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thought into an almost proverbial form, Pope has probably enriched the language with more phrases than any other writer save Shakespeare:

A little learning is a dangerous thing;

Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring.”

To err is human, to forgive divine.”

For fools rush in where angels fear to tread.”

Such quotable bits as these are used by thousands who are entirely ignorant of their source.

The Rape of the Lock. — In 1712 Pope published the first version of The Rape of the Lock, a poem which in its finished form De Quincey spoke of as “the most exquisite monument of the playful fancy that universal literature offers.” It is a delicate, graceful satire, original and witty, of the idle, pleasure-seeking life of the beaux and belles of the time; and by its ingenious fancies and poetic invention it entitles Pope to a high place in one province of the poet's art. The Rape of the Lock introduces us to a little world of frivolity and fashion, busy with its pleasures, its dressing, flirting, and card-playing, in the old London of Queen Anne. In those days, fashion, wit, literature, and politics met in London. There men thought was the life of England; outside lay a vague region, little thought of and seldom visited; a dull place with stupid squires, and muddy roads, where everyone was behind the times. The town was supreme; and Pope, the poet of the town, represented its supremacy.

The Rape of the Lock literally grew out of that artificial society which it depicts and satirizes, for it was suggested by an actual occurrence in the fashionable world. Lord Petre, a young nobleman of twenty, pos

sessed himself of a lock of hair belonging to a famous beauty of the day, Mistress Arabella Fermor. The result was a serious misunderstanding, and Pope was asked to write a poem that should put the whole incident in an absurd light and restore good-humor. Pope acted on the suggestion and produced the most perfect mockheroic poem in the literature of England, if not in the literature of the world.

The Rape of the Lock is the story of a day in the life of a London beauty. We see Belinda luxuriously slumbering on till noon, when her lap-dog Shock awakens her. We are present at her toilet, and watch the progress of “the sacred rites of pride.” We see her with a gay party on its way up the Thames to Hampton Court, smiling impartially upon the "well-dressed youths' that crowd about her, the very type of liveliness, tact, and coquetry. We follow the party through the game of ombre, and the coffee, until we reach the tragic catastrophe of the severed curl. Where can we find so light, so poetical, a treatment of things which we think of as trivial or ordinary? Here is the epic of the frivolous: true to Pope's world, but true also with a little change of dress and scene to the world of the pleasure-seeker in Babylon, Rome, or New York. Pope suggests to us the vanity and shallowness of this life; and, by celebrating its inanities with the lofty dignity of the Homeric epic, he insensibly leads us to measure this petty world by the large standards of the heroic age.

Translations and Commentaries. For ten or twelve years after the publication of The Rape of the Lock, Pope was chiefly engaged in the work of editing and translating, although it had been his desire to write an epic poem. Pope's father was old, and the family fortunes were not prospering; so the poet turned from

original work to the more profitable task of translation. He began with Homer's Iliad, and, in spite of a frail constitution and a very imperfect knowledge of Greek, succeeded in translating with credit not only the Iliad but the Odyssey. In 1725 appeared his edition of the works of Shakespeare, which, though far from showing a sympathetic or true understanding of the great Elizabethan, is evidence that even the narrow and artificial age of Queen Anne found in Shakespeare an art and wisdom worthy of this tribute from its greatest poet.

Twickenham. — Pope made altogether about £900 by his translations of Homer, a very large sum for those days. Part of this he determined to invest in a house and grounds at Twickenham, on the bank of the Thames, about twelve miles above London. There were woods there and a lawn sloping to the river; and the poet delighted to adorn and cultivate his grounds, and to dress Nature "to advantage.” He built a tunnel under the public road that ran through his place and called it his “grotto.” On the walls and roof of this “grotto" were stuck shells, “pieces of looking-glass,” bits of spar, and fragments of ores and lava. He had also a temple “wholly composed of 'shells in the rustic manner.”' this famous retreat at Twickenham, where nature was polished by art, and incrusted with glittering ornaments, this poet of the artificial held his Court. Here came John Gay, the poet, and the great and terrible Dean Swift; here, Pope tells us, the brilliant Lord Bolingbroke, “nobly pensive,” meditated in his “Egerian grot.”

The Dunciad. At thirty-seven, then, Pope had made his fortune and his reputation, and he was in a position to write what he pleased. Unfortunately, however, one of the first uses he made of his liberty was in many respects an unworthy and an undignified one the

writing of the Dunciad, or Epic of the Dunces. The literary London of Pope's day, notwithstanding the great names it has handed down to us, was for the most part a provincial and self-centered community. The age was one of bitter quarrels and violent partisanship. Stinging personal invective and abuse were aimed not only at a man's opinions, but at his appearance, his morals, and even at the members of his family. It was an age in which poetry was often degraded to the ser-, vice of private malice and revenge, and became the handmaid of petty factional disputes. Pope, in this respect, was not above his time; he was rather one of the greatest offenders. His success had excited the envy of less fortunate authors; his disposition, and in part his religion, had made him many enemies; while he, on his side, with his insatiable vanity and his highstrung organization, was easily touched to passionate resentment. In the Dunciad, Pope sought to destroy his enemies by a single blow, to crush the small worms and caterpillars of Grub Street, and to discredit all pretenders to the throne of wit, which King Pope himself occupied. The plan of the Dunciad bears some resemblance to Dryden's Mac Flecknoe, but where Dryden regards his victim with an air of assured superiority and amused unconcern, Pope shrieks out his unsavory abuse as one who engages in a street fight on equal. terms. He pitilessly uncovers the misery of the obscure literary hack, starving in his garret; "he revels,” says Thackeray, "in base descriptions of poor men's want." In short, we feel that Pope's satire is prompted by personal hatred rather than by any large-spirited abhorrence of public wrongs. As Dr. Johnson very sensibly observes: “Whom did it concern to know that one scribbler or another was a dunce?"

The Essay on Man. - The closing period of Pope's literary career contains some of his most finished and most brilliant work. Especially famous is The Essay on Man, a philosophical poem dealing with man's place in the universe, his mental powers, and the conditions of his happiness. The poem is valuable, not for its philosophical argument, — which is very imperfect, and only partly understood by the author himself, — but for its apt sayings, its compact and memorable bits of trite morality. Pope was never a profound, consistent, or original thinker, but he had something which may fairly be called wisdom, — the wisdom of a close, if superficial, observer of life and manners, as he knew them in the club, the drawing-room, and the street.

The chief work of Pope's last years was the addition of a fourth book to the Dunciad, which is justly celebrated for its magnificent close. His feeble frame was shaken by illness and the end was at hand. He died quietly at his villa in 1744, and was buried in the Twickenham church near the monument he had erected to his parents.

Pope the Spokesman of His Time. — It is almost impossible for readers and critics of this generation to be fair to Pope, either as a poet or as a man. To most of us he is the spokesman of a dead time, separated from ours by the most fundamental differences in its ideals of literature and of life. So absolutely is he bound up with that time that we must try to enter it in imagination if we would understand and sympathize with its typical poet. He set its world of fashion before us in The Rape of the Lock, he unveiled the jealousy and wretchedness of its literary class in the Dunciad, he made himself the mouthpiece of one of its leading philosophers in the Essay on Man. He illustrates its desire

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