The Complete Poetical Works of Alexander Pope. Cambridge Edition, ed. Henry W. Boynton (Boston and New York: Houghton, Mifflin and Co., 1903). http://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/2278,
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This collection includes Pope’s poems, translations of Ovid and Homer, An Essay on Criticism, The Rape of the Lock, An Essay on Man, and his Moral Essays.
The text is in the public domain.
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‘This was a very early production of our Author, written at about twelve years old,’ says Pope in one of his unsigned and unreliable notes. If the statement is true, it was probably written during the year 1700. It is apparently the earliest poem of Pope’s which remains to us, though according to Roscoe, ‘Dodsley, who was honoured with his intimacy, had seen several pieces of an earlier date.’
Supposed to have been written in 1700; first published from the Caryll Papers in the Athenæum, July 15, 1854.
Elkanah Settle, celebrated as Doeg in Dryden’s Absalom and Achitophel, wrote Successio in honor of the incoming Brunswick dynasty. Warburton (or possibly Pope) in a note on Dunciad, I. 181, says that the poem was ‘written at fourteen years old, and soon after printed.’ A good instance of Pope’s economy of material will be found in the passage upon which that note bears: an adaptation of lines 4, 17 and 18 of this early poem. It was first published in Lintot’s Miscellanies, 1712.
Though Pope ascribes this translation to 1703, there is evidence that part of it was done as early as 1699. It was finally revised and published in 1712, but Courthope asserts that ‘it is fair to assume that the body of the composition is preserved in its original form.’
Œdipus, King of Thebes, having, by mistake, slain his father Laius, and married his mother Jocasta, put out his own eyes, and resign’d the realm to his sons Eteocles and Polynices. Being neglected by them, he makes his prayer to the Fury Tisiphone, to sow debate betwixt the brothers. They agree at last to reign singly, each a year by turns, and the first lot is obtain’d by Eteocles. Jupiter, in a council of the gods, declares his resolution of punishing the Thebans, and Argives also, by means of a marriage betwixt Polynices and one of the daughters of Adrastus King of Argos. Juno opposes, but to no effect; and Mercury is sent on a message to the shades, to the ghost of Laius, who is to appear to Eteocles, and provoke him to break the agreement. Polynices, in the mean time, departs from Thebes by night, is overtaken by a storm, and arrives at Argos; where he meets with Tideus, who had fled from Calidon, having kill’d his brother. Adrastus entertains them, having receiv’d an oracle from Apollo that his daughters should be married to a boar and a lion, which he understands to be meant of these strangers, by whom the hides of those beasts were worn, and who arrived at the time when Edition: current; Page:  he kept an annual feast in honour of that god. The rise of this solemnity. He relates to his guests the loves of Phœbus and Psamathe, and the story of Chorœbus: he inquires, and is made acquainted, with their descent and quality. The sacrifice is renew’d, and the book concludes with a hymn to Apollo.
These imitations, with the exception of Silence (Lintot, 1712), were not published till 1727. Pope says, however, that they were ‘done as early as the translations, some of them at fourteen and fifteen years old.’ The Happy Life of a Country Parson must have been written later than the rest, as Pope did not know Swift till 1713.Edition: current; Page: 
in which was painted the story of cephalus and procris, with the motto ‘aura veni’
The Pastorals, by Pope’s account, were written at sixteen, in 1704. ‘Beyond the fact that he systematically antedated his compositions in order to obtain credit for precocity,’ says Courthope, ‘there is nothing improbable in the statement.’ They were first published in 1709, in Tonson’s Sixth Miscellany. The Discourse on Pastoral Poetry did not appear till the edition of 1717, but is here given the place which he desired for it at the head of the Pastorals: and the original footnotes, referring to critical authorities, are retained.
There are not, I believe, a greater number of any sort of verses than of those which are called Pastorals; nor a smaller than of those which are truly so. It therefore seems necessary to give some account of this kind of poem; and it is my design to comprise in this short paper the substance of those numerous dissertations that critics have made on the subject, without omitting any of their rules in my own favour. You will also find some points reconciled, about which they seem to differ, and a few remarks which, I think, have escaped their observation.
The origin of Poetry is ascribed to that age which succeeded the creation of the world: and as the keeping of flocks seems to have been the first employment of mankind, the most ancient sort of poetry was probably pastoral.1 It is natural to imagine, that the leisure of those ancient shepherds admitting and inviting some diversion, none was so proper to that solitary and sedentary life as singing; and that in their songs they took occasion to celebrate their own felicity. From hence a poem was invented, and afterwards improved to a perfect image of that happy time; which, by giving us an esteem for the virtues of a former age, might recommend them to the present. And since the life of shepherds was attended with more tranquillity than any other rural employment, the poets chose to introduce their persons, from whom it received the name of Pastoral.
A Pastoral is an imitation of the action of a shepherd, or one considered under that character. The form of this imitation is dramatic, or narrative, or mixed of both:2 the fable simple, the manners not too polite nor too rustic: the thoughts are plain, yet admit a little quickness and passion, but that short and flowing: the expression humble, yet as pure as the language will afford; neat, but not florid; easy, and yet lively. In short, the fable, manners, thoughts, and expressions are full of the greatest simplicity in nature.
The complete character of this poem consists in simplicity,3 brevity, and delicacy; the two first of which render an eclogue natural, and the last delightful.
If we would copy nature, it may be useful to take this idea along with us, that Pastoral is an image of what they call the golden age: so that we are not to describe our shepherds as shepherds at this day really are, but as they may be conceived then to have been, when the best of men followed the employment. To carry this resemblance yet further, it would not be amiss to give these shepherds some skill in astronomy, as far as it may be useful to that sort of life; and an air of piety to the gods should shine through the poem, which so visibly appears in all the works of antiquity; and it ought to preserve some relish of the old way of writing: the connection should be loose, the narrations and descriptions short,4 and the periods concise. Yet it is not sufficient that the sentences only be brief; the whole eclogue should be so too: for we cannot suppose poetry in those days to have been the business of men, but their recreation at vacant hours.
But, with respect to the present age, nothing more conduces to make these composures natural, than when some knowledge in rural affairs is discovered.5 This may be made to appear rather done by chance than on design, and sometimes is best shown by inference; lest, by too much study to seem natural, we destroy that easy simplicity from whence arises the delight. For what is inviting in this sort of poetry proceeds not so much from the idea of that business, as of the tranquillity of a country life.Edition: current; Page: 
We must therefore use some illusion to render a pastoral delightful; and this consists in exposing the best side only of a shepherd’s life, and in concealing its miseries.1 Nor is it enough to introduce shepherds discoursing together in a natural way; but a regard must be had to the subject; that it contain some particular beauty in itself, and that it be different in every eclogue. Besides, in each of them a designed scene or prospect is to be presented to our view, which should likewise have its variety. This variety is obtained, in a great degree, by frequent comparisons, drawn from the most agreeable objects of the country; by interrogations to things inanimate; by beautiful digressions, but those short; sometimes by insisting a little on circumstances; and, lastly, by elegant turns on the words, which render the numbers extremely sweet and pleasing. As for the numbers themselves, though they are properly of the heroic measure, they should be the smoothest, the most easy and flowing imaginable.
It is by rules like these that we ought to judge of Pastoral. And since the instructions given for any art are to be delivered as that art is in perfection, they must of necessity be derived from those in whom it is acknowledged so to be. It is therefore from the practice of Theocritus and Virgil (the only undisputed authors of Pastoral) that the critics have drawn the foregoing notions concerning it.
Theocritus excels all others in nature and simplicity. The subjects of his Idyllia are purely pastoral; but he is not so exact in his persons, having introduced reapers2 and fishermen as well as shepherds. He is apt to be too long in his descriptions, of which that of the cup in the first pastoral is a remarkable instance. In the manners he seems a little defective, for his swains are sometimes abusive and immodest, and perhaps too much inclining to rusticity; for instance, in his fourth and fifth Idyllia. But it is enough that all others learned their excellences from him, and that his dialect alone has a secret charm in it, which no other could ever attain.
Virgil, who copies Theocritus, refines upon his original; and, in all points where judgment is principally concerned, he is much superior to his master. Though some of his subjects are not pastoral in themselves, but only seem to be such, they have a wonderful variety in them, which the Greek was a stranger to.3 He exceeds him in regularity and brevity, and falls short of him in nothing but simplicity and propriety of style; the first of which, perhaps, was the fault of his age, and the last of his language.
Among the moderns their success has been greatest who have most endeavoured to make these ancients their pattern. The most considerable genius appears in the famous Tasso, and our Spenser. Tasso, in his Aminta, has as far excelled all the pastoral writers, as in his Gierusalemme he has outdone the epic poets of his country. But as this piece seems to have been the original of a new sort of poem, the pastoral comedy, in Italy, it cannot so well be considered as a copy of the ancients. Spenser’s Calendar, in Mr. Dryden’s opinion, is the most complete work of this kind which any nation has produced ever since the time of Virgil.4 Not but that he may be thought imperfect in some few points: his eclogues are somewhat too long, if we compare them with the ancients; he is sometimes too allegorical, and treats of matters of religion in a pastoral style, as the Mantuan had done before him; he has employed the lyric measure, which is contrary to the practice of the old poets; his stanza is not still the same, nor always well chosen. This last may be the reason his expression is sometimes not concise enough; for the tetrastic has obliged him to extend his sense to the length of four lines, which would have been more closely confined in the couplet.
