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The De Coverley Papers. What is meant by the statement above may be indicated by noting the facts regarding the writing of the De Coverley Papers. Although Sir Roger or some member of his household is frequently referred to, the Baronet himself is really characterized in only twentyfive papers, of which Steele wrote eight and Addison seventeen. On the basis of numbers Sir Roger seems to be Addison's. On the other hand, the character was conceived, as has been said, in Steele's brain. Furthermore the first two pictures of the Worcestershire squire are from Steele (The Spectator, numbers 2 and 6); not until number 34 did Addison find an interest in Sir Roger; and the characterization would be very incomplete without Steele's essays on "Sir Roger in Love," "The Family Portraits," and some others.
"The Spectator" Modeled on "The Tatler.". - Without undervaluing The Tatler, we may say with reason that it formed an excellent training school for the writers of The Spectator. The effort to show striking differences between the journals, and to attribute these to the change in the dominating spirit, is not fruitful. The Spectator Club is much like the Trumpet Club (The Tatler, no. 132) in conception. The latter contains a knight, Sir Geoffrey Notch, and an army man, Major Matchlock; the former contains Sir Roger and Captain Sentry. "The Editor's Troubles" (The Tatler, no. 164) is virtually presented to us in improved form in "The Club Again" (The Spectator, no. 34). The story of the beautiful rivals, "Clarinda and Chloe" (The Tatler, no. 94), is paralleled by "Brunetta and Phillis " (The Spectator, no. 80). "The Vision of Justice" (The Tatler, nos. 100, 102) is similar to "The Vision of Mirzah (The Spectator, no. 159).
Pictures of London Life. The interest of both periodicals to-day comes from the presentation of the England, more particularly the London, of Queen Anne- the social, political, moral, and æsthetic life of the time. Since the most distinctive institution of the time was the coffee-house, establishments of this class fill a large place in The Tatler and The Spectator. An early issue of the latter (no. 49) is given wholly to discussion of coffee-houses; and in both journals there is a pretence of dating the publication from some specific house.
Influence of the Periodicals. The aim of the earlier paper, as stated in its "Advertisement," was "to offer something whereby [certain] worthy and well-affected members of the commonwealth may be instructed, after their reading, what to think;" that is, its aim was moral. That of the later paper (set forth in no. 10) was to enliven morality with wit, and to temper wit with morality." The influence of the two, particularly that of The Spectator, on the age is as noteworthy as is their picture of the age. This influence is universally attributed to Addison; and in the words of Mr. Gosse, "It was out of proportion with the mere outcome of his literary genius." Whether or not we to-day consider his last words as beautiful, they reflect what Addison was to his time. The influence of The Spectator in curbing, not merely open immorality, but the emptiness and little vices of everyday life, was great, and was due chiefly to the popular conception of the man who had most weight in fixing the character of its pages.
ALEXANDER POPE, 1688-1744
Pope's Power. It is of profound significance that Pope's poetry influenced Lord Byron, a poet of revolt, more than half a century after Pope's death. Such an influence by a
man with frail body and without the aid of patronage argues real power; and the power is to be found in the perfected couplet of which we spoke at the beginning of this chapter. In the words of Arnold the characteristic features of Pope's poetry are "regularity, uniformity, precision, balance; features likely at all times to carry weight. His skill in condensation is little short of marvelous said Swift:
"In Pope I cannot read a line,
Pope's Weakness. Yet the readers who to-day give Pope high rank as a poet are not numerous. We may admit the truth and force of
"Words are like leaves; and where they most abound,
"Order is heaven's first law; and this confessed, Some are, and must be, greater than the rest," and yet refuse the name of great poet to the writer of the lines. They are entirely typical of Pope's best; and they are almost entirely lacking in imagination and feeling. "There are no depths in Pope and there are no heights; he has neither eye for the beauties of nature, nor ear for her harmonies."
Disadvantages and their Result.-Pope was born with two of the same disadvantages as Defoe-humble birth and Nonconformity. His father was a linen-draper and a Roman Catholic; and the son, though he rose in the social scale, never wavered in his religious faith. He labored under a
1 Essay on Johnson's "Chief Lives of the Poets."
third disadvantage, already mentioned, a frail body. Thus there was closed to him every calling requiring physical strength; and since Nonconformists were not then admitted to the universities, higher education was also beyond his reach. With these limitations he definitely set out for a
career in the profession of letters, an uncommon thing at the time.
Beginnings of Authorship. Before the publication of his Pastorals in 1709 Pope had begun to cultivate men of letters, and repeatedly endeavored to use their judgment in place of the university training he had missed. This first volume shows that the writer was already able to write smooth and effective verse. An Essay on Criticism (1711) established Pope's posi
tion with his contemporaries as a great poet. It does not aim to be original, but to be a setting forth in the best form of what the world had long known; exemplifying a couplet in the poem:
"True wit is nature to advantage dressed,
What oft was thought, but ne'er so well expressed."
The Rape of the Lock." In 1712 appeared the work by which Pope is most generally known outside of academic or literary circles, The Rape of the Lock. This mock-heroic poem attempted to restore friendly relations between a fashionable young lady and a young lord who had cut a lock of her hair. It shows some advance in versifying power,
and the discovery by the author that fashionable society is a suitable subject for certain kinds of poetry.
Three years after The Rape the first volume of a work appeared which proved to be a great financial success the translation of Homer's Iliad. Although it was highly esteemed throughout the eighteenth and well into the nineteenth century, it is not a good translation. A great scholar of the day said: "It is a pretty poem, Mr. Pope, but you mustn't call it Homer." The supposed translator knew little Greek, and depended largely on the assistance of friends and on a comparison of previous translations. The Iliad was completed in 1720; and five years later appeared the first volume of the Odyssey. No matter what merit it may possess as an English poem, it is equally with its predecessor an inaccurate and unsatisfactory representation of Homer.
A single illustration will make this clear. Near the beginning of Book VI Pope has Nausicaä address Alcinoüs thus:
"Will my dread sire his ear regardful deign,
Say, with my garments shall I bend my way
Where through the vales the mazy waters stray?”
A nearly literal translation (Butcher and Lang's) runs as follows:
"Father dear, couldst thou not lend me a high wagon with strong wheels, that I may take the goodly raiment to the river to wash, so much as I have lying soiled?"
Twickenham. Since the publication of the first portions of the Iliad, Pope had been a wealthy man; and a large portion of his wealth he expended on an estate at Twickenham, on the Thames a few miles above London. Here for twenty-five years he held court, and was visited by the great