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DEATH OF HENRY CROMWELL.
this précieuse. He addressed Pope in the following penitential style:
"The great value she expresses for all you write, and her passion for having them, I believe, was what prevailed upon me to let her keep them. By the interval of twelve years at least, from her session to the time of printing them, 'tis manifest that I had not the least ground to apprehend such a design: but as people in great straits bring forth their hoards of old gold and most valued jewels, so Sappho had recourse to her hid treasure of letters, and played off not only yours to me, but all those to herself (as the lady's last stake) into the press. As for me, I hope, when you shall coolly consider the many thousand instances of our being deluded by the females, since that great original of Adam by Eve, you will have a more favourable thought of the undesigning error of, your faithful friend, &c."
This must have been about the last instance of female delusion that Mr. Cromwell had to encounter, for he died in the following year, 1728. He was then in London, in the parish of St. Giles in the Fields. He had made his will eleven years before, leaving his estate of Beesby to a second cousin, the Rev. Henry Greene, and forty pounds a year to his "faithful and ancient" servant, Mrs. Isabel Perez-the "Lady Isabella" of Pope's letters. There is no mention of Pope in the will, and Sappho was also neglected by her Phaon. Mr. Henry Greene was enjoined not to part with the valuable picture of the testator's "dear father;" and Cromwell directed that his body should be decently interred, suitable to his birth, in the parish church of St. Clement Danes, "which church," he adds, "I have most frequented." The old wit, then, had some grace. Dr. Johnson, it is well known, eulogised one of his acquaintances as good and pious; for though he had not been in the inside of a church for many years, he never passed a church without pulling off his hat, which showed that he had good principles. Beau Cromwell was better in his practice, if not in his principles, than Johnson's good and pious man.
PUBLICATION OF THE PASTORALS AND ESSAY ON CRITICISM. LETTERS TO ADDISON AND STEELE. ACQUAINTANCE WITH TERESA AND MARTHA BLOUNT. THE ELEGY ON AN UNFORTUNATE LADY.
IN 1709, Pope, by the publication of his Pastorals, took his place among the poets of the English Augustan age. The age was Augustan only in the patronage it extended to authors, which, for extent and liberality, was unexampled in this country. Addison, Steele, Congreve, Prior, Gay, Rowe, Tickell, Ambrose Philips, and poets humbler even than the humblest of these, beld public offices, or enjoyed the patronage of the great, and lived in comparative opulence. Swift was shut out of a bishopric by the supposed irreligion of his character an opinion carefully instilled into the mind of Queen Anne-and by the daring irreverence and dangerous wit of the Tale of a Tub; but the deanery of St. Patrick's was no very poor or inglorious provision. Pope's religion disqualified him for government employment, and it is to his honour that he adhered to it with undeviating fidelity, and was proof against both obloquy and temptation. A pension, however, was offered him by Halifax, and Addison, when in power, was desirous of benefiting him. Craggs also offered money from the Treasury; but all of these he declined. He relied on literature and on his limited patrimony, and the patronage extended to his Homer justified his choice, at the same time that it displayed the taste and munificence of the age.
The Pastorals appeared in a Poetical Miscellany or An
nual issued by Tonson. Four parts or yearly volumes of this Miscellany had been edited by Dryden. A fifth was collected after his death; and now Tonson, with the help of Pope's contributions, ventured on a sixth volume. The publisher's note to
Pope, offering his assistance, is characteristic of the keen old man of business whom Dryden found so hard a taskmaster:
"SIR-I have lately seen a Pastoral of yours in Mr. Walsh's and Congreve's hand, which is extremely fine, and is approved by the best judges in poetry. I remember I have formerly seen you in my shop, and am sorry I did not improve my acquaintance with you. If you design your poem for the press, no one shall be more careful in printing it, nor no one can give greater encouragement to it than, sir, your most obedient humble servant,
"Gray's Inn Gate, April 20, 1706."
