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was to Mrs. Unwin) was slandered as well as the lady, while Cowper was suffered to enjoy a woman's friendship without blame. In both instances a tender female friend was especially required. The one poet physically so weak, and with few or no female relatives—a man whose life was full of bodily suffering; and the other mentally afflicted. Put Pope, less happy than his brother poet, is said not to have found the full comfort in Martha Blount's friendship that Cowper did in Mary Unwin's. Martha treated her poet friend with great unkindness. Dr. Johnson tells us:
“While he was yet capable of amusement and conversation, as he was one day sitting in the air with Lord Bolingbroke and Lord Marchmont, he saw his favourite Martha Blount at the bottom of the terrace, and asked Lord Boling. broke to go and hand her up. Bolingbroke, not liking his errand, crossed his legs and sat still; but Lord Marchmont, who was younger and less captious, waited on the lady, who, when he came to her, asked—'What, is he not dead yet?' She is said to have neglected him, with shameful unkindness, in the latter time of his decay; yet, of the little which he had to leave, she had a very great part. Their acquaintance began early: the life of each was pictured on the other's mind; their conversation therefore was endearing, for when they met, there was an immediate coalition of congenial notions. Perhaps he considered her unwilling. ness to approach the chamber of sickness as female weakness, or human frailty; perhaps he was conscious to himself of peevishness and impatience, or, though he was offended by her inattention, might yet consider her merit as overbalancing her fault; and, if he had suffered his heart to be alienated from her, he could have found nothing that might have filled her place; he could have only shrunk within himself; it was too late to transfer his confidence or fond
From the same writer we transcribe the closing scenes of Pope's life :
“In May, 1744, his death was approaching; on the sixth, he was all day delirious, which he mentioned four days afterwards as a sufficient humiliation of the vanity of man; he afterwards complained of seeing things as through 8 curtain, and in false colours, and one day, in the presence of Dodsley, asked what arm it was that came out from the wall. He said that his greatest inconvenience was inability to think.
“ Bolingbroke sometimes wept over him in this state of helpless decay, and being told by Spence, that Pope, at the intermission of his deliriousness, was always saying something kind either of his present or absent friends, and that his humanity seemed to have survived his understanding, answered, “It has so.' And added, “I never in my life knew a man that had so tender a heart for his particular friends, or more general friendship for mankind.' At another time he said, I have known Pope these thirty years, and value myself more in his friendship than'-His grief then suppressed his voice,
« Pope expressed undoubted confidence of a future state. Being asked by his friend, Mr. Hooke, whether he would not die like his father and mother, and whether a priest should not be called, he answered, 'I do not think it essential, but it will be very right; and I thank you for putting me in mind of it.'
“In the morning, after the priest had given him the last sacraments, he said, “There is nothing that is meritorious but virtue and friendship, and indeed friendship itself is only a part of virtue.'
*He died in the evening of the thirtieth day of May, 1744, so placidly, that the attendants did not discern the exact time of his expiration. He was buried at Twickenham, near his father and mother, where a monument has been erected to him by his commentator, Warburton, Bishop of Gloucester.”
Thus closed, at the age of fifty-six, the life of a poet whose words are even now--more than a hundred years after his death-the expression of much English thought and feeling. Who does not often quote or see quoted those almost proverbial lines :
“To err is human; to forgive divine."
The rest is all but leather and prunella.”
Pope was the best of sons and of masters ; the truest and most affectionate of friends-a good Christian-an honest man.
Out of £800 a year, he gave away in known acts of charity £100.
Johnson, to whose Life of Pope in the Chandos Classics we refer the reader, tells us:
“Most of what can be told concerning his petty peculiarities was communicated by a female domestic of the Earl of Oxford, who knew him perhaps after the middle of life. He was then so weak as to stand in perpetual need of female attendance; extremely sensible of cold, so that he wore a kind of fur doublet, under a shirt of a very coarse warm linen with fine sleeves. When he rose, he was invested in boddices made of stiff canvas, being scarcely able to hold himself erect till they were laced, and he then put on a flannel waistcoat. One side was contracted. His legs were so slender, that he enlarged their bulk with three pair of stockings, which were drawn on and off by the maid; for he was not able to dress or undress himself, and neither went to bed nor rose without help. His weakness made it very difficult for him to be clean.
“His hair had fallen alınost all away; and he used to dine sometimes with Lord Oxford, privately in a velvet cap. His dress of ceremony was black, with a tie-wig, and a little sword. ." The indulgence and accomodation which his sickness requirea, had taught him all the unpleasing and unsocial qualities of a valetudinary man. He expected that every thing should give way to his ease or humour: as a child. whose parents will not hear her cry, has an unresisted dominion in the nursery.
•C'est que l'enfant toujours est homme,
C'est que l'homme est toujours enfant.'
When he wanted to sleep he 'nodded in company;' and once slumbered at his own table while the Prince of Wales was talking of poetry.
Yet the maid who waited on him said that she cared for no wages so long as she had to wait on Mr. Pope-so liberai was he to his attendants.
