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from mere inattention-mentions the 22nd of May, and Warton follows Johnson. The question is still further perplexed by a passage in one of Pope's letters—a passage worth quoting for the fine lines it contains :
“Mr. Congreve's death touches me nearly. It was twenty years and more that I have known him : every year carries away something dear with it, till we outlive all tendernesses, and become wretched individuals again as we begun. Adieu ! This is my birthday, and this is my reflection upon it :
With added days if life give nothing new,
'Tis but the funeral of the former year. No date is given to this letter, but Congreve died on the 19th of January, 1728-9;1 and as Pope and Gay were in familiar and constant intercourse, it has been inferred that Pope's birthday was near the time of Congreve's death, in the latter end of January or beginning of February. This discrepancy, however, is removed by a simple explanation. In preparing his letters for the press, Pope was in the habit of altering and revising them, and sometimes of making one printed epistle out of two or more written ones. The lines we have quoted originally formed part of an address to Martha Blount; and there is little doubt that the latter part of the above extract was detached from some other letter, or had been added for the sake of the poetry and the sentiment. The combined testimony of Ruffhead and Spence is conclusive. The 21st of May, 1688, was
1 Two modes of reckoning the year, it will be remembered, existed up to 1753—the civil and ecclesiastical year, which commenced on the 25th of March, and the historical year, which began on the 1st of January. Hence the above mode of writing the date 1728-9, or 1723 : the first representing the civil year, and the second the year according to our present computation. Pope always used the civil term, and errors have arisen from parties forgetting that according to his system January and February followed September and October in the same year.
Pope's birthday, and Lombard Street, the ancient Exchange of the City, where the merchants, and money-lenders, and sedate citizens, congregated so early as the days of our Edwards and Henries, and where Falstaff dined with Master Smooth, the silkman, possesses the distinction of being his birthplace. With Chaucer, Spenser, Bacon, Milton, Pope, and Gray as her sons, the City of London, always rich and famous for merchandise and English spirit, may well claim the honour of being rich also in great poetical and immortal memories.
In Lombard Street the poet's father carried on the business of a linen merchant. “He was an honest merchant, and dealt in Hollands wholesale,” as his widow informed Mr. Spence. His son claimed for him the honour of being sprung from gentle blood. When that silken baron, Lord Hervey, vice-chamberlain in the court of George II., and Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, disgraced themselves by inditing the verses containing this couplet:
Whilst none thy crabbed numbers can endure,
Hard as thy heart and as thy birth obscure : Pope indignantly repelled the accusation as to his descent.
I am sorry (he said) to be obliged to such a presumption as to name my family in the same leaf with your lordship's : but my father had the honour in one instance to resemble you, for he was a younger brother. He did not indeed think it a happiness to bury his elder brother, though he had one, who wanted some of those good qualities which yours possessed.? How sincerely glad could I be, to pay to that young nobleman's memory the debt I owed to his friendship, whose early death deprived your family of as much wit and honour as he left behind him in any branch of it. But as to my father, I could assure you, my lord, that he was no mechanic (neither a hatter, nor, which might please your lordship yet better, a cobbler), but, in truth, of a very tolerable family ; and my mother of an ancient one, as well born and educated as that lady, whom your lordship made choice of to be the mother of your own children ;3
2 Carr, Lord Hervey, son of the Earl of Bristol by his first marriage. 3 Miss, or Mrs. (as it was then the custom to style unmarried ladies)
whose merit, beauty, and vivacity (if transmitted to your posterity), will be a better present than even the noble blood they derive only from you. A mother, on whom I was never obliged so far to reflect as to say, she spoiled me; and a father, who never found himself obliged to say of me, that he disapproved my conduct. In a word, my lord, I think it enough, that my parents, such as they were, never cost me a blush ; and that their son, such as he is, never cost them a tear.
