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to ask if the poet's disgusting couplet ap-| coarse vices and mean aims, and it may be plied to her a significant proof of the frank questioned whether any of the Queen Anne coarseness of the age. Had she remained men excepting Sir Richard Steele, whose silent the provocation would have been for- compliment to Lady Elizabeth Hastings degotten, and she would have commanded serves to be immortal, ever paid to women the sympathy of the world. the homage which they deserve. We should recollect, too, that in accordance with the spirit of the time were the "toasts "who ruled the town. Women of rank spoke, wrote, and even acted in a way of which any modest woman would now be ashamed, and it must be owned that the vices and follies of fashionable life afforded ample grounds for satire. We have but to read Lord Hervey's Memoirs, the letters of Lady Mary, and the correspondence of the Countess of Suffolk, to see the loose views with regard to the relation of the sexes which then prevailed; and while the exquisite raillery of Addison and Steele shows us how women appeared in society, Swift's letters to Stella, and Pope's letters to Teresa and Martha Blount, prove (that is, if Stella and the Blounts may be regarded as representative woman) that the delicacy which should guard such an intercourse was in those days unknown.
We have mentioned but two quarrels of the many which engaged Pope's thoughts and pen, and for our purpose these will suffice; but it is significant that not only was the poet quarrelling through the best portion of his life, but that his spirit seems to have animated several of the editors and authors who have attempted to vindicate or blacken his name. Warburton, who did a a great deal of dirty work for Pope in his notes to the Dunciad, was continually slashing right and left at real or imaginary foes: he abused his friends, he maligned his enemies, he condescended to mean acts, such, unhappily, as he might have learnt from Pope, and he disgraced his name and his profession by a succession of ignoble quarrels. "I do not know," said Dr. Johnson to the king, who talked of the controversy, between Warburton and Lowth, "which of them calls names best." No sooner was Pope dead than Bolingbroke, who had wept over his deathbed and was appointed his sole executor, began to traduce his memory, and what he could not decently say himself he paid Mallet to say for him. Between the philosopher and the bishop there raged, according to Disraeli, a mortal hatred, and without tracing all the literary quarrels that had their fountain-head at Twickenham, it will suffice to refer to the battle (we cannot use a milder word) at the beginning of this century between Bowles and Roscoe, in which Byron and Campbell took so prominent a part.
We do not think that Mrs. Oliphant is just to Pope; indeed we never knew any lady who wrote of him impartially. The reason is obvious. Pope's false and scandalous charges against the sex," as Miss Mitford terms them, are enough to alienate all good women. He is the only English poet of mark who has not written of the better half of mankind with chivalry and homage. Some of our poets have sinned grievously as writers of licentious verse, but the worst of them have shown fealty to the purity and dignity of woman. Pope, although he had a mother whom he loved with tenderness, has done nothing of the kind. On the contrary, he has struck at women with his keenest weapons, has libelled them, sneered at them, raised the laugh against them, and displayed a capacity for insult that has never been surpassed. We should remember, however, that the age was one of
This is one of the marks which distinguish that century from our own; another pointed out by Mrs. Oliphant and by other writers may deserve a word of comment. Never before or since has the profession of literature offered such prizes to its votaries. Men who followed the Muses* succesfully were not only hailed as poets, but rewarded with the honours of statesmen and diplomatists. Poetry led to office with as much certainty as sheep-stealing led to Tyburn, and the man who could tag verses was accounted fit to enjoy the highest offices in the state. Addison, who could not make a speech, was secretary of state; Tickell, a pleasant poet, was under-secretary, and the same post had been held by Rowe; Prior was minister at Paris; Garth was knighted and appointed physician to George I.; Congreve was secretary for the island of Jamaica, and had a comfortable place in the customs; Yalden succeeded Atterbury as bishop of Rochester; Steele was a commissioner of the Stamp Office, a surveyor of the royal stables at Hampton Court, governor of the royal company of comedians, and a knight; Mallet was under-secretary to the Prince of Wales; Gay, who was of fered the post of gentleman usher to the Princess Louisa, considered himself slighted by the proposal. There remain the two greatest men of letters of that time, Swift and Pope. The former ruled the ministers, made many fortunes for others, but could not make his own, for the queen disliked
