Alexander Pope.

The works of Alexander Pope Esq. : In nine volumes, complete. With his last corrections, additions, and improvements; as they were delivered to the editor, a little before his death. Together with the commentary and notes of Mr. Warburton (Volume 6) online

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Online LibraryAlexander PopeThe works of Alexander Pope Esq. : In nine volumes, complete. With his last corrections, additions, and improvements; as they were delivered to the editor, a little before his death. Together with the commentary and notes of Mr. Warburton (Volume 6) → online text (page 9 of 20)
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left any of thefe might be perverted to the Scan-
dal of the weak, or Encouragement of the flagi-
tious, he caft them all, without mercy, into a
Bog-houfe near St. James's. Some however have
been with great diligence recover'd, and fifh'd up
with a hook and line, by the Minifterial Writers,
which make at prcfent the great Ornaments of
their works.

Whatever he judged beneficial to Mankind, he
conftantly communicated (not only during his ftay
among us, but ever fince his abfence) by fome
method or other in which Oftentation had no part,
With what incredible Modefty he concealed him-
fclf, is known to numbers of thofe to whom he
addrcfled fomrtimcs Epiftlcs, fometimcs Hints,
fometimes whole Treatifcs, Advices to Friends,
Projects of Firft Minifters, Letters to Members of
Parliament, Accounts to the Royal Society, and
innumerable others.

* Swift's ironical traft on that fubjcft.

VOL. VI. M A!(

162 MEMOIRS, etc.

All thefe will be vindicated to the true Author,
in the Courfe of thefe Memoirs. I may venture
to fay they cannot be unacceptable to any, but
to thofe, who will appear too much concerned as
Plagiaries^ to be admitted as Judges. Wherefore
we warn the public, to take particular notice of
all fuch as manifeft any indecent Paffion at the ap-
pearance of this Work, as Perfons moft certainly
involved in the Quilt.

nd of th Firfl Boak.




Of the A R T of


Written in the Year 1727.

M 2

( 165 )


HEPI B A e o r E.
CHAP. r.

IT hath been long (my dear Countrymen) the
fubje& of my concern and furprize, that
whereas numberlefs Poets, Critics, and Orators
have compiled and digefted the Art of ancient
Poefy, there hath not arifcn among us one perfon
fo public-fpirited, as to perform the like for the
Modern. Although it is univerfally known, that
our cvery-way induftrious Moderns, both in the
Weight of their writings, and in the Velocity of
their judgments, do fo infinitely excel the faiJ An-

Nevcrthclefs, too true it is, that while a plain
and direct road is paved to their i-^x, or Sublime j
no tradl has been yet chalk'd out, to arrive at our
Boflo,-, or Profund. The Latins, as they came
between the Greeks and Us, make ufe of the word
jHtitudO) which implies equally height anJ depth.
Wherefore confidering with no fmall grief, how
many promifmg Genius's of this age are wandering
(;;. 1 may lay) in the dark without a guide, I have
undertaken this arduous but neceliary tafk, to lead
them as it were by the hand, and ftep by ftep,
the gentle down-hill way to the Bathos ; the bjt-
tom, the end, the central point, the nonplus &///<?,
of true Modern Poefy !

When I confider (my dear Countrymen) the

extent, fertility, and populoufnefs of gur Lo\v-

M 3


lands of Parnaflus, the flourifliing flate of our
Trade, and the plenty of our Manufacture ; there
are two reflexions which adminifter great occafion
of furprize: The one, that all dignities and honours
fhould be beftowed upon the exceeding few mea-
ger inhabitants of the Top of the mountain ; the
other, that our own nation (hould have arrived to
that pitch of greatnefs it now poflefles, without
any regular Syfrem of Laws. As to the firft, it
is with great pleafure I have obfcrved of late the
gradual decay of Delicacy and Refinement among
mankind, who arc become too reafonable to re-
quire that we fhould labour with infinite pains to
come up to the tafte of thefe Mountaineers, when
they without any may condefcend to ours. But
as we have now an unqueftionable Majority on our
fide, I doubt not but we fhall fhortly be able to
kvtl the Highlanders, and procure a farther vent
for our own product, which is already fo much
reliflied, encouraged, and rewarded, by the Nobi-
lity and Gentry of Great Britain.