In a note on his Epistle to Arbuthnot, Pope states that his father was of a gentleman's family in Oxfordshire, the head of which was the Earl of Downe. According to Mr. Pottinger, a relation of the family,4 the poet's grandfather was a clergyman of the Church of England in Hampshire, who had two sons, the younger of whom, Alexander, was sent to Lisbon (another account, which we believe to have been the poet's, states to Flanders) to be placed in a mercantile establishment, and that while there he became a convert to the Roman Catholic Church. The poet mentions, in one of his letters, that his father's library consisted wholly of books of controversial divinity; and this circumstance appears to countenance the statement as to the change of religion; for in the case of a conscientious man like the elder Pope, inquiry and study would precede the adoption of a new crced. To the same cause we may impute his rigid adherence to the Catholic Church, characteristic of a convert, which made the poet afraid to write verses or send profane letters in Holy Week under the eye of his father, Mr. Pottinger repudiated the “fine pedigree" which his cousin, the poet, had made out for himself. He wondered where he had got it; he had never heard of their being related to the Earls of Downe; and an old maiden aunt, equally related to Pope, a great genealogist, never mentioned the circumstance. The Earl of Guildford (who
Mary Lepell, daughter of Brigadier-general Nicholas Lepell. Frequent allusions to this amiable and accomplished lady will be found in these volumes.
4 Richard Pottinger, M.P. for Reading, died in 1740. This was probably Pope's kinsman.
inherited the English estates of the Earls of Downe) had examined the pedigree and descents of that family, and he was sure there were none of the name of Pope who could be descended from it. The Heralds' Office is equally silent on the subject; and the poet, it is probable, had been betrayed into a weakness not singular in the history of great names. Pope claimed to be descended from a lord that he might shame Lord Hervey and Lady Mary; Shakspeare claimed to be descended from ancestors distinguished in the service of Henry VII., that he might obtain a grant of arms to flash in the face of Sir Thomas Lucy and the squires of Warwickshire; but both genealogies are pronounced spurious, and the poets had better have trusted to the underived honours of genius, or imitated the spirit of Pope's witty friend, Chesterfield, who, on purpose to ridicule assumptions of ancient and distinguished family descent, hung two old portraits on his wall, inscribed Adam de Stanhope and Eve de Stanhope.6
No trace of the poet's grandfather, the reputed clergyman in Hampshire, has been obtained. It is not unworthy of remark that a family of the naine of Pope, numbering many Episcopal clergymen, was early settled in the far north of Scotland, in the counties of Sutherland and Caithness. Hector Pope, minister of Loth, retained till his death in 1719, the “prelatical” costume of the white surplice. His son, Alexander Pope, was the Presbyterian minister of Reay_" the pathless wastes of Reay," as Sir Walter Scott has designated this remote district, now forming an appanage of the noble family of Sutherland. The northern Alexander Pope entertained a profound admiration for his illustrious namesake of England; and it is a curious and
5 Warton's edit. of Pope. The Pope family was settled at Wroxton in Oxfordshire : one of them was created Earl of Downe, and, dividing into two branches, the family ended in two heiresses who were the maternal ancestors of the Lees, Earls of Lichfield, and the Norths, Barons of Guildford.
Walpole's Letters to Sir Horace Mann, Sept. 1750.
all the way
well-ascertained fact, that the simple, enthusiastic clergyman in the summer of 1732 rode on his
pony from Caithness to Twickenham in order to pay the poet a visit. The latter felt his dignity a little touched by the want of the necessary "pomp and circumstance” with which the minister first presumed to approach his domicile; but after the ice of outward ceremony had in some degree melted, and their intellects had come into contact, the poet became interested, and a friendly feeling was established between them. Several interviews took place; and the poet presented his good friend and namesake the minister of Reay with a copy of the subscription edition of the Odyssey, in five volumes quarto,-a present which was highly valued, and is still preserved.?
In the case of his maternal parent, Pope has stated that she was the daughter of William Turner, Esq., of York, who was married to Thomasine Newton. « She had three brothers, one of whom was killed; another died in the service of King Charles (Charles I.); the eldest, following his fortunes, and becoming a general officer in Spain, left her what estate remained after the sequestrations and forfeitures of her family”-losses caused by their adherence to the cause of the royalists when the Commonwealth became triumphant. It is certain that in Worsborough Dale in Yorkshire a house is still pointed out, in which, according to tradition, Edith or Editha Turner was born. This antique mansion is called Marrow-house, from the name of a subsequent owner of the property ; but its ancient name was Godscroft. The baptism of the poet's
7 The minister was a good scholar and antiquary. He translated Torfæus' Orcades. He was a man of eccentric but resolute character, and used to drive his graceless parishioners to church with a stick when he found them engaged on Sundays at games out of doors. Another of his reforming expedients was making all the “rough characters ” in his parish elders of the church, so that, invested with ecclesiastical dignity and responsibility, they might be ashamed of vicious practices.