Open main menu

Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 46.djvu/126

There was a problem when proofreading this page.

Whiteway, and in his letters moralised over the melancholy fact that Swift's vanity had survived his intellect. The full proofs of this transaction were only given in the last edition of Pope's ‘Works,’ even Mr. Carruthers still supposing (in 1857) that Pope was really pained by Swift's treachery, and not knowing that he had contrived the whole affair himself. The only apology for a disgusting transaction is that Pope did not know at starting how many and what disgraceful lies he would have to tell.

Pope's reputation as moralist and poet was meanwhile growing. He had lost some of his best friends. Gay died 4 Dec. 1732; his mother on 7 July 1733; and Arbuthnot on 27 Feb. 1734–5. Bolingbroke retired to France in the following winter. As a friend of Bolingbroke, Pope had naturally been drawn into intimacy with the opposition which was now gathering against Walpole. He received a visit from Frederick, prince of Wales, in October 1735 (Letter to Bathurst, 8 Oct. 1735); Wyndham, Marchmont, and other leaders met and talked politics at his grotto; and Pope was on intimate terms with Lyttelton and other of the young patriots whom he compliments in his poems. His sentiments appear in the ‘Epistle to Augustus,’ the most brilliant of his imitations of Horace (first epistle of second book), which was published in March 1737. Others of the series which appeared in the same year are of more general application. The two dialogues, called ‘1738,’ and afterwards known as ‘Epilogue to the Satires,’ were mainly prompted by the attack upon the government as the source of corruption, and again show Pope at his best. They are incomparably felicitous, and incisive and dexterous in their management of language.

Pope, always under the influence of some friend of stronger fibre than his own, was now to be conquered by William Warburton. Warburton, turbulent and ambitious, had forced himself into notice by writings showing wide reading and a singular turn for paradoxes. He had ridiculed Pope in earlier years, but he now undertook to defend the ‘Essay on Man’ against the criticisms of Jean Pierre de Crousaz, who had published his ‘Examen de l'Essay de M. Pope sur l'homme’ in 1737. Warburton's reply, which appeared as a series of letters in a periodical called ‘The Works of the Learned,’ excited Pope's eager gratitude. He wrote to Warburton in the warmest terms. ‘You,’ he said, ‘understand my work better than I do myself.’ He met his commentator in the garden of Lord Radnor at Twickenham in April 1740. He astonished his publisher Dodsley, who was present, by the compliments which he paid to his new acquaintance. Warburton succeeded to Bolingbroke's authority. Pope confided to him his literary projects. They visited Oxford together in 1741; and the honorary degree of D.C.L. was offered by the vice-chancellor to Pope. An offer of a D.D. degree was made at the same time to Warburton; but, as this was afterwards opposed by some of the clergy, Pope refused to be ‘doctored’ without his friend. Pope undertook, at Warburton's instigation, to complete the ‘Dunciad’ by a fourth book. It was published in March 1742. A reference in it to Colley Cibber produced Pope's last literary quarrel. Pope and Arbuthnot were supposed to have had a share in the farce called ‘Three Hours after Marriage,’ of which Gay was the chief author. It was damned on its appearance in 1717, and Cibber soon afterwards introduced an allusion to it in the ‘Rehearsal.’ Pope came behind the scenes and abused Cibber for his impertinence, to which Cibber replied that he should repeat the words as long as the play was acted. Pope had made several contemptuous references to him; and upon the appearance of the new ‘Dunciad’ Cibber took his revenge in ‘A Letter from Cibber to Pope.’ Cibber was a very lively writer, and treated Pope to some home truths without losing his temper. He added an unsavoury anecdote about a youthful scrape into which Pope had fallen. ‘These things,’ said Pope of one of Cibber's pamphlets, ‘are my diversion;’ and the younger Richardson, who heard him and told Johnson, observed that his features were ‘writhing with anguish.’ Pope in his irritation resolved to make Cibber the hero of the ‘Dunciad’ in place of Theobald. Warburton, who had now undertaken to annotate Pope's whole works, was to be responsible for the notes written by Pope on the ‘Dunciad,’ and added ‘Ricardus Aristarchus on the Hero of the Poem.’ The fourth book contains some of Pope's finest verses. The book in the final form appeared in October 1742. The metaphysical parts were probably inspired by Warburton. The attack upon Bentley expressed probably antipathies of both the assailants. Bentley was sinking at the time of the first publication, and died on 14 July 1742. As the old opponent of Atterbury and all Pope's friends, as well as for his criticism of Milton and his remarks upon Pope's ‘Homer,’ he was naturally regarded by Pope as the ideal pedant. He had spoken of Warburton as a man of monstrous appetite and bad digestion; and neither of them could appreciate his scholarship, though War-