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to disavow them. He had an ugly he says: “In my politics, I think no liking for artifice, and played a disloyal further than how to prefer the peace trick on Lord Bolingbroke, his greatest of my life, in any government under friend. He was never frank, always which I live ; nor in my religion, thar. acting a part; he aped the blasé man, to preserve the peace of my conscience the impartial great artist, a contemne: in any church with which I communiof the great, of kings, of poetry itself. cate. I hope all churches and govern
he truth is, that he thought of noth- ments are so far of God, as they are ing but his phrases, his author's reputa- rightly understood and rightly adminis tion, and "a little regard shown him tered; and where they err, or may be ay the Prince of Wales melted his wrong, I leave it to God alone to mend obduracy." When we read his cor- or reform them.” * Such convictions respondence, we find that there are not do not torment a man. In reality, he Bore than about ten genuine letters; he did not write because he thought, but is a literary man even in the moments thought in order to write ; manuscript when he opened his heart; his confiden- and the noise it makes in the world, ces are formal rhetoric; and when he when printed, was his idci; if he wrote conversed with a friend he was always verses, it was merely for the sake of thinking of the printer, who would give doing so. his effusions to the public. Through this This is the best training for versifica. very pretentiousness he grew awkward, tior. Pope gave himself up to it; he and unmasked himself. One day Rich was a man of leisure, his father had left ardson and his father, the painter,
found him a very fair fortune; he earned a him reading a pamphlet that Cibber large sum by translating the Iliad and had written against him. “These Odysse ; he had an income of eight things,” said Pope,“ are my diversion.” hundred pounds. He was never in the “They sat by him while he perused it, pay of a publisher ; he looked from an and saw his features writhing with an eminence upon the beggarly authors guish; and young Richardson said to grovelling in their free and easy life, his father, when they returned, that he and, calmly seated in his pretty house hoped to be preserved from such diver- at Twickenham, in his grotto, or in the sion.” | After all, his great cause for fine garden which he had 'uimself plan. writing was literary vanity: he wished ned, he could polish and file his writto be admired, and nothing more ; his ings as long as he chose. He did not life was that of a coquette studying fail to do so. When he had written a herself in a glass, painting her face, work, he kept it at least two years in smirking, receiving compliments from his desk. From time to time he reany one, yet declaring that compliments read and corrected it; took counsel weary her, that paint makes her dirty, of his friends, then of his enemies ; no and that she has a horror of affectation. new edition was unamended ; he alterPope has no dash, no naturalness or ed without wearying. His first out manliness he has no more ideas than burst became so recast and transform passions al least such ideas as a man ed, that it could not be recognized in Žeels if necessary to write, and in con- the final copy. The pieces which seem nection with which we lose thought of least retouched are two satires, and words.
Religious controversy and Dodsley says that in the manuscript party quarrels resound about him ; he “almost every line was written twice studiously avoids them; amidst all over ; I gave him a clean transcript, these shocks his chief care is to pre. which he sent si me time afterwards to serve his writing-desk; he is a very me for the press, with almost every lukewarm Catholic, all but a deist, not line written twice over a second time.” 1 well aware what deism means; and on Dr. Johnson says: “From his attention this point he borrows from Bolingbroke to poetry he was never diverted. If ideas whose scope he cannot see, but conversation offered any thing that which he thinks suitable to be put into could be improved, he committed it to verse. In a letter to Atterbury (1717)
* Ibid. ch. iv. 164. • Boswell's Life of Johnson, ch. lxxi. 670. † Johnson, The Liver if the English Poets. Carruthers' Life of Pope, ch. X. 377.
Alexander Pope, iil. 114.
paper; if a thought, or perhaps an ex- amongst “ the ha; piest productions pression, more happy than was com- the human mind” that Lord Byron mon, rose to his mind, he was careful himself preferred it to the celebrated to write it; an independent distich was ode of Sappho. I read it again and preserved for an opportunity of in- am bored: this is not as it ought to be; sertion; and some little fragments but, in spite of myself, yawn, and I kave been found containi ag lines, or open the original letters of Eloisa to parts of lines, to be wrought upon at find the cause of my weariness. some other time.” * His writing-desk Doubtless poor Eloisa is a barbarian, had to be placed upon his bed before nay worse, a literary barbarian ; she be rose.
