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Halifax's criticisms, and even thought him a pretender in matters of taste, which were then the common talk of fashion, he did not look on him with either scorn or hatred. Halifax died in 1715, and we find Pope reprobating the ingratitude of literature to its benefactor :
The love of arts lies cold and dead
In Halifax's urn,
Has yet the grace to mourn.
Twenty years after, in the • Epilogue to the Satires,' he records his estimation :
But does the court one worthy man remove,
But the evidence is stronger still in relation to the very work which is supposed to have been the origin of this scorn and hatred: in the preface to the Iliad, Pope writes, — the earl of Halifax was one of the first to favor me; of whom it is hard to say, whether the advancement of the polite arts is more owing to his generosity or his example.'
Roscoe, on the other hand, doubts the authenticity of the whole story: he thinks that Pope's reading any part of his work to Halifax is • indeed scarcely probable, because we find by a letter from him to Addison, October 10th, 1714, that his lordship had then the first and second books of the translation in his hands. Yet this does not prove that a minister, so occupied with important matters, had read those books; or that if he had, he might not choose to adopt the then fashionable process of having them read by the author in a circle of literary personages. We are also to recollect, that, on this conjecture, he contradicts the positive statement made by the man who must have known the facts best; and impeaches Pope's veracity on the strength of a simple supposition.
But whatever were the intentions of the noble patron, they were unproductive: for their delay in the first instance, a cause may easily be found in the poet's own letter, December 1st, 1714.· I am obliged to you both for the favors you have done me, and those you intend me: I distrust neither your will nor your memory, when it is to do good; and if ever I become troublesome or solicitous, it must not be out of expectation, but out of gratitude. Your lordship may either cause me to live agreeably in town, or contentedly in the country, which is really all the difference I set between an easy fortune and a small one: it is indeed a high strain of generosity in you to think of making me easy all my life, only because I have been so happy as to divert you some few hours; but, if I may have leave to add, it is because you think me no enemy to my native country, there will be a still better reason.
It is clear from this letter that Pope was willing to receive whatever Halifax might be willing to bestow, and yet that he desired to give the acceptance a color of obligation on the part of the donor. We can scarcely be surprised that Halifax viewed the treaty in a totally different aspect; and that he was but little inclined to exhibit his favor, and lay himself under an obligation at the same time. The offer was quietly dropped into oblivion: a still more sufficient obstacle prevented its renewal, if renewal was ever intended; - he died in the following year. Pope, in mentioning the circumstance to Spence, explains, • There was something said, too, of the love of being quite free, and without any thing that might look even like a bias laid on me: so the thing dropped, and I had my liberty without a coach.' There is no likelihood that his liberty would have been impaired more with a coach than without it: no stipulation for the use of his pen was made; and, if he valued strict adherence to his party, he had undoubtedly shown his readiness to discover virtue in whig as well as tory, by his engagement in any intercourse with government.
But the more direct collision was with Addison. • Cato' had raised its author to the height of his reputation, and he probably felt inclined to restrict the rise of others above his level. Pope charged him with a disingenuous attempt to overthrow his Iliad: the statement was made in these words:-* • There had been a coldness between Mr. Addison and me for some time, and we had not been in company together for a good while any where but at Button's coffee-house, where I used to see him almost every day. On his meeting me there one day in particular, he took me aside, and said he should be glad to dine with me at such a tavern, if I would stay till those people (Budgell and Phillips) were gone: we went accordingly; and after dinner, Mr. Addison said, that he wanted for some time to talk with me; that his friend Tickell had formerly, while at Oxford, translated the first book of the Iliad ; that he now designed to print it, and had desired him to look it over: he must therefore beg that I would not desire him to look over my first book; because, if he did, it would have the air of double-dealing. I assured him
* Spence, Anecdotes, p. 146.
that I did not take it ill of Mr. Tickell that he was going to publish his translation ; that he certainly had as much right to translate any author as myself; and that publishing both was entering on a fair stage: I then added, that I would not desire him to look over my first book of the Iliad, because he had looked over Mr. Tickell's; but could wish to have the benefit of his observations on my second, which I had then finished, and which Mr. Tickell had not touched on: accordingly, I sent him the second book the next morning, and in a few days he returned it with very high commendation.
Immediately on the appearance of Pope's first volume, Tickell's translation of the first book of the Iliad was sent forth by Tonson: the rivalry now was declared: Addison, with the circle round him, pronounced Pope's to be inferior. Gay writes to Pope, July 8, 1715, • I have just set down sir Samuel Garth at the Opera : he bid me tell you, that every body is pleased with your translation, but a few at Button's; and that sir R. Steele told him that Mr. Addison said the other translation was the best that ever was in any language. Pope felt this hostility with the keenness of a poet; but his language at least was restricted: in a letter to Craggs, he says, “ I, like the tories, have the town in general, that is, the