« VorigeDoorgaan »
remainder of his fortune (£5000), in fruitless attempts to obtain a seat in Parliament.. Under the pressure of poverty, his moral virtues and energies seem to have entirely deserted him; he now became a pamphleteer, indiscriminately virulent and abusive, and did not hesitate to use every possible artifice to prey upon and plunder his friends and relations.
In 1727 the Duchess Dowager of Marlborough, from hatred to the existing govern ment, assisted him by a present of £1000, in a last attempt to get into Parliament. He failed, and again resorting to his pen for subsistence, came forward as the advocate of Infidelity, by taking part in the publication of "Tindal's Christianity, as old as the Creation." He also about this time was one of the conductors of the Craftsman," wrote letters, poems, and pamphlets, upon political and temporary subjects, and a work of some value entitled, "Memoirs of the Life and Character of the late Earl of Orrery, and' of the family of the Boyles." Toward the end of the year 1732 he commenced a weekly magazine called the " Bee," which extended to one hundred Numbers.
During the publication of the "Bee," Dr. Matthew Tindal died, and great astonishment was created by the production of a Will, in which, to the exclusion of a favorite nephew, whom he had always declared should be his heir, he bequeathed £2100 (nearly his whole property), to Budgell. It was soon the general opinion that the documentshad been fabricated by Budgell, and Mr. Nicholas Tindal, the nephew, instituting a legal inquiry into its authenticity, it was set aside, and Budgell stamped with indelible disgrace. He was attacked from all quarters in the papers of the day; and, judging some very severe animadversions in the Grub-street Journal" to be written by Pope, he retorted in one of the numbers of the "Bee" with such scurrility, that the Poet was induced to immortalize him and his crime, in an epigrammatic couplet of the Prologue to his Satires:
"Let Budgell charge low Grub-street on my quill,,
Harassed and oppressed by poverty and infamy, and unsupported by the consolations of religion, Budgell determined on self destruction. On the 4th of May, 1737, having filled his pockets with stones, he hired a boat, and threw himself from it, as it passed under London Bridge, into the Thames. He had left on his bureau a slip of paper, with this sentence written upon it, "What Cato did, and Addison approved, cannot be wrong" a strange perversion of the sentiments expressed by Addison in his Tragedy, regarding suicide. The fate of this wretched man presents an awful lesson to those who, blinded by self-importance, can brook nothing that runs counter to their own notions and desires; and who, to satiate hatred and revenge, are tempted to hazard wealth, fame, and happiness.
JOHN HUGHES was born at Marlborough, on January 20, 1677. His father was a citizen of London, and his mother the daughter of Isaac Burgess, Esq., of Wiltshire. Being of a weakly constitution, he was placed at a private academy conducted by Mr. Thomas Rowe, a dissenting minister, where he had for school-fellows, Dr. Isaac Watts, and Mr. Samuel Say. He made rapid progress in his classical studies, evincing a decided partiality for Music and Poetry. While yet very young, he obtained a situation in the Ordnance Office, and he acted as Secretary to several Commissions for the purchase of land for the Royal Docks at Portsmouth and Chatham. He employed his leisure in gaining a knowledge of the French and Italian Languages, and in the cultivation of his taste for poetry. He paraphrased one of Horace's Odes, formed the plan of a Tragedy, and in 1697 published a "Poem on the Peace of Ryswic." His Poems, although often elegant and harmonious, and in their day popular (in part, probably, from their being united to the admirable music of Purcell, Pepusch, and Handel), are defective in the imagination, spirit, and brilliancy, so essential to excellence in lyric poetry. His principal productions are "An Ode on Music," "Six Cantatas," "Calypso and Telemachus," an Opera, performed at the King's Theater in 1712, with great applause, and his Tragedy "The Siege of Damascus." This play, which continued occasionally to re-visit the stage to the end of the last century, is, perhaps, the only one of his writings entitling him to the name of Poet. Addison, it would seem, thought highly of his dramatic powers: he requested Hughes to write a fifth act for his " Cato," which had lain by unfinished for several years. Hughes began the task, but was prevented from proceeding by Addison suddenly assuming it himself.
The prose of Hughes is of a superior order to his poetry: his contributions to the
"Tatler," "Spectator," and Guardian;" his Essays On the Pleasure of being Deceived," and "On the Properties of Style;"Two Dialogues of the Dead ;" "Charon, a Vision;" his Prefaces to a translation of "Boccalini," "Kennett's History of England," and the "Lay Monastery;" and his "Discourse on Allegorical Poetry;" are all valuable for the perspicuity, grace, learning, and sense, which they display.
He published an edition of the Works of Spenser, which, until the appearance of the recent more important and elaborate edition of Todd, attached much reputation to his character as an Editor.
