« AnteriorContinuar »
the respect due to a man whose abilities were acknow-
himself, and seems to have no very just one in regard to me, so I must own to you I expect nothing but civiity from him.” In the same letter he mentions Philips, as having been busy to kindle animosity between them; but in a letter to Addison, he expresses some consciousness of behaviourinattentively deficient in respect. - :: Of Swift's industry in promoting the subscription, there remains the testimony of Kennet, no friend to either him or Pope. “Nov. 2, 1713, Dr. Swift came into the coffee-house, and had a bow from every body but me, who, I confess, eould not but despise him. When I came to the antichamber to wait, before prayers, Dr. Swift was the principal man of talk and business, and acted as master of requests.-Then he instructed a young nobleman that the best floet in England was Mr. Pope (a papist), who had begun a translation of Homer into English verse, for which he must have them all subscribe; for, says he, the author shall not begin to print till I have a thousand guineas for him.” About this time it is likely that Steele, who was, with all his political fury, good-natured and officious, procured an interview between these angry rivals, which ended in aggravated malevolence. On this occasion, if the reports be true, Pope made his complaint with frankness and spirit, as a man undeservedly neglected or opposed; and Addison affected a contemptuous unconcern, and, in a calm even voice, reproached. Pope with his vanity, and, telling him of the improvements which his early works had received from his own remarks and those of Steele, said, that he, being now engaged in public business, had no longer any care for his poetical reputation, nor had any other desire, with regard to Pope, than that he should not, by too much arrogance, alienate the public. To this Pope is said to have replied with great keenness and severity, upbraiding Addison with perpetual dependance, and with the abuse of those qualifications which he had obtained at the public cost, and charging him with mean endeavours to obstruct the progress of rising merit. The contest rose so high that they parted at last without any interchange of civility. The first volume of Homer was (1715) in time published; and a rival version of the first Iliad, for rivals the time of their appearance inevitably made them, was immediately printed, with the name of Tickell. It was soon perceived that, among the followers of Addison, Tickell had the preference, and the critics and poets divided into factions. “I,” says Pope, “have the town, that is, the mob, on my side ; but it is not uncommon for the smaller party to supply by industry what it wants in numbers.-I appeal to the people as my rightful judges, and, while they are not inclined to condemn me, shall not fear the high-flyers at Button’s.” This opposition he immediately imputed to Addison, and complained of it in terms sufficiently resentful to Craggs, their common friend. When Addison's opinion was asked, he declared the versions to be both good, but Tickell's the best that had ever been written; and sometimes said, that they were. both good, but that Tickell had more of Homer. Pope was now sufficiently irritated; his reputation. and his interest were at hazard. He once intended to print together the four versions of Dryden, Maynwaring, Pope, and Tickell, that they might be readily compared, and fairly estimated. This design seems to have been defeated by the refusal of Tonson, who was the proprietor of the other three versions.
Pope intended, at another time, a rigorous criticism, of Tickell's translation, and had marked a copy, which I have seen, in all places that appeared defective. But, while he was thus meditating defence or revenge, his adversary sunk before him without a blow ; the voice of the public was not long divided, and the preference was universally given to Pope’s performance. He was convinced, by adding one circumstance to another, that the other translation was the work of Addison himself; but if he knew it in Addison’s lifetime it does not appear that he told it. He left his illustrious antagonist to be punished by what has been considered as the most painful of all reflections, the remembrance of a crime perpetrated in vain. The other circumstances of their quarrel were thus related by Pope.* “Philips seemed to have been encouraged to abuse me in coffee-houses and conversations; and Gildon wrote a thing about Wycherley,in which he had abused both me and my relations very grossly. Lord Warwick himself told me one day, that it was in vain for me to endeavour to be well with Mr. Addison; that his jealous temper would never admit of a settled friendship between us; and, to convince me of what he had said, assured me that Addison had encouraged Gildon to publish those scandals, and had given him ten guineas after they were published. The next day, while I was heated with what I had heard, I wrote a letter to Mr. Addison, to let him know that I was not unacquainted with this behaviour of his; that, if I was to speak severely of him in return for it, it should be not in such a dirty way; that I should rather tell him, himself, fairly of his faults, and allow his good qualities; and
that it should be something in the following manner; I then adjoined the first sketch of what has since been called my satire on Addison. Mr. Addison used me very civilly ever after.” The verses on Addison, when they were sent to Atterbury, were considered by him as the most excellent of Pope’s performances; and the writer was advised, since he knew where his strength lay, not to suffer it to remain unemployed. This year (1715) being, by the subscription, enabled to live more by choice, having persuaded his father to sell their estate at Binfield, he purchased, I think only for his life, that house at Twickenham, to which his residence afterwards procured so much celebration, and removed thither with his father and mother. Here he planted the vines and the quincunx which his verses mention; and being under the necessity of making a subterraneous passage to a garden on the other side of the road, he adorned it with fossile bodies, and dignified it with the title of a grotto, a place of silence and retreat, from which he endeavoured to persuade his friends and himself that cares and passions could be excluded. A grotto is not often the wish or pleasure of an Englishman, who has more frequent need to solicit than exclude the sun; but Pope’s excavation was requisite as an entrance to his garden, and, as some men try to be proud of their defects, he extracted an ornament from an inconvenience, and vanity produced a grotto where necessity enforced a passage. It may be frequently remarked of the studious and speculative, that they are proud of trifles, and that their amusements seem frivolous and childish; whether it be that men conscious of
.* See however the life of Addison in the Biographia Britannica, last edition. It.