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First published 1880 

Rtprintcd 1883, 1888, 1896, 1900, 1902, 1908 

Library Edition 1902. Reprinted ign 

Pock ft Edition 1909 

1 1 


THE life and writings of Pope have been discussed in a 
literature more voluminous than that which exists in the 
case of almost any other English man of letters . 
biographer, however, has produced a definitive or exhaus- 
tive work It seems therefore desirable to indicate the 
main authorities upon which such a biographer would 
have to rely, and which have been consulted for the 
purpose of the following necessarily brief and imperil 

sketch. , i -L 

The first life of Pope was a catchpenny book, by 
William Ayre, published in 1745, and remarkable chiefly 
as givin^ the first version of some demonstrably erroneous 
statements, unfortunately adopted by later writers Ii 
1751 Warburton, as Pope's literary executor, published 
the authoritative edition of the poet's works with notes 
containing some biographical matter. In 1769 appeared 
a life by Owen Ruff head, who wrote under Warburton s in- 
spiration. This is a dull and meagre performance, and much 
of it is devoted to an attack-partly written by War- 
burton himself upon the criticisms advanced in the fi 
volume of Joseph Warton's Essay on Pope. Warton s first 
volume was published in 1756; and it seems that the 
dread of Warburton's wrath counted for something in the 
delay of the second volume, which did not appear till 
1782 The Essay contains a good many anecdotes ol 
interest. Warton's edition of Pope the notes in which 
are chiefly drawn from the Essay-was Published in 
1797. The Life by Johnson appeared in 1781 ; 


admirable in many ways; but Johnson had taken the 
least possible trouble in ascertaining facts. Both Warton 
and Johnson had before them the manuscript collections 
of Joseph Spence, who had known Pope personally 
during the last twenty years of his life, and wanted 
nothing but literary ability to have become an efficient 
Boswell. Spence's anecdotes, which were not published 
till 1820, give the best obtainable information upon many 
points, especially in regard to Pope's childhood. This 
ends the list of biographers who were in any sense contem- 
porary with Pope. Their statements must be checked and 
supplemented by the poet's own letters, and innumerable 
references to him in the literature of the time. In 1806 
appeared the edition of Pope by Bowles, with a life pre- 
fixed. Bowles expressed an unfavourable opinion of many 
points in Pope's character, and some remarks by Camp- 
bell, in his specimens of English poets, led to a con- 
troversy (18191826) in which Bowles defended his 
views against Campbell, Byron, Eoscoe, and others, and 
which incidentally cleared up soine disputed questions. 
Eoscoe, the author of the Life of Leo X., published his 
edition of Pope in 1824. A life is contained in the first 
volume, but it is a feeble performance; and the notes, 
many of them directed against Bowles, are of little value. 
A more complete biography was published by E. Garru- 
thers (with an edition of the works), in 1854. The 
second, and much improved, edition appeared in 1857, 
and is still the most convenient life of Pope, though Mr. 
Carruthers was not fully acquainted with the last results 
of some recent investigations, which have thrown a new 
light upon the- poet's career. 

The writer who took the lead in these inquiries was 
the late Mr. Dilke. Mr. Dilke published the results of 
his investigations (which were partly guided by the 
discovery of a previously unpublished correspondence 
between Pope and his friend Caryll), in the Athenaeum 
and Notes and Queries, at various intervals, from 1854 to 
1860. His contributions to the subject have been col- 
lated in the first volume of the Papers of a Critic, 


edited by his grandson, the present Sir Charles W. Dilke, 
in 1875. Meanwhile Mr. Croker had been making an ex- 
tensive collection of materials for an exhaustive edition of 
Pope's works, in which he was to be assisted by Mr. Peter 
Cunningham. After Croker's death these materials were 
submitted by Mr. Murray to Mr. "Whitwell Elwin, whose 
own researches have greatly extended our knowledge, and 
who had also the advantage of Mr. Dilke's advice. Mr. 
Elwin began, in 1871, the publication of the long-promised 
edition. It was to have occupied ten volumes five of 
poems and five of correspondence, the latter of which 
was to include a very large proportion of previously un- 
published matter. Unfortunately for all students of Eng- 
lish literature, only two volumes of poetry and three of 
correspondence have appeared. The notes and prefaces, 
however, contain a vast amount of information, which 
clears up many previously disputed points in the poet's 
career ; and it is to be hoped that the materials collected 
for the remaining volumes will not be ultimately lost. It 
is easy to dispute some of Mr. Elwin's critical opinions, 
but it would be impossible to speak too highly of the 
value of his investigations of facts. Without a study of 
his work, no adequate knowledge of Pope is attainable. 

The ideal biographer of Pope, if he ever appears, must 
be endowed with the qualities of an acute critic and a 
patient antiquarian ; and it would take years of labour to 
work out all the minute problems connected with the 
subject. All that I can profess to have done is to have 
given a short summary of the obvious facts, and of the 
main conclusions established by the evidence given at 
length in the writings of Mr. Dilke and Mr. Elwin. I 
have added such criticisms as seemed desirable in a work 
of this kind, and I must beg pardon by anticipation if I 
have fallen into inaccuracies in relating a story so full of 
pitfalls for the unwary. 

L. S. 











THE END ... 206 

INDEX . ... 211 




THE father of Alexander Pope was a London merchant, 
a devout Catholic, and not improbably a convert to 
Catholicism. His mother was one of seventeen children 
of William Turner, of York ; one of her sisters was the 
wife of Cooper, the well-known portrait-painter. Mrs. 
Cooper was the poet's godmother ; she died when he was 
five years old, leaving to her sister, Mrs. Pope, a " grind- 
ing-stone and muller," and their mother's " picture in 
limning ; " and to her nephew, the little Alexander, all 
her " books, pictures, and medals set in gold or other- 

In after-life the poet made some progress in acquiring 
the art of painting ; and the bequest suggests the possi- 
bility that the precocious child had already given some 
indications of artistic taste. Affectionate eyes were certainly 
on the watch for any symptoms of developing talent. 
Pope was born on May 21st, 1688 the anmis mirabilis 
which introduced a new political era in England, and was 
fatal to the hopes of ardent Catholics. About the same 



time, partly, perhaps, in consequence of the catastrophe, 
Pope's father retired from business, and settled at 
Binfield a village two miles from Wokingham and nine 
from Windsor. It is near Bracknell, one of Shelley's 
brief perching places, and in such a region as poets might 
love, if poetic praises of rustic seclusion are to be taken 
seriously. To the east were the "forests and green 
retreats " of Windsor, and the wild heaths of Bagshot, 
Chobham and Aldershot stretched for miles to the South. 
Some twelve miles 'off in that direction, one may remark, 
lay Moor Park, where the sturdy pedestrian, Swift, was 
living with Sir W. Temple during great part of Pope's 
childhood ; but it does not appear that his walks ever 
took him to Pope's neighbourhood, nor did he see, till 
some years later, the lad with whom he was to form one 
of the most famous of literary friendships. The little 
household was presumably a very quiet one, and remained 
fixed at Binfield for twenty-seven years, till the son had 
grown to manhood and celebrity. From the earliest 
period he seems to have been a domestic idol. He was 
not an only child, for he had a half-sister by his father's 
side, who must have been considerably older than himself, 
as her mother died nine years before the poet's birth. But 
he was the only child of his mother, and his parents con- 
centrated upon him an affection which he returned with 
touching ardour and persistence. They were both forty- 
six in the year of his birth. He inherited headaches from 
his mother, and a crooked figure from his father. A 
nurse who shared their care, lived with him for many 
years, and was buried by him, with an affectionate 
epitaph, in 1725. The family tradition represents him as 
a sweet-tempered child, and says that he was called the 
" little nightingale," from the beauty of his voice. As the 


sickly, solitary, and precocious infant of elderly parents, 
we may guess that he was not a little spoilt, if only in 
the technical sense. 

The religion of the family made their seclusion from the 
world the more rigid, and by consequence must have 
strengthened their mutual adhesiveness. Catholics were 
then harassed by a legislation which would be condemned 
by any modern standard as intolerably tyrannical. What- 
ever apology may be urged for the legislators on the score 
of contemporary prejudices or special circumstances, their 
best excuse is that their laws were rather intended to 
satisfy constituents, and to supply a potential means of 
defence, than to be carried into actual execution. It does 
not appear that the Popes had to fear any active molesta- 
tion in the quiet observance of their religious duties. 
Yet a Catholic was not only a member of a hated minority, 
regarded by the rest of his countrymen as representing 
the evil principle in politics and religion, but was rigor- 
ously excluded from a public career, and from every 
position of honour or authority. In times of excitement 
the severer laws might be put in force. The public exercise 
of the Catholic religion was forbidden, and to be a Catholic 
was to be predisposed to the various Jacobite intrigues 
which still had many chances in their favour. Whenthe 
pretender was expected in 1744, a proclamation, to which 
Pope thought it decent to pay obedience, forbade the 
appearance of Catholics within ten miles of London ; and 
m 1730 we find him making interest on behalf of a 
nephew, who had been prevented from becoming an 
attorney because the judges were rigidly enforcing the 
oaths of supremacy and allegiance. 

Catholics had to pay double taxes and were prohibited 
from acquiring real property. The elder Pope, according 


to a certainly inaccurate story, had a conscientious ob- 
jection to investing his money in the funds of a Protestant 
government, and, therefore, having converted his capital 
into coin, put it in a strong-box, and took it out as he 
wanted it. The old merchant was not quite so helpless, 
for we know that he had investments in the French 
rentes, besides other sources of income; but the story 
probably reflects the fact that his religious disqualifications 
hampered even his financial position. 

Pope's character was affected in many ways by the fact 
of his belonging to a sect thus harassed and restrained. 
Persecution, like bodily infirmity, has an ambiguous 
influence. If it sometimes generates in its victims a heroic 
hatred of oppression, it sometimes predisposes them to 
the use of the weapons of intrigue and falsehood, by 
which the weak evade the tyranny of the strong. If 
under that discipline Pope learnt to love toleration, he 
was not untouched by the more demoralizing influences 
of a life passed in an atmosphere of incessant plotting 
and evasion. A more direct consequence was his ex- 
clusion from the ordinary schools. The spirit of the 
rickety lad might have been broken by the rough 
training of Eton or "Westminster in those days; as, on 
the other hand, he might have profited by acquiring a 
livelier perception of the meaning of that virtue of fair- 
play, the appreciation of which is held to be a set-off 
against the brutalizing influences of our system of 
public education. As it was, Pope was condemned to a 
desultory education. He picked up some rudiments of 
learning from the family priest ; he was sent to a school 
at Twyford, where he is said to have got into trouble 
for writing a lampoon upon his master ; he went for a 
short time to another in London, where he gave a more 


creditable if less characteristic proof of his poetical pre- 
cocity. Like other lads of genius, he put together a kind 
of play a combination, it seems, of the speeches in 
Ogilby's Iliad and got it acted by his schoolfellows. 
These brief snatches of schooling, however, counted 
for little. Pope settled at home at the early age of 
twelve, and plunged into the delights of miscellaneous 
reading with the ardour of precocious talent. He read 
so eagerly that his feeble constitution threatened to 
break down, and when about seventeen, he despaired of 
recovery, and wrote a farewell to his friends. One of 
them, an Abbe Southcote, applied for advice to the cele- 
brated Dr. Radcliffe, who judiciously prescribed idleness 
and exercise. Pope soon recovered, and, it is pleasant to 
add, showed his gratitude long af terwards by obtaining for 
Southcote, through Sir Eobert Walpole, a desirable piece 
of French preferment. Self-guided studies have their 
advantages, as Pope himself observed, but they do not 
lead a youth through the dry places of literature, or 
stimulate him to severe intellectual training. Pope seems 
to have made some hasty raids into philosophy and 
theology ; he dipped into Locke, and found him 
" insipid ; " he went through a collection of the contro- 
versial literature of the reign of James II., which seems to 
have constituted the paternal library, and was alternately 
Protestant and Catholic, according to the last book which 
he had read. But it was upon poetry and pure literature 
that he flung himself with a genuine appetite. He learnt 
languages to get at the story, unless a translation offered 
an easier path, and followed wherever fancy led " like a 
boy gathering flowers in the fields and woods." 

It is needless to say that he never became a scholar in 
the strict sense of the term. Voltaire declared that he 


could hardly read or speak a word of French ; and his 
knowledge of Greek would have satisfied Bentley as little 
as his French satisfied Voltaire. Yet he must have been 
fairly conversant with the best known French literature 
of the time, and he could probably stumble through 
Homer with the help of a crib and a guess at the general 
meaning. He says himself that at this early period, 
he went through all the best critics ; all the French, 
English and Latin poems of any name ; " Homer and 
some of the greater Greek poets in the original," and Tasso 
and Ariosto in translations. 

Pope at any rate acquired a wide knowledge of Eng- 
lish poetry. "Waller, Spenser, and Dryden were, he 
says, his great favourites in the order named, till he 
was twelve. Like so many other poets, he took, in- 
finite delight in the Faery Queen ; but Dryden, the great 
poetical luminary of his own day, naturally exercised a 
predominant influence upon his mind. He declared that 
he had learnt versification wholly from Dryden's works, 
and always mentioned his name with reverence. Many 
scattered remarks reported by Spence, and the still more 
conclusive evidence of frequent appropriation, show him 
to have been familiar with the poetry of the preceding 
century, and with much that had gone out of fashion in 
his time, to a degree in which he was probably excelled by 
none of his successors, with the exception of Gray. Like 
Gray he contemplated at one time the history of English 
poetry which was in some sense executed by "Warton. It 
is characteristic, too, that he early showed a critical 
spirit. From a boy, he says, he could distinguish be- 
tween sweetness and softness of numbers, Dryden ex- 
emplifying softness and Waller sweetness ; and the 
remark, whatever its value, shows that he had been 


analysing his impressions and reflecting upon the tech- 
nical secrets of his art. 

Such study naturally suggests the trembling aspiration, 
" I, too, am a poet." Pope adopts with apparent sincerity 
the Ovidian phrase, 

As yet a child, nor yet a fool to fame 

I lisp'd in numbers, for the numbers came. 

His father corrected his early performances and when 
not satisfied, sent him back with the phrase, " These are 
not good rhymes." He translated any passages that 
struck him in his reading, excited by the examples of 
Ogilby's Homer and Sandys' Ovid. His boyish ambi- 
tion prompted him before he was fifteen to attempt an 
epic poem ; the subject was Alcander, Prince of Ehodes, 
driven from his home by Deucalion, father of Minos ; and 
the work was modestly intended to emulate in different 
passages the beauties of Milton, Cowley, Spenser, Statius, 
Homer, Virgil, Ovid, and Claudian. Four books of this 
poem survived for a long time, for Pope had a more than 
parental fondness for all the children of his brain, and 
always had an eye to possible reproduction. Scraps from 
this early epic were worked into the Essay on Criticism 
and the Dunciad. This couplet, for example, from the last 
work comes straight, we are told, from Alcander, 

As man's Maeanders to the vital spring 

Roll all their tides, then back their circles bring. 

Another couplet, preserved by Spence, will give a suffi- 
cient taste of its quality : 

Shields, helms, and swords all jangle as they hang, 
And sound formidinous with angry clang. 

After this we shall hardly censure Atterbury for ap- 
proving (perhaps suggesting) its destruction in later years. 
Pope long meditated another epic, relating the foundation 


of the English government by Brutus of Troy, with a 
superabundant display of didactic morality and religion. 
Happily this dreary conception, though it occupied much 
thought, never came to the birth. 

The time soon came when these tentative flights were 
to be superseded by more serious efforts. Pope's ambi- 
tion was directed into the same channel by his innate 
propensities and by the accidents of his position. No 
man ever displayed a more exclusive devotion to litera- 
ture, or was more tremblingly sensitive to the charm of 
literary glory. His zeal was never distracted by any rival 
emotion. Almost from his cradle to his grave his eye 
was fixed unremittingly upon the sole purpose of his life. 
The whole energies of his mind were absorbed in the 
struggle to place his name as high as possible in that 
temple of fame, which he painted after Chaucer in one 
of his early poems. External conditions pointed to letters 
as the sole path to eminence, but it was precisely the 
path for which he had admirable qualifications. The 
sickly son of the Popish tradesman was cut off from the 
bar, the senate, and the church. Physically contemptible, 
politically ostracized, and in a humble social position, he 
could yet win this dazzling prize and force his way with 
his pen to the highest pinnacle of contemporary fame. 
Without adventitious favour and in spite of many bitter 
antipathies, he was to become the acknowledged head of 
English literature, and the welcome companion of all the 
most eminent men of his time. Though he could not 
foresee his career from the start, he worked as vigorously 
as if the goal had already been in sight ; and each suc- 
cessive victory in the field of letters was realized the 
more keenly from his sense of the disadvantages in face 
of which it had been won. In tracing his rapid ascent, 



we shall certainly find reason to doubt his proud asser- 

That, if he pleased, he pleased by manly ways, 

but it is impossible for any lover of literature to grudge 
admiration to this singular triumph of pure intellect over 
external disadvantages, and the still more depressing in- 
fluences of incessant physical suffering. 

Pope had indeed certain special advantages which he 
was not slow in turning to account. In one respect 
even his religion helped him to emerge into fame. 
There was naturally a certain free-masonry amongst the 
Catholics allied by fellow-feeling under the general 
antipathy. The relations between Pope and his co- 
religionists exercised a material influence upon his later 
life. Within a few miles of Binfield lived the Blounts 
of Mapledurham, a fine old Elizabethan mansion on 
the banks of the Thames, near Reading, which had 
been held by a royalist Blount in the civil war against 
a parliamentary assault. It was a more interesting 
circumstance to Pope that Mr. Lister Blount, the then 
representative of the family, had two fair daughters, 
Teresa and Martha, of about the poet's age. Another of 
Pope's Catholic acquaintances was John Caryll, of West 
Grinstead in Sussex, nephew of a Caryll who had been 
the representative of James II. at the Court of Rome, 
and who, following his master into exile, received the 
honours of a titular peerage and held office in the melan- 
choly court of the Pretender. In such circles Pope 
might have been expected to imbibe a Jacobite and 
Catholic horror of Whigs and freethinkers. In fact, 
however, he belonged from his youth to the followers of 
Gallic, and seems to have paid to religious duties just as 

10 POPE. [CHAP. 

much attention as would satisfy his parents. His mind 
was really given to literature ; and he found his earliest 
patron in his immediate neighbourhood. This "was Sir 
"W. Trumbull, who had retired to his native village of 
Easthampstead in 1697, after being ambassador at the 
Porte under James II., and Secretary of State under 
William III. Sir William made acquaintance with the 
Popes, praised the father's artichokes, and was delighted 
with the precocious son. The old diplomatist and the 
young poet soon became fast friends, took constant rides 
together, and talked over classic and modern poetry. 
Pope made Trumbull acquainted with Milton's juvenile 
poems, and Trumbull encouraged Pope to follow in 
Milton's steps. He gave, it seems, the first suggestion to 
Pope that he should translate Homer ; and he exhorted 
his young friend to preserve his health by flying from 
tavern company tanquam ex incendio. Another early 
patron was William Walsh, a Worcestershire country 
gentleman of fortune and fashion, who condescended 
to dabble in poetry after the manner of Waller, and 
to write remonstrances upon Celia's cruelty, verses to 
his mistress against marriage, epigrams, and pastoral 
eclogues. He was better known, however, as a critic, and 
had been declared by Dryden to be, without flattery, 
the best in the nation. Pope received from him one 
piece of advice which has become famous. We had had 
great poets so said the " knowing Walsh," as Pope 
calls him "but never one great poet that was correct;" 
and he accordingly recommended Pope to make correct- 
ness his great aim. The advice doubtless impressed the 
young man as the echo of his own convictions. Walsh 
died (1708), before the effect of his suggestion had become 
fully perceptible. 


The acquaintance with Walsh was due to Wycherley, 
who had submitted Pope's Pastorals to his recognized 
critical authority. Pope's intercourse with Wycherley 
and another early friend, Henry Cromwell, had a more 
important bearing upon his early career. He kept up 
a correspondence with each of these friends, whilst he was 
still passing through his probationary period ; and the 
letters published long afterwards under singular circum- 
stances to be hereafter related, give the fullest revelation 
of his character and position at this time. Both Wycher- 
ley and Cromwell were known to the Englefields of 
Whiteknights, near Reading, a Catholic family, in 
which Pope first made the acquaintance of Martha 
Blount, whose mother was a daughter of the old Mr. 
Englefield of the day. It was possibly, therefore, through 
this connexion that Pope owed his first introduction to 
the literary circles of London. Pope, already thirsting 
for literary fame, was delighted to form a connexion 
which must have been far from satisfactory to his in- 
dulgent parents, if they understood the character of his 
new associates. 

Henry Cromwell, a remote cousin of the Protector, is 
known to other than minute investigators of contempo- 
rary literature by nothing except his friendship with Pope. 
He was nearly thirty years older than Pope, and though 
heir to an estate in the country, was at this time a gay, 
though rather elderly, man about town. Vague intima- 
tions are preserved of his personal appearance. Gay calls 
him " honest hatless Cromwell with red breeches ;" and 
Johnson could learn about him the single fact that he 
used to ride a-hunting in a tie-wig. The interpretation 
of these outward signs may not be very obvious to modem 
readers ; but it is plain from other indications that he was 

12 POPE. [CHAP. 

one of the frequenters of coffee-houses, aimed at being 
something of a rake and a wit, was on speaking terms with 
Dryden, and familiar with the smaller celebrities of litera- 
ture, a regular attendant at theatres, a friend of actresses, 
and able to present himself in fashionable circles and 
devote complimentary verses to the reigning beauties at 
the Bath. When he studied the Spectator he might recog- 
nize some of his features reflected in the portrait of Will 
Honeycomb. Pope was proud enough for the moment at 
being taken by the hand by this elderly buck, though, as 
Pope himself rose in the literary scale and could estimate 
literary reputations more accurately, he became, it would 
seem, a little ashamed of his early enthusiasm, and, at 
any rate, the friendship dropped. The letters which 
passed between the pair during four or five years down 
to the end of 1711, show Pope in his earliest man- 
hood. They are characteristic of that period of develop- 
ment in which a youth of literary genius takes literary 
fame in the most desperately serious sense. Pope is evi- 
dently putting his best foot forward, and never for a moment 
forgets that he is a young author writing to a recognized 
critic except, indeed, when he takes the airs of an expe- 
rienced rake. We might speak of the absurd affectation 
displayed in the letters, were it not that such affectation 
is the most genuine nature in a clever boy. Unluckily it 
became so ingrained in Pope as to survive his youthful 
follies. Pope complacently indulges in elaborate paradoxes 
and epigrams of the conventional epistolary style ; he is 
painfully anxious to be alternately sparkling and playful ; 
his head must be full of literature ; he indulges in an 
elaborate criticism of Statius, and points out what a sud- 
den fall that author makes at one place from extravagant 
bombast ; he communicates the latest efforts of his muse, 


and tries, one regrets to say, to get more credit for precocity 
and originality than fairly belongs to him ; he acciden- 
tally alludes to his dog that he may bring in a translation 
from the Odyssey, quote Plutarch, and introduce an 
anecdote which he has heard from Trumbull about 
Charles I.; he elaborately discusses Cromwell's clas- 
sical translations, adduces authorities, ventures to censure 
Mr. Rowe's amplifications of Lucan, and, in this respect, 
thinks that Brebceuf, the famous French translator, is 
equally a sinner, and writes a long letter as to the proper 
use of the caesura and the hiatus in English verse. There 
are signs that the mutual criticisms became a little try- 
ing to the tempers of the correspondents. Pope seems 
to be inclined to ridicule Cromwell's pedantry, and when 
he affects satisfaction at learning that Cromwell has 
detected him in appropriating a rondeau from Voiture, 
we feel that the tension is becoming serious. Probably 
he found out that Cromwell was not only a bit of a prig, 
but a person not likely to reflect much glory upon his 
friends, and the correspondence came to an end, when 
Pope found a better market for his wares. 

Pope speaks more than once in these letters of his 
country retirement, where he could enjoy the company of 
the muses, but where, on the other hand, he was forced 
to be grave and godly, instead of drunk and scanda- 
lous as he could be in town. The jolly hunting and 
drinking squires round Binfield thought him, he says, a 
well-disposed person, but unluckily disqualified for their 
rough modes of enjoyment by his sickly health. "With 
them he has not been able to make one Latin quotation, 
but has learnt a song of Tom Durfey's, the sole repre- 
sentative of literature, it appears, at the " toping- tables " 
of these thick-witted fox-hunters. Pope naturally longed 

14 POPE. [CHAP. 

for the more refined or at least more fashionable indul- 
gences of London life. Beside the literary affectation, he 
sometimes adopts the more offensive affectation unfor- 
tunately not peculiar to any period of the youth who 
wishes to pass himself off as deep in the knowledge of the 
world. Pope, as may be here said once for all, could be 
at times grossly indecent ; and in these letters there are 
passages offensive upon this score, though the offence is far 
graver when the same tendency appears, as it sometimes 
does, in his letters to women. There is no proof that 
Pope was ever licentious in practice. He was probably more 
temperate than most of his companions, and could be accused 
of fewer lapses from strict morality than, for example, the 
excellent but thoughtless Steele. For this there was the 
very good reason that his " little, tender, crazy carcass," as 
Wycherley calls it, was utterly unfit for such excesses as 
his companions could practise with comparative impunity. 
He was bound under heavy penalties to be through life 
a valetudinarian, and such doses of wine as the respectable 
Addison used regularly to absorb, would have brought 
speedy punishment. Pope's loose talk probably meant 
little enough in the way of actual vice, though, as I have 
already said, Trumbull saw reasons for friendly warning. 
But some of his writings are stained by pruriency and 
downright obscenity ; whilst the same fault may be con- 
nected with a painful absence of that chivalrous feeling 
towards women which redeems Steele's errors of conduct 
in our estimate of his character. Pope always takes a low, 
sometimes a brutal view of the relation between the sexes. 
Enough, however, has been said upon this point. If 
Pope erred, he was certainly unfortunate in the objects of 
his youthful hero-worship. Cromwell seems to have been 
but a pedantic hanger-on of literary circles. His other 

i.] EARLY YEARS. 15 

great friend, Wycherley, had stronger claims upon his 
respect, but certainly was not likely to raise his standard 
of delicacy. Wycherley was a relic of a past literary 
epoch. He was nearly fifty years older than Pope. His 
last play, the Plain Dealer, had been produced in 
1677, eleven years before Pope's birth. The Plain 
Dealer and the Country Wife, his chief performances, 
are conspicuous amongst the comedies of the Restora- 
tion dramatists for sheer brutality. During Pope's 
boyhood he was an elderly rake about town, having 
squandered his intellectual as well as his pecuniary 
resources, but still scribbling bad verses and maxims on 
the model of Rochefoucauld. Pope had a very ex- 
cusable, perhaps we may say creditable, enthusiasm for 
the acknowledged representatives of literary glory. Before 
he was twelve years old he had persuaded some one to 
take him to Will's, that he might have a sight of the vene- 
rable Dry den ; and in the first published letter 1 to Wych- 
erley he refers to this brief glimpse, and warmly thanks 
Wycherley for some conversation about the elder poet. 
And thus, when he came to know Wycherley, he was en- 
raptured with the honour. He followed the great man 
about, as he tells us, like a dog ; and, doubtless, re- 
ceived with profound respect the anecdotes of literary life 
which fell from the old gentleman's lips. Soon a corre- 
spondence began, in which Pope adopts a less jaunty air 
than that of his letters to Cromwell, but which is con- 
ducted on both sides in the laboured complimentary style 
which was not unnatural in the days when Congreve's 
comedy was taken to represent the conversation of fashion- 
able life. Presently, however, the letters began to turn 

1 The letter is, unluckily, of doubtful authenticity ; but it repre- 
sents Pope's probable sentiments. 

16 POPE. [CHAP. 

upon an obviously dangerous topic. Pope was only seven- 
teen when it occurred to his friend to turn him to account 
as a literary assistant. The lad had already shown con- 
siderable powers of versification, and was soon employing 
them in the revision of some of the numerous composi- 
tions which amused Wycherley's leisure. It would have 
required, one might have thought, less than Wycherley's 
experience to foresee the natural end of such an alliance. 
Pope, in fact, set to work with great vigour in his favourite 
occupation of correcting. He hacked and hewed right 
and left; omitted, compressed, rearranged, and occasionally 
inserted additions of his own devising. Wycherley's 
memory had been enfeebled by illness, and now played 
him strange tricks. He was in the habit of reading him- 
self to sleep with Montaigne, Rochefoucauld, and Racine. 
Next morning he would, with entire unconsciousness, 
write down as his own the thoughts of his author, or 
repeat almost word for word some previous composition 
of his own. To remove such repetitions thoroughly would 
require a very free application of the knife, and Pope 
would not be slow to discover that he was wasting talents 
fit for original work in botching and tinkering a mass of 

Any man of ripe years would have predicted the ob- 
vious consequences ; and, according to the ordinary story, 
those consequences followed. Pope became more plain- 
speaking, and at last almost insulting in his language. 
Wycherley ended by demanding the return of his manu- 
scripts, in a letter showing his annoyance under a 
veil of civility ; and Pope sent them back with a smart 
reply, recommending Wycherley to adopt a previous 
suggestion and turn his poetry into maxims after the 
manner of Rochefoucauld. The " old scribbler," says 

i.] EARLY YEARS. 17 

Johnson, " was angry to see his pages defaced, and felt 
more pain from the criticism than content from the amend- 
ment of his faults." The story is told at length, and with 
his usual brilliance, by Macaulay, and has hitherto passed 
muster with all Pope's biographers ; and, indeed, it is so 
natural a story, and is so far confirmed by other state- 
ments of Pope, that it seems a pity to spoil it. And yet it 
must be at least modified, for we have aleady reached one 
of those perplexities which force a biographer of Pope to 
be constantly looking to his footsteps. So numerous are 
the contradictions which surround almost every incident 
of the poet's career, that one is constantly in danger of 
stumbling into some pitfall, or bound to cross it in gin- 
gerly fashion on the stepping-stone of a cautious "perhaps." 
The letters Avhich are the authority for this story have 
undergone a manipulation from Pope himself, under cir- 
cumstances to be hereafter noticed ; and recent researches 
have shown that a very false colouring has been put upon 
this as upon other passages. The nature of this strange 
perversion is a curious illustration of Pope's absorbing 

Pope, in fact, was evidently ashamed of the attitude 
which he had not unnaturally adopted to his corre- 
spondent. The first man of letters of his day could not 
bear to reveal the full degree in which he had fawned 
upon the decayed dramatist, whose inferiority to himself 
was now plainly recognized. He altered the whole tone 
of the correspondence by omission, and still worse by addi- 
tion. He did not publish a letter in which Wycherley 
gently remonstrates with his young admirer for excessive 
adulation ; he omitted from his own letters the phrase 
which had provoked the remonstrance ; and, with more 
daring falsification, he manufactured an imaginary letter 


18 POPE. [CHAP. 

to Wycherley out of a letter really addressed to his friend 
Caryll. In this letter Pope had himself addressed to 
Caryll a remonstrance similar to that which he had 
received from Wycherley. When published as a letter to 
Wycherley, it gives the impression that Pope, at the 
age of seventeen, was already rejecting excessive compli- 
ments addressed to him by his experienced friend. By 
these audacious perversions of the truth, Pope is enabled 
to heighten his youthful independence , and to represent 
himself as already exhibiting a graceful superiority to the 
reception or the offering of incense ; whilst he thus 
precisely inverts the relation which really existed between 
himself and his correspondent. 

The letters, again, when read with a due attention to 
dates, shows that Wycherley 's proneness to take offence 
has at least been exaggerated. Pope's services to Wych- 
erley were rendered on two separate occasions. The 
first set of poems were corrected during 1706 and 1707, 
and Wycherley, in speaking of this revision, far from 
showing symptoms of annoyance, speaks with grati- 
tude of Pope's kindness, and returns the expressions of 
goodwill which accompanied his criticisms. Both these 
expressions, and Wycherley's acknowledgment of them, 
were omitted in Pope's publication. More than two years 
elapsed, when (in April, 1710) Wycherley submitted a 
new set of manuscripts to Pope's unflinching severity; 
and it is from the letters which passed in regard to 
this last batch that the general impression as to the nature 
of the quarrel has been derived. But these letters, again, 
have been mutilated, and so mutilated as to increase the 
apparent tartness of the mutual retorts ; and it must 
therefore remain doubtful how far the coolness which 
ensued was really due to the cause assigned. Pope, 


r.] EARLY YEARS. 19 

writing at the time to Cromwell, expresses his vexation 
at the difference, and professes himself unable to account 
for it, though he thinks that his corrections may have 
been the cause of the rupture. An alternative rumour,* 
it seems, accused Pope of having written some satirical 
verses upon his friend. To discover the rights and 
wrongs of the quarrel is now impossible, though, unfor- 
tunately, one thing is clear, namely, that Pope was guilty of 
grossly sacrificing truth in the interests of his own vanity. 
We may, indeed, assume, without much risk of error, that 
Pope had become too conscious of his own importance to 
find pleasure or pride in doctoring another man's verses. 
It must remain uncertain how far he showed this resent- 
ment to Wycherley openly, or gratified it by some covert 
means ; and how far, again, he succeeded in calming 
Wycherley's susceptibility by his compliments, or aroused 
his wrath by more or less contemptuous treatment of his 

A year after the quarrel, Cromwell reported that 
Wycherley had again been speaking in friendly terms of 
Pope, and Pope expressed his pleasure with eagerness. 
He must, he said, be more agreeable to himself when 
agreeable to Wycherley, as the earth was brighter when 
the sun was less overcast. Wycherley, it may be re- 
marked, took Pope's advice by turning some of his verses 
into prose maxims ; and they seem to have been at last 
upon more or less friendly terms. The final scene of 
Wycherley's questionable career, some four years later, is 
given by Pope in a letter to his friend, Edward Blount. 
The old man, he says, joined the sacraments of marriage 
and extreme unction. By one he supposed himself to gain 
some advantage of his soul ; by the other, he had the 
2 See Elwin's Pope, Vol. I., cxxzv. 


POPE. C CH - l - 

pleasure of saddling his hated heir and nephew with the 
jointure of his widow. When dying, he begged his wife 
to grant him a last request, and, upon her consent, ex- 
plained it to he that she would never again marry an old 
man. Sickness, says Pope in comment, often destroys wit 
and wisdom, hut has seldom the power to remove humour. 
Wycherley's joke, replies a critic, is contemptible ; and 
yet one feels that the death scene, with this strange mix- 
ture of cynicism, spite, and superstition, half redeemed by 
imperturbable good temper, would not be unworthy of a 
place in Wycherley's own school of comedy. One could 
wish that Pope had shown a little more perception of the 
tragic side of such a conclusion. 

Pope was stiU almost a boy when he broke with 
Wycherley ; but he was already beginning to attract atten- 
tion, and within a surprisingly short time he was becom- 
ing known as one of the first writers of the day. I must 
now turn to the poems by which this reputation was 
gained, and the incidents connected with their publica- 
tion. In Pope's life, almost more than in that of any 
other poet, the history of the author is the history of the 



POPE'S rupture with Wycherley took place in the summer 
of 1710, when Pope, therefore, was just twenty-two. 
He was at this time only known as the contributor of 
some small poems to a Miscellany. Three years after- 
wards (1713) he was receiving such patronage in his great 
undertaking, the translation of Homer, as to prove con- 
clusively that he was regarded by the leaders of literature 
as a poet of very high promise ; and two years later (1715) 
the appearance of the first volume of his translation en- 
titled him to rank as the first poet of the day. So rapid 
a rise to fame has had few parallels, and was certainly not 
approached until Byron woke and found himself famous 
at twenty-four. Pope was eager for the praise of remark- 
able precocity, and was weak and insincere enough to 
alter the dates of some of his writings in order to 
strengthen his claim. Yet, even when we accept the cor- 
rected accounts of recent enquirers, there is no doubt that 
he gave proofs at a very early age of an extraordinary 
command of the resources of his art. It is still more 
evident that his merits were promptly and frankly recog- 
nized by his contemporaries. Great men and distin- 
guished authors held out friendly hands to him ; and he 
never had to undergo, even for a brief period, the dreary 

22 POPE. [CHAP. 

ordeal of neglect through which men of loftier but less 
popular genius, have been so often compelled to pass. And 
yet it unfortunately happened that, even in this early 
time, when success followed success, and the young man's 
irritable nerves might well have been soothed by the 
general chorus of admiration he excited and returned 
bitter antipathies, some of which lasted through his life. 
Pope's works belong to three distinct periods. The trans- 
lation of Homer was the great work of the middle period 
of his life. In his later years he wrote the moral and sati- 
rical poems by which he is now best known. The earlier 
period, with which I have now to deal, was one of experi- 
mental excursions into various fields of poetry, with varying 
success and rather uncertain aim. Pope had already, as we 
have seen, gone through the process of " filling his 
basket." He had written the epic poem which happily 
found its way into the flames. He had translated many 
passages that struck his fancy in the classics, especially 
considerable fragments of Ovid and Statius. Following 
Dry den, he had turned some of Chaucer into modern 
English ; and, adopting a fashion which had not as yet 
quite died of inanition, he had composed certain pastorals 
in the manner of Theocritus and Virgil. These early pro- 
ductions had been written under the eye of Trumbull; 
they had been handed about in manuscript ; Wycherley, 
as already noticed, had shown them to Walsh, himself an 
offender of the same class. Granville, afterwards Lord 
Lansdowne, another small poet, read them, and professed 
to see in Pope another Virgil ; whilst Congreve, 
Garth, Somers, Halifax, and other men of weight, con- 
descended to read, admire, and criticize. Old Tonson, 
who had published for Dryden, wrote a polite note to 
Pope, then only seventeen, saying that he had seen one of 


the Pastorals in the hands of Congreve and Walsh, 
" which was extremely fine," and requesting the honour 
of printing it. Three years afterwards it accordingly 
appeared in Tonson's Miscellany, a kind of annual, of 
which the first numbers had been edited by Dryden. 
Such miscellanies more or less discharged the function 
of a modern magazine. The plan, said Pope to Wycherley, 
is very useful to the poets, "who, like other thieves, 
escape by getting into a crowd." The volume contained 
contributions from Buckingham, Garth, and Rowe ; it 
closed with Pope's Pastorals, and opened with another set 
of pastorals by Ambrose Philips a combination which, 
as we shall see, led to one of Pope's first quarrels. 

The Pastorals have been seriously criticized ; but they 
are, in truth, mere school-boy exercises ; they represent 
nothing more than so many experiments in versification. 
The pastoral form had doubtless been used in earlier 
hands to embody true poetic feeling ; but in Pope's time 
it had become hopelessly threadbare. The fine gentlemen 
in wigs and laced coats amused themselves by writing 
about nymphs and "conscious swains, ".by way of asserting 
their claims to elegance of taste. Pope, as a boy, took the 
matter seriously, and always retained a natural fondness for 
a juvenile performance upon which he had expended great 
labour, and which was the chief proof of his extreme preco- 
city. He invites attention to his own merits, and claims 
especially the virtue of propriety. He does not, he tells 
us, like some other people, make his roses and daffodils 
bloom in the same season, and cause his nightingales to 
sing in November; and he takes particular credit for 
having remembered that there were no wolves in England, 
and having accordingly excised a passage in which Alexis 
prophesied that those animals would grow milder as they 

84 POPJfl. [CHAP. 

listened to the strains of his favourite nyniph. When a 
man has got so far as to bring to England all the pagan 
deities, and rival shepherds contending for bowls and lambs 
in alternate strophes, these niceties seem a little out of 
place. After swallowing such a camel of an anachronism 
as is contained in the following lines, it is ridiculous to 
pride oneself upon straining at a gnat : 
Inspire me, says Strephon, 

Inspire me, Phoebus, in my Delia's praise 
With Waller's strains or Granville's moving lays. 
A milkwhite ball shall at your altars stand, 
That threats a fight, and spurns the rising sand. 

Granville would certainly not have felt more surprised 
at meeting a wolf, than at seeing a milk-white bull sacri- 
ficed to Phoebus on the banks of the Thames. It would be 
a more serious complaint that Pope, who can thus admit 
anachronisms as daring as any of those which provoked 
Johnson in Lycidas, shows none of that exquisite feeling 
for rural scenery which is one of the superlative charms of 
Milton's early poems. Though country-bred, he talks 
about country sights and sounds as if he had been brought 
up at Christ's Hospital, and read of them only in VirgiL 
But, in truth, it is absurd to dwell upon such points. The 
sole point worth notice in the Pastorals is the general 
sweetness of the versification. Many corrections show how 
carefully Pope had elaborated these early lines, and by 
what patient toil he was acquiring the peculiar qualities of 
style in which he was to become pre-eminent. We may 
agree with Johnson that Pope performing upon a pastoral 
pipe is rather a ludicrous person, but for mere practice 
even nonsense verses have been found useful. 

The young gentleman was soon to give a far more 
characteristic specimen of his peculiar powers. Poets, 


according to the ordinary rule, should begin by exu- 
berant fancy, and learn to prune and refine as the reason- 
ing faculties develope. But Pope was from the first 
a conscious and deliberate artist. He had read the 
fashionable critics of his time, and had accepted their 
canons as an embodiment of irrefragable reason. His 
head was full of maxims, some of which strike us as pal- 
pable truisms, and others as typical specimens of wooden 
pedantry. Dryden had set the example of looking 
upon the French critics as authoritative lawgivers in 
poetry. Boileau's art of poetry was carefully studied, as 
bits of it were judiciously appropriated by Pope. Another 
authority was the great Bossu, who wrote in 1675 a trea- 
tise on epic poetry ; and the modern reader may best judge 
of the doctrines characteristic of the school, by the naive 
pedantry with which Addison, the typical man of taste 
of his time, invokes the authority of Bossu and Aristotle, 
in his exposition of Paradise Lost. 1 English writers 
were treading in the steps of Boileau and Horace. 
Roscommon selected for a poem the lively topic of " trans- 
lated verse," and Sheffield had written with Dryden an 
essay upon satire, and afterwards a more elaborate essay 
upon poetry. To these masterpieces, said Addison, another 
masterpiece was now added by Pope's Essay upon Criti- 
cism. Not only did Addison applaud, but later critics 
have spoken of their wonder at the penetration, learning, 
and taste exhibited by so young a man. The essay was 
carefully finished. Written apparently in 1709, it was 
published in 1711. This was as short a time, said Pope 
to Spence, as he ever let anything of his lie by him ; he 

poet who followed Bossu' s rules, said Voltaire, might be 
certain that no one would read him ; happily it was impossible to 
follow them. 

26 POPE. [CHAP. 

no doubt employed it, according to his custom, in correct- 
ing and revising, and he had prepared himself by carefully 
digesting the whole in prose. It is, however, written 
without any elaborate logical plan, though it is quite suffi- 
ciently coherent for its purpose. The maxims on which 
Pope chiefly dwells are, for the most part, the obvious 
rules which have been the common property of all gene- 
rations of critics. One would scarcely ask for originality 
in such a case, any more than one would desire a writer on 
ethics to invent new laws of morality. We require neither 
Pope nor Aristotle to tell us that critics shoidd not be 
pert nor prejudiced ; that fancy should be regulated by 
judgment ; that apparent facility comes by long training ; 
that the sound should have some conformity to the mean* 
ing ; that genius is often envied ; and that dulness is fre- 
quently beyond the reach of reproof. We might even 
guess, without the authority of Pope, backed by Bacon, 
that there are some beauties which cannot be taught by 
method, but must be reached " by a kind of felicity." It 
is not the less interesting to notice Pope's skill in polish- 
ing these rather rusty sayings into the appearance of 
novelty. In a familiar line Pope gives us the view which 
he would himself apply in such cases. 

