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to enter into comparison with the unrivalled. His classical prepossessions inclined him to side with the French ; it was in France, indeed, that he set himself seriously about the play ; and the only question is, whether he succeeded in what he wished to do, - a question which the world has pretty decidedly answered. Johnson, in his conversation, said that nothing would be more ridiculous than to see a girl weep at the representation of Cato. But what a standard is this! At the performance of his own Irene, no one would ever have cried, except to see the end of it, and it would have gone hard enough with his own Muse, if pathetic interest was so essential a thing. But an audience may be very tolerably entertained without going to the extent of crying. With all his variety of power, Addison never aimed at the pathetic ; he dealt more in smiles than tears. It is rather remarkable that he could have thrown so much affecting interest round the Stoic, — not because his grand and solemn bearing is not impressive to the feeling, but because the sympathies of audiences and readers grow accustomed to their familiar courses, and such is not the channel in which they are expected to flow. Though the love-scenes may not be happily conceived, and the tragic interest may not be of the kind most in request with the present play-going generation, this work has a full testimony to its excellence in the place which it holds in the memories of cultivated men. The fine images and sentiment in which it abounds, as Miss Aikin justly remarks, are in constant use, even by those who do not know from what source they drew them.
Dr. Johnson, for some reason or other, has transcribed a great part of Dennis's criticism on Cato, which drags its slow length like a snake through his pages. It deserves attention, not for its justice, though it is not wholly untrue, but for its opening the way to that ill-feeling on the part of Pope toward Addison, which has done more than any thing else to mislead the reading world. This ill-starred critic, whose chief sin seemed to be an utter obtuseness on the subject of poetry, had previously regaled himself by tearing the Rape of the Lock' and the Essay on Criticism in pieces with his savage teeth.
This was an offence which Pope, who, like sundry other Christians, performed the duty of forgiveness in a way of his own, made a point of resenting. The time was come when he thought he could do it with a better grace
than by avenging injuries of his own ; accordingly, under the profession of defending Addison, he fell upon Dennis in a coarse and personal lampoon, which was bitter enough to gratify his own spleen, but so contrived, all the while, as to leave the objections to Cato unanswered. Addison, who, with the feelings of a gentleman, had abstained from all reply, did not choose to appear as confederate with another to resent the injury in an underhand way. Nor did he feel under particular obligation to Pope, for holding him up as a shield, while he indulged his own revenge. The low character of the attack, also, was one for which he could not be responsible to the world. He therefore said, that he could not, either in honor or conscience, be privy to such treatment, and that, if he did take notice of Mr. Dennis's objections, it should be in a different way. This was high-minded and honorable ; but it showed Pope that his artifice was seen through, and that his coarseness was disapproved. therefore the beginning of sorrows; he never afterwards was able to forget or forgive it ; and his jealous and irritable feeling having been thus awakened, every word and deed of Addison was perversely misinterpreted. When he once had come under censure of that high authority, he determined to break it down.
Pope was sufficiently kind and manly in other matters, but his jealousy amounted to disease, wherever his poetical reputation was concerned ; and it is surprising to see to what base arts he descended to spread his own renown and take vengeance on all who stood in his way. The reply of Dennis to Pope's abominable satire was a letter from Jacob, the editor of the earlier Lives of the Poets, stating that Pope's life had been submitted to the bard himself, to receive bis improvements and corrections ; so that he had indorsed his own praises, which many would gladly do for themselves, but would not so willingly appear to have done. The same underhand course, by which, under pretence of defending Cato, he had fought his own battle, was resorted to on many occasions. In the Key to the Lock, which is known to have been written by himself, he insatiably endeavoured to fix the attention of the public on a work which was already sufficiently admired. 'In a remarkable
. paper in the Guardian, he pretends to show how superior Philips's pastorals are to his own, at the same time giving extracts with comments which make them ludicrous to the last degree.
But his most singular effort of self-applause was the publication of his letters, all of wbich have a labored appearance, as if written, as no doubt they were, for the public eye. Johnson's long head suspected, though he could not prove, this extraordinary juggle ; in which Pope, finding that a correspondence with a friend, improperly published, had attracted some attention, contrived that an imperfect collection of his letters should be thrown in the way of the bookseller Curll, who had no delicacy in that nor any thing else. Accordingly they were printed; whereupon Pope, pretending to be greatly aggrieved, complained to the House of Lords. Nothing of course was done, as no law was violated ; but it gave the poet the opportunity which he wanted, of publishing his letters in full ; and, sure enough, they appeared, so industriously fine, so nicely spangled with fine sentiments and brilliant figures, as to bear on the face of them the assurance, that, if written in the first instance to individuals, they were in fact addressed to the world.
