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and his thoughts fully exparded. If this part of his characer suffers any abatement, it must be from the disproportion of his rhymes, which have not always sufficient confunance, and from the adpillon of broken lines into his Solomon; but perhaps he thought, like Cowley, that hemiftichs ought to be admitted into heroic poetry.
He had apparently such realitude of judgment as secured him from every ching that approached to the ridiculous or abiurd; but as dows operate in civil agency not to the excitement of virtue, but the repression of wickedness; fo judgment, in the operations of intelle&, can finder faults, but not produce excellence, Prior is never low, nor very often fublime. It is said by Longinus of Euripides, that he forces him felf sometimes into grandeur by violence of effort, as the lion kindles his füry by the lashes of his own tail. Whatever Prior obiains above mediocrity feems the effjrt of fruggle and of toil. 'He has many vigoroes, but few happy lines; he has every thing by purchase, and nothing by gift ; he had no nighily visitations of the Muse, no infu. fions of fentiment or felicities of fancy.
* Ilie diction, however, is more his own than that of any among the fucceffors of Dryden; he borrows no lucky turns, os commodious modes of language, from his predecessors. His phrases are original, but they are fometimes haríh ; as he inherited no eleganceș, none has he bequeathed. His expression has every mark of laboriqus Judy the line feldom seems to have been formed at once; she words did
ngt come till they were called, and were then put by contraine into their places, where they do treir duty, but do it fullenly. In his greater compositions there may be found more rigid faceliness than g:aceful dignity.'
The concluding obfervation is Ariking and just;
* A furvey of the life and writings of Prior' may exemplify a fentence which he doubless underifood well, when he read Horace, as his uncle's; "the videl leng retains the frent which it first receives. In his private relaxation he revived the tavern, and in bis amorous pedantry he exhibited the college. ' But on higher occasions, and nobler fubjects, when habit was overpowered by the recedity of reflection, he wanted not wisdom as a 'ftatesman, 'nor elegance as a poer.':
We are now arrived at a' character, which, as, a poet, Dr. Johnsoti seems to have contemplated with fingular complacency. As it comes not within the compass or design of this Article to attend the Biographer through all the minutiã of Pope's life, with which, indeed, the Public is sufficiently acquainted, we Ahall oply touch upon those parts which are connected with his literary history. Perhaps the most interesting part is that where che conmences his Tranflation of Homer.
• The next year (1713) produced a bolder attempt, by which profit was fought as well as praile. The poems which he had hitherio written, however they might have diffused his name, had made very lirtle addition to his tortune: The allowance which his faiber made him, sbough, proportioned to what he had, it might be liberal, could not be large; bis religion hindered him from the occupation of any
civil employment, and he complained that he wanted even money to buy books. Aa
Sc« He therefore resolved to try how far the favour of the Publicextended, by foliciting a subscription to a version of the Iliad, with large notes.'
* Pope, having now emitted his proposals, and engaged not only his own reputation, but in some degree that of bis 'friends who patronised his subscription, began to be frighted at his own undertaking; and finding himself at first embarrassed with difficulties, which se tarded and opprefled him, he was for a time timorous and uneasy; had his nights disturbed by dreams of long journeys through unknown ways, and wished, as he said, that somebody would hang him. 27 !!
* This misery, however, was por of long continuance ; he grew by degrees more acquainted with Homer's images and expresions, and practice increased his facility of versification. In a fhort time he represents himself as dispatching regularly fifty verses a day, which would shew him, by an easy computation, the termination of his labour.
• His own diffidence was not his only vexation. He that alks a fubfcription soon finds that he has enemies. All who do not eaconrage him defame him. He that wants money will rather be thought angry than poor; and he that wilhes to save his money, conceals his avarice by his malice. Addison had hinred his fufpicion that Pope was too much a Tory; and some of the Tories suspected nisi principles, because he had contributed to the Guardian, which was carried on by Steele, *** To those who censured his politics were added enemies yet more dangerous, who called in question his knowledge of Greek, and his
qualifications for a translator of Homer. To these he made no pob* lic opposition į but in one of his Letters escapes from them as well as he can. At an age like his, for he was not more than twenty-five, with an irregular education, and a course of life of which much seems to have passed in conversation, it is not very likely that he overflowed with Greek. But when he felt himself deficient he fought affittance, and what man of learning would refuse to help him? Miaute enquiries into the force of words are less necessary in translating Homer than other poets, because his positions are general, and his reprefentations natural, with very little dependence on local or temporary cuftoms, on those changeable scenes of artificial life, which by mingling original with accidental notions, and crowding the mind with images which time effaces, produce ambiguity in di&tion, and obscurity in books. To this open display of unadulterated nature it must be ascribed that Homer has fewer passages of doubtful' meaning than any other poet either in the learned or in modern languages. I have read of a man, who being, by his ignorance of Greek, compelled to gratify his curiosity with the Latin printed on the oppofite page, declared, that from the rude Gmplicity of the lines literally rendered, he formed nobler ideas of the Homeric majefty, than from the laboured elegance of polished verfions.
Those literal translations were always at hand, and from them he could always obtain his author's sense with sufficient certainty ; and among the readers of Homer, the number is very small of those who find much in the Greek more than in the Latin, except the mu. fic of the numbers.
. If more help was wanting, he had the poetical translation of Eobanus Heljus, an unwearied writer of Latin verses; he had the French Homers of Za Valterie and Dacier, and the English of Clapman, Hebbes, and Ogylby. With Chapman, whose work, though now tocally neglected, seems to have been popular almost to the end of the last century, he had very frequent consultations, and perhaps never tranflaced any paffage till he had read his version, which indeed he has been sometimes suspected of using instead of the original.
Notes were likewise to be provided ; for the fix volumes would have been very little more than fix pamphlets without them. What the mere perusal of the iext could suggelt, Pope wanted no affiftance to collect or methodize; but more was necessary; many pages were to be filled, and learning mur supply materials to wit and judgment. Something might be gathered from Dacier ; but no man loves to be indebted to bis contes
temporaries, and Dacier was accessible to common Teaders. Eulaihius was therefore necessarily consulted. To read Euita:bius, of whole work there was then no Latin verfion, I suspect Pope, if, he had been willing, not to have been able; fome other was
therefore to be found, who had leilure as well as abilities, and he was doubtless moit readily employed who would do much work for The bitory of the
e notes has never been traced. Broome, in bis Preface to his Poems, declares himself the commentator in part upon The Iliad; and it appears from Fenton's Lecter, 'preferved in the Mu. feum,itha Broome was at firit engaged in consulting Eustathius; but that after a time, whatever was the reason, he defifted : anarher man of Cambridge was then employed, who foon grew weary of the work; and a third was recommended by Thirlby, who is now discovered to have been forrin, a man fince well known to the learned world, who complained that Pope, having accepted and approved his performance, never teftified any curiosity to see him.' The terms which Fenton uses' are very mercantile: I think at first fight that his performance is very commendable, and have sent word for him to finifto the 17th book, and to send it with his demands for his trouble. ' I have here encinged the Specimin ; if the resi come before the return, I will keep them till, I receive your order.
Broome shen offered his service a second time, which was probably accepted, as they had afterwards a closer correspondence. Par. nell 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 fomewhat more than five years he completed his verfion of the Iliad wich the Notes. He begun is in 1712, his twenty-fifth year, and concluded itin 1918, his thirtieth year, i At the conclusion of this account, which contains many cir. cumstances we were not able to make room for, the Doctor adds, • It cannot be unwelcome to literary curiosity, that I deduce thus minately the history of the English Iliad.' It is certainly the nobleft version of poetry which the world has ever seen; and its publication must therefore be considered as one of the great events in the annals of Learning
neatJohnson's Biographical Prefaces. In a life of Pope his commentator, Warburton, would naturally be introduced. Of this literary character the following is a masterly sketch :
About this time Warburton began to make his appearance in the fiift ranks of learning. He was a man of vigorous faculties, a mind fervid and vehement, supplied by inceffant and unlimited enquiry, with wonderful extent and variety of knowledge, which yet had not oppressed his imagination, nor clouded bis perfpicacity. To every work he brought a memory full fraught with a fancy fertile of origiral combinations, and at once exerted the powers of the scholar, the reasoner, and the wit. But his krowledge was too multifarious to be always exact, and his pursuits were too eager to be always cautious, His abilities gave him an baughty confidence, which he disdained to conceal or mollify; and his impatience of opposition disposed him to treat his adversaries with such contemptuous superiority as made his seaders commonly his enemies, and excited against him the wishes of some who favoured his cause. He seeins to have adopted the Roman Emperor's determination, ederint dum mcluant; he used do allurements of gentle language, but withed to compel rather than perfuade. ness; he took the words that presented themselves: his diction is coarse and impure, and his fentences are unmeasured.'
