"Blessed Is He Who Expects Nothing, For He Shall Never Be Disappointed"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: One of England's greatest poets and the literary dictator of his age, Alexander Pope is considered the epitome of neoclassicism. His work is notable for its polished execution and skillful use of various elements: didacticism, the heroic couplet, epigram, wit, and satire. Much of the last is malicious, even venomous, and sometimes reveals jealousy or spite; no one was safe from these attacks, and he was often called "the wicked wasp of Twickenham." Pope was a hunchback, crippled by illness in childhood, and some of his outbursts were no doubt due to resentment over his condition. His close friends were Gay and Jonathan Swift, both famous in their own right–Swift as satirist, Gay as writer of The Beggar's Opera, an early forerunner of musical comedy. Gay was often in financial straits; having been promised eventual support by the Princess of Wales, he refused a more immediate post, for he was a vain man. Pope wrote to congratulate him; the letter is not only an interesting sidelight on the times, but is characteristic of its author, for he indulges in a splenetic diatribe against his friends. The opening lines are in the form of an epigram:

I have many years ago magnified in my own mind, and repeated to you, a ninth beatitude, added to the eighth in the Scripture: "Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed."