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Say for my comfort, languishing in bed,
'Juft fo immortal Maro held his head:"
And when I die, be fure you let me know
Great Homer dy'd three thousand years ago.
Why did I write? what fin to me unknown125
Dipt me in ink, my parents', or my own?
As yet a child, nor yet a fool to fame,

I lifp'd in numbers, for the numbers came.

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But, friend, this shape, which You and Curl admire,
Came not from Ammon's fon, but from my Sire:
And for my head, if you'll the truth excufe,
I had it from my Mother, not the Muse.
Happy, if he, in whom these frailties join'd,
Had heir'd as well the virtues of the mind.

Curl fet up his head for a fign.

b His Father was crooked. His Mother was much afflicted with head-achs.


VER. 127. As yet a child, &c.] He used to say, that he began to write verfes further back than he could remember. When he was eight years old, Ogilby's Homer fell in his way, and delighted him extremely; it was followed by Sandys' Ovid; and the raptures these then gave him were fo ftrong, that he spoke of them with pleasure ever after. About ten, being at fchool at Hide-park-corner, where he was much neglected, and fuffered to go to the Comedy with the greater boys, he turned the tranfactions of the Iliad into a play, made up of a number of speeches from Ogilby's tranflation, tacked together with verfes of his own. He had the addrefs to perfuade the upper boys to act it; he even prevailed on the Mafter's Gardener to reprefent Ajax; and contrived to have all the actors dressed after the pictures in his favourite Ogilby. At twelve he went with VOL. IV.


I left no calling for this idle trade,

No duty broke, no father disobey'd.


The Mufe but serv'd to ease some friend, not Wife,
To help me thro' this long disease, my Life,
To second, ARBUTHNOT! thy Art and Care,
And teach, the Being you preferv'd, to bear.

But why then publish? Granville the polite, 1 3 5
And knowing Walsh, would tell me I could write;
Well-natur'd Garth inflam'd with early praise,
And Congreve lov'd, and Swift endur'd my lays;
The courtly Talbot, Somers, Sheffield read,
Ev'n mitred Rochefter would nod the head, 140


his Father into the Forest: and then got first acquainted with the writings of Waller, Spencer, and Dryden; in the order I have named them. On the first fight of Dryden, he found he had what he wanted. His Poems were never out of his hands; they became his model; and from them alone he learnt the whole magic of his verfification. This year he began an epic Poem, the fame which Bp. Atterbury, long afterwards, perfuaded him to burn. Befides this, he wrote, in thofe early days, a Comedy and Tragedy, the latter taken from a story in the Legend of St. Genevieve. They both defervedly underwent the fame fate. As he began his Paftorals foon after, he used to fay pleafantly, that he had literally followed the example of Virgil, who tells us, Cum canerem reges et prælia, &c.

VER. 130. no father difobey'd.] When Mr. Pope was yet a Child, his Father, though no Poet, would fet him to make English verfes. He was pretty difficult to please, and would often fend the boy back to new turn them. When they were to his mind, he took great pleasure in them, and would fay, Thefe are good rhymes.

VER. 139. Talbot, &c.] All these were Patrons or Admirers of Mr. Dryden; though a scandalous libel against him, entitled,

And St. John's self (great Dryden's friends before)
With open arms receiv'd one Poet more.
Happy my ftudies, when by these approv'd!
Happier their author, when by these belov'd!
From these the world will judge of men and books,
Not from the Burnets, Oldmixons, and Cooks. 146

Soft were my numbers; who could take offence While pure Description held the place of Sense?


Dryden's Satyr to his Mufe, has been printed in the name of the Lord Somers, of which he was wholly ignorant.

These are the perfons to whose account the Author charges the publication of his firft pieces: perfons, with whom he was converfant (and he adds beloved) at 16 or 17 years of age; an early period for fuch acquaintance. The catalogue might be made yet more illuftrious, had he not confined it to that time when he writ the Paflorals and Windfor Foreft, on which he paffes a fort of Cenfure in the lines following,

While pure Description held the place of Senfe? &c. P. VER. 146. Burnets, &c.] Authors of fecret and fcandalous History.

