« PreviousContinue »
was capable of improvement; and, having luck- / attempt a composition of that tender kind aroso, ily contrived to borrow his machinery from the as Mr. Savage told me, from his perusal of Rosicrucians, imparted the scheme with which Prior's “ Nutbrown Maid.” How much he his head was teeming to Addison, who told him has surpassed Prior's work it is not necessary that his work as it stood, was “a delicious to mention, when perhaps it may be said with little thing," and gave him no encouragement justice, that he has excelled every composition to retouch it.
of the same kind. The mixture of religious This has been too hastily considered as an in- hope and resignation gives an elevation and digstance of Addison's jealousy; for, as he could nity to disappointed love which images merely not guess the conduct of the new design, or the natural cannot bestow. The gloom of a conpossibilities of pleasure comprised in a fiction of vent strikes the imagination with far greater which there had been no examples, he might force than the solitude of a grove. very reasonably and kindly persuade the author This piece was, however, not much his fato acquiesce in his own prosperity, and forbear vourite in his latter years, though I never heard an attempt which he considered as an unneces- upon what principle he slighted it. sary bazard.
In the next year (1713) he published “ WindAddison's counsel was happily rejected. Pope sor Forest;" of which part was, as he relates, foresaw the future efflorescence of imagery then written at sixteen, about the same time as his budding in his mind, and resolved to spare no Pastorals, and the latter part was added afterart or industry of cultivation. The soft luxu- wards : where the addition begins, we are not riance of his fancy was already shooting, and told. The lines relating to the peace confess all the gay varieties of diction were ready at his their own date. It is dedicated to Lord Lanshand to colour and embeHish it.
downe, who was then high in reputation and His attempt was justified by its success. influence among the tories; and it is said, that “ The Rape of the Lock” stands forward, in the conclusion of the poem gave great pain to the classes of literature, as the most exquisite Addison, both as a poet and a politician. Reexample of ludicrous poetry. Berkeley con- ports like this are always spread with boldness gratulated him upon the display of powers very disproportionate to their evidence. Why more truly poetical than he had shown before : should Addison receive any particular disturbwith elegance of description, and justness of ance from the last lines of " Windsor Forest ?”' precepts, he had now exhibited boundless fer- If contrariety of opinion could poison a polititility of invention.
cian, he would not live a day; and, as a poet, He always considered the intermixture of the he must have felt Pope's force of genius much machinery with the action as his most success- more from many other parts of his works. ful exertion of poetical art. He indeed could The pain that Addison might feel it is not never afterwards produce any thing of such un- likely that he would' confess; and it is cerexampled excellence. Those performances which tain that he so well suppressed his discontent, strike with wonder are combinations of skilful that Pope now thought himself his favourite; genius with happy casualty; and it is not likely for, having been consulted in the revisal of that any felicity like the discovery of a new race “ Cato,” he introduced it by a Prologue ; and, of preternatural agents should bappen twice to when Dennis published his Remarks, underthe same man.
took, not indeed to vindicate, but to revenge his Of this poem the author was, I think, al- friend, by a “ Narrative of the Frenzy of John lowed to enjoy the praise for a long time with Dennis.” out disturbance. Many years afterwards, Den- There is reason to believe that Addison gave nis published some remarks upon it, with very no encouragement to this disingenuous hostility; little force, and with no effect; for the opinion for, says Pope, in a letter to him, “ indeed of the public was already settled, and it was no your opinion, that it is entirely to be neglected, longer at the mercy of criticism.
would be my own in my own case; but I felt. About this time he published “ The Temple more warmth here than I did when I first saw of Fame,” which, as he tells Steele in their his book against myself (though indeed in two correspondence, he had written two years bem minutes it made me heartily merry).” Addifore; that is, when he was only twenty-two son was not a man on whom such cant of senyears old, an early time of life for so much sibility could make much impression. He left learning and so much observation as that work the pamphlet to itself, having disowned it to exhibits.
