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cond of the Italian poets, for that wonderful original Dante is the firft, is faid to have recited poems and orations of his writing, when he was feven. It is however certain, which is more extraordinary, that he produced his Rinaldo in his eighteenth year, no bad curfor to the Gierufalemma Liberata, and no small effort of that genius, which was one day to fhew, how fine an epic poem the Italian language, notwithstanding the vulgar imputation of effeminacy, was capable of producing.

THOSE who are fond of biographical anecdotes, which are fome of the most amufive and inftructive parts of hiftory, will be perhaps pleased with the following particulars in the life of POPE. He frequently declared, that the time of his beginning to write verses, was so very early in his life, that he could fcarcely recal it to his memory. When he was yet a child, his father, who had been a merchant in London, and retired to Binfield with about twenty thousand pounds, would frequently

quently order him to make English verses. It seems he was difficult to be pleased, * and would make the lad correct them again and again. When at last he approved them, he took great pleasure in perufing them, and would fay," thefe are good RHYMES." These early praises of a tender and respected parent, cooperating with the natural inclination of the fon, may poffibly be the caufes that fixed our young bard in a resolution of becoming eminent in this art. He was taught to read very early by an aunt; and of his own indefatigable induftry learned to write, by copying printed books, which he executed. with great neatness and exactnefs. When he was eight years old, he was put under the direction of one Taverner, a priest, who taught him the rudiments of the latin and greek tongues together. About this time he accidentally met with Ogilby's translation of Homer, which, notwithstanding the deadness and infipidity of the verfification, arrested

* See his Works, vol. 4. pag, 18.

his attention by the force of the story. The Ovid of Sandys fell next in his way; and it is faid, that the raptures thefe tranflations. gave him were so strong, that he spoke of them with pleasure to the period of his life. About ten, being now at school at Hide-park corner, whither he went from a popish seminary at Twiford, near Winchester, he was carried fometimes to the playhouse ; and being ftruck, we may imagine, with theatrical representations, he turned the chief events into a kind of play, made up of a number of fpeeches from Ogilby's tranflation, connected with verfes of his own. He perfuaded the upper boys to act this piece, which, from its curiofity, one would have been glad to have beheld. The master's gardener represented the character of Ajax; and the actors were dreffed after the pictures of his favourite Ogilby, far the best part of that book, as they were defigned and engraved by artists of note. At twelve, he retired with his father into Windfor-Foreft; and it was there he first perufed the writings of Waller, of Spenfer,

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and of Dryden. The fecond is faid to have made a poet of Cowley; that Ogilby should give our author his first poetic pleasures, is a remarkable circumftance. On the first fight of Dryden he abandoned the rest, having now found an author, whofe caft was exactly congenial with his own. His works therefore he studied, with equal pleasure and attention : he placed them before his eyes as a model; of which more will be faid in the course of thefe papers. He copied not only his harmonious verfification, but the very turns of his periods. It was hence he was enabled to give to rhyme all the harmony of which it is capable. *

ABOUT this time, that is about fifteen years old, he began to write his ALCANDER, an epic poem, of which he himself speaks with fo much amiable frankness and ingenuity, in a paffage restored to his excellent preface to his works. "I confefs there was a time when

* See WORKS, vol. 4. pag. 18.

" I was

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"I was in love with myself, and my first productions were the children of self-lvoe upon innocence. I had made an epic

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poem, and panegyrics on all the princes of Europe, and I thought myself the greatest genius that ever was. I cannot but regret "these delightful vifions of my childhood,

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which, like the fine colours we see when our eyes are shut, are vanished for ever." Atterbury had perused this early piece, and, we may gather from one of his letters, advised him to burn it; though he adds, "I would "have interceeded for the first page, and put " it, with your leave, among my curiofities."* I have been credibly informed, that some of the anonymous verfes, quoted as examples of the Art of Sinking in Poetry, in the incomparable fatire fo called, were fuch as our poet remembered from his own ALCANDER. fenfible of its own errors and imperfections is a mind truly great.

* Nec placet ante annos vates puer: omnia justo


Tempore proveniant.

M 2

Vida Poet. L. 1.


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