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for my wife, with a concern more than usual, prevailed on me to take somewhat to sweat for a cold, and between the hours of eight and nine, to go to bed. The maid, as she was warming my bed, with a curiosity natural to young wenches, runs to the window, and asks of one passing the street, whom the bell tolled for ? Dr. Partridge, says he, the famous almanac-maker, who died suddenly this evening: the poor girl, provoked, told him, he lied like a rascal; the other very sedately replied, the sexton had so informed him, and if false, he was to blame for imposing upon a stranger. She asked a second, and a third, as they passed, and every one was in the same tone. Now, I do not say these are accomplices 10 a certain astrological 'squire, and that one Bickerstaff might be sauntering thereabouts ; because I will assert nothing here but what I dare attest, for plain matter of fact. My wife, at this, fell into a violent disorder; and I must own I was a little discomposed at the oddness of the accident. In the mean time one knocks at my door; Betty runs down, and opening, finds a sober grave person, who modestly inquires, if this was Dr. Partridge's? She taking him for some cautious city patient that came at that time for privacy, shows him into the dining-room. As soon as I could compose myself, I went to him, and was surprised to find my gentleman mounted on a table with a two-foot rule in his hand, measuring my walls, and taking the dimensions of the room. “Pray, sir,” says I, “not to interrupt you, have you any business with me?" “ Only, sir," replies he, 6 order the girl to bring me a better light, for this is but a very dim one." “ Sir," says I, “my name is Partridge.” “Oh! the doctor's brother, belike,” cries he; “the stair-case, I believe, and these two apartments hung in close mourning, will be sufficient, and only a strip of bays round the other rooms. The doctor must needs die rich, he had great dealings in his way for many years: if he had no family-coat, you had as good use the escutcheons of the company: they are as showish, and will look as magnificent, as if he was descended from the blood-royal.” With that I assumed a greater air of authority, and demanded who employed him, or how he came there? “ Why, I was sent, sir, by the company of undertakers," says he, "and they were employed by the honest gentleman, who is executor to the good doctor departed: and our rascally porter, I believe, is fallen fast asleep with the black cloth and sconces, or he had been here, and we might have been tacking up by this time.” “Sir," says I, “pray be advised by a friend, and Inake the best of your speed out of my doors, for 1 hear my wife's voice, (which, by the by, is pretty distinguishable,) and in that corner of the room stands a good cudgel, which some body has felt before now; if that light in her hands, and she know
the business you come about, without consulting the stars, I can assure you it will be employed very much to the detriment of your person.” “Sir,” cries he, bowing with great civility, " I perceive extreme grief for the loss of the doctor disorders you a little at present, but early in the morning I will wait on you with all necessary materials.” Now I mention no Mr. Bickerstaff; nor do I say that a certain star-gazing 'squire has been playing my executor before his time; but I leave the world to judge, and he :hat puts things and things fairly together, will not be much wide of the mark.
Well, once more I got my doors closed, and prepared for bed, in hopes of a little repose after so many ruffling adventures; just as I was putting out my light in order to it, another bounces as hard as he can knock; I open the window, and ask who is there, and what he wants? “I am Ned the sexton,” replies he, “and come to know whether the doctor left any orders for a funeral sermon, and where he is to be laid, and whether his grave is to be plain or bricked ?” “Why, sirrah," says I, “ you know me well enough; you know I am not dead, and how dare you affront me after this manner ?” “Alack-a-day, sir," replies the fellow, 66 why it is in print, and the whole town knows you are dead; why, there is Mr. White the joiner, is but fitting screws to your coffin, he will be here with it in an instant; he was afraid you would have wanted it before this time.” “Sirrah, sirrah," says I, "you shall know to-morrow to your cost, that I am alive, and alive like to be.” “Why, it is strange, sir,” says he, “ you should make such a secret of your death to us that are your neighbors; it looks as if you had a design to defraud the church of its dues; and let me tell you, for one that has lived so long by the heavens, that is unhandsomely done.” “Hist, hist,” says another rogue that stood by him ; "away, doctor, into your flannel gear as fast as you can, for here is a whole pack of dismals coming to you with their black equipage, and how indecent will it look for you to stand frightening folks at your window, when you should have been in your coffin these three hours ?" In short, what with undertakers, embalmers, joiners, sextons, and your vile elegy-hawkers upon a late practitioner in physic and astrology, I got not one wink of sleep that night, nor scarce a moment's rest ever since. Now I doubt not, but this villanous 'squire has the impudence to assert that these are entirely stran. gers to him; he, good man, knows nothing of the matter, and wonest Isaac Bickerstaff, I warrant you, is more a man of honor than to be an accomplice with a pack of rascals, that walk the streets on nights, and disturb good people in their beds; but he is out, if he thinks the whole world is blind; for there is one John Partridge can smell a knave as far as Grub street,—although he lies in the most exalted garret, and writes himself 'squire :--but I will keep my temper, and proceed in the narration.
