ePub 版

Mr. Bowles "will now plainly set before the literary public all the circumstances which have led to his name and Mr. Gilchrist's being brought together," &c. Courtesy requires, in speaking of others and ourselves, that we should place the name of the former first- and not "Ego et Rex meus." Mr. Bowles should have written "Mr. Gilchrist's name and his."

This point he wishes "particularly to address to those most respectable characters, who have the direction and management of the periodical critical press." That the press may be, in some instances, conducted by respectable characters is probable enough; but if they are so, there is no occasion to tell them of it; and if they are not, it is a base adulation. In either case, it looks like a kind of flattery, by which those gentry are not very likely to be softened; since it would be difficult to find two passages in fifteen pages more at variance, than Mr. Bowles's prose at the beginning of this pamphlet, and his verse at the end of it. In page 4. he speaks of "those most respectable characters who have the direction, &c. of the periodical press," and in page 10. we find

"Ye dark inquisitors, a monk-like band,

Who o'er some shrinking victim-author stand,
A solemn, secret, and vindictive brood,
Only terrific in your cowl and hood."

And so on-to "bloody law" and "red scourges," with other similar phrases, which may not be altogether agrecable to the above-mentioned "most respectable characters." Mr. Bowles goes on, "I concluded my observations in the last Pamphleteer, with feelings not unkind towards Mr. Gilchrist, or "[it should be nor] "to the author of the review of Spence, be he whom he might.""I was in hopes, as I always have been ready to ħidmit any errors I might have been led into, or prejudice I might have entertained, that even Mr. Gilchrist might be disposed to a more amicable mode of discussing what I had advanced in regard to Pope's moral character." As Major Sturgeon observes, "There never was a set of more amicable officers with the exception of a boxing-bout between Captain Shears and the Colonel."

A page and a half-nay only a page before - Mr. Bowles re-affirms his conviction, that "what he has said of Pope's moral character is (generally speaking) true, and that his " poetical principles are invariable and invulnerable." He has also published three pamphlets,―ay, four of the same tenour, and yet, with this declaration and these declamations staring him and his adversaries in the face, he speaks of his "readiness to admit errors or to abandon prejudices!!!" His use of the word "amicable" reminds me of the Irish Institution (which I have somewhere heard or read of) called the

["Hold, Sir!" said Johnson; " don't talk of rudeness: remember, Sir, you told me," puffing hard with passion struggling for a vent, "I was short-sighted.

"Friendly Society," where the president always carried pistols in his pocket, so that when one amicable gentleman knocked down another, the difference might be adjusted on the spot, at the harmonious distance of twelve paces.

[ocr errors]

But Mr. Bowles "has since read a publication by him (Mr. Gilchrist) containing such vulgar slander, affecting private life and character," &c. &c. ; and Mr. Gilchrist has also had the advantage of reading a publication by Mr. Bowles sufficiently imbued with personality; for one of the first and principal topics of reproach is that he is a grocer, that he has a "pipe in his mouth, ledger-book, green canisters, dingy shop-boy, half a hogshead of brown trea cle," &c. Nay, the same delicate raillery is upon the very title-page. When controversy | has once commenced upon this footing, as Dr. ! Johnson said to Dr. Percy, "Sir, there is an end of politeness-we are to be as rude as we please Sir, you said that I was short-sighted.”i As a man's profession is generally no more in his own power than his person- both having | been made out for him-it is hard that he should be reproached with either, and still more that an honest calling should be made a reproach. If there is any thing more honourable to Mr. Gilchrist than another, it is, that being engaged in commerce he has had the taste, and found the leisure, to become so able a proficient in the higher literature of his own and other countries. Mr. Bowles, who will be proud to own Glover, Chatterton, Burns, and Bloomfield for his peers, should hardly have " quarrelled with Mr. Gilchrist for his critie. Mr. Gilchrist's station, however, which might conduct him to the highest civic honours, and to boundless wealth, has nothing to require apology; but even if it had, such a reproach was not very gracious on the part of a clergyman, nor graceful on that of a gentleman. allusion to "Christian criticism" is not particularly happy, especially where Mr. Gilchrist is accused of having "set the first example of this mode in Europe.' What Pagan criticism may have been, we know but little; the names of Zoilus and Aristarchus survive, and the works of Aristotle, Longinus, and Quintilian: but of "Christian criticism" we have already had some specimens in the works of Philelphus Poggius, Scaliger, Milton, Salmasius, the Cruscanti (versus Tasso), the French Academy (against the Cid), and the antagonists of Voltaire and of Pope-to say nothing of some articles in most of the reviews, since their earliest institution in the person of their respectable and still prolific parent, "The Monthly." Why, then, is Mr. Gilchrist to be singled out having set the first example?" A sole page of Milton or Salmasius contains more abuse rank, rancorous, unleavened abuse than all


