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MEMOIR OF POPE.
ALEXANDER POPE was born in London, in Lombard-street, on the 21st or 22nd of May, 1688. Like many of the most eminent men of England, he was destined to be the architect of his own fame, for he inherited little of either birth or fortune : yet his descent was respectable. His paternal grandfather was a clergyman of the established church, the head of whose family was the earl of Downe: Pope's mother was the daughter of Mr. Turner, of York, a gentleman and loyalist, and it may be presumed of some importance in his day; for, of his three sons, who all entered into the service of Charles, it is thought worth while to record that one fell in the field, another died while in the army, and the third, on the failure of the royal cause, went to Spain, where he rose to be a
general officer. At least, such was the narrative which Pope himself loved to give to the world :
Of gentle blood (part shed in honor's cause,
EPISTLE TO ARBUTHNOT. Pope was the son of a second marriage : his mother's first husband was Mr. Rackett, by whom she had a son named Charles : the wife of this half-brother was the “sister Rackett,' frequently alluded to in his letters, and to whom and whose sons he left the principal share of his property, as residuary legatees : a sister of his mother married Samuel Cooper, the celebrated miniaturepainter. Pope's father was a linen-merchant, or draper, in Lombard-street; from which place, having acquired a handsome competence, he retired to Kensington, and thence to Binfield, in Windsor Forest, purchasing a house and about twenty acres of land, and removing but once more, to the house of his celebrated son, at Twickenham; where he died.
That son, in after days, with filial reverence, reflected a portion of his own renown on his grave, by these lines of simple and affecting energy :
Born to no pride, inheriting no strife,
Stranger to civil and religious rage,
PROLOGUE TO THE SATIRES.
Pope's inheritance has been stated as nearly negative : it would have been fortunate for him, had it been intirely so; for his father's shape was deformed; his mother was tormented by violent head-aches; and both evils passed down to him without diminution.
The indiscriminate appetite of biographers swallows all trifles. Thus we are universally told, that Pope in his infancy, while filling his cart with stones, lost his hat and feather by an attack from a cow. Even Johnson stoops to observe, that he was called the little nightingale ;' a parallel to which might be found in every nursery nomenclature of the empire. Johnson perhaps thought to redeem himself, by revenging this minuteness on the poet, of whom
* His father had been sent at an early age to Lisbon to learn commerce: he there became a Roman catholic; and thus Pope deviated from the faith of his ancestors.