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I give and devise to my sister-in-law, Mrs. Magdalen Rackett, the sum of Three hundred pounds; and to her sons, Henry and Robert Rackett, one hundred pounds each. I also release, and give to her, all my right and interest in and upon a bond of Five hundred pounds, due to me from her son Michael. I also give her the family pictures of my father, mother, and aunts, and the diamond ring my mother wore, and her golden watch. I give to Erasmus Lewis, Gilbert West, Sir Clement Cotterell, William Rollinson, Nathaniel Hook, Esqrs., and to Mrs. Ann Arbuthnot, to each the sum of Five pounds, to be laid out in a ring, or any memorial of me; and to my servant, John Serle, who has faithfully and ably served me many years, I give and devise the sum of One hundred pounds, over and above a year's wages to himself and his wife; and to the poor of the parish of Twickenham Twenty pounds, to be divided among them by the said John Serle; and it is my, will, if the said John Serle die before me, that the said sum of One hundred pounds go to his wife or children.
her on the occasion; and she declared to him, she would not accept the large provision made by it for herself, unless he returned back, by way of legacy, all that he had received of Mr. Allen, on any account; and Mr. Pope, with the utmost reluctance, complied with the infirmity of such a vindictive spirit.”-Ruffhead's Life of Pope. Martha Blount gave a very different account of this matter to Spence. “I had never read his Will," she said ; “but he mentioned to me the part relating to Mr. Allen, and I advised him to omit it, but could not prevail on him to do so. I have a letter of his by me on that subject. I sent it to Mr. Hooke.” According to Ruffhead, Mr. Allen accepted the legacy, as Mrs. Blount was the residuary legatee, but gave it to the Bath Hospital; observing, that Pope was always a bad accountant, and that if to £150 he had put a cipher more, he had come nearer the truth. Mr. Allen was immensely rich, having acquired most of his wealth by a contract with the Government for the crossroad letters, which he enjoyed for forty-four years. He left Warburton £5000, and Mrs. Warburton (niece of Ralph Allen) £5000, besides £10,000 which she had on her marriage. To the Bath Hospital he left £1000, and another £1000 to be distributed by his widow in charity. To William Pitt, Lord Chatham, he gave a legacy of £1000. His estate appears to have amounted to about £67,000, exclusive of landed property of the value of £3600 per annum. Fielding, while engaged in writing Tom Jones, lived very much at Tiverton, in the neighbourhood of Widcombe, or Prior Park, and dined every day at Allen's table. On the death of the novelist, in 1754, his widow and four children were all generously provided for by Allen, who left them by his Will an annuity of £100 each. This fortunate and truly munificent man died, at his seat of Prior Park, June 29, 1764.
5 We have not found any trace of the Rackett family after Pope's decease. In the poet's correspondence with Fortescue, allusion is made to a Chancery suit in which Mrs. Rackett was engaged. “I find by the enclosed," he says, "that there must be more money, somewhere to be und, my sister's affair; for the principal sum was £1700, besides interest; and as I understand no part of the principal ever was paid, I therefore beg you to cause enquiry to be speedily made of Mr. Thurston the Master in Chancery." Among Pope's Homer MSS. in the British Museum is the following note, addressed to Pope's mother by Mrs. Rackett:
"DEAR MOTHER,—The somer coming on and ye roads good putts me in hopes I shall see you soon att Staines. Mr. Morris is goeing, and I shall have an emty room at your servis, and another for my brother, if he will oblidg me with his good company. Mrs. Doune comes not this somer. I shall be alone all somer if my mother, Rackett, and you don't come to see me. All here joine in reall love and service. From, Dear Mother, your dutyfull Daur.
“M. RACKETT. "Apll ye 19.”
Ladies at that time-even young ladies of rank-spelt very indifferently. The following note, addressed to Pope by his aged mother, is worse in this respect than the usual run of female epistles; but it illustrates the motherly affection and piety of the excellent old lady:
"Tuesday, 12 o'clock. “MY DEARE, -A letter from your sister yust now is come and gone, Mr. Mannock and Charls Rackitt, to take his leve of us, but being nothing in it doe not send it. He will not faile to cole here on Friday morning, and take ceare to cearrie itt to Mr. Thomas Doncaster. He shall dine wone day with Mrs Dune, in Ducke-street; but the day will be unsirton, soe I thinck you had better to send itt to me. He will not faile to cole here, that is Mr. Mannock. Your sister is very well, but your brother is not. Theres Mr. Blunt, of mapill Durom, is ded; the same day that Mr. Inglefield died. [25 June, 1710.] My servis to Mrs. Blunts, and all that ask of me. I hope to here from you, and that you are well, which is my dalye prayers; this, with my blessing I am," &c.
