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found. The superiority of Pope is so ingeniously guineas; a sum, according to the value of money at dissembled, and the feeble lines of Phillips so skil- that time, by no means inconsiderable, and greater fully preferred, that Steele, being deceived, was than I believe to have been ever asked before. His unwilling to print the paper, lest Pope should be proposal, however, was very favourably received; offended. Addison immediately saw the writer's and the patrons of literature were busy to recomdesign; and, it seems, had malice enough to conceal mend his undertaking, and promote his interest his discovery, and to permit a publication, which, Lord Oxford, indeed, lamented that such a genius by making his friend Phillips ridiculous, made him should be wasted upon a work not original; but for ever an enemy to Pope. proposed no means by which he might live without It appears that about this' time Pope had a strong it. Addison recommended caution and moderation, inclination to unite the art of Painting with that of and advised him not to be content with the praise Poetry, and put himself under the tuition of Jer- of half the nation, when he might be universally vas. He was near-sighted, and therefore not form-favoured. ed by nature for a painter: he tried, however, how The greatness of the design, the popularity of far he could advance, and sometimes persuaded his the author, and the attention of the literary world, friends to sit. A picture of Betterton, supposed to naturally raised such expectations of the future be drawn by him, was in the possession of Lord sale, that the booksellers made their offers with Mansfield:* if this was taken from life, he must great eagerness; but the highest bidder was Berhave begun to paint earlier; for Betterton was now nard Lintot, who became proprietor on condition dead. Pope's ambition of this new art produced of supplying at his own expense, all the copies some encomiastic verses to Jervas, which certainly which were to be delivered to subscribers, or preshow his power as a poet; but I have been told that sented to friends, and paying two hundred pounds they betray his ignorance of painting. for every volume.
He appears to have regarded Betterton with kindness and esteem; and after his death published, under his name, a version into modern English of Chaucer's Prologues, and one of his Tales, which, as was related by Mr. Harte, were believed to have been the performance of Pope himself by Fenton, who made him a gay offer of five pounds, if he would show them in the hand of Betterton.
Of the Quartos it was, I believe, stipulated, that none should be printed but for the author, that the subscription might not be depreciated; but Lintot impressed the same pages upon a small Folio, and paper perhaps a little thinner; and sold exactly at half the price, for half a guinea each volume, books so little inferior to the Quartos, that by a fraud of trade, those Folios, being afterwards shortened by cutting away the top and bottom, were sold as copies printed for the subscribers.
The next year (1713) produced a bolder attempt, by which profit was sought as well as praise. The poems which he had hitherto written, however Lintot printed two hundred and fifty on royal pathey might have diffused his name, had made very per in Folio, for two guineas a volume; of the small little addition to his fortune. The allowance which Folio, having printed seventeen hundred and fifty his father made him, though proportioned to what copies of the first volume, he reduced the number he had, it might be liberal, could not be large; his in the other volumes to a thousand. religion hindered him from the occupation of any It is unpleasant to relate, that the bookseller, afcivil employment; and he complained that he want-ter all his hopes and all his liberality, was, by a ed even money to buy books. He therefore resolved to try how far the favour of the public extended, by soliciting a subscription to a version of the Iliad,' with large notes.
To print by subscription was, for some time, a practice peculiar to the English. The first considerable work, for which this expedient was employed, is said to have been Dryden's Virgil;' and it had been tried with great success when the "Tatlers' were collected into volumes.
very unjust and illegal action, defrauded of his profit. An edition of the English Iliad,' was printed in Holland in Duodecimo, and imported clandestinely for the gratification of those who were impatient to read what they could not yet afford to buy. This fraud could only be counteracted by an edition equally cheap and more commodious; and Lintot was compelled to contract his folio at once into a duodecimo, and lose the advantage of an intermediate gradation. The notes, which in the Dutch There was reason to believe that Pope's at-copies were placed at the end of each book, as they tempt would be successful. He was in the full bloom of reputation, and was personally known to almost all whom dignity of employment or splendour of reputation had made eminent; he conversed indifferently with both parties, and never disturbed the public with his political opinions; and it might naturally be expected, as each faction then boasted its literary zeal, that the great men, who on other occasions practiced all the violence of opposition, would emulate each other in their encouragement of a poet who delighted all, and by whom none had been offended.
had been in the large volumes, were now subjoined to the text in the same page, and are therefore more easily consulted. Of this edition two thousand five hundred were first printed, and five thousand a few weeks afterwards: but indeed great numbers were necessary to produce considerable profit.
