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“ of his parts be never so contemptible, his inward man is ten times more “ ridiculous; it being impossible that his outward form, though it be that “ of downright monkey, should differ so inuch from human shape, as bis
unthinking inžnaterial part does from human understanding." Thus bee gan the hostility between Pope and Dennis, which, though it was suspended for a short time, never was appeased. Pope seems, at first, to have attacked him wantonly; but though he always professed to despise him, he discovers by mentioning hiin very often, that he felt his force or his venom.
Of this Essay Pope declared that he did not expect the sale to be quick, because not one gentleman in sixty, even of liberal education, could un“ derstand it.” The gentlemen, and the education of that time, seem to have been of a lower character than they are of this. He mentioned a thousand copies as a numerous impression.
Dennis was not his only censurer; the zealous papists thought the monks treated with too much contempt, and Erasmus too studiously praised; but to these objections he had not much regard.
The “ Essay has been translated into French by Hamilton, author of the « Comte de Grammont,” whose version was never printed by Robotham, secretary to the King for Hanover, and by Resnel; and commented by Dr. Warburton, who has discovered in it such order and connection as was not perceived by Addison, nor, as is said, intended by the author.
Almost every poem, consisting of precepts, is so far arbitrary and imme. thodical, that many of the paragraphs may change places with no apparent inconvenience ; for of two or more positions, depending upon some remote and general principle, there is seldom any cogent reason why one should precede the other. But for the order in which they stand, whatever it be, a little ingenuity may easily give a reason. “. It is possible,” says Hooker, “ that, by long circumduction, from any one truth all truth may be infer“ red.” Of all homogeneous truths, at least of all truths respecting the same general end, in whatever series they may be produced, a concatenation by intermediate ideas may be formed, such as, when it is once shewn, shall appear natural; but if this order be reversed, another mode of connection equally specious may be found or made. Aristotle is praised for naming fortitude first of the cardinal virtues, as that without which no other virtue can steadily be practised; but he might, with equal propriety, have placed Prudence and Justice before it, since without Prudence Fortitude is mad, without Justice, it is mischievous.
As the end of method is perspicuity, that series is sufficiently regular that avoids obscurity: and where there is no obscurity, it will not be difficult to discover method.
In the “Spectator" was published the “ Messiah,” which he first submitted to the perusal of Steele, and corrected in compliance with his criticisms.
It is reasonable to infer, from his Letters, that the verses on the Unfors tunate Lady" were written about the time when his “ Essay" was published. The Lady's name and adventures I have sought with fruitless enquiry*.
I can therefore tell no more than I have learned from Mr. Ruffhead, who writes with the confidence of one who could trust his information. She was a woman of eminent rank and large fortune, the ward of an uncle, who, having given her a proper education, expected like other guardians that she should make at least an equal match; and such he proposed to her, but found it rejected in favour of a young gentleman of inferipr condition.
Having discovered the correspondence between the two lovers, and finding the young lady determined to abide by her own choice, he supposed that separation might do what can rarely be done by arguments, and sent her into a foreign country, where she was obliged to converse only with those from whom her uncle had nothing to fear.
Her lover took care to repeat his vows ;' but his letters were intercepted and carried to her guardian, who directed her to be watched with still greater vigilance, till of this restraint she grew so impatient, that she bribed a woman-servant to procure her a sword, which she directed to her heart.
From this account given with evident intention to raise the Lady's character, it does not appear that she had any claim to praise, nor much to compassion. She seeins to have been impatient, violent, and ungovernable. Her uncle's power could not have lasted long; the hour of liberty and choice would have come in time. But her desires were too hot for delay, and she liked self-murder better than suspense.
Nor is it discovered that the uncle, whoever he was, is with much justice delivered to posterity as “a faise Guardian ; he seems to have done only that for which a guardian is'appointed; he endeavoured to direct his niece till she should be able to direct herself. Poetry has not often been worse employed than in dignifying the amorous fury of a raving girl.