him, and refused to promote a clergyman to high ecclesiastical honours who had written A Tale of a Tub. Pope's feeble health as well as his proscribed faith shut him out from the prizes bestowed on inferior men, but his poetry gained him a competence, and his company was courted by the highest personages in the land. That he was feared more than he was loved was not disagreeable to the poet who wrote the bold couplet:
Yes, I am proud, I must be proud, to see
Yet he had a few tried friends to whom he was constantly attached, and when we remember the fidelity to Pope, of men like Atterbury, Arbuthnot, and Swift, and the fact that he gave away in charity an eighth part of his income, we can accept, though with some reservation, the warm assertion of Bolingbroke, when the poet was dying, that he never knew a man in his life who had so tender a heart for his particular friends, or a more general friendship for mankind. "In all Savage's misfortunes," says Mr. Carruthers, "Pope evinced an active and unwearied sympathy," and as an instance of his tenderness we are reminded that when Swift wrote to Pope upon leaving England for what proved to be the last time, the poet on reading the farewell letter wept like a girl." To this we may add that his conduct to Atterbury was noble, and that no son ever loved his parents more sincerely, or treated them with more filial care. What admirer of Pope does not remember the beautiful lines on his mother, who lived to a great age to enjoy the glory of her son?.
Explore the thought, explain the asking eye,
the few lines he wrote to Martha Blount upon the death of his father? My poor father died last night. Believe since I don't forget you this moment I never shall." We are glad, by the way, to see that neither Mrs. Oliphant nor Mr. Ward believes there is any truth in the aspersions of Bowles with regard to Pope's intimacy with Teresa Blount and afterwards with her sister. The Prebendary of Salisbury, with the best intentions in the world, has injured the poet's memory not by the discovery of new facts, but by insinuations with regard to those previously familiar. He continually hints a fault and throws out a suspicion, and has a
fatal facility of misinterpretation. friendly but indefinite connection," he says, a strange mixture of passion, gallantry, licentiousness, and kindness had long taken place between himself and the Miss Blounts," a statement for which the sole foundation must be sought in the mind of the writer. "Scandal alone," says Mr. Ward," (or hyperconscientious biography) has contrived to pervert the character of his (Pope's) relations towards the ladies of Mapledurham;" and Mrs. Oliphant writes with a fine and womanly appreciation of the position:
He was not a man whom it was possible to marry; a fact which, in itself, though not complimentary to the hero, was, as it continues to be, a wonderful recommendation to female friendship. It is indeed the only thing wanting to make that much disputed possibility — a true and warm friendship between man and woman without any mixture of love into a real and pleasant fact. Fools will scoff no doubt, and critics of impure imaginations revile; but it must be a very lively fancy indeed which can suppose any closer bond between the little poet and these two beautiful sisters. tha Blount made up to Pope for the sister whom he had not, for the wife whom he could not have, and yet was unlike both wife and sister. The link is one so fine, so delicate, so natural, that it is next to impossible to define it; and all the more so as vanity on both sides so seldom permits any realization of this touching and consolatory bond.
Again she writes, and the beauty of the passage tempts us to quote it:
There is something in this long faithfulness of a life to a tie which was enforced by no bonds either of law or custom, which in itself has a certain nobleness. It is supposed that Mrs. Martha fell into evil repute with some strait-laced people in consequence of this close friendship; but it is one of the cases in which evil thinking must have been driven to the last strait to compound its fables. If anybody might have been allowed the solace of a sympathetic woman's friendship, it surely should have been the deformed and invalid Pope.
