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satire which brought Theobald and Moore' into contempt,
dropped impotent from Bentley’, like the javelin of Priam 3. 359 All truth is valuable, and satirical criticism may be considered
as useful when it rectifies error and improves judgement: he
that refines the publick taste is a publick benefactor. 360
The beauties of this poem are well known; its chief fault is the grossness of its images. Pope and Swift had an unnatural delight in ideas physically impure, such as every other tongue utters with unwillingness, and of which every ear shrinks from
the mention. 361 But even this fault, offensive as it is, may be forgiven for the
excellence of other passages; such as the formation and dissolution of Moore”, the account of the Traveller “, the misfortune of the Florist', and the crowded thoughts and stately numbers
which dignify the concluding paragraph 8. 362
The alterations which have been made in The Dunciad, not always for the better, require that it should be published, as in
the last collection, with all its variations. 363 The Essay on Man was a work of great labour and long con
sideration, but certainly not the happiest of Pope's performances to The subject is perhaps not very proper for poetry, and the poet was not sufficiently master of his subject; metaphysical morality was to him " a new study, he was proud of his
* James Moore (afterwards James Dunciad, it is greatly admired: the Moore Smythe). Dunciad, ii. 35-50, Genii of Operas and Schools, with 109-20 ; Pope's Works (Elwin and their attendants, the pleas of the Courthope), iv. 326, v. 219; Warton, Virtuosos and Florists, and the yawn V. 126 n.
of dulness in the end, are as fine as Fielding, in Tom Jones, Bk. xii. anything he has written. The Metach.1, describes how Pope'imprisoned physicians' part is to me the worst; Moore in the loathsome dungeon of and here and there a few ill-expressed The Dunciad, where his unhappy lines, and some hardly intelligible.' memory now remains, and eternally Gray's Letters, i. 95. will remain, as a proper punishment ' In the first edition, 'as in this for his unjust dealings in the poetical edition [i. e. Eng. Poets). For the trade.' See post, LYTTELTON, 7. alterations' see ante, POPE, 237. • Ante, POPE, 285.
to Ante, POPE, 173. 'L'Essai sur 3 In the first edition was added, l'homme de Pope me paraît le plus 'thrown at Neoptolemus. Aeneid, beau poëme didactique, le plus utile, ii. 544
le plus sublime qu'on ait jamais fait Ante, SWIFT, 137.
dans aucune langue.' VOLTAIRE, 5 The Dunciad, ii. 35-50, 109-20; Euvres, xxiv. 135. See also ib. X. post, A. PHILIPS, 4 n.
115. The Dunciad, iv. 293-336.
To him'is not in the first edi? Ib. iv. 403-36.
tion. For reasoning in verse' see Gray wrote in 1742:-'As to The ante, BLACKMORE, 46.
acquisitions, and, supposing himself master of great secrets, was in haste to teach what he had not learned. Thus he tells us, in the first Epistle, that from the nature of the Supreme Being may be deduced an order of beings such as mankind, because Infinite Excellence can do only what is best. He finds out that these beings must be somewhere,' and that all the question is whether man be in a wrong place?' Surely if, according to the poet's Leibnitian reasoning, we may infer that man ought to be only because he is, we may allow that his place is the right place, because he has it. Supreme Wisdom is not less infallible in disposing than in creating. But what is meant by 'somewhere' and 'place' and 'wrong place' it had been vain to ask Pope, who probably had never asked himself.
Having exalted himself into the chair of wisdom he tells us 364 much that every man knows, and much that he does not know himself; that we see but little, and that the order of the universe is beyond our comprehension?, an opinion not very uncommon; and that there is a chain of subordinate beings' from infinite to nothing 3, of which himself and his readers are equally ignorant. But he gives us one comfort which, without his help, he supposes unattainable, in the position that though we are fools, yet God is wise 4.'
