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satire which brought Theobald and Moore' into contempt, dropped impotent from Bentley 2, like the javelin of Priam 3.
All truth is valuable, and satirical criticism may be considered as useful when it rectifies error and improves judgement: he that refines the publick taste is a publick benefactor.
The beauties of this poem are well known; its chief fault is the grossness of its images. Pope and Swift had an unnatural delight in ideas physically impure, such as every other tongue utters with unwillingness, and of which every ear shrinks from the mention 4.
But even this fault, offensive as it is, may be forgiven for the excellence of other passages; such as the formation and dissolution of Moore 5, the account of the Traveller, the misfortune of the Florist', and the crowded thoughts and stately numbers which dignify the concluding paragraph 8.
The alterations which have been made in The Dunciad, not always for the better, require that it should be published, as in the last collection, with all its variations.
The Essay on Man was a work of great labour and long consideration, but certainly not the happiest of Pope's performances 1o. The subject is perhaps not very proper for poetry, and the poet was not sufficiently master of his subject; metaphysical morality was to him " a new study, he was proud of his
James Moore (afterwards James Moore Smythe). Dunciad, ii. 35-50, 109-20; Pope's Works (Elwin and Courthope), iv. 326, v. 219; Warton, v. 126 n.
Fielding, in Tom Jones, Bk. xii. ch. 1, describes how Pope 'imprisoned Moore in the loathsome dungeon of The Dunciad, where his unhappy memory now remains, and eternally will remain, as a proper punishment for his unjust dealings in the poetical trade.' See post, LYTTELTON, 7.
Ante, POPE, 285.
3 In the first edition was added, 'thrown at Neoptolemus.' Aeneid, 544.
Ante, SWIFT, 137.
5 The Dunciad, ii. 35-50, 109-20; post, A. PHILIPS, 4 n.
The Dunciad, iv. 293–336.
7 Ib. iv. 403-36.
Gray wrote in 1742:-'As to The
Dunciad, it is greatly admired: the Genii of Operas and Schools, with their attendants, the pleas of the Virtuosos and Florists, and the yawn of dulness in the end, are as fine as anything he has written. The Metaphysicians' part is to me the worst; and here and there a few ill-expressed lines, and some hardly intelligible.' Gray's Letters, i. 95.
In the first edition, 'as in this edition [i. e. Eng. Poets].' For 'the alterations' see ante, POPE, 237.
10 Ante, POPE, 173. 'L'Essai sur l'homme de Pope me paraît le plus beau poëme didactique, le plus utile, le plus sublime qu'on ait jamais fait dans aucune langue.' VOLTAIRE, Euvres, xxiv. 135. See also ib. x. 115.
"To him' is not in the first edition. For 'reasoning in verse see ante, BLACKMORE, 46.
acquisitions, and, supposing himself master of great secrets, was in haste to teach what he had not learned. Thus he tells us, in the first Epistle, that from the nature of the Supreme Being may be deduced an order of beings such as mankind, because Infinite Excellence can do only what is best. He finds out that these beings must be 'somewhere,' and that 'all the question is whether man be in a wrong place. Surely if, according to the poet's Leibnitian reasoning, we may infer that man ought to be only because he is, we may allow that his place is the right place, because he has it. Supreme Wisdom is not less infallible in disposing than in creating. But what is meant by 'somewhere' and 'place' and 'wrong place' it had been vain to ask Pope, who probably had never asked himself.
Having exalted himself into the chair of wisdom he tells us 364 much that every man knows, and much that he does not know himself; that we see but little, and that the order of the universe is beyond our comprehension, an opinion not very uncommon; and that there is a chain of subordinate beings' from infinite to nothing,' of which himself and his readers are equally ignorant. But he gives us one comfort which, without his help, he supposes unattainable, in the position 'that though we are fools, yet God is wise *.'
This Essay affords an egregious instance of the predominance of 865 genius, the dazzling splendour of imagery, and the seductive powers of eloquence, Never were penury of knowledge and vulgarity of sentiment so happily disguised 5. The reader feels his mind full, though he learns nothing; and when he meets it in its new array no longer knows the talk of his mother and his nurse. When these wonder-working sounds sink into sense and the doctrine of the Essay, disrobed of its ornaments, is left to the powers of its naked excellence, what shall we discover? That we are, in comparison with our Creator, very weak and ignorant; that we do not uphold the chain of existence; and that we could not make one another with more skill than we are made. We may learn yet more: that the arts of human life
In the first edition, 'He finds out that all the question is,' &c.
The reference is to the Essay on Man, i. 43-50.
2 Ib. i. 60-8.
4 Ib. ii. 293-4.
5 Ante, POPE, 180.
Ante, POPE, 179 n.
1 Essay on Man, i. 17–32.
8 Ib. i. 33, 34.
9 Ib. i. 35-42.
were copied from the instinctive operations of other animals '; that if the world be made for man, it may be said that man was made for geese 2. To these profound principles of natural knowledge are added some moral instructions equally new: that selfinterest well understood will produce social concord 3; that men are mutual gainers by mutual benefits*; that evil is sometimes balanced by goods; that human advantages are unstable and fallacious, of uncertain duration and doubtful effect; that our true honour is not to have a great part, but to act it well; that virtue only is our own; and that happiness is always in our power 8.
Surely a man of no very comprehensive search may venture to say that he has heard all this before, but it was never till now recommended by such a blaze of embellishment or such sweetness of melody. The vigorous contraction of some thoughts, the luxuriant amplification of others, the incidental illustrations, and sometimes the dignity, sometimes the softness of the verses, enchain philosophy, suspend criticism, and oppress judgement by overpowering pleasure.
