« ZurückWeiter »
fight, but, at the same time, is undermining it at the root in secret. My youth has dealt more fairly and openly with me; it has afforded several prospects of my danger, and given me an advantage not very common to young men, that the attractions of the world have not dazzled me very much: and I begin, where most people end, with a full conviction of the emptiness of all forts of ambition, and the unsatisfactory nature of all human pleasures. When a smart fit of sickness tells me this scurvy tenement of my body will fall in a little time, I am e'en as unconcern'd as w.is that honest Hibernian, who being in bed in the great storm some years ago, and told the house would tumble over his head, made answer, " What care I for the house? I am only a lodger." I fancy 'tis the best time to die when one is in the best humour; and, so excessively weak as I now am, I may fay with conscience, that I am not at all uneasy at the thought, that many men, whom I never had any esteem for, are likely to enjoy this world after me. When I restect what an inconsiderable little atom every single man is, with respect to the whole creation, methinks, 'tis a shame to be concerned at the removal of such a trivial animal as I am. The morning after my exit the fun will rife as blight as ever, the (lowers smell ns sweet, the plants spring as green, the world will proceed in its old course, people will laugh as heartily, and marry as fast, as they were used to do. "The memory "of man," as it is elegantly expressed in the book of Wisdom," pasTeth away "as the remembrance of a guest that «' tarrieth but one day." There are reasons enough, in the fourth chapter of the fame book, to make any young man contented with the prospect os death, " For honourable age is not that "which standeth in length of time, "or is measured by number of years: "but wisdom is the'grey hair to men, "and an unspotted life is old age. He ** was taken away speedily, lest wicked"ness should alter his understanding, "or deceit beguile his soul," &c. I am, &c.
§ 129. Rev. Dean Berkley, to Mr. Pope. Naples, Oct. 2a, 1717. I have long h.id it in my thoughts to trouble you with a letter, but was discouraged for want of something that I could think worth sending fifteen hundred miles. Italy is such an exhausted subject, that, I dare say, you'd easily forgive my saying nothing of it; and the imagination of a poet is a thing so nice and delicate, that it is no easy matter to find out images capable of giving pleasure to one of the few, who (in any age) have come up to that character. I am nevertheless lately returned from an island, where I pasted three or four months; which, were it set out in its true colours, might, methinks, amuse you agreeably enough for a minute or two. The island Inarime is an epitome of the whole earth, containing, within, the compass of eighteen miles, a wonderful variety of hills, vales, ragged rocks, fruitful plains, and barren mountains, all thrown together in a most romantic confusion. The air is, in the hotteit season, constantly refreshed by cool breezes from the sea. The vales produce excellent wheat and Indian corn, but are mostly covered with vineyards intermixed with fruit-trees. Besides the common kinds, as cherries, apricots, peaches, Sec. they produce oranges, limes, almonds, pomegranates, figs, water-melons, and many other fruits unknown to our climate, which lie every where open to the pass-nger. The hills are the greater part covered to the top with vines, some with chesnut groves, and others with thickets of myrtle and lentiscus. The fields in the northern side are divided by hedge-rows of myrtle. Several fountains and rivulets add to the beauty of this landscape, which is likewise set off by the variety of some barren spots and naked rocks. But that which crowns the scene is a large mountain, rising out of the middle of the island (once a terrible vulcano, by the ancients called Mons Epopeus.) Its lower parts are adorned with vines and other fruits; the middle affords pasture to flocks of goats and sheep; and the top is a sandy pointed rock, from which
Q_q 3 y°u you have the finest prospect in the world, surveying at one view, besides several pleasant islands lying at your feet, a tract of Italy about 300 miles in length, from the promontory of Antium to the cape of Palinurus; the greater part of which hath been fung by Homer and Virgil, as making a considerable part of the travels and adventures of their two heroes. The islands Caprea, Prochyta, and Parthenope, together with Cajeta, Cuma, Monte Miseno, the inhabitants of Circe, the Syrens, and the Læstrigones, the bay of Naples, the promontory of Minerva, and the whole Campania Felice, make but a part of this noble landscape; which would demand an imagination as warm, and numbers as flowing, as your own, to describe it. The inhabitants of this deli, cious isle, as they are without riches and honours, so are they without the vices and follies that attend them ; and were they but as much strangers to revenge as they are to avarice and ambition, they might in fact answer the poetical notions of the golden age. But they have got, as an alloy to their happiness, an ill habit of murdering one another on slight offences, We had an instance of this the second night after our arrival, a youth of eighteen being shot dead by our door; and yet, by the sole secret of minding our own business, we found a means of living securely among these dangerous people. Would you know how we pass the time at Naples? Our chief entertainment is the devotion ofour neighbours : besides the gaiety of their churches (where folks go to fee what they call una BellaDcvotione, i.e» a sort of religious opera) they make fire-works almost every week out of devotion: the streets are often hung with arras out of devotion ; and (what is still more strange) the ladies invite gentlemen to their houses, and treat them with music and sweetmeats, out of devotion; in a word, were it not for this devotion cf its inhabitants, Naples would have little else to recommend it, besides the air and situation. Learning is in no Very thriving state here, as indeed no where else in Italy; however, among |nany pretenders^ some men of taste are to be met with. A friend of mine told.
