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charge against Pope on the authority of the Duchess of Portland, adding that the poet accepted the thousand pounds to suppress the portrait by the persuasion of Martha Blount. Warburton confirms one part of the story: “Read his character of the Duchess of Marlborough to her as that of the Duchess of Buckingham ; but she spoke of it afterwards, and said she knew very well whom he meant.”]3 Aware, therefore, that a satirical portrait of her by Pope had once existed, Sarah instantly after the poet's death applied on the subject to one of his executors, Lord Marchmont. His lordship consulted his co-executor, Bolingbroke, to whom Pope had left all his manuscripts and unprinted papers, “ committing them to his sole care and judgment to preserve or destroy them.” Bolingbroke writes—“I continue in the resolution I mentioned to you last night, upon what you said to me from the Duchess of Marlborough. It would be a breach of that trust and confidence which Pope reposed in me, to give any one such of his papers as I think no one should see. If there are any that may be injurious to the late Duke, or to her Grace, even indirectly and covertly, as I hope there are not, they shall be destroyed; and you shall be a witness of their destruction. Copies of any such, I hope and believe, there are none abroad; and I hope the Duchess will believe I scorn to keep copies when I destroy originals."'14 In a few days the secret transpired. A week after the previous note Bolingbroke again writes to Marchmont. “Our friend Pope, it seems, corrected and prepared for the press just before his death an edition of the four Epistles that follow the Essay on Man. They were then printed off, and are now ready for publication. I am sorry for it, because, if he could be excused for writing the
14 Bolingbroke to Lord Marchmont. See Marchmont Papers. This and the letter following it, quoted above, are simply dated “ Battersea, Monday.” Their dates are ascertained from their being written after Pope's death, and before the 18th of June, when Bolingbroke had left England, and was in Calais.
THE DUCHESS DISCOVERS POPE'S TREACHERY,
character of Atossa formerly, there is no excuse for his design of publishing it, after he had received the favour.you and I know; and the character of Atossa is inserted. I have a copy of the book. Warburton has the propriety of it, as you know. Alter it he cannot, by the terms of the Will. Is it worth while to suppress the edition ? Or should her Grace's friends say, as they may from several strokes in it, that it was not intended to be her character ? and should she despise it? If you come over hither, we may talk better than write on the subject.” At the bottom of the original letter, Lord Marchmont's executor, Mr. George Rose (the well-known politician and President of the Board of Trade in Pitt's Administration) wrote in pencil “£1000," and this sum Lord Marchmont stated to be the favour received by Pope from the hands of the Duchess of Marlborough. The transaction, as related by Walpole and Warton, is therefore substantially confirmed. The gift may have been unconditional, for neither party is likely to have stooped to a bargain; but its acceptance implied forbearance, if not amity and friendship, and Pope's conduct is unjustifiable. The vanity of the poet had triumphed over the honour of the man. He could not bring himself to suppress what he knew was a felicitous effort of genius and skill, and he had hoped and believed that the case never would be divulged. But this short-sighted and tortuous policy was unavailing. Nemesis,
Who never yet of human wrong
Left the unbalanced scale, was avenged by the disclosure of complete and irresistible evidence.
Shortly afterwards Bolingbroke's attention was drawn to what he considered another act of perfidy on the part of Pope. Some years previous to the poet's death (most probably in 1738, the date affixed to the “ Patriot King,”) the noble lord had commissioned his friend to get printed for him a few copies, for private distribution, of some political treatises, “ Letters on the Spirit of Patriotism, on the Idea of a Patriot King, and on the State of Parties." Instead of confining himself to the limited number, Pope had privately ordered an impression of 1500 copies, which were kept by the printer until the poet's death, after which Lord Bolingbroke was informed of the transaction. He thus writes to Marchmont on the subject :
Battersea, Oct. 22nd, 1744. MY DEAR LORD,— Since you will take the trouble of receiving from Mr. Wright the edition of that Paper, which our late friend caused so treacherously to be made; and since I mean to have it only to destroy it, the bringing it hither would be useless. Be so good, therefore, as to see it burned at your house, to help to dry which is the best use it can be put to. If your lordship pleases to speak earnestly to Wright of the necessity that no copy be left, and of your desire and mine, that he would be attentive to discover whether any be left, and to give notice of any the least apprehension of a publication by that means, you will oblige me extremely 15
This injunction was not literally complied with, for Lord Marchmont had all the copies carried out to Battersea, and burnt on the terrace there.16 Had Bolingbroke been content with this holocaust, the friends of Pope would have had no ground for remonstrance or complaint; but the peer was not without an author's vanity and irritability, and in 1749 he contrived to gratify these, and at the same time to heap odium on the memory of his departed friend. He delivered to Mallet a corrected copy of the suppressed work, in order that it might be published, and Mallet prefixed to it (no doubt with his patron’s consent and approbation) an advertisement written in a mean, offensive, and malignant spirit as regards the deceased poet. In this advertisement, we are told that “the original draughts were intrusted to a man on whom the author thought he might entirely depend, after he had exacted from him, and taken his promise, that they should never go into any hands except those of five or six persons, who were then named to him.” Again, “but this man was no sooner dead, than he (Lord B.) received information that an entire edition of 1500 copies of these
