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which Lord Petre cut off a lock of Mrs. Arabella Fermor's hair. This, whether by stealth or violence, was so much resented, that the commerce of the two families, before very friendly, was interrupted.
The Rape of the Lock' stands forward in the classes of literature, as the most exquisite example of ludicrous poetry. Berkeley congratulated him upon the display of powers more truly poetical than he had shewn before; with elegance of description and justness of precepts, he had now exhibited boundless fertility of invention.
This poem established his poetical character in such a manner, that he was called upon by the public voice to enrich our language with the translation of the Iliad,' which he began at twenty-five, and executed in five years. This was published for his own benefit, by subscription, the only kind of reward which he received for his writings, which do honour to our age and country.
By the success of his subscription Pope was relieved from those pecuniary distresses with which, notwithstanding his popularity, he had hitherto struggled. Lord Oxford had often lamented his disqualification for public employment, but never proposed a pension. While the translation of Hoiner was in its progress, Mr. Craggs, then secretary of state, offered to procure him a pension, which, at least during his ministry, might be enjoyed with secrecy. This was not accepted by Pope, who told him, however, that if he should be pressed with want of money, he would send to him for occasional supplies. Craggs was not long in power, and was never solicited for money by Pope, who disdained to beg what he did not want.
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 to have been charged with five hundred pounds a year, pay
able to Pope, which, doubtless, his translation enabled him to purchase.
The original copy of the 'Iliad' was obtained by Lord Bolingbroke as a curiosity, from whom it descended to Mr. Mallet, and is now, by the solicitation of the late Dr. Maty, deposited in the British Museum. Between this manuscript, which is written upon accidental fragments of paper, and the printed edition, there must have been an intermediate copy, which was probably destroyed as it returned from the press.
The reputation of Mr. Pope increasing every day. he was caressed, flattered, and railed at, according as he was feared or loved by different persons. Mr. Wycherley was among the first authors of established reputation who contributed to advance his fame, and with whom he for some time lived in the most unreserved intimacy.
One of the most affecting and tender compositions of Mr. Pope is his Elegy to the Memory of an Unfortunate Lady, built on a true story. We are informed, that this young lady was a particular favourite of the poet, though it is not ascertained whether he was the person she was enamoured with. Her uncle finding that she would make no efforts to disengage her affection from her lover, forced her abroad, where she was received with a ceremony due to her quality, but restricted from the conversation of every one but the spies of this severe guardian, so that it was impossible for her lover even to have a letter delivered into her hands. She languished in this place a considerable time, bore an infinite deal of sickness, and was overwhelmed with the profoundest sorrow. Nature being wearied out with continual distress, and being driven at last to despair, the unfortunate lady, as Mr. Pope justly calls her, put an end to her own life, having bribed a maid servant to procure her a sword. She was found upon the ground weltering int
The poet, in the Elegy, takes occasion to mingle with the tears of sorrow, just reproaches upon her cruel uncle, who drove her to this violation.
But thou, false guardian of a charge too good,
The conclusion of this elegy is irresistibly affecting.
So peaceful rests, without a stone, a name,
A heap of dust alone remains of thee;
'Tis all thou art, and all the proud shall be!
No poem of our author's more deservedly obtained him reputation than his Essay on Criticism.' Mr. Addison, in his Spectator, No. 253, has celebrated it with such profuse terms of admiration, that it is really astonishing to find the same man endeavouring afterwards to diminish that fame he had contributed to raise so high.
"The Art of Criticism," says he, "which was published some months ago, is a master-piece in its kind. The observations follow one another, like those in Horace's Art of Poetry, without that methodical regularity which would have been requisite in a prose writer. They are some of them uncommon, but such as the reader must assent to when he sees them explained with that elegance and perspicuity with which they are delivered. As for those which are the most known, and the most received, they are placed in so beautiful a light, and illustrated with such apt allusions, that they have in them all the graces of novelty, and make the reader, who was before acquainted with them, still more convinced of their truth and solidity. And here give me leave to mention what Monsieur Boileau has so well enlarged upon, in the Preface to his Works, that wit fand fine writing do not consist so much in advancing things that are new, as in giving things that are
ixeris egra que, notum si callidâ verbun
known an agreeable turn. It is impossible for us, who live in the latter ages of the world, to make observations in criticism, morality, or any art and science, which have not been touched upon by others. We have little else left us but to represent the common sense of mankind in more strong, more beautiful, or more uncommon lights. If a reader examines Horace's Art of Poetry, he will find but few precepts in it which. he may not meet with in Aristotle, and which were not commonly known by all the poets of the Augustan age. His way of expressing and applying them, not his invention of them, is what we are chiefly to admire.
Longinus, in his Reflections, has given us the same kind of sublime which he observes in the several passages which occasioned them. I cannot but take notice that our English author has, after the same manner, exemplified several of his precepts in the very precepts themselves." He then produces some instances of a particular kind of beauty in the numbers, and concludes with saying, "That we have three poems in our tongue of the same nature, and each a master-piece in its kind; the Essay on Translated Verse, the Essay on the Art of Poetry, and the Essay on Criticism."
Addison and Pope were now at the head of poetry and criticism; and both in such a state of elevation, that, like the two rivals in the Roman state, one could no longer bear an equal, nor the other a superior. Of the gradual abatement of kindness between friends, the beginning is often scarcely discernible by themselves, and the process is continued by petty rovocations and incivilities, sometimes peevishly returned, and sometimes contemptuously neglected, which would escape all attention but that of pride, and drop from any memory but that of resentment. That the quarrel of these two wits should be minutely deduced, is not to be expected; however, we shall mention such circumstances as are the most material. The author of Mist's Journal positively asserts,
"that Mr. Addison raised Pope from obscurity, ob tained him the acquaintance and friendship of the whole body of our nobility, and transferred his powerful influence with those great men to this rising bard, who frequently levied, by that means, unusual contributions on the public."
When this charge of ingratitude and dishonour was published against Mr. Pope, to acquit himself of it, he called upon any nobleman whose friendship, or any one gentleman whose subscription, Mr. Addison had procured to our author, to stand forth and declare it, that truth might appear. But the whole libel was proved a malicious story by many persons of distinction, who, several years before Mr. Addison's decease, approved those verses denominated a libel, but which were, it is said, a friendly rebuke, sent privately in our author's own hand, to Mr. Addison, and never made public till by Curl, in his Miscellanies, 12mo. 1727. The lines are elegantly satirical, and, in the opinion of many unprejudiced judges, who had opportunities of knowing the character of Mr. Addison, are a good representation of him. Speaking of the poetical triflers of the time, who had declared against him, he makes a sudden transition to Addison,
Peace to all such! But were there one whose fires