« PreviousContinue »
old poet, if that is sufficient authority to justify such a usage. See Nævius, quoted by Aulus Gellius:
Etiam qui res magnas manu sæpe gessit gloriose,
Cujus facta viva nunc vigentThere is probably no imitation in the following passagesthey express, however, somewhat the same sentiment:
Nor are our powers to perish immature,
Thomson's Summer, l. 580.
Daniel's Queen's Arcadia, sc. 3. All discord, harmony not understood.
Pope's Essay on Man. This is the rai Anos ágponsar of Æschylus. See Prometh. Vinct. 553.
XCI. On Pope's Imitations of our early Poets.
MR. URBAN, If the following remarks on Pope are worth insertion in your Magazine, they are much at your service.
O si sic omnia ! From the great merit of the Eloisa to Abelard, the Temple of Fame, part of the Windsor Forest, and the Elegy upon an Unfortunate Lady, it is much to be regretted that Pope's mind was so little accustomed to the simpler beauties and distinct imagery of our earlier models; they would have taught him a more frequent use of compound epithets, and, instead of that general cast which is too much the
characteristic of many of his lines, we should have had juster personification, and imagery more appropriate, of course more poetry and less versification that fastidious eye of correct judgment, with which he surveyed both men and manners, seduced him from the fablings of fancy, the picturesque scenes of animated nature, and the latent beauties of antiquity;--perhaps his bodily infirmities, added to a considerable share of constitutional bile, might have had great influence in directing the pursuits of his mind; at least by embittering it, they led him to carping, satire, and dry morals-absit verbo invidia ! -I would not be understood to detract from bis great and almost superior merits as a moralist; but, I mean, dry as opposed to poetry addressed to the imagination-it must give concern to every feeling reader to find, so large a portion of a valuable life given to translations and imitations, to the lavish abuse of his Dunciad, and the insipid innocence of his pastorals. In adopting occasional phrases from our older poets, it is curious to observe what art Pope has shewn in the selection; and in his imitations of passages, what improvement he has made on his originals.-The ingenious Mr. T. Warton has before noticed his obligations, in this way, to Milton.-It appears from his letters that he was a reader of Crashaw ; with what attention he read him, the following instances are sufficient to discover.--It is to be lamented, that Mr. Phillips, in his late edition of Crashaw, has omitted the Poems upon Theological subjects; many of his beauties, by this means, are lost; and, unluckily, those passages which seem more immediately to have dwelt upon the mind of Pope : surely the whole volume might have been republished with great safety. Readers, who concern themselves with Crashaw, concern themselves with him not as a Divine, but as a Poet.
See Crashaw, Edit. 1570, p. 204. Description of a religious house, and condition of life (from Barclay). Pope's mind seems to have caught many hints from this when he wrote his Eloisa to Abelard.
A hasty portion of prescribed sleep,
Labour and rest that equal periods keep,
No roofs of gold o'er riotous tables shining,
No sails of Tyrian silk proud pavements sweeping
But walks and unshorn woods ;
No weeping orphan saw his father's stores
In these lone walks.
POPE. Crashaw, oddly describing the woods that surround the Religious House, says,
the natural locks Of these loose groves, rough as th' unpolished rocks This is what Pope means when he says,
Ye grots and caverns shagg'd with horrid thorn. The most tender circumstance in all Pope's Epistle, is, perhaps, the idea beginning at the 347th line.
If ever chance two wandering lovers brings, &c. &c. This is evidently suggested by a passage in the Alexias, the complaint of the forsaken wife of St. Alexis, Ist Elegy.
And sure where lovers make their watery graves,
If these lines are deficient in elegance; they make it up in sentiment and simplicity:
For thee I talk to trees, with silent groves
Hills and relentless rocks, or if there be
CRASHAW, 2 Elegy. This epithet Pope has taken:
Relentless walks, whose darksome round contains, &c. &c.
CRASHAW, 3 Elegy. Pope, though his idea is different, has an exclamation somewhat similar
Oh happy state! when souls each other draw,
When love is liberty, and nature law.Crashaw says most beautifully of Hope what Pope has transferred to Faith
Fair Hope! our earlier Heaven, by thee
POPE. Whether Pope was a reader of the poetry of Phineas Fletcher, I know not; in his Eloisa to Abelard he has the following phrase, which we find likewise in Fletcher:
See my lips tremble and my eye-balls roll,
FLETCHER. Where sprawl the saints of Verrio and Languerre, is a line in Pope's Epistles, which Dr. Warton has noticed for the peculiar felicity of the word sprawl: it is used with the same felicity and force by. Drayton, B. Warrs, 6 B. XLII. where he describes the painted roof of the tower of Mortimer
Where, as among the naked Cupids sprawl,
Some swarming up to pick the purple fruit. We find a passage in Drayton, B. Warrs, 5 B. XLIII. not unlike lines from the 241 to the 244 Epist. Eloisa to Abelard.
See likewise a passage in Young's Night Thoughts, 1 Night, beginning with,
"Tis past conjecture, all things rise in proofDrayton has the word touch, in the same sense Pope has used it, in the invocation to his Muse-Polyoib.
Touch my invention so with thy true genuine heat.Had Pope been a reader of Quarles, which possibly, by the bye he might have been, notwithstanding he has given him a niche in the Dunciad, he would have taught him the art of reasoning in verse much better than Blackmore, whom Dr. Johnson has recommended for that purpose; there is an energy and compression in some of Quarles lines, not to be found in any of his contemporaries; but, as to versification --what could Dr. Johnson mean by supposing him to stand in need of any instruction on that head-There is a moral and philosophical cast in some passages of Quarles not unlike Pope, in his Essay on Man." See the whole of the 11th Meditation, Job Militant;
Since thou art dead (Lord), grant thy servant roome
Within his breast to build thy heart a toombe. These lines of Quarles, p. 75, edit. 1630, contain the same idea with that in Gay's Epitaph, upon which so much has been said:
But that the worthy and the good may say,
The thought is old; it is said of Sir P. Sidney, by Spenser,
In worthy hearts sortow hath made thy tomb. Dr. Johnson's criticism on this line of Pope is equally as destitute of common sense as of common feeling.-See Dr. J. Warton, likewise, on Pope, vol. I. p. 95, who calls the idea forced and far-fetched for which I see no tolerable reason.* 1786, April.
(* We cannot help subscribing to Ds. Wartou's opinion. E.]