Billeder på siden

famous Ode (see II. 123-50), appears to rest on the sole authority of Cleitarchus, one of the east trustworthy of the historians of Alexander, and is in all probability a mere fable." 34. 11. (In what two ways may youth in this line be parsed? Which is the better?]

12. pair and peer (l. 6) are etymologically identical.

16. Timotheus. See Smith's larger Biog. and Mythol. Dict. This Timotheus is said to have been a Theban. Suidas tells us he “fourished under Alexander the Great, on whom his music made so powerful an impression that once, in the midst of a performance by Timotheus of an Orthian poem to Athena, he started from his seat and seized his arms.

The more celebrated Timotheus, “the musician and poet of the later Athenian dithyramb,” a native of Miletus, died some thirty years before Alexander's conquest of Persia.

17. tuneful See St. Cecilia's Day, 6.
35. 21. began from Jove. See St. Cecilia's Day, 2.

22. seats. So, in Latin, sedes is used in the plural.
24. [What is meant by bely'd the god? Comp. Shakspere's Richard II. II. ii. 76–7.)

For this wild story see Plutarch's Alex. &c. See Paradise Lost, ix. 494-510. In the mediaeval romances about Alexander it was not Jove, but one Nectanebus, a refugee king of Egypt, who was the father of the prince : see e. g. the fragment of Alisa under edited by Mr. Skeat for the Early English Text Society.

25. railiant spires. Comp. Milton's “circling spires.”

[Which is the better word with which to connect on radiant spires ? What does rode mean?]

26. Her name was Olympias. See Class. Dict.
31. a present deity. Comp. Hor. Od. III. v. 2; Psalm xlvi. I.
37. See Hom. Iliad, i. 528–30:

“ ή, και κυανέησιν επ' οφρύσι νευσε Κρονίων

αμβρόσιαι δ' άρα χαίται έπερρώσαντο άνακτος

κρατός απ' αθανάτσιο, μέγαν δ' ελέλιξεν "Ολυμπον.” Virg, Æn. X. 115:

Annuit, et totum nutu tremefecit Olympum."


The Latin numen means originally a nod (as in Lucret. ii. 633).

38. Bacchus. See Class. Dict. See Keats' Endymion, IV. ; Catull. lxiv. 251-64. 43. honest face = handsome face. The epithet is taken from Virgil (Georg. ii. 392):

Quocunque deus [Bacchus) circum caput egit honestum.Comp. Georg. iii. 81, and Æn. X. 133. Honest-like is used in Scotland for “goodly, as regarding the person.” (Jamieson.) Comp. Absalom and Achit. Part I.

72: “ Seams of wounds dishonest to the sight.”

[ocr errors]

44. hautboys = oboes (French, hautbois, that is haut-bois).
53. [What battles had he fought ?]

[Is fought a strong” pret. or a “weak”?]

[What is meant by to fight over a battle ?] 56. ardent eyes.

See Cicero's speech in Verr. II. iv. 66, of one Theomnastus' madness : Nam quum spumus ageret in ore, oculis arderet, voce maxima vim me sibi adferre clamaret, copulati in jus pervenimus.”

[To whom does the former his refer? To whom the latter ?] 36. 59. Muse. So Hor. Sat. II. vi. 16, 17:

* Ergo ubi me in montes et in arcem ex urbe removi,
Quid prius illustrem satiris musaque pedestri?”

[ocr errors]

It is sometimes used for a poet. See note, Prothal. 159.

36. 61. [Was there ever any difference between sung and sang? See Latham's English Grammar. ]

65. weltring. See Hymn Nat. 124.

[What word is omitted here ?] Comp. A. Phillips To Charlotte Pulteney (in the Golden Treasury):

“ And thou shalt in thy daughter see

This picture once resembled thee.” &c. &c.

68. expos'd = cast out. Comp. Latin exponere, Greek éKT.Dévai.
69. Comp. Pope's Elegy on an Unfortunate Lady:

* By foreign hands thy dying eyes were closed :

By foreign hands thy decent limbs composed." Virg. Æn. ix. 487.

With not a friend. A here has its older force; it = one, a single : see note to at a birth,” L'Al. 14. Not a is, in fact, a stronger form of none or no. The negative in this phrase is sometimes never.