Therefore to fupply our former defect, I pur-
pofe to collect the fcattcrcd Rules of our Art into
regular Inftitutes, from the example and practice
of the deep Genius's of our nation ; imitating here-
in my prcdcceffors the Mafter of Alexander, and
the Secretary of the renowned Zenobia. And in
this my undertaking I am the more animated, as
I expect more ("IK eels than has attended even thole
great Critics ; fmcc their Laws (tho* they might
be good) have ever been flackly executed, and
their Precepts (however ftrict) obcy'd only by fits,
and by a very fmall number.

At the fame time I intend to do juftice upon
our neighbours, inhabitants of the upper Parnaf-
fus ; who, taking idvantage of the rifing ground,
are perpetually throwing down rubbtfh, dirt and
lionet, upon us, never fuffering us to live in peace.



Thefe men, while they enjoy the cryftal ftrenm
of Helicon, envy us our common water, which
(thank our ftars) tho' it is fomewhat muddy, flows
iii much greater abundance. Nor i; tlrs the
greateft injufticc that we have to complain of ; for
though it is evident that we never made the Jeaft
attempt or inrode into Their territories, but lived
contented in OUP native fens ; they have often not
only committed Petty Larcenies upon our borders,
but driven the country, and carried off at once
whole Cart-loads of our manufacture ; to reclaim
feme of which ftolen goods is part of the defign of
this Treatife.

For we fhall fee in the courfe of this work, that
our greateft Adverfarics have fometimes dcfcended
towards us ; and doubtlefs might now and then
have arrived at the Bathos itfclf, had it not been
for that miltaken opinion they all entertained, that
the Rules of the Ancients were equally neceflary to
the Moderns ; than which there cannot be a more
grievous Error, as will be amply proved in the fol-
lowing difcourle.

And indeed when any of thefc have gone fofar,
as by the light of their own Genius to attempt fit -w
Models, it is wonderful to obferve, how nearly
they have approached us In thofe. particular pieces ;
though in thir others they diffcr'd ttto uek
from UP.

M 4 C K A P.



That the Bathos, or Profund, is the na-
tural Tafte of Man, and in particular,
of the prefent Age.

THE Tafte of the Bathos is implanted by
Nature itfelf in the foul of man j till, per-
verted by cuftom or example, he is taught, or ra-
ther compelled, to relifh the Sublime. Accord-
ingly, we fee the unprejudiced minds of Children
delight only in fuch productions, and in fuch
images, as our true modern writers fet before them.
I have obfcrved how faft the general Tafte is re-
turning to this firft Simplicity and Innocence ; and
if the intent of all Poetry be to divert and inftrucl,
certainly that kind which diverts and inftrudls the
greateft number^ is to be preferred. Let us look
round among the Admirers of Poetry, we fhall
find thofe who have a tafte of the Sublime to be
very few ; but the Profund ftrikes univerfally,
end is adapted to every capacity. 'Tis a fruitlefs
undertaking to write for men of a nice and foppifli
Gufto, whom after all it is almoft impoffible to
pletfe ; and 'tis (till more chimerical to write for
Pofterity, of whofe Tafte we cannot make any
judgment, and whofe Applaufe we can never en-
joy. It muft be confefled our wifer authors have
a prefent end,

Et prodejjt volunt et dele flare Poet*.

Their true defign is Profit or Gain ; in order to
acquire which, 'tis neceflary to procure applaufe
by adminiftring pleafure to the reader : From
whence it follows demonftrably, that their pro-
tludtions mud be fuited to the $ref<nt Tafte. And


I cannot but congratulate our age on this peculiar
h-iicity, that though we have made indeed great
progrefs in all other branches of Luxury, we are
not yet debauched with any high Relilh in Poe-
try, but are in this one Tafte lefs nice than our
unceftors. If an Art is to be eftimated by its fuc-
cefs, I appeal to experience whether there have
not been, in proportion to their number, as many
Starving good Poets, as bad ones.