And here it may be observed in passing that scarcely one of the poet's associates knew anything of the charms of domestic life. Swift succeeded in making two women hopelessly miserable, and himself also; Steele loved his " dearest Prue" as much as she would let him, but the lady's exactions and the husband's failings forbade all harmony; Gay, one of Pope's best friends, was a bachelor; so also were Spence, Thomson, and the most illustrious of his poetical successors, Thomas Gray; Addison married for position, and had his reward; Lady Mary married without affection, and had hers also,
to wit, separation from her husband and two and twenty years of banishment from England; Wycherley lived a dissolute life, and married to ease his conscience when life was despaired of; Bolingbroke was an utter profligate, and destroyed the happiness of a good wife by his unblushing licentiousness; but Warburton, who owed to Pope his wife and his bishopric, appears to have been happy in both possessions.
It would be curious to collect some of the contradictory opinions with regard to Pope, asserted frequently as if they bore the authority of facts. He has been called the most modest and laborious of all our poets, and he has been called the most lazy. The Quarterly gives him credit for an intense eagerness after knowledge; Mr. De Quincey dwells upon his luxurious indolence, and intimates that reading so desultory as his cannot be called study; Mrs. Oliphant, again, considers and she is quite safe in making the observation that we cannot tell whether he would have made a greater poet if he had tossed his books aside, renounced his " unintermitting study," and lived more under the eye of nature. That he did study at Binfield, as Milton studied at Horton, is, we think, evident from the prescription of Dr. Radcliffe, that the young man was to study less, and ride on horseback every day. His time, says Dr. Johnson, was wholly spent in reading and writing, and he observes that he improved the benefits of nature by incessant and unwearied diligence. Again he adds in a genuine bit of Johnsonese:
He was one of the few whose labour is their pleasure; he was never elevated to negligence, nor wearied to impatience; he never passed a fault unamended by indifference, nor quitted it by despair. He laboured his works, first to gain reputation, and afterwards to keep it.
We may add that, considering what Pope accomplished in a life which was one long disease," it is impossible to doubt that he possessed the power of work, as well as the creative faculty. In truth, a man of real genius who is also incapable of steady application is comparatively a rare phenome
ONE of Pope's innumerable panegyrists has the folly to term him a "sacred bard." He could not have hit upon a less appropriate designation.
It is possible to admire Pope keenly, but he is not the man to claim our veneration, and nothing he has done entitles him to rank among the divine poets who have brought heaven nearer to earth.
There are a few sublime passages in Pope, but he is not a sublime poet; a few religious passages, but he is not a religious poet; and his high reputation is due to his inimitable work as the poet of satire and society. No man ever had his genius more entirely under control; no man ever used his powers with more consummate ability, no poet ever discerned more clearly the limitation of his art. We may frankly acknowledge that his excellence is supreme of its kind. His biographers are many, his commentators abound, and learned labour is devoted to obscure passages; to edit Pope well is to earn a literary reputation, and many a small poetaster has gained a temporary fame by catching the twang of his verse and the monotonous harmony of his periods.
Pope's poetry never excites within us a tempest of enthusiasm. It calls forth admiration, not passion; a vivid interest, but not a profound delight. With the exception of some of the very early pieces, everything he has done is of its kind excellent. In his poems, we have the finest wit, the keenest irony, the most brilliant satire. He stabs a reputation or confers one with a word. To be praised by Pope, as Arbuthnot, Bolingbroke, and Bethel are praised, is to gain a literary immortality; to be laughed at by him is to be laughed at by the world for evermore.
