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We may easily perceive by this, that Parnell world, whenever I can find a proper opportunity was not a little necessary to Pope in conducting of publishing them. his translation; however, he has worded it so am- “I shall very soon print an entire collection of biguously, that it is impossible to bring the charge my own madrigals, which I look upon as making directly against him. But he is much more expli- my last will and testament, since in it I shall give cit when he mentions his friend Gay's obligations all I ever intend to give (which I'll beg your's and in another letter, which he takes no pains to con- the Dean's acceptance of). You must look on ceal.
me no more a poet, but a plain commoner, who
lives upon his own, and fears and flatters no man. “Dear Sir,
I hope before I die to discharge the debt I owe tu “I write to you with the same warmth, the same Homer, and get upon the whole just fame enough zeal of good-will and friendship, with which I used to serve for an annuity for my own time, though I to converse with you two years ago, and can't leave nothing to posterity. think myself absent, when I feel you so much at my “I beg our correspondence may be more fre. lieart. The picture of you which Jervas brought quent than it has been of late. I am sure my esme over, is infinitely less lively a representation teem and love for you never more deserved it from than that I carry about with me, and which rises you, or more prompted it from you. I desired our to my mind whenever I think of you. I have friend Jervas (in the greatest hurry of my busimany an agreeable reverie through those woods ness) to say a great deal in my name,
both to yourand downs where we once rambled together; my self and the Dean, and must once more repeat the head is sometimes at the Bath, and sometimes at assurances to you both, of an unchanging friend. Letcomb, where the Dean makes a great part of ship and unalterable esteem. my imaginary entertainment, this being the cheap
I am, Dear Sir, est way of treating me; I hope he will not be dis- "Most entirely, your affectionate, pleased at this manner of paying my respects to "Faithful, obliged friend and servant, him, instead of following my friend Jervas's exam
" A. Pope." ple, which, to say the truth, I have as much inclination to do as I want ability. I have been ever From these letters to Parnell, we may conclude, since December last in greater variety of business as far as their testimony can go, that he was an than any such men as you (that is, divines and agreeable, a generous, and a sincere man. Indeed, philosophers) can possibly imagine a reasonable he took care that his friends should always see him creature capable of. Gay's play, among the rest, to the best advantage ; for, when he found his fits has cost much time and long-suffering, to stem a of spleen and uneasiness, which sometimes lasted tide of malice and party, that certain authors have for weeks together, returning, he returned with a!! raised against it; the best revenge upon such fel. expedition to the remote parts of Ireland, and lows is now in my hands, I mean your Zoilus, there made out a gloomy kind of satisfaction, in which really transcends the expectation 1 had con- giving hideous descriptions of the solitude to which ceived of it. I have put it into the press, begin- he retired. It is said of a famous painter, that, ning with the poem Batrachom ; for you seem, by being confined in prison for debt, his whole dethe first paragraph of the dedication w it, to design light consisted in drawing the faces of his credito prefix the name of some particular person. I tors in caricatura. It was just so with Parnell. beg therefore w know for whom you intend it, that From many of his unpublished pieces which I the publication may not be delayed on this account, have seen, and from others that have appeared, it and this as soon as is possible. Inform me also would seem, that scarcely a bog in his neighbourupon what terms I am to deal with the bookseller, hood was left without reproach, and scarcely a and whether you design the copy-money for Gay, mountain reared its head unsung. “I can easily,” 35 you formerly talked; what number of books you says Pope, in one of his letters, in answer to a would have yourself, etc. I scarce see any thing dreary description of Parnell's, “I can easily image to be altered in this whole piece ; in the poems you to my thoughts the solitary hours of your eremitisent I will take the liberty you allow me: the story cal life in the mountains, from some parallel to it of Pandora, and the Eclogue upon Health, are two in my own retirement at Binfield:” and in another of the most beautiful things I ever read. I do place, “We are both miserably enough situated, say this to the prejudice of the rest, but as I have God knows; but of the two evils, I think the soliread these oftener. Let me know how far my tudes of the South are to be preferred to the deserts commission is to extend, and be confident of my of the West.” In this manner Pope answered punctual performance of whatever you enjoin. I him in the tone of his own complaints; and these must add a paragraph on this occasion in regard to descriptions of the imagined distress of his situaMr. Ward, whose verses have been a great plea- tion served to give him a temporary relief; they sure to me; I will contrive they shall be so to the lthrew off the blame from himself, and laid upou
fortune and accident a wretchedness of his own appoint; don't let me have two disappointments. creating
I have longed to hear from you, and to that intent But though this method of quarrelling in his I teased you with three or four letters: but, having poems with his situation, served to relieve himself, no answer, I feared both yours and my letters yet it was not easily endured by the gentlemen of might have miscarried. I hope my performance the neighbourhood, who did not care to confess will please the Dean, whom I often wished for, and themselves his fellow-sufferers. He received many to whom I would have often wrote, but for the mortifications upon that account among them; for, same reasons I neglected writing to you. I hope being naturally fond of company, he could not en- I need not tell you how I love you, and how dure to be without even theirs, which, however, glad I shall be to hear from you: which, next to among his English friends, he pretended to despise. the seeing you, would be the greatest satisfaction In fact, his conduct, in this particular, was rather to your most affectionate friend and humble ser splenetic than wise: he had either lost the art to vant,
* J. G." engage, or did not employ his skill in securing those more permanent, though more humble con- " DEAR MR. ArchdeaCON, nexions, and sacrificed, for a month or two in Though my proportion of this epistle should England, a whole year's happiness by his country he but a sketch in miniature, yet I take up this fire-side at home.