me, not long since, that being to visit Salvinaat Florence, he found him reading your Homer ; he liked the notes extremely, and could find no other fault with the version, but that he thought it approached too near a paraphrase; which shews him not to be sufficiently acquainted with our language. I wish you health to go on with that noble work, and when you have that, I need not wish you success. You will do me the justice to believe, that whatever relates to your welfare is sincerely wished by your, &c.
§ 130. 7 he Earl of Oxford to Mr. Pope. Brampton-Castle, Nov. 6, 1721. Sir, I received your packet, which could not but give me great pleasure, to see you preserve an old friend in your memory; for it must needs be very agreeable to be remembered by those we highly value. But then how much shame did it cause me, when I read your very fine verses inclosed! My mind reproached me how far short I came of what your great friendship and delicate pen would partially describe me. You ask my consent to publish it: to what straights doth this reduce me! I look back indeed to those evenings I have usefully and pleasantly spent with Mr. . Pope, Mr. Parnelle, Dean Swift, the Doctor, &c. I should be glad the world knew you admitted me to your friendship; and since your affection is too hard for your judgment, I am contented to let the world know how well Mr. Pope can write upon a barren subject. I return you an exact copy of the verses, that I may keep the original as a testimony of the only error you have been guilty of. I hopeveiy speedily to embrace you in London, and to assure you of the particular esteem and friendship wherewith I am your, &c.
§ 131, From Mr. Blount ta Mr. Pope.
Nov. 11, 1715.
tt is an agreement of long date be
tween you and me, that you should do
with my letters just as you pleased, and
answer them at your leisure; and that
w is as soon as I shall think you ought, f have so true a taste of the substantial part of v>ur friendship, that I wave all ceremoni.ls; and am sure to make you as many visits as I can, and leave you to return the n whenevervou please, assuring y u they mall at all times be heartily w- lcome to me. The many alarms we have from your parts have no effect upon the genius that reigns in our country, wnich is happily turned to preserve peace and quiet among us. What a dismdl scene has there been opened in the north! What ruin have those unforunate rash gentlemen drawn upon themselves and their miserable followers! and perchance upon many others too, who upon no account would be their followers. However, it may look ungenerous to reproich people in distress. I don't remember you and I ever used to troubleourselves about politics; but when any matter happened to fall into our discourse, we used to condemn all undertakings that tended towards disturbing the peace and quiefof our country, as contrary 10 the notions we had of morality and religion, which oblige us on no pretence whatsoever to violate the laws of charity. How many lives have there been lost in hot blood, and how many more are there like to be taken off in cold! If the broils of the nation affect you, come down to me; and, though we are farmers, you know Eumæus made his friends welcome. You (hall here worlhip the echo at your ease; indeed we are forced to do so, because we can't hear the first report, and therefore are obliged to listen to the second ; which, for security sake, I do not always believe neither.
'Tis a great many years since I fell in love with the character of Pomponius Atticus: I Iong'd to imitate him a little, and have contriv'd hitherto to be, like him, engaged in no party, but to be a faithful friend to some in both: I find myself very well in this way hitherto, and live in a certain peace of mind by it, which, I am persuaded, brings a man more content than all the perquisites of wild ambition. I with pleasure join with you in wishing, nay, I am not ashamed to say, in praying for the wel'sare, temporal and eternal, of all man
kind. How much more affectionately then (hall I do so for you, since I am in a most particular manner, and with all sincerity, your, &c.
