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as individuals of the fame. An idea of beauty may be formed, confonant to general nature in mankind, greater than can be found in any individual. An idea alfo may be formed of beauty, with the peculiarity of country, not as expreffed in an indivi-. dual, but as common to all its inhabitants, however different in features and complexion from each other: this beauty being an image without a particular archetype, is called ideal, to diftin-. guifh it from an image which is nothing more than the reflec tion of a particular object.
But if this is the Author's meaning, he has told us nothing which was not univerfally known before-As to portrait painting he is of opinion, that the artift fhould give graces to the picture though he finds none in the original. I would advife the painter, fays he, to place his model or object at fome diftance from himfelf, that is, fo far from him as to lofe the view of the little wrinkles, and other fuch fmall parts called minutia, fo that he may only fee the vifage in general; yet I would have it fo near, as to diftinguifh all that makes the perfon to be known at a little diftance: for thus the painter will always preferve a ceri tain general idea of the grand gout, and if he pleafes, he may: add fome particularities, but muit borrow them from what is moft graceful in the object; and if he find no fuch particulari-. ties in the object, he muft fupply the portrait with ideal particu larities, yet with fuch delicacy and nicenefs, that they may not. deftroy the refemblance.,.
A painter who fhould follow thefe directions would certainly' make his fortune; whether they are juit, we fall leave our Readers to determine.
Many fubfequent pages confift only of a ftring of exclama-, tions: What manly agility, what robuft genteelnefs, may be feen in a Diana! what beauty, what grace, in the goddefs of love! what dignity and grandeur in an Hercules! what agility and fuppleness in a gladiator and many more, from which the Reader can derive neither inftruction nor entertainment.
Thefe are followed by a laboured panegyric on Raphael; and the Author concludes his performance by aligning a proportion ideal and general, which, he fays, is very eafy, and conformable to the laws of nature. He divides the fature of both men and women into three claffes, each of which, he fays, may be fine and well proportioned. 1ft, The lofty ftature, or the tall and fiender. 2dly, The middling. 3dly, The low. Each of these fatures is divided into two equal parts; the upper part includes the head, neck, and trunk, the lower half the thighs, lers, and fect. The trunk is divided into three parts; the rit reaches from the throat to the pit of the ftomach; the 2d from the pit of the ftomach to the navel in women, and to the bend a little above the navel in men, and the third from thence to
the bottom of the belly. Other proportions are mentioned, with refpect both to the heighth and breadth of the human figure, but it is not neceffary to extract them, as they can be useful only to artists, and by artists are generally known.
Letters of the late Alexander Pope, Efq; to a Lady, never before published. 12mo. 2 s. fewed. Dodfley. 1769.
HE Editor, in a fhort advertisement prefixed to these Letters, fays, that they difcover the Writer's heart to have had a more amiable fenfibility, and to be tinctured with more goodness, than his other writings of this fort do. This paragraph contains an injurious infinuation, and a falfe fact. The moft tender fenfibility, and the moft ardent friendship are manifest in almost every line of Mr. Pope's Letters that have long been given to the world. They were written to a variety of perfons, whom it was lefs likely he fhould compliment at the expence of fincerity than a lady, who had written verfes, and fubmitted them to his correction; and therefore the expreffions of fenfibility and benevolence which they contain, are of greater authority than any that are contained in thefe, and, if Mr. Pope's character in this refpect was doubtful, would be ftronger evidence to ascertain it.
The originals of thefe letters, which are only twelve, are left in the hands of the Publither, but this was not neceffary to establish their authenticity.
Few as they are, they are not ranged in order of time, fome of them are without a date of the year; but the 5th contains fome verses, said to have been written in 1723, and the 7th is dated in September 1722. In the 12th, a poetical amusement is recommended, which, in the 8th, appears to have been declined.
There is some reason to fuppofe, that the lady to whom these letters are addreffed, was Mrs. Martha Blunt, with whom Mr. Pope is well known to have been long connected, by a tender friendship.
In the fifth letter he fays, I was the other day forming a scheme for a lady's happiness upon her birth day: and thinking of the greatest climax of felicity I could raife, ftep by step, to end it in this-a friend. I fancy I have fucceeded in the gradation, and fend you the whole copy to afk your opinion, or (which is much the better reafon) to defire you to alter it to your own with: for I believe you are a woman that can with for yourfelf more reafonably than I can for you. By this it appears that the verfes were made upon the lady to whom this letter is
written, and they are the fame that, in Mr. Pope's works, are infcribed to Mrs. Blunt, beginning
O! be thou bleft with all that Heav'n can fend.'
It is faid indeed, by fome who were perfonally acquainted with Mrs. Blunt, that he did not write verfe; if fo, these verses muft have been transferred to her from the perfon for whom they were originally intended.
The Letters exprefs great tendernefs and ardour, though some of them feem to have been written before Mr. Pope had feen the lady, and all of them before a perfonal acquaintance was formed between them.