The offer of "left-legged Jacob" could not be resisted. The Pastorals, when completed and revised, were sent to the press, and, as Wycherley profanely observed, Jacob's ladder raised Pope to immortality! The Miscellany opened with the Pastorals of Ambrose Philips, and closed with those of Pope-a seeming rivalry which afterwards proved a source
of lasting enmity between the Bucolic poets. Pope also contributed his version of Chaucer's January and May, and a translation of the Epistle of Sarpedon from the. Iliad. The volume contained verses by the Marquis of Normanby, the Duke of Buckingham, and Garth, and a translation of part of Lucan by Rowe. The Windsor poet, therefore, appeared in good company, and Wycherley acted as gentleman usher by inserting a copy of complimentary verses, entitled, "To my friend Mr. Pope on his Pastorals." This piece is correctly and pleasingly written, and concludes with a prediction that the young poet's muse would soon, like Virgil's, take a higher flight.
"So larks, which first from lowly fields arise,
Pope was charged by some malicious critics with writing, or at least correcting these verses on himself, and one might almost swear to this concluding simile being his composition. He had unquestionably added, as on former occasions, a few graceful touches to the faltering muse of the Plain Dealer.
The correctness and elegance of style and versification displayed in these juvenile Pastorals astonished Wycherley and Walsh. Both were veteran poets, and one was a judicious classical critic, yet the self-taught youth of sixteen, in the shades of Windsor Forest, had at one bound placed himself above them, and, indeed, above all the poets of that period. "The preface is very judicious and very learned," says Walsh, in a letter to Wycherley, April 20, 1705; "the author seems to have a particular genius for that kind of poetry, and a judgment that much exceeds the years you told me he was of." Again, "It is no flattery at all to say that Virgil had written nothing so good at his age." With what enthusiastic delight this praise, through the friendly medium of Wycherley, would be received by Pope it is easy to conceive. He was now a poet for life! Walsh died in 1708, before any of his young friend's works had been published, but in the conclusion of his Essay on Criticism, Pope has paid a tribute to the taste and talents of his first learned and complimentary critic.
All Pastorals, from Theocritus down to Pope and Ambrose Philips, are essentially the same in subject and imagery.
PASTORALS AND ESSAY ON CRITICISM.
They have no foundation in nature, and the most juvenile rhymester would not now dream of rivalling the classics in such a field. With respect to Pope's success, apart from his melodious numbers, Warton has thrown out some remarks. "A mixture of British and Grecian ideas," he says, "may justly be deemed a blemish in these Pastorals; and propriety is certainly violated when he couples Pactolus with Thames, and Windsor with Hybla. Complaints of immoderate heat, and wishes to be conveyed to cooling caverns, when uttered by the inhabitants of Greece, have a decorum and consistency which they totally lose in the character of a British shepherd; and Theocritus, during the ardours of Sirius, must have heard the murmurings of a brook, and the whispers of a pine, with more heartfelt pleasure than Pope could possibly experience on the same occasion." Pope, however, avoided the error of Spenser, in introducing wolves into England, and showed his judgment in substituting for the laurels appropriated to Eurotas, the willows native to the Thames. As to the clustering grapes, the pipe of reeds, and the sacrifice of lambs, they are no doubt inappropriate to English rural life, but they seem inseparable from the idea of a Pastoral. Pope retained this stock classic property not through inadvertence, but because he believed it to be indispensable.
The Essay on Criticism was next begun, though not published till 1711. Didactic poetry was then popular. The authors of the day had discarded the grosser impurities of the former period, and reformed the drama. A considerable sediment, however, was left, and there were no aspirations after high invention, imagination, or passion-no return to the fountains of nature, of romance, or of heroism in Chaucer, Spenser, and Shakspeare. To extol contemporary events, to panegyrise living individuals, to paint smooth enamel wordminiatures, and to reason or criticise in decent verse, filled the measure of the poet's ambition. Addison was agreeably descriptive, but feeble, in his Letter from Italy, and Prior had given forth some runnings of his sprightly vein, but there was a character of tameness and littleness in the poetical literature of the period; and the Essay on Criticism was entitled to a high pre-eminence. Pope was probably led to his subject by the Essays on Satire, Translated Verse, and Poetry by Sheffield and Roscommon. Boileau's Art of