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lifelong sentiment, oscillating between friendship and a deeper feeling, but tinged to the last with the warm hues of an unselfish devotion. Whether Pope was ever in love with Martha Blount is a question of terms rather than of facts. The report that, when almost at the point of death he offered her marriage, seems nothing more than a baseless invention. The feeling which he entertained towards her might have operated differently in the case of a different man. It is certain that his regard, both for herself and for her sister, involved him in a desperate broil with a volatile fopling (James Moore Smythe) who had ventured upon a pastoral flirtation with the lively sisters. It is more than probable that for Martha's sake he descended to an action which cast the worst of stains upon his literary honour?. And to Martha Blount, on his decease, Pope bequeathed 'out of a sincere regard and long friendship for her' the largest share of his personal property.
It was hardly however to be expected that Pope's affection towards the Miss Blounts should preclude him from offering the incense of his adoration from time to time to other beauties. Scandal alone (or hyperconscientious biography) has contrived to pervert the character of his relations towards the ladies of Mapledurham" ; but scandal itself must allow the innocence of his admiration for Lady Mary Wortley Montagu. To this celebrated personage he was introduced through the medium of Mrs Howard, afterwards Countess of Suffolk, a lady to whose influence over the Prince of Wales (afterwards George II.) no bounds existed, until they were imposed by his political sagacity. With Lady Mary love of admiration had been a passion ever since the day when her father had introduced her as a child to the boisterous attentions of the Kit-Cat Club3; and she devoted herself to literary pursuits and studies with an energy unusual among ladies of rank since the days of Queen Elizabeth. It was therefore not wonderful that she should be gently attracted by the pronounced homage of an already fashionable author. Nor was there anything in the nature of the attentions she received and permitted, to arouse the suspicions of her even-minded husband, or to offer materials sufficient at a later date to exercise the malice with which Horace Walpole endeavoured to colour all her actions. During her absence with her husband in the East (from 1716 to ’18). Lady Mary allowed Pope to address her in the strains of a masquerade lover, but her replies are characterised by a cool irony which even her correspondent cannot have deluded himself into interpreting as self-restraint. After her return, when she became his near neighbour at Twickenham, his vanity seems to have beeen ultimately wounded by some instance of the equanimity to which she had from the first done her best to accustom him. For there is no reason to believe that a fancied jealousy had
1 By consenting, in order to obtain the capital Pamphleteer) to acquit him of the attempt, in his for an investment for her benefit, to accept a biography of Pope, to charge the ‘licentiousness large sum from the Duchess of Marlborough in of the man with an offence imputable to the return for the suppression of a satirical attack 'grossness of the times.' upon her character.
3 See the well known story in Lord Wharn? It is difficult, notwithstanding the indignant cliffe's Introductory Anecdotes to the Letters of Reply of Bowles (printed in Vol. xvii. of the Lady M. W. M.
anything to do with the offence. Gradually they became bitter enemies; and, together with her favourite associate Lord Hervey, Lady Mary came to be included in the category of the best-abused victims of Pope's vindictive satire. His specific charges against her have been satisfactorily disproved; but such was Pope's satirical genius that Sappho is no more than any of his other characters of women or men a mere caricature. Lady Mary was unwise enough to venture upon retorts which have by no means added to her literary fame. As she ceased to reside in England from the summer of 1739, the most ignoble warfare of Pope's literary life then came to a natural end.
No other similar relation added its perturbation to the agitations of Pope's life. The bevy of beautiful maids of honour who adorned the court of the Princess of Wales (where he was a frequent visitor at the time of his residence at Chiswick) were delighted by the flatteries of his versatile wit. And rather later, from 1722 to '3, a passing attachment seems to have occupied his imagination towards Miss Judith Cowper, which appropriately came to an end with her marriage towards the close of the latter year!
Nor were brilliant friendships of another kind formed by Pope during the period of his residence at Chiswick, able to detach him from the serious business of his life. The heroes of fashion, such as Lord Peterborough, the hero of Barcelona, and the dictators of taste, such as Lord Burlington, made him welcome in town and country; and he followed the fashion of his day by summer excursions to the Bath. Yet it was far from an idle period of his literary life. For besides carrying on his translation of the Iliad, he found time to produce some of his most finished poetic efforts, among them the Epistle of Eloïsa to Abelard (of which the address appears in the course of composition to have been transferred from Martha Blount to Lady Mary Wortley Montagu) and the exquisite Elegy to the Memory of an Unfortunate Lady.
