Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

" take notice that our English Author has, after the “ fame manner, exemplified several of his precepts in " the very precepts themselves.” He then produces fome instances of a particular kind of btauty in the numbers, and concludes with saying, " That we have “ three poems in our tongue of the fame nature, and “ each a masterpiece in its kind; the Essay on Trans“ lated Verse, the Essay on the Art of Poetry, and the « Essay on Criticism."

Addison and Pope were now at the head of poetry and criticism ; and both in such a state of elevation, that, like the two rivals in the Roman state, one could no longer bear an equal, nor the other a superior. Of the gradual abatement of kindness between friends, the beginning is often scarcely discernible by themselves, and the process is continued by petty provocations, and incivilities sometimes peevishly returned, and sometimes contemptuously neglected, which would escape all attention but that of pride, and drop from any memory but that of resentment. That the quarrel of these two wits should be minutely deduced is not to be expected; however, we fall mention such circumstances as are the most material.

The author of Mist's Journal positively asserts, " that Mr. Addison raised Pope from obfcurity, ob“ tained him the acquaintance and friendship of the whole body of our nobility, and transfeřred his “ powerful influence with those great men to this “ rising bard, who frequently levied, by that means, “ unusual contributions on the public."

When this charge of ingratitude and dishonour was published against Mr. Pope, to acquit himself of it, he called upon any nobleman whose friendship, or any one gentleman whose subscription, Mr. Addison had procured to our Author, to Itand forth and declare it, that truth might appear. But the whole libel was proved a malicious story by many persons of distinction, who, several years before Mr. Addison's decease, approved

thole

I

those verses denominated a libel, but which were, it is said, a friendly rebuke, fent privately in our Author's own hand, to Mr. Addison himself, and never made public till by Curl, in his Miscellanies, 12mo, 1727. The lines, indeed, are elegantly satirical, and, in the opinion of many unprejudiced judges, who had oppostunities of knowing the character of Mr. Addison, are no ill representation of him. Speaking of the poetical triflers of the times, who had declared against him, he makes a sudden transition to Addison.

Peace to all fuch! But were there one whose fires
True genius kindles, and fair fame inspires,
Bleit with cach talent and each art to please,
And born to write, converse, and live with ease;
Should such a man, too fond to rule alone,
Bear, like the iurk, no rival near the throne,
View him with scornful, yet with jealous eyes,
And hate for arts that caus'd himself to rise;
Damn with faint praife, allent with civil leer,
And, without fneering, others teach to sneer;
Willing to wound, and yet afraid to strike,
Just hint a fault, and hesitate aisike;
Alike referv'd to blame or to commend,
A tim'rous fce, and a fufpicious friend;
Dreading e'en foois; by flatterers besieg'd;
And fo obliging, that he ne er oblig'd.
Like Cato give his little senate laws,
And fit attentive to his own applause ;
While wits and Templars ev'ry fentence raise,
Add wonder with a foolish face of praise.
Who but muft laugh, if such a man there be!
Who would not weep, if Atticus were he!

Some readers may think these lines severe, but the treatment he received from Mr. Addison was more than fufficient to justify them, which will appear when we particularize an interview between thele two poetical antagonists, procured by the warm solicitations of Sir Richard Steele, who was present at it, as well as Mr. Gray.

Mr. Jervas being one day in company with Mr. Addison, the conversation turned upon Mr. Pope, for whom Addison, at that time, expressed the highest regard, and assured Mr. Jervas that he would make use, not only of his interest, but of his art likewise, to do Mr. Pope service. He then said, he did not mean his art of poetry, but his art at Court; and protested, notVOL. I.

with

1

[ocr errors]

withstanding many infinuations were spread, that it Thould not be his fault if there was not the best underftanding and intelligence between them. He observed, that Dr. Swift might have carried him too far among the enemy during the animolity, but now all was fate, and Mr. Pope, in his opinion, was escaped. When Mr. Jervas communicated this conversation to Mr. Pope, he made this reply: “ The friendly office you 6 endeavour to do between Mr. Adenon and me de. “ ferves acknowledgments on my part. You thorough

ly know my regard to his character, and my readio nels to-testify it by ali ways in my power; you also " thoroughly knew the meanness of that proceeding « of Mr. Phillips, to make a man I fo highly value

suspect my disposition towards him. But as, after " all, Mr. Adlifon niuft he judge in what regards him« felf, ard as he has seemed not to be a very just one “ to me, so I must own to you I expe trothing but 66 civility from him, how much lever I wish for his

friendship; and, as for any offers of real kindness “s or service, which it is in his power to do me, I thould " be ashamed to receive them from a man who has no “ better opinion of iny morals than to think me 2 party " man; nor of my temper, than to believe me capable “ of maligning or envying another's reputation as a

poet. In a word, Mr. Adliton is fure of my re· jpect at all times, and of my real friend hip, when66 ever he shall think fit to know ine for what I am."

Some years after this conversation, at the delire of Sir Richard Steele, they met. At firít, a very cold civility, and nothing else, apreared on either side; for Mr. Adilifon had natural reserve and glooin at the beginning of an evening, which, by converiation and a glass, brightened into an easy chearfuln-fs. Sir Richard Stecie, who was a most social benerolent man, beggeli of him to fulfil his promise, in dropping all anienuity against Mr. Pope. Mr. Pope then delired to ke made sensible how he had offended, and observed,

that

that the translation of Homer, if that was the great crime, was undertaken at the requeft, and almost at the command, of Sir Richard Steele. He entreated Mr. Addison to speak candidly and fretly, though it might be with ever so much severity, rather than, by keeping up forms of complaisance, conceal any of his faults. This Mr. Pope spoke in such a manner as plainly indicated he thought Mr. Addison the aggreffor, and expected him to condescend, and own himself the cause of the breaci between them. But he was dilappointed; for Mr. Additon, without appearing to be angry, was quite overcome with it. He began with declaring, that he always had wilhed him well, had often endeavoured to be his friend, and in that light advised him, if his nature was capable of it, to divest himself of part of his vanity, which was too great for his merit; that he had not arrived yet to that pitch of excellence he might imagine, or think his molt partial readers imagined ; that when he and Sir Richard Steele corrected his verses, they had a different air; reminding Mr. Pope of the amendment, by Sir Richard, of a line in the poem called the Meffiah;

He wipes the tears for ever from our eyes. Which is taken from the prophet Ifaiah, Tbe Lord God will wipe all tears from off all faces;

From every face he wipes off every tear. And it stands fo altered in the newer editions of Mr. Pope's works. He proceeded to lay before him all the mistakes and inaccuracies hinted at by the writers who had attacked Mr. Pope, and added many things which he himself objected to. Speaking of his translation in general, he said, that he was not to be blamed for endeavouring to get so large a ien of money, but that it was an ill.executed thing, and not equal to Tickell, which had all the spirit of Homer. Mr. Addison, concluded, in a low hollow voice of feigned temper, that he was not folicitous about his own fame as a poet ;

that

C 2

that he had quitted the Muses to enter into the business of the public; and that all he spoke was through friendship to Mr. Pope, whom he advised to have a less exalted tense of his own merit.

Mr. Pope could not well bear such repeated reproaches, but boldly told Mr. Addison, that he appealed from his judgment to the public, and that he had long known him too well to expect any friendship from him; upbraided him with being a pensioner from his youth, facrificing the very learning purchased by the public money to a mean thirst of power; that be was sent abroad to encourage literature, in place of which he had always endeavoured to suppress merit. At lalt the contelt grew fo warm that they parted without any ceremony, and Mr. Pope, upon this, wrote the foregoing verles.

In this account, and indeed in all other accounts which have been given concerning this quarrel, it does not appear that Mr. Pope was the aggressor. If Mr. Addiion entertained fufpicions of Mr. Pope's being carried too far among the enemy, the danger was certainly Mr. Pope's, and not Mr. Addison's. It was his misfortune, and not his crime. If Mr. Addison should think himself capable of becoming a rival to Mr. Pope, and, in consequence of this opinion, publish a translation of part of Homer at the same time with Mr. Pope's, and if the public should decide in favour of the latter, by reading his trantlation, and neglecting the other, can any fault be imputed to Mr. Pope? Could he be blamed for exerting all his abilities in to arduous a province? And was it his fault that Mr. Addison (for the First Book of Homer was undoubtedly his) could not translate to please the public? Besides, was it not somewhat presumptuous to insinuate to Mr. Pope, that his verses bore another face when he correlied them, while, at the same time, the translation of Homer, which he had never seen in manuscript, bore away the palm fron that very translation he himself

aflerted

« ПредишнаНапред »