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tion can pretend to equal. To the Greeks trans- | consideration must be had of the nature of our lation was almost unknown; it was totally un-language, the form of our metre, and, above all, known to the inhabitants of Greece. They had of the change which two thousand years have no recourse to the barbarians for poetical beau-made in the modes of life and the habits of ties, but sought for every thing in Homer, where, thought. Virgil wrote in a language of the same indeed, there is but little which they might not general fabric with that of Homer, in verses of find. the same measure, and in an age nearer to HoThe Italians have been very diligent transla-mer's time by eighteen hundred years; yet he tors; but I can hear of no version, unless per- found, even then, the state of the world so much haps Anguilara's Ovid may be excepted, which altered, and the demand for elegance so much is read with eagerness. The "Iliad" of Salvini increased, that mere nature would be endured every reader may discover to be punctiliously no longer; and perhaps in the multitude of bor exact; but it seems to be the work of a linguist rowed passages, very few can be shown which skilfully pedantic; and his countrymen, the pro- he has not embellished. per judges of its power to please, reject it with disgust.

There is a time when nations, emerging from barbarity, and falling into regular subordination, gain leisure to grow wise, and feel the shame of ignorance and the craving pain of unsatisfied curiosity. To this hunger of the mind plain sense is grateful; that which fills the void removes uneasiness, and to be free from pain for a while is pleasure; but repletion generates fas tidiousness; a saturated intellect soon becomes luxurious, and knowledge finds no willing reception till it is recommended by artificial diction. Thus it will be found, in the progress of learning, that in all nations the first writers are simple, and that every age improves in elegance. One refinement always makes way for another; and what was expedient to Virgil was necessary to Pope.

Their predecessors, the Romans, have left some specimens of translations behind them, and that employment must have had some credit in which Tully and Germanicus engaged; but, unless we suppose, what is perhaps true, that the plays of Terence were versions of Menander, nothing translated seems ever to have risen to high reputation. The French, in the meridian hour of their learning, were very laudably industrious to enrich their own language with the wisdom of the ancients; but found themselves reduced, by whatever necessity, to turn the Greek and Roman poetry into prose. Whoever could read an author could translate him. From such rivals little can be feared.

The chief help of Pope in this arduous under- I suppose many readers of the English "Iliad," taking was drawn from the versions of Dryden. when they have been touched with some unexVirgil had borrowed much of his imagery from pected beauty of the lighter kind, have tried to Homer, and part of the debt was now paid by enjoy it in the original, where, alas! it was not his translator. Pope searched the pages of to be found. Homer doubtless owes to his transDryden for happy combinations of heroic dic-lator many Ovidian graces not exactly suitable tion; but it will not be denied that he added to his character; but to have added can be no much to what he found. He cultivated our lan- great crime, if nothing be taken away. Elegance guage with so much diligence and art, that he is surely to be desired, if it be not gained at the has left in his Homer a treasure of poetical ele-expense of dignity. A hero would wish to be gances to posterity. His version may be said loved, as well as to be reverenced. to have tuned the English tongue; for since its appearance no writer, however deficient in other powers, has wanted melody. Such a series of lines, so elaborately corrected, and so sweetly modulated, took possession of the public ear; the vulgar was enamoured of the poem, and the learned wondered at the translation.

To a thousand cavils one answer is sufficient; the purpose of a writer is to be read, and the criticism which would destroy the power of pleasing must be blown aside. Pope wrote for his own age and his own nation: he knew that it was necessary to colour the images and point the sentiments of his author; he therefore made him graceful, but lost him some of his sub


But, in the most general applause, discordant voices will always be heard. It has been object-limity. ed by some, who wish to be numbered among The copious notes with which the version is the sons of learning, that Pope's version of accompanied, and by which it is recommended Homer is not Homerical; that it exhibits no re- to many readers, though they were undoubtedly semblance of the original and characteristic man-written to swell the volumes, ought not to pass ner of the Father of Poetry, as it wants his without praise: commentaries which attract the awful simplicity, his artless grandeur, his un- reader by the pleasure of perusal have not often affected majesty. This cannot be totally denied; appeared; the notes of others are read to clear but it must be remembered, that necessitas quod difficulties, those of Pope to vary entertainment. cogit defendit; that may be lawfully done which It has however been objected with sufficient cannot be forborne. Time and place will always reason, that there is in the commentary too much enforce regard. In estimating this translation, of unseasonable levity and affected gayety; that too many appeals are made to the ladies, and the ease which is so carefully preserved is sometimes the ease of a trifler. Every art has its terms, and every kind of instruction its proper style; the gravity of common critics may be tedious, but is less despicable than childish merriment.

