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In a life of Pope his commentator, Warburton, would natu. rally be introduced. Of this literary character the following is a masterly sketch :
! About This time Warburton began to make bis appearance in the firit ranki of learning. He was a man of vigorcus faculries, a miod fervid and vehement, supplied by inceffant and unlimited enquiry, with wondertul extent and variety of knowledge, which yet had oot oppressed his imagination, nor clouded his perfpicacisy. To every work he brought a memory full fraught with a fancy fertile of origi. pal combinations, and at once exerted the powers of the scholar, the reasoner, and the wie But his knowledge was too multifarious to be always exact, and his pursuits were too eager to be always cautious. His abilities gave bim an haughey confidence, which he disdaived to conceal or mollify; and bis impatience of opposition disposed him to treat his adversaries with such coniemptuous superiority as made his readers commonly bis enemies, and excited against him the wishes of fome who favoured his cause. He seems to have adopied the Roman Emperor's determination, oderint dum meivant; he used do allure. menis of gentle language, but wished to compel sather than perfuade.
" His style is copious without selection, and forcible without neatness; 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. Johnson's usual acuteness and discernment have by no means deferted him. • Of his intellectual character,' says he, 'the conRituent and fundamental principle was Good Sense, a prompt and jntuitive perception of consonance and propriety. He saw immediarely, of his own conception, what was to be chosen, and what so be rejected ; and, in the works of others, what was to be shuoned, and what was to be copied.
• Bat good senle alone is a fedate and quicscent quality, which manages its poffeitions well, but does not increase them; it collects few materials for its own operations, and preserves falety, but never gains supremacy Pope had likewise genius; a mind active, ambi. tious, and adventurous, always investigacing, always aspiring; in its wideft Searches full longing to go forward, in its highest flights till withing to be higber; always imagining something greater than it knows, always endeavouring more than it can do.
• To allilt these powers, he is said to have had great Arength and exacinefs of memory. That which he had heard or read was not eally Jon; and he had before him not only what his own meditation suge geled, but what he had found in other writers that might be accommodared to his prelent purpose.
• These benefits of nature he improved by incessant and unwearied diligence; he had recourse to every source of intelligence, and Jost no opporiunity of information ; he consulied the living as well as the dead; he read his compositions to his friends, and was never content with mediocrity when excellence could be attained. He conudered poetry as the buGneis of his life; and however he might seem
to lament his occupation, he followed it with constancy; to make verses was his first labour, and to mend them was his lait.
• From his attention to poetry he was never diverred. If conver. sation offered any hing that could be improved, he commit:ed it to paper; if a thought, or perhaps an expression more happy than was common, rose to his mind, he was careful to write it; an independent diftich was preserved for an opportunity of infertion, 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 saule unamended by indifference, nor quitted it by despair. He laboured his works firit to gain reputation, and afterwards to keep it.'
"He professed to have learned his poetry from Dryden, whom, whenever an opportunity was presented, he praised through his whole life with unvaried liberaliiy ; and perhaps his character may receive fome illustration, if he be compared with his master.
• Integrity of understanding, 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 dismission of his poerical 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 profesed to write, merely for the people ; and when he pleased others, he contented himself. He spent no time in Itruggles to rouse la:ent powers ; he never attempted to make that better wbich was already good, nor often to mend what he must have known to be faulty. He wrote, as he tells us, with very little confideration : when occasion or neceffity called upon hiin, he poured out what the present moment happened to supply, and, when once it had pailed the press, ejected it from his mind; for when he had no pecuniary interest, he had no further solicitude.
• Pope was not content to satisfy; he defired to excel, and there, fore always endeavoured to do his beft: he did not court the candour, but dared the judgment of his reader, and expeeling no indulgence from others, he thewed none to himself. · He examined lines and words with minute and pun&ilious observation, and retouched every part with indefatigable diligence, till he had left nothing to be forgiven.
