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Poetry had been translated by Sir William Soame, and revised by Dryden, who applied the poem to English writers. This work was evidently in Pope's hands. He did not, however, adopt the methodical system of Boileau, which Sheffield followed. He did not classify criticism as Boileau classified poetry, under its different forms of Pastoral, Elegy, Ode, Satire, &c. He selected Horace as his model, but both in Horace and Pope there is a certain order and connexion, without which their precepts would have wanted perspicuity as well as force. This would seem to be all that either the Roman or English poet aimed at, though Warburton endeavoured by a laboured commentary to show that Pope's Essay was a complete treatise both of the art of criticism and the art of poetry. "You remember," said Pope to Wycherley, a simile Mr. Dryden used in conversation, of feathers in the crowns of the wild Indians, which they not only choose for the beauty of their colours, but place them in such a manner as to reflect a lustre on each other." Such we believe to have been the art adopted by Pope in stringing together the maxims contained in the Essay on Criticism, and the beautiful illustrations with which it is embellished.
The poet did not at first affix his name to the Essay, and the sale was slow. It was attacked by Dennis, the most conspicuous critic of that period, but an unsuccessful poet and drama
1 Some of the lines in Sheffield's Essay on Poetry are vigorous and
"Figures of speech, which poets think so fine-
But to make rage declaim and grief discourse,
Must needs succeed, for who can choose but pity
But, oh! the dialogue where jest and mock'
Is held up like a rest at shuttlecock;
Or else like bells eternally they chime,
To render the
So Lewis, publisher of the poem, informed Warton. work better known, Pope, about a month after the appearance of the Essay, went to Lewis's shop, and addressed twenty copies to persons whom he considered the best judges of poetry, including Lord Lansdowne and the Duke of Buckingham; and this scheme, it is added, was completely successful. Pope, in a letter to Caryll, states that the first edition consisted of 1000 copies. A second was called for in 1718. The poem was translated into
DENNIS THE CRITIC.
tist. Pope had dared to throw down the gauntlet to this still formidable aristarch. When treating of critics he said:
"But Appius reddens at each word you speak,
And stares tremendous with a threatening eye,
Dennis had written a tragedy on the story of Appius and Virginia (produced in 1708), and was well known to be irritable and violent both in his criticism and his character. The satirical portrait was at once recognised, and the enraged critic lost no time in retaliating in a pamphlet, which his egregious vanity no doubt led him to believe would bring his puny assailant to his feet in submission, or annihilate him for ever. His remarks on the Essay are replete with per
sonal abuse, part of which will be found quoted by Pope, in justification of his severity, in his notes to the Dunciad; but they contain also a few just observations, by which the poet profited. Dennis was a man of acuteness and learning; he had been noticed by Dryden, Congreve, and Steele; but his temper, naturally violent and vindictive, had been soured by disappointment and intemperance, and his vanity and caprice distorted his judgment. His in
dignation at this time was specially roused by the circumstance
French by Anthony Hamilton, author of Mémoires de Grammont, an honour which Pope gratefully and warmly acknowledged. This version was never printed, but two French translations subsequently appeared.
that Pope had previously sought his acquaintance. "At his first coming to town," he says, "he was importunate with Mr. Cromwell to introduce him to me. The recommendation engaged me to be about thrice in company with him; after which I went to the country, till I found myself most insolently attacked in his very superficial Essay on Criticism, by which he endeavoured to destroy the reputation of a man who had published pieces of criticism, and to set up his own." Dennis, it was obvious, could bear no brother near his critical throne; and Pope's predilection for satire was overpowering his youthful diffidence and caution. The enraged critic found few to sympathise with him. The Essay was too excellent to be cried down; and many of the scribblers of that day must have rejoiced to see the furious Goliath of criticism struck on the forehead, though not felled to the ground, by a smooth stone from the sling of a stripling.
There was another class of objectors to the Essay on Criticism. The poet's liberal and tolerant sentiments on the subject of religion, with his praise of Erasmus and his censure of the monks, provoked the holy Vandals of his own Church. Their complaints were forwarded to him through the medium of "the Hon. J. C.," or John Caryll, of West Grinsted, a member of a Roman Catholic family of long standing, wealth, and influence in the county of Sussex. The modern head of this house was an historical personage-John Caryll, the English Envoy at the Court of Rome, who, proving "too timid for the high Catholic party," as Dr. Lingard has stated, or, more probably, too moderate and prudent for his royal master James, was recalled to England and appointed Secretary and Master of Requests to the Queen. On the abdication of James, Caryll accompanied him abroad, became one of the Ministers of the exiled Court, and was created a peer. He died in 1711, aged about eighty. As Lord or Secretary Caryll was a man of literary tastes, as well as rank and fortune (author of a comedy, "Sir Solomon; or, the Cautious Coxcomb, from L'Ecole des Femmes," 1671, and of several translations in Dryden's Miscellanies), Warburton, ignorant of the history of the family, assumed that he was the person of that name who proposed the subject of the Rape of the Lock. The poet's friend, however, was a nephew of the Secretary, who possessed an ample estate, was liberal, tole
POPE'S HATRED OF INTOLERANCE.