Item. I give and devise to Mrs. Martha Blount, younger daughter of Mrs. Martha Blount, late of Welbeck-street, Cavendish-square, the sum of one thousand pounds immediately on my decease ; and all the furniture of my grotto, urns in my garden, household goods, chattels, plate, or whatever is not otherwise disposed of in this my Will, I give and devise to the said Mrs. Martha Blount, out of a sincere regard, and long friendship for her. And it is my will, that my abovesaid Executors, the survivors or survivor of them, shall take an account of all my estate, money, or bonds, etc., and after paying my debts and legacies, shall place out all the residue upon government, or other securities, according to their best judgment : and pay the produce thereof, half-yearly, to the said Mrs. Martha Blount during her natural life: and, after her decease, I give the sum of One thousand pounds to Mrs. Magdalen Racket, and her sons Robert, Henry, and John, to be divided equally among them, or to the survivors or survivor of them; and after the decease of the said Mrs. Martha Blount, I give the sum of Two hundred pounds to the abovesaid Gilbert West ; 6 Two hundred to Mr. George Arbuthnot;
It appears from manuscripts of Mr. Pope, that he occasionally indulged his affectionate and amiable mother in transcribing some part of his Iliad for the press; and the numerous corrections made in his own hand sufficiently show, that her mode of spelling gave him more trouble than the subsequent inaccuracy of his printers. The pleasure such a good old woman must have felt in writing over verses which she justly thought would confer immortality on her son, is more easy to be conceived than expressed; while his willingness to support her in the enjoyment of a fancied consequence, affords a glimpse of that filial tenderness which forms perhaps the most captivating trait in his whole character.-Additions to Pope, 1776.
6 Gilbert West did not live to receive this bequest. He predeceased Martha Blount, dying March 26, 1756. Through the influence of Pitt he enjoyed a competence in his latter days, having been appointed Clerk of the Privy Council and Treasurer of Chelsea College.
Two hundred to his sister, Mrs. Anne Arbuthnot; and One hundred to my servant, John Serle, to whichsoever of these shall be then living : and all the residue and remainder to be considered as undisposed of, and go to my next of kin.
This is my Last Will and Testament, written with my own Hand, and sealed with my Seal, this Twelfth day of December, in the year of our Lord One thousand seven hundred and forty-three. Signed, Sealed, and Declared by the Testator, ALEX. POPE.
as his last Will and Testament, in presence
7 John Robartes, Earl of Radnor, Pope's neighbour at Twickenham, where he died July 15, 1757. His lordship died a bachelor, and the title, in his family, became extinct.
8 Dr. Stephen Hales, the naturalist and philosopher. See Notes to Moral Essays, Ep. II.
9 Mr. Spence's veneration for Pope, and his successful efforts to extend the poet's reputation, have been already adverted to. His benevolent and useful life came to a sudden termination on the 20th of August, 1768, when he had attained the age of 70. He was found drowned in a piece of water in his garden, too shallow to cover his head, into which he was supposed to have fallen in consequence of a fit.
Lady Hervey, in one of her letters to the Rev. E. Morris, alludes to an observation made by some gentleman on Pope's Will, which she characterises as just and obvious. “If Mr. Pope's illegal delicacy,” she says, “should occasion a lawsuit, I should be very desirous to hear what Mr. Murray's (Lord Mansfield's), artful eloquence, stimulated by his friendship for the deceased, could make him urge in justification and support of that expression.” The expression is not given. Mr. Croker, editor of Lady Hervey's Letters, conjectures that it may have related to the bequest in favour of Martha Blount; and the illegal delicacy was perhaps calling the lady by 'that name, when some persons supposed Pope to have been married to her. It may have referred to Pope styling Mrs. Rackett his sister-in-law, when in reality she was only the widow of his half-brother. Martha, in her Will, calls herself spinster, a voluntary declaration on her part. Mrs. Rackett was dissatisfied with Pope's Will. The following appears in the papers :-“We hear the Will of the celebrated Mr. Pope, who died a few days since, is like to be contested by his sister, she having entered a caveat in Doctors' Commons against it.”-Daily Post, June 9, 1744.