In the manners, thoughts, and characters, he comes near to Theocritus himself; though, notwithstanding all the care he has taken, he is certainly inferior in his dialect: for the Doric had its beauty and propriety in the time of Theocritus; it was used in part of Greece, and frequent in the mouths of many of the greatest persons: whereas the old English and country phrases of Spenser were either entirely obsolete, or spoken only by people of the lowest condition. As there is a difference betwixt simplicity and rusticity, so the expression of simple thoughts should be plain, but not clownish. The addition he has made of a calendar to his eclogues is very beautiful; since by this, besides the general moral of innocence and simplicity, which is common to other authors of Pastoral, he has one peculiar to himself; he compares human life to the several seasons, and at once exposes to his readers a view of the great and little worlds, in their various changes and aspects. Yet the scrupulous division of his pastorals into months has obliged him either to repeat the same description, in other words, for three months together, or, when it was exhausted before, entirely to omit it; whence it comes to pass that some of Edition: current; Page:  his eclogues (as the sixth, eighth, and tenth for example) have nothing but their titles to distinguish them. The reason is evident, because the year has not that variety in it to furnish every month with a particular description, as it may every season.
Of the following eclogues I shall only say, that these four comprehend all the subjects which the critics upon Theocritus and Virgil will allow to be fit for Pastoral; that they have as much variety of description, in respect of the several seasons, as Spenser’s; that, in order to add to this variety, the several times of the day are observed, the rural employments in each season or time of day, and the rural scenes or places proper to such employments, not without some regard to the several ages of man, and the different passions proper to each age.
But after all, if they have any merit, it is to be attributed to some good old authors; whose works, as I had leisure to study, so, I hope, I have not wanted care to imitate.
‘This poem,’ says Pope, ‘was written at two different times: the first part of it, which relates to the country, in 1704, at the same time with the Pastorals; the latter part was not added till the year 1713, in which it was published.’ The first 289 lines belong to the earlier date. The rest of the poem, with its celebration of the Peace of Utrecht, was added at the instance of Lord Lansdown, the Granville of the opening lines. The aim was obviously that Pope should do for the peaceful triumph of Utrecht what Addison had done for Marlborough’s victory at Blenheim in 1704. It is printed here because the conclusion was an afterthought, and in spite of it the poem as a whole ‘substantially belongs,’ as Courthope remarks, ‘to the Pastoral period.’ Pope ranked it among his ‘juvenile poems.’
Pope says that this ‘translation’ was done at sixteen or seventeen years of age. It was first published, with the Pastorals, in 1709, in Tonson’s sixth Miscellany. Eventually Pope grouped the Chaucer imitations with Eloisa to Abelard, the translations from Ovid and Statius and the brief Imitations of English Poets. To this collection be prefixed this Advertisement:—
‘The following Translations were selected from many others done by the Author in his youth; for the most part indeed but a sort of Exercises, while he was improving himself in the Languages, and carried by his early bent to Poetry to perform them rather in Verse than Prose. Mr. Dryden’s Fables came out about that time, which occasioned the Translations from Chaucer. They were first separately printed in Miscellanies by J. Tonson and B. Lintot, and afterwards collected in the Quarto Edition of 1717. The Imitations of English Authors, which are added at the end, were done as early, some of them at fourteen or fifteen years old; but having also got into Miscellanies, we have put them here together to complete this Juvenile Volume.’
Warburton asserts that Pope did not intend to include this group of poems in the final edition of his works.
Not published until 1714, but naturally classified with January and May, and not improbably the product of the same period.
Pope asserted that this poem was composed in 1711. Its date of publication is indicated by a letter from Pope to Martha Blount, written in 1714, in which he speaks of it as ‘just out.’ Eventually it was classed by the poet as a ‘juvenile poem’ among the earlier translations and imitations. This Advertisement was prefixed:—
The hint of the following piece was taken from Chaucer’s House of Fame. The design is in a manner entirely altered; the descriptions and most of the particular thoughts my own: yet I could not suffer it to be printed without this acknowledgment. The reader who would compare this with Chaucer, may begin with his third Book of Fame, there being nothing in the two first books that answers to their title.
Written, according to Pope, in 1707. First published in Tonson’s Ovid, 1712.
This, the first mature original work of the author, was written in 1709, when Pope was in his twentieth year. It was not published till 1711.