Dennis, and perhaps did not think Pope to have On this poem Dennis afterwards published deserved much by his officiousness. some remarks, of which the most reasonable is, This year was printed in “ The Guardian” that some of the lines represent Motion as ex- the ironical comparison between the Pastorals hibited by Sculpture.
of Philips and Pope; a composition of artifice, Of the epistle from “ Eloisa to-Abelard,” I criticism, and literature, to which nothing equal do not know the date. His first inclination to will easily be found. The superiority of Pope is so ingeniously dissembled, and the feeble lines | cess when the “ Tatlers" were collected into of Philips so skilfully preferred, that Steele, volumes. being deceived, was unwilling to print the pa- There was reason to believe that Pope's atper, lest Pope should be offended. Addison tempt would be successful. . He was in the full immediately saw the writer's design; and, as bloom of reputation, and was personally known it seems, had malice enough to conceal his dis- to almost all whom dignity of employment, or covery, and to permit publication which, by splendour of reputation, had made eminent; he making his friend Philips ridiculous, made him conversed indifferently with both parties, and for ever an enemy to Pope.
never disturbed the public with his political It appears that about this time Pope had a opinions; and it might be naturally expected, strong inclination to unite the art of painting as each faction then boasted its literary zeal, with that of poetry, and put himself under the that the great men, who on other occasions tuition of Jervas. He was near-sighted, and practised all the violence of opposition, would therefore not formed by nature for a painter; emulate each other in their encouragement of a he tried, however, how far he could advance, poet who had delighted all, and by whom none and sometimes persuaded his friends to sit. A had been offended. picture of Betterton, supposed to be drawn by With those hopes he offered an English him, was in the possession of Lord Mansfield : * “ Iliad" to subscribers, in six volumes in quarif this was taken from the life, he must have to, for six guineas; a sum, according to the begun to paint earlier ; for Betterton was now value of money at that time, by no means indead. Pope's ambition of this new art pro- considerable, and greater than I believe to have duced some encomiastic verses to Jervas, which been ever asked before. Ilis proposal, however, certainly show his power as a poet; but I have was very favourably received; and the patrons been told that they betray his ignorance of of literature were busy to recommend his unpainting.
dertaking and promote his interest. Lord OxHe appears to have regarded Betterton with ford, indeed, lamented that such a genius should kindness and esteem ; and after his death pub- be wasted upon a work not original; but prolished, under his name, a version into modern posed no means by which he might live with. English of Chaucer's Prologues, and one of his out it. Addison recommended caution and Tales, which, as was related by Mr. Harte, moderation, and advised him not to be content were believed to have been the performance of with the praise of half the nation, when he Pope himself by Fenton, who made him a gay might be universally favoured. offer of five pounds, if he would show them in The greatness of the design, the popularity of the hand of Betterton.
the author, and the attention of the literary The next year (1713) produced a bolder at- world, naturally raised such expectations of the tempt, by which profit was sought as well as future sale, that the booksellers made their ofpraise. The poems which he had hitherto fers with great eagerness; but the highest bidwritten, however they might have diffused his der was Bernard Lintot, who became propriename, had made very little addition to his for- tor, on condition of supplying at his own tune. The allowance which his father made expense all the copies which were to be delivered him, though, proportioned to what he had, it to subscribers or presented to friends, and paymight be liberal, could not be large; his reli- ing two hundred pounds for every volume. gion hindered him from the occupation of any Of the quartos it was, I believe, stipulated civil employment; and he complained that he that none should be printed but for the author, wanted even money to buy books.t
that the subscription might not be depreciated ; He therefore resolved to try how far the fa- but Lintot impressed the small pages upon a vour of the public extended, by soliciting a sub- small folio, and paper perhaps a little thinner; scription to a version of the “ Iliad,” with large and sold exactly at half the price, for half a notes.
guinea each volume, books so little inferior to To print by subscription was, for some time, the quartos, that, by a fraud of trade, those a practice peculiar to the English. The first folios, being afterwards shortened by cutting considerable work for which this expedient was away the top and bottom, were sold as copies employed is said to have been Dryden's “ Vir- printed for the subscribers. gil;”and it had been tried again with suc- Lintot printed two hundred and fifty on royal
paper in folio, for two guineas a volume; of the small folio, having printed seventeen hundred
and fifty copies of the first volume, he reduced # It is still at Caen Wood.-N.
the number in the other volumes to a thousand. + Spence. # Earlier than this, viz. in 1688, Milton's “ Para.
