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my comfort, languishing in bed, Just so immortal Maro held his head :" And when I die, be sure you
let me know Great Homer dy'd three thousand years ago.
Why did I write? what fin to me unknown 125 Dipt me in ink, my parents', or my own? As yet a child, nor yet a fool to fame, I lisp'd in numbers, for the numbers came.
But, friend, this shape, which You and Curl * admire,
Had heir'd as well the virtues of the mind. a Curl set up his head for a sign. b His Father was crooked. © His Mother was much afflicted with head-achs.
NOTES Ver. 127. As yet a child, &c.] He used to say, that he began to write verses further back than he could remember. When he was eight years old, Ogilby's Homer fell in his way, and delighted him extremely ; it was followed by Sandys' Ovid; and the raptures these then gave him were so strong, that he spoke of them with pleasure ever after. About ten, being at school at Hide-park-corner, where he was much neglected, and suffered to go to the Comedy with the greater boys, he turned the transactions of the Iliad into a play, made up of a number of speeches from Ogilby's translation, tacked together with verses of his own. He had the address to persuade the upper boys to act it; he even prevailed on the Master's Gardener to represent Ajax; and contrived to have all the actors dresled after the pictures in his favourite Ogilby. At twelve he went with Vol. IV.
I left no calling for this idle trade,
But why then publish? Granville the polite, 135
NOTES. his Father into the Forest : and then got first acquainted with the writings of Waller, Spencer, and Dryden ; in the order I have named them. On the first sight of Dryden, he found he had what he wanted. His Poems were never out of his hands; they became his model; and from them alone he learnt the whole magic of his versification. This year he began an epic Poem, the fame which Bp. Atterbury, long afterwards, perfuaded him to burn. Besides this, he wrote, in those early days, a Comedy and Tragedy, the latter taken from a story in the Legend of St. Genevieve. They both deservedly underwent the same fate. As he began his Pastorals soon after, he used to say pleafantly, that he had literally followed the example of Virgil, who tells us, Cum canerem reges et prælia, &c.
VER. 130. no father disobeyd.] When Mr. Pope was yet a Child, his Father, though no Poet, would set him to make English verses. He was pretty difficult to please, and would often fend the boy back to new turn them. When they were to his mind, he took great pleasure in them, and would say, These are good rhymes.
VER. 139. Talbet, &c.] All these were Patrons or Admirers of Mr. Dryden; though a scandalous libel againit him, entitled,
And St. John's self (great Dryden's friends before)
Soft were my numbers; who could take offence While pure Description held the place of Sense ?
Notes. Dryden's Satyr to his Mufe, has been printed in the name of the Lord Somers, of which he was wholly ignorant.
These are the persons to whose account the Author charges the publication of his first pieces : persons, with whom he was conversant (and he adds beloved) at 16 er 17 years of age ; an early period for such acquaintance. The catalogue might be made yet more illustrious, had he not confined it to that time when he writ the Pafiorals and Windfor Forest, on which he palies a sort of Censure in the lines following,
While pure Description held the place of Sense ? &c. P. Ver. 146. Burnets, &c.] Authors of secret and scandalous History.
Ibid. Burnets, Oldmixons, and Cooks.] By no means Authors of the same class, though the violence of party might hurry them into the same mistakes. But if the first offended this way, it was only through an honest warmth of temper, that allowed too little to an excellent understanding. The other two, with very bad heads, had hearts still worse.
Ver. 148. While pure Description held the place of Sense?] He uses pure equivocally, to signify either chaste or empty ; and has given in this line what he efieemed the true Character of descriptive poetry, as it is called. A composition, in his opinion, as absurd as a feast made up of sauces.
The use of a pictorefque imagination is to brighten and adorn good sense; to that to employ it only in description, is like childrens delighting in á prism for the sake of its gaudy colours; which when frugally
Like gentle Fanny's was my flow'ry theme,
Did some more sober Critic come abroad;
NOTES. managed, and artfully disposed, might be made to represent and illustrate the noblest objects in nature.
Ver. 150. A painted meadow, or a purling Aream. is a verse of Mr. Addison.
P. Ver. 163. these ribalds,] How defervedly this title is given to the genius of PHILOLOGY, may be seen by a short account of the manners of the modern Scholiasts.
When in these latter ages, human learning raised its head in the West, and its tail, verbal criticism, was, of course, to rise with it; the madness of Critics soon became fo offensive, that the sober stupidity of the monks might appear the more tolerable evil. 7. Argyropylus, a mercenary Greek, who came to teach school in Italy, after the facking of Constantinople by the Turks,
Each wight, who reads not, and but scans and spells,
But if the Greeks cried down Cicero, the Italian Critics knew how to support his credit. Every one has heard of the childish exceffes into which the ambition of being thought CICERONIANS carried the most celebrated Italians of this time. They abstained from reading the Scriptures for fear of spoiling their style: Cardinal Bembo used to call the Epistles of St. Paul by the contemptuous name of Epistolaccias, great overgrown Épistles. But ERASMUS cured their frenzy in that matterpiece of good sense, his Ciceroniunus. For which in the way Lunatics treat their Physicians) the elder Scaliger insulted him with all the brutal fury peculiar to his family and profefiion.