[ocr errors]

We have done with civility. We are to be as rude as we please.". ."- Boswell, vol. vii. p. 111.]


that can be raked forth from the whole works of many recent critics. There are some, indeed, who still keep up the good old custom; but fewer English than foreign. It is a pity that Mr. Bowles cannot witness some of the Italian controversies, or become the subject of one. He would then look upon Mr. Gilchrist as a panegyrist.

[ocr errors]

In the long sentence quoted from the article in "The London Magazine," there is one coarse image, the justice of whose application I shall not pretend to determine: -"The pruriency with which his nose is laid to the ground" is an expression which, whether founded or not, might have been omitted. But the anatomical minuteness appears to me justified even by Mr. Bowles's own subsequent quotation. To the point: "Many facts tend to prove the peculiar susceptibility of his passions; nor can we implicitly believe that the connexion between him and Martha Blount was of a nature so pure and innocent as his panegyrist Ruffhead would have us believe," &c.-"At no time could she have regarded Pope personally with attachment," &c.-" But the most extraordinary circumstance in regard to his connexion with female society, was the strange mixture of indecent and even profane levity which his conduct and language often exhibited. The cause of this particularity may be sought, perhaps, in his consciousness of physical defect, which made him affect a character uncongenial, and a language opposite to the truth."-If this is not "minute moral anatomy," I should be glad to know what is! is dissection in all its branches. I shall, however, hazard a remark or two upon this quotation.


tachment; but I deny that Pope could not be regarded with personal attachment by a worthier woman. It is not probable, indeed, that a woman would have fallen in love with him as he walked along the Mall, or in a box at the opera, nor from a balcony, nor in a ball-room; but in society he seems to have been as amiable as unassuming, and, with the greatest disadvantages of figure, his head and face were remarkably handsome, especially his eyes. He was adored by his friends - friends of the most opposite dispositions, ages, and talents-by the old and wayward Wycherley, by the cynical Swift, the rough Atterbury, the gentle Spence, the stern attorney-bishop Warburton, the virtuous Berkeley, and the "cankered Bolingbroke." Bolingbroke wept over him like a child1; and Spence's description of his last moments is at least as edifying as the more ostentatious account of the deathbed of Addison. The soldier Peterborough and the poet Gay, the witty Congreve and the laughing Rowe, the eccentric Cromwell and the steady Bathurst, were all his intimates. The man who could conciliate so many men of the most opposite description, not one of whom but was a remarkable or a celebrated character, might well have pretended to all the attachment which a reasonable man would desire of an amiable woman.

Pope, in fact, wherever he got it, appears to have understood the sex well. Bolingbroke, "a judge of the subject," says Warton, thought his" Epistle on the Characters of Women" his It" masterpiece." And even with respect to the grosser passion, which takes occasionally the name of "romantic,” accordingly as the degree of sentiment elevates it above the definition of love by Buffon, it may be remarked, that it does not always depend upon personal appearance, even in a woman. Madame Cottin was a plain woman, and might have been virtuous, it may be presumed, without much interruption. Virtuous she was, and the consequences of this inveterate virtue were that two different admirers (one an elderly gentleman) killed themselves in despair (see Lady Morgan's "France"). I would not, however, recommend this rigour to plain women in general, in the hope of securing the glory of two suicides apiece. I believe that there are few men who, in the course of their observations on life, may not have perceived that it is not the greatest female beauty who forms the longest and the strongest passions.