half page, having paid my club with the good comHowever, what he permitted the world to see pany both for our dinner of chops and for this paof his life was elegant and splendid; his fortune per. The poets will give you lively descriptions (for a poet) was very considerable, and it may in their way; I shall only acquaint you with that easily be supposed he lived to the very extent of which is directly my province. I have just set the it. The fact is, his expenses were greater than last hand to a couplet, for so I may call two nymphs his income, and his successor found the estate in one piece. They are Pope's favourites, and somewhat impaired at his decease. As soon as though few, you will guess must have cost me more ever he had collected in his annual revenues, he pains than any nymphs can be worth. He has immediately set out for England, to enjoy the com- been so unreasonable as to expect that I should pany of his dearest friends, and laugh at the more have made them as beautiful upon canvass as he prudent world that were minding business and has done upon paper. If this same Mr. Pgaining money. The friends to whom, during should omit to write for the dear frogs, and the the latter part of his life, he was chiefly attached, Pervigilium, I must entreat you not to let me lanwere Pope, Swift, Arbuthnot, Jervas, and Gay. guish for them, as ( have done ever since they Among these he was particularly happy, his mind crossed the seas : remember by what neglects, etc. was entirely at ease, and gave a loose to every harm- we missed them when we lost you, and therefore less folly that came uppermost. Indeed, it was a I have not yet forgiven any of those triflers that let society in which, of all others, a wise man might them escape and run those hazards. I am going be most foolish, without incurring any danger or on the old rate, and want you and the Dean pro. contempt. Perhaps the reader will be pleased to digiously, and am in hopes of making you a visit see a letter to him from a part of this junto, as this summer, and of hearing from you both, now there is something striking even in the levities of you are together. Fortescue, I am sure, will be genius. It comes from Gay, Jervas, Arbuthnot, concerned that he is not in Cornhill, to set his hand and Pope, assembled at a chop-house near the Ex- to these presents, not only as a witness, but as a change, and is as follows:
“ Serviteur tres humble,
* C. JERVAS." "My Dear Sir,
"I was last summer in Devonshire, and am this "It is so great an honour to a poor Scotchman winter at Mrs. Bonyer's. In the summer I wrote to be remembered at this time of day, especially by a poem, and in the winter I have published it, an inbabitant of the Glacialis lerne, that I take it which I have sent to you by Dr. Elwood. In the very thankfully, and have, with my good friends, summer I ate two dishes of toad-stools of my own remembered you at our table in the chop-house in gathering, instead of mushrooms; and in the win- Exchange-alley. There wanted nothing to comter I have been sick with wine, as I am at this time, plete our happiness but your company, and our blessed be God for it! as I must bless God for all dear friend the Dean's. I am sure the whole enthings. In the summer I spoke truth to damsels, tertainment would have been to his relish. Gay in the winter I told lies to ladies. Now you know has got so much money by bis Art of Walking the where I have been, and what I have done, I shall Streets, that he is ready to set up his equipage; he tell you what I intend to do the ensuing summer; is just going to the Bank to negociate some exI propose to do the same thing I did last, which change-bills. Mr. Pope delays his second volume was to meet you in any part of England you would of bis Hoiner till the martial spirit of the rebels is
quite quelled, it being judged that the first part did It is past a doubt that they wrote many things some harm that way. Our love again and again in conjunction, and Gay usually held the pen. to the dear Dean. Fuimus torys, I can say no And yet I do not remember any productions which more. •
ARBUTUNOT." were the joint effort of this society, as doing it hon
