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common sense and observation, and scuffled with all comers for the mastery: Took all advantages, and gave any odds--came off triumphant when in the right, or made the best of a bad cause -instantly seized the weak side of his adversary's argument -wrested what was doubtful to his purpose-made it a drawn battle with the sturdiest of his rivals-or fluttered' his politer antagonists like an eagle in a dovecot !' It was this vigorous and voluntary exercise of his faculties, when freed from all restraint in the intercourse of private society, that has left such a rich harvest for his biographer; and it cannot be denied that it has been well and carefully got in.
The amiable and modest Author of the volume before us, has not been less fortunate in the interest of the principal figure, Pope; nor is the circle of his associates assuredly less brilliant and imposing than that which surrounded Dr Johnson : but he has not been equally bold or happy in the treatment of his subject. The Anecdotes of Pope, compared with Boswell's Memoirs of Johnson, want life and spirit, and connexion. They furnish curious particulars, but minute and disjointed :they want picturesque grouping and dramatic effect. We have the opinions and sayings of eminent men:/but they do not grow out of the occasion: we do not know at whose house such thing happened, nor the effect it had on those who were present. The conversations seldom extend beyond an observation and a reply. We have good things served up in sandwiches; but we do not sit down, as in Boswell, to an ordinary of fine discourse.'— There is no eating and drinking going on. The different characters have labels with certain words on them put into their mouths, with authentic signatures : but that is all
. We have nothing like Wilkes's plying Johnson with the best bits at Dilly's table, and overcoming his Tory prejudices by the good things he offered, and the good things he said : Nor does any Goldsmith drop in after tea with his peach-coloured coat, like one dropped from the clouds, bewildered with his finery and the success of a new work! One never has the idea, as Dunning said to Sir Joshua Reynolds of one of his literary parties, that, while these people were talking, all the rest of the world was quiet. Each person is limitto a sentence, at a time; and the sense, for want of the context, is often imperfect. There is a gap between each conclusion, and at the end of every paragraph we have a new labour to begin. They are not scenes, but soliloquies, with which we are presented: And in reading through the book, we do not seem travelling along a road, but crossing a series of stepping stones: consequently, we do not get on fast with it. It is made up of
shreds and patches, and not cut out of the entire piece; something like the little caps into which the tailor in Don Quixote cut his cloth, and held them up at his fingers' ends. In a word, the living scene does not pass before us ;-we have notes and slips of paper handed out by one of the company, but we are not ourselves admitted to their présence, nor made witnesses of the fray. There is mention made of the manner in which Addison passed his time at home, at Button's, and at Wills's. This indeed was before Mr Spence's time; but Boswell would have followed him to all those places, and brought
from the survivors all that was said at them, in the order of time, place, and person. Spence was as well contented to make a few memorandums at second-hand.
Boswell was probably an inferior man to Spence;- but he was a far better collector of anecdotes, and the very prince, indeed, of retail wits and philosophers; so that, with all possible sense of the value of what he has done, we sometimes can hardly help wishing that he had lived in the time of Pope, instead of our own. For, to confess the truth, there is scarcely any period of our literature on which we delight so much to dwell, or to which we so often seek to return, as the one to which these pages are devoted. Whatever we may think of the greater lights of a former age, there was none in which literary men were so much to be envied, (if not admired)-or in which, perhaps, familiarity of approach would so little lessen our idea of their importance. It was the acmé of intellectual refinement and civilization; equally remote from Gothic barbarism and vulgar abuse. Poetry, from being a dream of faery land, had taken shelter in the walks of real life. It had left the heights of fancy, to stoop to truth, and moralize its song. Instead of dazzling the reader with ecstasies, or startling him with chimeras, it now sought merely to embellish familiar objects, to laugh at petty follies, and to lend the charms of verse and the colours of the imagination to the commonest events. The style both of poetry and prose was grown classical and courtly. It seemed as if the Muses and the Graces, leaving their august abodes, had deserted Mount Parnassus for Windsor Forest and Hampton Court-had thence slipped down to their favourite villa at Twickenham-and had turned aside again at Whitehall stairs, only stopping on this side Temple Bar,—with a train of wit, beauty, fashion, rank and learning, following them,-with lords of the bed-chamber for their gentlemen. Ishers, and peeresses of the realm for their maids of honour. Pope was one of those who was admitted into the centre of this circle, and who received and gave new lustre to
it. He was the poet-laureate of polished life.
His most graceful verses were laid on the toilette of beauty; his most beautiful compositions were offered up on the altar of friendship. The list of his friends and favourites includes almost all that was distinguished in his day. To sound their praises, we need only name those who are recorded in these pages-fami• liar in our mouths as household names, '-or whom Gay has summoned to welcome Pope's return to shore after his Grecian voyage, in a poem on his finishing the Iliad-Garth, Walsh, Aiterbury, Steele, Swift, Addison, Arbuthnot, Prior, Parnell, Congreve, Jervas, Kneller, Bolingbroke, Granville, Oxford, Halifax, Murray, Berkeley, Warburton, Lady Wortley Montague, Queensberry's Dutchess, Belle Fermor, and youth's youngest daughter, sweet Le Pel.' And is there not a charm in all these names, that still rises like a steam of rich distilled perfumes over the places that they knew and loved a sound that must for ever ecbo on the banks of Thames, while learning, genius, and eloquence, continue to be honoured,- that calls up a throng of lovely mortal faces, and of bright immortal heads, to hover round us as we loiter in the shades of Twickenham, or muse over the pages in which all their glories are enshrined? But we must put an end to these raptures, and submit to give our readers some account of the work before us. For this purpose, we will transcribe a few of the first paragraphs, which immediately relate to Pope.
