« PreviousContinue »
That not for Fame, but Virtue's better end,
of Mr. Pope, the best Poet poems two or three tend to fend you of England, and at prefent of all the world. I hope you are achis called quainted enough with the English tongue, to be fenfible of all the charms of his works. For my part, I look the Effay on Criticism as fuperior to the Art of Poetry of Horace; and his Rape of the Lock is, in my opinion, above the Lutrin of Defpreaux. I never faw fo amiable an imagination, fo gentle graces, fo great variety, fo much wit, and fo refined knowledge W. of the world, as in this little performance." MS. Lett. Od. 15, 1726.
VER. 341. But loop'd to Truth, and moraliz'd his fong:] This may be faid no lefs in commendation of his literary, than of his moral character. And his fuperior excellence in poetry is owing to it. He foon difcovered in what his force lay; and he made the beft of that advantage, by a fedulous cultivation of his proper talent. For having read Quintilian early, this precept did not efcape him, Sunt hæc duo vitanda prorfus: unum ne tentes quod effici non poffit; alterum, ne ab eo, quod quis optime facit, in aliud, cui minus eft idoneus, transferas. It was in this knowledge and cultivation of his genius that he had principally the advantage of his great mafter, Dryden; who, by his Mac-Flecno, his Abfolom and Achitophel, but chiefly by his Prologues and Epilogues, appears' to have had great talents for this fpecies of moral poetry; but, unluckily, he feemed neither to understand nor attend to it. W.
Ibid. But floop'd to Truth,] The term is from falconry; and the allufion to one of thofe untam'd birds of fpirit, which fomeW. times wantons at large in airy circles before it regards, or floops to, its prey.
VER. 343. He flood the furious foe,] Stood, improperly used for withstood.
The diftant threats of vengeance on his head,
VER. 350. The tale reviv'd,] Formerly, "The tales of vengeance."
VER. 350. The lie fo oft o'erthrown,] As, that he received fubfcriptions for Shakespeare, that he fet his name to Mr. Broome's verfes, &c. which, though publicly disproved, were nevertheless fhamelessly repeated in the Libels, and even in that called the Nobleman's Epifle. P.
VER. 351. Th' imputed trafb,] Such as profane Pfalms, Court Poems, and other fcandalous things, printed in his name by Curl and others. W.
VER. 353. The fitur'd fhape;] Hay, in his effay on Deformity, has remarked, that Pope was fo hurt by the caricatura of his figure, as to rank it among the most atrocious injuries he received from his enemies. Hay, with much pleafantry, jefting on his own deformity, has added, " In perfon I refemble Efop, the Prince of Orange, Marfhal Luxemburg, Lord Treasurer Salif bury, Scarron, and Mr. Pope; not to mention Therfites and Richard the Third, whom I do not claim as members of our so"ciety; the first being a child of the poet's fancy; the last, misreprefented by hiftorians. Let me not be unthankful that I was not born in Sparta! where I had no fooner feen the light but I should have been deprived of it, and have been thrown, as an useless thing, into a cavern by Mount Taygetus."
VER. 354. Abufe, on all he lov'd, or lov'd him, fpread,] Namely, on the Duke of Buckingham, the Earl of Burlington, Lord Bathurft, Lord Bolingbroke, Bifhop Atterbury, Dr. Swift, Dr. Arbuthnot, Mr. Gay, his Friends, his Parents, and his very
The whisper, that to Greatness still too near,
VER. 368..in the MS.
Once, and but once, his heedlefs Youth was bit,
Great odds in am'rous or poetic game,
Nurse, afperfed in printed papers, by James Moore, G. Ducket, L. Welfted, Tho. Bentley, and other obfcure perfons.
VER. 356. The whisper, that to Greatnefs fill too near,] By the whisper is meant calumniating honeft characters. Shakespeare has finely expreffed this office of the fycophant of Greatness in the following line :
"Rain facrificial whifp'rings in his ear."
By which is meant the immolating men's reputations to the vice or vanity of his Patron. W.-Did Shakespeare mean this?
VER. 359. For thee, fair Virtue! welcome ev'n the laft!] This line is remarkable for prefenting us with the moft amiable image of fteady Virtue, mixed with a modeft concern for his being forced
This dreaded Satʼrift Dennis will confefs
to undergo the fevereft proofs of his love for it; which was the being thought hardly of by his SOVEREIGN.
VER. 363. Sporus at court,] In former editions, Glencus at court. VER. 374. Ten years] It was fo long after many libels before the Author of the Dunciad publifhed that poem, till when, he never writ a word in anfwer to the many fcurrilities and falfehoods concerning him. P.
VER. 375. Welfled's lie,] This man had the impudence to tell in print, that Mr. P. had occafioned a Lady's death, and to name a perfon he never heard of. He also published that he libelled the Duke of Chandos; with whom (it was added) that he had lived in familiarity, and received from him a prefent of five hundred pounds: the falfehood of both which is known to his Grace. Mr. P. never received any prefent, farther than the subscription for Homer, from him, or from any great Man whatsoever. P.
VER. 378. Let Budgel] Budgel, in a weekly pamphlet called the Bee, bestowed much abufe on him, in the imagination that he writ fome things about the Laft Will of Dr. Tindal, in the Grubfreet Journal; a Paper wherein he never had the leaft hand, direction, or fupervifal, nor the least knowledge of its Author. P.
VER. 379. Except his Will;] Alluding to Tindal's Will: by which, and other indirect practices, Budgel, to the exclufion of the next heir, a nephew, got to himself almost the whole fortune of a man entirely unrelated to him. P.
Let the two Curls of Town and Court, abuse
If there be force in Virtue, or in Song.
VER. 381. His father, mother, &c.] In fome of Curl's and other pamphlets, Mr. Pope's Father was faid to be a Mechanic, a Hatter, a Farmer, nay a Bankrupt. But, what is ftranger, a Nobleman (if fuch a reflection could be thought to come from a Nobleman) had dropt an allusion to that pitiful untruth, in a paper called an Epifle to a Doctor of Divinity: and the following line, "Hard as thy Heart, and as thy Birth obfcure,"
PARENTIBVS. BENEMERENTIBVS. FILIVS. FECIT.
had fallen from a like Courtly pen, in certain Verses to the Imitator of Horace. Mr. Pope's Father was of a Gentleman's Family in Oxfordshire, the head of which was the Earl of Downe, whose fole Heiress married the Earl of Lindfay.-His Mother was the daughter of William Turner, Efq. of York: She had three brothers, one of whom was killed, another died in the fervice of King Charles; the eldeft following his fortunes, and becoming a general officer in Spain, left her what estate remained after the fequeftrations and forfeitures of her family.-Mr. Pope died in 1717, aged 75; fhe in 1733, aged 93, a very few weeks after this Poem was finished. The following infcription was placed by their fon on their Monument in the parish of Twickenham in Middlesex :
D. O. M.
ALEXANDRO. POPE. VIRO. INNOCVO. PROBO. PIO.
QUI. VIXIT. ANNOS. LXXV. OB. MDCCXVII.
XCIII. OB. MDCCXXXIII.