As no period of Pope's life was without its quarrels, so that of his residence at Chiswick was disturbed by two at least which may not be passed over in a narrative of his career. In 1716 he first came into the hostile contact which it was, indeed, difficult for any author of note to avoid, with the notorious pirate-publisher Edmund Curll. It was the invariable practice of this individual to publish any piece popularly attributed to an eminent name, in an unauthorised edition with that name attached to it. He had adopted this course with a series of very common-place burlesque poems called the Town-Eclogues, of which only one had been actually written by Pope himself. The latter, as usual irretentive of his dignity, wrote several pamphlets against Curll, of which the first is the Account of the Poisoning of Edmund Curll; a coarse burlesque narrative of the effects produced upon the bookseller by
She was the daughter of Judge Spencer Cowper and the friend and correspondent of her Cowper, and the niece of the great Chancellor; cousin the poet, she transmitted her own poetical she married Colonel Madan; and to their daugh- and devout spirit. See Hayley's Life of Wilter Frances Maria, afterwards wife of Major liam Cowper.
a half-pint of wine drunk by him in Pope's company, effects actually attributed by the sufferer to the malice of the poet. It was to guard themselves against the indefatigable activity of Curll that Pope and Swift afterwards published their Miscellanies in an authorised form; and the same publisher afterwards put forth the surreptitiously obtained correspondence of Pope with Cromwell, and at a later date engaged in the publication of his letters to various friends, abstracted, as Pope declared, by equally nefarious means?.
Early in the following year (1717) the production of the farce of Three Hours after Marriage, in which Gay had been assisted by Arbuthnot and Pope, occasioned the outbreak of a quarrel between the latter and Colley Cibber. The farce itself (Pope's co-operation in which constituted his solitary dramatic effort) is beneath contempt. Pope, as Gay afterwards admitted, 'never heartily approved of' the piece. Nor can the wit of those parts in which the hand of Pope is clearly discernible, and where Dennis is caricatured as Sir Tremendous, and literary ladies of the day under other names, be fairly said to rise above the level of the remainder. The play was however damned on account of the extravagant nonsense of its last act, in which two lovers insert themselves respectively into the skins of a mummy and a crocodile. The Rehearsal, a play always used (like its successor the Critic) as an opportunity for introducing gag on popular topics of the day, happened to be performed shortly afterwards. Colley Cibber on this occasion introduced an allusion to the unhappy mummy and crocodile. Pope, whose presence in the theatre may have added to the effect of the allusion, sharply inveighed against the actor behind the scenes; and the latter not unnaturally swore to repeat the joke on every future occasion. To this episode Cibber in his Apology attributes the origin of Pope's animosity against him. There can be little doubt that the production towards the close of the year of Cibber's Non-Furor (so successful an attack upon Jacobites and concealed Papists that a patriotic pamphlet of the day desired to see it as common in every house as a Prayer-book or Whole Duty of Man) added a worthier cause of anger in Pope's mind against the future laureate of King George II.
Thus, amidst studies and diversions Pope's life continued until the death of his father, which took place at Chiswick in October 1717. The blow was keenly felt by the son whom he left to mourn his loss. To his father, as we have seen, Pope owed much beyond the discreet liberality which had allowed him to choose his own path in life, and enabled him in his early years to pursue his favourite studies. For to his father he was indebted for the example of a moral uprightness which in the main he endeavoured faithfully to follow; and for the noble lesson of adherence to a persecuted creed. After his father's death Pope might have abandoned the profession of the Catholic faith ; and exchanged a Church with whose tenets he can hardly be supposed to have entertained an intellectual sympathy, for one towards which he was urged by the representations of venerated friends. But in answer to Atterbury's
1 See below, p. xl.
arguments he simply appealed to his consideration for his remaining parent; and honoured himself by maintaining a consistant attitude of respectful submission to the Church of his father and mother, in which there was perhaps more true philosophy than in the indignation expressed by Bolingbroke when immediately after his friend's death he learnt that the latter had accepted the ministrations of a priest. 'I am,' Pope writes to Swift in 1729, ‘of the religion of Erasmus, a Catholic; so I live, so I shall die; and hope one day eet you, Bishop Atterbury, the younger Craggs, Dr Garth, Dean Berkeley, and Mr Hutchenson in heaven.' No fuller exposition seems required, after this, of his religious views.
Very soon after his father's death Pope, whose means were now ample for one who had to provide only for the maintenance of himself and his mother, removed with her from Chiswick to Twickenham. In the latter place, whose name will ever be associated with his own, he passed the remainder of his life.