True wit is nature to advantage dress'd, 

What oft was thought, but ne'er so well express'd. 

The only fair question, in short, is whether Pope has 
managed to give a lasting form to some of the floating 
commonplaces which have more or less suggested them- 
selves to every writer. If we apply this test, we must 
admit that if the essay upon criticism does not show deep 
thought, it shows singular skill in putting old truths. 
Pope undeniably succeeded in hitting off many phrases 


of marked felicity. He already showed the power, in which 
he was probably unequalled, of coining aphorisms out of 
commonplace. Few people read the essay now, but every- 
body is aware that " fools rush in where angels fear to 
tread," and has heard the warning 

A little learning is a dangerous thing, 
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring 

maxims which may not commend themselves as strictly 
accurate to a scientific reasoner, but which have as much 
truth as one can demand from an epigram. And besides 
many sayings which share in some degree their merit, 
there are occasional passages which rise, at least, to the 
height of graceful rhetoric if they are scarcely to be called 
poetical. One simile was long famous, and was called by 
Johnson the best in the language. It is that in which 
the sanguine youth, overwhelmed by a growing percep- 
tion of the boundlessness of possible attainments, is com- 
pared to the traveller crossing the mountains, and 

Hills peep o'er hills and Alps on Alps arise. 

The poor simile is pretty well forgotten, but is really 
a good specimen of Pope's brilliant declamation. 

The essay, however, is not uniformly polished. Be- 
tween the happier passages we have to cross stretches of 
flat prose twisted into rhyme ; Pope seems to have inten- 
tionally pitched his style at a prosaic level as fitter for 
didactic purposes ; but besides this we here and there 
come upon phrases which are not only elliptical and 
slovenly, but defy all grammatical construction. This was 
a blemish to which Pope was always strangely liable. It 
was perhaps due in part to over-correction, when the 
context was forgotten and the subject had lost its fresh- 

28 POPE. [CHAP, 

ness. Critics, again, have remarked upon the poverty of 
the rhymes, and ohserved that he makes ten rhymes to 
" wit " and twelve to " sense." The frequent recurrence 
of the words is the more awkward because they are 
curiously ambiguous. " Wit " was beginning to receive 
its modern meaning ; but Pope uses it vaguely as some- 
times equivalent to intelligence in general, sometimes 
to the poetic faculty, and sometimes to the erratic 
fancy, which the true poet restrains by sense. Pope 
would have been still more puzzled if asked to define 
precisely what he meant by the antithesis between nature 
and art. They are somehow opposed, yet art turns out 
to be only " nature methodized." We have indeed a clue 
for our guidance ; to study nature, we are told, is the 
same thing as to study Homer, and Homer should be 
read day and night, with Virgil for a comment and 
Aristotle for an expositor. Nature, good sense, Homer, 
Virgil, and the Stagyrite all, it seems, come to much the 
same thing. 

It would be very easy to pick holes in this very loose 
theory. But it is better to try to understand the point 
of view indicated ; for, in truth, Pope is really stating the 
assumptions which guided his whole career. No one will 
accept his position at the present time ; but any one who 
is incapable of, at least, a provisional sympathy, may as 
well throw Pope aside at once, and with Pope most con- 
temporary literature. 

The dominant figure in Pope's day was the Wit. 
The wit taken personally was the man who repre- 
sented what we now describe by culture or the spirit of 
the age. Bright clear common sense was for once having 
its own way, and tyrannizing over the faculties from which 
it too often suffers violence. The favoured faculty 


never doubted its own qualification for supremacy in every 
department. In metaphysics it was triumphing with 
Hobbes and Locke over the remnants of scholasticism; 
under Tillotson, it was expelling mystery from religion ; 
and in art it was declaring war against the extravagant, the 
romantic, the mystic, and the Gothic, a word then used 
as a simple term of abuse. Wit and sense are but dif- 
ferent avatars of the same spirit; wit was the form in 
which it showed itself in coffee-houses, and sense that in 
which it appeared in the pulpit or parliament. When 
Walsh told Pope to be correct, he was virtually advising 
him to carry the same spirit into poetry. The classicism 
of the time was the natural corollary ; for the classical 
models were the historical symbols of the movement 
which Pope represented. He states his view very tersely 
in the essay. Classical culture had been overwhelmed 
by the barbarians, and the monks " finished what the 
Goths began." Letters revived when the study of classi- 
cal models again gave an impulse and supplied a 

At length Erasmus, that great injured name, 
The glory of the priesthood and their shame, 
Stemm'd the wild torrent of a barbarous age, 
And drove these holy Vandals off the stage. 

The classicalism of Pope's time was no doubt very 
different from that of the period of Erasmus ; but in his 
view it differed only because the contemporaries of 
Dryden had more thoroughly dispersed the mists of the 
barbarism which still obscured the Shaksperean age, 
and from which even Milton or Cowley had not com- 
pletely escaped. Dryden and Boileau and the French 
critics, with their interpreters Roscommon, Sheffield, and 
Walsh, who found rules in Aristotle, and drew their 

30 POPE. [CHAP. 

precedents from Homer, were at last stating the pure 
canons of unadulterated sense. To this school, wit and 
sense, and nature, and the classics, all meant pretty much 
the same. That was pronounced to be unnatural which 
was too silly, or too far-fetched, or too exalted, to approve 
itself to the good sense of a wit ; and the very incarnation 
and eternal type of good sense and nature was to be 
found in the classics. The test of thorough polish and 
refinement was the power of ornamenting a speech with an 
appropriate phrase from Horace or Virgil, or prefixing a 
Greek motto to an essay in the Spectator. If it was 
necessary to give to any utterance an air of philosophical 
authority, a reference to Longinus or Aristotle was the 
natural device. Perhaps the acquaintance with classics 
might not be very profound ; but the classics supplied 
at least a convenient symbol for the spirit which had 
triumphed against Gothic barbarism and scholastic 

Even the priggish wits of that day were capable of 
being bored by didactic poetry, and especially by such 
didactic poetry as resolved itself too easily into a string 
of maxims, not more poetical in substance than the im- 
mortal " 'Tis a sin to steal a pin." The essay published 
anonymously did not make any rapid success till 
Pope sent round copies to well-known critics. Addison's 
praise and Dennis's abuse helped, as we shall presently 
see, to give it notoriety. Pope, however, returned from 
criticism to poetry, and his next performance was in 
some degree a fresh, but far less puerile, performance upon 
the pastoral pipe. 2 Nothing could be more natural than 

8 There is the usual contradiction as to the date of composition 
of WindsorForest. Part seems to have been written early (Pope 
says 1704), and part certainly not before 1712. 


for the young poet to take for a text the forest in which 
he lived. Dull as the natives might be, their dwelling- 
place was historical, and there was an excellent precedent 
for such a performance. Pope, as we have seen, was 
familiar with Milton's juvenile poems ; but such works as 
the Allegro and Penseroso were too full of the genuine 
country spirit to suit his probable audience. Wycherley, 
whom he frequently invited to come to Binfield, would 
undoubtedly have found Milton a bore. But Sir John 
Denham, a thoroughly masculine, if not, as Pope calls 
him, a majestic poet, was a guide whom the Wycherleys 
would respect. His Cooper's Hill (in 1642) was the first 
example of what Johnson calls local poetry poetry, that 
is, devoted to the celebration of a particular place ; and, 
moreover, it was one of the early models of the rhythm 
which became triumphant in the hands of Dryden. One 
couplet is still familiar : 

Though deep, yet clear ; though gentle, yet not dull ; 
Strong without rage ; without o'erflowing, full. 

The poem has some vigorous descriptive touches, but is 
in the main a forcible expression of the moral and politi- 
cal reflections which would be approved by the admirers 
of good sense in poetry. 

Pope's Windsor Forest, which appeared in the be- 
ginning of 1713, is closely and avowedly modelled upon 
this original. There is still a considerable infusion of 
the puerile classicism of the Pastorals, which contrasts 
awkwardly with Denham's strength, and a silly episode 
about the nymph Lodona changed into the river Loddon 
by Diana, to save her from the pursuit of Pan. But the 
style is animated, and the descriptions, though seldom 
original, show Pope's frequent felicity of language. 

32 POPE. [CHAP. 

Wordsworth, indeed, was pleased to say that Pope had 
here introduced almost the only " new images of internal 
nature" to be found between Milton and Thomson. 
Probably the good Wordsworth was wishing to do a little 
bit of excessive candour. Pope will not introduce his 
scenery without a turn suited to the taste of the town : 

Here waving groves a chequer'd scene display, 
And part admit and part exclude the day ; 
As some coy nymph her lover's fond address, 
Nor quite indulges nor can quite repress. 

He has some well turned lines upon the sports of the 
forest, though they are clearly not the lines of a sports- 
man. They betray something of the sensitive lad's 
shrinking from the rough squires whose only literature 
consisted of Durfey's songs, and who would have heartily 
laughed at his sympathy for a dying pheasant. I may 
observe in passing that Pope always showed the true 
poet's tenderness for the lower animals, and disgust at 
bloodshed. He loved his dog, and said that he would 
have inscribed over his grave, " rare Bounce," but for 
the appearance of ridiculing " rare Ben Jonson." He 
spoke with horror of a contemporary dissector of live 
dogs, and the pleasantest of his papers in the Guardian 
is a warm remonstrance against cruelty to animals. He 
" dares not " attack hunting, he says and, indeed, such 
an attack requires some courage even at the present day 
but he evidently has no sympathy with huntsmen, and 
has to borrow his description from Statius, which was 
hardly the way to get the true local colour. Windsor 
Forest, however, like Cooper's Hill, speedily diverges into 
historical and political reflections. The barbarity of the 
old forest laws, the poets Denham and Cowley and 
Surrey, who had sung on the banks of the Thames, and 


the heroes who made Windsor illustrious, suggest obvious 
thoughts, put into verses often brilliant, though some- 
times affected, varied by a compliment to Truinbull and 
an excessive eulogy of Granville, to whom the poem is 
inscribed. The whole is skilfully adapted to the time 
by a brilliant eulogy upon the peace which was concluded 
just as the poem was published. The Whig poet Tickell, 
soon to be Pope's rival, was celebrating the same " lofty 
theme " on his " artless reed," and introducing a pretty 
little compliment to Pope. To readers who have lost the 
taste for poetry of this class one poem may seem about as 
good as the other ; but Pope's superiority is plain enough 
to a reader who will condescend to distinguish. His 
verses are an excellent specimen of his declamatory style 
polished, epigrammatic, and well expressed ; and, though 
keeping far below the regions of true poetry, preserving 
just that level which would commend them to the literary 
statesmen and the politicians at Will's and Button's. 
Perhaps some advocate of Free Trade might try upon a 
modern audience the lines in which Pope expresses his 
aspiration in a footnote that London may one day become 
a " FREE PORT." There is at least not one antiquated or 
obscure phrase in the whole. Here are half-a-dozen 
lines : 

The time shall come, when, free as seas and wind, 
Unbounded Thames shall flow for all mankind, 
Whole nations enter with each swelling tide, 
And seas but join the regions they divide ; 
Earth's distant ends our glory shall behold, 
And the new world launch forth to seek the old. 

In the next few years Pope found other themes for the 
display of his declamatory powers. Of the Temple of 
Fame (1715), a frigid imitation of Chaucer, I need only 
say that it is one of Pope's least successful performances ; 


34 POPE. [CHAP. 

but I must notice more fully two rhetorical poems which ap- 
peared in 1717. These were the Elegy to the Memory of 
an Unfortunate Lady and the Eloisa to Abelard. Both 
poems, and especially the last, have received the warmest 
praises from Pope's critics, and even from critics who 
were most opposed to his school. They are, in fact, his 
chief performances of the sentimental kind. Written in 
his youth, and yet when his powers of versification had 
reached their fullest maturity, they represent an element 
generally absent from his poetry. Pope was at the period 
in which, if ever, a poet should sing of love, and in which 
we expect the richest glow and fervour of youthful imagi- 
nation. Pope was neither a Burns, nor a Byron, nor a 
Keats ; but here, if anywhere, we should find those 
qualities in which he has most affinity to the poets of 
passion or of sensuous emotion, not soured by experience 
or purified by reflection. The motives of the two poems 
were skilfully chosen. Pope as has already appeared to 
some extent was rarely original in his designs ; he liked to 
have the outlines at, last drawn for him, to be filled with 
his own colouring. The Eloisa to Abelard was founded 
upon a translation from the French, published in 1714 by 
Hughes (author of the Siege of Damascus), which is itself 
a manipulated translation from the famous Latin originals. 
Pope, it appears, kept very closely to the words of the 
English translation, and in some places has done little 
more than versify the prose, though, of course, it is com- 
pressed, rearranged, and modified. The Unfortunate 
Lady has been the cause of a good deal of controversy. 
Pope's elegy implies, vaguely enough, that she had been 
cruelly treated by her guardians, and had committed 
suicide in some foreign country. The verses, as com- 
mentators decided, showed such genuine feeling, that 


the story narrated in them must have been authentic, 
and one of his own correspondents (Caryll) begged him 
for an explanation of the facts. Pope gave no answer, 
but left a posthumous note to an edition of his letters 
calculated, perhaps intended, to mystify future inquirers. 
The lady, a Mrs. Weston, to whom the note pointed, did 
not die till 1724, and could therefore not have committed 
suicide in 1717. The mystification was childish enough, 
though if Pope had committed no worse crime of the 
kind, one would not consider him to be a very grievous 
offender. The inquiries of Mr. Dilke, who cleared up 
this puzzle, show that there were in fact two ladies, Mrs. 
Weston and a Mrs. Cope, known to Pope about this 
time, both of whom suffered under some domestic perse- 
cution. Pope seems to have taken up their cause with 
energy, and sent money to Mrs. Cope when, at a later 
period, she was dying abroad in great distress. His zeal 
seems to have been sincere and generous, and it is possible 
enough that the elegy was a reflection of his feelings, 
though it suggested an imaginary state of facts. If this 
be so, the reference to the lady in his posthumous note 
contained some relation to the truth, though if taken too 
literally it would be misleading. 

The poems themselves are, beyond all doubt, impres- 
sive compositions. They are vivid and admirably worked. 
" Here," says Johnson of the Eloisa to Abelard, the most 
important of the two, " is particularly observable the 
curiosa felicitas, a fruitful soil and careful cultivation. 
Here is no crudeness of sense, nor asperity of language." 
So far there can be no dispute. The style has the highest 
degree of technical perfection, and it is generally added 
that the poems are as pathetic as they are exquisitely 
written. Bowles, no hearty lover of Pope, declared the 

36 POPE. [CHAP. 

Eloisa to be "infinitely superior to everything of the 
kind, ancient or modern." The tears shed, says Hazlitt 
of the same poem, " are drops gushing from the heart j 
the words are burning sighs breathed from the soul of 
love." And De Quinsy ends an eloquent criticism by 
declaring that_the "lyrical t""vilfr nf tfia r.Tia.npfp.a, the 
hop'eptrie^tears, the rapture^ the penitence, the despair, 
place the reader in tumultuous sympathy with the poor 
distracted nun." The pathos of the Unfortunate Lady 
has been almost equally praised, and I may quote from it 
a famous passage which Mackintosh repeated with emotion 
to repel a charge of coldness brought against Pope : 

By foreign hands thy dying eyes were closed, 
By foreign hands thy decent limbs composed, 
By foreign hands thy humble grave adorn' d, 
By strangers honour" d and by strangers monrn'd ! 
What though no friends in sable weeds appear, 
Grieve for an hour, perhaps, then mourn a year, 
And bear about the mockery of woe 
To midnight dances and the public show ? 
What though no weeping loves thy ashes grace, 
Nor polish'd marble emulate thy face ? 
What though no sacred earth allow thee room, 
Nor hallow'd dirge be mutter'd o'er thy tomb ? 
Yet shall thy grave with rising flowers be dress'd, 
And the green turf lie lightly on thy breast ; 
There shall the morn her earliest tears bestow, 
There the first roses of the year shall blow ; 
While angels with their silver wings o'ershade 
The ground, now sacred by thy reliques made. 

The more elaborate poetry of the Eloisa is equally polished 
throughout, and too much praise cannot easily be bestowed 
upon the skill with which the romantic scenery of the 
convent is indicated in the background, and the force 
with which Pope has given the revulsions of feeling of 


his unfortunate heroine frorn earthly to heavenly love, 
ancT from keen remorse to renewed gusts of overpowering 
passion: All this mayTje" said, and without opposing" " 
high critical authority. And yet, I must also say, 
whether with or without authority, that I, at least, can 
read the poems without the least " disposition to cry," 
and that a single pathetic touch of Qowper or Words- 
worth strikes incomparably deeper. And if 1 seek'Tor'a 
reason, it seems to be simply that Pope never crosses the 
undefinable, but yet ineffaceable, line which separates true 
poetry from rhetoric. The Eloisa ends rather flatly by 
one of Pope's characteristic aphorisms. " He best can 
paint them (the woes, that is, of Eloisa) who shall feel 
them most ; " and it is characteristic, by the way, that 
even in these his most impassioned verses, the lines which 
one remembers are of the same epigrammatic stamp, e.g. : 

A heap of dust alone remains of thee, 

'Tis all thou art and all the proud shall be ! 

I mourn the lover, not lament the fault. 

How happy is the blameless vestal's lot, 
The world forgetting, by the world forgot. 

The worker in moral aphorisms cannot forget himself even 
in the full swing of his fervid declamation. I have no 
doubt that Pope so far exemplified his own doctrine that 
he truly felt whilst he was writing. His feelings make 
him eloquent, but they do not enable him to " snatch a 
grace beyond the reach of art," to blind us for a moment 
to the presence of the consummate workman, judiciously 
blending his colours, heightening his effects, and skilfully 
managing his transitions or consciously introducing an 
abrupt outburst of a new mood. The smoothness of the 
verses imposes monotony even upon the varying pas- 

38 POPE. [CHAP. 

sions -which are supposed to struggle in Eloisa's breast. 
It is not merely our knowledge that Pope is speak- 
ing dramatically which prevents us from receiving the 
same kind of impressions as we receive from poetry such, 
for example, as some of Cowper's minor pieces into 
which we know that a man is really putting his whole 
heart. The comparison would not be fair, for in such 
cases we are moved by knowledge of external facts as 
well as by the poetic power. But it is simply that Pope 
always resembles an orator whose gestures are studied, 
and who thinks while he is speaking of the fall of his 
robes and the attitude of his hands. He is throughout 
academical ; and though knowing with admirable nicety 
how grief should be represented, and what have been the 
expedients of his best predecessors, he misses the one 
essential touch of spontaneous impulse. 

One other blemish is perhaps more fatal to the popu- 
larity of the Eloisa. There is a taint of something un- 
wholesome and effeminate. Pope, it is true, is only 
following the language of the original in the most offen- 
sive passages ; but we see too plainly that he has dwelt 
too fondly upon those passages, and worked them up 
with especial care. We need not be prudish in our 
judgment of impassioned poetry; but when the passion 
has this false ring, the ethical coincides with the sesthetic 

I have mentioned these poems here, because they seem 
to be the development of the rhetorical vein which ap- 
peared in the earlier work. But I Eave^ passed over 
another work which has sometimes been regarded as his 
masterpiece. A Lord Petre had offended a Miss Fermor 
by stealing a lock of her hair. She thought that he 
showed more gallantry than courtesy, and some unplea- 


sant feeling resulted between the families. Pope's friend, 
Caryll, thought that it might be appeased if the young 
poet would turn the whole affair into friendly ridicule. 
Nobody, it might well be supposed, had a more dexterous 
touch ; and a brilliant trifle from his hands, just fitted for 
the atmosphere of drawing-rooms, would be a convenient 
peace-offering, and was the very thing in which he might 
be expected to succeed. Pope accordingly set to work at a 
dainty little mock-heroic, in which he describes, in play- 
ful mockery of the conventional style, the fatal coffee- 
drinking at Hampton, in which the too daring peer 
appropriated the lock. The poem received the praise 
which it well deserved ; for certainly the young poet had 
executed his task to a nicety. No more brilliant, sparkling, 
vivacious trifle, is to be found in our literature than the 
Rape of the Lock, even in this early form. Pope re- 
ceived permission from the lady to publish it in Lintot's 
Miscellany in 1712, and a wider circle admired it, though 
it seems that the lady and her family began to think that 
young Mr. Pope was making rather too free with her 
name. Pope meanwhile, animated by his success, hit 
upon a singularly happy conception, by which he thought 
that the poem might be rendered more important. The. 
solid critics_^f_t^oae_Hay^ w^e. mach _ogcupied with the 
machinery of epic poems ; the machinery being coni- 
gods and goddesses who, .from -the., days of 
the fortunes of heroes. He had 
hit upon a curious French book, the Comte de Galalia, 
which professes to reveal the mysteries of the Eosicru- 
cians, and it occurred to him that the elemental sylphs 
and gnomes would serve his purpose admirably. He 
spoke of his new device to Addison, who administered 
and there is not the slightest reason for doubting his per- 

40 POPE. [CHAP. 

feet sincerity and good meaning a little dose of cold 
water. The poem, as it stood, was a " delicious little 
thing "merum sal and it would be a pity to alter it. 
Pope, however, adhered to his plan, made a splendid 
success, and thought that Addison must have been 
prompted by some mean motive. The Rope of the Lock 
appeared in its new form, with sylphs and gnomes, and 
an ingenious account of a game at cards and other im- 
provements, in 1714. Pope declared, and critics have 
agreed, that he never showed more skill than in the 
remodelling of this poem ; and it has ever since held a 
kind of recognised supremacy amongst the productions of 
the drawing-room muse. 

The reader must remember that the so-called heroic 
style of Pope's period is now hopelessly effete. No human 
being would care about machinery and the rules of Bossu, 
or read without utter weariness the mechanical imitations 
of Homer and Virgil which were occasionally attempted 
by the Blackmores and other less ponderous versifiers. 
The shadow grows dim with the substance. The bur- 
lesque loses its point when we care nothing for the ori- 
ginal; and, so far, Pope's bit of filigree-work, as Hazlitt 
calls it, has become tarnished. The very mention of 
beaux and belles suggests the kind of feeling with which 
we disinter fragments of old-world finery from the depths 
of an ancient cabinet, and even the wit is apt to sound 
wearisome. And further, it must be allowed to some 
hostile critics that Pope has a worse defect. The poem 
is, in effect, a satire upon feminine frivolity. It continues 
the strain of mockery against hoops and patches and their 
wearers, which supplied Addison and his colleagues with 
the materials of so many Spectators. I think that even 
in Addison there is something which rather j[ars upon us. 


His persiflage is full of humour and kindliness, but underly- 
ing it there is a tone of superiority to women which is some- 
times offensive. It is taken for granted that a woman is a 
fool, or at least should be flattered if any man condescends 
to talk sense to her. With Pope this tone becomes harsher, 
and the merciless satirist begins to show himself. In truth, 
Pope can be inimitably pungent, but he can never be 
simply playful. Addison was too condescending with his 
pretty pupils ; but under Pope's courtesy there lurks con- 
tempt, and his smile has a disagreeable likeness to a sneer. 
If Addison's manner sometimes suggests the blandness of 
a don who classes women with the inferior beings un- 
worthy of the Latin grammar, Pope suggests the brilliant 
wit whose contempt has a keener edge from his resent- 
ment against fine ladies blinded to his genius by his per- 
sonal deformity. 

Even in his dedication, Pope, with unconscious imper- 
tinence, insults his heroine for her presumable ignorance 
of his critical jargon. His smart epigrams want but a 
slight change of tone to become satire. It is the same 
writer who begins an essay on women's characters by 
telling a woman that her sex is a compound of 

Matter too soft a lasting mask to bear ; 

And best distinguished by black, brown, or fair, 

and communicates to her the pleasant truth that 

Every woman is at heart a rake. 

Women, in short, are all frivolous beings, whose one 
genuine interest is in love-making. The same sentiment 
is really implied in the more playful lines in the Rape of 
the Lock. The sylphs are warned by omens that some 
misfortune impends ; but 'hey don't know what. 

Whether the i-ympb shall brepl: Diana's law, 

Or some frail china jar receive a Haw ; 

42 POPE. [CHAP. 

Or stain her honour or her new brocade, 

Forget her prayers or miss a masquerade ; 

Or lose her heart or necklace at a ball, 

Or whether heaven has doom'd that Shock must fall. 

We can understand that Miss Fermor would feel such 
raillery to be equivocal. It may be added, that an equal 
want of delicacy is implied in the mock-heroic battle at 
the end, where the ladies are gifted with an excess of 
screaming power : 

' Restore the lock ! ' she cries, and all around 
' Restore the lock,' the vaulted roofs rebound 
Not fierce Othello in so loud a strain 
Roar*d for the handkerchief that caused his pain. 

These faults, though far from trifling, are yet felt only 
as blemishes in the admirable beauty and brilliance of 
the poem. The successive scenes are given with so firm 
and clear a touch there is jsuch_a_ sense of form, the 
' language ia, such a dexterous elevation of th e ordinary 
sociiartwaddleinto the mock-heroic, that it is impossible not 
to...iesQgnize..a consummate artistic _p_ower. The dazzling 
display of true wit and fancy blinds us for the time 
to the want of that real tenderness and humour, which 
would have softened some harsh passages, and given a 
more enduring charm to the poetry. It has, in short, the 
merit that belongs to any work of art which expresses 
in the most finished form the sentiment characteristic of a 
given social phase ; one deficient in many of the most 
ennobling influences, but yet one in which the arts of con- 
verse represent a very high development of shrewd sense 
refined into vivid wit. And we may, I think, admit that 
there is some foundation for the genealogy that traces 
Pope's Ariel back to his more elevated ancestor in the 
Tempest. The later Ariel, indeed, is regarded as the soul 


of a coquette, and is almost an allegory of the spirit of 
poetic fancy in slavery to polished society. 

Gums and pomatums shall his flight restrain 
While clogg'd he beats his silken wings in vain. 

Pope's Ariel is a parody of the ethereal being into whom / / 
Shakspeare had refined the ancient fairy ; but it is a parody 
which still preserves a sense of the delicate and grace- 
ful. The ancient race which appeared for the last time in 
this travesty of the fashion of Queen Anne, still showed 
some touch of its ancient beauty. Since that time no 
fairy has appeared without being hopelessly childish or 

Let us now turn from the poems to the author's per- 
sonal career during the same period. In the remarkable 
autobiographic poem called the Epistle to Arbuthnot, 
Pope speaks of his early patrons and friends, and adds 

Soft were my numbers ; who could take offence 
When pure description held the place of sense ? 
Like gentle Fanny's was my flow'ry theme, 
A painted mistress or a purling stream. 
Yet then did Gildon draw his venal quill 
I wish'd the man a dinner, and sat still. 
Yet then did Dennis rave in furious fret ; 
I never answer'd, I was not in debt. 

Pope's view of his own career suggests the curious pro- 
blem : how it came to pass that so harmless a man should 
be the butt of so many hostilities ? How could any man 
be angry with a writer of gentle pastorals and versified love- 
letters ? The answer of Pope was, that this was the normal 
state of things. " The life of a wit," he says, in the preface 
to his works, " is a warfare upon earth ;" and the warfare 
results from the hatred of men of genius natural to the dull. 
Had any one else made such a statement, Pope would have 

44 POPE. [CHAP. 

seen its resemblance to the complaint of the one reasonable 
juryman overpowered by eleven obstinate fellows. But we 
may admit that an intensely sensitive nature is a bad qua- 
lification for a public career. A man who ventures into 
the throng of competitors without a skin will be tor- 
tured by every touch, and suffer the more if he turns to 

Pope's first literary performances had not been so harm- 
less as he suggests. Amongst the minor men of letters of 
the day was the surly John Dennis. He was some thirty 
years Pope's senior ; a writer of dreary tragedies which 
had gained a certain success by their Whiggish tendencies, 
and of ponderous disquisitions upon critical questions, 
not much cruder in substance though heavier in form than 
many utterances of Addison or Steele. He could, however, 
snarl out some shrewd things when provoked, and was 
known to the most famous wits of the day. He had corre- 
sponded with Dryden, Congreve, and Wycherley, and pub- 
lished some of their letters. Pope, it seems, had been intro- 
duced to him by Cromwell, but they had met only two or 
three times. When Pope had become ashamed of follow- 
ing Wycherley about like a dog, he would soon find out 
that a Dennis did not deserve the homage of a rising 
genius. Possibly Dennis had said something of Pope's 
Pastorals, and Pope had probably been a witness, perhaps 
more than a mere witness, to some passage of arms in 
which Dennis lost his temper. In mere youthful imper- 
tinence he introduced an offensive touch in the Essay upon 
Criticism. It would be well, he said, if critics could 
advise authors freely, 

But Appius reddens at each word you speak, 
And stares, tremendous, with a threatening eye, 
Like some fierce tyrant in old tapestry. 


The name Appius referred to Dennis's tragedy of Appius 
and Virginia, a piece now recollected solely by the fact 
that poor Dennis had invented some new thunder for the 
performance ; and by his piteous complaint against the 
actors for afterwards " stealing his thunder," had started a 
proverbial expression. Pope's reference stung Dennis to 
the quick. He replied by a savage pamphlet, pulling Pope's 
essay to pieces, and hitting some real blots, but diverging 
into the coarsest personal abuse. Not content with saying 
in his preface that he was attacked with the utmost false- 
hood and calumny by a little affected hypocrite, who had 
nothing in his mouth but truth, candour, and good- 
nature, he reviled Pope for his personal defects ; insinu- 
ated that he was a hunch-backed toad; declared that 
he was the very shape of the bow of the god of love ; 
that he might be thankful that he was born a modern, 
for had he been born of Greek parents his life would 
have been no longer than that of one of his poems, 
namely, half a day ; and that his outward form, however 
like a monkey's, could not deviate more from the average 
of humanity than his mind. These amenities gave Pope 
his first taste of good savage slashing abuse. The revenge 
was out of all proportion to the offence. Pope, at first, 
seemed to take the assault judiciously. He kept silence, 
and simply marked some of the faults exposed by Dennis 
for alteration. But the wound rankled, and when an 
opportunity presently offered itself, Pope struck savagely 
at his enemy. To show how this came to pass, I must 
rise from poor old Dennis to a more exalted literary 

The literary world, in which Dryden had recently 
been, and Pope was soon to be, the most conspicuous 
figure, was for the present under the mild dictatorship of 

46 POPE. [CHAP. 

Addison. We know Addison as one of the most kindly 
and delicate of humourists, and we can perceive the 
gentleness which made him one of the most charming of 
companions in a small society. His sense of the ludicrous 
saved him from the disagreeable ostentation of powers 
which were never applied to express bitterness of feeling or 
to edge angry satire. The reserve of his sensitive nature 
made access difficult, but he was so transparently modest 
and unassuming that his shyness was not, as is too often 
the case, mistaken for pride. It is easy to understand the 
posthumous affection which Macaulay has so eloquently 
expressed, and the contemporary popularity which, accord- 
ing to Swift, would have made people unwilling to refuse 
him had he asked to be king. And yet I think that one 
cannot read Addison's praises without a certain recalcitra- 
tion, like that which one feels in the case of the model boy 
who wins all the prizes, including that for good conduct. 
It is hard to feel very enthusiastic about a virtue whose 
dictates coincide so precisely with the demands of decorum, 
and which leads by so easy a path to reputation and success. 
Popularity is more often significant of the tact which 
makes a man avoid giving offence, than of the warm 
impulses of a generous nature. A good man who mixes 
with the world ought to be hated, if not to hate. But 
whatever we may say against his excessive goodness, 
Addison deserved and received universal esteem, which 
in some cases became enthusiastic. Foremost amongst 
his admirers was the warm-hearted, reckless, impetuous 
Steele, the typical Irishman ; and amongst other members 
of his little senate as Pope called it were Ambrose 
Philips and Tickell, young men of letters and sound 
Whig politics, and more or less competitors of Pope in 
literature. When Pope was first becoming known in 


London the Whigs were out of power ; Addison and his 
friends were generally to be found at Button's Coffee-house 
in the afternoon, and were represented to the society of the 
tune by the Spectator, which began in March, 1711, and 
appeared daily to the end of 1712. Naturally, the young 
Pope would be anxious to approach this famous clique, 
though his connexions lay in the first instance amongst 
the Jacobite and Catholic families. Steele, too, would be 
glad to welcome so promising a contributor to the Spec- 
tator and its successor the Guardian. 

Pope, we may therefore believe, was heartily delighted 
when, some months after Dennis's attack, a notice of 
his Essay upon Criticism appeared in the Spectator, De- 
cember 20, 1711. The reviewer censured some attacks 
upon contemporaries a reference obviously to the lines 
upon Dennis which the author had admitted into his 
" very fine poem ;" but there were compliments enough to 
overbalance this slight reproof. Pope wrote a letter of 
acknowledgment to Steele, overflowing with the sincerest 
gratitude of a young poet on his first recognition by a 
high authority. Steele, in reply, disclaimed the article, 
and promised to introduce Pope to its real author, the 
great Addison himself. It does not seem that the ac- 
quaintance thus opened with the Addisonians ripened 
very rapidly, or led to any considerable results. Pope, 
indeed, is said to have written some Spectators. He 
certainly sent to Steele his Messiah, a sacred eclogue in 
imitation of Virgil's Pollio. It appeared on May 14th, 
1712, and is one of Pope's dexterous pieces of workman- 
ship, in which phrases from Isaiah are so strung together 
as to form a good imitation of the famous poem 
which was once supposed to entitle Virgil to some place 
among the inspired heralds of Christianity. Pope sent 

48 POPE. [CHAP. 

another letter or two to Steele, which look very much like 
intended contributions to the Spectator, and a short letter 
about Hadrian's verses to his soul, which appeared in No- 
vember, 1712. When, in 1713, the Guardian succeeded 
the Spectator, Pope was one of Steele's contributors, and a 
paper by him upon dedications appeared as the fourth 
number. He soon gave a more remarkable proof of his 
friendly relations with Addison. 

It is probable that no first performance of a play upon 
the English stage ever excited so much interest as that of 
Addison's Cato. It was not only the work of the first 
man of letters of the day, but it had, or was taken to 
have, a certain political significance. " The time was 
come," says Johnson, " when those who affected to think 
liberty in danger affected likewise to think that a stage- 
play might preserve it." Addison, after exhibiting more 
than the usual display of reluctance, prepared his play 
for representation, and it was undoubtedly taken to be in 
some sense a Whig manifesto. It was therefore remark- 
able that he should have applied to Pope for a prologue, 
though Pope's connexions were entirely of the anti- 
Whiggish kind, and a passage in Windsor Forest, his last 
new poem (it appeared in March 1713), indicated pretty 
plainly a refusal to accept the Whig shibboleths. In 
the Forest he was enthusiastic for the peace, and sneered 
at the Eevolution. Pope afterwards declared that Ad- 
dison had disavowed all party intentions at the time, 
and he accused him of insincerity for afterwards taking 
credit (in a poetical dedication of Cato) for the services 
rendered by his play to the cause of liberty. Pope's 
assertion is worthless in any case where he could exalt his 
own character for consistency at another man's expense, 
but it is true that both parties were inclined to equivocate. 


It is, indeed, difficult to understand how, if any " stage- 
play could preserve liberty," such a play as Cato should 
do the work. The polished declamation is made up of 
the platitudes common to Whigs and Tories ; and Boling- 
broke gave the cue to his own party when he presented 
fifty guineas to Cato's representative for defending the 
cause of liberty so well against a perpetual dictator. 
The Whigs, said Pope, design a second present when 
they can contrive as good a saying. Bolingbroke was, of 
course, aiming at Marlborough, and his interpretation 
was intrinsically as plausible as any that could have 
been devised by his antagonists. Each side could adopt 
Cato as easily as rival sects can quote the Bible ; and it 
seems possible that Addison may have suggested to Pope 
that nothing in Cato could really offend his principles. 
Addison, as Pope also tells us, thought the prologue 
ambiguous, and altered " Britons, arise ! " to " Britons, 
attend/" lest the phrase should be thought to hint at 
a new revolution. Addison advised Pope about this 
time not to be content with the applause of " half the 
nation," and perhaps regarded him as one who, by the fact 
of his external position with regard to parties, would be 
a more appropriate sponsor for the play. 

Whatever the intrinsic significance of Cato, circum- 
stances gave it a political colour ; and Pope, in a lively 
description of the first triumphant night to his friend Caryll, 
says, that as author of the successful and very spirited 
prologue, he was clapped into a Whig, sorely against his 
will, at every two lines. Shortly before he had spoken in 
the warmest terms to the same correspondent of the admi- 
rable moral tendency of the work ; and perhaps he had 
not realized the full party significance till he became con- 
scious of the impression produced upon the audience. Not 


50 POPE. [CHAP. 

long afterwards (letter of June 12, 1713), we find him 
complaining that his connexion with Steele and the 
Guardian was giving offence to some honest Jacobites. 
Had they known the nature of the connexion, they need 
hardly have grudged Steele his contributor. His next 
proceedings possibly suggested the piece of advice which 
Addison gave to Lady M. W. Montague : " Leave Pope 
as soon as you can; he will certainly play you some 
devilish trick else." 

His first trick was calculated to vex an editor's soul. 
Ambrose Philips, as I have said, had published certain 
pastorals in the same volume with Pope's. Philips, though 
he seems to have been less rewarded than most of his com- 
panions, was certainly accepted as an attached member of 
Addison's "little senate;" and that body was not more 
free than other mutual admiration societies from the desire 
to impose its own prejudices upon the public. When 
Philips's Distressed Mother, a close imitation of Kacine's 
Andromaque, was preparing for the stage, the Spectator 
was taken by "Will Honeycomb to a rehearsal (Spectator, 
January 31, 1712), and Sir Eoger de Coverley himself 
attended one of the performances (/&., March, 25) and was 
profoundly affected by its pathos. The last paper was of 
course by Addison, and is a real triumph of art as a most 
delicate application of humour to the slightly unworthy 
purpose of puffing a friend and disciple. Addison had 
again praised Philips's Pastorals in the Spectator (October 
30, 1712), and amongst the early numbers of the Guardian 
were a short series of papers upon pastoral poetry, in 
which the fortunate Ambrose was again held up as a 
model, whilst no notice was taken of Pope's rival perform- 
ance. Pope, one may believe, had a contempt for Philips, 
whose pastoral inanities, whether better or worse than his 


own, had not the excuse of being youthful productions. 
Philips has bequeathed to our language the phrase 
"Namby-pamby," imposed upon him by Henry Carey 
(author of Sally in our Alley, and the clever farce Chro- 
nonhotonthologos), and years after this he wrote a poem 
to Miss Pulteney in the nursery, beginning, 

" Dimply damsel, sweetly smiling," 

which may sufficiently interpret the meaning of his nick- 
name. Pope's irritable vanity was vexed at the liberal 
praises bestowed on such a rival, and he revenged himself 
by an artifice more ingenious than scrupulous. He sent an 
anonymous article to Steele for the Guardian. It is a pro- 
fessed continuation of the previous papers on pastorals, and 
is ostensibly intended to remove the appearance of par- 
tiality arising from the omission of Pope's name. In the 
first paragraphs the design is sufficiently concealed to 
mislead an unwary reader into the belief that Philips is 
preferred to Pope ; but the irony soon becomes trans- 
parent, and Philips's antiquated affectation is contrasted 
with the polish of Pope, who is said even to " deviate into 
downright poetry." Steele, it is said, was so far mystified 
as to ask Pope's permission to publish the criticism. Pope 
generously permitted, and accordingly Steele printed 
what he must soon have discovered to be a shrewd attack 
upon his old friend and ally. Some writers have found 
a difficulty in understanding how Steele could have so 
blundered. One might, perhaps, whisper in confidence 
to the discreet, that even editors are mortal, and that 
Steele was conceivably capable of the enormity of reading 
papers carelessly. Philips was furious, and hung up a 
birch in Button's Coffee-house, declaring that he would 
apply it to his tormentor should he ever show his nose in 

62 POPE. [CHAP. 

the room. As Philips was celebrated for skill with the 
sword, the mode of vengeance was certainly unmanly, and 
stung the soul of his adversary, always morbidly sensitive 
to all attacks, and especially to attacks upon his person. 
The hatred thus kindled was never quenched, and breathes 
in some of Pope's bitterest lines. 

If not a " devilish trick," this little performance was 
enough to make Pope's relations to the Addison set de- 
cidedly unpleasant. Addison is said (but the story is very 
improbable) to have enjoyed the joke. If so, a vexatious 
incident must have changed his view of Pope's plea- 
santries, though Pope professedly appeared as his defender. 
Poor old Thersites-Dennis published, during the summer, 
a very bitter attack upon Addison's Goto. He said after- 
wards though, considering the relations of the men, some 
misunderstanding is probable that Pope had indirectly 
instigated this attack through the bookseller, Lintot. If 
so, Pope must have deliberately contrived the trap for the 
unlucky Dennis ; and, at any rate, he fell upon Dennis as 
soon as the trap was sprung. Though Dennis was a 
hot-headed Whig, he had quarrelled with Addison and 
Steele, and was probably jealous, as the author of trage- 
dies intended, like Cato, to propagate Whig principles, 
perhaps to turn Whig prejudices to account. He writes 
with the bitterness of a disappointed and unlucky man, 
but he makes some very fair points against his enemy. 
Pope's retaliation took the form of an anonymous " Narra. 
tive of the Frenzy of John Dennis." 3 It is written in 
that style of coarse personal satire of which Swift was a 
master, but for which Pope was very ill fitted. All his 

3 Mr. Dilke, it is perhaps right to say, has given some reasons 
for doubting Pope's authorship of this squib ; but the authenticity 
seems to be established, and Mr. Dilke himself hesitates. 


neatness of style seems to desert him when he tries this tone, 
and nothing is left but a brutal explosion of contemptu- 
ous hatred. Dennis is described in his garret, pouring 
forth insane ravings prompted by his disgust at the success 
of Cato ; but not a word is said in reply to Dennis' criti- 
cisms. It was plain enough that the author, whoever he 
might be, was more anxious to satisfy a grudge against 
Dennis than to defend Dennis's victim. It is not much of 
a compliment to Addison to say that he had enough good 
feeling to scorn such a mode of retaliation, and perspi- 
cuity enough to see that it would be little to his credit. 
Accordingly, in his majestic way, he caused Steele to write 
a note to Lintot (August 4, 1713), disavowing all com- 
plicity, and saying that if even he noticed Mr. Dennis's cri- 
ticisms, it should be in such a way as to give Mr. Dennis 
no cause of complaint. He added that he had refused 
to see the pamphlet when it was offered for his inspection, 
and had expressed his disapproval of such a mode of 
attack. Nothing could be more becoming ; and it does not 
appear that Addison knew, when writing this note, that 
Pope was the author of the anonymous assault. If, as 
the biographers say, Addison's action was not kindly to 
Pope, it was bare justice to poor Dennis. Pope undoubt- 
edly must have been bitterly vexed at the implied rebuff, 
and not the less because it was perfectly just. He seems 
always to have regarded men of Dennis's type as outside 
the pale of humanity. Their abuse stung him as keenly 
as if they had been entitled to speak with authority, and yet 
he retorted it as though they were not entitled to common 
decency. He would, to all appearance, have regarded an 
appeal for mercy to a Grub-street author much as Dandie 
Dinmont regarded Brown's tenderness to a " brock " as 
a proof of incredible imbecility, or, rather, of want of 


proper antipathy to vermin. Dennis, like Philips, was 
inscribed on the long list of his hatreds ; and was pursued 
almost to the end of his unfortunate life. Pope, it is 
true, took great credit to himself for helping his miserable 
enemy when dying in distress, and wrote a prologue to a 
play acted for his benefit. Yet even this prologue is a 
sneer, and one is glad to think that Dennis was past un- 
derstanding it. We hardly know whether to pity or to 
condemn the unfortunate poet, whose unworthy hatreds 
made him suffer far worse torments than those which he 
could inflict upon their objects. 

