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Some readers may think these lines severe, but the treatment he received from Mr. Addison was more than sufficient to justify them, which will appear when we particularize an interview between these two poetical antagonists, procured by the warm solia citations 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, notwithstanding many insinuations were spread, that it should not be his fault if there was not the best understanding and intelligence between them. He observed, that Dr.Swift might have carried him too far among the enemy during the animosity, but now all was safe, 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 endeavour to do between Mr. Ad. dison and me deserves acknowledgments on my part. You thoroughly know my regard to his character, and my readiness to testify it by all ways in my power; you also thoroughly knew the meanness of that proceeding of Mr. Phillips, to make a man I so highly value suspect my disposition towards him. But as, after all, Mr. Addison must be judge in what regards hiinself, and as he has seemed not to be a very just one to me, so I must own to you I expect nothing but civility from him, how much soever I wish for his friendship; and, as for any offers of real kindness or service which it is in his power to do me, I should be ashamed to receive them from a man who has no better opinion of my morals than to think me a party man; nor of my temper, than to believe me capable of malignir.g or envying another's reputation as a poet. In a word, Mr. Addison is sure of my respect at all times, and of n.y real friendship, whenever he shall think fit to know me for what I an."
Some years after this conversation, at the desire of Sir Richard Steele, they met. At first, a very cold civility, and nothing else, appeared on either side; for Mr. Addison had a natural reserve and gloom at the beginning of an evening, which, by conversation and a glass, brightened into an easy chearfulness, Sir Richard Steele, who was a most social benevolent man, begged of him to fulfil his promise, in dropping all animosity against Mr. Pope. Mr. Pope then desired to be made sensible how he had offended, and observed, that the translation of Homer, if that was the great crime, was undertaken at the request, and almost at the command, of Sir Richard Steele. He entreated Mr. Addison to speak candidly and freely, 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 aggressor, and expected him to condescend, and own himself the cause of the breach between them, But he was disappointed; for Mr. Addison, without appearing to be angry, was quite overcome with it, He began with declaring, that he always had wished 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 most 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 Rich of a line in the poem called the Messiah;
He wipes the tears for ever from our eyes. Which is taken from the prophet Isaiah,
The Lord God will wipe all tears from off all faces,
Irom every face he wipes off every tear,
And it stands so altered in the newer editions of Mr. Pope's works. He proceeded to lay before hiin all the mistakes and inaccuracies hinted at by the writers who had attacked Mr. Pope, and added many things which he himselt objected to. Speaking of his translation in general, he said, that he was not to be blamed for endeavouring to get so large a sum of money, but that it was an ill-executed thing, and not equal to Tickell, which had all the spirit of Hu
Mr. Addison concluded, in a low hollow voice of feigned temper, that lie was not solicitous about his own fame as a poet; 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 sense 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 friend-ship from him; upbraided him with being a pensioner from his youth, sacrificing the very learning purchased by the public money to a mean thirst of power; that lie was sent abroad to encourage literature, in place of which he had always endeavoured suppress
merit. At last the contest grew so warm, that they parted without any ceremony; and Mr. Pope, upon this, wrote the foregoing verses.
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. Addison entertained suspicions of Mr. l'ope'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 lIomer at the same time with Mr. Pope's, wd if the public should decide in tavour of the latter, by reading his translam
tion, and neglecting the other, can any fault be im. puted to Mr. Pope? Could he be blamed for exerta' ing all his abilities in so 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 publicBesides, was it not somewhat presumptuous to insinuate to Mr. Pope, that his verses bore another face when he corrected them, while, at the same time, the translation of Homer, which be had never seen in manuscript, bore away the palm from that very translation he himself asserted was done in the true spirit of Homer? In matters of genius the public judgment seldom errs, and in this case posterity has confirmed the sentence of that age which
gave the preference to Mr. Pope: for his translation is in the hands of all readers of taste, while the other is seldom regarded but as a foil to Pope's.
It appears as if Mr. Addison was so immersed in party.business as to contract his benevolence to the limits of a faction, which was infinitely beneath the views of a pluilosopher, and the rules which that excellent writer himself establisbed. If this was the failing of Mr. Addison, it was not the error of Pope, for he kept the strictest correspondence with some persons whose affections to the Whig interest were suspected, yet his name was never called in question. While he was in favour with the Duke of Buckingham, the Lords Bolingbroke, Oxford, and Harcourt, Dr. Swift, and Mr. Prior, he did oot drop bis correspondence with the Lord Halifax, Mr. Crages, and most of those who were at the head of the Whig interest. A professed Jacobite one day remonstrated to Mr. Pope, that the people of his party took it ill that he should write with Mr. Steele upon ever so indifferent a subject; at which he could not help smiling, and observed, that he hated narrowness of soul in any party; and that if he renounced his reason in religious matters, he should hardly do it on any other; and that he could pray, not only for opposite parties, but even for opposite religions. Mr. Pope considered himself as a citizen of the world, and was therefore obliged to pray for the prosperity of mankind in general. As a son of Britain, he wished those councils might be suffered by Providence to prevail which were most for the interest of his native country; but as politics was not his study, he could not always determine, at least with any degree of certainty, whose councils were best; and had charity enough to believe that contending parties might mean well. As taste and science are confined to no country, so ought they not to be excluded from any party; and Mr. Pope had an unexceptionable right to live upon terms of the strictest friendship with every man of genius, to which party soever he might belong. Mr. Pope's judicious conduct towards contending politicians, is demonstrated by his living independent of either faction: he accepted no place, and had too high a spirit to become a pensioner.
Many efforts were made to proselytc Pope from the Popish faith, which all proved ineffectual. Dis friends conceived hopes, from the moderation which he on all occasions expressed, that he was really a Protestant in liis heart, and that upon the death of his mother he would not scruple to declare bis sentiments, notwithstanding the reproaches he might incur from the Popish party, and the public observation it would draw upon bun. The Bishop of Rochester strongly advised bim to read the controverted points between the Protestant and the Catholic church, to suffer bis unprejudiced reason to deteriniue for him, and he made no doubt but a separation from the Romish communion would soon ensue, Το this Mr. Pope very candidly answered, “ Whether the change would be to niy spiritual advantage God only knows: this I know, that I mean as well in the religion I low profess, as ever I can do in any
other. Can a man who thinks so justify a change, even if lie thought both equally good? To such an one the part of joining with any one body of Christians might