Imágenes de páginas

In this disastrous year (1720) of national infatuation, when 123 more riches than Peru can boast were expected from the South Sea, when the contagion of avarice tainted every mind, and even poets panted after wealth', Pope was seized with the universal passion, and ventured some of his money. The stock rose in its price, and he for a while thought himself the Lord of thousands 2.' But this dream of happiness did not last long, and he seems to have waked soon enough to get clear with the loss only of what he once thought himself to have won, and perhaps not wholly of that.

Next year he published some select poems of his friend 124 Dr. Parnell, with a very elegant Dedication to the Earl of Oxford, who, after all his struggles and dangers, then lived in retirement, still under the frown of a victorious faction, who could take no pleasure in hearing his praise 3.

He gave the same year (1721) an edition of Shakespeare. His 125 name was now of so much authority that Tonson thought him

[ocr errors][merged small]


In South Sea days not happier when surmis'd

The Lord of Thousands than if now excis'd.'

Imit. Hor., Sat. ii. 2. 134. 'South Sea subscriptions take who please,

Leave me but liberty and ease. 'Twas what I said to Craggs and Child,

Who prais'd my modesty and smil'd.' 1b., Epis. i. 7. 65. 'Mr. Craggs gave him some South Sea subscriptions. He was so indifferent about them as to neglect making any benefit of them.' Warburton, vi. 7. 'He did not sell out. His stock was valued at between twenty and thirty thousand pounds when it fell.' lb. iv. 91. He wrote to a friend on March 21, 1719-20, about investing:-'Let but Fortune favour us, and the world will be sure to admire our prudence. If we fail, let's e'en keep the mishap to ourselves. But 'tis ignominious (in this


age of hope and golden mountains)
not to venture.' Pope's Works (Elwin
and Courthope), x. 229. See also ib.
v. 185-9, vi. 272-5, ix. 20, 271, 295.
For Craggs see ante, POPE, 91; post,
405 n.

Ante, PARNELL, 5, 9. For Pope's splendid praise of the Earl see ib. iii. 189, viii. 186. Speaking of him to Spence he said: 'He was huddled in his thoughts, and obscure in his manner of delivering them. ... He may have put on the appearance of being in the Pretender's interest to some great men; but he betrayed them by making his peace with the present family without their knowledge.' Spence's Anec. pp. 178, 202, 313.

It appeared on March 12, 1724-5. Pope's Works (Elwin and Courthope), viii. 88. The engagement was made with Tonson in 1721. Warton, Introd. p. 22.

5'Ce qui encourage le plus les gens de lettres en Angleterre, c'est la considération où ils sont: le portrait du premier ministre se trouve sur la cheminée de son cabinet, mais j'a vu celui de M. Pope dans vingt maisons.' VOLTAIRE, Œuvres, xxiv. 140.



self entitled, by annexing it, to demand a subscription of six guineas for Shakespeare's plays in six quarto volumes; nor did his expectation much deceive him; for of seven hundred and fifty which he printed, he dispersed a great number at the price proposed. The reputation of that edition indeed sunk afterwards so low, that one hundred and forty copies were sold at sixteen shillings each 2.

On this undertaking, to which Pope was induced by a reward of two hundred and seventeen pounds twelve shillings3, he seems never to have reflected afterwards without vexation; for Theobald, a man of heavy diligence, with very slender powers, first, in a book called Shakespeare Restored, and then in a formal edition, detected his deficiencies with all the insolence of victory; and, as he was now high enough to be feared and hated, Theobald had from others all the help that could be supplied, by the desire of humbling a haughty character.


From this time Pope became an enemy to editors, collaters, commentators, and verbal criticks, and hoped to persuade the

1 On Jan. 18, 1742-3, Pope wrote
to Warburton about Hanmer's Shake-
speare, then printing at the Clarendon
Press:-'The Heads of some Houses
[Oxford Colleges] have subscribed
for 100 and 50, at three guineas the
book, which they refund by putting
them off to the Gentlemen-Com-
moners, and this way the press is
paid.' Pope's Works (Elwin and
Courthope), ix. 228. It is to this
subscription, no doubt, he alludes in
lines he left to be inserted in The
Dunciad (iv. 115-18):-

'But (happy for him as the times
went then)

Appear'd Apollo's May'r and Alder


On whom three hundred gold-capt
youths await,

To lug the pond'rous volume off in


2 'At the sale of the effects of Mr. Jacob Tonson in 1767. Gent. Mag. 1787, p. 76.

3 Nichols's Lit. Hist. ii. 714.

Of this, it is said, he was so vain as to aver in Mist's Journal, June 8, 1726, "that to expose any errors in it was impracticable." Cibber's Lives, v. 278.

5 Among them Thirlby. John. Misc. ii. 431. Johnson describes

Theobald as 'zealous for minute accuracy.... What little he did was commonly right.' Johnson's Works, v. 137. For poor Tib' see Boswell's Johnson, i. 329.

