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ployed, is said to have been Dryden’s “Virgil;” and it had been tried again with great success when the “Tatlers” were collected into volumes. There was reason to believe that Pope's attempt would be successful. He was in the full bloom of reputation, and was personally known to almost all whom dignity of employment or splendour of reputation had made eminent: he conversed indifferently with both parties, and never disturbed the public with his political opinions; and it might be naturally expected, as each faction then boasted its literary zeal, that the great men who on other occasions practised all the violence of opposition, would emulate each other in their encouragement of a poet who delighted all, and by whom none had been offended. With those hopes, he offered an English “ Iliad” to subscribers, in six volumes in quarto, for six guineas; a sum, according to the value of money at that time, by no means inconsiderable, and greater than I believe to have been ever asked before. His proposal, however, was very favourably received; and the patrons of literature were busy to recommend his undertaking, and promote his interest. Lord Oxford, indeed, lamented that such a genius should be wasted upon a work not original; but proposed no means by which he might live without it. Addison recommended caution and moderation, and advised him not to be content with the praise of half the nation, when he might be universally favoured. The greatness of the design, the popularity of the author, and the attention of the literary world, naturally raised such expectations of the future sale, that the booksellers made their offers with great eagerness; but the highest bidder was Bernard Lintot, who became proprietor on condition of supplying, at his own expence, all the copies which were to be delivered to subscribers, or presented to friends, and paying two hundred pounds for every volume. - Of the Quartos it was, I believe, stipulated that none should be printed but for the author, that the subscription might not be depreciated; but Lintot impressed the same pages upon a swall Folio, and paper perhaps a little thinner; and sold exactly at half the price, for half a guinea each volume, books so little inferior to the Quartos, that, by a fraud of trade, those Folios, being afterwards shortened by cutting away the top and bottom, were sold 23 copies printed for the subscribers. Lintot printed two hundred and fisty on royal paper in Folio, for two guineas a volume; of the small Folio, having printed seventeen hundred and fifty copies of the first volume, he reduced the number in the other volumes to a thousand.
* Earlier than this, viz. in 1688, Milton's “Paradise Lott" had been published with great stic. cess by subscription, in solio, under the patronage of Mr. (afterwards Lord) Soners, E.1
It is unpleasant to relate that the bookseller, after all his hopes and all his liberality, was, by a very unjust and illegal action, defrauded of his profit. An edition of the English “Iliad” was printed in Holland in Duodecimo, and imported clandestinely for the gratification of those who were impatient to read what they could not yet afford to buy. This fraud could only be counteracted by an edition equally cheap and more commodious; and Lintot was compelled to contract his folio at once into a Duodecimo, and lose the advantage of an intermediate gradation. The notes, which in the Dutch copies were placed at the end of each book, as they had been in the large volumes, were now subjoined to the text in the same page, and are therefore more easily consulted. Of this edition two thousand five hundred were first printed, and five thousand a few weeks afterwards; but indeed great numbers were necessary to produce considerable profit. Pope, having now emitted his proposals, and engaged not only his own reputation, but in some degree that of his friends, who patronised his subscription, began to be frighted at his own undertaking; and finding himself at first embarrassed with difficulties, which retarded and oppressed him, he was for a time timorous and uneasy; had his nights disturbed by dreams of long journeys through unknown ways, and wished, as he said, “that “ somebody would hang him”.” This misery, however, was not of long continuance; he grew by degrees more acquainted with Homer's images and expressions, and practice increased his facility of versification. In a short time he represents himself as dispatching regularly fifty verses a day, which would shew him by an easy computation the termination of his labour. His own diffidence was not his only vexation. He that asks a subscripotion soon finds that he has enemies. All who do not encourage him, defame him. He that wants money will rather be thought angry than poor; and he that wishes to save his money conceals his avarice by his malice. Addison had hinted his suspicion that Pope was too much a Tory; and some of the Tories suspected his principles because he had contributed to the * Guardian,” which was carried on by Steele. To those who censured his politicks were added enemies yet more dangerous, who called in question his knowledge of Greek, and his qualifications for a translator of Homer. To these he made no public opposition; but in one of his Letters escapes from them as well as he can. At an age like hit, for he was not more than twenty-five, with an irregular education, and a coure of life of which much seems to have passed in conversation, it is not very likely to . As overflowed with Greek. But when he felt himself deficient he conso assistance; and what man of learning would refuse to help him; Milate enquiries into the force of words are less necessary in trans
- * Spence, - lating
lating Homer than other poets, because his positions are general, and his representations natural, with very little dependence on local or temporary customs, on those changeable scenes of artificial life, which, by mingling original with accidental notions, and crowding the mind with images which time effaces, produces ambiguity in diction, and obscurity in books. To this open display of unadulterated nature it must be ascribed, that Homer has sewer passages of doubtful meaning than any other poet either in the learned or modern languages. I have read of a man who being, by his ignorance of Greek, compelled to gratify his curiosity with the Latin printed on the opposite page, declared that from the rude simplicity of the lines literally rendered, he formed nobler ideas of the Homeric majesty than from the laboured elegance of polished versions. - Those literal translations were always at hand, and from them he could
easily obtain his author's sense with sufficient certainty: and among the
