resolved to try how far the favour The pain that Addison might feel it is not of the public extended, by soliciting a subscriplikely that he would confess; and it is certain tion to a version of the “ Iliad,” with large notes. that he so well suppressed his discontent, that To print by subscription was, for some time, Pope now thought himself his favourite; for, a practice peculiar to the English. The first having been consulted in the revisal of “Cato, considerable work for which this expedient was he introduced it by a Prologue; and, when Den-employed is said to have been Dryden's “Virnis published his Remarks, undertook, not indeed gil;" and it had been tried again with success to vindicate, but to revenge his friend, by a “Nar- when the “Tatlers” were collected into volumes. rative of the Frenzy of John Dennis."
There was reason to believe that Pope's atThere is reason to believe that Addison gave tempt would be successful. He was in the full no encouragement to this disingenuous hostility; bloom of reputation, and was personally known for, says Pope, in a letter to him, “indeed your to almost all whom dignity of employment, or opinion, that it is entirely to be neglected, would splendour of reputation, had made eminent; he be my own in my own case; but I felt more conversed indifferently with both parties, and warmth here than I did when I first saw his book never disturbed the public with his political against myself, (though indeed in two minutes it opinions; and it might be naturally expected, made me heartily merry.") Addison was not a as each faction then boasted its literary zeal, man on whom such cant of sensibility could that the great men, who on other occasions make much impression. He left the pamphlet practised all the violence of opposition, would to itself, having disowned it to Dennis, and per- emulate each other in their encouragement of a haps did not think Pope to have deserved much poet who had delighted all, and by whom none by his officiousness.
had been offended. This year was printed in “The Guardian” the ironical comparison between the Pastorals * It is still at Caen Wood.-N. | Spence. of Philips and Pope; a composition of artifice,
| Earlier than this, viz. in 1688, Milion's “Paradise criticism, and literature, to which nothing equal tion, in folio, under the patronage of Mr. (afterwards
had been published wi great success by subscripwill easily be found. The superiority of Pope Lord) Somers.-R.
With those hopes he offered an English “Iliad” | ed, as he said, “that somebody would hang to subscribers, in six volumes in quarto, for six him."* guineas; a sum, according to the value of money This misery, however, was not of long con. at that time, by no means inconsiderable, and tinuance ; he grew by degrees more acquainted greater than I believe to have been ever asked with Homer's images and expressions, and before. His proposal, however, was very favour- practice increased his facility of versification.ably received; and the patrons of literature were in a short time he represents himself as debusy to recommend his undertaking and promote spatching regularly fifty verses a day, which his interest. Lord Oxford, indeed, lamented that would show him by an easy computation the such a genius should be wasted upon a work termination of his labour. not original; but proposed no means by which His own diffidence was not his only vexation. he might live without it. Addison recommended He that asks a subscription soon finds that he caution and moderation, and advised him not to has enemies. All who do not encourage him be content with the praise of half the nation, defame him. He that wants money will rawhen he might be universally favoured. ther be thought angry than poor; and he that
The greatness of the design, the popularity wishes to save his money conceals his avarice by of the author, and the attention of the literary his malice. Addison had hinted his suspicion world, naturally raised such expectations of the that Pope was too much a tory; and some of the future sale, that the booksellers made their offers tories suspected bis principles because he had with great eagerness; but the highest bidder contributed to “The Guardian,” which was carwas Bernard Lintot, who became proprietor, on ried on by Steele. condition of supplying at his own expense all To those who censured his politics were the copies which were to be delivered to sub- added enemies yet more dangerous, who called scribers or presented to friends, and paying two in question his knowledge of Greek, and his hundred pounds for every volume.
qualifications for a translator of Homer. To Of the quartos it was, I believe, stipulated these he made no public opposition; but in one that none should be printed but for the author, of his letters escapes from them as well as he that the subscription might not be depreciated; can. At an age like his, for he was not more but Lintot impressed the small pages upon a than twenty-five, with an irregular education, small folio, and paper perhaps a little thinner; and a course of life of which much seems to have and sold exactly at half the price, for half a passed in conversation, it is not very likely that guinea each volume, books so little inferior to he overflowed with Greek. But when he felt the quartos, that by a fraud of trade, those folios, himself deficient he sought assistance; and what being afterwards shortened by cutting away the man of learning would refuse to help him ?top and bottom, were sold as copies printed for Minute inquiries into the force of words are less the subscribers.
necessary in translating Homer than other poets, Lintot printed two hundred and fifty on royal because his positions are general, and his reprepaper in folio, for two guineas a volume ; of sentations natural, with very little dependence the small folio, having printed seventeen hun on local or temporary customs, on those changedred and fifty copies of the first volume, he re-able scenes of artificial life, which, by mingling duced the number in the other volumes to a originally with accidental notions, and crowding thousand.
the mind with images which time effaces, proIt is unpleasant to relate that the bookseller, duces ambiguity in diction and obscurity in after all his hopes and all his liberality, was, by books. To this open display of unadulterated a very unjust and illegal action, defrauded of his nature it must be ascribed, that Homer has fewer profit. An edition of the English “Iliad” was passages of doubtful meaning than any other printed in Holland, in duodecimo, and imported poet either in the learned or in modern lanclandestinely for the gratification of those who Iguages. I have read of a man, who being, by were impatient to read what they could not yet his ignorance of Greek, compelled to gratify his afford to buy. This fraud could only be coún- curiosity with the Latin printed on the opposite teracted by an edition equally cheap and more page, declared, that from the rude simplicity of commodious; and Lintot was compelled to con- the lines literally rendered, he formed nobler tract his folio at once into a duodecimo, and lose ideas of the Homeric majesty, than from the the advantage of an intermediate gradation. laboured elegance of polished versions. The notes, which in the Dutch copies were Those literal translations were always at placed at the end of each book, as they had been hand, and from them he could easily obtain his in the large volumes, were now subjoined to the author's sense with sufficient certainty; and text in the same page, and are therefore more among the readers of Homer the number is very easily consulted. Of this edition two thousand small of those who find much in the Greek more five hundred were first printed, and five thousand than in the Latin, except the music of the numa few weeks afterwards; but indeed great num- bers. bers were necessary to produce considerable If more help was wanting, he had the poetical profit.
translation of Eobanus Hessus, an unwearied Pope, having now emitted his proposals, and writer of Latin verses; he had the French Hoengaged not only his own reputation, but in some mers of La Valterie and Dacier, and the Engdegree that of his friends who patronized his lish of Chapman, Hobbes, and Ogilby. With subscription, began to be frighted at his own Chapman, whose work, though now totally neundertaking; and finding himself at first em- glected, seems to have been popular almost to the barrassed with difficulties, which retarded and end of the last century, he had very, frequent oppressed him, he was for a time timorous and consultations, and perhaps never translated any uneasy, had his nights disturbed by dreams of long journies through unknown ways, and wish