« ZurückWeiter »
hatured and officious, procured an interview between these angry rivals, which ended in aggravated malevolence. On this occasion, if the reports be true, Pope made his complaint with frankness and spirit, as a man undeservedly neglected or opposed; and Addison affected a contemptuquş unconcern, and, in a calm even voice, re. proached Pope with his vanity, and, telling him of the improvements which his early works had received from his own remarks and those of Steele, said, that he, being now engaged in public business, had no longer any care for his poetical reputation, nor had any other desire, with regard to Pope, than that he should not, by too much arrogance, alienate the public.
To this Pope is said to have replied with great keenness and severity, upbraiding Addison with perpetual dependence, and with the abuse of those qualifications which he had obtained at the public cost, and charging him with mean endeavours to ob struct the progress of rising merit. The contest rose so high, that they parted at last without any interchange of civility,
The first volume of Homer was (1715) in time published; and a rival version of the first Iliad, for rivals the time of their appearance inevitably made them, was immediately printed, with the name of Tickell. It was soon perceived, that, among the followers of Addison, Tickell had the preference, and the critics and poets divided into factions. “ 1,” says Popp, " have the town, that is, the mob, on my side; but it is not uncommon for the smaller party to supply by industry what it wants in numbers.--I appeal to the people as my rightful judges, and, while they are not inclined to condemn me, shall not fear the high-flyers at Button's.” This opposition he immediately imputed to Addison, and complained of it in terms suffiçiently resentful to Craggs, their common friend.
When Addison's opinion was asked, he declared the versions to be both good, but Tickell's the best that had ever been written; and sometimes said, that they were both good, but that Tickell had more of Homer.
Pope was now şufficiently irritated; his reputation and his interest were at hazard. He once intended to print together the four versions of Dryden, Mainwaring, Pope, and Tickell, that they might be readily compared, and fairly estimated. This deb sign seems to have been defeated by the refusal of Tonson, who was the proprietor of the other three versions.
Pope intended, at another time, a rigorous criticism of Tickell's translation, and had marked a copy, which I have seen, in all places that appeared defective. But, while he was thus meditating defence or revenge, his adversary sunk before him without a blow; the voice of the public was not long divided, and the preference was universally given to Pope's performance.
He was convinced, by adding one circumstance to another, that the other transla' tion was the work of Addison himself; but, if he knew it in Addison's lifetime, it does not appear that he told it. He left his illustrious antagonist to be punished by what has been considered as the most painful of all reflections, the remembrance of a crime perpetrated in vain.
The other circumstances of their quarrel were thus related by Pope : • Philips seemed to have been encouraged to abuse ine in coffee-housca, and
conversations: and Gildon wrote a thing abeut Wycherley, in which he had abused both me and my relations very grossly. Lord Warwick himself told me one day, that it was in vain for me to endeavour to be well with Mr. Addison ; that his jealous temper would never admit of a settled friendship between us; and, to convince me of what he had said, assured me, that Addison had encouraged Gildon to publish those scandals, and had given him ten guineas after they were published. The next day, while I was heated with what I had heard, I, wrote a letter to Mr. Addison, to let him know that I was not unacquainted with this behaviour of his; that, if I was to speak severely of him in return for it, it should be not in such a dirty way; that I should rather tell him, himself, fairly of his faults, and allow his good qualities; and that it should be something in the following manner; I then adjoined the first sketch of what has since been called my satire on Addison. Mr. Addison used me very civilly ever after 5."
The verses on Addison, when they were sent to Atterbury, were considered by him as the most excellent of Pope's performances; and the writer was advised, since he know where his strength lay, not to suffer it to remain unemployed.
This year (1715) being, by the subscription, enabled to live more by choice, having persuaded his father to sell their estate at Binfield, he purchased, I think only for his life, that house at Twickenham, to which his residence afterwards procured so much celebration, and removed thither with bis father and mother.
Here he planted the vines and the quincunx which his verses mention; and being under the necessity of making a subterraneous passage to a garden on the other side of the road, he adorned it with fossile bodies, and dignified it with the title of a grotto, a place of silence and retreat, from which he endeavoured to persuade his friends and himself, that cares and passions could be excluded.
A grotto is not often the wish or pleasure of an Englishunan, who has more frequent need to solicit than exclude the sun; but Pope's excavation was requisite as an entrance to his garden, and, as some men try to be proud of their defects, he extracted an ornament from an inconvenience, and vanity produced a grotto where necessity enforced a passage. It may be frequently remarked of the studious and speculative, that they are proud of trifles, and that their amusements seem frivolous and childish ; whether it be that men, conscious of great reputation, think themselves above the reach of censure, and safe in the admission of negligent indulgencies, or that mankind expect from elevated genius an uniformity of greatness, and watch its degradation with malicious wonder; like him who, having followed with his eye an cagle into the clouds, should lament that she ever descended to a perch.
