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methinks judicious, as it destroys the unity of the subject, and distracts the view of the reader; not to mention, that the difference between Rumour and Fame is not sufficiently distinct and perceptible. Pope has, however, the merit of compressing the sense of a great number of Chaucer's lines into a small compass. As Chaucer takes every opportunity of satyrizing the follies of his age, he has in this part introduced many circumstances, which it was prudent in Pope to omit, as they would not have been either relished or understood in the present times.
23. While thus I stood intent to see and hear,
One came, methought, and whisper'd in my ear,
This conclusion is not copied from Chaucer, and is judicious. Chaucer has finished his story inartificially, by saying he was surprised at the sight of a man of great authority, and awoke in a fright. The succeeding lines give a pleasing
moral to the allegory; and the two last shew the man of honour and virtue, as well as the poet;
Unblemish'd let me live, or die unknown:
In finishing this Section, we may observe, that Pope's alterations of Chaucer are introduced with judgment and art; that these alterations are more in number, and more important in conduct, than any Dryden has made of the same author. This piece was communicated to Steele, who entertained a high opinion of its beauties, and who conveyed it to Addison. Pope had ornamented the poem with the machinery of guardian angels, which he afterwards omitted. He speaks of his work with a diffidence uncommon in a young poet, and which does him credit.* "No errors (says he to Steele) are so trivial, but they deserve to be mended. I could point to you several; but it is my business to be informed of those faults I do not know; and as for those I do, not to talk of them, but mend them. I am afraid of nothing so much, as to
* Vol. VII. Letters, 8yo. p. 243.
impose any thing upon the world which is unworthy its acceptance."
It would have been matter of curiosity to have known Addison's sentiments of this vision.* His own is introduced, and carried on, with that vein of propriety and poetry, for which this species of his writings is so justly celebrated, and which contribute to place him at the head of allegorical writers, scarce excepting Plato himself.
* See Tatler, No. 81, referred to above.