Bentley was one of these. He and Pope, soon after the publication of Homer, met at Dr. Mead's at dinner; when Pope, desirous of his opinion of the translation, addressed him thus: "Dr. Bentley, I ordered my book seller to send you your books; I hope you received them." Bentley, who had purposely avoided saying any thing about Homer, pretended not to understand him, and asked, "Books! books! what books?" My Homer," replied Pope, which you did me the honour to subscribe for."-"Oh," said Bentley, "ay, now I recollect-your translation—it is a pretty poein, Mr. Pope; but you

must not call it Homer H.

Of the "Odyssey" nothing remains to be observed; the same general praise may be given to both translations, and a particular examination of either would require a large volume.

The notes were written by Broome, who endeavoured, not unsuccessfully, to imitate his

that man ought to be, only because he is; we may allow that this place is the right place, because he has it. Supreme Wisdom is not less infallible in disposing than in creating. But what is meant by somewhere and place, and wrong place, it had been vain to ask Pope, who probably had never asked himself.

Having exalted himself into the chair of wis dom, he tells us much that every man knows, and much that he does not know himself; that we see but little, and that the order of the universe is beyond our comprehension; an opinion not very uncommon; and that there is a chain of subordinate beings "from infinite to nothing," of which himself and his readers are equally ignorant. But he gives us one comfort, which without his help he supposes unattainable, in the position, “that though we are fools, yet God is wise."


Of the "Dunciad" the hint is confessedly taken from Dryden's "Mac Flecknoe;" but the plan is so enlarged and diversified as justly to claim the praise of an original, and affords the best specimen that has yet appeared of personal satire ludicrously pompous.

That the design was moral, whatever the author might tell either his readers or himself, I am not convinced. The first motive was the desire of revenging the contempt in which Theobald had treated his Shakspeare, and regaining the honour which he had lost, by crushing his opponent. Theobald was not of bulk enough to fill a poem, and therefore it was necessary to find other enemies with other names, at whose expense he might divert the public.

In this design there was petulance and malignity enough; but I cannot think it very criminal. An author places himself uncalled before the tribunal of criticism, and solicits fame at the hazard of disgrace. Dulness or deformity are not culpable in themselves, but may be very justly reproached when they pretend to the honour of wit or the influence of beauty. If bad writers were to pass without reprehension, what should restrain them? impune diem consumpserit ingens Telephus; and upon bad writers only will censure have much effect. The satire which brought Theobald and Moore into contempt dropped impotent from Bentley, like the javelin of Priam.

The Essay affords an egregious instance of the predominance of genius, the dazzling splendour of imagery, and the seductive powers of eloquence. Never were penury of knowledge and vulgarity of sentiment so happily disguised. The reader feels his mind full, though he learns nothing; and, when he meets it in its new array, no longer knows the talk of his mother and his nurse. When these wonder-working sounds sink into sense, and the doctrine of the Essay, disrobed of its ornaments, is left to the powers of its naked excellence, what shall we discover?That we are, in comparison with our Creator, very weak and ignorant; that we do not uphold the chain of existence, and that we could not make one another with more skill than we are made. We may learn yet more; that the arts of human life were copied from the instinctive operations of other animals; that, if the world be made for man, it may be said that man was made for geese. To those profound principles of natural knowledge are added some moral instructions equally new: that self-interest, well understood, will produce social concord; that men are mutual gainers by mutual benefits; that evil is sometimes balanced by good; that human advantages are unstable and fallacious, of uncertain duration and doubtful effect; that our true honour is, not to have a great part, but to act it well; that virtue only is our own; and that hap

All truth is valuable, and satirical criticism may be considered as useful when it rectifies error and improves judgment: he that refines the public taste is a public benefactor.

