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Pope's reference is probably to the deistical writers, of whom he mentions two in the Dunciad, Book II. 399:

"Toland and Tindal, prompt at priests to jeer."

John Toland (1669—1722) published his Christianity not Mysterious in 1696. The grand jury of Middlesex replied to it with a presentment, and the Irish parliament consigned the work to the flames at the hands of the hangman.

Matthew Tindal (1657—1733) is known mainly by his Christianity as Old as the Creation.

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555. exhaust originally meant to empty,' 'to drain off'; hence, as here, in a metaphorical sense, 'to expend,' 'to use up completely.' 556. nice, see note to 1. 273, p. 105.

557. mistake an author into vice, 'misunderstand his meaning and assign to an innocent passage an immoral purport.' In Pope's terse phrase the construction of 'mistake' is curious, but the sense is clear. 559. Mr Elwin quotes Lucretius, IV. 333:

"Lucida praeterea fiunt quaecunque tuentur

['Whatever the jaundiced look at becomes a greenish-yellow.']
jaundice is derived from Fr. jaunisse (from jaune, ‘yellow').
571. critic, critique,' ' criticism,' 'critical examination.'


574-5. This couplet shows great insight into human nature.

577. That is of course the demonstrative pronoun, referring to "good-breeding." Placed first word in the line, it is feeble and ambiguous. The reader's natural impulse is to take it as the unaccented relative. See 1. 387.

580-1. "Our poet," says Warton, "practised this excellent precept in his conduct towards Wycherley, whose pieces he corrected with equal freedom and judgment." At the age of seventeen Pope was justly proud of his acquaintance with the veteran wit Wycherley, nearly half-a-century his senior. A correspondence sprang up between them and Pope was invited to revise the compositions with which his elderly friend still amused himself. A coolness followed and Pope published a garbled version of the correspondence, so as to give the impression that the rupture of their friendly relations was due to his own independence of spirit and to Wycherley's impatience of criticism. The story is told in Macaulay's Essays ('Comic Dramatists of the Restoration,' Vol. 11. pp. 162—3), but Wycherley's own letters, published since Macaulay wrote, give a different colour to the quarrel. (See Mr Leslie Stephen's Pope, pp. 15—20, and Mr Courthope's Life of Pope, Vol. v. pp. 73—5.)

585. Appius. The allusion is to Dennis, who was mentioned by his own name in 1. 270. He is called Appius here from his tragedy Appius and Virginia, hissed off the stage in 1709, a play for which he invented a new species of stage-thunder. Some time afterwards, when he found that his mechanical device was employed in the representation of Macbeth, he cried, "See how the rascals use me! They won't let my play run, yet they steal my thunder!" In his Reflections, published in 1711, Dennis handled Pope's Essay with some severity, and in 1743, ten years after Dennis was dead, Pope added a spiteful note to these lines, describing Dennis as "a furious old critic by profession, who, upon no other provocation, wrote against this Essay and its author in a manner perfectly lunatic." There are allusions in the following line to Dennis's peculiarities. Steele says of his walk, "he starts, stares, and looks round him at every jerk of his person forward." "Tremendous" was his favourite adjective. In Gay's farce, Three Hours after Marriage (1717), in the composition of which Pope is supposed to have had a hand, and which proved a failure, Dennis figures as "Sir Tremendous," and of Dennis's play, the Iphigenia (1700), Gildon, a contemporary critic and dramatist, says, "If there is anything of tragedy in the piece, it lies in the word 'tremendous,' for he is so fond of it he had rather use it in every page than slay his beloved Iphigenia." In his Liberty Asserted, which was put on the stage in 1704, Dennis attacked the French nation with such vigour that the bare recollection of his onslaught filled him with alarms for his safety when the Peace of Utrecht was concluded nine years later. He confided to the Duke of Marlborough his fears that, in retaliation for his patriotic play, the French would now insist upon his extradition. The Duke replied that he felt no apprehensions on his own account though he was probably equally formidable as an enemy to France.

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588. tax is probably derived ultimately from Lat. tangere, tactus, 'to touch': task is a variant, with metathesis of final consonants. 'To tax' meant to lay a burden on'; hence 'to take to task,' 'to censure.' Censure is derived from Lat. censura, a judgment,' and in medieval Lat. 'a tax,' or 'assessment.' Hence there is a subtle consistency between the metaphorical tax in one line and uncensured in the next,so subtle however that Pope probably thought nothing about it when he wrote the couplet.

591. take degrees. Noblemen and sons of noblemen were formerly admitted to degrees at the universities, after a shorter residence than

was required in the case of other undergraduates, and without the formalities of examination.

592-3. The couplet ends in a double rhyme and a very bad one. fulsome dedicators. Johnson says of Dryden's plays (Life of Dryden, p. 145), "Almost every piece had a dedication, written with such elegance and luxuriance of praise, as neither haughtiness nor avarice could be imagined able to resist. But he seems to have made flattery too cheap. That praise is worth nothing, of which the price is known.” Mrs Aphra Behn however leaves Dryden far behind. "So excellent and perfect a creature as yourself,” she says, addressing Nell Gwynne, "differs only from the divine powers in this: the offerings made to you ought to be worthy of you, whilst they accept the will alone." It is to Pope's credit that he abandoned the servile system of the dedication. Nor did he suffer in pocket from the change, for by obtaining a list of subscribers to his forthcoming translation of Homer, he secured the profits of patronage and at the same time preserved his independence.

fulsome, from full-some, i.e. 'rather full.' The word originally meant ‘fat,' 'full'; hence later, ‘gross,' 'disgusting,' a sense which may have grown out of the former, or the word may be differently derived, from foul-some.

