Page images
PDF
EPUB

first compliments, the Bishop said to me, My friend Pope, considering your infirmities, and my age and exile, it is not likely that we should ever meet again ; and therefore I give you this legacy to remember me by it.-Does your lordship abide by it yourself? I do. If you do, my lord, it is but lately. May I beg to know what new light or arguments have prevailed with you now, to entertain an opinion so contrary to that which you entertained of that book all the former part of your life ?- The Bishop replied, We have not time to talk of these things; but take home the book : I will abide by it; and I recommend you to do so too; and so God bless you!"-Charity and justice call on us, not hastily to credit so marvellous a tale, without the strongest testimony for its truth. In one of those entertaining letters which the Bishop wrote about the year 1727, to a Mr. Thiriot,* a French gen

tleman,

In one of these letters he speaks thus of Sir Isaac Newton: “ The very lively and piercing eye that M. Fontenelle, in his famous eulogium, gives him, did not belong to him, at least not for twenty years past, about which time I first became acquainted with him. Indeed, in the whole air of his face and make, there was nothing of that penetrating sagacity which

appears

tleman, we find a striking remark on the Bishop of Meaux.* " There is a ferocious warmth in all he says, and his manner of saying it is noble and moving; and yet I question, after all, whether he sometimes is in good earnest.Atterbury was, on the whole, rather a man of ability than a genius. He writes more with elegance and correctness, than with any force of thinking or reasoning. His letters to POPE are too much crowded with very trite quotations from the classics. It is said, he either translated, or intended to translate, the Georgics of Virgil, and to write the life of Cardinal Wolsey, whom he much resembled. Dr. Warburton had a mean opinion of his critical abilities, and of his discourse on the läpis of Virgil. He was thought to be the

author

appears in his works. He had something rather languid in his look and manner, which did not raise any great expectation in those who did not know him.

* Before he composed a funeral oration, he used to shut himself up for four or five days, and read Homer. Being asked the reason of this practice, he replied,

-Magnam mihi mentem, animumque
Delius inspirat valesca

author of the life of Waller, prefixed to the first octavo edition of that poet's works.

There is a happy imitation of Persius, and of Boileau, at verse 128.

-Come then, I'll comply :
Spirit of Arnall! aid me while I lie !
Cobham's a coward, Polwarth is a slave,
And Lyttelton a dark designing knave:
St. John has ever been a wealthy fool ;
But let me add, Sir Robert's mighty dull.

This is the passage of Persius, Sat. i. v. 110.

-Per me equidem sint omnia protinus alba,
Nil moror; Euge, omnes, omnes, bene miræ eritis res;
Hoc juvat ?

And thus Boileau, Sat. ix. v. 287.

Puisque vous le voulez, je vais changer de stile,
Je le declare donc, Quinault est un Virgile.
Pradon comme un soleil en nos ans a paru.
Pelletier ecrit mieux qu'Ablancourt ni Patru.
Cotin, à ses sermons trainant toute la terre,
Fend les flots d'Auditeurs pour aller à sa chaire.

But

But Pope has plainly the superiority, by the artful and ironical compliments to his friends.

The beastly simile, at line 171, may safely be pronounced, however difficult it

may
be in

many cases to trace resemblances, to be taken from a passage in the Remains of Butler, the incomparable author of Hudibras:

Let courtly wits to wits afford supply,
As log to hog in huts of Westphaly ;
If one, through nation's bounty, or his lord's,
Has what the frugal dirty soil affords,
From him the next receives it, thick or thin,
As pure a mess almost as it came in:
The blessed benefit, not there confin’d,
Drops to the third, who nuzzles close behind :
From tail to mouth they feed, and they carouse ;
The last full fairly gives it to the House.

The passage in Butler runs thus :-“ Our modern authors write plays, as they feed hogs in Westphalia ; where but one eats pease or acorns, and all the rest feed upon his and one another's excrements.Thoughts on Various Subjects, p. 497, v. 2. Though those remains were not published in the life-time of Pope, yet Mr. Thyer informs us, that Mr. Longueville, in whose cus

tody

1

tody they were, communicated them to Atterbury, from whom Pope might hear of them. 'Tis impossible any two writers could casually hit upon an image so very peculiar and uncommon.

I conclude this Section by observing, that these Dialogues exhibit many marks of our author's petulance, party-spirit, and

party-spirit, and self-importance, and of assuming to himself the character of a general censor ; who, alas ! if he had possessed a thousand times more genius and ability than he actually enjoyed, could not alter or amend the manners of a rich and commercial, and, consequently, of a luxurious and dissipated nation. We make ourselves unhappy, by hoping to possess incompatible things : we want to have wealth without corruption, and liberty without virtue.

SECTION

« PreviousContinue »