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cal enthusiasm he actually possessed, he withheld and stifled. The perusal of him affects not our minds with such strong emotions as we feel from Homer and Milton; so that no man of a true poetical spirit, is master of himself while he reads them. Hence, he is a writer fit for universal perusal; adapted to all ages and stations ; for the old and for the young; the man of business and the scholar. He who would think the Faery Queen, Palamon and Arcite, the Tempest or Comus, childish and romantic, might relish Pope. Surely it is no narrow and niggardly encomium, to say he is the great Poet of Reason, the First of Ethical authors in verse. And this species of writing is, after all, the surest road to an extensive reputation. It lies more level to the general capacities of men, than the higher flights of more genuine poetry. We all remember when even a Churchill was more in vogue than a Gray. He that treats of fashionable follies, and the topics of the day, that describes present persons and recent events, finds many readers, whose understandings and whose passions he gratifies, The name of Chesterfield on one hand, and of IValpole on the other, failed not to make a poem D d 2
bought up and talked of. And it cannot be doubted, that the Odes of Horace which celebrated, and the Satires which ridiculed, wellknown and real characters at Rome, were more eagerly read, and more frequently cited, than the Æneid and the Georgic of Virgil.
IVhere then, according to the question proposed at the beginning of this Essay, shall we with justice be authorized to place our admired POPE? Not, assuredly, in the same rank with Spenser, Shakespeare, and Milton ; however justly we may applaud the Eloisa and Rape of the Lock; but, considering the correctness, eiegance, and utility of his works, the weight of sentiment, and the knowledge of man they contain, we may venture to assign him a place, next to Milton, and just above Dryden. Yet, to bring our minds steadily to make this decision, we must forget, for a moment, the divine Music Ode of Dryden; and may, perhaps, then be compelled to confess, that though Dryden be the greater genius, yet Pope is the better artist.
The preference here given to POPE above other modern English poets, it must be remembered, is founded on the excellencies of his works in general, and taken all together; for there are parts and passages in other modern authors, in Young and in Thomson, for instance, equal to any of Pope; and he has written nothing in a strain so truly sublime, as the Bard of Gray.
APPENDIX, No. I.
HE ALMA of Prior, page 126. This is not the only composition of Prior, in which he has displayed a knowledge of the world, and of human nature. For I have lately been permitted to read a curious manuscript, now in the hands of her Grace the Duchess Dowager of Portland, containing Essays and Dialogues of the Dead, on the following subjects, by Prior.
1. Heads for a Treatise on Learning. 2. Essay on Opinion. 3. A Dialogue betwixt Charles the Fifth and Clenard the Grammarian. 4. Betwixt Locke and Montaigne. 5. The Vicar of Bray and Sir Thomas More. 6. Oliver Cromwell and his Porter. If these pieces were published, Prior would appear to be as good a prose-writer as poet. It seems to be growing a little fashionable, to decry his great merits as a poet. They who do this, seem not sufficiently to have attended to his admirable Ode to Mr. Charles Montague, afterwards Earl of Halifax; his Ode to the Queen, 1706 ; his Epistle and Ode to Boileau; most of his Tales; the Alma here mentioned; the Henry and Emma, (in which surely are many strokes of true tenderness and pathos ;) and his Solomon: A poem, which, however faulty in its plan, has very many noble and finished passages; and which has been so elegantly and classically translated by Dobson, as to reflect honour on the College of Winchester, where he was educated, and where he translated the first book as a school-exercise. I once heard him lament, that he had not, at that time, read Lucretius, which would have given a richness, and variety, and force, to his verses; the only fault of which seems to be a monotony,
and want of different pauses, occasioned by translating a poem in rhyme, which he avoided in his Milton. It is one mark of a poem being intrinsically good, that it is capable of being well translated.
The political conduct of Prior was blamed on account of the part he took in the famous Partition Treaty: but in some valuable Memoirs of his life, written by the Hon. Mr. Montague, his friend, which are also in the possession of the Duchess Dowager of Portland, this conduct is clearly accounted for, and amply defended. In those Memoirs are many ous and interesting particulars of the history of that time.