Abbildungen der Seite

satire ! He acknowledged the distinction in a second pamphlet, published with the voluminous title of "Another Occasional Letter from Mr. Cibber to Mr. Pope, wherein the new hero's preferment to his throne, in the Dunciad, seems not to be accepted, and the author of that poem his more rightful claim to it is asserted. With an expostulatory address to the Rev. Mr. W. W-n, author of the new Preface, and adviser in the curious improvements of that satire. By Mr. Colley Cibber.” The title-page also bore this motto,

Remember Sawney's fate,
Bang’d by the blockhead whom he strove to beat.

Parody on Lord Roscommon. This second epistle is decidedly inferior to the first, but it no doubt had the effect of irritating and annoying the poet, which was the object Cibber had chiefly, if not solely in view. “I am told the laureate is going to publish a very abusive pamphlet,” Pope writes to Warburton. “That is all I can desire; it is enough if it be abusive, and if it be his. He will be more to me than a dose of hartshorn." Johnson gives a comment on this. He had heard Richardson relate that he attended his father the painter, on a visit at Twickenham, when one of Cibber's pamphlets came into the hands of Pope, who said, “These things are my diversion.” They sat by him while he perused it, and saw his features writhing with anguish ; and young Richardson said to his father when they returned, that he hoped to be preserved from such diversion as had been that day the lot of Pope. The diversion was similar to the mirth excited by Dennis's first attack, and must have been recollected by Sheridan when he drew Sir Fretful Plagiary.

In the summer of this year (1743) the poet was again at Bath. He met Lord Chesterfield—then the only person at the fashionable resort whom he knew--and the

he says, made him dine en malade, though Pope's physician prescribed garlic. He visited, as usual, at Prior Park, and Martha Blount was invited to meet him. A quarrel un




fortunately took place between Mrs. Allen and her female visitor, which for a time alienated Pope from his benevolent and excellent friend. Ruffhead, on the authority of Warburton, ascribes the misunderstanding to Miss Blount's arrogant and unbecoming deportment. Another account (but evidently an erroneous one) represents the disagreement as arising from a request on the part of Miss Blount to have the use of Mr. Allen's chariot to convey her to the Roman Catholic chapel at Bath, a request which the host declined to comply with, as he then filled the office of Mayor

[graphic][ocr errors][merged small]

of the city, and could not withi propriety permit his carriage to be seen at the door of a place of worship to which, as a magistrate, he was restrained from giving a public sanction. Pope took the whole blame on himself.

3 Hawkins. Mr. Allen was mayor in 1742, but this disagreement did not take place till the following year. The affair of the chariot would have

He left Prior Park in indignation, and wrote to Miss Blount, who remained behind him, entreating her also to quit the house.

So strange a disappointment as I met with (he says); the extreme sensibility which I know is in your nature, of such monstrous treatment, and the bitter reflection that I was wholly the unhappy cause of it, did really so distract me, while with you, that I could neither speak, nor move, nor act, nor think. I was like a man stunned or stabbed, where he expected an embrace; and I was dejected to death, seeing I could do or say nothing to comfort, but every thing rather to hurt you. But for God's sake know that I understood it was goodness and generosity you showed me under the appearance of anger itself. When you first bid me go to Lord B.'s from them and hasten thither, I was sensible it was no resentment of their conduct to me, and to remove me from such treatment, though you stayed alone to suffer it yourself. But I depended you would not have been a day longer in the house after I left you last, and of all I have endured nothing gave me so much pain of heart as to find by your letters you were still under their roof.

He resolved, he said, never more to set foot in the house, and he implored Martha to leave them without a word. This hasty and passionate letter the poet enclosed under cover to a Mr. Edwin, because, as he significantly adds, “I should not wonder if listeners at doors should open letters. W. is a sneaking parson, and I told him he flattered.”' W. was no doubt Warburton, who was then at Prior Park, and who was treated with double complaisance, as Martha Blount told Spence, to render their ill usage of Mr. Pope more apparent. It is highly improbable that Mr.

been alluded to in Pope's Letter, if it had formed the ground of offence. It is probable, however, that Martha's rigid Catholicism may have aggravated if not caused the dispute. In the collection of letters at Maple-Durham, is one written from Bath, in 1747, by Mr. William Chapman, the priest of the Catholic Chapel there, and addressed to Martha Blount, who had been visiting at the house of Mr. Edwin, connected with Mr. Allen : I believe," he “I shall never forget that remarkable instance of the true Catholic spirit you then displayed ; and I must frankly own that this, and indeed the whole of your behaviour that evening, has left such tender and affectionate concern for your eternal interest in my mind, that it hns often vented itself since in the most earnest application to heaven in your behalf.”