There is something feeble and quaint in all " When a man is conscious that he does no good their attempts, as if company repressed thought, himself, the next thing is to cause others to do and genius wanted solitude for its boldest and hapsome. I may claim some merit this way, in hasten- piest exertions. Of those productions in whicle ing this testimonial from your friends above writ- Parnell had a principal share, that of the Origin ing: their love to you indeed wants no spur, their of the Sciences from the Monkeys in Ethiopia, is ink wants no pen, their pen wants no hand, their particularly mentioned by Pope himself, in some hand wants no heart, and so forth (after the man- manuscript anecdotes which he left behind him. ner of Rabelais; which is betwixt some meaning The Life of Homer also, prefixed to the translation and no meaning); and yet it may be said, when of the Iliad, is written by Parnell and corrected by present thought and opportunity is wanting, their Pope; and, as that great poet assures us in the same pens want ink, their hands want pens, their hearts place, this correction was not effected without great want hands, etc. till time, place, and conveniency, labour. "It is still stiff,” says he, “and was writconcur to set them writing, as at present, a sociable ten still stiffer; as it is, I verily think it cost me meeting, a good dinner, warm fire, and an easy more pains in the correcting, than the writing it situation do, to the joint labour and pleasure of this would have done." All this may be easily creditepistle.
ed; for every thing of Parnell's that has appeared “Wherein if I should say nothing I should say in prose, is written in a very awkward inelegant much (much being included in my love), though manner. It is true, his productions teem with immy love be such, that, if I should say much, I agination, and show great learning, but they want should yet say nothing, it being (as Cowley says) that ease and sweetness for which his poetry is so equally impossible either to conceal or to express it. much admired; and the language is also shame
“If I were to tell you the thing I wish above all fully incorrect. Yet, though all this must be althings, it is to see you again; the next is to see lowed, Pope should have taken care not to leave here your treatise of Zoilus, with Batrachomuoma- his errors upon record against him, or put it in the chia, and the Pervigilium Veneris, both which power of envy to tax his friend with faults that do poems are masterpieces in several kinds; and I not appear in what he has left to the world. A question not the prose is as excellent in its sort as poet has a right to expect the same secrecy in his the Essay on Homer. Nothing can be more glo- friend as in his confessor; the sins he discovers are rious to that great author than that the same hand not divulged for punishment but pardon. Indeed, that raised his best statue, and decked it with its Pope is almost inexcusable in this instance, as what old laurels, should also hang up the scarecrow of he seems to condemn in one place ho very much his miserable critic, and gibbet up the carcass of applauds in another. In one of the letters from Zoilus, to the terror of the witlings of posterity. him to Parnell, abovementioned, he treats the Life More, and much more, upon this and a thousand of Homer with much greater respect, and seems to
ther subjects, will be the matter of my next letter, say, that the prose is excellent in its kind. It must wherein I must open all the friend to you. At be confessed, however, that he is by no means inthis time I must be content with telling you, I am consistent; what he says in both places may very faithfully your most affectionate and humble ser- easily be reconciled to truth; but who can defend vant,
"A. Pope." his candour and sincerity.
It would be hard, however, to suppose that there If we regard this letter with a critical eye, we was no real friendship between these great men. must find it indifferent enough; if we consider it The benevolence of Parnell's disposition remains as a mere effusion of friendship, in which every unimpeached; and Pope, though subject to starts writer contended in affection, it will appear much of passion and envy, yet never missed an opporto the honour of those who wrote it. To be mind- tunity of being truly serviceable to him. The comful of an absent friend in the hours of mirth and merce between them was carried on to the common feasting, when his company is least wanted, shows interest of both. When Pope had a Miscellany to no slight degree of sincerity. Yet probably there publish, he applied to Parnell for poetical assistwas still another motive for writing thus to him in ance, and the latter as implicitly submitted to him conjunction. The above named, together with for correction. Thus they mutually advanced each Swift and Parnell, had some time before formed other's interest or fame, and grew stronger by conthemselves into a society, called the Scribblerus junction. Nor was Pope the only person to whom Club, and I should suppose they commemorated Parnell had recourse for assistance. We learu him thus, as being an absent member.
