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ALEXANDER Pope was born in London, May | completion of the “Iliad," he began a similar 21, 1638. He was deformed from birth, and of translation of the “Odyssey." But here his ar. small stature; and these circumstances, together | tistic success was not as great; for he hired the with a natural irritability, had an unhappy etfect | help of one or two professional rhymers, whose which is observable in many of his writings. | work was noticeably inferior to his own. . His parents were Roman Catholics, and his early From the profits of these translations, about education was conducted by priests. His father £8,000, Pope purchased a house and five acres had acquired a fortune in trade, and retired to of ground at Twickenham, on the Thames, Binfield, in Windsor Forest, where the poet whither be retired with his parents, and divided spent his youth and early manhood. He had an | his time between literature and landscape-garintense fondness for books; and though perhaps | dening. He constructed there a grotto, a temnot a very accurate scholar, he read widely and ple, and a miniature wilderness, and his house took especial delight in Ogilby's translation of became famous among the poets, artists, and Homer and Sandy's translation of Ovid's “Met wits of the day. amorphoses." He also acquired a knowledge In a collection of his works published in 1717 of French and Italian.
first appeared his “Elegy on an Unfortunate Pope was a poet from his boyhood. His little Lady” and “Eloisa to Abelard," which are at poem commencing:
once the most characteristic and the most genu“Happy the man whose wish and care
inely poetical of his poems. The question has
been raised, " Was Pope a poet?” And one A few paternal acres bound,”
who considers only his satires and his moral written at the age of thirteen, is quite as good essays may well pause at least before answering as many respectable poets produce at any age. it. But the epistle of Eloisa, the Elegy, and a And his early reading of poetry in foreign lan- | few kindred productions make us regret that guages was always accompanied with attempts one who was so truly a poet did not write less at translation and imitation. His pastorals and philosophy and more poetry. some translations were first printed in Tonson's His next work was to edit Shakespeare, in Miscellanies in 1709, where they commanded which he seems to have failed completely. At admiration for their melodious versification. least, the edition has not survived, and his bi. They are said to have been written several years ographers do not put it down to his credit. before they were published.
Like all illustrious men, Pope had his detract. In 1711 he wrote his “Essay on Criticism," ors; and as he was peculiarly sensitive to what. which won him considerable reputation; as in- ever touched his dignity or his reputation, and deed it deserved to, being a remarkable perform. his age is noted for the bitterness of its literary ance in its day and the starting point of his new jealousies and strifes, it may readily be imagined school of poetry. The next year he published that he could not possess such satirical powers " The Rape of the Lock," which is generally ac- without sooner or later turning them upon his counted his best poem in respect of invention, contemporaries. This was accomplished in “The It was avowedly written for the purpose of Dunciad," the first three books of which were laughing together again two of his friends who published in 1728. It is a mock heroic, in bad fallen out in consequence of the petty theft which he holds up to ridicule numberless poet. which the poem so elaborately describes. The asters and critics, and in fact every one who had machinery of the sylphs was an after-thought, ever offended him in any way. If they are not added in a later edition. .
literally “ damned to everlasting fame, it is be" Windsor Forest” was published in 1713, and cause fame ceases to be fame when it has to be the same year he issued proposals for a transla explained in elaborate foot-notes. The satire tion of the “Iliad,” to be published by sub- | was a great success in its day, but it is no longer scription. In 1715 he published “The Temple worth printing, as most of the victims were so of Fame," and set to work upon the “Iliad.” | obscure that, to understand the allusions, one The translation was issued in volumes contain must read more notes than text. Furthermore, ing four books each, and the enterprise was a | no satire can live by sheer force of malignity; grand success. Every scholar knows that Ho. | it must have the spirit of humor as well as the mer's “Iliad" is one thing and Pope's “Iliad” body of abuse, or it will speedily share the tomb is quite another thiog; but that does not pre- of its victims. Tent the latter from being a fine poem. On the Between 1731 and 1739 Pope published a scries of satires, imitations of Horace, and moral | He died on May 30, 1744, and was buried in the and philosophical essays. The most celebrated church at Twickenham, where a monument was of these is the “Essay on Man," which has many erected to him by Bishop Warburton, the legatee fine passages and descriptions, though its phi- and commentator of his writings. losophy (which has been attributed to Boling. It is difficult to estimate Pope's character; broke) has ceased to be a theme of discussion. because his life was subject to so many disturb. In 1737 he put forth a volume of his literary ing influerces which were calculated to bring correspondence, full of gossip and bits of de-into notice traits that may not have been his scription and criticism. But it was discovered strongest or most natural. It has been remarked that the pretended letters were spurious—that that his life was "one long disease," and Ches. is, they had not been written and sent at the terfield declares that he was “the most irritable time of their dates, but were simply manufact- of all the genus irritabile vatum, offended with ured in a lump for publication.
