Alexander Pope, 1688-1744

[Mentioned in Retrospection, p. 77: Message for 1901, p. 30; Miscellany, p. 269]

Pope , representative poet of his time, was the only son of middle-aged parents. His father retired from business, and the family moved from London to Binfield when the boy was six. Not being a member of the Church of England, Pope was debarred from the public schools and the universities. He was taught by the family priest and for a short time attended school, but was largely self-educated.

A precocious child, he appears to have had a gentle, affectionate nature, and the sweetness of his voice won for him the nickname of "the little nightingale." Already frail, he met with an accident that resulted in a deformity which was a source of humiliation and sensitiveness to him all his life.

Before he was thirteen. Pope decided to be a poet and chose Dryden for his model. Pope recalls seeing Dryden about this time, "I remember his face well, for I looked upon him with veneration, and observed him very particularly." Pope's "Pastorals," written at the age of sixteen, were published in 1709. Impressed by them. Sir William Trumbull, a neighbor with whom Pope used to ride, recommended that Pope translate the "Iliad." This work appealed during the years 1715-1720 in six volumes. Addison's preference for another translation of the first book of the "Iliad." which appeared in the same week as Pope's, started one of the many quarrels Pope had with those he believed to be rivals.

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Signs of the Times
May 10, 1958

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