Ibid. Burnets, Oldmixons, and Cooks.] By no means Authors of the fame clafs, though the violence of party might hurry them into the fame miftakes. But if the first offended this way, it was only through an honeft warmth of temper, that allowed too little to an excellent understanding. The other two, with very bad heads, had hearts ftill worse.

VER. 148. While pure Defcription held the place of Senfe ?] He uses pure equivocally, to fignify either chaffe or empty; and has given in this line what he efteemed the true Character of defcriptive poetry, as it is called. A compofition, in his opinion, as abfurd as a feaft made up of fauces. The use of a pictorefque imagination is to brighten and adorn good fenfe; fo that to employ it only in defcription, is like childrens delighting in å prifm for the fake of its gaudy colours; which when frugally


Like gentle Fanny's was my flow'ry theme,
A painted mistress, or a purling ftream.
Yet then did Gildon draw his venal quill;
I wish'd the man a dinner, and fate ftill.
Yet then did Dennis rave in furious fret;
I never anfwer'd, I was not in debt.


If want provok'd, or madness made them print, 155 I wag'd no war with Bedlam or the Mint.

Did fome more fober Critic come abroad; If wrong, I fmil'd; if right, I kifs'd the rod. Pains, reading, study, are their juft pretence, And all they want is spirit, taste, and sense. 160 Comma's and points they set exactly right, And 'twere a fin to rob them of their mite.

Yet ne'er one sprig of laurel grac'd these ribalds, From flashing Bentley down to pidling Tibalds:


managed, and artfully difpofed, might be made to represent and illuftrate the nobleft objects in nature.

VER. 150. A painted meadow, or a purling fiream. is a verfe of Mr. Addison.


VER. 163. these ribalds,] How defervedly this title is given to the genius of PHILOLOGY, may be feen by a fhort account of the manners of the modern Scholiafts.

When in these latter ages, human learning raised its head in the Weft, and its tail, verbal criticifm, was, of course, to rife with it; the madness of Critics foon became fo offenfive, that the fober stupidity of the monks might appear the more tolerable evil. 7. Argyropylus, a mercenary Greek, who came to teach fchool in Italy, after the facking of Conftantinople by the Turks,

Each wight, who reads not, and but scans and spells, Each Word-catcher, that lives on fyllables, 166.


used to maintain that Cicero understood neither Philofophy nor Greek: while another of his Countrymen, J. Lafcaris by name, threatened to demonftrate that Virgil was no Poet. Countenanced by fuch great examples, a French Critic afterwards un-dertook to prove that Ariftotle did not understand Greek, nor Titus Livius, Latin. It was the fame difcernment of fpirit, which has fince difcovered that Jofephus was ignorant of He-brew; and Erfmus fo pitiful a Linguift, that, Burman afsures us, were he now alive, he would not deferve to be put at the head of a country fchool. For though time has ftrip'd the prefent race of Pedants of all the real accomplishments of their predeceffors, it has conveyed down this fpirit to them, unimpaired; it being found much easier to ape their manners, than to imitate their science. However, thofe earlier Ribalds raised an appetite for the Greek language in the Weft: infomuch, that Her-. molaus Barbarus, a passionate admirer of it, and a noted Critic, used to boast, that he had invoked and raised the Devil, and puzzled him into the bargain, about the meaning of the Aristotelian ENTEAEXEIA. Another, whom Balzac fpeaks of, was as eminent for his Revelations and was wont to say, that the meaning of fuch or fuch a verfe, in Perfius, no one knew but GOD and himself. While the celebrated Pomponius Latus, in excess of Veneration for Antiquity, became a real Pagan, raised altars to Romulus, and facrificed to the Gods of Latium: in which he was followed by our countryman, Baxter, in every thing, but in the expence of his facrifices.

But if the Greeks cried down Cicero, the Italian Critics knew how to support his credit. Every one has heard of the 'childifh exceffes into which the ambition of being thought CICERONIANS carried the most celebrated Italians of this time. They abftained from reading the Scriptures for fear of spoiling their style: Cardinal Bembo used to call the Epiftles of St. Paul by the contemptuous name of Epiftolaccias, great overgrown Epiftles. But ERASMUS cured their frenzy in that inafterpiece of good fenfe, his Ciceronianus. For which (in the way Lunatics treat their Phyficians) the elder Scaliger infulted him with all the brutal fury peculiar to his family and profefiion.

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