صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

The Dispensing Power was a prerogative by which the sovereign could exempt individuals from the operation of the penal laws. This right, freely exercised by Henry VII. and Henry VIII., was successfully challenged by the Country Party in 1673, when Charles II. proposed to admit Catholics to office. The decision of the judges in favour of James II., when he determined to use this power for a like purpose, "sealed," says Hallam, the condemnation of the House of Stuart." The Bill of Rights declared "that the pretended power of dispensing with laws by royal authority without Act of Parliament, as it hath been assumed and exercised of late, is illegal."


169. there are to whose. For other examples of this imitation of a Latin idiom, see note to 1. 30.

presumptuous, from Lat. prae, 'before,' sumere, 'to take.'

170. faults. The is a modern insertion under the influence of the Revival of Classical Learning. The sounding of the is of still more recent date. Thus in an old ballad we have

"Almaste I dye for fawte of fude."

Compare Fr. faute. In Pope's time thoughts and faults would make a perfect rhyme.

The word is connected with Lat. fallere, Eng. fail, and signifies (1) 'defect,' 'lack'; (2) 'error.'

171. misshaped: an alternative form is misshapen, but the weak shaped has for the most part ousted the strong shapen, as is the case also with shaven, laden, engraven, for which shaved, laded, engraved are substitutes in common use. In Psalm li. 5, we have, "I was shapen in iniquity."

171-4. Horace, Ars Poet. 361—3:

"Ut pictura, poesis erit: quae, si propius stes

Te capiat magis; et quaedam, si longius abstes:
Haec amat obscurum; volet haec sub luce videri."

['Poems are like paintings: some take your fancy more if you stand close; others if you go further off: one courts a dim light; another wants to be seen in a full glare.']

So also in Soame and Dryden's Translation of Boileau's Art Poétique: Canto I. 177–8:


"Each object must be fix'd in the due place,
And diff'ring parts have corresponding grace."

Nor is it Homer nods. "Roscommon," says Wakefield, "was not disposed to be so diffident." Thus he speaks of "holy garbage by Homer cooked,"


"Whose railing heroes, and whose wounded gods,
Make some suspect he snores as well as nods."

(Essay on Translated Verse, vv. 139–140.)

Horace admits occasional lapses in Homer, Ars Poet. 359:

"Indignor, quandoque bonus dormitat Homerus."

['I am annoyed whenever the good Homer nods.']

181. bays originally meant 'berries,' and then ‘laurels,' which were emblems of triumph.

"Or, if you needs must write, write CAESAR's Praise,

You'll gain at least a Knighthood, or the Bays."

(Pope, Imit. of Hor. Book II. Satire 1. 21—2.)

George II. and "the Bays" for the Laureateship.

"Caesar" stands for

181–194. An eloquent passage, somewhat spoiled, perhaps, by a touch of the bathos in the six lines which follow and conclude the First Part of the Essay.

182. This line is borrowed from Roscommon's Epilogue to Alexander the Great, 1. 12.

sacrilegious, 'profane,' 'impious.' Its Latin original comes from sacer and legere, 'to gather or purloin what is sacred': sacrilegium was the term applied to robbery from a temple.

183-4. Warburton finds in this couplet allusion to "the four great causes of the ravages amongst ancient writings," viz.,

(1) the destruction of the Alexandrine and Palatine libraries by fire : (2) the fiercer rage of critics like Zoilus, Maevius, and their followers against wit:

(3) the irruption of the barbarians into the empire in the fifth century:

(4) the long reign of monkish ignorance and superstition.

186. Paeans, from Gk. waιáv, ‘a hymn in honour of Apollo,' (from Haɩóv, a name of Apollo, the god of healing.) A paean was a song asking for aid in trouble, or a hymn of thanksgiving for aid received. It afterwards denoted a hymn of praise in a general sense.

189. bards triumphant! born in happier days. So Virgil (Æneid, vi. 649):

"Magnanimi heroes! nati melioribus annis."

['Heroes of lofty soul! born in better times.']

Dryden (Religio Laici, 1. 80) speaks of—

"Those giant wits in happier ages born."

194. that must not yet be found, i.e. 'that are not yet to be found,' 'that cannot yet be found.' Must is the past tense of the E. Eng.

present tense mot, which means 'he is able,' 'he is obliged.' From meaning 'he had power to do it,' or 'might have done it,' the word came to mean 'ought,' and it is by us generally used with a notion of compulsion. But it is sometimes used by Shakespeare to mean no more than definite futurity, like our ‘is to’in “He is to be here to-morrow." (Abbott's Shakespearian Gram. § 314, pp. 222-3.) Compare the following couplet from Cowley:

"Round the whole earth his dreaded name shall sound,

And reach to worlds that must not yet be found." 195-6. The metaphor is mixed. A spark of fire may kindle, but it cannot inspire.

196. The last, the meanest. We must understand "the last" to signify 'the latest,' 'the most recent.' Pope's arrogance in representing himself to be "the last" of the poets, in the sense that no more poets were to come after him, would be as excessive as is the humility with which he describes himself as "the meanest,"-if indeed we supposed that he was giving candid utterance to his own opinion.

203. bias, from French biais, 'slant,' 'slope,' perhaps from Low Lat. bifacem, accus. of bifax, (bi-, ‘two,' facies, ‘face,') 'one who squints.’ The term was used to denote (1) 'a bulge' on one side of a bowl; (2) 'the curved course' consequently taken by the bowl; (3) metaphorically, ‘a one-sided mental tendency.'

