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twelve books in an advertisement to his works, and in a note to the Dunciad, but did not explicitly retract the other statement. Broome could not effectively rebuke his fellow-sinner. He had, in fact, conspired with Pope to attract the public by the use of the most popular name, and could not even claim his own afterwards. He had, indeed, talked too much, according to Pope; and the poet's morality is oddly illustrated in a letter, in which he complains of Broome's indiscretion for letting out the secret; and explains that, as the facts are so far known, it would now be " unjust and dishonourable" to continue the concealment. It would be impossible to accept more frankly the theory that lying is wrong when it is found out. Meanwhile Pope's conduct to his victims or accomplices was not over-generous. He made over 35001. after paying Broome 5007. (including 1007. for notes) and Fenton 2007., that is, 50l. a book. The rate of pay was as high as the work was worth, and as much as it would fetch in the open market. The large sum was entirely due to Pope's reputation, though obtained, so far as the true authorship was concealed, upon something like false pretences. Still, we could have wished that he had been a little more liberal with his share of the plunder. A coolness ensued between the principal and his partners in consequence of these questionable dealings. Fenton seems never to have been reconciled to Pope, though they did not openly quarrel and Pope wrote a laudatory epitaph for him on his death in 1730. Broomea weaker man-though insulted by Pope in the Dunciad and the Miscellanies, accepted a reconciliation, for which Pope seems to have been eager, perhaps feeling some touch of remorse for the injuries which he had inflicted.
The shares of the three colleagues in the Odyssey are
not to be easily distinguished by internal evidence. On trying the experiment by a cursory reading I confess (though a critic does not willingly admit his fallibility) that I took some of Broome's work for Pope's, and, though closer study or an acuter perception might discriminate more accurately, I do not think that the distinction would be easy. This may
be taken to confirm the common theory that Pope's versification was a mere mechanical trick. Without admitting this, it must be admitted that the external characteristics of his manner were easily caught; and that it was not hard for a clever versifier to produce something closely resembling his inferior work, especially when following the same original. But it may be added that Pope's Odyssey was really inferior to the Iliad, both because his declamatory style is more out of place in its romantic narrative, and because he was weary and languid, and glad to turn his fame to account without more labour than necessary. The Odyssey, I may say, in conclusion, led to one incidental advantage. It was criticized by Spence, a mild and cultivated scholar, who was professor of poetry at Oxford. His observations, according to Johnson, were candid, though not indicative of a powerful mind. Pope, he adds, had in Spence, the first experience of a critic “who censured with respect and praised with alacrity.” Pope made Spence's acquaintance, recommended him to patrons, and was repaid by warm admiration,
POPE AT TWICKENHAM.
WHEN Pope finished his translation of the Iliad, he was congratulated by his friend Gay in a pleasant copy of verses marked by the usual bonhomie of the fat kindly man. Gay supposes himself to be welcoming his friend on the return from his long expedition.
Did I not see thee when thou first sett'st sail,
To seek adventures fair in Homer's land ?
And wish thy bark had never left the strand ?
And oft lift up thy holy eye and hand,
Back to the port to bring thy bark entire. And now the bark is sailing up the Thames, with bells ringing, bonfires blazing, and "bones and cleavers ” clashing. So splendid a show suggests Lord Mayor's Day, but in fact it is only the crowd of Pope's friends come to welcome him on his successful achievement; and a long catalogue follows, in which each is indicated by some appropriate epithet. The list includes some doubt. ful sympathizers, such as Gildon, who comes “hearing thou hast riches, and even Dennis, who in fact continued to growl out criticisms against the triumphant poet. Steele, too, and Tickell,
» for very
Whose skiff (in partnership they say)
Set forth for Greece but founder'd on the way, would not applaud very cordially. Addison, their common hero, was beyond the reach of satire or praise. Parnell, who had contributed a life of Homer, died in 1718; and Rowe and Garth, sound Whigs, but friends and often boon companions of the little papist, had followed. Swift was breathing “ Baotian air” in his deanery, and St. John was “confined to foreign climates sufficient reasons. Any such roll-call of friends must show melancholy gaps, and sometimes the gaps are more significant than the names. Yet Pope could boast of a numerous body of men, many of them of high distinction, who were ready to give him a warm welcome. There were, indeed, few eminent persons of the time, either in the political or literary worlds, with whom this sensitive and restless little invalid did not come into contact, hostile or friendly, at some part of his career. His friendships were keen and his hostilities more than proportionally bitter. We see his fragile figure, glancing rapidly from one hospitable circle to another, but always standing a little apart ; now paying court to some conspicuous wit, or philosopher, or statesman, or beauty; now taking deadly offence for some utterly inexplicable reason ; writhing with agony under clumsy blows which a robuster nature would have met with contemptuous laughter; racking his wits to contrive exquisite compliments, and suddenly exploding in sheer Billingsgate ; making a mountain of every mole-hill in his pilgrimage ; always preoccupied with his last literary project, and yet finding time for innumerable intrigues; for carrying out schemes of vengeance for wounded vanity, and for introducing himself into every quarrel that was going on around him.
In all his multifarious schemes and occupations he found it convenient to cover himself by elaborate mystifications, and was as anxious (it would seem) to deceive posterity as to impose upon contemporaries; and hence it is as difficult clearly to disentangle the twisted threads of his complex history as to give an intelligible picture of the result of the investigation. The publication of the
. Iliad, however, marks a kind of central point in his history. Pope has reached independence, and become the acknowledged head of the literary world ; and it will be convenient here to take a brief survey of his position, before following out two or three different series of events, which can scarcely be given in chronological order. Pope, when he first came to town and followed Wycherley about like a dog, had tried to assume the airs of a rake. The same tone is adopted in many of his earlier letters. At Bintield he became demure, correct, and respectful to the religious scruples of his parents. In his visits to London and Bath he is little better than one of the wicked. In a copy of verses (not too decent) written in 1715, as a “Farewell to London,” he gives us to understand that he has been hearing the chimes at midnight, and knows where the bona-robas dwell. He is forced to leave his jovial friends and his worrying publishers" for Homer (damn him !) calls.” He is, so he assures us,
Still idle, with a busy air
Deep whimsies to contrive;
Most thinking rake alive.
Luxurious lobster nights, farewell,
For sober, studious days!
For salads, tarts, and pease