May 21 1688|
May 30 1744 (aged 56)|
Twickenham (today part of London)
Poet, was born in London, of Roman Catholic parentage. His father was a linen-merchant, who married as his second wife Edith Turner, a lady of respectable Yorkshire family, and of some fortune, made a competence, and retired to a small property at Binfield, near Windsor. Pope received a somewhat desultory education at various Roman Catholic schools, but after the age of 12, when he had a severe illness brought on by over-application, he was practically self-educated. Though never a profound or accurate scholar, he had a good knowledge of Latin, and a working acquaintance with Greek. By 1704 he had written a good deal of verse, which attracted the attention of Wycherley, who introduced him to town life and to other men of letters. In 1709 his Pastorals were published in Tonson's Miscellany, and 2 years later the Essay on Criticism appeared, and was praised by Addison. The Rape of the Lock, which came out in 1714, placed his reputation on a sure foundation, and thereafter his life was an uninterrupted and brilliant success. His industry was untiring, and his literary output almost continuous until his death. In 1713 Windsor Forest (which won him the friendship of Swift) and The Temple of Fame appeared. In 1715 the translation of the Iliad was begun, and the work published at intervals between that year and 1720. It had enormous popularity, and brought the poet £5000. It was followed by the Odyssey (1725-26), in which he had the assistance of Broome and Fenton, who, especially the former, caught his style so exactly as almost to defy identification. It also was highly popular, and increased his gains to about £8000, which placed him in a position of independence. While engaged upon these he moved to Chiswick, where he lived 1716-1718, and where he issued in 1717 a collectd edition of his works, including the "Elegy on an Unfortunate Lady" and the Epistle of Eloisa to Abelard. In 1718, his father having died, he again moved with his mother, to his famous villa at Twickenham, the adornment of the grounds of which became a chief interest, and where, now the acknowledged chief of his art, he received the visits of his friends, who included the most distinguished men of letters, wits, statesmen, and beauties of the day. His next task was his edition of Shakespeare (1725), a work for which he was not well qualified, though the preface is a fine piece of prose. The Miscellanies, the joint work of Pope and Swift, were published in 1727-1728, and drew down upon the authors a storm of angry comment, which in turn led to the production of The Dunciad, 1st published in 1728, and again with new matter in 1729, an additional book (the 4rth) being added in 1742. In it he satirised with a wit, always keen and biting, often savage and unfair, the small wits and poetasters, and some of a quite different quality, who had, or whom he supposed to have, injured him. Between 1731 and 1735 he produced his Epistles, the last of which, addressed to Arbuthnot, is also known as the "Prologue to the Satires," and contains his ungrateful character of Addison under the name of "Atticus;" and also, 1733, the Essay on Man, written under the influence of Bolingbroke. His last, and in some respects best, works were his Imitations of Horace, published between 1733 and 1739, and the 4th book of The Dunciad (1742). A naturally delicate constitution, a deformed body, extreme sensitiveness, over-excitement, and overwork did not promise a long life, and Pope died on May 30, 1744, aged 56.
His extreme vanity and sensitiveness to criticism made him often vindictive, unjust, and venomous. They led him also into frequent quarrels, and lost him many friends, including Lady M. Wortley Montagu, and along with a strong tendency to finesse and stratagem, of which the circumstances attending the publication of his literary correspondence is the chief instance, make his character on the whole an unamiable one. On the other hand, he was often generous; he retained the friendship of such men as Swift and Arbuthnot, and he was a most dutiful and affectionate son.
Pope was born to Alexander Pope, Sr. (1646-1717), a linen merchant of Plough Court, Lombard Street, London, and his wife Edith (Turner) (1643-1733), who were both Catholics. Edith's sister Christiana was the wife of the famous miniature painter Samuel Cooper. Pope's education was affected by the recently enacted Test Acts, which upheld the status of the established Church of England and banned Catholics from teaching, attending a university, voting, or holding public office on pain of perpetual imprisonment. Pope was taught to read by his aunt, and went to Twyford School in about 1698/99. He then went to 2 Catholic schools in London. Such schools, while illegal, were tolerated in some areas.
In 1700, his family moved to a small estate at Popeswood in Binfield, Berkshire, close to the royal Windsor Forest. This was due to strong anti-Catholic sentiment and a statute preventing Catholics from living within 10 miles (16 km) of either London or Westminster. Pope would later describe the countryside around the house in his poem Windsor Forest. Pope's formal education ended at this time, and from then on he mostly educated himself by reading the works of classical writers such as the satirists Horace and Juvenal, the epic poets Homer and Virgil, as well as English authors such as Geoffrey Chaucer, William Shakespeare and John Dryden. He also studied many languages and read works by English, French, Italian, Latin, and Greek poets. After 5 years of study, Pope came into contact with figures from the London literary society such as William Wycherley, William Congreve, Samuel Garth, William Trumbull, and William Walsh.
At Binfield, he also began to make many important friends – 1, John Caryll the younger (the future dedicatee of The Rape of the Lock), was 20 years older than the poet and had made many acquaintances in the London literary world. He introduced the young Pope to the aging playwright William Wycherley and to William Walsh, a minor poet, who helped Pope revise his 1st major work, The Pastorals. He also met the Blount sisters, Teresa and (his alleged future lover) Martha, both of whom would remain lifelong friends.
From the age of 12, he suffered numerous health problems, such as Pott's disease (a form of tuberculosis that affects the bone), which deformed his body and stunted his growth, leaving him with a severe hunchback. His tuberculosis infection caused other health problems including respiratory difficulties, high fevers, inflamed eyes, and abdominal pain. He grew to a height of only 1.37 m (4 ft 6 in) tall. Pope was already removed from society because he was Catholic; his poor health only alienated him further. Although he never married, he had many female friends to whom he wrote witty letters. Allegedly, his lifelong friend, Martha Blount, was his lover.
In May, 1709, Pope's Pastorals was published in the sixth part of Tonson's Poetical Miscellanies. This brought Pope instant fame, and was followed by An Essay on Criticism, published in May 1711 , which was equally well received.
Around 1711, Pope made friends with Tory writers John Gay, Jonathan Swift, Thomas Parnell and John Arbuthnot, who together formed the satirical Scriblerus Club. The aim of the club was to satirise ignorance and pedantry in the form of the fictional scholar Martinus Scriblerus. He also made friends with Whig writers Joseph Addison and Richard Steele. In March 1713, Windsor Forest was published to great acclaim.
