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the art of obtaining the accumulated honour, things wrong, and left many things undone ; both of what he had published and of what he but let him not be defrauded of his due
praise. had suppressed.
He was the first that knew, at least the first that In this year his father died suddenly, in his told, by what helps the text might be improved. seventy-fifth year, having passed twenty-nine If he inspected the early editions negligently, he years in privacy. He is not known but by the taught others to be more accurate. In his preface character which his son has given him. If the he expanded with great skill and elegance the money with which he retired was all gotten by character which had been given of Shakspeare himself, he had traded very successfully in times by Dryden; and he drew the public attention when sudden riches were rarely attainable. upon his works which, though often mentioned,
The publication of the “Iliad” was at last had been little read. completed in 1720. The splendour and success Soon after the appearance of the “Iliad,” reof this work raised Pope many enemies, that en-solving not to let the general kindness cool, deavoured to depreciate his abilities. Burnet, he published proposals for a translation of the who was afterwards a judge of no mean reputa- Odyssey,”. in five volumes, for five guineas. tion, censured him in a piece called “Homer- He was willing, however, now to have assoides,” before it was published. Ducket likewise ciates in his labour, being either weary with toilendeavoured to make him ridiculous. Dennis ing upon another's thoughts, or having heard, as was the perpetual persecutor of all his studies. Ruffhead relates, that Fenton and Broome had But, whoever his critics were, their writings are already begun the work, and liking better to lost; and the names which are preserved are have them confederates than rivals. preserved in the “Dunciad."
In the patent, instead of saying that he had In this disastrous year (1720) of national in- translated” the “Odyssey,” as he had said of fatuation, when more riches than Peru can boast the “Iliad,” he says, that he had “undertaken" were expected from the South Sea, when the a translation; and in the proposals the subscripcontagion of avarice tainted every mind, and tion is said to be not solely for his own use, but even poets panted after wealth, Pope was seized for that of “two of his friends who have assisted with the universal passion, and ventured some him in this work.” of his money. The stock rose in its price; and In 1723, while he was engaged in this new for a while he thought himself the lord of thou- version, he appeared before the Lords at the me sands. But this dream of happiness did not morable trial of Bishop Atterbury, with whom last long; and he seems to have waked soon he had lived in great familiarity and frequent enough to get clear with the loss of what he once correspondence. Atterbury had honestly rethought himself to have won, and perhaps not commended to him the study of the popish conwholly of that.
troversy, in hope of his conversion; to which Next year he published some select poems of Pope answered in a manner that cannot much his friend Dr. Parnell, with a very elegant de recommend his principles or his judgment. In dication to the Earl of Oxford ; who, after all questions and projects of learning they agreed his struggles and dangers, then lived'in retire better. He was called at the trial to give an acment, still under the frown of a victorious fac- count of Atterbury's domestic life and private tion, who could take no pleasure in hearing his employment, that it might appear how little time praise.
he had left for plots. Pope had but few words to He gave the same year (1721) an edition of utter, and in those few he made several blunders. Shakspeare. His name was now of so much His letters to Atterbury express the utmost authority, that Tonson thought himself entitled, esteem, tenderness, and gratitude; “ perhaps," by annexing it, to demand a subscription of six says he, “it is not only in this world that I guineas for Shakspeare's plays in six quarto may have cause to remember the Bishop of Rovolumes: nor did his expectation much deceive chester.” At their last interview in the Tower, him; for, of seven hundred and fifty which he Atterbury presented him with a Bible. * printed, he dispersed a great number at the Of the Odyssey” Pope translated only twelve price proposed." The reputation of that edition books; the rest were the work of Broome and indeed sunk afterwards so low, that one hun- Fenton ; the notes were written wholly by dred and forty copies were sold at sixteen shil- Broome, who was not over-liberally rewarded. lings each.
