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Anne's death; and afterwards (in 1722) the principal conspirator in a desperate plot. Among the literary notabilities of the same circle were, besides their leader Swift, Thomas Parnell, an apostate from the Whigs and a lyrical poet of genuine merit, whom intemperate habits were believed to have hurried into a premature grave (in 17184), and Matthew Prior; but the latter was at this time absent as ambassador at Paris from the meetings of his friends and boon-companions. A higher esteem was justly enjoyed by Arbuthnot, a man of principle as well as wit, a physician who in Swift's phrase "knew his art but not his trade,' and a satirist who could work with Swift and Pope on their own ground, and be acknowledged as their equal by both. With Gay, who cheerfully oscillated between political camps as to whose tenets he was indifferent, while his vivacious satire was of inestimable advantage to those at whose service it was placed, Pope had already become intimate in 1711; and their friendship continued unabated? till Gay's death in 1732, which was mourned by Pope with a depth of feeling such as he rarely cared to manifest 3.
Most of these men, both politicians and authors, had long associated together in clubs where the political element predominated-above all in the October Club; but as the party became disorganised by the rivalry of Oxford and Bolingbroke, the harmony of these meetings suffered, and the establishment of a pre-eminently literary club seemed to offer the means of easier converse. The Scribblerus Club was so named in honour of Swift, for whose name Martin had been substituted as a humorous synonym by Lord Oxford, whence the appellation of Martinus Scribblerust. The burlesque writings with which this club amused itself were subordinated to a very felicitous design, that of parodying all the vagaries of literature in the form of the memoirs of a representative Dunce. Swift (the original notion of whose Gulliver is contained in the Memoirs of Scribblerus), Arbuthuot and others contributed with Pope to the execution of the scheme, which afterwards suggested to Pope his Treatise on the Bathos (1727), and thus connects itself with the great satire of the Dunciad itself.
But the indulgencies of club life as it was then conducted were ill-suited to the delicate constitution of Pope, and threatened at one time seriously to interfere with the project of a literary magnum opus with which he had already familiarised himself. For his experiment of becoming a painter, under the tuition of Jervas, had been soon abandoned after its commencement in 1713; and he had returned with renewed energy to his proper studies. It was Swift who encouraged him to persevere in the arduous undertaking of translating the Iliad, and who, before the hopeless collapse of the Tory party in 1714, had by his personal exertions obtained for him a subscription-list of unprecedented length and splendour. Yet Pope had never sufficiently identified himself with the Tory party to forfeit the encouragement of the Opposition magnates as well. When the Tories had fallen, when Bolingbroke after his ephemeral tenure of supreme power had fled in disgrace, when Oxford was under arrest, and Swift had retreated with dignified. slowness into his Irish deanery, Pope. was courteously entreated by one of the Whig ministers of the new sovereign, Lord Halifax, to accept a pension at his hands. This offer, as we have seen, Pope declined; and the brilliant success of his Iliad, of which the first four books appeared in the summer of 1715, rendered him for the future absolutely independent of patronage.
* This is Pope's own account: Johnson had the Beggar's Opera! See Wright's Caric. Hist. heard Parnell's death attributed to grief for the of the Georges, Chap. III. loss of his son, or of his wife.
3 Epistle to Arbuthnot, w. 255 ff. On the strength of a caricature it has been 4 Carruthers. supposed that Pope was jealous of the success of
The publication of Pope's Homer constitutes one of the most noteworthy episodes of his entire career. It thoroughly established him in the foremost rank among the writers of his age, it brought him a competent fortune, it secured him a circle of friends which he could henceforth widen at his own choice, it involved him in the bitterest and most lamentable dispute of his life. Anticipating, therefore, in some points the regular order of this sketch, place together at once such circumstances as it seems desirable to recal in connexion with the various stages of the publication. Gay, in a charming occasional
poem Alexander Pope his safe return from Troy (which will be found in nearly all the biographies of Pope and to which frequent reference is made in the notes of the present edition) congratulated his friend upon the completion of the Iliad in the name of a host of sympathising associates and admirers; but even then the Homer was only half complete, and a second equally prosperous voyage awaited the poet, though on this his vessel was to be partly worked by hired mariners.