Pope took up his residence at Twickenham early in 1718, after purchasing the lease of a house and five acres of land on the banks of the Thames. The house itself he left very much the simple habitation he had found it; but the garden and grounds he laid out with enthusiastic care. Landscape gardening was one of the passions of the age; and for horticulture in general Pope had conceived a taste from the days of his childhood on the borders of Windsor Forest. But Le Nôtre or Capability Brown himself would have found their genius cramped by the dimensions of Pope's estate; and the dream of his youth for 'woods, gardens, rookeries, fishponds, arbours' had to be satisfied with the fulfilment of its more modest items. Yet he contrived, according to the enumeration of one of his biographers?, to introduce into his five acres 'a shell temple, a large mount, a vineyard, two small mounts, a bowling-green, a wilderness, a grove, an orangery, a garden-house, and kitchengarden.' The favourite object of his efforts however was the famous 'grotto,' in reality a tunnel beneath the turnpike road which divided the two parts of the garden. It contained a spring and could accordingly be credited with a nymph; and in its diminutive recesses were distributed a variety of eccentric ornaments such as are in our own day reserved for the admiration of children in seaside lodging. houses: shells and spars and what Dr Johnson calls 'fossil bodies,' and a hundred natural curiosities with which the master of the grotto was gratified by his friends and admirers.
The Twickenham grotto and gardens became one of the delights of Pope's life; here he received the visits of his friends and dispensed his temperate hospitality. The convenient situation of Twickenham made it unnecessary for him to vary the even tenour of his outward life by more than occasional visits to his friends in town and country; he was at no great distance from Mapledurham, the Wortley Montagus
took up their residence at Twickenham itself; Lord Peterborough was resting from his labours at Fulham, Lord Burlington owned a box at Chiswick, and after a time Bolingbroke was to settle at Dawley near Uxbridge. That in his rural retreat Pope was not out of the world, he proved in 1720, the year of the South Sea bubble. There seems every reason to conclude that he withdrew his investments in time to save part of his gains. He could not, indeed, rest doubly content, like Sir Robert Walpole, at having condemned the scheme from the outset and afterwards sold out at the highest price? But he had no reason to lament for himself the effects of a catastrophe which brought ruin to some among his friends, and dishonour to others.
At Twickenham the Iliad was completed; and henceforth Pope's name was eagerly sought by the book-sellers. Before he had commenced the translation of the Odyssey, he was induced to undertake an edition of Shakspere which was published by Tonson in 1725. Its failure was perhaps more decided than it deserved ; but its defects were sufficient to warrant many of the cavils advanced against it in a haste by Lewis Theobald, who thereby established himself as one of Pope's adversaries, and brought down upon himself the most signal vengeance ever inflicted upon an unfriendly critic. He was soon afterwards made the hero of the Dunciad,
For the number of Pope's assailants had increased with his fame; and it only needed encouragement from without to induce him to give vent to the wrath which had long been accumulating in his sensitive mind. He entertained a genuine hatred of the petty scribblers who infested the literary atmosphere; no less than a personal feeling of vengefulness against many of their number. In 1726 Swift spent four months with Pope at Twickenham, and repeated his visit in 1727. Swift's genius was at this time at its height. His mind was already oppressed by the presentiment of its coming overthrow; and his heart torn by the constant ill health of Stella, which early in 1728 was to terminate in her death. Yet in the midst of his gloom and of the bitterness arising from the certainty that no hopes existed for his preferment in England, he was elated by the triumphant results of his self-sustained campaign against the oppressors of Ireland, and strong in the sense of a power more real than that which he had possessed when he believed himself to be dictating the policy of the Oxford ministry. Gloom, anger and pride combined to inspire the greatest of Swift's—the greatest of modern,-satires; and in the late autumn of 1726 Gulliver's Travels took the world by storm. In the same year and in the following Swift and Pope brought out three volumes of their Miscellanies; and during his converse with his friends the former suggested the idea of the Beggar's Opera to Gay, and encouraged Pope to proceed with the Dunciad.
The Miscellanies contained, among many of Pope's pieces which he had better
1 See Lord Stanhope's History of England Opera hath knocked down Gulliver; I hope to from the Peace of Utrecht, chap. xi.
see Pope's Dulness knock down the Beggar's ? Swift, who was entirely above literary envy, Opera, but not till it hath fully done its job. writes to Gay (Nov. 23, 1727): "The Beggar's