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Dear madam, had you but the spirit to tease,
O, la! the sweet gentleman, look in his face;
Then flourishes thrice his sword in the air,
As a compliment due to a lady so fair;
Dear madam, whene'er of a barrack I think,
To peep at the captain in all his fine clothes;
At Hamilton's Bawn, and the troop is arrived;
And madam,' says he, if such dinners you give,
Go bring me my smock, and leave off your prate,
Whenever you see a cassock and gown,
Thus merciless Hannah ran on in her talk,
For the right holds the sword, and the left holds the Then turning to Hannah and forcing a frown,
Although it was plain in her heart she was glad,
(How I tremble to think of the blood it hath spilt !)
Kit, run to your master, and bid him come to us.
Hist, hussy, I think I hear somebody coming' No, madam, 'tis only Sir Arthur a-humming.
To shorten my tale (for I hate a long story),
The parsons for envy are ready to burst;
To keep off their eyes, as they wait at the table;
United with Swift in friendship and in fame, but possessing far higher powers as a poet, and more refined taste as a satirist, was ALEXANDER POPE, born in London May 22, 1688. His father, a linen draper, having acquired an independent fortune, retired to Binfield, in Windsor Forest. He was a Roman Catholic, and the young poet was partly
1 Dr Jenny, a clergyman in the neighbourhood. Ovids, Plutarchs, Homers. 8 Nicknames for my lady.
educated by the family priest. He was afterwards machinery of the poem, founded upon the Rosicrucian sent to a Catholic seminary at Twyford, near Win. theory, that the elements are inhabited by spirits,
which they called sylphs, gnomes, nymphs, and
And mounts exulting on triumphant wings : chester, where he lampooned his teacher, was Short is his joy, he feels the fiery wound, severely punished, and afterwards taken home by Flutters in blood, and panting beats the ground. his parents. He educated himself, and attended no Ah! what avail his glossy varying dyes, school after his twelfth year! The whole of his His purple crest and scarlet-circled eyes ; early life was that of a severe student. He was a The vivid green his shining plumes unfold, poet in his infancy.
His painted wings, and breast that flames with gold As yet a child, and all unknown to fame, Another fine painting of external nature, as pic
I lisped in numbers, for the numbers came. turesque as any to be found in the purely descripThe writings of Dryden became the more particular Fame'
tive poets, is the winter piece, in the Temple of object of his admiration, and he prevailed upon a friend to introduce him to Will's coffeehouse, which So Zembla's rocks (the beauteous work of frost) Dryden then frequented, that he might have the gra- Rise white in air, and glitter o'er the coast ; tification of seeing an author whom he so enthusias- Pale suns, unfelt, at distance roll away, tically admired. Pope was then not more than twelve And on the impassive ice the lightnings play; years of age. He wrote, but afterwards destroyed, External snows the growing mass supply, various dramatic pieces, and at the age of sixteen Till the bright mountains prop the incumbent sky: composed his Pastorals, and his imitations of Chaucer. As Atlas fixed, each hoary pile appears, He soon became acquainted with most of the eminent The gathered winter of a thousand years. persons of the day both in politics and literature. In 1711 appeared his Essay on Criticism, unquestion
Pope now commenced his translation of the Iliad. ably the finest piece of argumentative and reasoning At first the gigantic task oppressed him with its poetry in the English language. The work is said difficulty, but he grew more familiar with Homer's to have been composed two years before publication, images and expressions, and in a short time was when Pope was only twenty-one. The ripeness of able to despatch fifty verses a-day. Great part of judgment which it displays is truly marvellous. the manuscript was written upon the backs and Addison commended the “Essay' warmly in the covers of letters, evincing that it was not withSpectator, and it instantly rose into great popu- out reason he was called paper-sparing Pope. The larity. The style of Pope was now formed and com- poet obtained a clear sum of £5320, 4s. by this plete. His versification was that of his master, translation : his exclamationDryden, but he gave the heroic couplet a peculiar terseness, correctness, and melody. The essay was
And thanks to Homer, since I live and thrive,
Indebted to no prince or peer aliveshortly afterwards followed by the Rape of the Lock. The stealing of a lock of hair from a beauty of the was, however, scarcely just, if we consider that this day, Miss Arabella Fermor, by her lover, Lord large sum was in fact a benevolence' from the upper Petre, was taken seriously, and caused an estrange classes of society, good-naturedly designed to reward mert between the families, and Pope wrote his his literary merit. The fame of Pope was not advanced poem to make a jest of the affair, and laugh them in an equal degree with his fortune by his labours together again.' In this he did not succeed, but he as a translator. The 'fatal facility' of his rhyme, added greatly to his reputation by the effort. The ! the additional false ornaments which he imparted