15 Marchimont Papers.
BOLINGBROKE'S CHARGE OF PERFIDY.
papers had been printed; that this very man had corrected the press, and that he had left them in the hands of the
printer, to be kept with great secrecy till further order. · The honest printer kept his word with him better than he
kept his with his friend, so that the whole edition came at last into the hands of the author, except some few copies which this person had taken out of the heap and carried away." The burning of the impression is then related, and Mallet adds, what no doubt was the great aggravation of the case in Bolingbroke's estimation, “The man who had been guilty of this breach of trust, had taken upon him further to divide the subject, and to alter and omit passages according to the suggestions of his own fancy.” Mallet is said tohave received £150 from the bookseller for the copyright of Bolingbroke's volume. This was motive enough for him (though he was not poor) to asperse any friend or undertake any despicable office. He was as ready to insult the memory of Pope, as he had been to fawn upon him and flatter him when living. But what defence can be urged for Bolingbroke? Horace Walpole says that his lordship gave the work to Mallet to buy himself out of the abuse in the Duke of Marlborough's Life, or to buy himself into the supervisal of it. Mallet was believed to be then engaged on a life of Marlborough, having received, by the Duchess's will, the sum of £1000, for undertaking such a work; but it is well known he did nothing but accept the money and display in the affair a refinement of knavery characteristic of his whole life. Even Walpole's statement, if we assume it to be correct, will not excuse the grossly indecent manner in which he suffered Pope to be traduced in this advertisement. The revulsion of feeling must be attributed to some other cause, and not, we suspect, to a pecuniary cause, for avarice was not one of Bolingbroke's vices. The most probable supposition is, that, in addition to mortified vanity, arising from Pope's unauthorised corrections and alterations, he was indignant at the poet having bequeathed to Warburton the copyright of all his printed works, which
not only withdrew them from his own control, but insured their being in future accompanied with commentaries directly opposed to the spirit of his philosophy. Warburton he hated as a priest, and despised as a critic, yet Pope, long his disciple, had preferred Warburton to Bolingbroke! Thus the “ guide, philosopher, and friend” was transformed into the coarse and cowardly assailant, shooting his arrows from behind a mask, to destroy the reputation of the poet who had through every vicissitude of fortune and opinion been fondly attached to him, who had embalmed his name in never-dying verse, and regarded his person and talents with a veneration approaching to idolatry.
The publication of this work called forth a reply from Warburton, “ A Letter to the editor of the Letters on the Spirit of Patriotism, &c." This was followed by “ A Letter to the Lord B--e, occasioned by his treatment of a deceased Friend,” “An Apology for the late Mr. Pope,” “The Impostor detected and convicted,” &c. Mallet answered Warburton in a scurrilous epistle, which bore a happy title, that long amused the public, “A Familiar Epistle to the Most Impudent Man Living." The result of this acrimonious controversy was a general conviction thus expressed by the most respectable periodical of the day.17 “Mr. Pope could not order the copies to be printed from a motive of avarice, the expense being certain, and the gain very remote and uncertain; for though Lord B. was the elder, Pope was more infirm. 2. As Mr. Pope left Lord Bolingbroke his executor, had he thought it an inexcusable
17 Gent. Mag., May, 1749. Horace Walpole, though no lover of Pope, ook the same view of the case. “ As to his printing so many copies it certainly was a compliment, and the more profit (which, however, could not be Immense) he expected to make, the greater opinion he must have conceived of the merit of the work. If one had a mind to defend Pope, should not one ask, if anybody ever blamed Virgil's executors for not burning the Æneid, as he ordered them?"—Walpole to Sir H. Mann, May 17, 1749. Martha Blount told Spence that she had heard Pope speak of the work, and could take her oath that the printing was done out of his excessive esteem for Bolingbroke and his abilities.