Nevcrthelels, in making Gain the principal end
of our Art, far be it from me to exclude any great
Genius's of Ratik or Fortune from diverting them-
felves this way. They ought to be praifed no lefs
than thofe Princes, who pafs their vacant hours
in fome ingenious mechanical or manual Art. And
to fuch as thefe, it would be ingratitude not to
own, that our Art has been often infinitely in-


The Neccflity of the Bathos, phyfically

FAtthermore, it were great cruelty and injuf-
ticc, if all fuch Authors as cannot write in
the other way, were prohibited from writing at all.
Againft this I draw an argument from what fecms
to me an undoubted phyfical Maxim, That Poe-
try is a natural or morbid Secretion from the Brain,
would not fuddenly flop a cold in the head,
or dry up my neighbour'^ Iflue, I would as little
hinder him from necellary writing. It may be af-
firmed with great truth, that there is hardly any
human creature pair childhood, but at one time or
. ha* had fomc Poetical Evacuation, and, no
I ut:


queiHon, was much the better for it in his health ;
fo true is the faying, Nafcimur Pcetee. Therefore
is the Defire of Writing properly term'd Pruritus,
the " Titillation of the Generative Faculty of the
" Brain," and the Perfen is faid to conceive ; now
luch as conceive muft bring forth. I have known
a man thoughtful, melancholy and raving for di-
vers days, who forthwith grew wondei fully eafy,
li'jhtfome, and cheerful, upon a di (charge of the
peccant humour, in exceeding purulent Metre.
Nor can I queftion, but abundance of untimely
deaths arc occafioned for want of this laudable vent
of unruly pailions : yea, perhaps, in poor wretches,
(which is very lamentable) for mere want of pen,
ink, and paper 1 From hence it follows, that a
fuppreflionof the very worfl Poetry is of dangerous
confcquence to the State. We find by experience,
that the fame humours which vent themfclvcs iu
fummer in Ballads and Sonnets, are condenfed by
the winter's cold into Pamphlets and Speeches for
and againft the Minifter : Nay, I know not but
many times a piece of Poetry may be the moil in-
nocent compofition of a Minifter himfelf.

It is therefore manifeft that Mediocrity ought to
be allowed, yea indulged, to the good Subjects of
England. Nor can I conceive how the world has
f\val lowed the contrary as a Maxim, upon the fin-
gle authority of that * Horace ? Why 'fhould the
golden Mean, and quinteflence of all Virtues, be
deemed fo oftenfivc in this Art ? or Coolnefs or
Mediocrity be fo amiable a quality in a Man, and
fo dctcftable in a Poet ?

However, far be it frojn me to compare thefc
Writers with thofe great Spirits, who are born
with a Vivacitf de pefanteur^ or (as an EnglUh

* Mediocrihus rjie pyetis
.'/' , noa Imuinei, etf, Hor. P.

3 Author


Author calls it) an " Alacrity of finking ;" and
who by flrength of Nature alone can excel. All
I mean is to evince the Neceflity of Rules to thole
lefler Genius's, as well as the Ufeiulnefs of them
to the greater.


That there is an Art of the Bathos, or

WE come now to prove, there is an
Art of Sinking in Poetry. Is there not
an Architecture of Vaults and Cellars, as well as
of lofty Domes and Pyramids ? Is there not as
much fkill and labour in making Dikes, as in rai-
fmg Mounts ? Is there not an Art of Diving as
well as of Flying ? And will any fobcr practitioner
affirm, that a diving Engine is not of fingular ule
in making him long-winded, aiiifting his fight,
and furnifhing him wilh other ingenious means of
keeping under water ?

If we fearch the Authors of Antiquity, we fhall
find as few to have been diflinguifLcd in the true
Profund, as in the true Sublime. And the very
l.imc th:n . ppears from Longtnus) had been

imagined of that, as now of this : namely, that it
was entirely !/ C^.i of Nature. I grant that to
in the ]}..;,.(;, a C:-.:iius is requilitc ; yet the
Rules of Art juulf be a'.'owcd fo far ufeful, as to
add v/cight, or, as I may lay, hang on lead, to fa-
cilitate and enforce our dcflcnt, to guide us to the
moft advantageous declivities, ::;:d habituate our
imagination to a depth of thinkh:.:. Manv there
arc that can fall, but few c:m arrive at the iclkity
of fallin? gracd" i!!,- ; uu;u; mare for a man who


i 7 2 M A R T I N U S S C R I B L E R U S

is amongft the loweft of the Creation, at the very
bottom of the Atmofphere, to defcend beneath
himlelf, is not fo eafy a tafk unlefs he calls in Art
to his afliftance. It is with the Bathos as with
imall Beer, which is indeed vapid and infipid, if
left at large, and let abroad j but being by our
Rules confined and well ftopt, nothing grows fo
frothy, pert, and bouncing.

