Tidbits from Alexander Pope

A reviewer of Maynard Mack's biography of Pope, writing in the National Review in 1986

Mack offers sound but unoriginal readings of the poems and reminds us that, after Shakespeare, Pope "contributed more to our common language than any other poet." He also examines Pope's astonishing technique and diversity of tone, which ranged from the erotic wit of The Rape of the Lock ("Oh Hadst thou, Cruel!, been content to seize / Hairs less in sight, or any Hairs but these!") and the subtle sensitivity of An Essay on Man ("The spider's touch, how exquisitely fine!/ Feels at each thread, and lives along the line") to the inquisitive arrogance of the inscription on the collar of the Prince of Wales's puppy ("I am his Highness' Dog at Kew,/Pray tell me Sir, whose Dog are you?") and the savage pride in the power of the satirist in 1738 ("Yes, I am proud; I must be proud to see/Men not afraid of God, afraid of me").

The last quotation is interesting. The frail Pope refused to cower in fear of those who might do him physical harm, but he did not venture out without his Great Dane (Bounce) and two pistols.