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p-xed by her former spouse, has got the gout in her decrepit age, which makes her hobble so damnably '.' This was the man who would reform a nation sinking into barbarity.
In another place Pope himself allowed that Dennis had detected 39 one of those blunders which are called bulls. The first edition had this line:
'What is this wit.. .?
Where wanted, scorn'd; and envied where acquir'd3.' 'How,' says the critick, 'can wit be scorn'd where it is not? Is not this a figure frequently employed in Hibernian land? The person that wants this wit may indeed be scorned, but the scorn shews the honour which the contemner has for wit.' Of this remark Pope made the proper use, by correcting the
I have preserved, I think, all that is reasonable in Dennis's 40 criticism; it remains that justice be done to his delicacy.
'For his acquaintance (says Dennis) he names Mr. Walsh 5, who had by no means the qualification which this author reckons absolutely necessary to a critick, it being very certain that he was, like this Essayer, a very indifferent poet; he loved to be welldressed; and I remember a little young gentleman whom Mr. Walsh used to take into his company, as a double foil to his person and capacity.-Enquire between Sunninghill and Oakingham for a young, short, squab gentleman, the very bow of the God of Love, and tell me whether he be a proper author to make personal reflections.-He may extol the antients, but he has reason to thank the gods that he was born a modern; for had he been born of Grecian parents, and his father consequently had by law had the absolute disposal of him, his life had been no longer than that of one of his poems, the life of half a day.-Let the person of a gentleman of his parts be never so contemptible, his inward man is ten times more ridiculous; it being impossible that his outward form, though it be that of downright monkey, should differ so much from
human shape, as his unthinking immaterial part does from human understanding '.'
Thus began the hostility between Pope and Dennis, which, though it was suspended for a short time, never was appeased. Pope seems, at first, to have attacked him wantonly; but though he always professed to despise him, he discovers, by mentioning him very often, that he felt his force or his venom.
Of this Essay Pope declared that he did not expect the sale to be quick, because 'not one gentleman in sixty, even of liberal education, could understand it.' The gentlemen, and the education of that time, seem to have been of a lower character than they are of this. He mentioned a thousand copies as a numerous impression 2.
42 Dennis was not his only censurer; the zealous papists thought the monks treated with too much contempt, and Erasmus too studiously praised 3; but to these objections he had not much regard *.
Reflections, &c., p. 28.
Pope, writing to Caryll on July 19, 1711, about a second edition, continues:-'which I yet think the book will never arrive at, for Tonson's printer told me he drew off a thousand copies in his first impression, and I fancy a treatise of this nature, which not one gentleman in three score even of a liberal education can understand, will hardly exceed the vent of that number.' Pope's Works (Elwin and Courthope), vi. 152. In the version of the letter published by Pope the words italicized are printed 'will not so soon arrive at.' Warton's Pope, vii. 235.
Old Mr. [William] Lewis, the bookseller in Russell Street, who printed the first edition of this Essay in quarto , without Pope's name, informed me (writes Warton, Preface, p. 9) that it lay many days in his shop unnoticed; and that, piqued with this neglect, the author came one day, and packed up and directed twenty copies to several great men, and that, in consequence of these presents and his name being known, the book began to be called for.'
[Lewis was a schoolfellow and early friend of Pope. Nichols's Lit. Anec. iii. 646, viii. 168.]
It was either Lewis or his father who introduced Gibbon to the priest 'at whose feet he abjured the errors of heresy.' Gibbon's Memoirs, p. 72.
The second edition was published in the winter of 1712-13; the third and fourth in 1713. Pope's Works (Elwin and Courthope), ii. 4. Johnson, referring to the age of Pope, said:-'We have now more knowledge generally diffused; all our ladies read now, which is a great extension.' Boswell's Johnson, iii. 333.
3'At length Erasmus, that great injur'd name,
(The glory of the Priesthood and the shame!)
Stemm'd the wild torrent of a barb'rous age,
And drove those holy Vandals off the stage. Essay on Crit. 1. 693. Johnson refers to Pope's three Letters to the Hon. J. C. Esq. [John Caryll]. Warton, vii. 223-36. See also Pope's Works (Elwin and Courthope), vi. 141, 163.
* See Pope's Works (Elwin and Courthope), vi. 152 n., for the name of the printer.
The Essay has been translated into French by Hamilton, 43 author of the Comte de Grammont, whose version was never printed, by Robotham, secretary to the King for Hanover, and by Resnel'; and commented by Dr. Warburton, who has discovered in it such order and connection as was not perceived by Addison 3, nor, as is said, intended by the author.
Almost every poem, consisting of precepts, is so far arbi- 44 trary and immethodical, that many of the paragraphs may change places with no apparent inconvenience; for of two or more positions, depending upon some remote and general principle, there is seldom any cogent reason why one should precede the other. But for the order in which they stand, whatever it be, a little ingenuity may easily give a reason. 'It is possible,' says Hooker, 'that by long circumduction, from any one truth all truth may be inferred. Of all homogeneous truths at least, of all truths respecting the same general end, in whatever series they may be produced, a concatenation by intermediate ideas may be formed, such as, when it is once shewn, shall appear natural; but if this order be reversed, another mode of connection equally specious may be found or made. Aristotle is praised for naming fortitude first of the cardinal virtues, as that without which no other virtue can steadily be practised 5; but he might, with equal propriety, have placed prudence and justice before it, since without prudence fortitude is mad; without justice, it is mischievous.
As the end of method is perspicuity, that series is sufficiently 45 regular that avoids obscurity; and where there is no obscurity it will not be difficult to discover method.
