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Ammon's great son one shoulder had too high;
Such Ovid's nose; and "Sir! you have an eye.”-
Go on, obliging creatures, make me see
All that disgraced my betters, met in me.
Say for my comfort, languishing in bed,
"Just so immortal Maro held his head:"
And when I die, be sure you let me know
Great Homer died three thousand years ago.
Why did I write? what sin to me unknown
Dipp'd me in ink? my parents', or my own?
As yet a child, nor yet a fool to fame,

I lisp'd in numbers, for the numbers came.
I left no calling for this idle trade,

No duty broke, no father disobey'd.





with his usual humour, is true in fact: "I have observed that a reader seldom peruses a book with pleasure till he knows whether the writer of it be a black or fair man, of a mild or choleric disposition, married or a bachelor." What passages in Horace are more agreeable than when he tells us he was fat and sleek, "præcanum, solibus aptum," prone to anger, but soon appeased. And again, how pleasing the detail he gives of his way of life, the descriptions of his mule, his dinner, his supper, his furniture, his amusements, his walks, his time of bathing and sleeping, from the 105th line to the end of the sixth satire of the first book. And Boileau, in his tenth epistle, has done the same in giving many amusing particulars of his father, family, and fortunes.-Warton.

Ver. 118. "Sir! you have an eye."] It is remarkable that, amongst the compliments on his infirmities and deformities, he mentions his eye, which was fine, sharp, and piercing. It was done to intimate, that flattery was as odious to him when there was some ground for commendation, as when there was none.-Warburton.

Ver. 128. I lisp'd in numbers,]

From Ovid:


Sponte suâ carmen numeros veniebat ad aptos,

He was

Et quod conabar scribere, versus erat."-Warton. Ver. 130. no father disobey'd.] When Mr. Pope was yet a child, his father, though no poet, would set him to make English verses. pretty difficult to please, and would often send the boy back to new-turn them. When they were to his mind, he took great pleasure in them, and would say, These are good rhymes.- Warburton.

After ver. 124 in the MS.


But, friend, this shape, which you and Curll admire,
Came not from Ammon's son, but from my sire;
And for my head, if you'll the truth excuse,

I had it from my mother, not the muse.
Happy, if he, in whom these frailties join'd,
Had heir'd as well the virtues of the mind.

The muse but served to ease some friend, not wife,
To help me through this long disease, my life;
To second, ARBUTHNOT! thy art and care,
And teach, the being you preserved, to bear.

A. But why then publish? P. Granville the polite, And knowing Walsh, would tell me I could write; 136 Well-natured Garth inflamed with early praise, And Congreve loved, and Swift endured my lays; The courtly Talbot, Somers, Sheffield, read, Even mitred Rochester would nod the head, And St. John's self (great Dryden's friends before) With open arms received one poet more. Happy my studies, when by these approved! Happier their author, when by these beloved!



Ver. 135. But why then publish?] To the three first names that encouraged his earliest writings, he has added other friends, whose acquaintance with him did not commence till he was a poet of established reputation. From the many commendations which Walsh, and Garth, and Granville bestowed on his Pastorals, it may fairly be concluded how much the public taste has been improved, and with how many good compositions our language has been enriched since that time. When Gray published his exquisite Ode on Eton College, his first publication, little notice was taken of it but I suppose no critic can be found that will not place it far above Pope's Pastorals.-Warton.


That Gray's Ode on Eton College was received with indifference is certainly no proof of the improvement of the public taste; nor does there seem much propriety in commending it here, in order to depreciate Pope's Pastorals, to which it bears no resemblance.

Ver. 139. Talbot, &c.] All these were patrons or admirers of Mr. Dryden; though a scandalous libel against him, entitled, Dryden's Satire to his Muse, has been printed in the name of the Lord Somers, of which he was wholly ignorant.

These are the persons to whose account the author charges the publication of his first pieces: persons with whom he was conversant (and he adds beloved) at 16 or 17 years of age; an early period for such acquaintThe catalogue might be made yet more illustrious, had he not confined it to that time when he writ the Pastorals and Windsor Forest, on which he passes a sort of censure in the lines following:



While pure description held the place of sense," &c.-Pope. Every word and epithet here used is exactly characteristical, and peculiarly appropriated, with much art, to the temper and manner of each of the persons here mentioned; the elegance of Lansdown, the open free benevolence and candour of Garth, the warmth of Congreve, the difficulty of pleasing Swift, the very gesture (as I am informed) that Atterbury used when he was pleased, and the animated air and spirit of Bolingbroke. -Warton.