While the volumes of his Homer were annually published, be collected his former works (1717) into one quarto volume, to which he prefixed a preface, written with great sprightliness and elegance, which was afterwards reprinted, with some passages subjoined that he at first onnitted; other marginal additions of the same kind he made in the later additions of his poems. Waller remarks, that poets lose half their praise, because the reader knows not what they have blotted. Pope's voracity of fạme taught him the art of obtaining the accumulated honour, both of what he had published, and of what he had suppressed.
See however the Life of Addison in the Biographia Britannica, last edition. R.
In this year his father died suddenly, in his seventy-fifth year, having passed twenty-nine years in privacy. He is not known but by the character which his son has given him. If the money with which he retired was all gotten by himself, bie had traded very successfully in times when sudden riches were rarely attainable.
The publication of the Iliad was at last completed in 1720. The splendour and success of this work raised Pope many enemies, that endeavoured to depreciate his abilities. Burnet, who was afterwards a judge of no mean reputation, censured him in a piece called Homerides before it was published. Ducket likewise endeavoured to make him ridiculous. Dennis was the perpetual persecutor of all his studies. But, whoever his critics were, their writings are lost; and the names which are pre. served are preserved in the Dunciad.
In this disastrous year (1720) of national infatuation, when more riches than Peru can boast were expected from the South Sea, when the contagion of avarice tainted every mind, and even poets panted after wealth, Pope was seized with the universal passion, and ventured some of his money. The stock rose in its price; and for a while he thought himself the lord of thousands. But this dream of happiness did not last long; and he seems to have waked soon enough to get clear with the loss of what he once thought himself to have won, and perhaps not wholly of that.
Next year he published some select poems of his friend Dr. Parnell, with a very elegant dedication to the earl of Oxford; who, after all his struggles and dangers, then lived in retirement, still under the frown of a victorious faction, who could take no pleasure in hearing his praise.
He gave the same year (1721) an edition of Shakspeare. His name was now of so much authority, that Tonson thought himself entitled, by annexing it, to demand a subscription of six guineas for Shakspeare's plays in six quarto volumes; nor did his expectation much deceive him; for, of seven hundred and fifty which he printed, he dispersed a great number at the price proposed. The reputation of that edition indeed sunk afterwards so low, that one hundred and forty copies were sold at sixteen shillings each.
On this undertaking, to which Pope was induced by a reward of two hundred and seventeen pounds twelve shillings, he seems never to have reflected afterwards without vexation; for Theobald, a man of heavy diligence, with very slender powers, first, in a book called Shakspeare Restored, and then in a formal edition, detected his deficiencies with all the insolence of victory; and, as he was now high enough to be feared and hated, Theobald had from others all the help that could be supplied, by the desire of humbling a haughty character.
From this time Pope became an enemy to editors, collaters, commentators, and verbal critics; and hoped to persuade the world, that he miscarried in this undertaking only by having a mind too great for such ininute employment.
Pope in his edition undoubtedly did many things wrong, and left many things undone ; but let him not be defrauded of his due praise. He was the first that knew, at least the first that told, by what helps the text might be imj.oved. If he in spected the early editions negligently, he taught others to be more accurate. In his preface he expanded with great skill and elegance the character which had been
given of Shakspeare by Dryden; and he drew the public attention upon his works, which, though often mentioned, had been little read.
Soon after the appearance of the Iliad, resolving not to let the general kindness cool, he published proposals for a translation of the Odyssey, in five volumes, for five guineas. He was willing, however, now to have associates in his labour, being either weary with toiling upon another's thoughts, or having heard, as Ruff head relates, that Fenton and Broome had already begun the work, and liking better to have them confederates than rivals. · In the patent, instead of saying, that he had “ translated" the Odyssey, as he had said of the Iliad, he says, that he had " undertaken" a translation; and in the proposals the subscription is said to be not solely for his own use, but for that of * two of his friends who have assisted him in this work."