In intellectual force he was probably inferior to John Dryden; but Pope has what Dryden had not an exquisitely delicate fancy, a perfect sense of fitness and proportion, and that charming felicity of language which marks the skill of a consummate artist. Leigh Hunt complains somewhere that Pope's versification is a veritable seesaw, and there is a certain reasonableness in his complaint. Take a single instance of this here-we-go-up and here-we-go-down style:
See the same man, in vigour, in the gout,
Such lines remind us of a couplet in Pope's satire of Lord Hervey, which it is possible Hunt may have had in his mind in making the assertion to which we have just
His wit all see-saw between that and this,
Yet this is true only of Pope at his worst, and is true but rarely. The greatness of
Than what more humble mountains offer here,
Pope is seen in his immeasurable superiority | Not proud Olympus yields a nobler sight, to all his imitators, and they are legion; his Though gods assembled grace his towering inferiority is manifest when brought into competition with great imaginative poets like Keats or Shelley or Wordsworth. These men moved altogether in another sphere. They were interpreters of nature, and of nature Pope knew even less than they knew of society. There is no clash between poets of such different orders, for there is no point of contact; and it speaks little for a reader's sympathy or intellectual grasp if he cannot enter into the spiritual beauty of Wordsworth, the luxurious imagination of Keats, the perfect music of Shelley, and yet enjoy at the same time with keenest relish such poems as the Moral Essays or the Rape of the Lock. Indeed, whether it be from indolence of mind, or from some other less obvious cause, it is certain that high art is not always that which affords us the highest pleasure. In certain moods (they are perhaps the most frequent) we prefer Hogarth to Raffael and Goldsmith to Milton, we like a farce better than a tragedy, and a domestic tale than a great historical romance.
It is possible that the even mediocrity of Pope may have enhanced his reputation. He never rises above the apprehension of his readers; his imagination never soars into a region too lofty for their wings to follow him. This, indeed, is a characteristic of the Queen Anne men. We see it in Addison and Swift and Steele; we see it strikingly in Defoe; we see it in the theological and political writings of the period. In an age in which Pope was the most perfect artist, in which he and Addison and Swift ruled in the domain of letters, in which theologians found their spokesman in Atterbury and polemists in Sacheverell, the splendid heroes of an earlier and greater century would have found no resting-place. Milton, fierce dispu ant though he was, would have scorned the peddling animosities and petty jealousies which occupied the Twickenham poet; Atterbury's courtly genius, of the earth earthy, would have had no attractions for Jeremy Taylor, the Chrysostom of English divines.
We are accustomed to call Pope the poet of artifical life, and the remark is not to be gainsayed. If there had been no cities there would have been no Pope. He sings of men and women, not of nature; or when he does make an attempt, as in his Windsor Forest, to describe natural objects, his heart is not in the work. That poem is full of the conventional phraseology now happily rejected by poets. Take a single and brief speci
When Pope had attained the summit of his fame, a Scotchman came to London with scarce a penny in his pocket, but with strong hope in his heart. He had not money enough to buy himself a pair of boots, but he had written a poem called Winter, and this poem was not only destined to make the poet's fortune, but to effect a revolution in English poetry. We are apt to forget how much we owe to Thomson, whose landscape, as Mr. Palgrave has well observed, seems conventional to us, 66 although it startled his contemporaries like a heresy." He led our poets back to the nature which they had long deserted, and in spite of his affectation may be regarded as the poetic ancestor of Cowper. Thomson, who flourished on his genius, and became " more fat than bard beseems," was a near neighbour of the Twickenham poet; and Thomson's hairdresser relates that when Pope called on his brother bard he usually wore a light coloured great coat, which he kept on in the house. (we quote the barber's opinion) "a strange, ill-formed little figure of a man, but I have heard him and Quin and Patterson talk so together at Thomson's that I could have listened to them forever." One of the most interesting points in connection with the intimacy that existed between Pope and Thomson is the fact that the elder poet revised the Seasons, and that his alterations were adopted by the author. In this instance alone did Pope try his hand at blank verse, and certainly, in the passage quoted by Mr. Carruthers, in which Lavinia is compared to a myrtle blooming in the hollow breast of the mountains, beneath the shelter of encircling hills," Pope has not only produced a beautiful simile, but has proved that he
• He was
might have been occasionally successful in blank verse. We say occasionally, for Pope's poetical instrument was as indubitably the heroic couplet as Paganini's musical instrument was the fiddle. On the whole," says Mr. Pattison, "the rhythm of the heroic couplet, as settled by Pope, must ever remain the classical model of English versification. In the latter half of the eighteenth century, when the reaction against the poetry of good sense set in, it was not thought enough to depart from the style of Pope unless his metre was rejected also. The return to nature in the poetical revolution, was attempted by throwing off law. The aspiration to reach a higher melody' by means of lawless rhythms has led us back to the barbarous versification of the seventeenth century, and much is written as poetry which can only deserve to be so called because it is not prose.' To this we may add, that no poet of these later days who has appeared before the world as a revolutionist in metre has permanently won the ear of the public.