From these the world will judge of men and books,
Not from the Burnets, Oldmixons, and Cooks.

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




Ver. 146. Burnets, &c.] Authors of secret and scandalous history.— Pope.

Ver. 146. Burnets, Oldmixons, and Cooks.] By no means authors of the same class; though the violence of party might hurry them into the same mistakes. But if the first offended this way, it was only through an honest warmth of temper, that allowed too little to an excellent understanding. The other two, with very bad heads, had hearts still worse.— Warburton.


Ver. 148. While pure description held the place of sense?] He uses pure equivocally, to signify either chaste or empty; and has given in this line what he esteemed the true character of descriptive poetry, as it is called; a composition, in his opinion, as absurd as a feast made up of sauces. office of a picturesque imagination is to brighten and adorn good sense; so that to employ it only in description, is like children's delighting in a prism for the sake of its gaudy colours; which, when frugally managed and artfully disposed, might be made to unfold and illustrate the noblest objects in nature.-Warburton.

Ver. 150.] A painted meadow, or a purling stream, is a verse of Mr. Addison.-Pope.

Ver. 150. A painted mistress, or a purling stream.] Meaning the Rape of the Lock, and Windsor Forest.-Warburton.

Ver. 151. Yet then did Gildon] It is with difficulty we can forgive our author for upbraiding these wretched scribblers for their poverty and distresses, if we do not keep in our minds the grossly abusive pamphlets they published; and, even allowing this circumstance, we ought to separate rancour from reproof:

"Cur tam crudeles optavit sumere pœnas ?"-Warton.

Gildon was born at the village of Gillingham, near Shaftesbury, in Dorsetshire. Pope's "wishing him a dinner," is not exactly understood. The expressions are thought unfeeling, as meant to upbraid him with his poverty; but the truth is, Gildon in his essays says, his sole motive for writing was "necessity." It cannot be said, that it is cruel to" wish a man a dinner," who professes he writes to get one.

A few more words concerning this obscure writer may not be unacceptable. He was sent to Douay, to the English college of secular priests there, to be made a priest; but his inclinations led him another way. He came to London, spent his property, and endeavoured to repair his fortune by writing abusive pamphlets.-Bowles.

Ver. 153. Yet then did Dennis] I cannot help thinking that poor Dennis

If want provoked, or madness made them print,
I waged no war with Bedlam or the Mint.


Did some more sober critic come abroad;
If wrong, I smiled; if right, I kiss'd the rod.
Pains, reading, study, are their just pretence,
And all they want is spirit, taste, and sense.
Commas and points they set exactly right,
And 'twere a sin to rob them of their mite.
Yet ne'er one sprig of laurel graced these ribalds,
From slashing Bentley down to piddling Tibalds:



was hardly used. He was a scholar, had a liberal education, and had been, in his early youth, a companion of those who were distinguished for rank and literature. Being at first countenanced, and having a considerable share of learning and ingenuity, he was no doubt mortified and galled, to find the stream of popular applause turned almost exclusively towards one poet. On this account, his strictures, though often just, are marked with asperity and coarseness, as he was evidently chagrined at the success which he could not gain himself. Hence his coarse and contemptuous treatment of Addison's Cato, and Pope's Essay on Man; but we must admit that many of his observations were well founded, and that they evince considerable classical knowledge as well as shrewdness.-Bowles.

