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done in every period of the world; his statesmen, with deliberate wisdom; his fathers, with solemn regard; his matrons, with gentle dignity : every language in which the human heart speaks can thus transmit the language of the great poet. If no succeeding genius has equalled the splendid activity, the living force, and the intense truth, of the Homeric picturings of man, every age may call them its own.
The notes, which to the keener research of modern scholarship appear slight, formed an important part of the performance: without them the volumes would have often required explanation, which was not to be found in the text; and their size would have been too diminutive for the price demanded from the subscribers. This work was done by subordinates: Broome was employed to translate Eustathius; Jortin, and a third person still unnamed, assisted or succeeded him. The life was written by Parnell, but with such crudities of style, that Pope's ear was offended; and he was compelled to occupy himself much in softening it down. The whole publication was finished in somewhat more than five years, from 1712 to 1718, when the author was in his thirtieth year.
The progress of this great work attracted the notice of the whole literary body of England : the higher patrons of literature made it a topic of expectation: the chief writers, as they happened to be excited by rivalry or by friendship, endeavored to arrest or advance its popularity. Swift, who had but lately been of the number of Pope's acquaintance, took up its cause with his usual roughness, yet his usual ardor. Bishop Kennet describes this characteristically in his • Diary,' November, 1713.— When I came to the antechamber, to wait before prayers, Dr. Swift was the principal man of talk and business, and acted as master of the requests. * * * * He instructed a young nobleman that the best poet in England was Mr. Pope, a papist, who had begun a translation of Homer into English verse, for which he must have them all subscribe : for, says he, the author shall not begin to print till I have a thousand guineas for him.' Swift, at this period, was little aware how soon the poet was to have an opportunity of showing his adherence. Within a few months, the open dissensions of Oxford and Bolingbroke, which he had despairingly attempted to reconcile, drove the dean from London in disgust: and the prospect of their ruin, which might involve himself, even made him shun all public knowlege of his retreat. Pope generously sought him out in this anticipated exile, and found him at the house of a
clergyman in Berkshire. Swift's prognostics were verified even more irreparably than he could have supposed : queen Anne, irritated and enfeebled by the quarrels of her ministers, and already in infirm health, was suddenly seized with a fatal illness, and died August 1st, 1714. The rage of party, swelled by the popular indignation at the treaty of Utrecht, instantly burst on the ministers: Oxford was sent to the Tower; Bolingbroke saved himself only by flying to France.
A story told of Halifax by Pope places in a ludicrous light the relation in which great men and poets sometimes stand to each other. The famous lord Halifax, though so much talked of, was rather a pretender to taste than really possessed of it. When I had finished the first two or three books of my translation of the Iliad, that lord desired to have the pleasure of hearing them read at his house : Addison, Congreve, and Garth were there at the reading. In four or five places lord Halifax stopped me very civilly, and with a speech each time much of the same kind; - I beg your pardon, Mr. Pope; but there is something in that passage that does not quite please me: be so good as to mark the place, and consider it a little more at your leisure: I am sure you can give it a better turn. I returned from lord Halifax's with Dr. Garth, in his
chariot; and as we were going along, was saying to the doctor that my lord had laid me under much difficulty by such loose and general observations; that I had been thinking of the passages almost ever since, and could not guess at what it was that offended his lordship in any of them. Garth laughed heartily at my embarrassment, and said that I had not been long enough acquainted with lord Halifax to know his way yet; and that I need not puzzle myself in looking those places over and over when I got home. • All you need do,' said he, is to leave them just as they are; call on lord Halifax two or three months hence; thank him for his kind observations on those passages; and then read them to him as altered : I have known him much longer than you have, and will be answerable for the event! I followed his advice; waited on lord Halifax some months after; said, I hoped he would find his objections to those passages removed; and read them to him exactly as they were at first : his lordship was extremely pleased with them, and cried out, “ Ay, now, Mr. Pope, they are perfectly right; nothing can be better.”
The reflections of the two ablest biographers of Pope on this story are not less a curious specimen of the different lights in which the same incident may be viewed. Johnson's begins with a maxim,
• It is seldom that the great or the wise suspect that they are despised or cheated :' then, saying that · Halifax, thinking this a lucky opportunity of securing immortality, made some advances of favor and some overtures of advantage to Pope, which he seems to have received with sullen coldness,' he relates the story; from which he concludes, that this commerce had its beginning in hope of praise on one side and of money on the other, and ended because Pope was less eager of money than Halifax of praise. The final sentence is the most indigestible of all:- It is not likely that Halifax had any personal benevolence to Pope; it is evident that Pope looked on Halifax with scorn and hatred.' Johnson's force of style is admirable, but his love for epigram was a strong temptation. All the facts are against his theory : we have no probability that Halifax, a man of high rank and of the highest power, could have felt his honors in either the living or the future generation, connected with an act of service to a young poet: we have no more probability that the extravagance of his appetite for panegyric overpowered the poet's desire for a pension. Nothing in the narrative substantiates this ungenerous commerce : but we have evidence, that however Pope may have evaded lord