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ODE FOR MUSIC ON ST. CECILIA'S DAY.
[Alexander Pope was one of those great geniuses of which literary history has but few names to record. He stands out and apart from the masses, and ranks only with the worthiest of England's worthies. He was born in Lombard-street, London, where his father carried on business as a linen-draper, in 1688. Both his parents being Roman Catholics, he was placed, at the age of eight, under the care of one Taverner, a priest, who taught him the rudiments of Greek and Latin. At the age of twelve he removed with his parents to Binfield, in Windsor Forest; and about the same time he wrote his “Ode on Solitude".
-a most remarkable production for so young a genius. Here he studied Waller, Spenser, and Dryden, and, at the age of sixteen, wrote his “Pastorals," which attracted the attention of the leading wits of the time. His “Essay on Criticism” was published in 1711, and the “Messiah" appeared on the 1st of September in the same year. This was followed by the “Ode for St. Cecilia's Day,'' which appeared originally in "The Spectator." About the same time he wrote “ The Rape of the Lock.” After bringing out "Abelard and Eloisa,”! " The Temple of Fame," and "Windsor Forest,” he undertook the translation of the “Iliad,” which he published by subscription, and netted (fortunate author) above 50001. With a part of this he purchased his house at Twickenham, so long after fondly recognised as Pope's Villa." On the completion of the “Iliad,” he undertook the “Odyssey;" but a spice of commercial enterprise was mixed up with his literary labours, for he not only got it subscribed to liberally, but he employed other learned men (among them Broome, Fenton, and Parnell) to assist him in his work. Pope's success was followed by the usual result. Other literary men became jealous of him, and jealousy begets enmity. Pope could have afforded to treat all this with silent contempt, but he took vengeance on his detractors in "The Dunciad;" and, unfortunately, the satirical vein, once indulged in, was found very difficult to control.
Like Byron after him, he was induced to satirise some who had done him little or no injury. In 1729 he published his great ethical epic, the “Essay on Man.” In 1737 he printed his " Letters," by subscription, and made money by them, but the publication was against all the tenets of literary honour and gentlemanly breeding. At the time of his death he was engaged in preparing a complete edition of his works. He died May 30th, 1744, aged 56.)
DESCEND, ye Nine! descend and sing :
The breathing instruments inspire;
In a sadly-pleasing strain,
Let the loud trumpet sound,
The shrill echoes rebound:
Hark! the numbers, soft and clear,
And fill with spreading sounds the skies;
Till, by degrees, remote and small,
The strains decay,
And melt away,
In a dying, dying fall.
Nor swell too high, nor sink too low.
Or, when the soul is press'd with cares,
Exalts her in enlivening airs.
Melancholy lifts her head,
List’ning envy drops her snakes;
But when our country's cause provokes to arms,
So when the first bold vessel dar'd the seas,
While Argo saw her kindred trees
Transported demi-gods stood round,
Inflam'd with glory's charms :
And when through all the infernal bounds,
Love, strong as Death, the Poet led
To the pale nations of the dead.
O'er all the dreary coasts !
And cries of tortured ghosts!
See, shady forms advance!
And the pale spectres dance
By the streams that ever flow,
O'er th' Elysian flow'rs;
By those happy souls who dwell
Or amaranthine bow'rs;
Wandering in the myrtle grove,
He sung, and hell consented
To hear the poet's prayer:
Thus song could prevail
O'er death, and o'er hell,
With Styx nine times round her,
But soon, too soon, the lover turns his eyes :
Now under hanging mountains,
And calls her ghost,
Amidst Rhodope's snows:
Ah see, he dies !
Yet ev'n in death Eurydice he sung ;
Eurydice the woods,
Eurydice the floods,
Music the fiercest grief can charm,
And antedate the bliss above.
Th' immortal pow'rs incline their ear :
And angels lean from heav'n to hear.
To bright Cecilia greater power is givn:
Hers lift the soul to heay'n.
BY JOHN G. SAXE. "A man is, in general, better pleased when he has a good
dinner upon his table than when his wife speaks Greek.”
The solemn dogmas of the rough old stager:
what one may call The minor morals of the “Ursa Major." Johnson was right. Although some men adore
Wisdom in woman, and with learning cram her,