Literary Criticism of Alexander Pope

By Bertrand A. Goldgar | Go to book overview

The Guardian No. 40

MONDAY, APRIL 27, 1713

Corydon and Thyrsis had driven their flocks together.
From that day it is Corydon, Corydon with us. 1.

I designed to have troubled the reader with no farther discourses of pastorals, but, being informed that I am taxed of partiality in not mentioning an author whose eclogues are published in the same volume with Mr. Philips's, I shall employ this paper in observations upon him, written in the free spirit of criticism and without apprehension of offending that gentleman, whose character it is that he takes the greatest care of his works before they are published and has the least concern for them afterwards.

I have laid it down as the first rule of pastoral that its idea should be taken from the manners of the Golden Age and the moral formed upon the representation of innocence; 'tis therefore plain that any deviations from that design degrade a poem from being true pastoral. In this view it will appear that Virgil can only have two of his eclogues allowed to be such. His first and ninth must be rejected because they describe the ravages of armies and oppressions of the innocent; Corydon's criminal passion for Alexis throws out the second; the calumny and railing in the third are not proper to that state of concord; the eighth represents unlawful ways of procuring love by echantments and introduces a shepherd whom an inviting precipice tempts to self-murder. As to the fourth, sixth, and tenth, they are given up by Heinsius, Salmasius, Rapin, 2. and the critics in general. They

____________________
1.
Compulerante greges Corydon et Thyrsis in unum.

Ex illo Corydon, Corydon est tempore nobis.

Virgil, Eclogue VII, 2, 70, trans. Fairclough. The eclogue is a contest between two shepherd-poets.

2.
See Rapin, De Carmine Pastorali, Part 3 [Pope].

-98-

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Literary Criticism of Alexander Pope
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Literary Criticism of Alexander Pope *
  • Regents Critics Series *
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction - The Occasion of Pope's Criticism ix
  • General Theory *
  • An Essay on Criticism (1711) 3
  • Preface to the Works of 1717 23
  • From Pope's Correspondence 29
  • Peri Bathous: of the Art of Sinking in Poetry (1728) 43
  • Criticism of Pastoral *
  • A Discourse on Pastoral Poetry (1704) 93
  • The Guardian No. 40 98
  • Criticism of Epic *
  • Preface to the Translation of the Iliad (1715) 107
  • From Pope's Observations on the Iliad (1715-1720) 131
  • Postscript to the Odyssey (1726) 147
  • Criticism of Drama *
  • Preface to the Works of Shakespeare (1725) 161
  • Index 177
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