Abbildungen der Seite

him ; her Guardian, considering such an union degrading, forcibly carried her abroad, and placed her in a convent; where, abandoning herself to despair, she put an end to her life.

The “ Rape of the Lock,” in two cantos, was published in 1711; it then possessed none of that exquisite machinery vhich now adorns and constitutes the most perfect and fascinating of imaginative poems. In its original form, Addison declared it to be “ Merum Sal;” and strenuously endeavoured to deter Pope from running a risk of deteriorating its exceilence by introducing the Gabalisian Mythology of Sylphs and Gnomes. This advice Pope fortunately rejected; and in 1712 the Poem was published as it is now read and admired, astonishing and delighting the Public, and consummating the fame of the Author as one of the first Poets of this or any other country. In the same year the “Temple of Fame,” founded on Chaucer's “Vision,” was printed ; and soon after, “Windsor Forest,” the first portion of which had been written nine years previously. Pope also wrote several papers in the “Guardian ;” the most ingenious are those in which he draws, with inimitable gravity, an ironical comparison between his own Pastorals,” and those of Ambrose Phillips. So well did he succeed in veiling his satire that Steele was deceived, and hesitated to give the papers insertion, out of tenderness to Pope himself, whom he judged hardly dealt by in them; but Addison detected the real author and his aim, and published them.

The arbitrary seclusion of the heroine of his “ Elegy” probably influenced Pope's choice of a subject in his “ Eloisa to Abelard ;" however that may be, this Poem, in intense feeling and impressive scenery, and in highly-wrought contrast of voluptuous passion and superstitious devotion, stands without a parallel ; and, when viewed at the same time with the “Rape of the Lock,” proves that, with equal power and grace, he could agitate and overwhelm, or soothe and fascinate, the human mind, at his pleasure. Pope had now established his reputation ; and, finding the allowance he received from his father inadequate to his expenses, he resolved to try to make his talents available likewise, for the establishment of his fortune. His religion precluded him from every Civil employment; and his father, with a Jacobinical distrust of the Government Securities, had been living on his principal, which was rapidly decreasing. He probably, therefore, saw that, while yet in the zenith of his popularity, it behoved him to make a grand effort to fix himself in independence; and he succeeded. He issued Proposals for a translation of the “ Iliad” of Homer, in six volumes, quarto, at six guineas a copy, and obtained subscriptions for 650 copies, which Lintot the Bookseller delivered at his own expense, and gave him £1200 additional for the copyright. By this arrangement Pope cleared £5320. 48., and very prudently invested the major part of it in the purchase of annuities, and the remainder in that of the since celebrated house at Twickenham; to which he immediately removed, having persuaded his father to sell the property at Binfield, and accompany him. The translation of the “Iliad” was begun in 1712; the first four books were published in 1715, and the work was completed in 1718. Dr. Johnson says, “ It is certainly the noblest version of poetry which the world has ever seen; and its publication must therefore be considered as one of the great events in the annals of learning.”

Pope had entertained a sincere respect and friendship for Addison ; he had written the “ Prologue” to his “Cato;" had outrageously attacked Dennis for his “horse play” criticism on that Tragedy; and had made the “ Dialogue on Medals” the subject of a very laudatory epistle. Nevertheless, from the publication of the Proposals for the “ Iliad,” Addison appears to have cherished a dislike to Pope, which the latter soon became conscious of, and reciprocated ; and although Jervas the Painter, and Steele (who procured an interview between them), exerted themselves to the utmost to effect a reconciliation, all their endeavours failed, and the parties separated in mutual disgust. Immediately after the appearance of the first volume of Pope's “Iliad," a rival version of the first book was published with the name of Tickell: this, concurrent circumstances convinced Pope was the work of Addison himself; and (according to Spence), finding that Phillips and Gildon were receiving encouragement and reward from Addison, for disparaging and abusing him in the Coffee-houses, and in their writings, he wrote to Addison, stating that he was aware of his proceedings, and that, if he retorted, he should, at the same time that he exposed his faults, fairly allow his good qualiries; enclosing him the first sketch of what has been called his “ Satire on Addison.” It has been much the fashion to exalt the character of Addison to the disadvantage of Pope, in this affair ; but it is pretty clear that Addison was the aggressor in the first instance, and did not, throughout, evince the manly candour displayed by Pope; and the sincerity of Pope's conviction that he had received unmerited ill-treatment is sufficiently proved by the pains he took in correcting and finishing the Verses, and his persisting in publishing them for his own vindication.

