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ing to the proverb, that 'some will stick,' but finds with ingenious cruelty just the appropriate defect. By this artifice, the greatest and noblest may be made to look mean. Of the great Duke of Marlborough the only trait which Pope records—and he recurs to it is his love of money. How grand, by contrast, shews Pope's friend, Bolingbroke, who, expressing his admiration of the Duke, when some one present objected his avarice, added, 'He was so great a man, I had almost forgot he had that fault.'
As in many other kinds of art, truth of detail is falsity in general effect. From the nature of satire this is inevitably so. The satirist is bound by his profession to dwell upon the faults. He cannot point out the merits of his characters without disturbing the tone of sentiment to which he appeals. But in drawing character, only the whole truth is the real truth. This even applies to fictitious character as well as to copies of actual life. Porson says (Rogers' Recollections, p. 122), 'In drawing a villain we should always furnish him with something that may seem to justify himself to himself.' In one instance only Pope has remembered this rule. In the character of Addison (Sat. and Ep. Prol. 193) he has mingled some traits of respect, which set off the imputations, and greatly heighten their effect. The character of Addison is Pope's masterpiece in this kind, because its injustice is artfully veiled under the guise of offended friendship.
Pope has been severely censured for having bestowed so much attention and elaborate verse upon inferior writers, the mere rabble and rout of literature. He called them his 'enemies,' and it is true that they had defamed him. They could not forgive him his success-a success which they had failed in achieving themselves. A distinguished literary success is, like any other L success, attended by the envy of the disappointed. But if we condemn the unsuccessful author for the indulgence of a jealousy which it is hard for human nature to stifle, what shall we say of the successful man who turns round upon his yet struggling fellows, insults their misery, and tramples on them, because he has been
fortunate enough to emerge? The literary value of the pro-ductions of Grub Street may have been little enough, but their authors, as men, were as good and honest men as Pope himself. It is the business of criticism to condemn a bad book. Pope's taste might have been usefully employed, like Boileau's, in signalising pretentious poetry, and exposing ambitious incapacity. But Pope was not content with censuring the books, he attacked their authors. Nor was this mistake enough. He fell furiously upon the trade of authorship, treated poverty as a vice, and descends even to contrast his own 'poet's dignity and ease' with the raggedness and dinnerlessness of the sons of rhyme. Johnson, who had drunk that bitter cup, justly resents this want of feeling. (Life of Pope.)
Pope may have caught this tone towards professional authors from his friend the Dean. But he had not Swift's justification; for Swift never derived any pecuniary profit from his writings. In Pope it was the more unpardonable, because it was in great part to literary manufacture-to his English Homer-that he owed his own comfortable home. To use his own sarcasm against Addison (Sat. and Ep. Prol. 200), he 'hated for arts that caus'd himself to rise.'
The Dunciad is the piece which is most obnoxious to this charge. It is wholly inspired by this animosity against needy authors. But the Satires and Epistles are not free from the taint. In these we meet with Curll, Cibber, Gildon, Tate, Welsted, Budgell, Eusden, Settle. All these were, as writers, if not below criticism, at least below any criticism that aspired to live. Even if it were not demeaning Pope to notice their productions, it was lessening the chance of his satire being read by posterity. He knew the error he was committing in attaching his verse to such inferior names. He writes to Swift in 1723, 'What Virgil had to do with Mævius that he should wear him on his sleeve to all eternity, I do not know.' That poetry which is to be permanent must deal with permanent themes. Satirical, is not any more than any other, poetry absolved from this obligation. Satire, even when individual, must never lose
sight of just and noble ends. Of all petty things nothing is so
It is indeed doubtful, and has been doubted with special
He enforces the
rules of literary taste, which
opinion for this duty. (Quarterly Review, October 1825.) 'The
Ceffect of satire is not confined to daunting vice; virtue feels her confidence increased by being armed with such weapons, and her conscious dignity and scorn augmented in beholding vice publicly humbled.) There can be no doubt that Pope's shafts of satire, pointed by wit and winged by verse, have struck on many a heart callous to all but the dread of infamy; and this not merely in the individuals actually exposed, but in all of every age who recognise the same character in themselves, or fear the application of it by others.'
But he who undertakes satire as a public duty must possess an elevation of soul and an impassioned intelligence to which Pope cannot lay claim.) Yet Pope had before him two models-models of excellence in very different kinds of satire, but both agreeing in this, that their satire enforced the public reason, and was not the instrument of private vengeance. Pope was well acquainted with the writings of both, but from neither of them could he learn this lesson.
De Quincey has strenuously denied the propriety of denominating Pope and his followers the 'French School.' Without enquiring how far this is true, no student of our poetry can fail to see the influence of Boileau upon Pope's style. In the Notes to this edition a number of direct imitations are pointed out. But the resemblance is much more general and diffused than that of single imitations. All that distinguishes Pope from his predecessors of the school of Dryden-his chastized severity of style, as opposed to their florid facility-is due to the example of Boileau. But while thus learning composition from Boileau, Pope neglected to learn what Boileau lays down as the rule of his poetry, 'Rien n'est beau que le vrai.' Boileau is a classic, not only by reason of his style, but in virtue of his judgments. His dicta are so many axioms. When he condemns or commands it is the verdict of common sense that we hear. And Boileau never transgresses the bounds of legitimate criticism. He had no libels on his conscience. He did indeed rouse the wrath of fashionable authors, and of grandees. He refused homage alike to false taste in writing, and to the noble patrons of that false
taste. But he did it in tones of manly rebuke, or polished sarcasm. All the forms of eloquent raillery, and well-bred contempt, the keen strokes of wit which it is impossible to parry or to resent, these only are Boileau's weapons. Hence the classic durability of Boileau. His personal allusions are so many principles clothed in concrete form. (Nisard, 2. 382.) 'Changez les noms des poëtes immolés par Boileau sous d'autres noms je vois les mêmes défauts. Les Chapelain, les Scudéry, les Cotin, ne sont si populaires que par ce que les défauts qui se personnifient en eux sont éternels. Tel novateur n'est qu'un vieil ennemi de l'esprit français; il y a près de deux siècles, on le nommait Pradon.' Boileau is consequently a standard at once for the language and the literature of his country. His verdicts are unimpeachable, his decisions without appeal. His Satires and Epistles have made, for more than a century, an integral part of all liberal education in France. They do not require the qualifications and abatements which are necessary in putting Pope into the hands of the young.
Another example nearer home was before Pope in Addison, whose pen, in the words of Sainte-Beuve, was 'sans mollesse, et sans amertume.' 'No kind of power (Macaulay, Essays, 2. 342) is more formidable than the power of making men ridiculous; and that power Addison possessed in boundless measure. How grossly that power was abused by Swift and by Voltaire is well known. But of Addison it may be confidently affirmed that he has blackened no man's character, nay, that it would be difficult, if not impossible, to find in all the volumes which he has left us a single taunt which can be called ungenerous or unkind. Yet he had detractors; he was a politician; he was the best writer of his party; he lived in times of fierce excitement, in < times when persons of high character and station stooped to scurrility such as is now practised only by the basest of mankind. Yet no provocation and no example could induce him to return raillery for raillery.")
These are heavy deductions to make from the merit both of the author and his writings. If these defects are found in Pope,