Imágenes de páginas

to give Pope information of the seeming injury. Lintot, I believe, did nothing; and Curll did what was expected. That to make them publick was the only purpose may be reasonably supposed, because the numbers offered to sale ' by the private messengers shewed that hope of gain could not have been the motive of the impression.

It seems that Pope, being desirous of printing his letters, 166 and not knowing how to do, without imputation of vanity, what has in this country been done very rarely, contrived an appearance of compulsion: that when he could complain that his letters were surreptitiously published, he might decently and defensively publish them himself ?.

Pope's private correspondence thus promulgated filled the 167 nation with praises of his candour, tenderness, and benevolence, the purity of his purposes, and the fidelity of his friendship ?. There were some letters which a very good or a very wise man would wish suppressed; but, as they had been already exposed, it was impracticable now to retract them.

From the perusal of those letters Mr. Allen first conceived the 168 desire of knowing him, and with so much zeal did he cultivate the friendship which he had newly formed, that when Pope

650 copies were offered for sale. weaknesses mixed with these good Pope's Works (Elwin and Court- qualities, for nobody ever took him hope), vi. 425.

for a philosopher.' Gray's Letters, 3 In the Preface to his Letters (1737) he writes:– However this Cowper calls him 'a disgusting collection may be received we can- letter-writer, who seems to have not but lament the cause and the thought that, unless a sentence was necessity of such a publication, and well-turned, and every period pointed heartily wish no honest man may be with some conceit, it was not worth reduced to the same.' Ib. vi. Introd. the carriage. Accordingly he is to

For a 'like necessity of me, except in very few instances, the publishing see ante, Pope, 53, 116 n. most disagreeable maker of epistles See also his letter to Caryll of May that ever I met with.' Southey's 12, 1735, Pope's Works (Elwin and Cowper, iv. 15. Courthope), vi. 355.

"The tissue of petty imposture 3 Post, POPE, 273. Gray wrote which forms the bulk of Pope's letters of Pope to Horace Walpole in 1746: is not redeemed by any merits of - It is natural to wish the finest expression.' PATTISON, Essays, ii. writer, one of them, we ever had 361. should be an honest man.... It is Mr. Courthope shows how they not from what he told me about gave pleasure to Gray and the himself that I thought well of him, nation.' Pope's Works (Elwin and but from a humanity and goodness Courthope), v. 296. of heart, ay, and greatness of mind, * Warburton, ix. 225; Ruffhead's that runs through his private corre- Pope, p. 406. For Ralph Allen see spondence, not less apparent ihan post, Pope, 194, 218, 254; Boswell's

, are a thousand little vanities and Johnson, v. 80.

i. 127.

p. 41.


told his purpose of vindicating his own property by a genuine

edition, he offered to pay the cost'. 169 This, however, Pope did not accept; but in time solicited

a subscription for a Quarto volume, which appeared (1737), I believe, with sufficient profit? In the Preface he tells that

. his letters were reposited in a friend's library, said to be the Earl of Oxford's, and that the copy thence stolen was sent to the press 3. The story was doubtless received with different degrees of credit. It may be suspected that the Preface to the Miscellanies was written to prepare the publick for such an incident*; and to strengthen this opinion, James Worsdale, a painter, who was employed in clandestine negotiations, but whose veracity was very doubtful, declared that he was the

messenger who carried by Pope's direction the books to Curll. 170

When they were thus published and avowed, as they had relation to recent facts, and persons either then living or not yet forgotten, they may be supposed to have found readers ; but as the facts were minute, and the characters being either private or literary were little known or little regarded, they awakened no popular kindness or resentment: the book never became much the subject of conversation; some read it as contemporary history, and some perhaps as a model of epistolary language; but those who read it did not talk of it. Not much therefore was added by it to fame or envy; nor do I remember that it produced either publick praise or publick

censure. 171 It had, however, in some degree the recommendation of


Pope's Works (Elwin and Court- their consent, was dismissed by his hope), ix. 188.

master. On the reputation of that The subscription was a guinea. education, by his singing, excellent Ib. ix. 136. The title of the book mimicry and facetious spirit he gained was Letters of Mr. Alexander Pope many patrons.' WALPOLE, Anec. of and Several of his Friends. There Painting, iv. 117. was an edition in folio, and a second "He was employed,' writes Mrs. edition in small octavo the same Piozzi, 'as pimp and parasite and year.

everything by Thrale and Murphy 3 He rather implies this than states in their merry hours.' Hayward's it in so many words. Ib. vi. Preface, Piozzi, 1861, ii. 156. It was like pp. 37-42. For his scheme in de

her thus to expose the failings of her positing a copy of the letters in Lord husband and her friend. Oxford's library see ib. i. Introduc- See also W.R. Chet wood's History tion, p. 31.

of the Stage, 1749, p. 249; Pope's • Ante, POPE, 141.

