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ple of Fame,” in imitation of Chaucer's “ House of Fame," «Windsor Forest," a loco-descriptive poem, and « Eloisa to Abelard,” the most popular, perhaps, of any of his productions. But all these poems, together with his Satires and Epistles, added but very little to his fortune. Accordingly, at the age of twenty-five, he issued proposals for the Translation of the Iliad, by subscription. The work was accomplished in five years, and while the profits were such as to gratify his utmost expectations, the great and signal merits of the translation received the warmest eulogiums from the literary world. In a few years after, in conjunction with Fenton and Broome, he translated the Odyssey.
The fame which Pope acquired by these writings drew upon him the attacks of the envious ;and a host of critics, individually insignificant, but troublesome from their numbers, continued to annoy him. To retaliate, he published, in 1728, “ The Dunciad," a work “ which fell among his opponents like an exterminating thunderbolt.” But while it has displayed the temperament of the author in no very enviable light, it has perpetuated the memory of many worthless scribblers, who otherwise would have sunk into oblivion. In 1733 he published his celebrated didactic poem, the « Essay on Man.” No sooner did it appear than it was assailed by his enemies, and others, on the ground that it was full of skeptical or infidel tendencies. From this charge it was ably defended by the learned Dr. Warburton, and has since been most triumphantly vindicated in the preliminary discourse of Mr. Roscoe. After the publication of the “Essay on Man” he continued to compose occasional pieces, and planned many admirable works: among the latter was “ A History of the Rise and Progress of English Poetry.” But he never lived to enter upon the work, for an asthmatic affection, to which he had long been subject, terminated, in 1744, in a dropsy of the chest, and he expired on the 30th of May of that year.“
“ What rank,” says Dr. Drake, “ should be assigned to Pope in a classification of our English poets, has been a subject of frequent inquiry. It is evi. dent, that by far the greater part of his original productions consists of ethic and satiric poetry; and by those who estimate mere moral sentiment, or the exposure, in splendid versification, of fashionable vice or folly, as the highest province of the art, he must be considered as the first of bards. If, however, sublimity, imagination, and pathos be, as they assuredly are, the noblest efforts of the creative powers, and the most difficult of attainment, Pope will be found to have had some superiors, and several rivals. With Spenser, Shakspeare, and Milton, he cannot, in those essential qualities, enter into competition; and when compared with Dryden, Young, and Thomson, the mind hesitates in the allotment of superiority.”
1 He cleared the sum of five thousand three hundred and twenty pounds.
2 " Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before ENVY P-Proverbe xxvii. 4.
8 See Roscoe's edition of Pope, 10 vols. London, one of the choicest contributions to English literature of the
ntury. Read, also, that elegant and interesting piece of criticism, Warton's " Essay on the Genius and Writings of Pope," a work of which it has been justly said that, “ how. ever often perused, it affords fresh delight, and may be considered as one of the books best adapted to excite a love of literature."
* In person, Pope was short and deformed, of great weakness and delicacy of body, and had, through life, suffered from I health. Warton remarks, that "his bodily make was of use to him as a writer," quoting the following passage from Lord Bacon's Essays: “It is good to consider de formity not as a sign, which is more deceivable; but as a cause, which seldom faileth of the effect. Whosoever hath any thing fixed in his person that doth induce contempt, hath also a perpetual spur in himself to rescue and deliver himself from scorn."
6 Read an admirable "Estimate of the Poetical Character and Writings of Pope," prefixed to the second volume of Roscoe's edition.
Warton, in the dedication of his elegant « Essay on the Writings and Genius of Pope,” after making four classes of the various English poets, remarks: “ In which of these classes Pope deserves to be placed, the following work is intended to determine;" and he closes his second volume, thus: “Where, then, according to the question proposed at the beginning of this Essay, shall we justly be authorized to place our admired Pope? Not, assuredly, in the same rank with Spenser, Shakspeare, and Milton; however justly we may applaud the Eloisa,' and the • Rape of the Lock;' but, considering the correctness, elegance, and utility of his works, the weight of sentiment, and the knowledge of man they contain, we may venture to assign him a place next to Milton, and just above Dryden. The preference here given to Pope, above other modern English poets, it must be remembered, is founded on the excellencies of his works in general, and taken altogether ; for there are parts and passages in other modern authors, in Young and in Thomson, for instance, equal to any of Pope; and he has written nothing in a strain so truly sublime as the • Bard' of Gray."?