• Section I. 1728–30.-Garth talked in a less libertine manner than he had been used to do, about the three last years of his life. But he was rather doubtful and fearful, than religious. * It was usual for him to say, " That if there was any such thing as religion, 'twas among the Roman Catholics, '--probably from the greater efficacy we give the sacraments. He died a Papist; as I was assured by Mr Blount, who carried the Father to him in his last hours. He did not take any care of himself in his last illness; and had talked, for three or four years, as one tired of life: in short, I believe he was willing to let it go.-P. (that is, Pope.)
• Wycherley died a Romanist, and has owned that religion in my hearing. It was generally thought by this gentleman's friends, that he lost his memory by old age : it was not by age, but by accident, as he himself told me often. He remembered as well at sixty years old, as he had done ever since forty, when a fever occasioned that loss to him.-P.'
* «Garth sent to Addison (of whom he had a very high opinion) op his death-bed, to ask him whether the Christian religion was true! DR YOUNG from Addison himself, or Tickell, --which is much the same. VOL. XXXIII. NO. 66.
« Prior was not a right good man. He used to bury himself, for whole days and nights together, with a poor mean creature (his Chloe); and often drank hard. He turned from a strong Whig (which he had been when most with Lord Halifax) to a violent Tory : and did not care to converse with any Whigs after, any more than Rowe did with Tories.-P.'
• Sir John Suckling was an immoral man, as well as debauched. The story of the Fiench cards + was told me by the late Duke of Buckingham: and he had it from old Lady Dorset herself. That lady took a very odd pride in boasting of her familiarities with Sir Jolin Suckling. She is the Mistress and Goddess in his poems : and several of those picces were given by herself to the printer. This the Duke of Buckingham used to give as one instance of the fondness she had to let the world know how well they were acquainted.-P.'
• Sir John Suckling was a man of great vivacity and spirit. He died about the beginning of the Civil War; and his death was occasioned by a very uncommon accident. He entered warmly into the King's interests; and was sent over to the Continent by him, with some letters of great consequence, to the Queen. He arrived late at Calais : and in the night his servant ran away with his portmanteau, in which was his money and papers. When he was told of this in the morning, he immediately inquired which way his servant had taken, ordered his horses to be got ready instantly, and in pulling on his boots, found one of them extremely uneasy to him: but as the horses were at the door, he leaped into the saddle, and forgot his pain. He pursued his servant so eagerly, that he overtook him two or three posts off; recovered his portmanteau ; and soon after complained of a vast pain in one of his feet, and fainted away with it. When they came to pull off his boots to fling him into bed, they found one of them full of blood.
It seems his seryant (who knew his master's temper' well, and was sure he would pursue him as soon as his villany should be discovered) had driven a nail up into one of his boots, in hopes of disabling him from pursuing him. Sir John's impetuosity made him regard the pain only just at first : and his pursuit turned him from the thoughts of it for some time after. However, the wound was so bad and so much inflamed, that it flung him into a violent fever, which ended his life in a very few days. This incident, strange as it may seem, might be proved from some original letters in Lord Oxford's collection.-P.
It was a general opinion, that Ben Jonson and Shakespear lived in enmity against one another. Betterton has assured me often, that there was nothing in it: and that such a supposition was founded only on the two parties, which in their lifetime listed under one, and endeavoured to lessen the character of the other mutually.--Dryden used to think that the verses Jonson made on Shakespear’s death,
+• His getting certain marks, known only to himself, affixed to all the cards that came from the great makers in France.'
had something of satire at the bottom : for my part, I can't discover any thing like it in them.-P.:
Lord Rochester was of a very bad turn of mind, as well as de bauched. [From the Duke of Buckingham and others that knew him.-P.:
The reader will here find, in the course of the first five pages, a pretty good specimen of what he may expect—the literary tittle-tuttle of the age, and the traditional gossipping of the preceding half-century. The spirit of the remarks and anecdotes, it must be confessed, is rather censorious, and the mention that is made of a number of well known names not the most favourable to them. But a good deal of it is hearsay—and, like other scandals, probably not very accurate.
It is rather remarkable, that we have three instances together of poets who were Roman Catholics at this period—Garth, Wycherley, and Pope himself. The reason assigned for Garth's predilection for this faith, viz. “ the greater efficacy which it gives to the sacraments,' does not appear to be very obvious or satisfactory. Popery is, in its essence, and by its very constitution, a religion of outward form and ceremony, full of sound and show, recommending itself by the charm of music, the solemnity of pictures, the pomp of dress, the magnificence of buildings, by the dread of power, and the allurements of pleasure. It strikes upon
the senses studiously, and in every way; it appeals to the imagination; it enthrals the passions; it infects by sympathy; has age, has authority, has numbers on its side; and exacts implicit faith in its inscrutable mysteries and its gaudy symbols :-it is, in a word, the religion of fancy, as Protestantism is the religion of philosophy, and of faith chastised by a more sober reason. It is not astonishing, therefore, that at a period when the nation and the government had been so lately distracted by the conlest between the old and the new religion, poets were found to waver between the two, or were often led away by that which flattered their love of the marvellous and the splendid. Any of these reasons, we think, is more likely, than the greater efficacy given to the sacraments’ in that communion, to explain why so many poets, without much religion, as Garth, Wycherley, Pope, Dryden, Crashaw, should be fascinated by the glittering bait of Popery, and lull their more serious feelings asleep in the torpor of its harlot-embraces.-A minute, but voluminous critic of our time, has laboured hard to show, that to this list should be added the name of Massinger. But the proofs adduced in support of this conjecture are extremely inconclusive. Among others, the writer insists on the profusion of crucifixes, glories, angelic visions, garlands of roses, and clouds of incense