In the first Letter, Mr. Pope fays, I challenge a kind of relation to you on the foul's fide, which I take to be better than either on a father's or mother's; and if you can overlook an ugly body, (that ftands much in the way of any friendship, when it is between different fexes), I fhall hope to find you a true and conftant kinfwoman in Apollo--your writings are very good, and very entertaining, but not fo good nor fo entertaining as your life and converfation.' In the fecond Letter he says, I am very proud of my new relation, and like Parnaffus much the better, fince I found I had fo good a neighbour there, Mrs. H. [Mrs. Howard] who lives at court, fhall teach two country-folks fincerity.' In the 4th, the expreffions are ftill more warm; You will, fays he, unthinkingly do honour to a paltry hermitage, while you speak of Twittenham, where lives a creature altogether unworthy your memory or notice, because he really wishes he had never beheld you nor your's. You have spoiled him for a folitaire and a book all the days of his life; and put him into fuch a condition, that he thinks of nothing, and enquires of nothing, but after a person who has nothing to fay to him; and has left him for ever without hope of ever again regarding, or pleafing, or entertaining him, much lefs of feeing him. He has been fo mad with the idea of her, as to feal her picture, and paffes whole days in fitting before it, talking to himself, and (as fome people imagine) making verfes; but it is no fuch matter, for as long as he can get any of her's, he can never turn his head to his own, it is fo much better entertained.' In the 7th he fays, I am resolved, plainly to get over all objections, and faithfully to affure you. if you will help a bashful man to be past all preliminaries, and forms, I am ready to treat with you for your friendship; whatever regard I may fhew for things I am fo truly pleafed with, as with your entertaining writings, yet I fhall ftill have more for your perfon, and your health, and for your happiness. I would, with as much readiness, play the apothecary or nurfe, to mend your head-achs, as I would play the critic, to improve your verses.'
In the 8th Letter it appears, that this lady had written an epitaph, which Mr. Pope corrected; I fent it, fays he, in the very blots, the better to compare the places, and I can only fay it was done to the best of my judgment, and to the extent of my fincerity.Your heart muft be deeply concerned at the lofs not only of fo great, and so near a relation; but of a good man: a lofs this age can hardly ever afford to bear, and not often can fuftain.In the fame Letter he mentions his acquaintance with her as not yet begun. I long at laft, fays he, to be acquainted with you; and Mrs. H. [Howard] tells me you fhall foon be in town, and I bleft with the vision I have fo long defired.''
The last of thefe Letters is extracted for the amufement of our Readers; it is remarkable for a trait of Mrs. Howard's character, the verses on the Bower of Bedington, and a new subject for a poem.
Twitenham, Sept. 26, 1723.
It would be a vanity in me to tell you why I trouble you so foon again: I cannot imagine myfelf of the number of those correfpondents whom you call favourite ones; yet I know it is thought, that induftry may make a man what merit cannot : and if an old maxim of lord Oxford's be true, That in England if a man refolve to be any thing, and conftantly ftick to it, he may (even a lord-treasurer): if fo, I fay, it fhall not be want of refolution that fhall hinder me from being a favourite. In good earnest, I am more ambitious of being fo to you, madam, than I ever was, or ever fhall be, of being one to any prince, or (which is more) any prince's minifter, in Christendom.
I wish I could tell you any agreeable news of what your heart is concerned in; but I have a fort of quarrel to Mrs. H for not loving herfelf fo well as fhe does her friends: for thofe fhe makes happy, but not herself.
There is an air of fadnefs about her which grieves me, and which, I have learnt by experience, will increafe upon an indolent (I will not fay an affected) refignation to it. It will do fo in men, and much more in women, who have a natural foftnefs that finks them even when reafon does not. This I tell you in confidence; and pray give our friend fuch hints as may put her out of humour with inclancholy: your cenfure, or even your raillery, may have more weight with her than mine: a man cannot either fo decently, or fo delicately, take upon him to be a phyfician in thefe concealed diftempers.
You fee, madam, I proceed in trutting you with things that nearly concern me. In my last letter I fpoke but of a
trifle, myself: in this I advance farther, and speak of what touches me more, a friend.
This beautiful feafon will raife up fo many rural images. and descriptions in a poetical mind, that I expect, you, and all fuch as you (if there be any fuch), at least all who are not downright dull tranflators, like your servant, must neceffarily be productive of verses.
I lately faw a sketch this way on the bower of * Bedington: I could with you tried fomething in the defcriptive way on any subject you please, mixed with vision and moral; like pieces of the old provençal poets, which abound with fancy, and are the moft amusing fcenes in nature. There are three or four of this kind in Chaucer, admirable: "the Flower and the Leaf" every body has been delighted with.
I have long had an inclination to tell a fairy tale, the more wild and exotic the better; therefore a vifion, which is confined to no rules of probability, will take in all variety and luxurian cy of description you will; provided there be an apparent moral to it. I think, one or two of the Perfian tales would give one hints for fuch an invention and perhaps if the scenes were taken from real places that are known, in order to compliment particular gardens and buildings of a fine tafte (as I believe feveral of Chaucer's defcriptions do, though it is what nobody has obferved), it would add great beauty to the whole.
'I with you found fuch an amufement pleafing to you: if you did but, at leifure, form defcriptions from objects in nature itfelf, which ftruck you moft livelily, I would undertake to find a tale that should bring them all together: which you will think an odd undertaking, but in a piece of this fanciful and imaginary nature I am fure is practicable. Excufe this long letter; and think no man is more
and obliged fervant,
The lines here alluded to are as follows:
In Tempe's fhades the living lyre was ftrung,
The foothing murmur of the falling floods,
A nobler boaft, a higher glory yield,
Than that which Phoebus ftampt on Tempe's field:
REV. JULY 1769.