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From The Humorous Poetry of the English Language from Chaucer to Saxe, with Notes, Explanatory and Biographical, by James Parton; Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1884; p. 676.


C A T A L O G U E   O F    S O U R C E S.

POPE, ALEXANDER — The poet of the time of Queen Anne; author of the ”Dunciad,“ which has been styled the most perfect of satires. Born in London, 1688; died, 1744. See p. 539.


Besides writing funny poetry like the Epigrams above, Pope was also a famously funny guy generally, according to ‘Joe Miller.’ In fact, he got top billing as the author of the very first jest in ‘ his’ book. See Jest I. He also starred in a few others: Jest LXVIII, and Jest CCXCIII. In one, however, he is portrayed as not very likeable, see Jest MCCXCVI from Joe Miller’s Jest Book, by Mark Lemon.

Not only did he crack jokes, he helped try to define ‘Wit,’ according to Mark Lemon, in his Preface, quoting him thus: “. . . Mr. Pope, who declares Wit ‘to consist in a quick conception of Thought and an easy Delivery.’ ”

Pope also had a few thoughts, and a couplet, on the game of Whist, according to ‘Cavendish’ on Whist.

Pope’s other works were widely known and admired, too. In fact our American poet Longfellow managed to use a line by Pope in a play on words of his own, see Jest DCXCI, from Joe Miller’s Jest Book, by Mark Lemon.

Cozzens, my favorite American writer, knew Pope and borrowed his works for his own funny poetical parodies. See Chapter VI, ofThe Sparrowgrass Papers, by Frederic S. Cozzens.

On this site, you can read an example of his serious writing A Sacred Eclogue in Imitation of Virgil’s ‘Pollio,’ by Alexander Pope.

There is a sample of his correspondence, see A Letter to Lord Charles Montague by Pope, about the manuscript of his English translation of Homer, which was, and is, famous.

The great English translation he made of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, inspired those ancient heroic deeds and thought in later generations. This lead to a very amusing poem by another American: A Monody, by Robert C. Sands.

Even on his death-bed, he was lovingly remembered as having left this world with a quip on his lips, see in the same book: Jest MCCLXXXIX.

More anecdotes, including death-bed speechifying, can be read on the section on Alexander Pope, Esq., in The Repository of Wit and Humor, selected and arranged by M. Lafayette Byrn, M.D..

Should you desire to see a physical remnant of Pope that has survived, find out where here Question 463, in Quizzism and Its Key: Quirks and Quibbles from Queer Quarters, by Albert P. Southwick.


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