Abbildungen der Seite

Illustrations to Hol. E.


1. Portrait of Pope Frontispiece.
2. Pope taught to read by his Aunt-Title-page.
3. Portrait of Mrs. Pope....

9 4. Pope's House at Binfield

11 5. Pope (when young) first sees Dryden at Will's Coffee face 17 6. Pope and Sir Joshua Reynolds in an Auction Room

19 7. Pope following Wycherley in London streets

25 8. Portrait of Wycherley

26 9. Portrait of Walsh

29 10. Maple-Durham House..

40 11. Portrait of Vanbrugh

52 12. Fac-simile of Pope's Hand-writing

55 13. Portrait of Tonson

57 14. Portrait of Roscommon..

59 15. Portrait of Dennis, by Hogarth

61 16. Portrait of Addison

74 17. Pope translating Homer

89 18. Pope on his way to Oxford

91 19. The Wits at Button's discussing the merits of the rival editions of Homer

95 20. Pope's Chair

108 21. Portrait of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu

110 22. Pope and Mary Lepell...

to face 112 23. Pope's Visit to Bath

113 24. Portrait of Jervas

119 25. Pope's Villa...

121 26. Seat of Lord Bathurst, Cirencester..

128 27. Pope commemorating the completion of the fifth volume of Homer.. 136 28. Lady Mary Wortley Montagu sitting to Kneller






The death of Dryden on the 1st of May, 1700, left the poetical throne of England vacant, with no prospect of an immediate or adequate successor. His dominion had often been disputed, and was assailed to the last; but as every year strengthened his claims, and the latter portion of his life was the most rich and glorious of his literary career, his adversaries ultimately withdrew or became powerless, and his supremacy was firmly established. The magnificent funeral of the poet, though a gaudy and ill-conducted pageant, had a moral that penetrated through the folds of ceremony-it was a public recognition of merits which every effort of envy, faction, and caprice, had been em. ployed to thwart and contemn. And posterity has amply ratified this acknowledgment of the services of the great national poet. Dryden inherited the faults and vices of his age, and he wanted the higher sensibilities, the purity of taste, and lofty moral feeling that dignify his art. But even when sinning with his contemporaries he soared far above them, and his English nature at length overcame his French tastes and the fashion of the Court. His sympathies had a wider and nobler range; his conceptions were clear

and masculine; and no one approached him in command of the stores of our language-whether choice and secret, or familiar and universal-or in that free, elastic, and sounding versification which has so large a compass of rhythmical melody. He gave to the heroic couplet the utmost variety of cadence, stateliness, and harmony of which that measure is susceptible; and his great Ode is still our finest specimen of lyric poetry. These native honours gained and tardily acknowledged, the venerable poet, when approaching the close of his chequered life, bequeathed to Congreve the care of bis posthumous fame. He trusted that his friend would not suffer his remains to be insulted, nor those laurels shaded which would descend to himself. The sacred bequest was not neglected; but Dryden's laurels were destined to descend, not to the successful dramatist, but to one who should follow closely and reverently in his own footsteps, copying his subjects, his manner, and versification, and adding to them original powers of wit, fancy, and tenderness, and a brilliancy, condensation, and correctness, which even his master did not reach, and which still remain unsurpassed.

ALEXANDER POPE was born in London in the memorable year of the Revolution, 1688. The belief in judicial astrology was then not utterly exploded, and the professors of this pretended science living in Westminster—their ancient stronghold-used to exhibit a book of horoscopes of extraordinary men, among which was that of Pope. The planetary influences shown in the poet's horoscope proved, they said, that all the great events of his life, known or unknown to the world, were to happen in years of commotion and trouble. His birth was in the year of that Revolution which drove the Stuarts into unregretted exile; his publication of Homer commenced in the year of the Jacobite insurrection of 1715; and he died in the year 1744, when an invasion from France was attempted; being the beginning of that struggle which terminated with the victory at Culloden.



The old practising astrologers up to a late period boasted that Pope regularly consulted their predecessors. This tradition, however, may be discarded as an invention of the craft; for - probably no distinguished poet, having "the vision and the faculty divine,” was ever so free as Pope from all superstitious weakness or overpowering romance of sentiment.

There are few circumstances connected with the history or character of Pope that have not been made the subject of eager discussion; and we find the diversity of statement take its rise at the fountain-head. The date of his birth and the pedigree of his parents have been controverted. The former cannot be determined by an appeal to that record

-where to be born and die Of rich and poor makes all the history.

The parish register at that time took no cognizance of the baptism of the children of Roman Catholic parents. A certain Richard Pope, scrivener, in St. Nicholas Lane, was law agent and afterwards churchwarden of the parishes of St. Edmund's and St. Nicholas from 1697 to 1702, but we have no notice of Alexander Pope. A contemporary account states that Pope was born in Cheapside on the 8th of June, 1688, “so that,” it is added, “one week produced both Pope and the Pretender!” Ayre, in his memoir published the year after the poet's death, adopts this date, but silently drops Cheapside. The next authority purporting to be original, and one which possesses strong claims to attention, is a Life of Pope published by Mr. Owen Ruffhead in 1769. Owen Ruffhead was a plodding and prosaic lawyer, editor of the Statutes at Large ; but he obtained information and manuscripts concerning Pope from Bishop Warburton, the poet's friend, commentator, and literary executor. Ruffhead states that Pope was born in Lombard Street on the 21st of May; Spence in his Anecdotes gives the same date and place; while Dr. Johnson-probably

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