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Alexander Pope (1688–1744). Complete Poetical Works. 1903.

Poems: 1713–17

Lines to Lord Bathurst

  • In illustration Mitford refers to Pope’s letter to Lord Bathurst of September 13, 1732, where ‘Mr. L.’ is spoken of as ‘more inclined to admire God in his greater works, the tall timber.’ (Ward.) Proof is lacking that these lines belong to Pope. They were printed by E. Curll in 1714.

  • ‘A WOOD!’ quoth Lewis, and with that

    He laugh’d, and shook his sides of fat.

    His tongue, with eye that mark’d his cunning,

    Thus fell a-reas’ning, not a-running:

    ‘Woods are—not to be too prolix—

    Collective bodies of straight sticks.

    It is, my lord, a mere conundrum

    To call things woods for what grows under ’em.

    For shrubs, when nothing else at top is,

    Can only constitute a coppice.

    But if you will not take my word,

    See anno quint. of Richard Third;

    And that ’s a coppice call’d, when dock’d,

    Witness an. prim. of Harry Oct.

    If this a wood you will maintain,

    Merely because it is no plain,

    Holland, for all that I can see,

    May e’en as well be term’d the sea,

    Or C[onings]by be fair harangued

    An honest man, because not hang’d.’