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"name than can be hurt by any thing of that nature; "and your's is doubly safe. I will, if any shame "there be, take it all to myself; and indeed I ought, "the motion being first mine, and never heartily ap"proved by you."
Of all our Poet's writings none were read with more general approbation than his Ethic Epistles, or multip! .J into more editions. Mr. Pope, who was a perfect economist, secured to himself the profits arising from his own works; he was never subjected to nee ..-ity, and therefore was not to be imposed upon b;. :: . .rt or fraud of publishers.
);...; now approaches the period in which, as he iii'iiin expressed it, he stood in need of the generous tear he paid;
Poets themselves must fall like those they sung.
Mr. Pope, who had been always subjected to a variety of bodily infirmities, finding his strength give way, began to think that his days, which had been prolonged past his expectation, were drawing towards a conclusion. However, he visited the Hot-v.ells at Bristol, where, for some time, there were smal I hopes of his recovery; but making too free with purges, he grew worse, and seemed desirous to draw nearer home. A dropsy in the breast at last put a period to his life, at the age of lifty-six, on the 30th of May 1744, at his houie at Twickenham, where he was interred in the same grai e with his father and mother.
Mr. Pope's behaviour in his last illness has been variously represented to the world: some have affirmed, that it was timid and peevish; that, having been fixed in no particular system of faith, his mind was wavering, and his temper broken and disturbed.— Others have asserted, that he was all cheerfulness and resignation to the divine will: which of these opinions is true, we cannot now determine; but if th« former, it must be regretted, that he who had taught philosophy to others, should himself be destitute of its assistance in the most critical moments of his life.
The bulk of his fortune he bequeathed to Mrs. Blount, with whom he lived in the strictest friendship, and for whom he is said to have entertained the warmest affection. His works, which are in the hands of every person of true taste, and will last as long as our language will be understood, render unnecessary all further remarks on his writings. He was equally admired for the dignity and sublimity of his moial and philosophical works, the vivacity of his satirical, the clearness and propriety of his didactic, the richness and variety of his descriptive, and the elegante of all, added to a harmony of versification, and correctness of sentiment and language, unknown to our former poets, and of which he has set an example, which will be an example, or a reproach, to his successor;. His prose style is as perfect in its kind as his poetic, and has all the beauties proper for it, joined to an uncommon force and perspicuity.
Under the profession of the Roman Catholic reliVdimu I. D
gion, to which he adhered to the last, he maintained all the moderation and charity becoming the most thorough and consistent Protestant. His conversation was natural, easy, and agreeable, without any affectation of displaying fyis wit, or obtruding his own judgment, even upon ^subjects of which he was so eminently a master.
The moral character of our Author, as it did not escape the lash of his calumniators in his life, so have there been attempts since his death, to diminish' his reputation. Lord Bolingbroke, whom Mr. Pope esteemed to almost ah enthusiastic degree of admiration, was the first to make this attack. Not many years ago the public were entertained with this controversy, immediately upon the publication of his Lordship's Letters on the Spirit of Patriotism, and the Idea of a Patriot King. Different opinions have been offered, some to extenuate the fault of Mr. Pope for printing and mutilating these letters without his Lordship's knowledge; others to blame him for it as the highest breach of friendship, and the greatest mark of dishonour; but it would exceed our proposed bounds to enter into the merits of this controversy.
This great man is allowed to have been one of the first rank amongst the poets of our nation, and to acknowledge the superiority of none but Shakespeare, Milton, and Dryden, With the two former it is unnatural to compare him, as their province in writing is so very different. Pope has never attempted the drama, nor published an epic poem, in which these two distinguished geniuses have so wonderfully succeeded. Though Pope's genius was great, it was yet of so different a cast from Shakespeare's and Milton'*, that no comparison can be justly formed. But if this may be said of the former two, it will by no means hold with respect to the latter; for between him and Dryden there is a great similarity of writing, and a very striking coincidence of genius. It will not, perhaps, be unpleasing to our readers if we pursue this comparison, and endeavour to discover to whom the superiority is justly to be attributed, and to which of them poetry owes the highest obligations.
When Dryden came into the world he found poetry in a very imperfect state; its numbers were unpolished, its cadences rough, and there was nothing of harmony or mellifluence to give it a graceful flow. In this harsh, unmusical situation Dryden found it (for the refinements of Waller were but puerile and unsubstantial;) he polished the rough diamond, he taught it to shine, and connected beauty, elegance, and strength, in all his poetical compositions. Though Dryden thus polished our English numbers, and thus harmonized versification, it cannot be said, that he carried his art to perfection. Much was yet left undone; his lines, with all their smoothness, were of.en rambling, and expletives were frequently introduced to complete his measures. It is apparent, therefore, that an additional harmony might still be given .to our numbers, and that cadences were yet capable of a more musical modulation. To effect this purpose Mr. Pope arose, who with an ear elegantly delicate, and the advantage of the finest genius, so harmonized the English numbers, as to make them completely musical. His numbers are likewise so minutely correct, that it would be difficult to conceive how any of his lines can be altered to advantage. He has created a kind of mechanical versification; every line is alike; and though they are sweetly musical, they want diversity; for he has not studied ro great a variety of pauses, and where the accents may be laid gracefully. The structure of his verse is the best, and a line of his is more musical than any other line can be made by placing the accents elsewhere; but we are not quite certain whether the ear is not apt to be soon cloyed with this uniformity of elegance, this sameness of harmony. It must be acknowledged, however, that he has much improved upon Dryden in the article of versification, and in that part of poetry is greatly his superior. But though this must be acknowledged, perhaps it will not necessarily follow that this genius was, therefore, superior.
The grand characteristic of a poet is his invention, the surest distinction of a great genius. In Mr. Pope nothing is so truly original as his Rape of the Lock, nor discovers so much invention. In this kind of mock-heroic he is without a rival in our language; for Dryden has written nothing of the kind. His other work which discovers invention, fine designing, and admirable execution, is his Dunciad; which, though