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lected for those splendid passages and striking incidents which irradiate the whole poem. In lines like the following, he speaks with a mingled sweetness and dignity, superior even to his great master Dryden :
Hope springs eternal in the human breast:
Lo! the poor Indian, whose untutored mind
The poetic labors of Pope during the last few years of his life were confined chiefly to satire. In 1727, he had published, in conjunction with Swift, three volumes of Miscellanies in prose and verse, which drew down, upon the authors, a torrent of invectives and lampoons, and which eventually led to the production of Pope's Dunciad. This elaborate satire displays the fertile invention of the poet, the variety of his illustration, and the force and facility of his diction ; but the work is now read with a feeling more allied to pity than to admiration—pity that one so highly gifted should have allowed himself to descend to things so mean, and to devote the close of a great literary life to the infliction of unnecessary pain on every humble aspirant in the world of letters. "I have often wondered,' says Cowper, that the same poet who wrote the 'Dunciad' should have written these lines :
That mercy I to others show,
Alas for Pope, if the mercy he showed to others was the measure of the mercy he received.'
Pope's satire is very different from that of Dryden. It is neither so keen nor so bright. Whom he attacks, he butchers; whom he cuts, he mangles. He shows us not the lifeless corpse of his victim, but the writhings and the tortured limbs. For the object of Dryden's satire we never feel any thing like sympathy. His fiat seems the fiat of unerring justice, which it would be almost impiety to dispute. Pope exhibits more of the accuser than of the judge. Petty interests and personal malice, instead of love of justice,
and hatred of vice, appear to be the powers which nerve his arm. The victim is sure to fall beneath his blow, but the deed, however righteous, inspires us with no regard for the executioner.
Sir Walter Scott has very justly remarked that Pope must have suffered more from these wretched contentions than his antagonists. It is well-known that his temper was ultimately much changed for the worse. Misfortunes were also now gathering round him. Swift, his dearest friend, was fast verging on insanity, and was lost to the world. Atterbury and Gay died in 1732; and soon after his venerable mother, whose declining years he had watched with such affectionate solicitude, also expired. To this accumulation of sorrows we may add an important political event. The anticipated approach of the Pretender induced the government to issue a proclamation prohibiting every Roman Catholic from appearing within ten miles of London. Pope complied with the proclamation ; and he was soon afterward too ill to be in town. This additional proclamation from the Highest of all Powers,' as he termed his sickness, he submitted to without murmuring. A constant state of excitement, added to a life of ceaseless study and contemplation, operating on a frame naturally delicate, and even deformed from birth, had completely exhausted the sinking poet's powers. He complained of want of ability to think; yet a short time before his death he said, “I am so certain of the soul's being immortal, that I seem to feel it within me as it were by intuition.' Another of his dying remarks was, “There is nothing that is meritorious but virtue and friendship; and, indeed, friendship itself is only a part of virtue.' Pope died at Twickenham, on the thirtieth of May, 1744, having just passed the fifty-sixth year of his age.
As a poet, it would be improper to rank Pope with those great masters of the lyre-Chaucer, Spenser, Shakspeare, and Milton. He belongs to the school of Dryden, and was more the poet of artificial life and manners, than the poet of nature. In comparing his versification with that of his great master, it is difficult to determine to which the preference belongs. In ease and sweetness, Pope has the advantage; but in majesty and power, Dryden left our versification at a point from which it has since rather receded than advanced. Pope, it is true, levelled and polished it; but he levelled the rocks that impelled, as well as the stones that impeded its majestic current, and he polished away much of its grandeur, as well as of its roughness. Pope, however, had a finer fancy than Dryden, and we are almost inclined to say, in opposition to the popular opinion, that he possessed more genius. We know of nothing so original and imaginative in the whole range of Dryden's poetry as the “Rape of the Lock;' no descriptions of nature that can compare with those in the Windsor Forest ;' and nothing so tender and feeling as many parts of the 'Elegy on an Unfortunate Lady,' and the 'Epistle from Eloisa to Abelard.' With that'Elegy,' and the Mes. siah, we shall close our remarks upon this interesting author :
ELEGY ON AN UNFORTUNATE LADY.
Why bade ye else, ye powers ! her soul aspire
From these, perhaps, (ere nature bade her die)
But thou, false guardian of a charge too good, Thou mean deserter of thy brother's blood! See on these ruby lips the trembling breath, These cheeks now fading at the blast of death; Cold is that breast which warmed the world before, And those love-darting eyes must roll no more. Thus, if eternal justice rules the ball, Thus shall your wives, and thus your children fall: On all the line a sudden vengeance waits; And frequent hearses shall besiege your gates: There passengers shall stand, and, pointing, say (While the long funerals blacken all the way), Lo! these were they, whose souls the furies steeled And cursed with hearts unknowing how to yield. Thus unlamented pass the proud away, The gaze of fools, and pageant of a day! So perish all, whose breast ne'er learned to glow For other's good, or melt at other's woe.
What can atone (0 ever injured shade !) Thy fate unpitied, and thy rites unpaid ? No friend's complaint, no kind domestic tear Pleas'd thy pale ghost, or graced thy mournful bier: By foreign hands thy dying eyes were closed, By foreign hands thy decent limbs composed,
By foreign hands thy humble grave adorned,
So peaceful rests, without a stone, a name,
Poets themselves must fall, like those they sung
THE MESSIAH. Ye nymphs of Solyma ! begin the song: To heavenly themes sublimer strains belong. The mossy fountains and the sylvan shades, The dreams of Pindus, and the Aonian maids, Delight no more-0 thou my voice inspire, Who touch'd Isaiah's hallowed lips with fire! Rapt into future times, the bard begun : A Virgin shall conceive, a Virgin bear a Son! From Jesse's root behold a branch arise, Whose sacred flower with fragrance fills the skies The ethereal spirit o'er its leaves shall move, And on its top descends the mystic Dove. Ye heavens ! from high the dewy nectar pour, And in soft silence shed the kindly shower. The sick and weak the healing plant shall aid, From storms a shelter, and from heat a shade. All crimes shall cease, and ancient frauds shall fail; Returning Justice lift aloft her scale; Peace o'er the world her olive wand extend, And white-robed Innocence from heaven descend. Swift fly the years, and rise the expected morn! Oh spring to light, auspicious Babe, be born!
See, nature hastes her earliest wreaths to bring,