Pope's next well-known poem was The Rape of the Lock, first published in 1712, with a revised version published in 1714. This is sometimes considered Pope's most popular poem because it was a mock-heroic epic, written to make fun of a high-society quarrel between Arabella Fermor (the "Belinda" of the poem) and Lord Petre, who had snipped a lock of hair from her head without her permission. In his poem he treats his characters in an epic style; when the Baron steals her hair and she tries to get it back, it flies into the air and turns into a star.
During Pope's friendship with Joseph Addison, he contributed to Addison's play Cato, as well as writing for The Guardian and The Spectator. Around this time he began the work of translating the Iliad, which was a painstaking process – publication began in 1715 and did not end until 1720.
In 1714, the political situation worsened with the death of Queen Anne and the disputed succession between the Hanoverians and the Jacobites, leading to the attempted Jacobite Rebellion of 1715. Though Pope as a Catholic might have been expected to have supported the Jacobites because of his religious and political affiliations, according to Maynard Mack, "where Pope himself stood on these matters can probably never be confidently known". These events led to an immediate downturn in the fortunes of the Tories, and Pope's friend, Henry St John, 1st Viscount Bolingbroke fled to France.
Essay on CriticismEdit
An Essay on Criticism was first published anonymously on 15 May 1711. Pope began writing the poem early in his career and took about three years to finish it.
At the time the poem was published, the heroic couplet style in which it was written was a moderately new genre of poetry, and Pope's most ambitious work, An Essay on Criticism was an attempt to identify and refine his own positions as a poet and critic. The poem was said to be a response to an ongoing debate on the question of whether poetry should be natural, or written according to predetermined artificial rules inherited from the classical past.
The poem begins with a discussion of the standard rules that govern poetry by which a critic passes judgment. Pope comments on the classical authors who dealt with such standards, and the authority that he believed should be accredited to them. He discusses the laws to which a critic should adhere while critiquing poetry, and points out that critics serve an important function in aiding poets with their works, as opposed to the practice of attacking them.
The final section of An Essay on Criticism discusses the moral qualities and virtues inherent in the ideal critic, who, Pope claims, is also the ideal man.
Translation of the IliadEdit
Pope had been fascinated by Homer since childhood. In 1713, he announced his plans to publish a translation of the Iliad. The work would be available by subscription, with one volume appearing every year over the course of six years. Pope secured a revolutionary deal with the publisher Bernard Lintot, which brought him two hundred guineas a volume, a vast sum at the time.
His translation of the Iliad appeared between 1715 and 1720. It was acclaimed by Samuel Johnson as "a performance which no age or nation could hope to equal" (although the classical scholar Richard Bentley wrote: "It is a pretty poem, Mr. Pope, but you must not call it Homer.").
Twickenham and the GrottoEdit
The money made from the Homer translation allowed Pope to move to a villa at Twickenham in 1719, where he created his now famous grotto and gardens. Pope decorated the grotto with alabaster, marbles, and ores such as mundic and crystals. He also used Cornish diamonds, stalactites, spars, snakestones and spongestone. Here and there in the grotto he placed mirrors, expensive embellishments for the time. A camera obscura was installed to delight his visitors, of whom there were many. The serendipitous discovery of a spring during its excavations enabled the subterranean retreat to be filled with the relaxing sound of trickling water, which would quietly echo around the chambers. Pope was said to have remarked that: "Were it to have nymphs as well - it would be complete in everything." Although the house and gardens have long since been demolished, much of this grotto still survives. The grotto now lies beneath Radnor House Independent Co-ed School, and is occasionally opened to the public.
Translation of the OdysseyEdit
Encouraged by the success of the Iliad, Pope translated the Odyssey. The translation appeared in 1726, but this time, confronted with the arduousness of the task, he enlisted the help of William Broome and Elijah Fenton. Pope attempted to conceal the extent of the collaboration (he himself translated only twelve books, Broome eight and Fenton four), but the secret leaked out. It did some damage to Pope's reputation for a time, but not to his profits.
Edition of Shakespeare's works Edit
In this period, Pope was also employed by the publisher Jacob Tonson to produce an opulent new edition of Shakespeare. When it finally appeared, in 1725, this edition silently "regularised" Shakespeare's metre and rewrote his verse in a number of places. Pope also demoted about 1560 lines of Shakespearean material to footnotes, arguing that they were so "excessively bad" that Shakespeare could never have written them. (Other lines were excluded from the edition altogether.) In 1726, the lawyer, poet, and pantomime deviser Lewis Theobald published a scathing pamphlet called Shakespeare Restored, which catalogued the errors in Pope's work and suggested a number of revisions to the text. Pope and Theobald were probably well acquainted, and Pope no doubt interpreted this as a violation of the rules of friendship.
A 2nd edition of Pope's Shakespeare appeared in 1728, but aside from making some minor revisions to the Preface, it seems that Pope had little to do with it. Most later 18th-century editors of Shakespeare dismissed Pope's creatively motivated approach to textual criticism. Pope's Preface, however, continued to be highly rated. It was suggested that Shakespeare's texts were thoroughly contaminated by actors' interpolations and they would influence editors for most of the 18th century.
Later career: Essay on Man and satiresEdit
Though the Dunciad was first published anonymously in Dublin, its authorship was not in doubt. As well as Theobald, it pilloried a host of other "hacks", "scribblers" and "dunces". Mack called its publication "in many ways the greatest act of folly in Pope's life". Though a masterpiece, "it bore bitter fruit. It brought the poet in his own time the hostility of its victims and their sympathizers, who pursued him implacably from then on with a few damaging truths and a host of slanders and lies...". The threats were physical too. According to his sister, Pope would never go for a walk without the company of his Great Dane, Bounce, and a pair of loaded pistols in his pocket.
In 1731, Pope published his "Epistle to Burlington", on the subject of architecture, the first of four poems which would later be grouped under the title Moral Essays (1731-35). In the epistle, Pope ridiculed the bad taste of the aristocrat "Timon". Pope's enemies claimed he was attacking the Duke of Chandos and his estate, Cannons. Though the charge was untrue, it did Pope a great deal of damage.
Around this time, Pope began to grow discontented with the ministry of Robert Walpole and drew closer to the opposition led by Bolingbroke, who had returned to England in 1725. Inspired by Bolingbroke's philosophical ideas, Pope wrote An Essay on Man (1733–4). He published the 1st part anonymously, in a cunning and successful ploy to win praise from his fiercest critics and enemies.
Despite the Essay being written in heroic couplets, many translations into European languages rapidly followed, especially in Germany, where the Essay was regarded as a serious contribution to philosophy.