206. recruits, supplies,' or 'substitutes' for something that is lacking. A 'recruit' originally meant a fresh supply' of anything that was being used up.

207-8. Not only is Pope's physiology at fault in this couplet, but his language also, for the words "thus in souls" are so placed as to suggest the idea that souls, as well as bodies, stand in need of "blood and spirits."

215. A little learning, i.e. ‘only a little learning.' Pope is speaking of critics who give themselves airs on the strength of very slender attainments. When they grow wiser they will become humbler.

Compare Bacon's remark: "It is true, that a little Philosophy inclineth Mans Minde to Atheisme; but depth in Philosophy bringeth Mens Mindes about to Religion.' (Essays, 'Of Atheisme,' No. xvi. P. 46.)

216. Pierian spring. The Pierides, nine daughters of Pierus, king of Macedonia, challenged the nine Muses to a contest on Mount Helicon. When the Muses broke forth into song, Mount Helicon rose heavenward with delight. The winged horse Pegasus kicked the

mountain to stop its ascent, and where he kicked it, a fountain called Hippocrene (Horse-spring) gushed forth. The presumptuous Pierides were changed into birds.

222. behind it is the lengths 'in front' rather than 'behind' that 'fearless youth' fails to see.

225-232. Johnson says: "I cannot forbear to observe that the comparison of a student's progress in the sciences with the journey of a traveller in the Alps, is perhaps the best that English poetry can shew. A simile, to be perfect, must both illustrate and ennoble the subject; must shew it to the understanding in a clearer view, and display it to the fancy with greater dignity; but either of these qualities may be sufficient to recommend it. In didactick poetry, of which the great purpose is instruction, a simile may be praised which illustrates, though it does not ennoble; in heroicks, that may be admitted which ennobles, though it does not illustrate . . . . The simile of the Alps has no useless parts, yet affords a striking picture by itself; it makes the foregoing position better understood, and enables it to take faster hold on the attention; it assists the apprehension, and elevates the fancy." (Lives of the Poets: 'Pope,' p. 423.)

Mr Leslie Stephen, on the other hand, is moved to no rapture by the illustration. "The poor simile," he says, "is pretty well forgotten, but is really a good specimen of Pope's brilliant declamation." (Pope, P. 27.)

Warton says that "the simile appears evidently to have been suggested by the following one in the works of Drummond" (1585— 1649):

"All as a pilgrim who the Alps doth pass,

Or Atlas' temples crown'd with winter's glass,
The airy Caucasus, the Apennine,

Pyrene's cliffs where sun doth never shine,
When he some heaps of hills hath overwent,
Begins to think on rest, his journey spent,
Till mounting some tall mountain he doth find
More heights before him than he left behind."

234. With the same spirit that its author writ. The sentence is elliptical. Same and such, followed by their correlatives, are awkward words for a poet to handle. The statement that "a perfect judge will read each work with the same spirit that its author wrote" is, strictly interpreted, nonsense. "Its author" did not write "the spirit": he wrote something "with" or "in the same spirit." Yet to say "a

[ocr errors]

perfect judge will read each work with the same spirit as that with which its author wrote," though grammatically and logically correct, is cumbrous, pedantic, and altogether at variance with the diction of poetry. Pope's slip-shod solecism serves his purpose better than its full-dress equivalent. But to avoid the alternative of slovenliness or formalism, by casting the sentence in a different form, would have been better still.

237. malignant, malicious,' from Lat. malus and -genus, 'bad natured'; benignant is similarly formed.

239. in such lays. Mr T. Arnold says that "In here, as often in Latin, means in the case of." No doubt in was used by Elizabethan writers with this force. But it seems more probable that this sentence contains an anacoluthon, i.e. a combination of two incompatible constructions. Pope might have said, "In such lays we cannot blame anything," or, "Such lays we cannot blame." What he actually says is a part of each. His habit of repeated revision and alteration must have exposed him to the danger of falling into errors of this sort. Whilst trying half-a-dozen variations of some particular line, he would be likely occasionally to overlook the requirements of the lines immediately before or after.

lay is probably of Celtic origin and unconnected with Ger. Lied', 'song.' 240-2. correctly cold...but we may sleep. Compare Soame and Dryden's version of Boileau's Art Poétique (Canto I. 71—2) :

"A frozen style, that neither ebbs nor flows,

Instead of pleasing makes us gape and doze."

241. tenour (from Lat. tenere, 'to hold'), 'a holding-on,' so ‘usual course' or 'direction' in which one holds on. In music the word denoted the chief, or leading, melody, which was assigned to the highest adult male voice.

247. dome. The reference may be either to St Peter's or to the Pantheon at Rome.

248. Rome rhymes with doom at 1. 686; dome with which it rhymes here was probably pronounced like doom in Pope's time. It is doubtful however whether the pronunciation was invariable. In Shakespeare's Lucrece, 'Rome' occurs three times as a rhyme to 'doom' or 'groom,' and in Julius Caesar there is a play on the words 'Rome' and 'room,' "Now is it Rome indeed and room enough,'

[ocr errors]

(1. ii. 156)—a pun which is repeated in the same play (III. i. 289), and in K. John (III. i. 180),

"That I have room with Rome to curse awhile."

« السابقةمتابعة »