În 1717 his father died, in his seventy-fifth year.-In 1721 he published an edition of “Shakespeare,” which was attacked with insolent severity by Theobald, in his “Shakespeare Restored.” Shortly after the completion of the “Iliad,” lie undertook (assisted by Broome and Fenton) a translation of the “Odyesey,” of which he furnished twelve books, and realised a considerable sum, after paying his associates for their labours. In 1723 he appeared before the House of Lords at the trial of Atterbury, to give evidence as to the Bishop's domestic life and occupations: and, about the same time, met with an accident which very nearly proved fatal ; for, being overturned in a coach into the water, he was with much difficulty extricated by the driver, when at the point of suffocation. In 1727 he joined Swift in three volumes of “Miscellanies,” in which he inserted the “Memoirs of P.P., Parish Clerk,” in ridicule of “ Burnet’s History of his own Time ;” and “The Art of Sinking in Poetry.” In 1728, he printed the “ Dunciad ;” installing Theobald as the bero, and introdaced the whole herd of critics and poetasters, who, through malevolence, or for hire, had for some years continued to exert themselves in depreciating and abusing him. This Poem, as might have been expected, engaged all the lower grades of the literary world in active hostility against him; but, elated with the triumph he had achieved, he for a long time reniained callous to their virulence. In 1731 appeared his poem on Taste," and he incurred very general blame for his wanton and unprovoked attack upon the harmless foibles of the Duke of Chandos; a nobleman of an upright character, and a most kind heart: he endeavoured to exculpate himself, but ineffectually; and the odium of having causelessly given pain to a worthy man unfortunately still attaches to his memory. In the following year he lost his friend Gay; and the year after that, his mother died, having attained to the great age of ninety-three. Dr. Johnson, in alluding to this event, says, “The filial piety of Pope was in the highest degree amiable and exemplary ; his parents had the happiness of living till he was at the summit of poetical reputation, till he was at ease in his fortune, and without a rival in his fame, and found no diminution of his respect and tenderness. Whatever was his pride, to them he was obedient; and whatever was his irritability, to them he was gentle. Life has, among its soothing and quiet comforts, few things better to give than such a son.” He has, himself

, beautifully commemorated his reverence and affection for his mother, in the Prologue to his “Satires :".

“Me, let the tender office long engage,

To rock the cradle of reposing age,
With lenient arts extend a mother's breath,
Make languor smile, and smooth the bed of death,
Explore the thought, explain the asking eye,

And keep awhile one parent from the sky." Between 1730 and 1740 he published two other “ Moral Essays," “Imitations of Horace,” a modernised version of the “Satires of Dr. Donne," and the “ Essay on Man:" he also gave to the world a quarto volume of letters between himself and some of his friends. It is supposed that he was anxious to introduce this Correspondence to the Public, and that he contrived, by a manœuvre, to place a portion of it in the hands of Curll the Bookseller, that his publishing it might afford a pretext for issuing a genuine edition.

In the composition of the “Essay on Man,” his imperfect acquaintance with Theology and Metaphysics had, unfortunately, thrown him under the guidance of Lord Bolingbroke; a man whom he highly esteemed, of great genius, learned and acute, but an Infidel. The consequence was that, while intent upon inculcating religious and moral precepts, he was unwittingly promulgating the dogmas of the Fatalist and the Theist. This brought upon him a severe castigation from Crousaz, a Swiss Professor of some note, who openly denounced the Poem as lending to set aside Revelation, and to establish a system of Natural Religion. In the dilemma in which Pope now found himself

, Warburton (then just rising into notice,) voluntarily stepped forward as his champion, and published, in the “ Republic of Letters," a Vindication of the Essay on Man.”