To me it appears of no very great consequence whether Martha Blount was or was not Pope's mistress, though I could have wished him a better. She appears to have been a cold-hearted, interested, ignorant, disagreeable woman, upon whom the tenderness of Pope's heart in the desolation of his latter days was cast away, not knowing whither to turn as he drew towards his premature old age, childless and lonely, like the needle which, approaching within a certain distance of the pole, becomes helpless and useless, and, ceasing to tremble, rusts. She seems to have been so totally unworthy of tenderness, that it is an additional proof of the kindness of Pope's heart to have been able to love such a being. But we must love something. I agree with Mr. B. that she "could at no time have regarded Pope personally with attachment," because she was incapable of at

["O great God! what is man?' said Lord Bolingbroke, looking on Mr. Pope, and repeating it several times, interrupted with sobs. He then added, I never in my life knew a man that had so tender a heart for his particular friends, or a more general friendship for mankind. I have known him for these thirty years, and value myself more for that man's love than-'Sinking his head, and losing his voice in tears."- SPENCE.]

But, apropos of Pope.-Voltaire tells us that the Marechal Luxembourg (who had precisely Pope's figure) was not only somewhat too

2 ["Amour," exclaims Buffon, in his Discours sur la Nature des Animaux, "pourquoi fais-tu l'etat-heureux de tous les ètres, et le malheur de l'homme? c'est qu'il n'y a que le physique de cette passion qui soit bon; c'est que, malgré ce que peuvent dire les gens épris, le moral n'en vaut rien."]

[blocks in formation]

"Lumine Acon dextro, capta est Leonilla sinistro,
Et potis est forma vincere uterque Deos;
Blande puer, lumen quod habes concede sorrori,
Sic tu cæcus Amor, ic erit illa Venus."
Wilkes, with his ugliness, used to say that
"he was but a quarter of an hour behind the
handsomest man in England;" and this vaunt
of his is said not to have been disproved by cir-
cumstances. Swift, when neither young, nor
handsome, nor rich, nor even amiable, inspired
the two most extraordinary passions upon record,
Vanessa's and Stella's.

"Vanessa, aged scarce a score,
Sighs for a gown of forty-four."

cent, and sometimes profane levity, which his conduct and language often exhibited," and which so much shocks Mr. Bowles, I object to the indefinite word "often;" and in extenuation of the occasional occurrence of such language, it is to be recollected that it was less the tone of Pope than the tone of the time. With the exception of the correspondence of Pope and his friends, not many private letters of the period have come down to us; but those, such as they are a few scattered scraps from Farquhar and others are more indecent and coarse than any thing in Pope's letters. The comedies of Congreve, Vanbrugh, Farquhar, Cibber, &c., which naturally attempted to represent the manners and conversation of private life, are decisive upon this point; as are also some of Steele's papers, and even Addison's. We all for seventeen years the prime minister of the know what the conversation of Sir R. Walpole,


country, was at his own table, and his excuse for his licentious language, viz. "that every body understood that, but few could talk rationally upon less common topics." The reineHe requited them bitterly; for he seems to ment of latter days, which is perhaps the have broken the heart of the one, and worn out consequence of vice, which wishes to mask and that of the other; and he had his reward, for soften itself, as much as of virtuous civilisation, he died a solitary idiot in the hands of servants. had not yet made sufficient progress. For my own part, I am of the opinion of Johnson, in his "London," has two or three Pausanias, that success in love depends upon passages which cannot be read aloud, and AdFortune. 2 66 They particularly renounce Ce-dison's " Drummer" some indelicate allusions lestial Venus, into whose temple, &c. &c. &c. I remember, too, to have seen a building in Egina in which there is a statue of Fortune, holding a horn of Amalthea; and near her there is a winged Love. The meaning of this is, that the success of men in love affairs depends more on the assistance of Fortune than the charms of beauty. I am persuaded, too, with Pindar (to whose opinion I submit in other particulars), that Fortune is one of the Fates, and that in a certain respect she is more powerful than her sisters."- See Pausanias, Achaics, book vii. chap. 26. p. 246. Taylor's "Translation."

