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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume IX. From Steele and Addison to Pope and Swift.

III. Pope.

§ 14. Pope’s literary success and quarrels.


Thanks to Homer, Pope had thriven; he had settled in his Twickenham villa in 1719 and associated on equal terms with the first men of his day. But, though he had a heart capable of strong affection and generosity, he was apt to brood over injuries real and imaginary, and employ to the full his “proper power to hurt.” He had provoked Dennis, in An Essay on Criticism, and avenged himself on Dennis’s Reflections by The Narrative of Dr. Robert Norris (1713), ostensibly in reply to the criticisms on Cato. Addison’s dissociation of himself from this attack, probably, contributed to the estrangement between them. Two years later, Pope, who sent several papers to The Guardian, resented a eulogy there of Ambrose Philips’s Pastorals, and wrote a paper (15 April, 1713) contrasting his own Pastorals with Philips’s and giving the preference to the latter. In 1716, he retorted on Curll for having published Court Poems, ascribing them to “the laudible translator of Homer,” by A Full and True Account of a Horrid and Barbarous Revenge by Poison on the Body of Edmund Curll. Towards the end of queen Anne’s reign, Pope, Swift, Gay, Parnell and others had been in the habit of meeting at Arbuthnot’s rooms in St. James’s palace. Nights with these gatherings had closed Harley’s toilsome days. A literary scheme with which this informal club dallied was a satire on various forms of pedantry in the person of an imaginary Martinus Scriblerus.  12  In 1726, Swift had revisited England after twelve years’ absence, and stayed for part of his time at Twickenham, Gay being a fellow-guest. He repeated the visit in the following year. In June, 1727, appeared the first two volumes of Miscellanies.   23
  The preface was signed jointly by Swift and Pope. Miscellanies, the last volume, 1728, contained the character of Addison which had first appeared in Cytherea: or poems upon Love and Intrigue, 1723, and now received new additions. A fragment of a Satire corresponds to lines 151–214 of the Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot, though, in its latest form, quite half the lines have undergone change. But the exercise in the “gentle art” which made most stir was the opening piece of the volume, Pope’s Martinus Scriblerus IIEPI BA[char]: or the Art of Sinking in Poetry. In this, “the Bathos or Profund, the Natural Taste of Man and in particular the present age” was discussed and illustrated by quotations from Blackmore (who had rebuked Pope for an unseemly parody of the first Psalm), Ambrose Philips, Theobald, Dennis, Welsted, Thomas Cooke and others. In chapter VI, the several kinds of geniuses in the “Profund” are classified as ostriches, parrots, porpoises and so forth, and three or four sets of initials are given in each class.   24

Note 12. Cf. post, Chap. V. [ back ]

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  His edition of Shakespeare The Dunciad  
 
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