« ZurückWeiter »
the thirteenth. A perfect swarm of worshippers in the Court of Love, who sang for ever of ladies' smiles, of spring, flowers, and nightingales! The robust intellect of Chaucer required stronger food, and though he dallied occasionally with these Delilahs of the south, he wisely sought for inspiration in his own heart and in the life and nature around him.
Among the other plans of Pope was an epic poem, to be entitled “Brutus,” the hero of which was to attempt the great ocean in search of a new country, and encounter, like Æneas, long perils both by sea and land. There seems to have been no part of this epic written. It was a mere vision, like the poet's grand architectural designs, and was equally unattainable by his resources. He had likewise, according to Ruffhead, planned two Odes or Moral Poems, on the mischiefs of arbitrary power and the folly of ambition.
A severe shock was given to Pope's most cherished feelings by the publication in Dublin of his correspondence with Swift, said to have been printed by the dean's consent and direction. Swift's cousin, Mrs. Whiteway, assured the poet that she had used her utmost endeavours to prevent the publication, and went so far as to 'secrete the book in which the letters were kept, until it was demanded from her and delivered to the Dublin printer, George Faulkner. Her son-in-law, Mr. Deane Swift, insisted upon writing a preface to justify Pope from having any knowledge of the work, and to lay it upon the corrupt practices of the printers in London ; but this Pope would not agree to, as contrary to the fact.15 The poet had employed every means, by friendly agency and remonstrance, and by threats of legal proceedings, to prevent this publication; but the only concession he could obtain was that Swift ordered the printer to submit to any excisions he should make : an
15 Note by Pope to the last letter in the genuine edition of 1741,
SECOND VOLUME OF PROSE WORKS.
indulgence which the poet does not seem to have exercised. “ The whole thing,” he writes to Mr. Allen," is too manifest to admit of any doubt in any man, how long this thing has been working; how many tricks have been played with the dean's papers ; how they were secreted from him from time to time, while they feared his not complying with such a measure; and how, finding his weakness increase, they have at last made him the instrument himself for their private profit; whereas I believe before they only intended to do this after his death.” Curll, of course, seized upon
the Dublin edition and reprinted it ;16 and Pope, to insure a correct copy, issued a second volume of his Prose Works, containing the correspondence with Swift, in a more complete form, and also the Memoirs of Scriblerus. This volume was published, in the style of his other works, in folio and quarto, in 1741, and was his only publication of that year. Some passages suppressed in the Dublin edition of the letters were restored, and one of these is curious. “I showed my cousin the above letter," Swift writes to Pope, August 24, 1738, “and she assures me, that a great collection of your letters to are put up and sealed, and in some very safe hand.” Pope remarks, “ 'Tis written just thus in the original”—and very puzzling and sphinx-like the original must have appeared. Swift's mental decay and loss of memory too readily and painfully supply an explana
16 “ It is well known,” said Curll in his preface to the work, “ that the Dublin Edition of these letters is lawsul prize here ; and whatever we print is the same there. The safe hand to whom Dean Swift delivered them, conveyed them safely to us ; so that all the pretences of sending a young per [Lord Orrery] to go in search of them, or the attempts of an old woman [Mrs. Whiteway] to suppress them was arrant trifling.” Pope, however, filed a bill against Curll, and obtained an injunction. Lord Mansfield said “ Dr. Swift disclaimed the publication, and was extremely angry. The only question was whether the property was in Pope, who filed the bill, or in Swift, who was no party to the suit." Counsel. seems to hint his suspicions of his friend ; but it was allowed that a property did subsist in the writer, for the injunction was granted and acquiesced in."-See Roscoe's Pope, vol. i. 473.
tion of the case ; but he was influenced also by the secret workings of vanity and ambition, now more prominent as his understanding declined. He had thrice requested Pope to inscribe to him one of those Epistles by which the poet conferred honour and immortality on his friends. On the 3rd of September, 1735, he wrote to him, “I have the ambition, and it is very earnest, as well as in haste, to have one Epistle inscribed to me while I am alive, and you just in the time when wit and wisdom are in the height; I must once more repeat Cicero's desire to a friend : Orna me." Some months afterwards (April 22, 1736), he writes again : “I have a little repined at my being hitherto slipped by you in your Epistles, not from any other ambition than the title of a friend, and in that sense I expect you shall perform your promise, if your health, and leisure, and inclination will permit.” At the close of the same year he returns to the subject, and says his acquaintance resent that they had not seen his name at the head of one of the Epistles of Morality. Pope unaccountably resisted the repeated appeals, though he promised compliance. Perhaps he found it difficult to add to the elegance of the complimentary lines addressed to Swift at the commencement of the Dunciad, and the allusions to him in his Epistles and Imitations ; but Swift was fed with strong flatteries by his Irish friends, and we have no doubt he was mortified by Pope's neglect on a point so tender and so strictly personal. Swift then solicited a similar commemoration from the pen of Bolingbroke. He says (Aug. 8, 1738), “I can hardly hope to live till you publish your history, and am vain enough to wish that my name could be squeezed in among the few subalterns, quorum pars parva fui : if not, I will be revenged, and contrive some way to be known to futurity, that I had the honour to have your lordship for my best
This thirst for posthumous fame, co
17 There was a general impression that three public men were then engaged in writing Memoirs of their own Times, namely Bolingbroke, POPE'S LAST LETTER TO SWIFT.