The expression of Mr. Bowles, "his consciousness of physical defect," is not very clear. It may mean deformity, or debility. If it alludes to Pope's deformity, it has been attempted to be shown that this was no insuperable objection to his being beloved. If it alludes to debility, as a consequence of Pope's peculiar conformation, I believe that it is a physical and known fact that hump-backed persons are of strong and vigorous passions. Several years ago, at Mr. Angelo's fencing rooms, when I was a pupil of him and of Mr. Jackson, who had the use of his rooms in Albany on the alternate days, I recol lect a gentleman named B-ll-gh-t, remarkable for his strength, and the fineness of his figure. His skill was not inferior, for he could stand up to the great Captain Barclay himself, with the muffles on; —a task neither easy nor agreeable to a pugilistic aspirant. As the by-standers were one day admiring his athletic proportions. he remarked to us, that he had five brothers as tall and strong as himself, and that their father and mother were both crooked, and of very smad stature; I think he said, neither of them five feet high. It would not be difficult to adduce "to the strange mixture of inde- similar instances; but I abstain, because the

Grimm has a remark of the same kind on the different destinies of the younger Crebillon and Rousseau. The former writes a licentious novel, and a young English girl of some fortune and family (a Miss Strafford) runs away, and crosses the sea to marry him; while Rousseau, the most tender and passionate of lovers, is obliged to espouse his chambermaid. If I recollect rightly, this remark was also repeated in the Edinburgh Review of Grimm's Correspondence, seven or eight years ago. In regard

[blocks in formation]

2 [————" were I to ponder to infinity,
The more I should believe in her divinity.
She rules the present, past, and all to be yet;
She gives us luck in lotteries, love, and marriage;
I cannot say that she's done much for me yet,
Not that I mean her bounties to disparage," &c.
Werks, p. 150.]


subject is hardly refined enough for this immaculate period, this moral millenium of expurgated editions in books, manners, and royal trials of divorce.

This laudable delicacy — this crying-out elegance of the day- reminds me of a little circumstance which occurred when I was about eighteen years of age. There was then (and there may be still) a famous French" entremetteuse," who assisted young gentlemen in their youthful pastimes. We had been acquainted for some time, when something occurred in her line of business more than ordinary, and the refusal was offered to me (and doubtless to many others), probably because I was in cash at the moment, having taken up a decent sum from the Jews, and not having spent much above half of it.

The adventure on the tapis, it seems, required some caution and circumspection. Whether my venerable friend doubted my politeness I cannot tell; but she sent me a letter couched in such English as a short residence of sixteen years in England had enabled her to acquire. After several precepts and instructions, the letter closed. But there was a postscript. It contained these words: -"Remember, Milor, that delicaci ensure everi succés." The delicacy of the day is exactly, in all its circumstances, like that of this respectable foreigner. "It ensures every succés," and is not a whit more moral than, and not half so honourable as, the coarser candour of our less polished ancestors.

[ocr errors]


time when all my relations (save one) fell from me like leaves from the tree in autumn winds, and my few friends became still fewer, — when the whole periodical press (I mean the daily and weekly, not the literary press) was let loose against me in every shape of reproach, with the two strange exceptions (from their usual opposition) of "The Courier " and "The Examiner," the paper of which Scott had the direction was neither the last nor the least vituperative. Two years ago I met him at Venice, when he was bowed in griefs by the loss of his son, and had known, by experience, the bitterness of domestic privation. He was then earnest with me to return to England; and on my telling him, with a smile, that he was once of a different opinion, he replied to me, "that he and others had been greatly misled; and that some pains, and rather extraordinary means, had been taken to excite them.' Scott is no more, but there are more than one living who were present at this dialogue. He was a man of very considerable talents, and of great acquirements. He had made his way, as a literary character, with high success, and in a few years. Poor fellow! I recollect his joy at some appointment which he had obtained, or was to obtain, through Sir James Mackintosh, and which prevented the further extension (unless by a rapid run to Rome) of his travels in Italy. I little thought to what it would conduct him. Peace be with him!-and may all such other faults as are inevitable to humanity be as readily forgiven him, as the little injury which he had done to one who respected his talents, and regrets his loss.