Introduction. That it is as great a fault to judge ill as to write ill, and a more dangerous one to the public. That a true Taste is as rare to be found as a true Genius. That most men are born with some Taste, but spoiled by false education. The multitude of Critics, and causes of them. That we are to study our own Taste, and know the limits of it. Nature the best guide of judgment. Improved by Art and rules, which are but methodized Nature. Rules derived from the practice of the ancient poets. That therefore the ancients are necessary to be studied by a Critic, particularly Homer and Virgil. Of licenses, and the use of them by the ancients. Reverence due to the ancients, and praise of them.
Causes hindering a true judgment. Pride. Imperfect learning. Judging by parts, and not by the whole. Critics in wit, language, versification only. Being too hard to please, or too apt to admire. Partiality—too much love to a sect—to the ancients or moderns. Prejudice or prevention. Singularity. Inconstancy. Party spirit. Envy. Against envy, and in praise of good-nature. When severity is chiefly to be used by critics.
Rules for the conduct and manners in a Critic. Candour. Modesty. Good breeding. Sincerity and freedom of advice. When one’s counsel is to be restrained. Character of an Edition: current; Page:  incorrigible poet. And of an impertinent critic. Character of a good critic. The history of criticism, and characters of the best critics; Aristotle. Horace. Dionysius. Petronius. Quintilian. Longinus. Of the decay of Criticism, and its revival. Erasmus. Vida. Boileau. Lord Roscommon, &c. Conclusion.
This ode was written at the suggestion of Richard Steele, in 1708. It was recast in 1730 in briefer form so that it might be set to music; and the first four stanzas were considerably changed.
Written in 1709 and sent in a letter to Henry Cromwell in 1711.
‘Egbert Sanger,’ says Warton, ‘served his apprenticeship with Jacob Tonson, and succeeded Bernard Lintot in his shop at Middle Temple Gate, Fleet Street. Lintot printed Ozell’s translation of Perrault’s Characters, and Sanger his translation of Boileau’s Lutrin, recommended by Rowe, in 1709.’
Katharine Tofts was an English opera singer popular in London between 1703 and 1709.
To Teresa Blount. First published in Lintot’s Miscellany, in 1712. See note.
This Ode was written, we find [in 1712], at the desire of Steele; and our Poet, in a letter to him on that occasion, says,—‘You have it, as Cowley calls it, just warm from the brain; it came to me the first moment I waked this morning; yet you ’ll see, it was not so absolutely inspiration, but that I had in my head, not only the verses of Hadrian, but the fine fragment of Sappho.’ It is possible, however, that our Author might have had another composition in his head, besides those he here refers to: for there is a close and surprising resemblance between this Ode of Pope, and one of an obscure and forgotten rhymer of the age of Charles the Second, Thomas Flatman. (Warton). Pope’s version of the Adriani morientis ad Animam was written at about this date, and sent to Steele for publication in The Spectator. It ran as follows:—
Charles Jervas was an early and firm friend of Pope’s, and, himself an indifferent painter, at one time gave Pope some instruction in painting. Dryden’s translation of Fresnoy appears to have been a hasty and perfunctory piece of work. The poem was first published in 1712.
‘The four verses,’ says Ward, ‘are apparently Canto IV. vv. 59-62. The Countess of Winchilsea, a poetess whom Rowe hailed as inspired by ‘more than Delphic ardour,’ replied by some pretty lines, where she declares that “disarmed with so genteel an air,” she gives over the contest.’
It was long rumored that this poem was literally founded on fact: that the unfortunate lady was a maiden with whom Pope was in love, and from whom he was separated. The fact seems to be that the poem’s only basis in truth lay in Pope’s sympathy for an unhappy married woman about whom he wrote to Caryll in 1712. The verses were not published till 1717, but were probably written several years earlier.
Written, according to Courthope, in 1712.
In reading several passages of the prophet Isaiah, which foretell the coming of Christ, and the felicities attending it, I could not but observe a remarkable parity between many of Edition: current; Page:  the thoughts and those in the Pollio of Virgil. This will not seem surprising, when we reflect that the Eclogue was taken from a Sibylline prophecy on the same subject. One may judge that Virgil did not copy it line by line, but selected such ideas as best agreed with the nature of Pastoral Poetry, and disposed them in that manner which served most to beautify his piece. I have endeavoured the same in this imitation of him, though without admitting any thing of my own; since it was written with this particular view, that the reader, by comparing the several thoughts, might see how far the images and descriptions of the Prophet are superior to those of the Poet. But as I fear I have prejudiced them by my management, I shall subjoin the passages of Isaiah, and those of Virgil, under the same disadvantage of a literal translation.