599. An echo of a line in the Essay on Satire by Sheffield, Duke of Buckinghamshire:

"But who can rail so long as he can sleep?"

603. jades: the word is of Scandin. origin. Jade signifies (1) ‘an old mare,' (2) ' a worthless person,' now used only of women.

600-4. The similes are humorous, but inconsistent. According to the first couplet, the more you lash bad poets with criticism, the drowsier they grow, and the more mistakes they make. But then, according to the second couplet, their mistakes rouse them up to do better. "They are first represented as proceeding from bad to worse, and then from bad to better." (Elwin: Pope's Works, Vol. II. p. 24.)

610. There seems to be no doubt that this blow was aimed at his old friend Wycherley. In 1710 their amicable relations had ceased and their correspondence had come to an end. Pope's enemies declared that the alienation was brought about by some satirical verses which he had written at Wycherley's expense. This is not unlikely. And that in 1711 Pope should gibbet his correspondent of the previous year among the crowd of impotent rhymers "impenitently bold," is quite in keeping with what we know of his character. (See Elwin, Pope's Works, Vol. I. p. cxxxv.)

613. loads of learned lumber. Observe the alliteration.

The word lumber is usually derived from Lombard and explained as denoting the contents of the lumber-room, i.e. Lombard-room, where the Lombard banker or pawn-broker stored away his pledges. The writer in the Century Dictionary remarks however that there is no trace of any such 'Lombard-room,' and that if there were it would signify a room where Lombards, or brokers, were kept. He derives the word from the verb lumber, 'to make a rumbling noise.'

616. assail, another form of assault, is derived from Lat. assilire (from ad, salire, 'to leap upon'), 'to attack.'


617. Dryden's Fables. Dryden's "last work was his Fables, in which he gave us the first example of a mode of writing which the Italians call rifacimento, a renovation of ancient writers, by modernizing their language.. In this volume are interspersed some short original poems, which, with his prologues, epilogues, and songs, may be comprised in Congreve's remark, that even those, if he had written nothing else, would have entitled him to the praise of excellence in his kind." (Johnson's Life of Dryden, pp. 181—2.) appeared in 1700 and Dryden died the same year.

The Fables

Durfey's Tales. Tom Durfey (1653—1723) was the Theodore Hook of his time. A writer of numerous works in prose and verse alike devoid of any literary merit, a diner-out in brisk demand, an agreeable rattle who sang his own songs, he enjoyed the patronage of every sovereign from Charles the Second to Anne. His Wit and Mirth or Pills to Purge Melancholy, was published in six volumes in 1720. Addison had a kind word for him in the Guardian, when a play was bespoke for D'Urfey's benefit. "He has made the world merry and I hope they will make him easy so long as he stays with us. This I will take upon me to say, they cannot do a kindness to a more diverting companion, or a more chearful, honest and good-natured man.” (No. 67, May 28, 1713.)

619. Sir Samuel Garth (1660—1718) was an eminent physician. In 1699 he published The Dispensary to help the cause of the College of Physicians in their feud with the Society of Apothecaries. As the Apothecaries claimed the right of prescribing medicines as well as of mixing them, the Physicians announced that they would give advice to poor people for nothing and start a dispensary where drugs should be sold cheap. In spite however of Garth's mock-heroic poem in six cantos, the Apothecaries won the day, as the House of Lords gave its decision in their favour.

It was Garth who delivered a Latin oration at the College of Physicians over Dryden's corpse. Though a strong Whig, Garth remained the constant friend of Pope. That somebody else wrote The Dispensary was, says Pope, "a common slander at that time in prejudice of that deserving author. . . . It is now (perhaps the sooner for this very verse) dead and forgotten." Charges of wholesale plagiarism-"the common artifice by which envy degrades excellence," according to Johnson,-were freely levelled against successful authors. Thus it was said that Denham was not really the writer of Cooper's Hill, nor Addison of Cato, while Pope was reported to have stolen this very Essay on Criticism from Wycherley and to have sent it forth as his own. That Shakespeare's works were written by Bacon is believed by many persons of average intelligence in our own day.

622. The compression in this line is effected at the expense of the grammar. Supplying the ellipses we have, "No place is so sacred that from such fops it is barred."

"This stroke of satire," says Warton, "is literally taken from Boileau" (Art Poétique, Chant iv. 53-8):

"Gardez-vous d'imiter ce rimeur furieux,

Qui, de ses vains écrits lecteur harmonieux
Aborde en récitant quiconque le salue,

Et poursuit de ses vers les passants dans la rue.
Il n'est Temple si saint, des Anges respecté,
Qui soit contre sa muse un lieu de sûreté."

Boileau had suffered from the impertinence of a French poet, Du Perrier, who insisted on repeating to him, during the elevation of the host, an ode of his own composition, to know whether it was "in the manner of Malherbe."

623. Paul's Church. "In the reigns of James I. and Charles I., the body of St Paul's cathedral was the common resort of the politicians, the newsmongers, and the idle in general. It was called Paul's Walk, and the frequenters were known by the name of Paul's walkers." (Wakefield.)

625. So Shakespeare, Rich. III. 1. iii. 70:

"The world is grown so bad,

That wrens make prey where eagles dare not perch."

632. proud to know, i.e. 'proud of knowing,' 'proud of his knowledge.' So, in Coriolanus, I. i. 263:

"He grown

Too proud to be so valiant,"

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