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We have now surely lost much of the delay, and much of the
rapidity. 333 But to shew how little the greatest master of numbers can
fix the principles of representative harmony, it will be sufficient
"When Ajax strives some rock's vast weight to throw,
Not so when swift Camilla scours the plain,
· Waller was smooth ; but Dryden taught to join
The varying verse, the full resounding line,
The long majestick march, and energy divine?' Here are the swiftness of the rapid race and the march of slowpaced majesty exhibited by the same poet in the same sequence of syllables, except that the exact prosodist will find the line of
swiftness by one time longer than that of tardiness 3. 334 Beauties of this kind are commonly fancied; and when real
are technical and nugatory, not to be rejected and not to be
solicited. 335 To the praises which have been accumulated on The Rape of
the Lock by readers of every class, from the critick to the
passage see Pope's Works (E. & C.),
Ante, POPE, 53. 'It is probEssay on Criticism, l. 370. John- able, if our country were called upon son writes of the last line :--The to show a specimen of their genius Alexandrine, by its pause in the to foreigners, The Rape of the Lock midst, is a tardy and stately measure; would be the work fixed upon.' GOLDand the word unbending, one of the SMITH, Works, iii. 435.
Dr. Warburton, who excelled in critical perspicacity', has 336 remarked that the preternatural agents are very happily adapted to the purposes of the poem? The heathen deities can no longer gain attention: we should have turned away from a contest between Venus and Diana. The employment of allegorical persons always excites conviction of its own absurdity 3 : they may produce effects, but cannot conduct actions; when the phantom is put in motion, it dissolves; thus Discord may raise a mutiny, but Discord cannot conduct a march, nor besiege a town. Pope brought into view a new race of Beings, with powers and passions proportionate to their operation. The sylphs and gnomes act at the toilet and the tea-table, what more terrifick and more powerful phantoms perform on the stormy ocean or the field of battle; they give their proper help, and do their proper mischief.
Pope is said by an objector not to have been the inventer 337 of this petty nation*; a charge which might with more justice have been brought against the author of the Iliad, who doubtless adopted the religious system of his country; for what is there but the names of his agents which Pope has not invented ? Has he not assigned them characters and operations never heard of before? Has he not, at least, given them their first poetical existence? If this is not sufficient to denominate his work original, nothing original ever can be written.
In this work are exhibited in a very high degree the two 338 most engaging powers of an author : new things are made familiar, and familiar things are made new. A race of aerial people never heard of before is presented to us in a manner so clear and easy, that the reader seeks for no further information, but immediately mingles with his new acquaintance, adopts
"The reader of Warburton's notes book entitled Le Comte de Gabalis. on Shakespeare would think that ...On a diligent perusal of this book Johnson sufficiently praised him when I cannot find that he has borrowed he said :—'Warburton may be ab- any particular circumstances relating surd, but he will never be weak; he to these spirits, but merely the general flounders well.' Boswell's Johnson, idea of their existence. WARTON, V. 93 n.
Essay on Pope, i. 217, 220. Pope 1 Warburton, i. 169, iv. 28; ante, mentions this book in his Dedication. POPE, 59.
See Pope's Works (Elwin and Court3 Ante, MILTON, 256; BUTLER,41. hope), ii. 127, for his debt to Spenser;
4'He took the idea of these in- also ib. v. 97, 109. visible beings from a little French
their interests and attends their pursuits, loves a sylph and
detests a gnome. 389 That familiar things are made new every paragraph will
prove. The subject of the poem is an event below the common incidents of common life; nothing real is introduced that is not seen so often as to be no longer regarded, yet the whole detail of a female-day is here brought before us invested with so much art of decoration that, though nothing is disguised, every thing is striking, and we feel all the appetite of curiosity for that from
which we have a thousand times turned fastidiously away. 340 The purpose of the Poet is, as he tells us, to laugh at 'the
little unguarded follies of the female sex".' It is therefore without justice that Dennis charges The Rape of the Lock with the want of a moral, and for that reason sets it below The Lutrin, which exposes the pride and discord of the clergy? Perhaps neither Pope nor Boileau has made the world much better than he found it; but if they had both succeeded, it were easy to tell who would have deserved most from publick gratitude. The freaks, and humours, and spleen, and vanity of women, as they embroil families in discord and fill houses with disquiet, do more to obstruct the happiness of life in a year than the ambition of the clergy in many centuries 3. It has been well observed that the misery of man proceeds not from any single crush of overwhelming evil, but from small vexations continually repeated *.
!' It was intended only to divert pish clergy," “ladies” for “clergy," a few young ladies, who have good and "sense” for “religion" claimed sense and good humour enough to the description for The Rape of the laugh not only at their sex's little LockPope's Works (Elwin and unguarded follies, but at their own.' Courthope), ii. 132. See also ib. v. 101. Dedication.
Warburton quotes a letter of VolRemarks on The Rape of the taire's dated Oct. 15, 1726, -in which Lock, p. 8.