Pope, having now emitted his proposals, and engaged not only his own reputation, but in some degree that of his friends who patronized his subscription, began to be frighted at his own undertaking; and finding himself at first embarrassed with difficulties, which retarded and oppressed him, he was for a time timorous and uneasy, had his nights disturbed by dreams of long journeys through unknown ways, and wished, as he said, “that somebody would hang him."*
This misery, however, was not of long continu-| to collect or methodize; but more was necessary; ance; he grew by degrees more acquainted with many pages were to be filled, and learning must Homer's images and expression, and practice in- supply materials to wit and judgment. Something creased his facility of versification. In a short time might be gathered from Dacier; but no man loves to he represents himself as despatching regularly fifty be indebted to his contemporaries, and Dacier was verses a day, which would show him by an easy accessible to common readers. Eustathius was computation the termination of his labour. therefore necessarily consulted. To read EustaHis own diffidence was not his only vexation. thius, of whose work there was then no Latin verHe that asks subscriptions soon finds that he has sion, I suspect Pope, if he had been willing, not to enemies. All who do not encourage him, defame have been able; some other was therefore to be him. He that wants money will rather be thought found, who had leisure as well as abilities; and he angry than poor: and he that wishes to save his was doubtless most readily employed who would money, conceals his avarice by his malice. Addi- do much work for little money.
son had hinted his suspicion that Pope was too much The history of the notes has never been traced. a Tory; and some of the Tories suspected his prin- Broome, in his preface to his poems, declares himciples, because he had contributed to the 'Guar-self the commentator "in part upon the Iliad;" and dian,' which was carried on by Steele. it appears from Fenton's letter, preserved in the
To those who censured his politics were added British Museum, that Broome was at first engaged enemies yet more dangerous, who called in ques- in consulting Eustathius; but that after a time, tion his knowledge of Greek, and his qualifications whatever was the reason, he desisted; another man for a translator of Homer. To these he made no of Cambridge was then employed, who soon grew public opposition; but in one of his Letters escapes weary of the work; and a third, that was recomfrom them as well as he can. At an age like his, mended by Thirlby, is now discovered to have for he was not more than twenty-five, with an been Jortin, a man since well known to the learned irregular education, and a course of life of which world, who complained that Pope, having accepted much seems to have passed in conversation, it is and approved his performance, never testified any not very likely that he overflowed with Greek. curiosity to see him, and who professed to have forBut when he felt himself deficient he sought assist- gotten the terms on which he worked. The terms ance; and what man of learning would refuse to help which Fenton uses are very mercantile: "I think him? Minute inquiries into the force of words are at first sight that his performance is very commendless necessary in translating Homer than other able, and have sent word for him to finish the 17th poets, because his positions are general, and his book, and to send it with his demands for his trourepresentations natural, with very little dependence ble. I have here enclosed the specimen; if the rest on local or temporary customs, on those changeable come before the return, I will keep them till I rescenes of artificial life, which, by mingling original ceive your order."
with accidental notions, and crowding the mind Broome then offered his service a second time, with images which time effaces, produces ambi-which was probably accepted, as they had afterguity in diction, and obscurity in books. To this wards a closer correspondence. Parnell contributed open display of unadulterated nature it must be the Life of Homer, which Pope found so harsh, that ascribed, that Homer has fewer passages of doubtful he took great pains in correcting it; and by his own meaning than any other poet, either in the learned diligence, with such help as kindness or money or in modern languages. I have read of a man, who could procure him, in somewhat more than five being, by his ignorance of Greek, compelled to years he completed his version of the Iliad,' with gratify his curiosity with the Latin printed on the the notes. He began it in 1712, his twenty-fifth opposite page, declared that, from the rude sim-year; and concluded it in 1718, his thirtieth year. plicity of the lines literally rendered, he formed When we find him trauslating fifty lines a day, nobler ideas of the Homeric majesty, than from the it is natural to suppose that he would have brought laboured elegance of polished versions.
Those literal translations were always at hand, and from them he could easily obtain his author's sense with sufficient certainty; and among the readers of Homer, the number is very small of those who find much in the Greek more than in the Latin, except the music of the numbers.
his work to a more speedy conclusion. The Iliad,' containing less than sixteen thousand verses, might have been despatched in less than three hundred and twenty days by fifty verses in a day. The notes, compiled with the assistance of his mercenaries, could not be supposed to require more time than the text.
If more help was wanting, he had the poetical According to this calculation, the progress of Pope translation of Eobanus Hessus,' an unwearied wri- may seem to have been slow; but the distance is ter of Latin verses; he had the French Homers of commonly very great between actual performances La Valtiere and Dacier, and the English of Chap- and speculative possibility. It is natural to suppose man, Hobbes, and Ogilby. With Chapman, whose that as much as has been done to-day may be done work, though now totally neglected, seems to have to-morrow; but on the morrow some difficulty emerbeen popular almost to the end of the last century, ges, or some external impediment obstructs. Inhe had very frequent consultations, and perhaps dolence, interruption, business, and pleasure, all never translated any passage till he had read his take their turns of retardation; and every long work version, which indeed he has been sometimes sus- is lengthened by a thousand causes that can, and pected of using instead of the original. ten thousand that cannot, be recounted. Perhaps
Notes were likewise to be provided: for the six no extensive and multifarious performance was ever volumes would have been very little more than six effected within the term originally fixed in the unpamphlets without them. What the mere perusal dertaker's mind. He that runs against Time has of the text could suggest, Pope wauted no assistance an antagonist not subject to casualties.
The encouragement given to this translation,[ though report seems to have overrated it, was such as the world has not often seen. The subscribers were five hundred and seventy-five. The copies, for which subscriptions were given, were six hundred and fifty-four; and only six hundred and sixty were printed. For these copies Pope had nothing to pay; he therefore received, including the two hundred pounds a volume, five thousand three hundred and twenty pounds four shillings without deduction, as the books were supplied by Lintot.
That strew'd with warriors dead the Phrygian plain,
And peopled the dark hell with heroes slain;
By the success of his subscription Pope was re-
Such was the sovereign doom, and such the will of Jove
Declare, O Goddess, what offended Power
Tavenge the wrongs his injured priest endured;
For Chryses sought, with costly gifts, to gain
With the product of this subscription, which he had too much discretion to squander, he secured his future life from want, by considerable annuities. The estate of the Duke of Buckingham was found His captive daughter from the Victor's chain; . to have been charged with five hundred pounds a Suppliant the venerable Father stands, year, payable to Pope, which doubtless his trans-Apollo's awful ensigns grace his hands; lation enabled him to purchase.
It cannot be unwelcome to literary curiosity, that I deduce thus minutely the history of the English| Iliad.' It is certainly the noblest version of poetry which the world has ever seen; and its publication must therefore be considered as one of the great events in the annals of Learning.
To those who have skill to estimate the excellence and difficulty of this great work, it must be very desirable to know how it was performed, and by what gradations it advanced to correctness. Of such an intellectual process the knowledge has very rarely been attainable; but happily there remains the original copy of the Iliad,' which, being obtained by Bolingbroke as a curiosity, descended from him to Mallet, and is now, by the solicitation of the late Dr. Maty, reposited in the Museum. Between this manuscript, which is written upon accidental fragments of paper, and the printed edition, there must have been an intermediate copy, that was perhaps destroyed as it returned from the press.
From the first copy I have procured a few transcripts, and shall exhibit first the printed lines; then those of the manuscripts, with all their variations. Those words which are given in Italics, are cancelled in the copy, and the words placed under them adopted in their stead.
The beginning of the first book stands thus:
The stern Pelides' rage O Goddess, sing,
Of all the woes of Greece the fatal spring,
By these he begs, and, lowly bending down
For Chryses sought by presents to regain
For these are ensigns of his God he bare,
He sued to all, but chief implor'd for grace,
To all he sued, but chief implored for grace,
Your labours, by the Gods be all your labours
So may the Gods your arms with conquest bless,
Receive my gifts: if mercy fails, yet let my present
And fear the God that deals his darts around.
The Greeks, in shouts, their joint assent declare
He said, the Greeks their joint assent declare,
Repulsed the sacred Sire, and thus reply'd.
[Not so the tyrant. DRYDEN.]
Of these lines, and of the whole first book, I am told that there was a former copy, more varied, and more deformed with interlineations.
The beginning of the second book varies very little from the printed page, and is therefore set down without a parallel; the few differences do not require to be elaborately displayed.
Now pleasing sleep had seal'd each mortal eye;
To honour Thetis' son he bends his care,
Fly bence, delusive dream, and, light as air,
Bid him in arms draw forth th' embattled train,
Now tell the King 'tis given him to destroy
The lofty walls of wide extended Troy;
For now no more the Gods with Fate contend; At Juno's suit the heavenly factions end. Destruction hovers o'er yon devoted wall,
And nodding Ilium waits th' impending fall.
Invocation to the catalogue of Ships.
Since Earth's wide regions, Heaven's unmeasured height,
Now, Virgin Goddesses, immortal Nine!