trifles, and never forgetting or forgiving them." A fourth book of “The Dunciad" was issued, Yet he seems to have been as sincere and gener. and then the author made a careful revision of ous in his friendships as he was tenacious of his all his works, which closed his literary labors. I enmities.
| Or virgins visited by angel-powers, THE RAPE OF THE LOCK. With golden crowns and wreaths of heavenly flowers
| Hear, and believe! thy own importance know, AN HEROI-COMICAL POEM.
Nor bound thy narrow views to things below.
Some secret truths, from learned pride conceal'd, Written in the Year 1712.
To maids alone and children are reveald;
What, though no credit doubting wits may give.
The fair and innocent shall still believe.
Know then, unnumber'd spirits round thee fly,
The light militia of the lower sky:
These, though unseen, are ever on the wing,
Hang o'er the box, and hover round the ring. What dire offence from amorous causes springs, Think what an equipage thou hast in air, What mighty contesis rise from trivial things, And view with scorn two pages and a chair. I sing—this verse to Caryl, Muse! is due:
| As now your own, our beings were of old. This e'en Belinda may vouchsafe to view : And once inclos'd in woman's beauteous mould ; Slight is the subject, but not so the praise,
| Thence, by a soft transition, we repair If she inspire, and he approve my lays.
From earthly vehicles to these of air. Say what strange motive, goddess! could compel | Think not, when woman's transient breath is flee! A well-bred lord t' assault a gentle belle ?
That all her vanities at once are dead: O say what stranger cause, yet unexplor'd,
Succeeding vanities she still regards, Could make a gentle belle reject a lord ?
And though she plays no more, o'erlooks the card In tasks so bold, can little men engage? .
Her joy in gilded chariots, when alive, And in soft bosoms dwells such mighty rage ? And love of ombre, after death survive.
Sol through white curtains shot a timorous ray, For when the fair in all their pride expire, And ope'd those eyes that must eclipse the day: To their first elements their souls retire: Vow lap-dogs give themselves the rousing shake, The sprites of fiery termagants in flame And sleepless lovers, just at twelve, awake: Mount up, and take a Salamander's name. Thrice rung the bell, the slipper knock'd the ground, Soft yielding minds to water glide away, And the press'd watch return'd a silver sound. And sip, with nymphs, their elemental tea. Belinda still her downy pillow prest,
The graver prude sinks downward to a Gnome, Her guardian Sylph prolong'd the balmy rest In search of mischief still on Earth to roam. "Twas he had summon'd to her silent bed
The light coquettes in Sylphs aloft repair, The morning dream that hover'd o'er her head. And sport and flutter in the fields of air. A youth more glittering than a birth-night beau “Know farther yet; whoever fair and chasto (That ev'n in slumber caus'd her cheek to glow) Rejects mankind, is by some Sylph embrac'd: Seem'd to her ear his winning lips to lay,
For, spirits, freed from mortal laws, with ease And thus in whispers said, or seem'd to say: Assume what sexes and what shapes they please
"Fairest of mortals, thou distinguish'd care What guards the purity of melting maids, Of thousand bright inhabitants of air!
In courtly balls, and midnight masquerades, If e'er one vision touch thy infant thought, Safe from the treacherous friend, the daring spark Of all the nurse and all the priest have taught; The glance by day, the whisper in the dark, Of airy elves by moonlight shadows seen,
When kind occasion prompts their warm desires. 'The silver token, and the circled green,
When music sofiens, and when dancing fires ?