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Pit, box, and gall’ry, in convulsions hurlid,
“ Should the whole frame of Nature round him break
In ruin and confusion hurld,
And stand secure amidst a falling world.” On which lines he observes, in the Bathos, “Sometimes a single word (as crack) will vulgarize a poetical idea."
Ver. 90. He spins the slight,] Berkeley, who had a brilliant fancy, has employed an image of this sort on a more serious subject in his Alciphron: “ To tax or strike at a divine doctrine, on account of things foreign and adventitious, the speculations and disputes of curious men, is in my mind, an absurdity of the same kind as it would be to cut down a fine tree yielding fruit and shade, because its leaves afforded nourishment to caterpillars, or because spiders may weave cobwebs among the branches."
The metaphor in our Author is most happily carried on through a variety of corresponding particulars that exactly hit the nature of the two insects in question. It is not pursued too far, nor jaded out, so as to become quaint and affected, as is the case of many in Congreve's too witty comedies, particularly in the Way of the World, and in Young's Satires. For instance :
“Critics on verse, as squibs on triumphs, wait,
Burn, hiss, and bounce, waste paper, stink, and die!
ALLUSION. Ver. 88. “Si fractus illabatur orbis,
Impavidum ferient ruince."
Whom have I hurt? has Poet yet, or Peer, 95
One dedicates in high heroic prose,
Ver. 111 in the MS.
For song, for silence some expect a bribe ;
Ver. 98. Free-masons Moore ?] He was of this society, and frequently headed their processions. W.
There are, who to my person pay their court: I cough like Horace, and, tho' lean, am short; 116 Ammon's great son one shoulder had too high, Such Ovid's nose, and “Sir! you have an Eye.”— Go on, obliging creatures, make me see, All that disgrac'd my Betters, met in me. 120 “Say for my comfort, languishing in bed, Just so immortal Mero held his head :" And when I die, be sure you let me know Great Homer died three thousand years ago.
After Ver. 124 in the MS.
But, Friend, this shape, which You and Curl* admire,
Had heir'd as well the virtues of the mind. * Curl set up his head for a sign. + His Father was crooked.
His mother was much afflicted with head-aches.
Ver. 115. There are, who to my person] The smallest personal particularities, notwithstanding some fastidious writers may think them trifling, are interesting in eminent men. Hence is Montaigne so pleasing; hence is Plutarch in his Lives so interesting as well as instructive. What Addison says in jest, and with his usual humour, is true in fact: “I have observed that a reader seldom peruses a book with pleasure till he knows whether the writer of it be a black or fair man, of a mild or choleric disposition, married or a bachelor.” What passages in Horace are more agreeable than when he tells us he was fat and sleek,“præcanum, solibus aptum,” prone to anger, but soon appeased. And again, how pleasing the detail he gives of his way of life, the descriptions of his mule, his dinner, his supper, his furniture, his amusements, his walks, his time of bathing and sleeping, from the 105th line to the end of the sixth satire of the first book. And Boileau,
Why did I write ? what sin to me unknown
in his tenth epistle, has done the same in giving many amusing particulars of his father, family, and fortunes.
Ver. 118. Sir! you have an Eye.] It is remarkable, that, amongst the compliments on his infirmities and deformities, he mentions his eye, which was fine, sharp, and piercing. It was done to intimate, that flattery was as odious to him when there was some ground for commendation, as when there was none. W.
Ver. 127. As yet a child, &c.] He used to say, that he began to write verses farther 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 Hydepark-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 dressed after the pictures in his favourite Ogilby. At twelve he went with his father into the Forest; and then got first acquainted with the Writings of Waller, Spenser, 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 same which Bp. Atterbury, long afterward, persuaded him to burn. Besides this, he wrote, in these 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 pleasantly, that he had literally followed the example of Virgil, who tells us, Cum canerem reges et prælia, etc. W.
All the circumstances of our Author's early life, mentioned in
I left no calling for this idle trade,
A. But why then publish? P. Granville the polite, And knowing Walsh, would tell me I could write ;
this Note, were communicated by Mr. Spence to Dr. Warburton. The account of this matter, as it was delivered to me by Mr. Spence, was as follows: As they returned in the same carriage together from Twickenham, soon after the death of our Author, and joined in lamenting his death and celebrating his praises, Dr. Warburton said he intended to write his life; on which Mr. Spence, with his usual modesty and condescension, said, that he also had the same intentions; and had, from time to time, collected from Pope's own mouth, various particulars of his life, pursuits, and studies; but would readily give up to Dr. Warburton all his collections on this subject, and accordingly communicated them to him immediately. Ver. 128. I lisp'd in numbers,] From Ovid,
“Sponte sua carmen numeros veniebat ad aptos,
Et quod conabar scribere, versus erat.' Ver. 130. no father disobey'd.] 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 send 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. From Mr. Spence. W.
Ver. 131. not Wife,] These two words seem added merely for the verse, and are what the French call a cherille.
Ver. 135. But why then publish? To the three first names that encouraged his earliest writings, he has added other friends, whose acquaintance with him did not commence till he was a poet of established reputation. From the many commendations whieh Walsh, and Garth, and Grenville bestowed on his Pasto