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century, by a man who concealed his name, but whom his preface shows to have been qualified for his undertaking. This collection Pope amplified by more than half, and (1740) published it in two volumes, but injuriously omitted his predecessor's preface. To these books, which had nothing but the mere text, no regard was paid ; the authors were still neglected, and the editor was neither praised nor censured. He did not sink into idleness ; he had planned a work, which he considered as subsequent to his “Essay on Man," of which he has given this account to Dr. Swift :-
“ March 25, 1736. “ If ever I write any more Epistles in verse, one of them shall be addressed to you. I have long concerted it and begun it; but I would make what bears your name as finished as my last work ought to be, that is to say, more finished than any of the rest. The subject is large, and will divide into four Epistles, which naturally follow the 'Essay on Man,' viz: 1. Of the Extent and Limits of Human Reason and Science, 2. A view of the useful and therefore attainable, and of the unuseful and therefore unattainable Arts. 3. Of the Nature, Ends, Application, and Use, of different Capacities. 4. Of the Use of Learning, of the Science, of the World, and of Wit. It will conclude with a satire against the misapplication of all these, exemplified by Pictures, Characters, and Examples.”
This work in its full extent-being now afflicted with an asthma, and finding the powers of life gradually declining—he had no longer courage to undertake ; but, from the materials which he had provided, he added, at Warburton's request, another book to the “ Dunciad,” of which the design is to ridicule such studies as are either hopeless or useless, as either pursue what is unattainable, or what, if it be attained, is of no use. · When this book
was printed (1742) the laurel.. had been for some time upon the head of Cibber, a man whom it cannot be supposed that Pope could regard with much kindness or esteem, though in one of the imitations of Horace he has liberally enough praised the “ Careless Husband.” In the 'Dunciad,” among other worthless scribblers, he had mentioned Cibber, who, in his “ Apology," complains of the great Poet's unkindness as more injurious,“ because," says he, “I never have offended him."
It might have been expected that Pope should have been in some degree mollified by this submissive gentleness, but no such consequence appeared. Though he condescended to commend Cibber once, he mentioned him afterwards contemptuously in one of his satires, and again in his “Epistle to Arbuthnot,' and in the fourth book of the “Dunciad” attacked him with acrimony, to which the provocation is not easily discoverable. Perhaps he imagined that, in ridiculing the Laureate, he satirised those by whom the laurel had been given, and gratified that ambitious petulance with which he affected to insult the great. The severity of this satire left Cibber no longer any patience. He had confidence enough in his own powers to believe that he could disturb the quiet of his adversary, and doubtless did not want instigators, who, without any care about the victory, desired to amuse themselves by looking on the contest. He therefore gave the town a pamphlet, in which he declares his resolution from that time never to bear another blow without returning it, and to tire out his adversary by perseverance if he cannot conquer him by strength.
The incessant and unappeasable malignity of Pope he imputes to a very distant cause. After the Three Hours After Marriage had been driven off the stage, by the offence which the mummy and crocodile gave the audience, while the exploded scene was yet fresh in memory, it happened that Cibber played Bayes in the Rehearsal; and, as it had been usual to enliven the part by the mention of any recent theatrical transactions, he said, that he once thought to have introduced his lovers disguised in a mummy and a crocodile. “This,” says he,
was received with loud claps, which indicated contempt for the play.” Pope, who was behind the scenes, meeting him as he left the stage, attacked him, as he says, with all the virulence of a “wit out of his senses ;” to which he replied, " that he would take no other notice of what was said by so particular a man, than to declare, that as often as he played that part he would repeat the same provocation.” He shows his opinion to be that Pope was one of the authors of the play which he so zealously defended, and adds an idle story of Pope's behaviour at a tavern.
The pamphlet was written with little power of thought or language, and, if suffered to remain without notice, would have been very soon forgotten. Pope had now been enough acquainted with. human life to know, if his passion had not been too powerful for his understanding, that, from a contention like his with Cibber, the world seeks nothing but diversion, which is given at the expense of the higher character. When Cibber lampooned Pope, curiosity was excited. What Pope would say of Cibber nobody inquired, but in hope that Pope's asperity might betray his pain and lessen his dignity. He should therefore have suffered the pamphlet to flutter and die, without confessing that it stung him. The dishonour of being shown as Cibber's antagonist could never be compensated by the victory. Cibber had nothing to lose. When Pope had exhausted all his malignity upon him, he would rise in the esteem both of his friends and his enemies. Silence only could have made him despicable ; the blow which did not appear to be felt would have been struck in vain. But Pope's irascibility prevailed, and he resolved to tell the whole English world that he was an war with Cibber; and, to show that he thought him to common adversary, he prepared no common vengeance. He published a new edition of the "Dunciad," in which be degraded Theobald from his painful pre-eminence, and enthroned Cibber in his stead. Unhappily the two heroes were of opposite characters, and Pope was unwilling to lose what he had already written. He has therefore depraved his poem by giving to Cibber the old books, the old pedantry, and the sluggish pertinacity of Theobald.
Pope was ignorant enough of his own interest to make another change, and introduced Osborne contending for a prize among the booksellers. Osborne was a man entirely destitute of shame, without sense of any disgrace but that of poverty. He told me, when he was doing that which raised Pope's resentment, that he should be put into the “Dunciad ;” but he had the fate of Cassandra. I gave no credit to his prediction, till in time I saw it accomplished. The shafts of satire were directed equ in vain against Cibber and Osborne ; being repelled by the impenetrable impudence of one, and deadened by the impassive dulness of the other. Pope confessed his own pain by his anger ; but he gave no pain to those who had provoked him. He was able to hurt none but himself; by transferring the same ridicule from one to another, he reduced himself to the insignificance of his own magpie, who from his cage calls cuckold at a venture.
Cibber, according to his engagement, repaid the “Dunciad” with another pamphlet, which, Pope said, “would be as good as a dose of hartshorn to him ;” but his tongue and his heart were at variance. I have heard Mr. Rich. ardson relate that he attended his father the painter on a visit, when one of Cibber's pamphlets came into the hands of Pope, who said, “These things are my diversion.” They sat by him while he perused it, and saw his features writhing with anguish : and young Richardson said to his father, when they returned, that he hoped to be preserved from such diversion as had been that day the lot of Pope. From this time, finding his diseases more oppressive, and his vital powers gradually declining, he no longer strained his faculties with any original composition, nor proposed any other employment for his remaining life than the revisal and correction of his former works, in which he received advice and assistance from Warburton, whom he appears to have trusted and honoured in the highest degree. He laid aside his Epic Poem, perhaps without much loss to mankind ; for his hero was Brutus the Trojan, who, according to a ridiculous fiction, established a colony in Britain. The subject, therefore, was of the fabulous age; the actors were a race upon whom imagination has been exhausted, and attention wearied, and to whom the mind will not easily be recalled, when it is invited in blank verse, which Pope had adopted with great imprudence, and, I think, without due consideration of the nature of our language. The sketch is, at least in part, preserved by Ruffhead, by which it appears that Pope was thoughtless enough to model the names of his heroes with terminations not consistent with the time or country in which he places them. He lingered through the next year, but perceived himself, as he expresses it, "going down the hill." He had for at least five years been afflicted with an asthma, and other disorders, which his physicians were unable to relieve. Towards the end of his life he consulted Dr. Thomson, a man who had, by large promises, and free censures of the common practice of physic, forced himself up into sudden reputation. Thomson declared his distemper to be a dropsy, and evacuated part of the water by tincture of jalap, but confessed that his belly did not subside. Thomson had many enemies, and Pope was persuaded to dismiss him.