to the ancient Greek, and his departure from the commenced, and probably finished, the most highly nice discrimination of character and speech which poetical and passionate of his works, the Epistle prevails in Homer, are faults now universally ad-from Eloisa to Abelard. The delicacy of the poet in mitted. Cowper (though he failed himself in Homer) veiling over the circumstances of the story, and at justly remarks, that the Iliad and Odyssey in Pope's the same time preserving the ardour of Eloisa's hands have no more the air of antiquity than if he passion, the beauty of his imagery and descriptions, had himself invented them. The success of the the exquisite melody of his versification, rising and Iliad led to the translation of the Odyssey ; but Pope falling like the tones of an Eolian barp, as he succalled in his friends Broome and Fenton as assistants. cessively portrays the tumults of guilty love, the These two coadjutors translated twelve books, and deepest penitence, and the highest devotional rapthe notes were compiled by Broome. Fenton re- ture, have never been surpassed. If less genial oeived £300, and Broome £500, while Pope had tastes and a love of satire withdrew Pope from those £2885, 5s. The Homeric labours occupied a period fountain-springs of the Muse, it was obviously from of twelve years—from 1713 to 1725. The improve- no want of power in the poet to display the richest ment of his pecuniary resources enabled the poet to hues of imagination, or the finest impulses of the remove from the shades of Windsor Forest to a human mind. The next literary undertaking of situation nearer the metropolis. He purchased a our author was an edition of Shakspeare, in which lease of a house and grounds at Twickenham, to he attempted, with but indifferent success, to esta
blish the text of the mighty poet, and explain his
His faithful dog shall bear him company. Pope's Villa, Twickenham. which he removed with his father and mother, and Good, Pleasure, Ease, Content, whate'er thy name;
Oh Happiness ! our being's end and aim, where he continued to reside during the remainder That something still which prompts the eternal sigh, of his life. This classic spot, which Pope delighted For which we bear to live, or dare to die, to improve, and where he was visited by ministers which, still so near us, yet beyond us lies, of state, wits, poets, and beauties, is now greatly O'erlooked, seen double, by the fool, and wise ! defaced. Whilst on a visit to Oxford in 1716, Pope Plant of celestial seed ! if dropped below, * Pope's house was not large, but sufficiently commodious Fair opening to some court's propitious shine,
Say, in what mortal soil thou deign'st to grow ! for the wants of an English gentleman whose friends visited himself rather than his dwelling, and who were superior to the or deep with diamonds in the flaming mine? necessity of stately ceremonials On one side it fronted to Twined with the wreaths Parnassian laurels yield, the road, which it closely adjoined ; on the other, to a narrow Or reaped in iron harvests of the field ? lawn sloping to the Thames. A piece of pleasure-ground, including a garden, was cut off by the public road; an awkward side ones are of the character of grottos, paved with square and unpoetical arrangement, which the proprietor did his best bricks, and stuck over with shells. It is curious to find over to improve. After the poet's death, the villa was purchased by the central stone of the entrance into the left of these grottos, Sir William Stanhope, and subsequently by Lord Mendip, who a large ammonite, and over the other, the piece of hardened carefully preserved everything connected with it; but, being in clay in which its cast was left. Pope must have regarded these 1807 sold to the Baroness Howe, it was by that lady taken merely as curiosities, or lusus natura, little dreaming of the down, that a larger house might be built near its site. Now wonderful tale of the early condition of our globe which they (1843), the place is the property of — Young, Esq. ; the second assist in telling. A short narrow piazza in front of the grottos house has been enlarged into two, and further alterations are is probably the evening colonnade' of the lines on the absence contemplated. The grounds have suffered a complete change of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu. The taste with which Pope since Pope's time, and a monument which he erected to his laid out his grounds at Twickenham (five acres in all), had a mother on a hillock at their further extremity has been re- marked effect on English landscape gardening. The Prince of moved. The only certain remnants of the poet's mansion are Wales took the design of his garden from the poet's ; and Kent, the vaults upon which it was built, three in number, the the improver and embellisher of pleasure grounds, received his central one being connected with a tunnel, which, passing best lessons from Pope. He aided materially in banishing the under the road, gives admission to the rear grounds, while the stiff formal Dutch style.
