Abbildungen der Seite
PDF

"Boileau has so well enlarged upon in the Preface to "his Works, that wit and fine writing do not consist "so much in advancing things that are new, as in "giving things that are known an agreeable turn. "It is impossible for us who live in the latter ages of "the world, to make observations in criticism, mo** rality, or any art and science, which have not been ** touched upon by others. We have little else left "us but to represent the common sense of mankind "in more strong, more beautiful, or more uncom"mon lights. If a reader examines Horace's Art of "Poetry, he will find but few precepts in it which *' he may not meet with in Aristotle, and which "were not commonly known by all the poets of the "Augustan age. His way of expressing and applying "them, not his invention of them, is what we are "chiefly to admire.

"Longinus, in his Reflections, has given us the "same kind of sublime which he observes in the sevc"ral passages which occasioned them. I cannot but "take notice, that our English Author has, after the "same manner, exemplified several of his precepts "in the very precepts themselves." He then produces some instances of a particular kind of beauty in thex numbers, and concludes with saying, " That we "have three poems in our tongue of the same nature, "and each a masterpiece in its kind; the Essay on "Translated Verse, the Essay on the Art of Poetry, "and the Essay on Criticism."

In the Lives of Addison and Tickell we have thrown out some general hints concerning the quarrel which subsisted between our Poet and the former of these gentlemen; here it will not be improper to give a more particular account of it.

The author of Mist's journal positively asserts, "that Mr. Addison raised Pope from obscurity, ob"tained him the acquaintance and friendship of the "whole body of our nobility, and transferred his "powerful influence with those great men to this "rising bard, who frequently levied, by that means, "unusual contributions on the public. No sooner "was his body lifeless, but this author, reviving his "resentment, libelled the memory of his departed '' friend, and, what was still more heinous, made the "scandal public."

When this charge of ingratitude and dishonour was published against Mr. Pope, to acquit himself of it he called upon any nobleman whose friendship, or any one gent leman whose subscription, Mr. Addison had procured to our Author, to stand forth and declare it, that truth might appear. But the whole libel was proved a malicious story by many persons of distinction, who, several years before Mr. AddUon's decease, approved those verses denominated a libel, but which were, it is said, a friendly rebuke, sent privately in our Author's own hand, to Mr. Addison himself, and never made public till by Curl, in his Miscellanies, iimo, 1727. The lines, indeed, are elegantly satirical, and, in the opinion of many unprejudiced judges, who had opportunities of knowing the character of Mr. Addison, are no ill representation of him. Speaking of the poetical triflers of the times, who had declared against him, he makes a sudden transition to Addison.

Peace to all such I But were there one whose fires
True genius kindles, and fair fame inspires,
Blest with each talent and each art to please,
And burn to write, converse, and live with ease J
Should such a man, too fond to rule alone,
Bear, like the Turk, no rival near the throne,
View him with scornful, yet with jealous eye?,
And hate for arts that caus'd himself to rise;
Damn with faint praise, assent wiih civil leer,
And, without sneering, others reach to sneer;
Willing to wound, and yet afraid to strike,
Just hint a fault, and hesi'ate dislike;
Alike reserv'd to blame or to commend,
A timYous foe, and a suspicious friend;
Dreading cv'n fools; by flatterers besieg'd ,
And so .ihii- in;, that he ne'er obliged.
Like Cato p,ive his little senate laws,
And sit attentive to his own applause;
While wits and Templars ev'ry sentence raise.
And wonder with a foolish face of praise. ,
Who but must laugh, if such a man there be!
Who would not weep, if Aniens were he!

Some readers may think these lines severe, but the treatment he received from Mr. Addison was more than sufficienttojustify them, which will appear when we particularize an interview between these two poetical antagonists, procured by the warm solicitations of Sir Richard Steele, who was present at it, as well as Mr. Gay.

Mr. Jervas being one day in company with Mr. Addison, the conversation turned upon Mr. Pope, for whom Addison at that time, expressed the highest regard, and assured Mr. Jervas that he would make use not only of his interest, but of his art likewise, to do Mr. Pope service; he then said, he did not mean his art of poetry, but his art at Court, and protested, notwithstanding many insinuations were 6pread, that it should not be his fault if there was not the best understanding and intelligence between them. He observed, that Dr. Swift might have carried him too far among the enemy during the animosity; but now all was safe, and Mr. Pope, in his opinion, was escaped. When Mr. Jervas communicated this conversation to Mr. Pope, he made this reply: " The friendly office you endeavour to do be"tween Mr. Addison and me, deserves acknowledg"ments on my part. You thoroughly know my re"gard to his character, and my readiness to testify "it by all ways in my power; you also thoroughly '' knew the meanness of that proceeding of Mr. Phil"lips, to make a man I so highly value suspect my "disposition towards him. But as, after all, Mr. Ad"dison must be judge in what regards himself, and "as he has seemed not to be a very just one to me, "so I must own to you I expect nothing but civility "from him, how much soever I wish for his friend"ship; and, as for any offers of real kindness or ser"vice, which it is in his power to do me, I should be "ashamed to receive them from a man who has no "better opinion of my morals than to think me a "party man; nor of my temper, than to believe me '' capable of maligning, or envying, another's reputa"tion as a poet. In a word, Mr. Addison is sure of "my respect at all time!, and of my real friendship,

"whenever he shall think fit to know me for what I "am."

Some years after this conversation, at the desire of Sir Richard Steele, they met. At first, a very cold civility, and nothing else, appeared on either side; for Mr. Addison had a natural reserve and gloom at the beginning of an evening, which, by conversation and a glass, brightened into an easy cheerfulness. Sir Richard Steele, who was a most social benevolent man, begged of him to fulfil his promise, in dropping all animosity against Mr. Pope. Mr. Pope then desired to be made sensible how he had offended, and observed, that the translation of Homer, if that was the great crime, was undertaken at the request, and almost at the command, of Sir Richard Steele. He entreated Mr. Addison to speak candidly and freely, though it might be with ever so much severity, rather than, by keeping up forms of complaisance, conceal any of his faults. This Mr. Pope spoke in such a manner as plainly indicated he thought Mr. Addison the aggressor, and expected him to condescend, and own himself the cause of the breach between them. But he was disappointed; for Mr. Addison, without appearing to be angry, was quite overcome with it. He began with declaring that he always had wished him well, had often endeavoured to be his friend, and in that light advised him, if his nature was capable of it, to divest himself of part of his vanity, which was too great for his merit; ihat he had not arrived et to that pitch of excellence he might ima

« ZurückWeiter »