This Essay affords ansegregious instance of the predominance of 365 genius, the dazzling splendour of imagery, and the seductive powers of eloquence, Never were penury of knowledge and vulgarity of sentiment so happily disguised. The reader feels his mind full, though he learns nothing; and when he meets it in its new array no longer knows the talk of his mother and his nurse. When these wonder-working sounds sink into sense and the doctrine of the Essay, disrobed of its ornaments, is left to the powers of its naked excellence, what shall we discover ? That we are, in comparison with our Creator, very weak and ignorant?; that we do not uphold the chain of existence 8 ; and that we could not make one another with more skill than we are made! We may learn yet more: that the arts of human life
4 Ib. ii. 293-4.
Ante, POPE, 179.n.
were copied from the instinctive operations of other animals'; that if the world be made for man, it may be said that man was made for geese? To these profound principles of natural knowledge are added some moral instructions equally new: that selfinterest well understood will produce social concord ?; that men are mutual gainers by mutual benefits * ; that evil is sometimes balanced by good"; that human advantages are unstable and fallacious, of uncertain duration and doubtful effect"; that our true honour is not to have a great part, but to act it well?; that virtue only is our own; and that happiness is always in our
366 Surely a man of no very comprehensive search may venture to
say that he has heard all this before, but it was never till now recommended by such a blaze of embellishment or such sweetness of melody. The vigorous contraction of some thoughts, the luxuriant amplification of others, the incidental illustrations, and sometimes the dignity, sometimes the softness of the verses, enchain philosophy, suspend criticism, and oppress judgement
by overpowering pleasure'. 367 This is true of many paragraphs; yet if I had undertaken to
exemplify Pope's felicity of composition before a rigid critick I should not select the Essay on Man, for it contains more lines unsuccessfully laboured, more harshness of diction, more thoughts imperfectly expressed ", more levity without elegance, and more
5 Ib. iv. 114.
' Essay on Man, iii. 169-200.
Ib. iv. 67-76, 167-92.
Ruffhead, writing in 1769, says of the Essay on Man:-'No work was ever more frequently quoted by readers of every class. There is scarce a line which has not been committed to the memory both of the learned and unlearned.' Life of Pope, p. 457
*In the most sectarian period of my Benthamism I happened to look into Pope's Essay on Man, and though every opinion in it was contrary to mine, I well remember how
powerfully it acted on my imagination.' J. S. MILL, Auto. p. 113
Pattison, after noticing Mr. Elwin's 'furious denunciation of the Essay
shallow metaphysics' [Pope's Works (Elwin and Courthope), ii. 270-339), continues :-—' It is much to be lamented that Pope attempted philosophy. He was very ignorant; ignorant of everything except the art of versification.... But what he was engaged in building was a beautifully contrived and adorned piece of verse, not a philosophical system.' Pattison's Essays, ii. 386. "Christopher North' in Blackwood, 1845, p. 382.
10 Swift wrote of it to Pope:-'I confess, in some few places I was forced to read twice.' Pope's Works (Elwin and Courthope), vii. 328.
heaviness without strength, than will easily be found in all his other works.
The Characters of Men and Women' are the product of 368 diligent speculation upon human life; much labour has been bestowed upon them, and Pope very seldom laboured in vain. That his excellence may be properly estimated I recommend a comparison of his Characters of Women with Boileau's Satire”; it will then be seen with how much more perspicacity female nature 3. is investigated and female excellence selected ; and he surely is no mean writer to whom Boileau shall be found inferior". The Characters of Men, however, are written with more, if not with deeper, thought, and exhibit many passages exquisitely beautiful. 'The Gem and the Flower' will not easily be equalled. In the women's part are some defects: the character of Atossa is not so neatly finished as that of Clodio?, and some of the female characters may be found perhaps more frequently among men ; what is said of Philomede was true of Prior 8.
In the Epistles to Lord Bathurst and Lord Burlington Dr. 369 Warburton has endeavoured to find a train of thought which was never in the writer's head, and, to support his hypothesis, has printed that first which was published last'. In one, the * Ante, POPE, 202, 207.