Where grows !-where grows it not ? If vain our toil, The anticipated approach of the Pretender led the We ought to blame the culture, not the soil.
government to issue a proclamation prohibiting every Fixed to no spot is Happiness sincere;
Roman Catholic from appearing within ten miles of "Tis nowhere to be found, or everywhere;
London. The poet complied with the proclamation; 'Tis never to be bought, but always free,
and he was soon afterwards too ill to be in town. And fled from monarchs, St John! dwells with thee. This additional proclamation from the Highest of Ask of the learned the way! The learned are blind; all Powers,' as he terms his sickness, he submitted This bids to serve, and that to shun mankind; to without murmuring. A constant state of exciteSome place the bliss in action, some in case ;
ment, added to a life of ceaseless study and contemThose call it pleasure, and contentment these ; plation, operating on a frame naturally delicate and Some sunk to beasts, find pleasure end in pain; deformed from birth, had completely exhausted the Some swelled to gods, confess even virtue vain; powers of Pope. He complained of his inability to Or indolent, to each extreme they fall,
think ; yet, a short time before his death, he said, 'I To trust in everything, or doubt of all.
am so certain of the soul's being immortal, that Pope's future labours were chiefly confined to seem to feel it within me as it were by intuition.' satire. In 1727 he published, in conjunction with another of his dying remarks was, ' There is nothing his friend Swift, three volumes of Miscellanies, in that is meritorious but virtue and friendship; and, prose and verse, which drew down upon the authors indeed, friendship itself is only a part of virtue.' He a torrent of invective, lampoons, and libels, and died at Twickenham on the 30th of May, 1744. ultimately led to the Dunciad, by Pope. This ela
The character and genius of Pope have given rise borate and splendid satire displays the fertile inven- to abundance of comment and speculation. The tion of the poet, the variety of his illustration, and occasional fierceness and petulance of his satire canthe unrivalled force and facility of his diction; not be justified, even by the coarse attacks of his but it is now read with a feeling more allied to pity opponents, and must be ascribed to his extreme than admiration-pity that one so highly gifted sensibility, to over-indulged vanity, and to a hasty should have allowed himself to descend to things so and irritable temper. His sickly constitution debarmean, and devote the end of a great literary life to ring him from active pursuits, he placed too high a the infliction of retributary pain on every humble value on mere literary fame, and was deficient in aspirant in the world of letters. I have often the manly virtues of sincerity and candour. At the wondered,' says Cowper, that the same poet who same time he was a public benefactor, by stigmatiswrote the “Dunciad” should have written these ing the vices of the great, and lashing the absurd lines
pretenders to taste and literature. He was a fond
and steady friend; and in all our literary biography, That mercy I to others show,
there is nothing finer than his constant undeviating That mercy show to me.
affection and reverence for his venerable parents. Alas for Pope, if the mercy he showed to others was Me let the tender office long engage, the measure of the mercy he received.' Sir Walter To rock the cradle of reposing age; Scott has justly remarked, that Pope must have With lenient arts extend a mother's breath, suffered the most from these wretched contentions. Make languor smile, and smooth the bed of death; It is known that his temper was ultimately much Explore the thought, explain the asking eye, changed for the worse. Misfortunes were also now
And keep at least one parent from the sky. gathering round him. Swift was fast verging on insanity, and was lost to the world ; Atterbury and
Prologue to the Satira. Gay died in 1732 ; and next year his venerable As a poet, it would be absurd to rank Pope with the mother, whose declining years he had watched with greatest masters of the lyre; with the universality of affectionate solicitude, also expired. Between the Shakspeare, or the sublimity of Milton. He was years 1733 and 1740, Pope published his inimitable undoubtedly more the poet of artificial life and manEpistles, Satires, and Moral Essays, addressed to his ners than the poet of nature. He was a nice observer friends Bolingbroke, Bathurst, Arbuthnot, &c., and and an accurate describer of the phenomena of the containing the most noble and generous sentiments, mind, and of the varying shades and gradations of mixed up with withering invective and the fiercest vice and virtue, wisdom and folly. He was too fond denunciations. In 1742 he added a fourth book to of point and antithesis, but the polish of the weapon the ‘Dunciad,' displaying the final advent of the god- was equalled by its keenness. * Let us look,' says dess to destroy order and science, and to substitute Campbell