readers of Homer the number is very small of those who fin much in the Greek more than in the Latin, except the musick of the numbers. If more help was wanting, he had the poetical translation of “Eobanus Hessus,” an unweanied writer of Latin verses; he had the French Homers of La Valteire and Dacier, and the English of Chapman, IHobbes, and Ogilby. With Chapman, whose work, though now totally neglected, seems to have been popular almost to the end of the last century, he had very frequent consultations, and perhaps never translated any passage till he had read his version, which indeed he has been sometimes suspected of using instead of the original. Notes were likewise to be provided; for the six volumes would have been very little more than six pamphlets without them. What the mere perusai of the text could suggest, Pope wanted no assistance to collect or methodize; but more was necessary; many pages were to be filled, and learning must supply materials to wit and judgment. Something might be gathered from Dacier; but no man loves to be indebted to his contemporaries, and Dacier was accessible to common readers. Eustathius was therefore necessarily consulted. To read Eustathius, of whose work there was then no Latin version, I suspect Pope, if he had been willing, not to have been able: some other was therefore to be found, who had leisure as well as abilities; and he was doubtless most readily employed who would do much work for little money. The history of the notes has never been traced. Broome, in his preface to his poems, declares himself the commentator “in part upon the Iliad;" and it appears from Fenton's Letter, preserved in the Museum, that Broome was at first engaged in consulting Eustathius; but that after a time, whatewer was the reason, he desisted ; another man of Cambridge was then employed, who soon grew weary of the work; and a third that was recommended by Thirlby, is now discovered to have been Jortin, a man since well known
to the learned world, who complained that Pope having accepted and approved his performance, never testified any curiosty to see him, and who Professed to have forgotten the terms on which he worked. The terms which Fenton uses are very mercantile : “I think at first sight that his perfor“mances is very commendable, and have sent word for him to finish the “ 17th book, and to send it with his demands for his trouble. I have here “ enclosed the specimen; if the rest come before the return, I will keep “ them till I receive your order.” Broome then offered his service a second time, which was probably accepted, as they had afterwards a closer correspondence. Parnell contributed the Life of Homer, which Pope found so harsh, that he took great pains in correcting it: and by his own diligence, with such help as kindness or money could procure him, in somewhat more than five years he completed his version of the “Iliad,” with the notes. He began it in 1712, his twentyfifth year; and concluded it in 1718, his thirtieth year. When we find him translating fifty lines a day, it is natural to suppose that he would have brought his work to a more speedy conclusion. The “Iliad,” containing less than sixteen thousand verses, might have been dispatched in less than three hundred and twenty days by fifty verses in a day. The notes, compiled with the assistance of his mercenaries, could not be supposed to require more time than the text. According to this calculation, the progress of Pope may seem to have been slow; but the distance is commonly very great between actual performances and speculative possibility it is natural to suppose, that as much as has beca done to-day may be done to-morrow ; but on the morrow some difficulty immerges, or some external impediment obstructs. Indolence, interruption, business, and pleasure, all take their turns of retardation ; and every long work is lengthened by a thousand causes that can, and ten thousand that cannot, be recounted. Perhaps no extensive and multifarious performance was ever effected within the term originally fixed in the undertaker's mind. He that runs against Time, has an antagonist not subject to casualties. The encouragement given to this translation, though report seems to have over-rated it, was such as the world has not often seen. The subscribers were five-hundred and seventy-five. The copies for which subscriptions were given were six hundred and fifty four; and only six hundred and sixty were printed. For those copies Pope had nothing to pay; he therefore received, including the two hundred pounds a volume, five thousand three hundred and twenty poends four shillings without deduction, as the books were supplied by Lintot. - - By the success of his subscription Pope was relieved from those pecuniary distresses with which, notwithstanding his popularity, he had hitherto strugs gled. Lord Oxford had often lamented his disqualification for public em- ployment ployment, but never proposed a pension. While the translation of “Homer” was in its progress, Mr. Craggs, then secretary of state, offered to procure him a pension, which, at least during his ministry, might be enjoyed with secrecy. This was not accepted by Pope, who told him, however, that if he should be pressed with want of money, he would send to him for occasional supplies. Craggs was not long in power, and was never solicited for money by Pope, who disdained to beg what he did not want. With the product of this subscription, which he had too much discretion to squander, he secured his future life from want, by considerable annuities. The estate of the Duke of Buckingham was found to have been charged with five hundred pounds a year, payable to Pope, which doubtless his translation enabled him to purchase. It cannot be unwelcome to literary curiosity, that I deduce thus minutely the history of the English “Iliad.” It is certainly the noblest version of poetry which the world has ever seen ; and its publication must therefore be considered as one of the great events in the annals of Learning. To those who have skill to estimate the excellence and difficulty of this great work, it must be very desirable to know how it was performed, and by what gradations it advanced to correctness. Of such an intellectual process the knowledge has very rarely been attainable ; but happily there remains the original copy of the “Iliad,” which, being obtained by Bolingbroke as a curiosity, descended from him to Maliet, and is now by the solicitation of the late Dr. Maty reposited in the Museum. Between this manuscript, which is written upon accidental fragments of paper, and the printed edition, there must have been an intermediate copy, that was perhaps destroyed as it returned from the press. From the first copy I have procured a few transcripts, and shall exhibit first the printed ines; then, in a small print, those of the manuscripts, with all their variations, Those words in the small print which are given in Italicks, are cancelled in the copy, and the words placed under them adopted in their stead. The beginning of the first book stands thus :
The wrath of Peleus' son, the direful spring Of all the Grecian woes, O Goddess, sing, That wrath which hurl’d to Pluto's gloomy reign . The souls of nighty chiefs untimely slain.
- The stein Pelides' rage, O Goddess, sing. wrath Of all the woes of Greece the fatal spring, Grecian That strew’d with warriers dead the Phrygian plain, z heroes And peopled the dark hell with heroe, slain ; fill'd the shady hell with chiefs untinely
Vol. I. 3 U o whose
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