“Lord Oxford's domestic re- puts down learned quotations, argu lated that, in the dreadful winter of ments, tries to imitate Cicero, to ar 1740, she was called from her bed by range her periods ; she could not de him four times in one night to supply otherwise, writing a dead language. him with paper, lest he should lose a with an acquired style; perhaps the thought.” | Swift complains that he reader would do as much if he were was never at leisure for conversation, obliged to write to his mistress in because he “had always some poetical Latin.* But how does true feeling scheme in his head."' Thus nothing pierce through the scholastic form! was lacking for the attainment of per- Thou art the only one who can sadfect expression ; the practice of a life- den me, console me, make me joyful. time, the study of every model, an in- .. I should be happier and prouder dependent fortune, the company of men to be called thy mistress than to be the of the world, an immunity from tur- lawful wife of an emperor,
Never, bulent passions, the absence of domi- God knows, have I wished for any thing nant ideas, the facility of an infant pro- else in thee but thee. It is thee alone digy, the assiduity of an old man of whom I desire; nothing that thou letters. It seems as though he were couldst give; not marriage, not dowry: expressly endowed with faults and good I never dreamt of doing my own pleas. qualities, here enriched, there impover. ure or my own will, thou knowest it, ished, at once narrowed and developed, but thine.” Then come passionate to set in relief the classical form by the words, genuine love words,f then the diminution of the classical depth, to unrestrained words of a penitent, who present the public with a model of a says and dares everything, because she worn-out and accomplished art, . to wishes to be cured, to show her wound reduce to a brilliant and rigid crystal to her confessor, even her most shame. the flowing sap of an expiring literature. ful wound; perhaps also because in
extreme agony, as in child-birth, mod III.
esty vanishes. All this is very crude It is a great misfortune for a poet to very rude ; Pope has more wit than know his tusiness too well; his poetry she, and how he endues her with it! then shows the man of business, and In his hands she becomes an academi. not the poet. I wish I could admire cian, and her letter is a repertory of Pope's works of imagination, but I literary effects. Portraits and descrip
In vain I read the testimony tions; she paints to Abelard the nun of his contemporaries, and even that of nery and the landscape : the moderns, and repeat to myself that in his time he was the prince of poets; Works, ii
. 224, says: " The authenticity of the
* Rev. W. Elwin, in his edition of Pope's tha. his Epistle from Eloisa to Abelard Latin letters has usually
been taken for grav was received with a cry of enthusi-ed, but I have a strong belief that they are a asm; that a man could not then imag- forgery: : ::. It is far more likely that they are ine a finer expression of the passion; who speaks in the name of others with a lati
the fabrication of an unconcerned romancer, that to this very day it is learned by tude which people, not entirely degraded, would heart, like the speech of Hippolyte in never adopt towards themselves. The suspr the Phèdre of Racine ; that Johnson, cion is strengthened when the second party to the great literary critic, ranked it his generation, exhibits the same exceptions
the correspondence, the chief philosopher a * Johnson, The Liors of the English Poets ; depravity of taste."-Tr. Alexander Pope, iii. 111.
+ lbid. iii. 105.
f“ Vale, unice."
“ In these lone walls (their days eternal To sounds of heavenly narps she dies away bound),
And melts in visions of eternal day." * These moss-grown domes with spiry turrets crowned,
Observe the noise of the big drum , I Where awful arches make a noon-day night, mean the grand contrivances, for so And the dim windows shed a solemn light. . The wandering streams that shine between may be called all that a person says the hills,
who wishes to rave and cannot ; for The grots that echo to the tinkling rills, instance, speaking to rocks and walls, The dying gales that pant upon the trees, The lakes that quiver to the curling breeze. praying the absent Abelard to coine,
fancying him present, apostrophizing Declamation and commonplace: she grace and virtue : sends Abelard discourses on love and
O grace serene! O virtue heavenly fair the liberty which it demands, on the Divine oblivion of low-thoughted care! cloister and the peaceful life which it Fresh-blooming hope, gay daughter of iho affords, on writing and the advantages sky! of the post. † Antitheses and contrasts,
And faith, our early immortality!
Enter, each mild, each amicable guest; she forwards them to Abelard by the
Receive, and wrap me in eternal rest isst dozen'; a contrast between the convent illuminated by his presence and deso Hearing the dead speaking to her, tell. late by his absence, between the tran- ing the angels : quillity of the pure nun and the anxiety “I come! I come! Prepare your roseato of the sinful nun, between the dream of bow'rs, human happiness and the dream of
Celestial palms, and ever-blooming flow'rs."'I divine happiness. In fine, it is a This is the final symphony with modulabravura, with contrasts of forte and tions of the celestial organ. I presume piano, variations and change of key. that Abelard cried “ Bravo" when he Eloisa makes the most of her theme, heard it. and sets herself to crowd into it all the But this is nothing in comparison powers and effects of her voice. Ado with the art exhibited by her in every mire the crescendo, the shakes by which (phrase. She puts ornaments into every she ends her brilliant morceaux ; to line. Imagine an Italian singer trilling transport the hearer at the close of the every word. Owhat pretty sounds ! portrait of the innocent nun, she says : how nimbly and brilliantly they, roll ' How happy is the blameless vestal's lot!
