Abbildungen der Seite

amusing touch of feminine weakness and vanity, Martha post-dates the acquaintance several years. She told Spence, “My grandfather, Englefield of White Knights, was a great lover of poetry and poets. He was acquainted with Mr. Pope, and admired him highly. It was at his house that I first used to see Mr. Pope.” “It was after his Essay on Criticism was published ?” “O yes, sir, I was then a very little girl. [She was twenty-one when the Essay on Criticism was published.] My uncle used to say much of him, but I did not attend to it at that time.” The notice of two young ladies, members of a distinguished family, and possessing all the accomplishments of the period, aided by education and residence in France, must have flattered the budding vanity and importance of Pope, and we may conceive the delight with which he occasionally left his studies and humble retreat at Binfield, to ride to White Knights, seven miles distant, or three miles further, by the pleasant town of Reading, to that picturesque old royalist mansion, in which his genius and rising fame insured him a cordial welcome. If he was not a lover of the enthusiastic stamp,

Lone sitting by the shores of old Romance, he was a poet, bright with hope and fancy, and eager to receive and to bestow admiration.

The ladies of Maple-Durham had another poetical attendant and correspondent. This was James Moore, afterwards James Moore Smythe, son of Arthur Moore, Esq., of Fetcham, in Surrey. James Moore became the object of Pope's implacable hatred, and was made to figure conspicuously in


Maple-Durham." They are preserved in the library at Maple-Durham, bound up with others ; and an interesting pedigree of the family, with notices of these ladies, was drawn up by the Rev. C. Lefebre. Michael Blount, the brother of Teresa and Martha, married, in 1715, Mary Agnes, daughter and co-heir of Sir J. Tichborne, of Tichborne, Hants, by whom he had a numerous family, the present Michael Henry Blount, of MapleDurham, being his great-grandson. To this gentleman the present edition of Pope is largely indebted.



the Dunciad. He wrote a comedy called the Rival Modes, and some small poetical pieces, but his productions are known only by name, preserved like the poet's straws in amber, in the satire of Pope. Moore, in his correspondence, took the name of Alexis ; Teresa Blount was Zephalinda, and Martha, Parthenissa. These “sentimental fopperies," as Mr. Bowles styles them, and justly, though the masculine mind of Burns stooped to the romantic folly of becoming Sylvander to a Clarinda, were continued throughout the year 1713. Moore also celebrated in verse the charms of Teresa. His letters contain the lighter news of the day-notices of balls, masquerades, and fashionable movements, interspersed with professions of attachment and extravagant compliments. He was just the person to “pen a sonnet to his mistress' eye-brow,” and obey her behests in small matters; but his influence was dispersed by the real Alexis on the banks of the Thames, who, notwithstanding the defects of his personal appearance, soon rose into favour, and cultivated the friendship of the young ladies with poetical ardour. Gay describes them as

The fair-hair'd Martha and Teresa brown,

and their portraits at Maple-Durham attest the truth of the description, though the latter gives no idea of the mingled frankness, grace, and intelligence of the appearance of the darker sister, or of Martha's fine complexion and blue eyes, which Pope loved to celebrate.

One large picture by Kneller represents the sisters as gathering flowers, Martha preceding Teresa, who has hold of her left arm, and the expression of both is highly pleasing and animated. There is also at Maple-Durham a portrait of Martha by Jervas, and another of Pope by the same artist —the inferiority of Jervas to Kneller being strikingly apparent when their works are seen in juxtaposition.

For some years the poet wrote occasionally to both sisters, but Teresa was the favourite.

The letters are undated, and every student of Pope, who seeks to follow the course of his personal history, has occasion to remember the doggerel of Swift:

I wish when you prated,
Your letter you'd dated.

The following we would place among the earliest :


Chiswick, 4 o'clock, Tuesday,

Dec. 31, [1712.] . Dear Madam,— 'Tis really a great concern to me, that you mistook me so much this morning. I have sincerely an extreme esteem for you; and, as you know I am distracted in one respect, for God's sake don't judge and try me by the methods of unreasonable people. Upon the faith of a man who thinks himself not dishonest, I meant no disrespect to you. I have been ever since so troubled at it, that I could not help writing the minute I got home. Believe me, much more than I am my own,


In other short epistles of the same kind, he implores forgiveness for his “ disagreeable carriage,” and for being so resentful; and there is something strangely solemn, as well as humiliating, in a letter like the following, written by a great poet :


Thursday morn. LADIES, —Pray think me sensible of your civility and good meaning, in asking me to come to you.