It is unpleasant to relate that the bookseller, dise Lost” had been published with great success by after all his hopes and all his liberality, was, by subscription, in folio, under the patronage of Nir. a very unjust and illegal action, defrauded of (afterwards Lord) Somers.-R.
luis profit. An edition of the English “ Iliad" was printed in Holland, in duodecimo, and im- ' ance; and what man of learning would refuse ported clandestinely for the gratification of to help him ? Minute inquiries into the force those who were impatient to read what they of words are less necessary in translating Hocould not yet afford to buy. This fraud could mer than other poets, because his positions are only be counteracted by an edition equally general, and his representations natural, with cheap and more commodious; and Lintot was very little dependence on local or temporary compelled to contract his folio at once into a customs, on those changeable scenes of artificial duodecimo, and lose the advantage of an inter- life, which, by mingling originally with acci. mediate gradation. The notes, which in the dental notions, and crowding the mind with Dutch copies were placed at the end of each images which time effaces, produces ambiguity book, as they had been in the large volumes, in diction and obscurity in books. To this were now subjoined to the text in the same open display of unadulterated nature it must be page, and are therefore more easily consulted. ascribed, that Homer has fewer passages of Of this edition two thousand five hundred were doubtful meaning than any other poet either in first printed, and five thousand a few weeks af- the learned or in modern languages. I have terwards ; but indeed great numbers' were ne- read of a man, who being, by bis ignorance of cessary to produce considerable profit.
Greek, compelled to gratify his curiosity with Pope, having now emitted his proposals, and the Latin printed on the opposite page, declared, engaged not only his own reputation, but in that from the rude simplicity of the lines litersome degree that of his friends who patronized ally rendered, he formed nobl ide of the his subscription, began to be frighted at his own Homeric majesty, than from the laboured eleundertaking; and finding himself at first em- gance of polished versions. barrassed with difficulties, which retarded and Those literal translations were always at oppressed him, he was for a time timorous and hand, and from them he could easily obtain his uneasy, had his nights disturbed by dreams of author's sense with sufficient certainty; and long journeys through unknown ways, and among the readers of Homer the number is wished, as he said, “ that somebody would very small of those who find much in the Greek hang him.”
more than in the Latin, except the music of the This misery, however, was not of long con numbers. tinuance; he grew by degrees more acquainted If more help was wanting, he had the poetiwith Homer's images and expressions, and cal translation of Eobanus Hessus, an unweapractice increased his facility of versification. ried writer of Latin verses; he had the French In a short time he represents himself as des- Homers of La Valterie and Dacier, and the patching regularly fifty verses a day, which English of Chapman, Hobbes, and Ogilby. would show him by an easy computation the With Chapman, whose work, though now totermination of his labour.
tally neglected, seems to have been popular alHis own diffidence was not his only vexation. most to the end of the last century, he had very He that asks a subscription soon finds that he frequent consultations, and perhaps never tranhas enemies. All who do not encourage him slated any passage till he had read his version, defame him. He that wants money will ra- which indeed he has been sometimes suspected ther be thought angry than poor; and he that of using instead of the original. wishes to save his money conceals his avarice by Notes were likewise to be provided, for the his malice. Addison had hinted his suspicion six volumes would have been very little more that Pope was too much a tory; and some of than six pamphlets without them. What the the tories suspected his principles because he mere perusal of the text could suggest, Pope had contributed to “ The Guardian,” which wanted no assistance to collect or methodize; was carried on by Steele.
but more was necessary; many pages were to To those who censured his politics were be filled, and learning must supply materials added enemies yet more dangerous, who called to wit and judgment. Something might be in question his knowledge of Greek, and his gathered from Dacier; but no man loves to be qualifications for a translator of Homer. To indebted to his contemporaries, and Dacier was these he made no public opposition; but in one accessible to common readers. Eustathius was of his letters escapes from them as well as he therefore necessarily consulted. To read Eu
At an age like his, for he was not more stathius, of whose work there was then no Lathan twenty-five, with an irregular education, tin version, I suspect Pope, if he had been and a course of life of which much seems to willing, not to have been able; some other was have passed in conversation, it is not very therefore to be found, who had leisure as well likely that be overflowed with Greek. But as abilities; and he was doubtless most readily when he felt himself deficient he sought assist- employed who would do much work for little
The history of the notes has never been traced. ' Spence.