I could not stir out of doors for the space of three months after this, but presently one comes up to me in the street; “Mr. Par. tridge, that coffin you was last buried in I have not been yet pa.d for.” “Doctor," cries another dog, “ how do you think people can live by making of graves for nothing ? next time you die, you may even toll out the bell yourself, for Ned.” A third rogue tips me by the elbow, and wonders how I have the conscience to sneak abroad without paying my funeral expenses. “ Bless me !" says one, “I durst have sworn that was honest Dr. Partridge, my old friend; but poor man, he is gone.” “I beg your pardon,” says another, "you look so like my old acquaintance that I used to consult on some private occasions; but, alack, he is gone the way of all flesh.” “Look, look, look," cries a third, after a competent space of staring at me, “would not one think our neighbor the almanac-maker was crept out of his grave to take the other peep at the stars in this world, and show how much he is improved in fortune-telling by having taken a journey to the other ?!?
Nay, the very reader of our parish, a good, sober, discreet person, has sent two or three times for me to come and be buried decently, or send him sufficient reasons to the contrary, or, if I have been interred in any other parish, to produce my certificate, as the act requires. My poor wife is almost run distracted with being-called widow Partridge, when she knows it is false ; and once a term she is cited into the court to take out letters of administration. But the greatest grievance is, a paltry quack, that takes up my calling just under my nose, and in his printed directions with N. B. says, he lives in the house of the late ingenious Mr.John Partridge, an eminent practitioner in leather, physic, and astrology.
But to show how far the wicked spirit of envy, malice, and resentment can hurry some men, my nameless old persecutor had provided me a monument at the stone-cutters, and would have erected it in the parish church; and this piece of notorious and expensive villany had actually succeeded, if I had not used my utmost interest with the vestry, where it was carried at last but by two voices, that I am alive. That stratagem failing, out comes a long sable elegy, bedecked with hour-glasses, mattocks, sculls, spades, and skeletons, with an epitaph as confidently written to abuse me, and my profession, as if I had been under ground these twenty years.
And, after such barbarous treatment as this, can the world blame me, when I ask what is become of the freedom of an Eng lishman? and where is the liberty and property that my old glo rious friend came over to assert? We have driven popery out of 2 F
the nation, and sent slavery to foreign climes. The arts only remain in bondage, when a man of science and character shall be openly insulted in the midst of the many useful services he is daily paying the public. Was it ever heard, even in Turkey or Algiers, that a state-astrologer was bantered out of his life by an ignorant impostor, or bawled out of the world by a pack of villanous, deep-mouthed hawkers? Though I print almanacs, and publish advertisements; though I produce certificates under the ministers and church wardens' hands that I am alive, and attest
the same on oath at quarter-sessions, out comes a full and true re·lation of the death and interment of John Partridge; truth is borne
down, attestations neglected, the testimony of sober persons de. spised, and a man is looked upon by his neighbors as if he had been seven years dead, and is buried alive in the midst of his friends and acquaintance.
ALEXANDER POPE. 1688–1744.
This great poet, “ to whom,” says Warton, “ English poesy and the English language are everlastingly indebted," was born in London, on the 22d of May, 1688. His father was a linen-draper, who had acquired a considerable for tune by trade. Being of a feeble frame and delicate constitution, his early education was chiefly domestic. At the age of twelve, having made considerable progress in the Greek and Latin languages, he resolved to pursue his own plan of study; and his reading, of which he was excessively fond, became uncommonly extensive and various. At a very early period he manifested the greatest fondness for poetry: as he says of himself,
I lisp'd in numbers, and the numbers came. This taste was in a measure formed from the perusal of Ogilby's Homer, when only ten years of age. Before he was twelve, he wrote his « Ode on Solitude,” remarkable for the precocity of sentiment it exhibits, and for that delicacy of language and harmony of versification, for which he afterwards became so eminent. At the age of sixteen, he wrote his “ Pastorals," the principal merit of which consists in their correct and musical versification, with a preliminary « Discourse on Pastoral Poetry," " which," says Warton, 6 is a more extraordinary production than the Pastorals that follow it." At the age of eighteen he produced the “ Messiah," a sacred eclogue in imitation of Vir. gil's “ Pollio." In 1709, before he had reached the age of twenty-one, he finished his “ Essay on Criticism.”