By this time we may suppose that Pope must have 
been regarded with anything but favour in the Addison 
circle ; and, in fact, he was passing into the opposite 
camp, and forming a friendship with Swift and Swift's 
patrons. No open rupture followed with Addison for the 
present; bnt a quarrel was approaching which is, perhaps, 
the most celebrated in our literary history. Unfortunately, 
the more closely we look, the more difficult it becomes to 
give any definite account of it. The statements upon 
which accounts have been based have been chiefly those 
of Pope himself; and these involve inconsistencies and 
demonstrably inaccurate statements. Pope was anxious 
in later life to show that he had enjoyed the friendship of a 
man so generally beloved, and was equally anxious to show 
that he had behaved generously and been treated with 
injustice and, indeed, with downright treachery. And 
yet, after reading the various statements made by the 
original authorities, one begins to doubt whether there was 
any real quarrel at all ; or rather, if one may say so, whe- 
ther it was not a quarrel upon one side. 

It is, indeed, plain that a coolness had sprung up 
between Pope and Addison, Considering Pope's offences 


against the senate, his ridicule of Philips, his imposition 
of that ridicule upon Steele, and his indefensible use of 
Addison's fame as a stalking-horse in the attack upon 
Dennis, it is not surprising that he should have been kept 
at arm's length. If the rod suspended by Philips at 
Button's be authentic (as seems probable), the talk about 
Pope, in the shadow of such an ornament, is easily 
imaginable. Some attempts seem to have been made at 
a reconciliation. Jervas, Pope's teacher in painting a 
bad artist, but a kindly man tells Pope on August 20, 
1714, of a conversation with Addison. It would have 
been worth while, he says, for Pope to have been hidden 
behind a wainscot or a half-length picture to have heard 
it. Addison expressed a wish for friendly relations, 
was glad that Pope had not been " carried too far among 
the enemy " by Swift, and hoped to be of use to him at 
Court for Queen Anne died on August 1st; the wheel 
had turned ; and the Whigs were once more the distributors 
of patronage. Pope's answer to Jervas is in the dignified 
tone ; he attributes Addison's coolness to the ill offices of 
Philips, and is ready to be on friendly terms whenever 
Addison recognises his true character and independence 
of party. Another letter follows, as addressed by Pope 
to Addison himself; but here alas ! if not in the preced- 
ing letters, we are upon doubtful ground. In fact, it is 
impossible to doubt that the letter has been manipulated 
after Pope's fashion, if not actually fabricated. It is so 
dignified as to be insulting. It is like a box on the ear 
administered by a pedagogue to a repentant but not quite 
pardoned pupil. Pope has heard (from Jervas, it is implied) 
of Addison's profession ; he is glad to hope that the 
effect of some " late malevolences " is disappearing ; he 
will not believe (that is, he is strongly inclined to believe) 

66 POPE. [CHAP. 

that the author of Cato could mean one thing and say 
another; he will show Addison his first two books of 
Homer as a proof of this confidence, and hopes that it 
will not be abused ; he challenges Addison to point out the 
ill nature in the Essay upon Criticism ; and winds up by 
making an utterly irrelevant charge (as a proof, he says, 
of his own sincerity) of plagiarism against one of Addison's 
Spectators. Had such a letter been actually sent as it now 
stands, Addison's good nature could scarcely have held 
out. As it is, we can only assume that during 1714 
Pope was on such terms with the clique at Button's, 
that a quarrel would be a natural result. According 
to the ordinary account the occasion presented itself in the 
next year. 

A translation of the first Iliad by Tickell appeared (in 
June, 1715) simultaneously with Pope's first volume. Pope 
had no right to complain. No man could be supposed to 
have a monopoly in the translation of Homer. Tickell 
had the same right to try his hand as Pope ; and Pope 
fully understood this himself. He described to Spence a 
conversation in which Addison told him of Tickell's 
intended work. Pope replied that Tickell was perfectly 
justified. Addison having looked over Tickell's translation 
of the first book, said that he would prefer not to see 
Pope's, as it might suggest double dealing ; but con- 
sented to read Pope's second book, and praised it warmly. 
In all this, by Pope's own showing, Addison seems to 
have been scrupulously fair ; and if he and the little 
senate preferred Tickell's work on its first appearance, 
they had a full right to their opinion, and Pope triumphed 
easily enough to pardon them. " He was meditating a 
criticism upon Tickell," says Johnson, " when his adver- 
sary sank before him without a blow." Pope's per- 


formance was universally preferred, and even Tickell 
himself yielded by anticipation. He said, in a short 
preface, that he had abandoned a plan of translating the 
whole Iliad on finding that a much abler hand had 
undertaken the work, and that he only published this 
specimen to bespeak favour for a translation of the 
Odyssey. It was, say Pope's apologists, an awkward 
circumstance that Tickell should publish at the same time 
as Pope, and that is about all that they can say. It was, 
we may reply in Stephenson's phrase, very awkward for 
Tickell. In all this, in fact, it seems impossible for any 
reasonable man to discover anything of which Pope had 
the slightest ground of complaint; but his amazingly 
irritable nature was not to be calmed by reason. The 
bare fact that a translation of Homer appeared contempo- 
raneously with his own, and that it came from one of 
Addison's court, made him furious. He brooded over it, 
suspected some dark conspiracy against his fame, and 
gradually mistook his morbid fancies for solid inference. 
He thought that Tickell had been put up by Addison as 
his rival, and gradually worked himself into the further 
belief that Addison himself had actually written the trans- 
lation which passed under Tickell's name. It does not 
appear, so far as I know, when or how this suspicion 
became current. Some time after Addison's death, in 
1719, a quarrel took place between Tickell, his literary 
executor, and Steele. Tickell seemed to insinuate that 
Steele had not sufficiently acknowledged his obligations 
to Addison, and Steele, in an angry retort, called Tickell 
the "reputed translator" of the first Iliad, and challenged 
him to translate another book successfully. The innuendo 
shows that Steele, who certainly had some means of 
knowing, was willing to suppose that Tickell had been 

58 POPE. [CHAP. 

helped by Addison. The manuscript of Tickell's work, 
which has been preserved, is said to prove this to be an 
error, and in any case there is no real ground for sup- 
posing that Addison did anything more than he admittedly 
told Pope, that is, read Tickell's manuscript and suggest 

To argue seriously about other so-called proofs, would 
be waste of time. They prove nothing except Pope's 
extreme anxiety to justify his wild hypothesis of a 
dark conspiracy. Pope was jealous, spiteful, and credu- 
lous. He was driven to fury by Tickell's publication, 
which had the appearance of a competition. But angry 
as he was, he could find no real cause of complaint, 
except by imagining a fictitious conspiracy ; and this 
complaint was never publicly uttered till long after Addi- 
son's death. Addison knew, no doubt, of Pope's wrath, 
but probably cared little for it, except to keep himself 
clear of so dangerous a companion. He seems to have 
remained on terms of civility with his antagonist, and no 
one would have been more surprised than he to hear of 
the quarrel, upon which so much controversy has been 

The whole affair, so far as Addison's character is con- 
cerned, thus appears to be a gigantic mare's nest. There 
is no proof, or even the slightest presumption, that Addison 
or Addison's friends ever injured Pope, though it is clear 
that they did not love him. It would have been mar. 
vellous if they had. Pope's suspicions are a proof that in 
this case he was almost subject to the illusion characteristic 
of actual insanity. The belief that a man is persecuted by 
hidden conspirators is one of the common symptoms in 
such cases ; and Pope would seem to have been almost in 
the initial stage of mental disease. His madness, indeed, 
was not such as would lead us to call him morally irre- 


sponsible, nor was it the kind of madness which is to be 
found in a good many people who well deserve criminal 
prosecution ; but it was a state of mind so morbid as to 
justify some compassion for the unhappy offender. 

One result besides the illustration of Pope's character 
remains to be noticed. According to Pope's assertion it 
was a communication from Lord Warwick which led him 
to write his celebrated copy of verses upon Addison. War- 
wick (afterwards Addison's stepson) accused Addison of 
paying Gildon for a gross libel upon Pope. Pope wrote 
to Addison, he says, the next day. He said in this let- 
ter that he knew of Addison's behaviour and that, un- 
willing to take a revenge of the same kind, he would 
rather tell Addison fairly of his faults in plain words. If 
he had to take such a step, it would be in some such way 
as followed, and he subjoined the first sketch of the 
famous lines. Addison, says Pope, used him very civilly 
ever afterwards. Indeed, if the account be true, Addison 
showed his Christian spirit by paying a compliment in 
one of his Freeholders (May 17th, 1716) to Pope's Homer. 

Macaulay, taking the story for granted, praises Addi- 
son's magnanimity, which, I must confess, I should be 
hardly Christian enough to admire. It was however as- 
serted at the time that Pope had not written the verses 
which have made the quarrel memorable till after Addi- 
son's death. They were not published till 1723, and are 
not mentioned by any independent authority till 1722, 
though Pope afterwards appealed to Burlington as a 
witness to their earlier composition. The fact seems 
to be confirmed by the evidence of Lady M. W. 
Montagu, but it does not follow that Addison ever 
saw the verses. He knew that Pope disliked him ; but 
he probably did not suspect the extent of the hostility. 
Pope himself appears not to have devised the worst part 

60 POPE. [CH. ii. 

of the story that of Addison having used Tickell's name 
till some years later. Addison was sufficiently magnani- 
mous in praising his spiteful little antagonist as it was ; 
he little knew how deeply that antagonist would seek to 
injure his reputation. 

And here, before passing to the work which afforded 
the main pretext of the quarrel, it may be well to quote 
once more the celebrated satire. It may be remarked 
that its excellence is due in part to the fact that, for once, 
Pope does not lose his temper. His attack is qualified 
and really sharpened by an admission of Addison's excel- 
lence. It is therefore a real masterpiece of satire, not a 
simple lampoon. That it is an exaggeration is undeniable, 
and yet its very keenness gives a presumption that it is 
not altogether without foundation. 

Peace to all such ! but were there one whose fires 
True genius kindles and fair fame inspires ; 
Blest with each talent and each art to please, 
And born to write, converse, and live with ease ; 
Should such a man, too fond to rule alone, 
Bear, like the Turk, no brother near the throne : 
View him with scornful, yet with jealous eyes, 
And hate for arts that caused himself to rise ; 
Damn with faint praise, assent with civil leer, 
And without sneering, teach the rest to sneer ; 
Willing to wound and yet afraid to strike, 
Just hint a fault and hesitate dislike ; 
Alike reserved to praise or to commend, 
A timorous foe and a suspicious friend ; 
Dreading ev'n fools, by flatterers besieged, 
And so obliging that he ne'er obliged ; 
Lake Cato, give his little senate laws, 
And sit attentive to his own applause : 
While wits and templars every sentence raise, 
And wonder with a foolish face of praise ; 
Who would not laugh if such a man there be ? 
Who would not weep, if Atticus were he ? 



POPE'S uneasy relations with the wits at Button's were 
no obstacle to his success elsewhere. Swift, now at the 
height of his power, was pleased by his Windsor Forest, 
recommended it to Stella, and soon made the author's 
acquaintance. The first letter in their long correspondence 
is a laboured but fairly successful piece of pleasantry from 
Pope, upon Swift's having offered twenty guineas to 
the young Papist to change his religion. It is dated 
December 8, 1713. In the preceding month Bishop 
Kennet saw Swift in all his glory, and wrote an often 
quoted description of the scene. Swift was bustling 
about in the. royal antechamber, swelling with conscious 
importance, distributing advice, promising patronage, 
whispering to ministers, and filling the whole room with 
his presence. He finally " instructed a young nobleman 
that the best poet in England was Mr. Pope, a Papist, 
who had begun a translation of Homer into English verse, 
for which he must have them all subscribe ; ' for,' says he, 
' the author shall not begin to print till I have a thousand 
guineas for him ! ' " Swift introduced Pope to some of the 
leaders of the ministry, and he was soon acquainted with 
Oxford, Bolingbroke, Atterbury, and many other men of 
high position. Pope was not disinclined to pride himself 
upon his familiarity with the great, though boasting at 

62 POPE. [CHAP. 

the same time of his independence. In truth, the morhid 
vanity which was his cardinal weakness seems to have 
partaken sufficiently of the nature of genuine self-respect to 
preserve him from any unworthy concessions. If he 
flattered, it was as one who expected to be repaid in kind ; 
and though his position was calculated to turn the head 
of a youth of five-and-twenty, he took his place as a 
right without humiliating his own dignity. Whether 
from principle or prudence, he judiciously kept himself 
free from identification with either party, and both sides 
took a pride in supporting the great literary undertaking 
which he had now announced. 

"When Pope first circulated his proposals for translating 
Homer, Oxford and Bolingbroke were fellow-ministers, and 
Swift was their most effective organ in the press. At the 
time at which his first volume appeared, Bolingbroke was 
in exile, Oxford under impeachment, and Swift had 
retired, savagely and sullenly, to his deanery. Yet, through 
all the intervening political tempest, the subscription list 
grew and flourished. The pecuniary result was splendid. 
No author had ever made anything approaching the sum 
which Pope received, and very few authors, even in the 
present age of gold, would despise such payment. The 
details of the magnificent bargain have been handed down, 
and give the pecuniary measure of Pope's reputation. 

The Iliad was to be published in six volumes. For 
each volume Lintot was to pay 200?. ; and, besides 
this, he was to supply Pope gratuitously with the copies 
for his subscribers. The subscribers paid a guinea a 
volume, and as 575 subscribers took 654 copies, Pope 
received altogether 53207. 4s. at the regular price, whilst 
some royal and distinguished subscribers paid larger sums. 
By the publication of the Odyssey Pope seems to have 

in.]. POPE'S HOMER. 63 

made about 3500?. more, 1 after paying his assistants. 
The result was, therefore, a total profit at least approaching 
9000Z. The last volume of the Odyssey did not appear 
till 1726, and the payments were thus spread over eleven 
years. Pope, however, saved enough to be more than 
comfortable. In the South Sea excitement he ventured 
to speculate, but though for a time he fancied himself to 
have made a large sum, he seems to have retired rather 
a loser than a gainer. But he could say with perfect 
truth that, " thanks to Homer," he " could live and thrive, 
indebted to no prince or peer alive." The money success 
is, however, of less interest to us than the literary. Pope 
put his best work into the translation of the Iliad. His 
responsibility, he said, weighed upon him terribly on 
starting. He used to dream of being on a long journey, 
uncertain which way to go, and doubting whether he 
would ever get to the end. Gradually he fell into the 
habit of translating thirty or forty verses before getting 
up, and then " piddling with it " for the rest of the 
morning ; and the regular performance of his task made it 
tolerable. He used, he said at another time, to take 
advantage of the " first heat," then correct by the original 
and other translations ; and finally to " give it a reading 
for the versification only." The statement must be 
partly modified by the suggestion that the translations 
were probably consulted before the original. Pope's 
ignorance of Greek an awkward qualification for a trans- 
lator of Homer is undeniable. Gilbert Wakefield, who 
was, I believe, a fair scholar and certainly a great admirer of 
Pope, declares his conviction to be, after a more careful 
examination of the Homer than any one is now likely to 
give, that Pope " collected the general purport of every 
1 See Elwin's Pope, Correspondence, vol. iii. p. 129. 

g4 POPE. [ CHAP - 

passage from some of his predecessors Dryden " (who only 
translated the first Iliad), "Dacier, Chapman, or Ogilby." 
He thinks that Pope would have been puzzled to catch at 
once the meaning even of the Latin translation, and 
points out proofs of his ignorance of both languages and 
of " ignominious and puerile mistakes." 

It is hard to understand at the present day the audacity 
which could lead a man so ill qualified in point of classical 
acquirements to undertake such a task. And yet Pope 
undoubtedly achieved, in some true sense, an astonishing 
success. He succeeded commercially j for Lintot, after 
supplying the subscription copies gratuitously, and so 
losing the cream of the probable purchasers, made a 
fortune by the remaining sale. He succeeded in the 
judgment both of the critics and of the public of the next 
generation. Johnson calls the Homer " the noblest version 
of poetry the world has ever seen." Gray declared that no 
other translation would ever equal it, and Gibbon that it 
had every merit except that of faithfulness to the original. 
This merit of fidelity, indeed, was scarcely claimed by 
any one. Bentley's phrase" a pretty poem, Mr. Pope, 
but you must not call it Homer " expresses the uniform 
view taken from the first by all who could read both. 
Its fame, however, survived into the present century. 
Byron speaks and speaks, I think, with genuine feel- 
ingof the rapture with which he first read Pope as a 
boy, and says that no one will ever lay him down except 
for the original. Indeed, the testimonies of opponents 
are as significant as those of admirers. Johnson remarks 
that the Homer " may be said to have tuned the English 
tongue," and that no writer since its appearance has wanted 
melody. Coleridge virtually admits the fact, though draw- 
ing a different conclusion, when he says that the trans- 

"'] POPE'S HOMES. 65 

lation of Homer has been one of the main sources of that 
" pseudo-poetic diction " which he and Wordsworth were 
struggling to put out of credit. Cowper, the earliest 
representative of the same movement, tried to supplant 
Pope's Homer by his own, and his attempt proved at 
least the position held in general estimation by his 
rival. If, in fact, Pope's Homer was a recognized 
model for near a century, we may dislike the style, but 
we must admit the power implied in a performance which 
thus became the accepted standard of style for the best 
part of a century. How, then, should we estimate the 
merits of this remarkable work ? I give my own opinion 
upon the subject with diffidence, for it has been discussed 
by eminently qualified critics. The conditions of a satis- 
factory translation of Homer have been amply canvassed, 
and many experiments have been made by accomplished 
poets who have what Pope certainly had not a close 
acquaintance with the original, and a fine appreciation of 
its superlative beauties. From the point of view now 
generally adopted, the task even of criticism requires this 
double qualification. Not only can no man translate 
Homer, but no man can even criticize a translation of 
Homer without being at once a poet and a fine classical 
scholar. So far as this is true, I can only apologize for 
speaking at all, and should be content to refer my readers 
to such able guides as Mr. Matthew Arnold and the late 
Professor Conington. And yet I think that something 
remains to be said which has a bearing upon Pope, how- 
ever little it may concern Homer. 

We if " we " means modern writers of some classical 
culture can claim to appreciate Homer far better than 
the contemporaries of Pope. But our appreciation in- 
volves a clear recognition of the vast difference between 


66 POPE. [CHAP. 

ourselves and the ancient Greeks. We see the Homeric 
poems in their true perspective through the dim vista of 
shadowy centuries. We regard them as the growth of a long 
past stage in the historical evolution ; implying a different 
social order a different ideal of life an archaic conception 
of the world and its forces, only to be reconstructed for the 
imagination by help of long training and serious study. The 
multiplicity of the laws imposed upon the translator is 
the consequence of this perception. They amount to say- 
ing that a man must manage to project himself into a 
distant period, and saturate his mhid with the correspond- 
ing modes of life. If the feat is possible at all, it 
requires a great and conscious effort, and the attainment 
of a state of mind which can only be preserved by con- 
stant attention. The translator has to wear a mask which 
is always in danger of being rudely shattered. Such an 
intellectual feat is likely to produce what, in the most 
obvious sense, one would call highly artificial work. 
Modern classicism must be fine-spun, and smell rather of 
the hothouse than the open air. Undoubtedly some ex- 
quisite literary achievements have been accomplished in 
this spirit ; but they are, after all, calculated for the small 
circle of cultivated minds, and many of their merits can 
be appreciated only by professors qualified by special 
training. Most frequently we can hope for pretty play- 
things, or, at best, for skilful restorations which show 
learning and taste far more distinctly than a glowing ima- 
gination. But even if an original poet can breathe some 
spirit into classical poems, the poor translator, with the 
dread of philologists and antiquarians in the back-ground, 
is so fettered that free movement becomes almost impos- 
sible. No one, I should venture to prophesy, will really 
succeed in such work unless he frankly accepts the im- 

m.] POPE'S HOMER. 67 

possibility of reproducing the original, and aims only at 
an equivalent for some of its aspects. The perception of 
this change will enable us to realize Pope's mode of ap- 
proaching the problem. The condemnatory epithet most 
frequently applied to him is " artificial ;" and yet, as I 
have just said, a modern translator is surely more arti- 
ficial, so far as he is attempting a more radical transfor- 
mation of his own thoughts into the forms of a past 
epoch. But we can easily see in what sense Pope's work 
fairly deserves the name. The poets of an older period 
frankly adopted the classical mythology without any appa- 
rent sense of incongruity. They mix heathen deities with 
Christian saints, and the ancient heroes adopt the manners 
of chivalrous romance without the slightest difficulty. 
The freedom was still granted to the writers of the renais- 
sance. Milton makes Phoebus and St. Peter discourse in 
successive stanzas, as if they belonged to the same pan- 
theon. For poetical purposes the old gods are simply 
canonized as Christian saints, as, in a more theological 
frame of mind, they are regarded as devils. In the reign 
of common sense this was no longer possible. The in- 
congruity was recognized and condemned. The gods were 
vanishing under the clearer light, as modern thought 
began more consciously to assert its independence. Yet 
the unreality of the old mythology is not felt to be any 
objection to their use as conventional symbols. Homer's 
gods, says Pope in his preface, are still the gods of 
poetry. Their vitality was nearly extinct ; but they 
were regarded as convenient personifications of abstract 
qualities, machines for epic poetry, or figures to be used 
in allegory. In the absence of a true historical perception, 
the same view was attributed to Homer. Homer, as Pope 
admits, did not invent the gods ; but he was the " first 

68 POPE. [CHAP. 

who brought them into a system of machinery for poetry," 
and showed his fertile imagination by clothing the pro- 
perties of the elements, and the virtues and vices in 
forms and persons. And thus Pope does not feel that he 
is diverging from the spirit of the old mythology when he 
regards the gods, not as the spontaneous growth of the 
primitive imagination, but as deliberate contrivances in- 
tended to convey moral truth in allegorical fables, and 
probably devised by sages for the good of the vulgar. 

The old gods, then, were made into stiff mechanical 
figures, as dreary as Justice with her scales, or Fame blow- 
ing a trumpet on a monument. They belonged to that 
family of dismal personifications which it was customary 
to mark with the help of capital letters. Certainly they 
are a dismal and frigid set of beings, though they still 
lead a shivering existence on the tops of public monu- 
ments, and hold an occasional wreath over the head of a 
British grenadier. To identify the Homeric gods with these 
wearisome constructions was to have a more serious disqua- 
lification for fully entering into Homer's spirit than even an 
imperfect acquaintance with Greek, and Pope is greatly 
exercised in his mind by their eating and drinking and 
fighting, and uncompromising anthropomorphism. He 
apologizes for his author, and tries to excuse him for un- 
willing compliance with popular prejudices. The Homeric 
theology he urges was still substantially sound, and 
Homer had always a distinct moral and political purpose. 
The Iliad, for example, was meant to show the wicked- 
ness of quarrelling, and the evil results of an insatiable 
thirst for glory, though shallow persons have thought that 
Homer only thought to please. 

The artificial diction about which so much has been 
said is the natural vehicle of this treatment. The set of 

Hi.] POPE'S HOMER. 69 

phrases and the peculiar mould into which his sentences 
were cast, was already the accepted type for poetry which 
aimed at dignity. He was following Dryden as his own 
performance became the law for the next generation. The 
style in which a woman is called a nymph and women 
generally are " the fair " in which shepherds are con- 
scious swains, and a poet invokes the muses and strikes 
a lyre, and breathes on a reed, and a nightingale singing 
becomes Philomel " pouring her throat," represents a 
fashion as worn out as hoops and wigs. By the time of 
Wordsworth it was a mere survival a dead form remain- 
ing after its true function had entirely vanished. The 
proposal to return to the language of common life was the 
natural revolt of one who desired poetry to be above all 
things the genuine expression of real emotion. Yet it 
is, I think, impossible to maintain that the diction of 
poetry should be simply that of common life. 

The true principle would rather seem to be that 
any style becomes bad when it dies ; when it is used 
merely as a tradition, and not as the best mode of pro- 
ducing the desired impression; and when, therefore, it 
represents a rule imposed from without, and is not an 
expression of the spontaneous working of minds in which 
the corresponding impulse is thoroughly incarnated. In 
such a case, no doubt, the diction becomes a burden, and a 
man is apt to fancy himself a poet because he is the slave 
of the external form instead of using it as the most 
familiar instrument. By Wordsworth's time the Pope 
style was thus effete ; what ought to be the dress of thought 
had become the rigid armour into which thought was 
forcibly compressed, and a revolt was inevitable. We 
may agree, too, that his peculiar style was in a sense 
artificial, even in the days of Pope. It had como 

70 POPE. [CHAP. 

into existence during the reign of the Restoration wits, 
under the influence of foreign models, not as the spon- 
taneous outgrowth of a gradual development, and had 
therefore something mechanical and conscious, even when 
it flourished most vigorously. It came in with the 
periwigs, to which it is so often compared, and, like the 
artificial headgear, was an attempt to give a dignified or 
full-dress appearance to the average prosaic human being. 
Having this innate weakness of pomposity and exaggera- 
tion, it naturally expired, and hecame altogether ridiculous, 
with the generation to which it belonged. As the wit or 
man of the world had at bottom a very inadequate con- 
ception of epic poetry, he became inevitably strained and 
contorted when he tried to give himself the airs of a poet. 
After making all such deductions, it would still seem 
that the bare fact that he was working in a generally 
accepted style gave Pope a very definite advantage. He 
spoke more or less in a falsetto, but he could at once 
strike a key intelligible to his audience. An earlier 
poet would simply annex Homer's gods and fix them with 
a inediasval framework. A more modern poet tries to 
find some style which will correspond to the Homeric as 
closely as possible, and feels that he is making an experi- 
ment beset with all manner of difficulties. Pope needed no 
more to bother himself about such matters than about gram- 
matical or philological refinements. He found a ready- 
made style which was assumed to be correct ; he had to 
write in regular rhymed couplets, as neatly rhymed and 
tersely expressed as might be ; and the diction was equally 
settled. He was to keep to Homer for the substance, but 
he could throw in any little ornaments to suit the taste of 
his readers ; and if they found out a want of scrupulous 
fidelity, he might freely say that he did not aim at such 

Hi.] POPE'S HOMER. 71 

details. Working, therefore, upon the given data, he 
could enjoy a considerable amount of freedom, and throw 
his whole energy into the task of forcible expression with- 
out feeling himself trammelled at every step. The result 
would certainly not be Homer, but it might be a fine epic 
poem as epic poetry was understood in the days of Anne 
and George I. a hybrid genus, at the best, something 
without enough constitutional vigour to be valuable when 
really original, but not without a merit of its own when 
modelled upon the lines laid down in the great archetype. 
When we look at Pope's Iliad upon this understanding, 
we cannot fail, I think, to admit that it has merits which 
makes its great success intelligible. If we read it as a 
purely English poem, the sustained vivacity and emphasis 
of the style give it a decisive superiority over its rivals. 
It has become the fashion to quote Chapman since the 
noble sonnet in which Keats, in testifying to the power 
of the Elizabethan translator, testifies rather to his own 
exquisite perception. Chapman was a poet worthy of our 
great poetic period, and Pope himself testifies to the 
" daring fiery spirit " which animates his translation, and 
says that it is not unlike what Homer himself might have 
written in his youth surely not a grudging praise. But 
though this is true, I will venture to assert that Chapman 
also sins, not merely by his love of quaintness, but by 
constantly indulging in sheer doggerel. If his lines do 
not stagnate, they foam and fret like a mountain brook, 
instead of flowing continuously and majestically like a 
great river. He surpasses Pope chiefly, as it seems to me, 
where Pope's conventional verbiage smothers and conceals 
some vivid image from nature. Pope, of course, was a 
thorough man of forms, and when he has to speak of sea 
or sky or mountain generally draws upon the current coin 

72 POPE. [CHAP. 

of poetic phraseology, which has lost all sharpness of im- 
pression in its long circulation. Here, for example, is 
Pope's version of a simile in the fourth book : 

As when the winds, ascending by degrees 
First move the whitening surface of the seas, 
The billows float in order to the shore, 
The waves behind roll on the waves before, 
Till with the growing storm the deeps arise, 
Foam o'er the rocks, and thunder to the skies. 

Each phrase is either wrong or escapes from error by 
vagueness, and one would swear that Pope had never seen 
the sea. Chapman says, 

And as when with the west wind flaws, the sea thrusts up her waves 
One after other, thick and high, upon the groaning shores, 
First in herself loud, but opposed with banks and rocks she roars, 
And all her back in bristles set, spits every way her foam. 

This is both clumsy and introduces the quaint and unautho- 
rized image of a pig, but it is unmistakably vivid. Pope is 
equally troubled when he has to deal with Homer's down- 
right vernacular. He sometimes ventures apologetically 
to give the original word. He allows Achilles to speak 
pretty vigorously to Agamemnon in the first book : 

O monster ! mix'd of insolence and fear, 
Thou dog in forehead, but in heart a deer ! 

Chapman translates the phrase more fully, but adds a 
characteristic quibble : 

Thou ever steep'd in wine, 
Dog's face, with heart but of a hart. 

Tickell manages the imputation of drink, but has to slur 
over the dog and the deer : 

Valiant with wine and furious from the bowl, 
Thou fierce-look'd talker, with a coward soul. 

Elsewhere Pope hesitates in the use of such plain speak- 

in.] POPE'S HOMER. 73 

ing. He allows Teucer to call Hector a dog, but apologises 
in a note. " This is literal from the Greek," he says, " and 
I have ventured it ;" though he quotes Milton's " dogs of 
hell " to back himself with a precedent. But he cannot 
quite stand Homer's downright comparison of Ajax to an 
ass, and speaks of him in gingerly fashion as 

The slow beast with heavy strength endued. 

Pope himself thinks the passage "inimitably just and 
beautiful ;" but on the whole, he says, "a translator owes 
so much to the taste of the age in which he lives as 
not to make too great a compliment to the former [age] ; 
and this induced me to omit the mention of the word ass 
in the translation." Boileau and Longinus, he tells us, 
would approve the omission of mean and vulgar words. 
"Ass" is the vilest word imaginable in English or 
Latin, but of dignity enough in Greek and Hebrew to be 
employed " on the most, magnificent occasions." 

The Homeric phrase is thus often nmffled and deadened 
by Pope's verbiage. Dignity of a kind is gained at 
the cost of energy. If such changes admit of some apology 
as an attempt to preserve what is undoubtedly a Homeric 
characteristic, we must admit that the " dignity " is often 
false ; it rests upon mere mouthing instead of simplicity 
and directness, and suggests that Pope might have approved 
the famous emendation "he died in indigent circum- 
stances," for " he died poor." The same weakness is per- 
haps more annoying when it leads to sins of commission. 
Pope never scruples to amend Homer by little epigrammatic 
amplifications, which are characteristic of the contempo- 
rary rhetoric. A single illustration of a fault sufficiently 
notorious will be sufficient. When Nestor, in the eleventh 
book, rouses Diomed at night, Pope naturally smoothes 

74 POPE. [CHAP. 

down the testy remark of the sleepy warrior ; but he tries 
to improve Nestor's directions. Nestor tells Diomed, in 
most direct terms, that the need is great, and that he must 
go at once and rouse Ajax. In Pope's translation we have 

Each single Greek in this conclusive strife 
Stands on the sharpest edge of death or life j 
Yet if my years thy kind regard engage, 
Employ thy youth as I employ my age ; 
Succeed to these my cares, and rouse the rest ; 
He serves me most, who serves his country best. 

The false air of epigram which Pope gives to the fourth 
line is characteristic ; and the concluding tag, which is 
quite unauthorized, reminds us irresistibly of one of 
the rhymes which an actor always spouted to the 
audience by way of winding up an act in the contempo- 
rary drama. Such embroidery is profusely applied by 
Pope wherever he thinks that Homer, like Diomed, is 
slumbering too deeply. And, of course, that is not the 
way in which Nestor roused Diomed or Homer keeps his 
readers awake. 

Such faults have been so fully exposed that we 
need not dwell upon them further. They come to 
this, that Pope was really a wit of the days of Queen 
Anne, and saw only that aspect of Homer which was 
visible to his kind. The poetic mood was not for him a 
fine frenzy for good sense must condemn all frenzy but 
a deliberate elevation of the bard by high-heeled shoes and 
a full-bottomed wig. Seas and mountains, being invisible 
from Button's, could only be described by worn phrases 
from the Latin grammar. Even his narrative must be full 
of epigrams to avoid the one deadly sin of dulness, and 
his language must be decorous even at the price of being 
sometimes emasculated. But accept these conditions, and 

in.] POPE'S HOMER. T5 

much still remains. After all, a wit was still a human 
being, and much more nearly related to us than an ancient 
Greek. Pope's style, when he is at his best, has the merit 
of being thoroughly alive ; there are no dead masses of 
useless verbiage; every excrescence has been carefully 
pruned away ; slovenly paraphrases and indistinct slurrings 
over of the meaning have disappeared. He corrected 
carefully and scrupulously, as his own statement implies, 
not with a view of transferring as large a portion as pos- 
sible of his author's meaning to his own verses, but in order 
to make the versification as smooth and the sense as 
transparent as possible. We have the pleasure which we 
receive from really polished oratory ; every point is made 
to tell ; if the emphasis is too often pointed by some 
showy antithesis, we are at least never uncertain as to the 
meaning ; and if the versification is often monotonous, it is 
articulate and easily caught at first sight. These are 
the essential merits of good declamation, and it is in the 
true declamatory passages that Pope is at his best. The 
speeches of his heroes are often admirable, full of spirit, 
well balanced and skilfully arranged pieces of rhetoric 
not a mere inorganic series of observations. Undoubtedly 
the warriors are a little too epigrammatic and too con- 
sciously didactic; and we feel almost scandalized when 
they take to downright blows, as though Walpole and St. 
John were interrupting a debate in the House of Commons 
by fisticuffs. They would be better in the senate than the 
field. But the brilliant rhetoric implies also a sense of 
dignity which is not mere artificial mouthing. Pope, as 
it seems to me, rises to a level of sustained eloquence 
when he has to act as interpreter for the direct expression 
of broad magnanimous sentiment. Classical critics may 
explain by what shades of feeling the, aristocratic grandeur 

76 POPE. [CHAP. 

of soul of an English noble differed from the analogous 
quality in heroic Greece, and find the difference reflected 
in the " grand style " of Pope as compared with that of 
Homer. But Pope could at least assume with admirable 
readiness the lofty air of superiority to personal fears 
and patriotic devotion to a great cause, which is common 
to the type in ewy age. His tendency to didactic 
platitudes is at least out of place in such cases, and his 
dread of vulgarity and quaintness, with his genuine feeling 
for breadth of effect, frequently enables him to be really 
dignified and impressive. It will perhaps be sufficient 
illustration of these qualities if I conclude these remarks 
by giving his translation of Hector's speech to Poly- 
damas in the twelfth book, with its famous ets 
opioros afj-vvftrOcu irepl 

To him then Hector with disdain return'd ; 

(Fierce as he spoke, his eyes with fury burn'd) 

Are these the faithful counsels of thy tongue ? 

Thy will is partial, not thy reason wrong ; 

Or if the purpose of thy heart thou sent, 

Sure Heaven resumes the little sense it lent 

What coward counsels would thy madness move 

Against the word, the will reveal'd of Jove ? 

The leading sign, the irrevocable nod 

And happy thunders of the favouring God ? 

These shall I slight ? And guide my wavering mind 

By wand'ring birds that flit with every wind ? 

Ye vagrants of the sky ! your wings extend 

Or where the suns arise or where descend ; 

To right or left, unheeded take your way, 

While I the dictates of high heaven obey. 

Without a sigh his sword the brave man draws, 

And asks no omen but his country's cause. 

But why should' st thou suspect the war's success ? 

None fears it more, as none promotes it less. 

Tho* all our ships amid yon ships expire, 

Trust thy own cowardice to escape the fire. 

m.] POPE'S HOMER. 77 

Troy and her sons may find a general grave, 
But thou canst live, for thou canst be a slave. 
Yet should the fears that wary mind suggests 
Spread their cold poison through our soldiers' breasts, 
My javelin can revenge so base a part, 
And free the soul that quivers in thy heart. 

The six volumes of the Iliad were published during 
the years 1715 1720, and were closed by a dedication to 
Congreve, who, as an eminent man of letters, not too 
closely connected with either Whigs or Tories, was 
the most appropriate recipient of such a compliment. 
Pope was enriched by his success, and no doubt wearied 
by his labours. But his restless intellect would never 
leave him to indulge in prolonged repose, and, though not 
avaricious, he was not more averse than other men to in- 
creasing his fortune. He soon undertook two sufficiently 
laborious works. The first was an edition of Shakspeare, 
for which he only received 2171. 10s., and which seems 
to have been regarded as a failure. It led, like his other 
publications, to a quarrel to be hereafter mentioned, but 
need not detain us at present. It appeared in 1725, when 
he was already deep in another project. The success 
of the Iliad naturally suggested an attempt upon the 
Odyssey. Pope, however, was tired of translating, 
and he arranged for assistance. He took into alliance a 
couple of Cambridge men, who were small poets capable of 
fairly adopting his versification. One of them was 
William Broome, a clergyman who held several livings 
and married a rich widow. Unfortunately his indepen- 
dence did not restrain him from writing poetry, for which 
want of means would have been the only sufficient excuse. 
He was a man of some classical attainments, and had 
helped Pope in compiling notes to the Iliad from 

78 POPE. [CHAP. 

Eustathius, an author whom Pope would have been 
scarcely able to read without such assistance. Elijah 
Fenton, his other assistant, was a Cambridge man who 
had sacrificed his claims of preferment by becoming a non- 
juror, and picked up a living partly by writing and 
chiefly by acting as tutor to Lord Orrery, and afterwards 
in the family of TrumbaU's widow. Pope, who introduced 
him to Lady Trumball, had also introduced him to Craggs, 
who, when Secretary of State, felt his want of a decent 
education, and wished to be polished by some competent 
person. He seems to have been a kindly, idle, honourable 
man, who died, says Pope, of indolence, and more im- 
mediately, it appears, of the gout. The alliance thus 
formed was rather a delicate one, and was embittered by 
some of Pope's usual trickery. In issuing his proposals 
he spoke in ambiguous terms of two friends who were to 
render him some undefined assistance, and did not claim 
to be the translator, but to have undertaken the trans- 
lation. The assistants, in fact, did half the work, Broome 
translating eight, and Fenton four, out of the twenty-four 
books. Pope was unwilling to acknowledge the full 
amount of their contributions ; he persuaded Broome 
a weak, good-natured man to set his hand to a 
postscript to the Odyssey, in which only three books 
are given to Broome himself, and only two to Fenton. 
When Pope was attacked for passing off other people's 
verses as his own, he boldly appealed to this state- 
ment to prove that he had only received Broome's help in 
three books, and at the same time stated the whole amount 
which he had paid for the eight, as though it had been 
paid for the three. When Broome, in spite of his sub- 
servience, became a little restive under this treatment, 
Pope indirectly admitted the truth by claiming only 

m.] POPE'S HOMER. 79 

twelve books in an advertisement to his works, and in a 
note to the Dunciad, but did not explicitly retract the 
other statement. Broome could not effectively rebuke his 
fellow-sinner. He had, in fact, conspired with Pope to 
attract the public by the use of the most popular name, 
and could not even claim his own afterwards. He 
had, indeed, talked too much, according to Pope; and 
the poet's morality is oddly illustrated in a letter, in 
which he complains of Broome's indiscretion for letting 
out the secret ; and explains that, as the facts are so far 
known, it would now be " unjust and dishonourable" to 
continue the concealment. It would be impossible to 
accept more frankly the theory that lying is wrong when 
it is found out. Meanwhile Pope's conduct to his victims 
or accomplices was not over-generous. He made over 
3500?. after paying Broome 500?. (including 100?. for 
notes) and Fenton 200?., that is, 50?. a book. The rate 
of pay was as high as the work was worth, and as much as 
it would fetch in the open market. The large sum was 
entirely due to Pope's reputation, though obtained, so far 
as the true authorship was concealed, upon something like 
false pretences. Still, we could have wished that he had 
been a little more liberal with his share of the plun- 
der. A coolness ensued between the principal and his 
partners in consequence of these questionable dealings. 
Fenton seems never to have been reconciled to Pope, 
though they did not openly quarrel and Pope wrote a 
laudatory epitaph for him on his death in 1730. Broome 
a weaker man though insulted by Pope in the Dunciad 
and the Miscellanies, accepted a reconciliation, for which 
Pope seems to have been eager, perhaps feeling some 
touch of remorse for the injuries which he had inflicted. 
The shares of the three colleagues in the Odyssey are 

80 POPE. [CH. in. 

not to be easily distinguished by internal evidence. On 
trying the experiment by a cursory reading I confess 
(though a critic does not willingly admit his fallibility) 
that I took some of Broome's work for Pope's, and, though 
closer study or an acuter perception might discriminate 
more accurately, I do not think that the distinction would 
be easy. This may be taken to confirm the common 

/ V 

theory that Pope's versification was a mere mechanical 
trick. Without admitting this, it must be admitted that 
the external characteristics of his manner were easily caught; 
and that it was not hard for a clever versifier to produce 
something closely resembling his inferior work, especially 
when following the same original. But it may be added 
that Pope's Odyssey was really inferior to the Iliad, both 
because his declamatory style is more out of place in its 
romantic narrative, and because he was weary and languid, 
and glad to turn his fame to account without more labour 
than necessary. The Odyssey, I may say, in conclusion, 
led to one incidental advantage. It was criticized by 
Spence, a mild and cultivated scholar, who was professor 
of poetry at Oxford. His observations, according to 
Johnson, were candid, though not indicative of a powerful 
mind. Pope, he adds, had in Spence, the first experience 
of a critic " who censured with respect and praised with 
alacrity." Pope made Spence's acquaintance, recom- 
mended him to patrons, and was repaid by warm ad- 



WHEN Pope finished his translation of the Iliad, he was 
congratulated by his friend Gay in a pleasant copy of 
verses marked by the usual bonhomie of the fat kindly 
man. Gray supposes himself to be welcoming his friend 
on the return from his long expedition. 

Did I not see thee when thou first sett'st sail, 
To seek adventures fair in Homer's land ? 

Did I not see thy sinking spirits fail, 
And wish thy bark had never left the strand ? 

Even in mid ocean often didst thou quail, 
And oft lift up thy holy eye and hand, 

Praying to virgin dear and saintly choir 

Back to the port to bring thy bark entire. 

