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THIS highly-distinguished poet was born in Lon
don, in the year 1688, where his father was a tradesman, and acquired considerable property, with which he retired to a purchase he had made at Binfield, in Windsor Forest.
Our poet, being from his infancy of a sickly habit, was educated mostly at home: and his father being a rigid catholic, and attached to the cause of James II. very naturally imparted to his son those principles of religion and politics which he retained throughout life. His son began early to read, and he bad scarcely perused some of the English poets before be courted the muse, and exhibited such specimens of versification and fancy as are rarely found at his tender age. His Pastorals were shown in manuscript to Sir William Turnbull, in the year 1704; and Wycherley, Walsh, and others, were proud to encourage so promising a genius. He soon after began his Windsor Forest, which, it is said, he used to compose under a beech tree, on which Lady Gower carved these words:
Here Pope sang.'
During her life the letters were cut new every three or four years, but they have since been suffered to decay.
As his poems became circulated, his acquaintance was courted by the most distinguished characters of his day; nor can we be surprised at their admiration of a youth who produced the alterations from Chaucer's Wife of Bath, and the Translation of Sappho to Phaon, at the age of fourteen; the Pastorals, at sixteen; and the Essay on Criticism, at nineteen. It may be observed, too, that he had no sooner become an author, than he began to feel his superiority; and in his ambition to be crowned sovereign of the poetical world, he soon involved himself in contests with his less fortunate brethren, some of whom he attacked without much justice, and all without any great provocation. It was one of the most remarkable circumstances in his history, that he inspired dread almost as soon as he had attracted admiration.
When about the age of twenty-three he came to London, and entered, not unsparingly, into its gaieties and gallantries, although his weakly person and constitution were not very well adapted to irregular pleasures. The unfortunate lady, whose memory he has consecrated in an elegy, is supposed to have been one who first inspired him with the passion of love; and he afterwards coquetted with Lady Mary Wortley Montague, and formed a connexion, somewhat between the platonic and the amorous, with Miss Martha Blount, whose name occurs frequently in the following pages.
In the year 1711, he produced the Rape of the Lock, which at onte placed him, in point of invention, at the head of all living poets, and which yet remains without a rival. In 1713 he issued proposals for his translation of the Iliad, and the first four books came out in 1715. The success of this work was such as to enable him to leave the house at Binfield altogether, and reside at a house at Twick. enham; where the formation of his celebrated gar den and grotto became the amusement and pride of many years of his life. Here he obtained the friend.