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66 he represents him under the notion of a mighty tree, 66 wliich rises from the most vigorous feed, is im« proved with industry, flourishes and produces the “ fineit fruit, but bears too many branches, which 66 might be lopped into form, to give it a more regular
“ What! is Homer's poem then, according to Mr. “ Pope, a confused heap of beauties, without order “ or iymmetry, and a plot whereon nothing but feeds, “ nor nothing perfect or formed is to be found; and 2 6 production loaded with many unprofitable things, “ which ought to be retrenched, and which choak and 66 disfigure those which deserve to be preserved? Mr. “ Pope will pardon me if I here oppołe those com“ parisons, which to me appear very talie, and en“ tirely contrary to what the greateli of ancient and
modern critics ever thought.
“ The Iliad is so far from being a wild paradise, 6. that it is the most regular garden, and laid out with «« more symmetry than any ever was. Every thing " therein is not only in the place it ought to have “ been, but everything is fitted for the place it hath. " He presents you, at first, with that which ought to 66 be firit feen; he places in the middle what ought to “ be in the middle, and what would be improperly 6s placed at the beginning or end ; and he removes « what ought to be at a greater distance, to create “ the more agreeable surprise ; and, to use a compa" rison drawn from painting, he places that in the “ greatest light which cannot be too visible, and finks “ in the obscurity of the shade what does not require 66. a full view ; fo that it may be said that Homer is " the painter who best knew how to employ the inades $6 and lights. The second comparison is equally un“.just : How could Mr. Pope say, " that one can only 66 discover seeds, and the first productions of every $6 kind in the Iliad ?” Every beauty is there to such has an amazing perfection, that the toilowing ages could
6 add nothing to those of any kind; and the Ancients “ have always proposed Homer as the most perfect “ model in every kind of poetry.
".The third comparison is composed of the errors « of the two former. Homer had certainly an incom
parable fertility of invention, but his fertility is « always checked by that just fenfe which made him
reject every superfluous thing which his vast ima“gination could offer, and to retain only what was “ necessary and useful. Judgment guided the hand 6 of this admirable gardener, and was the prun" ing-hook he employed to lop off every useless
Thus far Madam Dacier differs in her opinion from Mr. Pope concerning Homer; but these remarks, which we have just quoted, partake not at all of the nature of criticism; they are mere assertion. Pope had declared Homer to abound with irregular beauties. Dacier has contradicted him, and allerted, that all his beauties are regular; but no reason is alligned by either of these mighty geniuses in support of their opinions, and the reader is left in the dark as to the real truth. If he is to be guided by the authority of a name only, no doubt the argument will preponde. rate in favour of our countryman. The French lady then proceeds to answer fome observations which Mr. Pope made upon her Remarks on the Iliad, which the perforins with a warmth that generally attends writers of her sex. Mr. Pope, however, paid more regard to this fair antagonist than any other critic upon his works. He confellid that he had received great helps from her, and only thought she had (through a prodigious and almost superititious fondness for Homer) endeavoured to make him appear without any fault or weakness, and itamp a perfection on his works which is no where to be found, Here wrote her a very obliying letter, in which he confessed himself exceedingly forry that he ever should
have displeased so excellent a wit; and fhe, on the other hand, with a goodness and frank nefs peculiar to her, protested to forgive it ; so that there remained no animosities between those two great admirers and translators of Homer.
Mr. Pope, by his successful translation of the Iliad, as we have before remarked, drew upon him the envy and raillery of a whole tribe of writers. Though he did not esteem any particular man amongst his enemies of confequence enough to provoke an answer, yet, when they were considered collectively, they offered excellent materials for a general satire. This satire he planned and executed with so extraordinary a mastery, that it is by far the most complete poem of our Author's ; it is intitled the Dunciad, and discovers more invention, and a higher effort of genius, than any other production of his. The hint was taken from Mr. Dryden's Mac Flecknoe ; but as it is more general, so it is more pleasing.