* Pope, in 1735, published a letter, dated Oct. 10, 1713, from himself to Hamilton about his translation. In a note he adds that it was never printed. The version by Robotham, he says, 'was printed in quarto at Amsterdam and at London, 1717. The other by the Abbé Resnel in octavo at Paris, 1730.' lb. x. 104.
For Resnel see ante, GARTH, 17; post, POPE, 181.
* His Commentary is given in footnotes. Warburton, i. 89-161. It is reprinted in Pope's Works (Elwin and Courthope), ii. 85-102.
3 'The observations follow one an
other like those in Horace's Art of Poetry, without that methodical regularity which would have been requisite in a prose author.' Spectator, No.253.
Jon. Richardson says that Pope 'spoke of it as "an irregular collection of thoughts-written in imitation of the irregularity in Horace's Art of Poetry, which he said was beautiful.”' Richardsoniana, 1776, p. 264.
'By long circuit of deduction it may be that even all truth out of any truth may be concluded.' Eccles. Pol. Bk. ii. ch. i. sec. 2.
[avopeia. Nic. Ethic. Bk. iii. ch. Courage' is the more modern
In The Spectator was published The Messiah, which he first submitted to the perusal of Steele, and corrected in compliance with his criticisms 3.
47 It is reasonable to infer, from his letters, that the verses on The Unfortunate Lady were written about the time when his Essay was published. The lady's name and adventures I have sought with fruitless enquiry.
I can therefore tell no more than I have learned from Mr. Ruffhead, who writes with the confidence of one who could trust his information. She was a woman of eminent rank and large fortune, the ward of an unkle 5, who, having given her a proper education, expected like other guardians that she should make at least an equal match; and such he proposed to her, but found it rejected in favour of a young gentleman of inferior condition.
Having discovered the correspondence between the two lovers, and finding the young lady determined to abide by her own
writes Mr. Elwin, followed W. Ayre's Memoirs of Pope [i. 75], 'a miserable compilation.' Pope's Works (Elwin and Courthope), ii. 201. Pope adopted the common incident' of a girl's suicide, and he wished to have it believed that he had a personal interest in her fate.' lb. p. 204. See also ib. v. 130. The account by Warton (Essay, i. 247; Pope's Works, i. 386) and in Johnson's Works, viii. 327 n., is a legend. 'Ruffhead,' said Johnson, 'knew nothing of Pope and nothing of poetry.' Boswell's Johnson, ii. 166. His book is worthless except for a few anecdotes by Warburton.
Horace Walpole, on Dec. 9, 1784, mentions 'the pretended discovery of the lady's name' in Gent. Mag. Nov. 1784, p. 807. 'The writer,' he adds, corroborates the circumstance of the sword. . . . My Lady Hervey, who was acquainted with Pope, and who lived at the time, gave me a very different name, and told me the exit was made in a less dignified manner -by the rope.' Letters, viii. 534. See also post, POPE, 319, and Gent. Mag. 1781, p. 314.
Johnson gives this spelling in his Dictionary:-'Unkle, see Uncle.'
For Johnson on equal matches see Boswell's Johnson, ii. 328.
choice, he supposed that separation might do what can rarely be done by arguments, and sent her into a foreign country, where she was obliged to converse only with those from whom her unkle had nothing to fear.
Her lover took care to repeat his vows; but his letters were 50 intercepted and carried to her guardian, who directed her to be watched with still greater vigilance; till of this restraint she grew so impatient, that she bribed a woman-servant to procure her a sword, which she directed to her heart.
From this account, given with evident intention to raise the 51 lady's character, it does not appear that she had any claim to praise, nor much to compassion. She seems to have been impatient, violent, and ungovernable. Her unkle's power could not have lasted long; the hour of liberty and choice would have come in time. But her desires were too hot for delay, and she liked self-murder better than suspence.
Nor is it discovered that the unkle, whoever he was, is with 52 much justice delivered to posterity as a 'false Guardian''; he seems to have done only that for which a guardian is appointed; he endeavoured to direct his niece till she should be able to direct herself. Poetry has not often been worse employed than in dignifying the amorous fury of a raving girl.
Not long after, he wrote The Rape of the Lock, the most airy 53✓ the most ingenious, and the most delightful of all his compositions, occasioned by a frolick of gallantry, rather too familiar, in which Lord Petre cut off a lock of Mrs. Arabella Fermor's hair. This,
* 'But thou, false guardian of a charge
Thou, mean deserter of thy brother's blood.'
Elegy to the Memory of an Unfortunate Lady, 1. 29.
2 'The original sketch came out in 1712 in Lintot's Misc. ; the machinery was added in 1713, and the enlarged poem was not published till the spring of 1714. Pope's Works (Elwin and Courthope), ii. 114, 120. For the sketch Lintot paid Pope £7, and for the enlarged poem 15. 16. p. 114. Pope wrote to Caryll on March 12, 1714: It has in four days' time sold to the number of three thousand.' Ib. vi. 204. For a reprint of the sketch see ib. ii. 185, and for the characters see Warton, i. 335. See
also post, POPE, 335.
Lord Petre married Miss Walmesley in 1712, and died of small-pox the year after. Burke's Peerage. The Petre family suffered greatly from that disease. In Ann. Reg. 1762, i. 78, it is recorded that the Hon. John Petre, who died lately aged twenty-four, is said to be the eighteenth person of that family that has died of it in twenty-seven years.' Miss Fermor, in 1714, married Mr. Perkins, of Ufton Court, near Reading. She died in 1738. Pope's Works (Elwin and Courthope), ii. 146. The title of 'Mrs.' was still applied to young unmarried ladies. Miss' was often used of courtesans. See Boswell's Johnson, v. 185, n. I.