along, how clear, and always exquisite ! The world forgetting, by the world forgot : it is impossible to reproduce them in Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind! another tongue. Now it is a happy Each prayer accepted and each wish res image, filling up a whole phrase ; now
signed; Labour and rest, that equal periods keep ;
a series of verses, full of symmetrical Obedient slumbers that can wake and weep;' contrasts; two ordinary words set in Desires composed, affections ever even ;, relief by strange conjunction ; an imi. Tears that delight, and sighs that waft to tative rhythm completing the impres.
heav, Grace sł ws around her with serenest beams, sion of the mind by the emotion of the And whosp'ring angels prompt her golden senses ; the most elegant comparisons drams.
and the most picturesque epithets ; the For hes, th' unfading rose of Eden blooms, And wings of seraphs shed divine perfumes,
closest style and the most ornate. Ex. For her the spouse prepares the bridal ring, cept truth, nothing is wanting. Eloisa For her white virgins hymeneals sing, is worse than a singer, she is an author:
we look at the back of her epistle to • Pope's Works, ed. Elwin ; Eloisa to Abes Abelard to see if she has not written bord, ii. 245, l. 141-160.
on it “ For Press." | Eloisa to Abelard, ii. 240, l. 51-58:
Pope has somewhere given a recript " Heav'n first taught letters
for some wretch's for making an epic poem : take a storm aid, Sorne banished lover, or some captive maid
a dream, five or six battles, three sacri. They live, they speak, they breathe what love fices, funeral games, a dozen gods in inspires,
two divisions ; shake together until Warm from the soul, and faithful to its fires, there rises the froth of a lofty style. The virgin's wish without her fears impart, Excuse the blush, and pour out all the heart
, We have just seen the receipt for mak. Speed the soft intercourse from soul to soul, * Eloisa to Abelard, ü. 249, 1. 207-223. And waft a sigh from Indus to the Pole." † Ibid. ii. 254, l. 297-304. Ibid. 255, l. 318
ing a love-letter. This kind of poetry | enough to transp »t an artist. Certain resembles cookery ; neither heart nor ly he will be aware of the influence of genius is necessary to produce it, but a the toilet, as much so as the lady her light hand, an attentive eye, and a culti- self, and will never scold her for passvated taste.
ing three hours at her glass ; there is It seems that this kind of talent is poetry in elegance. He enjoys it as a made for light verses. It is factitious, picture ; delights in the refinements of and so are the manners of society. To worldly life, the grand quiet lines of make pretty speeches, to prattle with the lofty, wainscoted drawing-room, the ladies, to speak elegantly of their soft reflection of the high mirrors and chocolate or their fan, to jeer at fools, glittering porcelain, the careless gayety to criticise the last tragedy, to be good of the little sculptured Loves, locked at insipid compliments or epigrams,– in embrace above the mantelpiece, the this it see ns, is the natural employ- silvery sound of these soft voices, buz. ment of a mind such as this, but slight-zing scandal round the tea-table. Popo ly impassioned, very vain, a perfect hardly if at all rejoices in them ; he is master of style, as careful of his verses satirical and English amidst this ami. as a dandy of his coat. Pope wrote able luxury, introduced from France. the Rape of the Lock and the Dunciad; Although he is the most worldly of Enghis contemporaries went into ecstasies lish poets, he is not enough so : nor about the charm of his badinage and is the society around him. Lady Mary the precision of his raillery, and believed Wortley Montague, who was in her time that he had surpassed Boileau's Lutrin “ the pink of fashion," and who is comand Satires.
