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the more vulnerable to the common lot of losing those whom he values. Parnell died in 1717, and Garth and Rowe soon followed him. Pope's next loss was Atterbury, by an exile which drove that rash politician from England for life: but Bolingbroke's return from the continent, and Swift's from Ireland, made some compensation for losses, which, at Pope's age, are seldom reparable. Gay, Swift, and Pope now trifled over literature together: Swift amused himself with giving new touches to the extravagances of Gulliver : Pope wrote the lamentations of Glumdalclitch; and Gay collected from his two friends the wit, the bitterness, and the personalities, of the most profligate of dramas, the · Beggar's Opera.' On the completion of “Gulliver,' Swift, either doubtful of its success, or afraid to acknowlege its authorship, offered the copy-right to Pope: contempt for money could scarcely have been his motive. Pope, either more confident or less scrupulous, is said to have sold it for £300.
He was now meditating his final revenge on the critics, and probably was not unwilling to secure friends among the critical, whose censures did not amount to virulence: Spence was one of those ; a mild but feeble personage; of scholarship not inelegant, but without depth, and of a temper that made him fitter for a disciple than a censor. As prelector of poetry at Oxford, he had written a critique on the Odyssey,' which, touching its failures with gentleness, and exalting its successes with ready admiration, won its way to the poet's heart. Pope invited Spence to Twickenham; held those conversations with him which disclose so much of his personal history; and by his influence subsequently obtained for him a prebend at Durham, and the professorship of modern history at Oxford. •
In the September of this year England had nearly lost the writer who now constituted her greatest ornament in literature. On his way home in lord Bolingbroke's carriage from his lordship's residence at Dawley, the carriage rolled over into the bed of a small river; and Pope, besides having narrowly escaped drowning, received a cut from the window-glass which deprived him of the use of two of his fingers. On this occasion, Voltaire, then in England, wrote him the following letter :
. "I hear this moment of your sad adventure : the water you fell into was not Hippocrene's water; otherwise it would have supported you : indeed, I am concerned beyond expression for the danger you have been in, and more for your wounds. Is it possible, that those fingers, which
have written the • Rape of the Lock,' the Criticism,' and which have so becomingly dressed Homer in an English coat, should have been so barbarously treated? Let the hand of Dennis or of your poetasters be cut off-yours is sacred. I hope, sir, you are now perfectly recovered. Really, your accident concerns me as much as all the disasters of a master ought to affect his scholar. I am sincerely, sir, with the admiration which you deserve, • Your most humble servant,
VOLTAIRE.' • In my lord Bolingbroke'y house,
Friday, at noon, Nov. 16th, 1726.' This stiff and schoolboy epistle was the writing of a man of first-rate dexterity, passionately eager to master the language, residing in England, and conversing for a considerable period with the best society; yet here we see the measure of his attainment. What must then be thought of the modern pretensions to classic elegance and ease in writing Greek, or even Latin?
Voltaire had visited at Twickenham, where, Johnson tells us, “ he talked so grossly, as to drive Mrs. Pope out of the room ;' and adds, that · Pope discovered by a trick that he was a spy of the court, and never afterwards considered him as a man worthy of confidence.'
The preparation for the · Dunciad' was still going on; and we may imagine the delight with which the little circle of jealous partisanship, of which Pope had long been the centre, watched the formation of that mine which was to explode with such unsparing havoc. As the pilot-balloon is sent up to try the direction of the wind before the grand vehicle is launched, three volumes of • Miscellanies,' the joint work of Pope and Swift, with some contributions by Gay and Arbuthnot, were published in 1727: the Art of Sinking in Poetry' was among those papers; and nothing could be a more direct announcement of hostilities on the part of Pope, or a more sufficient invitation to all the wrath of irritated criticism.
We have the history of the • Dunciad,' such as the writer chose to acknowlege it, in the Dedication to lord Middlesex, in the name of Savage:"I will relate the war of the dunces, for so it has been commonly called, which began in the year 1727, and ended in the year 1730. When Dr. Swift and Mr. Pope thought it proper, for reasons specified in the preface to their • Miscellanies,' to publish such little pieces of theirs as had casually got abroad, there was added to them the Treatise of the Bathos, or the Art of Sinking in Poetry. It happened that, in one chapter of this piece, the several species of bad poets were ranged in classes, to which were prefixed almost all the letters of the alphabet, the greatest part of them at random; but such was the number of poets eminent in that art, that some one or other took every letter to himself: all fell into so violent a fury, that for half a year or more, the common newspapers, in most of which they had some property, as being hired writers, were filled with the most abusive falsehoods they could possibly devise. * * * * This gave Mr. Pope the thought that he had now some opportunity of doing good, by detecting and dragging into light those common enemies of mankind; since, to invalidate this universal slander, it sufficed to show what contemptible men were the authors of it. He was not without hopes, that, by manifesting the dulness of those who had only malice to recommend them, either the booksellers would not find their account in employing them; or the men themselves, when discovered, want courage to proceed in so unlawful an occupation. This it was that gave birth to the · Dunciad;' and he thought it a happiness, that, by the late flood of slander on himself, he had acquired such a peculiar right over their names as was necessary to this design.