“The Rape of the Lock," he says : The Rape of the Lock is, said Dennis, “is an empty trifle, in my opinion, above The Lutrin.' which cannot have a moral." The
Warburton, iv. 41. Lutrin, he maintains, is "an im- 3 Johnson,' writes Warton, 'might portant satirical poem upon the have recollected that Grotius in his luxury, pride, and animosities of the Annals relates that more than popish clergy, and the moral is, that 100,000 Protestants perished in the when Christians, and especially the Netherlands by the executioner of clergy, run into great heats about Charles V. Warton, i. 341 n. religious trifles, their animosity pro- Johnson seems to be quoting ceeds from the want of that religion himself. In his Journey to the which is the pretence of their quarrel.” Hebrides (Works, ix. 89) he wrote: Pope [in his copy of Dennis's Re- "Misery is caused for the most part marks) erased the epithet "religious," not by a heavy crush of disaster, but and substituting“femalesex” for “po. by the corrosion of less visible evils,
It is remarked by Dennis likewise that the machinery is 341 superfluous ; that by all the bustle of preternatural operation the main event is neither hastened nor retarded ?. To this charge an efficacious answer is not easily made. The sylphs cannot be said to help or to oppose, and it must be allowed to imply some want of art that their power has not been sufficiently intermingled with the action. Other parts may likewise be charged with want of connection; the game at ombre might be spared ?, but if the lady had lost her hair while she was intent upon her cards, it might have been inferred that those who are too fond of play will be in danger of neglecting more important interests. Those perhaps are faults; but what are such faults to so much excellence !
The Epistle of Eloise to Abelard 3 is one of the most happy 342 productions of human wit: the subject is so judiciously chosen that it would be difficult, in turning over the annals of the world, to find another which so many circumstances concur to recommend. We regularly interest ourselves most in the fortune of those who most deserve our notice. Abelard and Eloise were conspicuous in their days for eminence of merit. The heart naturally loves truth. The adventures and misfortunes of this illustrious pair are known from undisputed history. Their fate does not leave the mind in hopeless dejection ; for they both found quiet and consolation in retirement and piety. So new and so affecting is their story that it supersedes invention, and imagination ranges at full liberty without straggling into scenes of fable
which canker enjoyment and under- Elwin's criticism of this see Pope's mine security. The visit of an invader Works (Elwin and Courthope), ii. is necessarily rare, but domestick
130. animosities allow no cessation.'
3 "The subject of the poem is the In 1762 he wrote:- We all have exaltation of a beautiful young lady good and evil, which we feel more throughout a day of glittering fashion, sensibly than our petty part of publick till the hollow pomp ends in humiliamiscarriage or prosperity.' Boswell's tion, anger, and tears. Whatever Johnson, i. 381. Two years later he amusements and pageantry entered put the same thought into a couplet into a day of the kind belonged difor Goldsmith's Traveller :
rectly to the theme, provided they * How small of all that human hearts could be made subservient to poetic endure
effect.' Ib. ii. 130. That part which laws or kings can Ante, POPE, 63. cause or cure.'
Jb. ii. 6. 4 'I do not find much human feel1 'They neither promote nor re- ing in Pope (said Tennyson), except tard the danger of Belinda,' wrote perhaps in Eloisa to Abelard. TenDennis. Remarks, p. 24. For Mr. nyson's Life, ii. 287.
343 The story thus skilfully adopted has been diligently improved.
Pope has left nothing behind him which seems more the effect of studious perseverance and laborious revisal. Here is particularly observable the 'curiosa felicitas,' a fruitful soil, and careful cultivation. Here is no crudeness of sense, nor asperity of
language. 344 The sources from which sentiments which have so much
vigour and efficacy have been drawn are shewn to be the mystick writers by the learned author of the Essay on the Life and Writings of Pope ; a book which teaches how the brow of criticism may be smoothed, and how she may be enabled, with
all her severity, to attract and to delight. 345 The train of my disquisition has now conducted me to that
poetical wonder, the translation of the Iliad; a performance which no age or nation can pretend to equal 3. To the Greeks translation was almost unknown; it was totally unknown to the inhabitants of Greece *. They had no recourse to the Bar
! "Petronius (118. 5) says of him poetical use hath Pope here made (Horace), “Et Horatii curiosa feli- of the opinions of the mystics and citas.". Dryden's Works, iv.235. See quietists.' Essay on Pope, i. 319. also ib. xii. 299, xiii. 33, xvii. 332, for Johnson, reviewing the Essay in repetitions of this.
1756, praises it as 'a just specimen t“ Horatii curiosa felicitas” is surely of literary moderation. Works, vi. a very unclassical inversion; for he 46. Before the Lives of the Poets ought to have called it the happy were published the two men were carefulness of Horace rather than estranged. Boswell's Johnson, i. his careful happiness. WARTON, 270 n., ii. 41 n. Johnson nevertheless Essay, p. 172.
---perhaps all the more on that acGibbon translated curiosa felicitas count-repeats the praise. Warton ‘laboured felicity,' and referring to in his edition of Pope's Works freWarton says :- I cannot forbear quently carps at Johnson. thinking that the expression is itself Warton's brother says in his ediwhat Petronius wished to describe ; tion of Milton's Poems, Preface, p. 10, the happy union of such ease as that through their father Pope first seems the gift of fortune with such discovered Milton's minor poems. justness as can only be the result “We find him soon afterwards sprinkof care and labour.' Misc. Works, ling his Eloisa and Abelard with
epithets and phrases pilfered from Some beauties yet no precepts can Comus and the Penseroso.' See also declare,
ante, MILTON, 59 n. For there's a happiness as well as Ante, POPE, 93. "The phrase care.'
of John Selden's became “household POPE, Essay on Criticism, l. 141. words" with Jowett : “ The best Led by some rule that guides but translation in the world" (of the not constrains;
English Version of the Bible). Life And finish'd more through happi- of Jowett, 1897, i. 133. (See Selden's ness than pains.'
Table Talk, ed. by S. W. Singer,