'Yet this very dull man was the first publisher of Shakespeare that hit upon the true method of correcting and illustrating his author, that is, by reading such books (whatever trash Pope might call them) as Shakespeare read, and by attending to the genius, learning and notions of his times.' WARTON, Essay, ii. 297.

The editors of the Cambridge Shakespeare say of him (Preface, p. 31):-Many most brilliant emendations are due to him.'

He was paid £652 for his octavo edition in 1732-3. Of his various editions 12,860 copies were sold. Nichols's Lit. Hist. ii. 714. See ante, GAY, 9; post, POPE, 145, 357.

[ocr errors]

Pains, reading, study are their just pretence,

And all they want is spirit, taste and sense.

world that he miscarried in this undertaking only by having a mind too great for such minute employment'.

Pope in his edition undoubtedly did many things wrong, and 128 left many things undone; but let him not be defrauded of his due praise: he was the first that knew, at least the first that told, by what helps the text might be improved. If he inspected the early editions negligently, he taught others to be more accurate 2. In his Preface3 he expanded with great skill and elegance the character which had been given of Shakespeare by Dryden *; and he drew the publick attention upon his works, which, though often mentioned, had been little reads.

Soon after the appearance of the Iliad, resolving not to let the 129 general kindness cool, he published proposals for a translation of the Odyssey, in five volumes, for five guineas. He was willing, however, now to have associates in his labour, being either weary with toiling upon another's thoughts, or having heard, as Ruff

Yet ne'er one sprig of laurel grac'd these ribalds,

From slashing Bentley down to piddling Tibbalds.'

Prol. Sat. 1. 159. I 'This was a work which Pope seems to have thought unworthy of his abilities, being not able to suppress his contempt of the dull duty of an editor. He understood but half his undertaking. The duty of a collator is indeed dull; yet like other tedious tasks is very necessary." JOHNSON, Works, v. 136. For 'the dull duty of an editor' see Pope's Works (Elwin and Courthope), x. 548.

2 'He collated the old copies, which none had thought to examine before, and restored many lines to their integrity; but by a very compendious criticism he rejected whatever he disliked.' JOHNSON, Works, v. 136.

'The editor of the second folio, whoever he was, and Mr. Pope were the two great corrupters of our poet's text.' MALONE, Shakespeare, i. 208.

3 Once when a lady talked of Johnson's preface to Shakespeare as superior to Pope's: "I fear not, Madam (said he), the little fellow has done wonders."" MRS. PIOZZI, John. Misc. i. 184.

'Pope's preface every editor has an

interest to suppress, but that every
reader would demand its insertion.'
JOHNSON, Works, v. 137.


Ante, DRYDEN, 198.

S Ante, RowE, 18. By 1716, one
hundred years after Shakespeare's
death, only six editions of his plays
had appeared-perhaps 6,000 copies
in all. Atterbury wrote to Pope in
1721: 'I have found time to read
some parts of Shakespeare which I
was least acquainted with....Aeschy-
lus does not want a comment to me
more than he does.' Pope's Works
(Elwin and Courthope), ix. 26.
Broome, in his Lines to Mr. Pope,
'Shakespeare, rejoice! his hand thy
page refines;

[ocr errors]

Now ev'ry scene with native bright-
ness shines.' Ib. i. 32.

Swift seems to have thought that
among Shakespeare's plays was The
Wife of Bath. Ib. vii. 167.

The proposals are dated Jan. Io, 1724-5. Ib. iv. 61, viii. 89 n. Gay wrote to Swift on Feb. 3, 1722-3 :

Pope has engaged to translate the Odyssey in three years; I believe rather out of a prospect of gain than inclination; for I am persuaded he bore his part in the loss of the South Sea.' Swift's Works, xvi. 397.



head relates, that Fenton and Broome had already begun the work, and liking better to have them confederates than rivals'.

In the patent, instead of saying that he had 'translated' the Odyssey, as he had said of the Iliad, he says that he had 'undertaken' a translation; and in the proposals the subscription is said to be 'not solely for his own use, but for that of two of his friends who have assisted him in this work 3.'

In 1723, while he was engaged in this new version, he appeared before the Lords at the memorable trial of Bishop Atterbury, with whom he had lived in great familiarity and frequent correspondence. Atterbury had honestly recommended to him the study of the popish controversy, in hope of his conversion; to which Pope answered in a manner that cannot much recommend his principles or his judgement. In questions and pro


Ruffhead, p. 205; Spence's Anec. p. 326; ante, FENTON, IO; BROOME, 5. For the improbability of the accounts of Ruffhead and Spence see Pope's Works (Elwin and Courthope), viii. 49, 176.

2 Prefixed to the first edition of the Iliad and also of the Odyssey is a Letter Patent granting to Lintot 'the sole printing and publishing' of each work for the term of fourteen years.' In the first Letter Patent, dated May 6, 1715, the printer is 'Our Trusty and Well-beloved,' and the poet is 'Alexander Pope, Gent.' In the second, dated Feb. 19, 1724-5, it is no longer the printer, but the poet, who is 'Our Trusty and Wellbeloved,' while 'Gent.' becomes 'Esq.' See also ante, JOHN PHILIPS, 31 n. 3.


