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WARBURTON ASSISTS POPE.
poet, one Drayton, is yet taken some notice of, because Selden writ a few notes on some of his poems."2
In another letter to the same friend (March 24, 1743) he passes an opinion, and a just one, which posterity has confirmed, with respect to his Epistles or Moral Essays :-“I have lived much by myself of late, partly through illhealth, and partly to amuse myself with little improvements in my garden and house, to which possibly I shall (if I live) be soon more confined. When the Dunciad may be published I know not. I am more desirous of carrying on the best, that is, your edition of the rest of the Epistles and Essay on Criticism, &c. I know it is there I shall be seen most to advantage. But I insist on one condition, that you never think of this when you can employ yourself in finishing that noble work of the Divine Legation (which is what, above all, iterum, iterumque monebo), or any other useful scheme of your own.”
This devotion to Warburton approaches to servility. The commentator, however, did yeoman's service. He first contributed an introductory discourse of Richardus Aristarchus, the hero of the poem, which contains some admirable grave humour, and a display of curious learning, resembling the writings of Arbuthnot. As the constituent qualities of the greater epic hero are wisdom, bravery, and love, from whence springs heroic virtue, it is assumed that
Pope to Warburton, Nov. 27, 1742. In the above notice of Drayton the old poet is placed below his real rank, considering the time in which he lived. Coleridge says of him—“Drayton is a sweet poet, and Selden's notes to the early part of the Polyolbion are well worth perusal. There are instances of sublimity in Drayton. When deploring the cutting down of some of our old forests, he says, in language which reminds the reader of Lear, written subsequently, and also of several passages in Mr. Wordsworth's poems :
Our trees so hacked above the ground,
As, for revenge, to Heaven each held a wither'd hand.
those of the lesser epic hero should be vanity, assurance, and debauchery, from which happy assemblage results heroic dulness, the never-dying subject of the poem. Having laid down this position, Warburton traces all these characteristics in Cibber's character and conduct, quoting largely from the Apology for his Life, in which Colley's vanity and carelessness laid him open to ridicule and misrepresentation. There is, of course, no recognition of the merits of Cibber's “ Apology," which is one of the most delightful gossiping works in the language, and exhibits no inconsiderable portion of discrimination and acuteness in the delineation of character. In altering the poem to instal Cibber as its hero Pope had little difficulty. His first emendation was to substitute “Bayes's monster-breeding breast,” for Tibbalds', which, as both were dramatic authors, violated no rule of critical propriety. But when he described Bayes as dashing his pen on the ground, and
Sinking from thought to thought a vast profound, every reader saw that the resemblance to the gay, vivacious laureate, who was never thoughtful nor profound, nor ever affected to be so, was lost. Still more unsuitable was the description of Bayes's Gothic library, the shelves of which groaned under dry bodies of divinity, the commentaries of De Lyra, and the translations of Philemon Holland, with black-letter treatises from the presses of Caxton and Wynkyn de Worde. Such a library might have been collected by Theobald, a professed antiquary, but was wholly foreign to the tastes, character, and pursuits of Colley Cibber. This capital error was irredeemable. Cibber might as well have acted Fondlewife in a professor's gown, or suit of tragic
commendation of the old bard; but it is only a poetical student of strong nerve and resolution that will get through the 30,000 Alexandrine verses which compose the Polyolbion. We may remark that Coleridge, or more likely the reporter of his “Table Talk,” is mistaken in supposing that Lear was written subsequently to the Polyolbion. The latter was produced between 1613 and 1622; Lear was published in 1608.
ALTERATIONS IN THE DUNCIAD.
sables. But some of the minuter alterations show Pope's unrivalled artistic power. In ridicule of one of Theobald's translations, the poet, in describing the altar of Dulness, had this allusion
And last a little Ajax tips the spire. To make the allusion applicable to Cibber one happy touch sufficed
A twisted Birth-day Ode completes the spire. Where new lines were necessary to mark the individuality, the dovetailing will be found executed with equal success. Thus, in the second book, we had Theobald on his gorgeous seat
Great Tibbald nods : the proud Parnassian sneer,
Not with more glee, &c. Cibber was fond of boasting of his acquaintance with lords, and this foible was not forgotten in the new version
Great Cibber sate. The proud Parnassian sneer,
Having sent his work to the press, the poet sought recreation at the country-seats of his noble friends. In September he accompanied Chesterfield to the Duchess of Marlborough's at Windsor, whence they proceeded to Lord Cobham's at Stowe. The complete poem in its newadapted and revised state was published in October. Cibber must have been astonished to find himself hero of the