The Imitations of Horace followed (1733-1738). These were written in the popular Augustan form of the "imitation" of a classical poet, not so much a translation of his works as an updating with contemporary references. Pope used the model of Horace to satirise life under [George II, especially what he regarded as the widespread corruption tainting the country under Walpole's influence and the poor quality of the court's artistic taste.
Pope also added a wholly original poem, "An Epistle to Doctor Arbuthnot," as an introduction to the "Imitations". It reviews his own literary career and includes the famous portraits of Lord Hervey ("Sporus") and Addison ("Atticus"). In 1738 he wrote the Universal Prayer.
After 1738, Pope wrote little. He toyed with the idea of composing a patriotic epic in blank verse called Brutus, but only the opening lines survive. His major work in these years was revising and expanding his masterpiece The Dunciad. Book Four appeared in 1742, and a complete revision of the whole poem in the following year. In this version, Pope replaced the "hero", Lewis Theobald, with the poet laureate Colley Cibber as "king of dunces". By now Pope's health, which had never been good, was failing, and he died in his villa surrounded by friends on 30 May 1744. On the previous day, 29 May 1744, Pope called for a priest and received the Last Rites of the Catholic Church.
Pope's position as a poet has been the subject of much contention among critics, and on the whole is lower than that assigned him by his contemporaries and immediate successors. Of the higher poetic qualities, imagination, sympathy, insight, and pathos, he had no great share; but for the work which in his original writings, as distinguished from translations, he set himself to do, his equipment was supreme, and the medium which he used – the heroic couplet – he brought to the highest technical perfection of which it is capable. He wrote for his own age, and in temper and intellectual and spiritual outlook, such as it was, he exactly reflected and interpreted it. In the forging of condensed, pointed, and sparkling maxims of life and criticism he has no equal, and in painting a portrait Dryden alone is his rival; while in the Rape of the Lock he has produced the best mock-heroic poem in existence. Almost no author except Shakespeare is so often quoted.
by Mark Pattison
Pope is not only the foremost literary figure of his age, but the representative man of a system or style of writing which for 100 years before and after him pervaded English poetry. The writers in this style are sometimes spoken of as the "school of Pope." But the title is a misnomer. A school coexists along with other schools from which it is distinguished by some special characteristics; all the contemporaneous schools taken together bearing the common and more general stamp of their age.
A better denomination for the period of our literature which extends from the Restoration to the French Revolution is "the classical period." And this is not to be taken to mean that English writers now imitated the Greek and Latin writers, or consciously formed themselves upon classical models, as the Latinists of the Renaissance imitated Cicero and Virgil.
English writers had begun to perceive that there was such an art as the art of writing; that it was not enough to put down words upon paper anyhow, provided they conveyed your meaning. They found that sounds were capable of modulation, and that pleasure could be given by the arrangement of words, as well as instruction conveyed by their import. The public ear was touched by this new harmony, and began imperatively to demand its satisfaction; and from that moment the rude volubility of the older time seemed to it as the gabble of savages.
A poem was no longer to be a story told with picturesque imagery, but was to be a composition in symmetry and keeping. A thought or a feeling was not to be blurted out in the first words that came, but was to be matured by reflection and reduced to its simplest expression. Condensation, terseness, neatness, finish—all qualities hitherto unheard of in English—had to be studied. It was found to be possible to please by your manner as well as by your matter. And having been shown to be possible, it became necessary. No writer who neglected the graces of style could gain acceptance by the public. This fastidiousness of the public ear required on the part of writers greatly increased labor. It was no longer possible to take a sheet of paper, and write out your thoughts as fast as the pen would move. "The mob of gentlemen who wrote with ease" were distanced in the race. It was evident that, under the new standard thus set up, the prize would be to him who should be willing to take most trouble about his style.
Pope as classicistEdit
Pope was willing. As a boy he took as his life’s lesson the advice given him by "knowing Walsh," who used to tell him "there was one way left of excelling; for though we had several great poets, we never had any one great poet that was correct; and desired me to make that my study and aim." De Quincey, misconstruing Walsh’s meaning, has been at the pains to show that Pope’s verses abound in grammatical incorrectnesses. "The language," he says, "does not realise the idea; it simply suggests or hints it." That conveyance by suggestion, instead of a perfect and plenary deliverance, is just what Pope aimed at, and what Walsh inculcated, though he may not have chosen the very best word for what he meant.
Pope at once took the lead in the race of writers because he took more pains than they. He laboured day and night to form himself for his purpose, that viz. of becoming a writer of finished verse. To improve his mind, to enlarge his view of the world, to store up knowledge—these were things unknown to him. Any ideas, any thoughts, such as custom, chance, society or sect may suggest, are good enough, but each idea must be turned over till it has been reduced to its neatest and most epigrammatic expression.
If this definition of the literary aim which dominated all writing during the hundred years which followed 1660 be just, it follows from it that the period would be more favourable to prose than to poetry. What in fact came to pass was that a compromise was effected between poetry and prose, and the leading writers adopted as the most telling form of utterance prosaic verse, metre without poetry. It is by courtesy that the versifiers of this century from Dryden to Churchill are styled poets, seeing that the literature they have bequeathed us wants just that element of inspired feeling, which is present in the feeblest of the Elizabethans.
But if these versifiers are not poets in the noblest sense of the term, it does not follow that what they produced is destitute of value. In the romantic reaction at the beginning of this century, the worthlessness of 18th-century poetry was part of the revolutionary creed. Sheer lawlessness was then admired, while labor was disdained as the badge of an unimaginative and artificial school.
The sounder judgment of a riper period of criticism can now do justice to the writers of our classical period. What they had not got we know well enough. They wanted inspiration, lofty sentiment, the heroic soul, chivalrous devotion, the inner eye of faith—above all, love and sympathy. They could not mean greatly. But such meaning as they had they laboured to express in the neatest, most terse and pointed form which our language is capable of. If not poets they were literary artists. They showed that a couplet can do the work of a page, and a single line produce effects which in the infancy of writing would require sentences.
Of these masters of literary craft Pope is the most consummate. In 2 directions, in that of condensing and pointing his meaning, and in that of drawing the utmost harmony of sound out of the couplet, Pope carried versification far beyond the point at which it was when he took it up. Historical parallels are proverbially misleading. Yet the analogy between what Virgil did for the Latin hexameter as he received it from Lucretius, and Pope’s maturing the 10-syllable couplet which he found as Dryden left it, is sufficiently close to be of use in aiding us to realise Pope’s merit. Because, after Pope, his trick of versification became common property, and "every warbler had his tune by heart," we are apt to overlook the merit of the 1st invention.
