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never doubted its own qualification for supremacy in every department. In metaphysics it was triumphing with Hobbes and Locke over the remnants of scholasticism; under Tillotson, it was expelling mystery from religion; and in art it was declaring war against the extravagant, the romantic, the mystic, and the Gothic,-a word then used as a simple term of abuse. Wit and sense are but different avatars of the same spirit; wit was the form in which it showed itself in coffee-houses, and sense that in which it appeared in the pulpit or parliament. When Walsh told Pope to be correct, he was virtually advising him to carry the same spirit into poetry. The classicism of the time was the natural corollary; for the classical models were the historical symbols of the movement which Pope represented. He states his view very tersely in the essay. Classical culture had been overwhelmed by the barbarians, and the monks "finished what the Goths began." Letters revived when the study of classical models again gave an impulse and supplied a guidance.

At length Erasmus, that great injured name,
The glory of the priesthood and their shame,
Stemm'd the wild torrent of a barbarous age,
And drove these holy Vandals off the stage.

The classicalism of Pope's time was no doubt very different from that of the period of Erasmus; but in his view it differed only because the contemporaries of Dryden had more thoroughly dispersed the mists of the barbarism which still obscured the Shaksperean age, and from which even Milton or Cowley had not completely escaped. Dryden and Boileau and the French critics, with their interpreters Roscommon, Sheffield, and Walsh, who found rules in Aristotle, and drew their

precedents from Homer, were at last stating the pure canons of unadulterated sense. To this school, wit and sense, and nature, and the classics, all meant pretty much the same. That was pronounced to be unnatural which was too silly, or too far-fetched, or too exalted, to approve itself to the good sense of a wit; and the very incarnation and eternal type of good sense and nature was to be found in the classics. The test of thorough polish and refinement was the power of ornamenting a speech with an appropriate phrase from Horace or Virgil, or prefixing a Greek motto to an essay in the Spectator. If it was necessary to give to any utterance an air of philosophical authority, a reference to Longinus or Aristotle was the natural device. Perhaps the acquaintance with classies might not be very profound; but the classics supplied at least a convenient symbol for the spirit which had triumphed against Gothic barbarism and scholastic pedantry.

Even the priggish wits of that day were capable of being bored by didactic poetry, and especially by such didactic poetry as resolved itself too easily into a string of maxims, not more poetical in substance than the immortal ""Tis a sin to steal a pin." The essay-published anonymously did not make any rapid success till Pope sent round copies to well-known critics. Addison's praise and Dennis's abuse helped, as we shall presently see, to give it notoriety. Pope, however, returned from criticism to poetry, and his next performance was in some degree a fresh, but far less puerile, performance upon the pastoral pipe. Nothing could be more natural than

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2 There is the usual contradiction as to the date of composition of Windsor Forest. Part seems to have been written early (Pope says 1704), and part certainly not before 1712.

for the young poet to take for a text the forest in which he lived. Dull as the natives might be, their dwellingplace was historical, and there was an excellent precedent for such a performance. Pope, as we have seen, was familiar with Milton's juvenile poems; but such works as the Allegro and Penseroso were too full of the genuine country spirit to suit his probable audience. Wycherley, whom he frequently invited to come to Binfield, would undoubtedly have found Milton a bore. But Sir John Denham, a thoroughly masculine, if not, as Pope calls him, a majestic poet, was a guide whom the Wycherleys would respect. His Cooper's Hill (in 1642) was the first example of what Johnson calls local poetry-poetry, that is, devoted to the celebration of a particular place; and, moreover, it was one of the early models of the rhythm which became triumphant in the hands of Dryden. One couplet is still familiar :

Though deep, yet clear; though gentle, yet not dull;
Strong without rage; without o'erflowing, full.

The poem has some vigorous descriptive touches, but is in the main a forcible expression of the moral and political reflections which would be approved by the admirers of good sense in poetry.

Pope's Windsor Forest, which appeared in the beginning of 1713, is closely and avowedly modelled upon this original. There is still a considerable infusion of the puerile classicism of the Pastorals, which contrasts. awkwardly with Denham's strength, and a silly episode about the nymph Lodona changed into the river Loddon by Diana, to save her from the pursuit of Pan. But the style is animated, and the descriptions, though seldom original, show Pope's frequent felicity of language.

Wordsworth, indeed, was pleased to say that Pope had here introduced almost the only new images of internal nature" to be found between Milton and Thomson. Probably the good Wordsworth was wishing to do a little bit of excessive candour. Pope will not introduce his scenery without a turn suited to the taste of the town:

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Here waving groves a chequer'd scene display,
And part admit and part exclude the day;

As some coy nymph her lover's fond address,
Nor quite indulges nor can quite repress.


He has some well turned lines upon the sports of the forest, though they are clearly not the lines of a sportsman. They betray something of the sensitive lad's shrinking from the rough squires whose only literature consisted of Durfey's songs, and who would have heartily laughed at his sympathy for a dying pheasant. I may observe in passing that Pope always showed the true poet's tenderness for the lower animals, and disgust at bloodshed. He loved his dog, and said that he would have inscribed over his grave, "O rare Bounce," but for the appearance of ridiculing rare Ben Jonson." He spoke with horror of a contemporary dissector of live dogs, and the pleasantest of his papers in the Guardian is a warm remonstrance against cruelty to animals. He "dares not" attack hunting, he says-and, indeed, such an attack requires some courage even at the present daybut he evidently has no sympathy with huntsmen, and has to borrow his description from Statius, which was hardly the way to get the true local colour. Windsor Forest, however, like Cooper's Hill, speedily diverges into historical and political reflections. The barbarity of the old forest laws, the poets Denham and Cowley and Surrey, who had sung on the banks of the Thames, and

the heroes who made Windsor illustrious, suggest obvious thoughts, put into verses often brilliant, though sometimes affected, varied by a compliment to Trumbull and an excessive eulogy of Granville, to whom the poem is inscribed. The whole is skilfully adapted to the time by a brilliant eulogy upon the peace which was concluded just as the poem was published. The Whig poet Tickell, soon to be Pope's rival, was celebrating the same "lofty theme" on his "artless reed," and introducing a pretty little compliment to Pope. To readers who have lost the taste for poetry of this class one poem may seem about as good as the other; but Pope's superiority is plain enough to a reader who will condescend to distinguish. His verses are an excellent specimen of his declamatory stylepolished, epigrammatic, and well expressed; and, though keeping far below the regions of true poetry, preserving just that level which would commend them to the literary statesmen and the politicians at Will's and Button's. Perhaps some advocate of Free Trade might try upon a modern audience the lines in which Pope expresses his aspiration in a footnote that London may one day become a "FREE PORT." There is at least not one antiquated or obscure phrase in the whole. Here are half-a-dozen lines:

The time shall come, when, free as seas and wind,
Unbounded Thames shall flow for all mankind,
Whole nations enter with each swelling tide,
And seas but join the regions they divide;
Earth's distant ends our glory shall behold,
And the new world launch forth to seek the old.

In the next few years Pope found other themes for the display of his declamatory powers. Of the Temple of Fame (1715), a frigid imitation of Chaucer, I need only say that it is one of Pope's least successful performances;


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