But Pallas now Tydides' soul inspires,
Fills with her force, and warms with all her fires;
High on his helm celestial lightnings play,
Th' unwearied blaze incessant stream supplies,
But Pallas now Tydides' soul inspires,
Fills with her rage, and warms with all her fires;
O'er all the Greeks decrees his fame to raise,
And crown her hero with immortal praise:
Bright from his beamy crest the lightnings play,
From his broad buckler flash'd the living ray;
When fresh he rears his radiant orb to sight,
Where the war bleeds, and where the fiercest rage.
The sons of Dares first the combat sought,
There lived a Trojan-Dares was his name,
As when in stillness of the silent night,
As when the moon, refulgent lamp of night,
As still in air the trembling lustre stood,
And no dim cloud o'ercasts the solemn scene;
Around her silver throne the planets glow,
And tip with silver all the mountain heads
And tip with silver every mountain's head,
So many flames before the navy blaze,
And lighten glimmering Xanthus with their rays:
Gild the high walls, and tremble on the spires;
Of these specimens, every man who has
[quite please me. Be so good as to mark the place, and consider it a little at your leisure.—I am sure you can give it a little turn.'-I returned from Lord Halifax's with Dr. Garth, in his chariot; and, as we were going along, was saying to the Doctor, that my Lord had laid me under a great deal of difficulty by such loose and general observations: that I had been thinking over the passages almost ever since, and could not guess at what it was that offended his Lordship in either of them. Garth laughed heartily at my embarrassment; said, I had not been long enough acquainted with Lord Halifax to know his way yet; that I need not puzzle myself about looking those places over and over, when I got home. All you need do,' says he, is to leave them just as they are; call on Lord Halifax two or three months hence, thank him for his kind observations on those passages, and then read them to him as altered. I have known him much longer than you have, and will be answerable for the event.' I followed his advice; waited on Lord Halifax some time after; said, I hoped he would find his objections to those passages removed; read them to him exactly as they were at first; and his Lordship was extremely pleased with them, and cried out, Ay, now they are perfectly right, nothing can be better."
It is seldom that the great or the wise suspect that they are despised or cheated. Halifax, thinking this a lucky opportunity of securing immortality, made some advances of favour and some overtures of advantage to Pope, which he seems to have received with sullen coldness. All our knowledge of this transaction is derived from a single letter (Dec. 1, 1715,) in which Pope says, "I am obliged to you, both for the favours you have done me, and those you intend me. I distrust neither your will nor your memory, when it is to do good; and if I ever become troublesome or solicitous, it must not culti-be out of expectation, but out of gratitude. Your Lordship may cause me to live agreeably in the town, or contentedly in the country, which is really all the difference I set between an easy fortune and a small one. It is indeed a high strain of generosity in you to think of making me easy all my life, The 'Iliad' was published volume by volume, as only because I have been so happy as to divert you he translation proceeded: the four first books ap-some few hours: but, if I may have leave to add, it peared in 1715. The expectation of this work was is because you think me no enemy to my native undoubtedly high, and every man who had con- country, there will appear a better reason; for I nected his name with criticism, or poetry, was de- must of consequence be very much (as I sincerely sirous of such intelligence as might enable him to am) yours, &c." talk upon the popular topic. Halifax, who, by These voluntary offers, and this faint acceptance, having been first a poet, and then a patron of poe-ended without effect. The patron was not accustry, had acquired the right of being a judge, was tomed to such frigid gratitude: and the poet fed his willing to hear some books while they were yet own pride with the dignity of independence. unpublished. Of this rehearsal Pope afterwards They probably were suspicious of each other. gave the following account.* Pope would not dedicate till he saw at what rate
"The famous Lord Halifax was rather a pre-his praise was valued; he would be "troublesome tender to taste, than really possessed of it.-When out of gratitude, not expectation." Halifax thought I had finished the two or three first books of my himself entitled to confidence; and would give translation of the 'Iliad,' that Lord desired to have nothing unless he knew what he should receive. the pleasure of hearing them read at his house. Their commerce had its beginning in the hope of Addison, Congreve, and Garth, were there at the praise on one side, and of money on the other, and reading. In four or five places, Lord Halifax stopt ended because Pope was less eager of money than me very civilly, and with a speech each time of Halifax of praise. It is not likely that Halifax had much the same kind, 'I beg your pardon, Mr. Pope; any personal benevolence to Pope; it is evident but there is something in that passage that does not that Pope looked on Halifax with scorn and hatred.
The reputation of this great work failed of gaining him a patron; but it deprived him of a friend.