Pope as society writerEdit
But epigrammatic force and musical flow are not the sole elements of Pope’s reputation. The matter which he worked up into his verse has a permanent value, and is indeed one of the most precious heirlooms which the eighteenth century has bequeathed us. And here we must distinguish between Pope when he attempts general themes, and Pope when he draws that which he knew, viz. the social life of his own day.
When in the Pastorals he writes of natural beauty, in the Essay on Criticism he lays down the rules of writing, in the Essay on Man he versifies Leibnitzian optimism, he does not rise above the herd of 18th-century writers, except in so far as his skill of language is more accomplished than theirs. The Rape of the Lock and The Dunciad have a little more interest, because they treat of contemporary manners. But even in these poems, because the incidents are trivial and the personages contemptible, Pope is not more than pretty in The Rape of the Lock, and forcible, where force is ludicrously misplaced, in The Dunciad.
It is where he comes to describe the one thing which he knew, and about which he felt sympathy and antipathy – the court and town of his time – in the Moral Essays, and the Satires and Epistles, that Pope found the proper material on which to lay out his elaborate workmanship. And even in these capital works we must distinguish between Pope’s general theorems and his particular portraits. Where he moralises, or deduces general principles, he is superficial, 2nd-hand, and 1-sided as the veriest scribbler. For example: in the splendid lines on the Duke of Wharton (Mor. Ess. 1. 174) we must separate the childish theory of "the ruling passion" from the telling accumulation of epigram on epigram which follows under that spurious rubric. Or again, we might instance his Epistle to Augustus (Ep. 5) sparkling with lines of wit and pregnant sense, and yet offering as our literary history the grotesque theory, that the French style, which came in with the Restoration, was a consequence of the conquest of France in the 15th century.
In short, Pope, wherever he recedes from what was immediately close to him, the manners, passions, prejudices, sentiments, of his own day, has only such merit — little enough — which wit divorced from truth can have. He is at his best only where the delicacies and subtle felicities of his diction are employed to embody some transient phase of contemporary feeling. Pope has small knowledge of books. Though he was, as Sir W. Hamilton says, "a curious reader," he read for style, not for facts. Of history, of science, of nature, of anything except "the town" he knows nothing. He just shares the ordinary prejudices of the ordinary "wit" of his day. He was a Tory-Catholic, like any other Tory-Catholic of George II’s day. His sentiments reflect the social medium in which he lived.
The complex web of society, with its indefinable shades, its minute personal affinities and repulsions, is the world in which Pope lived and moved, and which he has drawn in a few vivid lines, with the keenness and intensity of which there is nothing in our literature that can compare. Clarendon’s portraits in his gallery of characters are more complete and discriminating, and infinitely more candid. But they do not flash the personage, or the situation, upon the imagination, and fix it in the memory, as one of Pope’s incisive lines does. Like all the greatest poets, Pope is individual and local. He can paint with his full power only what he sees. When he attempts abstract truth, general themes, past history, his want of knowledge makes itself felt in feeble and distorted views.
The 1st production of Pope to appear in print was his Pastorals, published 1709, when the author was 21, but written some years earlier. As the work of a youth of 17 they are a marvelous feat of melodious versification. In any other respect they are only worthy of mention as already exemplifying the false taste which Pope never got rid of when he attempted any other theme than manners.
Of this false taste his Messiah is an elaborate specimen. This poem is an adaptation of Virgil’s 4th Eclogue, Pollio, to Christ, grafting upon the lines of the Latin poet the images supplied by the prophecies of Isaiah. The ingenuity with which the double imitation is carried through is only surpassed by the mastery shown over the melody of the couplet, and the exhibition of a complete poetical vocabulary. These brilliant qualities carried by storm the admiration of Pope’s contemporaries, and continued to command the homage of the eighteenth century down to Johnson.
Language experience, enforced by the precept and example of Wordsworth, makes our age too keenly feel that the pathos and sublimity of the Hebrew prophet are destroyed by the artificial embroidery with which Pope has overlaid them. Pope’s Messiah reads to us like a sickly paraphrase, in which all the majesty of the original is dissipated. "Righteousness" becomes "dewy nectar"; "sheep" are the "fleecy care"; the call to Jerusalem to "arise and shine" is turned into an invocation to "exalt her tow’ry head." The "fir-tree and box-tree" of Isaiah are "the spiry fir and shapely box." In his translation of the prediction "the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice den," Pope makes the cockatrice a "crested basilisk," and the asp "a speckled snake"; they have both scales of a "green lustre," and a "forky tongue," and with this last the "smiling infant shall innocently play."
"The leopard," says Isaiah, "shall lie down with the kid, and the young lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them"; Pope could not leave this exquisite picture undecorated, and with him "boys in flowery bands the tiger lead." The alternative is an example of the justice of De Quincey’s observation that "the Arcadia of Pope’s age was the spurious Arcadia of the opera theatre." (Elwin.)
Essay on CriticismEdit
The Essay on Criticism appeared in 1711. This is a didactic poem of which the remote prototype is Horace’s Ars poetica, and the immediate, Boileau’s Art poétique. It differs from these models in its subject, which is the Art of Criticism. To Dr. Johnson this production appeared "to display such extent of comprehension, such nicety of distinction, such acquaintance with mankind, and such knowledge both of ancient and modern learning, as are not often attained by the matured age and the longest experience."
This verdict of Johnson may be cited to show the great advance which criticism has made in England in the course of a century. We should now say that the precepts of Pope’s Essay are conventional truisms, the ordinary rules of composition which may be found in all school manuals, and which are taught to boys as part of their prosody. "The Essay," says De Quincey, "is a mere versification, like a metrical multiplication table, of commonplaces the most mouldy with which criticism has baited its rat-traps." It required very little reading of the French textbooks to find the maxims which Pope has here strung together. But he has dressed them so neatly, and turned them out with such sparkle and point, that these truisms have acquired a weight not their own, and they circulate as proverbs among us in virtue of their pithy form rather than their truth.
Pope told Spence that he had "gone through all the best critics"’ specifying Quintilian, Rapin and Le Bossu. But whatever trouble he took in collecting what to say, his main effort is expended upon how to say it. The Essay on Criticism abounds in those striking couplets which have lodged in all our memories, and given their last and abiding shape to dicta which have been extant in substance since literature began. A good example of this art is supplied by the couplet:–
- ‘True wit is nature to advantage dressed;
- What oft was thought, but ne’er so well expressed.’
But though the Essay abounds with sparkle and point and memorable lines, it is very far from being composed throughout of nothing but such. Besides the general fault, which pervades all Pope’s longer efforts, of want of coherent texture and consecutiveness of argument, the Essay on Criticism offers too many weak lines, obscure expressions, and monotonous rhymes. Negligences of versification, such as no piece of Pope’s composition is entirely free from, abound in the Essay. One instance of this slovenliness is the want of variety in his endings. There are 12 couplets rhyming to wit, and 10 rhyming to sense.
- ‘Unhappy wit, like most mistaken things,
- Atones not for that envy which it brings.’
"Mistaken things" here means "things wrongly taken by others," which is not the natural sense of the words; and "atones" stands for "compensates."
- ‘But sense survived when merry jests were passed.’
It requires explanation that "were passed" here means "had passed away."
- ‘Critics …
- Form short ideas, and offend in arts
- As most in manners, from a love to parts.’
In this 1 couplet are 3 expressions, ‘short ideas,’ ‘offend in arts,’ and ‘love to parts,’ the meaning of which has to be guessed, or gathered from the context; it is not apparent on the face of the words used. In some styles of poetry enigmatical expression is not a fault; in an Aeschylean chorus it is of the essence of the charm that the revelations should be shrouded in clouds. But Pope’s verse, like French prose, is constructed on the principle of being immediately intelligible; the moment it is not so, its raison d’être is gone.
Rape of the LockEdit
The Rape of the Lock is a mock-heroic poem, the style of which was suggested to Pope by Boileau’s Lutrin. Pope followed his model in entitling his work "An heroicomical poem," the epithet employed by Boileau in the 1709 edition of his Lutrin. It was founded upon an incident which had caused great commotion in the circle of Catholic families in which Pope, though not himself a member of it, had friends.
Lord Petre, in a moment of youthful frolic, had cut off a lock of hair from Miss Arabella Fermor’s head, a liberty which was keenly resented, and had caused a violent quarrel between the families. Mr. Caryll, a Sussex squire, nephew to the Mr. John Caryll who had been Secretary to Mary, James II’s Queen, suggested to Pope to write a poem, which by treating the incident playfully, might induce the offended family to take a more lenient view of what they regarded as an outrage.
This was the motive of the 1st draft of the poem, as it was printed in Tonson’s Miscellany, 1712, in 2 cantos, and no more than 330 lines. This 1st sketch was written off in a fortnight, but its author, pleased with the success of his work, elaborated it afterwards, and enlarged it especially by the introduction of what he calls the "machinery," or the agency of supernatural beings of the fairy species, whom he calls "sylphs." It is universally admitted that the later additions, and this invention especially, are great improvements, thus forming an exception to the rule that a poet should never recast, or supplement, a piece which he has turned out well in the 1st instance.
The heroine of the poem, Belinda, is Miss Fermor; the Baron is Lord Petre; Thalestris is Mrs. Morley; Sir Plume is Mrs. Morley’s brother, Sir George Brown of Keddington. Pope obtained permission to dedicate the poem to Miss Fermor; but notwithstanding that he takes care to tell her that "Belinda resembles her in nothing but in beauty," the lady was more offended than flattered by the representation given of her. Sir George Brown was indignant at being made to talk nothing but nonsense. In bringing about its professed aim, the reconciliation of the 2 families, the poem was entirely unsuccessful.
But with the public it was otherwise. On its first publication Addison pronounced it a delicious little thing; "merum sal." Criticism the most hostile to Pope, of which there has been abundance in the modern reaction against his influence, has agreed to spare the Rape. Macaulay pronounces it his best poem. De Quincey, who never spares Pope when he is weak, goes beyond Macaulay, and declares it "the most exquisite monument of playful fancy that universal literature offers." The Rape of the Lock, writes Hazlitt,– :is the most exquisite specimen of filigree work ever invented. It is made of gauze and silver spangles. The most glittering appearance is given to everything; to paste, pomatum, billets-doux, and patches. Airs, languid airs breathe around; the atmosphere is perfumed with affectation. A toilet is described with the solemnity of an altar raised to the goddess of vanity, and the history of a silver bodkin is given with all the pomp of heraldry. No pains are spared, no profusion of ornament, no splendour of poetic diction to set off the meanest things…. It is the triumph of insignificance, the apotheosis of foppery and folly. It is the perfection of the mock-heroic. Conington thinks "there can be little to say about a poem so exquisite in its peculiar style of art as to make the task of searching for faults almost hopeless, that of commending beauties simply impertinent.
Such warmth of encomium as this is at least testimony to the admiration which the skill of the poet can still excite in the reader. But it is criticism which touches the workmanship rather than the work. Pope’s execution is so clever as always to charm us even when his subject is most devoid of interest. The secret of the peculiar fascination of The Rape of the Lock lies, I believe, not merely in the art and management, but in the fact that here, for the first time, Pope is writing of that which he knew, of the life he saw and the people he lived with.
For Windsor Forest, though he lived in it, he had no eyes; but a drawing-room, a fop, and a belle, these were the objects which had struck his young fancy when he emerged from the linen draper’s villa, and he had studied them. About these things he can be real and truthful; when he writes of Abelard and Heloise he is making believe, he is an actor trying to think himself into his part. Only in his Satires and Epistles and in the characters of his Moral Essays will he again succeed in hitting upon congenial matter on which to lay out his extraordinary power of versification.
Nor is the reflection of social life and manners which the Rape offers confined to superficial forms only. The most intimate sentiments of the time find their representation here. As an instance we may point to the mean estimation of women. Contempt veiled under the show of deference, a mockery of chivalry, its form without its spirit,— this is the attitude assumed towards women by the poet in this piece.
"The world of fashion is displayed in its most gorgeous and attractive hues, and everywhere the emptiness is visible beneath the outward splendour. The beauty of Belinda, the details of her toilet, her troops of admirers, are all set forth with unrivalled grace and fascination, and all bear the impress of vanity and vexation. Nothing can exceed the art with which the satire is blended with the pomp, mocking without disturbing the unsubstantial gewgaw. The double vein is kept up with sustained skill in the picture of the outward charms and the inward frivolity of women.
- ‘With varying vanities from every part
- They shift the moving toyshop of their heart’;
this is the tone throughout. Their hearts are toyshops. They reverse the relative importance of things; the little with them is great, and the great little."’ (Elwin.)
This feeling towards women is not the poet’s idiosyncrasy; here he is but the representative of his age. The degradation of woman in England does not date from the Restoration. It was complete before the Commonwealth, and is aptly symbolised in the behaviour of James I, who compelled all ladies to kneel on being presented to him. But the combination of the forms of chivalrous devotion with the reality of cynical contempt, was the peculiar tone of manners which came in with the court of Charles II, and gradually spread downwards through the lower social strata. The poem in our literature which gives the most finished representation of this sentiment is The Rape of the Lock.
It was to the translation of Homer, undertaken as a commercial speculation, that Pope owed, more than to anything else he produced, the great reputation he attained in his lifetime. The verdict of later times has reversed the decision of an age little versed in Greek, and whose artificial manners were alien from the primitive simplicity and savagery of Homer.
Pope translated from the Latin version, from the French of Dacier, from the English of Chapman. But it was less his ignorance of Greek, than his theory of poetical expression, which led him astray. His solicitude is entirely spent upon the words he is using, and not upon the thing he is describing. He introduced ornaments which are not only foreign, but false and out of keeping. He reproduced neither the naiveté nor the dignity of the original.
Pope’s moonlight scene provoked Wordsworth’s remark that "the eye of the poet had never been steadily fixed upon its object," and that "it shows to what a low state knowledge of the most obvious and important phenomena had sunk."In the moonlight scene from the 8th Book, we have in these few lines more than average infidelity to the original; we have unhomeric embroidery, such as "refulgent lamp of night"; but we have at the same time 24 lines (11 in the Greek) of finished versification, the rapid, facile, and melodious flow of which, concentrating all the felicities of Pope’s higher style, has never been surpassed in English poetry.
The translation of Homer occupied Pope during the 10 best years of his life. The Odyssey was finished in 1725, and Pope turned to very different work, the composition of The Dunciad. The Dunciad is a personal satire, or lampoon, directed against the small authors of the day, who are bespattered with much mud and little wit, without any pretence of disguise, and under their own names. The Dunciad has been the parent of a numerous progeny: The Scribleriad, The Baviad, The Pursuits of Literature, English Bards and Scotch Reviewers, all of which have had much vogue in their day, and lost their savor when the generation they libelled has passed away.
It must not be concealed that critics of reputation have spoken with approbation of this amalgam of dirt, ribaldry and petty spite. De Quincey has allowed himself to say that The Dunciad is Pope’s "greatest work." Thackeray, who had no toleration for similar offences when Swift was the offender, thought that the conclusion of The Dunciad "shows the author to be the equal of all poets of all times"; and Conington considers the poem as "unquestionably a very great satire."
It certainly shows Pope’s peculiar skill as an artist in its perfection. He has now (1727) attained a complete mastery over the couplet, and can compel it to do the work he requires of it. To the literary historian the value of The Dunciad is great, as a chapter of contemporary life, a record of small celebrities, otherwise lost to fame. But of its absolute merit as a poem, a just taste must agree with Taine (Litt. Angl. t. 4), that "seldom has so much talent been expended to produce so much ennui."
The motive of the satire is not the desire of the moral reformer to improve mankind, but the rancour and malevolence of literary jealousy. And against whom is this petty irritation felt? Against feeble journalists, brutal pamphleteers, starving rhymesters, a crew of hackney authors, bohemians of ink and paper below literature. To sting and wound these unfortunates gave Pope pleasure as he sate, meditating stabs, in his elegant villa, the resort of the rich and the noble! By attacking these, he lowers himself to their level.
The 1st poet of the age — of the century — chooses to hand himself down to posterity as bandying scurrilities with the meanest scribblers, hired defamers, the banditti of the printing-office, ready at the shortest notice to deliver half a crown’s worth of slander. To be even with these miserable outcasts Pope condescended to employ one of the worst of them, Savage, as a spy and informer to bring him gossip from their haunts. When every other taunt fails him Pope can gibbet the poverty of these unsuccessful authors as a crime, and turn them into ridicule for wanting a dinner. The superfluous vehemence with which he rails against these insignificant enemies betrays the hollowness of the pretence that the satire was aimed not at individuals, but at the spirit of dullness or stupid conservatism.
Of Pope’s ignorance of everything, except society and the art of versifying, The Dunciad offers a signal instance. The 1st scholar in Europe, 1 possessing a genius for criticism to which philologians of all countries still pay admiring homage, was an Englishman, and a contemporary of Pope. Pope looked on Richard Bentley but knew him not. The lines in which the great critic is quizzed, are a typical specimen of the fatal flaw in Pope’s writings, viz. that the workmanship is not supported by the matter; a palpable falsehood is enshrined in immortal lines.
Essay on ManEdit
The composition of The Dunciad had revealed to Pope where his true strength lay, in blending personalities with moral reflection. During the next decade, 1730–40, he confined himself to the 1 style of composition upon which his reputation as an English poet must rest, and in which he has never had a rival. The pieces which appear in his collected works under the various titles of Moral Essays, Essay on Man, Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot, Imitations of Horace, Epilogue to the Satires, were brought out singly at various times during these 10 years.
The most celebrated of these poems are the 4 epistles addressed to Lord Bolingbroke, and known by the collective title of the Essay on Man. It is a didactic or argumentative poem, not on Man, as the title bears, but a théodicée or vindication of the ways of Providence. The view attempted to be presented is that of Leibnitzian optimism; the end of the universe is the general good of the whole; it was impossible to realise this without admitting partial evil. Man is not the end of creation, but only one in a graduated scale of beings; it is his pride which leads him to complain when he finds that everything has not been ordered for his benefit.
The reasoning of the Essay on Man is feeble, the philosophy either trite or inconsistent, or obscure. But the less the intrinsic value of the argument, the more is our admiration excited by the literary skill and brilliant execution displayed in the management. The particular illustrations, the episodes and side-lights, always sparkle with wit, and are sometimes warm with feeling, when the main thesis is jejune and frigid. "Whilst Pope frequently wastes his skill in gilding refuse, he is really most sensitive to the noblest sentiments of his contemporaries, and when he has good materials to work upon, his verse glows with unusual fervour." (Leslie Stephen.) Ruskin points to the couplet –
- ‘Never elated, while one man’s oppressed;
- Never dejected whilst another ’s blessed’
– as "the most complete, concise, and lofty expression of moral temper existing in English words." "If the 'Essay on Man' were shivered into fragments, it would not lose its value; for it is precisely its details which constitute its moral as well as literary beauties." (A.W. Ward.)
The Moral Essays consist of 5 epistles composed at different times, and placed in the works under a common title. Of these the same may be said as of the Essay on Man, that the ethical doctrine is not worthy of the exquisite workmanship. Our extract is from the first epistle, and includes the celebrated character of Philip Lord Wharton, a piece of portraiture which ranks with those of Addison, the Duchess of Marlborough, Lord Hervey, and the death-bed of Villiers Duke of Buckingham.
