« 前へ次へ »
Next year he published some select poems of his friend 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.
He gave the same year (1721) an edition of Shakespeare. His name was now of so much authority, that Tonson thought himself entitled, by annexing it, to demand a subscription of six guineas for Shakespeare's plays in fix quarto volumes; nor did his expectation much deceive him; for of feven 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.
On this undertaking, to which Pope was induced by a reward of two hundred and seventeen pounds twelve shillings, he seems never to have reflected afterwards without vexation; for Theobald, å man of heavy diligence, with very sender powers, first, in a book called Shakespeare Restored, and then in a formal edition, detected his deficiencies with all the infolence 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 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 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. In his Preface 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 read.
Soon after the appearance of the Iliad, resolving no to let the general kindnefs cool, he published proposals for a translation of the Odyffey, in five volumes, for five guineas. He was willing, however, now to have affociates in his labour, being either weary with toiling upon another's thoughts, or having heard, as Ruffhead telates, 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 asisted him in this work.
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 projects 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, tendernefs, and gratitude : perbaps, says he, it is not only in this world that I may have cause to remember the Bishop of Rocbefter. At their last interview in the Tower, Atterbury presented him with a Bible.
Of the Odyszy Pope translated only twelve books; the rest 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 true.
The first copy of Pope's books, with those of Fenton, are to be 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. He grew dexterous by practice, and every sheet enabled him to write the next with more facility. The books of Fenton have very few alterations by the hand of Pope. Those of Broome have not been found; but Pope complained, as it is reported, that he had much trouble in correcting them.
His contract with Lintot was the same as for the Iliad, except that only one hundred pounds were to be paid him for each volume. The number of subscribers was five hundred and seventy-four, and of copies eight Vol. IV.
hundred and nineteen; so that' his profit, when he.. had paid his aslistants, was still very considerable. The work was finished in 1725; and from that time he refolved to make no more translations.
The fale did not answer Lintot's expectation; and he then pretended to discover something of fraud in Pope, and commenced or threatened a suit in Chancery.
On the English Odyley a criticism was published by Spence; at that time Prelector of Poetry at Oxford ;. a man whose learning was not very great, and whose mind was not very powerful. His criticism, however, was commonly just; what he thought, he thought rightly; and his remarks were recommended by his coolness and candour. In him Pope had the first experience of a critick without malevolence, who thought it as much his duty to display beauties as expose faults; who censured with respect, and praised with alacrity.
With this criticism Pope was so little offended, that he fought the acquaintance of the writer, who lived with him from that time in great familiarity, attended him in his last hours, and compiled meinorials of his conversation. The regard of Pope recommended him to the great and powerful, and he obtained very valuable preferinents in the Church.
Not long after, Pope was returning home from a visit in a friend's coach, which, in pasting a bridge, was overturned into the water; the windows were closed, and being unable to force them open, he was in danger of immediate death, when the postilion snatched him out by breaking the glass, of which the fragments cut two of his fingers in such a manner, that he lost their use.
Voltaire, who was then in England, sent him a Letter of Consolation. He had been entertained by Pope at his table, where he talked with so much grossness that Mrs. Pope was driven from the room. Pope discovered, by a trick, that he was a spy for the Court, and never considered him as a man worthy of confidence.
He soon afterwards (1727) joined with Swift, who was then in England, to publish three volumes of Miscellanies, in which amongst other things he inserted the Memoirs of a Parish Clerk, in ridicule of Burnet's importance in his own History, and a Debate upon Black and White Horses, written in all the forınalities of a legal process by the aflistance, as is said, of Mr. Fortescue, afterwards Master of the Rolls. Before these Miscellanies is a preface figned by Swift and Pope, but apparently written by Pope; in which he makes a ridiculous and romantick complaint of the robberies committed upon authors by the clandestine seizure and sale of their papers. He tells, in tragick strains, how the cabinets of the Sick and the closets of the Dead have been broke open and ransacked; as if those violences were often comunitted for
of uncertain and accidental value, which are rarely provoked by real treasures; as if epigrams and effays were in danger where gold and diamonds are safe. A cat, hunted for his mulk, is, according to Pope's account, but the em-' blem of a wit winded by booksellers.
His complaint, however, received some attestation; for the same year the Letters written by him to Mr. Cromwell, in his youth, were sold by Mrs. Thomas to Curll, who printed them.