« PoprzedniaDalej »
illustrate his theory from Women, the “ frugal Crone,” and
poor Narciffa ;" and yet he says, in the next Epistle on Women,
66 In Men, we various RULING PASSIONś find;
In Women, two almost divide the kind ;
The Love of Pleasure, and the Love of Sway!” Neither of these Paffions belonged to the Women, whose example he has introduced to illustrate the Character and ruling Paffions of Men.
When Warburton first saw this Epiftle, it was entirely disjointed, and without “connection, order, or dependence.” It was, he says, so jumbled together, as if the several parts of a Poem were rolled up together, drawn at random, and set down as they rose. The regular disposition of it was entirely owing to Warburton. This is not saying much in favour of Pope's being such a mighty “ Man of method," as he would willingly persuade us he was. In my opinion this is the worst of Pope's Epistles: it is founded upon an absurd and unphilosophical principle; and, though it is enlivened by humourous and accurate touches of character, it neither exhibits much extent of thought, or superior happiness of fancy. Warton has observed with his natural warmth, that the lines 166 to 174. display a "perfe& anatomy of the human mind !” but, if we can neither judge of Men's Characters by Passions, or Actions, the Ruling Paffion lies under the same difficulty. If Aations can denote the Ruling Paffon, and no other, there is little observation required : but the whole theory is full of inconfittency.
TO A LADY,
Of the CHARACTERS of WOMEN.
“ Most Women have no Characters at all.”
Of the Chara&ters of Women.] There is nothing in Mr. Pope's Works more highly finished, or written 'with greater spirit, than this Epistle: Yet its success was in no proportion to the pains he took in composing it, or the effort of genius displayed in adorning it. Something he chanced to drop in a short advertisement prefixed to it, on its first publication, may perhaps account for the
small attention the Public gave to it. He said, that no one Cha- ra&ter in it was drawn from the Life. They believed him on his word ; and expressed little curiosity about a satire in which there was nothing personal.
WARBURTON. Ver. 1. Nothing so true] Bolingbroke, a judge of the subject, thought this Epistle the matter-piece of Pope. But the bitterness of the fatire is not always concealed in a laugh. The characters are lively, though uncommon. I scarcely remember one of them in our comic writers of the best order. T'he ridiculous is heightened by many strokes of humour, carried even to the borders of extravagance, as much as the two last lines, of Boileau, quoted in the next page. The female foibles have been the subject of perhaps more wit in every language, than any other topic that can be samed. The fixth fatire of Juvenal, though detestable for its
How many pictures of one Nymph we view,
obscenity, is undoubtedly the most witty of all his fixteen, and is curious for the picture it exhibits of the private lives of the Roman ladies. If this Epistle yields, in any respect, to the tenth satire of Boileau on the same subject, it is in the delicacy and variety of the transitions by which the French writer paffes from one character to another, always connecting each with the foregoing. It was a common saying of Boileau, speaking of La Bruyere, that one of the most difficult parts of composition was the art of transition. That we may see how happily Pope has caught the manner of Boileau, let us survey one of his portraits : it shall be that of his learned lady :
“ Qui s'offrira d'abord ? c'est cette Scavante,
Qu'estime Roberval, et que Sauveur frequente.
Il faut chez Du Vernay voir la dissection.” None of Pope's female characters excel the Doris of Congreve in delicate touches of raillery and ridicule.
Warton. Ver. 5. How many pi&lures] The Poet's purpose here is to shew, that the characters of Women are generally inconsistent with them. selves; and this he illuftrates by fo happy a similitude, that we see the folly described in it arises from that very principle which gives birth to this inconsistency of character.
WARBURTON. VER. 7, 8. 10, &c. Arcadia's Countess --Paftora by a fountain,-Leda with a Swan, Magdalen,–Ceciliam] Attitudes in which several ladies affected to be drawn, and sometimes one lady in them
Here Fannia, leering on her own good man,
Come then, the colours and the ground prepare!
Rufa, NOTES. all. The Poet's politeness and complaisance to the sex is obsery. able in this instance, amongst others, that whereas in the Characters of Men he has sometimes made use of real names, in the Charaders of IVomen always fictitious.
Pope. But notwithstanding all the Poet's caution and complaisance, this general satire, or rather moral analysis of human nature, as it appears in the two sexes, will be always received very differently by them. The Men bear a general fatire most hervically; the Women with the utmost impatience. This is not from any ttronger consciousness of guilt, for I believe the sum of Virtue in the female world does (from many accidental caufes) far exceed the fum of Virtue in the male ; but from the fear that such representations may hurt the fex in the opinion of the men : whereas the men are not at all apprehensive that their follies or vices would prejudice them in the opinion of the women.
WARBURTON. Ver. 20. Catch, ere the change, the Cynthia of this minute.] Alluding in the expression to the precept of Fresnoy, “ formæ veneres captando fugaces.”
WARBURTON * Like a dove's neck she shifts her transient charms."
Young, Sat. 5.
Rufa, whose eye quick-glancing o'er the Park,
VER. 21. Instances of contrarieties, given even from such characters as are most strongly marked, and seemingly therefore most confiftent: As, I. In the Affected, Ver. 21, &c.
Pope. Ver. 21. Rufa, whose eye] This character of Rufa, and the succeeding ones of Silia, Papillia, Narcissa, and Flavia, are precisely and entirely in the style and manner of the portraits Young has given us in his Fifth Satire on Women. The pictures of Young are sketched with a lighter and more sportive pencil ; those of our Author with a former hand and a chaiter manner. Pope put forth all his strength to excel his witty rival in this the best part of the Universal Passion; and he has succeeded accord. ingly. Both Pope and Boileau (see his tenth satire) have been censured for their severity on the fair sex. They have been reckoned as bad as Euripides ; but surely they are nothing like an old comic poet, Eubulus, in a fragment preserved in that most entertaining book, the Excerpta ex Trag. et Comæd. of Grotius, 4to, p. 659. who, after mentioning Medæa, Clytemneftra, and Phædra, suddenly stops, and wickedly pretends that his memory fails him in enabling him to mention any one good character among women.
The ladies of France revenged thémfelves on Boileau, by saying he was made incapable of love and marriage by an accident that befel him in his early youth.
WARTON. VER. 23. Agrees as ill] This thought is expressed with great humour in the following stanza, said to mean Q. Caroline :
“ Tho' Artemisia talks, by fits,
Reads Malbranche, Boyle, and Locke :
WARBURTON. Ver. 24. As Sappho's di'monds, &c.] It appears very clear that by Sappho, throughout, Lady Montagu must have been meant. Mr. Dallaway's arguments on this subject have great weight, and