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by the author, that they might be fairly copied. “ Almost every line,” he said, “was then written twice over.
gave him a clean transcript, which he sent some time afterwards to me for the press, with almost every line written twice over a second time.”
His declaration, that his care for his works ceased at their publication, was not strictly true. His parental attention never abandoned them ; what he found amiss in the first edition, he silently corrected in those that followed. He appears to have revised the “Iliad," and freed it from some of its imperfections ; and the “Essay on Criticism” received many improvements after its first appearance.
It will seldom be found that he altered without adding clearness, elegance, or vigour. Pope had perhaps the judgment of Dryden; but Dryden certainly wanted the diligence of Pope.
In acquired knowledge, the superiority must be allowed to Dryden, whose education was more scholastic, and who, before he became an author, had been allowed more time for study, with better means of information. His mind has a larger range, and he collects his images and illustrations from a more extensive circumference of science. Dryden knew more of man in his general nature, and Pope in his local manners. The notions of Dryden were formed by comprehensive speculation ; and those of Pope by minute attention. There is more dignity in the knowledge of Dryden, and more certainty in that of Pope.
Poetry was not the sole praise of either, for both excelled likewise in prose; but Pope did not borrow his prose from his prede
The style of Dryden is capricious and varied ; that of Pope is cautious and uniform. Dryden observes the motions of his own mind ; Pope constrains his mind to his own rules of composition. Dryden is sometimes vehement and rapid ; Pope is always smooth, uniform, and gentle. Dryden's page is a natural field, rising into inequalities and diversified by the varied exuberance of abundant vegetation ; Pope's is a velvet lawn, shaven by the scythe and levelled by the roller.
Of genius, that power which constitutes a poet ; that quality without which judgment is cold, and knowledge is inert ; that energy which collects, combines, amplifies, and animates ; the superiority must, with some hesitation, be allowed to Dryden. It is not to be inferred that of this poetical vigour Pope had only a little, because Dryden had more ; for every other writer since
Milton, must give place to Pope ; and even of Dryden it must be said, that, if he has brighter paragraphs, he has not better poems. Dryden's performances were always hasty, either excited by some external occasion, or extorted by domestic necessity; he composed without consideration, and published without correction. What his mind could supply at call, or gather in one excursion, was all that he sought, and all that he gave. The dilatory caution of Pope enabled him to condense his sentiments, to multiply his images, and to accumulate all that study might produce, or chance might supply. If the flights of Dryden therefore are higher, Pope continues longer on the wing. If of Dryden's fire the blaze is brighter, of Pope's the heat is more regular and constant. Dryden often surpasses expectation, and Pope never falls below it. Dryden is read with frequent astonishment, and Pope with perpetual delight.
Lives of the Poets.
STORY OF LE FEVRE.
STERNE, 1713–1768. It was some time in the summer of that year in which Dendermond was taken by the allies, when my uncle Toby was one evening getting his supper, with Corporal Trim sitting behind him at a small sideboard, the landlord of a little inn in the village came into the parlour with an empty phial in his hand, to beg a glass or two of sack ; “ 'Tis for a poor gentleman—I think, of the army," said the landlord, “who has been taken ill at my house four days ago, and has never held up his head since, or had a desire to taste anything, till just now that he has a fancy for a glass of sack and a thin toast—' I think,' says he, taking his hand from his forehead, “it would comfort me.'
“ If I could neither beg, borrow, nor buy such a thing," added the landlord, “I would almost steal it for the poor gentleman, he is so ill. I earnestly hope he will still mend,” continued he, are all of us concerned for him.”
“Thou art a good-natured soul, I will answer for thee,” cried my uncle Toby, “ thou shalt drink the poor gentleman's health in a glass of sack thyself,—and take couple of bottles, with my service, and tell him he is heartily welcome to them, and to a dozen more if they will do him good.”
“ A boy,"
“ Though I am persuaded,” said my uncle Toby, as the landlord shut the door, “he is a very compassionate fellow, Trim,-yet I cannot help entertaining a high opinion of his guest, too ; there must be something more than common in him, that in so short a time should win so much upon the affections of his host ;-”
“ And of his whole family,” added the corporal, “ for they are all concerned for him.”
“Step after him," said my uncle Toby,—“do, Trim,--and ask if he knows his name.”
“I have quite forgot it, truly,” said the landlord, coming back into the parlour with the corporal, “ but I can ask his son again.” “Has he a son with him, then ?” said my uncle Toby. replied the landlord, “ of about eleven or twelve years of age ; but the poor creature has tasted almost as little as his father; he does nothing but mourn and lament for him night and day ; he has not stirred from the bedside these two days.”
My uncle Toby laid down his knife and fork, and thrust his plate from before him, as the landlord gave him the account; and Trim, without being ordered, took away without saying one word, and in a few minutes after brought him his pipe and tobacco.
Stay in the room a little,” says my uncle Toby. “ Trim !” said my uncle Toby, after he had lighted his pipe, and smoked about a dozen whiffs— Trim came in front of his master and made his bow ;-my uncle Toby smoked on, and said
“ Corporal !” said my uncle Toby—the corporal made his bow. My uncle Toby proceeded no farther, but finished his pipe.
