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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 anything of such unexampled excellence. Those performances, which strike with wonder, are combinations of skilful genius with 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 disturbance. Many years afterwards Dennis published some 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 has 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 kird. 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 later 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 Lansdowne, who was then in high 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 could not live a day; and, as a poet, ze must have felt Pope's force of genius much more from many other parts of his works. The pain that Addison might 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 6 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 myself (thoug
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 writer's design, and, as it seems, had malice enough to conceal his 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, wis in the possession of Lord Mansfield. If this was taken from the life, he must have begun to paint earliar, for Betterton was now dead. Pope's ambition of this new art produced some encomiastic verses to Jervas, which certainly show his power as a poet ; but I have been told that they betray his ignorance of printing. 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 his Tales, which, as was related by Mr. Harte, were believed to have been the performance of Pope himself by Fenton, who made him a gay offer of five pounds if he would show 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, however 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 books. He therefore 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 employed is said to have been Dryden's - Virgil,” and it had been tried again with great success when the Tatlers were collected into volumes.
There was reason to believe that Pope's attempt would be successful. He was in the full bloom of reputation, and was personally known to almost all whom dignity of employment or splendour of reputation had made eminent; he conversed indifferently with both parties, and never disturbed the public with his political opinions; and it might be naturally expected, as each faction then boasted its literary zeal, that the great men, who on other occasions practised all the violence of opposition, would emulate each other in their encouragement of a poet who delighted all, and by whom none had been offended. With these hopes, he offered an English “Iliad ” to subscribers. in six volumes in quarto, for six guineas, a sum according to the value of money at that time by no means inconsiderable, and greater than I believe to have been ever asked before, His proposal, however, vas very favourably received, and the patrons of literature were busy to recommend his undertaking and promote his interest. Lord Oxford, indeed, lamented that such a genius should be wasted upon a work not original, but proposed no means by which he might live without it. Addison recommended caution and moderation, and advised him not to be content with the praise of half the nation when he might be universally favoured.
The greatness of the design, the popularity of the author, and the attention of the literary world, naturally raised such expectations of the future sale, that the booksellers made their offers with great eagerness; but the highest bidder was Bernard Lintot, who became proprietor on condition of supplying, at his own expense, all the copies which were to be delivered to subscribers, or presented to friends, and paying two hundred pounds for every volume.
Of the quartos it was, I believe, stipulated that none should be printed but for the author, that the subscription might not be depreciated ; but Lintot impressed the same pages upon a small folio, and paper perhaps a little thinner, and sold exactly at half the price, for half a guinea each volume, books so little inferior to the quartos that, by fraud of trade, those folios being afterwards shortened by cutting away the top and bottom, were sold as copies ated for the subscribers.
Lintot printed two hundred and fifty on royal paper in folio for two guineas a volume; of the small folio, having printed seventeen hundred and fifty copies of the first volume, he reduced the number in the other volumes to a thousand. It is unpleasant to relate that the bookseller, after all his hopes and all his liberality, was, by a very unjust and illegal action, defrauded of his profit. An edition of the English “Iliad” was printed in Holland in duodecimo, and imported clandestinely for the gratification of those who were impatient to read what they could not yet afford to buy. This frand could only be counteracted by an edition equally cheap and more commodious; and Lintot was compelled to contract his folio at once into à duodecimo, and lose the advantage of an intermediate gradation. The notes which in the Dutch copies were placed at the end of