Sunday, May 30, 2010

Alexander Pope

"...Pope, who then filled the poetical throne without a rival, it may reasonably be presumed, must have been particularly struck by the sudden appearance of such a poet; and, to his credit, let it be remembered, that his feelings and conduct on the occasion were candid and liberal. He requested Mr. Richardson, son of the painter, to endeavour to find out who this new authour was. Mr. Richardson, after some inquiry, having informed him that he had discovered only that his name was Johnson, and that he was some obscure man, Pope said; 'he will soon be deterre.' We shall presently see, from a note written by Pope, that he was himself afterwards more successful in his inquiries than his friend..."

From Boswell's "Life of Johnson".

At the time Samuel Johnson burst onto the literary scene, with the publication of his satirical poem "London" (1738), Alexander Pope was the first poet in England.  He was also big enough to recognize Johnson's talent.  Johnson was appreciative of Pope as well, commenting on his translation of the Iliad that it was "a performance which no age or nation could hope to equal".  Pope was to live only six years after first learning of Johnson, dying on May 30, 1744.

Around 1819, Walter Scott engaged in some correspondence with Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe, who had contributed to his "Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border", referencing Alexander Pope.

Sunday, January 16, 1819.



MY DEAR SHARPE,

I have already bespoke Spence, but of late I have not been looking after my books, so have not received him. Never suppose you want such books as I have while I am to the fore. I have always detested literary quarrels, in which, as in common gambling-houses, you stake your tie and temper against those of very unworthy antagonists. But Pope was a fine fellow. His fault was, he was quite literary, and had neither the business nor the idleness of life to divide his mind from his Parnassian pursuits. Those who have not his genius may be so far compensated by avoiding his foibles, and least of all ought they to be nourished by your true and sincere friend,


WALTER SCOTT.


I return with best thanks La Belle Chuck.

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