, “to the spirit that points his antithesis, the kingdom of the dull upon earth. The point of and to the rapid precision of his thoughts, and we his individual satire, and the richness and boldness shall forgive him for being too antithetic and senof his general design, attest the undiminished powers tentious. His wit, fancy, and good sense, are as and intense feeling of the poet. Next year Pope remarkable as his satire. His elegance has never prepared a new edition of the four books of the been surpassed, or perhaps equalled : it is a combiDunciad,' and elevated Colley Cibber to the situa- nation of intellect, imagination, and taste, under the tion of hero of the poem. This unenviable honour direction of an independent spirit and refined moral had previously been enjoyed by Theobald, a tasteless feeling. If he had studied more in the school of critic and commentator on Shakspeare; but in thus nature and of Shakspeare, and less in the school of yielding to his personal dislike of Cibber, Pope in- Horace and Boileau ; if he had cherished the frame jured the force of his satire. The laureate, as War- and spirit in which he composed the · Elegy' and ton justly remarks, ‘with a great stock of levity, the Eloisa,' and forgot his too exclusive devotion vanity, and affectation, had sense, and wit, and to that which inspired the “ Dunciad,' the world humour; and the author of the “ Careless Husband” would have hallowed his memory with a still more was by no means a proper king of the dunces.' Cib- affectionate and permanent interest than even that ber was all vivacity and conceit—the very reverse which waits on him as one of our most brilliant of personified dulness,
and accomplished English poets. Sinking from thought to thought, a vast profound.
Mr Campbell in his 'Specimens' has given an elo
quent estimate of the general powers of Pope, with Political events came in the rear of this accumulated reference to his position as a poet :- That Pope was and vehement satire to agitate the last days of Pope. neither so insensible to the beauties of nature, nor
so indistinct in describing them, as to forget the character of a genuine poet, is what I mean to urge, without exaggerating his picturesqueness. But before speaking of that quality in his writings, I would beg leave to observe, in the first place, that the faculty by which a poet luminously describes objects of art, is essentially the same faculty which enables him to be a faithful describer of simple nature; in the second place, that nature and art are to a greater degree relative terms in poetical description than is generally recollected; and thirdly, that artificial objects and manners are of so much importance in fiction, as to make the exquisite description of them no less characteristic of genius than the description of simple physical appearances. The poet is "creation's heir." He deepens our social interest in existence. It is surely by the liveliness of the interest which he excites in existence, and not by the class of subjects which he chooses, that we most fairly appreciate the genius or the life of life which is in him. It is no irreverence to the external charms of nature to say, that they are not more important to a poet's study than the manners and affections of his species. Nature is the poet's goddess; but by nature, no one rightly understands her mere inanimate face, however charming it may be, or the simple landscapepainting of trees, clouds, precipices, and flowers. Why, then, try Pope, or any other poet, exclusively by his powers of describing inanimate phenomena? Nature, in the wide and proper sense of the word, means life in all its circumstances-nature, moral
as well as external. As the subject of inspired fic
tion, nature includes artificial forms and manners.
Richardson is no less a painter of nature than Homer. Homer himself is a minute describer of works of art; and Milton is full of imagery derived from it. Satan's spear is compared to the pine, that makes "the mast of some great ammiral;" and his shield is like the moon, but like the moon artificially seen through the glass of the Tuscan artist. The "spiritstirring drum, the ear-piercing fife, the royal banner, and all the quality, pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious war," are all artificial images. When Shakspeare groups into one view the most sublime objects of the universe, he fixes on "the cloud-capt towers, the gorgeous palaces, the solemn temples." Those who have ever witnessed the spectacle of the launching of a ship of the line, will perhaps forgive me for adding this to the examples of the sublime objects of artificial life. Of that spectacle I can never forget the impression, and of having witnessed it reflected from the faces of ten thousand spectators. They seem yet before me. I sympathise with their deep and silent expectation, and with their final burst of enthusiasm. It was not a vulgar joy, but an affecting national solemnity. When the vast bulwark sprang from her cradle, the calm water on which she swung majestically round, gave the imagination a contrast of the stormy element in which she was soon to ride. All the days of battle and nights of danger which she had to encounter, all the ends of the earth which she had to visit, and all that she had to do and to suffer for her country, rose in awful presentiment before the mind; and when the heart gave her a benediction, it was like one pronounced on a living being.'
Ye nymphs of Solyma! begin the song:
Rapt into future times, the bard begun :
To leafless shrubs the flowery palms succeed,
The lambs with wolves shall graze the verdant mead,