The public was carefully kept ignorant of the On this undertaking, to which Pope was in several shares; and an account was subjoined duced by a reward of two hundred and seven at the conclusion which is now known not to teen pounds twelve shillings, he seems never to be true. have reflected afterwards without vexation; for The first copy of Pope's books, with those of Theobald, a man of heavy diligence, with very Fenton, are to be seen in the Museum. The parts slender powers, first, in a book called “Shak- of Pope are less interlined than the “Iliad," and speare Restored,” and then in a formal edition, the latter books of the “Iliad” less than the detected his deficiences with all the insolence of former. He grew dexterous by practice, and victory; and, as he was now high enough to be every sheet enabled him to write the next with feared and hated, Theobald had from others all more facility. The books of Fenton have very the help that could be supplied by the desire of few alterations by the hand of Pope. Those of humbling a haughty character.
Broome have not been found; but Pope comFrom this time Pope became an enemy to edi- plained, as it is reported that he had much troutors, collators, commentators, and verbal critics; ble in correcting them. and hoped to persuade the world, that he miscarried in this undertaking only by having a mind * The late Mr. Graves of Clavertun informs us, that too great for such minute employment.
this Bible was afterwards used in the chapel of Prior: Pope in his edition undoubtedly did many I len.-c.
park. Dr. Warburton probably presented it to Mr. N
His contract with Lintot was the same as is, according to Pope's account, but the emblem for the “Iliad,” except that only one hundred of a wit winded by booksellers. pounds were to be paid him for each volume. His complaint, however, received some attesThe number of subscribers were five hundred tation; for the same year the Letters written by and seventy-four, and of copies eight hundred him to Mr. Cromwell in his youth were sold by and nineteen; so that his profit
, when he had Mrs. Thomas, to Curll, who printed them. paid his assistants, was still very consider In these Miscellanies was first published the able. The work was finished in 1725; and “ Art of Sinking in Poetry," whích, by such a from that time he resolved to make no more train of consequences as usually passes in litetranslations.
rary quarrels, gave in a short time, according to The sale did not answer Lintot's expectation; Pope's account, occasion to the “Dunciad." and he then pretended to discover something of In the following year (1728) he began to put fraud in Pope, and commenced or threatened a Atterbury's advice in practice: and showed his suit in Chancery.
satirical powers by publishing the “Dunciad," On the English “Odyssey" a criticism was one of his greatest and most elaborate performpublished by Spence, at that time prelector of ances, in which he endeavoured to sink into poctry at Oxford ; a man whose learning was contempt all the writers by whom he had been not very great, and whose mind was not very attacked, and some others whom he thought powerful." His criticism, however, was com- unable to defend themselves. monly just. What he thought, he thought
At the head of the Dunces he placed poor rightly; and his remarks were recommended by Theobald, whom he accused of ingratitude ; but his coolness and candour. In him Pope had the whose real crime was supposed to be that of first experience of a critic without malevolence, having revised “Shak speare” more happily than who thought it as much his duty to display beau- himself. This satire had the effect whích he ties as expose faults; who censured with respect intended, by blasting the characters which it and praised with alacrity.
touched. Ralph, who, unnecessarily interposing With this criticism Pope was so little offended, in the quarrel, got a place in a subsequent edithat he sought the acquaintance of the writer, tion, complained that for a time he was in who lived with him from that time in great fami-danger of starving, as the booksellers had no liarity, attended him in his last hours, and com- longer any confidence in his capacity. piled memorials of his conversation. The regard The prevalence of this poem was gradual and of Pope recommended him to the great and pow-slow; the plan, if not wholly new, was little erful; and he obtained very valuable preferments understood by common readers. Many of the in the church.
allusions required illustration; the names were Not long after, Pope was returning home often expressed only by the initial and final let. from a visit in a friend's coach, which, in pass-ters, and, if they had been printed at length, ing a bridge, was overturned into the water: were such as few had known or recollected. the windows were closed, and being unable to the subject itself had nothing generally interestforce them open, he was in danger of immediate ing, for whom did it concern to know that one death, when the postillion snatched him out by or another scribbler was a dunce? If, therefore, breaking the glass, of which the fragments cut it had been possible for those who were attacked two of his fingers in such a manner that he lost to conceal their pain and their resentment, the their use.