Allen, who so often entertained the poet, and who so cordially admired his genius, should have treated his visitor with rudeness. The lady of the mansion had probably looked askance on Miss Blount, and the deportment of the latter was by no means conciliatory. The storm, however, soon blew over. Pope and Allen were again friends, and Warburton was reinstated in his friendly and confidential office of critical adviser and commentator.

The preparation of a complete, correct, and annotated edition of his works was the latest care and anxiety of the pdet. Warburton revised the Preface and Essay prefixed to Homer, and supplied comments and notes to the different poems. Pope was lavish of compliments to his coadjutor. “ You have,” he wrote, “not only monthly, but weekly of late, loaded me with favours of that kind which are most acceptable to veteran authors; those garlands which a commentator weaves to hang about the poet, and which are flowers both of his own gathering and painting too—not blossoms springing from the dry author.” Warburton wandered far in quest of these editorial flowers, and sometimes gathered thistles! He explored the recesses of his curious and multifarious erudition, brought forward paradoxes to illustrate doubtful and to obscure obvious truths, and he racked his invention to find analogies which were visible only through his “critical telescope.” The poet writes again on the same subject, conscious that his increasing weakness rendered it necessary to work while it was yet day :

Whatever little respites I have had from the daily care of my malady have been employed in revising the papers “ On the Use of Riches,” which I

4 In one of the letters of Lady Hervey to the Countess of Suffolk there is an allusion to Miss Blount, couched in the form of a medical allegory: “I am sorry our poor little friend was forced to go to the Bath for so unpleasant a distemper; for I am informed it was to get rid of some proud flesh that is grown to his side and makes him extremely uneasy. It is thought it will prove a mortification."

would have ready for your last revise against you come to town, that they may be begun with while you are here. I own the late encroachments upon my constitution make me willing to see the end of all further care about me or my works. I would rest for the one in a full resignation of my being to be disposed of by the Father of all mercy ; and for the other (though indeed a trifle, yet a trifle may be some example), I would commit them to the candour of a sensible and reflecting judge, rather than to the malice of every short-sighted and malevolent critic, or inadvertent and censorious reader. And no hand can set them in so good a light, or so well turn their best side to the day, as your own. This obliges me to confess I have for some months thought myself going, and that not slowly, down the hill. The rather as every attempt of the physicians, and still the last medicines more forcible in their nature, have utterly failed to serve me. I was at last, about seven days ago, taken with so violent a fit at Battersea, that my friends Lord M. and Lord B. sent for present help to the surgeon ; whose bleeding me, I am persuaded, saved my life, by the instantaneous effect it had; and which has continued so much to amend me, that I have passed five days without oppression.

On the 12th of December, 1743, the poet made his will. (See Appendix.) A sum of £1000 was left to his halfsister, Mrs. Racket, and her sons. Martha Blount was to receive an equal sum, with all his household effects, and the residue of his estate after debts and legacies were paid ; the produce of the latter being invested in proper securities, and paid half yearly to Miss Blount, was to descend on her death to Mrs. Racket and her family. The amount of his fortune seems to have been under £5000.

Short visits to Battersea were still occasionally indulged in. To Bolingbroke and Marchmont he writes :

Sunday night, Twickenham. MY DEAR LORDS,—Yes, I would see you as long as I can see you, and then shut my eyes upon the world as a thing worth seeing no longer. If your charity would take up a small bird that is half dead of the frost, and set it a-chirping for half an hour I will jump into my cage, and put myself into your hands to-morrow at any hour you send. Two horses will be enough to draw me (and so would two dogs if you had them), but even the fly upon the chariot-wheel required some bigger animal than itself to set it a-going. Quadrigis petimus bene vivere is literally true when one cannot get into good company without horses; and such is my case. I am faithfully to you both a most cordial, entire servant,


« ZurückWeiter »