Not long after he wrote the “Rape of the Lock," the most airy, the most ingenious, and the most delightful of all his compositions, occasioned by a frolic of gallantry, rather too familiar, in which Lord Perre cut off a lock of Mrs. Arabella Fermor's hair. This whether stealth or violence, was $0 much resented, that the commerce of the two families, before very friendly was interrupted. Mr. Caryl, a gentleman who, being secretary to King James's Queen, had followed his Mistress into France, and who being the author of “Sir Solomon Single," a comedy, and some translations, was entitled to the notice of a wit, solicited Pope to endeavour a reconciliation by a ludicrous poem, which might bring both the parties to a better temper In compliance with Caryl's request, thougå his name was for a long time
* See Gcat. Mag. vol. LI. p. 314. N,
P O P E." marked only by the first and last letter, C-1, a poem of two cantos was written (1711), as is said, in a fortnight, and sent to the offended Lady, who liked it well enough to shew it; and with the usual process of literary transactions, the author dreading & surreptitious edition was forced to publish it.
The event is said to have been such as was desired; the pacification and diversion of all to whom it related, except Sir George Brown, who complained with some bitterness that, in the character of Sir Plume, he was made to talk nonsense. Whether all this be true I have some doubt; for at Paris, a few years ago, a niece of Mrs. Fermor, who presided in an English Convent, mentioned Pope's work with very little gratitude, rather as an insult than an honour ; and she may be supposed to have inherited the opinion of her family.
At its first appearance it was termed by Addison “merum sal.” Pope, however saw that it was capable of improvement; and, having luckily con trived to borrow his machinery from the Rosicrucians, imparted the scheme with which his head was teeming to Addison, who told him that his work, as it stood, was “ a delicious little thing,” and gave him no encouragement to retouch it.
This has been too hastłly considered as an instance of Addison's jealousy; for as he could not guess the conduct of the new design, or the possibilities of pleasure comprised in a fiction of which there had been no examples, he might very reasonably and kindly persuade the author to acquiesce in bis own prosperity, and forbear an attempt which he considered as an unne
Addison's counsel was happily rejected. Pepe foresaw the future efflorescence of imagery then budding in his mind, and resolved to spare no art, or industry of cultivation. The soft luxuriance of his fancy was already shooting, and all the gay varieties of diction were ready at his hand to colour and embellish it.
His attempt was justified by its success. The “ Rape of the Lock” stands forward in the classes of literature, as the most exquisite example of ludicrous poetry. Berkeley congratulated hini upon the display of powers more truly poetical than'he had shewn before ; with elegance of description and justness of precepts, he had now exhibited boundless fertility of invention.
He always considered the intermixture of the machinery with the action as his most successful exertion of poetical art. He indeed could never afterwards produce any thing of such unexampled excellence. Those performances, which strike with wonder, are combinations of skilful genius opith happy casualty; and it is not likely that any felicity, like the discovery of a new race of preternatural agents, should happen twice to the same man.
Of this poem the author was, I think, allowed to enjoy the praise for a long time without distarbance. Many years afterwards Dennis published
gome remarks upon it, with very little force, and with no effect; for the opinion of the public was already settled, and it was no longer at the mercy of criticism.
About this time he published the “ Temple of Fame," which, as he tells Steele in their correspondence, he had written two years before ; that is, when he was only twenty-two years old, an early time of life for so much learning and so much observation as that work exhibits.
On this poem Dennis afterwards published some remarks, of which the most reasonable is, that some of the lines represent Motion as exhibited by Sculpture.
