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THE DYING CHRISTIAN TO HIS SOUL.
Vital spark of heavenly flame!
Hark! they whisper; Angels say,
The world recedes; it disappears!
With sounds seraphic ring:
O Death! where is thy Sting?
TO MR. ADDISON.
July 20, 1713.
I Am more joyed at your return than I should be at that of the sun, so much as I wish for him this melancholy wet season; but it is his fate too, like yours, to be displeasing to Owls and obscene animals, who cannot bear his lustre. What put me in mind of these night birds w.as John Dennis, who, I think, you are best revenged upon, as the Sun was in the fable upon these bats and beastly birds above-mentioned, only by shining on. I am so far from esteeming it any misfortune, that I congratulate you upon having your share in that, which all the great men and all the good men that ever lived have had their part of, Envy and Calumny. To be uncensured and to be obscure, is the same thing. You may conclude from what I here say, that it was never in my thoughts to have offered you my pen in any direct reply to such a Critic, but only in some little raillery; not in defence of you, but in contempt of him1. But indeed your opinion, that it is entirely to be neglected, would have been my own had it been my own case; but I felt more warmth here than I did when first I saw his book against myself (though indeed in two minutes it made me heartily merry). He has written against every thing the world has approved these many years. I apprehend but one danger from Dennis's disliking our sense, that it may make us think so very well of it, as to become proud and conceited, upon his disapprobation.
1 This relates to the paper occasioned by Dennis's Remarks upon Cato, called Dr. Norris's Narrative of the Frenzy of John Dennis. P.—A mean performance; but dictated by the most generous principle of Friendship: and meeting in the person defended, a heart incapable of the like exertion of virtue, was not received with that acknowledgment which such a service deserved. W.
The reflection cast on Mr. Addison in this note by Dr. Warburton, is much too harsh and indefensible.
I must not here omit to do justice to Mr. Gay, whose zeal in your concern is worthy a friend and honourer of you. He writ to me in the most pressing terms about it, though with that just contempt of the Critic that he deserves. I think in these days one honest man is obliged to acquaint another who are his friends; when so many mischievous insects are daily at work to make people of merit suspicious of each other; that they may have the satisfaction of seeing them looked upon no better than themselves.
FROM MR. ADDISON.
October 26, 1713.
I Was extremely glad to receive a letter from you, but more so upon reading the contents of it. The 2Work you mention, will, I dare say, very sufficiently recommend itself when your name appears with the proposals: and if you think I can any way contribute to the forwarding of them, you cannot lay a greater obligation upon me than by employing me in such an office. As I have an ambition of having it known that you are my friend, I shall be very proud of showing it by this, or any other instance. I question not but your Translation3 will enrich our Tongue and do honour to our Country; for I conclude of it already from those performances with
* The translation of the Iliad. P.
3 After this warm encouragement to our author to translate
the Iliad, how painful is it to bring one's mind to any thing like conviction, that Addison could encourage Tickell to publish a rival translation; and much more, that he himself could be the author of this very translation? which yet too many circumstances, alas! concur, to make us believe was really the case. Let us read and duly weigh the following statement of this delicate affair, as it is given by Dr. Kurd in his Discourse on the Life of Bishop Warburton lately published, page 59.
"To this translation are prefixed a Dedication, and AdverTisement. The latter is in these words—"I must inform the reader, that when I began this first book I had some thoughts of translating the whole Iliad: but had the pleasure of being diverted from that design, by finding the work was fallen into a much abler hand. I would not therefore be thought to have any other view in publishing this small specimen of Homer's Iliad, than to bespeak, if possible, the favour of the Public to a translation of Homer's Odysseys, wherein I have already made some progress."
"To the words in this advertisement—when I began this first look—Mr. Pope affixes this note—See the first line of the Dedica. tion.
"Turning to the dedication, we find it begins thus—" When I first entered upon this translation, I was ambitious of dedicating it to the late Lord Halifax—" over^ against which words is likewise, entered in Mr. Pope's hand, the following note, The translator was first known to him (Lord Halifax) four months before his death. He died in May 17'15.
"Now, from comparing these two notes together, one sees clearly how Mr. Pope reasoned on the matter. He concluded
from Tickell's saying, when he first entered on this translation,
that is, began this first book, he thought of dedicating his work to
Lord Halifax that he could not have entertained this thought,
if he had not at that time been known to Lord Halifax. But it was certain, it aeems, that Mr. Tickell was first known to that Lord only four months before his death, in May 1715. Whence it seemed to follow that this first book had been written within, or since that time.
"Admitting this conclusion to be rightly made by Mr. Pope,
which you have obliged the public. I would only have you consider how it may most turn to your advantage. Excuse my impertinence in this particular, which proceeds from my zeal for your ease and happiness. The work would cost you a great deal of Time, and, unless you undertake it, will, I am afraid,
it must indeed be allowed that he had much reason for his charge of insincerity on Mr. Addison, who, as a friend that had great influence with the translator, would not have advised, or even permitted, such a design to be entered upon and prosecuted by him at this juncture. But there seems not the least ground for such a conclusion. Lord Halifax was the great patron of wits and poets: and if Tickell had formed his design of translating the Iliad long before Mr. Pope was known to have engaged in that work, he might very well be supposed to think of dedicating it to this Meecenas, as much a stranger as he then was to him. Nothing is more common than such intentions in literary men; although Mr. Pope might be disposed to conduct himself, in such a case, with more delicacy and dignity.
"I see, then, no reason to infer from the premises, that Mr. Tickell began Ms first book but four months before Lord Halifax's death. For any thing that appears to the contrary, he might have begun, or even finished it four years before that event, and have only relinquished the thoughts of prosecuting his translation from the time that he found this work had fallen, as he says, into an abler, that is, Mr. Pope's hand.
"These passages, however, of the Advertisement and Dedication, reflected upon and compared together, furnished Mr. Pope, as I suppose, with the chief of those odd concurring circumstances, which, as we are told*, convinced him that this translation of the first book of the Iliad was published with Mr. Addison's participation, if not composed by him. If the work had been begun but four months before its appearance, it must have been at least by his allowance and participation: if before that time (Mr. Tickell's acquaintance with Lord Halifax not being of so early a date), it was, most probably, his own composition. And to this latter opinion, it seems, Mr. Pope inclined."
* In the notes on the Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot.