1745 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Alexander Pope

Anonymous, "On Mr. Pope" London Magazine 14 (August 1745) 409.



When death at length freed the soul of poor Pope
From its cargo of body and prison of clay;
Right glad from this troublesome world to elope,
'Tis said, to Parnassus he straight took his way.

Where no sooner arriv'd at those blessed abodes,
Than he Pegasus spy'd, his poetical hack,
As he gaz'd on pastorals, satires, and odes,
With plays and translations, full many a pack.

He clap'd him and stroak'd him, as you may suppose,
But wonder'd to see the poor beast was so lean,
Till he found that, except his own worship's sweet muse,
Very few, that were fit to be eaten, were seen.

Then without more ado on his back, Sir, he leap'd,
Till at length to the top of the cliff he did climb,
Where streams Heliconian its double point sweep'd
With a soft-sounding murmur like jingling of rhyme.

The first that he met was old Homer the blind,
As led by Achilles, his epical guide;
Your servant, cries Pope, 'tis a charming cool wind:
His bonnet then doff'd, as he pass'd by his side.

Homer knowing his voice, cry'd, come hither son Pope;
When I wrote my heroical pieces in Greek,
(I speak from my heart) I did never once hope,
So justly and well in a strange tongue to speak.

Next Horace address'd him; I'm glad you are come;
You know, we both rail'd at the vices of men:
The Cibbers of England, and Bavil of Rome
Sore felt the satyrical lash of our pen.

I consent, your epistle with thy witticisms
Shou'd be stor'd, but I cannot forgive you one trick;
A pox of your essay there on criticism;
Who wou'd now give on farthing for ars poetic?

Then Virgil step'd up: your face somewhere I've seen, Sir,
Mr. Pope? pray forgive; I had really forgot:
Your pastoral pieces, and Forest of Windsor
My poor trifling Eclogues have far overshot.

For an Epic, I own, I've a middling good hand:
And as for a Georgic, vie with me, who can?
But Ethics would put my poor wits to a stand,
And I ne'er should arrive at an Essay on Man.

This Boileau o'erhearing his voice he thus rais'd:
Not one of you antients an Epic could mock;
My Lutrin, ye know, when ye read, ye all prais'd;
But, I own, 'tis out-done by the Rape of the Lock.

With that they jogg'd on, and of poems disputed,
Till at length they arriv'd at Apollo's great hall,
Where when Pope his obeisance had pay'd, and saluted,
The monarch gave order a council to call.

Being met, he presented to them this new comer:
Then crown'd him, with laurel, and give him his seat;
With Virgil on this side, on that the bard Homer,
And Horace, that comical wag, at his feet.
Scarborough.