• For this reason he kept his pieces very long in his hands, while he confidered and reconsidered them. The only poems which can be supposed to have been written with such regard to the cimes as might haften their publicacion, were the two satires of Thirty eight of which Dodsley told me, that they were brought to him by the author, that they might be fairly copied. “Every line," said be, us was then written twice over; I gave him a clean tran cripi, which he rent some 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 por ftri&ly true. His parental atteosion never abandoned them ; what he found amils in the firit edition, he filenely cos. jected in those chat followed. He appears to have revised the Iliad,
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and freed it from some of its imperfections; and the Esay on Criticism received many improvements after its first appearance. It will sele dom be found that he altered without adding clearness, elegance, or vigour. Pope had perhaps the judgment of Dryden; but Dryden certainly wanted the diligence of Pope.
• In acquired knowledge, the superiority must be allowed to Dryden, whose education was more scbolallic, and who, before he became an author, had been allowed more time for study, with better means of information. His mind has a larger range, and he collects his images and illustrations from a more exten&ve circumference of sci. ence. Dryden knew more of man in his general nature, and Pope in his local manners. The notions of Dryden were formed by comprehensive speculation, and those of Pope by minute attention. There is more dignity in the knowledge of Dryden, and more certainty in that of Pope.
• Poetry was not the sole praise of either; for both excelled likewise in prose; but Pope did not borrow his prose from his predecessor, The flyie of Dryden is capricious and varied, that of Pope is cautious and uniform ; Dryden obeys the motions of his own mind, Pope constrains his mind to his own rules of compofition. Dryden is some, times vchement and rapid; Pope is always smooth, uniform, and gentle. Dryden's page is a natural field, rining into inequalities, and diversified by the varied exuberance of abundant vegetation ; Pope's is a velvet lawn, thaven by the icythe, and levelled by the roller.
"Of genius, that power which constitutes a poet ; that quality without which judgment is cold and knowledge is inert; that energy which collect, combines, amplifes, and animates; the superiority muft, with some helilation, be allowed to Dryden. It is not to be inferred chat of this poetical vigour Pope had only a little, because Dryden had more ; for every other writer, since Milion, muft give place to Pope; and even of Dryden it must be faid, that if he has brighter paragraphs, he has not berier poems. Dryden's performances were always halty, either excited by some external occasion, or extoried by domestic necellity; he composed without consideration, and published without correction. What bis mind could supply at call, or gather in one excursion, was all that he fought, and all that he gave. The dilatory caution of Pope enabled him to condense his sentiments, to multiply his images, and to accumulate all that study might produce, or chance mighi supply. If the flights of Dryden therefore are bigher, Pope continues longer on the wing. If of Dryden's fire the blaze is brighter, of Pope's the hcat is more regular and constant. Dryden often furpaffes expectation, and Pope never fails below it. Dryden is read with frequent alionith ment, and Pope with perpetual delighs.
• This parallel will, I hope, when it is well considered, be found juft; and if the reader mould fufpect me, as I suspect myself, of some partial fondness for the memory of Dryden, let him not too halily condemn me; for meditation and enquiry may, perhaps, ihew him the reasonablencfs cf my determinaiion.'
In the distinct examination of the works of Pope, his Critic professes to pay attention not so much to flight faults or petry beauties, as to the general character and effect of each perform
ance. As a specimen of the execution of this part of the work, we shall lay before our Readers the following critique on the Eflay on Man:
The Elsay on Man was a work of great labour and long confideration, but certainly not the happiest of Pope's performances. The subjcct is perhaps not very proper for poetry, and the poet was not fufficiently master of his subject ; metaphysical morality was a new ftudy; he was proud of ois acquisicions, and suppolirg hinself master of great fecrets, was in haite co teach what he had not learned. Thus he tells us, in the first Epiftle, chat from the nature of ihe Supreme Bring may be deduced an order of beings such as mankind, becaule Infinite Excellence can do only what is beit. He finds out that all the quefiion, is whether man be in a wrong place? Surely if, according to the poet's Leibnitzian reasoning, we may inser that man ought to be, only because he is, we mav allow that his place is the riglic place, because he has it. Supreme Wisdom is nou less infallible in disposing than in creating. But what is meant by somewhere and place, and wrong place, it had been vain to ask Pope, who probably had never asked himself.
