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As a poem, the beauty of the epistle has exhausted panegyric: it has long been acknowleged to be the richest, most varied, and most pathetic, display of Pope. Abandoning for once the stateliness and severe dignity of his style, he gave way to his feelings, and showed himself a master of unsuspected passion. With the exception of the 'Elegy on an Unfortunate Lady,' it is the only instance in which he thus let loose his sensibilities; and it is equally the only instance in which he changed the strict model of his language for the luxuriant epithets and picturesque beauty of the old English versification. His betrayal into passion may not improbably be accounted for by his correspondence with lady Wortley Montague. With this celebrated woman Pope evidently either was, or imagined himself to be, in love. The epistle was written in 1716, immediately after her departure with her husband on the embassy to Constantinople. In a letter to Martha Blount from Oxford, he says, “I am here, studying ten hours a day, but thinking of

you in spite of all the learned. The epistle of Eloisa grows warm, and begins to have some breathings of the heart in it, which may make posterity think I was in love: I can scarce find in my heart to leave out the conclusion I once intended for it.' To this conclusion he alludes, with a still more direct reference, in a letter to lady Mary, accompanying the volume of his · Miscellaneous Works, published in 1717. 'I send you with this the third volume of the Iliad, and as many other things as fill a wooden box, directed to Mr. Wortley : among the rest, you have all I am worth, that is, my works: there are few things in them but what you have already seen, except the epistle of Eloisa to Abelard, in which you will find one passage that I cannot tell whether to wish you to understand or not.' The passage thus doubly marked, as containing the poet's purpose in the work, is the well-known close of the poem :

And sure, if fate some future bard shall join
In sad similitude of griefs to mine;
Condemn'd whole years in absence to deplore,
And image charms he must behold no.more;
Such if there be, who loves so long, so well ;-
Let him our sad, our tender story tell :
The well-sung woes will soothe my pensive ghost:
He best can paint them who shall feel them most.

POPE.

II.

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ARGUMENT.

ABELARD and Eloisa florished in the twelfth century: they were two of the most distinguished persons of their age in learning and beauty, but for nothing more famous than for their unfortunate passion. After a long course of calamities, they retired each to a several convent, and consecrated the remainder of their days to religion. It was many years after this separation, that a letter of Abelard to a friend, which contained the history of his misfortune, fell into the hands of Eloisa : this, awakening all her tenderness, occasioned those celebrated letters, out of which the following is partly extracted; which give so lively a picture of the struggles of grace and nature, virtue and passion.-POPE.

A traveller who visited the convent about the year 1768, (see Annual Register) says, that its situation and prospects by no means resemble Pope's beautiful and romantic description of it. Father St. Romain, the officiating priest, walked with him round the whole demesne. The abbess, who was in her eighty-second year, desired to see our traveller; for she said she was his countrywoman, and allied to the extinct families of Lifford and Stafford : she was aunt to the then duke de Rochefoucault; and being fifth in succession, as abbess of that convent, hoped it would become a kind of patrimony. We know, alas ! what has

since happened both to her family and her convent! The community seemed to know but little of the afflicting story of their founder: little remains of the original building but a few pointed arches. In examining the tombs of these unfortunate lovers, he observed that Eloisa appeared much taller than Abelard.-Warton.

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