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One dedicates in high heroic prose, And ridicules beyond a hundred foes :
110 One from all Grub-street will my fame defend, And, more abusive, calls himself
friend. This prints my Letters, that expects a bribe, And others roar aloud, “Subscribe, subscribe !"
There are, who to my person pay their court: 115 I cough like Horace, and, tho' lean, am short; Ammon's great son one shoulder had too high; Such Ovid's nose; and “Sir! you have an eye.”.
Ver. 115. There are, who to my person] What Addison says in jest, and with his usual humour, is true in fact: “I have observed that a reader seldom peruses a book with pleasure till he knows whether the writer of it be a black or fair man, of a mild or choleric disposition, married or a bachelor.” What passages in Horace are more agreeable than when he tells us he was fat and sleek, “præcanum, solibus aptum,” prone to anger, but soon appeased. And again, how pleasing the detail he gives of his way of life, the descriptions of his mule, his dinner, his supper, his furniture, his amusements, his walks, his time of bathing and sleeping, from the 105th line to the end of the sixth satire of the first book. And Boileau, in his tenth epistle, has done the same in giving many amusing particulars of his father, family, and for
Warton. Ver. 118. “Sir! you have an eye."] It is remarkable that, amongst the compliments on his infirmities and deformities, he mentions his eye, which was fine, sharp, and piercing. It was done to intiniate, that fattery was as odious to him when there was some ground for commendation, as when there was none.
Ver. 111 in the MS.
For song, for silence, some expect a bribe ;
Go on, obliging creatures, make me see
Why did I write ? what sin to me unknown 125
130 The muse but served to ease some friend, not wife, To help me through this long disease, my life; To second, ARBUTHNOT! thy art and care, And teach, the being you preserved, to bear.
Ver. 128. I lisp'd in numbers,]
Sponte suâ carmen numeros veniebat ad aptos,
Et quod conabar scribere, versus erat.” Warton. Ver. 130. no father disobey'd.] When Mr. Pope was yet a child, his father, though no poet, would set him to make English
He was pretty difficult to please, and would often send the boy back to new-turn them. When they were to his mind, he took great pleasure in them, and would say, These are good rhymes.
But, friend, this shape, which you and Curll admire,
A. But why then publish? P. Granville the polite, And knowing Walsh, would tell me I could write; Well-natured Garth inflamed with early praise, And Congreve loved, and Swift endured my lays; The courtly Talbot, Somers, Sheffield, read, Even mitred Rochester would nod the head, 140
Ver. 135. But why then publish?] To the three first names that encouraged his earliest writings, he has added other friends, whose acquaintance with him did not commence till he was a poet of established reputation. From the many commendations which Walsh, and Garth, and Granville bestowed on his Pastorals, it may fairly be concluded how much the public taste has been improved, and with how many good compositions our language has been enriched since that time. When Gray published his exquisite Ode on Eton College, his first publication, little notice was taken of it: but I suppose no critic can be found that will not place it far above Pope's Pastorals.
Warton. That Gray's Ode on Eton College was received with indifference is certainly no proof of the improvement of the public taste; nor does there seem much propriety in commending it here, in order to depreciate Pope's Pastorals, to which it bears no resemblance.
Ver. 139. Talbot, &c.] All these were patrons or admirers of Mr. Dryden; though a scandalous libel against him, entitled, Dryden's Satire to his Muse, has been printed in the name of the Lord Somers, of which he was wholly ignorant. These are the
persons to whose account the author charges the publication of his first pieces : persons with whom he was conversant (and he adds beloved) at 16 or 17 years of age; an early period for such acquaintance. The catalogue might be made yet more illustrious, had he not confined it to that time when he writ the Pastorals and Windsor Forest, on which he passes a sort of censure in the lines following:
" While pure description held the place of sense,” &c. Pope.
Every word and epithet here used is exactly characteristical, and peculiarly appropriated, with much art, to the temper and manner of each of the persons here mentioned ; the elegance of
And St. John's self (great Dryden's friends before)
Soft were my numbers; who could take offence,
Lansdown, the open free benevolence and candour of Garth, the warmth of Congreve, the difficulty of pleasing Swift, the very gesture (as I am informed) that Atterbury used when he was pleased, and the animated air and spirit of Bolingbroke. Warton.
Ver. 146. Burnets, &c.] Authors of secret and scandalous history.
Pope. Ver. 146. Burnets, Oldmirons, and Cooks.] By no means authors of the same class; though the violence of party might hurry them into the same mistakes. But if the first offended this way, it was only through an honest warmth of temper, that allowed too little to an excellent understanding. The other two, with very bad heads, had hearts still worse.
Warburton. Ver. 148. While pure description held the place of sense ?] He uses pure equivocally, to signify either chaste or empty; and has given in this line what he esteemed the true character of descriptive poetry, as it is called; a composition, in his opinion, as absurd as a feast made of sauces.
The office of a picturesque imagination is to brighten and adorn good sense; so that to employ it only in description, is like children's delighting in a prism for the sake of its gaudy colours; which, when frugally managed and artfully disposed, might be made to unfold and illustrate the noblest objects in nature.
Warburton. Ver. 150.] A painted meadow, or a purling stream, is a verse of Mr. Addison.
Por Ver. 150.] A painted mistress, or a purling stream.) Mean Rape of the Lock, and Windsor Forest.
Yet then did Gildon draw his venal quill;
Ver. 151. Yet then did Gildon) It is with difficulty we can forgive our author for upbraiding these wretched scribblers for their poverty and distresses, if we do not keep in our minds the grossly abusive pamphlets they published ; and, even allowing this circumstance, we ought to separate rancour from reproof: “ Cur tam crudeles optavit sumere pænas ?"
Warton. Gildon was born at the village of Gillingham, near Shaftesbury, in Dorsetshire. Pope's "wishing him a dinner,” is not exactly understood. The expressions are thought unfeeling, as meant to upbraid him with his poverty; but the truth is, Gildon in his essays says, his sole motive for writing was “necessity.” It cannot be said, that it is cruel to "wish a man a dinner,” who professes he writes to get one.
A few more words concerning this obscure writer may not be unacceptable. He was sent to Douay, to the English college of secular priests there, to be made a priest; but his inclinations led him another way.
He came to London, spent his property, and endeavoured to repair his fortune by writing abusive pamphlets.
Bowles. Ver. 153. Yet then did Dennis) I cannot help thinking that poor Dennis was hardly used. He was a scholar, had a liberal education, and had been in his early youth, a companion of those who were distinguished for rank and literature. Being at first countenanced, and having a considerable share of learning and ingenuity, he was no doubt mortified and galled, to find the stream of popular applause turned almost exclusively towards one poet. On this account, his strictures, though often just, are marked with asperity and coarseness, as he was evidently chagrined at the success which he could not gain himself. Hence his coarse and contemptuous treatment of Addison's Cato, and Pope's Essay on Man; but we must admit that many of his observations were well founded, and that they evince considerable classical knowledge, as well as shrewdness.