Pope's Works (Elwin and Courthope), iv. 61.

On May 8, 1723. Ib. v. 192. Ante, SMITH, 57; YALDEN, II.

5 On the death of Pope's father Atterbury wrote:-'You have it now in your power to pursue that method of thinking and living which you like best.' Ib. ix. 9. For Pope's reply see ib. p. 10. Mr. Blount said to Spence: Mr. Pope is a Whig, and would be a Protestant if his mother were dead. Spence's Anec. p. 327.

Regard for his parents had much to do in keeping Pope outwardly a Roman Catholic; regard too for the

friends of his youth. When the Jacobite rising brought trouble on the whole sect he wrote to Caryll of 'the clouds of melancholy rising on those faces I have so long looked upon with affection.' Some abjured their religion. He speaks of the coldness of relations whom change of religion may disunite.' Pope's Works (Elwin and Courthope), vi. 239. Martha Blount's influence would be strong. Honest pride would also keep him from leaving a persecuted Church. Addison, Prior, Congreve, Gay, Tickell, Steele and A. Philips all had places. He was excluded by his religion. In 1714 he was afraid of Tosing his horse. No Papist could keep one above the value of £5. Ib. vi. 217. In 1723 he speaks of 'the loss of part of my fortune by a late Act of Parliament (the Act imposing double taxes on Papists).' Ib. ix. 426; ante, POPE, 9. In 1730 his nephew lost his practice as an attorney by an Act requiring attorneys to take the oaths of supremacy, &c. Ib. vi. 325, viii. 276. The Act forbidding Papists to reside within ten miles of London troubled Pope in 1737, and in 1744, less than three months before his death. Ib. ix. 197, 241, 539.

'Pope's reply to Atterbury is manly, sincere and not ungraceful.' It is written with a firmness and simplicity which are too seldom found in

jects of learning, they agreed better. He was called at the trial to give an account of Atterbury's domestick life and private employment, that it might appear how little time he had left for plots. Pope had but few words to utter, and in those few he made several blunders '.

His letters to Atterbury express the utmost esteem, tenderness, 132 and gratitude: 'perhaps,' says he, 'it is not only in this world that I may have cause to remember the Bishop of Rochester?' At their last interview in the Tower, Atterbury presented him with a Bible 3.

Of the Odyssey Pope translated only twelve books; the rest 133 were the work of Broome and Fenton: the notes were written wholly by Broome, who was not over-liberally rewarded. The Publick was carefully kept ignorant of the several shares, and an account was subjoined at the conclusion, which is now known not to be true1.

The first copy of Pope's books, with those of Fenton, are to be 134 seen in the Museum. The parts of Pope are less interlined than the Iliad, and the latter books of the Iliad less than the former.

his letters.' PATTISON, Essays, ii. 361. See also ib. p. 387.

I 6 'Though I had but ten words to say, and that on a plain point (how that Bishop spent his time whilst I was with him at Bromley), I made two or three blunders in it; and that notwithstanding the first row of Lords (which was all I could see) were mostly of my acquaintance.' POPE, Spence's Anec. p. 156. See also Pope's Works (Elwin and Courthope), v. 193, x. 199.

For Johnson as a witness see Boswell's Johnson, ii. 98.


'Perhaps it will not be in this life only that I shall have cause to remember and acknowledge the friendship of the Bishop of Rochester.' Pope's Works (Elwin and Courthope), ix. 56.

3 'I went to Mr. Pope one morning at Twickenham, and found a large folio Bible, with gilt clasps, lying before him; and as I knew his way of thinking upon that book I asked him jocosely, if he was going to write an answer to it. "It is a present," said he, or rather a legacy, from my old

[ocr errors]

friend, the Bishop of Rochester. I
went to take my leave of him yester-
day in the Tower, where I saw this
Bible upon his table. He said to
me: My friend Pope, considering
your infirmities, and my age and
exile, it is not likely that we should
ever meet again; and therefore I
give you this legacy to remember me
by. Take it home with you, and let
me advise you to abide by it.' 'Does
your Lordship abide by it yourself?'
'I do.' 'If you do, my Lord, it is
but lately.'... The Bishop replied:
-'We have not time to talk of these
things; but take home the Book, I
will abide by it, and I recommend
you to do so too, and so, God bless
you."""' CHESTERFIELD,Misc. Works,
iv. App. p. 16.

In a note to Johnson's Works, viii.
273, it is stated that 'this Bible was
afterwards used in the chapel of Prior
Park. Dr. Warburton probably pre-
sented it to Mr. Allen [post, POPE,
194].' See Warton, viii. 121, on the
improbability of Chesterfield's story.

Ante, FENTON, 10; BROOME, 5; post, POPE, 355.

« AnteriorContinuar »