operating with the interested wishes and solicitations of the persons surrounding him, may have prompted Swift to sanction the publication of his correspondence; and it is remarkable that he had preserved copies of his own letters to Pope, which appeared in the Dublin edition along with those of his correspondent. His love of fame was stronger than his misanthropy! Pope's last letter to his friend, written after this injury to his feelings and his fortune, is the best proof of the sincerity of his friendship and of his warm affection for Swift. It is dated from Duke Street, Westminster (where he had called on Lord Orrery), March 22, 1740 :-
MY DEAR FRIEND,—When the heart is full of tenderness, it must be full of concern at the absolute impotency of all words to come up to it. You are the only man now in the world who costs me a sigh every day of my life, and the man it troubles me most, although I most wish to write to. Death has not used me worse in separating from me for ever poor Gay, Arbuthnot, &c. than disease and absence in separating you so many years. But nothing shall make me forget you, and I am persuaded you will as little forget me; and most things in this world one may afford to forget, if we remember, and are remembered by our friends. I value and enjoy more the memory of the pleasures and endearing obligations I have formerly received from you, than the perfect possession of any other. I am less anxious every day I live for present enjoyments of any sort, and my temper of mind is calmer as to worldly disappointments and accidents, except the loss of friends by
Chesterfield, and Carteret. His Majesty, George II., spoke very plainly as to the qualifications of the historical triumvirate. “They will all three,” said the king, “ have about as much truth in them as the Mille et Une Nuits. Not but I shall like to read Bolingbroke's, who, of all those rascals and knaves that have been lying against me these ten years, has certainly the best parts and the most knowledge: he is a scoundrel, but he is a scoundrel of a higher class than Chesterfield. Chesterfield is a little tea-table scoundrel, that tells little womanish lies to make quarrels in families; and tries to make women lose their reputations, and make their husbands beat them, without any object but to give himself airs, as if anybody could believe a woman would like a dwarf baboon." The Queen said all these three histories would be three heaps of lies, but lies of different kinds ; she said Bolingbroke’s would be great lies, Chesterfield's little lies, and Carteret's lies of both sorts.”—Lord Hervey's Memoir, ii. 360.
death, the only way (I thank God) that I ever have lost any. Think it not possible that my affection can cease but with my last breath. If I could think yours was alienated, I should grieve, but not reproach you. If I felt myself even hurt by you, I should be confident you knew not the blow you gave, but had your hand guided by another. If I never more had a kind word from you, I should feel my heart the same it has ever been
I must confess a late incident has given me some pain ; but I am satistied you were persuaded it would not have given me any. And whatever unpleasant circumstances the printing our letters might be attended with, there was one that pleased me—that the strict friendship we have borne each other so long is thus made known to all mankind. As far as it was.your will I cannot be angry at what in all other respects I am quite uneasy under. Had you asked me before you gave them away, I think I could have proposed some better monument for our friendship, or at least of better materials and you must allow me to say, this was not my erecting but yours. My part of them is far too mean, and how inferior to what you have ever in your works set up to me! And can I see these without shame when I reflect on the many beautiful, pathetic, and amiable lines of yours, which carry to posterity the name of a man who, if he had not every good quality which you so kindly ascribe to him, would be so proud of none as the constancy and the justice of his esteem for you ? Adieu ! While I can write, speak, remember, or think, I am yours,
Swift could not have read this letter without strong emotion ; but disease had by this time incapacitated him for correspondence. His memory was almost gone, and in the following year he was pronounced unable to manage his own affairs, and guardians were appointed to take care of him. Loss of speech followed loss of memory, and all the faculties of his soul were suspended. The last scene in the mortal career of this extraordinary man-speechless and alone
Still as the silence round about his lair,
seems to us more awful, more pathetic, than any creation in fiction.