Page images

of Pope, and rendered every other feeling, whether of self-interest, or friendship, subservient, we would speak with more pity than ridicule. That any criminal intercourse subsisted between them, as Mr Bowles inquires, (Life, p. cxxviii.), is highly improbable. She appears to have been a woman of a little mind and violent temper, incapable of estimating the honour which was conferred on her by the attachment of Pope, and careless of those feelings, which her caprice and peevishness kept in perpetual irritation. The letters that are now published, are among the most humiliating we have ever read. They present us with the picture of a man of fine genius and exquisite sensibility; and acting, in this instance, without art or affectation, chained at the footstool of two paltry girls. The following is a specimen out of many.


[ocr errors]


Thursday morn. Pray think me fenfible of your civility and good meaning, in afking me to come to you.

You will please to confider, that my coming, or not, is a thing indifferent to both of you. But God knows it is far otherwise to me,

with refpect to one of you.

I fcarce ever come, but one of two things happens, which equally afflicts me to the foul: either I make her uneafy, or I fee her unkind.

If he has any tenderness, I can only give her every day trouble and melancholy. If the has none, the daily fight of fo undeferved a coldness muft wound me to death.

It is forcing one of us to do a very hard and very unjust thing to the other.

My continuing to fee you will, by turns, teaze all of us. My ftaying away can at worft be of ill confequence only to myself.

And if one of us is to be facrificed, I believe we are all three agreed who fhall be the perfon.' Vol. X. p. 84.

We shall now make a few desultory strictures upon Mr Bowles's


Vol. II. p. 377. I am inclined to think, by Roxana was meant the Dutchess of Marlborough; this is my idea; but it is of little consequence to illustrate a poem, which Pope, perhaps, never wrote.' The poem, entitled Roxana, is a flimsy jeu d'esprit, quite unlike Pope, and probably written by Lady Mary Wortley Montagu. But Mr Bowles's notion, that Roxana was meant for the Dutchess of Marlborough, is marvellously absurd. Was she 'a prude,' who, in glowing youth, when nature bids be gay, sought sermons, and with a mien severe, censured her neighbours, and said daily prayer?'

Vol. IV. p. 55. Can Sporus feel? In the first edition, Pope had the name Paris, instead of Sporus; it seems a more suitable name. There is, I believe, no account why it was altered.' Mr


Bowles has made a similar remark somewhere else; from which we infer, that he does not know who the real Sporus was. Let him turn to Tacitus, or the commentators on Juvenal, and he will find, that such was the name of a minion of Nero, and therefore chosen by Pope as more suitable than Paris, because it was more contemptuous and severe.

P. 131. Pope, when he spoke with such disrespect of kings, had in his eye the house of Brunswick.' Not in particular: it was a branch of that idle affectation, which led him to speak contemptuously of all the great, while he was panting for their society, a little heightened by the semi-republican tone, which the opponents of Sir Robert Walpole affected. It is quite unfounded, in our opinion, to consider Pope as a jacobite, which is a notion perpetually recurring in Mr Bowles's notes. This, we think, one proof, how little this gentleman knows of the times, or even of the author on whom he comments. We doubt if any of Pope's friends, at least his later friends, were attached to the Stuart family, Atterbury excepted. We cannot help subjoining, on this subject, the following note of Mr Bowles, as an extraordinary evidence of acute and profound thinking.

It is a fingular circumftance, that he was born the very year of the Revolution, and died the year before the laft effort was made to reellablish the throne of the Stuarts.'

We have transcribed this note entire, and applaud Mr Bowles for not having diluted its philosophical energy by any explanatory context, which might point out to the vulgar reader in what the singularity consisted. Lest, however, too much wisdom might be lost under a bushel, the same note is repeated in another volume, with scarce any variation.

