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This authority seemed to make a greater impression upon Mr. Walscott than all the reasoning. He is a very great Tory, and prodigiously admires the Dean. Mr. Pope delighted him by asking him to come and dine with them both next week; for the Dean is in England, and Mr. Pope's visitor. I am to be there too. "But," says he, " you must not talk too much about Dryden; for the Doctor does not love him." Mr. Walscott said, he was aware of that circumstance from the Dean's works, and thought it the only blemish in his character. For my part, I had heard a story of Dryden's telling him he would never be a poet; but I said nothing. Mr. Pope attributed his dislike to a general indignation he felt against his relations, for their neglect of him, when young. For Dryden was his kinsman. The Davenants are his relations, and he does not like them. Mr. Walscott asked if he was an Englishman or an Irishman; for he never could find out. ❝ You would find out," answered Mr. Pope, "if you heard him talk; for he cannot get rid of the habit of saying a for e. He would be an Englishman with all his heart, if he could; but he is an Irishman, that is certain, and with all his heart too in one sense; for he is the truest patriot that country ever saw. He has the merit of doing Ireland the most wonderful services, without loving her; and so he does to human nature, which he loves as little, or at least thinks so. This, and his wit, is the reason why his friends are so fond of him. You must not talk to him about Irish rhymes," added Mr. Pope, "any more than you must talk to me about the gods and abodes in my Homer, which he quarrels with me for. The truth is, we all write Irish rhymes; and the Dean contrives to be more exact that way than most of us. "What!" said Mr. Walscott, "does he carry his Irish accent into his writings, and yet think to conceal himself?" Mr. Pope read to us an odd kind of Latin-English effusion of the Dean's, which made us shake with laughter. It was about a consultation of physicians. The words, though Latin themselves, make English when put together; and the Hibernianism of the spelling is very plain. I remember a taste of it. A doctor begins by inquiring,
"Is his Honor sic? Præ lætus felis pulse. It do es beat veris loto de."
Here de spells day. An Englishman would have used the word da. "No," says the second doctor, "No, notis as qui cassi e ver fel tu metri it," &c. &c.
Metri for may try.
Mr. Pope told us, that there were two bad rhymes in the Rape of the Lock, and in the space of eight lines:
The doubtful beam long nods from side to side;
But this bold lord, with manly strength endued,
Mr. Walscott. Those would be very good French rhymes.
Mr. Pope. Yes; the French make a merit of necessity, and force their poverty upon us for riches. But it is bad in English. However, it is too late to alter what I wrote. I now care less about them, notwithstanding the Doctor. When I was a young man, I was for the free disinvolle way of Dryden, as in the Essay on Criticism; but the
town preferred the style of my pastorals, and somehow or other I agreed with them. I then became very cautious, and wonder how those rhymes in the Locke escaped me. But I have now come to this conclusion; that when a man has established his reputation for being able to do a thing, he may take liberties. Weakness is one thing, and the carelessness of power another. This makes all the difference between those shambling ballads that are sold among the common people, and the imitations of them by the wits to serve a purpose; between Sternhold and Hopkins, and the ballads on the Mohawks and great men. Mr. Pope then repeated, with great pleasantry, Mr. Gay's verses in the Wonderful Prophecy.
From Mohock and from Hawkubite,
Good Lord, deliver me!
Who wander through the streets by night,
Mr. Walscott, with all his admiration of Dryden, is, I can see, a still greater admirer of the style of Mr. Pope. But his politics hardly make him know which to prefer. I ventured to say, that the Rape of the Lock appeared to me perfection; but that still, in some kinds of poetry, I thought the licences taken by the Essay on Criticism very happy in their effect; as for instance, said I, those long words at the end of couplets.
Thus when we view some well-proportion'd dome,
(The world's just wonder, and e'en thine, O Rome !)
All comes united to the admiring eyes;
No monstrous height, or breadth, or length appear;
Now here, I said, is the regularity and the boldness too. And again :
"Twere well might critic still this freedom take;
And that other couplet:
With him most authors steal their works, or buy
I said, this last line, beginning with that strong monosyllable, and throwing off in a sprightly manner the long word at the end, was like a fine bar of music, played by some master of the violin. Mr. Pope smiled, and complimented me on the delicacy of my ear, asking me if I understood music. I said no, but was very fond of it. He fell into a
*The other verses, which my kinsman has not set down, are as follows:
They slash our sons with bloody knives,
And on our daughters fall;
And if they ravish not our wives,
Coaches and chairs they overturn,
Therefore from Gog and eke Magog,
Good Lord, deliver me!
The Mohocks were young rakes, of whom terrible stories are told. They were said to be all of the Whig party. H. H.
little musing; and then observed that he did not know how it was, but writers fond of music appeared to have a greater indulgence for the licences of versification than any others. The two smoothest living poets were not much attached to that art. (I guess he meant himself and Doctor Swift.) He enquired if I loved painting. I told him, so much So, that I dabbled in it a little myself, and liked nothing so much in the world, after poetry. "Why then," said he " you and I some fine morning, will dabble in it, like ducks." I was delighted at the prospect of this honour, but said I hoped his painting was nothing nigh equal to his poetry, or I would not venture to touch his pallette. "Oh," cried he, "I will give you confidence." He rose with the greatest good-nature, and brought us a sketch of a head after Jervas, and another of Mrs. Martha. I had begun to fear that they might be unworthy of so great a man, even as amusements; but they were really wonderfully well done. I do think he would have made a fine artist, had he not been a poet.* He observed that we wanted good criticism on pictures; and that the best we had yet, was some remarks of Steele's in the Spectator on the Cartoons of Raphael. He added a curious observation on Milton, that with all his regard for the poets of Italy, and his travels in that country, he has said not a word of their painters, nor scarcely alluded to painting throughout his works.
Mr. Walscott. Perhaps there was something of the Puritan in that. Courts, in Milton's time, had a taste for pictures : King Charles had a fine taste.
Mr. Pope. True; but Milton never gave up his love of music,his playing on the organ. If he had loved painting, he would not have held his tongue about it. I have heard somebody remark, that the names of his two great archangels are those of the two great Italian painters, and that their characters correspond; which is true and odd enough. But he had no design in it. He would not have confined his praises of Raphael and Michael Angelo to that obscure intimation. I believe he had no eyes for pictures.
Mr. Walscott. Dryden has said fine things about pictures. Here is the epistle to your friend Sir Godfrey, and the ode on young Mrs. Killigrew. Did he know any thing of the art?
Mr. Pope. Why, I believe not; but he dashed at it, in his high way, as he did at politics and divinity, and came off with flying colours. Dryden's poetic faith was a good deal like his religious. He could turn it to one point after another, and be just enough in earnest to make his belief be taken for knowledge.
Mr. Pope told us, that he had been taken, when a boy, to see Dryden at a coffee-house. I felt my colour change at this anecdote; so vain do I find myself. I took the liberty of asking him, how he felt at the sight; for it seems he only saw Dryden; he did not speak to him; which is a pity.
Mr. Pope. Why, I said to myself, "That is the great Mr. Dryden : there he is he must be a happy man." This notion of his happiness was the uppermost thing in my mind, beyond even his fame. I thought
*This has been doubted by others, who have seen his performances. Some of them remain, and are not esteemed. My cousin's attempts, perhaps, were much on a par. H. H.
VOL. IX. No. 54.-1825.
a good deal of that; but I knew no pleasure, even at that early age, like writing verses; and there, said I, is the man who can write verses from morning to night, and the finest verses in the world. I am pretty much of the same way of thinking now. Yes; I really do think, that I could do nothing but write verses all day long, just taking my dinner, and a walk or so,-if I had health. And I suspect it is the same with all poets; I mean with all who have a real passion for their art. Mr. Honeycomb, I know, agrees with me, from his own experience.
The gratitude I felt for this allusion to what I said to him one day at Button's, was more than I can express. I could have kissed his hand out of love and reverence. "Sir," said I," you may guess what I think of the happiness of poets, when it puts me in a state of delight inconceivable to be supposed worthy of such a reference to my opinion." I was indeed in a confusion of pleasure. Mr. Walscott said, it was fortunate the ladies had left us, or they might not have approved of such a total absorption in poetry. "Oh," cried Mr. Pope, "there we have you; for the ladies are a part of poetry. We do not leave them out in our studies, depend upon it."
I asked him whom he looked upon as the best love-poet, among our former writers. I added "former," because the Epistle of Eloisa to Abelard appears to me to surpass any express poem on that subject in the language. He said, Waller; but added, it was after a mode. "Every thing," said Mr. Pope, "was after a mode then. The best love-making is in Shakspeare. Love is a business by itself, in Shakspeare; just as it is in nature."
Mr. Walscott. Do you think Juliet is natural, when she talks of cutting Romeo into "little tiddy stars," and making the heavens fine?
Mr. Pope. Yes; I could have thought that, or any thing else, of my mistress, when I was as young as Romeo and Juliet. Petrarch, as somebody was observing the other day, is natural for the same reason, in spite of the conceits which he mingles with his passion; nay, he is the more natural, supposing his passion to have been what I take it; that is to say, as deep and as wonder-working as a boy's. The best of us have been spoiled in these matters by the last age. Even Mr. Walsh, for all his good sense, was out in that affair, in his preface. He saw very well, that a man, to speak like a lover, should speak as he felt; but he did not know that there were lovers who felt like Petrarch.
Mr. Walscott. You would admire the writings of one Drummond, a Scotch gentleman, who was a great loyalist.
Mr. Pope. I know him well, and thank you for reminding me of him. If he had written a little later here in England, and been published under more favourable circumstances, he might have left Waller in a second rank. He was more in earnest, and knew all points of the passion. There is great tenderness in Drummond. He could look at the moon, and think of his mistress, without thinking how genteely he should express it; which is what the other could not do. No: we have really no love poets, except the old dramatic writers; nor the French either, since the time of Marot. We have plenty of gallantry and all that.
Mr. Walscott. And very pretty writing it is, if managed as Mr. Pope manages it.
Mr. Pope. I do not undervalue it, I assure you. After Shakspeare, I can still read Voiture, and like him very much: only it is like coming from country to town, from tragedy to the ridotto. To tell you the truth, I am as fond of the better sort of those polite writers as any man can be, and feel my own strength to lie that way; but I pique myself on having something in me besides which they have not. I am sure I should not have been able to write the epistle of Eloisa, if I had❜nt. There is a force and sincerity in the graver love-poets, even on the least spiritual parts of the passion, which writers the most ostentatious on that score might envy.
Mr. Walscott. The tragedy of love includes the comedy, eh? Mr. Pope. Why, that is just about the truth of it, and is very well said.
Mr. Pope's table is served with neatness and elegance. He drinks but sparingly. His eating is more with an appetite, but all nicely After dinner he set upon table some wine given him by my Lord Peterborow, which was excellent. He then showed us his grotto, till the ladies sent to say tea was ready. I never see a tea-table, but I think of the Rape of the Lock. Judge what I felt, when I saw a Miss Fermor, kinswoman of Belinda, seated next Mrs. Martha Blount, who was making tea and coffee. There was an old lady with her, and several neighbours came in from the village. This multitude disappointed me, for the talk became too general; and my lord's wine, mixed with the other wine and the wit, having got a little in my head, and Mr. Pope's attention being repeatedly called to other persons, I cannot venture to put down any more of his conversation. But I shall hear him again; and I hope, again, again, and again. So patience till next week.
STANZAS FROM THE ITALIAN.
LOVE, through a crowd of guards one day,
Love with a smile his arrows hurled,
Pride scowling bade her to surrender;
Beauty in praise of Love's roses spoke,