Pope, it may be worth observing, is one of the few great English poets, three or four at most, who never produced a sonnet; and he shows little if any trace of lyrical power. Again, he has written none of the verses which children love, nor any lines which grown-up people care to croon over in moments of weakness or sorrow. In his works the wit o'ertops the poetry, the intellect gets the better of the heart, and thus he wins admiration from his readers rather than affection. It is this deficiency which sometimes prevents men of imaginative power and large culture from appreciating Pope at all. Thus, Southey told Rogers that he had read Spenser through about thirty times, and that he could not read Pope through once. On the other hand, some minds of a very high order, but more remarkable for breadth of intellect than for emotional susceptibilities, have found the fullest satisfaction in the poetry of Pope, and we are reminded by Mr. Pattison that he was the favourite poet of Immanuel Kant. J. D.
Nature reports the discovery at Hautevillesur-Mer, France, near to a rock called Maulieu, of a bed of vegetable mould, in which repose trunks of trees, still holding by their roots, along with a layer of turf. At high tide this bed is covered to the depth of about twelve inches. The oak alone has preserved its hardness, the other woods having become quite soft, but still preserving their colour and even their bark. It is believed that the immersion occurred about the eighth century.
Pall Mall Gazette.
From The Pall Mall Gazette.
THE DISTURBANCES IN ITALY.
THE recent outbreaks in so many different parts of Italy betoken a very uneasy state of things in that country. More, indeed, have taken place than have found their way into Reuter's telegrams, which, with an occasional extract from some Ministerial organ, form the sole source of information to most English readers. Besides the movements in the garrison towns of the north, which were chiefly serious as showing the defection of part of the army, there was some weeks ago a not inconsiderable rising at Massa Carrara, in which the Carabineers on the spot were overpowered, and were only rescued by reinforcements summoned by telegraph. Discoveries of arms and ammunition are said to have been made by the police both in Milan and Florence, and in the former town the muskets of the national guards have been removed from the charge of the municipality to that of the royal forces. The outbreak of the students in the University of Florence, which the telegraph has reported, was preceded by one among the students at Naples, in which cries of Republican character were loud. In the Calabrian provinces the risings have been serious, no less than a thousand men having been reported as in arms, and every available soldier has been despatched from Naples to the scene. On the borders of the Tuscan Maremma also there is a band on foot, which Signor Lanza described in the Chamber as of small size, but which has been joined by a number of the coastguard officers, and at Leghorn there have been a large number of preventive arrests effected. These movements are all avowedly Republican, yet we do not think they form part of a general scheme of rising, for they are isolated and consecutive rather than combined, and they have not been supported as yet by any sign from Lombardy, where Republicanism is at once strongest, most determined, and probably best organized. More likely they are only the outbursts of local impatience, an explanation which is helped by the fact that they are stated to be generally set on foot by bands of young men, who suddenly take the field, and on the failure of the first blow seem to sink out of sight among the population of the neighbourhood.
But it is an exceedingly ugly symptom when, even conceding there is no organization, armed revolt bursts out sporadically over the whole country, from Parma to Palermo, and when the North seems to be quietly biding its time till the moment for a decisive movement arrives. That the young