Broome, in his preface to his poems, declares
himself the commentator " in part upon the scribers were five hundred and seventy-fivo. Iliad;" and it appears from Fenton's letter, The copies for which subscriptions were given preserved in the Museum, that Broome was at were six hundred and fifty-four"; and only six first engaged in consulting Eustathius, but that hundred and sixty were printed. For these after a time, whatever was the reason, he de- copies Pope had nothing to pay; he therefore sisted ; another man, of Cambridge, was then received, including the two hundred pounds a employed, who soon grew weary of the work; volume, five thousand three hundred and twenty and a third, that was recommended by Thirlby, pounds four shillings without deduction, as the is now discovered to have been Jortin, a man books were supplied by Lintot. since well known to the learned world, who By the success of his subscription Pope was complained that Pope, having accepted and ap- relieved from those pecuniary distresses with proved his performance, never testified any cu- which, notwithstanding his popularity, he had riosity to see him, and who professed to have hitherto struggled. Lord Oxford bad often laforgotten the terms on which he worked. The mented his disqualification for public employterms which Fenton uses are very mercantile: ment, but never proposed a pension. While “ I think at first sight that his performance is the translation of “ Homer" was in its progress, very commendable, and have sent word for him Mr. Craggs, then secretary of state, offered to. to finish the 17th book, and to send it with his procure him a pension, which, at least during demands for his trouble. I have bere enclosed his ministry, might be enjoyed with secrecy. the specimen; if the rest come before the re- This was not
pted by Pope, who told him, turn, I will keep them till I receive your however, that if he should be pressed with order.”
want of money, he would send to him for Broome then offered his service a second time, occasional supplies. Craggs was not long in which was probably accepted, as they had after power, and was never solicited for money wards a closer correspondence. Parnell contri- by Pope, who disdained to beg what he did not buted the life of Homer, which Pope found so want. harsh, that he took great pains in correcting it; With the product of this subscription, which and by his own diligence, with such help as he had too much discretion to squander, he se.. kindness or money could procure him, in some- cured his future life from want, by considerable what more than five years he completed his annuities. The estate of the Duke of Buckversion of the “Iliad,” with the notes. He ingbam was found to have been charged with began it in 1712, his twenty-fifth year, and con- five hundred pounds. a year, payable to Pope,. cluded it in 1718, his thirtieth year.
which doubtless his translation enabled him to When we find him translating fifty lines a purchase. day, it is natural to suppose that he would have It cannot be unwelcome to literary curiosity brought his work to a more speedy conclusion that I deduce thus minutely the history of the The “ Iliad,” containing less than sixteen thou- English “ Iliad.' It is certainly the noblest sand verses, might have been despatched in less version of poetry which the world has ever than three hundred and twenty days, by fifty seen; and its publication must therefore be converses in a day. The notes, compiled with the sidered as one of the great events in the apnals assistance of his mercenaries, could not be sup- of learning. posed to require more time than the text.
To those who have skill to estimate the excelAccording to this calculation, the progress of lence and difficulty of this great work, it must Pope may seem to have been slow; but the dis- be very desirable to know how it was performed, tance is commonly very great between actual and by what gradations it advanced to correctperformances and speculative possibility. It is
Of such an intellectual process
the natural to suppose, that as much as has been knowledge has very rarely been attainable ; but done to-day may be done to-morrow; but on happily there remains the original copy of the the morrow, some difficulty emerges, or some Iliad,” which being obtained by Bolingbroke external impediment obstructs. Indolence, in- as a curiosity, descended from him to Mallet, terruption, business, and pleasure, all take their and is now, by the solicitation of the late Dr. turns of retardation ; and every long work is Maty, reposited in the Museum. lengthened by a thousand causes that can, and Between this manuscript, which is written ten thousand that cannot, be recounted. Per- upon accidental fragments of paper, and the haps no extensive and multifarious performance printed edition, there must have been an interwas ever effected within the term originally mediate copy, that was perhaps destroyed as it fixed in the undertaker's mind. He that runs returned from the press. against time has an antagonist not subject to From the first copy. I have procured a few casualties.