In addition to the works already mentioned, he translated Ovid's "Pyramus and Thisbe," the tenth book of Lucan's "Pharsalia," and some fragments from Orpheus, Pindar, and Euripides; also, in prose, Fontenelle's "Dialogues of the Dead," and a "Discourse concerning the Ancients and Moderns," the Misanthrope" of Molière, Vertot's "History of the Revolution of Portugal," and the "Letters of Abelard and Heloise."
His official employment and literary labors, notwithstanding his expenses and desires were singularly moderate, had failed to place him in easy circumstances; until the accession of George I, when Lord Cowper, on resuming the Chancellorship, made Hughes Secretary to the Commissioners of the Peace, a very profitable appointment, in which he was continued by Lord Macclesfield, upon Cowper's resignation. But he was destined to enjoy affluence but for a very short period: his appointment took place in 1717, his health being then very infirm, and on February 17, 1719-20, he expired of pulmonary consumption, the night his "Siege of Damascus" was brought on the stage. He had dedicated his Tragedy to Lord Cowper only ten days previous, and he had just lived to receive the intelligence of its success.
Sir Richard Steele has described him with all the ardor of friendship, and there is no reason to doubt the accuracy of his description.
"Mr. Hughes could hardly ever be said to have enjoyed health: if those who are sparing of giving praise to any virtue without extenuation of it, should say that his youth was chastised into the severity, and preserved in the innocence, for which he was conspicuous, from the infirmity of his constitution, they will be under new difficulty when they hear that he had none of those faults to which an ill state of health ordinarily subjects the rest of mankind. His incapacity for more frolicsome diversions never made him peevish or sour to those whom he saw in them; but his humanity was such that he could partake of those pleasures he beheld others enjoy, without repining that he himself could not join in them. His intervals of ease were employed in drawing, designing, or else in music and poetry; for he had not only a taste, but an ability of performance to a great excellence, in those arts which entertain the mind within the rules of the severest morality, and the strictest dictates of religion. He did not seem to wish for more than he possessed, even as to his health, but to contemn sensuality as a sober man does drunkenness; he was so far from envying, that he pitied the jollities that were enjoyed by a more happy constitution. He could converse with the most sprightly without peevishness, and sickness itself had no other effect upon him than to make him look upon all violent pleasures as evils he had escaped without the trouble of avoiding."
HENRY GROVE was born on the 4th of January, 1683, at Taunton, Somerset. He was descended from families of high respectability in Wiltshire and Devonshire, conspicuous for their attachment to the cause of religious freedom. His parents early inculcated in him an ardent love of religion, and bestowed on him the valuable addition of a classical education. At the age of fourteen he entered upon a course of academical study under the Rev. Mr. Warren, of Taunton; and, on its conclusion, removed to London to prosecute his literary career under his near relation, the Rev. Thomas Rowe. Here he acquired a thorough acquaintance with the systems of Descartes and Newton, and a knowledge of the Hebrew Language, which enabled him to peruse the Old Testament in the original; he likewise contracted a friendship with Dr. Watts, which continued during his life.
After two years' residence in London he returned home, and, at the age of twentytwo, became a preacher. For this office he was well qualified, and he soon obtained great popularity:-attracting the notice of Mrs. Singer (afterward Mrs. Rowe), she expressed her friendship and esteem for him by addressing to him, "An Ode on Death." In 1706, at the age of twenty-three (being then married), he was nominated to suc
ceed Mr. Warren, as Tutor to the Academy at Taunton, in conjunction with two other gentlemen of established reputation. His departments were Ethics and Pneumatology. He removed to Taunton in order to fulfill the duties of this appointment, and adopted two small congregations in the neighborhood, to whom, for eighteen years, he preached upon a salary of £20 per annum.
His auditors were few, and probably of the lower class; nevertheless, his sermons were carefully composed, and emphatically delivered, and, as one of his biographers says, "were adapted to the improvement of the meanest understanding, while they were calculated to please and edify the most polite and judicious hearers."
Mr. Grove's first published production was "An Essay on the regulation of Diversions," written for his pupils, in 1708. He entered into a controversy with Dr. Clarke, upon a deduction propounded in the Doctor's "Discourse on the Being and Attributes of God;" which, though it failed to convince either party, terminated in (what is not very usual with disputants) mutual expressions of respect and good-will. In 1714 his first paper in the "Spectator" appeared; and in 1718 he published "An Essay toward a Demonstration of the Soul's Immateriality." The eloquence he displayed in the pulpit excited great admiration among the Dissenters, and he received many invitations from populous and important places, which his love for retirement induced him to decline. He wisely abstained from participating in the disputes relative to the doctrine of the Trinity, which at that time engendered so much heat and animosity among his brethren.
In 1723 he published "A Discourse on Secret Prayer, in several Sermons;" a production highly valuable for its powerful argument and persuasive energy. Two years after, on the death of Mr. James, his associate in the Academy, he undertook his duties as Divinity Tutor, and succeeded to his pastoral charge at Fulwood, near Taunton.
