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of the anecdotes relating to Pope mentioned in this edition, which he communicated to me when I was making him a visit, 1754, at Byfleet in Surrey; a pleasant villa which had been presented to him by Lord Lincoln.
The only bad accident Pope, in the course of his life, ever met with, was at the close of this
when he was 'overturned in a deep water, and was with difficulty snatched out of his coach by the postilion, with a force that broke the glass, and cut two of his fingers so desperately, that, though he was attended by St. André, a skilful and eminent surgeon, he lost the use of them. On which occasion Voltaire wrote to him a letter, which, as a specimen of his English, is here inserted in a note.
“ I hear this moment of your sad adventure. That water you fell in, was not Hippocrene's water, otherwise it would have respected you. Indeed, I am concerned beyond expression for the danger you have been in, and more for your wounds. Is it possible that those fingers which have written the Rape of the Lock, and the Criticism, which have dressed Homer so becomingly in an English coat, should have been so barbarously treated ? Let the hand of Dennis, or of your poetasters, be cut off, yours is sacred. I hope, Sir, you are now perfectly recovered; really your accident concerns me as much as all the disasters of a master ought to affect his scholar. I am sincerely, Sir, with the admiration which you deserve,
“ Your most humble servant, “In my Lord Bolingbroke's house,
« VOLTAIRE. Friday at noon, Nov, 16, 1726."
N. B. If Voltaire is frequently quoted in the following sheets, it is because he was a man of wit and penetration, though an unbeliever ; which, however, never appears in his tragedies; because he was the most celebrated of all our Author's contemporary poets; because he was an admirer and acquaintance of Pope; because they wrote on similar subjects; because he had made
Swift, coming to England, 1727, joined with Pope in publishing, in four volumes octavo, their Miscellaneous Pieces, in prose and verse; to which Pope wrote a Preface, complaining, among other instances, of the ill usage he had received from booksellers, and of the liberty Curll had taken in publishing his juvenile Letters, purchased from a Mrs. Thomas, a mistress of Mr. Cromwell. The two most remarkable passages in this Preface are, where they say, “ That in several parts of our lives, we have written some things which we may wish never to have thought on :" And when they also say,
“ In regard to two persons only, we wish our raillery, though ever so tender, or resentment ever so just, had not been indulged. We speak of Sir T. Vanbrugh, who was a man of wit and of honour; and of Mr. Addison, whose name deserves all respect from every lover of learning."
And now, in the year 1728, too much exasperated by the rude attacks of impotent scribblers, and forgetting what he had said in the before-mentioned particular remarks on many of our Author's pieces; and because both of them were patronized by Bolingbroke. I have been always as ready to censure his inconsistencies as to praise his talents. At this time he was supported and caressed by the British court and nobility, and particularly by Queen Caroline, to whom he dedicated the quarto edition of his Henriade, published by subscription in London. The Marquis d'Argenson, his intimate friend, says of him, 1736: "Plaise au ciel que la magie de son style n'accrédite pas des fausses opinions et des idées dangereuses, qu'il ne deshonore pas ce style charmant en prose et en vers, en le faisant servir à des ouvrages dont les sujets soient indignes et du peintre et du coloris ; et qu'il ne devienne pas le chef d'une secte à qui il arrivera, comme à bien d'autres, que les sectateurs se tromperont sur les intentions de leur Patriarche !"
Preface, “ that it is to be lamented that Virgil let pass a line which told posterity he had two enemies called Bavius and Mævius,” he determined to crush his adversaries in a mass, by one strong and decisive blow, and wrote his Dunciad: The history of which, is so very minutely related by Pope himself, in a Dedication which he wrote to Lord Middlesex, under the name of Savage, who, by the way, assisted Pope in finding out many particulars of these Scribblers' lives, that it ought to be inserted in this place.
“I will relate the war of the Dunces (for so it has been commonly called), which began in the year 1727, and ended in 1730.
“ When Dr. Swift and Mr. Pope thought it proper, for reasons specified in the Preface to their Miscellanies, to publish such little pieces of theirs, as had casually got abroad, there was added to them the Treatise of the Bathos, or the Art of Sinking in Poetry. It happened, that in one Chapter of this Piece the several species of bad Poets were ranged in classes, to which were prefixed almost all the Letters of the Alphabet (the greatest part of them at random); but such was the number of poets eminent in that art, that some one or other took every letter to himself: All fell into so violent a fury, that, for half a year or more, the common newspapers in most of which they had some property, as being hired writers) were filled with the most abusive falsehoods and scurrilities they could possibly devise. A liberty no way to be wondered at in those people, and in those papers, that for so many years, during the uncontrolled licence of the press, had
aspersed almost all the great characters of the age; and this with impunity, their own persons and names being utterly secret and obscure.
“ This gave Mr. Pope the thought, that he had now some opportunity of doing good, by detecting, and bringing into light, these common enemies of mankind; since, to invalidate this universal slander, it sufficed to shew what contemptible men were the authors of it. He was not without hopes, that, by manifesting the dulness of those, who had only malice to recommend them, either the booksellers would not find their account in employing them, or the men themselves, when discovered, want courage to proceed in so unlawful an occupation. This it was that gave
birth to the Dunciad; and he thought it a happiness, that, by the late flood of slander on himself, he had acquired such a peculiar right over their names as was necessary to this design.
“ On the 12th of May 1729, at St. James's, that poem was presented to the King and Queen (who had before been pleased to read it) by the Right Honourable Sir Robert Walpole : and some days after the whole impression was taken and dispersed by several noblemen and persons of the first distinction.
“ It is certainly a true observation, that no people are so impatient of censure as those who are the greatest slanderers, which was wonderfully exemplified on this occasion. On the day the book was first vended, a crowd of authors besieged the shop ; entreaties, advices, threats of law and battery, nay, cries of treason, were all employed to hinder the
THE LIFE OF
, and his surprise
, at finding in later editions, this Epistle awkwardly converted into a Dialogue, in which he has but little to say. And I remember he once remarked, “ that dis line,
P. But you are tir'd. 17 tell a tale. B. Agreed;