(What is the force of with here ?]
71. revolveing = Latin revolvens; as in Ov. Fast. iv. 667:

“Excutitur terrore quies; Numa visa revolvit.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

73. a

sigh he stole = he sighed prìvily, or it may be silently. See Shakspere's Taming of the Shrew, III. ii. 142 :

“ 'Twere good, methinks, to steal our marriage." Comp. the phrase " to steal a march." So in Greek, kdén teiv= to do anything in a thievish, a secret, an underhand manner; see Sophocles' Ajax, 189:

“ “ ει δ' υποβαλλόμενοι

κλέπτουσι μύθους οι μεγάλοι βασιλής,” κ.τ.λ. El. 37: dól 0101 klévai opayás, &c. Comp. Cymb. I. v. 66:

“ He furnaces

The thick sighs from him ;" which is explained by “the lover sighing like furnace" in As You Like It, II. vii. 147.

77. 'Twas, &c. See above, 1. 1.

(What does but mean here? What other meanings has it?]

to move. Comp. Virg. Æn. X. 163, Cantusque movete.Strictly, the verb applies to the striking or stirring of the strings. Comp. song in Cowley's Davideis :

Hark! how the strings awake!

And though the moving hand approach not near,” &c.
79. (What does sweet here qualify ?)

Lydian measures. See L'Allegro, 136.
Conversely, love melts the soul to pity, in Two Gentlemen of Verona, IV. iv. 101.

82. See Falstaff's catechism, i Henry IV. V. i.
83. [What is it that is never ending, &c. ? What fighting still, &c. ?]

85. worth winning. So "worth nothing,” “worth ambition,” “ worth thy sight, worth inquiry,” “ worth while.” (With “worthy” the preposition is generally inserted but in Shakspere, Coriol. III. i. 299, we have “worthy death.") This construction may explained in this way: the Ang. -Sax. inflection which marked the word governed by were fell out of use, and its omission

was not compensated for by the introduction of the preposition

[ocr errors]

36. 88. the good. Comp. Will. of Palerne, 5075:

“And eche day was gret good give all aboute.”

Nowadays we use only the plural form. So we use now only “wages.”

89. the many = oi rolloi.

96. (What is the force of at once here? What does it qualify ?) 87. 98. (Why does he say again ?]

100. bands of sleep. Comp. bands of death,” “the bands of those sins" (Collect for the 24th Sunday after Trinity), &c. The notes that rouse him are to be very different from those which ar

to make Orpheus “heave his head " in L'Allegro. 108. see the snakes that they rear, &c. In Æn. vi. 571-3, Tisiphone's left hand is filled with snakes :

“ Continuo sontes ultrix, accincta flagello,

Tisiphone quatit insultans, torvosque sinistra
Intentans angues, vocat agmina sæva sororum."

117. crew. See L'Allegro, 38. 122. flambeau. French words were much affected by the English in the latter part of

See Butler :

the seventeenth century.

For though to smatter words of Greek
And Latin be the rhetorique
Of pedants counted and vainglorious,
To smatter French is meritorious.

See Macaulay's History of England, I. chap. iii.

125. (How far does this parallel between Thais and Helen hold good ?]
128. organs. See note on St. Cæc. 44.
129. (What is the force of to here?)

133. the r'ocal frame = the spcaking structure. 38. 137. (What is the force of with here?)


The details of Pope's life are involved in much obscurity. The part of London in which he was born, his birthday, the circumstances under which several of his works were published, his share in the Odyssey, his rupture with Addison, his relation to various notable persons of his time, are all matters of yet unsolved controversy. Some at least of these difficulties result from a certain want of ingenuousness, or, to speak positively, a certain love of petty diplomacy and intrigue which marked his character.

(1) Alexander Pope was born in London in 1688. In his Prologue to the Satires

he says:

“ Of gentle blood (part shed in honour's cause,

While yet in Britain honour had applause)

Each parent sprung." Elsewhere (in his Letter to a Noble Lord) he says, his father “was no mechanic, neither a hatter nor a cobbler, but in truth of a very honourable family ; and my mother of an ancient one. His father, at the time of the future poet's birth, was a wholesale linen-merchant in London. As he was a Roman Catholic, he was debarred from giving his son the best educational advantages the country had to offer. What he could do, he did. Alexander was instructed in the rudiments of Latin and Greek by a Roman Catholic priest, then sent to “a Catholic seminary” at Twyford, near Winchester, then to another in London. When he quitted this last school he was not quite twelve years old. “This,” he said to Spence, “was all the teaching I ever had, and God knows it extended a very little way. When I had done with my priests, I took to reading by myself, for which I had a very great eagerness and enthusiasm, especially for poetry; and in a few years I had dipped into a very great number of the English, French, Italian, Latin, and Greek poets,” &c.