‘It appears by this motto,’ says Pope, in a footnote supplied for Warburton’s edition, ‘that the following poem was written or published at the lady’s request. But there are some other circumstances not unworthy relating. Mr. Caryll (a gentleman who was secretary to Queen Mary, wife of James II., whose fortunes he followed into France, author of the comedy of Sir Solomon Single, and of several translations in Dryden’s Miscellanies) originally proposed it to him in a view of putting an end, by this piece of ridicule, to a quarrel that was risen between two noble families, those of Lord Petre and Mrs. Fermor, on the trifling occasion of his having cut off a lock of her hair. The author sent it to the lady, with whom he was acquainted; and she took it so well as to give about copies of it. That first sketch (we learn from one of his letters) was written in less than a fortnight, in 1711, in two cantos only, and it was so printed first, in a Miscellany of Bern. Lintot’s, without the name of the author. But it was received so well that he made it more considerable the next year by the addition of the machinery of the Sylphs, and extended it to five cantos.’
It will be in vain to deny that I have some regard for this piece, since I dedicate it to you. Yet you may bear me witness it was intended only to divert a few young ladies, who have good sense and good humour enough to laugh not only at their sex’s little unguarded follies, but at their own. But as it was communicated with the air of a secret, it soon found its way into the world. An imperfect copy having been offer’d to a bookseller, you had the good-nature for my sake, to consent to the publication of one more correct: this I was forced to, before I had executed half my design, for the Machinery was entirely wanting to complete it.
The Machinery, Madam, is a term invented by the critics, to signify that part which the Deities, Angels, or Dæmons, are made to act in a poem: for the ancient poets are in one respect like many modern ladies; let an action be never so trivial in itself, they always make it appear of the utmost importance. These Machines I determined to raise on a very new and odd foundation, the Rosicrucian doctrine of Spirits.
I know how disagreeable it is to make use of hard words before a lady; but it is so much the concern of a poet to have his works understood, and particularly by your sex, that you must give me leave to explain two or three difficult terms. The Rosicrucians are a people I must bring you acquainted with. The best account I know of them is in a French book called La Comte de Gabalis, which, both in its title and size, is so like a novel, that many of the fair sex have read it for one by mistake. According to these gentlemen, the four elements are inhabited by Spirits, which they call Sylphs, Gnomes, Nymphs, and Salamanders. The Gnomes, or Dæmons of earth, delight in mischief; but the Sylphs, whose habitation is in the air, are the best-conditioned creatures imaginable; for, they say, any mortal may enjoy the most intimate familiarities with these gentle spirits, upon a condition very easy to all true adepts,—an inviolate preservation of chastity.
As to the following cantos, all the passages of them are as fabulous as the Vision at the beginning, or the Transformation at the end (except the loss of your hair, which I always mention with reverence). The human persons are as fictitious as the airy ones; and the character of Belinda, as it is now managed, resembles you in nothing but in beauty.
If this poem had as many graces as there are in your person or in your mind, yet I could never hope it should pass thro’ the world half so uncensured as you have done. But let its fortune be what it will, mine is happy enough, to have given me this occasion of assuring you that I am, with the truest esteem, Madam,
This prologue was written in 1713, after Addison had given Pope two of the main causes which led to their estrangement; and itself led the way for the third. Addison’s faint praise of the Pastorals, and disagreement with Pope as to the advisability of revising The Rape of the Lock, had not as yet led to their estrangement. But when not long after the presentation of Cato, Pope ventured to become its champion against the attacks of John Dennis, Addison’s quiet disclaimer of responsibility for his anonymous defender cut Pope to the quick.
Nicholas Rowe’s play was acted at Drury Lane in February, 1714. Mrs. Oldfield played the leading part, but Pope’s Epilogue was not used.
These verses were first published in 1714. There is no actual proof that they are Pope’s, but as his editors have always retained them, they are here given.
In illustration Mitford refers to Pope’s letter to Lord Bathurst of September 13, 1732, where ‘Mr. L.’ is spoken of as ‘more inclined to admire God in his greater works, the tall timber.’ (Ward.) Proof is lacking that these lines belong to Pope. They were printed by E. Curll in 1714.
This was first printed in 1727 in the Miscellanies of Pope and Swift, but was probably written in 1715. Macer is supposed to be Ambrose Philips. The ‘borrow’d Play’ of the eighth line would then have been The Distrest Mother, adapted by Philips from Racine.
This was written shortly after the coronation of George I. ‘Zephalinda’ was a fanciful name employed by Teresa Blount in correspondence.
Referred to in a letter from Trumbull to Pope dated January, 1716. The epigram imitated is the twenty-third of the tenth book.
See the fourth elegy of Tibullus, lines 55, 56. In the course of his high-flown correspondence with Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, after her departure for the East, Pope often suggests the possibility of his travelling to meet her. ‘But if my fate be such,’ he says on the occasion which brought forth this couplet, ‘that this body of mine (which is as ill matched to my mind as any wife to her husband) be left behind in the journey, let the epitaph of Tibullus be set over it!’
This mock pastoral was one of three which made up the original volume of Town Eclogues, published anonymously in 1716. Three more appeared in a later edition. It is now known that only the Basset-Table is Pope’s, the rest being the work of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu.Edition: current; Page: 
cardelia, smilinda, lovet
TO THE TUNE OF ‘TO ALL YOU LADIES NOW AT LAND,’ ETC.
This lively ballad, written in 1717, belongs to the period of Pope’s intimacy with court society. The three ladies here addressed were attached to the court of the Prince and Princess of Wales.
Mrs. Pulteney was a daughter of one John Gumley, who had made a fortune by a glass manufactory.
‘Tom’ D’Urfey was a writer of popular farces under the Restoration. Through Addison’s influence his play The Plotting Sisters was revived for his benefit; and the present prologue was possibly written for that occasion. It was first published in 1727.
Three Hours after Marriage was a dull and unsuccessful farce produced in January, 1717, at the Drury Lane Theatre. Though it was attributed to the joint authorship of Pope, Gay, and Arbuthnot, direct proof is lacking not only of Pope’s share in the play, but of his authorship of the Prologue. Of the latter fact, at least, we have, however, indirect evidence in Pope’s resentment of the ridicule cast by Cibber, in a topical impromptu, upon the play; the incident which first roused Pope’s enmity for Cibber, which resulted in his eventually displacing Theobald as the central figure in The Dunciad.
The Rev. Aaron Thompson, of Queen’s College, Oxon., translated the Chronicle of Geoffrey of Monmouth. He submitted the translation to Pope, 1717, who gave him the following Edition: current; Page:  lines, being a translation of a Prayer of Brutus. (Carruthers.)
While there is no absolute date to be given for this or the following poem, both evidently belong to the period of Pope’s somewhat fanciful attachment for Lady Mary.
The origin of this famous poem seems to have lain jointly in Pope’s perception of the poetic availability of the Héloise-Abelard legend, and in his somewhat factitious grief in his separation from Lady Mary Wortley Montagu. They met in 1715, became friends, and in 1716 Lady Mary left England. In a letter of June, 1717, Pope commends the poem to her consideration, with a suggestion of the personal applicability of the concluding lines to his own suffering under the existing circumstance of their separation.
Abelard and Eloisa flourished in the twelfth century; they were two of the most distinguished persons of their age in Learning and Beauty, but for nothing more famous than for their unfortunate passion. After a long course of calamities, they retired each to a several convent, and consecrated the remainder of their days to Religion. It was many years after this separation that a letter of Abelard’s to a friend, which contained the history of his misfortune, fell into the hands of Eloisa. This, awakening all her tenderness, occasioned those celebrated letters (out of which the following is partly extracted), which give so lively a picture of the struggles of Grace and Nature, Virtue and Passion.
Pope himself became seriously involved in the South Sea speculations, and while he does not appear to have been a heavy loser in the end, his unwise action for friends, notably for Lady Mary Wortley seems to have gotten him into some difficulties. This was of course written before the bursting of the bubble; presumably in 1720.
Craggs was made Secretary of War in 1717, when Addison was Secretary of State. He succeeded Addison in 1720, and died in the following year. He was an intimate friend and correspondent of Pope’s after 1711.
Probably Craggs, who was in office at the time when Pope established himself at Twickenham. (Ward.)
Written early in 1722.
These drawings were made for the adornment of Pope’s house at Twickenham.
Brutus, says Pope, was a play ‘altered from Shakespeare by the Duke of Buckingham, at whose desire these choruses were composed to supply as many wanting in his play.’ Marcus Brutus was one of two plays (the other retaining Shakespeare’s title) manufactured by John Sheffield, Duke of Buckinghamshire, out of Julius Cæsar. Both were published in 1722. Pope’s choruses stand after the first and second acts of Brutus. The plays have no literary merit.
Written to Martha Blount in 1723. Lines 5-10 were elsewhere adapted for a versified celebration of his own birthday, and for an epitaph on a suicide!
Mary Howe was appointed Maid of Honour to Queen Caroline, in 1720. ‘Lepell’ was another Maid of Honour, referred to in The Challenge.
Catharine Howard, one of Queen Caroline’s waiting-women; afterward Countess of Suffolk and mistress to George II. Her identification as the Chloe of Moral Essays, II., makes it easier to believe Walpole’s statement that this lady once reprieved a condemned criminal that ‘an experiment might be made on his ears for her benefit.’
