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St. John, Lord Bolingbroke, statesman and political writer, a friend of Pope and Swift; cf. Pope's "Essay on Man" (p. 131).
(75) 54. the Rose: a tavern in London, near the theaters, and much frequented by
(76) 77. stars and garters: the insignia of the Order of the Garter, the highest order of knighthood in England. ¶78. Chartres: an infamous money-lender of the times. ¶ 06. Ps. 146:3: "Put not your trust in princes." 105, 106. In 1713 Queen Anne offered a reward of £300 for the discovery of the author of Swift's pamphlet, The Public Spirit of the Whigs; and in 1724 a like reward was offered for the discovery of the author of the fourth of Swift's Drapier's Letters.
(77) ON POETRY. Lines 305-44. 1. Cibber: Colley Cibber, actor, playwright, and small poet, was made poet laureate in 1730; cf. Pope's attack upon him as a dull poet, in "The Dunciad" (p. 113). ¶ 2. birthday strains: one of the chief functions of the poet laureate was to write poems, usually bombastic odes, on the birthdays of members of the royal family. 15. Hobbes: Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679), an English philosopher.
"About fifteen I got acquainted with Mr. Walsh. He used to encourage me much, and used to tell me that there was one way left of excelling: for though we had several great poets, we never had had any one great poet that was correct; and he desired me to make that my study and aim."-Pope, quoted in Spence's Anecdotes, Section VII (1742-43). "I am convinced, as well as you, that one may correct too much; for in poetry, as in painting, a man may lay colors one upon another till they stiffen and deaden the piece. . . . . I have not attempted anything of a pastoral comedy, because, I think, the taste of our age will not relish a poem of that sort. People seek for what they call wit, on all subjects and in all places, not considering that nature loves truth so well that it hardly ever admits of flourishing: conceit is to nature what paint is to beauty; it is not only needless, but impairs what it would improve. There is a certain majesty in simplicity, which is far above all the quaintness of wit."-Letter to Walsh, July 2, 1706. "I must take notice of .. your hint that the sprightliness of wit despises method.' This is true enough if by wit you mean no more than fancy or conceit; but in the better notion of wit, considered as propriety, surely method is not only necessary for perspicuity and harmony of parts, but gives beauty even to the minute and particular thoughts, which receive an additional advantage from those which precede or follow in their due place."-Letter to Wycherley, November 29, 1707. "The things that I have written fastest have always pleased the most. I wrote the 'Essay on Criticism' fast, for I had digested all the matter, in prose, before I began upon it in verse. 'The Rape of the Lock' was written fast: all the machinery was added afterwards; and the making that and what was published before hit so well together is, I think, one of the greatest proofs of judgment of anything I ever did. I wrote most of the Iliad' fast; a great deal of it on journeys, from the little pocket Homer on that shelf there; and often forty or fifty verses in a morning in bed. 'The Dunciad' cost me as much pains as anything I ever wrote."-Pope, quoted in Spence's Anecdotes, Section IV (1734-36). "I learned versification wholly from Dryden's works, who had improved it much beyond any of our former poets, and would probably have brought it to its perfection had not he been unhappily obliged to write so often in haste."-Pope, quoted in Spence's Anecdotes, Section VII (1742-45). "There are indeed certain niceties, which, though not much observed even by correct versifiers, I cannot but think deserve to be better regarded. . . . . Every nice ear must, I believe, have observed that in any smooth English verse of ten syllables there is naturally a pause at the fourth, fifth, or sixth syllable. It is upon these the ear rests, and upon the judicious change and management of which depends the variety of versification. . . . . Now, I fancy that, to preserve an exact harmony and variety, the pause at the fourth or sixth should not be continued above three lines together
without the interposition of another; else it will be apt to weary the ear with one continued tone, at least it does mine. That at the fifth runs quicker, and carries not quite so dead a weight, so tires not so much though it be continued longer. . I would also object to the irruption of Alexandrine verses of twelve syllables, which, I think, should never be allowed but when some remarkable beauty or propriety in them atones for the liberty. Mr. Dryden has been too free of these, especially in his latter works. I am of the same opinion as to triple rhymes." -Letter to Walsh, October 22, 1706 "After reading the Persian Tales (and I had been reading Dryden's Fables just before them) I had some thought of writing a Persian fable, in which I should have given a full loose to description and imagination. It would have been a very wild thing if I had executed it, but might not have been unentertaining."-Pope, quoted in Spence's Anecdotes, Section IV (1734-36). “I have long had an inclination to tell a fairy tale, the more wild and exotic the better; therefore a vision, which is confined to no rules of probability, will take in all the variety and luxuriancy of description you will; provided there be an apparent moral to it. I think one or two of the Persian Tales would give one hints for such an invention."-Letter to Mrs, Judith Cowper, September 26, 1723.