The beauties of this poem are well known; its chief fault is the grossness of its images. Pope and Swift had an unnatural delight in ideas physically impure, such as every other tongue utters with unwillingness, and of which every ear shrinks from the mention.

But even this fault, offensive as it is, may be forgiven for the excellence of other passages; such as the formation and dissolution of Moore, the account of the traveller, the misfortune of the florist, and the crowded thoughts and stately numbers which dignify the concluding para-piness is always in our power. graph. The alterations which have been made in the "Dunciad," not always for the better, require that it should be published, with all its variations.

Surely a man of no very comprehensive search may venture to say that he has heard all this before; but it was never till now recommended by such a blaze of embellishments, or such sweetness of melody. The vigorous contraction of some thoughts, the luxuriant amplification of others, the incidental illustrations, and some

The "Essay on Man" was a work of great labour and long consideration, but certainly not the happiest of Pope's performances. The sub-times the dignity, sometimes the softness, of the verses, enchain philosophy, suspend criticism, and oppress judgment by overpowering pleasure.

ject is perhaps not very proper for poetry, and the poet was not sufficiently master of his subject; metaphysical morality was to him a new study: he was proud of his acquisitions, and, supposing himself master of great secrets, was in haste to teach what he had not learned. Thus he tells us, in the first epistle, that from the nature of the supreme Being may be deduced an order of beings such as mankind, because infinite excellence can do only what is best. He finds out that these beings must be "somewhere;" and that "all the question is, whether man be in a wrong place." Surely if, according to the poet's Leibnitian reasoning, we may infer

This is true of many paragraphs; yet, if I had undertaken to exemplify Pope's felicity of composition before a rigid critic, I should not select the "Essay on Man;" for it contains more lines unsuccessfully laboured, more harshness of diction, more thoughts imperfectly expressed, more levity without elegance, and more heaviness without strength, than will easily be found in all his other works.

The Characters of Men and Women are the product of diligent speculation upon human life; much labour has been bestowed upon them, and

Pope very seldom laboured in vain. That his Pope had, in proportions very nicely adjusted excellence may be properly estimated, I recom- to each other, all the qualities that constitute mend a comparison of his Characters of Women genius. He had invention, by which new trains with Boileau's satire; it will then be seen with of events are formed, and new scenes of imagery how much more perspicacity female nature is displayed, as in the "Rape of the Lock;" and investigated and female excellence selected; by which extrinsic and adventitious embellishand he surely is no mean writer to whom Boi-ments and illustrations are connected with a leau should be found inferior. The Characters known subject, as in the "Essay on Criticism." of Men, however, are written with more, if not He had imagination which strongly impresses with deeper thought, and exhibit many pas on the writer's mind, and enables him to convey sages exquisitely beautiful. The "Gem and to the reader, the various forms of nature, incí the Flower" will not easily be equalled. In the dents of life, and energies of passion, as in his women's part are some defects; the character of "Eloisa," "Windsor Forest," and the "Ethic Atossa is not so neatly finished as that of Clodio; Epistles." He had judgment which selects and some of the female characters may be found from life or nature what the present purpose perhaps more frequently among men; what is requires, and, by separating the essence of things said of Philomede was true of Prior. from its concomitants, often makes the representation more powerful than the reality; and he had colours of language always before him, ready to decorate his matter with every grace of elegant expression, as when he accommodates his diction to the wonderful multiplicity of Homer's sentiments and descriptions.

In the Epistles to Lord Bathurst and Lord Burlington, Dr. Warburton has endeavoured to find a train of thought which was never in the writer's head, and to support his hypothesis, has printed that first which was published last. In one, the most valuable passage is perhaps the Elegy on "Good Sense;" and the other, the "End of the Duke of Buckingham."