from Swift's letters to Stella, that he submitted his
pieces to all his friends, and readily adopted their be alone. The death of his wife, it is said, was a alterations. Swift, among the number, was very loss to him that he was unable to support or reuseful to him in that particular; and care has been cover. From that time he could never venture to taken that the world should not remain ignorant court the Muse in solitude, where he was sure to of the obligation.
find the image of her who first inspired his attempts. But in the connexion of wits, interest has gene. He began therefore to throw himself into every rally very little share; they have only pleasure in company, and seek from wine, if not relief, at least view, and can seldom find it but among each other. insensibility. Those helps that sorrow first called The Scribblerus Club, when the members were in for assistance, habit soon rendered necessary, anl town, were seldom asunder, and they often made he died before his fortieth year, in some measure a excursions together into the country, and generally martyr to conjugal fidelity. on foot. Swift was usually the butt of the compa- Thus, in the space of a very few years, Parnell ny, and if a trick was played, he was always the attained a share of fame equal to what most of his sufferer. The whole party once agreed to walk contemporaries were a long life in acquiring. He down to the house of Lord B-, who is still is only to be considered as a poet ; and the univer living, and whose seat is about twelve miles from sal esteem in which his poems are held, and the town. As every one agreed to make the best of reiterated pleasure they give in the perusal, are a his way, Swift, who was remarkable for walking, sufficient test of their merit. He appears to me to soon left the rest behind him, fully resolved, upon be the last of that great school that had modelled his arrival, to choose the very best bed for himself, itself upon the ancients, and taught English poetry for that was his custom. In the meantime Par- to resemble what the generality of mankind have nell was determined to prevent his intentions, and allowed to excel. A studious and correct observer taking horse, arrived at Lord B-s by another of antiquity, he set himself to consiiler nature with way, long before hiin. Having apprised his lord- the lights it lent him: and he found that the more ship of Swift's design, it was resolved at any rate aid he borrowed from the one, the more delightto keep him out of the house; but how to affect this fully he resembled the other. To copy nature is a was the question. Swift never had the small-pox, task the most bungling workman is able to exeand was very much afraid of catching it: as soon cute; to select such parts as contribute to delight, is therefore as he appeared striding along at some reserved only for those whom accident has blessed distance from the house, one of his lordship’s ser- with uncommon talents, or such as have read the vants was dispatched to inform him, that the small- ancients with indefatigable industry. Parnell is pox was then making great ravages in the family, ever happy in the selection of his images, and serubut that there was a summer-house with a field-bed pulously careful in the choice of his subjects. His at his service, at the end of the garden. There the productions bear no resemblance to those tawdry disappointed Dean was obliged to retire, and take things, which it has for some time been the fashion a cold supper that was sent out to him, while the to admire; in writing which the poet sits down rest were feasting within. However, at last they without any plan, and heaps up splendid images took compassion on him; and upon his promising without any selection ; where the reader grows never to choose the best bed again, they permitted dizzy with praise and admiration, and yet soon him to make one of the company.
grows weary, he can scarcely tell why. Our poet, There is something satisfactory in these accounts on the contrary, gives out his beauties with a more of the follies of the wise ; they give a natural air to sparing hand; he is still carrying his reader forthe picture, and reconcile us to our own. There ward, and just gives him refreshment sufficient to have been few poetical societies more talked of, or support him to his journey's end. At the end of productive of a greater variety of whimsical con- his course, the rea ler regrets that his way has been ceits, than this of the Scribblerus Club, but how so short, he wonders that it gave him so little troulong it lasted I can not exactly determine. The ble, and so resolves to go the journey over again. whole of Parnell's poetical existence was not of His poetical language is not less correct than his more than eight or ten years' continuance ; his first subjects are pleasing. He found it at that period excursions to England began about the year 1706, in which it was brought to its highest pitch of reand he died in the year 1718; so that it is probable finement : and ever since his time it has been the club began with him, and his death ended the gradually debasing. It is indeed amazing, after connexion. Indeed, the festivity of his conversa- what has been done by Dryden, Addison, and tion, the benevolence of his heart, and the gene- Pope, to improve and harmonize our native tongue rosity of his temper, were qualities that might serve that their successors should have taken so much to cement any society, and that could hardly be pains to involve it into pristine barbarity. These replaced when he was taken away. During the misguided innovators have not been content with two or three last years of his life, he was more fond restoring antiquated words and phrases, but have of company than ever, and could scarcely bear to indulged themselves in the most licentious transna
sitions, and the harshest constructions, vainly ima- and in general all Parnell's translations are excelgining, that the more their writings are unlike lent. The Battle of the Frogs and Mice, which prose, the more they resemble poetry. They have follows, is done as well as the subject would admit: adopted a language of their own, and call upon but there is a defect in the translation which sinks mankind for admiration. All those who do not it below the original, and which it was impossible understand them are silent and those who make to remedy; I mean the names of the combatants, out their meaning are willing to praise, to show which in the Greek bear a ridiculous allusion to they understand. From these follies and affecta- their natures, have no force to the English reader. tions the poems of Parnell are entirely free; he A bacon-eater was a good name for a mouse, and has considered the language of poetry as the lan- Pternotractas in Greek was a very good sounding guage of life, and conveys the warmest thoughts in word that conveyed that meaning. -Puffcheek the simplest expression.
would sound odiously as a name for a frog, and Parnell has written several poems besides those yet Physignathos does admirably well in the origipublished by Pope, and some of them have been nal. made public with very little credit to his reputation. The letter to Mr. Pope is one of the finest There are still many more that have not yet seen compliments that ever was paid to any poet; the light, in the possession of Sir John Parnell his the description of his situation at the end of it nephew, who, from that laudable zeal which he has is very fine, but far from being true. That for his uncle's reputation, will probably be slow in part of it where he deplores his being far from publishing what he may even suspect will do it wit and learning, as being far from Pope, gave injury. Of those which are usually inserted in particular offence to his friends at home. Mr. his works, some are indifferent, and some moderate. Coote, a gentleman in his neighbourhood, who ly good, but the greater part are excellent. A thought that he himself had wit, was very much slight stricture on the most striking shall conclude displeased with Parnell for casting his eyes so far this account, which I have already drawn out to off for a learned friend, when he could so convea disproportionate length.
niently be supplied at home. Hesiod, or the Rise of Woman, is a very fine il- The translation of a part of the Rape of the lustration of a hint from Hesiod. It was one of his Lock into monkish verse, serves to show what a earliest productions, and first app in a miscel- master Parnell was of the Latin; a copy of verses lany published by Tonson.
made in this manner, is one of the most difficult Of the three songs that follow, two of them were trifles that can possibly be imagined. I am assured written upon the lady he afterwards married; they that it was written upon the following occasion. were the genuine dictates of his passion, but are Before the Rape of the Lock was yet completed, not excellent in their kind.
Pope was reading it to his friend Swift, who sat The Anacreontic, beginning with, “When very attentively, while Parnell, who happened to Spring came on with fresh delight,” is taken from be in the house, went in and out without seeming a French poet whose name I forget, and, as far as to take any notice. However, he was very diliI am able to judge of the French language is bet- gently employed in listening, and was able, from ter than the original. The Anacreontic that fol- the strength of his memory, to bring away the lows “Gay Bacchus,” etc., is also a translation of whole description of the toilet pretty exactly. This a Latin poem by Aurelius Augurellus, an Italian he versified in the manner now published in his puet, beginning with,
works; and the next day, when Pope was reading
his poem to some friends, Parnell insisted that he Invitat olim Bacchus ad cænam suos
had stolen that part of the description from an old Comum, Jocum, Cupidinem.
monkish manuscript. An old paper with the Latin Parnell, when he translated it, applied the cha- verses was soon brought forth, and it was not till Tacters to some of his friends, and, as it was written after some time that Pope was delivered from the for their entertainment, it probably gave them more confusion which it at first produced. pleasure than it has given the public in the peru- The Book-worm is another unacknowledged sal. It seems to have more spirit than the original ; translation from a Latin poem by Beza. It was but it is extraordinary that it was published as an the fashion with the wits of the last age to conceal original and not as a translation. Pope should the places whence they took their hints or their have acknowledged it, as he knew.
subjects. A trifling acknowledgment would have The fairy tale is incontestably one of the finest made that lawful prize, which may now be considpicces in any language. The old dialect is not ered as plunder. perfectly well preserved, but this is a very slight The Night Piece on Death deserves every praise, defect, where all the rest is so excellent. and I should suppose, with very little amendment,
The Pervigilium Veneris, (which, by the by, might be made to surpass all those night pieces Ins not belong to Catullus) is very well versified, and church-yard scenes that have since appeareth