In March of 1743 while talking with Joseph Spence, Alexander Pope intimated that, had circumstances been different, he might have written a major work on the faults of the English educational system. Pope's comment on that occasion reveals the importance he attached to such an endeavor. Pope's statement was not a spur-of-the-moment remark. His deep interest in education and his perception of its vital importance to his society can be seen in the notes he made in 1734 toward the writing of his "opus magnum." Though he never finished that single, great ethic work, Pope's thoughts on education did eventually find their way into print in the fourth book of the Duncaid (1743). Pope thus had the interest and the time to formulate carefully his ideas about education and to consider how best to present those ideas in his poetry. Here, as elsewhere in Pope's poetry, his philosophical position and his poetic technique were his own unique adaptations of what he encountered in his reading. The range of authors Pope may have drawn upon even in his few lines on grammar school education is wide and interesting. The purpose of this article is to present briefly a few of the many works that probably influenced his satire of the grammar schools and to suggest how and why he altered and blended these sources as he did.
Rivers, William E.
"Pope, Pedagogues, and Politicians,"
University of Dayton Review: Vol. 15:
1, Article 13.
Available at: https://ecommons.udayton.edu/udr/vol15/iss1/13