« НазадПродовжити »
house would tumble over his head, made arts swer, “ What care I for the house, I am only a “ lodger !" I fancy it is the best time to die when one is in the best humour; and so excelfive weak as I now am, I may say with conscience, that I am not at all uneasy at the thought that many men, whom I never had any esteent for, are likely to enjoy this world after me. When I reflect what an inconfiderable little atom every single man is, with respect to the whole creation, methinks it is a shame to be concerned at the removal of such a trivial animal as I am. The morning after my exit the sun will rise as bright as ever, the flowers smell as sweet, the plants spring as green, the world will proceed in its old course, people will laugh as heartily, and marry as fast, as they were used to do. “ The “ memory of man, as it is elegantly expressed in the Book of Wisdom,“ pafseth away as theremem“ brance of a guest that tarrieth but one day." There are reasons enough, in the fourth chapter of the same book, to make any young man contented with the prospect of death. " For “honourable age is not that which standeth in “ length of time, or is measured by number of
years. But wisdom is the grey hair to men, “and an unspotted life is old age. He was “ taken away speedily, left wickedness should “ alter his understanding, or deceit beguile his “ soul,” &c. I am your, &c. A. Pope.
Aug. 4, 1712. R. ADDISON desired me to tell you,
that he wholly disapproves the manner of treating Mr. Dennis in a little pamphlet by way of Dr. Norris's account *. When he thinks fit to take notice of Mr. Dennis's objections to his writings f, he will do it in a way Mr. Dennis Thall have no just reason to complain of. But when the papers abovementioned were offered to be communicated to him, he said he could not, either in honour or conscience, be privy to such a treatment, and was sorry to hear of it, I am, Sir, your very humble servant,
L E T T E R CCCCVII.
From Mr. Pope.
Nov. 7, 1712.
WAS the other day in company with five
or fix men of some learning ; where chancing to mention the famous verses which the Em
* Of the frenzy of Mr. John Dennis ; a narrative written by
peror Adrian spoke on his death-bed, they were all agreed that it was a piece of gaiety unworthy of that prince in those circumstances. I could not but differ from this opinion': me. thinks it was by no means a gay, but a very serious soliloquy to his soul at the point of its de. parture ; in which sense I naturally took the verses at my first reading them, when I was very young, and before I knew what interpretation the world generally put upon them.
“ Animula vagula, blandula,
* Nec (ut foles) dabis joca?" “ Alas, my soul! thou pleasing companion of “ this body, thou fleeting thing that art now
deserting it! whither art thou Aying? to “ what unknown scene? all trembling, fearful, “ and pensive ! what now is become of thy for“mer wit and humour? thou shalt jest and be
gay no more."
I confess, I cannot apprehend where lies the trifling in all this : it is the most natural and obvious reflection imaginable to a dying man: and if we consider the Emperor was a heathen, that doubt concerning the future fate of his soul will seem so far from being the effect of want of thought, that it was scarce reasonable he should
think otherwise ; not to mention that here is a plain confession included of his belief in 'its im. mortality. The diminutive epithets of vagula, blandula, and the reft, appear not to nie as expressions of levity, but rather of endearment and concern; such as we find in Catullus, and the authors of Hendeca-syllabi after him, where they are used to express the utmost love and tenderness for their mistresses. If you think me right in my notion of the last words of Adrian, be pleased to insert it in the Spectator * ; if not, to suppress it. I am, &c.
A. POPE. ADRIANI morientis ad ANIMAM. Translated. Ah, fleeting spirit! wandering fire,
That long hast warm'd my tender breast,
No more a pleasing, chearful gueft?
To what dark, undiscover'd shore?
And wit and humour are no more!
L ET T E R CCCCVIII.
Nov. 12, 1712.
twice, and cannot find any thing amiss, of weight enough to call a fault, but see in it a * See Spectator, No DXXXII. Nov. 10, 1712. Z
thousand thousand beauties. Mr. Addifon shall see it to-morrow : after his perusal of it, I will let you know his thoughts. I defire you would let me know whether you are at leisure or not? I have a design *, which I shall open a month or two hence, with the assistance of the few like yourself. If your thoughts are unengaged, I shall explain myself further. I am your, &c.
LE T Τ Ε R CCCCIX.
Nov. 16, 1712.
have shewn to the poem I sent you, but will oblige me much more by the kind severity I hope for from you. No errors are fo trivial but they deserve to be mended. But since you say you see nothing that may be called a fault, can you but think it so, that I have confined the attendance of guardian spirits to Heaven's favourites only? I could point you to several, but it is my business to be informed of those faults I do not know; and as for those I do, not to talk of them, but to correct them. You speak of that
poem in a style I neither merit, nor ex
* This was “ The Guardian,” in which Pope affifted.
+ This is not now to be found in the “ Temple of Fame," which is the poem here spoken of.