Notes signed "P." are by Pope; those signed "W." by Warburton.
(78) ODE ON SOLITUDE. "Written when I was not twelve years old."-Pope to Cromwell, July 17, 1709, in a letter containing the poem. Even if written so early, which is doubtful (for Pope's statements about the dates of his poems are not always trustworthy), doubtless revised later.
(79) PASTORALS. "Written at sixteen years of age. "-P. "If we would copy nature, it may be useful to take this idea along with us, that pastoral is an image of what they call the Golden Age. So that we are not to describe our shepherds as shepherds at this day really are, but as they may be conceived then to have been, when the best of men followed the employment..... . . Theocritus excells all others in nature and simplicity. . . . . Virgil, who copies Theocritus, refines upon his original; and in all points where judgment is principally concerned, he is much superior to his master. . . . . Of the following eclogues I shall only say that these four comprehend all the subjects which the critics upon Theocritus and Virgil will allow to be fit for pastoral; that they have as much variety of description, in respect of the several seasons, as Spenser's; that in order to add to this variety the several times of the day are observed, the rural employments in each season or time of day, and the rural scenes or places proper to such employments, not without some regard to the several ages of man and the different passions proper to each age."-P. "The author esteemed these as the most correct in the versification, and musical in the numbers, of all his works. The reason for his laboring them into so much softness was, doubtless, that this sort of poetry derives almost its whole beauty from a natural ease of thought and smoothness of verse."-P.
(79) Spring. In general plan the pastoral is modeled upon Virgil's third eclogue and Theocritus' fifth idyll, in which two shepherds contend in song before a third shepherd, praising their mistresses in alternate strains. ¶ 1, 2. Pope says that these lines are imitated from Virgil (Eclogues, vi. 1, 2.):
Prima Syracusio dignata est ludere versu
I first transferred to Rome Sicilian strains;
Nor blushed the Doric Muse to dwell on Mantuan plains.
-Dryden's translation. ¶2. Windsor's: in his youth Pope lived at Binfield, near Windsor Forest. 14. Sicilian Muses: the Muses of pastoral poetry; Theocritus (of the third century B. C.), the father of pastoral poetry, lived and wrote in Sicily. ¶ 7-12. The person addressed was Sir William Trumbull, to whom the pastoral is inscribed. He had retired from the secretaryship of state in 1697, and was living at his native place, near Windsor, where the young poet made his acquaintance. ¶ 20. Cf. Dryden's "Palamon and Arcite" (I. 182): "Fresh as the month, and as the morning fair."
(80) 27. Phosphor: the morning-star (literally, "light-bringer"; Greek pws, light, and pópos, bringer). ¶ 28. purple: "Purple is here used in the Latin sense of the brightest, most vivid coloring in general, not of that peculiar tint so called."-W. Cf. "ver purpureum" (Virgil's Eclogues, ix. 40). ¶32. breathing-exhaling odors. 35. wanton playful, running hither and thither. ¶ 39, 40. "The shepherd's hesitation at the name of the Zodiac imitates that in Virgil [Eclogues, iii. 40, 41]:
Et quis fuit alter,
41-43. "Literally from Virgil [Eclogues, iii. 59, 56, 57]: Alternis dicetis; amant alterna Camenae.
