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pie of Fame," in imitation of Chaucer's " House of Fame,'' "Windsor Forest," a loco-descriptive poem, and "Eloisa to Abelard," the most popular, perhaps, of any of his productions. But all these poems, together with his Satires arid Epistles, added but very little to his formne. Accordingly, at the age of twenty-five, he issued proposals for the Translation of the Iliad, by subscription. The work was accomplished in five years, and while the profits were such as to gratify his utmost expectations,1 the great and signal merits of the translation received the warmest eulogiums from the literary world. In a few years after, in conjunction with Fcnton and Broome, he translated the Odyssey.
The fame which Pope acquired by these writings drew upon him the attacks of the envious ;s and a host of critics, individually insignificant, but troublesome from their numbers, continued to annoy him. To retaliate, he published, in 1728, "The Dunciad," a work "which fell among his opponents like an exterminating thunderbolt" But while it has displayed the temperament of the author in no very enviable light, it has perpetuated the memory of many wordiless scribblers, who otherwise would have sunk into oblivion. In 1733 he published his celebrated didactic poem, the " Essay on Man." No sooner did it appear than it was assailed by his enemies, and others, on the ground that it was full of skeptical or infidel tendencies. From this charge it was ably defended by the learned Dr. Warburton, and has since been most triumphantly vindicated in the preliminary discourse of Mr. Roscoe.3 After the publication of the "Essay on Man" he continued to compose occasional pieces, and planned many admirable works: among the latter was "A History of tho Rise and Progress of English Poetry." But he never lived to enter upon the work, for an asthmatic affection, to which he had long been subject, terminated, in 1744, in a dropsy of the chest, and ho expired on the 30tli of May of that year.4
u What rank," says Dr. Drake, "should be assigned to Pope in a classification of our English poets, has been a subject of frequent inquiry. It is evident, that by far the greater part of his original productions consists of ethic and satiric poetry; and by those who estimate mere moral sentiment, or the exposure, in splendid versiDcation, of fashionable vice or folly, as the highest province of the art, ho must be considered as the first of bards. If, however, sublimity, imagination, and pathos be, as they assuredly are, the noblest efforts of the creative powers, and tho most difficult of attainment, Pope will be found to have had some superiors, and several rivals. With Spenser, Shakspeare, and Milton, he cannot, in those essential qualities, enter into competition; antl when compared with Dryden, Young, and Thomson, the mind hesitates in the allotment of superiority."6
1 He cleared the sum of five thousand three hundred and twenty pounds.
t "Wrath hi cruel, and anger Is outrageous; but who Is able to stand before Esvv PmverU ixni. 4.
3 See Roscoe's edition of Pone, 10 vols. London, one of the choicest contributions to English lltcra•ture of the present century. Read, also, that elegant and Interesting piece of criticism, Warton's
"Essay on the Genius and Writings of Pope," a work of which It has been Justly said that, "however often perused, It affords fresh delight, and may be considered as one of the books best adapted to excite a love of literature."
4 In person, Pope was short and deformed, of great weakness and delicacy of body, and had, through life, suffered from ill hcaltli. Warton remarks, th:\t "his bodily make was of use to liim as a writer," quoting the following passage from Lord llacon's Essays: "It is good to consider deformity not as a sign, which is more dcceivable; but as a cause, which seldom fitleth of the ertl'ct. Whosoever hath any thing fixed iu his person that doth induce contempt, bath also a perpetual spur In himself to rescue and deliver himself from scorn."
s Read an admirable "Estimate of the Pocucal Character and Writings of Pope," prefixed to the second volume of Roscoe's edition.
Warton, in tlie dedication of his elegant "Essay on the Writings and Genius of Pope," after making four classes of the various English poets, remarks: "In which of these classes Pope deserves to be placed, the following work is intended to determine ;"' and he closes his second volume, thus: u Where, then, according to the question proposed at the beginning of this Essay, shall we justly be authorized to place our admired Pope? Not, assuredly, in die same rank with Spenser, Shakspeare, and Milton; however justly wre may applaud the 'Eloba,' and the lRape of the Lock;; but, considering the correctness, elegance, and utility of his works, the weight of sentiment, and the knowledge of man they contain, we may venture to assign him a place .next to Milton, ami just alwve Dryden.1 The preference here given to Pope, above other modern English poets, it must be rcrncml>ered, is founded on the excellencies of his works in general, and taken altogether; for there are parts and passages in other modern authors, in Young and in Thomson, for instance, equal to any of Pope; nnd ho has written nothing in a strain so truly sublime as the * Bard* of Gray/'*
A Sacred Eclogue, in imitation of VirgiTs Pollio.3
Ye nymphs of Solyma M begin the song:
Rapt into future times, the bard begun:
1 He nieni)H next to that first class, which Includes Spenser, Sliukspeare, and Milton, naming these Iti a chronological order, and not In the order of their merits.
