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coloured; neither original nor translated, neither ancient nor modern.*
Pope had, in proportions very nicely adjusted to each other, all the qun'itie* 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 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 "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 representa
* In one of these poems is a couplet, to which belongs a story related by the Rev, Dr. Ridley:
Slander or poison dread from Delia's rage;
Sir Francis Page conceiving that his name was meant to fill up the blank, sent his clerk to complain of the insult. Pope told the young man, that the blank might be supplied by many monosyllables other than the judge's name:—" But, Sir, 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. Oive 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 as he pleases." Judge Page probably owed this distinction to the unjustifiable insolence he displayed on the memorable trial of Savage, of whom Pope was the sincere friend. . «
VOL. XI. O
tion 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 inarticu"late 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 termination, 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 first six lines of the " Iliad," might lose two syltables with very little 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 Mseotis sleeps, and hardly flows
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 bw last years, Hall's Satires were shewn him, he wished that he had seen them sooner.
New sentiments and new images others may produce; but to attempt any farther improvement of versification will be dangerous. Art and diligence have now done their best, and what shall be added will be the effort of tedious toil and needless curiosity.
After all this, it is surely superfluous to answer the question that has once been asked, Whether Pope was a poet; otherwise than by asking in return, if Pope be not a poet, where is poetry to be found? To circumscribe poetry by a definition will only shew the narrowness of the definer, though a definition which shall exclude Pope will not easily be made. Let us look round upon the present time, and back upon the past; let us enquire to whom the voice of mankind has decreed the wreath of poetry; let their productions be examined, mid their claims stated, and the pretensions of Pope will be no more disputed. Had he given the world only his version, the name of poet must have been allowed him; if the writer of the "Iliad" were to class his successors, he would assign a very high place to his translator, without requiring any other evidence of Genius.
The following Letter, of which the original is in the hands of Lord Hardwicke, was communicated to me by the kindness of Mr. Jodrell.
"To Mr. Bridges, at the Bishop of London's at Pulham.
"The favour of your Letter, with your Remarks, can never be enough acknowledged; and the speed with which you discharged so troublesome a task doubles the obligation.
"I must own, you have pleased me very much by the commendations so ill bestowed upon me; but, I assure you, much more by the frankness of your censure, which I ought to take the more kindly of the two, as it is more advantageous to a scribbler to be improved in his judgment than to be soothed in his vanity. The greater part of those deviations from the Greek, which you have observed, I was led into by Chapman and Hobbes; who are, it seems, as much celebrated for their knowledge of the original, as they are decried for the badness of their translations. Chapman pretends to have restored the genuine sense of the author, from the mistakes of all former explainers in several hunv dred places: and the Cambridge editors of the large Homer, in Greek and Latin, attributed so much to Hobbes, that they confess they have corrected the old Latin interpretation very often by his version. For my part, I generally took the author's meaning to be as you have explained it; yet their authority, joined to the knowledge of my own imperfectness in the language overruled me. However, Sir, you may be confident I think you in the right, because you happen to be of my opinion; for men (let them say what they will) never approve any other's sense, but as it squares with their own. But you have made me much more proud of, and positive in my judgment, since it is strengthened by yours. I think your criticisms, which regard the expression very just, and shall make my profit of them: to give you some proof that I am in ear