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Cheers with her smiles, and every element
Not such our friends ; for here no dark design,
We speak our inmost souls; good-humour, mirth, Soft complaisance, and wit from malice free, Smooth every brow, and glow on every cheek.
O happiness sincere! what wretch would groan Beneath the galling load of power, or walk Upon the slippery pavements of the great, Who thus could reign, unenvy'd and secure !
Ye guardian powers who make mankind your care, Give me to know wise Nature's hidden depths, Trace each mysterious cause, with judgment read Th' expanded volume, and submiss adore That great creative Will, who at a word Spoke forth the wondrous scene. But if my soul To this gross clay confin’d flutters on Earth With less ambitious wing; unskill'd to range From orb to orb, where Newton leads the way; And view with piercing eyes the grand machine, Worlds above worlds; subservient to his voice, Who, veil'd in clouded majesty, alone Gives light to all; bids the great system move, And changeful seasons in their turns advance, Unmov’d, unchang’d, himself: yet this at least Grant me propitious, an inglorious life, Calm and serene, nor lost in false pursuits Of wealth or honours; but enough to raise My drooping friends, preventing modest Want That dares not ask. And if, to crown my joys, Ye grant me health, that, ruddy in my cheeks, Blooms in my life's decline; fields, woods, and
streams, Each towering hill, each humble vale below, Shall hear my cheering voice, my hounds shall wake The lazy Morn, and glad th' horizon round.
Alexander Pope, an English poet of great eminence, was born in London in 1688. His father, who appears to have acquired wealth by trade, was a Roman Catholic, and being disaffected to the politics of King William, he retired to Binfield, in Windsor Forest, where he purchased a small house with some acres of land, and lived frugally upon the fortune he had saved. Alexander, who was from infancy of a delicate habit of body, after learning to read and write at home, was placed about his eighth year under the care of a Romish priest, who taught him the rudiments of Latin and Greek. His natural fondness for books was indulged about this period by Ogilby's translation of Homer, and Sandys's of Ovid's Metamorphoses, which gave him so much delight, that they may be said to have made him a poet. He pursued his studies under different priests, to whom he was consigned. At length he became the director of his own pursuits, the variety of which proved that he was by no means deficient in industry, though his reading was rather excursive
than methodical. From his early years poetry was adopted by him as a profession, for his poetical reading was always accompanied with attempts at imitation or translation ; and it may be affirmed that he rose at once almost to perfection in this walk. His manners and conversation were equally beyond his years; and it does not appear that he ever cultivated friendship with any one of his own age or condition.
Pope's Pastorals were first printed in a volume of Tonson's Miscellanies in 1709, and were generally admired for the sweetness of the versification, and the lustre of the diction, though they betrayed a want of original observation, and an artificial cast of sentiment: in fact, they were any thing rather than real pastorals. In the mean time he was exercising himself in compositions of a higher class; and by his “ Essay on Criticism,” published two years afterwards, he obtained a great accession of reputation, merited by the comprehension of thought, the general good sense, and the frequent beauty of illustration which it presents, though it displays many of the inaccuracies of a juvenile author. In 1712 his “ Rape of the Lock," a mock heroic, made its first appearance, and conferred upon him the best title he possesses to the merit of invention. The machinery of the Sylphs was afterwards added, an exquisite fancy-piece, wrought with unrivalled skill and beauty. The “ Temple of Fame," altered from Chaucer, though partaking of the embarrassments of the original plan, has many passages which may rank with his happiest efforts.
In the year 1713, Pope issued proposals for publishing a translation of Homer's Iliad, the success of which soon removed all doubt of its making an accession to his reputation, whilst it afforded an ample remuneration for his labour. This noble work was published in separate volumes, each containing four books; and the produce of the subscription enabled him to take that house at Twickenham which he made so famous by his residence and decorations. He brought hither his father and mother; of whom the first parent died two years afterwards. The second long survived, to be comforted by the truly filial attentions of her son. About this period he probably wrote his Epistle from " Eloisa to Abelard,” partly founded upon the extant letters of these distinguished persons. He has rendered this one of the most impressive poems of which love is the subject; as it is likewise the most finished of all his works of equal length, in point of language and versification. The exaggeration, however, which he has given to the most impassioned expressions of Eloisa, and his deviations from the true story, have been pointed out by Mr. Berrington in his lives of the two lovers. • During the years in which he was chiefly engaged
with the Iliad, he published several occasional works, to which he usually prefixed very elegant prefaces; but the desire of farther emolument induced him to extend his translation to the Odyssey, in which task he engaged two inferior lands, whom he paid out of the produce of a new subscription. He himself, however, translated twelve