Pope himself in their present order a Satire x.
for the edition of his poems of 1735, 3 In the proof-sheet, 'female wit.' four years at least before he knew
Ante, DRYDEN, 141. 'Pope, Warburton.' Pope's Works (Elwin though he imitated Boileau, is in and Courthope), iii. 119. These two fact as much superior to him as the epistles became the third and fourth English language is to the French. in the second book of Ethic Epistles. There is in him a bottom of sound 16. P. 46. The term Moral Essays sense, not to be found amid all the
first appears in the edition of 1743, wit of his master. He is the first the last published during Pope's lifeof his kind.' SOUTHEY, Specimens, time. Ib. p. 49. Preface, p. 31.
Pope, writing to Swift in 1733, about 5 Moral Essays, i. 141.
'the whole scheme of the present 6 Ante, POPE, 208.
work,' continues :-"You will ? Moral Essays, i. 179. In the later pretty soon that the Letter to Lord editions Wharton was substituted for Bathurst is a part of it, and you will Clodio.
find a plain connection between them, 8 Ib. ii. 83; ante, PRIOR, 49 n. 4. if you read them in the order just
· The Moral Essays had appeared contrary to that they were published at the following dates :
in.' Ib. vii. 297. No. iv. Epistle to Burlington, Warburton, in a note on the Epistle 1731, ante, POPE, 156; No. iii. Epistle to Cobham, says that he saw that if to Bathurst, 1732–3, ante, POPE, 198 ; the Epistle was put into a different No.i. Epistle to Cobham, 1733–4, ante, form, on an idea he then conceived, POPE, 202 ; No. ii. Epistle to a Lady, it would have all the clearness of 1734-5, ante, POPE, 207.
method and force of connected The Epistles were arranged by reasoning. The Author appeared as
most valuable passage is perhaps the elogy on Good Sense",
and in the other the End of the Duke of Buckingham 370 The Epistle to Arbuthnot, now arbitrarily called the Prologue
to the Satires }, is a performance consisting, as it seems, of many fragments wrought into one design, which by this union of scattered beauties contains more striking paragraphs than could probably have been brought together into an occasional work. As there is no stronger motive to exertion than self-defence, no part has more elegance, spirit, or dignity than the poet's vindication of his own characters. The meanest passage is the satire
upon Sporus. 371 Of the two poems which derived their names from the year?,
and which are called the Epilogue to the Satires, it was very justly remarked by Savage that the second was in the whole more strongly conceived and more equally supported, but that it had no single passages equal to the contention in the first for the dignity of Vice 8 and the celebration of the triumph of Cor
ruption 372 The Imitations of Horace seem to have been written as re
laxations of his genius. This employment became his favourite
2 Ib. iii. 299.
much struck with the thing as the written in direct answer to Verses
5 Prol. Sat. l. 125.
6 Ib. 1. 305. Ante, POPE, 216. * Moral Essays, iv. 39.
"Set down the character of Sporus,
with all the wonderful play of fancy Ante, POPE, 212. The title was which is scattered over it, and place given by Warburton after Pope's by its side an equal number of verses death, to supply a gap left by a can- from any two existing poets, of the celled note. To carry out his idea same power and the same varietyhe called the two Dialogues, published where will you find them?' BYRON, originally under the title of Seventeen Works, 1851, ix. 89. Hundred and Thirty Eight, the Epi- Ante, POPE, 217. logue to the Satires.' Pope's Works Epil. Sat. i. 114. (Elwin and Courthope), iii. 533.
Pope, in the Advertisement to Ante, POPE, 209. Pope wrote the Epistle, says :—' This paper is to Caryll on March 8, 1732-3, of a sort of bill of complaint, begun Satire ii. 1 :—-'You may have seen many years since, and drawn up by my last piece of song, which has snatches, as the several occasions met with such a flood of favour that offered.' Ib. iii. 239.
my ears need no more flattery for More than three-fourths of the this twelvemonth. However, it was Epistle,' writes Mr. Courthope, was a slight thing, the work of two days,
9 16. i. 142.