Works (Elwin and Courthope), i. 5 'He was apprentice to Kneller, Introd., p. 58, v. 285; and The but, marrying his wife's niece without Athenaeum, Sept. 8, 1860, p. 319.

novelty'. Our language has few letters, except those of states

Howel indeed, about a century ago’, published his letters, which are commended by Morhoff?, and which alone of his hundred volumes continue his memory. Loveday's Letters were printed only once*; those of Herberts and Suckling 6 are hardly known. Mrs. Phillip's (Orinda's?] are equally neglected ; and those of Walsh seem written as exercises, and were never sent to any living mistress or friend 8. Pope's epistolary excellence had an open field ; he had no English rival, living or dead.

Pope is seen in this collection as connected with the other 172 contemporary wits, and certainly suffers no disgrace in the comparison ; but it must be remembered that he had the power of favouring himself': he might have originally had publication in his mind, and have written with care, or have afterwards selected those which he had most happily conceived, or most diligently laboured; and I know not whether there does not appear something more studied and artificial in his productions than the rest ", except one long letter by Bolingbroke", composed with all the skill and industry of a professed

''Pope's letters are the only true unless I could be so vain, for it would models which we, or perhaps any of not be virtuous, to add more and our neighbours, have of familiar more honest sentiments; which, when epistles.' Warburton, Preface, p. 6. done to be printed, would surely be

· [The first edition, afterwards great- wrong and weak also.' Pope's Works ly enlarged, was published in 1645.] (Elwin and Courthope), ix. 189.

36... lectorem mirifice delectant, 10 Post, Pope, 276. Mr. Elwin adeo quidem ut qui illas in latinum quotes his forged letter to Blount, sermonem verteret egregie admodum dated Feb. 11, 1706, where he writes : de re literaria mereretur. De Ratione _' I have been just taking a solitary Conscribendarum Epistolarum Li- walk by moonshine in St. James's bellus, ed. 1716, p. 67. The writer's Park, ... giving my thoughts a loose name was Morhof.

into the contemplation of those sensaLoveday's Letters, by Robert tions of satisfaction which probably Loveday, 1659. There was a second we may taste in the more exalted edition in 1662, and a fifth impression company of separate spirits, when in 1673. Brit. Mus. Cata.

we range the starry walks above.' On s in George Herbert's Works, Feb. 9 a thaw had set in after a long 1859, vol. i. pp. 374-92, fourteen of his frost; the snow was very deep. This letters are given, and in Walton's

passage comes from a letter really Life of Herbert, one or two more. written to Caryll on Sept. 20, 1713.

6 The Last Remains of Sir John 16. i. Introd. p. 123, vi. 194. For an Suckling, being a Fuli Collection instance of his dressing up letters of all his Poems and Letters, 1659. received, see ib. vii. 479. ? Ante, ROSCOMMON, 36.

" (The only letter by Bolingbroke 8 Ante, WALSH, 10.

in the two volumes of Letters pubPope had the impudence to write lished by Pope in 1737 is one to to Allen:-“As to my character as Swift (Works, 1736-7, vi. 148– a man, it would (after publication of 151). It well deserves Johnson's the Letters] be but just where it is; criticism.)





author. It is indeed not easy to distinguish affectation from habit; he that has once studiously formed a style rarely writes afterwards with complete ease. Pope may be said to write always with his reputation in his head'; Swift perhaps like a man who remembered that he was writing to Pope’; but Arbuthnot like one who lets thoughts drop from his pen as

they rise into his mind ?. 173 Before these Letters appeared he published the first part of

what he persuaded himself to think a system of Ethicks, under the title of an Essay on Man", which, if his letter to Swift (of Sept. 14, 1725) be rightly explained by the commentator, had been eight years under his consideration, and of which he seems to have desired the success with great solicitude. He had now many open and doubtless many secret enemies. The Dunces were yet smarting with the war, and the superiority which he

publickly arrogated disposed the world to wish his humiliation. 174 All this he knew, and against all this he provided. His own

name, and that of his friend to whom the work is inscribed, were


forth on

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

* Swift wrote to him in 1730: 'I find you have been a writer of letters almost from your infancy; and, by your own confession, had schemes even then of epistolary fame.' Pope's Works (Elwin and Courthope), vii. 179.

• Swift wrote to the Countess of Suffolk in 1731 :— I was in danger of leaning on my elbow (I mean my left elbow) to consider what I should write ; which posture I never used except when I was under a necessity of writing to fools, or lawyers, or ministers of state ; where I am to consider what is to be said.' Swift's Works, xvii. 403. He wrote to Pope in 1735:- I believe we neither of us ever leaned our head upon our left hand to study what we should write next.' 16. xviii. 330. See post, Pope, 284.

For Johnson's praise of Arbuthnot see post, POPE, 212.

Post, POPE, 363. In the edition in 12mo, in 1735, the four books

were called Ethic Epistles the First Book, and not Essay on Man; and the four Epistles to Lord Burlington, &c., were called Ethic Epistles, the

Second Book.' Warton, Preface,
p. 32.

I have,' said Pope, 'drawn in the
plan for my Ethic Epistles much
narrower than it was at first.' Spence's
Anec. p. 136. For his plan, as set

a leaf he annexed to about a dozen copies of the poem printed in 1734,' see ib.

5 The commentator was Warburton, in his Pope, ix. 36. 'Your Travels,' wrote Pope, 'I hear much of; my own, I promise you, shall never more be in a strange land, but a diligent, I hope useful, investigation of my own Territories.' Warburton in a note says Pope refers to Gulliver's Travels (not published till 1726, ante, Swift, App. H)and to The Essay on Man. “This,' says Warton (Pope, ix. 46), “is the first notice he gives Swift of his great work, and is so obscure a hint that Swift certainly could not guess at the subject written 1725. Mr. Elwin doubts the interpretation, as Pope did not commence his ethical scheme till four years later. Pope's Works (Elwin and Courthope), ii. 263 n. See also



ib. vii. 5o.

[ocr errors]

in the first editions carefully suppressed'; and the poem, being of a new kind, was ascribed to one or another as favour determined or conjecture wandered: it was given, says Warburton, to every man except him only who could write it”. Those who like only when they like the author, and who are under the dominion of a name, condemned it; and those admired it who are willing to scatter praise at random, which while it is unappropriated excites no envy. Those friends of Pope that were trusted with the secret went about lavishing honours on the new-born poet, and hinting that Pope was never so much in danger from any former rival.

To those authors whom he had personally offended, and to 175 those whose opinion the world considered as decisive, and whom he suspected of envy or malevolence, he sent his Essay as a present before publication that they might defeat their own enmity by praises, which they could not afterwards decently retract 3.

With these precautions, in 1733 was published the first part of 176 the Essay on Man". There had been for some time a report that Pope was busy upon a System of Morality, but this design was not discovered in the new poem, which had a form and a title with which its readers were unacquainted. Its reception was not uniform: some thought it a very imperfect piece, though not

[ocr errors]

The first edition has Laelius for * The first Epistle appeared anonySt. John.

mously in Feb.1733; the second about Post, MALLET, 10. . It was at April; the third later in the year ; first given, as he told me (writes and the fourth in January, 1734–all Warburton), to Dr. Young, to Dr. in folio, quarto, and octavo. The Desaguliers, to Lord Bolingbroke, to right to print each for one year was Lord Paget, and, in short, to every- bought by Gilliver for £50 an Epistle. body but to him who was capable The price of each was one shilling. of writing it.' Warburton, iv. 36. "To divert suspicion the poet put For Desaguliers and Paget see Pope's forth in January, 1733, with his name, Works (Elwin and Courthope), ii. his Epistle on the Use of Riches, and

a week or two afterwards one of his Pope wrote to Caryll on March 8, Imitations of Horace.' Pope's Works 1732–3:—*The town is now very full (Elwin and Courthope), ii. 260, 274. of new poem entitled An Essay on The title of the first book was Man, attributed, I think with reason, An Essay on Man, Address'd to a to a divine.' 16. vi. 339. On March Friend, Part i; of the second, An 20 he wrote that some of the divines Essay on Man. In Epistles to a 'had solemnly denied it.' Ib. p. Friend, Epistle ii. The third and 340.

fourth have the same title as the '3 For Mallet's blunder in scoffing second. They are all anonymous at it before Pope see post, MALLET, and undated.

262 n.


[blocks in formation]
« AnteriorContinuar »