pared to Madame de Sévigné, has such That may well be ; at all events a serious mind, such a decided style, the praise would be scanty. In Boileau such a precise judgment, and such a there are, as a rule, two kinds of verse, harsh sarcasra, that we would take her as was said by a man of wit ; * most of for a man. In reality the English, even which seem to be those of a sharp Lord Chesterfield and Horace Walpole, schoolboy in the third class, the rest never mastered the true tone of the those of a good schoolboy in the upper salon. Pope is like them; his voice is division. Boileau wrote the second out of tune, and then suddenly becomes verse before the first : this is why once biting. Every instant a harsh mockery out of four times his first verse only blots out the graceful images which he serves to stop a gap. Doubtless Pope began to awaken. Consider The Rape had a more brilliant and adroit mech- of the Lock as a whole ; it is a buffoon anism ; but this facility of hand does ery in a noble style. Lord Petre had not suffice to make a poet, even a poet cut off a lock of hair of a fashionable of :he boudoir. There, as elsewhere, beauty, Mrs. Arabella Fermor; out of we need genuine passion, or at least this trifle the problem is to make an genuine taste. When we wish to paint epic, with invocations, apostrophes, the the pretty nothings of conversation and intervention of supernatural beings, and the world, we must at least like them. the rest of poetic mechanism ; the We can only paint well what we love.t solemnity of style contrasts with the Is there no charming grace in the prat- littleness of the events; we laugh al ue and frivolity of a pretty woman? these bickerings as at insects quarrelling Painters, like Watteau, have spent their Such has always been th« case in Eng: lives in feasting on them. A lock of land; whenever Englisnmen wish to hair raised by the wind, a prett- arm represent social life, it is with a superpeeping from underneath a great deal ficial and assumed politeness ; at the of lace, a stooping figure making the bottom of their admiration there is bright folds of a petticoat sparkle, and scorn. Their insipid compliments com. the arch, half-engaging, half-mocking ceal a mental reservation ; let us on: smile of the pouting mouth,—these are serve them well, and we will see that
they look upon a pretty, well-dressed • M. Guillaume Guizot. Goethe sings
and coquettish woman as a pink doll, “ Liebe sei vor allen Dingen,
fit to amuse peopl: for half-an-hour by Unser Thema wenn wir singen." her outward show. Pope dedicates his
poem to Mrs. Arabella Fermor with
" To Love an altar built every kind of compliment. The truth
Of twelve vast French romances, neatly gilt. is, he is not polite ; a Frenchwoman
There lay shree garters, half a pair of gloves
And all the trophies of his former loves ; would have sent him back his book, and With tender billets-doux he lights the pyre, advised him to learn manners; for one And breathes three am'rous sighs to raise tha commendation of her beauty she would
fire.” find ten sarcasms upon her frivolity. We remain disappointed, not seeing It is very pleasant to have it said: the comicality of the description. We “ You have the prettiest eyes in the go on conscientiously, and in the picworld, but you live in the pursuit of ture of melancholy and her palace Sind trifles ?" Yet to this all his homage figures much stranger : is reduced.* His complimentary em.
“ Here sighs a jar, and there a goce pro phasis, his declaration that the “ ravish'd talks ; hair . . . adds new glory to the shining Men proved with child, as pow'rful fang sphere,” † all his stock of phrases is works, but a parade of gallantry which betrays
And maids turned bottles, call aloud for
corks." + indelicacy and coarseness. Will she “ Stain her honour, or her new brocade,
We say to ourselves now that we are Forget her pray’rs or miss a masquerade,
in China ; that so far from Paris and Or lose her heart, or necklace at a ball ? Voltaire we must be surprised at nothNo Frenchman of the eighteenth cen from ours, and that a Pekin mandarin
ing, that these folk have ears different tury would have imagined such a compliment. At most, that bearish Rous- vastly relishes kettle-music. Finally, sean, that former lackey and Geneva we comprehend that, even in this cor: moi alist, might have delivered this dis rect age and this artificial poetry, the agreeable thrust. In England it was is nourished as before, by oddities and
old style of imagination exists ; that it not found too rude. Mrs. Arabella Ferrior was so pleased with the poem, contrasts; and that taste, in spite of
hat she gave away copies of it. Clear: all culture, will never become acclimaly she was not hard to please, for she tized; that incongruities, far from shockhad heard much worse compliments. ing, delight it; that it is insensible to If we read in Swift the literal transcript that it needs a succession of expressive
French sweetness and refinements; of a fashionable conversation, we shall see that a woman of fashion of that figures, unexpected and grinning, to time could endure much before she was pass before it; that it prefers this coarse
carnival to delicate insinuations; that angry.
But the strangest thing is, that this Pope belongs to his country, in spite of trilling is, for Frenchmen at least, no
his classical polish and his studied badinage at all. It is not at all like elegances, and that his unpleasant and lightness or gayety. Dorat, Gresset, vigorous fancy is akin to that of Swift. would have been stupefied and shocked
We are now prepared and can enter by it. We remain cold under its most upon his second poem, The Dunciad. brilliant hits. Now and then at most a throw down this masterpiece as insipid,
We need much self-command not to crack of the whip arouses us,
but not to laughter. These caricatures seem
and even disgusting. Rarely has so
much talent been spent to produce strange to us, but do not amuse. The wit is no wit : all is calculated, com- greater tedium. Pope wished to be bined, artificially prepared ; we expect avenged on his literary enemies, and diast.es of lightning, but at the last mo- sang Dulness, the sublime goddess ment they do not descend. Thus Lord of literature, “ daughter of Chaos and Petre, to“ implore propitious heaven, and as her mother grave,” 1 queen of
eternal Night :
gross as her sire, and every power,
hungry authors, who chooses for her * See his Epistle of the Characters of Wo son and favorite, first Theobald and
According to Pope, this character is afterwards Cibber. There he $, a composed of love of pleasure and love of power.
* Ibid. c. ii. 153, l. 37-42. t Rape of the Lock, c. v. 181, l. 141.
t Ibid. c. iv. 169, l. 52. Ibid. c. ii. 156, . 107.
Pope's Works, The Dunciad, bk. i.