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THE MAIDS OF HONOUR AT HAMPTON COURT.
pleasure-parties on the Thames.1 The Maids of Honour in the court of the Princess Caroline-the beautiful Mary Bellenden, Mary Lepell, Miss Griffin, and Miss Howe, with the favourite bedchamber woman, Mrs. Howard, admitted him to their confidence-"took him into their protection, contrary to the laws against harbouring Papists" -and instructed him in the tracasseries of the Court, or joined him in ridiculing pompous Ministers of State and sage Doctors of Divinity. They had also their own grievances to pour into the poet's ear; for the life of a Maid of Honour was little better at Hampton Court or Richmond Lodge, under the philosophical Caroline, than Fanny Burney found it at Kew or Windsor under Queen Charlotte and George III. "To eat Westphalia ham in a morning, ride over hedges and ditches (hunting in Windsor Forest), come home in the heat of the day with a fever and a red mark on the forehead from a beaver hat (sic); simper an hour and catch cold in the Princess's apartment; thence to dinner with what appetite they may; and after that, till midnight, walk, work, or think, which they please." Such is Pope's catalogue of evils (none of them very formidable), "and I can easily believe," he says, rising with his subject, "that no lone house in Wales, with a mountain and a rookery, is more contemplative than this court." He then adds, with a touch of príde, to make Teresa Blount jealous, "Mrs. Lepell walked with me three or four hours by moon
' From one of these lively duchesses he received the following invitation, the original of which is in the British Museum. It is addressed to "Alex. Pope, Esq., at Mr. Jervas's House in Cleveland Court."
"Sir,-My lady duchess being drunk at this present, so not able to write herself, has commanded me to acquaint you, that there is to be music on the water on Thursday next; therefore desires you to be that evening at her house in Bond-street, by six o'clock at farthest; and her grace will call of you there to take you to her barge, which she ordered to be ready at that time at Whitehall, with provisions, and shall land you on the wished-for shore. I am, sir, your most humble servant, "G. MADDISON.
"East Acton, Tuesday night."
(In another hand.) "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. So POPE is the word; a disappointment is not to be endured." Acton, near London, was the residence of the Pierrepoint family, and Pope's acquaintance must have been Isabella Bentinck-a celebrated beautythen recently married to the first Duke of Kingston, father of Lady Mary W. Montagu.
light, and we met no creature of any quality but the King, who gave audience to the Vice-Chamberlain all alone under the garden wall." The poor king!
For true unostentatious satisfaction and delight, Pope had the cordial society of his painter-friend Jervas (whose house was his town residence), the witty Arbuthnot, the gentle and learned Parnell, Rowe who laughed everywhere but in his tragedies-the simple, admiring John Gay, the hospitable General Withers, Colonel Disney, a clever man of the world, who had seen service and reaped his opima spolia, and two excellent Devonshire worthies, learned in the law, Fortescue and Bickford. Fortescue had been the playfellow and associate of Gay at the grammar-school of Barnstaple, and it was no doubt to Gay that Pope owed his acquaintance with the future Master of the Rolls, his unfee'd counsel and steady friend. There was also Mr. Eckershall, Clerk of the Kitchen to Queen Anne-"honest Jemmy Eckershall," with whom Swift occasionally dined in town, and who had a handsome country house to lodge a friend, at Drayton, in Middlesex. Country excursions on horseback were occasionally adventured upon by this light-hearted brotherhood, and Jervas's notes-short notes, full of sense, business, and kindness-let us see how they managed the details. Arbuthnot, as the oldest and gravest of the party, laid down rules, and was inflexible in cutting off all superfluities and impediments. "The Doctor proposes," says Jervas, "that himself or his man ride my spare horse, and that I leave all equipage to be sent by the carrier, with your portmanteau. The Doctor says he will allow none of his friends so much as a nightgown or slippers for the road, so a shirt and cravat in your pocket is all you must think of in his new scheme. His servant may be bribed to make room for that. You shall have a shorter and less bridle sent down on Saturday, and the other shall be returned in due time. The tailor shall be chastised if it is really negligence on his part, but if it is only vapours, you must beg pardon. Your old sword went with
2 Mr. Eckershall seems to have held other appointments about the Court than the savoury one mentioned by Swift. He was at one time Gentleman Usher, and the Queen stood sponsor at the baptism of his son. Pope presented him with a copy of his Homer (still in the family), enriching it with a page of the translation written out in Pope's neat hand.
the carrier, and was tied to the other things with a cord, and my folks say very fast. You must make the carrier responsible; mine will swear to the delivery." A particular man, the poet, and somewhat troublesome!
The theatre was a fashionable town resort. Pope probably retained something of that love of the stage which he had manifested at Deane's school-a fascination not easily relinquished-and his friends, Congreve and Steele, were deeply interested in it. Betterton he was early acquainted with, and he lived to grace the triumph of Garrick. Such actors as Booth, Wilks, and Mrs. Oldfield must always have been witnessed with delight, while Addison's tragedy and Gay's comedies brought the poet into the society of the green-room. Gay mentions among his friends Mrs. Santlow, the celebrated dancer, and two other actresses, "the frolic Bicknell and her sister young," or Mrs. Younger. These sisters claimed to be near relatives of Keith, Earl Marshal of Scotland. Their father, they said, served in Flanders as one of King William's troopers perhaps rode by the side of Steele, whence Steele's interest in Mrs. Bicknell, whom he praises in the Tatler and Spectator. The "sister young" was on the stage from a child, and she retained charms enough when near forty to get a husband out of the ranks of the nobility, a brother of the Earl of Winchelsea. Pope's mention of these ladies is rather in the way of "light-o'-loves," not dignified enough for grave verse or printed correspondence.
Visits to Bath were then a favourite summer recreation, and the Abbey bells often rang in Pope and his friends. Bath had become popular after the visit of Queen Anne to the city, and Goldsmith has described to us the amusements of the day. "The hours for bathing," he says, are commonly between six and nine in the morning. The lady is brought in a chair, dressed in her bathing clothes, to the bath, and being in the water, the woman who attends presents her with a little floating dish like a basin; into which the lady puts a handkerchief, a snuff-box, and a nosegay. She then traverses the bath; if a novice with a guide, if otherwise by herself; and having amused herself thus while she thinks proper, calls for her chair, and returns to her lodgings. The
Roscoe, viii. 529 and 533.