The Sublime of Nature is the Sky, the Sun,
Moon, Stars, etc. The Profund of Nature is
Gold, Pearls, precious Stones, and the Treafures
of the Deep, which are ineftimable as unknown.
But all that lies between thefe, as Corn, Flower,
Fruits, Animals, and Things for the meer ufe of
Man, are of mean price, and fo common as not
to be greatly eireemed by the curious. It being
certain that any thing, of which we know the true
ufe, cannot be invaluable : Which affords a folu-
tion, why common Senfe hath either been totally
defpifed, or held in fmall repute, by the greateft
modern Critics and Authors.


Of the true Genius of the Profund, and
by what it is constituted.

A ND I will venture to lay it down, as the

X"x fii'ft Maxim and Corner-Stone of this our

Art j that whoever would excel therein, muft ftu-

dioufly avoid, dcteft, and turn his head from all

the ideas, ways, and workings of that peftilent Foe

;r, anJ Deftroycr of fine Figures, which is

known by the Name of Common Senfe. His bufi-

;r.uft be to contract the true Gout dt trovers ;



and to acquire a molt happy, uncommon, unac-
countable Way of Thinking.

He is to confidcr himlelf as a Grotefque painter,
whole works would be fpoiled by an imitation of
nature, or uniformity of deiign. He is to mingle
bits of the molt various, or difcordant kinds, land-
fcape, hiftory, portraits, animals, and connect them
with a great deal of flourifhing, by heads or tails,
as it fliall pleafc his imagination, and contribute to
his principal end, which is to glare by flrong op-
pofitions of colours, and furprize by contrariety of

Strpcntes avibus geminftitur) tig ribus agnl. Hor.

His defign ought to be like a labyrinth, out of
which no body can get clear but himfelf. And
fince the great Art of all Poetry is to mix Truth
with Fiction, in order to join the Credible with
the Surprising \ our author ihall produce the Cre-
dible, by painting nature in her loweft limplicity ;
and the Surpruing, by contradicting common opi-
nion. In the very Manners he will affect the
Marvellous ; he will draw Achilles with the pati-
ence of Job ; a Prince talking like a Jack-pudding ;
a Maid of honour felling bargains ; a footman
fpeaking like a Philofopher ; and a fine Gentleman
like a fcholar. Whoever is converfant in modern
Plays, may make a moft noble collection of this
kind, qnd, at the fame time, form a complete body
of modtrn Ethi<s and Morality.

Nothing fcemed more plain to our great authors,
than that the world had long been weary of na-
tural things. How much the contrary are form' \
to plcafe, is evident from the univcrfal applaufe
djilyr given to the admirable entertainments of Har-
lequins and Magicians on our ftagc. When an
audience behold a coach turned into a wheel
row, a conjurer into an old woman, or a man's



head where his heels Ih^uld be ; how are they frruck
with tranfport and delight ? Which can only be
imputed to this caufe, that each object is changed
into that which hath been fbggefted to them by
their own low ideas before.

He ought therefore to render himfelf mafter of
this happy and anti-natural way of thinking tofuch
a degree, as to be able, on the appearance of any
object, to furnifh his imagination with ideas infi-
nitely below it. And his eyes fhould be like unto
the wrong end of a perfpeclive glafs, by which
all the objects of nature are leflened.

For Example ; when a true genius looks upon
the Sky, he immediately catches the idea of a piece
of blue luteftring, or a child's mantle.

* The Skies , whofefpreading volumes fcarce have room-)
Spun thin, and wove in nature's fine/i loom,
'The new-torn world in their J oft lap cmbracd^
Jtndall around their f tarry mantle caft.