This is true of many paragraphs; yet if I had undertaken to exemplify Pope's felicity of composition before a rigid critick I should not select the Essay on Man, for it contains more lines unsuccessfully laboured, more harshness of diction, more thoughts imperfectly expressed 1o, more levity without elegance, and more
Ib. ii. 249-56, iii. 112.
5 Ib. iv. 114.
6 Ib. iv. 67-76, 167–92.
7 Ib. iv. 193-4.
8 Ib. iv. 29-32, 309-end.
9 Ruffhead, writing in 1769, says of the Essay on Man:-'No work was ever more frequently quoted by readers of every class. There is scarce a line which has not been committed to the memory both of the learned and unlearned.' Life of Pope, p. 457.
In the most sectarian period of my Benthamism I happened to look into Pope's Essay on Man, and though every opinion in it was contrary to mine, I well remember how
powerfully it acted on my imagination.' J. S. MILL, Auto. p. 113.
Pattison, after noticing Mr. Elwin's 'furious denunciation of the Essay as shallow metaphysics' [Pope's Works (Elwin and Courthope), ii. 270-339], continues:-'It is much to be lamented that Pope attempted philosophy. He was very ignorant; ignorant of everything except the art of versification.... But what he was engaged in building was a beautifully contrived and adorned piece of verse, not a philosophical system.' Pattison's Essays, ii. 386. See also 'Christopher North' in Blackwood, 1845, p. 382.
10 Swift wrote of it to Pope:-'I confess, in some few places I was forced to read twice.' Pope's Works (Elwin and Courthope), vii. 328.
heaviness without strength, than will easily be found in all his other works.
The Characters of Men and Women are the product of 368 diligent speculation upon human life; much labour has been bestowed upon them, and Pope very seldom laboured in vain. That his excellence may be properly estimated I recommend a comparison of his Characters of Women with Boileau's Satire2; it will then be seen with how much more perspicacity female nature 3 is investigated and female excellence selected; and he surely is no mean writer to whom Boileau shall be found inferior. The Characters of Men, however, are written with more, if not with deeper, thought, and exhibit many passages exquisitely beautiful. The Gem and the Flower' will not easily be equalled 5. In the women's part are some defects: the character of Atossa is not so neatly finished as that of Clodio, and some of the female characters may be found perhaps more frequently among men ; what is said of Philomede was true of Prior 3.
In the Epistles to Lord Bathurst and Lord Burlington Dr. 369 Warburton has endeavoured to find a train of thought which was never in the writer's head, and, to support his hypothesis, has printed that first which was published last9. In one, the
1 Ante, POPE, 202, 207. 2 Satire x.
3 In the proof-sheet, 'female wit.'
Ante, DRYDEN, 141. Pope, though he imitated Boileau, is in fact as much superior to him as the English language is to the French. There is in him a bottom of sound sense, not to be found amid all the wit of his master. He is the first of his kind.' SOUTHEY, Specimens, Preface, p. 31.
Moral Essays, i. 141.
6 Ante, POPE, 208.
7 Moral Essays, i. 179. In the later editions Wharton was substituted for Clodio.
8 Ib. ii. 83; ante, PRIOR, 49 n. 4. 9 The Moral Essays had appeared at the following dates:
No. iv. Epistle to Burlington, 1731, ante, POPE, 156; No. iii. Epistle to Bathurst, 1732-3, ante, POPE, 198; No.i.Epistle to Cobham, 1733-4, ante, POPE, 202; No. ii. Epistle to a Lady, 1734-5, ante, POPE, 207.
The Epistles were arranged by
Pope himself in their present order
Pope, writing to Swift in 1733, about 'the whole scheme of the present work,' continues:-'You will see pretty soon that the Letter to Lord Bathurst is a part of it, and you will find a plain connection between them, if you read them in the order just contrary to that they were published in.' Ib. vii. 297.
Warburton, in a note on the Epistle to Cobham, says that 'he saw that if the Epistle was put into a different form, on an idea he then conceived, it would have all the clearness of method and force of connected reasoning. The Author appeared as
most valuable passage is perhaps the elogy on Good Sense', and in the other the End of the Duke of Buckingham 2.
The Epistle to Arbuthnot, now arbitrarily called the Prologue to the Satires, is a performance consisting, as it seems, of many fragments wrought into one design, which by this union of scattered beauties contains more striking paragraphs than could probably have been brought together into an occasional work. As there is no stronger motive to exertion than self-defence, no part has more elegance, spirit, or dignity than the poet's vindication of his own character. The meanest passage is the satire upon Sporus".
Of the two poems which derived their names from the year', and which are called the Epilogue to the Satires, it was very justly remarked by Savage that the second was in the whole more strongly conceived and more equally supported, but that it had no single passages equal to the contention in the first for the dignity of Vice and the celebration of the triumph of Corruption 9.
372 The Imitations of Horace seem to have been written as relaxations of his genius 10. This employment became his favourite
written in direct answer to Verses to the Imitator of Horace, and the Epistle to a Doctor of Divinity [ante, POPE, 216 n.], while the remaining fourth was radically altered to suit the new context.' Ib. v. 268. See also ib. iii. 236.
5 Prol. Sat. 1. 125.
Ib. 1. 305. Ante, POPE, 216.
Set down the character of Sporus, with all the wonderful play of fancy which is scattered over it, and place by its side an equal number of verses from any two existing poets, of the same power and the same varietywhere will you find them?' BYRON, Works, 1851, ix. 89.
7 Ante, POPE, 217.
Ante, POPE, 209. Pope wrote to Caryll on March 8, 1732-3, of Satire ii. 1:-'You may have seen my last piece of song, which has met with such a flood of favour that my ears need no more flattery for this twelvemonth. However, it was a slight thing, the work of two days,