Indefatigable both in public and in private, he continued to give the world Sermons, and various other productions, all useful and meritorious, until the year 1736; when the loss of his wife (who had lingered under a most distressing nervous disorder, attended with alienation of mind), though borne with fortitude and resignation, deeply affected his health and spirits. He survived her little more than a year, dying of fever on the 27th of February, 1737-8.
His death was universally lamented by all who knew him; and one of his congregation thus expressed himself. Our sorrow for Mr. Grove's sickness was not like our concern for other friends when dying, whom we pity and lament; but a sorrow arising as from the apprehension of the removal of one of the higher order of beings who had condescended to live on earth for a while to teach us the way to heaven, and was now about to return to his native place."
ALEXANDER POPE was born in Lombard-street, London, on May 22, 1688. His parents were Roman Catholics: his father retired from his business of a Linen-draper, with a fortune of £20,000; his mother was the daughter of William Turner, Esq., of York. Two of her brothers died in the service of Charles I, and a third was a General in the Spanish Army.-To the high respectability of his family connections he alludes with complacency in the "Prologue to his Satires:"
"Of gentle blood (part shed in honor's cause),
When eight years of age he was placed under the tuition of Taverner, a priest, who taught him the rudiments of the Greek and Latin Languages at the same time. After having made considerable progress, he was sent to a Catholic Academy at Twyford, near Winchester; where, in consequence of his writing a lampoon on his master, he did not remain long, but was removed to a school near Hyde Park. By this time he had read with great delight "Ogilby's Homer," and "Sandys's Ovid ;" and, having acquired a partiality for theatrical performances, had arranged a part of the "Iliad" as a drama, and acted it in conjunction with his school-fellows. He was about twelve years old when his father left London, and took up his residence at Binfield, adjoining Windsor Forest, taking his son with him, for whom a second private tutor was procured. But Pope was soon sensible that his improvement was by no means equal to his aspirations; and, throwing off all restraint, he formed for himself a plan of study, and persevered in it with great diligence. He read every book that came in his way with avidity, particularly Poetry, and speedily became intimate with, and capable of appreciating, the writings of the most eminent of his predecessors. He preferred Dryden before all
others, and made him his model; and his enthusiastic admiration of him was such that he persuaded a friend to take him to Button's Coffee-house, that he might, even though as a stranger, have the gratification of beholding that illustrious man. "How proud," it has been observed, "must Dryden have felt, could he have known the value of the homage thus paid him!"
Destined to neither Trade nor Profession, Pope had now full opportunity of improv. ing and maturing his genius, which was already rapidly developing itself. He had, at twelve years of age, written "An Ode to Solitude;" two years afterward he translated the first book of Statius's "Thebais," and Ovid's "Epistle of Sappho to Phaon;" and had modernized Chaucer's "January and May," and the "Prologue to the Wife of Bath's Tale." These were followed by his "Pastorals," which were not, however, published until 1709. His "Essay on Criticism," was written in 1709, and published in 1711:-it was advertised in No. 65 of the "Spectator." In 1712 he contributed to the "Spectator" his magnificent Poem, "The Messiah;" which is, perhaps, the only instance that can be referred to wherein the sublimity of the Prophetic Writings has been heightened, rather than debased, by modern transfusion. The "Elegy on the death of an Unfortunate Lady," is said to have originated in circumstances of deep interest to the Poet:- a lady named Withinbury, amiable and beautiful in feature, but, like himself, deformed in person, had conceived a strong affection for him; her Guardian considering such a 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 which now adorns and constitutes it the most perfect and fascinating of imaginative poems. In its original form, Addison declared it to be "Merum Sal;" and strenuously endeavored to deter Pope from running a risk of deteriorating its excellence by introducing the Gubalisian 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 vailing 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 Seeurities, had been living on his principal, which was rapidly decreasing. He probably, therefore, saw that, while yet in the zenith of his popularity, it behooved 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 pro perty 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 endeavors 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 qualities ; inclosing him the first sketch of what has been called his Satire on Addison." 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 candor 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.
In 1717 his father died, in his seventy-fifth year,-in 1721 he published an edition of "Shakspeare," which was attacked with insolent severity by Theobald, in his Shakspeare Restored." Shortly after the completion of the "Iliad," he undertook (assisted by Broome and Fenton) a translation of the Odyssey," of which he furnished twelve books, and realized a considerable sum, after paying his associates for their labors. 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 hero, and introduced 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 remained 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 endeavored 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
"Me, let the tender office long engage,
With lenient arts extend a mother's breath.
Make languor smile, and smooth the bed of death,
"Moral Essays,' Imitations of
Between 1730 and 1740 he published two other
Horace," a modernized version of the "Satires of Dr. Donne," and the "Essay on