The coolness between Addison and Pope, and Pope's revenge in consequence of it, have had such an effect upon the reputation of the former, that the matter requires to be examined at large. It is, at the same time, one of the inost curious problems in literary history. It bas engaged the inquiring attention of many ; among others, of Sir William Blackstone, the light of the English law, who summed up the evidence on the subject, but pronounced no judgment, though bis charge leaned evidently in favor of Addison. But there are one or two things to be considered, to which he and others who have discussed the question have not paid sufficient regard. One is, that, while Addison maintained a high and dignified reserve, Pope took every opportunity to tell his own story, and so to avenge his imaginary wrongs; not only repeating it to his parasite Spence, who received it as so much gospel, but by immortalizing it in the portrait of Atticus, one of those admirable caricatures which no one knew so well how to draw, and which, while they abounded in wit and discriminating satire, were deficient in nothing but the weightier matters of justice and truth. The other thing to be regarded is the character of the two men ; this affords strong presumptive evidence on the subject which is most likely to have been
unworthily jealous of the other? Was it the one whose reputation was established, who was reverenced to his heart's desire, and, what was more, who wrote anonymously, and rather with a desire to serve his friends than. to establish his own fame, and whose high standing in politics also gave him other interests to divide his attention with this? Or was it he whose temper was so irritable, waspish, and easily excited, that he spent his days in an endless quarrel with poets both high and low, and who had the folly, driven by this mad jealousy, to embalm in rather a filthy preparation the memories of his opposers, who, but for this satire, which injures the writer more than any one else, would have died and been forgotten in a day? One would say beforehand, that the latter would be the one to take offence and bear malice, and so accordingly it proved. Had it been a possible thing, Addison would have lived on good terms with him, and he did so as long as it was in his power.
We have already mentioned the attack on Dennis, and Addison's reprehension of it, as the beginning of this disunion. Dennis always declared, that Pope applied to Lintot to engage him to write against Cato; but though Dennis probably believed it, there may have been some mistake in an application thus received at second-hand. But the next source of trouble is entirely open to the eye. Pope, having finished his first draught of the Rape of the Lock, communicated it to Addison, telling him, at the same time, of his purpose to introduce the Sylphid machinery, which he afterwards did with so much success. Addison, knowing that it was excellent as it stood, and that such alterations were generally failures, told him that it was merum sal, a delicious little piece, and advised him to leave it as it was.
Warburton, who, learned and able as he was in some things, was perversely obtuse in others, says that " upon this, Mr. Pope began to open his eyes to Addison's character." Truly, the operations of opening and shutting the eyes were strangely confounded in his mind. What was there in this which any man of sense could have received as jealous or unkind? If, after the poet had wrought out the Rosicrucian machinery, Addison had counselled him to suppress it, there might have been some little ground for the suspicion; but nothing, save the most watchful jealousy, could have taken alarm at the wise advice not to endanger that which was 31 - No. 135.
already excellent by an attempt to make it better. Johnson says the same thing; he admits that it might have been done reasonably and kindly; and really, nothing can be more unmanly than the attempt to find a cause of quarrel and a justification of bitterness in such a harmless affair. Indeed, it seems so much like insanity, that it could hardly be explained, without looking for the origin of the difficulty in the spirit of party. Pope, who, as Johnson says, was apt to be diffuse on the subject of his own virtues, pretended to be exempt from political feeling; but he was intimate with the detected Jacobites, Atterbury and Bolingbroke, and it is now well known that he was a bitter Tory in his heart. His other fancied causes of uneasiness, then, were increased by this venomous element, which poisons every heart in which it dwells.
Having thus opened his eyes to Addison's character, without that illumination which would have been more to the purpose on the subject of his own, it was not long before Pope was to receive another similar injury, which made his vision still clearer. He had undertaken the translation of the Iliad, not, though he says it, by the advice of Addison; for the letter to which he alludes does not bear out this assertion, though it contains strong expressions of confidence in his ability and of interest in his success. It contained an intimation which may have been distasteful to Pope, who so studiously disclaimed any bias from party spirit, in the counsel which Addison gave him for his general conduct, not to content himself with half the nation for his admirers, when he might as easily have them all; but with this exception, if it is one, the tone of the letter is eminently kind. Having heard that some of Philips's hard speeches against Pope had reached the sensitive bard, Addison called on him to assure him that he had no sympathy with what Philips might have said in his dispraise.
It is easy to see, from the tone of Pope's letters, that he feels a vexation which he can see no good reason to indulge or to avow; conscious that he was not friendly to Addison, he amused himself, as usual in such cases, by the faith that he himself was all amiableness, and that Addison was an enemy to him. But he found it easier to impose on himself than on others. We find Jervas, the painter, good-naturedly endeavouring to soothe him by relating Addison's kind expressions respecting him, and his desire to serve his brother-poet,