Open main menu

Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 46.djvu/123

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

names in full and a letter to the publisher in defence, written by himself, but signed by his friend William Cleland (1674-1741) [q. v.] He assigned the property to Lord Bathurst, Lord Oxford, and Lord Burlington, from whom alone copies could be procured. When the risk of publication appeared to be over, they assigned a new edition to Pope's publisher, Gilliver (November 1729). Various indexes, 'testimonies of authors,' and so forth, were added. The poem was not acknowledged till it appeared in Pope's 'Works' in 1735. A 'Collection of Pieces' relating to the poem was published in 1732, with a preface in the name of Savage describing the first appearance.

The 'Dunciad,' though written with Pope's full power, suffers from the meanness of the warfare in which it served. It is rather a long lampoon than a satireĀ ; for a satire is supposed to strip successful vice or imposture of its mask, not merely to vituperate men already despised and defenceless. Pope's literary force was thrown away in insults to the whole series of enemies who had in various ways come into collision with him. He was stung by their retorts, however coarse, and started the 'Grub Street Journal' to carry on the war. The avowed authors were John Martyn [q. v.] and Dr. Richard Russell. Pope contributed and inspired many articles. It lasted from January 1730 till the end of 1737, and two volumes of articles, called 'Memoirs of the Society of Grub Street,' were republished (see Carruthers, pp. 270-82, for a good account of this).

Theobald was made the hero of the 'Dunciad,' to punish him for exposing the defects of Pope's 'Shakespeare.' Pope attacked Lintot, with whom he had quarrelled about the 'Odyssey,' and Jonathan Smedley [q. v.], dean of Clogher, who had written against the 'Miscellanies.' He attacked Aaron Hill, who forced Lim to equivocate and apologise [see under Hill, Aaron]. One of his strongest grudges was against James Moore Smythe [q. v.], who had obtained leave to use some verses by Pope in a comedy of his own, and probably did not acknowledge them. Pope attacked him again in the 'Grub Street Journal' with singular bitterness. A squib called 'A Pop upon Pope,' telling a story of a supposed whipping by two of the 'Dunciad' victims, was attributed by Pope to Lady M. W. Montague. Young, of the 'Night Thoughts,' defended Pope in 'Two Epistles,' to which Welsted and J. Moore Smythe replied in 'One Epistle.' Pope seems to have felt this keenly, and replied vehemently in the 'Journal.' We can hardly regret that in this miserable warfare against unfortunate hacks Pope should have had his turn of suffering. Happily, Bolingbroke's influence directed his genius into more appropriate channels. Bolingbroke had amused himself in his exile by some study of philosophy, of which, however, his writings prove that he had not acquired more than a superficial knowledge. Pope was at the still lower level from which Bolingbroke appeared to be a great authority. Bolingbroke's singular brilliancy in talking and writing and his really fine literary taste were sufficient to account for his influence over his friend. Pope expressed his feeling to Spence (p. 316) by saying that when a comet appeared he fancied that it might be a coach to take Bolingbroke home. One result of their conversation is said to have been a plan for writing a series of poems which would amount to a systematic survey of human nature (see Spence, pp. 16, 48, 137, 315). They were to include a book upon the nature of man; one upon 'knowledge and its limits;' a third upon government, ecclesiastical and civilĀ ; and a fourth upon morality. The second included remarks upon 'education,' part of which was afterwards embodied in the fourth book of the 'Dunciad;' and the third was to have been wrought into an epic poem called 'Brutus,' of which an elaborate plan is given in Ruffhead (pp. 410-22). It was begun in blank verse, but happily dropped. To the first and the fourth part correspond the 'Essay on Man' and the four 'Moral Essays.' The plan thus expounded was probably not Pope's original scheme so much as an afterthought, suggested in later years by Warburton (see Mr. Courthope in Works, iii. 45-61). 'Moral Essays' was the name suggested by Waburton for what Pope had called 'Ethic Epistles.' The first of these, written under Bolingbroke's eye, was the 'Essay on Taste,' addressed to Lord Burlington, published in 1731. It includes the description of Timon's villa, in which many touches were taken from Canons, the house of James Brydges, duke of Chandos [q. v.] Pope was accused of having accepted 500l. from the duke, which was no doubt false; but chose also to deny what was clearly true, that Canons had been in his mind. Pope was much vexed by the attacks thus provoked, and, besides writing to the duke, got 'his man,' Cleland, to write an exculpatory letter, published in the papers. He also delayed tne publication of his next 'Moral Essay' 'On Riches' for a year (i.e. till January 1733), from fear of the abuse. This, however, which dealt with fraudulent specu-