His father had retired from business, and settled first at Kensirgton, and then at Binfield, near Windsor Forest. To Binfield Pope went when his school-days were ended, and there he mainly resided, making occasional visits to London and other places both near and some distance off, till 1716. At an early age he began to write verses; he

* Lisp'd in numbers, for the numbers came ;” he translated; he imitated. At last in 1709 he commenced his career of fame by publishing his Pastorals. Presently (in 1711) followed his Essay on Criticism; then the Rape of the Lock, in two Cantos, afterwards increased to four. Pope at once took the first place amongst the poets of the day. This rapid success is to be accounted for not only by the excellence of what he produced in the eyes of his age that excellence was of the highest order), but by “the plentiful lack” of writers worthy in any sense of the title of poets which then prevailed. The throne of poetry was in fact empty; it could scarcely be said that there was any one standing even on the steps of it. Pope had no rivals ; he was crowned as soon as he appeared.

Well-natur'd Garth inflam'd with early praise,
And Congreve loved, and Swift endur'd my lays.
The courtly Talbot, Somers, Sheffield read ;
Ev'n mitred Rochester would nod the head;

And St. John's self, great Dryden's friend before,
With open arms receiv'd one poet more.
Happy my studies when by these approv'd !

Happier their author when by these belov'd!” He found many friendly neighbours at Binfield ; and he soon became known and sought after in a far wider society. Addison and Steele welcomed him not only as writers of the Tatlers and the Spectators, but personally. He formed, however, his more permanent friendships amongst the Tories. He was himself professedly neither Whig nor Tory: his closest friends were Tories; his views, at least later in life, were thoroughly Whiggish. But Pope, though of a not ungenial nature, was precluded by his physical constitution from any abundant enjoyment of social pleasures. From an early age he was an invalid. At a later period he needed constant nursing. His life was “ a long disease ;” see Dr. Johnson's account of his extreme weakness, nis deformity, his helplessness. “The tenement of clay” was “o'er-informed ;” it had its revenge. It is impossible not to connect the irritability and tendency to satire which Pope exhibited from his very schoolboyhood with this distressing condition of his body.

(2) But though he was not to be a great social light, he was pre-eminent elsewhere. The world was delighted to know, in 1713, that he proposed to devote himself to the translation of the Iliad. The publication of this memorable work began in 1715, and ended in 1720. Then proposals were issued for the translation of the Odyssey. In this labour Broome and Fenton assisted him with some classical knowledge which they had gathered at Cambridge, and a mastery of the heroic couplet which they had learnt from himself. This performance seems to have been completed in 1725. Besides these two translations Pope wrote during the ten years, from 1715 to 1725, the Epistle of Eloisa to Abelard, and other minor pieces; and also edited Shakspere, not with much knowledge, but not without taste.

As to his private life, his Homer brought him not only much reputation, but very considerable money profits. “Thanks to Homer,” he lived and thrived,

“ Indebted to no prince or peer alive." In 1716 he removed with his parents from Einfield to Chiswick. There in the following year his father died :

“ Born to no pride, inheriting no strife,

Nor marrying discord in a noble wife ;"
-Pope is reflecting on Addison here-

Stranger to civil and religious rage,
The good man walk'd innoxious thro' his age :
No courts he saw, no suits would ever try,
Nor dared an oath nor hazarded a lie.
Unlearn'd, he knew no schoolman's subtle art,
No language but the language of the heart.
By nature honest, by experience wise,
Healthy by temp’rance and by exercise ;
His life, tho' long, to sickness past unknown,
His death was instant, and without a groan."

Prol, to the Sat. In 1718 the poet and his mother migrated from Chiswick to Twickenham, or “Twitenham," as he pleased to call it. He beautified his house and little grounds after his heart's content. Within no great distance from him lived, at one time or another, many of his friends--some not always to be so—as Lord Bolingbroke, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Lord Peterborough, Lord Burlington. Here, varying his devotion to literature with so much social intercourse as his weakly frame permitted him to enjoy, he passed, not quietly or peacefully, nearly a quarter

of a century.

« ForrigeFortsæt »