“Dunciad” might have made its way very slowly Voltaire, who was then in England, sent him in the world. a letter of consolation. He had been entertained This, however was not to be expected: every by Pope at bis table, where he talked with so man is of importance to himself, and therefore, much grossness, that Mrs, Pope was driven from in his own opinion, to others; and, supposing the room. Pope discovered by a trick that he the world already acquainted with all his pleawas a spy for the court, and never considered sures and his pains, is perhaps the first to pubhim as a man worthy of confidence.
lish injuries or misfortunes, which had never He soon afterwards (1727) joined with Swift, been known unless related by himself, and at who was then in England, to publish three vo- which those that hear them will only laugh; for lumes of Miscellanies, in which among other no man sympathizes with the sorrows of vanity. "things he inserted the “ Memoirs of a Parish The history of the “Dunciad” is very miClerk,” in ridicule of Burnet's importance in his nutely related by Pope himself in a dedication own History, and a “Debate upon Black and which he wrote to Lord Middlesex, in the name White Horses," written in all the formalities of of Savage. a legal process, by the assistance, as is said, of “I will relate the war of the 'Dunces' (for so Mr. Fortescue, afterwards Master of the Rolls. it has been commonly called) which began in the Before these Miscellanies is a preface signed by year 1727, and ended in 1730. Swift and Pope, but apparently written by Pope ; "When Dr. Swift and Mr. Pope thought it in which he makes a ridiculous and romantic proper, for reasons specified in the preface to coinplaint of the robberies committed upon au- their Miscellanies, to publish such little pieces thors by the clandestine seizure and sale of their of theirs as had casually got abroad, there was papers. He tells in tragic strains, how “the added to them the Treatise of the Bathos,' or the cabinets of the sick, and the closets of the dead, Art of Sinking in Poetry. It happened that, have been broken open and ransacked ;” as if in one chapter of this piece, the several species those violences were often committed for papers of bad poets were ranged in classes, to which of uncertain and accidental value which are were prefixed almost all the letters of the alphararely provoked by real treasures; as if epi- bet, (the greatest part of them at random ;) but grams and essays were in danger where gold and such was the number of poets eminent in that diamonds are safe. A cat hunted for his musk ) art, that some one or other took every letter to
all fell into so violent a fury that, forl Pope appears by this narrative to have conhalf a year or more, the common newspapers templated his victory over the “ Dunces" with (in most of which they had some property, as great exultation and such was his delight in being hired writers) were filled with the most the tumult which he had raised, that for a while abusive falsehoods and scurrilities they could his natural sensibility was suspended, and he possibly devise; a liberty no ways to be won-read reproaches and invectives without emotion, dered at in those people, and in those papers, considering them only as the necessary effects of that, for many years during the uncontrolled that pain which he rejoiced in having given. license of the press, had aspersed almost all the It cannot however be concealed, that by his great characters of the age ; and this with im- own confession, he was the aggressor, for nopunity, their own persons and names being body believes that the letters in the “ Bathos” utterly secret and obscure.
were placed at random; and it may be disco “This gave Mr. Pope the thought, that he vered that, when he thinks himself concealed, had now some opportunity of doing good by he indulges the common vanity of common men, detecting and dragging into light these common and triumphs in those distinctions which he had enemies of mankind;
since, to invalidate this affected to despise. He is proud that his book universal slander, it sufficed to show what con was presented to the King and Queen by the temptible men were the authors of it. He was right honourable Sir Robert Walpole; he is not without hopes that by manifesting the dul-proud that they had read it before ; he is proud ness of those who had only malice to recom- that the edition was taken off by the nobility mend them, either the booksellers would not and persons of the first distinction. find their account in employing them, or the The edition of which he speaks was, I believe, men themselves, when discovered, want courage that which, by telling in the text the names, and to proceed in so unlawful an occupation. This in the notes ihe characters, of those whom he it was that gave birth to the ‘ Dunciad;' and he had satirised, was made intelligible and divertthought it å happiness, that, by the late flood ing. The critics had now declared their approof slander on himself, he had acquired such a bation of the plan, and the common reader began peculiar right over their names as was necessary to like it without fear; those who were stranio this design.
gers to petty literature, and therefore unable to “On the 12th of March, 1729, at St. James's, decipher initials and blanks, had now names and that poem was presented to the King and Queen persons brought within their view, and delighted (who had before been pleased to read it) by the in the visible effect of those shafts of malice right honourable Sir Robert Walpole': 'and, which they had hitherto contemplated as shot some days after, the whole impression was taken into the air. and dispersed by several noblemen and persons Dennis, upon the fresh provocation now given of the first distinction.