rant, and accomplished. Pope sedulously cultivated his friendship, and as their intimacy ripened, made him the depositary of his private feuds, griefs, and disappointments.3
To this trusted friend Pope wrote in defence of his Essay:
"I have ever believed the best piece of service one could do to our religion, was openly to express our detestation and scorn of all those mean artifices and pia fraudes, which it stands so little in need of, and which have laid it under so great a scandal among its enemies.
"Nothing has been so much a scarecrow to them, as that too peremptory and uncharitable assertion of an utter impossibility of salvation to all but ourselves: invincible ignorance excepted, which, indeed, some people define under so great limitations, and with such exclusions, that it seems as if that word were rather invented as a salvo, or expedient, not to be thought too bold with the thunderbolts of God (which are hurled about so freely on almost all mankind by the hands of ecclesiastics), than as a real exception to almost universal damnation. For besides the small number of the truly faithful in our Church, we must again subdivide; the Jansenist is damned by the Jesuit, the Jesuit by the Jansenist, the Scotist by the Thomist, and so forth.
"There may be errors, I grant, but I can't think them of such consequence as to destroy utterly the charity of mankind; the very greatest bond in which we are engaged by God to one another: therefore, I own to you, I was glad of any opportunity to express my dislike of so shocking a sentiment as those of the religion I profess are
We owe all this concerning the Carylls to a writer in the Athenæum, who appears to have had access to the family papers. He states that "the extent of Pope's intimacy and correspondence with the Carylls cannot even be inferred from the published letters. Pope studiously avoided to take rank before the public with the Catholics; and when, later in life, he went into open opposition, it was as one of a political not of a religious party." We may add that Pope, so early as 1714, appears to have been shy of public intercourse with his Catholic brethren. In the original letter to Martha Blount, on the subject of Arabella Fermor's marriage, he says, "My acquaintance runs so much in an anti-Catholic channel, that it was but the other day I heard of Mrs. Fermor's being actually, directly, and consummatively married." In another letter entitled "To a Lady in the name of her Brother," a certain priest, Sir William Kennedy, is in the printed letter transformed to "The Rev. Mr. The Athenæum adds, concerning Secretary Caryll, "In 1695 he was outlawed, and his estate granted to Lord Cutts. As the principal estate was entailed, the forfeiture and grant could only extend to his life interest, and this was repurchased by the family for 6500%" From the same notice we learn that Pope's friend died in 1786, and that the estate passed to and from his grandson.
commonly charged with; and I hoped a slight insinuation, introduced so easily by a casual similitude only, could never have given offence, but on the contrary must needs have done good in a nation and time wherein we are the smaller party, and consequently most misrepresented, and most in need of vindication.
"For the same reason, I took occasion to mention the superstition of some ages after the subversion of the Roman Empire, which is too manifest a truth to be denied, and does in no sort reflect upon the present professors of our faith, who are free from it. Our silence in these points may, with some reason, make our adversaries think we allow and persist in those bigotries; which yet in reality all good and sensible men despise, though they are persuaded not to speak against them. I can't tell why, since now 'tis no way the interest even of the worst of our priesthood (as it might have been then) to have them smothered in silence: for, as the opposite sects are now prevailing, 'tis too late to hinder our Church from being slander'd; 'tis our business now to vindicate ourselves from being thought abettors of what they charge us with. This can't so well be brought about with serious faces; we must laugh with them at what deserves it, or be content to be laughed at, with such as deserve it."
These sentiments he always entertained; placing "all his glory" both in politics and religion in "moderation." Fire and sword, and fire and fagot, were equally his aversion. As years rolled on he became a decided opponent of the Court, for his religion and connexions threw him among the Jacobites and disappointed politicians; but the Church seems at no time to have had a strong hold on his affections. Most of his friends were tinged with infidelity, and Lyttel ton, when of this class, conceived Pope to be like himself. Chesterfield claimed him as a Deist. The eloquent Characteristics of Shaftesbury, published in 1713, were much read, and Pope told Warburton that this work had, to his knowledge, done great harm to revealed religion. It was the too general fashion of the day to laugh at all serious and solemn impressions, and the young poet could hardly be more grave than his seniors and associates. In a lively letter to Martha Blount he says, Every one values Mr. Pope, but every one for a different reason; one for his adherence to the Catholic faith; another for his neglect of Popish superstition; one for his grave behaviour; another for his whimsicalness; Mr. Tidcombe for his pretty atheistical jests; Mr. Caryll for his moral and Christian sentences," &c. When fairly embarked