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ADDISON PRAISES POPE'S HOMER.
the side of truth.” We must not, therefore, suffer his moral purity to be stained by an imputation so foul and improbable. If in the course of his criticism, while intent on serving his friends Philips and Tickell, he evinced coldness and neglect with regard to the superior claims of Pope, he took an early opportunity of making reparation. Pope's satire on Addison appears to have been written and sent to him early in 1716,19 and Addison's only reply was a paper in the Freeholder of May 7, praising the translation of Homer :
When I consider myself as a British freeholder, I am in a particular manner pleased with the labours of those who have improved our language with the translation of old Latin and Greek authors, and by that means let us into the knowledge of what passed in the famous governments of Greece and Rome. We have already most of their historians in our own tongue, and what is still more for the honour of our language, it has been taught to express with elegance the greatest of their poets in each nation. The illiterate among our countrymen may learn to judge from Dryden's Virgil of the most perfect epic performance, and those parts of Homer which have already been published by Mr. Pope, give us reason to think that the Iliad will appear in English, with as little disadvantage to that immortal poem.
Addison had thus the last word in the contest, and it must be admitted that his last word is characteristic of the
19 Wycherley died in December, 1715, and Gildon's life of him, containing the impated scandals on Pope, would be published immediately afterwards, while the death of the comic dramatist was recent. It was after reading this piece, and hearing Lord Warwick's accusation, that Pope says he wrote his satire. The first notice we have of the publication of the lines occurs in the correspondence with Atterbury. On the 26th February, 1721-2, the bishop writes to Pope, requesting a complete copy of the verses on Mr. Addison. “No small piece of your writing has ever been sought after so much. It has pleased every man, without exception, to whom it has been read. Since you now therefore know where your real strength lies, I hope you will not suffer that talent to lie unemployed.” An advice not very consonant with Atterbury's character as a divine! But the bishop was a controversialist himself, and could make large allowance when a Whig and a low churchman was attacked.
man. The unintentional injury was atoned for, and the unmerited reproaches of the satirist, though perhaps felt keenly, were unanswered, and we may be sure forgiven, amidst higher cares and public duties.
THE GAY PERIOD OF POPE'S LIFE. HIS REMOVAL TO TWICKENHAM. HIS
GARDEN AND GROTTO. HIS PASSION FOR LADY MARY WORTLEY MONTAGU. QUARRELS WITH CIBBER AND CURLL. DEATH OF HIS FATHER. COMPLETION OF THE ILIAD, AND GAY'S CONGRATULATORY РОЕм.
THE Homer subscription had brought the poet honour, wealth, and troops of friends. The year 1714 may be considered as marking the commencement of the gayest period of Pope's life. It was the beginning of a decade of prosperous years, in which, through all circumstances, his spirit was sanguine, exultant, and defiant. He had not yet assumed the philosopher's robe, or hardened down into severe satire and ethics. His wit was sportive: and his enemies—for he always supposed himself to be surrounded by a cloud of enemies—he could afford to smile at. His pen was the sword with which he had cut his way through the world, and it was bright and trenchant, ready for any service. At first his good fortune seems to have transported him into excesses foreign to his real character. He set up for a bon-vivant and rake-frequented the October Club and gaming-houses (but was never known to bet)—boasted of sitting till two in the morning over burgundy and champagne--and grew ashamed of business. Poor authors, of course, were his special aversion. He sketched plans and architectural designs with Lord Burlington; lounged in the library of Lord Oxford; breakfasted with Craggs; talked of the Spanish war with the chivalrous Mordaunt, Lord Peterborough, the English Amadis; or, in the evening joined in the learned raillery of Arbuthnot. With young Lord Warwick and other beaux-esprits he had delicious lobster-nights and tavern gaieties—how different from life in Windsor Forest! At the country seats of Lords Harcourt, Bathurst, and Cobham, he was a frequent visitor-criticising groves, walks, glades, gardens and porticoes; and he may claim the merit of having donę more than any other poet to render English scenes classic ground—a distinction in which he was followed by Gray and Walpole, the latter acting as historian of patrician improvement and rural beauty. In the society of ladies of rank and fashion the diminutive figure of the poet might be seen in his suit of black velvet, with tie-wig and small sword, discoursing on topics of wit and gallantry, his fine eye and handsome intellectual face soon making the defects of his person forgotten; for in company entirely to his
mind, Pope then possessed the art and gaiety that could “laugh down many a summer sun." The accomplished Lady Mary Wortley Montagu had recently quitted her retirement at Wharncliffe, and shone “a bright particular star” in the brilliant circles of the metropolis. Pope was often by her side, whispering flatteries that were afterwards to
be changed to LADY MARY WORTLEY MONTAGU.
curses. The Duchesses of Queensberry, Hamilton, and Montagu smiled gra
THE GAY PERIOD OF POPE'S LIFE.
ciously on the laurelled poet, and carried him to their concerts and pleasure parties on the Thames.] The Maids of Honour in the court of the Princess Caroline-the beautiful Mary Bellenden, Mary Lepell, Miss Griffin, and Mrs. Howard, admitted him to their confidence—“ took him into their protection, contrary to the laws against harbouring Papists”—and instructed him in the tracasseries of the Court, or joined him in ridiculing pompous Ministers of State and sage Doctors of Divinity. They had also their own grievances to pour into the poet's ear; for the life of a Maid of Honour was little better at Hampton Court under the philosophical Caroline, than Fanny Burney found it at Kew or Windsor under the regime of Queen Charlotte and George III. “ To eat Westphalia ham in a morning, ride over hedges and ditches (hunting in Windsor Forest), come home in the heat of the day with a fever and a red mark on the forehead from a beaver hat (sic orig.); simper an hour and catch cold in the Princess's apartment; thence to dinner with what appetite they may; and after that till midnight, walk, work, or think, which they please.” Such is Pope's catalogue of evils (none of them very formidable), “and I can easily believe,” he says, rising with his subject, “ that no lone house in Wales, with a mountain and a rookery, is more contemplative than this court.” He then adds, with a touch of pride,
From one of these lively duchesses he received the following invitation, which we copy from the original, in the British Museum. It is addressed to “ Alex. Pope, Esq., at Mr. Jervas's House in Cleveland Court."
“SIR,—My lady duchess being drunk at this present, so not able to write herself, has commanded me to acquaint you, that there is to be music on the water on Thursday next; therefore desires you to be that evening at her house in Bond Street, by six o'clock at farthest; and her grace will call of you there to take you to her barge, which she ordered to be ready at that time at Whitehall, with provisions, and shall land you on the wished-for shore. I am, Sir, your most humble servant,
G. MADDISON." “ East Acton, Tuesday night.”
(In another hand.) “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. So PopE is the word, a disappointment is not to be endured.”