Such was the poet of whom England will never cease to be proud—the poet of reason, common sense, strict morality, and playful fancy-her worthy son, Alexander Pope. • Of his prose writings we need not here say much. He wrote prose with elegance and clearness. His published let. ters are perhaps too much studied to be good, but they were probably written, certainly corrected, with a view to publi cation, though the act of a needy and unscrupulous woman first brought them before the public.
They take no place in our literature; it is as a poet only that we honour Pope.
Pope was attached by principle, religion, and friendship, to the Tories; he loved the Stuarts, and had no reason to care for the Hanoverian Sovereigns. But he did not manifest any strong party rancour. He had friends amongst both the Whigs and Tories: and Sir Robert Walpole treated him with great courtesy, though he conferred no pecuniary bene. fits upon the Catholic poeto
POPE'S POETICAL WORKS.
TO THE EDITION OF 1716.
I Am inclined to think that both the writers of books, and the readers of them, are generally not a little unreasonable in their expectations. The first seem to fancy that the world must approve whatever they produce, and the latter to imagine that authors are obliged to please them at any rate. Methinks, as on the one hand, no single man is born with a right of controlling the opinions of all the rest; so on the other, the world has no title to demand, that the whole care and time of any particular person should be sacrificed to its entertainment. Therefore I cannot but believe that writers and readers are under equal obligations, for as much fame, or pleasure, as each affords the other.
Every one acknowledges, it would be a wild notion to expect perfection in any work of man; and yet one would think The contrary was taken for granted, by the judgment commonly passed upon poems. A critic supposes he has done his part, if he proves a writer to have failed in an expression, or erred in any particular point : and can it then be wondered at, if the poets in general seem resolved not to own themselves in any error ? For as long as one side will make no allowances, the other will be brought to no acknowledgments.
I am afraid this extreme zeal on both sides is ill-placed ; poetry and criticism being by no means the universal concern of the world, but only the affair of idle men who write in their closets, and of idle men who read there.
Yet sure upon the whole, a bad author deserves better usage than a bad critic; for a writer's endeavour, for the most part is to please his readers, and he fails merely through the misfortune of an ill-judgment; but such a critic's is to put them out of humour; a design he could never go upon without both that and an ill-temper.
I think a good deal may be said to extenuate the fault of bad poets. What we call a genius, is hard to be distinguished by a man himself, from a strong inclination : and if his genius be ever so great, he cannot at first discover it any other way, than by giving way to that prevalent propensity which renders him the more liable to be mistaken. The only method he has, is to make the experiment by writing, and appealing to the judgment of others. Now, if he happens to write ill (which is certainly no sin in itself) he is immediately made an object of ridicule. I wish we had the humanity to reflect that even the worst authors might, in their endeavor to please us, deserve something at our hands. We have no cause to quarrel with them but for their obstinacy in persisting to write; and this, too, may admit of alleviating circumstances. Their particular friends may be either ignorant, or insincere; and the rest of the world in general is too wellbred to shock them with a truth, which generally their booksellers are the first that inform them of. This happens not till they have spent too much of their time, to apply to any profession which might better fit their talents; and till such talents as they have are so far discredited as to be but of small service to them. For (what is the hardest case imaginable) the reputation of a man generally depends upon the first steps he makes in the world, and people will establish their opinion of us, from what we do at that season when we have least judgment to direct us.
On the other hand, a good poet no sooner communicates his works with the same desire of information, but it is imagined he is a vain young creature given up to the ambition of of fame; when perhaps the poor man is all the while trembling with the fear of being ridiculous. If he is made to hope he may please the world, he falls under very unlucky circumstances : for, from the moment he prints, he must expect to hear no more truth, than if he were a prince, or a beauty. If he has not very good sense (and indeed there are twenty men of wit for one man of sense) his living thus in a course of flattery may put him in no small danger of becoming a coxcomb: if he has, he will consequently have so much diffidence as not to reap any great satisfaction from his praise; since, if it be given to his face, it can scarce be distinguished from flattery, and if in his absence, it is hard to be certain of it. Were he sure to be commended by the best and most knowing, he is as sure of being envied by the worst and most ignorant, which are the majority; for it is with a fine genius, as with a fine fashion, all those are displeased at it who are not able to follow it, and it is to be feared that esteem will seldom do any man so much good, as ill-will does him harm. Then there is a third class of people who make the largest part of mankind, those of ordinary or indifferent capacities; and these (to a man) will hate, or suspect him : a hundred honest gentlemen will dread him as a wit, and a hundred innocent women as a satirist. In a word, whatever be his fate in poetry, it is ten to one but he must give up all the reasonable aims of life for it. There are indeed some advantages accruing from a genius to poetry, and they are all I can think of: the agreeable power of self-amusement when a man is idle or alone; the privilege of being admitted into the best company; and the freedom of saying as many careless things as other people, without being so severely remarked upon. :
I believe, if any one, early in his life, should contemplate the dangerous fate of authors, he would scarce be of their number on any consideration. The life of a wit is a warfare upon earth; and the present spirit of the learned world is