You will please to consider, that my coming or not is a thing indifferent to both of you. But God knows it is far otherwise to me with respect to one of you.

I scarce ever come but one of two things happens, which equally affects me to the soul: either I make her uneasy, or I see her unkind.

If she has any tenderness, I can only give her every day trouble and melancholy. If she has none, the daily sight of so undeserved a coldness must wound me to death.

It is forcing one of us to do a very hard and very unjust thing to the other.

My continuing to see you will, by turns, tease all of us. My staying away can at worst be of ill consequence only to myself.




And if one of us is to be sacrificed, I believe we are all three agreed who shallbe the person.20

Teresa had been in London to witness the coronation of George I., in October, 1714 ; and Pope, in a poetical epistle, pictures the contrast experienced on her return to the country:

Thus from the world fair Zephalinda flew,
Saw others happy, and with sighs withdrew;
Not that their pleasures caused her discontent,
She sigh'd not that they stay'd, but that she went.
She went to plain-work, and to purling brooks,
Old-fashion'd halls, dull aunts, and croaking rooks.
She went from opera, park, assembly, play,
To morning-walks, and prayers three hours a-day;
To part her time 'twixt reading and bohea,
To muse, and spill her solitary tea,
Or o'er cold coffee trifle with the spoon,
Count the slow clock, and dine exact at noon;
Divert her eyes with pictures in the fire,
Hum half a tune, tell stories to the squire;
Up to her godly garret after seven,

There starve and pray, for that's the way to heav'n. A graphic sketch, quite dramatic in its contrasts, but one not likely to be highly esteemed by the squire (Teresa's brother), or by the aunts in the old hall. In this poem the game of whist is alluded to, and Pope is said to have been the first poet who mentioned the game. He calls it “ whisk," the common appellation at that time and long afterwards, but one less expressive than the present, which indicates the silence and attention required by the whist player. Martha was not at the coronation, but she had written to the poet in a strain that called forth special joy and congratulation :

Most Divine!—'Tis some proof of my sincerity towards you that I

20 This letter is affecting. It breathes the language of a wounded spirit. The periods are divided by a solemnity of pause unusual to our author. It was followed, however, by a reconciliation with one, at least, of the sisters.-Boules

write when I am prepared by drinking to speak truth; and sure a letter after twelve at night must abound with that noble ingredient. That heart inust have abundance of flames, which is at once warmed by wine and you. Wine awakens and refreshes the lurking passions of the mind, as varnish does the colours that are sunk in a picture, and brings them out in all their natural glowings.

My good qualities have been so frozen and locked up in a dull constitution at all my former sober hours, that it is very astonishing to me, now I am drunk, to find so much virtue in me. In these overflowings of my heart I pay you my thanks for those two obliging letters you favoured me with of the 18th and 24th instant. That which begins with “My charming Mr. Pope!” was a delight to me beyond all expression: you have at last entirely gained the conquest over your fair sister: 'tis true you are not handsome, for you are a woman, and think you are not: but this goodhumour and tenderness for me has a charm that cannot be resisted. That face must needs be irresistible, which was adorned with smiles even when it could not see the coronation.

There are gross things in these epistles—the grossest always in the finest letters, as was the case in the correspondence of Burns. We shall allow them to rest in the obscurity of manuscript; but the following passage is liable to no such objection, and as it still further explains the connection between the poet and his fair friends, it is worthy of publication :

DEAR LADIES, -If you had any love for me, I should be always glad to gratify you with an object that you thought agreeable, But as your regard is friendship and esteem, those are things that are as well—perhaps better-preserved absent than present. A man that you love is a joy to your eyes at all times. A man that you esteem is a solemn kind of thing, like a priest, only wanted at a certain hour to do his office. 'Tis like oil in a salad, necessary, but of no manner of taste.21

21 Maple-Durham MSS. Of the manner in which Pope altered some of these letters for publication, we subjoin a specimen. In his printed correspondence in a letter to the young ladies at Maple-Durham, there occurs the following passage:“I was heartily tired, and posted to

there we had an excellent discourse of quackery; Dr. S. was mentioned with honour. Lady walked a whole hour abroad without dying after it, at least in the time I stayed, though she seemed to be fainting, and had convulsive motions several times in her head. I arrived in the Forest by Tuesday noon having


« ZurückWeiter »