This assistance Pope very gratefully acknowledged; he recommended Warburton to Mr. Murray, by whose influence he was appointed preacher at Lincoln's Inn; and, by his introduction to Mr. Allen, he married the niece, and succeeded to the estate, of that gentleman. He also left Warburton the property of his Wørks, which Dr. Johnson estimates at £ 4000.

About 1740 Pope printed the “Memoirs of Scriblerus," a fragment of a work originally projected by himself, Swift, and Arbuthnot, which was never completed; and in 1742 a new edition of the “ Dunciad,” enlarged by the addition of a fourth book. In this he attacked Colley Cibber most unmiercifully, for no evident reason ; unless, as Dr. Johnson suggests, he thought that, in ridiculing the Laureate, he was bringing into contempt the bestowers of the iaurel. Cibber, who had on several previous occasions manifested great forbearance, now lost all patience; he amused the town with a pamphlet, in which he describes Pope as a “Wit out of his senses ;” and attributes his ill-will to his (Cibber's) having made a ludicrous allusion to the damnation of the farce of “ Three hours after Marriage,” while acting Bays in the Rehearsal ; and ascribes the authorship of the piece to Pope. It is a pity that Pope suffered his vexation to subdue his better judgment: he should have remained silent. On the contrary, in 1743, he dethroned Theobald, and constituted Cibber the hero of his “Dunciad ;” much to the deterioration of the Poem, and certainly inconsistently with fact. Cibber could not fairly be classed among the Dunces; if, alternately he soared and grovelled in Tragedy, his Comedy is of very superior excellence, possessing wit, humour, tenderness, and elegance; and, if his practice and habits were any thing but moral, his dramas (during a season of unrestrained licentiousness,) were strictly so: le seems to have been guided, in this repect, by the feeling he expressed to Mrs. Bracegirdle, the actress, who, upon enquiring of him “How it happened that his writings were so very moral, and his life so very immoral ?" received for answer, that “ Morality in the one was absolutely indispensable, but not exactly so in the other.” Cibber, who had declared his intention to “have the last word,” quickly published another pamphlet, which is described by Richardson (the son of the Painter) as having perfectly agonised Pope.

The health of Pope now began to fail, and he contented himself with occupying his time in the revisal of his works for a collective Edition; in this he was assisted by Warburton. He lingered some inonths under an accumulation of infirmity and disease, and expired on the 30th of May, 1744.

If this admirable Poet may be considered fortunate in having Warburton for the original Editor of bis Works, he has been peculiarly unfortunate with respect to some who have succeeded him :—a bevy of fifth-rate authors also, anxious to reduce the standard of poetic excellence to their own level, have, of late years, done their utmost to cloud the lustre of his fame as a poet, and to depreciate his character as a man. Lord Byron, contemning the cant of criticism, and the paltry cavils of scandal, thus disposes of the one and the other :

“The attempt of the poetical populace of the present day to obtain an ostracism against Pope is as easily accounted for as the Athenians' shell against Aristides; they are tired of hearing him always called “The Just.' They are also fighting for life ; for, if he maintains his station, they will reach their own by falling. They have raised a Mosque by the side of a Grecian Temple of the purest architecture : I have been amongst the builders of this ‘Babel,' but never amongst the envious destroyers of the Classic Temple of our predecessor. I have loved and honoured the fame and name of that illustrious and unrivalled man, far more than my own paltry renown, and the trashy jingle of the crowd of schools' and upstarts who pretend to rival, or even surpass, him. Sooner than a single leaf should be torn from his laurel, it were better that all which these men, and that I, as one of their set, have ever written, should

* Line trunks, clothe spice, or, fluttering in a row,

Befringe the walls of Bedlam, or Soho.' “ In society he seems to have been as amiable as unassuming: he was adored by his friends; friends of the most opposite dispositions, ages, and talents. By the old and wayward Wycherley, by the cynical Swift, the rough Atterbury, the gentle Spence, the stern Warburton, the virtuous Berkeley, and the 'cankered Bolingbroke’;—the soldier Peterborough, and the poet Gay; the witty Congreve, and the laughing Rowe; the eccentric Cromwell, and the steady Bathurst, were all his associates.

Thomas PARNELL was born in Dublin, 1679. His fatner, a native of Cheshire, had retired to Ireland at the Restoration, where he purchased some considerable estates, which, with his property in England, were inherited by his son. At the age of thirteen Parnell entered Dublin College, and took his degree of Master of Arts on the 9th of July, 1700. He was ordained Deacon the same year, and, three years after, entered into Priests' orders: in 1705 be was collated to the Archdeaconry of Clogher. He married Miss Anne Minchin, a very beautiful and amiable lady, to whom he was most devotedly attached. Up to this period he had led a very retired life, but he now began to make periodical visits to England, and quickly formed an intimacy with the first literary characters of the day; more particularly with Swift, Pope, Gay, and Arbuthnot. These, with himself, formed the Scriblerus Club; to the “Memoirs" of which he contributed the “ Essay concerning the Origin of Sciences.” His politics had been those of his father, who was a staunch Whig; but his connection with Swift seems to have wrought a change in his opinions, and he attached himself to the party of Oxford and Bolingbroke. In 1711 his wife died, and he received a shock by the event which he never recovered; his spirits, always unequal, sunk under a lasting depression : and, unable to raise them by mental effort, he desperately sought relief in intemperance, and plunged into excesses which brought him to a premature end. It is probable that he from time to time endeavoured to combat this infatuation, for, the year after his wife's death, he wrote a poem on “Queen Anne's Peace,” was carried to the Court, and introduced to the ministers by Swift, and succeeded in gaining the esteem of Bolingbroke, and the ardent friendship of Harley.

The dissolution of the ministry on Queen Anne's death, prevented Parnell from attaining preferment through that channel; but Swift, having recommended him to the Archbishop of Dublin, his Grace bestowed on him a Prebend, and afterwards the vicarage of Finglass, worth about £ 400 per annum. He died at Chester, while on his way to Ireland, in July, 1718, in his thirty-ninth year, and was buried in the Trinity Church of that city. Parnell was endeared to his friends by hisgenerous, affable, and kind disposition ; he displayed much eloquence in the pulpit, and became very popular in London, where he frequently preached during his visits; and he holds a very respectable rank as a Poet, for his elegance, simplicity, and perspicuity. Little of his poetry was published during his life; but shortly after his ath, Pope, with friendly solicitude for his fame, made a careful selection of it'; which he dedicated, in a splendid copy of verses, to the Earl of Oxford.

Parnell's principal poems are, “ Hesiod, or the Rise of Woman,” “An Allegory on Man," a “Night-piece, on Death,” the “Hymn to Contentment,” a “ Fairy Tale,” and the “Hermit.” The two last are the most celebrated, and, in their several styles, are altogether admirable: he also translated the “Pervigilium Veneris” of Catullus, and “The Battle of the Frogs and Mice;” printed with Pope's version of Homer.

The prose of Parnell is not equal to his poetry. Pope complained that the “ Life of Homer," which Parnell wrote for him, gave him more trouble in correction than composing an original one would have done. His classical learning, however, enabled him to render great assistance to Pope, who had a high opinion of his perfect knowledge of the Greek Language, and of his correct critical judgment.--His other prose works are, his “Life of Zoilus,” a cutting satire on Dennis the critic; and his papers in the “Spectator" and “Guardian.”

[ocr errors]

ZACHARY PEARCE, the son of a wealthy distiller, was born in Holborn, 1690. He was educated at Westminster, where he was chosen one of the King's scholars, and was elected to Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1710. In 1713 and 1714, while at the University, he wrote his papers in the “ fuardian” and “Spectator :" and in 1716 he acquired great reputation and powerful patronage by an edition of “ Cicero de Oratore,” which he dedicated to Lord

[graphic][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]
« ZurückWeiter »