Imatges de pàgina




P O P E.


Born in London—Both Parents Roman Catholics Educated by Priests-Early distinguished

as a Poet-Lives at Binfield in Berkshire-Sees Dryden-Becomes acquainted with Wycherley, Walsh, Sir W. Trumbull, &c.-Writes his · Pastorals '--Publishes his ‘Pastorals ' in Tonson's Miscellany-Publishes an Essay on Criticism -Dennis attacks the 'Essay '-Publishes * The Rape of the Lock' la Lintot's Miscellany–His intimacy with Addison-Publishes "Windsor Forest –Commences a Translation of the 'Iliad -History of the Subscription for the 'Iliad '-Lord Halifax and Pope-Collects his Poems-Eloisa to Abelard - Verses on an Unfortunate Lady'--Commences a Translation of the Odyssey '-Fenton and BroomePublication of his Letters to Cromwell-Curll-Edits Shakespeare-Theobald's Attack-The Bathos-History of 'The Dunciad -Writes his Moral Epistles' and 'Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot'-The Essay on Man'-Bolingbroke and Warburton-Quarrels with Lord Hervey and Lady Mary Montagu-His Imitations of Horace-Collects a Second Volume of his Poems Publication of his Letters by Curll-Writes his two Dialogues, '1733 '-Quarrels with Cibber -Writes a Fourth Book of 'The Dunciad'-Theobald Dethroned-Death and Burial at Twickenham-Personal Character-Works and Character-Dryden and Pope compared Criticism on his Epitaphs.


ALEXANDER Pope was born in London, May 22, 1688, of parents whose rank or station was never ascertained : we are informed that they were of gentle blood ;" that his father was of a family of which the Earl of Downe was the head ;' and that his mother was the daughter of William Turner, Esq., of York,' who had likewise three sons, one of whom bad the honour of being killed, and the other of dying, in the service of Charles the First ; the third [the eldest] was made a general officer in Spain, from whom the sister

1 0f gentle blood (part shed in honour's cause

While yet in Britain honour had applause)
Each parent sprung.

Pops: Epistle to Arbuthnol • Compare note in Warton's "Essay on Pope,' ed. 1782, vol. Il. p. 262. ** Pray what authority had you to say that Mr. Pope's mother was Cooper's daughter? ... In the Parish of Worsbro, a village very near Lord Strafford, is the following entry :- 1648. Edith, the daughter of Mr. William Turner, bapt. 18 June." Which Mr. Brooke, one of the Heralds, who is writing an account of Yorkshire families, says is the same person.”—Muison to Walpole, Dec. 4, 1782. If this entry is correct, and the usual period only elapsed between birth and baptism, Pope's mother was ninety, and not ninety-three, at her death, on the

7th June, 1738

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inherited what sequestrations and forfeitures had left in the family.

This, and this only, is told by Pope, who is more willing, as I have heard observed, to show what his father was not, than what he was.

It is allowed that he grew rich by trade, but whether in a shop or on the Exchange was never discovered till Mr. Tyers told, on the authority of Mrs. Rackett,' that he was a linen-draper in the Strand. Both parents were Papists.

Pope was from his birth of a constitution tender and delicate, but is said to have shown remarkable gentleness and sweetness of disposition. The weakness of his body continued through his life ;' but the mildness of bis mind perhaps ended with his childhood. His voice, when he was young, was so pleasing, that he was called in fondness the “ little Nightingale.”

Being not sent early to school, he was taught to read by an aunt; and when he was seven or eight years old, became a lover of books. He first learned to write by imitating printed books; a species of penmanship in which he retained great excellence through his whole life, though his ordinary band was not elegant.'

When he was about eight, he was placed in Hampshire onder

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• Pope's own note in his · Epistle to Arbuthnot.'

• Magdalen Rackett-Pope's half-sister, it is said, by his mother's former marriage. She survived Pope, and, with her three sons, is remembered by him in his will. Pope's father in his will speaks of "My son-in-law Charles Rackett, and my dear daughter Magdalen," by which it is clear that the woman was nearer related to him than the man. A letter from Mag. dalen Rackett to Mrs. Pope (the poet's mother) concludes, “Dear mother, your dutiful daugh. ter, M. Rackett." She speaks, however, in the same letter of her mother Rackett," by which she may mean either her own or her husband's mother. (M8. Iliad, vol. ii. 136).) Pope in his will speaks of his "sister-in-law," Magdalen Rackett, meaning perhaps his half-sister. I locline to think that the woman was the nearer related of the two to Pope, and that Magdalen Rackett was the daughter of Mr. Pope by a previous marriage, and not (as hitherto thought) of Mrs. Pope by a former husband. Compare Malone's note in his edition of Spence, p. 68.

. No, in Lombard Street. Martha Blount described him as “a merchant who dealt in hollands" (Spence by Singer, p. 857). The poet's father became a convert to the Roman Catholic faith when still a youth, living with a merchant in Lisbon.

* This weakness was so great that he constantly wore stays, as I have been assured by a waterman at Twickenham, who, in lifting him into his boat, had often felt them. His method of taking the air on the water was to have a sedan chair in the boat, in which he sat with the glasses down.-Sir John HAWKINS. (Note in Johnson's 'Lives,' 4 vols. 8vo., 1791.)

& This was not the case. His ordinary hand was far from inelegant, and his imitations of print made with the pen such as schoolmasters would admire. I possess his copy of some of Dryden's poems in quarto, with, on the Ay-leal, “ Alexander Pope," in his best manner of printing with a pen.

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