2 And what has he written equal to the "Elegy," or the "Progress of Poesy," of Grayf
8 Pollio was a Roman senator In Uie time of Augustus, and celebrated not only as a general, bat as a patron of letters and the fine arts. Virgil addressed to him his fourth Eclogue at a tune (B.C «) when Augustus and Antony had ratified a league of peace, and thus, as it was thought, established the tranquillity of the empire, as in the time* of the "golden age." In this Eclogue Virgil is m<*st eloquent in the praise of peace, and In some of his figures and expressions ts thought to have inutat'd the prophecies of Isaiah, which, probably, he had read in the Greek Septuagint- But howerer this may be as regards Virgil, Hoscoe well remarks of this production of Pope, that "the Idea of uniting the sacred prophecies and grand imagery of Isaiah, wiUi the mysterious visions and pomp of numbers displayed In the Pollio, thereby combining both sacred and heathen mythology in predicting the coming of Ute Messiah, is one of the liappiest subjects for producing emotions of sublimity that ever occurred to the mind of a poet." i Jerusalem. & A mountain In Thcssaly, sacred to the Muses. 8 Aonian maids—the Moses7 isa. xl. l. 8 Isa. xlv. s. 8 I«a. xxv. 4. 10 Isa. tx. 7.
Swift fly the years, and rise the expected morn!
Waste sandy valleys,1 once perplex'd with thorn,
The spiry tir and shapely box adorn:
To leafless shrubs the flowering palm succeed,
And odorous myrtle to die noisome weed.
The lambs2 with wolves shall graze the verdant mead,
And boys in flowery bands the tiger lead.
The steer and lion at one crib shall meet,
And harmless serpents* lick the pilgrim's feet.
The smiling infant in his hand shall take
The crested basilisk and speckled snake,
Pleased, the green lustre of the scales survey,
And with their forky tongues shall innocently play.
Rise, crown'd widi light, imperial Salem,4 rise,
Exalt thy towery head, and lift thine eyes!
See a long race6 thy spacious courts adom;
See future sons and daughters, yet unborn,
In crowding ranks on every side arise,
Demanding life, impatient for the skies 1
See barbarous nations6 at thy gates attend,
Walk in thy light, and in thy temple bend;
See thy bright altars throng'd with prostrate kings,
And hcap'd with products of Sabean7 springs!
For thee Idumc's spicy forests blow,
And seeds of gold in Ophir's mountains glow.
Sec heaven its sparkling portals wide display,
And break upon thee in a flood of day!
No more die rising Sun8 shall gild the morn,
Nor evening Cynthia fill her silver horn j
But lost, dissolved in thy superior rays,
One tide of glory, one unclouded blaze
O'erflow thy courts: the Light himself shall shine
Reveal'd, and God's eternal day be thine I
The 6eas 9 shall waste, the skies in smoke decay,
Rocks fall to dust, and mountains melt away;
But fix'd his word, his saving power remains;
Thy realm for ever lasts, thy own Messiah reigns! Of the "Essay on Criticism," Dr. Johnson remarks, "if he had written nothing else, it would have placed him among die first critics anil the first poets; as it exhibits every mode of excellence that can embellish or dignify composition—selection of matter, novelty of arrangement, justness of precept, splendoi of illustration, and propriety of digression.'10
Of all the causes which conspire to blind
1 Isa. xli. 19; lv. 1J. !Isa. xi. «,-». s 1*1. Ikv. 25. iun. i. ila.u.1
« Isa. II. 3. .Tina. lx. 0. 8 Ian. lx. 19, 20. • Isa. 11. 6; Br. 10.
10 "For a person only twenty years old to have produced such an Essay, so replete with a knowledge of lite and manners, such accurate observations on men and books, such variety of literature, such strong good sense, and refined taste and Judgment, has been the subject or frequent and of Just admiration."-- Wsrttw.
For as in bodies, thus in soul?, we find
What wants in blood and spirits, swell'd with wind:
Pride, whore Wit fails, steps in to our defence,
And fills up all the mighty void of sense.
If once right reason drives that cloud away,
Truth breaks upon us with resistless day.
Trust not yourself; but, your defects to know,
.Make use of every friend—and every foe.
A little learning is a dangerous tiling!
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring:
There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
And drinking largely sobers us again.
Fired at first sight with what the Muse imparts,
In fearless youth we tempt the heights of Arts,
Wlnle, from the bounded level of our mind,
Short views we take, nor see the lengths behind;
But more advanced, behold with strange surprise
New distant scenes of endless science rise!
So pleased at first the towering Alps we try,
Mount o'er the vales, and seem to tread the sky;
Th* eternal snows appear already past,
And the first clouds and mountains seem the last:
But, those attain'd, we tremble to survey
The growing labors of the lengthen'd way;
Th' increasing prospect tires our wandering eye*,
Hills peep o'er hills, and Alps on Alps arise!
Emmy an VrUtaem, 201.
Tis not enough no harshness gives offence,
on Crilurum, 364.
EVANESCENCE OF POETIC FAME.
Be thou the first true merit to befriend;
1 These lines arc usually cited as line examples of adapting the sound to the sens**, hut Dr. Johnson, In the ninety-second number of the Rambler, has demonstrated Uiat Pope has here signally tailed. •'The verse intended to represent the whisper of the vernal breeze must surely be confessed not much to excel in Eoftnces or volubility; and the * smooth stream' runs with a perpetual clash of jarring consonants. Tlic noise and turbulence of the 'torrent,' Is Indeed distinctly Imaged; for it requires very little skill to make our language rough. But in the lines which mcnUon the effort of 'Ajax,' there is no particular heaviness or delay. The 'swiftness of Camilla1 is rather contrasted Uiao exemplified. Why the verse should be lengthened to express speed will not easily be discovered. But (be Alexandrine, by lt« pause in the. midst, is a tardy and stately measure; and the word 'unbending,' oiic of the most sluggish and slow which our language affords, cannot much accelerate IU motion."