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ATTERBURY PRESENTS POPE WITH HIS BIBLE. 213
another life, as one just upon the edge of immortality; where the passions and affections must be much more exalted, and where you ought to despise all little views and all mean retrospects. Nothing is worth your looking back; and therefore look forward, and make (as you can) the world look after you. But take care that it be not with pity, but with esteem and admiration. I am with the greatest sincerity, and passion for your fame as well as happiness,
Atterbury went into exile the following month. On the 17th of June he took leave of his friends, and presented Pope with his Bible-a memento which, late in life-in 1739 -the poet gave to his friend Ralph Allen, and it was used in the chapel of Prior Park. Atterbury had on a previous occasion pressed the study of the Scriptures on his friend, to which Pope made this curious answer: "I ought first to prepare my mind for a better knowledge even of good profane writers, especially the moralists, &c., before I can be worthy of tasting that supreme of books and sublime of all writings. And an anecdote has been related, on the alleged authority of Pope, tending to prove that Atterbury himself was nearly all his life a sceptic.15 This is incredible. He was aspiring,
14 Letters of Mr. A. Pope, London, 1737.
15 Lord Chesterfield relates a circumstantial story to this effect: "I went to him (Pope) one morning at Twickenham, and found a large folio Bible with gilt clasps lying before him on his table; and as I knew his way of thinking upon that book, I asked him jocosely if he was going to write an answer to it. It is a present,' said he, 'or, rather, a legacy from my old friend the Bishop of Rochester. I went to take my leave of him yesterday in the Tower, when I saw this Bible upon the table. The Bishop said to me, "My friend Pope, considering your infirmities and my age and exile, it is not likely we should ever meet again; and therefore I give you this legacy to remember me by. Take it home with you, and let me advise you to abide by it." "Does your Lordship abide by it yourself?" "I do." "If you do, my Lord, it is but lately; may I beg to know what new lights or arguments have prevailed with you now to entertain an opinion so contrary to that which you entertained of that book all the former part of your life ?" The Bishop replied, "We have not time to talk of these things; but take home the book. I will abide by it, and I recommend you to do so too; and so God bless you!"'" The tenor, terms, and dates of Atterbury's correspondence with Pope all refute this story. How it originated, or, rather, by whom it was fabricated, we cannot say; error, like truth, is often inscrutable. Chesterfield was strongly tinctured with infidelity, but he did not hesitate to bear voluntary testimony to the Christian character of another friend, Arbuthnot.
turbulent, and faithless as a politician, and not without dissimulation and hypocrisy in private life;16 but his whole career, his published writings and correspondence, are opposed to the idea that he disbelieved the faith he preached and professed. On the 18th of June, Atterbury was embarked on board a man-of-war and conveyed to Calais, after which he entered into the service of the Chevalier, first as his confidential agent at Brussels, and afterwards at Paris. In 1725 he was the chief Jacobite counsellor and director in France, and had organised an expedition to Scotland for raising the Highland clans, then indignant at the disarming act. Atterbury summoned a meeting of the chiefs in France, and drew up for them a memorial to the exiled Court, urging immediate action, and imploring instructions and resources. The Chevalier was poor and timid: he recommended a profession of submission to the act; but this peaceful message Atterbury never delivered! He ultimately obtained the consent of his royal master, and a special envoy was despatched from Rome, bearing, under the sign manual, promises of assistance to the disaffected clans. The effort, however, was too long delayed; the messenger reached the Highlands, but he does not seem to have ventured on delivering his credentials, and thus Atterbury failed-no doubt to his deep mortification-to distinguish his period of Jacobite ascendancy by any military enterprise. Let us add that this restless, energetic, and domineering prelate was a man of warm, social, and domestic affections, and though ready to plunge his native country into civil war, still regarded it with tenderness. "After all," he says, "I do and must love my country, with all its faults and blemishes"-a sentiment repeated in the poetry of Cowperand he gave this character of himself in lines prefixed to his translation of the Georgics:
Hæc ego lusi
Ad Sequanæ ripas, Thamesino a flumine longe,
16 According to Fenton, Atterbury, speaking of Pope, said there was mens curva in corpore curvo-a crooked mind in a crooked body; and another contemporary, Dr. Herring, spoke of the general belief in Atterbury's insincerity. See Hughes's Letters by Duncombe, vol. ii. pp. 39 and 105.