transcripts, and shall exhibit first the printed The encouragement given to this translation, lines, distinguished by inverted commas; then though report seems to have overrated it, was those of the manuscripts, with all their variasuch as the world has not often seen. The sub- tions. Those words which are given in italics
are cancelled in the copy, and the words Ye kings and warriors, may your vows be crown'a, placed under them adopted in their stead. And Troy's proud walls lie level with the ground; The beginning of the first book stands thus :
May Jove restore you, when your toils are o'er,
Safe to the pleasures of your native shore." “ The wrath of Peleus' son, the direful spring
To all he sued, but chief implored for grace Of all the Grecian woes, O Goddess, sing,
The brother Kings of Atreus' royal race : That wrath which hurld to Pluto's gloomy reign
Ye sons of Atreus, may your vows be crown'd, The souls of mighty chiefs untirnely slain."
kings and warriors
Your tabours, by the Gods be all your labours The stern Pelides' rage, O Goddess, sing,
So may the Gods your arms with conquest bless, Of all the woes of Greece the fatal spring,
And Troy's proud walls lie level with the ground; Grecian
laid That strew'd with wurriors dead the Phrygian
And crown your labours with deserved success ; plain, heroes
May Jovè restore you, when your toils are o'er, And peopled the dark hell with heroes slain;
Safe to the pleasures of your native shore. fill'd the shady hell with chiefs untimely
“ But, oh! relieve a wretched parent's pain, “ Whose limbs, unburied on the naked shore,
And give Chryseis to these arms again; Devouring dogs and hungry vultures tore,
If mercy fail, yet let my present move,
And dread avenging Phoebus, son of Jove."
But, oh! relieve a hapless parent's pain
And give my daughter to these arms again ; Whose limbs, unbaried on the hostile shore,
Receive my gifts ; if mercy fails, yet let my pre. Devouring dogs and greedy vultures tore,
sent move Since first Atrides and Achilles strove :
And fear the God that deals his darts around. Such was the sovereign doom, and such the will
avenging Phoebus, son of Jove. of Jove.
“ The Greeks, in shouts, their joint assent declare,, “ Declare, O Muse, in what ill-fated hour
The priest to reverence and release the fair.
Repulsed the sacred Sire, and thus reply'd.”
He said, the Greeks their joint assent declare, And for the King's offence the people died."
The father said, the generous Goreeks relent,
To accept the ransom, and release the fair; Declare, O Goddess, what offended Power
Revere the priest, and speak their joint assent ; Inflamed their rage, in that ill-omen'd hour; Not so the tyrant, he, with kingly pride, anger fatal, hapless
Atrides Phoebus himself the dire debate procured,
Repulsed the sacred Sire, and thus replied. fierce
[Not so the tyrant. Dryden.] To avenge the wrongs his injured priest endured; For this the God a dire infection spread,
Of these lines, and of the whole first book, And heap'd the camp with millions of the dead;
I am told that there was yet a former copy, The King of men the Sacred Sire defy'd,
more' varied, and more deformed with interliAnd for the King's offence the people died.
neations. “ For Chryses sought with costly gifts to gain
The beginning of the second book varies very His captive daughter from the Victor's chain ; little from the printed page, and is therefore set Suppliant the venerable Father stands,
down without a parallel; the few differences do Apollo's awful ensigns grace his hands;
not require to be elaborately displayed. By these he begs, and, lowly bending down, Extends the sceptre and the laurel crown."
“ Now pleasing sleep had seal'd each mortal eye ;
Stretch'd in their tents the Grecian leaders lie; For Chryses sought by presents to regain
The immortals slumber'd on their thrones above, costly gifts to gain
All but the ever-watchful eye of Jove. His captive daughter from the Victor's chain! To honour Thetis' son he bends his care, Suppliant the venerable Father stands,
And plunge the Greeks in all the woes of war. Apollo's awful ensigns graced his hands.
Then bids an empty phantom rise to sight, By these he begs, and lowly bending down And thus commands the vision of the night: The golden sceptre and the laurel crown,
directs Presents the sceptre
Fly hence delusive dream, and, light as air, For these as ensigns of his God he bare
To Agamemnou's royal tent repair ; The God that sends his golden shafts afar
Bid him in arms draw forth the embattled train, Then, low on earth, the venerable man,
March all his legions to the dusty plain. Suppliant, before the brother kings began.
Now tell the King 'tis given him to destroy
Declare even now “ He sued to all, but chief implored for grace The lofty walls of wide-extended Troy; The brother kings of Atreus' royal race: