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despatched1. Of Italian learning he does not appear to have ever made much use in his subsequent studies 2.

He then returned to Binfield, and delighted himself with his 20 own poetry. He tried all styles, and many subjects. He wrote a comedy, a tragedy, an epick poem, with panegyricks on all the princes of Europe; and, as he confesses, 'thought himself the greatest genius that ever was 3. Self-confidence is the first requisite to great undertakings; he, indeed, who forms his opinion of himself in solitude, without knowing the powers of other men, is very liable to errour: but it was the felicity of Pope to rate himself at his real value.

Most of his puerile productions were by his maturer judge- 21 ment afterwards destroyed; Alcander, the epick poem, was burnt by the persuasion of Atterbury 5. The tragedy was founded on the legend of St. Genevieve'. Of the comedy there is no account 7.

Concerning his studies it is related that he translated Tully On 22 old Age; and that, besides his books of poetry and criticism, he

Warburton, iv. 206. His cousin, Mannick, said of this removal :-'We in the family looked upon it as a wildish sort of resolution.' Spence adds in a footnote:-'What his sister, Mrs. Racket, said "For you know, to speak plain with you, my brother has a maddish way with him." Little people mistook the excess of his genius for madness. "I gad, that young fellow will either be a madman or make a very great poet." Rag Smith after being in Mr. Pope's company when about fourteen. Spence's Anec. p. 25. See also ib. p. 193. For 'Rag Smith' see ante, SMITH, 43.

2 Like Addison in this. Boswell's Johnson, v. 310.

3 Warburton, Preface, p. 19.

* For 'the high opinion of their own powers' held by Milton and Dryden see ante, MILTON, 47; DRYDEN, 162, and for Addison's 'very high opinion of his own merit' see ante, ADDISON, 109. My epic was about two years in hand, from thirteen to fifteen.... I wrote four books towards it of about a thousand verses each; and had the copy by me till I burnt it by the

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advice of the Bishop of Rochester, a little before he went abroad.' Spence's Anec. pp. 276, 279. See also ib. pp. 24, 197-8. The Bishop went abroad in June, 1723. He wrote to Pope more than six years earlier:-'I am not sorry your Alcander is burnt.' Pope's Works (Elwin and Courthope), ix. 8.

Warton, in a note on a quotation in The Art of Sinking, says:-' Mr. Spence informed me that this passage, and many other ridiculous ones in this treatise, were quoted from our poet's own early pieces, particularly Alcander. Warton's Pope, vi. 207. See Spence's Anec. p. 277.

6

Spence's Anec. p. 197; where Pope said that, though he was 'solicited to write for the stage,' yet he would not, as he saw 'how much everybody that did write for it was obliged to subject themselves to the players and the town.' See ante, SAVAGE, 38 n.

1 Warburton, iv. 19.

8 'There is a copy of it,' said Pope, ' in Lord Oxford's library.' Spence's Anec. p. 278. For Denham's imitation of Cicero's book see ante, DENHAM, 33.

16

His time was now spent wholly in reading and writing'. As he read the Classicks he amused himself with translating them; and at fourteen made a version of the first book of the Thebais, which, with some revision, he afterwards published. He must have been at this time, if he had no help, a considerable proficient in the Latin tongue.

17

By Dryden's Fables, which had then been not long published3, and were much in the hands of poetical readers, he was tempted to try his own skill in giving Chaucer a more fashionable appearance, and put Fanuary and May, and the Prologue of the Wife of Bath, into modern English. He translated likewise the Epistle of Sappho to Phaon from Ovid 5, to complete the version, which was before imperfect, and wrote some other small pieces, which he afterwards printed.

18

He sometimes imitated the English poets, and professed to have written at fourteen his poem upon Silence', after Rochester's Nothing. He had now formed his versification, and in the smoothness of his numbers surpassed his original; but this is a small part of his praise: he discovers such acquaintance both with human life and public affairs as is not easily conceived to have been attainable by a boy of fourteen in Windsor Forest.

19 Next year he was desirous of opening to himself new sources of knowledge, by making himself acquainted with modern languages, and removed for a time to London that he might study French and Italian, which, as he desired nothing more than to read them, were by diligent application soon

For the injury to his health by overstudy see post, POPE, 255.

2 Mr. Elwin points out that all Pope's unrevised poems were suppressed. From those revised we learn nothing of his skill at fourteen.