In 1723, while he was engaged in his new version, he appeared before the lords at the memorable trial of bishop Atterbury, with whom he had lived in great fami. liarity, and frequent correspondence. Atterbury had honestly recommended to him the study of the popish controversy, in hope of his conversion; to which Pope answered in a manner that cannot much recommend his principles, or his judgement. In questions and projects of learning, they agreed better. He was called at the trial to give an account of Atterbury's domestic life, and private employment, that it might appear how little time he had left for plots. Pape bad but few words to utter, and in those few he made several blunders. : His letters to Atterbury express the utmost esteem, tenderness, and gratitude ;
perhaps," says he," it is not only in this world that I may have cause to remem. ber the bishop of Rochester.” At their last interview in the Tower, Atterbury prea sented him with a bible
Of the Odyssey Pope translated only twelve books; the rest were the works of Broome and Fenton: the notes were written wholly by Broome, who was not over-liberally rewarded. The public was carefully kept ignorant of the several shares; and an account was subjoined at the conclusion, which is now known nog to be true.
The first copy of Pope's books, with those of Fenton, are to be seen in the Museum. The parts of Pope are less interlined than the Iliad; and the latter books of the lliad less than the former. He grew dexterous by practice, and every sheet enabled him to write the next with more facility. The books of Fenton had very few alterations by the hand of Pope: Those of Broome have not been found; but Pope complained, as it is reported, that he had much trouble in correcting them.
His contract with Lintot was the same as for the Iliad, except that only one hundred pounds were to be paid him for each volume. The number of subscribers were five hundred and seventy four, and of copies eight hundred and nineteen; so that his profit, when he had paid his assistants, was still very considerable. The work was finished in 1725; and from that time he resolved to make no more translations
The sale did not answer Lintot's expectations; and he then pretended to discover something of fraud in Pope, and commenced or threatened a suit in Chancery.
* The late Mr. Graves, of Claverton, informs us, that this bible was, afterwards used in the chapel of Prior Park. Dr. Warburtun probably presented it to Mr. Aller. C.
On the English Odyssey a criticism was published by Spence, at that time prelector of poetry at Oxford; a man whose learning was not very great, and whose mind was not very powerful. His criticism, however was commonly just; what he thought, he thought rightly; and his remarks were recommended by his coolness and cantour. In him Pope had the first experience of a critic without malevolence, who thought it as much his duty to display beauties as expose faults; who censured with respect, and praised with alacrity.
With this criticism Pope was so little offended, that he sought the acquaintance of the writer, who lived with him from that time in great familiarity, attended him in his last hours, and compiled memorials of his conversation. The regard of Pope recommended him to the great and powerful; and he obtained very valuable preferments in the church.
Not long after, Pope was returning home from a visit in a friend's coach, which, in passing a bridge, was overturned into the water; the windows were closed, and being unable to force them open, he was in danger of immediate death, when the postillion snatched him out by breaking the glass, of which the fragments cut two of his fingers in such a manner, that he lost their use.
Voltaire, who was then in England, sent him a letter of consolation. He had been entertained by Pope at his table, where he talked with so much grosenek, that Mrs. Pope was driven from the room. Pope discovered, by a trick, that he was a spy for the court, and never considered him as a man worthy of confidence.
He soon afterwards (1727) joined with Swift, who was then in England, to publish three volumes of Miscellanies, in which, amongst other things, he inserted The Memoirs of a Parish Clerk, in ridicule of Burnet's importance in his own History, and a Debate upon Black and White Horses, written in all the formalities of a legal process by the assistance, as it is said, of Mr. Fortescue, afterwards Master of the Rolls. Before these Miscellanies is a preface signed by Swift and Pope, but apparently written by Pope; in which he makes a ridiculous and romantic complaint of the robberies committed upon authors by the clandestine seizure and sale of their papers. He tells, in tragic strains, how " the cabinets of the sick and the closets of the dead have been broke open and ransacked;" as if those violences weré often committed for papers of uncertain and accidental value, which are rarely pro voked by real treasures; as if epigrams and essays were in danger where gold and diamonds are safe. A cat hunted for his musk is, according to Pope's account, but the emblem of a wit winded by booksellers.
His complaint, however, received some attestation; for the same year the letters, written by him to Mr. Cromwell, in his youth, were sold by Mrs. Thomas to Curll, who printed them.
In these Miscellanies was first published the “ Art of Sinking in Poetry," which, by such a train of consequences as usually passes in literary quarrels, gave in a short tiine, according to Pope's account, occasion to the Dunciad.
In the following year (1728) he began to put Atterbury's advice in practice; and showed his satirical powers by publishing the Dunciad, one of his greatest and most elaborate performances, in which he endeavoured to sink into contempt all the writers by whom he had been attacked, and some others whom he thought unable 10 defend themselves.