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Cabinet 14: Verse

Alexander Pope, Miscellaneous Poems and Translations. 2nd ed. London: Printed for Bernard Lintott and William Lewis, 1714. DeB Eb 1714 M

Alexander Pope At twenty, Alexander Pope (1688-1744) was a famous poet. He was also a critic, a good conversationalist, an excellent letter writer, an influential garden designer, and a connoisseur of architecture and art. His friends (often found at Button's Coffee House) included Steele, Addison, Jonathan Swift, Dr John Arbuthnot, Thomas Parnell, John Gay, and Robert Harley, the Queen's first minister. Portions of perhaps his most famous poem, Rape of the Lock, were written in a fortnight during the summer of 1711 and published anonymously in Bernard Lintott's Miscellany (1712). The mock-heroic poem was finally expanded to five cantos and printed in 1714. This 'second edition' (actually a re-issue with additions) of Miscellaneous Poems and Translations retains the first two canto versions and highlights Pope's name on the title page. Note the elaborate frontispiece with the delightful Pegasus.

James Thomson, The Seasons. London: Printed for J. Millan…and A. Millar, 1730. DeB Eb 1730 T

Thompson Thomson Spring The Scottish poet James Thomson (1700-1748) was known for his indolence. It was recorded that he ate the ripe side of peaches which were still hanging on a tree, without taking his hands from his pockets, and when Dr Burney found him in bed one day at 2 p.m. and asked why he was not up, Thomson replied: 'I have no motive to rise.' Thomson is also best known for his poem The Seasons, which, after minor revisions in 1745 and 1746, was reprinted about 400 times, including translations. Winter was first published in April 1726; Summer appeared in February 1727. The rest soon followed. Thomson also wrote the words to 'Rule Britiannia.'

Peter Pindar, Peter's Prophecy; Or, The President and Poet. London: Printed for G. Kearsley, 1788. DeB Eb 1774 M

Pinder image Pinder 'Hell seize the Pack! - unconscionable dogs! - / Snakes, spiders, beetles, chaffers, tadpoles, frogs,/ All swallow'd to display what man can do, / And must the villains still have something new? -/ Tell, then, each pretty President Creator,/ G-d d-mn him, that I'll eat an Alligator.' So wrote Peter Pindar (Dr John Wolcot) in Peter's Prophecy (1788), a satire on Sir Joseph Banks and the Royal Society. Wolcot, one of the most important satirists of the later eighteenth century, also attacked members of the Royal Academy (Benjamin West, Dominic Serres, Johann Zoffany) and the follies and foibles of George III. Of 'Farmer George' he said: 'the king had been a good subject to him, and he a bad one to the king.'

[Thomas Chatterton], Poems, Supposed to have been Written at Bristol. London: Printed for T. Payne and Son, 1777. DeB Eb 1777 C

Chatterton, double page Chatterton, title page Thomas Chatterton died young - aged seventeen (1752-1770). This boy-genius claimed authenticity for his forged pseudo-medieval poetry and began his literary career in Felix Farley's Bristol Journal, one of the many periodicals of the day. Anna Seward, 'the swan of Lichfield', was one of his supporters and she blamed the neglect of the London literary establishment for his early suicide in 1770. 'An Excelente Balade of Charitie' was first published in 1777 and is one of the Rowley Poems, declared by Chatterton to have been written by a priest of the late fifteenth century.