Abbildungen der Seite



When the frost had broken up, a new difficulty to locomotion occurred. The authority of a royal Proclamation now prescribed limits to the declining poet's excursions. The threatened invasion of England by the French, accompanied by the young Pretender, caused a general alarm throughout the kingdom, and all Roman Catholics were prohibited from appearing within ten miles of London. The enemy was actually seen off our coast; there was a fleet of fifteen ships of the line and five frigates; and some transports, containing “ Cæsar and all his fortunes, or Charles Edward and 7,000 troops, under Marshal Saxe, had embarked at Dunkirk. The English Channel fleet, commanded by Sir John Norris, came within a league of the Brest squadron. Walpole says the coasts were covered with people to see the engagement; but at seven in the evening the wind changed, and the French fleet escaped. A violent storm shattered and wrecked the transports, and the expedition was glad to put back to Dunkirk. This was on the 25th of February. Bolingbroke, who must have felt peculiarly awkward and perplexed at the seemingly approaching contest, seeing he had served both the courts of St. James and St. Germains, and was trusted by neitherwrote to Marchmont, “The crisis is terrible, much to be feared, little to be hoped. God help us !” In the same note, however, the versatile peer showed that he was not so absorbed in politics as to forget the claims of friendship. “In all events,” he says, “I will be at Twickenham on Sunday morning, and I confess I should be for letting Ward see Pope and prescribe to him.” The poet himself had consulted a quack practitioner, Dr. Thomson, a man who had, according to Johnson, by large promises and free censures of the common practice of physic, forced himself into sudden reputation. Thomson recommended the use of waters, and the regular medical attendants conceived that such a prescription was unsuited to a patient suffering under dropsical asthma. About this time the poet received a letter announcing a visit from his old friend Allen. "I thank

you very kindly,” Pope replied," I am sure we shall meet with the same hearts we ever met." The Government Proclamation was an obstacle to their meeting in London. " The utmost I can do I will venture to tell you in your ear. I may slide along the Surrey side (where no Middlesex justice can pretend any cognisance), to Battersea, and there cross the water for an hour or two, in a close chair, to dine with you or so.

But to be in town I fear will be imprudent, and thought insolent. At least hitherto, all comply with the proclamation.”

Mr. Allen came to Twickenham on the 22nd of March, and Pope communicated to Martha Blount an account of the visit, and of his attempt to clear up the misunderstanding at Prior Park. As this is apparently the last letter written by the poet to his life-long friend and inseparable companion, we subjoin it entire :

DEAR MADAM,- Writing is become very painful to me, if I would write a letter of any length. In bed, or sitting, it hurts my breast; and in the afternoon I can do nothing, still less by candle-light. I would else tell you everything that passed between Mr. Allen and me. He proposed to have stayed only to dinner ; but recollecting the next day was Good Friday, he said he would take a bed here, and fast with me. The next morning I desired him to come into my room before I rose, and opened myself very freely upon the subject, requiring the same unreserve on his part. I told him what I thought of Mrs. Allen's conduct to me before you came, and both hers and his after. He did pretty much what you expected ; utterly denied any unkindness or coolness, and protested his utmost desire, and answered for hers, to have pleased you; laid it all upon the mutual dissatisfaction between you and her, and hoped I would not be altered toward him by any misrepresentation you might make; not that he believed you would tell an untruth, but that you saw things in a mistaken light. I very strongly told him you never made any such;

5 Mr. Roscoe dates this letter 1742. It was clearly written in 1744 as the quarrel at Prior Park did not take place till October, 1743. W may remark that the house at Prior Park, built by Mr. Allen and afterwards occupied by Warburton, was accidentally destroyed by fire in 1836. At the time of its destruction it was occupied by Dr. Baines, a Roman Catholic bishop.



nor, if he considered, was it possible, since all that had passed I saw with my own eyes, and heard with my own ears. I told him I did not impute the unkindness shewn me, in behaving so coldly, to him originally, but to Mrs. Allen ; and fairly told him I suspected it to have proceeded from some jealousy she had of some designs we had upon his house at Hampton, and confirmed it by the reports I had heard of it from several hands. But he denied this utterly too. I pressed then, that she must have had some very unjust or bad thing suggested to her against you; but he assured me it all rested upon a mutual misunderstanding between you two, which appeared in two or three days, and which he spoke to his wife about, but found he could make her not at all easy in; and that he never in his whole life was so sorry at any disappointment. I said much more, being opener than I intended at first; but finding him own nothing, but stick to this, I turned to make slighter of it, and told him le should not see my behaviour altered to Mrs. Allen so much as hers had been to me (which he declared he did not see); and that I could answer for it, Mrs. Blount was never likely to take any notice of the whole, so far from misrepresenting any particular.

There were some other particulars, which I may recollect, or tell when we meet. I thought his behaviour a little shy; but in mine, I did my very best to show I was quite unconcerned what it was. He parted, inviting himself to come again at his return in a fortnight. He has been very ill, and looks so. I don't intend to see them in town. But God knows whether I can see any body there ; for Cheselden is going to Bath next Monday, with whom at Chelsea I thought to lodge, and so get to you in a morning.

