There is a certain type of reader (more common than the cultured may suppose) who, when the name of Pope is mentioned exclaims, "Pope! That's the man who said 'Whatever is, is right.'" A little more searching of the memory, and he recalls that Pope was also responsible for such platitudes as "The proper study of mankind is man," and "An honest man's the noblest work of God." He shows a tendency to confuse Pope with Solomon, and he has been known to attribute a line from the "Essay on Man" to Shakespeare. It is to this type of reader that the present plain chronicle of the life and work of the poet is more especially dedicated. Short summaries are given of all the important poems, in the hope that such a taste will inspire a desire for more. No attempt has been made at independent criticism, but passages are quoted from the judgments of eighteenth-and nineteenth-century critics.
It seems desirable to apologize in advance for the sins of omission and commission which must inevitably find their way into a study of such an expert mystery-monger as Pope.
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