Though speculation has connected several other persons with this poem, it is probably still another hit at the luckless Ambrose Philips. It, with the three following poems, was first published in the Miscellanies, 1727.
This refers to the translation undertaken by Sir Samuel Garth, which aimed to complete Dryden’s translation of Ovid, avoiding the rigidness of Sandys’ method. The enterprise was begun in 1718, when these verses were probably written.
Imitated from a Latin couplet on Joannes Mirandula:—
First applied by Pope to Francis Chartres, but published in this form in 1727.
This ‘Ode’ and the three following poems, were written by Pope after reading Gulliver’s Travels, and first published in the Miscellanies of Pope and Swift, in 1727.
The captain, some time after his return, being retired to Mr. Sympson’s in the country, Mrs. Gulliver, apprehending from his late behaviour some estrangement of his affections, writes him the following expostulatory, soothing, and tenderly complaining epistle.
The public astonished Pope by taking this burlesque seriously, and praising it as poetry.
These lines were enclosed in a letter to Bolingbroke, dated September 3, 1740.
Lady Frances Shirley was daughter of Earl Ferrers, a neighbor of Pope’s at Twickenham.
The Lord Treasurer Middlesex’s house at Chelsea, after passing to the Duke of Beaufort, was called Beaufort House. It was afterwards sold to Sir Hans Sloane. When the house was taken down in 1740, its gateway, built by Inigo Jones, was given by Sir Hans Sloane to the Earl of Burlington, who removed it with the greatest care to his garden at Chiswick, where it may be still seen. (Ward.)
Southern was invited to dine on his birthday with Lord Orrery, who had prepared the entertainment, of which the bill of fare is here set down.
Explained by Carruthers to refer to the large sums of money given in charity on account of the severity of the weather about the year 1740.
‘I shall here,’ says Dr. Warton, ‘present the reader with a valuable literary curiosity, a Fragment of an unpublished Satire of Pope, entitled, One Thousand Seven Hundred and Forty; communicated to me by the kindness of the learned and worthy Dr. Wilson, formerly fellow and librarian of Trinity College, Dublin; who speaks of the Fragment in the following terms:—
‘ “This poem I transcribed from a rough draft in Pope’s own hand. He left many blanks for fear of the Argus eye of those who, if they cannot find, can fabricate treason; yet, spite of his precaution, it fell into the hands of his enemies. To the hieroglyphics there are direct allusions, I think, in some of the notes on the Dunciad. It was lent me by a grandson of Lord Chetwynd, an intimate friend of the famous Lord Bolingbroke, who gratified his curiosity by a boxful of the rubbish and sweepings of Pope’s study, whose executor he was, in conjunction with Lord Marchmont.” ’
with wit that must
Sent in an undated letter to Martha Blount.
Un jour, dit un auteur, etc.
Swift set up a plain monument to his grandfather, and also presented a cup to the church of Goodrich, or Gotheridge (in Herefordshire). He sent a pencilled elevation of the monument (a simple tablet) to Mrs. Howard, who returned it with the following lines, inscribed on the drawing by Pope. The paper is endorsed, in Swift’s hand: ‘Model of a monument for my grandfather, with Pope’s roguery.’ (Scott’s Life of Swift.)
It is not known who the Bishop was. The ‘lying Dean’ refers to Dr. Alured Clarke, who preached a fulsome sermon upon the Queen’s death.
First printed in the Gentleman’s Magazine in 1735.
This Journal was established in January, 1730, and carried on for eight years by Pope Edition: current; Page:  and his friends, in answer to the attacks provoked by the Dunciad. It corresponds in some measure to the Xenien of Goethe and Schiller. Only such pieces are here inserted as bear Pope’s distinguishing signature A.; several others are probably his. (Ward.)
Occasioned by seeing some sheets of Dr. Bentley’s edition of Milton’s Paradise Lost.
The sting of this epigram was for Cibber, then Poet Laureate.
His saltem accumulem donis, et fungar inani Munere!
Virg. [Æn. vii. 885.]
Who, having resigned his Place, died in his retirement at Easthamsted, in Berkshire, 1716.
At the Church of Stanton-Harcourt, Oxfordshire, 1720.
His only daughter having expired in his arms immediately after she arrived in France to see him.
John Hughes and Sarah Drew. See Pope’s letter to Lady Mary written in September, 1718.
The subject is supposed to be John Gay.
The first two epistles of the Essay on Man were written in 1732, the third in the year following, and the fourth in 1734, when the complete Essay was published as we have it.
Having proposed to write some pieces on Human Life and Manners, such as, to use my Lord Bacon’s expression, ‘come home to men’s business and bosoms,’ I thought it more satisfactory to begin with considering Man in the abstract, his nature and his state: since to prove any moral duty, to enforce any moral precept, or to examine the perfection or imperfection of any creature whatsoever, it is necessary first to know what condition and relation it is placed in, and what is the proper end and purpose of its being.
The science of Human Nature is, like all other sciences, reduced to a few clear points: there are not many certain truths in this world. It is therefore in the anatomy of the mind, as in that of the body; more good will accrue to mankind by attending to the large, open, and perceptible parts, than by studying too much such finer nerves and vessels, the conformations and uses of which will for ever escape our observation. The disputes are all upon these last; and, I will venture to say, they have less sharpened the wits than the hearts of men against each other, and have diminished the practice more than advanced the theory of morality. If I could flatter myself that this Essay has any merit, it is in steering betwixt the extremes of doctrines seemingly opposite, in passing over terms utterly unintelligible and in forming a temperate, yet not inconsistent, and a short, yet not imperfect, system of ethics.
This I might have done in prose; but I chose verse, and even rhyme, for two reasons. The one will appear obvious; that principles, maxims, or precepts, so written, both strike the reader more strongly at first, and are more easily retained by him afterwards: the other may seem odd, but it is true: I found I could express them more shortly this way than in prose itself; and nothing is more certain than that much of the force as well as grace of arguments or instructions depends on their conciseness. I was unable to treat this part of my subject more in detail without becoming dry and tedious; or more poetically without sacrificing perspicuity to ornament, without wandering from the precision, or breaking the chain of reasoning. If any man can unite all these without diminution of any of them, I freely confess he will compass a thing above my capacity.
What is now published is only to be considered as a general Map of Man, marking out no more than the greater parts, their extent, their limits, and their connexion, but leaving the particular to be more fully delineated in the charts which are to follow; consequently these epistles in their progress (if I have health and leisure to make any progress) will be less dry, and more susceptible of poetical ornament. I am here only opening the fountains, and clearing the passage: to deduce the rivers, to follow them in their course, and to observe their effects, may be a task more agreeable.
Of Man in the abstract. I. That we can judge only with regard to our own system, being ignorant of the relations of systems and things, verse 17, etc. II. That Man is not to be deemed imperfect, but a being suited to his place and rank in the creation, agreeable to the general order of things, and conformable to ends and relations to him unknown, verse 35, etc. III. That it is partly upon his ignorance of future events, and partly upon the hope of a future state, that all his happiness in the present depends, verse 77, etc. IV. The pride of aiming at more knowledge, and pretending to more perfection, the cause of Man’s error and misery. The impiety of putting himself in the place of God, and judging of the fitness or unfitness, perfection or imperfection, justice or injustice, of his dispensations, verse 113, etc. V. The absurdity of conceiting himself the final cause of the creation, or expecting that perfection in the moral world which is not in the natural, verse 131, etc. VI. The unreasonableness of his complaints against Providence, while, on the one hand, he demands the perfections of Edition: current; Page:  the angels, and, on the other, the bodily qualifications of the brutes; though to possess any of the sensitive faculties in a higher degree would render him miserable, verse 173, etc. VII. That throughout the whole visible world a universal order and gradation in the sensual and mental faculties is observed, which causes a subordination of creature to creature, and of all creatures to man. The gradations of Sense, Instinct, Thought, Reflection, Reason: that Reason alone countervails all the other faculties, verse 207, etc. VIII. How much further this order and subordination of living creatures may extend above and below us; were any part of which broken, not that part only, but the whole connected creation must be destroyed, verse 213, etc. IX. The extravagance, madness, and pride of such a desire, verse 209, etc. X. The consequence of all, the absolute submission due to Providence, both as to our present and future state, verse 281, etc., to the end.
I. The business of Man not to pry into God, but to study himself. His middle nature; his powers and frailties, verses 1 to 19. The Edition: current; Page:  limits of his capacity, verse 19, etc. II. The two principles of Man, Self-love and Reason, both necessary. Self-love the stronger, and why. Their end the same, verse 81, etc. III. The Passions, and their use. The predominant passion, and its force. Its necessity, in directing men to different purposes. Its providential use, in fixing our principle, and ascertaining our virtue, verse 93, etc. IV. Virtue and Vice joined in our mixed nature; the limits near, yet the things separate and evident: what is the office of Reason, verse 203, etc. V. How odious Vice in itself, and how we deceive ourselves into it, verse 217, etc. VI. That, however, the ends of Providence, and general goods, are answered in our passions and imperfections. How usefully these are distributed to all orders of men: how useful they are to Society; and to individuals; in every state, and every age of life, verse 238, etc., to the end.