I pass over Mr. Bowles's page of explanation, upon the correspondence between him and Mr. S. It is of little importance in regard to Pope, and contains merely a re-contradiction of a contradiction of Mr. Gilchrist's. We now come to a

To return to Mr. Bowles. "If what is here extracted can excite in the mind (I will not say of any layman,' of any Christian,' but) of any human being," &c. &c. Is not Mr. Gilchrist a "human being?" Mr. Bowles asks "whether in attributing an article," &c. &c. " to the critic, he had any reason for distinguishing him with that courtesy," &c. &c. But Mr. Bowles was wrong in "attributing the article" to Mr. Gil-point where Mr. Gilchrist has, certainly, rather christ at all; and would not have been right in calling him a dunce and a grocer, if he had written it.

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]

exaggerated matters; and, of course, Mr. Bowles makes the most of it. Capital letters, like Kean's name, "large upon the bills," are made use of six or seven times to express his sense of the outrage. The charge is, indeed, very boldly made; but, like "Ranold of the Mist's " practical joke of putting the bread and cheese into a dead man's mouth, is, as Dugald Dalgetty says, "somewhat too wild and salvage, besides wasting the good victuals."

Mr. Gilchrist charges Mr. Bowles with "suggesting" that Pope "attempted" to commit "a rape" upon Lady M. Wortley Montague. There are two reasons why this could not be true. The first is, that like the chaste Letitia's pre

Poor Scott is now no more. In the exercise of his vocation, he contrived at last to make himself the subject of a coroner's inquest. But he died like a brave man, and he lived an able one. I knew him personally, though slightly. Al-vention of the intended ravishment by Fireblood though several years my senior, we had been schoolfellows together at the "grammar-schule" (or, as the Aberdonians pronounce it, "squeel ") of New Aberdeen. He did not behave to me quite handsomely in his capacity of editor a few years ago, but he was under no obligation to behave otherwise. The moment was too tempting for many friends and for all enemies.

At a

(in Jonathan Wild), it might have been impeded by a timely compliance. The second is, that however this might be, Pope was probably the less robust of the two; and (if the Lines on Sappho were really intended for this lady) the asserted consequences of her acquiescence in his wishes would have been a sufficient punishment. The passage which Mr. Bowles quotes, however,

Z z

insinuates nothing of the kind; it merely charges her with encouragement, and him with wishing to profit by it, - a slight attempt at seduction, and no more. The phrase is, "a step beyond decorum." Any physical violence is so abhorrent to human nature, that it recoils in cold blood from the very idea. But, the seduction of a woman's mind as well as person is not, perhaps, the least heinous sin of the two in morality. Dr. Johnson commends a gentleman who having seduced a girl who said, "I am afraid we have done wrong," replied, "Yes, we have done wrong,"


"for I would not pervert her mind also." Othello would not "kill Desdemona's soul." Mr. Bowles exculpates himself from Mr. Gilchrist's charge; but it is by substituting another charge against Pope. "A step beyond decorum" has a soft sound, but what does it express? In all these cases, 66 n'est que le premier pas qui coute." Has not the Scripture something upon "the lusting after a woman being no less criminal than the crime? step beyond decorum," in short, any step beyond the instep, is a step from a precipice to the lady who permits it. For the gentleman who makes it it is also rather hazardous if he does not succeed, and still more so if he does.