And now the bark is sailing up the Thames, with bells 
ringing, bonfires blazing, and " bones and cleavers " clash- 
ing. So splendid a show suggests Lord Mayor's Day, 
but in fact it is only the crowd of Pope's friends come 
to welcome him on his successful achievement; and a 
long catalogue follows, in which each is indicated by 
some appropriate epithet. The list includes some doubt- 
ful sympathizers, such as Gildon, who comes "hearing 
thou hast riches," and even Dennis, who in fact con- 
tinued to growl out criticisms against the triumphant 
poet. Steele, too, and Tickell, 


82 POPE. [CHAP. 

Whose skiff (in partnership they say) 
Set forth for Greece but founder 'd on the way, 

would not applaud very cordially. Addison, their com- 
mon hero, was beyond the reach of satire or praise. Par- 
nell, who had contributed a life of Homer, died in 1718 ; 
and Rowe and Garth, sound Whigs, but friends and often 
boon companions of the little papist, had followed. 
Swift was breathing " Boeotian air " in his deanery, and 
St. John was "confined to foreign climates" for very 
sufficient reasons. Any such roll-call of friends must 
show melancholy gaps, and sometimes the gaps are more 
significant than the names. Yet Pope could boast of a 
numerous body of men, many of them of high distinction, 
who were ready to give him a warm welcome. There 
were, indeed, few eminent persons of the time, either in 
the political or literary worlds, with whom this sensitive 
and restless little invalid did not come into contact, hostile 
or friendly, at some part of his career. His friendships 
were keen and his hostilities more than proportionally 
bitter. We see his fragile figure, glancing rapidly from 
one hospitable circle to another, but always standing a 
little apart ; now paying court to some conspicuous wit, or 
philosopher, or statesman, or beauty ; now taking deadly 
offence for some utterly inexplicable reason ; writh- 
ing with agony under clumsy blows which a robuster 
nature would have met with contemptuous laughter ; 
racking his wits to contrive exquisite compliments, and 
suddenly exploding in sheer Billingsgate ; making a 
mountain of every mole-hill in his pilgrimage ; always 
preoccupied with his last literary project, and yet finding 
time for innumerable intrigues ; for carrying out schemes 
of vengeance for wounded vanity, and for introducing 
himself into every quarrel that was going on around him. 


In all his multifarious schemes and occupations he found 
it convenient to cover himself by elaborate mystifications, 
and was as anxious (it would seem) to deceive posterity 
as to impose upon contemporaries ; and hence it is 
as difficult clearly to disentangle the twisted threads 
of his complex history as to give an intelligible picture of 
the result of the investigation. The publication of the 
Iliad, however, marks a kind of central point in his 
history. Pope has reached independence, and become 
the acknowledged head of the literary world ; and it will 
be convenient here to take a brief survey of his position, 
before following out two or three different series of 
events, which can scarcely be given in chronological order. 
Pope, when he first came to town and followed Wycherley 
about like a dog, had tried to assume the airs of a rake. 
The same tone is adopted in many of his earlier letters. 
At Binfield he became demure, correct, and respectful to 
the religious scruples of his parents. In his visits to 
London and Bath he is little better than one of the 
wicked. In a copy of verses (not too decent) written in 
1715, as a " Farewell to London," he gives us to under- 
stand that he has been hearing the chimes at midnight, 
and knows where the bona-robas dwell. He is forced to 
leave his jovial friends and his worrying publishers " for 
Homer (damn him !) calls." He is, so he assiires us, 

Still idle, with a busy air 
Deep whimsies to contrive ; 

The gayest valetudinaire, 
Most thinking rake alive. 

And he takes a sad leave of London pleasures. 
Luxurious lobster nights, farewell, 

For sober, studious days ! 
And Burlington's delicious meal 
For salads, tarts, and pease. 

84 POPE. [CHAP. 

Writing from Bath a little earlier, to Teresa and Martha 
Blount, he employs the same jaunty strain. "Every 
one," he says, " values Mr. Pope, but every one for a 
different reason. One for his adherence to the Catholic 
faith, another for his neglect of Popish supersition ; one 
for his good behaviour, another for his whimsicalities ; Mr. 
Titcomb for his pretty atheistical jests ; Mr. Gary 11 for his 
moral and Christian sentences; Mrs. Teresa for his 
reflections on Mrs. Patty ; Mrs. Patty for his reflections 
on Mrs. Teresa." He is an " agreeable rattle ; " the ac- 
complished rake, drinking with the wits, though above 
boozing with the squire, and capable of alleging his 
drunkenness as an excuse for writing very questionable 
letters to ladies. 

Pope was too sickly and too serious to indulge long in 
such youthful fopperies. He had no fund of high spirits 
to draw upon, and his playfulness was too near deadly 
earnest for the comedy of common life. He had too 
much intellect to be a mere fribble, and had not the 
strong animal passions of the thorough debauchee. Age 
came upon him rapidly, and he had sown his wild oats, 
such as they were, while still a young man. Meanwhile 
his reputation and his circle of acquaintances were rapidly 
spreading, and in spite of all his disqualifications for the 
coarser forms of conviviality, he took the keenest possible 
interest in the life that went on around him. A satirist 
may not be a pleasant companion, but he must frequent 
society ; he must be on the watch for his natural prey ; 
he must describe the gossip of the day, for it is the raw 
material from which he spins his finished fabric. 
Pope, as his writings show, was an eager recipient of all 
current rumours, whether they affected his aristocratic 
friends or the humble denizens of Grub Street. Fully to 


elucidate his poems, a commentator requires to have at 
his finger's ends the whole chronique scandaleuse of 
the day. With such tastes, it was natural that, as the 
subscriptions for his Homer began to pour in, he should 
be anxious to move nearer the great social centre. Lon- 
don itself might be too exciting for his health and too 
destructive of literary leisure. Accordingly, in 1716, the 
little property at Binfield was sold, and the Pope family 
moved to Mawson's New Buildings, on the bank of 
the river at Chiswick, and " under the wing of my Lord 
Burlington." He seems to have been a little ashamed of 
the residence ; the name of it is certainly neither aristo- 
cratic nor poetical. Two years later, on the death of his 
father, he moved up the river to the villa at Twickenham, 
which has always been associated with his name, and was 
his home for the last twenty-five years of his life. There 
he had the advantage of being just on the boundary of 
the great world. He was within easy reach of Hampton 
Court, Richmond, and Kew ; places which, during Pope's 
residence, were frequently glorified by the presence of 
George II. and his heir and natural enemy, Frederick, 
Prince of Wales. Pope, indeed, did not enjoy the honour 
of any personal interview with royalty. George is said 
to have called him a very honest man after reading his 
Dunciad; but Pope's references to his Sovereign were 
not complimentary. There was a report, referred to by Swift, 
that Pope had purposely avoided a visit from Queen Caro- 
line. He was on very friendly terms with Mrs. Howard 
afterwards Lady Suffolk the powerless mistress, who was 
intimate with two of his chief friends, Bathurst and Peter- 
borough, and who settled at Marble Villa, in Twickenham. 
Pope and Bathurst helped to lay out her grounds, and she 
stayed there to become a friendly neighbour of Horace Wai- 


pole, who, unluckily for lovers of gossip, did not become 
a Twickenhamite until three years after Pope's death. 
Pope was naturally more allied with the Prince of 
Wales, who occasionally visited him, and became inti- 
mate with the band of patriots and enthusiasts who 
saw in the heir to the throne the coming " patriot king." 
Bolingbroke, too, the great inspirer of the opposition, 
and Pope's most revered friend, was for ten years at 
Dawley, within an easy drive. London was easily 
accessible by road and by the river which bounded his 
lawn. His waterman appears to have been one of the 
regular members of his household. There he had every 
opportunity for the indulgence of his favourite tastes. 
The villa was on one of the loveliest reaches of the 
Thames, not yet polluted by the encroachments of Lon- 
don. The house itself was destroyed in the beginning of 
this century ; and the garden (if we may trust Horace 
Walpole) had been previously spoilt. This garden, says 
Walpole, was a little bit of ground of five acres, enclosed 
by three lanes. " Pope had twisted and twirled and 
rhymed and harmonized this, till it appeared two or three 
sweet little lawns, opening and opening beyond one 
another, and the whole surrounded with impenetrable 
woods." These, it appears, were hacked and hewed into 
mere desolation by the next proprietor. Pope was, in- 
deed, an ardent lover of the rising art of landscape 
gardening ; he was familar with Bridgeman and Kent, the 
great authorities of the time, and his example and 
precepts helped to promote the development of a less 
formal style. His theories are partly indicated in the 
description of Timon's villa. 

His gardens next your admiration call 
On every side you look, behold the wall ! 


No pleasing intricacies intervene, 
No artful wildness to perplex the scene ; 
Grove nods at grove, each alley has a brother, 
And half the platform just reflects the other. 

Pope's taste, indeed, tolerated various old-fashioned ex- 
crescences which we profess to despise. He admired mock 
classical temples and ohelisks erected judiciously at the 
ends of vistas. His most famous piece of handiwork, the 
grotto at Twickenham, still remains, and is in fact a 
short tunnel under the high road to connect his grounds 
with the lawn which slopes to the river. He describes in 
a letter to one of his friends, his " temple wholly com- 
prised of shells in the rustic manner," and his famous 
grotto so provided with mirrors that when the doors are 
shut it becomes a camera obscura, reflecting hills, river, 
and boats, and when lighted up glitters with rays reflected 
from bits of looking-glass in angular form. His friends 
pleased him by sending pieces of spar from the mines 
of Cornwall and Derbyshire, petrifactions, marble, coral, 
crystals, and humming-birds' nests. It was in fact a 
gorgeous example of the kind of architecture with which 
the cit delighted to adorn his country box. The hobby, 
whether in good taste or not, gave Pope never-ceasing 
amusement ; and he wrote some characteristic verses in 
its praise. 

In his grotto, as he declares in another place, he could sit 
in peace with his friends, undisturbed by the distant din 
of the world. 

There my retreat the best companions grace, 
Chiefs out of war, and statesmen out of place ; 
There St. John mingles with my friendly bowl 
The feast of reason and the flow of soul ; 
And he whose lightning pierced the Iberian lines 
Now forms my quincunx and now ranks my vines, 

88 POPE. [CHAP. 

Or tames the genius of the stubborn plain 
Almost as quickly as he conquer'd Spain. 

The grotto, one would fear, was better fitted for frogs than 
for philosophers capable of rheumatic twinges. But de- 
ducting what we please from such utterances on the 
score of affectation, the picture of Pope amusing him- 
self with his grotto and his plantations, directing old 
John Searle, his gardener, and conversing with the friends 
whom he compliments so gracefully, is, perhaps, the 
pleasantest in his history. He was far too restless and 
too keenly interested in society and literature to resign 
himself permanently to any such retreat. 

Pope's constitutional irritability kept him constantly on 
the wing. Though little interested in 'politics, he liked 
to be on the edge of any political commotion. He appeared 
in London on the death of Queen Caroline, in 1737 ; and 
Bathurst remarked that " he was as sure to be there in a 
bustle as a porpoise in a storm." " Our friend Pope," 
said Jervas not long before, " is off and on, here and there, 
everywhere and nowhere, a son ordinaire, and, there- 
fore as well as we can hope for a carcase so crazy." The 
Twickenham villa, though nominally dedicated to repose, 
became of course a centre of attraction for the interviewers 
of the day. The opening lines of the Prologue to the 
Satires give a vivacious description of the crowds of 
authors who rushed to " Twitnam," to obtain his 
patronage or countenance, in a day when editors were 
not the natural scapegoats of such aspirants. 

What walls can guard me, or what shades can hide ? 
They pierce my thickets, through my grot they glide ; 
By land, by water, they renew the charge ; 
They stop the chariot and they board the barge : 
No place is sacred, not the church is free, 
E'en Sunday shines no Sabbath-day to me. 


And even at an earlier period he occasionally retreated 
from the bustle to find time for his Homer. Lord 
Harcourt, the Chancellor in the last years of Queen 
Anne, allowed him to take up his residence in his old 
house of Stanton Harcourt, in Oxfordshire. He inscribed 
on a pane of glass in an upper room, " In the year 1718 
Alexander Pope finished here the fifth volume of Homer." 
In his earlier days he was often rambling about on horse- 
back. A letter from Jervas gives the plan of one such 
jaunt (in 1715) with Arbuthnot and Disney for com- 
panions. Arbuthnot is to be commander-in-chief, and 
allows only a shirt and a cravat to be carried in each 
traveller's pocket. They are to make a moderate journey 
each day, and stay at the houses of various friends, ending 
ultimately at Bath. Another letter of about the same 
date describes a ride to Oxford, in which Pope is over- 
taken by his publisher, Lintot, who lets him into various 
secrets of the trade, and proposes that Pope should turn 
an ode of Horace whilst sitting under the trees to rest. 
" Lord, if you pleased, what a clever miscellany might 
you make at leisure hours ! " exclaims the man of business ; 
and though Pope laughed at the advice, we might fancy 
that he took it to heart. He always had bits of verse on 
the anvil, ready to be hammered and polished at any 
moment. But even Pope could not be always writing, 
and the mere mention of these rambles suggests pleasant 
lounging through old-world country lanes of the quiet 
century. We think of the road-side life seen by 
Parson Adams or Humphry Clinker, and of which Mr. 
Borrow caught the last glimpse when dwelling in the 
tents of the Romany. In later days Pope had to put his 
" crazy carcase " into a carriage, and occasionally came in 
for less pleasant experiences. Whilst driving home one 

90 POPE. [CHIP. 

night from Dawley, in Bolingbroke's carriage and six, he 
was upset in a stream. He escaped drowning, though 
the water was "up to the knots of his periwig," but he was 
so cut by the broken glass that he nearly lost the use of 
his right hand. On another occasion Spence was delighted 
by the sudden appearance of the poet at Oxford, " dread- 
fully fatigued;" he had good-naturedly lent his own 
chariot to a lady who had been hurt in an upset, and had 
walked three miles to Oxford on a sultry day. 

A man of such brilliant wit, familiar with so many 
social circles, should have been a charming companion. 
It must, however, be admitted that the accounts which 
have come down to us do not confirm such preconceived 
impressions. Like his great rival, Addison, though for 
other reasons, he was generally disappointing in society. 
Pope, as may be guessed from Spence's reports, had a 
large fund of interesting literary talk, such as youthful 
aspirants to fame would be delighted to receive with 
reverence ; he had the reputation for telling anecdotes 
skilfully, and we may suppose that when he felt at ease, 
with a respectful and safe companion, he could do himself 
justice. But he must have been very trying to his hosts. 
He could seldom lay aside his self-consciousness suffi- 
ciently to write an easy letter ; and the same fault pro- 
bably spoilt his conversation. Swift complains of him as 
a silent and inattentive companion. He went to sleep at 
his own table, says Johnson, when the Prince of Wales 
was talking poetry to him certainly a severe trial. He 
would, we may guess, be silent till he had something to 
say worthy of the great Pope, and would then doubt 
whether it was not wise to treasure it up for preservation 
in a couplet. His sister declared that she had never seen 
him laugh heartily ; and Spence, who records the saying, 


is surprised, because Pope was said to have been very 
lively in his youth; but admits that in later years he 
never went beyond a " particular easy smile." A hearty 
laugh would have sounded strangely from the touchy, 
moody, intriguing little man, who could " hardly drink 
tea without a stratagem." His sensitiveness, indeed, 
appearing by his often weeping when he read moving 
passages ; but we can hardly imagine him as ever capable 
of genial self-abandonment. 

His unsocial habits, indeed, were a natural consequence 
of ill-health. He never seems to have been thoroughly 
well for many days together. He implied no more than the 
truth when he speaks of his Muse as helping him through 
that "long disease, his life." Writing to Bathurst in 
1728, he says that he does not expect to enjoy any health 
for four days together; and, not long after, Bathurst 
remonstrates with him for his carelessness, asking him 
whether it is not enough to have the headache for four 
days in the week and be sick for the other three. It is 
no small proof of intellectual energy that he managed to 
do so much thorough work under such disadvantages, 
and his letters show less of the invalid's querulous spirit 
than we might well have pardoned. Johnson gives a 
painful account of his physical defects, on the authority 
of an old servant of Lord Oxford, who frequently saw 
him in his later years. He was so weak as to be unable 
to rise to dress himself without help. He was so sensitive 
to cold that he had to wear a kind of fur doublet 
under a coarse linen shirt ; one of his sides was con- 
tracted, and he could scarcely stand upright till he was 
laced into a boddice made of stiff canvas; his legs 
were so slender that he had to wear three pairs of 
Btockings, which he was unable to draw on and off 

92 POPE. [CHAP. 

without help. His seat had to be raised to bring him to 
a level with common tables. In one of his papers in the 
Guardian he describes himself apparently as Dick 
Distich : " a lively little creature, with long legs and 
arms ; a spider * is no ill emblem of him ; he has been 
taken at a distance for a small windmill." His face, says 
Johnson, was " not displeasing," and the portraits are 
eminently characteristic. The thin, drawn features wear 
the expression of habitual pain, but are brightened up by 
the vivid and penetrating eye, which seems to be the 
characteristic poetical beauty. 

It was after all a gallant spirit which got so much work 
out of this crazy carcase, and kept it going, spite of all its 
feebleness, for fifty-six years. The servant whom Johnson 
quotes, said that she was called from her bed four times in 
one night, " in the dreadful winter of Forty," to supply 
him with paper, lest he should lose a thought. His con- 
stitution was already breaking down, but the intellect 
was still striving to save every moment allowed to him. 
His friends laughed at his habit of scribbling upon odd 
bits of paper. "Paper-sparing" Pope is the epithet 
bestowed upon him by Swift, and a great part of the 
Iliad is written upon the backs of letters. The habit 
seems to have been regarded as illustrative of his econo- 
mical habits ; but it was also natural to a man who was 
on the watch to turn every fragment of time to account. 
If anything was to be finished, he must snatch at the 
brief intervals allowed by his many infirmities. Naturally, 
he fell into many of the self-indulgent and troublesome 
ways of the valetudinarian. He was constantly wanting 
coffee, which seems to have soothed his headaches ; and 

1 The same comparison is made by Cibber in a rather unsavoury 


for this and his other wants he used to wear out the 
servants in his friends' houses, by " frequent and frivolous 
errands." Yet he was apparently a kind master. His 
servants lived with him till they became friends, and he 
took care to pay so well the unfortunate servant whose 
sleep was broken by his calls, that she said that she would 
want no wages in a family where she had to wait upon 
Mr. Pope. Another form of self-indulgence was more 
injurious to himself. He pampered his appetite with 
highly seasoned dishes, and liked to receive delicacies 
from his friends. His death was imputed by some of his 
friends, says Johnson, to " a silver saucepan in which it 
was his delight to eat potted lampreys." He would always 
get up for dinner, in spite of headache, when told that 
this delicacy was provided. Yet, as Johnson also observes, 
the excesses cannot have been very great, as they did not 
sooner cut short so fragile an existence. " Two bites and 
a sup more than your stint," says Swift, " will cost you 
more than others pay for a regular debauch." 

At home, indeed, he appears to have been generally 
abstemious. Probably the habits of his parents' little 
household were very simple ; and Pope, like Swift, knew 
the value of independence well enough to be systematically 
economical. Swift, indeed, had a more generous heart, 
and a lordly indifference to making money by his writings, 
which Pope, who owed his fortune chiefly to his Homer, 
did not attempt to rival. Swift alludes in his letters to 
an anecdote, which we may hope does not represent his 
habitual practice. Pope, it appears, was entertaining a 
couple of friends, and when four glasses had been con- 
sumed from a pint, retired, saying, " Gentlemen I leave 
you to your wine." I tell that story to everybody, says 
Swift, "in commendation of Mr. Pope's abstemiousness ;" 

94 POPE. [CHAP. 

but he tells it, one may guess, with something of a rueful 
countenance. At times, however, it seems that Pope could 
give a " splendid dinner," and show no want of the " skill 
and elegance which such performances require." Pope, 
in fact, seems to have shown a combination of qualities 
which is not uncommon, though sometimes called incon- 
sistent. He valued money, as a man values it who has 
been poor and feels it essential to his comfort to be fairly 
beyond the reach of want, and was accordingly pretty 
sharp at making a bargain with a publisher or in 
arranging terms with a collaborator. But he could also 
be liberal on occasion. Johnson says that his whole 
income amounted to about 800. a year, out of which he 
professed himself able to assign 100Z. to charity ; and 
though the figures are doubtful, and all Pope's statements 
about his own proceedings liable to suspicion, he appears 
to have been often generous in helping the distressed with 
money, as well as with advice or recommendations to his 
powerful friends. Pope, by his infirmities and his talents, 
belonged to the dependent class of mankind. He was 
in no sense capable of standing firmly upon his own legs. 
He had a longing, sometimes pathetic and sometimes 
humiliating, for the applause of his fellows and the 
sympathy of friends. With feelings so morbidly sensi- 
tive, and with such a lamentable incapacity for straight- 
forward openness in any relation of life, he was naturally 
a dangerous companion. He might be brooding over 
some fancied injury or neglect, and meditating revenge, 
when he appeared to be on good terms ; when really 
desiring to do a service to a friend, he might adopt some 
tortuous means for obtaining his ends, which would 
convert the service into an injury ; and, if he had once 
become alienated, the past friendship would be remem- 


bered by him as involving a kind of humiliation, and there- 
fore supplying additional keenness to his resentment. 
And yet it is plain that throughout life he was always 
anxious to lean upon some stronger nature ; to have a 
sturdy supporter whom he was too apt to turn into an 
accomplice ; or at least to have some good-natured, easy- 
going companion, in whose society he might find re- 
pose for his tortured nerves. And therefore, though the 
story of his friendships is unfortunately intertwined with 
the story of bitter quarrels and indefensible acts of trea- 
chery, it also reveals a touching desire for the kind of 
consolation which would be most valuable to one so 
accessible to the pettiest stings of his enemies. He had 
many warm friends, moreover, who, by good fortune or 
the exercise of unusual prudence, never excited his 
wrath, and whom he repaid by genuine affection. Some 
of these friendships have become famous, and will be 
best noticed in connexion with passages in his future 
career. It will be sufficient if I here notice a few 
names, in order to show that a complete picture of 
Pope's life, if it could now be produced, would include 
many figures of which we only catch occasional 

Pope, as I have said, though most closely connected 
with the Tories and Jacobites, disclaimed any close party 
connexion, and had some relations with the Whigs. 
Some courtesies even passed between him and the great 
Sir Eobert Walpole, whose interest in literature was a 
vanishing quantity, and whose bitterest enemies were 
Pope's greatest friends. Walpole, however, as we have 
seen, asked for preferment for Pope's old friend, and 
Pope repaid him with more than one compliment. Thus, 
in the Epilogue to the Satires, he says, 

96 POPE. [CHAP. 

Seen him I have, but in his happier hour 
Of social pleasure, ill exchanged for power. 
Seen him, nncumber'd with the venal tribe, 
Smile without art and win without a bribe. 

Another Whig statesman for whom Pope seems to have 
entertained an especially warm regard was James Craggs, 
Addison's successor as Secretary of State, who died whilst 
under suspicion of peculation in the South Sea business 
(1721). The Whig connexion might have been turned to 
account. Craggs during his brief tenure of office offered 
Pope a pension of 300 1. a year (from the secret service 
money), which Pope declined, whilst saying that, if in 
want of money, he would apply to Craggs as a friend. A 
negotiation of the same kind took place with Halifax, who 
aimed at the glory of being the great literary patron. It 
seems that he was anxious to have the Homer dedi- 
cated to him, and Pope, being unwilling to gratify him, 
or, as Johnson says, being less eager for money than 
Halifax for praise, sent a cool answer, and the negotiation 
passed oft'. Pope afterwards revenged himself for this 
offence by his bitter satire on Bufo in the Prologue to his 
Satires, though he had not the courage to admit its obvious 

Pope deserves the credit of preserving his independence. 
He would not stoop low enough to take a pension at the 
price virtually demanded by the party in power. He was 
not, however, inaccessible to aristocratic blandishments, 
and was proud to be the valued and pettecl guest in many 
great houses. Through Swift he had become acquainted 
with Oxford, the colleague of Bolingbroke, and was a fre- 
quent and intimate guest of the second Earl, from whose 
servant Johnson derived the curious information as to his 
habits. Harcourt, Oxford's Chancellor, lent him a house 


whilst translating Homer. Sheffield, the Duke of 
Buckingham, had been an early patron, and after the 
duke's death, Pope, at the request of his eccentric duchess, 
the illegitimate daughter of James II., edited some of his 
works and got into trouble for some Jacobite phrases con- 
tained in them. His most familiar friend among the 
opposition magnates was Lord Bathurst, a man of uncommon 
vivacity and good-humour. He was born four years before 
Pope, and died more than thirty years later at the age 
of ninety-one. One of the finest passages in Burke's 
American speeches turns upon the vast changes which had 
taken place during Bathurst's lifetime. He lived to see 
his son Chancellor. Two years before his death the son 
left the father's dinner- table with some remark upon the 
advantage of regular habits. " Now the old gentleman's 
gone," said the lively youth of eighty-nine to the remaining 
guests, "let's crack the other bottle." Bathurst delighted 
in planting, and Pope in giving him advice, and in dis- 
cussing the opening of vistas and erection of temples, and 
the poet was apt to be vexed when his advice was not taken. 
Another friend, even more restless and comet-like in his 
appearances, was the famous Peterborough, the man who 
had seen more kings and postilions than any one in Europe ; 
of whom Walsh injudiciously remarked that he had too 
much wit to be entrusted with the command of an army ; 
and whose victories soon after the unlucky remark had been 
made, were so brilliant as to resemble strategical epigrams. 
Pope seems to have been dazzled by the amazing vivacity 
of the man, and has left a curious description of his last 
days. Pope found him on the eve of the voyage in which 
he died, sick of an agonizing disease, crying out for pain at 
night, fainting away twice in the morning, lying like a dead 
man for a time, and in the intervals of pain giving a dinner 


98 POPE. [CHAP. 

to ten people, laughing, talking, declaiming against the cor- 
ruption of the times, giving directions to his workmen, and 
insisting upon going to sea in a yacht without preparations 
for landing anywhere in particular. Pope seems to have 
been specially attracted by such men, with intellects as 
restless as his own, but with infinitely more vitality to 
stand the consequent wear and tear. 

We should be better pleased if we could restore a vivid 
image of the inner circle upon which his happiness most 
intimately depended. In one relation of life Pope's con- 
duct was not only blameless, but thoroughly loveable. He 
was, it is plain, the best of sons. Even here, it is 
true, he is a little too consciously virtuous. Yet when he 
speaks of his father and mother there are tears in his 
voice, and it is impossible not to recognize genuine warmth 
of heart. 

Me let the tender office long engage 

To rock the cradle of reposing age, 

With lenient arts extend a mother's breath, 

Make languor smile, and soothe the bed of death, 

Explore the thought, explain the asking eye, 

And keep awhile one parent from the sky ! * 

Such verses are a spring in the desert, a gush of the 
true feeling, which contrasts with the strained and 
factitious sentiment in his earlier rhetoric, and almost 
forces us to love the writer. Could Pope have preserved 
that higher mood, he would have held our affections as he 
often delights our intellect. 

Unluckily we can catch but few glimpses of Pope's 
family life ; of the old mother and father and the affec- 

J It is curious to compare these verses with the original copy 
contained in a letter to Aaron Hill. The comparison shows how 
skilfully Pope polished his most successful passages. 


tionate nurse, who lived with him till 1721, and died 
during a dangerous illness of his mother's. The father, of 
whom we hear little after his early criticism of the son's 
bad " rhymes," died in 1717, and a brief note to Martha 
Blount gives Pope's feeling as fully as many pages : " My 
poor father died last night. Believe, since I don't forget 
you this moment, I never shall." The mother survived 
till 1733, tenderly watched by Pope, who would never be 
long absent from her, and whose references to her are 
uniformly tender and beautiful. One or two of her letters 
are preserved. " My Deare, A letter from youv sister 
just now is come and gone, Mr. Mennock and Charls 
Eackitt, to take his leve of us ; but being nothing in it, 
doe not send it. ... Your sister is very well, but 
your brother is not. There's Mr. Blunt of Maypell 
Durom is dead, the same day that Mr. Inglefield died. 
My servis to Mrs. Blounts, and all that ask of me. I 
hope to here from you, and that you are well, which is 
iny dalye prayers; this with my blessing." The old lady 
had peculiar views of orthography, and Pope, it is said, 
gave her the pleasure of copying out some of his Homer, 
though the necessary corrections gave him and the printers 
more trouble than would be saved by such an amanuensis. 
Three days after her death he wrote to Richardson, the 
painter. " I thank God," he says, " her death was as 
easy as her life was innocent ; and as it cost her not a 
groan, nor even a sigh, there is yet upon her countenance 
such an expression of tranquillity, nay, almost of pleasure, 
that it is even enviable to behold it. It would afford the 
finest image of a saint expired that ever painter drew, 
and it would be the greatest obligation which ever that 
obliging art could ever bestow upon a friend, if you would 
come and sketch it for me. I am sure if there be no very 

100 POPE. [CHAP. 

prevalent obstacle, you will leave any common business to 
do this, and I shall hope to see you this evening as late as 
you will, or to-morrow morning as early, before this winter 
flower is faded." Swift's comment, on hearing the news, 
gives the only consolation which Pope could have felt. 
" She died in extreme old age," he writes, " without pain, 
under the care of the most dutiful son I have ever known 
or heard of, which is a felicity not happening to one in a 
million." And with her death, its most touching and 
ennobling influence faded from Pope's life. There is no 
particular merit in loving a mother, but few biographies 
give a more striking proof that the loving discharge of a 
common duty may give a charm to a whole character. It 
is melancholy to add that we often have to appeal to this 
part of his story, to assure ourselves that Pope was really 
deserving of some affection. 

The part of Pope's history which naturally follows 
brings us again to the region of unsolved mysteries. The 
one prescription which a spiritual physician would have 
suggested in Pope's case would have been the love of a 
good and sensible woman. A nature so capable of tender 
feeling and so essentially dependent upon others, might 
have been at once soothed and supported by a happy 
domestic life j though it must be admitted that it would 
have required no common qualifications in a wife to cairn 
so irritable and jealous a spirit. Pope was unfortunate in 
his surroundings. The bachelor society of that day, not 
only the society of the "Wycherleys and Cromwells, but the 
more virtuous society of Addison and his friends, was 
certainly not remarkable for any exalted tone about 
women. Bolingbroke, Peterborough, and Bathurst, 
Pope's most admired friends, were all more or less fla- 
grantly licentious ; and Swift's mysterious story shows 


that if he could love a woman, his love might be as 
dangerous as hatred. In such a school, Pope, eminently 
malleable to the opinions of his companions, was not likely 
to acquire a high standard of sentiment. His personal 
defects were equally against him. His frame was not 
adapted for the robust gallantry of the time. He wanted 
a nurse rather than a wife ; and if his infirmities might 
excite pity, pity is akin to contempt as well as to love. 
The poor little invalid, brutally abused for his deformity 
by such men as Dennis and his friends, was stung beyond 
all self-control by their coarse laughter, and by the con- 
sciousness that it only echoed, in a more brutal shape, the 
judgment of the fine ladies of the time. His language 
about women, sometimes expressing coarse contempt and 
sometimes rising to ferocity, is the reaction of his morbid 
sensibility under such real and imagined scorn. 

Such feelings must be remembered in speaking briefly 
of two love affairs, if they are such, which profoundly 
affected his happiness. Lady Mary Wortley Montagu 
is amongst the most conspicuous figures of the time. She 
had been made a toast at the Kitcat Club at the age of 
eight, and she translated Epictetus (from the Latin) before 
she was twenty. She wrote verses, some of them amazingly 
coarse, though decidedly clever, and had married Mr. 
Edward Wortley Montagu in defiance of her father's will, 
though even in this, her most romantic proceeding, there 
are curious indications of a respect for prudential conside- 
rations. Her husband was a friend of Addison's, and a 
Whig ; and she accompanied him on an embassy to Constan- 
tinople in 1716-17, where she wrote the excellent letters 
published after her death, and whence she imported the 
practice of inoculation in spite of much opposition. A 
distinguished leader of society, she was also a woman of 

102 POPE. [CHAP. 

shrewd intellect and masculine character. In 1739 she 
left her husband, though no quarrel preceded or followed 
the separation, and settled for many years in Italy. 
Her letters are characteristic of the keen woman of the 
world, with an underlying vein of nobler feeling, perverted 
by harsh experience into a prevailing cynicism. Pope had 
made her acquaintance before she left England. He 
wrote poems to her and corrected her verses till she 
cruelly refused his services, on the painfully plausible 
ground that he would claim all the good for himself and 
leave all the bad for her. They corresponded during her 
first absence abroad. The common sense is all on the lady's 
side, whilst Pope puts on his most elaborate manners and 
addresses her in the strained compliments of old-fashioned 
gallantry. He acts the lover, though it is obviously mere 
acting, and his language is stained by indelicacies, which 
could scarcely offend Lady Mary, if we may judge her by 
her own poetical attempts. The most characteristic of Pope's 
letters related to an incident at Stanton Harcourt. Two 
rustic lovers were surprised by a thunderstorm in a field 
near the house ; they were struck by lightning, and found 
lying dead in each other's arms. Here was an admirable 
chance for Pope, who was staying in the house with his 
friend Gay. He wrote off a beautiful letter to Lady 
Mary, 3 descriptive of the event a true prose pastoral in 
the Strephon and Chloe style. He got Lord Harcourt to 
erect a monument over the common grave of the lovers, 

3 Pope, after his quarrel, wanted to sink his previous intimacy 
with Lady Mary, and printed this letter as addressed by Gay to 
Fortescue, adding one to the innumerable mystifications of hia 
correspondence. Mr. Moy Thomas doubts also whether Lady 
Mary's answer was really sent at the assigned date. The con- 
trast of sentiment is equally characteristic in any case. 


and composed a couple of epitaphs, which he submitted to 
Lady Mary's opinion. She replied by a cruel dose of 
common sense, and a doggrel epitaph, which turned his 
fine phrases into merciless ridicule. If the lovers had been 
spared, she suggests, the first year might probably have 
seen a beaten wife and a deceived husband, cursing their 
marriage chain. 

Now they are happy in their doom, 
For Pope has writ upon their tomb. 

On Lady Mary's return the intimacy was continued. 
She took a house at Twickenham. He got Kneller to paint 
her portrait, and wrote letters expressive of humble ado- 
ration. But the tone which did well enough when the 
pair were separated by the whole breadth of Europe, was 
less suitable when they were in the same parish. After a 
time the intimacy faded and changed into mutual anti- 
pathy. The specific cause of the quarrel, if cause there was, 
has not been clearly revealed. One account, said to come 
from Lady Mary, is at least not intrinsically 4 improbable. 
According to this story, the unfortunate poet forgot for a 
moment that he was a contemptible cripple, and forgot also 
the existence of Mr. Edward Wortley Montagu, and a 
passionate declaration of love drew from the lady an 
"immoderate fit of laughter." Ever afterwards, it is 
added, he was her implacable enemy. Doubtless, if 
the story be true, Lady Mary acted like a sensible 
woman of the world, and Pope was silly as well as 
immoral. And yet one cannot refuse some pity to the 

4 Mr. Moy Thomas, in his edition of Lady Mary's letters, con- 
siders this story to be merely an echo of old scandal, and makes 
a different conjecture as to the immediate cause of quarrel. His 
conjecture seems very improbable to me ; but the declaration story 
is clearly of very doubtful authenticity. 

104 POPE. [CHAP. 

unfortunate wretch, thus roughly jerked hack into the 
consciousness that a fine lady might make a pretty play- 
thing of him, hut could not seriously regard him with 
anything hut scorn. Whatever the precise facts, a "breach 
of some sort might have been anticipated. A game of 
gallantry in which the natural parts are inverted, and the 
gentleman acts the sentimentalist to the lady's performance 
of the shrewd cynic, is likely to have awkward results. 
Pope hrooded over his resentment, and years afterwards 
took a revenge only too characteristic. The first of his 
Imitations of Horace appeared in 1733. It contained 
a couplet, too gross for quotation, making the most out- 
rageous imputation upon the character of " Sappho." 
Now, the accusation itself had no relation whatever either 
to facts or even (as I suppose) to any existing scandal. It 
was simply throwing filth at random. Thus, when Lady 
Mary took it to herself, and applied to Pope through Peter- 
borough for an explanation, Pope could make a defence 
verbally impregnable. There was no reason why Lady Mary 
should fancy that such a cap fitted ; and it was far more 
appropriate, as he added, to other women notorious for 
immorality as well as authorship. In fact, however, there 
can be no doubt that Pope intended his abuse to reach its 
mark. Sappho was an obvious name for the most famous 
of poetic ladies. Pope himself, in one of his last letters 
to her, says that fragments of her writing would please 
him like fragments of Sappho's ; and their mediator, 
Peterborough, writes of her under the same name in some 
complimentary and once well-known verses to Mrs.^Jpward. 
Pope had himself alluded to her as Sappho in some verses 
addressed (about 1722) to another lady, Judith Cowper, 
afterwards Mrs. Madan, who was for a time the object of 
some of his artificial gallantry. The only thing that can be 


said is that his abuse was a sheer piece of Billingsgate, too 
devoid of plausibility to be more than an expression of 
virulent hatred. He was like a dirty boy who throws mud 
from an ambush, and declares that he did not see the 
victim bespattered. 8 

A bitter and humiliating quarrel followed. Lord Hervey, 
who had been described as " Lord Fanny," in the same 
satire, joined with his friend, Lady Mary, in writing lam- 
poons upon Pope. The best known was a copy of verses, 
chiefly, if not exclusively by Lady Mary, in which Pope 
is brutally taunted with the personal deformities of his 
"wretched little carcass," which, it seems, are the only 
cause of his being "unwhipt, unblanketed, unkicked." 
One verse seems to have stung him more deeply, which says 
that his " crabbed numbers " are 

Hard as his heart and as his birth obscure. 

To this and other assaults Pope replied by a long letter, 
suppressed, however, for the time, which, as Johnson says, 
exhibits to later readers " nothing but tedious malignity," 
and is, in fact, a careful raking together of everything 
likely to give pain to his victim. It was not published 
till 1751, when both Pope and Hervey were dead. In 

5 Another couplet in the second book of the Dunciad about "hap- 
less Monsieur" and " Lady Maries," was also applied at the time 
to Lady M. W. Montagu : and Pope in a later note affects to deny, 
thus really pointing the allusion. But the obvious meaning of 
the whole passage is that "duchesses and Lady Maries" might be 
personated by abandoned women, which would certainly be unplea- 
sant for^iem, but does not imply any imputation upon their charac- 
ter. If Lady Mary was really the author of a " Pop upon Pope " a 
story of Pope's supposed whipping in the vein of his own attack 
upon Dennis, she already considered him as the author of some 
scandal. The line in the Dunciad was taken to allude to a 
story about a M. Remond which has been fuUy cleared up. 

106 POPE. [CHAP. 

his later writings lie made references to Sappho, which fixed 
the name upon her, and amongst other pleasant insinua- 
tions, speaks of a weakness which she shared with Dr. 
Johnson, an inadequate appreciation of clean linen. More 
malignant accusations are implied both in his acknowledged 
and anonymous writings. The most ferocious of all his 
assaults, however, is the character of Sporus, that is Lord 
Hervey, in the epistle to Arbuthnot, where he seems to 
be actually screaming with malignant fury. He returns 
the taunts as to effeminacy, and calls his adversary a " mere 
white curd of asses' milk," an innocent drink, which he 
was himself in the habit of consuming. 

We turn gladly from these miserable hostilities, dis- 
graceful to all concerned. Were any excuse available for 
Pope, it would be in the brutality of taunts, coming not 
only from rough dwellers in Grub Street, but from the most 
polished representatives of the highest classes, upon per- 
sonal defects, which the most ungenerous assailant might 
surely have spared. But it must also be granted that 
Pope was neither the last to give provocation, nor at all 
inclined to refrain from the use of poisoned weapons. 

The other connexion of which I have spoken has also 
its mystery, like everything else in Pope's career. Pope 
had been early acquainted with Teresa and Martha Blount. 
Teresa was born in the same year as Pope, and Martha two 
years later.' They were daughters of Lister Blount, of 
Mapledurham, and after his death, in 1710, and the mar- 
riage of their only brother, in 1711, they lived with their 

6 The statements as to the date of the acquaintance are con- 
tradictory. Martha told Spence that she first knew Pope as a 
" very little girl," but added that it was after the publication of 
the Essay on Criticism, when she was twenty-one ; and at another 
time, that it was after he had begun the Iliad, which was later 
than part of the published correspondence. 


mother in London, and passed much of the summer near 
Twickenham. They seem to have been lively young 
women, who had been educated at Paris. Teresa was the 
most religious, and the greatest lover of London society. I 
have already quoted a passage or two from the early letters 
addressed to the two sisters. It has also to be said that he 
was guilty of writing to them stuff which it is inconceivable 
that any decent man should have communicated to a modest 
woman. They do not seem to have taken offence. 
He professes himself the slave of both alternately or 
together. "Even from my infancy," he says (in 1714) 
" I have been in love with one or other of you week by 
week, and my journey to Bath fell out in the 376th week 
of the reign of my sovereign lady Sylvia. At the present 
writing hereof, it is the 389th week of the reign of 
your most serene majesty, in whose service I was listed 
some weeks before I beheld your sister." He had sug- 
gested to Lady Mary that the concluding lines of Eloisa 
contained a delicate compliment to her ; and he charac- 
teristically made a similar insinuation to Martha Blount 
about the same passage. Pope was decidedly an economist 
even of his compliments. Some later letters are in less arti- 
ficial language, and there is a really touching and natural 
letter to Teresa in regard to an illness of her sister's. After 
a time, we find that some difficulty has arisen. He feels 
that his presence gives pain ; when he comes he either 
makes her (apparently Teresa) uneasy, or he sees her 
unkind. Teresa, it would seem, is jealous and disapproves 
of his attentions to Martha. In the midst of this we find 
that in 1717 Pope settled an annuity upon Teresa of 407. 
a year for six years, on condition of her not being married 
during that time. The fact has suggested various specu- 
lations, but was, perhaps, only a part of some family ar- 

108 POPE. [CHAP. 

rangement, made convenient by the diminished fortunes 
of the ladies. Whatever the history, Pope gradually be- 
came attached to Martha, and simultaneously came to 
regard Teresa with antipathy. Martha, in fact, became by 
degrees almost a member of his household. His corre- 
spondents take for granted that she is his regular compa- 
nion. He writes of her to Gay, in 1730, as " a friend 
a woman friend, God help me ! with whom I have spent 
three or four hours a day these fifteen years." In his last 
years, when he was most dependent upon kindness, he 
seems to have expected that she should be invited to any 
house which he was himself to visit. Such a close con- 
nexion naturally caused some scandal. In 1725, he defends 
himself against " villanous lying tales " of this kind to his 
old friend Caryll, with whom the Blounts were connected. 
At the same time he is making bitter complaints of Teresa. 
He accused her afterwards (1729) of having an intrigue with 
a married man, of " striking, pinching, and abusing her 
mother to the utmost shamefulness." The mother, he 
thinks, is too meek to resent this tyranny, and Martha, as 
it appears, refuses to believe the reports against her sister. 
Pope audaciously suggests that it would be a good thing if 
the mother could be induced to retire to a convent, and is 
anxious to persuade Martha to leave so painful a home. 
The same complaints reappear in many letters, but the 
position remained unaltered. It is impossible to say with 
any certainty what may have been the real facts. Pope's 
mania for suspicion deprives his suggestions of the slightest 
value. The only inference to -be drawn is, that he drew 
closer to Martha Blount as years went by ; and was 
anxious that she should become independent of her 
family. This naturally led to mutual dislike and sus- 
picion, but nobody can now say whether Teresa pinched 


her mother, nor what would have been her account of 
Martha's relations to Pope. 

Johnson repeats a story that Martha neglected Pope 
" with shameful unkindness," in his later years. It is clearly 
exaggerated or quite unfounded. At any rate, the poor 
sickly man, in his premature and childless old age, looked 
up to her with fond affection, and left to her nearly the 
whole of his fortune. His biographers have indulged in 
discussions surely superfluous as to the morality of the 
connexion. There is no question of seduction, or of 
tampering with the affections of an innocent woman. 
Pope was but too clearly disqualified from acting the part 
of Lothario. There was not in his case any Vanessa to 
give a tragic turn to the connexion, which, otherwise, 
resembled Swift's connexion with Stella. Miss Blount, from 
all that appears, was quite capable of taking care of her- 
self, and had she wished for marriage, need only have inti- 
mated her commands to her lover. It is probable enough that 
the relations between them led to very unpleasant scenes 
in her family ; but she did not suffer otherwise in accept- 
ing Pope's attentions. The probability seems to be that 
the friendship had become imperceptibly closer, and that 
what began as an idle affectation of gallantry was slowly 
changed into a devoted attachment, but not until Pope's 
health was so broken that marriage would then, if not 
always, have appeared to be a mockery. 

Poets have a bad reputation as husbands. Strong pas- 
sions and keen sensibilities may easily disqualify a man 
for domestic tranquillity, and prompt a revolt against rules 
essential to social welfare. Pope, like other poets from 
Shakspeare to Shelley, was unfortunate in his love affairs ; 
but his ill-fortune took a characteristic shape. He was not 
carried away, like Byron and Burns, by overpowering 

110 POPE. [CH. iv. 

passions. Rather the emotional power which lay in his 
nature was prevented from displaying itself by his physical 
infirmities, and his strange trickiness and morhid irri- 
tability. A man who could not make tea without a stra- 
tagem, could hardly be a downright lover. We may 
imagine that he would at once make advances and retract 
them ; that he would be intolerably touchy and suspi- 
cious ; that every coolness would be interpreted as a deli- 
berate insult, and that the slightest hint would be enough 
to set his jealousy in a flame. A woman would feel that, 
whatever his genius and his genuine kindliness, one thing 
was impossible with him that is, a real confidence in his 
sincerity ; and, therefore, on the whole, it may, perhaps, be 
reckoned as a piece of good fortune for the most wayward 
and excitable of sane mankind, that if he never fully gained 
the most essential condition of all human happiness, he 
yet formed a deep and lasting attachment to a woman 
who, more or less, returned his feeling. In a life so 
full of bitterness, so harassed by physical pain, one is glad 
to think, even whilst admitting that the suffering was in 
great part foolish self-torture, and in part inflicted as a 
retribution for injuries to others, that some glow of femi- 
nine kindliness might enlighten the dreary stages of his 
progress through life. The years left to him after the 
death of his mother were few and evil, and it would be 
hard to grudge him such consolation as he could receive 
from the glances of Patty Blount's blue eyes the eyes 
which, on Walpole's testimony, were the last remains of 
her beauty. 



IN the Dunciad, published soon after the Odyssey, Pope 
laments ten years spent as a commentator and translator. 
He was not without compensation. The drudgery for 
the latter part of his task must have been felt as drudgery 
once over, he found himself in a thoroughly indepen- 
dent position, still on the right side of forty, and able to 
devote his talents to any task which might please him. 
The task which he actually chose was not calculated to 
promote his happiness. We must look back to an earlier 
period to explain its history. During the last years of 
Queen Anne, Pope had belonged to a " little senate " in 
which Swift was the chief figure. Though Swift did not 
exercise either so gentle or so imperial a sway as Addison, 
the cohesion between the more independent members of 
this rival clique was strong and lasting. They amused 
themselves by projecting the Scriblerus Club, a body__ 
which never had, it would seem, any definite organiza- 
tion, but was held to exist for the prosecution of a design 
never fully executed. Martinus Scriblerus was the name 
of an imaginary pedant a precursor and relative of Dr. 
I iryasdust whose memoirs and works were to form a 
satire upon stupidity in the guise of learning. The 
various members of the club were to share in the compila- 

112 POPE. [CHAP. 

tioii ; and if such joint-stock undertakings were practicable 
in literature, it would be difficult to collect a more 
brilliant set of contributors. After Swift the terrible 
humourist of whom we can hardly think without a mix- 
ture of horror and compassion the chief members were 
Atterbury, Arbuthnot, Gay. Parnell, and Pope himself. 
Parnell, an amiable man, died in 1717, leaving works 
which were edited by Pope in 1722. Atterbury, a 
potential "VVolsey or Laud born in an uncongenial period, 
was a man of fine literary taste a warm admirer of 
Milton (though he did exhort Pope to put Samson 
Agonistes into civilised costume one of the most un- 
lucky suggestions ever made by mortal man), a judicious 
critic of Pope himself, and one who had already given 
proofs of his capacity in literary warfare by his share in 
the famous controversy with Bentley. Though no one 
now doubts the measureless superiority of Bentley, the 
clique of Swift and Pope still cherished the belief that 
the wit of Atterbury and his allies had triumphed over 
the ponderous learning of the pedant. Arbuthnot, whom 
Swift had introduced to Pope as a man who could do 
everything but walk, was an amiable and accomplished 
physician. He was a strong Tory and high churchman, 
and retired for a time to France upon the death of Anne 
and the overthrow of his party. He returned, however, 
to England, resumed his practice, and won Pope's 
warmest gratitude by his skill and care. He was a man 
of learning, and had employed it in an attack upon Wood- 
ward's geological speculations, as already savouring of 
heterodoxy. He possessed also a vein of genuine 
humour, resembling that of Swift, though it has rather 
lost its savour, perhaps, because it was not salted by the 
Dean's misanthropic bitterness. If his good humour 


weakened his wit, it gained him the affections of his 
friends, and was never soured by the sufferings of his 
later years. Finally, John Gay, though fat, lazy, and 
wanting in manliness of spirit, had an illimitable flow of 
good-tempered banter; and if he could not supply the 
learning of Arbuthnot, he could give what was more 
valuable, touches of fresh natural simplicity, which still 
explain the liking of his friends. Gay, as Johnson says, 
was the general favourite of the wits, though a playfellow 
rather than a partner, and treated with more fondness 
than respect. Pope seems to have loved him better than 
any one, and was probably soothed by his easy-going, 
unsuspicious temper. They were of the same age; and Gay, 
who had been apprenticed to a linendraper, managed to 
gain notice by his poetical talents, and was taken up by 
various great people. Pope said of him that he wanted 
independence of spirit, which is indeed obvious enough. 
He would have been a fitting inmate of Thomson's Castle 
of Indolence. He was one of those people who consider 
that Providence is bound to put food into their mouths 
without giving them any trouble ; and, as sometimes 
happens, his draft upon the general system of things was 
honoured. He was made comfortable by various patrons ; 
the Duchess of Queensberry petted him in his later 
years, and the duke kept his money for him. His friends 
chose to make a grievance of the neglect of Govern- 
ment to add to his comfort by a good place ; they 
encouraged him to refuse the only place offered as not 
sufficiently dignified ; and he even became something of a 
martyr when his Polly, a sequel to the Beggars' Opera, 
was prohibited by the Lord Chamberlain, and a good 
subscription made him ample amends. Pope has immor- 
talized the complaint by lamenting the fate of " neglected 

114 POPE. [CHAP. 

genius " in the Epistle to Arbuthnot, and declaring that 
the " sole return " of all Gay's " blameless life " was 

My verse and Queensberry weeping o'er thy urn. 

Pope's alliance with Gay had various results. Gay 
continued the war with Ambrose Philips by writing bur- 
lesque pastorals, of which Johnson truly says that they 
show " the effect of reality and truth, even when the in- 
tention was to show them grovelling and degraded." 
They may still be glanced at with pleasure. Soon 
after the publication of the mock pastorals, the two 
friends, in company with Arbuthnot, had made an adven- 
ture more in the spirit of the Scriblerus Club. A farce 
called Three Hours after Marriage was produced and 
damned in 1717. It was intended (amongst other 
things) to satirize Pope's old enemy Dennis, called " Sir 
Tremendous," as an embodiment of pedantic criticism, 
and Arbuthnot's old antagonist Woodward. A taste 
for fossils, mummies, or antiquities, was at that time 
regarded as a fair butt for unsparing ridicule ; but the 
three great wits managed their assault so clumsily as to 
become ridiculous themselves; and Pope, as we shall 
presently see, smarted as usual under failure. 

After Swift's retirement to Ireland, and during Pope's 
absorption in Homer, the Scriblerus Club languished. 
Some fragments, however, of the great design were 
executed by the four chief members, and the dormant 
project was revived, after Pope had finished his Homer, 
on occasion of the last two visits of Swift to England. 
He passed six months in England from March to August, 
1726, and had brought with him the MS. of Gulliver's 
Travels, the greatest satire produced by the Scriblerians. 
He passed a great part of his time at Twickenham, and in 


rambling with Pope or Gay about the country. Those 
who do not know how often the encounter of brilliant 
wits ^ tends to neutralize rather than stimulate their 
activity, may wish to have been present at a dinner which 
took place at Twickenham on July 6th, 1726, when the 
party was made up of Pope, the most finished poet of the 
day; Swift, the deepest humourist ; Bolingbroke, the most 
brilliant politician; Congreve, the wittiest writer of 
comedy ; and Gay, the author of the most successful 
burlesque. The envious may console themselves by 
thinking that Pope very likely went to sleep, that Swift 
was deaf and overbearing, that Congreve and Boling- 
broke were painfully witty, and Gay frightened into 
silence. When in 1727 Swift again visited England, 
and stayed at Twickenham, the clouds were gathering. 
The scene is set before us in some of Swift's verses : 

Pope has the talent well to speak, 

But not to reach the ear ; 
His loudest voice is low and weak, 

The dean too deaf to hear. 

Awhile they on each other look, 

Then different studies choose ; 
The dean sits plodding o'er a book, 

Pope walks and courts the muse. 

"Two sick friends," says Swift in a letter written after 
his return to Ireland, " never did well together." It is 
plain that their infirmities had been mutually trying, 
and on the last day of August Swift suddenly withdrew 
from Twickenham, in spite of Pope's entreaties. He had 
heard of the last illness of Stella, which was finally to 
crush his happiness. Unable to endure the company of 
friends, he went to London in very bad health, and 
thence, after a short stay, to Ireland, leaving behind him 

116 POPE. [CHAP. 

a letter which, says Pope, " affected me so much that it 
made me like a girl." It was a gloomy parting, and the 
last. The stern Dean retired to die " like a poisoned rat 
in a hole," after long years of bitterness, and finally of 
slow intellectual decay. He always retained perfect con- 
fidence in his friend's affection. Poor Pope, as he says 
in the verses on his own death, 

will grieve a month, and Gay 
A week, and Arbuthnot a day ; 

and they were the only friends to whom he attributes 
sincere sorrow. 

Meanwhile two volumes of Miscellanies, the joint work 
of the four wits, appeared in June, 1727, and a third in 
March, 1728. A fourth, hastily got up, was published in 
1732. They do not appear to have been successful. The 
copyright of the three volumes was sold for 2251. t of 
which Arbuthnot and Gay received each 50?., whilst the 
remainder was shared between Pope and Swift ; and Swift 
seems to have given his part, according to his custom, to 
the widow of a respectable Dublin bookseller. Pope's 
correspondence with the publisher shows that he was en- 
trusted with the financial details, and arranged them 
with the sharpness of a practised man of business. The 
whole collection was made up in great part of old scraps, 
and savoured of bookmaking, though Pope speaks com- 
placently of the joint volumes, in which he says to Swift, 
" We look like friends, side by side, serious and merry 
by turns, conversing interchangeably, and walking down, 
hand in hand, to posterity." Of the various fragments 
contributed by Pope, there is only one which need be 
mentioned here the treatise on Bathos in the third 
volume, in which he was helped by Arbuthnot. He told 


Swift privately that he had " entirely methodized and in 
a manner written it all," though he afterwards chose to 
denounce the very same statement as a lie when the 
treatise brought him into trouble. It is the most amus- 
ing of his prose writings, consisting essentially of a col- 
lection of absurdities from various authors, with some 
apparently invented for the occasion, such as the 

Ye gods, annihilate but space and time, 

And make two lovers happy ! 

and ending with the ingenious receipt to make an epic 
poem. Most of the passages ridiculed and, it must be 
said, very deservedly were selected from some of the 
various writers to whom, for one reason or another, he 
owed a grudge. Ambrose Philips and Dennis, his old 
enemies, and Theobald, who had criticised his edition of 
Shakespeare, supply several illustrations. Blackmorehad 
spoken very strongly of the immorality of the wits in 
some prose essays ; Swift's Tale of a Tub, and a parody 
of the first psalm, anonymously circulated, but known to 
be Pope's, had been severely condemned ; and Pope took 
a cutting revenge by plentiful citations from Blackmore's 
most ludicrous bombast ; and even Broome, his colleague 
in Homer, came in for a passing stroke, for Broome and 
Pope were now at enmity. Finally, Pope fired a general 
volley into the whole crowd of bad authors by grouping 
them under the head of various animals tortoises, parrots, 
frogs, and so forth and adding under each head the initials 
of the persons described. He had the audacity to declare 
that the initials were selected at random. If so, a mar- 
vellous coincidence made nearly every pair of letters 
correspond to the name and surname of some contam- 

118 POPE. [CHAP. 

porary poetaster. The classification was rather vague, 
but seems to have given special offence. 

Meanwhile Pope was planning a more elaborate cam- 
paign against his adversaries. He now appeared for the 
first time as a formal satirist, and the Dunciad, in which 
he came forward as the champion of Wit, taken in its 
teqad sense, against its natural antithesis, DuInesSt is in 
some respect his masterpiece. It is addressed to Swift, 
who probably assisted at some of its early stages. 
thou, exclaims the poet, 

O thou, whatever title please thine ear, 
Dean, Drapier, Bickerstaff, or Gulliver ! 
Whether thou choose Cervantes' serious air, 
Or laugh and shake in Rabelais's easy chair, 

And we feel that Swift is present in spirit throughout the 
composition. "The great fault of the Dunciad," says 
Warton, an intelligent and certainly not an over-severe 
critic, " is the excessive vehemence of the satire. It has 
been compared," he adds, " to the geysers propelling a vast 
column of boiling water by the force of subterranean fire ;" 
and he speaks of some one who after reading a book of 
the Dunciad, always soothes himself by a canto of the 
Faery Queen. Certainly a greater contrast could not 
easily be suggested ; and yet, I think, that the remark 
requires at least modification. The Dunciad, indeed, 
is 'beyond all question full of coarse abuse. The second 
book, in particular, illustrates that strange delight in the 
physically disgusting which Johnson notices as charac- 
teristic of Pope and his master, Swift. In the letter pre- 
fixed to the Dunciad, Pope tries to justify his abuse of 
his enemies by the example of Boileau, whom he appears 
to have considered as his great prototype. But Boileau 


would have been revolted by the brutal images which 
Pope does not hesitate to introduce ; and it is a curious 
phenomenon that the poet who is pre-eminently the repre- 
sentative of polished society should openly take such 
pleasure in unmixed filth. Polish is sometimes very thin. 
It has been suggested that Swift, who was with Pope 
during the composition, may have been directly respon- 
sible for some of these brutalities. At any rate, as I 
have said, Pope has here been working in the Swift 
spirit, and this gives, I think, the keynote of his 

The geyser comparison is so far misleading that Pope 
is not in his most spiteful mood. There is not that in- 
fusion of personal venom which appears so strongly in the 
character of Sporus and similar passages. In reading 
them we feel that the poet is writhing under some bitter 
mortification, and trying with concentrated malice to sting 
his adversary in the tenderest places. We hear a tortured 
victim screaming out the shrillest taunts at his tormentor. 
The abuse in the Dunciad is by comparison broad and 
even jovial. The tone at which Pope is aiming is 
that suggested by the " laughing and shaking in Eabelais' 
easy chair." It is meant to be a boisterous guffaw from 
capacious lungs, an enormous explosion of superlative 
contempt for the mob of stupid thickskinned scribblers. 
They are to be overwhelmed with gigantic cachinnations, 
ducked in the dirtiest of drains, rolled over and over with 
rough horseplay, pelted with the least savoury of rotten 
eggs, not ekilfully anatomized or pierced with dexterously 
directed needles. Pope has really stood by too long, 
watching their tiresome antics and receiving their taunts, 
and he must once for all speak out and give them a 

120 POPE. [CHAP. 

Out with it Dunoiad ! let the secret pass, 
' tn each fool that he's an ass ! 

That is his account of his feelings in the Prologue 
to the Satires, and he answers the probable remon- 


You think this cruel ? Take it for a rule, 
No creature smarts sp little aa a fool. 

To reconcile us to such laughter, it should have a 
more genial tone than Pope could find in his nature. 
We ought to feel, and we certainly do not feel, that 
after the joke has been fired off there should be some 
possibility of reconciliation, or, at least, we should 
find some recognition of the fact that the victims 
are not to be hated simply because they were not such 
clever fellows as Pope. There is something cruel in 
Pope's laughter, as in Swift's. The missiles are not mere 
filth, but are weighted with hard materials that bruise and 
mangle. He professes that his enemies were the first 
aggressors, a plea which can be only true in part ; and he 
defends himself, feebly enough, against the obvious charge 
that he has ridiculed men for being obscure, poor, and 
stupid faults not to be amended by satire, nor rightfully 
provocative of enmity. In fact, Pope knows in his better 
moments that a man is not necessarily wicked because he 
sleeps on a bulk, or writes verses in a garret ; but he also 
knows that to mention those facts will give his enemies 
pain, and he cannot refrain from the use of so handy a 

Such faults make one half ashamed of confessing to 
reading the Dunciad with pleasure ; and yet it is fre- 
quently written with such force and freedom that we half 
pardon the cruel little persecutor, and admire the vigour 
with which he throws down the gauntlet to the natural 


enemies of genius. The Dunciad is modelled upon the 
Mac Flecknoe, in which Dryden celebrates the appointment 
of Elkanah Shad well to succeed Flecknoe as monarch of the 
realms of Dulness, and describes the coronation cere- 
monies. Pope imitates many passages, and adopts the 
general design. Though he does not equal the vigour of 
some of Dryden's lines, and wages war in a more un- 
generous spirit, the Dunciad has a wider scope than its 
original, and shows Pope's command of his weapons in occa- 
sional felicitous phrases, in the vigour of the versification, 
and in the general sense of form and clear presentation of 
the scene imagined. For a successor to the great empire 
of d ulness he chose (in the original form of the poem) 
the unlucky Theobald, a writer to whom the merit is 
attributed of having first illustrated Shakespere by a study 
qf the contemporary literature. _ In doing this he had 
fallen foul of Pope, who could claim no such merit for his 
own editorial work, and Pope therefore regarded him as a 
grovelling antiquarian. As such, he was a fit pretender 
enough to the throne once occupied by Settle. The 
Dunciad begins by a spirited description of the goddess 
brooding in her cell upon the eve of a Lord Mayor's day, 
when the proud scene was o'er, 

But lived in Settle's numbers one day more. 

The predestined hero is meanwhile musing in his Gothic 
library, and addresses a solemn invocation to Dulness, 
who accepts- -his sacrifice a pile of his own works trans- 
ports him to her temple, and declares him to be the legi- 
timate successor to the former rulers of her kingdom. 
The second book describes the games held in honour of 
the new ruler. Some of them are, as a frank critic 
observes, " beastly ;" but a brief report of the least objec- 

122 POPE. [CHAP. 

tionable may serve as a specimen of the whole perform- 
ance. Dulness, with her court descends 

To where Fleet Ditch with disemboguing streams 
Bolls the large tribute of dead dogs to Thames, 
The king of dykes than whom no sluice of mud 
With deeper sable blots the silver flood. 
Here strip, my children, here at once leap in ; 
Here prove who best can dash through thick and thin, 
And_who the most in love of dirt excel. 

And, certainly by the poet's account, they all love it as 
well as their betters. The competitors in this contest 
are drawn from the unfortunates immersed in what "War- 
burton calls " the common sink of all such writers (as 
Ralph) a political newspaper." They were all .hateful, 
partly because they were on the side of Walpole, and 
therefore, by Pope's logic, unprincipled hirelings, and 
more, because in that cause, as others, they had assaulted 
Pope and his friend. There is Oldmixon, a hack writer 
employed in compilations, who accused Atterbury of falsi- 
fying Clarendon, and was accused of himself falsifying his- 
torical documents in the interests of Whiggism ; and 
Smedley, an Irish clergyman, a special enemy of Swift's, 
who had just printed a collection of assaults upon the mis- 
cellanies called Gulliveriana ; and Concanen, another Irish- 
man, an ally of Theobald's, and (it may be noted) of War- 
burton's, who attacked the Bathos, and received of 
course, for the worst services an appointment in Jamaica ; 
and Arnall, one of Walpole's most favoured journalists, who 
was said to have received for himself or others near 
11,OOOZ. in four years. Each dives in a way supposed to 
be characteristic, Oldmixon with the pathetic exclama- 

And am I now threescore ? 
Ah, why, ye gods, should two and two make four ? 


Concanen, "a cold, long-winded native of the deep," 
dives perse veringly, but without causing a ripple in the 

stream : 

Not so bold Arnall with a weight of skull 
Furious he dives, precipitately dull, 

and ultimately emerges to claim the prize, " with half the 
bottom on his head." But Smedley, who has been given 
up for lost, comes up, 

Shaking the horrors of his sable brows, 

and relates how he has been sucked in by the mud- 
nymphs, and how they have shown him a branch of 
Styx which here pours into the Thames, and diffuses its 
soporific vapours over the Temple and its purlieus. He 
is solemnly welcomed by Milbourn (a reverend antagonist 
of Dryden), who tells him to " receive these robes which 
once were mine," 

Dulness is sacred in a sound divine. 

The games are concluded in the second book ; and in 
the third the hero, sleeping in the Temple of Dulness, 
meets in a vision the ghost of Settle, who reveals to him 
the future of his empire ; tells how dulness is to over- 
spread the world, and revive the triumphs of Goths and 
monks ; how the hated Dennis, and Gildon, and others, 
are to overwhelm scorners, and set up at court, and preside 
over arts and sciences, though a fit of temporary sanity 
causes him to give a warning to the deists 

But learn ye dunces ! not to scorn your God 

and how posterity is to witness the decay of the stage, 
under a deluge of silly farce, opera, and sensation dramas ; 
how bad architects are to deface the works of Wren and 

124 POPE. [CHAP. 

Inigo Jones ; whilst the universities and public schools 
are to be given up to games and idleness, and the birch 
is to be abolished. 

Fragments of the prediction have not been entirely 
falsified, though the last couplet intimates a hope. 

Enough ! enough ! the raptured monarch cries, 
And through the ivory gate the vision flies. 

The Dunciad was thus a declaration of war against the 
whole tribe of scribblers; and, like other such declara- 
tions, it brought more consequences than Pope foresaw. 
It introduced Pope to a very dangerous line of conduct. 
Swift had written to Pope in 1 725 : " Take care that the 
bad poets do not outwit you, as they have served the good 
ones in every age, whom they have provoked to transmit 
their names to posterity;" and the Dunciad has been 
generally censured from Swift's point of view. Satire, it 
is said, is wasted upon such insignificant persons. To this 
Pope might have replied, with some plausibility, that the 
interest of satire must always depend upon its- internal 
qualities, not upon our independent knowledge of its ob- 
ject. Though Gildon and Arnall are forgotten, the type 
" dunce " is eternal. The warfare, however, was demora- 
lizing in another sense. Whatever may have been the injus- 
tice of Pope's attacks upon individuals, the moral standard 
of the Grub Street population was far from exalted. The 
poor scribbler had too many temptations to sell himself, 
and to evade the occasional severity of the laws of libel 
by humiliating contrivances. Moreover, the uncertainty 
of the law - of copyright encouraged the lower class of 
booksellers to undertake all kinds of piratical enterprises, 
and to trade in various ways upon the fame of well-known 
authors, by attributing trash to them, or purloining and 


publishing what the authors would have suppresed. Dublin 
was to London what New York is now, and successful 
books were at once reproduced in Ireland. Thus the lower 
strata of the literary class frequently practised with impu- 
nity all manner of more or less discreditable trickery, and 
Pope, with his morbid propensity for mystification, was 
only too apt a pupil in such arts. Though the tone of his 
public utterances was always of the loftiest, he was like a 
civilized commander who, in carrying on a war with 
savages, finds it convenient to adopt the practices which 
he professes to disapprove. 

The whole publication of the Dunciad was surrounded 
with tricks, intended partly to evade possible conse- 
quences, and partly to excite public interest or to cause 
amusement at the expense of the bewildered victims. 
Part of the plot was concerted with Swift, who, however, 
does not appear to have been quite in the secret. The 
complete poem was intended to appear with an elaborate 
mock commentary by Scriblerus, explaining some of the 
allusions, and with "proeme, prolegomena, testimonia 
scriptorum, index auctorum, and not ae variorum." In the 
first instance, however, it appeared in a mangled form 
without this burlesque apparatus or the lines to Swift. 
Four editions were issued in this form in 1728, and with 
a mock notice from the publisher, expressing a hope that 
the author would be provoked to give a more perfect edi- 
tion. This, accordingly, appeared in 1729. Pope seems 
to have been partly led to this device by a principle 
which he avowed to Warburton. When he had anything 
specially sharp to say he kept it for a second edition, where 
it would, he thought, pass with less oifence. But he may 
also have been under the impression that all the mystery 
of apparently spurious editions would excite public curi- 

126 POPE. [CHAP. 

osity. He adopted other devices for avoiding unpleasant 
consequences. It was possible that his victims might 
appeal to the law. In order to throw dust in their eyes, 
two editions appeared in Dublin and London, the Dublin 
edition professing to be a reprint from a London edition, 
whilst the London edition professed in the same way to 
be the reprint of a Dublin edition. To oppose another 
obstacle to prosecutors, he assigned the Dunciad to three 
noblemen Lords Bathurst, Burlington, and Oxford who 
transferred their right to Pope's publisher. Pope would be 
sheltered behind these responsible persons, and an aggrieved 
person might be slower to attack persons of high position 
and property. By yet another device Pope applied for 
an injunction in Chancery to suppress a piratical London 
edition ; but ensured the failure of his application by not 
supplying the necessary proofs of property. This trick, 
repeated, as we shall see, on another occasion, was intended 
either to shirk reponsibility or to increase the notoriety 
of the book. A further mystification was equally charac- 
teristic. To the Dunciad in its enlarged form is pre- 
fixed a letter, really written by Pope himself, but praising 
his morality and genius, and justifying his satire in terms 
which would have been absurd in Pope's own mouth. He 
therefore induced a Major Cleland, a retired officer of some 
position, to put his name to the letter, which it is possible 
that he may have partly written. The device was trans- 
parent, and only brought ridicule upon its author. Finally, 
Pope published an account of the publication in the name 
of Savage, known by Johnson's biography, who seems to 
have been a humble ally of the great man at once a 
convenient source of information and a tool for carrying 
on this underground warfare. Pope afterwards incorporated 
this statement which was meant to prove, by some palpable 


falsehoods, that the dunces had not been the aggressors 
in his own notes, without Savage's name. This labyrinth 
of unworthy devices was more or less visible to Pope's 
antagonists. It might in some degree be excusable as a 
huge practical joke, absurdly elaborate for the purpose, 
but it led Pope into some slippery ways, where no such 
excuse is available. 

Pope, says Johnson, contemplated his victory over the 
dunces with great exultation. Through his mouthpiece, 
Savage, he described the scene on the day of publication ; 
how a crowd of authors besieged the shop and threatened 
him with violence ; how the booksellers and hawkers 
struggled with small success for copies ; how the dunces 
formed clubs to devise measures of retaliation ; how one 
wrote to ministers to denounce Pope as a traitor, and 
another brought an image in clay to execute him in effigy; 
and how sucessive editions, genuine and spurious, followed 
each other, distinguished by an owl or an ass on the fron- 
tispiece, and provoking infinite controversy amongst rival 
vendors. It is unpleasant to have ugly names hurled at 
one by the first writer of the day ; but the abuse was for 
the most part too general to be libellous. NOT would there 
be any great interest now in exactly distributing the blame 
between Pope and his enemies. A word or two may be 
said of one of the most conspicuous quarrels. 

Aaron Hill was a fussy and ambitious person, full of 
literary and other schemes ; devising a plan for extracting 
oil from beech-nuts, and writing a Pindaric ode on the occa- 
sion ; felling forests in the Highlands to provide timber 
for the navy ; and, as might be inferred, spending instead 
of making a fortune. He was a stage-manager, translated 
Voltaire's Merope, wrote words for Handel's first compo- 
sition in England, wrote unsuccessful plays, a quantity of 

128 POPE*. [CHAP. 

unreadable poetry, and corresponded with most of the lite- 
rary celebrities. Pope put his initials, A. H., under the 
head of " Flying Fishes," in the Bathos, as authors who 
now and then rise upon their fins and fly, but soon drop 
again to the profound. In the Dunciad, he reappeared 
amongst the divers. 

Then * * tried, but hardly snatch'd from sight 

Instant buoys up and rises into light : 

He bears no token of the sable streams, 

And mounts far off amongst the swans of Thames. 

A note applied the lines to Hill, with whom he had had a 
former misunderstanding. Hill replied to these assaults 
by a ponderous satire in verse upon " tuneful Alexis ; " it 
had, however, some tolerable lines at the opening, imi- 
tated from Pope's own verses upon Addison, and attri- 
buting to him the same jealousy of merit in others. Hill 
soon afterwards wrote a civil note to Pope, complaining of 
the passage in the Dunciad. Pope might have relied 
upon the really satisfactory answer that the lines were, 
on the whole, complimentary ; indeed, more complimentary 
than true. But with his natural propensity for lying, he re- 
sorted to his old devices. In answer to this and a subsequent 
letter, in which Hill retorted with unanswerable force, 
Pope went on to declare that he was not the author of the 
notes, that the extracts had been chosen at random, that 
he would " use his influence with the editors of the 
Dunciad to get the note altered"; and, finally, by an 
ingenious evasion, pointed out that the blank in the 
Dunciad required to be filled up by a dissyllable. This, 
in the form of the lines as quoted above, is quite true, but 
in the first edition of the Dunciad the first verse had 

H tried the next, but hardly snatch 'd from sight. 


Hill did not detect this specimen of what Pope somewhere 
calls "pretty genteel equivocation." He was reconciled to 
Pope, and taught the poor poet by experience that his 
friendship was worse than his enmity. He wrote him 
letters of criticism ; he forced poor Pope to negotiate for 
him with managers and to bring distinguished friends to 
the performances of his dreary plays ; nay, to read through, 
or to say that he had read through, one of them in manu- 
script four times, and make corrections mixed with elabo- 
rate eulogy. No doubt Pope came to regard a letter from 
Hill with terror, though Hill compared him to Horace 
and Juvenal, and hoped that he would live till the virtues 
which his spirit would propagate became as general as the 
esteem of his genius. In short, Hill, who was a florid 
flatterer, is so complimentary that we are not surprised to 
find him telling Richardson, after Pope's death, that the 
poet's popularity was due to a certain " bladdery swell of 
management." " But," he concludes, " rest his memory in 
in peace ! It will very rarely be disturbed by that time 
he himself is ashes." 

The war raged for some time. Dennis, Smedley, 
Moore-Smythe, Welsted, and others, retorted by various 
pamphlets, the names of which were published by Pope 
in an appendix to future editions of the " Dunciad," by 
way of proving that his own blows had told. Lady 
Mary was credited, perhaps unjustly, with an abusive 
performance called a "Pop upon Pope," relating how 
Pope had been soundly whipped by a couple of his 
victims of course a pure fiction. Some such vengeance, 
however, waa seriously threatened. As Pope was dining 
one day at Lord Bathurst's, the servant brought in the 
agreeable message that a young man was waiting for 
Mr. Pope in the lane outside, and that the young man's 


130 POPE. [CHAP. 

name was Dennis. He was the son of the critic, and pre- 
pared to avenge his father's wrongs ; but Bathurst per- 
suaded him to retire, without the glory of thrashing a 
cripple. Reports of such possibilities were circulated, 
and Pope thought it prudent to walk out with his big 
Danish dog Bounce, and a pair of pistols. Spence tried 
to persuade the little man not to go out alone, but Pope 
declared that he would not go a step out of his way for 
such villains, and that it was better to die than to live in 
fear of them. He continued, indeed, to give fresh 
provocation. A weekly paper, called the Grub-street 
Journal, was started in January, 1730, and continued 
to appear till the end of 1737. It included a continuous 
series of epigrams and abuse, in the Scriblerian vein, 
and aimed against the heroes of the Dunciad, amongst 
whom poor James Moore-Smythe seems to have had 
the largest share of abuse. It was impossible, however, 
for Pope, busied as he was in literature and society, and 
constantly out of health, to be the efficient editor of such 
a performance ; but though he denied having any con- 
cern in it, it is equally out of the question that any one 
really unconnected with Pope should have taken up the 
huge burden of his quarrels in this fashion. Though he 
concealed, and on occasions denied his connexion, he no 
doubt inspired the editors and contributed articles to its 
pages, especially during its early years. It is a singular 
fact or rather, it would have been singular, had Pope 
been a man of less abnormal character that he should 
have devoted so much energy to this paltry subterranean 
warfare against the objects of his complex antipathies. 
Pope was so anxious for concealment, that he kept his 
secret even from his friendly legal adviser Fortescue ; and 
Fortescue innocently requested Pope to get up evidence 


to support a charge of libel against his own organ. The 
evidence which Pope collected in defence of a quack- 
doctor, Ward was not, as we may suppose, very valuable. 
Two volumes of the Grub-street Journal were printed 
in 1737, and a fragment or two was admitted by Pope 
into his works. It is said, in the preface to the collected 
pieces, that the journal was killed by the growing popu- 
larity of the Gentleman's Magazine, which is accused 
of living by plunder. But in truth the reader will infer 
that, if the selection includes the best pieces, the journal 
may well have died from congenital weakness. 

The Dunciad was yet to go through a transforma- 
tion, and to lead to a new quarrel; and though this 
happened at a much later period, it will be most conve- 
nient to complete the story here. Pope had formed an 
alliance with Warburton, of which I shall presently have 
to speak ; and it was under Warburton's influence that 
he resolved to add a fourth book to the Dunciad. 
This supplement seems to have been really made up of 
fragments provided for another scheme. The Essay on 
Man to be presently mentioned was to be followed 
by a kind of poetical essay upon the nature and limits of 
the human understanding, and a satire upon the misap- 
plication of the serious faculties. 1 It was a design mani- 
festly beyond the author's powers ; and even the fragment 
which is turned into the fourth book of the Dunciad 
takes him plainly out of his depth. He was no philo- 
sopher, and therefore an incompetent assailant of the 
abuses of philosophy. The fourth book consists chiefly 
of ridicule upon pedagogues who teach words instead of 
things; upon the unlucky "virtuosos" who care for old 
medals, plants, and butterflies pursuits which afforded 
' See Pope to Swift, March 25, 1736. 

132 POPE. [CHAP, 

an unceasing supply of ridicule to the essayists of the 
time ; a denunciation of the corruption of modern youth, 
who learn nothing but new forms of vice in the grand 
tour; and a fresh assault upon Toland, Tindal, and 
other freethinkers of the day. There were some passages 
marked by Pope's usual dexterity, but the whole is 
awkwardly constructed, and has no very intelligible con- 
nexion with the first part. It was highly admired at the 
time, and, amongst others, by Gray. He specially praises 
a passage which has often been quoted as representing 
Pope's highest achievement in his art. At the conclusion 
the goddess Dulness yawns, and a blight falls upon art, 
science, and philosophy. I quote the lines, which Pope 
himself could not repeat without emotion, and which 
have received the highest eulogies from Johnson and 

In vain, in vain the all-composing Hour 
Resistless falls ; the Muse obeys the Power 
She comes ! she comes ! the sable throne behold 
Of night primeval and of chaos old ! 
Before her Fancy's gilded clouds decay, 
And all its varying rainbows die away. 
Wit shoots in vain its momentary fires, 
The meteor drops, and in a flash expires, 
As one by one, at dread Medea's strain, 
The sickening stars fade off the ethereal plain ; 
As Argus' eyes by Hermes' wand oppress'd 
Closed one by one to everlasting rest ; 
Thus at her felt approach, and secret might, 
Art after art goes out, and all is night. 
See skulking Truth to her old cavern fled, 
Mountains of casuistry heaped o'er her head ! 
Philosophy, that lean'd on heaven before, 
Shrinks to her second cause, and is no more. 
Physic of Metaphysic begs defence, 
And Metaphysic calls for aid on Sense ! 


See Mystery to Mathematics fly ! 

In vain ! They gaze, turn giddy, rave and die. 

Religion blushing veils her sacred fires 

And unawares Morality expires. 

Nor public flame, nor private, dares to shine ; 

Nor human spark is left, nor glimpse divine ! 

Lo ! thy dread empire, Chaos ! is restored ; 

Light dies before thy uncreating word ; 

Thy hand, great Anarch, lets the curtain fall 

And universal darkness buries all. 

The most conspicuous figure in this new Dunciad 
(published March, 1742), is Bentley taken as the repre- 
sentative of a pedant rampant. Bentley is, I think, the 
only man of real genius of whom Pope has spoken in 
terms implying gross misappreciation. With all his 
faults, Pope was a really fine judge of literature, and has 
made fewer blunders than such men as Addison, Gray, 
and Johnson, infinitely superior to him in generosity of 
feeling towards the living. He could even appreciate 
Bentley, and had written, in his copy of Bentley's Mil- 
ton, "Pulchre, bene, recte," against some of the happier 
emendations in the great critic's most unsuccessful per- 
formance. The assault in the Dunciad is not the less un- 
sparing and ignorantly contemptuous of scholarship. The 
explanation is easy. Bentley, who had spoken contemp- 
tuously of Pope's Homer, said of Pope, "the por- 
tentous cub never forgives." But this was not all. 
Bentley had provoked enemies by his intense pugnacity 
almost as freely as Pope by his sneaking malice. Swift 
and Atterbury, objects of Pope's friendly admiration, had 
been his antagonists, and Pope would naturally accept 
their view of his merits. And, moreover, Pope's great 
ally of this period had a dislike of his own to Bent- 
ley. Bentley had said of Warburton that he was a 

134, POPE. [CHAP. 

man of monstrous appetite and bad digestion. The 
remark hit Warburton's most obvious weakness. War- 
burton, with his imperfect scholarship, and vast masses 
of badly assimilated learning, was jealous of the reputa- 
tion of the thoroughly trained and accurate critic. It 
was the dislike of a charlatan for the excellence which he 
endeavoured to simulate. Bolingbroke, it may be added, 
was equally contemptuous in his language about men of 
learning, and for much the same reason. He depreciated 
what he eould not rival. Pope, always under the in- 
fluence of some stronger companions, naturally adopted 
their shallow prejudices, and recklessly abused a writer 
who should have been recognized as amongst the most 
effective combatants against dulness. 

Bentley died a few months after the publication of the 
Dunciad. But Pope found a living antagonist, who 
succeeded in giving him pain enough to gratify the 
vilified dunces. This was Colley Gibber most lively 
and mercurial of actors author of some successful plays, 
with too little stuff in them for permanence, and of an 
Apology for his own Life, which is still exceedingly 
amusing as well as useful for the history of the stage. 
He was now approaching seventy, though he was to 
survive Pope for thirteen years, and as good-tempered a 
specimen of the lively, if not too particular, old man of 
the world as could well have been found. Pope owed 
him a grudge. Gibber, in playing the Rehearsal, had 
introduced some ridicule of the unlucky Tliree Hours 
after Marriage. Pope, he says, came behind the scenes 
foaming and choking with fury, and forbidding Gibber 
ever to repeat the insult. Gibber laughed at him, said 
that he would repeat it as long as the Rehearsal was 
performed, and kept his word. Pope took lus revenge 


by many incidental hits at Gibber, and Gibber made a 
good-humoured reference to this abuse in the Apology. 
Hereupon Pope, in the new Dunciad, described him 
as reclining on the lap of the goddess, and added various 
personalities in the notes. Gibber straightway published 
a letter to Pope, the more cutting because still in perfect 
good-humour, and told the story about the original quarrel. 
He added an irritating anecdote in order to provoke 
the poet still further. It described Pope as introduced 
by Gibber and Lord Warwick to very bad company. 
The story was one which could only be told by a 
graceless old representative of the old school of comedy, 
but it hit its mark. The two Eichardsons once found 
Pope reading one of Gibber's pamphlets. He said, 
"These things are my diversion;" but they saw his 
features writhing with anguish, and young Richard- 
son, as they went home, observed to his father that he 
hoped to be preserved from such diversions as Pope 
had enjoyed. The poet resolved to avenge himself, 
and he did it to the lasting injury of his poem. He 
dethroned Theobald, who, as a plodding antiquarian, was 
an excellent exponent of dulness, and installed Gibber in 
in his place, who might be a representative of folly, but 
was as little of a dullard as Pope himself. The conse- 
quent alterations make the hero of the poem a thoroughly 
incongruous figure, and greatly injure the general design. 
The poem appeared in this form in 1743, with a pon- 
derous prefatory discourse by Ricardus Aristarchus, con- 
tributed by the faithful "VVarburton, and illustrating his 
ponderous vein of elephantine pleasantry. 

Pope was nearing the grave, and many of his victims 
had gone before him. It was a melancholy employment 
for an invalid, breaking down visibly month by month ; 

136 POPE. [CH. v. 

and one might fancy that the eminent Christian divine 
might have used his influence to better purpose than in 
fanning the dying flame, and adding the strokes of his 
bludgeon to the keen stabs of Pope's stiletto. In the 
fourteen years which had elapsed since the first Dun- 
ciad, Pope had found less unworthy employment for his 
pen ; but, before dealing with the works produced at this 
time, which include some of his highest achievements, I 
must tell a story which is in some ways a natural sup- 
plement to the war with the dunces. In describing 
Pope's entangled history, it seems most convenient to 
follow each separate line of discharge of his multifarious 
energy, rather than to adhere to chronological order. 



I HAVE now to describe one of the most singular series of 
transactions to be found in the annals of literature. A 
complete knowledge of their various details has only been 
obtained by recent researches. I cannot follow within my 
limits of space all the ins and outs of the complicated 
labyrinth of more than diplomatic trickery which those 
researches have revealed, though I hope to render the 
main facts sufficiently intelligible. It is painful to track 
the strange deceptions of a man of genius as a detective 
unravels the misdeeds of an accomplished swindler ; but 
without telling the story at some length, it is impossible 
to give a faithful exhibition of Pope's character. 

In the year 1726, when Pope had just finished his 
labours upon Homer, Curll published the juvenile letters 
to Cromwell. There was no mystery about this transac- 
tion. Curll was the chief of all piratical booksellers, and 
versed in every dirty trick of the Grub-street trade. He 
is described in that mad book, Amory's John Buncle, 
as tall, thin, ungainly, white-faced, with light grey goggle 

1 The evidence by which the statements in this chapter are sup- 
ported is fully set forth in Mr. Elwin's edition of Pope's Works, 
Vol. I., and in the notes to the Orrery Correspondence in the third 
volume of letters. 

138 POPE. [CHAP. 

eyes, purblind, splay-footed, and "baker-kneed." Accord- 
ing to the same queer authority, who professes to have 
lodged in Curll's house, he was drunk, as often as he 
could drink for nothing, and intimate in every London 
haunt of vice. " His translators lay three in a bed at the 
Pewter Platter Inn in Holborn," and helped to compile 
his indecent, piratical, and catchpenny productions. He 
had lost his ears for some obscene publication ; but Amory 
adds, " to his glory," that he died " as great a penitent as 
ever expired." He had one strong point as an antagonist. 
Having no character to lose, he could reveal his own prac- 
tices without a blush, if the revelation injured others. 

Pope had already come into collision with this awkward 
antagonist. In 1716 Curll threatened to publish the Town 
Eclogues, burlesques upon Ambrose Philips, written by 
Lady Mary, with the help of Pope and perhaps Gay. Pope, 
with Lintot, had a meeting with Curll in the hopes of sup- 
pressing a publication calculated to injure his friends. The 
party had some wine, and Curll on going home was very 
sick. He declared and there are reasons for believing his 
story that Pope had given him an emetic, by way of 
coarse practical joke. Pope, at any rate, took advantage 
of the accident to write a couple of squibs upon Curll, 
recording the bookseller's ravings under the action of the 
drug, as he had described the ravings of Dennis provoked 
by Cato. Curll had his revenge afterwards ; but mean- 
while he wanted no extraneous motive to induce him to 
publish the Cromwell letters. Cromwell had given the 
letters to a mistress, who fell into distress and sold them 
to Curll for ten guineas. 

The correspondence was received with some favour, and 
suggested to Pope a new mode of gratifying his vanity. 
An occasion soon offered itself. Theobald, the hero of 


the Dunciad, edited in 1728 the posthumous works of 
Wycherley. Pope extracted from this circumstance a 
far-fetched excuse for publishing the Wycherley corre- 
spondence. He said that it was due to Wycherley's 
memory to prove, by the publication of their corre- 
spondence, that the posthumous publication of the works 
was opposed to their author's wishes. As a matter of 
fact the letters have no tendency to prove anything of 
the kind, or rather, they support the opposite theory ; 
but poor Pope was always a hand-to-mouth liar, and 
took the first pretext that offered, without caring for 
consistency or confirmation. His next step was to 
write to his friend, Lord Oxford, son of Queen Anne's 
minister. Oxford was a weak, good-natured man. By 
cultivating a variety of expensive tastes, without the 
knowledge to guide them, he managed to run through a 
splendid fortune and die in embarrassment. His famous 
library was one of his special hobbies. Pope now applied 
to him to allow the Wycherley letters to be deposited in the 
library, and further requested that the fact of their being 
in this quasi-public place might be mentioned in the pre- 
face as a guarantee of their authenticity. Oxford con- 
sented, and Pope quietly took a further step without 
authority. He told Oxford that he had decided to make 
his publishers say that copies of the letters had been ob- 
tained from Lord Oxford. He told the same story to 
Swift, speaking of the " connivance " of his noble friend, 
and adding that, though he did not himself " much ap- 
prove " of the publication, he was not ashamed of it. He 
thus ingeniously intimated that the correspondence, which 
he had himself carefully prepared and sent to press, had 
been printed without his consent by the officious zeal of 
Oxford and the booksellers. 

140 POPE. [CHAP. 

The book (which was called the second volume of 
Wycherley's works) has entirely disappeared. It was ad- 
vertised at the time, but not a single copy is known to 
exist. One cause of this disappearance now appears to 
be that it had no sale at first, and that Pope preserved the 
sheets for use in a more elaborate device which followed. 
Oxford probably objected to the misuse of his name, as 
the fiction which made him responsible was afterwards 
dropped. Pope found, or thought that he had found, on 
the next occasion, a more convenient cat's-paw. Curll, it 
could not be doubted, Avould snatch at any chance of pub- 
lishing more correspondence ; and, as Pope was anxious 
to have his letters stolen and Curll was ready to steal, the 
one thing necessary was a convenient go-between, who 
could be disowned or altogether concealed. Pope went sys- 
tematically to work. He began by writing to his friends, 
begging them to return his letters. After CurlTs piracy, 
he declared, he could not feel himself safe, and should be 
unhappy till he had the letters in his own custody. Let- 
ters were sent in, though in some cases with reluctance ; 
and Caryll, in particular, who had the largest number, 
privately took copies before returning them (a measure 
which ultimately secured the detection of many of Pope's 
manoeuvres). This, however, was unknown to Pope. 
He had the letters copied out ; after (according to his own 
stating) burning three-fourths of them, and (as we are 
now aware) carefully editing the remainder, he had the 
copy deposited in Lord Oxford's library. His object was, 
as he said, partly to have documents ready in case of the 
revival of scandals, and partly to preserve the memory of 
his friendships. The next point was to get these letters 
stolen. For this purpose he created a man of straw, a 
mysterious " P. T.," who could be personated on occasion 


by some of the underlings employed in the underground 
transactions connected with the Dunciad and the Grub- 
street Journal. P. T. began by writing to Curll in 
1733, and offering to sell him a collection of Pope's 
letters. The negotiation went off for a time, because P. T. 
insisted upon Curll's first committing himself by publish- 
ing an advertisement, declaring himself to be already in 
possession of the-originals. Curll was too wary to commit 
himself to such a statement, which would have made him 
responsible for the theft ; or, perhaps, have justified Pope 
in publishing the originals in self-defence. The matter 
slept till March 1735, when Curll wrote to Pope pro- 
posing a cessation of hostilities, and as a proof of goodwill 
sending him the old P. T. advertisement. This step fell 
in so happily with Pope's designs that it has been suggested 
that Curll was prompted in some indirect manner by one 
of Pope's agents. Pope, at any rate, turned it to account. 
He at once published an insulting advertisement. Curll 
(he said in this manifesto) had pretended to have had the 
offer from P. T. of a large collection of Pope's letters ; 
Pope knew nothing of P. T., believed the letters to be 
forgeries, and would take no more trouble in the matter. 
"Whilst Curll was presumably smarting under this sum- 
mary slap on the face, the insidious P. T. stepped in once 
more. P. T. now said that he was in possession of the 
printed sheets of the correspondence, and the negotiation 
went on swimmingly. Curll put out the required adver- 
tisement ; a " short, squat " man, in a clergyman's gown 
and with barrister's bands, calling himself Smythe, came 
to his house at night as P. T.'s agent, and showed him 
some printed sheets and original letters ; the bargain was 
struck ; 240 copies of the book were delivered, and it 
was published on May 12th. 

142 POPE. [CHAP. 

So far the plot had succeeded. Pope had printed his 
own correspondence, and had tricked Curll into publish- 
ing the book piratically, whilst the public was quite pre- 
pared to believe that Curll had performed a new piratical 
feat. Pope, however, was now bound to shriek as loudly 
as he could at the outrage under which he was suffering. 
He should have been prepared also to answer an obvious 
question. Every one would naturally inquire how Curll 
had procured the letters, which by Pope's own account 
were safely deposited in Lord Oxford's library. Without, 
as it would seem, properly weighing the difficulty of meet- 
ing this demand, Pope called out loudly for vengeance. 
When the Dunciad appeared, he had applied (as I have 
said) for an injunction in Chancery, and had at the same 
time secured the failure of his application. The same 
device was tried in a still more imposing fashion. The 
House of Lords had recently decided that it was a breach 
of privilege to publish a peer's letters without his consent. 
Pope availed himself of this rule to fire the most sounding 
of blank shots across the path of the piratical Curll. He 
was as anxious to allow the publication, as to demand its 
suppression in the most emphatic manner. Accordingly 
he got his friend, Lord Hay, to call the attention of the 
peers to Curll's advertisement, which was so worded as to 
imply that there were in the book letters from, as well as to, 
peers. Pope himself attended the house " to stimulate the 
resentment of his friends." The book was at once seized 
by a messenger, and Curll ordered to attend the next day. 
But on examination it immediately turned out that it con- 
tained no letters from peers, and the whole farce would 
have ended at once but for a further trick. Lord Hay 
said that a certain letter to Jervas contained a reflection 
upon Lord Burlington. Now the letter was found in a 


first batch of fifty copies sent to Curll, and which had been 
sold before the appearance of the Lords' messenger. But 
the letter had been suppressed in a second batch of 190 
copies, which the messenger was just in time to seize. Pope 
had of course foreseen and prepared this result. 

The whole proceeding in the Lords was thus rendered 
abortive. The books were restored to Curll, and the sale 
continued. But the device meanwhile had recoiled upon 
its author ; the very danger against which he should have 
guarded himself had now occurred. How were the letters 
procured ? Not till Curll was coming up for examination 
does it seem to have occurred to Pope that the Lords 
would inevitably ask the awkward question. He then 
saw that Curll's answer might lead to a discovery. He 
wrote a letter to Curll (in Smythe's name) intended to 
meet the difficulty. He entreated Curll to take the whole 
of the responsibility of procuring the letters upon himself, 
and by way of inducement held out hopes of another 
volume of correspondence. In a second note he tried to 
throw Curll off the scent of another significant little fact. 
The sheets (as I have mentioned) were partly made up 
from the volume of Wycherley correspondence ; 2 this 
would give a clue to further inquiries ; P. T. therefore 
allowed Smythe to say (ostensibly to show his confidence 
in Curll) that he (P. T.) had been employed in getting up 
the former volume, and had had some additional sheets 
struck off for himself, to which he had added letters sub- 
sequently obtained. The letter was a signal blunder. 
Curll saw at once that it put the game in his hands. He 
was not going to tell lies to please the slippery P. T., 

J This is proved by a note referring to " the present edition of the 
posthumous works of Mr. Wycherley," which, by an oversight, was 
allowed to remain in the Curll volume. 

144 POPE. [CHAP. 

or the short squat lawyer-clergyman. He had begun to 
see through the whole manoeuvre. He went straight off 
to the Lords' committee, told the whole story, and pro- 
duced as a voucher the letters in which P. T. begged for 
secrecy. Curll's word was good for little by itself, but 
his story hung together and the letter confirmed it. And 
if, as now seemed clear, Curll was speaking the truth, the 
question remained, who was P. T., and how did he get 
the letters ? The answer, as Pope must have felt, was 
only too clear. 

But Curll now took the offensive. In reply to another 
letter from Smythe, complaining of his evidence, he went 
roundly to work ; he said that he should at once publish 
all the correspondence. P. T. had prudently asked 
for the return of his letters ; but Curll had kept copies, 
and was prepared to swear to their fidelity. Accordingly 
he soon advertised what was called the Initial Corre- 
spondence. Pope was now caught in his own trap. He 
had tried to avert suspicion by publicly offering a reward 
to Smythe and P. T., if they would "discover the 
whole affair." The letters, as he admitted, must have 
been procured either from his own library or from Lord 
Oxford's. The correspondence to be published by Curll 
would help to identify the mysterious appropriators, and 
whatever excuses could be made ought now to be forth- 
coming. Pope adopted a singular plan. It was an- 
nounced that the clergyman concerned with P. T. and 
Curll had " discovered the whole transaction." A narra- 
tive was forthwith published to anticipate Curll and to 
clear up the mystery. If good for anything, it should 
have given, or helped to give, the key to the great puzzle 
the mode of obtaining the letters. There was nothing 
else for Smythe or P. T. to " discover." Readers must 


have been strangely disappointed on finding not a single 
word to throw light upon this subject, and merely a long 
account of the negotiations between Curll and P. T. 
The narrative might serve to distract attention from the 
main point, which it clearly did nothing to elucidate. 
But Curll now stated his own case. He reprinted the 
narrative with some pungent notes ; he gave in full some 
letters omitted by P. T., and he added a story which 
was most unpleasantly significant. P. T. had spoken, 
as I have said, of his connexion with the Wycherley 
volume. The object of this statement was to get rid of an 
awkward bit of evidence. But Curll now announced, on 
the authority of Gilliver, the publisher of the volume, 
that Pope had himself bought up the remaining sheets. 
The inference was clear. Unless the story could be con- 
tradicted, and it never was, Pope was himself the thief. 
The sheets common to the two volumes had been traced 
to his possession. Nor was there a word in the P. T. 
narrative to diminish the force of these presumptions. 
Indeed it was curiously inconsistent, for it vaguely ac- 
cused Curll of stealing the letters himself, whilst in the 
same breath it told how he had bought them from P. T. 
In fact, P. T. was beginning to resolve himself into 
thin air, like the phantom in the Dunciad. As he 
vanished, it required no great acuteness to distinguish 
behind him the features of his ingenious creator. It 
was already believed at the time that the whole affair was 
an elaborate contrivance of Pope's, and subsequent revela- 
tions have demonstrated the truth of the hypothesis. 
Even the go-between, Smythe, was identified as one 
James Worsdale, a painter, actor, and author, of the 
Bohemian variety. 

Though Curll had fairly won the game, and Pope's 


146 POPE. [CHAP. 

intrigue was even at the time sufficiently exposed, it 
seems to have given less scandal than might have been 
expected. Probably it was suspected only in literary 
circles, and perhaps it might be thought that, silly as was 
the elaborate device, the disreputable Curll was fair game 
for his natural enemy. Indeed, such is the irony of fate, 
Pope won credit with simple people. The effect of the 
publication, as Johnson tells us, was to fill the nation 
with praises of the admirable moral qualities revealed in 
Pope's letters. Amongst the admirers was Kalph Allen, 
who had made a large fortune by farming the cross- 
posts. His princely benevolence and sterling worth 
were universally admitted, and have been immortalized 
by the best contemporary judge of character. He was 
the original of Fielding's Allworthy. Like that excel- 
lent person, he seems to have had the common weakness 
of good men in taking others too easily at their own 
valuation. Pope imposed upon him just as Blifil imposed 
upon his representative. He was so much pleased with the 
correspondence, that he sought Pope's acquaintance, and 
offered to publish a genuine edition at his own expense. 
An authoritative edition appeared accordingly in 1737. 
Pope preferred to publish by subscription, which does not 
seem to have filled very rapidly, though the work ulti- 
mately made a fair profit. Pope's underhand manoeuvres 
were abundantly illustrated in the history of this new 
edition. It is impossible to give the details ; but I may 
briefly state that he was responsible for a nominally 
spurious edition which appeared directly after, and 
was simply a reproduction of, Curll's publication. Al- 
though he complained of the garbling and interpolations 
supposed to have been due to the wicked Curll or 
the phantom P. T., and although he omitted in his 


avowed edition certain letters which had given offence, he 
nevertheless substantially reproduced in it CurlTs version 
of the letters. As this differs from the originals which 
have been preserved, Pope thus gave an additional proof 
that he was really responsible for Curll's supposed 
garbling. This evidence was adduced with conclusive 
force by Bowles in a later controversy, and would be 
enough by itself to convict Pope of the imputed decep- 
tion. Finally, it may be added that Pope's delay in pro- 
ducing his own edition is explained by the fact that it 
contained many falsifications of his correspondence with 
Caryll, and that he delayed the acknowledgment of the 
genuine character of the letters until Caryll's death 
removed the danger of detection. 

The whole of this elaborate machinery was devised in 
order that Pope might avoid the ridicule of publishing 
his own correspondence. There had been few examples 
of a similar publication of private letters ; and Pope's 
volume, according to Johnson, did not attract very much 
attention. This is, perhaps, hardly consistent with John- 
son's other assertion that it filled the nation with 
praises of his virtue. In any case it stimulated his appe- 
tite for such praises, and led him to a fresh intrigue, more 
successful and also more disgraceful. The device originally 
adopted in publishing the Dunciad apparently suggested 
part of the new plot. The letters hitherto published did 
not include the most interesting correspondence in which 
Pope had been engaged. He had been in the habit of 
writing to Swift since their first acquaintance, and Boling- 
broke had occasionally joined him. These letters, which 
connected Pope with two of his most famous contem- 
poraries, would be far more interesting than the letters to 
Cromwell or Wycherley, or even than the letters addressed 

148 POPE. [CHAP. 

to Addison and Steele, which were mere stilted fabrica- 
tions. How could they be got before the world, and in 
such a way as to conceal his own complicity ? 

Pope had told Swift (in 1730) that he had kept some 
of the letters in a volume for his own secret satisfaction ; 
and Swift had preserved all Pope's letters along with 
those of other distinguished men. Here was an attractive 
booty for such parties as the unprincipled Curll ! In 
1735 Curll had committed his wicked piracy, and Pope 
pressed Swift to return his letters, in order to " secure 
him against that rascal printer." The entreaties were 
often renewed, but Swift for some reason turned his deaf 
ear to the suggestion. He promised, indeed (Sept. 3, 
1735), that the letters should be burnt a most effectual 
security against republication, but one not at all to Pope's 
taste. Pope then admitted that, having been forced to 
publish some of his other letters, he should like to make 
use of some of those to Swift, as none would be more 
honourable to him. Nay, he says, he meant to erect such 
a minute monument of their friendship as would put to 
shame all ancient memorials of the same kind.* This 
avowal of his intention to publish did not conciliate 
Swift. Curll next published in 1 736 a couple of letters 
to Swift, and Pope took advantage of this publication 
(perhaps he had indirectly supplied Curll with copies) 
to urge upon Swift the insecurity of the letters in his 
keeping. Swift ignored the request, and his letters about 
this time began to show that his memory was failing and 
his intellect growing weak. 

3 These expressions come from two letters of Pope to Lord 
Orrery in March, 1737, and may not accurately reproduce his 
statements to Swift ; but they probably represent approximately 
what he had said. 


Pope now applied to their common friend Lord Orrery. 
Orrery was the dull member of a family eminent for its 
talents. His father had left a valuable library to Christ 
Church, ostensibly because the son was not capable of 
profiting by books, though a less creditable reason has 
been assigned. 4 The son, eager to wipe off the imputa- 
tion, specially affected the society of wits, and was elabo- 
rately polite both to Swift and Pope. Pope now got 
Orrery to intercede with Swift, urging that the letters 
were no longer safe in the custody of a failing old man. 
Orrery succeeded, and brought the letters in a sealed 
packet to Pope in the summer of 1737. Swift, it must 
be added, had an impression that there was a gap of six 
years in the collection ; he became confused as to what 
had or had not been sent, and had a vague belief in a 
" great collection " of letters " placed in some very safe 
hand." 5 Pope, being thus in possession of the whole 
correspondence, proceeded to perform a manoeuvre re- 
sembling those already employed in the case of the 
Dunciad and of the P. T. letters. He printed the 
correspondence clandestinely. He then sent the printed 
volume to Swift, accompanied by an anonymous letter. 
This letter purported to come from some persons 
who, from admiration of Swift's private and public 
virtues, had resolved to preserve letters so credit- 
able to him, and had accordingly put them in type. 
They suggested that the volume would be suppressed if it 
fell into the hands of Bolingbroke and Pope (a most 
audacious suggestion !), and intimated that Swift should 
himself publish it. No other copy, they said, was in exis- 

4 It is said that the son objected to allow his wife to meet his 
father's mistress. 

i See Elwin's edition of Pope's Correspondence, iii., 399, note. 

1 50 POPE. [CHAP. 

teuce. Poor Swift fell at once into the trap. He ought, 
of course, to have consulted Pope or Bolingbroke, and 
would probahly have done so had his mind been sound. 
Seeing, however, a volume already printed, he might 
naturally suppose that, in spite of the anonymous as- 
surance, it was already too late to stop the publica- 
tion. At any rate, he at once sent it to his publisher, 
Faulkner, and desired him to bring it out at once. 
Swift was in that most melancholy state in which a 
man's friends perceive him to be incompetent to manage 
his affairs, and are yet not able to use actual restraint. 
Mrs. Whiteway, the sensible and affectionate cousin who 
took care of him at this time, did her best to protest 
against the publication, but in vain. Swift insisted. So 
far Pope's device was successful. The printed letters 
had been placed in the hands of his bookseller by Swift 
himself, and publication was apparently secured. But 
Pope had still the same problem as in the previous case. 
Though he had talked of erecting a monument to Swift 
and himself, he was anxious that the monument should 
apparently be erected by some one else. His vanity 
could only be satisfied by the appearance that the publi- 
cation was forced upon him. He had, therefore, to dis- 
sociate himself from the publication by some protest at 
once emphatic and ineffectual ; and, consequently, to ex- 
plain the means by which the letters had been surrep- 
titiously obtained. 

The first aim was unexpectedly difficult. Faulkner 
turned out to be an honest bookseller. Instead of sharing 
Curll's rapacity, he consented, at Mrs. Whiteway 's request, 
to wait until Pope had an opportunity of expressing his 
wishes. Pope, if he consented, could no longer com- 
plain; if he dissented, Faulkner would suppress the 


letters. In this dilemma, Pope first wrote to Faulkner 
to refuse permission, and at the same time took care that 
his letter should be delayed for a month. He hoped that 
Faulkner would lose patience, and publish. But Faulk- 
ner, with provoking civility, stopped the press as soon as 
he heard of Pope's objection. Pope hereupon discovered 
that the letters were certain to be published, as they were 
already printed, and doubtless by some mysterious " con- 
federacy of people " in London. All he could wish was 
to revise them before appearance. Meanwhile he begged 
Lord Orrery to inspect the book, and say what he thought 
of it. " Guess in what a situation I must be," exclaimed 
this sincere and modest person, "not to be able to see 
what all the world is to read as mine !" Orrery was quite 
as provoking as Faulkner. He got the book from Faulk- 
ner, read it, and instead of begging Pope not to deprive 
the world of so delightful a treat, said with dull in- 
tegrity, that he thought the collection " unworthy to be 
published." Orrery, however, was innocent enough to 
accept Pope's suggestion, that letters which had once got 
into such hands would certainly come out sooner or later. 
After some more haggling, Pope ultimately decided to take 
this ground. He would, he said, have nothing to do with 
the letters ; they would come out in any case ; their 
appearance would please the Dean, and he (Pope) would 
stand clear of all responsibility. He tried, indeed, to get 
Faulkner to prefix a statement tending to fix the whole 
transaction upon Swift ; b\vt the bookseller declined, and 
the letters ultimately came out with a simple statement 
that they were a reprint. 

Pope had thus virtually sanctioned the publication. 
He was not the less emphatic in complaining of it to his 
friends. To Orrery, who knew the facts, he represented 

152 POPE. [CHAP. 

the printed copy sent to Swift as a proof that the letters 
were beyond his power ; and to others, such as his friend 
Allen, he kept silence as to this copy altogether ; and gave 
them to understand that poor Swift or some member of 
Swift's family was the prime mover in the business. 
His mystification had, as before, driven him into per- 
plexities upon which he had never calculated. In fact, 
it was still more difficult here than in the previous case 
to account for the original misappropriation of the letters. 
Who could the thief have been? Orrery, as we have 
seen, had himself taken a packet of letters to Pope, which 
would be of course the letters from Pope to Swift. The 
packet being sealed, Orrery did not know the contents, 
and Pope asserted that he had burnt it almost as soon as 
received. It was, however, true that Swift had been in 
the habit of showing the originals to his friends, and 
some might possibly have been stolen or copied by 
designing people. But this would not account for the 
publication of Swift's letters to Pope, which had never 
been out of Pope's possession. As he had certainly been 
in possession of the other letters, it was easiest, even for 
himself, to suppose that some of his own servants were 
the guilty persons ; his own honour being, of course, 
beyond question. 

To meet these difficulties, Pope made great use of some 
stray phrases dropped by Swift in the decline of his 
memory, and set up a story of his having himself returned 
some letters to Swift, of which important fact all traces 
had disappeared. One characteristic device will be a 
sufficient specimen. Swift wrote that a great collection 
of " my letters to you " is somewhere " in a safe hand." 
He meant, of course, "a collection of your letters to me" 
the only letters of which he could know anything. Ob- 


serving the slip of the pen, he altered the phrase by 
writing the correct words above the line. It now 

stood * letters to Pope laid great stress 

*7 7 * 

upon this, interpreting it to mean that the " great collec- 
tion" included letters from each correspondent to the 
other the fact being that Swift had only the letters 
from Pope to himself. The omission of an erasure 
(whether by Swift or Pope) caused the whole meaning 
to be altered. As the great difficulty was to explain the 
publication of Swift's letters to Pope, this change supplied 
a very important link in the evidence. It implied that 
Swift had been at some time in possession of the letters 
in question, and had trusted them to some one supposed 
to be safe. The whole paragraph, meanwhile, appears, 
from the unimpeachable evidence of Mrs. Whiteway, to 
have involved one of the illusions of memory, for which he 
(Swift) apologizes in the letter from which this is ex- 
tracted. By insisting upon this passage, and upon cer- 
tain other letters dexterously confounded with those pub- 
lished, Pope succeeded in raising dust enough to blind 
Lord Orrery's not very piercing intelligence. The infe- 
rence which he desired to suggest was that some persons 
in Swift's family had obtained possession of the letters. 
Mrs. "Whiteway, indeed, met the suggestion so clearly, and 
gave such good reasons for assigning Twickenham as the 
probable centre of the plot, that she must have suspected 
the truth. Pope did not venture to assail her publicly, 
though he continued to talk of treachery or evil influence. 
To accuse innocent people of a crime which you know 
yourself to have committed is bad enough. It is, perhaps, 
even baser to lay a trap for a friend, and reproach him 
for falling into it. Swift had denied the publication of 

154 POPE. [CHAP. 

the letters, and Pope would have had some grounds of 
complaint had he not been aware of the failure of Swift's 
mind, and had he not been himself the tempter. His 
position, however, forced him to blame his friend. It 
was a necessary part of his case to impute at least a 
breach of confidence to his victim. He therefore took 
the attitude it must, one hopes, have cost him a blush 
of one who is seriously aggrieved, but who is generously 
anxious to shield a friend in consideration of his known 
infirmity. He is forced, in sorrow, to admit that Swift 
has erred, but he will not allow himself to be annoyed. 
The most humiliating words ever written by a man not 
utterly vile, must have been those which Pope set down 
in a letter to Nugent, after giving his own version of the 
case : "I think I can make no reflections upon this 
strange incident but what are truly melancholy, and 
humble the pride of human nature. That the greatest of 
geniuses, though prudence may have been the companion 
of wit (which is very rare) for their whole lives past, 
may have nothing left them but their vanity. No 
decay of body is half so miserable." The most auda- 
cious hypocrite of fiction pales beside this. Pope, con- 
descending to the meanest complication of lies to justify 
a paltry vanity, taking advantage of his old friend's 
dotage to trick him into complicity, then giving a false 
account of his error, and finally moralizing, with all the 
airs of philosophic charity, and taking credit for his gene- 
rosity, is altogether a picture to set fiction at defiance. 

I must add a remark not so edifying. Pope went 
down to his grave soon afterwards, without exciting sus- 
picion except among two or three people intimately 
concerned. A whisper of doubt was soon hushed. Even 
the biographers who were on the track of his former 


deception did not suspect this similar iniquity. The 
last of them, Mr. Carruthers, writing in 1857, observes 
upon the pain given to Pope by the treachery of Swift 
a treachery of course palliated by Swift's failure of mind. 
At last Mr. Dilke discovered the truth, which has been 
placed beyond doubt by the still later discovery of the 
letters to Orrery. The moral is, apparently, that it is 
better to cheat a respectable man than a rogue ; for the 
respectable tacitly form a society for mutual support of 
character, whilst the open rogue will be only too glad to 
show that you are even such an one as himself. 

It was not probable that letters thus published should 
be printed with scrupulous accuracy. Pope, indeed, can 
scarcely have attempted to conceal the fact that they had 
been a good deal altered. And so long as the letters 
were regarded merely as literary compositions, the practice 
was at least pardonable. But Pope went further; and 
the full extent of his audacious changes was not seen until 
Mr. Dilke became possessed of the Gary 11 correspondence. 
On comparing the copies preserved by Caryll with the 
letters published by Pope, it became evident that Pope 
had regarded these letters as so much raw material, which 
he might carve into shape at pleasure, and with such 
alterations of date and address as might be convenient, 
to the confusion of all biographers and editors ignorant of 
his peculiar method of editing. The details of these very 
disgraceful falsifications have been fully described by Mr. 
Elwin,' but I turn gladly from this lamentable narrative to 
say something of the literary value of the correspondence. 
Every critic has made the obvious remark that Pope's 
letters are artificial and self-conscious. Pope claimed the 
opposite merit. " It is many years," he says to Swift in 
6 Pope's Works, vol. i. p. cxxi. 

156 POPE. [CHAP. 

1734, "since I wrote as a wit." He smiles to think 
" how Curll would be bit were our epistles to fall into 
his hands, and how gloriously they would fall short of 
every ingenious reader's anticipations." Warburton adds 
in a note that Pope used to " value himself upon this 
particular." It is indeed true that Pope had dropped the 
boyish affectation of his letters to Wycherley and Crom- 
well. But such a statement in the mouth of a man who 
plotted to secure Curll's publication of his letters, with 
devices elaborate enough to make the reputation of an 
unscrupulous diplomatist, is of course only one more 
example of the superlative degree of affectation, the affec- 
tation of being unaffected. We should be indeed dis- 
appointed were we to expect in Pope's letters what we 
find in the best specimens of the art : the charm which 
belongs to a simple outpouring of friendly feeling in 
private intercourse ; the sweet playfulness of Cowper, or 
the grave humour of Gray, or even the sparkle and bril- 
liance of Walpole's admirable letters. Though Walpole 
had an eye to posterity, and has his own mode of affecta- 
tion, he is for the moment intent on amusing, and is free 
from the most annoying blemish in Pope's writing, the 
resolution to appear always in full dress, and to mount as 
often as possible upon the stilts of moral self-approbation. 
All this is obvious to the hasty reader ; and yet I must 
confess my own conviction that there is scarcely a more 
interesting volume in the language than that which con- 
tains the correspondence of Swift, Bolingbroke, and Pope. 
To enjoy it, indeed, we must not expect to be in sym- 
pathy with the writers. Rather we must adopt the mental 
attitude of spectators of a scene of high comedy the 
comedy which is dashed with satire and has a tragical 
side to it. We are behind the scenes in Vanity Fair, and 
listening to the talk of three of its most famous per- 


formers, doubting whether they most deceive each other 
or the public or themselves. The secret is an open one 
for us, now that the illusion which perplexed contem- 
poraries has worn itself threadbare. 

The most impressive letters are undoubtedly those of 
Swift the stern sad humourist, frowning upon the world 
which has rejected him, and covering his wrath with an 
affectation, not of fine sentiment, but of misanthropy. A 
soured man prefers to turn his worst side outwards. There 
are phrases in his letters which brand themselves upon 
the memory like those of no other man ; and we are 
softened into pity as the strong mind is seen gradually 
sinking into decay. The two other sharers in the colloquy 
are in effective contrast. We see through Bolingbroke's 
magnificent self-deceit ; the flowing manners of the states- 
man who, though the game is lost, is longing for a favour- 
able turn of the card, but still affects to solace himself 
with philosophy, and wraps himself in dignified reflections 
upon the blessings of retirement, contrast with Swift's 
downright avowal of indignant scorn for himself and man- 
kind. And yet we have a sense of the man's amazing 
cleverness, and regret that he has no chance of trying one 
more fall with his antagonists in the open arena. Pope's 
affectation is perhaps the most transparent and the most 
gratuitous. His career had been pre-eminently successful ; 
his talents had found their natural outlet ; and he had 
only to be what he apparently persuaded himself that he 
was, to be happy in spite of illness. He is constantly 
flourishing his admirable moral sense in our faces, dilating 
upon his simplicity, modesty, fidelity to his friends, in- 
difference to the charms of fame, till we are almost con- 
vinced that he has imposed upon himself. By some 
strange piece of legerdemain he must surely have suc- 
ceeded in regarding even his deliberate artifices, with 

158 POPE. [CH. vi, 

the astonishing masses of hypocritical falsehoods which 
they entailed, as in some way legitimate weapons against 
a world full of piratical Curlls and deep laid plots. And, 
indeed, with all his delinquencies, and with all his affecta- 
tions, there are moments in which we forget to preserve 
the correct tone of moral indignation. Every now and 
then genuine feeling seems to come to the surface. For 
a time the superincumbent masses of hypocrisy vanish. 
In speaking of his mother or his pursuits he forgets to wear 
his mask. He feels a genuine enthusiasm about his 
friends ; he believes with almost pathetic earnestness in the 
amazing talents of Bolingbroke, and the patriotic devotion 
of the younger men who are rising up to overthrow the 
corruptions of Walpole ; he takes the affectation of his 
friends as seriously as a simple-minded man who has never 
fairly realized the possibility of deliberate hypocrisy ; and 
he utters sentiments about human life and its objects 
which, if a little tainted with commonplace, have yet a 
certain ring of sincerity and, as we may believe, were 
really sincere for the time. At such moments we seem to 
see the man behind the veil the really loveable nature 
which could know as well as simulate feeling. And, indeed, 
it is this quality which makes Pope endurable. He was 
if we must speak bluntly a liar and a hypocrite ; but 
the foundation of his character was not selfish or grovelling. 
On the contrary, no man could be more warmly affec- 
tionate or more exquisitely sensitive to many noble 
emotions. The misfortune was that his constitutional 
infirmities, acted upon by unfavourable conditions, deve- 
loped his craving for applause and his fear of censure, till 
certain morbid tendencies in him assumed proportions 
which, compared to the same weaknesses in ordinary man- 
kind, are as the growth of plants in a tropical forest to 
their stunted representatives in the North. 



IT is a relief to turn from this miserable record of Pope's 
petty or malicious deceptions to the history of his legi- 
timate career. I go back to the period when he was still 
in full power. Having finished the Dunciad, he was 
soon employed on a more ambitious task. Pope resembled 
one of the inferior bodies of the solar system, whose orbit 
is dependent upon that of some more massive planet ; and 
having been a satellite of Swift, he was now swept into 
the train of the more imposing Bolingbroke. He had 
been originally introduced to Bolingbroke by Swift, but 
had probably seen little of the brilliant minister who, in 
the first years of their acquaintance, had too many occupa- 
tions to give much time to the rising poet. Bolingbroke, 
however, had been suffering a long eclipse, whilst Pope 
was gathering fresh splendour. In his exile, Bolingbroke, 
though never really weaned from political ambition, had 
amused himself with superficial philosophical studies. In 
political life it was his special glory to extemporize states- 
manship without sacrificing pleasure. He could be at 
once the most reckless of rakes and the leading spirit in 
the Cabinet or the House of Commons. He seems to 
have thought that philosophical eminence was obtainable 
in the same offhand fashion, and that a brilliant style 

160 POPE. [CHAP. 

would justify a man in laying down the law to meta- 
physicians as well as to diplomatists and politicians. His 
philosophical writings are equally superficial and arrogant, 
though they show here and there the practised debater's 
power of making a good point against his antagonist 
without really grasping the real problems at issue. 

Bolingbroke received a pardon in 1723, and returned to 
England, crossing Atterbury, who had just been convicted 
of treasonable practices. In 1725 Bolingbroke settled at 
Dawley, near Uxbridge, and for the next ten years he was 
alternately amusing himself in playing the retired philo- 
sopher, and endeavouring, with more serious purpose, to 
animate the opposition to "Walpole. Pope, who was his 
frequent guest, sympathized with his schemes, and was 
completely dazzled by his eminence. He spoke of him 
with bated breath, as a being almost superior to humanity. 
" It looks," said Pope once, " as if that great man had 
been placed here by mistake. When the comet appeared 
a month or two ago," he added, " I sometimes fancied 
that it might be come to carry him home, as a coach comes 
to one's door for other visitors." Of all the graceful com- 
pliments in Pope's poetry, none are more ardent or more 
obviously sincere than those addressed to this "guide, 
philosopher, and friend." He delighted to bask in the 
sunshine of the great man's presence. Writing to Swift 
in 1728, he (Pope) says that he is holding the pen "for 
my Lord Bolingbroke," who is reading your letter between 
two haycocks, with his attention occasionally distracted 
by a threatening shower. Bolingbroke is acting the tem- 
perate recluse, having nothing for dinner but mutton- 
broth, beans and bacon, and a barndoor fowl. Whilst 
his lordship is running after a cart, Pope snatches a 
moment to tell how the day before this noble farmer had 

ni.] THE ESSAY ON MAN. 161 

engaged a painter for 200J. to give the correct agricultural 
air to his country hall by ornamenting it with trophies of 
spades, rakes, and prongs. Pope saw that the zeal for 
retirement was not free from affectation, but he sat at the 
teacher's feet with profound belief in the value of the 
lessons which flowed from his lips. 

The connexion was to bear remarkable fruit. Under 
the direction of Bolingbroke, Pope resolved to compose a 
great philosophical poem. " Does Pope talk to you," says 
Bolingbroke to Swift in 1731, " of the noble work which, 
at my instigation, he has begun in such a manner that he 
must be convinced by this time I judged better of his 
talents than he did ? " And Bolingbroke proceeds to 
describe the Essay on Man, of which it seems that three 
(out of four) epistles were now finished. The first of these 
epistles aijpgared in 1733. Pope, being apparently nervous 
on his first appearance as a philosopher, withheld his 
name. The other parts followed in the course of 1733 
and 1734, and the authorship was soon avowed. The 
Essay on Man is Pope's most ambitious performance, 
and the one by which he was best known beyond his own 
country. It has been frequently translated, it was imi- 
tated both in France and Germany, and provoked a con- 
troversy, not like others in Pope's history of the purely 
personal kind. 

The Essay on Man professes to be a theodicy. Pope, 
with an echo of the Miltonic phrase, proposes to 

Vindicate the ways of God to man. 

He is thus attempting the greatest task to which poet 
or philosopher can devote himself the exhibition of an 
organic and harmonious view of the universe. In a time 
when men's minds are dominated by a definite religious 


162 POPE. [CHAP. 

creed, the poet may hope to achieve success in such an 
undertaking without departing from his legitimate method. 
TTig vision pierces^ to the world hidden from our senses, 
and realizes in the transitory present a scene in tne slow 
development of a divine drama. To make us share his 
vision is to give his justification of Providence. When 
Milton told the story of the war in heaven and the fall of 
man, he gave implicitly his theory of the true relations of 
man to his Creator, hut the abstract doctrine was clothed 
in the flesh and blood of a concrete mythology. 

In Pope's day the traditional belief had lost its hold 
upon men's minds too completely to be used for imagina- 
tive purposes. The story of Adam and Eve would itself 
require to be justified or to be rationalized into thin alle- 
gory. Nothing was left possessed of any vitality but a 
bare skeleton of abstract theology, dependent upon argu- 
ment instead of tradition, and which might use or might 
dispense with a Christian phraseology. Its deity was not 
a historical personage, but the name of a metaphysical 
conception. For a revelation was substituted a demon- 
stration. To vindicate Providence meant no longer to 
stimulate imagination by pure and sublime rendering of 
accepted truths, but to solve certain philosophical 
problems, and especially the grand difficulty of reconciling 
the existence of evil with divine omnipotence and bene- 

Pope might conceivably have written a really great 
poem on these terms, though deprived of the concrete 
imagery of a Dante or a Milton. If he had fairly grasped 
some definite conception of the universe, whether pan- 
theistic or atheistic, optimist or pessimist, proclaiming a 
solution of the mystery, or declaring all solutions to be 
impossible, he might have given forcible expression to the 

vii.] THE ESSAY ON MAN. 163 

corresponding emotions. He might have uttered the melan- 
choly resignation and the confident hope incited in dif- 
ferent minds by a contemplation of the mysterious world. 
He might again conceivably have written an interesting 
work, though it would hardly have been a poem if he had 
versified the arguments by which a coherent theory might 
be supported. Unluckily, he was quite unqualified for either 
undertaking, and, at the same time, he more or less aimed 
at both. Anything like sustained reasoning was beyond 
his reach. Pope felt and thought by shocks and electric 
flashes. He could only obtain a continuous effect when 
working clearly upon lines already provided for him, or 
simulate one by fitting together fragments struck out at 
intervals. The defect was aggravated or caused by the 
physical infirmities which put sustained intellectual labour 
out of the question. The laborious and patient meditation 
which brings a converging series of arguments to bear 
upon a single point, was to him as impossible as the power 
of devising an elaborate strategical combination to a dash- 
ing Prince Eupert. The reasonings in the Essay are con- 
fused, contradH-^Yi Plfl'flftifin ^Hfligk He was equally 
far from having assimilated any definite system of thought. 
Brought up as a Catholic, he had gradually swung into 
vague deistic belief. But he had never studied any philo- 
sophy or theology whatever, and he accepts in perfect un- 
consciousness fragments of the most heterogeneous systems. 
Swift, in verses from which I have already quoted, 
describes his method of composition, which is characteristic 
of Pope's habits of work. 

Now backs of letters, though design'd 
For those who more will need 'em, 

Are fill'd with hints and interlined, 
Himself can scarcely read 'em. 

164 POPE. [CHAP, 

Each atom by some other struck 

All turns and motions tries ; 
Till in a lump together stuck 

Behold a poem rise ! 

It was strange enough that any poem should arise by 
such means ; but it would have been miraculous if a poem 
so constructed had been at once a demonstration and an 
exposition of a harmonious philosophical system. The 
confession which he made to Warburton will be a suffi- 
cient indication of his qualifications as a student. [He 
says (in 1739) that he never in his life read a line of 
Leibnitz, nor knew, till he found it in a confutation of his 
Essay, ^hat there was such a term as pre-established har- 
mony. That is almost as if a modern reconciler of faith 
and science were to say that he had never read a line of 
Mr. Darwin, or heard of such a phrase as the struggle for 
existence. It was to pronounce himself absolutely dis- 
qualified to speak as a philosopher. 

How, then, could Pope obtain even an appearance of 
success ] The problem should puzzle no one at the present 
day. Every smart essayist knows how to settle the most 
abstruse metaphysical puzzles after studies limited to the 
pages of a monthly magazine; and Pope was much in 
the state of mind of such extemporizing philosophers. 
He had dipped into the books which everybody read ; 
Locke's Essay, and Shaftesbury's. Characteristics, and 
Wollaston's Eeligion of Nature, and Clarke on the 
Attributes, and Archbishop King on the Origin of Evil, 
had probably amused his spare moments. They were 
all, we may suppose, in Bolingbroke's library ; and if that 
passing shower commemorated in Pope's letter drove them 
back to the house, Bolingbroke might discourse from the 
page which happened to be open, and Pope would try to 


versify it on the back of an envelope. 7 Nor must we 
forget, like some of his commentators, that after all Pope 
was an exceedingly clever man. His rapidly perceptive 
mind was fully qualified to imbibe the crude versions ol 
philosophic theories which float upon the surface of ordi- 
nary talk, and are not always so inferior to their proto- 
types in philosophic qualities, as philosophers would have 
us believe. He could by snatches seize with admirable 
quickness the general spirit of a doctrine, though unable 
to sustain himself at a high intellectual level for any 
length of time. He was ready with abundance of poetical 
illustrations, not, perhaps, very closely adapted to the 
logic, but capable of being elaborated into effective pas- 
sages ; and, finally, Pope had always a certain number of 
more or less appropriate commonplaces or renderings into 
verse of some passages which had struck him in Pascal, 
or Rochefoucauld, or Bacon, all of them favourite authors, 
and which could be wrought into the structure at a slight 
cost of coherence. By such means he could put together 
a poem, which was certainly not an organic whole, but 
which might contain many striking sayings and passages 
of great rhetorical effect. 

The logical framework was, we may guess, supplied mainly 
by Bolingbroke. Bathurst told Warton that Bolingbroke 
had given Pope the essay in prose, and that Pope had 
only turned it into verse ; and Mallet a friend of both 
is said to have seen the very manuscript from which Pope 
worked. Johnson, on hearing this from Boswell, remarked 
that it must be an, overstatement. Pope might have had 
from Bolingbroke the " philosophical stamina" of the essay, 
but he must, at least, have contributed the " poetical ima- 

7 " No letter with an envelope could give him more delight," says 

166 POPE. [CHAP. 

gery," and have had more independent power than the 
story implied. It is, indeed, impossible accurately to fix 
the relations of the teacher and his disciple. Pope acknow- 
ledged in the strongest possible terms his dependence upon 
Bolingbroke, and Bolingbroke claims with equal dis- 
tinctness the position of instigator and inspirer. His 
more elaborate philosophical works are in the form of 
letters to Pope, and profess to be a redaction of the con- 
versations which they had had together. These were not 
written till after the Essay on Man ; but a series of frag- 
ments appear to represent what he actually set down for 
Pope's guidance. They are professedly addressed to Pope. 
" I write," he says (fragment 65), " to you and for you, 
and you would think yourself little obliged to me if I 
took the pains of explaining in prose what you would not 
think it necessary to explain in verse," that is, the free- 
will puzzle. The manuscripts seen by Mallet may pro- 
bable have been a commonplace book in which Boling- 
broke had set down some of these fragments, by way of 
instructing Pope, and preparing for his own more systematic 
work. No reader of the fragments can, I think, doubt as 
to the immediate source of Pope's inspiration. Most of 
the ideas expressed were the common property of many 
contemporary writers, but Pope accepts the particular mo- 
dification presented by Bolingbroke. 8 Pope's manipulation 
of these materials causes much of the Essay on Man 
to resemble (as Mr. Pattison puts it) an exquisite mosaic 
work. A detailed examination of his mode of transmu- 
tation would be a curious study in the technical secrets of 

8 It would be out of place to discuss this in detail ; but I may 
say that Pope's crude theory of the state of nature, his psychology 
as to reason and instinct, and self-love, and his doctrine of the 
scale of beings, all seem to have the specific Bolingbroke stamp. 


literary execution. A specimen or two will sufficiently 
indicate the general character of Pope's method of con- 
structing his essay. 

The forty-third fragment of Bolingbroke is virtually a 
prose version of much of Pope's poetry. A few phrases 
will exhibit the relation : 

Through worlds unnumber'd though the God be known, 

'Tis ours to trace Him only in our own. 

He who through vast immensity can pierce, 

See worlds on worlds compose one universe, 

Observe how system into system runs, 

What other planets circle other suns, 

What varied being peoples every star, 

May tell why Heaven has made us what we are. 

But of this frame the bearings and the ties, 

The strong connexions, nice dependencies, 

Gradations just, has thy pervading soul 

Looked through, or can a part contain the whole ? 

"The universe," I quote only a few phrases from 
Bolingbroke, " is an immense aggregate of systems. 
Every one of these, if we may judge by our own, contains 
several, and every one of these again, if toe may judge ly our 
own, is made up of a multitude of different modes of being, 
animated and inanimated, thinking and unthinking . . . 
but all concurring in one common system. . . . Just 
so it is with respect to the various systems and systems of 
systems that compose tlie universe. As distant as they 
are, and as different as we 'may imagine them to be, they 
are all tied together by relations and connexions, grada- 
tions, and dependencies," The verbal coincidence is here 
as marked as the coincidence in argument. Warton 
refers to an eloquent passage in Shaftesbury, which con- 
tains a similar thought ; but one can hardly doubt that 
Bolinbroke was in this case the immediate source. A 

168 POPE. [CHAP. 

quaint passage a little farther on, in which Pope repre- 
sents man as complaining because he has not "the 
strength of bulls or the fur of bears," may be traced with 
equal plausibility to Shaftesbury or to Sir Thomas 
Browne ; but I have not noticed it in Bolingbroke. 

One more passage will be sufficient. Pope asks whether 
we are to demand the suspension of laws of nature when- 
ever they might produce a mischievous result 1 Is Etna 
to cease an eruption to spare a sage, or should "new 
motions be impressed upon sea and air " for the advan- 
tage of blameless Bethel ? 

When the loose mountain trembles from on high 

Shall gravitation cease, if you go by ? 

Or some old temple, nodding to its fall, 

For Chartres' head reserve the hanging wall ? 

Chartres is Pope's typical villain. This is a terse ver- 
sion, with concrete cases, of Bolingbroke's vaguer gene- 
ralities. " The laws of gravitation," he says, " must 
sometimes be suspended (if special Providence be ad- 
mitted), and sometimes their effect must be precipitated. 
The tottering edifice must be kept miraculously from fall- 
ing, whilst innocent men lived in it or passed under it, 
and the fall of it must be as miraculously determined to 
crush the guilty inhabitant or passenger." Here, again, 
we have the alternative of Wollaston, who uses a similar 
illustration, and in one phrase comes nearer to Pope. He 
speaks of " new motions being impressed upon the atmo- 
sphere." We may suppose that the two friends had been 
dipping into Wollaston together. Elsewhere Pope seems 
to have stolen for himself. In the beginning of the 
second epistle, Pope, in describing man as " the glory, 
jest, and riddle of the world," is simply versifying Pascal ; 
/ and a little farther on, when he speaks of reason as the 


card and passion as the gale on life's vast ocean, he is 
adapting his comparison from Locke's treatise on govern- 

If all such cases were adduced, we should have nearly 
picked the argumentative part of the essay to pieces ; but 
Bolingbroke supplies throughout the most characteristic 
element. The fragments cohere by external cement, not 
by an internal unity of thought; and Pope too often 
descends to the lerel of mere satire, or indulges in a quaint 
conceit or palpable sophistry. Yet it would be very un- 
just to ignore the high qualities which are to be found in 
this incongruous whole. The style is often admirable. 
When Pope is at his best every word tells. His precision 
and firmness of touch enables him to get the greatest 
possible meaning into a narrow compass. He uses only 
one epithet, but it is the right one, and never boggles 
and patches or, in his own phrase, " blunders round about 
a meaning." "Warton gives, as a specimen of this power, 
the lines : 

But errs not nature from this gracious end 
From burning suns when livid deaths descend, 
When earthquakes swallow or when tempests sweep 
Towns to one grave, whole nations to the deep ? 

And Mr. Pattison reinforces the criticism by quoting 
Voltaire's feeble imitation : 

Quand des vents du midi les funestes haleines 
De semence de mort ont inond nos plaines, 
Direz-vous que jamais le ciel en son courroux 
Ne laissa la sante sejourner panni nous ? 

It is true that in the effort to be compressed, Pope has 
here and there cut to the quick and suppressed essential 
parts of speech, till the lines can only be construed by our 

170 POPE. [CHAP. 

independent knowledge of their meaning. The famous 


Man never ifjjmtjibsays to-be-blest, 

is an examjde^of defective construction, though his lan- 
guage is often tortured by more elliptical phrases. 9 This 
power of charging lines with great fulness of meaning 
enables Pope to soar for brief periods into genuine and 
impressive poetry. Whatever his philosophical weakness 
and his moral obliquity, he is often moved by genuine 
emotion. He has a vein of generous sympathy for human 
sufferings and of righteous indignation against bigots, 
and if he only half understands his own optimism, that 
"whatever is is right," the vision, rather poetical than 
philosophical, of a harmonious universe lifts him at times 
into a region loftier than that of frigid and pedantic 
platitude. The most popular passages were certain purple 
patches, not arising very spontaneously or with much 
relevance, but also showing something more than the 
practised rhetorician. The " poor Indian " in one of the 
most highly-polished paragraphs 

Who thinks, admitted to that equal sky, 
His faithful dog shall bear him company, 

intrudes rather at the expense of logic, and is a decidedly 
conventional person. But this passage has a certain glow of 
fine humanity and is touched with real pathos. A further 

9 Perhaps the most curious example, too long for quotation, is a 
passage near the end of the last epistle, in which he sums up his 
moral system by a series of predicates for which it is impossible 
to find any subject. One couplet runs 

Never elated whilst one man's depress'd 
Never dejected whilst another's blest. 

It is impressive, but it is quite impossible to discover by the rules of 
grammatical construction who is to be never elated and depressed. 

vii.] THE ESSAY ON MAN. 171 

passage or two may sufficiently indicate his higher qualities. 
In the end of the third epistle Pope is discussing the 
origin of government and the state of nature, and discuss- 
ing them in such a way as to show conclusively that he 
does not in the least understand the theories in question 
or their application. His state of Nature is a sham re- 
production of the golden age of poets, made to do 
duty in a scientific speculation. A flimsy hypothesis 
learnt from Bolingbroke is not improved when overlaid 
with Pope's conventional ornamentation. The imaginary 
history proceeds to relate the growth of superstition, 
which destroys the primeval innocence ; but why or when 
does not very clearly appear; yet, though the general 
theory is incoherent, he catches a distinct view of one 
aspect of the question and expresses a tolerably trite view 
of the question with singular terseness. Who, he asks, 

First taught souls enslaved and realms undone, 
The enormous faith of many made for one ? 

He replies, 

Force first made conquest and that conquest law ; 
Till Superstition taught the tyrant awe, 
Then shared the tyranny, then lent it aid, 
And gods of conquerors, slaves of subjects made ; 
She, 'mid the lightning's blaze and thunder's sound, 
When rock'd the mountains and when groan'd the ground-- 
She taught the weak to trust, the proud to pray 
To Power unseen and mightier far than they ; 
She from the rending earth and bursting skies 
Saw gods descend and fiends infernal rise ; 
There fix'd the dreadful, there the blest abodes ; 
Fear made her devils, and weak hope her gods ; 
Gods partial, changeful, passionate, unjust, 
Whose attributes were rage, revenge, or lust ; 
Such as the souls of cowards might conceive, 
And, framed like tyrants, tyrants would believe. 

172 POPE. 

If the test of poetry were the power of expressing a 
theory more closely and pointedly than prose, such writing 
would take a very high place. Some popular philosophers 
would make a sounding chapter out of those sixteen lines. 

The Essay on Man brought Pope into difficulties. The 
central thesis, " whatever is is right," might be under- 
stood in various senses, and in some sense it would be 
accepted by every theist. But, in Bolingbroke's teaching, 
it received a heterodox application, and in Pope's imper- 
fect version of Bolingbroke the taint was not removed. 
The logical outcome of the rationalistic theory of the 
time was some form of pantheism, and the tendency is 
still more marked in a poetical statement, where it was 
difficult to state the refined distinctions by which the 
conclusion is averted. When theology is regarded as de- 
monstrable by reason, the need of a revelation ceases to be 
obvious. The optimistic view which sees the proof of 
divine order-in the vast harmony of the whole visible 
world, throws into the background the darker side of the 
universe reflected in the theological doctrines of human 
corruption, and the consequent nged of a future judgment 
in separation of good from eviO I need not inquire 
whether any optimistic theory is "really tenable ; but the 
popular version of the creed involved the attempt to 
ignore the evils under which all creation groans, and 
produced in different minds the powerful retort of Butler's 
Analogy, and the biting sarcasm of Voltaire's Can- 
dide. Pope, accepting the doctrine without any per- 
ception of these difficulties, unintentionally fell into 
sheer pantheism. He was not yielding to the logical 
instinct which carries out a theory to its legitimate 
development ; but obeying the imaginative impulse which 
cannot stop to listen to the usual qualifications and safe- 

vii.] THE ESSAY ON MAN. 173 

guards of the orthodox reasoner. The best passages in 
th essay are those in which he is frankly pantheistic, 
id is swept, like Shaftesbury, into enthusiastic assertion 
>f the universal harmony of things. 

All are but parts of one stupendous whole, 
Whose body nature is, and God the soul j 
That changed thro" all and yet in all the same, " 
Great in the earth as in the ethereal frame ; 
Warms in the sun, refreshes in the breeze, 
Glows in the stars, and blossoms in the trees ; 
Lives thro' all life, extends thro' all extent, 
Spreads undivided, operates unspent ; 
Breathes in our soul, informs our mortal part, 
As full, as perfect, in a hair as heart ;_ 
As full, as perfect, in vHe~man that mourns, 
As the rapt seraph that adores and burns ; 
To him, 110 high, no low, no great, no small, 
He fills, he bounds, connects, and equals all. 

In spite of some awkward phrases (hair and heart is a 
vile antithesis !), the passage is eloquent but can hardly be 
called orthodox. And it was still worse when Pope under- 
took to show that even evil passions and vices were part of 
the harmony ; that " a Borgia and a Cataline " were as much 
a part of the divine order as a plague or an earthquake, 
and that self-love and lust were essential to social welfare. *- 

Pope's own religious position is characteristic and easily 
definable. If it is not quite defensible on the strictest 
principles of plain speaking, it is also certain that we 
could not condemn him without condemning many of the 
best and most catholic-spirited of men. The dogmatic 
system in which he had presumably been educated had 
softened under the influence of the cultivated thought of 
the day. Pope, as the member of a persecuted sect, had 
learnt to share that righteous hatred of bigojryjvhiplijs 
the honourable characteristic.!)! bia best contemporaries. 

171 POPE. [CHAP. 

He considered the persecuting spirit of his own church to 
be its worst fault. 1 ! In the early Essay on Criticism he 
offended some of his own sect by a vigorous denunciation 
of the doctrine which promotes persecution by limiting 
salvation to a particular creecl. ,_]_ His charitable conviction 


that a divine element is to be found in all creeds, from 
that of the " poor Indian " upwards, animates the highest 
passages in his works. But though he sympathizes 
wif|h_a L gflnerons toleration, and the specific dogm^ofjhia 
p.rged pat very loosely on his, mind, he. did not consider 
that ?VP opftrr sppp-ssinn was necessary * P.VATI honourable. 
He called himself ainie-CaJhdic, though rather as respect- 
fully sympathizing with the spirit of Fenelon than as 
holding to any dogmatic system. The most dignified 
letter that he ever wrote was in answer to a suggestion 
from Atterbury (1717), that he might change his religion 
upon the death of his father. Pope replies that his 
worldly interests would be promoted by such a step ; and, 
in fact, it cannot be doubted that Pope might have had a 
share in the good things then obtainable by successful 
writers, if he had qualified by taking the oaths. But he 
adds, that such a change would hurt his mother's feelings, 
and that he was more certain of his duty to promote her 
happiness than of any speculative tenet whatever. He 
was sure that he could mean as well in the religion he 
now professed as in any other ; and that being so, he 
thought that a change even to an equally good religion 
could not be justified. A similar statement appears in a 
letter to Swift, in 1729. " I am of the religion of Eras- 
mus, a Catholic. So I live, so shall I die, and hope one 
day to meet you, Bishop Atterbury, the younger Craggs, 
Dr. Garth, Dean Berkeley, and Mr. Hutchinson in that 
1 Spence, p. 364. 

vn.] THE ESSAY ON MAN. 175 

place to which God of his infinite mercy bring us and 
everybody." To these Protestants he would doubtless 
have joined the freethinking Bolingbroke. At a later 
period he told Warburton, in less elevated language, that 
the change of his creed would bring him many enemies 
and do no good to any one. 

Pope could feel nobly and act honourably when his 
morbid vanity did not expose him to some temptation ; 
and I think that in this matter his attitude was in every 
way creditable. He showed, indeed, the prejudice enter- 
tained by many of the rationalist fh'vinp.a for tht^fra^ 
thinkers who were a little mpyp, nntspnlrp.n than .himself. 
The deist whose creed was varnished with Christian 
phrases, was often bitter against the deist who rejected 
the varnish ; and Pope put Toland and Tindal into the 
Dunciad as scandalous assailants of all religion. From 
his point of view it was as wicked to attack any creed as 
to regard any creed as exclusively true; and certainly 
Pope was not disposed to join any party which was hated 
and maligned by the mass of the respectable world. For 
it must be remembered that, in spite of much that has 
been said to the contrary, and in spite of the true ten- 
dency of much so-called orthodoxy, the profession of open 
dissent from Christian doctrine was then regarded with 
extreme disapproval. It might be a fashion, as Butler 
and others declare, to talk infidelity in cultivated circles ; 
but a public promulgation of unbelief was condemned as 
criminal, and worthy only of the Grub-street faction. 
Pope, therefore, was terribly shocked when he found him- 
self accused of heterodoxy. His poem was at once trans- 
lated, and, we are told, spread rapidly in France, where 
Voltaire and many inferior writers were introducing the 
contagion of English freethinking. A solid Swiss pastor 

176 POPE. [CHAP. 

and professor of philosophy, Jean Pierre Crousaz (1663 
1750), undertook the task of refutation, and published an 
examination of Pope's philosophy in 1737 and 1738. 
A serious examination of this bundle of half-digested 
opinions was in itself absurd. Some years afterwards 
(1751) Pope came under a more powerful critic. The 
Berlin Academy of Sciences offered a prize for a similar 
essay, and Lessing published a short tract called Pope ein 
Metaphysiker ! If any one cares to see a demonstration 
that Pope did not understand the system of Leibnitz, and 
that the bubble blown by a great philosopher has more 
apparent cohesion than that of a half-read poet, he may 
find a sufficient statement of the case in Lessing. But 
Lessing sensibly protests from the start against the intru- 
sion of such a work into serious discussion; and that 
is the only ground which is worth taking in the matter. 

The most remarkable result of the Essay on Man, 
it may be parenthetically noticed, was its effect upon 
Voltaire. In 1751 Voltaire wrote a poem on Natural 
Law, which is a comparatively feeble application of 
Pope's principles. It is addressed to Frederick instead of 
Bolingbroke, and contains a warm eulogy of Pope's 
philosophy. But a few years later the earthquake at 
Lisbon suggested certain doubts to Voltaire as to the 
completeness of the optimist theory ; and, in some of the 
most impressive verses of the century, he issued an ener- 
getic protest against the platitudes applied by Pope and 
his followers to deaden our sense of the miseries under 
which the race suffers. Verbally, indeed, Voltaire still 
makes his bow to the optimist theory, and the two 
poems appeared together in 1756; but his noble out- 
cry against the empty and complacent deductions which 
it covers, led to his famous controversy with Rousseau. 


The history of this conflict falls beyond my subject, and 
I must be content with this brief reference, which proves, 
amongst other things, the interest created by Pope's advo- 
cacy of the most characteristic doctrines of his time ou 
the minds of the greatest leaders of the revolutionary 

Meanwhile, however, Crousaz was translated into Eiigi- 
lish, and Pope was terribly alarmed. His " guide, philo- 
sopher, and friend" had returned to the Continent (in 
1735), disgusted with his political failure, but was again 
in England from June, 1738, to May, 1739. We know 
not what comfort he may have given to his unlucky dis- 
ciple, but an unexpected champion suddenly arose. 
William Warburton (born 1698) was gradually pushing 
hia way to success. He had been an attorney's clerk, and 
had not received a university education; but his niultir 
farious reading was making him conspicuous, helped by 
great energy, and by a quality which gave some plausi- 
bility to the title bestowed on him by Mallet, "The 
most impudent man living." In his humble days he had 
been intimate with Popes enemies, Concanen and Theo- 
bald, and had spoken scornfully of Pope, saying, amongst 
other things, that he " borrowed for want of genius," as 
Addison borrowed from modesty and Milton from pride. 
In 1736 he had published his first important work, the 
Alliance between Church and State, and in 1738 fol- 
lowed the first instalment of his principal performance, 
the Divine Legation. During the following years he 
was the most conspicuous theologian of the day, dreaded 
and hated by his opponents, whom he unsparingly bullied, 
and dominating a small clique of abject admirers. He is 
said to have condemned the Essay on Man when it 
first appeared. He called it a collection of the worst 



passages of the worst authors, and declared that it 
taught rank atheism. The appearance of Crousaz's book 
suddenly induced him to make a complete change of 
front. He declared that Pope spoke "truth uniformly 
throughout," and complimented him on his strong and 
delicate reasoning. 

It is idle to seek motives for this proceeding. War- 
burton loved paradoxes, and delighted in brandishing 
them in the most offensive terms. He enjoyed the exer- 
cise of his own ingenuity, and therefore his ponderous 
writings, though amusing by their audacity and width 
of reading, are absolutely valueless for their ostensible 
purpose. The exposition of Pope (the first part of which 
appeared in December, 1738) is one of his most tiresome 
performances ; nor need any human being at the present 
day study the painful wire-drawings and sophistries by 
which he tries to give logical cohesion and orthodox inten- 
tion to the Essay on Man. 

If Warburton was simply practising his dialectical skill, 
the result was a failure. But if he had an eye to certain 
lower ends, his success surpassed his expectations. Pope 
was in ecstasies. He fell upon Warburton'g neck or 
rather at his feet and overwhelmed him with professions 
of gratitude. He invited him to Twickenham ; met him 
with compliments which astonished a bystander, and 
wrote to him in terms of surprising humility. " You 
understand me," he exclaims in his Ta-st letter, " as well 
as I do myself ; but you express me much better than 
I could express myself." For the rest of his life Pope 
adopted the same tone. He sheltered himself behind this 
burly defender, and could never praise him enough. He 
declared Mr. Warburton to be the greatest general 
critic he ever knew, and was glad to instal him in the 


position of champion in ordinary. Warburton was con- 
sulted about new editions; annotated Pope's poems; 
stood sponsor to the last Dunciad, and was assured by 
his admiring friend that the comment would prolong the 
life of the poetry. Pope left all his copyrights to this 
friend, whilst his MSS. were given to Bolingbroke. 

When the University of Oxford proposed to confer an 
honorary degree upon Pope, he declined to receive the 
compliment, because the proposal to confer a smaller 
honour upon Warburton had been at the same time 
thrown out by the University. In fact, Pope looked up 
to Warburton with a reverence almost equal to that which 
he felt for Bolingbroke. If such admiration for such an 
idol was rather humiliating, we must remember that Pope 
was unable to detect the charlatan in the pretentious but 
really vigorous writer ; and we may perhaps admit that 
there is something pathetic in Pope's constant eagerness 
to be supported by some sturdier arm. We find the same 
tendency throughout his life. The weak and morbidly 
sensitive nature may be forgiven if its dependence leads 
to excessive veneration. 

Warburton derived advantages from the connexion, the 
prospect of which, we may hope, was not the motive of 
his first advocacy. To be recognized by the most eminent 
man of letters of the day was to receive a kind of certifi- 
cate of excellence, valuable to a man who had not the 
regular university hall-mark. More definite results fol- 
lowed. Pope introduced Warburton to Allen, and to 
Murray, afterwards Lord Mansfield. Through Murray 
he was appointed preacher at Lincoln's Inn, and from 
Allen he derived greater benefits the hand of his niece 
and heiress, and an introduction to Pitt, which gained for 
him the bishopric of Gloucester. 

180 POPE. [CH. vii. 

Pope's allegiance to Bolingbroke was not weakened by 
this new alliance. He sought to bring the two together, 
when Bolingbroke again visited England in 1743. The 
only result was an angry explosion, as, indeed, might 
have been foreseen ; for Bolingbroke was not likely to be 
well-disposed to the clever parson whose dexterous sleight- 
of-hand had transferred Pope to the orthodox camp ; nor 
was it natural that Warburton, the most combative and 
insulting of controversialists, should talk on friendly 
terms to one of his natural antagonists an antagonist, 
moreover, who was not likely to have bishoprics in his 
gift. The quarrel, as we shall see, broke out fiercely over 
Pope's grave. 



POPE had tried a considerable number of poetical experi- 
ments when the Dunciad appeared, but he had not yet 
discovered in what direction his talents could be most 
efficiently exerted. Bystanders are sometimes acuter in 
detecting a man's true forte than the performer himself. 
In 1722 Atterbury had seen Pope's lines upon Addison, 
and reported that no piece of his writing was ever so much 
sought after. "Since you now know," be added, "in 
what direction your strength lies, I hope you will not 
suffer that talent to be unemployed." Atterbury seems to 
have been rather fond of giving advice to Pope, and puts 
on a decidedly pedagogic air when writing to him. The 
present suggestion was more likely to fall on willing ears 
than another made shortly before their final separation. 
Atterbury then presented Pope with a Bible, and recom- 
mended him to study its pages. If Pope had taken to 
heart some of St. Paul's exhortations to Christian charity, 
he would scarcely have published his lines upon Addison, 
and English literature would have lost some of its most 
brilliant pages. 

Satire of the kind represented by those lines was so 
obviously adapted to Pope's peculiar talent, that we rather 
wonder at his having taken to it seriously at a compara- 

182 POPE. [CHAP. 

lively late period, and even then having drifted into it by 
accident rather than by deliberate adoption. He had 
aimed, as has been said, at being a philosophic and 
didactic poet. The Essay on Man formed part of a 
much larger plan, of which two or three fragmentary 
sketches are given by Spence. 1 Bolingbroke and Pope 
wrote to Swift in November, 1729, about a scheme then 
in course of execution. Bolingbroke declares that Pope 
is now exerting what was eminently and peculiarly his 
talents, above all writers, living or dead, without except- 
ing Horace; whilst Pope explained that this was a "system 
of ethics in the Horatian way." The language seems to 
apply best to the poems afterwards called the Ethic 
Epistles, though, at this time, Pope, perhaps, had not a 
very clear plan in his head, and was working at different 
parts simultaneously. The Essay on Man, his most 
distinct scheme, was to form the opening book of his 
poem. Three others were to treat of knowledge and its 
limits, of government ecclesiastical and civil and of 
morality. The last book itself involved an elaborate 
plan. There were to be three epistles about each cardinal 
virtue one, for example, upon avarice ; another on the 
contrary extreme of prodigality ; and a third, upon the 
judicious mean of a moderate use of riches. Pope told 
Spence that he had dropped the plan chiefly because his third 
book would have provoked every Church on the face of 
th"e~earth, and he did not care for always being in boiling 
water. The scheme, however, was far too wide and too 
systematic for Pope's powers. His spasmodic energy 
enabled him only to fill up corners of the canvas, and 
from what he did, it is sufficiently evident that his classi- 
fication would have been incoherent and his philosophjL 
Spence, pp. 16, 48, 137, 315. 


unequal to the task. Part of his work was used for the 
fourth book of the Dunciad, and the remainder corre* 
sponds to what are now called the Ethic Epistles. 
These, as they now stand, include five poems. One of 
these has no real connexion with the others. It is a 
poem addressed to Addison, " occasioned by his dialogue 
on medals," written (according to Pope) in 1715, and 
first published in Tickell's edition of Addison's works in 
1721. The epistle to Burlington on taste was afterwards 
called the Use of Eiches, and appended to another with 
the same title, thus filling a place in jhe ethical scheme, 
though devoted to a very subsidiary branch of the sub- 
ject. It appeared in 1731. The epistle "of the use of 
riches" appeared in 1732, that of the knowledge and 
characters of men in 1733, and that of the characters 
of women in 1735. The last three are all that would 
seem to belong to the wider treatise contemplated ; but 
Pope composed so much in fragments that it is difficult 
to say what bits he might have originally intended for any 
given purpose. 

Another distraction seems to have done more than his 
fear of boiling water to arrest the progress of the 
elaborate plan. Bolingbroke coming one day into his 
room, took up a Horace, and observed that the first satire 
of the second book would suit Pope's style. Pope trans- 
lated if in a morning or two, and sent it to press almost 
immediately (1733). The poem had a brilliant success. 
It contained, amongst other things, the couplet which 
provoked his war with Lady Mary and Lord Hervey. 
This, again, led "to his putting together the~~epistlS~to 
Arbuthnot, which includes the bitter attack upon Hervey, 
as part of a general apologia pro vita sua. It was after- 
wards called the Prologue to the Satires. Of his other 

184 POPE. [CHAP. 

imitations of Horace, one appeared in 1734 (the second 
satire of the second book), and four more (the first and 
sixth epistles of the first book and the first and second of 
the second book) in 1738. Finally, in 1737, he published 
two dialogues, first called " 1738 " and afterwards " The 
Epilogue to the Satires," which are in the same vein as 
the epistle to Arbuthnot. These epistles and imitations 
of Horace, with the so-called prologue and epilogue, took 
up the greatest part of Pope's energy during the years 
I in which his intellect was at its best, and show his finest 
: technical qualities. The Essay on Man was on hand 
during the early part of this period, the epistles and 
satires representing a ramification from the same inquiry. 
But the essay shows the weak side of Pope, whilst his 
most remarkable qualities are best represented by these 
subsidiary writings. The reason will be sufficiently appa- 
rent after a brief examination, which will also give occa- 
sion for saying what still remains to be said in regard 
to Pope as a literary artist 

The weakness already conspicuous in the Essay on 
Man mars the effect of the Ethic Epistles. His work 
tends to be. rather an aggregation than an organic whole. 
HT was (if I may borrow a phrase from the philologists) 
an agglutinative ^writer, and composed by sticking together 
jndependentfragments,_^Hig mode of composition was 
natural-to a _mind incapable of sustainecTand oonSniious 
thjAght. In the epistles, he. professes to be working on 
a plan. The first exp0unds__Hs_Jayourite theory (also 
treated in_the essay) _of_a_" ruling passion." Tach man 
haalmoh a. paaainn, if pnjy jn\\ c^n~finHjj^w^rpT> explains 
the apparent inconsistency .fif jus conduct. This theory, 
which has exposed him to a charge of fatalism (especially 
from people who did not very well know wEat fatalism 


means), is sufficiently striking for his purpose; but it 
rather turns up at intervals than really binds the epistle 
into a whole. But the arrangement of his portrait gallery 
is really unsystematic ; the affectation of system is rather 
in the way. The most striking characters in the essay 
on women were inserted (whenever composed) some 
time after its first appearance, and the construction is too 
loose to make any interruption of the argument percep- 
tible. The poems contain some of Pope's most brilliant 
bits, but we can scarcely remember them as a whole. The 
characters of Wharton and Villiers^pf Atossa, of the Man 
of Eoss, and Sir Balaam, stand_out as briljia.n.t., passages 
whichjyould do almost as^well in any other jigtting. jn 
the imitations of Horace he is, of course, guided by lines 
already laid down for him ; and he has shown admirable 
skill in translating the substance as well as the words of 
his author by the nearest equivalents. This peculiar 
mode of imitation had been tried by other writers, but in 
Pope's hands it succeeded beyond all precedent. There 
is so much congeniality between Horace and Pope, and 
the social orders of which they were the spokesmen, that 
he can /represent his original without giving us any sense 
of constraint// Yet even here he sometimes obscures the 
thread of connexion, and we feel more or less clearly 
that the order of thought is not that which would have 
spontaneously arisen in his own mind. So, for example, 
in the imitation of Horace's first epistle of the first book, 
the references to the Stoical and Epicurean morals imply 
a connexion of ideas to which nothing corresponds in 
Pope's reproduction. Horace is describing a genuine 
experience, while Pope is only /putting together a string 
of commonplaces.] The most ^interesting part of these 
imitations are those in which Pope takes advantage of the 

' <s 

186 POPE. [CHAP. 

suggestions in Horace to be thoroughly autobiographical. 
He manages to run his own experience and feelings into 
the moulds provided for him by his predecessor. One 
of the happiest passages is that in which he turns the 
serious panegyric on Augustus into a bitter irony against 
the other Augustus, whose name was George, and who, 
according te Lord Hervey, was so contrasted with 
his prototype, that whereas personal courage was the 
one weak point of the emperor, it was the one strong 
point of the English king. As soon as Pope has a 
chance of expressing his personal antipathies or (to do him 
bare justice) his personal attachments, his lines begin to 
glow. When he is trying to preach, to be ethical and 
philosophical, he is apt to fall into mouthing and to -lose 
his place ; but when he can forget his stilts, or point his 
morality by some concrete and personal instance, every 
word is alive. And it is this which makes the epilogues, 
and more especially the prologue to the satires, his most 
impressive performances. The unity which is very ill- 
supplied by some ostensible philosophical thesis, or even 
by the leading strings of Horace, is ffive.n by his own 
intense interest in himself. The best way of learning to 
enjoy Pope is to get by heart the epistle to Arbuthnot. 
That epistle is, as I have said, his Apologia. In its some 
400 lines, he has managed to compress more of his feel- 
ings and thoughts than would fill an ordinary autobio- 
graphy. It is true that the epistle requires a commen- 
tator. It wants some familiarity with the events of Pope's 
life, and many lines convey only a part of their meaning 
unless we are familiar not only with the events, but with 
the characters of the persons mentioned. Passages over 
which we pass carelessly at the first reading then come 
out with wonderful freshness, and single phrases throw a 


sudden light upon hidden depths of feeling. It is also 
true, unluckily, that parts of it must be read by the 
rule of contraries. They tell us not what Pope really 
was, but what he wished others to think him, and what 
he probably endeavoured to persuade himself that he was. 
How far he succeeded in imposing upon himself is indeed 
a very curious question which can never be fully answered. 
There is the strangest mixture of honesty and hypocrisy. 
Let me, he says, live my own and die so too 

(To live and die is all I have to do) 
Maintain a poet's dignity and ease, 
And see what friends and read what books I please ! 

Well, he was independent in his fashion, and we can at 
least believe that he so far believed in himself. But 
when he goes on to say that he " can sleep without a poem 
in his head, 

Nor know if Dennis be alive or dead," 

we remember his calling up the maid four times a night 
in the dreadful winter of 1740 to save a thought, and the 
features writhing in anguish as he read a hostile pam- 
phlet. Presently he informs us that "he thinks a lie in 
prose or verse the same " only too much the same ! and 
that " if he pleased, he pleased by manly ways." Alas ! 
for the manliness. And yet again when he speaks of his 


Unspotted names and venerable long 
If there be force in virtue or in song, 

can we doubt that he is speaking from the heart? We 
should perhaps like to forget that the really exquisite and 
touching lines in which he speaks of his mother had been 
eo carefully elaborated. 

Me let the tender office long engage 
To rock the cradle of declining age, 

188 POPE. [CHAP. 

With lenient acts extend a mother's breath, 
Make languor smile and smooth the bed of death, 
Explore the thought, explain the asking eye, 
And keep awhile one parent from the sky ! 

If there are more tender and exquisitely expressed lines 
in the language, I know not where to find them ; and yet 
again I should be glad not to be reminded by a cruel 
commentator that poor Mrs. Pope had b_een__(Jafl for 
two years when they were published, jmd_ that even 
this touching effusion has therefore a taint_of_dramatic 
affectation. / 

To me, I confess, it seems most probable, though at 
first sight incredible, that these utterances were thoroughly 
sincere for the moment. I fancy that under Pope's 
elaborate masks of hypocrisy and mystification there was 
a heart always abnormally sensitive. Unfortunately it was 
as capable of bitter resentment as of warm affection, and 
was always liable to be misled by the suggestions of his 
strangely irritable vanity. And this seems to me to give 
the true key to Pope's poetical as well as to his personal 

To explain either, we must remember that he was a man 
of impulses; at one instant a mere incarnate thrill of 
gratitude or generosity, and in the next of spite or jealousy. 
A spasm of wounded vanity would make him for the time 
as mean and selfish as other men are made by a frenzy of 
bodily fear. He would instinctively snatch at a lie even 
when a moment's reflection would have shown that the 
plain truth would be more convenient, and therefore he 
had to accumulate lie upon lie, each intended to patch up 
some previous blunder. /Though nominally the poet of 
reason, he was the very antithesis of the man who is 
reasonable in the highest sense : who is truthful in word 


and deed because his conduct is regulated by harmonious 
and invariable principles. I Pope was governed by the 
instantaneous feeling. His emotion came in sudden jets 
and gushes, instead of a continuous stream. The same 
peculiarity deprives his poetry of continuous harmony or 
profound unity of conception. His lively sense of fornT~7 
and proportion enables him indeed to fill up a simple / 
framework (generally of borrowed design) with an eye to 
general effect, as in the Eape of the__Lock or the first 
Dunciad. But even there his flight is short ; and when 
a poem should be governed by the evolution of some pro- 
found principle or complex mood of sentiment, he becomes 
incoherent and perplexed. But on the other hand he 
can perceive admirably all that can be seen at a glance 
from a single point of view._ Though he could not be 
continuous, he could return again and again to the same 
point; he could polish, correct, eliminate superfluities, 
and compress his meaning more and more closely, till he 
has constructed short passages of imperishable excellence. 
This microscopic attention to fragments sometimes injures 
the connexion, and often involves a mutilation of con- 
struction. He corrects and prunes too closely. He could, 
he says, in reference to the Essay on Man, put things 
more briefly in verse than in prose ; one reason being that 
he could take liberties of this kind not permitted in prose 
writing. But the injury is compensated by the singular 
terseness and vivacity of his best style. Scarcely any one, 
as is often remarked, has left so large a proportion of 
quotable phrases, 1 and, indeed, to the present he survives 

1 To take an obviously uncertain test, I find that in Bartlett's 
dictionary of familiar quotations, Shakspeare fills 70 pages ; Mil- 
ton, 23; Pope, 18; Wordsworth, 16; and Byrou, 15. The rest 
are nowhere. 

190 POPE. [CHAP. 

chiefly by the current coinage of that kind which bears his 
image'and superscription. 

familiar remark may help us to solve the old 
problem whether Pope was, or rather in what sense he 
was, a poet. Much of his work may be fairly described 
as rhymed prose, differing from prose not in substance or 
tone of feeling, but only in the form of expression. Every 
poet has an invisible audience, as an orator has a visible 
one, who deserve a great part of the merit of his works. 
Some men may write for the religious or philosophic 
recluse, and therefore utter the emotions which come to 
ordinary mortals in the rare momenis when the music of 
the spheres, generally drowned by the din of the common- 
place world, becomes audible to their dull senses. Pope, 
on the other hand, writes for the wits who never listen to 
such strains, and moreover writes for their ordinary moods. 
He aims at giving us the refined and doubly distilled 
essence of the conversation of the statesmen and courtiers 
of his time,. The standard of good ^writing always 
implicitly present to his mind is the fitness of his poetry 
to pass muster when shown by Gay to his duchess, or 
read after dinner to a party composed of Swift, Boling- 
broke, and Congreve. That imaginary audience is always 
looking over his shoulder, applauding a good hit, chuck- 
ling over allusions to the last bit of scandal, and ridiculing 
any extravagance tending to romance or sentimentalism. 

The limitations imposed by such a condition are obvious. 
As men of taste, Pope's friends would make their bow to 
the recognized authorities. They would praise Paradise 
Lost, but a new Milton would be as much out of place 
with them as the real Milton at the court of Charles II. 
They would really prefer to have his verses tagged by 
Dryden, or the Samson polished by Pope. They would have 


ridiculed Wordsworth's mysticism or Shelley's idealism, 
as they laughed at the religious "enthusiasm" of 
Law or Wesley, or the metaphysical subtleties of Berkeley 
and Hume. They preferred the philosophy^ of JJje_ Essay 
on Man, which might be appropriated hy a common-sense 
preacher, or the rhetoric of Eloisa and Abelard, bits of 
which might be used to excellent effect (as indeed Pope 
himself used the peroration) by a fine gentleman addressing 
his gallantry to a contemporary Sappho. It is only too 
easy to expose their shallowness, and therefore to overlook 
what was genuine in their feelings. After all, Pope's 
eminent friends were no mere tailor's blocks for the dis- 
play of laced coats. Swift and Bolingbroke were not 
enthusiasts nor philosophers, but certainly they were no 
fools. They liked in the first place thorough polish. They 
could appreciate a perfectly turned phrase, an epigram 
which concentrated into a couplet a volume of quick obser- 
vations, a smart saying from Eochefoucauld or La Bruyere, 
which gave an edge to worldly wisdom ; a really brilliant 
utterance of one of those maxims, half true and not over 
profound, but still presenting one aspect of life as they saw 
it, which have since grown rather threadbare. This sort 
of moralizing, which is the staple of Pope's epistles upon 
the ruling passion or upon avarice, strikes us now as un- 
pleasantly obvious. We have got beyond it and want 
some more refined analysis and more complex psychology. 
Take, for example, Pope's epistle to Bathurst, which was 
in hand for two years, and is just 400 lines in 
length. The simplicity of the remarks is almost comic. 
Nobody wants to be told now that bribery is facilitated 
by modern system of credit. 

Blest paper-credit ! last and best supply 
That lends corruption lighter wings to fly ! 


192 POPE. [CHAP. 

This triteness blinds us to the singular felicity with 
which the observations have been versified, a felicity which 
makes many of the phrases still proverbial. The mark is 
so plain that we do scant justice to the accuracy and pre- 
cision with which it is hit. Yet when we notice how 
every epithet tells, and how perfectly the writer does what 
he tries to do, we may understand why Pope extorted 
contemporary admiration. "We may, for example, read once 
more the familiar passage about Buckingham. The 
picture, such as it is, could not be drawn more strikingly 
with fewer lines. 

In the worst inn's worst room, with mat half -hung, 
'Hie floors of plaister and the walls of dung, 
On once a flock-bed but repair'd with straw, 
With tape-ty'd curtains never meant to draw, 
The George and Garter dangling from that bed, 
Where tawdry yellow strove with dirty red, 
Great Villiers lies ! alas, how changed from him, 
That life of pleasure and that soul of whim ! 
Gallant and gay in Cliveden's proud alcove, 
The bower of wanton Shrewsbury and love ; 
As great as gay, at council in a ring 
Of mimick'd statesmen, and their merry king. 
No wit to flatter left of all his store ! 
No fool to laugh at, which he valued more. 
Thus, victor of his health, of fortune, friends, 
And fame, the lord of useless thousands ends. 

It is as graphic as a page of Dickens, and has the ad- 
vantage of being less grotesque, if the sentiment is equally 
obvious. When Pope has made his hit, he does not blur 
the effect by trying to repeat it. 

In these epistles, it must be owned that the sentiment 
is not only obvious but jDrosaic. The moral maxims are 
delivered like advice offered by one sensible man to 
another, not with the impassioned fervour of a prophet. 


/Nor can Pope often rise to that level at which alone satire 
is transmuted into the higher class of poetry. To accom- 
plish that feat, if, indeed, it be possible, the poet must not 
simply ridicule the fantastic tricks of poor mortals, but 
show how they appear to the angels who weep over them. 
The petty figures must be projected against a background 
of the infinite, and we must feel the relations of our tiny 
eddies of life to the oceanic currents of human history. 
Pope can never rise above the crowd. He is looking at 
his equals, not contemplating them from the height which 
reveals their insignificance. The element, which may fairly 
be called poetical, is derived from an inferior source ; but 
sometimes has passion enough in it to lift him above mere 

In one of his most animated passages, Pope relates his 
desire to 

Brand the bold front of shameless guilty men . 
Dash the proud gamester in his gilded car, 
Bare the mean heart that lurks beneath a star. 

For the moment he takes himself seriously ; and, indeed, 
he seems to have persuaded both himself and his friends 
that he was really a great defender of virtue. Arbuthnot 
begged him, almost with his dying breath, to continue his 
" noble disdain and abhorrence of vice," and, with a due 
regard to his own safety, to try rather to reform than 
chastise ; and Pope accepts the office ostentatiously. His 
provocation is " the strong antipathy of good to bad," and 
he exclaims, 

Yes ! I am proud I must be proud to see 

Men not afraid of God, afraid of me. 

Safe from the bar, the pulpit, and the throne, 

Yet touch' d and shamed by ridicule alone. 

If the sentiment provokes a slight incredulity, it is yet 


194 POPE. [CHAR 

worth while to understand its real meaning; and the 
explanation is not very far to seek. 