In the Maple-Durham collection is a letter from Murray (Lord Mansfield) on this subject. It is addressed to Martha Blount:
“MADAM, As it is not in my power at present to find an opportunity of waiting upon you, I take the liberty to tell you in this way, that I shall always think I owe my friend who is gone the doing you every friendly service in my power, upon all occasions. I received the enclosed three days ago, and am informed there are two caveats entered at the Commons against proving the Will. Be under no apprehensions. The attempt is weak and unworthy; but folly may give us a little trouble. this, and everything else, I will do all in my power to support his intention; and, if in anything you should want advice or assistance, I shall think myself obliged if you will lay your commands upon, Madam, your most obedient humble servant,
“W. MURRAY." Murray had some correspondence with Miss Blount relative to the furniture of the grotto, left to this lady by Pope's Will. It was uncertain how far she was entitled to carry off the more permanent decorations; some she immediately took away; and Sir W. Stanhope offered fifty pounds for the remainder. This sum Murray advised Miss Blount to accept. Arbuthnot, also, had some trouble in winding up affairs, and disposing of the printed copies of Pope's works.
II. LETTER FROM MR. GEORGE ARBUTHNOT TO MARTHA
BLOUNT, ON POPE'S AFFAIRS. Madam,—I am sorry I had not an opportunity of waiting on you before you went out of town, which the hurry I was in at the close of the term prevented. Above and on the other side you receive a state of Mr. Pope's affairs. As £2100 and upwards is to be raised on the securities on which the money now is, it is proper you and Mrs. Racket should agree on what should be called in or sold, and the remainder may be contrived for you to receive the interest of for your life. I believe there is but £700 due on Mr. Bethell's bond, and as you are willing to take that in part of your £1000 there will remain but 14 or £1500 to be raised, and still less if you stay till Wright and Bower's accounts are settled, which shall be done with all expedition, though there is not above £1500 now to be raised. If you and Mrs. Racket desire it, all the securities may be called in and the produce vested in such other securities as you and Mrs. Racket shall agree on; but if you are both of opinion some of them should be continued, we need only call in what is sufficient to raise the money now wanted; as the Executors are to act merely for your own and Mrs. Racket and her sons' interest it is proper I should have your directions. I hope you enjoy perfect health in the country, where I wish you all manner of diversion and a pleasant season.
I am, Madam, your most obedient servant, Castle-Yard,
GEO. ARBUTHNOT. 23 July, 1745.
STATE OF MR. POPE'S AFFAIRS MENTIONED IN THE ABOVE. Four bonds delivered by Mr. Pope to Mr. Murray, 27 May, 1744.
Allen Lord Bathurst's bond, dated 25 March, 1738, for £2000, of which paid off, as appears by endorsement, £1000 and £500.
Bond of William Pannett, sen. and William Pannett the younger, citizen and grocer of London—12 Feb. 1714, for £200 with interest at 4 per cent.
Bond, of Slingsby Bethell, Esq., dated 27 March, 1744, for £1000. Bond of Ralph Allen, Esq., dated 25 June, 1743, for £2000. These bonds are now in Mr. Murray's hands.
It appears by a letter of Mrs. Watts and a memorandum of Mr. Pope's that he had 31 shares in the Sun Fire Office purchased at £1011. 7s.
Mr. Pope likewise mentions, in a memorandum of the effects, that Wright and Bower, the printers, would be indebted to him, when their accounts were settled, £200 or £300; but their accounts are not yet settled.
There was £200 in Mr. Drummond's hands at Mr. Pope's death, but it has been all drawn out of his hands, except £44. 2s. 6d., to pay his debts and funeral expenses.
I have now in my hands £49. 16s. and a bill of exchange from Mr. Allen for £50, which will be due in two or three days.
I believe all Mr. Pope's debts are paid, excepting £100 and interest to Mr. Warburton, and Mr. and Mrs. Serle's wages, which the money in my hands and Mr. Drummond's will probably discharge. The legacies to be paid are£1000 to Mrs. Blount.
300 to Mrs. Racket.
£1620 and the year's wages to Serle and his wife.
150 to Mr. Allen, or the Bath Hospital.
lives in, So that there must be above £2100 raised out of these four bonds and the Sun Fire-Office Shares.
THE WILL OF MARTHA BLOUNT.
In the name of God, Amen. I, Martha Blount, of Berkeley Row, in the parish of St. George, Hanover Square, in the county of Middlesex, spinster, do make this my last Will and Testament in manner and form following:—Imprimis, I giveto my god-daughter, Mrs. Tichbornel the sum of one hundred pounds. I also give to Matthew Swinburne,
1 Martha Blount's brother married the daughter and co-heir of Sir Joseph Tichborne of Tichborne, Hants.