« ZurückWeiter »
Of all mad creatures, if the learn'd are right, 105
is quite innocent:
One dedicates in high heroic prose,
friend. This prints my Letters, that expects a bribe, And others roar aloud, “ Subscribe, subscribe.” There are, who to my person pay
their court: I cough like Horace, and, tho' lean, am short; 116 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 fee, All that disgrac'd my Betters, met in me.
For song, for silence some expect a bribe ;
NOT E s. 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 fattery was as odious to him when there was some ground for commendation, as when there was none.
Say for my
my comfort, languishing in bed, Just so immortal Maro held his head :" And when I die, be sure you
let me know Great Homer dy'd three thousand years ago.
Why did I write? what sin to me unknown Dipt me in ink, my parents', or my own? 126 As
yet a child, nor yet a fool to fame, I lisp'd in numbers, for the numbers came.
After Ver. 124. in the MS.
But, Friend, this shape, which You and Curl * admire;
* Curl set up his head for a sign. † His Father was crookeda His Mother was much afflicted with head-achs,
NOT E S. Ver. 127. As yet a child, &c.] He used to say, that he began to write verses further back than he could remember. When he was eight years old, Ogilby's Homer fell in his way, and delighted him extremely; it was followed by Sandys' Ovid; and the raptures these then gave him were so strong, that he spoke of them with pleasure ever after. About ten, being at school at Hide-park-corner, where he was much neglected, and suffered to go to the Comedy with the greater boys, he turned the transactions of the Iliad into a play, made up of a number of speeches from Ogilby's translation, tacked together with verses of his own. He had the address to persuade the upper boys to act it; he even prevailed on Vol. IV.
I left no calling for this idle trade,
But why then publish? Granville the polite, 135
NOT E s.
the Master's Gardener to represent Ajax, and contrived to have all the actors dressed after the pictures in his favourite Ogilby. At twelve he went with his father into the Forest: and then got firft acquainted with the Writings of Waller, Spencer, and Dryden ; in the order I have named them. On the first sight of Dryden, he found he had what he wanted. His Poems were never out of his hands; they became his model; and from them alone he learnt the whole magic of his versification. This year he began an epic poem ; the same which Bp. Atterbury, long afterwards, persuaded him to burn. Besides this, he wrote, in those early days, a Comedy and Tragedy, the latter taken from a story in the legend of St. Genevieve. They both deservedly underwent the same fate. As he began his Pastorals soon after, he used to say pleasantly, that he had literally followed the example of Virgil who tells us, Cum canerem reges et prælia, & c.
VER. 130. no father dis bey'd.] When Mr. Pope was yet a child, his Father, though no Poet, would set him to make English verses. He was 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. fay, Tleje are good , hyme!.
The courtly Talbot, Somers, Sheffield read,
open arms receiv'd one Poet more.
Soft were my numbers; who could take offence While
pure Description held the place of Sense?
NOTE s. Ver. 139. Talbot, &c.] All these were Patrons or Admirers of Mr. Dryden ; though a scandalous libel against him, entitled, Dryden's Satyr to his Mufe, 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 pices: persons, with whom he was conversant (and he adds beloved) at 16 or 17 years of age ; an early period for such acquaintance. The catalogue might be made yet more illustrious had he not confined it to that time when he writ the Pastorals and Windsor Foreft, on which he passes a sort of Censure in the lines following,
" While pure Description held the place of Sense,” &c. P.
Ver. 146. Burnets, &c.) Authors of secret and scandalous History.
P. Ibid. 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.
Ver. 148. While pure Defcription held the place of Sense?) He uses pure equivocally, to signify either cbafie or empty;
Like gentle Fanny's was my flow'ry theme,
Did some more fober Critic come abroad;
NOT E s. and has given in this line what he esteemed the true Character of de;criptive pretry, as it is called. A compofition, in his opinion, as absurd as a feast made up of fauces. The office of a pictoresque imagination is to brighten and adorn good fcnse; so that to employ it only in defiription, is like childrens delighting in a prism for the sake of its gaudy colours; which when frugally managed, and artfully disposed, might be made to reprefent and illustrate the noblest objects in nature.
VER. 150. A painted meadow, or a purling stream,] is a verse of Mr. Addison.
P. Ibid. A painted Mistress, or a purling Stream.] The Rape of the Lack, and Windsor-Fireft.
VER. 163, these ribalds.] How deservedly this title is given