P. 371. The satire, dated 1740, which was first printed by Warton, and seems to have come originally through the hands of Lord Bolingbroke, is an extraordinary composition. It is a bitter invective against Pope's own friends and party, and may be deemed historically curious, as it shows the suspicions which were entertained of Walpole's principal opponents, some time before they were justified. What Pope intended to make of this poem, is problematical. He could not have let it become public, at least, in his lifetime; and yet there seems little pleasure in writing a satire which none is to know but the libeller himself. Nor do we think, that Pope was 'apt to give his loose unpremeditated lines such strength and animation, as reigns in the following, which may vie perhaps with any of his satirical poetry.

Carteret, his own proud dupe, thinks monarchs things
Made firft for him, as other fools for kings;
Controuls, decides, infults thee every hour,
And antedates the hatred due to power.


Through clouds of paffion Pulteney's views are clear,
He foams a patriot to fubfide a peer;

Impatient fees his country bought and fold,

And damns the market where he takes no gold.


Britain, the curfe is on thee, and who tries

To fave thee, in th' infectious office dies.

The first firm Pulteney foon refigned his breath,

Brave Scarborough loved thee, and was doom'd to death.
Good Marchmont's fate tore Polwarth from thy fide,
And thy last figh was heard when Wyndham died. '


A ridiculous idea is thrown out by Mr Bowles, in his Life of Pope (p. cxxiv.), that the concluding lines of this satire allude to the young Pretender! They are obviously meant for Frederic Prince of Wales; but Mr Bowles having taken up the notion that Pope was a staunch jacobite, is too ignorant of history to correct his own misconceptions. What man of tolerable information could imagine, that, in the year 1740, the young Pretender, who was a mere boy, and obscure even to his own party, could be spoken of as the one alone' on whom our all relies?'

Vol. V. p. 92. 'Great Cibber's brazen brainless brothers stand. The comparison of Cibber to the fine figures of Melancholy and Raving Madness, executed by his father, is disgraceful only to the author. Is not this a proof of the spitefulness towards Pope which we complained of in Mr Bowles? What can there be disgraceful to the author in this very witty line? and what has the merit of the figures to do with it? They are not ridiculed, unless it is a reproach for brass to want brains.

Vol. VI. p. 172. In Martinus Scriblerus's second voyage, he was happily shipwrecked on the land of the Giants, now the most humane people in the world.'. On this Mr Bowles inquires, innocently taking the whole of Gulliver for gospel-' Is it not a fact, that the more intimate knowledge we acquire of rude nations, the less cruel they appear?' With a great deal more about humanity and Esquimaux, too dull and trite to transcribe. The whole ends with the following remark, which, for its weight and pithiness, is made to stand as a paragraph by itself.

Savage nations,' as they are called, are frequently, in this respect, much more finned againft, than finning.'

Vol. VII. Appendix. The following account of the family of Mrs Thomas, the mitrefs of Cromwell, who fold Pope's Letters which were first publifhed, was tranfcribed by D. P. Olneden, Efq. from a manufcript in the leaf of a book in Trinity College, Cambridge. As it is curious, it is prefented to the reader in its native fimplicity. This account is literally as follows;-of the truth of it I can fay nothing; or of the time or perfon, where and by whom it was written.'


Upon the account' itself, be it curious or not, we can only say, that Mr Olneden's labour was ill employed in transcribing the manuscript he found. We remember to have read it many years ago in the supplemental volume to the Biographical Dictionary. If we mistake not, it is taken from the preface to Mrs Thomas's own works; but, whencesoever it comes, it is as ab. surd and palpable a romance, as any impostor ever invented. Mr Bowles, we believe, has no right to say that Mrs Thomas was the mistress of Cromwell. We have made no secret already of the low opinion we entertain of this gentleman's proficiency in English history. In his note subjoined to Mrs Thomas's tale, he has committed two blunders, which will put the justice of our cen sure beyond controversy. 1. He says, that the Duke of Montagu, therein named, is evidently meant for Montagu Duke of Manchester.' Now, there is hardly any one, who does not know that the dukedom of Manchester was not created till the reign of George I. The Duke of Montagu of King William's time, had been a Mr Montagu, ambassador in France about 1678, and famous for an important breach of trust towards Lord Danby. 2. He conceives that Lord Mulgrave, afterwards Duke of Buckingham, (properly Buckinghamshire) had most likely a considerable share in the Revolution; whereas, he was strongly attached all his life to the house of Stuart.