Of the Epistle from “ Eloisa to Abelard," I do not know the date. His first inclination to attempt a composition of that tender kind arose, as Mr. Savage told me, from his perusal of prior's “Nut-brown Maid." How much he had surpassed Prior's work, it is not necessary to mention, when perhaps it may be said with justice, that he has excelled every composition of the same kind. The mixture of religious hope and resignation gives an elevation and dignity to disappointed love, which images merely natural cannot bestow. The gloom of a convent strikes the imagination with far greater force than the solitude of a
grove. This piece was, however, not much his favourite in his latter years, though I never heard upon what principle he slighted it.
In the next year (1713) he published “Windsor Forest ;" of which part was, as he relates, written at sixteen, about the same time as his Pastorals; and the latter part was added afterwards : where the addition begins, we are not told. The lines relating to the Peace confess their own date. It is dedicated to Lord Land downe, who was then high in reputation and influence among the Tories; and it is said, that the conclusion of the poem gave great pain to Addison, both as a poet and a politician. Reports like this are often spread with boldness very disproportionate to their evidence. Why should Addison 'receive any particular disturbance from the last lines of “ Windsor Forest ?" If contrariety of opinion could poison a politician, he would not live a day; and, as a poet, he must have felt Pope's force of genius much more from many other parts of his works.
The pain that Addison migh feel it is not likely that he would confess ; and it is certain that he so well suppressed his discontent, that Pope now thought himself his favourite ; for, having been consulted in the revisal of
Cato,” he introduced it by a Prologue; and, when Dennis published his Remarks, undertook not indeed to vindicate but to revenge his friend, by, a“ Narrative of the Frenzy of John Dennis."
There is reason to believe that Addison gave no encouragement to this disingenuous hostility; for says Pope in a letter to him,"indeed your opinion " that 'tis entirely to be neglected, would be my own in my own case ; but
" I felt more warmth here than I did when I first saw his book against my“ self (though indeed in two minutes it made me heartily merry).” Addison was not a man on whom such cant of sensibility could make much impression. He left the pamphlet to itself, having disowned it to Dennis, and perhaps did not think Pope to have deserved much by his officiousness.
This year was printed in the “Guardian” the ironical comparison between the Pastorals of Philips and Pope ; a composition of artifice, criticism, and literature, to which nothing equal will easily be found, The superiority of Pope is so ingeniously dissembled, and the feeble lines of Philips so skilfully preferred, that Steele, being deceived, was unwilling to print the paper lest Pope should be offended. Addison immediately saw the writers design; and, as it seems, had malice enough to conceal this discovery, and to permit a publication which, by making his friend Philips ridiculous, made him for ever an enemy to Pope.
It appears that about this time Pope had a strong inclination to unite the art of painting with that of poetry, and put himself under the tuition of Jervas. He was near-sighted, and therefore not formed by nature for a painter; he tried, however, how far he could advance, and sometimes persuaded his friends to sit. A picture of Betterton, supposed to be drawn by him, was in the possession of Lord Mansfield* : if this was taken from life, he must have begun to paint earlier ; for Betterton was now dead. Pope's ambition of this new art produced some encomiastick verses to Jervas, which certainly shew his power as a poet; but I have been told that they betray his ignorance of painting. He
appears to have regarded Betterton with kindness and esteem; and after his death published, under his name, a version into modern English of Chaucer's Prologues; and one of bis Tales, which, as was related by Mr. Iarte, were believed to have have been the performance of Pope himself by Fenton, who made him a gay offer of five pounds, if he would shew them in the hand of Betterton.
The next year (1713) produced a bolder attempt, by which profit was sought as well as praise. The poems which he had hitherto written, horever they might have diffused his name, had made very little addition to his fortune. The allowance which his father made him, though, proportioned to what he had, it might be liberal, could not be large ; his religion hindered him from the occupation of any civil employment; and he complained that he wanted even money to buy bookst.
He sherefore resolved to try how far the favour of the public extended, by soliciting a subscription to a version of the “ Iliad,” with large notes,
To print by subscription was, for some time, a practice peculiar to the English. The first considerable work, for which this expedient was em
It is still at Caen Wood. N.