him, renewed the enmity which had for a time “It is certainly a true observation, that no been appeased by mutual civilities; and pubpeople are so impatient of censure as those who lished remarks which he had till then suppressed, are the greatest slanderers, which was wonder- upon “The Rape of the Lock.” Many more fully exemplified on this occasion. On the day grumbled in secret, or vented their resentment the book was first vended, a crowd of authors in the newspapers by epigrams or invectives. besieged the shop; entreaties, advices, threats Ducket, indeed, being mentioned as loving of law and battery, nay, cries of treason, were Burnet with “pious passion,” pretended that all employed to hinder the coming out of the his moral character was injured, and for some •Dunciad' on the other side the booksellers time declared his resolution to take vengeance and hawkers made as great efforts to procure with a cudgel. But Pope appeased him, by it. What could a few poor authors do against changing “pious passion" to " cordial friendBO great a majority as the public? There was ship;' and by a note, in which he vehemently no stopping a current with a finger; so out it disclaims the malignity of meaning imputed to
the first expression. “Many ludicrous circumstances attended it. Aaron Hill, who was represented as diving The Dunces' (for hy this name they were for the prize, expostulated with Pope in a man. called) held weekly clubs, to consult of hostili- ner so much superior to all mean solicitation, ties against the author : one wrote a letter to a that Pope was reduced to sneak and shuffle, great minister, assuring him Mr. Pope was the sometimes to deny, and sometimes to apologize : greatest enemy, the government had; and an- he first endeavours to wound, and is then afraid other brought his image in clay, to execute him to own that he meant a bluw. in effigy; with which gad sort of satisfaction the The “Dunciad,” in the complete edition, is gentlemen were a little comforted.
addressed to Dr. Swift: of the notes, part were “Some false editions of the book having an owl written by Dr. Arbuthnot ; and an apologetiin their frontispiece, the true one, to distinguish cal letter was prefixed, signed by Cleland, but it, fixed in his stead an ass laden with authors. supposed to have been written by Pope, Then another surreptitious one being printed After this general war upon dulness, he seems with the same ass, the new edition in octavo re- to have indulged himself a while in tranquillity; turned for distinction to the owl again. Hence but his subsequent productions prove that he arose a great contest of booksellers against was not idle. "He published (1731) a poem on booksellers, and advertisements against adver- “ Taste,” in which he very particularly and setisements; some recommending the edition of verely criticises the house, the furniture, the garthe owl, and others the edition of the ass; by dens, and the entertainments of Timon, a man which names they came to be distinguished, to of great wealth and little taste. By Timon he the great honour also of the gentlemen of the was universally supposed, and by the Earl of • Dunciad.'n
Burlington, to whom the poem is addressed, was
privately said, to mean the Duke of Chandos ; a letters between him and many of his friends, man perhaps too much delighted with pomp which, falling into the hands of Curll, a rapaand show, but of a temper kind and beneficent, cious bookseller of no good fame, were by him and who had consequently the voice of the pub- printed and sold. This volume containing some lic in his favour.
letters from noblemen, Pope incited a prosecuA violent outcry was therefore raised against tion against him in the House of Lords for breach the ingratitude and treachery of Pope, who was of privilege, and attended himself to stimulate said to have been indebted to the patronage of the resentment of his friends. Curll appeared Chandos for a present of a thousand pounds, and at the bar, and, knowing himself in no great who gained the opportunity of insulting him by danger, spoke of Pope with very little reverence: the kindness of his invitation.
