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The life and writings of Pope, “ the great Poet of Reason,” and “ the Prince of Rhyme,” have cx-
haufted the copiousness of Ruffhead, and received every posible illustration from the candid and
well informed criticism of Spence, the clegant and classical taste of Dr. Warton, and the acute pre-
cilior of Dr. Johnson.

The facts (tated, in the present account, are chicfiy taken from the narratives of Ruffhead, and
Dr. Johnson, whose copiousness and accuracy leave little to be correted or supplied.

Ruffhead's information was collected from origisal manuscripés, communicated by Warburton,
and Dr. Johnson's intelligence from Spence's MS. collections, communicated by the Duke of New-

Alexander Pope was born in London, May 22, 1688. His father, Alexander Pope, was a linen.'
draper in the Strand, of a good family in Oxfordshire, and a distant relation of the Earl of Downe.
His mother, Editha Turner, was the daughter of William Turner, Esq. of York. She had three
brothers, one of whom was killed, another died in the service of Charles I, and the eldest, on the
discomfiture of the royalists, going abroad, and becoming a general officer in Spain, left her what
semained of the family estate, after sequestrations and forfeiture. Both parents were Papifts.

About the time of the Revolution, his father quitted his trade, and retired to Binfield in Windfor
Forest, worth about 20,000 l. which he put into' a chest, and spent as he wanted it; for, being a
Papilt, he could not purchase land, and he made a point of conscience not to lend it to the new
government; so that when Pope came to the inheritance, great part of the money was expended.

He was, from his birth, of a very delicate constitution, but is said to have shown remarkable gen-
tleness and sweetness of disposition. His voice, when he was young, was so pleasing, that he was
called in fondness “ the little nightingale."

He was taught to read very carly by an aunt, and when he was seven or eight years old, dir. covered an eager desire for information and improvement. He first learned to write by copying printed books, which he executed with great neatness and accuracy; though his ordinary hand was not clegant.

Ae eight years old he was placed in Hampshire, under Taverner, a Romish prielt, who taught him
the Greek and Lacin rudiments together. He mee with“ Ogilby's Homer,” and “Sandys's Ovid,”
which he read with a delight that showed the bent of inis genius. Ogilby's assistance he never re-
paid with any praise; but of Sandys he declared in his notes to the Iliad, that English poetry owed
much of its beauty to bis translations.

He was sent from Taverner, under whom his proficiency was considerable, to a private school at
Twyford near Winchester, where he continued a year; from this school he was sent to another at
Hyde Park Corner, being then about ten years of age.

In the two last schools he considered himself as having made very little progress, of which he was
so sensible, that among his earliest pieces, there is a satire on his master at Twyford; yet, under those
masiers, he tranflated more than a fourth part of “ Ovid's Metamorphoses."

While he was at the school at Hyde Park Corner, he was frequently carried to the play house, and was so captivated with the drama, that he turned the chief transactions of the “ Iliad” into a kind of play, composed of a number of specches from Ogilby's translation, corected with verses of

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He prevailed upon his school-fellows to take part in this play, and upon his master's gardener, to ad the part of Ajar.

At twelve years old, he was called by his father to Binfield, and there he had for a few months the alistance of one Deane, another pricht, of whom he learned only to construe a little of “ Tully's Ofices," which, after having translated “ Ovid,” he might certainly do without great advances in learning.

Hitherto, then, he must have known little niore than what he learned during one year under Taverner; and from this time, till twenty, he became his own preceptor; and gained what other knowledge he had by reading the classics, especially the poets, to whom he applied with great alliduity and delight.

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His primary and principal purpose was to be a poet, with which his father accidentally concurred, by proposing subjects, and obliging him to correct his performance, by many revisals, after which, when he was satisfied, he would say, " These are good rhymes."

In perusing the English poets he soon distinguished the versification of Dryden, which he considered as the model to be studied, and was impreffed with such veneration for his inftru&or, that he persuaded a friend to conduct him to a coffee-house which Dryden frequented, and pleased himself with having seen him.

.“ Who does not with that Dryden could have known the value of the homage that was paid him, and foreseen the greatness of his young admirer ?"

The earliest of his productions is the Ode on Solirude, written when he was twelve, in which there is nothing remarkable.

His time was now wholly spent in reading and writing. He soon learned to read Homer in the original, as he himself records in one of his imitations of Horace.

Bred up at home, full early I begun

To read in Greek the wrath of Peleus' son. As he read the classics, he amused himself with translating them; and at fourteen made a version of the firkt book of the Thebaid of Statius, which, with some revision, he afterwards published. He translated likewise the Epiflle of Sappho to Pbaon, and Dryope and Pomona, from Ovid, which ha afterwards printed.

He was also tempted, by “ Dryden's Fables,” to try his skill in reviving and imitating Chaucer's January and May, and the Prologue of tbe Wife of Batb, which he put into modern English.

He sometimes imitated the English poets, and professed to have written about this time, the poem upon Silence, in imitation of Rochester's “ Nothing." (He had now formed his versification, alhised by the rich melody of Dryden ; and the smoothness of his numbers surpassed his original.)