Having exalied himself into the chair of wisdom, he tells us much that every man knows, and much that he does not know him. self; that we fce but little, and that the order of the universe is beyond our comprehenfion; an opinion not very lincommon; and that there is a chain of subordinate beings from inhnite to nothing, of which himself and his readers are equally ignoranı. But he gives 113 one comfort, which, without his help, he fuppofes unattainable, the posicion that though we are fools, yet God is wife.'
- This E.ay attords an egregious initance of the predominance of 'genius, the dazzling splendour of imagery, and the reductive powers of eloquence. Never were penury of knowledge and vulgarity of sentiment so happily disguised. The reader feels his mind full, though he learns nothing; and when he meets it in its new array, no longer knows the talk of his mother and his nurse. When these wonder-working founds fink into sense, and the doctrine of the Essay, difrobed of its ornaments, is left to the powers of its naked excellence, what shall we discover? That we are, in comparison with our Creator, very weak and ignorant; that we do not uphold the chain of exiftence, and that we could not make one another with more kill than we are made. We may learn yet more; that the arts of human life were copied from the instinctive operations of other animals; that if the world be made for man, it may be said that man was made for geele. To these profound principles of natural knowledge are added tome mo:al instructions equally new ; that self-interest, well under. food, will produce social concord ; that men are mutual gainers by mutual benefits; that evil is sometimes balanced by good, that human advantages are unstable and fallacious, of uncertain duration, and doubtful effects; that our true bonour is not to have a great part, but to act ic we!l; that virtue only is our own; and that hap. pines: is always in our power.
. Surely a man of no very comprehensive search, may venture to say that he has heard all this before ; but it was never till now recommended by such a biaze of embellishment, or such sweetness of
melody. The vigorous contradion of some thoughts, the luxuriant amplification of others, the incidental illustrations, and sometimes the dignity, sometimes the softness of the verfes, enchain philofophy, fuípend criticism, and oppress judgment by overpowering pleasure.
• This is true of many paragraphs; yet, if I had undertaken to exemplify Pope's felicity of composition before a rigid critic, I should not selea che Efay on Mar; for it contains more lines unsuccessfully Jabouret, more harshness of di&tion, more thoughts imperfectly ex. preffed, more levity without elegance, and more heaviness without ftrength, chan will be eally found in all his other works.
Dr. Warton, in his ingenious and entertaining Essay on the Genius and Writings of Pope, seems to dispute his title to the charact r of a true poet, at least in the more excellent species of the poetical art. Probably the following was writien with an eye to what he and some others have advanced on that subject :
Po e had, in proportions very nicely adjusted to each other, all the qualities that conititute genius. He had Invention, by which new trin: of events are formed, and new scenes of imagery displayed, as in the Rape of the Lork. or extrinsic and adventitious embellino ments and i luttia ions are connected with a known fubje&, as in the Ejay on Criticism. He had Imagination, which trongly impresses on the writer's mind, and enables him to convey to the reader the va. rio e forms of nature incidents of life, and energies of paflion, as in bis E.cija, Windjor Forell, and the Ethic Epiftles. He had Judgment, which telects from life or nature what the prelent purpose requires, and by separating the essence of things from its concomitants, ofien makes the rep esentation more powerful than the reality: and he had colours of language always before him, ready to decorate his matter with every grace of elegant expression, as when he accommodates bis diction to the wonderful multiplicity of Homer's sentiments and descriprions'
• After all this, it is surely superfluous to answer the queftion that has once been asked, Whether Pope was a poet otherwise than by alking in return, If Pope be not a poet, where is poetsy 10 be found! To circumscribe poetry by a definition will only thew the narrowness of the definer, chough a definition which fall exclude Pope will not eafily be made. Let us look round upon the present time, and back upon the past; let us enquire to whom the voice of mankind bas decreed the wreath of poetry ; let their productions be examined, and their claims stated, and the preten Gons of Pope will be no more disputed. Had he given the world only his verfon, the name of poet muft bave been allowed him: if the writer of the Iliad were to class his successors, he would aflign a very bigb place to his translator, without requiring any other evidence ef Genius."
[Ta be continued.] C..b...to.