§ 132. From the Same.
Nov. 27, 1717. The question you proposed to me is what,atpresent,Iam themostunfit man in the world to answer, by my loss of one of the best of fathers. He had lived in such a course of temperance as was enough to make the longest life agreeable to him, and in such a course of piety as sufficed to make the most: sudden death so also. Sudden indeed it was : however, I heartily beg of God to give me such a one, provided I can lead such a life. I leave him to the mercy of God, and to the piety of a religion that extends beyond the grave ; fe qua eft ea cura, is'c. He has left me to the ticklish management of so narrow a fortune, that any one false step would be fatal. My mother is in that dispirited state of resignation, which is the effect of long life, and the loss of what is dear to us. We are really each of us in want of a friend of such an humane turn as your-, self, to make almost any thing desirable to us. I feel your absence more than, ever, at the same time I can less express my regards to you. than ever; and I (hall make this, which is the most sincere letter I ever writ to you, the shortest and faintest perhaps of any you ever received. 'Tis enough if you reflect, that barely to remember any person, when one's mind is taken up with a sen-, sible sorrow, is a great degree of friendship. I can fay no more but that I love you, and all that are yours ; and that I wi(h it may be very long before any of yours (hall feel for you what I now feel for my father. Adieu!
§ 133. Mr. Pope to Edward
B LOU NT, Esq.
June 2, 1724.
You shew yourself a just man and a friend in those guesses and suppositions you make at the possible reasons of my silence; every one of which is a true one*. As to forgetfulness of you, or yours, I assure you the promiscuous conversations of the town serve only to put me in
Q_q 4. mini
mind of better and more quiet to be had in a corner of the world (undisturb'd, innocent, serene, and sensible) with such as you. Let no access of any distrust make you think of me differently in a cloudy day from what you do in the most sunshiny weather. Let the young ladies be assured I make nothing new in my gardens, without wishing to see the print of their fairy steps in every parr of them. I hp.ve put the last hand to my works of this kind, in happily finishing the subterraneous way and grotto: I there found a spring of rhe clearest wa. ter, which falls in a perpetual rill, that echoes through the cavern day and night. From the river Thames ynu fee through my arch up a walk of the wilderness, to a kind of open temple, wholly composed of shells in the rustic manner; and from that distance, under the temple, you look down through a sloping arcade of trees, and fee the fails on the river passing suddenly, and vanishing, as through a perspective glass. When you (hut the doors of this grotto, it becomes on the instant, from aluminous room, a camera obscura; on the walls of which all objects of the river, hills, woods, and boats, are forming a moving picture in their visible radiations: and when you have a mind to Hght it up, it afford- you a very different scene; it is finished uirh sliells in. terspersed with pieces of looking-glass in angular forms; and in the tripling is a star of the fame material, at which, when a lamp (of an orbicular figure of thin alabaster) ie hung in the middle, a thousand pointec' rays glitter, and are reflected over the place. There are connected to this grotto, by a narrow passage, two porches, one towards the river, of smooth stones, full of light, and open; the other towards the garden, fhadewed with trees, rough with sliells, flints, and iron ore. The bottom is paved with simple pebble, as is also the adjoining walk up the wilderness to the temple, in the natural taste, agreeing not ill with the little dripping murmur, and the aquatic idea of the whole place. It wants nothing to complete it but a good statue with an inscription, like that beautiful antique one which you know I am so- fend of;
Hujua nympha loci, sacri cuftndia fontia, Dormio dum blandæ sentio murmur aquae*
Parce meum, quisquia tangis cava matmora,
Nymph of the grot, th';s sacred spring I keep.
You'll think I have been very poetical in this description, but it is pretty near the truth. I wish you were here to bear testimony how little it owes to art, either the place itself, or the image I give of it. I am, &c.
