confirms it, he has confounded passions, appetites, and habits.

To the Characters of Men,” he added soon after, in an epistłe supposed to have been addressed to Martha Blount, but which the last edition has taken from her, the “ Characters of Women.” This poem, which was laboured with great diligence, and in the author's opinion with great success, was neglected at its first publication, as the commentator supposes, because the public was informed, by an advertisement, that it contained no character drawn from the life; an assertion which Pope probably did not expect, nor wish to have been believed, and which he soon gave his readers sufficient reason to distrust, by telling them in a note that the work was imperfect, because part of his subject was vice too high to be yet exposed.

The time however soon came, in which it was safe to display the Dutchess of Marlborough under the name of Alossa; and her character was inserted with no great honour to the writer's gratitude.

He published from time to time (between 1730 and 1740) imitations of different poems of Horace, generally with his name, and once, as was suse pected, without it. What he was upon moral principles ashamed to own, he ought to have suppressed. Of these pieces it is useless to settle the dates, as they had seldom much relation to the times, and perhaps had been long in his hands.

This mode of imitation, in which the ancients are familiarized, by adapting their sentiments to modern topics, by making Horace say of Shakspeare what he originally said of Ennius, and accominodating his satires on Pantolabus and Nomentanus to the flatterers and prodigals of our own time, was first practised in the reign of Charles the Second by Oldham and Rochester; at least I remember no instances more ancient. It is a kind of middle composition between translation and original de sign, which pleases when the thoughts are unexpect,

"edly applicable, and the parallels lucky. It seems

to have been Pope's favourite amusement; for he has carried it farther than any former, poet.

He published likewise a revival, in smoother numbers, of Dr. Donne's“Satires,” which was recommended to him by the Duke of Shrewsbury and the Earl of Oxford. They made no great impres. sion on the public. Pope seems to have known their imbecility, and therefore suppressed them while he was yet contending to rise in reputation, but ventured them when he thought their deficien. cies more likely to be imputed to Donne than to himself.

The epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot, which seems to be derived in its first design from “ Boileau's Address d son Esprit,” was published in January, 1735, about a month before the death of him to whom it is inscribed. It is to be regretted, that either ho. nour or pleasure should have been missed by Arbuthnot; a man estimable for his learning, amiable for his life, and venerable for his piety,

Arbuthnot was a man of great comprehension, skilful in his profession, versed in the sciences, acquainted with ancient literature, and able to ani. mate his mass of knowledge by a bright and active imagination; a scholar with great brilliance of wit; a wit, who, in the crowd of life, retained and discovered a poble ardour of religious zeal.

In this poem Pope seems to reckon with the public, He vindicates himself from censures; and, with dignity, rather than arrogance, enforces his own claims to kindness and respect.

Into this poem are interwoven several paragraphs which had been before printed as a fragment, and among them the satirical lines upon Addison, of which the last couplet has been twice corrected. It was at first,

Who would not smile if such a man there be ?
Who would not laugh if Addison were he ?


Who would not grieve if such a man there be ?

Who would not laugh if Addison were he?
At last it is,

Who but must laugh if such a man there be ?
Who would not weep if Atticus were he ?

He was at this time at open war with Lord Hervey, who had distinguished himself as a steady adherent to the ministry; and, being offended with a contemptuous answer to one of his pamphlets, * had summoned Pulteney to a duel. Whether he or Pope made the first attack, perhaps, cannot now be easily known: he had written an invective against Pope, whom he calls, “ Hard as thy heart, and as thy birth obscure;” and hints that his father was a hatter.t To this Pope wrote a reply in verse and prose; the verses are in this poem; and the prose, though it was never sent, is printed among his letters, but to a cool reader of the present time exhi. bits nothing but tedious malignity.

His last satires of the general kind were two dialogues, named, from the year in which they were published, “Seventeen Hundred and Thirtyeight." In these poems many are praised and many reproached. Pope was then entangled in the opposition ; a follower of the Prince of Wales, who dined at his house, and the friend of many who obstructed and censured the conduct of the mi. nisters. His political partiality was too plainly shewn: he forgot the prudence with which he passed, .in his earlier years, uninjured and unof

* Intituled, “ Sedition and Defamation display. ed," 8vo. 1733.-R.

† Among many MSS. letters, &c. relating to Pope, which I have lately seen, is a lampoon in the Bible-style, of much humour, but irreverent, in which Pope is ridiculed as the son of a hatter.-C.

“ low

fending, through much more violent conflicts of faction.

In the first dialogue, having an opportunity of praising Allen of Bath, he asked his leave to men. tion him as a inan not illustrious by any merit of his ancestors, and called him in his verses born Allen.” Men are seldom satisfied with praise introduced or followed by any mention of defect. Allen seems not to have taken any pleasure in his epithet, which was afterwards softened • into & humble Allen."

In the second dialogue he took some liberty with one of the Foxes, among others; which Fox, in a reply to Lyttleton, took an opportunity of repaying, by reproaching him with the friendship of a lampooner, who scattered his ink without fear or de cency, and against whom he hoped the resentment of the legislature would quickly be discharged.

About this time Paul Whitehead, a small poet, was summoned before the Lords for a poem called Manners,”

" together with Dodsley his publisher. Whitehead, who hang loose upon suciety, scalked and escaped; but Dodsley's shop and family made his appearance necessary. He was, however, soon dismissed; and the whole process was probably intended rather to intimidate Pope than to punish Whitehead.

Pope never afterwards attempted to join the pa. triot with the poet, nor drew his pen upon states. men. That he desisted from his attempts of reforination is imputed, by his commentator, to his despair of prevailing over the corruption of the time. He was not likely to have been ever of opinion, that the dread of his satire would countervail the love of power or of money; he pleased himself

[ocr errors]

# On a hint from Warburton. There is however reason to think, from the appearance of the house in which Allen was born at St. Blaise, that he was not of a low, but of a decayed family.-C.

with being important and formidable, and gratified sometimes his pride, and sometimes his resentment; till at last he began to think he should be more safe, if he were less busy.

The “ Memoirs of Scriblerus,” published about this time, extend only to the first book of a work projected in concert by Pope, Swift, and Arbuthnot, who used to meet in the time of Queen Anne, and denominated themselves the“ Scriblerus Club." Their purpose was to censure the abuses of learning by a fictitious life of an infatuated scholar. They were dispersed, the design was never completed; and Warburton laments its miscarriage, as an event very disastrous to polite letters.

If the whole may be estimated by this specimen, which seems to be the production of Arbuthnot, with a few touches perhaps by Pope, the want of more will not be much lamented; for the follies which the writer ridicules are so little practised, that they are not known; nor can the satire be understood but by the learned : he raises phantoms of absurdity, and then drives them away.

He cures diseases that were never felt.

For this reason this joint production of three great writers has never obtained any notice from mankind; it has been little read, or when read, has been forgotten, as no man could be wiser, better, or merrier, by remembering it,

The design cannot boast of much originality; for, besides its general resemblance to “Don Quixote, there will be found in it particular imitations of the “ History of Mr. Ouffle."

Swift carried so much of it into Ireland as supo plied him with hints for his “ Travels ;” and with those the world might have been contented, though the rest had been suppressed.

Pope had sought for images and sentiments in a region not known to have been explored by many other of the English writers; he had consulted the modern writers of Latin poetry, a class of authors

« VorigeDoorgaan »