Rapt into future times, the bard begun:
1 He means next to that first class, which includes Spenser, Shakspeare, and Milton, naming these in a chronological order, and not in the order of their merits.
2 And what has he written equal to the "Elegy," or the “Progress of Poesy," of Gray?
8 Pollio was a Roman senator in the time of Augustus, and celebrated not only as a general, but as a patron of letters and the fine arts. Virgil addressed to him his fourth Eclogue at a time (B. C. 40) wh Augustus nd Antony had ratified a league peace, and thus, as was thought, esta lished the tranquillity of the empire, as in the times of the “golden age.” In this Eclogue Virgil is most eloquent in the praise of peace, and in some of his figures and expressions is thought to have imitated the prophecies of Isaiah, which, probably, he had read in the Greek Septuagint. But however this may be as regards Virgil, Roscoe well remarks of this production of Pope, that "the idea of uniting the sacred prophecies and grand imagery of ISAIAH, with the mysterious visions and pomp of numbers displayed in the POLLIO, thereby combining both sacred and heathen mythology in preaicting the coming of the MESSIAH, is one of the happiest subjects for producing emotions of sublimity that ever occurred to the mind of a poet."
4 Jerusalem. 5 A mountain in Thessaly, sacred to the Muses. 8 Aonian maids--the Muses. ; Isa. xi. 1. 8 Isa. xlv. 8. 9 Isa. xxv. 4.
10 Isa. ix. 7.
Swift fly the years, and rise the expected morn!
1 188. XXXV. 2.
2 Isa. xl. 3, 4.
8 Isa. xli. 18; XXXV. 5, 6.
Isa. Ixv. 21, 22.
4 Isa. XI. 11.
Waste sandy valleys,' once perplex'd with thorn,
Thy realm for ever lasts, thy own Messiah reigns! Of the « Essay on Criticism,” Dr. Johnson remarks, “if he had written nothing else, it would have placed him among the first critics and the first poets; as it exhibits every mode of excellence that can embellish or dignify composition-selection of matter, novelty of arrangement, justness of precept, splendor of illustration, and propriety of digression."10
Of all the causes which conspire to blind
1 Isa. xli. 19; lv. 13. 2 Isa. xi. 6-8.
8 Isa. lxv. 25. 4 Isa. )x. 1. 6 Isa. lx. . 6 Isa. lx. 3.
7 Isa. lx. 6.
8 Isa. lx. 19, 20. 9 Isa. li. 6; liv. 10. 10 "For a person only twenty years old to have produced such an Essay, so replete with a knoppe ledge of life and manners, such accurate observations on men and books, such variety of literature, such strong good sense, and refined taste and judgment, has been the subject of frequent and of just admiration."--Warton.
For as in bodies, thus in souls, we find
Essay on Criticism, 201.
Essay on Criticism, 364. EVANESCENCE OF POETIC FAME. Be thou the first true merit to befriend; His praise is lost, who stays till all commend. Short is the date, alas, of modern rhymes, And 'tis but just to let them live betimes.
1 These lines are usually cited as fine examples of adapting the sound to the sense, but Dr. Johnson, in the ninety-second number of the Rambler, has demonstrated that Pope has here signally failed. "The verse intended to represent the whisper of the vernal breeze must surely be confessed not much to excel in softness or volubility; and the 'smooth stream' runs with a perpetual clash of jarring consonants. The noise and turbulence of the 'torrent,' is indeed distinctly imaged; for It requires very little skill to make our language rough. But in the lines which mention the effort of * Ajax,' there is no particular heaviness or delay. The 'swiftness of Camilla' is rather contrasted than exemplified. Why the verse should be lengthened to express speed will not easily be discovered. But the Alexandrine, by its pause in the midst, is a tardy and stately measure; and the word 'un. bending,' one of the most sluggish and slow which our language affords, cannot much accelerate itu motion."