Imágenes de páginas

Dr. Warburton, Jan. 7, 1740 :

" You have evinced the orthodoxy of Mr. Pope's principles ; but, like the old Commentators on his Homer, will be thought, perhaps, in some places, to have found a meaning for him, that he himself never dreamt of. However, if you did not find him a philosopher, you will make him one; for he will be wise enough to take the benefit of your

read. ing, and make his future essays more clear and consistent."

26. That not in Fancy's maze he wander'd long,

But stoop'd to Truth, and moraliz'd his song.*

Here is our author's own declaration, delivered in the most precise and positive terms, that he early left the more poetical provinces of his art, to become a moral, didactic, and satiric poet.

27. Of gentle blood + (part shed in honour's cause,

While yet in Britain honour had applause)
Each parent sprung; what fortune

And better got than Bestia’s from the throne.

their own,


* Ver. 340.

+ When Mr. Pope published the notes on the Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot, giving an account of his family, Mr. Pottin


[ocr errors]

Born to no pride, inheriting no strife,
Nor marrying discord in a noble wife ;
Stranger to civil and religious rage,
The good man walk'd innoxious thro' his age.
No courts he saw, no suits would ever try,
Nor dar'd an nath, nor hazarded a lye.
l'nlearn'd, he knew no schoolman's subtile art;
No language, but the language of the heart.
By nature honest, by experience wise,
Healthy by temp’rance, and by exercise ;
His life, tho' long, to sickness past unknown;
His death was instant, and without a groan.


ger, a relation of his, observed, that his cousin Pope had made himself out a fine pedigree, but he wondered where he got it; that he never had heard any thing himself of their being descended from the Earls of Down ; and, what is more, he had an old maiden aunt, equally related, a great genealogist, who was always talking of her family, but never mentioned this circumstance; on which she certainly would not have been silent, had she known any thing of it. Mr. Pope's grandfather was a clergyman of the church of England, in Hampshire. He placed his son, Mr. Pope's father, with a merchant at Lisbon, where he became a convert to Popery. (Thus far Dr. Bolton, late Dean of Carlisle, a friend of Pope ; from Mr. Pottinger.) The burying-place and monuments of the family of the Popes', Earls of Down, is at Wroxton, Oxfordshire. The Earl of Guildford says, that he has seen and examined the pedigrees and descents of that family, and is sure that there were then none of the nanje of Pope left, who could be descended from that family.-(Fron John Loveday, of Caversham, Esquire.)

* Ver. 388.

BOILEAU,* who has been so frequently quoted, because he was the model of our author, speaks thus of his father and family, in an epistle that was justly one of his favourite works, addressed (in imitation of Horace's Vertumnum Janumque) to his verses :

Que si quelqu'un, mes vers, alors vous importune,
Pour scavoir mes parens, ma vie & ma fortune,
Contès-lui, qu'alliè d'assès hauts Magistrats,
Fils d'un Pere Greffier, né d'ayeux Avocats;
Dès le berceau perdant une fort jeune mere,
Reduit seize ans après à pleurer mon vieux Pere,
J'allai d'un pas hardi, par moi-mesme guidé,
Et de mon seul Genie en marchant secondé,
Studieux amateur, & de Perse & d'Horace,

Assès près de Regnier m'asseoir sur le Parnasse ;



* He had no asperity in his temper. Mad. de Sevigné used to say, He is cruel only in verse. Being punctual in performing all acts of religion, he was one day in the country, and went to confession to a priest who did not know him. “ What is your occupation ?" said the good man.

« To make verses,” replied Boileau. « So much the worse,

,said the Priest. " And what sort of verses ?« Satires." 66 Still worse and worse," said the confessor. “ And against whom?” “ Against those (said Boileau) who make bad verses; against such mischievous works as operas and romances.”

“ Ah! my friend, (says the Confessor,) there is no harm in this; and I have nothing more to say to you.”

Memoires de J. Racine, p. 196.

Que par un coup de sort au grand jour amene
Et de bords du Permesse à la Cour entraisné,
Je sçeûs, prenant l'essor par de routes nouvelles
Eslever assès haut mes poetiques ailes ;
Que ce Roy* dont le nom fait trembler tant de Rois
Voulut bien que ma main crayonnait ses exploits :
Que plus d'un grand m'aima jusques à la tendresse;
Que ma veüe a Colbert inspiroit, l'allegresse ;
Qu'aujourd'hui mesme encor de deux sens affoibli
Retiré de la cour & non mis en oubli;
Plus d'un Heros epris des fruits de mon estude,
Vient quelquefois ches moi gouter la solitude.t


* He was appointed historiographer to the King, with Ra. cine, in October, 1677. They both, together with VanderMeulen, the painter, accompanied Louis XIV. in his ostentatious expedition to Flanders. After the death of Racine, he went once to Versailles, to inform the King of the loss of his colleague ; and when he took his leave, Louis obligingly said to him, shewing him his watch, which he happened to hold in his hand, “ Remember that I have always one hour in the week to give you, whenever you will come to me.”

It is to be regretted that Boileau never finished, what he told his friends he had sketched out, the life of Diogenes the Cynic, a comic romance, in which much literature, satire, and knowledge of life and manners, would have appeared. Let me take this occasion of adding, that it is also to be regretted, that Montesquieu never finished a political romance he intended to give, called Arsaces.

Epistre x. ver. 93.

All these particularities of his father, family, and fortunes, become interesting. There is in this passage

the true manner of Horace, his easy vigour, and firma facilitas. It is on occasion of this epistle that Boileau wrote his celebrated letter to Mons. de Maucroix, from which I shall, without any scruple, give a large extract, as it is so replete with good sense and solid criticism, and contains so many judicious observations on the more remote and interior beauties of style. Tom. iii. p. 185.

Par M. de Saint Marc. 1747.

RACAn excelle sur tout, à mon avis, à dire les petites choses, & c'est en quoi il ressemble mieux aux anciennes, que j'admire sur tout par cet endroit. Plus les choses sont seches & mal aisées à dire en vers, plus elle frapent quand elles sont dites noblement, & avec cette elégance qui fait proprement la poésie. Je me souviens

que M. de la Fontaine m'a dit plus d'une fois, que les deux vers de mes ouvrages qu'il estimoit davantage, c'estoit ceux où je loue le Roi d'avoir établi la manufacture des points de France, à la place des points de Venise. Les voici. C'est dans la premiere Epistre à sa Majesté.

[blocks in formation]
« AnteriorContinuar »