My own condition is much at one ; and, to save writing to you the particulars, which I know you desire to be apprized of, I enclose my letter to the Doctor.

I assure you I don't think half so much what will become of me, as of you; and when I grow worst, I find the anxiety for you doubled. Would to God you would quicken your haste to settle, by reflecting what a

6 Pope breathes a similar wish in another letter. “I could wish you had once the constancy and resolution to act for yourself, whether before or after I leave you,” &c. He had much trouble in adjusting Miss Blount's affairs, and seldom had the satisfaction to please her.— Bowles. There is in reality no trace of dissatisfaction. By settling, Pope evidently means that she should take up bousekeeping and have an establishment of her own. She seems at this time to have been much with Lady Gerard, alluded to in the postscript to the above letter. This lady was, we suppose, of the rich Catholic family of Gerard, of New Hall, Lancashire, the widow of Sir William Gerard, the sixth baronet, who was married to Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Clifford of Lytham, Lancashire. Dr. King, pleasure it would be to me just to see it, and to see you at ease; and then I could contentedly leave you to the providence of God in this life, and resign myself to it in the other. I have little to say to you when we meet, but I love you upon unalterable principles, which makes me feel my heart the same to you as if I saw you every hour. Adieu.

Easter day, [March 25, 1744.] Pray give my services to Lady Gerard ; and pray get me some answer to Dr. King, or else it will cost me a letter of excuse to have delayed it so long.

I do not understand by your note, nor by Mrs. Arbuthnot's, whether you think of coming hither to-morrow, or when. Mr. Murray's depends on his recovery, which is uncertain ; and Lord Bolingbroke, the end of the week.

On the following day, Pope addressed another short note to Marchmont and Bolingbroke :

Easter Monday. MY DEAR LORDS,—When I see a finer day, or feel a livelier hour, I find my thoughts carried to you, with whom, and for whom chiefly I desire to live. I am a little revived to-day, and hope to be more so by the end of the week, since I think it was the time you gave me hopes you would pass a day or two here. Mr. Murray, by that time, or sooner, if he can, will meet you. I hope Lord Bolingbroke has settled that with him in town. Mr. Warburton is very desirous to wait on you both. If he comes to Battersea in a morning, pray furnish him with my chaise to come on hither, and let the chaise be left here, of whose earthly part I shall make use in my garden, though not of its aquatic. My faithful services wait ori Lady Marchmont.

The same day, on a scrap of paper, with a pencil, he wrote to his trusted friend Richardson, “ You had seen me had I been well. Ill news I did not care to tell you, and I have not been abroad this month, not out of my chamber, nor able to see any but nurses. My asthma seems immoveable, but I am something easier. God preserve you!"? His last letter to Warburton was written in the following

mentioned in the same postscript, was Dr. William King, the Jacobite, Principal of St. Mary Hall, Oxford. In anecdotes of his contemporaries, written by Dr. King, it is said that Pope hastened his death by dramdrinking

7 Roscoe's Pope, vol. i. p. 549.



month (if a wrong conjectural date be not given to it in Warburton's edition):

April, 1744. I AM sorry to meet you with so bad an account of myself, who should otherwise with joy have flown to the interview. I am too ill to be in town; and within this week so much worse, as to make my journey thither, at present, impracticable, even if there was no Proclamation in my way. I left the town in a decent compliance to that; but this additional prohibition from the highest of all powers I must bow to without murmuring. wish to see you here. Mr. Allen comes not till the 16th, and you will probably chuse to be in town chiefly while he is there. I received yours just now, and I writ to hinder from printing the comment on the Use of Riches too hastily, since what you write me, intending to have forwarded it otherwise, that you might revise it during your stay. Indeed my present weakness will make me less and less capable of any thing. I hope at least, now at first, to see you for a day or two here at Twitenham, and concert measures how to enjoy for the future what I can of your friendship. I am, &c.

About three weeks before his death Pope sent copies of his Ethic Epistles—the new edition, probably, which was then in the course of printing—as presents to his friends. “Here I am, like Socrates," he said, “ dispensing my morality among my friends just as I am dying.” Spence rejoined, "I really had that thought several times when I was last at Twickenham with you, and was apt now and then to look upon myself as Phædo.” “That might be," said Pope, “but you must not expect me now to say anything like Socrates.”' His friends were unceasing in their attentions. Marchmont and Bolingbroke evinced the most anxious solicitude, and the faithful Spence seems to have been rarely absení. Ruffhead charges Martha Blount with “shameful unkindness,” and Johnson relates that as the sick poet was one day sitting in the open air with his two friends, he saw his favourite Martha Blount at the bottom of the terrace, and asked Lord Bolingbroke to go and hand her up. Bolingbroke, not liking his errand, crossed his legs and sat still; but Lord Marchmont, who was younger and less captious, waited on the lady, who, when he came to her, asked, “What! is he not dead yet ?” Much depends

« ZurückWeiter »