In 1714 Pope had published specimen passages from the Odyssey in one of Lintot's Miscellanies; and soon afterwards, and during the greater part of the following year, he was engaged upon the translation of the Iliad. In the autumn of 1714 he visited Oxford in order to benefit by her libraries, and in 1715 the subscribers received their copies of the first four books. The volumes completing the Iliad were published in 1717, ’18 and '20; and the stamp of completeness set upon the whole by the wellknown dedication to Congreve. The translation of the Odyssey occupied Pope and his conductors from 1723 to '5, by which latter year the whole work including the Batrachomyomachia by Parnell) had been absolved. The proceeds of the Iliad brought to Pope a sum exceeding £5000, even after deducting the payments for the assistance which he had received in the notes. The Odyssey produced between £3000 and £4000 in addition, in which are not comprehended the sums paid to Fenton and Broome, who had contributed half the work. Pope's dealings with his coadjutors, like most of the pecuniary transactions of his life, have been exposed to much angry comment, and even later writers have echoed the exaggeration according to which Fenton was requited only by a small gratuity and a stolen epitaph. These squabbles concerning literary honoraria rarely admit, and are still more rarely deserving, of being decided by posterity. Whether Fenton and Broome were sufficiently paid or not, their names may be without danger forgotten in connexion with Pope's Homer. To their employer they were absolutely indebted for manner and style; and Fenton's verse. is in reality as much Pope's as Pope's own. For (as will be suggested below) Pope was imitable; and herein he offers a salient contrast to Dryden, whose own touches in the second part of Absalom and Achitophel in every case are distinctly discernible, as they diversify a dead level of Tate.
Such was the gradual progress towards completion of Pope's famous work. But the publication of its first instalment was attended by an event for ever memorable in our literary history. At the same time as the version by Pope of the first four books of the Iliad, appeared another of the first book by Tickell.
Thomas Tickell was known as an Oxonian and man of letters who had after a youth of very unripe Toryism developed into a full-blown Whig. In former days he had ventured to produce a rival play to Addison's Cato; but the success and virtue of the great Whig author had in the end made a complete conquest of the honest man. Though it is inadmissible on the strength of Pope's unproved insinuations to describe him as Addison's dummy, he shared with Ambrose Phillips the distinction of being universally regarded as one of the åmes damnées of the dictator at Button's. It might fairly be supposed that nothing which he now undertook was undertaken without the sanction of his acknowledged leader. Otherwise his venture might have been regarded as no. thing more than an ordinary instance of the competition common among the publishers of the day (particularly as it only consisted of a single book, to which Tickell never added any more, though his workmanship is not without decided merit of its own). But Pope, who professed to have undertaken his own translation at the instigation of Addison's most intimate friend, Steele, and whose mind was only too ready to admit any apparent confirmation of the suspicion which it harboured against Addison himself, was enraged beyond all bounds. His wrath increased when he was told that Addison had declared Tickell's translation to be the best ever put forth in any language. His indig. nation, accountable indeed, but wholly inexcusable in the wilfulness of its conclusions and the licence of its expression, first found vent in a letter to Secretary Craggs, a common 'friend of Addison and himself. In this he declared Tickell to be the 'humblest slave' among Addison's followers at Button's. And then his fury found a wider outlet in the famous lines which were afterwards,
with revisions and omissions, inserted in the Epistle to Dr Arbuthnot. It was the first, as it was the most brilliant, of those satiric sketches of character upon which Pope's genius was to expend its most consummate efforts ; so that from hatred, that most powerful passion of the age, was born a species of composition in which its representative poet has excelled all other writers.