The first translation he printed was Sarpedon. It and the Pastorals appeared in 1709, when he was twentyone. In 1712 he published the first book of the Thebais. Pope's Works (Elwin and Courthope), i. 45, 46.

3 Pope, in the Advertisement to his translations 'prefixed to vol. iii of his Works, 8vo, 1736,' writes:-' Mr. Dryden's Fables... occasioned the translations from Chaucer.' Pope's

Works (E. & C.), i. 39. The Fables were published early in March, 1699– 1700. Ante, Dryden, 149.

4

January and May was published in 1709, and The Wife of Bath in 1714. Ib. i. 120, 158.

was

56 Pope records in his MS. that it "written first 1707." He published it in 1712, when he was twentyfour. Ib. i. 90.

6 Ante, DRYDEN, 107.

7 'Done at fourteen years old.' POPE, Warburton, vii. 79 n. It first appeared in Lintot's Misc. in 1712. Pope's Works (Elwin and Courthope), iv. 423. See ante, ROCHESTER, 20.

despatched'. Of Italian learning he does not appear to have ever made much use in his subsequent studies 2.

He then returned to Binfield, and delighted himself with his 20 own poetry. He tried all styles, and many subjects. He wrote a comedy, a tragedy, an epick poem, with panegyricks on all the princes of Europe; and, as he confesses, 'thought himself the greatest genius that ever was 3. Self-confidence is the first requisite to great undertakings; he, indeed, who forms his opinion of himself in solitude, without knowing the powers of other men, is very liable to errour: but it was the felicity of Pope to rate himself at his real value.

Most of his puerile productions were by his maturer judge- 21 ment afterwards destroyed; Alcander, the epick poem, was burnt by the persuasion of Atterbury 5. The tragedy was founded on the legend of St. Genevieve'. Of the comedy there is no account'.

Concerning his studies it is related that he translated Tully On 22 old Age; and that, besides his books of poetry and criticism, he

Warburton, iv. 206. His cousin, Mannick, said of this removal :-'We in the family looked upon it as a wildish sort of resolution.' Spence adds in a footnote :-'What his sister, Mrs. Racket, said "For you know, to speak plain with you, my brother has a maddish way with him." Little people mistook the excess of his genius for madness. "I gad, that young fellow will either be a madman or make a very great poet." Rag Smith after being in Mr. Pope's company when about fourteen' Spence's Anec. p. 25. See also ib. p. 193. For 'Rag Smith' see ante, SMITH, 43.

2 Like Addison in this. Boswell's Johnson, v. 310.

3 Warburton, Preface, p. 19.

For 'the high opinion of their own powers' held by Milton and Dryden see ante, MILTON, 47; DRYDEN, 162, and for Addison's ' very high opinion of his own merit' see ante, ADDISON, 109.

'My epic was about two years in hand, from thirteen to fifteen.... I wrote four books towards it of about a thousand verses each; and had the copy by me till I burnt it by the

advice of the Bishop of Rochester, a little before he went abroad.' Spence's Anec. pp. 276, 279. See also ib. pp. 24, 197-8. The Bishop went abroad in June, 1723. He wrote to Pope more than six years earlier:-'I am not sorry your Alcander is burnt.' Pope's Works (Elwin and Courthope), ix. 8.

Warton, in a note on a quotation in The Art of Sinking, says :-' Mr. Spence informed me that this passage, and many other ridiculous ones in this treatise, were quoted from our poet's own early pieces, particularly Alcander. Warton's Pope, vi. 207. See Spence's Anec. p. 277.

6

Spence's Anec. p. 197; where Pope said that, though he was 'solicited to write for the stage,' yet he would not, as he saw how much everybody that did write for it was obliged to subject themselves to the players and the town.' See ante, SAVAGE, 38 n.

1 Warburton, iv. 19.

8There is a copy of it,' said Pope, ' in Lord Oxford's library.' Spence's Anec. p. 278. For Denham's imitation of Cicero's book see ante, DENHAM, 33.

read Temple's Essays and Locke On human Understanding 1. His reading, though his favourite authors are not known, appears to have been sufficiently extensive and multifarious; for his early pieces shew, with sufficient evidence, his knowledge of books. 23 He that is pleased with himself easily imagines that he shall please others. Sir William Trumbal, who had been ambassador at Constantinople, and secretary of state, when he retired from business fixed his residence in the neighbourhood of Binfield. Pope, not yet sixteen, was introduced to the statesman of sixty, and so distinguished himself that their interviews ended in friendship and correspondence 3. Pope was through his whole life ambitious of splendid acquaintance, and he seems to have wanted neither diligence nor success in attracting the notice of the great ; for from his first entrance into the world, and his entrance was very early, he was admitted to familiarity with those whose rank or station made them most conspicuous*.