Vol. VIII. p. 101. What I looked upon as a rant of Barrow's, I now begin to think a serious truth, and could almoft venture to set my band to it.

Hæc quicunque leget, tantum ceciniffe putabit

Mæonidem ranas, Virgilium culices.'

Atterbury in a letter to Pope on Milton. Mr Bowles, always eager to comment, observes- The rant is not Barrow's, but Marvel's.' What pity that great poets will go out of their way to be wrong! The rant is not Marvel's, but Barrow's ;-not, indeed, the great Isaac Barrow, as perhaps Atterbury thought, but a certain Samuel Barrow, M. D. whose Latin verses are prefixed to almost every edition of Milton.

Vol. IX. p. 469. Mr Bowles is certainly right in supposing that Pope was not the author of the Latin verses quoted in the Guardian, No. 179. Those addressed to Bethell, which Warton seems to have conceived the production of Pope,

Te mihi pinxerunt auri sine crimine mores, &c. are in the first book of the Epistles of Joannes Secundus. The lines in the Guardian belong probably to some other Dutch poet.

Whatever severity Mr Bowles may sometimes show towards the dead, the living of all classes meet with the very gentlest treat


ment at his hands. Time would fail us, if we were to recount the eulogies which are showered on the head of Mr Coxe. Elegant, accurate, interesting, able, most judicious, best informed; he shines a whole neck and shoulders higher than common men,--the Magnus Apollo, the historical oracle of Mr Bowles. In truth, we believe that he is entitled to some gratitude; as we much question, whether our editor has a notion of history, as to those times, which is not gleaned from Mr Coxe's quartos. But the following compliment to a gentleman, who is, we believe, no author, though a great master of manuscripts, is unparalleled, both for its delicacy, and appositeness. Pope is severe, in one of his letters, upon the clerks of the Post-Office, whom he suspected of prying into his correspondence. Whereon thus saith Mr Bowles

Pope and Swift were conftantly declaiming against the gentlemen of the Poft-Office. Whether their obfervations were true or not, we cannot fail to contraft the liberality of the prefent conductors, and particularly of the worthy fecretary, Mr Freeling !'-Vol. IX. p. 241.

We can readily credit that Mr Bowles's letters have never been opened at the Post-Office. Antoní gladios poterit contemnere.

The tenth volume concludes with observations on the poetical character of Pope, which, coming from the pen of Mr Bowles, are justly entitled to respect. We think highly of some of this gentleman's productions, especially those of an early date; and, untainted as he has appeared by the grosser heresies of our day, it is natural to expect sound criticism as the result of a successful application to his art during full twenty years of authorship. Yet, in this judgment upon the merits of Pope, we conceive Mr Bowles to have failed, and the cause of his failure to be derived from principles of criticism by no means peculiar to himself, but which have obtained too great an influence over the public taste of our age.

I prefume,' he begins, it will readily be granted, that all images drawn from what is beautiful or fublime in the works of nature, are more beautiful and fublime than any images drawn from art; and that they are, therefore, per fe, more poetical.'

In the very outset we withhold our assent from this maxim, unlimited as it now stands in expression,-which Mr Bowles. deems indisputable. Whether the sentiment of beauty results from harmony of form and colour, or from moral associations; whether that of sublimity depends upon terror or upon energy; the works of art, as well as those of nature, are alike capable of exciting them, either in their immediate effects, or by the reflection of poetical imagery. Does Mr Bowles conceive, that an ordinary mountain will raise stronger emotions than the pyramids; or that the verse of De Lille respecting those structures,

Leur masse indestructible a fatigué le tems,


« PreviousContinue »