Ver. 163. Yet ne'er one sprig] Swift imbibed from Sir W. Temple, and Pope from Swift, an inveterate and unreasonable aversion and contempt for Bentley, whose admirable Boyle's Lectures, Remarks on Collins's Emendations of Menander and Callimachus, and Tully's Tuscul. Disp. ; whose edition of Horace, and, above all, Dissertations on the Epistles of Phalaris, (in which he gained the most complete victory over a whole army of wits,) all of them exhibit the most striking marks of accurate and extensive erudition, and a vigorous and acute understanding. He degraded himself much by his strange and absurd hypothesis of the faults which Milton's amanuensis introduced into that poem. But I have been informed that there was still an additional cause for Pope's resentment: that Atterbury, being in company with Bentley and Pope, insisted upon knowing the Doctor's opinion of the English Homer; and that, being earnestly pressed to declare his sentiments freely, he said, "The verses are good verses, but the work is not Homer; it is Spondanus." It may, however, be observed, in favour of Pope, that Dr. Clarke, whose critical exactness is well known, has not been able to point out above three or four mistakes in the sense throughout the whole Iliad. The real faults of that translation are of another kind: they are such as remind us of Nero's gilding a brazen statue of Alexander the Great, cast by Lysippus. Pope, in a letter which Dr. Rutherforth showed me at Cambridge in the year 1771, written to a Mr. Bridges at Fulham, mentions his consulting Chapman and Hobbes, and talks of " their authority, joined to the knowledge of my own imperfectness in the language, over-ruled me." These are the very words which I transcribed at the time.-Warton.

Ver. 163. these ribalds,] How deservedly this title is given to the genius of PHILOLOGY, may be seen by a short account of the manners of the modern Scholiasts.

When in these latter ages, human learning raised its head in the west,

Each wight who reads not, and but scans and spells,
Each word-catcher that lives on syllables,





and its tail, verbal criticism, was, of course, to rise with it, the madness of critics soon became so offensive, that the grave stupidity of the monks might appear the more tolerable evil. J. Argyropylus, a mercenary Greek, who came to teach school in Italy, after the sacking of Constantinople by the Turks, used to maintain that Cicero understood neither philosophy nor Greek while another of his countrymen, J. Lascaris by name, threatened to demonstrate that Virgil was no poet. Countenanced by such great examples, a French critic afterwards undertook to prove that Aristotle did not understand Greek, nor Titus Livius, Latin. It has been since discovered that Josephus was ignorant of Hebrew; and Erasmus so pitiful a linguist, that, Burman assures us, were he now alive, he would not deserve to be put at the head of a country school and even since, it has been found out that Pope had no invention, and is only a poet by courtesy. For though time has stripped the present race of pedants of all the real accomplishments of their predecessors, it has conveyed down this spirit to them, unimpaired; it being found much easier to ape their manners, than to imitate their science. However, those earlier RIBALDS raised an appetite for the Greek language in the west; insomuch, that Hermolaus Barbarus, a passionate admirer of it, and a noted critic, used to boast, that he had invoked and raised the devil, and puzzled him into the bargain, about the meaning of the Aristotelian ENTEAEXEIA. Another, whom Balzac speaks of, was as eminent for his Revelations; and was wont to say, that the meaning of such or such a verse in Persius, no one knew but GOD and himself. While the celebrated Pomponius Lætus, in excess of veneration for antiquity, became a real Pagan; raised altars to Romulus, and sacrificed to the Gods of Latium; in which he was followed by our countryman Baxter, in every thing but in the costliness of his sacrifices.

But if the Greeks cried down Čicero, the Italian critics knew how to support his credit. Every one has heard of the childish excesses into which the ambition of being thought CICERONIANS carried the most celebrated Italians of this time. They abstained from reading the Scriptures for fear of spoiling their style: Cardinal Bembo used to call the Epistles of St. Paul by the contemptuous name of Epistolaccias, great overgrown Epistles. But ERASMUS cured their frenzy by that master-piece of goodsense, his Ciceronianus. For which (in the way that lunatics treat their physicians) the elder Scaliger insulted him with all the brutal fury peculiar to his family and profession.

His sons Joseph aud Salmasius had indeed such endowments of nature and art, as might have raised modern learning to a rivalship with the ancient. Yet how did they and their adversaries tear and worry one another! The choicest of Joseph's flowers of speech were Stercus Diaboli, and Lutum stercore maceratum. It is true, these were lavished upon his enemies for his friends he had other things in store. In a letter to Thuanus, speaking of two of them, Clavius and Lipsius, he calls the first a monster of ignorance, and the other, a slave to the Jesuits, and an idiot. But so great was his love of sacred amity at the same time, that he says, I still keep up my correspondence with him, notwithstanding his idiotry, for it is my principle to be constant in my friendships-Je ne reste de luy escrire, nonobstant son idioterie, d'autant que je suis constant en amitié. The character he gives of his own chronology, in the same letter, is no less extraordinary : Vous vous pouvez assurer que nôtre Eusebe sera un trésor des marveilles de la doctrine chronologique. But this modest account of his own work, is nothing

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