"He has," said Curll, “a knack at versifying, The receipt of the thousand pounds Pope pub- but in prose I think myself a match for him.” licly denied; but from the reproach which the When the orders of the House were examined, attack on a character so amiable brought upon none of them appeared to be infringed; Curli him, he tried all means of escaping. The name went away triumphant, and Pope was left to of Cleland was again employed in an apology, seek some other remedy. by which no man was satisfied; and he was at Curll's account was, that one evening a man last reduced to shelter his temerity behind dissi- in a clergyman's gown, but with a lawyer's mulation, and endeavour to make that be dis- band, brought and offered to sale a number of believed which he never had confidence openly printed volumes, which he found to be Pope's to deny. He wrote an exculpatory letter io the epistolary correspondence; that he asked no duke, which was answered with great magnani- name, and was told none, but gave the price mity, as by a man who accepted his excuse demanded, and thought himself authorized to without believing his professions. He said that use his purchase to his own advantage. to have ridiculed his taste, or his buildings, had That Curll gave a true account of the transacbeen an indifferent action in another man; but tion it is reasonable to believe, because no falsethat in Pope, after the reciprocal kindness that hood was ever detected ; and when, some years had been exchanged between them, it had been afterwards, I mentioned it to Lintot, the son of less easily excused.
Bernard, he declared his opinion to be, that Pope Pope, in one of his letters, complaining of the knew better than any body else how Curll obtreatment hich his poem had found, owns tained the copies, because another was at the that such critics can intimidate him, nay almost same time sent to himself, for which no price had persuade him to write no more, which is a com- ever been demanded, as he made known his repliment this age deserves.” The man who solution not to pay a porter, and consequently ihreatens the world is always ridiculous; for not to deal with a nameless agent. the world can easily go on without him, and in Such care had been taken to make them puba short time will cease to miss him. I have lic, that they were sent at once to two bookheard of an idiot, who used to revenge his vexa- sellers; to Curll, who was likely to seize them tions by lying all night upon the bridge.“There as prey; and to Lintot, who might be expected is nothing," says Juvenal, “that a man will not to give Pope information of the seeming injury: believe in his own favour.” Pope had been flat- Lintot, I believe, did nothing; and Curls did tered till he thought himself one of the moving what was expected. That to make them pubpowers in the system of life. When he talked lic was the only purpose may be reasonably supof laying down his pen, those who sat round him posed, because the numbers offered to sale by entreated and implored; and self-love did not the private messengers showed that hope of suffer him to suspect that they went away and gain could not have been the motive of the imlaughed.
pression. The following year deprived him of Gay, a It seems that Pope being desirous of printing man whom he had known early, and whom he his Letters, and not knowing how to do, without seemed to love with more tenderness than any imputation of vanity, what has in this country other of his literary friends. Pope was now been done very rarely, contrived an appearance forty-four years old ; an age at which the mind of compulsion; that, when he could complain begins less easily to admit new confidence, and that his letters were surreptitiously published, the will to grow less flexible; and when, there he might decently and defensively publish them fore, the departnre of an old friend is very accu- himself. tately felt.
Pope's private correspondence, thus promulIn the next year he lost his mother, not by an gated, filled the nation with praises of bis canunexpected death, for she lasted to the age of lour, tenderness, and benevolence, the purity of ninety-three; but she did not die unlamented. his purposes, and the fidelity of his friendship. The filial piety of Pope was in the highest de- There were some letters, which a very good or gree amiable and exemplary; his parents had a very wise man would wish suppressed ; but, the happiness of living till he was at the summit as they had been already exposed, it was imof poetical reputation, till he was at ease in his practicable now to retract them. fortune, and without a rival in his fame, and From the perusal of those Letters, Mr. Allen found no diminution of his respect or tenderness. first conceived the desire of knowing him ; and Whatever was his pride, to ihem he was obe- with so much zeal did he cultivate the frienddient; and whatever was his irritability, to them ship which he had newly formed, that when he was gentle. Life has, among its soothing Pope told his purpose of vindicating his own and quiet comforts, few things better to give than property by a genuine edition, he offered to pay such a son.
the cost. One of the passages of Pope's life which seems This however Pope did not accept ; hut in to deserve some inquiry, was a publication of time solicited a subscription for a quarto rolume,
which appeared, (1737,) I believe, with sufficient commentator, had been eight years under his profit. In the preface he tells, that his Letters consideration, and of which he seems to have were reposited in a friend's library, said to be desired the success with great solicitude. He the Earl of Oxford's, and that the copy thence had now many open and doubtless many secret stolen was sent to the press. The story was enemies. The “Dunces” were yet smarting with doubtless received with different degrees of the war; and the superiority which he publicly credit. It may be suspected that the preface to arrogated disposed the world to wish his humithe Miscellanies was written to prepare the pub- liation. lic for such an incident; and to strengthen this All this he knew, and against all this he proopinion, James Worsdale, a painter, who was vided. His own name and that of his friend employed in clandestine negotiations, but whose to whom the work is inscribed, were in the first veracity was very doubtful, declared that he was editions carefully suppressed ; and the poem the messenger who carried, by Pope's direction, being of a new kind, was ascribed to one or anthe books to Curll.