Pope's best writing, I have said, is the essence of con- 
versation. It has the quick movement, the boldness 
and brilliance, which we suppose to be the attributes of 
the best talk. Of course the apparent facility is due to 
conscientious labour. In the Prologue and Epilogue and 
the best parts of the imitations of Horace, he shows such 
consummate mastery of his peculiar style, that we forget 
the monotonous metre. The opening passage, for example, 
of the Prologue is written apparently with the perfect free- 
dom of real dialogue ; in fact, it is of course far more 
pointed and compressed than any dialogue could ever be. 
The dramatic vivacity with which the whole scene is 
given, shows that he could use metre as the most skilful 
performer could command a musical instrument. Pope, 
indeed, shows in the Essay on Criticism, that his view 
about the uniformity of sound and sense were crude 
enough; they are analogous to the tricks by which a 
musician might decently imitate the cries of animals or 
the murmurs of a crowd ; and his art excludes any attempt 
at rivalling the melody of the great poets who aim at pro- 
ducing a harmony quite independent of the direct meaning 
of their words. I am only speaking of the felicity with 
which he can move in metre, without the slightest appear- 
ance of restraint, so as to give a kind of idealized represen- 
tation of the tone of animated verbal intercourse. What- 
ever comes within this province he can produce with 
admirable fidelity. ( j?!N"ow in such talks as we imagine 
with Swift and Bolingbroke, we may be quite sure that 
there would be some very forcible denunciation of corrup- 
tion corruption being of course regarded as due to the 
diabolical agency of Walpole. During his later years, 


Pope became a friend of all the Opposition clique, which 
was undermining the power of the great minister. In his 
last letters to Swift, Pope speaks of the new circle of 
promising patriots who were rising round him, and from 
whom he entertained hopes of the regeneration of this 
corrupt country. Sentiments of this kind were the staple 
talk of the circles in which he moved ; and all the young 
men of promise believed, or persuaded themselves to fancy, 
that a political millennium would follow the downfall of 
"Walpole. Pope, susceptible as always to the influences of 
his social surroundings, took in all this, and delighted in 
figuring himself as the prophet of the new era and the 
denouncer of wickedness in high places. He sees " old 
England's genius " dragged in the dust, hears the black 
trumpet of vice proclaiming that " not to be corrupted is 
the shame," and declares that he will draw the last pen 
for freedom, and use his " sacred weapon " in truth's 

To imagine Pope at his best, we must place ourselves in 
Twickenham on some fine day, when the long disease 
has relaxed its grasp for a moment ; when he has taken a 
turn through his garden, and comforted his poor frame with 
potted lampreys and a glass or two from his frugal pint. 
Suppose two or three friends to be sitting with him, the 
stately Bolingbroke or the mercurial Bathurst, with one of 
the patriotic hopes of mankind, Marchmont or Lyttelton, 
to stimulate his ardour, and the amiable Spence, or Mrs. 
Patty Blount to listen reverentially to his morality. Let 
the conversation kindle into vivacity, and host and guests 
fall into a friendly rivalry, whetting each other's wits by 
lively repartee, and airing the little fragments of worldly 
wisdom which pass muster for profound observation at 
Court ; for a time they talk platitudes, though striking 

196 POPE. [CHAP. 

out now and then brilliant flashes, as from the collision of 
polished rapiers ; they diverge, perhaps, into literature, and 
Pope shines in discussing the secrets of the art to which 
his whole life has been devoted with untiring fidelity. 
Suddenly the mention of some noted name provokes a 
startling outburst of personal invective from Pope; his 
friends judiciously divert the current of wrath into a new 
channel, and he becomes for the moment a generous patriot 
declaiming against the growth of luxury ; the mention of 
some sympathizing friend brings out a compliment, so ex- 
quisitely turned, as to be a permanent title of honour, 
conferred by genius instead of power ; or the thought of 
his parents makes his voice tremble, and his eyes shine 
with pathetic softness; and you forgive the occasional 
affectation which you can never quite forget, or even the 
occasional grossness or harshness of sentiment which con- 
trasts so strongly with the superficial polish. A genuine 
report of even the best conversation would be intolerably 
prosy and unimaginative. But imagine the very pith and 
essence of such talk brought to a focus, concentrated into 
the smallest possible space with the infinite dexterity of a 
thoroughly trained hand, and you have the kind of writing 
in which Pope is unrivalled ; polished prose with occa- 
sional gleams of genuine poetry the epistle to Arbuthnot 
and the epilogue to the Satires. 

One point remains to be briefly noticed. The virtue 
on which Pope prided himself was correctness ; and I 
have interpreted this to mean the quality which is gained 
by incessant labour, guided by quick feeling, and always 
under the strict supervision of common sense. The next 
literary revolution led to a depreciation of this quality. 
Warton (like Macaulay long afterwards) argued that in 
a higher sense, the Elizabethan poets were really as correct 


as Pope. Their poetry embodied a higher and more com- 
plex law, though it neglected the narrow cut-and-dried 
precepts recognized in the Queen Anne period. The new 
school came to express too undiscriminating a contempt 
for the whole theory and practice of Pope and his fol- 
lowers. Pope, said Cowper, and a thousand critics have 
echoed his words, 

Made poetry a mere mechanic art 
And every warbler had his tune by heart. 

Without discussing the wider question, I may here 
briefly remark that this judgment, taken absolutely, gives 
a very false impression of Pope's artistic quality. Pope 
is undoubtedly monotonous. Except^ in one or two lyrics, 
such as the Ode on St. Cecilia's Day, which must be 
reckoned amongst his utter failures, he invariably employed 
the same metre. The discontinuity of his style, and the 
strict rules which he adopted, tend to disintegrate his 
poems. They are a series of brilliant passages, often of 
brilliant couplets, stuck together in a conglomerate ; and 
as the inferior connecting matter decays, the interstices open 
and allow the whole to fall into ruin. To read a series of 
such couplets, each complete in itself, and each so con- 
structed as to allow of a very small variety of form, is 
naturally to receive an impression of monotony. Pope's 
antitheses fall into a few common forms, which are re- 
peated over and over again, and seem copy to each other. 
And, in a sense, such work can be very easily imitated. 
A very inferior artist can obtain most of his efforts, and all 
the external qualities of his style. One ten-syllabled 
rhyming couplet, with the whole sense strictly confined 
within its limits, and allowing only of such variety as 
follows from changing the pauses, is undoubtedly very 

108 POPE. [CHAP. 

much like another. And accordingly one may read in 
any collection of British poets innumerable pages of verifi- 
cation which if you do not look too close are exactly like 
Pope. All poets who have any marked style are more or 
less imitable ; in the present age of revivals, a clever 
versifier is capable of adopting the manners of his leading 
contemporaries, or that of any poet from Spenser to 
Shelley or Keats. The quantity of work scarcely dis- 
tinguishable from that of the worst passages in Mr. Ten- 
nyson, Mr. Browning, and Mr. Swinburne, seems to be 
limited only by the supply of stationery at the disposal of 
practised performers. That which makes the imitations of 
Pope prominent is partly the extent of his sovereignty ; the 
vast number of writers who confined themselves exclusively 
to his style ; and partly the fact that what is easily imitable 
in him is so conspicuous an element of the whole. The 
rigid framework which he adopted is easily definable 
with mathematical precision. The difference between the 
best work of Pope and the ordinary work of his followers 
is confined within narrow limits, and not easily perceived 
at a glance. The difference between blank verse in the 
hands of its few masters and in the hands of a third-rate 
imitator strikes the ear in every line. Far more is left 
to the individual idiosyncrasy. But it does not at all 
follow, and in fact it is quite untrue that the distinction 
which turns on an apparently insignificant element is 
therefore unimportant. The value of all good work 
ultimately depends on touches so fine as to elude the 
sight. And the proof is that although Pope was so con- 
stantly imitated, no later and contemporary writer suc- 
ceeded in approaching his excellence. Young, of the 
Night Thoughts, was an extraordinarily clever writer and 
talker, even if he did not (as one of his hearers asserts) 


eclipse Voltaire by the brilliance of his conversation, 
Young's satires show abundance of wit, and one may not 
be able to say at a glance in what they are inferior to 
Pope. Yet they have hopelessly perished, whilst Pope's 
work remains classical Of all the crowd of eighteenth- 
century writers in Pope's manner, only two made an 
approach to him worth notice. Johnson's Vanity of 
Human Wishes surpasses Pope in general sense of power, 
and Goldsmith's two poems in the same style have 
phrases of a higher order than Pope's. But even these 
poems have not made so deep a mark. In the last genera- 
tion, Gifford's Baviad and Mceviad, and Byron's English 
Bards and Scotch Reviewers, were clever reproductions of 
the manner ; but Gifford is already unreadable, and Byron 
is pale beside his original ; and, therefore, making full 
allowance for Pope's monotony, and the tiresome promi- 
nence of certain mechanical effects, we must, I think, 
admit that he has after all succeeded in doing with unsur- 
passable excellence what innumerable rivals have failed to 
do as well. The explanation is if the phrase explains 
anything that he was a man of genius, or that he brought 
to a task, not of the highest class, a keenness of sensibility, 
a conscientious desire to do his very beat, and a capacity 
for taking pains with his work, which enabled him to 
be as indisputably the first in his own peculiar line, 
as our greatest men have been in far more lofty under- 

The man who could not publish Pastorals without 
getting into quarrels, was hardly likely to become a pro- 
fessed satirist without giving offence. Besides numerous 
stabs administered to old enemies, Pope opened some 
fresh animosities by passages in these poems. Some 
pointed ridicule was aimed at Montagu, Earl of Halifax, 

200 POPE. [CHAP. 

in the Prologue ; for there can be no doubt that Halifax 8 
was pointed out in the character of Bufo. Pope told a 
story in later days of an introduction to Halifax, the great 
patron of the early years of the century, who wished to 
hear him read his Homer. After the reading Halifax 
suggested that one passage should be improved. Pope 
retired rather puzzled by his vague remarks, but, by 
Garth's advice, returned some time afterwards, and read 
the same passage without alteration. "Ay, now Mr. 
Pope," said Halifax, " they are perfectly right ; nothing 
can be better !" This little incident perhaps suggested to 
Pope that Halifax was a humbug, and there seems, as 
already noticed, to have been some difficulty about the 
desired dedication of the Iliad. Though Halifax had 
been dead for twenty years when the Prologue appeared, 
Pope may have been in the right in satirizing the pompous 
would-be patron, from whom he had received nothing, 
and whose pretences he had seen through. But the 
bitterness of the attack is disagreeable when we add that 
Pope paid Halifax high compliments in the preface to the 
Iliad, and boasted of his friendship, shortly after the 
satire, in the Epilogue to the Satires. A more disagreeable 
affair at the moment was the description, in the Epistle 
on Taste, of Canons, the splendid seat of the Duke of 
Chandos. Chandos, being still alive, resented the attack, 
and Pope had not the courage to avow his meaning, which 
might in that case have been justifiable. He declared to 
Burlington (to whom the epistle was addressed), and to 
Chandos, that he had not intended Canons, and tried to 
make peace by saying in another epistle that " gracious 
Chandos is beloved at sight." This exculpation, says John- 

8 Roscoe'a attempt at a denial was conclusively answered by 
Bowles in one of his pamphlets. 


son, was received by the duke " with great magnanimity, 
as by a man who accepted his excuse, without believing 
his professions." Nobody, in fact, believed, and even 
Warburton let out the secret by a comic oversight. Pope 
had prophesied in his poem that another age would see 
the destruction of " Timon's Villa," when laughing Ceres 
would reassume the land. Had he lived three years 
longer, said Warburton in a note, Pope would have seen 
his prophecy fulfilled, namely, by the destruction of 
Canons. The note was corrected, but the admission that 
Canons belonged to Timon had been made. 

To such accusations Pope had a general answer. He 
described the type, not the individual. The fault was 
with the public, who chose to fit the cap. His friend 
remonstrates in the Epilogue against his personal satire. 
" Come on, then, Satire, general, unconfined," exclaims the 

Spread thy broad wing and souse on all the kind 

Ye reverend atheists. (Friend) Scandal ! name them ! who P 
(Pope) Why, that's the thing you bade me not to do. 
Who starved a sister, who forswore a debt, 
I never named ; the town's inquiring yet. 
The pois'ning dame (F.) You mean (P.) I don't. 

(F.) You do. 
(P.) See, now, I keep the secret, and not you ! 

It must in fact be admitted that from the purely 
artistic point of view, Pope is right. Prosaic commenta- 
tors are always asking, Who is meant by a poet, as though 
a poem were a legal document. It may be interesting, 
for various purposes, to know who was in the writer's 
mind, or what fact suggested the general picture. But 
we have no right to look outside the poem itself, or to 
infer anything not within the four corners of the state- 

202 POPE. [CHAP. 

ment. It matters not for such purposes whether there 
was, or was not, any real person corresponding to Sir 
Balaam, to whom his wife said, when he was enriched by 
Cornish wreckers, " live like yourself," 

When lo ! two puddings smoked upon the board, 

in place of the previous one on Sabbath days. Nor does 
it even matter whether Atticus meant Addison, or Sappho 
Lady Mary. The satire is equally good, whether its 
objects are mere names or realities. 

But the moral question is quite distinct. In that case we 
must ask whether Pope used words calculated or intended 
to fix an imputation upon particular people. Whether 
he did it in prose or verse, the offence was the same. In 
many cases he gives real names, and in many others gives 
unmistakable indications, which must have fixed his satire 
to particular people. If he had written Addison for 
Atticus (as he did at first), or Lady Mary for Sappho, or 
Halifax for Bufo, the insinuation could not have been 
clearer. His attempt to evade his responsibility was a 
mere equivocation a device which he seems to have 
preferred to direct lying. The character of Bufo might 
be equally suitable to others ; but no reasonable man 
could doubt that every one would fix it upon Halifax. 
In some cases possibly in that of Chandos he may 
have thought that his language was too general to apply, 
and occasionally it seems that he sometimes tried to evade 
consequences by adding some inconsistent characteristic 
to his portraits. 

I say this, because I am here forced to notice the worst 
of all the imputations upon Pope's character. The epistle 
on the characters of women now includes the famous 
lines on Atossa, which did not appear till after Pope's 


death. 4 They were (in 1746) at once applied to the famous 
Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough ; and a story immediately 
became current that the duchess had paid Pope 1000Z. to sup- 
press them, but that he preserved them, with a view to their 
ultimate publication. This story was repeated by Warton 
and by Walpole ; it has been accepted by Mr. Carruthers, 
who suggests, by way of palliation, that Pope was desirous 
at the time of providing for Martha Blount, and probably 
took the sum in order to buy an annuity for her. Now, 
if the story were proved, it must be admitted that it 
would reveal a baseness in Pope which would be worthy 
only of the lowest and most venal literary marauders. 
No more disgraceful imputation could have been made 
upon Curll, or CurlTs miserable dependents. A man who 
could so prostitute his talents must have been utterly vile. 
Pope has sins enough to answer for ; but his other mean- 
nesses were either sacrifices to his morbid vanity, or (like 
his offence against Swift, or his lies to Aaron Hill and 
Chandos) collateral results of spasmodic attempts to escape 
from humiliation. In money-matters he seems to have 
been generally independent. He refused gifts from his rich 
friends, and confuted the rather similar calumny that he 
had received 5001. from the Duke of Chandos. If the 
account rested upon mere contemporary scandal, we might 
reject it on the ground of its inconsistency with his known 
character, and its likeness to other fabrications of his 
enemies. There is, however, further evidence. It is such 
evidence as would, at most, justify a verdict of "not 
proven " in a court of justice. But the critic is not bound 
by legal rules, and has to say what is the most probable 
solution, without fear or favour. 

I cannot here go into the minute details. This much, 
4 On this subject Mr. Dilke's Papers of a Critic. 

204 POPE. [CHAP. 

however, may be taken as established. Pope was printing 
a new edition oi his works at the time of his death. He 
had just distributed to his friends some copies of the 
Ethic Epistles, and in those copies the Atossa appeared. 
Bolingbroke, to whom Pope had left his unpublished 
papers, discovered it, and immediately identified it with 
the duchess, who (it must be noticed) was still alive. He 
wrote to Marchmont, one of Pope's executors, that there 
could be "no excuse for Pope's design of publishing it 
after the favour you and I know." This is further 
explained by a note added in pencil by Marchmont's 
executor, " 1000Z. " and the son of this executor, who pub- 
lished the Marchmont papers, says that this was the favour 
received by Pope from the duchess. This, however, is 
far from proving a direct bribe. It is, in fact, hardly 
conceivable that the duchess and Pope should have made 
such a bargain in direct black and white, and equally in- 
conceivable that two men like Bolingbroke and March- 
mont should have been privy to such a transaction, and 
spoken of it in such terms. Bolingbroke thinks that the 
favour received laid Pope under an obligation, but evi- 
dently does not think that it implied a contract. Mr. Dilke 
has further pointed out that there are many touches in the 
character which distinctly apply to the Duchess of Buck- 
ingham, with whom Pope had certainly quarrelled, and 
which will not apply to the Duchess of Marlborough, 
who had undoubtedly made friends with him during the 
last years of his life. Walpole again tells a story, partly 
confirmed by Warton, that Pope had shown the cha- 
racter to each duchess ("Warton says only to Marl- 
borough), saying that it was meant for the other. The 
Duchess of Buckingham, he says, believed him ; the other 
had more sense and paid him 1000Z. to suppress it. 


"Walpole is no trustworthy authority ; but the coincidence 
implies at least that such a story was soon current. 

The most probable solution must conform to these data. 
Pope's Atossa was a portrait which would fit either lady, 
though it would be naturally applied to the most famous. 
It seems certain also that Pope had received some favours 
(possibly the 1000?. on some occasion unknown) from the 
Duchess of Marlborough, which was felt by his friends to 
make any attack upon her unjustifiable. We can scarcely 
believe that there should have been a direct compact of the 
kind described. If Pope had been a person of duly sen- 
sitive conscience he would have suppressed his work. 
But to suppress anything that he had written, and espe- 
cially a passage so carefully laboured, was always agony 
to him. He preferred, as we may perhaps conjecture, to 
settle in his own mind that it would fit the Duchess of 
Buckingham, and possibly introduced some of the touches 
to which Mr. Dilke refers. He thought it sufficiently 
disguised to be willing to publish it whilst the person 
with whom it was naturally identified was still alive. 
Had she complained, he would have relied upon those 
touches, and have equivocated as he equivocated to Hill 
and Chandos. He always seems to have fancied that he 
could conceal himself by very thin disguises. But he 
ought to have known, and perhaps did know, that it 
would be immediately applied to the person who had con- 
ferred an obligation. From that guilt no hypothesis can 
relieve him ; but it is certainly not proved, and seems, on 
the whole, improbable that he was so base as the con- 
cessions of his biographers would indicate. 



THE last satires were published in 1738. Six years of life 
still remained to Pope ; his intellectual powers were still 
vigorous, and his pleasure in their exercise had not ceased. 
The only fruit, however, of his labours during this period 
was the fourth book of the Dunciad. He spent much 
time upon bringing out new editions of his works, and 
upon the various intrigues connected with the Swift cor- 
respondence. But his health was beginning to fail. The 
ricketty framework was giving way, and failing to answer 
the demands of the fretful and excitable brain. In the 
spring of 1744 the poet was visibly breaking up; he 
suffered from dropsical asthma, and seems to have made 
matters worse by putting himself hi the hands of a noto- 
rious quack a Dr. Thomson. The end was evidently near 
as he completed his fifty-sixth year. Friends, old and 
new, were often in attendance. Above all, Bolingbroke, 
the venerated friend of thirty years' standing; Patty 
Blount, the woman whom he loved best ; and the excel- 
lent Spence, who preserved some of the last words of the 
dying man. The scene, as he saw it, was pathetic; 
perhaps it is not less pathetic to us, for whom it has 
another side as of grim tragic humour. 

Three weeks before his death Pope was sending off 

en. ix.] THE END. 207 

copies of the Ethic Epistles apparently with the Atossa 
lines to his friends. "Here I am, like Socrates," he 
said, " dispensing my morality amongst my friends just as 
I am dying." Spence watched him as anxiously as his 
disciples watched Socrates. He was still sensible to kind- 
ness. Whenever Miss Blount came in, the failing spirits 
rallied for a moment. He was always saying something 
kindly of his friends, " as if his humanity had outlasted 
his understanding." Bolinghroke, when Speuce made the 
remark, said that he had never known a man with so 
tender a heart for his own friends or for mankind. " I 
have known him," he added, "these thirty years, and 
value myself more for that man's love than " and his 
voice was lost in tears. At moments Pope could still be 
playful. " Here I am, dying of a hundred good symp- 
toms," he replied to some nattering report, but his 
mind was beginning to wander. He complained of seeing 
things as through a curtain. " What's that ? " he said, 
pointing to the air, and then, with a smile of great plea- 
sure, added softly, " 'twas a vision." His religious senti- 
ments still edified his hearers. " I am so certain," he 
said, " of the soul's being immortal, that I seem to feel it 
within me, as it were by intuition ;" and early one morn- 
ing he rose from bed and tried to begin an essay upon 
immortality, apparently in a state of semi-delirium. On his 
last day he sacrificed, as Chesterfield rather cynically 
observes, his cock to ^Esculapius. Hooke, a zealous Ca- 
tholic friend, asked him whether he would not send for 
a priest. " I do not suppose that it is essential," said 
Pope, " but it will look right, and I heartily thank you for 
putting me in mind of it." A priest was brought, and 
Pope received the last sacraments with great fervour and 
resignation. Next day, on May 30th, 1744, he died so 

208 POPE. [CHAP. 

peacefully that his friends could not determine the exact 
moment of death. 

It was a soft and touching end ; and yet we must once 
more look at the other side. Warburton and Boling- 
broke both appear to have been at the side of the dying 
man, and before very long they were to be quarrelling 
over his grave. Pope's will showed at once that his 
quarrels were hardly to end with his death. He had 
quarrelled, though the quarrel had been made up, with the 
generous Allen, for some cause not ascertainable, except 
that it arose from the mutual displeasure of Mrs. Allen 
and Miss Blount. It is pleasant to notice that, in the 
course of the quarrel, Pope mentioned Warburton, in a 
letter to Miss Blount, as a sneaking parson; but War- 
burton was not aware of the flash of sarcasm. Pope, as 
Johnson puts it, " polluted his will with female resent- 
ment." He left a legacy of 150Z. to Allen, being, as he 
added, the amount received from his friend for himself 
or for charitable purposes ; and requested Allen, if he 
should refuse the legacy for himself, to pay it to the 
Bath Hospital. Allen adopted this suggestion, saying 
quietly that Pope had always been a bad accountant, and 
would have come nearer the truth if he had added a 
cypher to the figures. 

Another fact came to light, which produced a fiercer out- 
burst. Pope, it was found, had printed a whole edition 
(1500 copies) of the Patriot King, Bolingbroke's most 
polished work. The motive could have been nothing but 
a desire to preserve to posterity what Pope considered to 
be a monument worthy of the highest genius, and was so 
far complimentary to Bolingbroke. Bolingbroke, how- 
ever, considered it as an act of gross treachery. Pope 
had received the work on condition of keeping it strictly 

tt.] THE END. 209 

private, and showing it to only a few friends. More- 
over, he had corrected it, arranged it, and altered or 
omitted passages according to his own taste, which natu- 
rally did not suit the author's. In 1749 Bolingbroke 
gave a copy to Mallet for publication, and prefixed an 
angry statement to expose tiie breach of trust of " a man 
on whom the author thought he could entirely depend." 
Warburton rushed to the defence of Pope and the demo- 
lition of Bolingbroke. A savage controversy followed, 
which survives only in the title of one of Bolingbroke's 
pamphlets, A Familiar Epistle to the most Impudent 
Man living a transparent paraphrase for Warburton. 
Pope's behaviour is too much of a piece with previous 
underhand transactions, but scarcely deserves further con- 

A single touch remains. Pope was buried, by his own 
directions, in a vault in Twickenham church, near the 
monument erected to his parents. It contained a simple 
inscription ending with the words "Parentibus bene meren- 
tibus filius fecit" To this, as he directed in his will, 
was to be added simply " et sibi." This was done; but 
seventeen years afterwards the clumsy Warburton erected 
in the same church another monument to Pope himself, 
with this stupid inscription. Poeta loquitur. 

For one who ivould not be buried in Westminster Abbey. 
Heroes and kings, your distance keep ! 
In peace let one poor poet sleep 
Who never flatter'd folks like 700 ; 
Let Horace blush and Virgil too. 

Most of us can tell from experience how grievously our 
posthumous ceremonials often jar upon the tenderest 
feelings of survivors. Pope's valued friends seem to have 
done their best to surround the last scene of his life with 


210 POPE. [CH. ix. 

painful associations ; and Pope, alas ! was an unconscious 
accomplice. To us of a later generation it is impossible 
to close this strange history without a singular mixture 
of feelings. Admiration for the extraordinary literary 
talents, respect for the energy which, under all disadvan- 
tages of health and position, turned these talents to the 
best account ; love of the real tender-heartedness which 
formed the basis of the man's character ; pity for the many 
sufferings to which his morbid sensitiveness exposed him ; 
contempt for the meannesses into which he was hurried ; 
ridicule for the insatiable vanity which prompted his most 
degrading subterfuges; horror for the bitter animosities 
which must have tortured the man who cherished them 
even more than his victims are suggested simultaneously 
by the name of Pope. As we look at him in one or other 
aspect, each feeling may come uppermost in turn. The 
most abiding sentiment when we think of him as a 
literary phenomenon is admiration for the exquisite skill 
which enabled him to discharge a function, not of the 
highest kind, with a perfection rare in any department 
of literature. It is more difficult to say what will be 
the final element in our feeling about the man. Let us 
hope that it may be the pity which, after a certain 
lapse of years, we may be excused for conceding to the 
victim of moral as well as physical diseases. 


Addison, Joseph, 14, 25, 30, 39, 
40, 41, 46, 47. 48, 49, 50, 52-60, 
82, 90, 96, 100, 101, 111, 128, 
133, 148, 177, 181, 183, 202 

Allen, Ralph, 146, 152, 179, 208 

Amory, 137, 138 

Analogy (Butler), 172 

Andromaque (Racine), 50 

Appius and Virginhis (Dennis), 

Arbuthnot, Dr., 89, 112, 113, 114, 
116, 193 

" Ariel," 42, 43 

Aristarchus, Ricardus, 135 

Arnall, 122, 123, 124 

" Atossa," 202, 204, 205, 207 

Atterbury, 7, 61, 112, 122, 133, 
160, 174, 181 

" Atticus," 60, 202 

Ayre, William, v. 

Bacon, Lord, 165 

Bath, 83, 84, 89 

Bathos, treatise on, 116, 117, 122, 

Bathurst, Lord, 85, 88, 91, 97, 

100, 126, 129, 130, 165, 191, 


Baviad and Mceviad (Gifford), 199 
Beggars' Opera (Gay), 113 
Bentley, 64, 112, 133, 134 
Berkeley, 174, 191 
Binfield, 2, 13, 31, 83, 85 
Blackmore, 117 
Blount, Edward, 19 

Blount, Lister, 9, 106 

Blount, Martha, 9, 11, 84, 99, 
106-110, 195, 203, 206, 207, 

Blount, Teresa, 9, 84, 106-108 

Boileau, 25, 29, 73, 118 

Bolingbroke, 49, 61, 62, 82, 86, 
96, 100, 115, 134, 147, 149, 
150, 156, 157, 158, 159-161, 
164, 165-169, 171, 172, 175, 
176, 177, 179, 180, 182, 183, 
190, 191, 194, 195, 204, 206, 
207, 208, 209 

Bossu, 25, 40 

Boswell, 165 

Bowles, vi., 35, 147, 200 note 

Brebceuf, 13 

Bridgeman, 86 

Broome, 77-80, 117 

Browne, Sir Thomas, 168 

Buckingham, Duchess of, 204, 205 

Buckingham, Duke of, 23, 192 

"Bufo,"96, 200, 202 

Burke, Edmund, 97 

Burlington, Lord, 59, 85, 126, 
142, 183, 200 

Butler, Bishop, 172, 175 

Button's Coffee-house, 33, 47, 51, 
55, 56, 61 

Byron, Lord, vi., 21, 64, 189 
note, 199 

Campbell, Thomas, vi. 
Candide (Voltaire), 172 
Canons, 200, 201 




Carey, Henry, 51 
Caroline, Queen, 85, 88 
Carruthers, R, vi., 155, 203 
Caryll, John, vi., 9, 18, 39, 49, 

84, 108, 140, 147, 155 
Cato (Addison), 48, 49, 52, 53 
Chandos, Duke of, 200, 202, 203, 


Chapman, 64, 71, 72 
Chartres, 168 
Chaucer, 8, 22, 33 
Chesterfield, Earl of, 207 
Chiswick, 85 
Cibber, 92 note, 134, 135 
Clarke, Samuel, 164 
Cleland, Major, 126 
Coleridge, S. T., 64 
Comte de Gdbalis, 39 
Concanen, 122, 123, 177 
Congreve, 15, 22, 23, 44, 77, 115, 


Cooper, Mrs. (Pope's godmother), 1 
Cooper's Hill (Denham), 31, 32 
Cope, Mrs., 35 

Country Wife (Wycherley), 15 
"Coverley, Sir Roger de," 50 
Cowley, 29, 32 
Cowper, Judith, 104 
Cowper, William, 65, 156, 197 
Craggs, James, 78, 96, 174 
Croker, J. W., vii. 
Cromwell, Henry, 11, 12, 13, 14, 

15, 19, 44, 100, 137, 138, 147, 


Crousaz, J. P., 176, 177, 178 
Cunningham, Peter, vii. 
Curll, 137, 138, 140-148, 150, 

156, 203 

Dacier, 64 
Dawley, 86, 90, 160 
Denham, Sir John, 31, 32 
Dennis, John, 30, 44, 45, 47, 52- 

54, 55, 81, 101, 114, 117, 123, 

129, 130, 138 
De Quincey, 36 
"Dick Distich, "92 
Dilke, C. W., vi., vii., 35, 52 note, 

155, 203 note, 204, 205 

Disney, 89 

Distressed Mother (Philips), 50 

Dryden, John, 6, 10, 12, 15, 22, 

23, 25, 29, 31, 44, 45, 64, 69, 

121, 123, 190 
Dublin, 125, 126 
Dunciad, 7, 79, 85, 105 note, 

111, 118-136, 139, 141, 142, 

147, 149, 159, 175, 179, 181, 

183, 189, 206 
Durfey, Tom, 13, 32 

Elegy to the Memory of an Un- 
fortunate Lady, 34-37 

Eloisa to Abelard, 34-38, 107, 

Elwin's edition of Pope, vii., 19 
note, 137 note, 149 note, 155 

Englefields, the, 11 

English Bards and Scotch 
Reviewers (Byron), 199 

Epilogue to the Satires, 95, 184, 
186, 194, 196, 200, 201, 

Epistles, 181-205 ; to Addison, 
183 ; to Arbuthnot (Prologue to 
the Satires), 43, 88, 96, 106, 
114, 120, 183, 184, 186, 187, 
194, 196, 200 ; to Bathurst, of 
the use of riches. 183, 191 ; to 
Burlington, on taste, (use of 
riches), 183, 200 ; Characters of 
men, 183 ; Characters of women, 
183, 185, 202 ; Ethic Epistles, 
182, 183, 184, 185, 204, 207 

Erasmus, 29, 174 

Essayon_Criicism,7, 25-28, 30, 

'"44, 4736, 174, 194 

Essay on Man, 131, 161-173, 176, 

~TS2TWTC9, 191 

Eustathius, 78 

Familiar Epistle to the most 
Impudent Man living (Boling- 
broke), 209 

Farewell to London, 83 

Faulkner, 150, 151 

Fenelon, 174 

Fenton, Elijah, 78, 79 



Fermor, Miss, 38, 42 
Fielding's " Allworthy," 146 
Fortescue, 130 
Frederick, Priuce of Wales, 85, 

86, 90 
Freeholder, The (Addison), 59 

Garth, 22, 23, 82, 174, 200 

Gay, 11, 81, 102, 108, 112, 113, 

114, 115, 116, 138, 190 
Gentleman's Magazine, 131 
George II., 85, 186 
Gibbon, 64 

Gifford's Baviad and Mceviad, 199 
Gildon, 59, 81, 123, 124 
Gilliver, 145 
Goldsmith, 199 
Granville, G., Lord Lansdowne, 

22, 24, 33 

Gray, Thomas, 6, 64, 132, 133, 156 
Grub Street, 106, 124, 137, 175 
Grub Street Journal, 130, 131, 141 
Ouardian, The, 32, 47, 48, 50, 51, 

Gulliver's Travels (Swift), 114 

Hadrian's verses to his soul, 48 

Halifax, Earl of, 22, 96, 199, 200, 

Handel, 127 

Harcourt, Lord, 89, 96, 102 

Hazlitt, William, 36, 40 

Hervey, Lord, 105, 106, 183, 186 

Hill, Aaron, 98 note, 127-129, 
203, 205 

Hobbes, 29 

Homer, (Chapman) 64, 71, 72 ; 
(Ogilby) 5, 7, 64 ; (Pope) 10, 
21, 22, 56, 57, 59, 61-80, 81, 
83, 85, 89, 92, 93, 96, 97, 99, 114, 
133, 200 ; (Tickell) 56-59, 72 

" Honeycomb, Will," 12, 50 

Hooke, 207 

Horace, 25, 182, 183, 185, 186 

Horace, Imitations of, 104, 183. 
184, 185, 186, 194 

Howard, Mrs., Lady Suffolk, 85, 

Hughes, 34 

Hume, David, 191 
Hutchinson, John, 174 

Hay, Lord, 142 

Iliad (Pope), 56, 57, 61-77, 81, 

83, 89, 92, 200 
Imitations of Horace, 104, 183, 

184, 185, 186, 194 
Initial Correspondence, 144 

Jervas, 55, 88, 89, 142 
John Buncle (Amory), 137 
Johnson, Samuel, v., vi., 11, 17, 24, 
27, 31, 35, 48, 56, 64, 80, 90, 
91, 92, 93, 94, 96, 105, 106, 
109, 113, 114, 118, 126, 127, 
132, 133, 146, 147, 165, 199, 
200, 201, 208 
Jones, Inigo, 124 

Keats, John, 71 
Kennet, Bishop, 61 
Kent, William, 86 
King, Archbishop, 164 
Kneller, Sir G., 103 

La Bruyere, 191 

Lansdowne, Lord, 22, 24, 33 

Law, William, 191 

Leibnitz, 164, 176 

Lessing, 176 

Lintot, 52, 53, 62, 64, 89, 138 

Lintot's Miscellany, 39 

Locke, John, 5, 29, 164, 169 

London, 4, 83, 85, 88, 125, 126 

Longinus, 73 

Lyttelton, 195 

Macaulay, Lord, 17, 46, 59, 196 
Mackintosh, 36 
Mallet, 165, 166, 177, 209 
Mansfield, Lord, 179 
Marchmont, 195, 204 
Marlborough, Duchess of, 203, 204 


Marlborongh, Duke of, 49 
Mawson's New Buildings, 85 
Merope (Voltaire), 127 
Messiah (Pope), 47 



Milbourn, 123 

Milton, John, 10, 24, 29, 31, 67, 

73, 112, 162, 177, 189 note, 190 
Miscellanies, 79, 116, 117 
Montagu, Edward Wortley, 101, 

Montagu, Lady Mary Wortley, 50, 

59, 101-106, 107, 129, 138, 183, 


Moor Park, 2 

Moore-Smythe, James, 129, 130 
Murray, William, Lord Mansfield, 


Narrative of the Frenzy of John 

Dennis, 52 
Nugent, 154 

Ode on St. Cecilia's Day, 197 
Odyssey (Pope), 62, 63, 77-80, 111 
Ogilby's Homer, 5, 7, 64 
Oldmixon, 122 
Orrery, Lord, 78, 137 note, 148 

note, 149, 151, 152, 153, 155 
Ovid, 7, 22 

Oxford, 89, 90 ; University, 179 
Oxford, Earl of, 61, 62, 91, 96, 

126, 139, 140, 142, 144 

Paraell, 82, 112 

Pascal, 165, 168 

Pastorals, 11, 22-24 

Patriot King (Bolingbroke), 208 

Pattison, Mark, 166, 169 

Peterborough, Earl of, 85, 97, 100, 

Petre, Lord, 38 

Philips, Ambrose, 23, 46, 50-52, 
54, 55, 114, 117, 138 

Pitt, 179 

Plain Dealer (Wycherley), 15 

Pollio (Virgil), 47 

Polly (Gay), 113 

Pop upon Pope, A, 105 note, 129 

Pope, Alex., his father and mother, 
1 ; birth, 1 ; childhood, 2 ; home 
at Binfield, 2 ; a Roman Catholic, 
3 ; education, 4-7 ; early read- 
ing, 6 ; attempts an epic poem, 

7 ; his literary ambition, 8 5 
early acquaintances, 9-11 ; letters 
to Cromwell, 12-13 ; friendship 
and quarrel with Wycherley, 15- 
20 ; sees Dryden, 15 ; rapid rise 
to fame, 21 ; early literary efforts, 
22 ; the Pastorals, 22-24 ; Essay 
on Criticism, 25-28 ; Windsor 
Forest, 31-33 ; Temple of Fame, 
33 ; Elegy to Memory of an Un- 
fortunate Lady, 34 - 37 ; Eloisa 
to Abelard, 34-38 '^Eapeof the 
-oc&,_3j!;4j} j Deimis and Pope", 
41^45 ; introduced to Addison, 
47 ; his Messiah sent to Steele ; 
contributes to the Guardian, 47 ; 
writes prologue to Addison's 
Oato, 47 ; attacks Philips in the 
Guardian, 51 ; quarrel with 
Dennis, 52 -54 ; coolness be- 
tween Pope and Addison, 54-56 ; 
Pope and Tickell, 56-58 ; quarrel 
with Addison, 58-60 ; verses on 
Addison, 59-60 ; makes acquaint- 
ance of Swift, Oxford, Boling- 
broke, Atterbury, 61 ; subscrip- 
tions to Iliad and Odyssey, 62- 
63 ; methods of work, 63 ; 
success of Iliad, 64 ; publication 
of Iliad, 77 ; edition of Shake- 
speare, 7 7 ; Odyssey projected with 
Broome and Fenton, 77 ; unfair 
treatment of Broome and Fenton, 
78-79 ; his profit on the Odyssey, 
79 ; makes acquaintance of 
Spence, 80 ; his friends, 82, 95- 
97 ; Faretvell to London, 83 ; 
moves to Twickenham, 85 ; his 
neighbours, garden and grotto, 85- 
87 ; death of father and mother, 
99 ; friendship and quarrel with 
Lady Mary W. Montagu, 101- 
106 ; Imitations of Horace, 104 ; 
attack on Lord Hervey, 106 ; 
the Blounts, 106-109 ; Scriblerus 
Club, 111-112 ; ThreeHours after 
Marriage, 114 ; parting with 
Swift, 115-116; Miscellanies, 
116-117; Dunciad, 118-136; 



Pope and Hill, 127-129 ; quarrel 
with Gibber, 134-135 ; letters 
to Cromwell published by Cuiil, 
137 ; Wycherley correspondence, 
139 ; transactions with Curll, 
140-147 ; Initial Correspondence, 
144 ; Pope's correspondence 
published, 146 ; the Swift corre- 
spondence, 147-155; connection 
with Bolingbroke, 159 - 160 ; 
Essay on Man, 161 ; friendship 
with Warburton, 178-179 ; Ethic 
Epistles, 182-183 ; Imitations of 
Horace, 183-184; Epistle to 
Arbuthnot, 183 ; Epilogue to 
Satires, 184 ; attack on Halifax, 
199 - 200 ; offends Duke of 
Chandos, 200-201 ; lines on 
"Atossa," 202-205 ; illness and 
death, 206-207 

His physical weakness, 2, 4, 
13-14, 91-93 ; philosophical and 
religious^ beliefs^ V^, 163, 172~^ 
20T; his 

10, 29, 196-197 ; coarseness, 14, 
118-119 ; vanity and untruth- 
fulness, 18, 62, 128, 138, 150, 
154, 157-158, 175, 187-188, 
210 ; aphorisms and quotable 
lines, 27, 37, 189-192 ; suaJitie.s 
of his poetry.27, 74-75^80, _16_9- 
170," 190-199~-'Tri3 cTassicalisjn^ Smyth 
29-30; satire, 40-41, 120, 193. S 
20l-20'2; opinion of women, 40-. 
42 ; artificial diction, 67-70 ; 
love of gardening, 86 - 88, of 
riding, 89 ; his social qualities, 
88, 90-91, 115 ; appearance and 
personal traits, 92-94 ; income, 
94 ; affection for parents, 98- 
100, 187-188 ; Pope as a lover, 

Pope, Alex, (father), 1-4, 7, 99 

Pope, Mrs. (mother), 1, 99-100, 

Prologue to Satires. See Epistles 

"P. T.," 140-141, 143-146, 149 

Queensberry, Duchess of, 113 

Racine's Andromaque, 50 

Badc.liffe, Dr., 5 ___ 

Jtaj2e_othe Lock, 38-43. ISlTI^ 
Rehearsal, The (Gibber), 134 
Esmond, 105 note 
Richardson, Jonathan, 99, 12! 


Rochefoucauld, 165, 191 
Roscoe, vi, 200 
Roscommon, 25, 29 
Rousseau, 176 
Rowe, 13, 23, 82 
Ruffhead, Owen, v. 

St. John. See Bolingbroke 
Sandys' Ovid, 7 
"Sappho," 104, 106, 202 
Satires, Prologiw to. See Episth 
Satires, Epilogue to, 95, 184, 181 

194, 196, 200, 201, 206 
Savage, 126, 127 
Scriblerus Club, 111, 114 
"Scriblerus, Martinus," 111, 125 
Searle, John, 88 

Settle, 121, 123 

Shaftesbury, 164, 167, 168, 173 
Shakespeare, 121, 189 note 
Shakespeare, Pope's edition o 

77, 117 

Sheffield, 25, 29, 97 
Smedley, 122, 123, 129 

e, James Moore-, 129, 130 
mythe, Rev. R., 141, 143, 14 


Somers, 22 
Southcote, Abbe", 5 
Spectator, The, 12, 40, 47, 48, 5 

Spence, vi., 6, 7, 25, 56, 80, 9 

106 note, 130, 174 note, 18 

195, 206, 207 
Spenser, Edmund, 6 
"Sporus," 106, 119 
Stanton Harcourt, 89, 102 
Statius, 12, 22, 32 

Steele, 14, 46-48, 50, 51, 62, 5i 

55, 57, 81, 148 
Stella, 61, 109, 115 
Suffolk,, 85, 104 



urrey, Earl of, 32 

wift, 2, 46, 52, 24, 55, 61, 62, 
82, 85, 90, 92, 93, 100, 109, 
111, 112, 114, 115, 116, 117, 
118, 119, 120, 122, 124, 125, 
131 note, 133, 139, 147-155 
156, 157, 159, 160, 161, 163, 
165 note, 174, 182, 190, 191, 
194, 195, 203, 206 

We of a Tub (Swift), 117 

temple, Sir W., 2 

J emple of Fame, 33 

hackeray, 132 

heobald, 117, 121, 122, 135, 

138, 177 

homas, Moy, 102 note, 103 note 
Tiomson, Dr., 206 
Tiree Hours after Marriage, 114, 
I 134 
l ickell, 33, 46, 56-58, 60, 72, 81, 

<'illotson, 29 

imon's villa, 86, 201 

indal, 132, 175 

itcomb, 84 

olaud, 132, 175 

onson, 22 

onson's Miscellany, 23 

'own Eclogues, 138 

rumbull, Sir William, 10, 14, 
22, 33 

urner, William (Pope's grand 
father), 1 

wickenham, 85-88, 103, 107 
114, 115, 153, 178, 195, 209 

'wyford, 4 

r nfortunate Lady, Elegy to th 
Memory of, 34-37 

Sanity of Human T 

(Johnson), 199 
Virgil's Pollio, 4.7 
Voiture, 13 
Voltaire, 5, 25 note, 127, 

172, 175, 176, 199 

Wakefield, G., 63 

Wales, Frederick, Prince o 

16, 95 
Waller, 6 
Walpole, Horace, 85, 86, 

156, 158, 203, 204, 205 
Walpole, Sir Robert, 5, 9 

122, 160,194, 195 
Walsh, William, 10, 22, 23, 
Warburton, v., 122, 125, 13! 
134, 135, 136, 156, 164 
177-180, 201, 208, 209 
Ward, 131 
Warton, v., vi., 6, 118, 16f 

169, 196, 203, 204 
Warwick, Lord, 59, 135 
Welsted, 129 
Wesley, 191 
Weston, Mrs., 35 
Whiteway, Mrs., 150, 153 
Will's Coffee-house, 15, 33 
Windsor Forest, 30 note, 

48, 61 

Wollaston, 164, 168 
Woodward, 112, 114 
Wordsworth, William, 32, I 

189 note 

Worsdale, James, 145 
Wren, 123 

Wycherley, 11, 14-20, 21, 
31, 44, 83, 100, 139, 14< 
145, 147, 156 

Young, Edward, 198, 199 



Printed ly R. & R. CLAKK, LIMITED, Edinburgh. 



PR Stephen, (Sir) Leslie 

3633 Alexander Pope. 

c Library ed.-,