In 1712 he published that remarkable heroi-comic poem, “The Rape of the Lock,” in which he has exhibited, more than in any other of his productions. the highest faculty of the poet,—the creative. To this succeeded « The Temple of Fame," in imitation of Chaucer's “ House of Fame," « Windsor Forest," a loco-descriptive poem, and “ Eloisa to Abelard," the most popular, perhaps, of any of his productions. But all these poems, together with his Satires and Epistles, added but very little to his fortune. Accordingly, at the age of twenty-five, he issued proposals for the Translation of the Iliad, by subscrip. tion. The work was accomplished in five years, and while the profits were such as to gratify his utmost expectations,' the great and signal merits of the translation received the warmest eulogiums from the literary world. In a few years after, in conjunction with Fenton and Broome, he translated the Odyssey.
1 "The poet's eye, in a fine frenzy rolling,
Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven;
Mudrummer Night's Dream, Act V. Scene I.
The faine which Pope acquired by these writings drew upon him the attacks of the envious;' and a host of critics, individually insignificant, but troublesome from their numbers, continued to annoy him. To retaliate, he published, in 1728, « The Dunciad," a work “ which fell among his opponents like an exterminating thunderbolt.” But while it has displayed the tempera ment of the author in no very enviable light, it has perpetuated the memory of many worthless scribblers, who otherwise would have sunk into oblivion In 1733 he published his celebrated didactic poem, the “ Essay on Man.” Ne sooner did it appear than it was assailed by his enemies, and others, on the ground that it was full of skeptical or infidel tendencies. From this charge it was ably defended by the learned Dr. Warburton, and has since been most triumphantly vindicated in the preliminary discourse of Mr. Roscoe. After the publication of the “ Essay on Man" he continued to compose occasional pieces, and planned many admirable works: among the latter was - A History of the Rise and Progress of English Poetry.” But he never lived to enter upon the work, for an asthmatic affection, to which he had long been subject, terminated, in 1744, in a dropsy of the chest, and he expired on the 30th of May of that year."
- What rank," says Dr. Drake, “should be assigned to Pope in a classifica. tion of our English poets, has been a subject of frequent inquiry. It is evi. dent, that by far the greater part of his original productions consists of ethic and satiric poetry; and by those who estimate mere moral sentiment, or the exposure, in splendid versification, of fashionable vice or folly, as the highest province of the art, he must be considered as the first of bards. If, however, sublimity, imagination, and pathos be, as they assuredly are, the noblest efforts of the creative powers, and the most difficult of attainment, Pope will be found to have had some superiors, and several rivals. With Spenser, Shaks peare, and Milton, he cannot, in those essential qualities, enter into competi tion; and when compared with Dryden, Young, and Thomson, the mind hesi tates in the allotment of superiority.'?6
1 He cleared the sum of five thousand three hundred and twenty pounds.
2 *Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before ENVYP"- Prover os Ixvi. 4.
8 See Roscoe's edition of Pope, 10 vols. London, one of the choicest contributions to English literature of the present century. Read, also, that elegant and interesting ptece of criticism, Warton's
and Writings of Pope," a work of which it has been justly said that, "however often perused, it affords fresh delight, and may be considered as one of the books best adapted to excite a love of literature."
4 In person, Pope was short and deformed, of great weakness and delicacy of body, and hail, through life, suffered from in health. Warton remarks, that "his bodily make was of use to him as a writer," quoting the following passage from Lord Bacon's Essays: “It is good to consider de formity not as a sign, which is more deceivable; but as a cause, which seldom falletb of the effect. Whosoever hath any thing fixed in his person that doth induce contempt, hath also a perpetual spur in himself to rescue and deliver himself from scorn."
Read an admirable "Estimate of the Poctical Character and Writings of Pope," preting to the cond volume of Roscoe s edition,