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and spirited ; and Metastasio was as young when he wrote Giustino, a tragedy.

At fourteen, he employed himself in translating the first book of the Thebais of Statius, and in modernising the January and May of Chaucer; the Prologue of the Wife of Bath; and also in translating the Epistle of Sappho to Phaon, in order to complete the careless version published under the name of Dryden, but very unequally performed. About the same time he

gave imitations of many English poets ; the best of which was, that of Lord Rochester on Silence; in which might be discovered the strong sense, and moral turn of thinking, for which he was afterwards fo juftly celebrated. There was no imitation of Milton *.

After spending a few months in London, to be instructed in the Italian and French languages, he returned to Binfield, and prosecuted with fresh ardour his poetical studies. He wrote a Comedy; a Tragedy on the story of St. Genevieve, copied by Dodsley in his Cleone; and an Epic Poem, called Alcander ; all of them attempts that indicated an ardent and eager desire of future fame. If it be said, that these are marks of vanity and self-confidence, let it be remembered that he who in youth has never grasped in his mind at more than he could perform, will never arrive at eminence and excellence in any art.


* Mr. Harte informed me that Dryden gave Pope a shilling for tranlating, when a boy, the story of Pyramus and Thisbe.

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At sixteen he wrote his Pastorals; and as the first step in the literary, as well as in the political world is of the utmost consequence, these Pastorals introduced him to the acquaintance, and soon into the friendship, of Sir William Trumbull, who had formerly been much in public life, Ambaffador at Conftantinople, and Secretary of State ; and was then retired into Windsor Forest, near Binfield. This amiable ex-minister, wearied with the intrigues and bustle of courts, was very naturally pleased to discover in his neighbourhood a youth of such abilities and taste as young Pope; and was therefore happy in his company and conversation,

It was Trumbull who circulated his Pastorals among his friends, and first introduced him to Wycherley and Walsh, and the wits of that time. The Pastorals, though written in 1704, were not published till 1709, in Tonson's sixth Miscellany; which volume opened with the Pastorals of Philips, and ended with those of our Author. As examples of correct and melodious versification, these Pastorals deserye the highest commendation. It has been said, and indeed tệuly, that they want invention; and it is thought a fufficient answer to observe, that this is to require what was never intended. But this is a confession of the very fault imputed to them. There ought to have been invention. The discourse prefixed to them is very elegantly and elaborately written ; though most of the observations are taken from Rapin on Paftoral,


published a few years before in Creech's Theocritus, from Walsh on Virgil's Eclogues, and from Fonte nelle; whose differtation is as full of affected thoughts as his own Eclogues ; and whom I wish our young poet had proscribed for his paradoxical doctrines against the ancients, which he first broached in this discourse *.

It has been my fortune, from my way of life, to have seen many compositions of youths of fixteen, years old, far beyond these Pastorals in point of genius and imagination, though not perhaps of correctness. Their excellence, indeed, might be owing to having had such a predecessor as Pope.

About this time old Mr. Wycherley courted the friendship, and requested the assistance, of our young Author, to correct his verses, which had all the un. couth harshness and asperity of Donne : But Wycher-, ley's vanity was soon disgusted by the honest freedom and true judgment with which Pope executed the talk he had unwillingly undertaken ; a coolness ensued, which ended in a rupture betwixt them. “ book has been written, said a man of wit, De morbis

artificum. Among authors, jealousy and envy are “incurable diseases."


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* But another critical treatise of Fontenelle deserves to be fpoken of in very different terms; his Reflexions sur la Poetique, an. nexed to his life of Corneille ; for this treatise contains some of the most true and profound remarks on dramatic poetry that can be found in any critic whatever.

When we consider the just taste, the strong fense, the knowledge of men, books, and opinions, that are so predominant in the Esay on Criticism, and at the same time recollect that it was written before the Author was twenty years old, we are naturally struck with astonishment; and must readily agree to place him among the first critics, though not, as Dr. Johnson says, “ among the first poets,on this account alone. As a poet, he must rank much higher, for his Eloisa, and Rape of the Lock. This judgment reminds one of what the same critic has said of Dryden's Religio Laici ; that one might have expected to have found in it, the effulgence of his genius; though, as he adds, on an argumentative subject; and therefore improper for a display of genius. As much as I revere and respect the memory of my old acquaintance Dr. Johnson*, and as highly as I think of his abilities, integrity, and virtue, yet must I be pardoned for saying, that I cannot possibly subscribe to many of his critical decisions ; particularly to what he has said of the Lycidas, Il Penseroso,



The perpetual pompoufness, and the uninterrupted elaboration, of the over-ornamented style of the Rambler, makes one wish that the excellent Author had recollected the opinion of Cicero; “Is enim est eloquens, qui et humilia subtiliter, et magna graviter, et mediocria temperatè poteft dicere. Nam qui nihil poteft tranquille, nihil leniter, nihil definitè, distinctè poteft dicere, is, cum non præparatis auribus inflammare rem cæpit, furere apud fanos, et quafi inter fobrios bacchari temulentus videtur.”

and Latin poems of Milton; of the Sixth Book of Paradise Lost; of Taffo's Aminta; of the Rhyming Tragedies, Ode to Killigrew, and the Fables of Dryden; of Chaucer ; of the Rehearsal; of Prior ; of Congreve's Mourning Bride; of Blackmore; of Yalden; of Pomfret; of Dyer; of Garth; of Lyttelton; of Fielding; of Harris ; of Hammond ; of Beattie; of Shenstone; of Savage; of Hughes ; of Spence; of Akenside ; of Collins ; of Pope's Essay on Man, and Imitations of Horace; and of the Odes of Gray.

The Essay on Criticism was first advertised at the end of the Spectator, No. 65. May 15, 1711, and was praised by Addison in the December following, in Number 253 of the Spectator. But Pope was not a little displeased at one sentence in this


in which Addison said, “ I am sorry to find an Author “ who is very justly esteemed among the best judges, “ has admitted some strokes of ill-nature into a very “ fine poem, which was published some months since, “ and is a master-piece of its kind.”

He adds, 66 The observations follow one another, like those in “ Horace's Art of Poetry, without that methodical

regularity which would have been requisite in a “ prose writer.” So that Addison did not perceive that clear order and close connection, which Warburton strove to discover, in order to give some shadow of propriety to a perpetual Commentary upon it.


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