Thursday, June 19, 2008
Keep a low profile
Advice for followers:
"Be not the first by whom the new are tried,
Nor yet the last to lay the old aside."
--Alexander Pope, An Essay on Criticism, 1711
English poet & satirist (1688 - 1744)
Advice for leaders:
"Be thou the first true merit to befriend, his praise is lost who stays till all commend."
Pope was born in the City of London to Alexander (senior, a linen merchant) and Edith Pope (née Turner), who were both Roman Catholic. Pope's education was affected by the laws in force at the time upholding the status of the established Church of England, which banned Catholics from teaching on pain of perpetual imprisonment. Pope was taught to read by his aunt and then sent to two surreptitious Catholic schools, at Twyford and at Hyde Park Corner. Catholic schools, while illegal, were tolerated in some areas.
From early childhood he suffered numerous health problems, including Pott's disease (a form of tuberculosis affecting the spine) which deformed his body and stunted his growth, no doubt helping to end his life at the relatively young age of 56. He never grew beyond 1.37 metres (4 feet 6 inches) tall. Although he never married, he had many women friends and wrote them witty letters.
In 1700, his family was forced to move to a small estate in Binfield, Berkshire due to strong anti-Catholic sentiment and a statute preventing Catholics from living within 10 miles of either London or Westminster.