Poetical expression includes sound as well as meaning: "Music," says Dryden, “is inartiThe epistle to Arbuthnot, now arbitrarily culate poetry;" among the excellences of Pope, called "The Prologue to the Satires," is a per- therefore, must be mentioned the melody of his formance consisting, as it seems, of many frag-metre. By perusing the works of Dryden he ments wrought into one design, which by this discovered the most perfect fabric of English union of scattered beauties contains more strik-verse, and habituated himself to that only which ing paragraphs than could probably have been he found the best; in consequence of which brought together into an occasional work. As restraint, his poetry has been censured as too there is no stronger motive to exertion than self- uniformly musical, and as glutting the ear with defence, no part has more elegance, spirit, or unvaried sweetness. I suspect this objection to dignity, than the poet's vindication of his own be the cant of those who judge by principles character. The meanest passage is the satire rather than perception; and who would even upon Sporus. themselves have less pleasure in his works, if he had tried to relieve attention by studied discords, or affected to break his lines and vary his pauses.

Of the two poems which derived their names from the year, and which are called "The Epilogue to the Satires," it was very justly remarked by Savage, that the second was in the whole But though he was thus careful of his versi more strongly conceived, and more equally sup-fication, he did not oppress his powers with ported, but that it had no single passage equal superfluous rigour. He seems to have thought to the contention in the first for the dignity of with Boileau, that the practice of writing might vice and the celebration of the triumph of cor- be refined till the difficulty should overbalance ruption. the advantage. The construction of his language is not always strictly grammatical: with those rhymes which prescription had conjoined, he contented himself, without regard to Swift's remonstrances, though there was no striking consonance; nor was he very careful to vary his terminations, or to refuse admission, at a small distance, to the same rhymes.

The imitations of Horace seem to have been written as relaxations of his genius. This employment became his favourite by its facility; the plan was ready to his hand, and nothing was required but to accommodate as he could the sentiments of an old author to recent facts or familiar images; but what is easy is seldom excellent: such imitations cannot give pleasure to common readers: the man of learning may be sometimes surprised and delighted by an un-mitted them, but, in the opinion of Fenton, too expected parallel; but the comparison requires rarely; he uses them more liberally in his transknowledge of the original, which will likewise lation than his poems. often detect strained applications. Between Roman images and English manners, there will be an irreconcileable dissimilitude, and the work will be generally uncouth and party-coloured, neither original nor translated, neither ancient nor modern.*

To Swift's edict for the exclusion of Alexandrines and triplets he paid little regard; he ad

He has a few double rhymes; and always, I think, unsuccessfully, except once in the "Rapo of the Lock."

In one of these poems is a couplet, to which belongs a story that I once heard the Reverend Dr. Ridley relate;

"Slander or poison dread from Delia's rage; Harsh words, or hanging, if your judge be ****."

Bir Francis Page, a judge well known in his time, conceiving that his name was meant to fill up the blank, sent bie clerk to Mr. Pope, to complain of the insult. Pope

Expletives he very early ejected from his verses; but he now and then admits an epithet rather commodious than important. Each of

told the young man that the blank might be supplied by
many monosyllables other than the judge's name:-
"But, sir," said the clerk, "the judge says that no other
word will make sense of the passage." "So then it
seems," says Pope, "your master is not only a judge,
but a poet: as that is the case, the odds are against me.
Give my respects to the judge, and tell him, I will not
contend with one that has the advantage of me, and he
may fill up the blank as he pleases."—H.

I have been told that the couplet by which he declared his own ear to be most gratified was this:

the six first lines of the "Iliad" might lose two | Hobbes; who are, it seems, as much celebrated syllables with very little diminution of the mean- for their knowledge of the original, as they are ing; and sometimes, after all his art and labour, decried for the badness of their translations. one verse seems to be made for the sake of an- Chapman pretends to have restored the genuine other. In his latter productions the diction is sense of the author, from the mistakes of all forsometimes vitiated by French idioms, with which mer explainers, in several hundred places; and Bolingbroke had perhaps infected him. the Cambridge editors of the large Homer, in Greek and Latin, attributed so much to Hobbes, that they confess they have corrected the old Latin interpretation very often by his version. For my part, I generally took the author's meaning to be as you have explained it; yet their authority, joined to the knowledge of my own imperfectness in the language, overruled me. However, sir, you may be confident I think you in the right, because you happen to be of my opinion; for men (let them say what they will) never approve any other's sense, but as it squares with their own. But you have made me much more proud of, and positive in my judgment, since it is strengthened by yours. I think your criticisms which regard the expression very just, and shall make my profit of them; to give you some proof that I am in earnest, I will alter three verses on your bare objection, though I have Mr. Dryden's example for each of them. And this, New sentiments and new images others may I hope, you will account no small piece of obeproduce; but to attempt any further improve-dience from one who values the authority of one ment of versification will be dangerous. Art true poet above that of twenty critics or comand diligence have now done their best, and mentators. But, though I speak thus of comwhat shall be added will be the effort of tedious mentators, I will continue to read carefully all I toil and needless curiosity. can procure, to make up, that way, for my own want of critical understanding in the original beauties of Homer. Though the greatest of them are certainly those of invention and design, which are not at all confined to the language; for the distinguishing excellences of Homer are (by the consent of the best critics of all uations) first in the manners, (which include all the speeches, as being no other than the representations of each person's manners by his words;) and then in that rapture and fire which carries you away with him, with that wonderful force, that no man who has a true poetical spirit is master of himself while he reads him. Homer makes you interested and concerned before you are aware, all at once; whereas Virgil does it by soft degrees. This, I believe, is what a translator of Homer ought principally to imitate; and it is very hard for any translator to come up to it, because the chief reason why all translations The following letter, of which the original is fall short of their originals is, that the very conin the hands of Lord Hardwicke, was communi-straint they are obliged to renders them heavy cated to me by the kindness of Mr. Jodrell. and dispirited.

After all this, it is surely superfluous to answer the question that has once been asked, Whether Pope was a poet? otherwise than by asking, in return, If Pope be not a poet, where is poetry to be found? To circumscribe poetry by a definition will only show the narrowness of the definer, though a definition which shall exclude Pope will not easily be made. Let us look round upon the present time, and back upon the past; let us inquire to whom the voice of mankind has decreed the wreath of poetry; let their productions be examined, and their claims stated, and the pretensions of Pope will be no more disputed. Had he given the world only his version, the name of poet must have been allowed him; if the writer of the "Iliad" were to class his successors, he would assign a very high place to his translator, without requiring any other evidence of genius.

Lo, where Mæotis sleeps, and hardly flows
The freezing Tanais through a waste of snows.
But the reason of this preference I cannot dis-


It is remarked by Watts, that there is scarcely a happy combination of words, or a phrase poetically elegant in the English language, which Pope has not inserted into his version of Homer. How he obtained possession of so many beauties of speech, it were desirable to know. That he gleaned from authors, obscure as well as eminent, what he thought brilliant or useful, and preserved it all in a regular collection, is not unlikely. When, in his last years, Hall's Satires were shown him, he wished that he had seen them sooner.

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"The great beauty of Homer's language, as I take it, consists in that noble simplicity which runs through all his works; (and yet his diction, contrary to what one would imagine consistent with simplicity, is at the same time very copious.) I don't know how I have run into this pedantry in a letter, but I find I have said too much, as well as spoken too inconsiderately: what farther thoughts I have upon this subject I shall be glad to communicate to you (for my own improvement) when we meet; which is a happiness I very earnestly desire, as I do likewise some opportunity of proving how much I think myself obliged to your friendship, and how truly am, sir,


"Your most faithful, humble servant,
"A. POPE."

these imitations with much harshness; in long performances they are scarcely to be avoided, and in shorter they may be indulged, because the train of the composition may naturally involve them, or the scantiness of the subject allow little choice. However, what is borrowed is not to be enjoyed as our own; and it is the business of critical justice to give every bird of the muses his proper feather.

Blest courtier !

Whether a courtier can properly be commended for keeping his ease sacred, may perhaps be disputable. To please king and country, without sacrificing friendship to any change of times, was a very uncommon instance of prudence or felicity, and deserved to be kept separate from so poor a commendation as care of his ease. wish our poets would attend a little more accurately to the use of the word sacred, which surely should never be applied in a serious composition but where some reference may be made to a higher Being, or where some duty is exacted or

On CHARLES Earl of DORSET, in the Church of implied. A man may keep his friendship sacred, Wythyham in Sussex.

because promises of friendship are very awful ties; but methinks he cannot, but in a burlesque sense, be said to keep his ease sacred.