“ Trim !” said my uncle Toby, “I have a project in my head, as it is a bad night, of wrapping myself up warm in my roquelaure, and paying a visit to this poor gentleman.”
“ Your honour's roquelaure," replied the corporal, “has not once been had on since the night before your honour received your wound, when we mounted guard in the trenches before the gate of St. Nicholas ; and besides, it is so cold and rainy a night, that what with the roquelaure and what with the weather, 'twill be enough to give your honour your death, and bring on your honour's torment in your groin.”
“I fear so," replied my uncle Toby ; " but I am not at rest in my mind, Trim, since the account the landlord has given me. I wish I had not known so much of this affair,” added my uncle
manage it ?”
Toby, 66 or that I had known more of it. How shall we
“Leave it, an't please your honour, to me,” quoth the corporal ; “ I'll take my hat and stick, and go to the house and reconnoitre, and act accordingly ; and I will bring your honour a full account in an hour.” “ Thou shalt go, Trim," said my uncle Toby, “and here's a shilling for thee to drink with his servant.” “I shall get it all out of him," said the corporal, shutting the door.
My uncle Toby filled his second pipe ; and had it not been that he now and then wandered from the point, he might be said to have thought of nothing else but poor Le Fevre and his boy the whole time he smoked it.
It was not till my uncle Toby had knocked the ashes out of his third pipe that Corporal Trim returned from the inn, and gave him the following account :
“I despaired at first," said the corporal, “ of being able to bring back your honour any kind of intelligence concerning the poor sick lieutenant." “ Is he in the army, then ?” said my uncle Toby. “ He is," said the corporal. “ And in what regiment ?” said my uncle Toby. “I'll tell your honour,” replied the corporal, “everything straightforward, as I learnt it.” “Then, Trim, I'll fill another pipe,” said my uncle Toby, “ and not interrupt thee till thou hast done; so sit down at thy ease, Trim, in the windowseat, and begin thy story again.” The corporal made his old bow, which generally spoke as plain as a bow could speak—“Your honour is good :”—and having done that, he sat down as he was ordered, and began the story to my uncle Toby over again in pretty near the same words.
“I despaired at first,” said the corporal, “ of being able to bring back any intelligence to your honour about the lieutenant and his son ;
for when I asked where his servant was, from whom I made myself sure of knowing everything which was proper to be asked” —(" That's a right distinction, Trim,” said my uncle Toby),—“I was answered, an' please your honour, that he had no servant with him ; that he had come to the inn with hired horses, which, upon finding himself unable to proceed (to join, I suppose, the regiment), he had dismissed the morning after he 'If I get better, my dear,' said he, as he gave
his his son to pay the man, 'we can hire horses from hence. “But, alas! the poor gentleman will never get from hence,' said the landlady to me, for I heard the death-watch all night long; and when he dies, the youth, his son, will certainly die with him, for he is broken-hearted already.'
“I was hearing this account,” continued the corporal, “ when the youth came into the kitchen to order the thin toast the landlord spoke of; But I will do it for my father myself,' said the youth. “Pray let me save you the trouble, young gentleman,' said I, taking up a fork for the purpose, and offering him my
chair to sit down upon by the fire whilst I did it. “I believe, sir,' said he very modestly, “I can please him best myself.' 'I am sure,' said I, ‘his honour will not like the toast the worse for being toasted by an old soldier.' The youth took hold of my hand and instantly burst into tears.” “ Poor youth !” said my uncle Toby, “ he has been bred up from an infant in the army, and the name of a soldier, Trim, sounded in his ears like the name of a friend ; I wish I had him here."
“I never, in the longest march,” said the corporal, “ had so great a mind to my dinner as I had to cry with him for company. What could be the matter with me, an' please your honour ?" “Nothing in the world, Trim," said my uncle Toby, blowing his nose ; “ but that thou art a good-natured fellow.”
“ When I gave him the toast,” continued the corporal, “I thought it was proper to tell him I was Captain Shandy's servant, and that your honour (though a stranger) was extremely concerned for his father; and that if there was anything in your house or cellar” (“ and thou mightst have added my purse, too,” said my uncle Toby),” he was heartily welcome to it; he made a very low bow (which was meant to your honour), but no answer—for his heart was full—so he went upstairs with the toast. “I warrant you, my dear,' said I, as I opened the kitchen door, ‘ your father will be well again.'
Mr. Yorick's curate was smoking a pipe by the kitchen fire, but said not a word, good or bad, to comfort the youth. I thought it was wrong," added the corporal. “I think so too,” said my uncle Toby.
“When the lieutenant had taken his glass of sack and toast, he felt himself a little revived, and sent down into the kitchen to let me know, that in about ten minutes he should be glad if I would step upstairs. "I believe,' said the landlord,' “he is going to say his prayers, for there was a book laid upon the chair by his bedside ; and as I shut the door I saw his son take up a cushion.'