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“It was said of Socrates, that he brought Philosophy down from Heaven to inhabit among Men; and I shall be ambitious to have it said of me, that I have brought Philosophy out of Closets and Libraries, Schools and Colleges, to dwell in Clubs and Assemblies, at Tea-Tables, and in Coffee-Houses.”
The Toilet is their great Scene of Business, and the right Adjusting of their Hair the principal Employment of their lives."
“I look upon a sound Imagination as the greatest Blessing of Life, next to a clear Judgment and a good Conscience.”
“ The King or Hero of the Play generally spoke in Italian, and his Slaves answered him in English.
At length the Audience grew tired of understanding half the Opera, and therefore to ease themselves entirely of the fatigue of thinking, have so ordered it at Present that the whole Opera is performed in an unknown Tongue.”
“ It is infinitely more honorable to be a Good-Natured Man than a Wit.” The profess’d Beauties
are a People almost as insufferable as the profess'd Wits."
“ One may observe that Women in all Ages have taken more Pains than Men to adorn the Outside of their Heads."
Singing the Psalms in a different Tune from the Rest of the Congregation is a Sort of Schism not Tolerated by the Act."
“ Talking with a friend is nothing else but Thinking Aloud.”
“I would recommend to every one of my Readers the Keeping a Journal of their Lives for one Week and Setting down Punctually their whole Series of Employments during that Space of Time. This Kind of Self-Examination would give them a true State of themselves and incline them to consider seriously what they are about."
“He is not sensible of his own want of Strength when he knows that his Helper is Almighty. In short, the Person who has a firm trust on the Supreme Being is Powerful in His Power, Wise by His Wisdom, Happy in His Happiness. He reaps the Benefit of every Divine Attribute, and loses his own Insufficiency in the fullness of Infinite Perfection."
QUESTIONS AND EXERCISES 1. What was meant by the Grand Tour? What great predecessor of
Addison took a journey similar to his ? 2. How did the “glorious revolution” make a demand for skilful political
pamphleteers ? 3. What do you know of Richard Steele? 4. What were the characteristics and purposes of “The Tatler” and
“The Spectator"? 5. What were.the characteristics of Cato ? 6. Why have the editorials in “ The Spectator” remained a part of our
literature, while the editorial you read in this morning's paper will in
all probability be forgotten to-morrow ? 7. What do you think constitutes a good style? 8. Translate “ Quidquid agunt homines nostri est farrago libelli.” 9. Addison watched life as it passed by. What do we learn from his
observations? 10. Write a five-hundred-word composition upon the life in London reflected
in the Sir Roger de Coverley papers.
Suggested Readings. The de Coverley Papers, one and all, will repay reading and re-reading. Macaulay's “Essay on Addison," Thackeray's Lecture,” and Dr. Johnson's “Life” are all worth attention.
ALEXANDER POPE (1688–1744)
“The most faultless of poets."
“Was he a poet? Yes, if that be what
The most conspicuous eighteenth century poet was Alexander Pope. His influence dominated English poetry, roughly speaking, from the death of Dryden until the appearance of what is known as the Romantic School. The classicists, as Pope and his followers are called, believed that poetry should be correct ”; by this they meant, first that it should be clear, and second that it should conform to certain artificial standards which they had derived from the French. Of these the easiest to understand is the rule that the end of a couplet should coincide with the end of a main clause or the end of a sentence. Examine the following lines from Pope's “Essay on Criticism":
“Where'er you hear 'the cooling western breeze,'
In the next line it 'whispers thro' the trees; '
Set these side by side with the opening lines of Keats's “ Endymion":
“A thing of beauty is a joy forever.
Its loveliness increases; it will never
In the lines from Pope there is a mark of punctuation at the end of each couplet, a kind of dam, so to speak. In the lines from Keats, on the other hand, the meaning flows from one couplet into the next.
To vary the metaphor, one may say that Pope's couplets are like square bricks, while Keats's have the irregularity of unhewn stone. They remind one of an old-fashioned New England stone wall. In a general way, it may be said that the difference between Shakespeare and Pope is that Shakespeare aims to hold the mirror up to universal nature, while Pope, to quote his own words, believes that
True wit is nature to advantage dressed,
What oft was thought but ne'er so well expressed." Alexander Pope was born in London in 1688. His father was a Catholic and the Catholic king of England, James II, within a few months after the poet's birth, was driven across the sea and replaced by the Protestant, William III. The elder Pope, who felt that he could not invest with a clear conscience in the funds of a Protestant government, thereupon withdrew to the hamlet of Binfield with a fortune of twenty thousand pounds, which he locked in a chest, taking from it what he needed from time to time. He had amassed this fortune as a wholesale dealer in linen and was not credited, by those who knew him, with much poetical talent, but he took enough interest in the genius of his son to encourage his first attempts at writing.
His mother also possessed admirable qualities of head and heart. There is no nobler expression of filial love than in these lines, which Pope wrote in her honor after the death of his father:
Me let the tender office long engage
And keep awhile one parent from the sky.' Pope may be called a self-educated man, the religion of his father making a career at Oxford or Cambridge out of the question for him. He began to read, however, at a very tender age and began to write almost as soon as he began to read. Though sent in due time to several schools, he quarreled, as other men of genius have done, with his instructors. As a child, he was remarkable for the mildness of his disposition and the fragility of his body. The weakness of his body, as Dr. Johnson puts it, “ continued through his life, but the mildness of his mind perhaps ended with his childhood.”
At the age of fifteen he formed an acquaintance with the poet Walsh, who read his verses, gave him encouragement, and advised him to cultivate “correctness," on the ground that, whereas more than one of the poets of England had been great, none of them had
From the portrait by William Hoare been “ correct.” The seed fell on fertile soil. Within two years the young poet put forth some “ Pastorals” which, as the work of a boy of seventeen, have been called in our own day a marvellous feat of melodious versification.
The first real evidence of his power, however, was afforded in