24

From the age of sixteen the life of Pope as an author may be properly computed. He now wrote his Pastorals, which were shewn to the poets and criticks of that time; as they well deserved they were read with admiration, and many praises were bestowed upon them and upon the Preface, which is both elegant

'As drives the storm, at any door
I knock;

And house with Montaigne now,
or now with Locke.'

666

I

POPE, Imit. Hor., Epis. i. 1. 25. "I met with Locke," Pope said; "he was quite insipid to me. read Temple's Essays too then; but whenever there was anything political in them, I had no manner of feeling for it."' Spence's Anec. p. 199.

'Locke's reasoning,' writes Mr. Courthope, 'may indeed be said to pervade every part of the Essay on Criticism. Pope's Works (Elwin and Courthope), v. 52.

'James II in 1587 [1687] sent him ambassador to Constantinople, to which city, Mr. Ruffhead informs us, he went through the continent on foot. He died in Dec. 1716.' Malone's Dryden, iii. 560. Pope dedicated to him his first Pastoral, and celebrated him in a ridiculous couplet in Windsor Forest, 1. 257:

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and learned in a high degree: they were, however, not published till five years afterwards'.

Cowley, Milton, and Pope are distinguished among the English 25 Poets by the early exertion of their powers; but the works of Cowley alone were published in his childhood, and therefore of him only can it be certain that his puerile performances received no improvement from his maturer studies".

At this time began his acquaintance with Wycherley, a man 26 ✓ who seems to have had among his contemporaries his full share of reputation 3, to have been esteemed without virtue, and caressed without good-humour. Pope was proud of his notice; Wycherley wrote verses in his praise, which he was charged by Dennis with writing to himself, and they agreed for a while to flatter one another. It is pleasant to remark how soon Pope learned the cant of an author, and began to treat criticks with contempt, though he had yet suffered nothing from them.

• The Pastorals were published in 1709, in Tonson's Miscellany. Post, POPE, 33, 314. The 'Preface,' entitled A Discourse on Pastoral Poetry, first appeared in his collected works in 1717. Post, POPE, 120.

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'It was,' writes Mr. Elwin, avowedly compiled from two or three recent essayists [Fontenelle, Rapin, and Heinsius], and demanded nothing from the poet to which the term learning could be properly applied.' Pope's Works (Elwin and Courthope), i. 241. See also ib. v. 27;

Ante, COWLEY, 6; MILTON, 8, 152.

3 Mr. Wycherley, when we read Esther together, was of my opinion in this, or rather I of his; for it becomes me so to speak of so excellent a poet and so great a judge.' DRYDEN, Works, xvii. 323.

For

See Warburton, vii. 26. the verses see ib. Preface, p. 22.

'In the fifth edition of Lintot's Misc., 1727, the poem of Wycherley, who was then dead, is prefixed to Pope's pieces, and bears the title, "To Mr. Pope at sixteen years old, on account of his Pastorals." This was untrue. The lines were not addressed to him till he was twenty. The mannerism of both authors can

be clearly traced in them. They
have the stamp of Wycherley im-
proved by Pope.' Pope's Works
(Elwin and Courthope), i. 22.

5

Johnson refers to Pope's first published letter to Wycherley, dated Dec. 26, 1704. Ib. vi. 15. Mr. Elwin suspects that 'Wycherley's premature compliment and Pope's premature cant both belonged to a subsequent period, or perhaps were fabricated for the press. Ib. Preface, p. 130. In 1708 Pope undoubtedly wrote of critics with contempt. Post, POPE, 383. In 1737, recommending Walter Harte as Professor of Poetry at Oxford, he wrote:-'I think it a condescension in one who practises the art of poetry so well to stoop to be a critic.' lb. x. 226.

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For 'cant' see Boswell's Johnson, iv. 221 n. Johnson himself in The Rambler, No. 3, attacked critics as men who stand as sentinels in the avenues of fame, and value themselves upon giving ignorance and envy the first notice of a prey.'

Gray wrote of them:-I own it is an impertinence in these gentry to talk of one at all either in good or in bad.' Gray's Letters, ed. Tovey, i. 302.

'I have never affected,' wrote Gibbon, 'indeed I have never under

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