« 前へ次へ »
among his Letters, but to a cool reader of the present time exhibits nothing but tedious malignity.
His last Satires, of the general kind, were two Dialogues, named, from the year in which they were published, Seventeen Hundred and Thirty-eight. In these poems many are praised and many are reproached. Pope was then entangled in the opposition; a follower of the Prince of Wales, who dined at his house, and the friend of many who obstructed and censured the conduct of the Ministers. His political partiality was too plainly Thewn: he forgot the prudence with which he paffed, in his earlier years, uninjured and unoffending through much more violent conflicts of faction.
In the first Dialogue, having an opportunity of praising Allen of Bath, he asked his leave to mention him as a man not illustrious by any merit of his ancestors, and called him in his verses low-born Allen. Men are seldom satisfied with praise introduced or fol. lowed by any mention of defect. Allen seems not to have taken any pleasure in his epithet, which was afterwards softered into bumble Allen.
In the second Dialogue he took some liberty with one of the Foxes, among others; which Fox, in a reply to Lyttelton, took an opportunity of repaying, by reproaching him with the friendship of a lampooner, who scattered his ink without fear or decency, and against whom he hoped the resentment of the Legislature would quickly be discharged.
About this time Paul Whitehead, a small poet, w us fummoned before the Lords for a poem called Manners, together with Dodsey his publisher. Whitehead, who hung loofu upon fociety, sculked and escaped; but 4
Dodfley's shop and family made his
appearance necef fary. He was, however, soon dismissed; and the whole process was probably intended rather to intimidate Pope, than to punish Whitehead.
Pope never afterwards attempted to join the patriot with the poet, nor drew his pen upon statesmen. That he desisted from his attempts of reformation is imputed, by his commentator, to his despair of prevailing over the corruption of the time. He was not likely to have been ever of opinion, that the dread of his satire would countervail the love of power or of money; he pleased himself with being important and formidable, and gratified sometimes his pride, and sometimes his resentment; till at last he began to think he should be more safe if he were less busy.
The Memoirs of Scriblerus, published about this time, extend only to the first book of a work projected in concert by Pope, Swift, and Arbuthnot, who used to meet in the time of Queen Anne, and denominated themselves the Scriblerus Club. Their purpose was to censure the abuses of learning by a fi&titious Life of an infatuated Scholar. They were dispersed; the design was never completed; and Warburton laments its miscarriage, as an event very difastrous to polite letters.
If the whole may be estimated by this specimen, which seems to be the production of Arbuthnot, with a few touches perhaps by Pope, the want of more will not be much lamented; for the follies which the writer ridicules are so little practised, that they are not known; nor can the satire be understood but by the learned: he raises phantoms of absurdity, and then drives them away. He cures difcases that were never felt.
For this reason this joint production of three great writers has never obtained any notice from mankind; it has been little read, or when read has been forgotten, as no man could be wiser, better, or merrier, by remembering it.
The design cannot boast of much originality; for, besides its general resemblance to Don Quixote, there will be found in it particular imitations of the History of Mr. Ouffle.
Swift carried so much of it into Ireland as supplied him with hints for his Travels; and with those the world might have been contented, though the rest had been suppressed.
Pope had fought for images and sentiments in a religion not known to have been explored by many other of the English writers; he had consulted the modern writers of Latin poetry, a class of authors whom Boileau endeavoured to bring into contempt, and who are too generally neglected. Pope, however, was not ashamed of their acquaintance, nor ungrateful for the advantages which he might have derived from it. A finall selection from the Italians, who wrote in Latin, had been published at London, about the latter end of the last century, by a man who concealed his name, but whom his Preface shews to have been well qualified for his undertaking. This collection Pope amplified by more than half, and (1740) published it in two volumes, but injuriously omitted his predecessor's preface. To these books, which had nothing but the mere text, no regard was paid, the authors were still neglected, and the editor was neither praised nor censured.
He did not fink into idleness; he had planned a work, which he considered as subsequent to his Ebay
on Man, of which he has given this account to Dr. Swift,
“ March 25, 1736. “ If ever I write any more Epistles in verse, one of “ them shall be addressed to you. I have long con“ certed it, and begun it; but I would make what “ bears your name as finished as my last work ought « to be, that is to say, more finished than any of the “ rest. The subject is large, and will divide into four
Epistles, which naturally follow the Essay on Man ; u viz. 1. Of the Extent and Limits of Human Reason « and Science. 2. A View of the useful and there“ fore attainable, and of the unuseful and therefore “ unattainable, Arts. 3. Of the Nature, Ends, Ap“ plication, and Use of different Capacities. 4. Of “ the Use of Learning, of the Science, of the World, “ and of Wit. It will conclude with a satire against “ the Misapplication of all these, exemplified by Pic
tures, Characters, and Examples."
This work in its full extent, being now afflicted with an asthma, and finding the powers of life gradually declining, he had no longer courage to undertake; but, from the materials which he had provided, he added, at Warburton's request, another book to the Dunciad, of which the design is to ridicule such studies as are either hopeless or useless, as either pursue what is unattainable, or what, if it be attained, is of no use.
When this book was printed (1742) the laurel had been for some time upon the head of Cibber; a man whom it cannot be supposed that Pope could regard with much kindness or esteein, though in one of the Imitations of Horace he has liberally enough praised the Careless Husband. In the Dunciad, among other
worthless fcribblers, he had mentioned Cibber ; who, in his Apology, complains of the great poet's unkindness as more injurious, because, says he, I never have of: fended him.
It might have been expected that Pope should have been, in some degree, mollified by this submissive gentleness; but no such consequence appeared. Though he condescended to commend Cibber once, he mentioned him afterwards contemptuously in one of his Satires, and again in his Epistle to Arbuthnot; and in the fourth book of the Dunciad attacked him with acrimony, to which the provocation is not easily discoverable. Perhaps he imagined that, in ridiculing the Laureat, he satirised those by whom the laurel had been given, and gratified that ambitious petulance with which he affected to infult the
great. The severity of this fatire left Cibber no longer any patience. He had confidence enough in his own powers to believe that he could disturb the quiet of his adversary, and doubtless did not want instigators, who, without any care about the victory, desired to amuse themselves by looking on the contest. He therefore gave the town a pamphlet, in which he declares his refolution from that time never to bear another blow without returning it, and to tire out his adversary by perseverance, if he cannot conquer him by strength
The incessant and unappeasable malignity of Pope he imputes to a very distant cause. After the Three Hours after Marriage had been driven off the stage, by the offence which the mummy and crocodile gave the audience, while the exploded scene was yet freíh in memory, it happened that Cibber played Bayes in the Rehearsal; and, as it had been usual to enliven the part Vol. IV. G