The criticism upon Pope's Epitaphs, which was printed in "The Universal Visitor," is placed here, being too minute and particular to be inserted in the Life.

EVERY art is best taught by example. Nothing contributes more to the cultivation of propriety than remarks on the works of those who have most excelled. I shall therefore endeavour, at this visit, to entertain the young students in poetry with an examination of Pope's Epitaphs.

To define an epitaph is useless; every one knows that it is an inscription on a tomb. An epitaph, therefore, implies no particular character of writing, but may be composed in verse or prose. It is indeed commonly panegyrical; because we are seldom distinguished with a stone but by our friends; but it has no rule to restrain or modify it, except this, that it ought not to be longer than common beholders may be expected to have leisure and patience to peruse.


Dorset, the grace of courts, the muse's pride,
Patron of arts, and judge of nature, died-
The scourge of pride, though sanctified or great;
Of fops in learning, and of knaves in state;
Yet soft his nature, though severe his lay,
His anger moral, and his wisdom gay.

Blest satirist who touch'd the means so true,
As show'd Vice had his hate and pity too.
Blest courtier! who could king and country please,
Yet sacred kept his friendships and his ease.
Blest peer! his great forefather's every grace
Reflecting, and reflected on his race;
Where other Buckhursts, other Dorsets shine,
And patriots still, or poets, deck the line.

The first distich of this epitaph contains a kind of information which few would want, that the man for whom the tomb was erected died. There are indeed some qualities worthy of praise ascribed to the dead, but none that were likely to exempt him from the lot of man, or incline us much to wonder that he should die. What is meant by "judge of nature," is not easy to say. Nature is not the object of human judgment; for it is vain to judge where we cannot alter. If by nature is meant what is commonly called nature by the critics, a just representation of things really existing and actions really performed, nature cannot be properly opposed to art; nature being, in this sense, only the best effect of art.

The scourge of pride

Of this couplet, the second line is not, what is intended, an illustration of the former. Pride in the great is indeed well enough connected with knaves in state, though knaves is a word rather too ludicrous and light; but the mention of sanctified pride will not lead the thoughts to fops in learning, but rather to some species of tyranny or oppression, something more gloomy and more formidable than foppery.

Yet soft his nature

This is a high compliment, but was not first bestowed on Dorset by Pope. The next verse is extremely beautiful.

Blest satirist !

In this distich is another line of which Pope was not the author. I do not mean to blame

Blest peer!

The blessing ascribed to the peer has no connexion with his peerage; they might happen to any other man whose ancestors were remembered, or whose posterity are likely to be regarded.

Í know not whether this epitaph be worthy either of the writer or the man entombed.


On SIR WILLIAM TRUMBULL, one of the principal
Secretaries of State to KING WILLIAM III. who,
having resigned his place, died in his retirement at
Easthamstead in Berkshire, 1716.

A pleasing form; a firm, yet cautious mind;
Sincere, though prudent, constant, yet resign'd;
Honour unchang'd, a principle profest,
Fix'd to one side, but moderate to the rest;
An honest courtier, yet a patriot too ;
Just to his prince, and to his country true;
Filled with the sense of age, the fire of youth,
A scorn of wrangling, yet a zeal for truth;
A generous faith, from superstition free ;
A love to peace, and hate of tyranny;

Such this man was; who, now from earth remov'd,
At length enjoys that liberty he lov'd.

In this epitaph, as in many others, there appears, at the first view, a fault which I think scarcely any beauty can compensate. The name is omitted. The end of an epitaph is to convey some account of the dead; and to what purpose is any thing told of him whose name is concealed? An epitaph, and a history of a nameless hero, are equally absurd, since the vir tues and qualities so recounted in either are scattered at the mercy of fortune to be appropriated by guess. The name, it is true, may be read upon the stone; but what obligation has it to the poet, whose verses wander over the earth and leave their subject behind them, and who is forced, like an unskilful painter, to make his purpose known by adventitious help?

This epitaph is wholly without elevation, and contains nothing striking or particular; but the poet is not to be blamed for the defects of his subject. He said, perhaps, the best that could

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