In summing up the intellectual character of Pope, Dr. Johns son's usual acuteness and discernment have by no means deserted him.. Of his intellectual character,' says he, the conftituent and fundamental principle was Good Sente, a prompt and intuitive perception of consonance and propriety. He saw immediately, of his ovn concepions, what was to be chosen, and what to be sejected; and, in the works of others, what was to be thunned, and what was to be copied. .
But good fenfe alone is a fedate and quiescent quality, which manages its possessions well, but does not increase them; it colleats few materials for its own operations, and preserves fafery, but never gains supremacy. Pope had likewise genius; a mind active, ambia, rioos, and adventurous, always inveltigaring, always aspiring; in its widelt searches ili longing to go forward, in its highest flights fill withing to be higher ; always imagining something greater than it knows, always endeavouring more than it can do.
" To aliit these powers, he is said to have had great strength and exa&neís or memory. That which he had heard or read was not easily Jof; and he had before him not only what his oun medication suggelted, but what he had found in other writers thaq might be accom. modated to his present parpofe.
• Thefe benefits of nature he improved by incessant and ur wearied diligence; he had recourse to every fource of intelligence, and dont no opportunity of information; he confulted the living as well as the dead; he read his compositions to his friends, and was never content with mediocrity when excellence could be atrained. He confidered poetry as the business of his life ; and however he might feem
to lament his occupation, he followed it with confancy; to make verses was his first labour, and co mend them was his last.
• From his attention to poetry he was never diverted. If conver' sation offered any thing that could be improved, he committed it to paper; if a thought, or perhaps an expresion more happy than was * common, rofe to his mind, he was careful to write it; an indepen: dent diftich was preserved for an opportunity of insertion, and some little fragments have been found containing lines, or parts of lines, to be wrought upon at some other time.
He was one of those few whose labour is their pleasure : he was never elevated to negligence, nor wearied to impatience; he never paffed a fault unamended by indifference, nor quitted it by despair, He l'aboured his works firit to gain reputation, and afterwards cokeep it,'
"Hé professed to have learned his poetry from Dryden, whom, whenever an opportunity was presented, he praifed through his whole life with unvaried liberality; and perhaps his character may receive some illuftration, if he be compared with his matter.
• Tn:egrity of undertanding, and nicety of discernment, were not allotted in a less proportion to Dryden than to Pope. The rectitude! of Dryden's mind was sufficiently shewn by the dismillion of his presie cal prejudices, and the rejection of unnatural thoughts and rugged numbers. But Dryden never desired to apply all the judgment that he had. He wrote, and profefl-d to write, merely for the people ; and when he pleased others, he contented himself. He spent no! time jo fruggles to roule la ent powers; he never attempted to make! that betrer: wbich was already gocd, cor often to mend what he muss have known to be faulty. He wrote, as he tells us, with very ligile confideration : when occasion or decellity called upon him, he poured out what the present moment happened to supply, and, when oece it had passed the press, ejected it from his mind; for when he had no , pecuniary intereft, he had no further solicitude.
• Pope was not content to satisfy; he desired to excel, and therer.ro fore always endeavoured to do his belt: he did not court iç e candouront but dared the judgment of his reader, and expecting no indulgeace from others, the newed none to himself. He examined lines and words with minute and pun&tilious observation, and retouched every piazt with indetagigable diligence, till he had left nothing to be forgiven.
. For this reafon he kept his pieces very long in his hands, while he considered and reconsidered chem. The only poeins which can be supposed to have been written with such regard to the times as might hahen their publication, were the two fatires of Thirty eight; of which Dodsey told me, that they were brought to hiin by the alibor, that they might be fairly copied. “Every liae,? said be, " was then written iwice over; I gave him a clean tranfcript, which i. he fent vome time afterwards to me for the press, with every line : written twice over a second time."
His declaration, that his care for his works ceased at their pub. lication, 'was rot strictly true, His parental attention never aban; doned them; what he found amiss in the firit edition, he lilently cos. rected in those that followed. He appears to have revised the llind,