Tuesday, September 29, 2009


[Some bits of Alexander Pope's table-talk, from Joseph Spence's Anecdotes, Observations and Characters of Books and Men:]

If I am a good poet? (for in truth I do not know whether I am or not.) But if I should be a good poet, there is one thing I value myself upon, and which can scarce be said of any of our good poets: and that is, "that I have never flattered any man, nor ever received any thing of any man for my verses."

Middling poets are no poets at all. There is always a great number of such in each age, that are almost totally forgotten in the next. A few curious inquirers may know that there were such men, and that they wrote such and such things; but to the world they are as if they had never been.

[Pope's sister, Mrs. Racket:] When my brother's faithful dog, and companion in these walks, died; he had some thoughts of burying him in the garden, and putting a piece of marble over his grave, with the epitaph; O RARE BOUNCE! and he would have done it, I believe, had not he apprehended that some people might take it to have been meant as a ridicule of Ben Jonson.

1 comment:

Vance Maverick said...

I had to google to get the Jonson bit. But even without that, Pope seems a contender for the Geoffrey Hill Plane Leaf of False Modesty.