The Dunciad has been so universally read, that we reckon it fuperfluous to give any further account of it here ; and it would be an unpleasing talk to trace all the provocations and resentments which were mu. tually discovered upon this occasion. Mr. Pope was of opinion that, next to praising good writers, there was a merit in exposing bad ones ; though it does not hold infallibly true that each person ftigmatized as a dunce was genuinely so. Something must be allowed to personal resentment. Mr. Pope was a man of keen paffions ; he felt an injury strongly, retained a long remembrance of it, and could very pungently repay it. Some of the gentlemen, however, who had been more leverley fathed than the reít, meditated a revenge which redounds but little to their honour. They either intended to chastise him corporally, or gave it out that they had really done so, in order to bring shame upon Mr. Pope, which, if true, could only bring shame upon themselyes.
The “ Dunciad,” in the complete edition, is ad. dressed to Dr. Swift. Of the notes, part were written by Dr. Arbuthnot; and an apologetical Leiter was prefixed, signed by Cleland, but fupposed to have been written by Pope.
After this general war upon Dulness, he seems to have indulged himself awhile in tranquillity; but his lubsequent productions prove that he was not idle. He published (1731) a poem on “ Taste," in which he very particularly and severely criticises the house, the furniture, the gardens, and the entertainments, of Timon, a man of great wealth and little, taite. By Timon he was universally supposed, and by the Earl of Burlington, to whom the poem is addressed, was privately said to mean the Duke of Chandos ; a man perhaps too much delighted with pomp and show, but of a temper kind and beneficent, and who had confequently the voice of the public in his favour.
A violent outcry was therefore raised against the ingratitude and treachery of Pope, who was said to have been indebted to the patronage of Chandos for a thousand pounds, and who gained the opportunity of insulting him by the kindness of his invitation.
The receipt of the thousand pounds Pope publicly denied ; but from the reproach which the attack on a character so amiable brought upon him, he tried all means of escaping. The name of Cleland was again employed in an apology, by which no man was satisfied ; and he waş at last reduced to shelter his temerity behind dissimulation, and endeavour to make that diðbelieved which he never had confidence openly to deny. He wrote an exculpatury letter to the Duke, which was answered with great inagnanimity, as by a man who accepted his excuse without believing his professions. He said, that to have ridiculed his taste, or his buildings, had been an indifferent action in another man; but that in Pope, after the reciprocal VOL. I.
kindness that had been exchanged between them, it had been leis easily excufeil.
The following year deprived him of Gay, a man whom he had known early, anii whom he seemed to love with more tenderness than any other of his literary friends. Pope was now forty-four years old ; an age at which the mind begins less easily to admit new confidence, and the will to grow leis flexible, and when therefore the departure of an old friend is very acutely felt.
In the next year he lost his mother, not by an unexpected death, for the had lasted to the age of ninetythree; but she did not die unlamented. 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 forture, and without a rival in his fame, and found no diminution of his respect or tenderness. Whatever was his pride, to them he was cbedient; and whatever was his irritability, to them he was gentle. Life has, among its soothing and quiet comiorts, few things better to give than fuch a son.
In 1733 he published the firit part of the “ Eliay “ on Man.” This poem had a form and title with which its readers were unacquainted. Its reception was not uniform ; fome thought it a very imperfect piece, though not without good lines. While the author was unknown, fome, as will always happen, fayoured him as an adventurer, and some centured him as an intruder ; but all thought him above negle&t; the fale increased, and editions were multiplied. The second and third parts were soon after published; and, in 1734., the fourth; when Pope avowed himlelf the author, and claimed ihe honour of a moral poet.
About this time arburton began tə make his appearance in the first ranks of learning. He was a man of vigorous faculties, a mind ftrvid and vehement, supplied by incessant and unlimited enquiry, with wonderful extent and variety of knowledge, which