In the earlier version of these immortal lines occurs a passage showing clearly enough the source of the taunts which Pope allowed himself to launch against one to whom he was yet?, happily for his reputation, to live to make partial amends :
" Who, if two wits on rival themes contest,
Approves of both, but likes the worst the best.' His resentment further blinded him into charging Addison with the real authorship of Tickell's Homer ; but this charge was soon dropped. Meanwhile Addison remained serenely imperturbable, replying to Pope's satire by a more than complimentary reference to his Homer in the Freeholder, where he ranked it on a level with Dryden's Vergil. And thus, the quarrel, like all quarrels conducted on one side only, could proceed no further. Yet (as the republication, so late as 1735, of the verses upon Addison proves) the offence, whether real or imaginary, long continued to rankle in Pope's breast. Was it real, or was it imaginary? Allowing Addison to have been fully responsible for Tickell’s proceeding, we are not obliged as a necessary consequence to condemn him for having permitted it. Nor can he as a critic who, like few in his age, was anxious to discover beauties rather than detect flaws, be blamed for having praised both Tickell's and Pope's translations in accordance with his high opinion of either. In neither case, as modern critics are fain to agree, was that high opinion wholly undeserved, though in either it was exaggerated. On the other hand there is much significance in the observa. tions on this subject of one of the most penetrating students of literary men and
'It was natural,' writes Thackeray', 'that Pope and Pope's friends should believe that this counter-translation, suddenly advertised and so long written,though Tickell's college-friends had never heard of it, though when Pope first wrote to Addison regarding his scheme Addison knew nothing of the similar projects of Tickell's,-it was natural that Pope and his friends, having interests, passions, and prejudices of their own, should believe that Tickell's translation was but an act of opposition against Pope, and that they should call Tickell's emulation Addison's envy,'—'if envy,' adds the same writer, 'it were.' The solution of the last query must be found in our estimate of the character of Addison ; a character the whiteness of which, after annoying generation after generation of sceptics, rests as unstained as if it had never been subjected to examination at their pains-taking
1 yv. 193—214.
In the Imitation of Horace, Bk. 1. Ep. it.
(vv. 215—220), published in 1737:
3 In his Lectures on the English Humourists.
hands. But whatever the character of Addison, Pope and his age at all events preferred to judge it according to their own standard,
We turn for a moment from the progress of Pope's literary career to the circumstances of his personal life, though indeed it would be a futile attempt to endeavour to dissociate the two. Soon after the publication of the first volume of Pope's Homer, he removed with his parents from Binfield to Chiswick, where they settled in the spring of 1716, for a sojourn which was not to extend over more than a couple of years. By this time Pope had already become a welcome guest in the fashionable circles of the metropolis and its vicinity; nor could it be otherwise than that the influence of female fascination should be brought to bear upon his susceptible nature. It was very well for Walsh to have admonished him, as an author of sixteen, to take occasion (in his Fourth Pastoral) 'to shew the difference between Poets' mistresses and other men's?;' but such problems require, even in the case of poets, to be worked out by experience; and Pope was not anxious to avoid the opportunities with which he met.
Before his admission into the fashionable life of the Town, his personal acquaintances had been chiefly restricted to the Catholic gentry of the coun. ties around Windsor. Among these were the Carylls of Sussex, of whom John Caryll (formerly secretary to the Consort' of James II.) became one of Pope's most favoured correspondents. Among the members of this family who in Gay's congratulatory poem 'come by dozens' to grace the Translator's triumph, was the 'Unhappy Lady,' whose melancholy story has been mingled up with that of the *Unfortunate Lady' whose case gave rise to Pope's beautiful elegy. Another of these Families was that of the Fermors of Tusmore in Oxfordshire, of whom Miss Arabella Fermor was immortalised as Belinda in the Rape of the Lock. But a closer interest attached Pope to a third Catholic family, the Blounts of Mapledurham in Oxfordshire, near Reading. The head of this family, Mr Lister Blount, had two daughters named Teresa and Martha, born respectively in the years 1688 and 1690. Both these ladies had received part of their education at Paris, where the natural vivacity of their dispositions had been heightened, and the charm of their manners had received an additional piquancy. Scandal afterwards busied itself with the progress of the relations between Pope and these ladies, in which however there seems nothing either unnatural or unparalleleda. It seems clear that as Pope's acquaintance with the Miss Blounts ripened into intimacy, he came to admire them both; that his attentions, poetic and other, were at first chiefly addressed to the elder sister, but that in the end the younger Martha became the object of a
i See Walsh's letter to Pope, dated Sept. tions towards the sisters of whom one became his gth, 1706.
wife, may be cited in illustration of part of a very The well known instance of Schiller's rela- easy psychological problem.