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the habit of frequenting, that he might have the gratification of seeing an author whom he so enthusiastically admired. His first serious poetic efforts were in the epic and the dramatic way; but a little reflection convinced hinu that these productions were not worth preserving, and he therefore destroyed them. In 1704, when only sixteen years of age, he wrote his Pastorals and his Imitations of Chaucer. These performances placed him before his friends as an author, and introduced him to the acquaintance of the most eminent literary men of the day. The ‘Pastorals' were confined to private circulation until 1709, when they were published in the same volume with those of Philips.
In 1711, when Pope was in the twenty-third year of his age, appeared his Essay on Criticism, though it is said to have been written two years earlier. This is, perhaps, the finest piece of argumentative poetry in the English language. The maturity of judgment that it exhibits is truly wonderful. The author's style was now thoroughly formed. His versification was based upon that of Dryden, but he gave to the heroic couplet a peculiar grace and melody as will at once be perceived from the following passage :
Of all the causes which conspire to blind
The “Essay on Criticism' was soon followed by the Rape of the Lock which is, in the judgment of Dr. Johnson, the most airy, the most ingenious, and the most delightful, of all Pope's compositions. The circumstance which elicited the poem was the following :—Lord Petre, the lover of a celebrated beauty, Miss Arabella Fermor, playfully stole a lock of her hair -an act that assumed so offensive an aspect to the lady and her friends that it caused an estrangement between the families. Pope's design in writing his poem was to turn the whole affair into a jest, and laugh them together again; but though he did not succeed in effecting that object, yet, by the effort, he added greatly to his own reputation.
The machinery of the poem, founded upon the Rosicrucian theory, that the elements are inhabited by spirits, which they called sylphs, gnomes, nymphs, and salamanders, was added at the suggestion of Dr. Garth and some other of his friends. Sylphs had been previously mentioned as invisible attendants on the fair, and the idea is shadowed forth in Shakspeare's ‘Ariel, and the amusements of the fairies in the Midsummer Nights' Dream. But Pope has blended the most delicate satire with the most lively fancy, and produced the most brilliant mock-heroic-poem ever written. The following descriptions of the lady's toilet, and of Belinda are fair specimens of the work :
And now, unvailed, the toilet stands displayed,
DESCRIPTION OF BELINDA.
Not with more glories, in the ethereal plain,
This nymph, to the destruction of mankind,
The Temple of Fame, and the Elegy on an Unfortunate Lady, were next published ; and in 1713, appeared his Windsor Forest, which was chiefly written as early as 1704. The latter poem was evidently founded on Denham's Cooper's Hill,' but it far excels the original. Pope was, properly speaking, no mere descriptive poet. He made the picturesque subservient to views of historical events, or to sketches of life and morals. Most of the • Windsor Forest being composed in his earlier years, amid the shades of those noble woods which he selected for the theme of his verse, there is, in this poem, a greater display of sympathy with external objects, than in any of his other works. The lawns and glades of the forest, the russet plains, and blue hills, and even the 'purple dyes of the wild heath,' had deeply impressed his young imagination. His account of the dying pheasant is a finished picture
See! from the brake the whirring pheasant springs
The vivid green his shining plumes unfold,
In 1713, the period to which our remarks have now brought us down, Pope commenced the translation of the Iliad.' At first the gigantic task which he had undertaken oppressed him with its difficulty, but he gradually became more familiar with the language and imagery of the original, and in a short time was able to write fifty lines a day. From this translation he realized nearly six thousand pounds; but his fame was not advanced in an equal proportion by his labors as a translator. The facility of his rhyme, the additional false ornaments which he imparted to the ancient Greek, and his departure from the nice discrimination of character and speech which prevails in Homer, are faults now universally admitted. Cowper, therefore, justly remarks, that the Iliad and Odyssey in Pope's hands' have no more the air of antiquity than if he had himself invented them.' The success which attended the Iliad led to the translation of the Odyssey ; but Pope now called in his friends, Broome and Fenton, to aid him. The labor was so arranged that the assistants performed one half of the task, but the compensation for the work was by no means so equally shared. Fenton, who was a poor country tutor, received three hundred pounds, and Broome, five hundred; while Pope obtained from his contract nearly three thousand.
Pope's Homeric labors lasted twelve years; and such was the improvement which his pecuniary resources derived from them, that he was enabled to remove from the shades of Windsor Forest to a situation nearer the metropolis. He purchased the lease of a house and grounds at Twickenham, to which he removed, with his father and mother, and where he continued to reside during the remainder of his life. This classic spot which Pope delighted to improve, and where he was visited by ministers of state, by wits, by poets, and by beauties, now bears few marks of its former elegance and taste.
In 1716, while Pope was engaged in his translation of the Iliad, he wrote, during a visit to Oxford, the Epistle of Eloisa to Abelard—a production which is the most highly poetical and passionate of all his works. The delicacy of the poet, in vailing over the circumstances of the story, and at the same time preserving the ardor of Eloisa's passion, the beauty of his imagery and descriptions, the exquisite melody of his versification, rising and falling like the tones of an Eolian harp, as he successively portrays the tumults of guilty love, the deepest penitence, and the highest devotional rapture, have scarcely ever been equalled. What could be sweeter than the following lines —
In these deep solitudes and awful cells,
Why rove my thoughts beyond this last retreat ?
Dear, fatal name! rest ever unrevealed,
Relentless walls ! whose darksome round contains
Soon as thy letters trembling I unclose,
Yet write, oh write me all, that I may join
If less genial tastes, and a love of satire withdrew Pope from those fountain-springs of the Muse, it was evidently from no want of power in the poet to display the richest hues of imagination, or the finest impulses of the human heart.
In 1733, he published his Essay on Man, the subject having been suggested to him by Lord Bolingbroke. The 'Essay' was intended as part of a system of ethics in verse, which the poet had projected : it is now read, not for its philosophy, but for its poetry. Its metaphysical distinctions are neg