« ZurückWeiter »
THE NEW DUNCIAD. CIBBER MADE HERO OF THE POEM. POPE'S LAST
ILLNESS AND DEATH. THE DUCHESS OF MARLBOROUGH AND
· The poet's acquaintance with Warburton seemed to inspire him with fresh intellectual activity, and in 1741, acting under the advice of his friend, he commenced a fourth book to the Dunciad. During the summer of this year, they made an excursion together into the country, in the course of which they visited Oxford. The ViceChancellor of the University sent a message to Warburton, to know if the degree of Doctor of Divinity would be acceptable to him; “to. which,” says the divine, “such an answer was returned as so civil a message deserved.” About the same time, Pope had the offer of the degree of Doctor of Civil Law. Warburton's friends, however, were outvoted in the University-an unexpected proceeding, which was not, he says, the act of that illustrious body, but the exploit of two or three “particulars," the creatures of a man in power, and the slaves of their own passions and prejudices. Pope resolved to make common cause with his friend. As for his degree, he would die before he received one in an art of which he was ignorant, at a place where there was any scruple of bestowing a degree on Warburton, in a science of which he was so great a master. “In short," said Pope, emphatically, “I will be doctored with you, or not at all.” He adhered to this resolution, and as the majority in the University did not relax in their hostility to Warburton, the academical honour was withheld from the poet. He now sought a degree in his own legitimate field. Shortly after the friends had parted, Pope wrote, “If I can prevail on myself to complete the Dunciad, it will be published at the same time with a general edition of all my verses (for poems I will not call them); and I hope your friendship to me will then be as well known as my being an author, and go down to posterity-I mean to as much posterity as poor moderns can reach to; when the commentator, as usual, will lend a crutch to the weak poet to help him to limp a little further than he could on his own feet. We shall take our degree together in fame, whatever we do at the University; and I tell you once more I will not have it there without you.” Whilst thus meditating a new Dunciad, and resolved to strike once more for fame, it is amusing to find the poet a month afterwards (October 10, 1741) writing in his recluse, philosophical strain to the Earl of Marchmont:
“I am determined to publish no more in my lifetime, for many reasons; but principally through the zeal I have to speak the whole truth, and neither to praise or dispraise by halves or with worldly managements. I think fifty an age at which to write no longer for amusement, but for some use, and with design to do some good. . I never had any uneasy desire of fame, or keen resentment of injuries : and now both are asleep together. Other ambition I never had, than to be tolerably thought of by those I esteemed ; and this has been gratified beyond my proudest hopes. I hate no human creature; and the moment any can repent or reform I love them sincerely. Public calamities touch me; but when I read of past times I am somewhat comforted as to the present, upon the comparison ; and at the worst, I thank God that I do not yet live under a tyranny por an Inquisition ; that I have thus long enjoyed independency, freedom of body and mind; have told the world my opinions even on the highest subjects, and of the greatest men, pretty freely; that good men have not been ashamed of me; and that my works have not died before me (which is the case of most authors); and if they die soon after, I shall probably not know it, or certainly not be concerned at it in the next world.”l
It was not without reason that Martha Blount reproved
Marchmont Papers, vol. ii. 260.
POPE AND WARBURTON AT PRIOR PARK.
Pope for talking too much of himself and his own notions. The blinding effects of self-love are well known, and the poetical temperament is highly impulsive; but the poet could never have seriously believed that he had no uneasy desire of fame, nor any keen resentment of injuries. That feather of a wit, Colley Cibber, soon put his boasted philosophy to flight, and his resolution not to publish any more during his lifetime (if it were really entertained while he wrote the words) was broken in a few months. In the conclusion of his letter to Lord Marchmont, Pope stated that he was going to Bath ; “I will return the sooner whenever you come, but at least next spring. Let not the motto be in vain which I am putting over my door at Twickenham,
Libertati et Amicitiæ.” He invited Warburton to join him at Mr. Allen's house near Bath. “You will want no servant
here ; your room will be next to mine, and one man will serve us. Here is a library, and a gallery ninety feet long to walk in, and a coach whenever you would take the air with me.” A hearty welcome was promised on the part of Mr. Allen, a man sincere and plain, antiquis moribus. Warburton gladly complied with the request. He arrived at Mr. Allen's about the end of November, and was domesti