If he looks upon a tcmpeft, he fliall have an
image of a troubled bed, and defcribe a fuccceding
calm in this manner :

f The Ocean, joyd to fee rte temprftjled,

New lays bis waves, andfmocths his ruffled bed.

The Triumphs and Acclamation? of the Angels,
at the Creation of the Univcrfe, prefent to his ima-
gination " the Rejoicings of the Lord Mayor's
" Pny j" and he beholds thofe glorious beings
celebrating the Creator, by huzzaing, making il-

ince Arthur, p. 41, 42.
1. 1.

v /; la order to do Juflice to tliefe gre-u Poets, our

1 i: taken from the I.-.}, the laft, and mod cor-

reft Eili-ion, of their Works. That which \ve uie of

' , 1714. The fourth

.1 rcvifcd. P.



luminations, and flinging fquibs, crackers and .kv-

* Glorious Illuminations , made on high
By all the f tars and planets of the Jly,
In juft degrees, andjhining order placed,
Spectators charm'd, and the bleft dwelling gracd*
'Thro' all tb' enlightened air fwift f reworks fkw,
/P?jicb with repeated Jhiuts glad Cherubs threw.
Comets afcendedwith their fweeping train ,
Tl) en fell in [tarry Jhow'rs and glittering rain.
In air ten tooul'and meteors blazing hung,
jyhichfrom w eternal battlements were flung.

If a man who is violently fond of 7/7/, will fa-
crifice to that paflion his friend or his God, would
it not be a fliame, if he who is fniit with the love
of the Bathos fhould not facrifice to it all other
tranfitory regards r You (hall hear a zealous Pro-
teftant t)eacon invoke a Saint, and modcftly bt-
fcech her to do more for us than Providence:

t Look dwi) bit fid faint) ivith pity then look dsivn^
Shed on this land thy k'nulcr influence.)
And gut. -Ic us through the mijts of provide
In whiJj we fir ay.

Neither will he, if a goodly Simile come in this way,
fcruple to affirm himfclf nn cye-witncfs of things
never yet beheld hy man, or uever in cxiftcncc ;
as thus,

| Thus have I feen in Araly

A Phoenix couch 'd upon hcrfunral ncft.

But to convince you that nothing is fo
which a marvellous genius, prompted by thi .

P. 50.

I A. 1'hilips on the death of Qiicen M .ry.



able zeal, is not able to leflcn ; hear how the moft
fublimc of all Beings isveprefentcd in the following
images :

Firft he is a PAINTER.

* Sometimes the Lord of Nature in the air,

Spreads forth his clouds, his fable canvas ; whert
His pencil, dipp'd in heavnly colour bright,
Paints his fair rain-bow <, charming to the fight.

Now he is a CHEMIST.

f Th y Almighty Chemift docs his work prepare,
Pours down his waters on the thirfty plain,
Dlgtfts his lightening, and diftils his rain.

Now he is a WRESTLER.

Aft in his griping arms ttf Eternal took,
And withjuch mighty force my bodyjhook,
'That thejtrong grajp my members for ely bruis'd,
Broke all my bones, and all my Jinews loos 'd*


Far clouds, the fun-beams levy frejh fupplieS)
jlnd raife recruits of vapours, which arij'e
Drawn from thefeas, to mufter in thejkies.

Now a peaceable GUARANTEE.

| In leagues of peace the neighbours did agree^
Jnd /3 maintain them, God was Guarantee*

Then he is an ATTORNEY.

4 Job* as a vile offender, God indite*,
And terrible decrees againft me ivrites.

* Blackxn. opt. edit. duod. 1716. p. 172,
f Blackm. Pf. civ. p. 263.
% Page 75.

* J . I TO.
| P. 7 0.

i- i'. 01.


God will not hi my advocate,
My caufe to manage tfr a,

In the following Lines he is a GOLDBEATER.

* ff/.'j the rich metal beats, and then , with care.
Unfolds the golden leaves , to gild the fields of air.

Then a FULLER.

f /// exhaling reek s that fecret rife,

Born en rebounding fun-beams thro' thejkies,
Ait thicken' d, wrought and whit aid, till they

A keav'nly fleece.


j Dielft thou one end of air's "Wide curtain hold,
And help the Bales of jRther to unfold; '

Say, which cerulean pile was by thy hand unroll* d ?


