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his age,'* and requested an introduction: he became an active friend at once; took the young poet to his seat in Worcestershire, to spend the summer of the same year, 1705; and stimulated his young ambition by judicious praise. He used to encourage me much,' said Pope, long afterwards, “and to tell me that there was one way left of excelling; for though we had several great poets, we never had any one great poet that was correct; and desired me to make that my study and aim. Unhappily, this valuable intercourse was soon to be at an end : Walsh died in 1708, and was transmitted to fame by Pope's gratitude in some admirable lines. It is striking to contrast the utter helplessness of mere wealth or title to give distinction, with the imperishable power
* The assertion was probably as safe as it was zealous. Pope in 1705 was but just seventeen. We have no certain knowlege that Virgil wrote any thing until after his journey to Rome to reclaim his lands, about his thirtieth year: he then produced the Eclogues. The Æneid does not appear to have been even begun before his forty-fifth year. In the interval between the Eclogues and his epic, the Georgies had appeared; the poem which undoubtedly gives the strongest stamp of his matured vigor. The claims of the • Catalecta' to be his earliest works, or to be his works at all, are totally unsettled. + Those in the · Essay on Criticism,' beginning,
Such late was Walsh, the Muse's judge and friend.
of fame concentrated in one generous and manly act of benevolence. This man's opulence would have suffered him to sink into the common oblivion of the multitude who encumber life, only to be forgotten in the grave: the simple kindness of his closing years to a man of genius and virtue has embalmed his name in honor to the end of time.
Pope now began to extend his friendships : in 1707 he commenced that intimacy with the family of the Blounts, of Maple-Durham, near Reading, which influenced so large a portion of his life. The family consisted of a brother, Edward, and two sisters, Martha and Teresa : they were Roman catholics ;-a circumstance, which may have cemented the intercourse. Of the graces of Martha's person but little is told; but the mind of the woman, who could uphold the respect, if not excite even a more tender feeling, of a man of Pope's eminence of understanding, must have possessed no common attractions.
Pope was still to learn a lesson of the hazards of advice. In his visits to London he had been introduced to Mr. Henry Cromwell, a man of fortune, whose notice seems to have been much courted by the less well-endowed wits. Pope doubtless fully recompensed the civilities which could be offered by inferior genius; but Cromwell was not content with this safe interchange: he wrote verses occasionally, and he unluckily desired his young friend's opinion of their merits. The critic had not yet imbibed the wisdom of holding his tongue: he gave his opinion with fatal sincerity, and their friendship was at an end.
But Pope had at length felt the tide of patronage, and his course was not to be arrested by so slight an obstacle as the loss of Cromwell's friendship: his · Pastorals,' still in manuscript, had been shown to the leaders of taste in London; and the whisper that a great poet was at hand, was listened to with eagerness by those who might have disdained to listen when it became louder. The poem, yet unpolluted by public praise, received the panegyric of that fastidious circle to whom the secret forms so large a share of the value ; and Pope was unconsciously a favorite of those whose nod confers fame. His good fortune has already been observed, in his friendships with individuals : it is still more remarkable in the commencement of that larger connexion, which made him a denizen of the general commonwealth of literature.
The age of Anne resembled the age of Elizabeth, in following a period of violent civil commotion, and in constituting a period of singular glory in arms. An extraordinary burst
of intellectual vigor distinguished both: and if Shakspeare and Bacon are still unrivalled, we may yet rejoice that the prolific powers of the British mind were destined to display themselves once more. How far we may prognosticate this great return in the future years of English renown, what shapes it may assume, or for what trials of religion or polity it may make the noble compensation, are subjects only for that hope which the heart of English patriotism should never suffer to expire. But the analogy is broad enough for strong conjecture; and it may be at once wisdom and gratitude to believe, that while the struggles of England are for the virtues and the liberties of man, she will never want vigor to extend her honors, or genius to illustrate her renown.
A simple enumeration of the names which florished in letters and politics in the beginning of the eighteenth century will prove the powerful and various activity of the national intelligence. In poetry we had Dryden, Swift, Addison, Prior, Gay, Garth, Steele, Young, Parnell, &c. in the drama, Otway, Rowe, Congreve, Southern, Vanbrugh, Wycherley, Cibber, &c. in philosophy, Newton, Locke, Berkley, Boyle, Cotes, Halley, &c. in divinity, Tillotson, Atterbury, with a crowd of other eminent writers and scholars.
But the general elevation of a national mind is even more justly to be measured from that rank of society, which, placed beyond the necessities, can be roused only by the emulations of life. A single mind of pre-eminent force may start up as well in the court as in the cottage; but the simultaneous existence of a number of distinguished minds in high rank, argues a simultaneous elevation of the general standard of excellence, a new spirit of ardor breathed into the whole range of the national frame. In this period we had, as generals and statesmen, Marlborough, lord Peterborough, the duke of Argyle, the duke of Ormond, lord Bolingbroke, lord Somers, lord Oxford, lord Carteret, lord Bathurst, lord Anglesea, the duke of Dorset, lord Halifax, lord Roscommon, &c.
Into the midst.of this vivid scene, where all was excitement, Pope came, in the vigor of his taste and talents. Thrown into an age of dulness, he might have been neglected; and with the fastidiousness of injured ability, might have recoiled on himself, and refused to labor for an ungenerous time. But patronage and praise were waiting to hail his appearance; and he found in the admiration of men like Halifax, Granville, and Somers, the stimulus and the reward of his poetic enthusiasm.
The Pastorals' were first printed in 1709, at the end of the sixth volume of Tonson's Miscel