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times balanced by good; that human advantages arc 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 power. 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 embellishments, 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 judgment by overpowering pleasure. This is true of many paragraphs; yet, if I had undertaken to exemplify Pope's felicity of composition before a rigid critic, 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 heaviness without strength, than will easily be found in all his other works. The Characters of Men and Women are the product of 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 is investigated and female excellence selected and he surely is no mean writer to whom Boileau should 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. In the epistles to lord Bathurst and lord Burlington, Dr. 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 most valuable passage is perhaps the elegy on “Good Sense; and the other, the “End of the duke of Buckingham.” 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 character. The meanest passage is the satire upon Sporus. Of the two poems which derived their names from the year, and which are called The Efilogue 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 and the celebration of the triumph of corruption. The imitations of Horace seem to have been written as relaxations of his genius. This employment became his favourite by its facility; the plan was ready to his hand, and nothing was required but to accommodate as he could the sentiments of an old author to re

-cent facts or familiar images; but what is easy is seldom excellent; such imitations cannot give pleasure to common readers: the man of learning may be sometimes surprised and delighted by an unexpected parallel; but the comparison requires knowledge of the original, which will likewise often detect strained applications. Between Roman images and English manners, there will be an irreconcileable dissimilitude, and the work will be generally uncouth and partycoloured, neither original nor translated, neither ancient nor modern.” Pope had, in proportions very nicely adjusted to each other, all the qualities that constitute genius. He had invention, by which new trains of events are formed, and new scenes of imagery displayed, as in the “Rape of the Lock;” and by which extrinsic and adventitious embellishments and illustrations are connected with a known subject, as in the “Essay on Criticism.” He had imagination, which strongly impresses on the writer's

* In one of these poems is a couplet to which belongs a story that I once heard the reverend Dr. Ridley relate :

“Slander or poison dread from Delia’s rage;
Hard words, or hanging, if your judge be * * * *.”

Sir Francis Page, a judge well known in his time, conceiv. ing that his name was meant to fill up the blank, sent his clerk to Mr. Pope, to complain of the insult. Pope told the young man that the blank might be supplied by many monosyllables, other than the judges name : “But, sir,’ said the clerk, ‘the judge says that no other word will make sense of the passage.’ ‘So then it seems,’ says Pope, ‘your master is not only a judge, but a poet: as that is the case, the odds are against me. Give my respects to the judge, and tell him, I will not contend with one that has the advantage of me, and he may fill up the blank has he pleases.” H.

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mind, and enables him to convey to the reader, the various forms of nature, incidents of life, and energies of passion, as in his “Eloisa,” “Windsor Forest,” and the “Ethic Epistles.” He had judgment, which selects from life or nature what the present purpose requires, and, by separating the essence of things from its concomitants, often makes the representation more powerful than the reality; and he had colours of language always before him, ready to decorate his matter with every grace of elegant expression, as when he accommodates his diction to the wonderful multiplicity of Homer’s sentiments and descriptions. Poetical expression includes sound as well as meaning: “music,” says Dryden, “is inarticulate poetry;” among the excellences of Pope, therefore, must be mentioned the melody of his metre. By perusing the works of Dryden he discovered the most perfect fabric of English verse, and habituated himself to that only which he found the best; in consequence of which restraint, his poetry has been censured as too uniformly musical, and as glutting the ear with unvaried sweetness. I suspect this objection to be the cant of those who judge by principles rather than perception; and who would even themselves have less pleasure in his works, if he had tried to relieve attention by studied discords, or affected to break his lines and vary his pauses. But though he was thus careful of his versification, he did not oppress his powers with superfluous rigour. He seems to have thought with Boileau, that the practice of writing might be refined till the difficulty should overbalance the advantage. The construction of his language is not always strictly grammatical : with those rhymes which prescription had conjoined, he contented himself, without regard to Swift's remonstrances, though there was no striking consonance; nor was he very careful to vary his terminations, or to refuse admission, at a small distance, to the same rhymes. To Swift's edict for the exclusion of Alexandrines and triplets he paid little regard; he admitted them, but, in the opinion of Fenton, too rarely; he uses them more liberally in his translation than his poems. He has a few double rhymes; and always, I think, unsuccessfully, except once in the “Rape of the Lock.” Expletives he very early ejected from his verses : but he now and then admits an epithet rather commodious than important. Each of the six first lines of the “Iliad” might lose two syllables with very littie diminution of the meaning; and sometimes, after all his art and labour, one verse seems to be made for the sake of another. In his latter productions the diction is sometimes vitiated by French idioms, with which Bolingbroke had perhaps infected him. I have been told that the couplet by which he declared his own ear to be most gratified was this:

Lo, where Maeotis sleeps, and hardly flows
The freezing Tanais through a waste of snows.

But the reason of this preference I cannot discover. It is remarked by Watts, that there is scarcely a happy combination of words, or a phrase poetically elegant in the English language, which Pope has not inserted into his version of Homer. How he obtained possession of so many beauties of speech, it were desirable to know. That he gleaned from authors, obscure as well as eminent, what he thought brilliant or useful, and preserved it all in a regular collection, is not unlikely. When, in his last years, Hall's satires were shewn him, he wished that he had seen them


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