Et nunc omnis ager, nunc omnis parturit arbos;
"By turns you will sing: the Muses love alternate songs." "And now every field, now every tree is budding forth; now the woods are in leaf; now the year is most beautiful." ¶ 46. Waller's: Edmund Waller (1606-87) was one of the first to write the pentameter couplet with the regularity and smoothness which so pleased the ear of Pope and his contemporaries. Cf. Dryden's statement: "But the excellence and dignity of it [rhyme] were never fully known till Mr. Waller taught it; he first made writing easily an art, first showed us to conclude the sense, most commonly, in distichs."-The Epistle Dedicatory to The Rival Ladies (1663). Granville's: George Granville, afterward Lord Lansdowne, Secretary of War under Queen Anne; a small poet and imitator of Waller. 47. 48. Pope says the lines are an imitation of Virgil (Eclogues, iii. 86, 87):
"Breed a bull which attacks with his horn and scatters the sand with his hoofs." But the lines owe more to Dryden's translation of the Æneid, ix. 859, 862:
¶55, 56. Cf. Horace, Odes, I. ix. 21, 22:
A snow-white steer before thy altar led.
And dares the fight, and spurns the yellow sands.
Nunc et latentis proditor intimo
"And now the pleasing traitor laugh of the hiding girl, from a most secret corner.' ¶ 57, 58. "Imitation of Virgil [Eclogues, iii. 64, 65]:
Malo me Galatea petit, lasciva puella,
Et fugit ad salices, et se cupit ante videri."-P.
My Phillis me with pelted apples plies;
61. Pactolus: a river in Asia Minor, famous for the gold in its sandy bed. ¶62. When Phaeton was hurled from the chariot of the sun into the river Eridanus, which is usually identified with the Po, his sisters became poplars on its banks and their tears were turned to amber. 65. Idalia's: Idalia, a promontory on the island of Cyprus, was sacred to Venus. 66. Cynthus: a mountain in the island of Delos, the birthplace of Diana. Hybla: a city in Sicily, one of the seats of the worship of Ceres.
(81) 85-92. The two riddles are in imitation of those in Virgil [Eclogues, iii. 104-7].” 186. A wondrous tree: "An allusion to the royal oak, in which Charles II had been
hid from the pursuit after the battle of Worcester."-P. ¶ 90. Alludes to the device of the Scots' monarchs, the thistle, worn by Queen Anne, and to the arms of France, the fleur de lys."-P. 102. Pleiads: the constellation of the Pleiades was supposed to bring rain.
(81) WINDSOR FOREST. Lines 7-42, 111-46. ¶ 2. An allusion to Paradise Lost. (82) 7. Cf. Waller, "On Her Passing through a Crowd of People" (1645), ll. 1, 2:
As in old chaos (heaven with earth confused,
21. tufted trees: cf. Milton's "L'Allegro," 1. 78, "Bosomed high in tufted trees."
(83) 45. moist Arcturus: the brightest star in the Great Dipper; it was supposed to bring storms. ¶53. doves: probably the subject, not the object, of "o'ershade." ¶55. Cf. Dryden's translation of Virgil's Georgics, ii. 774: 'And bends his bow, and levels with his eyes." ¶ 60. John Philips' "Cider" (1708), II. 175, 176:
They leave their little lives
Above the clouds, precipitant to earth.
Philips' lines in turn are based on Virgil's Georgics, iii. 547, “Praecipites alta vitam sub nube relinquunt," "Falling headlong, they leave life under the lofty cloud." ¶68. Tyrian dye: the so-called Tyrian purple, made by the ancient Tyrians from the juice of a shell-fish; it is supposed to have been nearer crimson than purple. ¶ 69. volumes-folds, coils (Latin "volvere," to roll). 70. bedropped with gold: cf. the description of fish in Paradise Lost, VII. 406, "Show to the sun their waved coats dropt with gold."
(83) AN ESSAY ON CRITICISM. Lines 68-168, 215-52, 289-383. ¶1-6. Cf. Lord Shaftesbury's Advice to an Author (1710), Part III, sec. 3: "Whatever philosopher, critic or author is convinced of this prerogative of Nature, will easily be persuaded to apply himself to the great work of reforming his taste, which he will have reason to suspect if he be not such a one as has deliberately endeavored to frame it by the just standard of Nature."
(84) 13, 14. In the first line, "wit" means imagination, fancy; in the second line, judgment. 19. gen'rous of good stock, thoroughbred (Latin "genus," race, stock). 42. bills prescriptions.
(85) 52-54. Pope here applies to the art of criticism what Boileau, in his "L'Art poétique" (1674), III. 112-14, says to writers of tragedies:
Conservez à chacun son propre caractère;
Les climats font souvent les diverses humeurs.
In Soame and Dryden's translation, which Pope probably used, the lines are thus rendered:
Keep to each man his proper character;
Of countries and of times the humours know;
¶ 57, 58. Cf. Horace, De arte poetica, l. 268, 269:
Vos exemplaria Graeca
"Turn over Greek models with nightly and with daily hand." ¶62. the Mantuan Muse: Virgil who was born near Mantua. ¶63-71. "It is a tradition preserved by Servius that Virgil began with writing a poem of the Alban and Roman affairs, which he found above his years, and descended, first to imitate Theocritus on rural subjects, and afterward to copy Homer in heroic poetry."-P. ¶63. Maro: Virgil's full name was Publius Virgilius Maro. ¶ 71. the Stagyrite: Aristotle (384-322 B. C.), who was born at Stagira, Macedonia; his Poetics, in which literary principles are derived from an analysis of Greek poetry, laid the foundation of literary criticism. 175. a happiness as well as care: Pope evidently had in mind the famous phrase used by Petronius of Horace's poetry, "curiosa felicitas," "the felicity which comes from carefulness," although he is not here speaking of that kind of happiness in style. 179-82. Pope compares Quintilian, Institutes of Oratory, II. xiii: “Neque enim rogationibus
plebisve scitis sancta sunt ista praecepta, sed hoc, quicquid est, utilitas excogitavit. Non negabo autem sic utile esse plerumque . . . .; verum si eadem illa nobis aliud suadebit utilitas, hanc, relictis magistrorum auctoritatibus, sequemur," "For the precepts of oratory are not established by laws or public decrees, but whatever is contained in them was discovered by expediency. Yet I shall not deny that it is in general of service to attend to rules . . . . ; but if expediency shall suggest anything at variance with them, we shall have to follow it, deserting the authority of teachers."-J. S. Watson's translation. 85. 86. Cf. Boileau's "L'Art poétique" (1674), II. 71, 72; IV. 77-80:
Son style impétueux souvent marche au hasard:
C'est lui qui vous dira par quel transport heureux
Soame and Dryden translate thus:
Her gen'rous style at random oft will part,
'Tis he will tell you to what noble height
(86) 92. gloriously offend: cf. Dryden, Aurengrebe, IV. i, "Mean soul! and dar'st not gloriously offend!" ¶ 103. Picrian: Pieria, a mountain in Greece, was the legendary birthplace and haunt of the Muses. 112-19. Cf. Drummond's "Hymn of the Fairest Fair," ll. 149-56, in Flowers of Sion (1623):
Ah, as a pilgrim who the Alps doth pass.
120-25. Pope compares Quintilian, Institutes of Oratory, X. i: "Legendus est. diligenter, ac paene ad scribendi sollicitudinem: nec per partes modo scrutanda omnia, sed perlectus liber utique ex integro resumendus." "They must be read with attention, and indeed with almost as much care as if we were transcribing them: and every portion must be examined, not merely partially, but a whole book, when read through, must be taken up afresh.”— J. S. Watson's translation. ¶ 126-29. Cf. Boileau's "L'Art poétique” (1674), I. 71, 72:
Un style trop égal et toujours uniforme
En vain brille à nos yeux, il faut qu'il nous endorme;
and Soame and Dryden's translation:
A frozen style that neither ebbs nor flows,
(87) 140. conceipt: here used in the sense of far-fetched and too ingenious conceptions or fancies, such as Donne and the other "metaphysical" poets delighted in. ¶ 148, 149. Cf. Boileau: "Un bon mot n'est bon mot qu'en ce qu'il dit une chose que chacun pensoit, et qu'il la dit d'une manière vive, fine, et nouvelle," "A witty saying is not a witty saying except as it expresses a thing that everyone thinks, and expresses it in a manner that is animated, ingenious, and new." ¶ 148. True wit: "wit" here means imaginative insight expressed in words. 154. wit: the word here cannot mean "true wit," which Pope has just defined as "nature to advantage dressed" (1. 148), for a work cannot have too much of that; the refer ence evidently is to fancy and imagination strained into unnatural and unfit forms, as far