When he was fifteen, having made a considerable progress in the learned languages, he went to London to learn the French and Italian, which, by diligent application, he soon acquired.

He then returned to Binfield, and delighted himself with his own poetry. He wrote a comedy, a tragedy, Aleander an epic poem in four books, with panegyrics on all the princes of Europe ; and, as he confesses, " thought himself the greatest genius that ever was."

The subject of the comedy is not known, but the tragedy was founded on the legend of St. Ge. nevieve. Most of his puerile productions were afterwards destroyed. The epic poem was burne by the persuasion of Atterbury. Some of its extravagancies are produced in the Art of Sinking in poetry, figned Anonymous.

About this time, it is related, that he translated Tully on Old Age; and that, besides his books of poetry and criticism, he read “ Temple's Essays," and “ Locke on Human Understanding."

Books were not the only means through which he acquired information. He early procured the acquaintance of men of talents and literature, and improved himself by conversation.

At fixteen, he acquired the friendship of Sir William Trumball, a Itatesman of fixty, who had been in the highest offices at home and abroad.

From that age, the life of Pope, as an author, may be properly computed. He now wrote his Paflor rals, which were for some time handed about among poets, and critics, and at latt printed in Tonson's " Miscellany," 1709, in the same volume with the “ Pastorals” of Philips.

He had by this time become acquainted with Garth, Steele, Gay, Addison, Congreve, Granville, Halifax, Somers, Walsh, Wycherly, Cromwell, and other wits. He loft the friendship of Wycherly, by correcting his bad poetry, and of Cromwell, by corre&ing his bad taste.

Their correspondence afforded the public its first knowledge of Pope's epistolary powers; for his letters were given by Cromwell to Mrs. Thomas, and she, many years afterwards, sold them to Çurll, who inserted them in a volume of his miscellanics.

Wallh was one of his first encouragers. He received an advice froni him, which seems to have regulated his studies. Walsh advised him to correancss, hitherto negle&ed by the Englifh poets, and therefore an untrodden path to fame.

He had now declared himself a poet, and thinking himself entitled to poetical conversation, began at seventeen to frequen: Will's Coffee-house, where the wits of that time used to assemble. Soon after the Pastorals, appeared ohc Eduy on Critici

, m, which procured him, as it deserved,

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very high character. It was praised by Addison, attacked by Dennis, and commented by Warburton, who has discovered in it such order and connection as was not perceived by Addison, nor, as is said, intended by the author. It has been translated into French by Hamilton, by Robotham, and by Resnel. It has also been tranflated into Latin verse by several writers; particularly by Smart, and Dr. Kirkpatrick, the author of a poem called “ The Sea-Piece," which, though it is little known, bas many very fine passages.

About the same time, he wrote the Ode for St. Cecilia's'Day, which he undertook at the desire of Steele.

so the “ Spe&ator” was published the Meliab, which he first fubmitted to the perufal of Sccele, and corrected in compliance with his criticisnı.

The Elegy to the Memory of an Unfortunat: Lady, was probably written about the time when his Efay on Criticism was published. Who the lady was, has not been ascertained. According to Ruff head, she was a woman of high rank and large fortune, the ward of an uncle; she was in love with a young gentleman of an inferior condition. The uncle disapproved of her attachment, and proposed another person as a match. Finding she was determined to abide by her own choice, he sent her abroad. Deprived of every opportunity of conversing or corresponding wich her lover, the became desperate, and procured a sword, which the directed to her heart.

In the" Gentleman's Magazine," vol. li. p. 314, it is asserted, that the lady's name was Within. bury; that the was in love with Pope, and would have married him; that her guardian, though she was deformed in her person, looked upon such a match as beneath her, and sent her to a convent, where she put an end co her life. How far this account is true, cannot be known. Pope certainly, from the Elegy, and the concluding lines of the Eloisa, appears to have been very deeply affeded by her fate. Dr. Johnson has censured her conduct with unreasonable severity. Hafty and culpable she was undoubtedly; but it ought to be considered, that no person ever has, or can be happy against violent inclinations, with constancy to a forced partner for life. To those on whom love has made a deep impression, nothing but its object can give happiness or peace of mind; confiderations, indeeds that weigh little with the family pride of parents. It is evident that an in. dulgence of passion may be attended with happiness, but that the disappointment of it cannot.

In 1712, he produced The Dying Christian to bis Soul, in imitation of the verses of Adrian, and the fragment of Sappbo, by the advice of Steele. It strongly resembles an ode of Flaeman, of whom be was probably a reader, as he certainly was of Crashaw, Carew, Quarles, and Herbert.

He contributed to the Spectator, Nos. 464, 408, and 409, and some other papers.