$ 134. Mr. Pope to the Bijhop of
May, 1723. Once more I write to you, as I promised, and this once, I fear, will be the last! The curtain will soon be drawn between my friend and me, and nothing left but to wish you a long good night. May you enjoy a state of repose in this life, not unlike that sleep of the soul which some have believed is to succeed it, where we lie utterly forgetful of that world from which we are gone, and ripening for that to which we are to go. If you retain any memory os the past, let it only image to you what has pleased you best; sometimes present a dream of an absent friend, or bring you back an agreeable conversation. But upon the whole, I hope you will think less of the time past than of the future ; as the former has been less kind to you than the latter infallibly will be. Do not envy the world your studies; they will tend to the benefit of men against whom you can have no complaint, I mean of all posterity ; and perhaps, at your time of life, nothing else is worth your care. What is every year of a wise man's life, but a censure or critique on the past? Those, whose date is the shortest, live Jong enough to laugh at one half of it: the boy despises the infant, the man the boy, the philosopher both, and thechristian all. You may now begin to think your manhood was too much a puerility, and you'll never suffer your age to be but a second infancy. The toys and baubles of your childhood are hardly now more below you, than those toys of our riper and of out declining years,, the
drums drums and rattles of ambition, and the dirt and bubbles of avarice. At this time, when you are cut off from a little society, and made a citizen of the world at large, you should bend your talents not to serve a party, or a few, but all mankind. Your genius should mount above that mill in which its participation and neighbourhood with earth long involved it ; to (hine abroad and to heaven, ought to be the business and theglory of your present situation. Remember it was at such a time, that the greatest lights of antiquity dazzled and blazed the most, in their retreat, in their exile, or in their death: but why do I talk of dazzling or blazing? It was then that they did good, that they gave light, and that they became guides to mankind. Those aims alone arc worthy of spirits truly great, and such I therefore hope will be yours. Resentment indeed may remain,vperhaps cannot be quite extinguished in the noblest minds; but revenge never will harbour there ; higher principles than those of the first, and better principles than those of the latter, will infallibly influence men, whose thoughts and whose hearts are enlargedj and cause them to prefer the Nvhole to any part of mankind, especially to so small a part as one's single self. Believe me, my Lord, I look upon you as a spirit entered into another life, as one just upon the edge of immortality; where the passions and affections must be much more exalted, and where you ought to despise all little views and all mean retrospects. Nothing is worth your looking back ; and therefore look forward, and make (as you can) the world look after you: but take care that it be not with pity, but with esteem and admiration.
I am, with the greatest sincerity, and passion for your fame, as well as happiness, your, Sec. § 135. From the Bijhcp ofRochester.
to Mr Pope, on the Death ef hit
Montpelicr, Nov. 20, 1729.
lam not yet master enough of myself, after the late wound I have received, to open mv very heart to vou, and am not content with less than that, whenever I converse with you, My thoughts are at
present vainly,but pleasingly employed, on what I have lost, and can never recover. I know well I ought, for that reason, to call them off toother subjects, but hitherto I have not been able to do it. By giving them the rein a little, and suffering them to spend their force, I hope in some time to check and subdue them. Mu't.s fortuntt mulneribus perculj'us, huic uui me imparem fenji, & pete succubui: This is weakness, not wisdom, I own; and on that account fitter to be trusted to the bosom of a friend, where I may safely lodge all my infirmities. As soon as my mind is in some measure corrected and calm'd, I will endeavour to follow your advice, and turn it to something of use and moment; if I have still life enough left to do any thing that is worth reading and preserving. In the mean time I shall bo pleased to hear that you proceed in what you intend, without any such melancholy interruption as I have met with. Your mind is as yet unbroken by age and ill accidents, your knowledge and judgment are at the height: use them in writing somewhat that may teach the present and future times, and if not gain equally the applause of both, may yet raiie the envy of theone, and secure the admiration oftheother. Employ notyour precious moments and great talents on little men and little things ; but chuse a subject every way worthy of you, and handleit, as you can, in a manner which nobody else can equal or imitate. A» for me, my abilities, if I ever had any, are not what they were, and yet I will endeavour to recollect and employ them.
Sanguis hcbel, frigejuque efiœto in corporevirei.
However, I should be ungrateful to this place, if 1 did not own that Ihavegained upon the gout in the south of France much more than I did at Paris; though even there I sensibly improved. I believe my cure had been perfected, but the earnest desireof meeting one I dearly loved, called me abruptly toMontpelier, where, after continuing two months, under the cruel torture cf a fad and fruitless expectation, I was forced at last to take a long journey to Toulouse: and even there I had miss'd the person I