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work, which he considered as subsequent to his “ Essay on Man," of which he has given this ac-. count to Dr. Swift: il
... ...“ March 25, 1736. “ If ever I write any more Epistles in verse, one “ of them shall be addressed to you. I have long « concerted 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 ;' viz. 1. Of the Extent and “ Limits of human Reason and Science. 2. A • View of the useful and therefore attainable, and “ of the unuseful and therefore unattainable, Arts. “ 3. Of the Nature, Ends, Application, and Use, 6 of different Capacities. 4. Of the Use of Learn" ing, of the Science of the World, and of Wit. “ It will conclude with a satire against the Misap“plication of all these, exemplified by Pictures, “ 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 esteem, though in one of the imitations of Horace hel has liberally enough praised the “Careless Husband." In the “ Dunciad," among other worthless scribblers, he had mentioned Cibber; who, in his “ Apology;" complains of the great Poet's unkindness as more injurious, 6 because,” says hez: “ I never have offended him.". . ......i sur';'
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 satirized those by whom the laurel had been given, and gratified that ambitious petulance with which he affected to insult the great. ....... . ? The severity of this satire 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 resolution 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. is it p 1. 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 fresh in memory, it happened that Cibber played Bayes in the Rehearsal; and, as it had been usual to enliven the part by the mention of any recent theatrical transactions, he said, that he once thought to have introduced his lovers disguised in a Mummy and a Crocodile. « This," says he, “ was received with loud claps, which in“ dicated contempt of the play.” Pope, who was behind the scenes, meeting him as he left the stage, attacked him, as he says, with all the virulence of a.“ Wit out of his senses ;' to which he replied, “that he would take no other notice of what was " said by so particular a man, than to declare, that, "as often as he played that part, he would repeat “the same provocation.” < He shews his opinion to be, that Pope was one of the authors of the play which he so zealously defended; and adds an idle story of Pope's behaviour at a tavern.
The pamphlet was written with little power of thought or language, and, if suffered to remain without notice, would have been very soon forgotten. Pope had now been enough acquainted with human life to know, if his passion had not been too powerful for his understanding, that from a contention like his with Cibber, the world seeks nothing but diversion, which is given at the expense of the higher character. When Cibber lampooned Pope, curiosity was excited; what Pope would say of Cibber nobody enquired, but , in hope that Pope's asperity might betray his pain and lessen his dignity. · He should therefore have suffered the pamphlet to flutter and die, without confessing that it stung him. The dishonour of being shewn as Cibber's antagonist could never be compensated by the victory. Cibber had nothing to lose ; when l'ope had exhausted all his malignity upon him, he would rise in the esteem both of his friends and his enemies. Silence only could have made him despicable; the blow which did not appear to be felt would have been struck in vain. · But Pope's irascibility prevailed, and he resolved to tell the whole English world that he was at war with Cibber; and, to shew that he thought him no common adversary, he prepared no common vengeance; he published a new edition of the “ Dunciad,” in which he degraded Theobald from his painful pre-eminence, and enthroned Cibber in his stead. Unhappily the two heroes were of opposite characters, and Pope was unwilling to lose what he had already written; he has therefore depraved his poem by giving to Cibber the old books, the old pedantry, and the sluggish pertinacity of Theobald. ... Pope was ignorant enough of his own interest, to make another change, and introduced Osborne contending for the prize among the booksellers. Osborne was a man entirely destitute of sbame, without sense of any disgrace but that of poverty. He told me, when he was doing that which raised Pope's resentment, that he should be put into the “ Dunciad ;!? but he had the fate of “ Cassandra." I gave no credit to his prediction, till in time I saw it accomplished. The shafts of satire were directed equally in vain against Cibber and Osborne ; being repelled by the impenetrable impudence of one, and deadened by the impassive dulness of the other. Pope confessed his own pain by his anger; but he gave no pain to those who had provoked him. He was able to hurt none but himself; by transferring the same ridicule from one to another, he reduced himself to the insignificance of his own magpie, who from his cage calls cuckold at a venture. ; ;
Cibber, according to his engagement, repaid the • Dunciad” with another pamphlet, which, Pope said, " would be as good as a dose of hartshorn to « him ;'! but his tongue and his heart were at variance. I have heard Mr. Richardson relate, that he attended his father the painter on a visit, when one of Cibber's pamphlets came into the hands of Pope, who said, “ these things are my diversion.” They sat by him while he perused it, and saw his features writhing with anguish; and young Richardson said to his father when they returned, that he hoped to be preserved from such diversion as had been that day the lot of Pope. * From this time, finding his diseases more oppressive, and his vital powers gradually declining, he no longer strained his faculties with any original composition, nor proposed any other employment for his remaining life than the revisal and correction of his former work; in which he received advice and assistance from Warburton, whom he