I If meafures all the drops with wondrous Jkill,
Which the black clouds, his floating Bottles fill.

And a BAKER.

U God in the wildernefs his table fpread,
And in his airy Chens bak'd their bread.

P. 181.
I P. 1 8.

* P. 131-

|| fihckm. Song of Mofes, p. 218.




Of the KinJs of Genius's in the
I'roifund, and the Marks and Charac-
ters of each.

I Doubt not but the reader, by this Cloud of ex-
amples, begins to be convinced of the truth of
our afTertion, that the Bathos is an Art ; and that
the Genius of no mortal whatever, following the
mere ideas of Nature, and unaffifted with an habi-
tual, nay laborious peculiarity of thinking, could
arrive at images fo wonderfully low and unaccoun-
table. The great author, from whofe treafury we
have drawn all thefe inftances (the Father of the
Bathos, and indeed the Homer of it) has, like that
immortal Greek, confined his labours to the great-
-r Poetry, and thereby left room for others to ac-
quire a due fhare of praife in inferior kinds.
v painters who could never hit a nofe or an
have with felicity copied a fmall-pox, or been
admirable at a toad or a red herring. And feldom
are we without genius's for Still-life, which they
ran work up and ftiffcn with incredible accuracy.
An univerfal Genius rifcs not in an age ; but
when he rifes, armies rife in him ! he pours forth
five or iix Epic Poems with greater facility, than
five or fix pages can be produced by an elaborate
and fervile copier after Nature or the Ancients. It
is affirmed by Quintilian, that the fame genius
which made Gwmanicus fo great a General, would
with equal application have made him an excellent
Heroic Poet. In like manner, reafoning from the
afTmity th*re appears between Arts and Sciences, I
doubt not but an acYivc catcher of butterflies, a
careful and fanciful pattern-drawer, an induftrious



collector of (hells, a laborious and tuneful bag-
piper, or a diligent breeder of tame rabbits, might
Severally excel in their refpeciive parts of the Bi-
t hos.

I mall range thcfe confined and lefs copious Ge-
nius's uudcr proper dalles, and (the better to give
their pictures to the reader) under the names of
dnimals of fome fort or other ; whereby he will be
enabled, at the firft fight of fuch as mail daily
co:ne forth, to know to what kind to refer, and
v.ith what Authors to compare them.

j. The Flying Fiflxs : Thefe are writers who
now and then rife upon their fins, and fly out of
rhc Profund ; but their wings are foon dry, and
they drop down to the bottom. G. S. A. H.
C. G.

2. The Swalinvs are authors that are etcrnal.'j
fkimming and fluttering up and down, bu all
their agility is employed to catch files. L.Y. W, P.
Lord H.

3. The Oftrldges arc fuch, whofe heavinefs
rarely permits them to rai.'e themfelves from the
ground ; their wings are of no ufe to lift them up,
and their motion is between flying and walking j
bat then they run very faft. D. it. L. E. The
Hon. E. H.

4. The P.irrots are they that repeat another's
, in fuch a hoarfc odd voicej as makes rhtm

feom their own. W.B. W. H. C. C. The Reve-
rend I). D.

5-. The Didappm arc authors that keep them-
lelves long out of light, under water, and conic up

H then whrrcyou lead expected them. L.
O. D. Efq. The Hon. Sir W. Y.

N * 6. th e


6. The Porpoifes arc unwcildy and big ; they put
all their numbers into a great turmoil and tcmpeft,
but whenever they appear in plain light (which is
feldom) they are only fhapelefs and ugly monftcrs.
J. D. C. G. I.(X

7. The Frcgs arc ftich as can neither walk nor
fly, but can leap and bound to admiration : They
live generally in the bottom of a ditch, and make
a great noife whenever they thruft their heads above
water. E. W. I. M. Efq ; T. D. Gent.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 9 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

Online LibraryAlexander PopeThe works of Alexander Pope Esq. : In nine volumes, complete. With his last corrections, additions, and improvements; as they were delivered to the editor, a little before his death. Together with the commentary and notes of Mr. Warburton (Volume 6) → online text (page 9 of 20)