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studied the old poets with avidity, grasped ideas and suggestions with acuteness, paraphrased with rare skill, and polished with exquisite art whatever he borrowed from others, being always more mindful of the brilliancy of the polish than of the solid worth of the metal. In his method he was slow and deliberate, and he rewrote and corrected his work so often that the finished verse seemed entirely different from the first draft. Swift called him "paper-saving Pope," because he carried about with him scraps of paper upon which to jot down felicitous thoughts before they should escape him. By his method he succeeds in dressing ideas and sentiments in brilliant colors and correct style. He is terse sometimes to obscurity, abounds in antitheses, is perfect in harmony, graceful and polished in diction, though not always perfect in rime. He employs all the known poetic artifices, producing thus an artful as opposed to an artistic style. It is a noticeable fact that he wrote nothing in blank verse, and that much the greater part of his work is in the ten-syllabled verse with riming couplets. But he carried this form of verse to a higher degree of perfection than did his master, Dryden, from the study of whose works he professed to have learned the art of versification, and he is therefore called "the prince of the artificial school of poetry.”

As a translator Pope is not altogether inconspicuous, even if his translations do not exhale the spirit of the original. The mercenary motive was probably as much an incentive as the artistic idea in his so-called translation of Homer. He had in his mind the writing of an epic, but his physical condition would not have admitted such a strain upon his vitality. Neither was he qualified by classical learning for the adequate performance of such a task, whereas all that he needed for his translation was a

clew to the sense, which he could get from older versions and by the aid of friends. A pretty poem,” said Mr. Bentley, “but you must not call it Homer.” But “pretty" things please; hence the poem was accepted by his contemporaries and immediate successors as a masterpiece of poetic art, and it became the "accepted standard of style for nearly a century."

The Rape of the Lock” was founded on a local incident. Lord Petre having, in a moment of audacity, cut off a lock of Miss Arabella Fermor's hair, her resentment knew no bounds, and led to a bitter quarrel between the two families. John Caryll, an intimate friend of Pope's, suggested to him that he embody the incident in a humorous poem, so that the tragedy might be “laughed away.” Pope was pleased with the suggestion, and wrote in mock-heroic vein two cantos, describing the robbery and the ensuing battle. This was so well received that he added to it, increasing it to five cantos by introducing the machinery of the sylphs and the description of the game at omber. The poem was unsuccessful in its purpose of making peace between the two families. Sir George Brown (Sir Plume) was annoyed at being made to talk only nonsense, and Miss Fermor was more offended by her characterization as Belinda than pleased at the flattery tendered her in the dedication. But the critics of the day and the public at large hailed the poem as a masterpiece. It is generally considered the most brilliant mock-heroic poem ever produced. In this, more than in any other of his works, Pope shows something of the creative power. Hazlitt calls it " an exquisite specimen of filigree work, made of gauze and silver spangles.” The reflection of social life and manners which ‘The Rape of the Lock' offers is not confined to superficial forms only. The most intimate sentiments of the time find their representation here. As an instance we may point to the mean estimation of women. Contempt veiled under the show of deference, a mockery of chivalry, its form without its spirit, - this is the attitude assumed towards women by the poet in this piece" (Pattison). “The world of fashion is displayed in its most gorgeous and attractive hues, and everywhere the emptiness is visible beneath the outward splendor. The beauty of Belinda, the details of her toilet, her troops of admirers, are all set forth with unrivaled grace and fascination, and all bear the impress of vanity and vexation. Nothing can exceed the art with which the satire is blended with the pomp-mocking, without disturbing, the unsubstantial gewgaw. The double vein is kept up with sustained skill in the picture of the outward charms and the inward frivolity of women.


With varying vanities from every part
They shift the moving toyshop of their heart,'--

this is the tone throughout. Their hearts are toyshops. They reverse the relative importance of things; the little within them is great, and the great little" (Elwin).

The Rape of the Lock” is condemned for its grossness and its "harsh, scornful, indelicate buffoonery," as well as for its misrepresentation of women. But "the exquisite raillery with which the poem perpetually sparkles, the familiarity which it exhibits with the epics of antiquity, and the use to which that familiarity is turned, the finished ease of its style," all contribute to make it at least a jeu d'esprit entirely unique.

In its first form Addison called it merum sal (pure wit), and advised against the subsequent addition of the machinery of sylphs, gnomes, and nymphs. Pope ignored the advice, and employed these in the edition of 1714. The immense success of


poem with the additions led Pope to believe that the advice of Addison was not sincere; and this belief was one of the elements in the famous quarrel between these two eminent men. The poem is not read to-day with the same enjoyment as when it was first written.

Times have changed, and with them men's minds and manners.

“An Essay on Man” assumes to be a theodicy having for its purpose the “vindication of the ways of God to man;" and this expression would have been an apter title for the poem. In men's minds during the eighteenth century, the philosophy of religion was as much a matter of interesting controversy and conversation as was politics or mere abstract morality. It has been asserted very positively by at least two trustworthy authorities that the “Essay” was furnished in prose by Lord Bolingbroke, and that Pope merely put St. John's ideas into verse, supplying, of course, the poetic imagery and diction, though often, indeed, not departing far from the very language employed by Bolingbroke. Its primary proposition is that “whatever is, is right.” It aims to be didactic, and succeeds only in being dogmatic. Pope had no philosophical bent, and, lacking intellectual power, was incapable of connected logical dissertation. His imagination could not rise to a sublime conception of the relations of the Creator to his universe. He seems to have been out of sympathy with his theme, and possibly in this case, as in others, he chose his subject not because of any enthusiasm on his own part, but because it interested others. He aimed simply at putting into perfect formal expression, elaborated by brilliant epigram and striking antitheses, such of the sayings of the wits and polemics of the time as he had come upon in his reading and conversation. That it excited a widespread interest is shown by the fact

that it was translated into all the languages of modern Europe, and called forth several imitations; but the poem is no longer a favorite with the general reader. Its so-called philosophy is a relic of an age that has passed, and whose influence has passed with it. By the student, however, it is to be read as an example of a distinct species in the evolution of our literature.

Pope's admirers still, as in the days when he was the dominant leader in letters, maintain that he was the embodiment of all that is excellent in style, “the prince of lyric poets,” “the poet of reason, common sense, true morality, and playful fancy;" while his detractors condemn his poetry as false, unnatural, stilted, and altogether vicious. The student, after reading his most characteristic works, will probably reach Mr. Blair's decision that “within a certain limited region he has been outdone by no poet;" and, whatever may be his verdict, he must not forget that, “in the judgment of England in the eighteenth century, the reputation of Pope was the most dazzling in English literature. It was a newer sun than Dryden, Milton, Shakespeare; as for Spenser and Chaucer, they were little better than fixed stars.”

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