They are masterpieces of English versification, medals cut with such sharp outlines and such vigour of hand that they have lost none of their freshness by lapse of time. ‘When the poet engraves one of these figures, his compendious imagery, the surprises of his juxtaposition, the sustained and multiplied antitheses, the terse texture of each line, the incessant shocks from the play of his eloquence directed and concentrated continually upon one point, from these things the memory receives an impression which it never loses.’ (Taine.)
Satires and EpistlesEdit
Pope’s peculiar powers found their most perfect development in the pieces, which in the collected works are entitled Satires and Epistles of Horace imitated. Casually suggested by Bolingbroke in the course of conversation, and calling themselves an imitation, these "satires and epistles" are the most original of Pope’s writings, and the most natural and spontaneous outcome of his genius.
These pieces, 9 in number, including a Prologue, and 2 Epilogues, form a total of some 2,000 lines, and were the product of the 4 years 1735-1738, and therefore of Pope’s meridian period between his 40th and 50th year. The ferocity of Pope’s invective and the malice of his antipathies are here subdued, and though the coarser horse-laugh of the old time breaks out every now and then, yet on the whole the finer play of sarcasm and witty innuendo has taken the place of hard names and slander.
The "Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot; or, Prologue to the Satires" may be singled out as Pope’s most characteristic piece.It contains the 2 famous portraits, that of Lord Hervey (Sporus) and that of Addison (Atticus).
The libel, for such it is, on Lord Hervey cannot be excused even by the rancor of political party. This accomplished nobleman was Vice-Chamberlain in the court of George II, a position easy enough to a mere fribble, but which was sure to mark out a man of parts and wit such as Lord Hervey, as the object of hatred to the tory and jacobite opposition. Even as art, Pope must be considered in this sketch to have failed from overcharging his canvas with odious and disgusting images. Yet "it is impossible not to admire, however we may condemn, the art by which acknowledged wit, beauty and gentle manners, the Queen’s favour, and even a valetudinary diet are travestied into the most odious defects and offences." (Croker.)
The satire on Addison, in a more refined style, but not less unjust in fact, had been written 20 years before, during Addison’s lifetime. Pope regarded the piece with the affection with which an author regards the product of much time and labor; and he had meditated each stab in this finished lampoon for years. Having printed it separately in 1727, he now finally adapted it into this "Prologue to the Satires," only suppressing the real name, but not concealing it under the thin disguise of ‘Atticus.’ The art of these malignant lines is much greater than that of those on Lord Hervey. Pope here not only avoids any images which were in themselves offensive, but allows his victim many virtues and accomplishments.
By the mid-18th century new fashions in poetry started to emerge. A decade after Pope's death, Joseph Warton claimed that Pope's style of poetry was not the most excellent form of the art. The Romantic movement that rose to prominence in early 19th-century England was more ambivalent towards his work. Lord Byron identified Pope as one of his chief influences (believing his scathing satire of contemporary English literature English Bards and Scotch Reviewers a continuance of Pope's tradition), while William Wordsworth found Pope's style fundamentally too decadent to represent the human condition truly.
In the 20th century an effort to revive Pope's reputation began and was successful. Pope's work was now found to be full of references to the people and places of his time and these aided individuals' understanding of the past. The postwar period stressed the power of Pope's poetry and recognised that Pope's immersion in Christian and Biblical culture gave great depth to his poetry. Maynard Mack thought very highly of Pope's poetry. He argued that Pope's humane moral vision demanded as much respect as his technical excellence. In the years 1953–1967 the production of the definitive Twickenham edition of Pope's poems was published in ten volumes.
The last decades of the 20th century brought further challenges to Pope's literary reputation. These critics were prompted by theoretical perspectives, such as Marxism, feminism and other forms of post-structuralism. Hence Hammond focused on Pope's singular achievement in making an independent living solely from his writing. Laura Brown's 'Alexander Pope' (1985) adopted a Marxist approach and accused Pope of becoming an apologist for the oppressive upper classes. A year after Brown's study, Brean Hammond published an article about Pope inspired by Cultural Materialism in the British context and the USA-based New Historicism. Following Hammond's approach, Raymond Williams explained art as a set of practices influenced by broad cultural factors rather than simply the vague ideas of genius alone.
In 'Politics and Poetics of Transgression' (1985) Peter Stallybrass and Allon White claimed that Pope drew upon the low culture which he despised in order to produce his own 'high art'. They asserted that Pope was implicated in the very material he was attempting to exclude, an observation not far different from the arguments of Pope's contemporaries.
Feminists also criticised Pope's works. Ellen Pollak's 'The Poetics of Sexual Myth' (1985) argued that Pope followed an anti-feminist tradition. Pollak believed that Pope regarded women as inferior to men both intellectually and physically. Carolyn Williams identified a crisis in the male role during the 18th century in Britain and discussed its impact on Pope as well as on his writing.
In popular cultureEdit
Pope's line, "Fools rush in where angels fear to tread" was used in the title of E.M. Forster's 1st novel, Where Angels Fear to Tread (1905). That line was also used as the 1st line of "Fools Rush In," a Johnny Mercer/Rube Bloom pop song from the 1930's.
- 1700: Ode on Solitude
- 1709: Pastorals
- 1711: An Essay on Criticism
- 1712: The Rape of the Lock (enlarged in 1714)
- 1713: Windsor Forest
- 1715-1720: Translation of The Iliad]
- The Temple of Fame: A vision. London: Printed for Bernard Lintott, 1715.
- 1717: Eloisa to Abelard
- 1717: Three Hours After Marriage
- 1717: Elegy to the Memory of an Unfortunate Lady
- 1723–1725: The Works of Shakespear, in Six Volumes
- 1725-1726: Translation of The Odyssey
- 1727: Peri Bathous, Or the Art of Sinking in Poetry
- 1728: The Dunciad
- 1733–1734: An Essay on Man. London: Lintot, 1733; Dublin: S. Powell for George Risk, George Ewing, & William Smith, 1733. w
- 1735: The Prologue to the Satires (see the Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot and Who breaks a butterfly upon a wheel?)
- Works. London:W. Bowyer, for Bernard Lintot, 1717. Volume II,
- Works. London: L. Gilliver, 1735. Volume II, Volume VI
- Works: In four volumes complete. (4 volumes), London: Printed for the Editor, 1778. Volume I, Volume II, Volume III, Volume IV.'
- Works: In nine volumes complete (with notes by Joseph Warton). (9 volumes), London: Printed for B. Law et al, 1797. Volume I, Volume II, Volume III, Volume IV, Volume V, Volume VI, Volume VII, Volume VIII, Volume IX.
- Works: In verse and prose (edited with a memoir by Rev. William Lisle Bowles). (10 volumes), London: Printed for J. Johnson, 1806. Volume I, Volume II, Volume III, Volume IV, Volume V, Volume VI, Volume VII, Volume VIII, Volume IX, Volume X.
- Works (edited by William Roscoe). (10 volumes), London: J. Rivington, 1824.
- Prose Works (edited by Norman Ault & Rosemary Cowler). (2 volumes), Oxford, UK: Blackwell, 1936, 1986.
- The Poems (edited by John Bull). (11 volumes), New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1939, 1969.
- Selected Prose (edited by Paul Hammond). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1987.
- The Iliad of Homer (edited by Stephen Shankman). Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin, 1996.
- Poems (edited by Valerie Rumbold). Harlow, UK: Pearson Education, 2007.
- Letters of the Late Alexander Pope, Esq: To a Lady. London: J. Dodsley, 1769.
- Correspondence (edited by George Sherborne). (5 volumes), Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press, 1956.
- Selected Letters (edited by Howard Erskine-Hill). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2000.
Poems by Alexander PopeEdit
See also Edit
- 'Alexander Pope', Literature Online biography (Chadwyck-Healey: Cambridge, 2000).
- The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations (Oxford University Press, 5th ed., 1999).
- Baines, Paul. The Complete Critical Guide to Alexander Pope (Routledge Publishing, 2001), pp. 67-90.
- Cassirer, Ernst. An essay on man; an introduction to a philosophy of human culture (Yale University Press, 1944).
- Gordon, Ian. 'An Epistle to a Lady (Moral Essay II)', The Literary Encyclopedia. 2002-01-24, accessed 2009-04-17.
- Erskine-Hill, Howard. 'Pope, Alexander (1688-1744)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, Sept 2004, online edn, Jan 2008). Accessed 18 April 2009.
- Mack, Maynard. Alexander Pope: A Life (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1985), the definitive biography.
- Nuttal, Anthony. 'Pope's Essay on Man' (Allen and Unwin, 1984), pp. 3-15, 167–188.
- Rogers, Pat. The Cambridge Companion to Alexander Pope (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cambridge University Press, 2007).
- Rogers, Pat. The Major Works (Oxford University Press, 2006), pp. 17-39.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 John William Cousin, "Pope, Alexander," A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature. London: Dent / New York: Dutton, 1910, 304-305. Wikisource, Web, Feb. 20, 2018.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 Erskine-Hill, DNB
- ↑ 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 'Alexander Pope', Literature Online biography (2000)
- ↑ "An Act to prevent and avoid dangers which may grow by Popish Recusants" (3. Jac. 1, v). For details, see Catholic Encyclopedia, "Penal Laws".
- ↑ Gordon (2002)
- ↑ 'Mount', Britannica (2009)
- ↑ The Life of Alexander Pope, by Robert Carruthers, 1857, with a corrupted and badly scanned version available from Google Books, or as an even worse 23MB PDF. For reference to his relationship with Martha Blount and her sister, see pp.64-68 (89th and following pages of the PDF). In particular, discussion of the controversy over whether the relationship was sexual is described in some detail on pp.76-78.
- ↑ Rogers (2006)
- ↑ Baines (2001)
- ↑ NPG 299; Alexander Pope
- ↑ Gordon (2002)
- ↑ London Evening Standard 2 Nov 2010
- ↑ The Universal Prayer
- ↑ Alexander Pope 1688-1744, Poets' Graves, Cameron Self. Web, June 23, 2013.
- ↑ from Mark Pattison, "Critical Introduction: Alexander Pope (1688–1744)," The English Poets: Selections with critical introductions (edited by Thomas Humphry Ward). New York & London: Macmillan, 1880-1918. Web, Feb. 20, 2018.
- ↑ Alphabetical list of authors: Montgomerie, Alexander to Shakespeare, William, Oxford Book of English Verse, 1250-1900 (edited by Arthur Quiller-Couch). Oxford, UK: Clarendon, 1919. Bartleby.com, Web, May 19, 2012.
- ↑ Alexander Pope, People, History, Westminster Abbey. Web, July 12, 2016.
- ↑ Dictionary of Quotations (1999)
- ↑ 19.0 19.1 19.2 19.3 19.4 19.5 19.6 19.7 Cox, Michael, editor, The Concise Oxford Chronology of English Literature, Oxford University Press, 2004, ISBN 0-19-860634-6
- ↑ William Lisle Bowles 1762-1850, Poetry Foundation, Web, Aug. 11, 2012.
- ↑ Letters of the Late Alexander Pope, Esq: To a Lady, Eighteenth-Century Collections Online, Text Creation Partnership. Web, Feb. 27, 2016.
- Alexander Pope in the Oxford Book of English Verse, 1250-1900: "On a certain Lady at Court," "Elegy to the Memory of an Unfortunate Lady," "The Dying Christian to his Soul"
- Alexander Pope 1688-1744 at the Poetry Foundation
- Alexander Pope profile & 6 poems at the Academy of American Poets
- Alexander Pope (1688-1744) info & 10 poems at English Poetry, 1579-1830
- Pope in The English Poets: An anthology: Extract from the Essay on Criticism, Extract from The Iliad, Book VIII, "Elegy to the Memory of an Unfortunate Lady," Extract from Moral Essays, Epistle I, "Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot," from The First Epistle of The Second Book of Horace Imitated Extract from the Epilogue to The Satires
- Extracts from the Essay on Man: Book I, Book IV
- Selected Poetry of Alexander Pope (1688-1744) (25 poems) at Representative Poetry Online.
- Alexander Pope at PoemHunter (83 poems)
- Alexander Pope at Poetry Nook (274 poems)
- Alexander Pope quotations at About.com
- Alexander Pope Quotes at BrainyQuote
- Alexander Pope Quotes at GoodReads
- Alexander Pope at the Quotations Page
- Works by Alexander Pope at Project Gutenberg
- Selected Bibliography: Alexander Pope (1688-1745) by Frans De Bruyn, University of Ottawa
- Alexander Pope poems at YouTube
- BBC audio file. In Our Time, radio 4 discussion of Pope.
- Pope, slide show
- Alexander Pope in the Encyclopædia Britannica
- Alexander Pope: A brief biography at the Victorian Web
- Alexander Pope at NNDB
- Alexander Pope in the Catholic Encyclopedia
- Pope, Alexander in the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica
- Pope, Alexander (1688-1744) in the Dictionary of National Biography
- Alexander Pope (1688-1744) at Luminarium
- Alexander Pope at Poets' Graves
- The Twickenham Museum
- Richmond Libraries' Local Studies Collection. Local History. Accessed 2010-10-19
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