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plainly. Sickness is a sort of early old Age; it teaches us a diffidence in our earthly State, and inspires us with the Thoughts of a Future, better than a thousand Volumes of Philosophers and Divines. It gives so warning a Concussion to those props of our Vanity, our Strength and Youth, that we think of fortifying ourselves within, when there is so little Dependance upon our Out-works. Youth at the very best is but a betrayer of Human Life in a gentler and smoother manner than Age: 'Tis like a Stream that nourishes a Plant upon a Bank, and causes it to flourish and blossom to the Sight, but at the same Time is undermining it at the Root in secret. My Youth has dealt more fairly and openly with me, it has afforded feveral Prospects of my Danger, and given me an Advantage not very common to young Men, that the Attractions of the World have not dazzled me very much; and I begin where most People end, with a full Conviction of the èmptiness of all sorts of Ambition, and the unsatisfactory Nature of all human Pleasures. When a smart fit of Sickness tells me this scurvy Tenement of my Body will fall in a little Time, I am e'en as unconcern'd as was that honest Hibernian, who being in bed in the great Storm fome Years ago, and told the House would tumble over his Head, made answer, What care I for the House? I am only a Lodger. I fancy 'tis the best time to die when one is in the best Humour, and so excessively weak as I now am, I may say with Conscience, that I am not at all uneasy at the Thought that many Men, whom I never had any Esteem for, are likely to enjoy this World after me. When I reflect what an inconsiderable little Atom every single Man is, with respect to the whole Creation, methinks 'tis a shame to be concern'd at the removal of such a trivial Animal as I am. The Morning after my Exit, the Sun will rise as bright as ever, the Flowers sinell as sweet, the Plants spring as green,
the World will proceed in it's old Course, People will laugh as heartily, and marry as fast as they were us'd to do. The memory of Man, (as it is elegantly express'd in the Wisdom of Solomon) pafleth away as the remembrance of a Guest that tarrieth but one day. There are reasons enough, in the fourth Chapter of the fame Book, to make any young Man contented with the prospect of Death. For honourable Age is not that which standeth in length of Time, or is measured by number of Years. But Wisdom is the gray hair to Men, and an unspotted Life is old Age. He was taken away' speedily, left IVickedness should alter his Understanding, or Deceit beguile his Soul, &c. I am
Mr POPE to Mr STEELE.
Nov. 7. 1712. I Was the other Day in company with five or fix
Men of some Learning; where chancing to mention the famous Verses which the Emperor Adrian spoke on his death-bed, they were all agreed that 'twas a piece of Gaiety unworthy of that Prince in those Circumstances. I could not but differ from this Opia nion: Methinks it was by no means a gay, but a very serious Soliloquy to his Soul at the point of his Departure; in which fense I naturally took the Verses at my first reading them when I was very young, and before I knew what Interpretation the World generally put upon them.
Animula vagula, blandula,
“ Alas, my soul! Thou pleasing Companion of this 6 Body, thou fleeting Thing that art now deserting “ it! Whither art thou Aying? To what unknown « Scene? All trembling, fearful, and pensive, 6 Now what is become of thy former Wit and 66 Humour? Thou shalt jest and be gay no more.”
I confess I cannot apprehend where lies the triAing in all this ? 'Tis the most natural and obvious Reflection imaginable to a dying Man: And if we consider the Emperor was a Heathen, that Doubt concerning the future Fate of his Soul will seem so far from being the effect of want of Thought, that 'twas scaree reasonable he should think otherwise; not to mention that here is a plain Confeffion included of his belief in it's Immortality. The diminutive Epithets of vagula, blandula, and the rest, appear not to me as Expressions of Levity, but rather of Endearment and Concern; such as we find inCatullus, and the Authors of Hendeca-syllabi after him, where they are used to express the utmost Love and Tenderness for their Mistresses. If you think me right in my Notion of the last Words of Adrian, be pleased to insert it in the Spectator, if not, to sup: press it. ' I am
ADRIAN I morientis ad ANIMAM,
H fleeting Spirit! wand'ring Fire,
That long haft warm’d my tender Breast,
Whither, ah whither art thou flying!
To what dark, undiscover'd Shore ?
And Wit and Humour are no more!
Mr STEEL E to Mr POPE.
Nov. 12. 1712.
JHAVE read over your Temple of Fame twice,
and cannot find any thing amiss of weight enough to call a Fault, but see in it a thousand thausand Beauties. Mr Addison shall see it to-morrow: After his perusal of it, I will let you know his Thoughts. I desire you would let me know whether you are at leifure or not? I have a Design which I shall open a Month or two hence, with the Afiftance of the few like yourself
. If your Thoughts are unengaged, I fhall explain myself further. I am
Mr Pope to Mr STEEL E.
Nov. 16. 1712. YOU oblige me by the Indulgence you have
shewn the Poem I sent you, but will oblige me much more by the kind Severity I hope for from you. No Errors are so trivial, but they deserve to be mended; but fince you say you see nothing that may be callid a Fault, can you but think it so, that I have confined the attendance of * Guardian Spirits to Heaven's Favourites only! I could point you to
* This is not now to be found in the Temple of Fame, of which Poem he speaks here.
several, but 'tis my business to be informed of those Faults I do not know, and as for those I do, not to talk of 'em, but to correct 'em. You speak of that Poem in a Style 1 neither merit, nor expect; but I assure you, if you freely '
märk or dash out, I shall look upon your blots to be it's greatest Beauties. I mean, if Mr Addison and your self shou'd like it in the Whole; otherwise the trouble of Correction is what I would not take, for I was really so diffident of it, as to let it lie by me these + two Years, just as you now see it. I am afraid of nothing so much as to impose any thing on the World which is unworthy of it's Acceptance.
As to the last period of your Letter, "I shall be very ready and glad to contribute to any design that tends to the advantage of Mankind, which I am sure all your's do. I wish I had but as much capacity as leisure, for I am perfectly idle (a sign I have not much capacity).
If you will entertain the best Opinion of me, be pleafed to think me your friend. Affure Mr Addison of my most faithful Service, of every one's Esteem he must be assurd already. I am
Mr POP.E' to" Mr STEELE.
Nov. 29, 1712 I AM forry you publish'd that Notion about Adrian's
Verses as mine; had I imagin'd you wou'd use my Name, I shou'd have express’d my sentiments with more modesty and diffidence. I only sent it to have your Opinion, and not to publish my own, which
Hence t appears this Poem was writ before the Author was 22 Years old,