Abbildungen der Seite


crime, he would have destroyed the impression, and not have suffered it to come into his hands. 3. As the Æneid was published against the dying request of Virgil, Mr. P. considered the injunction as proceeding only from Lord Bolingbroke's modesty, and violated it for his glory and the good of mankind, as it contains a justification of his conduct, and many

useful lessons on the most extensive and important subjects.”

Bolingbroke affected a lofty disdain of these controversial missiles, hurled at him so unsparingly. “They are of the lowest form,” he wrote to Marchmont,“ and they seem to be held in the contempt they deserve. There I shall leave them, nor suffer a nest of hornets to disturb the quiet of my retreat. If these letters of mine come to your hands, your lordship will find that I have left out all that was said to our friend Lyttelton in one of them. He desired that it might be so; and I had at once the double mortification of concealing the good I had said of one friend, and of revealing the turpitude of another." But though attacked by Whig, Tory, Trimmer, and Jacobite, he consoled himself with the alliance of Truth. “If I have Truth, that is stronger than them all, on my side, and in her


and avowed by her, I have more satisfaction than their applause and their favour could give me!" Such support and satisfaction required no ungenerous aspersions or virulence to vindicate their superiority. But Bolingbroke's truth never gave stability to his conduct, nor virtue to his principles; nor did it confer happiness. His old age was a scene of fretful, undignified querulousness and discontent. It was prolonged for only a short period after this last public humiliation, as he died on the 15th of November, 1751.18

The other noble and conspicuous friends of Pope have found

18 The biographies of Bolingbroke represent him as seventy-nine years of age at the time of his death. But in a letter to Wyndham, dated NewYear's Day, 1738, he says, “ Nine months hence I shall be threescore.” This would make him only seventy-four when he died.

places in history. Murray and Lyttelton rose to deserved

eminence. Chesterfield became the best Viceroy and the wisest counsellor Ireland had ever seen. Marchmont and Bathurst enjoyed each a long life of respect. The latter united a sort of French vivacity to English principles, and mingled freely in society till past ninety, living to walk under the shade of lofty trees which Pope and he had planted, and to see his son Lord Chancellor of England. Warburton was made a bishop.

The faithful Joseph Spence obtained a prebend's stall in Durham Cathedral, besides a rectory in Buckinghamshire; and he received from Lord Lincoln a house and grounds in Surrey, where he tried to rival Pope as a landscape gardener. The good Ralph Allen took Pope's old gardener, John Serle, into his service, and doubled the poet's legacy of a hundred pounds. But Allen did more: he lived to be the munificent patron of Fielding, and the protector of his orphan children. There are two other members of the Pope circle whom the reader may wish to follow to the end-Teresa and Martha Blount. After the death of the poet, Martha removed from her mother's house in Welbeck Street to Berkeley Row (now Berkeley Square), parish of St. George's, Hanover Square, into a house which Pope had leased for twenty-six years. He had not, however, paid the sum required, and Martha purchased the lease for three hundred guineas. Here she lived with her sister Teresa till their deaths. Teresa died on the 7th of October, 1759, and was buried on the 11th, in St. Pancras churchyard, long a favourite burying-ground with Roman Catholics. Teresa was then in her 71st year. Martha survived till the 12th of July, 1763, when she was seventy-three years of age. By her will, she constituted




if she was

her“ dear nephew," Michael Blount, of Maple-Durham, her executor; and a Catholic clergyman in Worcester (the Rev. Thomas Phillips, author of the Life of Cardinal Pole), in a letter of condolence addressed to Mr. Blount, on the death of his aunt, speaks warmly in praise of Martha. “I may truly say,” he observes," the death of few persons would have been so sensible to me as that of Mrs. Blount. I had known her intimately for ten years, and found I had reason to value her in proportion as I was acquainted with her. Her conversation was not entertaining only, but improving in a very uncommon degree. It is hard to

say more estimable for good sense and universal knowledge, or being exempt from all affectation and desire of appearing to have

any other merit than what generally falls to women of her rank.”19 Martha, it is evident, died a good Catholic, at peace with the Church and her own family, and we may allow her, unreproached, to "sleep out the Sabbath of the tomb.”

On the east wall of Twickenham Church, over the gallery, Pope had placed the monument to his parents, which he has described in a note on the Epistle to Arbuthnot. On the north wall, seventeen years after the poet's death, when he could write himself bishop, Warburton erected a monument

19 Maple-Durham MSS. Mr. Swinburne, the traveller, who frequently visited his relation, Martha Blount, described her to Warton as “a little, neat, fair, prim old woman, easy and gay in her manner and conversation, but seeming not to possess any extraordinary talents.” Horace Walpole, shortly after Pope's death, saw Martha, and by a few touches of his graphic pen places her distinctly before us. “I was standing at my window," he says, “after dinner, in summer, in Arlington Street, and saw Patty Blount with nothing remaining of her immortal charms but her blue eyes, trudging on foot, with her petticoats pinne up, for it rained, to visit ‘blameless Bethell,' who was sick at the end of the street.” Mr. Bethell was a Yorkshire squire,

one not versed in schools,

But strong in sense, and wise without the rules. Pope was much attached to him, and inscribed to him one of his Imitations of Horace, besides alluding to him in the Essay on Man.

to Pope, with a medallion portrait, and the following inscription:


M. H.



For one who would not be buried in Westminster Abbey.

Heroes and kings your distance keep!
In peace let one poor poet sleep;
Who never flattered folks like you :

Let Horace blush and Virgil too ! The bad taste evinced in parading these careless and petulant lines on the walls of a church, near the poet's grave, is too glaring to require comment. Any such inscription was a direct violation of the wishes and feelings of Pope as expressed in his will.





And now the curtain has dropped on this little life-drama, with its range of familiar incidents and characters, its plots and entanglements, its exits and its entrances. A crowd of critics and biographers succeed, eminent men, from Johnson to Byron, who did homage at the shrine of Pope, and the variety of their worship shows that it was neither servile nor insincere. Johnson, from his intimacy with Savage, and having passed the early part of his literary career among Pope's contemporaries, was well informed as to the poet's life and habits, and he indulges in unwonted minuteness of detail on the subject. He almost anticipates Boswell in circumstantial narrative and close portrait painting. It is obvious, however, that he drew Pope only as he appeared in his latter years, not as he was up to the age of forty. The extreme weakness and helplessness, which required perpetual female attendance, and rendered him almost unable to stand upright till he was wrapped in his fur-doublet and encased in stays, did not exist when the poet played the boon companion and rode on horseback with Gay, Jervas, and Arbuthnot, even accomplishing the journey to Oxford in one day. All his life Pope appears to have been fond of locomotion, and was constantly flying from one friend's house to another. So late as 1735, when he was in his forty-seventh year, Spence records an instance of Pope's activity and humanity. The Professor of Poetry was lolling in a coffee-house in Oxford, half asleep, he says, when an ostler-boy came to him with a scrap of


not half an inch broad ("paper-sparing Pope") containing the words, “Mr. Pope would be very glad to see Mr. Spence at the Cross Inn just now.” Away went Spence delighted with the summons, and found the poet in his inn. He had been at Lord Peterborough’s, and was proceeding to Oxford in a chariot of his lordship’s that held but one person. When he had got within three miles of the city, he saw a party, consisting of a lady and two gentlemen, sitting by the roadside. Their carriage had been overturned and was useless, and the lady had an arm broken.

The poet

« ZurückWeiter »