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mother, together with that of three of her sisters, appears in the parish register of Worsborough: "1642, June 18, baptized Edith, daughter of Mr. William Turner.”8 The historian of the Deanery of Doncaster, Mr. Hunter, con
ceives that the prefix of “Mr.” to William Turner's name would not have been made if he had not been regarded as something above the mere yeomanry of the time. The same addition, it will be recollected, distinguishes Shak
8 An elder daughter, Martha, was baptized Nov. 20, 1641; Margaret, Sept. 1, 1643; Jane, Nov. 25, 1645. The poet's parents were both apparently of the same age, born in 1642, and consequently in their 46th year at the time of Pope's birth. The latter states that his mother was ninety-three years of age at the time of her death in 1733 ; but the entry in the register (her baptism following that of an elder sister) would seem to make her age only ninety-one.
speare's father in the town records of Stratford-upon-Avon from a certain John Shakspeare, a shoemaker, who long troubled and confused the antiquaries. One of Edith Turner's sisters was married to Samuel Cooper, the celebrated portrait-painter, to whom both Cromwell and Charles II. sat, and whose widow enjoyed a pension from the French court. Cooper was termed “Vandyke in miniature," and he was the friend of Butler, the author of Hudibras, honourable distinctions to him both as an artist and a man.
Mrs. Pope had previously been married to a Mr. Rackett, by whom she had a son named Charles ; and the wife of this gentleman, with her three sons, was regarded with kindred affection by Pope, who assisted the family during his life, and made a provision for them by his will. Of no less than fourteen sisters and three brothers Edith Pope came at last to be the sole survivor. She lived to a great age, and had the rare felicity of seeing her son crowned with comparative wealth and the highest literary honours, the companion of nobles, and the first poet of his age; and she experienced from him the most devoted attention and unbounded affection.
O Friend ! may each domestic bliss be thine !
Epistle to Arbuthnot.
The elder Pope had been successful in business. He had saved, according to Martha Blount, about £10,000; but he was unambitious and fond of the country; and when the Revolution came, destroying the hopes and even endangering the lives and property of the Roman Catholics, he withdrew from trade and the city. He was then about forty-six years of age, but having only one child, and that one of
delicate frame, and from the religion of his parents disqualified for civil employment, there was little in his case to tempt any further pursuit of fortune. He retired first to Kensington and afterwards to Binfield, where a number of Roman Catholics seem to have resided. Binfield formed part of Windsor Forest, and is about nine miles from the town of Windsor, and two from the post-town of Oakingham or Wokingham. To this skirt of the great forest,
situated in the tract called the Royal Chace, the family removed about the year 1694, and there they continued to reside for above twenty years. A small house near the public road, with twenty acres of land, formed their rural possession. Economy was necessary in the management of their moderate competency, especially as Catholics were then subjected to double taxes as well as penal statutes, and could not place out their money on real securities. The usual resource was purchasing annuities from friends ; but
the elder Pope is said to have put his money in a strong box and lived upon the principal.O
And certain laws, by sufferers thought unjust,
Imit. of Horace, Second Ep. Second Book.
The favourite occupation of the elder Pope was his garden:
Plants cauliflowers, and boasts to rear
And his success was not inconsiderable; for Sir William Trumbull, a retired statesman, whose seat was about two miles distant, has commemorated Mr. Pope's skill in gardening, and acknowledged that he, Sir William, could not grow such artichokes as those which the retired merchant of Binfield occasionally presented him with. The Pope man
9 The laws against the Roman Catholics, in spite of the efforts of William III., were marked by a Draco-like severity ; but they were leniently administered. By the act of 1700 perpetual imprisonment was adjudged as the penalty for any priest exercising his clerical functions, with a premium of £100 to the informer; every Catholic was required, on arriving at the age of eighteen, to take the oaths of allegiance and supremacy, and to renounce transubstantiation; without which he could not purchase or inherit lands, and the inheritance passed to the next of kin being a Protestant ! To keep a school, board youth, or even profess Catholicism, was made a crime liable on conviction a penalty of £100. It is creditable to the national character that though our ancestors had the bigotry to pass such persecuting laws, they had not the cruelty to follow them up in the same spirit. The Catholics, however, were a proscribed and retired class, and had to submit to popular contumely and insult, which were still further aggravated after the rising of 1715.
POPE'S WOOD IN WINDSOR FOREST.
A little house, with trees a row,
It has since been raised and transformed into a handsome villa residence. Two of the trees, noble elms, still remain at the gate of the house, and the poet's study has been preserved. On the lawn is a cypress-tree which Pope is said to have planted—a tradition common to all poetical residences. Milton has still an apple-tree at Horton and a mulberry-tree at Cambridge ; and Shakspeare's mulberrytree, with the story of its ruthless and Gothic destruction, has a fame as universal as his dramas. The enthusiasm of poetical admiration seeks for such tangible objects as seeming to give us an earthly hold on immortal minds, and invests them with the interest of holy relics. Part of the forest of Windsor now bears the name of Pope's Wood, and among those tall spreading beeches with smooth, grey, fluted trunks, he first met the Muse, and “lisped in numbers.” 10
His country retirement and sylvan walks were highly important at this susceptible period of life in the formation of Pope's poetical character. He soon ceased to be a descriptive poet, and, with a weakness observable on other subjects, he depreciated what he did not adopt or prefer. Description was with him synonymous with imbecility; but the censure can only apply to weak versifiers and to bad description. No eminent poet of this class who
10 “ There was a particular beech-tree under which Pope used to sit, and it is the tradition of the place, that under that tree he composed the Windsor Forest. The original tree being decayed, Lady Gower of Billhill had a memorial carved upon the bark of another immediately adjoining : ‘HERE POPE SUNG. During Lady Gower's life the letters were new cut every three or four years.”—Bowles, 1806. This tree was destroyed by a storm about thirty years since ; but there is still a fine grove of beeches on the spot, which is elevated, and commands a rich and extensive view. There are no traditional accounts of Pope or of any of his friends extant about Binfield. The neighbourhood is a very changeable one, and no family, gentle or simple, has been there long enough to become the repository of any tradition of that period.