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SELECTED POEMS; THE ESSAY ON CRITICISM;
THE MORAL ESSAYS; THE DUNCIAD
EDITED, with INTRODUCTION, NOTES, and APPENDIX
THOMAS ARNOLD, M.A.
UNIVERSITY COLLEGE, OXFORD
LONGMANS, GREEN, AND CO.
All rights reserved
OF THE principal works of Pope, the Essay on Man has been edited in a masterly way for the use of schools by Mr. Pattison, the Rector of Lincoln College; the Satires and Epistles also, with their Prologue and Epilogue, have been treated, not quite so exhaustively, by the same hand. The Rape of the Lock is included among the Longer English Poems so usefully and carefully edited by Mr. Hales. Among the remaining works, the most important, viz. the Essay on Criticism, the Moral Essays, and the Dunciad, are contained in the present volume. Nothing but the translations and imitations of the second rank, with the Pastorals, Windsor Forest, the Messiah, the Temple of Fame, and the short occasional poems, remains, which has not been edited for school use.
Let me say at once, that having constantly had before me the prospect of this book being in the hands of young persons of both sexes, I have suppressed without mercy all passages, lines, and words, the reading of which would clearly not tend to their
edification. I may be taxed with Bowdlerizing' Pope; and I freely admit that in what I have thought myself compelled to exclude there may be found not a few striking images and vigorous expressions. If I were preparing a cabinet edition-an edition for the reading world in general-I should, if I undertook it at all, make it a point of conscience to reproduce the text with exact fidelity. But the duty of an editor who is preparing a classic work to be used in schools is, I conceive, far different. However, the amount of alteration thus introduced into the text is, after all, extremely slight; and the reader may be confident that he has the genuine text of Pope before him, except so far as a consideration of school requirements rendered excision necessary.
ESSAY ON CRITICISM.
The ultimate impulse which acted on Pope in projecting and composing this remarkable poem may be traced to his youthful study, and intense, passionate, admiration, of the classic poets. The music of their verse, the grace of their phrase, and the elevation of their thoughts, made deep impressions on that strongly receptive intelligence; he felt that they were still not half so well known by his countrymen as they deserved to be; that their comparative obedience to rules arose out of a real freedom of the spirit, and a keen perception of the beautiful, with which the English license was incompatible; and he has left a tribute which is itself imperishable to these 'immortal
heirs of universal praise,' in the passage commencing at 1. 181 of this poem,
Still green with bays each ancient altar stands.
Yet it is not to be supposed that his admiration was all spontaneous, and stood in no relation to the general state of culture and tendency of criticism in Europe. Both in Italy and in France the tide had been running strongly for several generations against the Middle Ages and all their works; Christian antiquity was deemed Gothic and rude; and the literary class, clergy and laity alike, fixed its gaze on the art and poetry of the pagan world. Boileau in France was the eloquent exponent of this feeling ; he cared not for Dante, but he bowed to Horace
And Boileau still in right of Horace sways.
His Art Poétique, the leading principle of which is, that critical good sense is the most important of poetical qualities, was doubtless well known to Pope. The controversy in which he had been engaged with Perrault, and which had spread to England-Sir William Temple, Dryden, and Swift, taking up the one side, and Wootton, Bentley, and a number of obscure persons, the other-respecting the comparative merits of ancient and modern learning, must have excited a keen interest in the young poet. Dryden himself had written with great force on questions of literary and dramatic criticism; particularly in his Essay on Dramatic Poesy, in which he had critically compared the ancient with the modern stage, and the French drama with the English. The work of Bossu, Reflections on Epic Poetry, had been read