[ocr errors]


Mr. Bowles appeals to the "Christian reader!' upon this "Gilchristian criticism." Is not this play upon such words "a step beyond decorum" in a clergyman? But I admit the temptation of a pun to be irresistible.

But "a hasty pamphlet was published, in which some personalities respecting Mr. Gilchrist were suffered to appear. If Mr. Bowles will write "hasty pamphlets," why is he so surprised on receiving short answers? The grand grievance to which he perpetually returns is a charge of "hypochondriacism," asserted or insinuated in the Quarterly. I cannot conceive a man in perfect health being much affected by such a charge, because his complexion and conduct must amply refute it. But were it true, to what does it amount?-to an impeachment of a liver complaint. "I will tell it to the world," exclaimed the learned Smelfungus. "You had better," said I, "tell it to your physician." There is nothing dishonourable in such a disorder, which is more peculiarly the malady of students. It has been the complaint of the good, and the wise, and the witty, and even of the gay. Regnard, the author of the last French comedy after Molière, was atrabilious; and Molière himself, saturnine. Dr. Johnson, Gray, and Burns, were all more or less affected by it occasionally. It was the prelude to the more awful malady of Collins, Cowper, Swift, and Smart; but it by no means follows that a partial affliction of this disorder is to terminate like theirs. But even were it so,

"Nor best, nor wisest, are exempt from thee; Folly Folly's only free." PENROSE.

If this be the criterion of exemption, Mr. Bowles's last two pamphlets form a better certificate of

sanity than a physician's. Mendehlson and Bayle were at times so overcome with this depression, as to be obliged to recur to seeing "puppet-shows, and counting tiles upon the opposite houses," to divert themselves. Dr. | Johnson at times "would have given a limb to recover his spirits." Mr. Bowles, who is (strange to say) fond of quoting Pope, may perhaps an


"Go on, obliging creatures, let me see

All which disgraced my betters met in me.” But the charge, such as it is, neither disgraces them nor him. It is easily disproved if false; and even if proved true, has nothing in it to make a man so very indignant. Mr. Bowles himself appears to be little ashamed of his “hasty pamphlet ; " for he attempts to excuse it by the "great provocation;" that is to say, by Mr. Bowles's supposing that Mr. Gilchrist was the writer of the article in the Quarterly, which he

was not.

"But, in extenuation, not only the great provocation should be remembered, but it ought to be said, that orders were sent to the London booksellers, that the most direct personal passages should be omitted entirely," &c. This is what the proverb calls “breaking a head and giving a plaster;" but, in this instance, the plaster was not spread in time, and Mr. Gilchrist does not seem at present disposed to regard Mr. Bowles's courtesies like the rust of the spear of Achilles, which had such "skill in surgery.'

[ocr errors]

But Mr. Gilchrist has no right to object, as. the reader will see." I am a reader, a "gentle reader," and I see nothing of the kind. Were I in Mr. Gilchrist's place, I should object erceedingly to being abused; firstly, for what I did write, and, secondly, for what I did n write; merely because it is Mr. Bowles's will and pleasure to be as angry with me for having written in the London Magazine, as for not having written in the Quarterly Review.

"Mr. Gilchrist has had ample revenge; for he has, in his answer, said so and so," &c. &c. | There is no great revenge in all this; and I presume that nobody either seeks or wishes it. What revenge? Mr. Bowles calls names, and he is answered. But Mr. Gilchrist and the Quarterly Reviewer are not poets, nor pretenders to poetry; therefore they can have no envy nor malice against Mr. Bowles: they have no acquaintance with Mr. Bowles, and can have no personal pique; they do not cross his path of life, nor he theirs. There is no political fend

between them. What, then, can be the motive of their discussion of his deserts as an editor?veneration for the genius of Pope, love for his memory, and regard for the classic glory of their country. Why would Mr. Bowles edite? Had he limited his honest endeavours to poetry, very little would have been said upon the subject, and nothing at all by his present antagonists.

Mr. Bowles calls the pamphlet a "mud-cart," and the writer a "scavenger." Afterward he

[ocr errors]
« 上一頁繼續 »