DEATH OF ATTERBURY.
Thus Englished (says Mr. Bowles) by himself:
-Thus on the banks of Seine,
Far from my native home, I pass my hours,
Also in couplets:
"Thus where the Seine through realms of slavery strays,
With sportive verse I wing my tedious days,
Far from Britannia's happy climate torn,
Bow'd down with age, and with diseases worn;
Yet e'en in death I act a steady part,
And still my friends and country share my heart."
These lines, Mr. Bowles says, are "worthy his friend Pope." Is it clearly ascertained that they are Atterbury's ? Both translations appear in Pope's organ, the Grub-street Journal (June 22, 1732), where they are given as one literal in blank verse, and the other paraphrastical in rhyme, communicated to our society by one of our ingenious correspondents." Atterbury died in France on the 15th of February, 1732, but his remains were brought to England, and permitted to be privately interred in Westminster Abbey.
LETTERS TO JUDITH COWPER. RETURN OF BOLINGBROKE. EDITION OF SHAKSPEARE, AND TRANSLATION OF THE ODYSSEY. SWIFT VISITS ENGLAND, AND PUBLICATION OF THE MISCELLANIES.
THE great popularity of Pope's name, and the reliance placed on his taste and judgment, as well as his genius, led to various suggestions from friends and publishers with respect to future literary works. Pope loved money, but it was to spend, not to hoard it. His garden and grounds called occasionally for a new poem, as Abbotsford called for a new historical romance, and booksellers and readers were alike willing in both cases to gratify the demand. Tonson was ready to contract for an annotated edition of Shakspeare, and Lintot was eager for a translation of the Odyssey, to complete the English Homer. Both proposals were ultimately accepted; but Pope first discharged a pious duty to the memory of a friend, by editing a selection of the works of Parnell, which was published early in 1722, and was inscribed to the Earl of Oxford in a poetical epistle remarkable for lofty panegyric and elevation of sentiment, and for the harmony and sweetness of its numbers. No short poem in our language has more of dignity and impressiveness combined with musical and faultless versification. In January, 1723, Pope engaged to translate the Odyssey in three years. The work was to be in five volumes, at a guinea each, and resolving to make the labour as light as possible, he called in literary assistants. One half he reserved for himself, anc
LETTERS TO ERINNA.
the other half, or twelve books, was given to Fenton and Broome, both competent scholars, and Fenton at least a more than mediocre poet. The Shakspeare he had begun before this, for in November, 1722, he mentions his work as then one quarter printed, though it did not appear till 1725. He proposed to collate the early copies, to insert the various readings in the margin, and to place the suspected or interpolated passages at the bottom of the page. To gratify the lazy or obtuse readers of Shakspeare, he was to distinguish the "shining passages" by marking them with stars or inverted commas an expedient not unlike Lady Mary's plan of writing on the margin of her husband, Mr. Wortley's, parlia mentary speeches the places where he was to pause, look round, and challenge a cheer from the assembled Commons! Neither attempt was very successful. But Pope set resolutely to work, and what between his two engagements, he had full employment for at least two years.
An episode of a tender nature was interposed amidst the labours of annotation and translation. In the autumn of 1722, Pope commenced a correspondence with a young lady whose name has not hitherto transpired. A series of twelve letters, written in the poet's most complimentary and admiring strain, was published by Dodsley in 1769,1 printed from the originals. The lady to whom they were addressed appeared to reside in Hertfordshire; she occasionally wrote verses, and was intimate with Mrs. Howard. She sat for her portrait as one of Jervas's shepherdesses or Kneller's beauties; and Pope (who had, he said, been "so mad with the idea of her as to steal the picture and pass whole days in sitting before it!") was ready with a poetical offering:
"Though sprightly SAPPHO force our love and praise,
The mild ERINNA blushing in her bays!
So while the sun's broad beam yet strikes the sight,
Serene in virgin majesty she shines,
And, unobserv'd, the glaring sun declines."
1 Letters of the Late Alexander Pope, Esq., to a Lady. Never before published. Ruffhead's Life of Pope had been published shortly before (April, 1769), and probably suggested to Dodsley the publication of these letters.