In 1712, he published The Rape of the Lock, in its present form. It was occafioned by a frolic of gallantry, in which Lord Peere cut off a lock of Mrs. Arabella Fermor's hair. This trifling cause produced a serious quarrel between the two families. Mr. Caryll

, Secretary to King James's Queen, and author of the comedy of “Sir Solomon Single," and of several translations in “ Dryden's Miltellanies,” solicited Pope to endeavour a reconciliation, by a ludicrous poeni. The first sketch was written in less than a fortnight, and published in 1711, in two cantos, without his name. received so well, that he enlarged it by the addition of the machinery of the Sylpbs, and extended it into five cantos. At its first appearance, Addison declared it was " meetum fal," a delicious little thing, and gave him ao encouragement to retouch it. This was imputed to jealousy in Addison, but contains no proof that he was actuated by any bad pafliop., Pope fortunately did not follow Addison's advice; his attempt was justified by success.

When the Guardian was begun, he contributed the paper concerning the little club, under the name of Dick Difficb, a letter ligned Gratbo, a description of the Gardens of Alcinous, and a very severe ironical criticism on “ Philips's Pastorals," in which he pretends to praise Philips, but with great art takes the superiority to himself.

About this time, he published The Temple of Fame, written two years before; which, as Steele ob. serres, has a thousand beauties.

10 1713, he published Win for Foreft, of which part was written at fixteen, and the latter was added afterwards. It is dedicated to Lapsdowne, who was then high in reputation and influence among the l'ories.

When the tragedy of " Cato” made its appearance, he introduced it by a solemn and sublime prologue; and when Dennis published his “ Remarks," undertook, not indeed to vindicate, but to.


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revenge Addison by A Narrative of the Madnes of John Dennis. Addison exprefed no approbatior of the ridicule of Pepe against Dennis, and perhaps did not think he deserved much by his officious.cfs.

Two other pamphlets, published about this time against Edmund Curll, a bookseller, who lived by the publication and sale of productions on which respectable men of the profession would have no intereft, are ascribed to Pope, and printed in " Pope and Swift's Miscellanies.” Curll was concerned in many libellous pieces, both against individuals and the state; but it cannot be denied that English literature owes him considerable obligations.

About this time, he wrote the Epislle from Eloisa to Abelard; in eonsequence, as Savage told Dr. Johnson, of his perusal of Prior's “ Nutbrown Maid,” which it not only excells, but every composition of the same kind.

He had a strong inclination to unite the Art of Painting with that of Poetry, and put himself order the tuition of Jervas, to whom, about this time, he addressed an encomiaftic Epiftle, with

Dryden's translation of Fresnoy."

A picture of Betterton, copied by Pope from Kneller, was in the possession of the late Earl of Mansfield, and is said to be still ae Caenwood.

After Betterton's death, he published, under his name, a version into modern English, of Chaucer's prologues, and one of his tales, which were believed by l'enton to have been the performance of Pope himself.

In 1713, when he was in his twenty-fifth year, he circulated proposals for publishing his translation of the Iliad, with notes, by subscription, in 6 vols. 4to, for fix guineas.

The proposals were very favourably received; and the leading men, political and literary, of both parties, were busy to recommend his undertaking, and to promote his intereft; but the Turics, in general, encouraged the subscription much more than the Whigs.

To him the hands of jarring faction join,

To hcap their tribute on bis Homer's shrine. Hayley. His contract with Lintot the bookseller was very advantagcous. It was agreed that he should re. ceive 200 l. for the copy-right of each volume, and that Lintot should supply the copies to be de. livered to subscribers, or presented to friends, at his own expence.

The subscribers were five hundred and seventy-five. The copies for which fubscriptions were given, were fix hundred and fifty-four ; but only fix hundred and sixty were printed. For those copies Pope had nothing to pay; he therefore received, including the two hundred pounds a volume, five thousand three hundred and twenty pounds four shillings, without deduction.

At first he found himself embarrassed with difficulties, which retarded his progress; but practice increased his facility of verlification, and in a short time he represents himself as dispatching regularly fifty lines a-day.

It is not very likely, as Dr. Johnson obferves, that he overflowed with Greek; but Latin tranf. lations were always at hand, and from them be could obtain his author's sense with sufficiens certainty. He had the poetical translation of Eobanus Heffus, the French Homers of La Valterie, and Dacier, and the English of Chapman, Hobbes, and Ogilby. With Chapman he had very frequent consultations; and perhaps never translated any paliage till he had read his version, which, indeed, he has been sometimes suspected of using instead of the original.

Broome, in the preface to his “ Poems,” declares himself the commentator, “ in part upon the iliad;" and it appears from Fenton's letter, preserved in the Musevni, that Broome was at first cn. gaged in consulting Exftatbius, of whole work there was then no Latin verfion; but that after a time, he deafted. Another Cambridge man was then employed, who foon grew weary of the work; and a third, that was recommended by Thirlby, is now discovered to have been Jortin, a man lince well known to the learned world, who complained that Pope having accepted and approved his performance, never teftified any curiosity to see him. Broome then offered his service a second time, and was probably accepted, as they had afterwards a closer correspondence.

Parnell contributed the Life of Homer which Pope found so harsh, that he took great pains in correcting it; and by his own diligence, with such help as kindness or money could procure him, in somewhat more than five years, he completed the Englikh Iliad, with notes, which is allowed to be the best version of poetry that ever was written ; and its publication must, therefore, be sonfidered as one of the great events in the annals of learning. Halifax expected the dedication



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