other, as favour determined or conjecture wanWhen they were thus published and avowed, dered; it was given, says Warburton, in every as they had relation to recent facts and persons man, except him only who could write it. either then living or not yet forgotten, they may Those who like only when they like the author, be supposed to have found readers; but as the and who are under the dominion of a name, facts were minute, and the characters, being condemned it; and those admired it who are either private or literary, were little known or willing to scatter praise at random, which, while little regarded, they awakened no popular kind- it is unappropriated, excites no envy: Those ness or resentment: the book never became friends of Pope that were trusted with the semuch the subject of conversation; some read it cret, went about lavishing honours on the newas a contemporary history, and some perhaps as born poet, and hinting that Pope was never so a model of epistolary language; but those who much in danger from any former rival. read it did not talk of it. Not much therefore To those authors whom he had personally ofwas added by it to fame or envy, nor do I re- fended, and to those whose opinion the world member that it produced either public praise or considered as decisive, and whom he suspected public censure.
of envy or malevolence, he sent his essay as a It had however, in some degree, the recom- present before publication, that they might demendation of novelty; our language had few feat their own enmity by praises which they letters, except those of statesmen. Howel, in- could not afterwards decently retract. deed, about a century ago, published his Letters, With these precautions, 1733, was published which are commended by Morhoft, and which the first part of the “Essay on Man.” There alone, of his hundred volumes, continue his had been for some time a report that Pope was memory. Loveday's Letters were printed only busy on a systero of morality; but this design once; those of Herbert and Suckling are hardly was not discovered in the new poem, which had known. Mrs. Phillips' (Orinda's] are equally a form and a title with which ils readers were neglected. And those of Walsh seem written unacquainted. Its reception was not uniform; as exercises, and were never sent to any living some thought it a very imperfect piece, though mistress or friend. Pope's epistolary excellence not without good lines. When the author was bad an open field; he had no English rival living unknown, some, as will always happen, favouror dead.
ed him as an adventurer, and some censured him Pope is seen in this collection as connected as an intruder; but all thought him above with the other contemporary wits, and certainly neglect; the sale increased and editions were suffers no disgrace in the comparison; but it multiplied. must be remembered, that he had the power of The subsequent editions of the first epistle, favouring himself; he might have originally exhibited two memorable corrections. Ai first, had publication in his mind, and have written the poet and his friend with care, or have afterwards selected those
Expatiate freely o'er the scene of man, which he had most happily conceived or most A mighty maze of walks without a plan; diligently laboured; and I know not whether there does not appear something more studied for which he wrote afterwards, and artificial* in his productions than the rest, A mighty maze, but not without a plan: except one long letter by Bolingbroke, composed with the skill and industry of a professed author. for, if there were no plan, it were in vain to It is indeed not easy to distinguish affectation describe or to trace the maze. from habit ; he that has once studiously formed The other alteration was of these lines: a style rarely writes afterwards with complete ease. Pope may be said to write always with
And spite of pride, and in thy reason's spite, his reputation in his head ; Swift, perhaps, like
One truth is clear, whatever is, is right; a man who remembered he was writing to Pope; but having afterwards discovered, or been shown, but Arbuthnot, like one who lets thoughts drop that the truth,” which subsisted “in spite of from his pen as they rise into his mind.
reason” could not be very clear," he substiBefore these Letters appeared, he published tuted the first part of what he persuaded himself to think a system of ethics, under the title of “An
And spite of pride, in erring reason's spite. Essay on Man;" which, if his letter to Swift To such oversights will the most vigorous (of Sept. 14, 1725) be rightly explained by the mind be liable when it is employed at once upon * These Letters were evidently prepared for the
argument and poetry. by dnecos The second and third epistles were published: vored, will prove this beyond all dispule.-
and Pope was, I believe, more and more sum