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Part of the panegyric was afterwards transferred to Martha Blount. Sappho was, of course, Lady Mary, whose influence seems then to have been on the wane. Pope sent more lines to his correspondent, part of those addressed to Gay, disclosing the passion for Lady Mary, when he was the stricken deer panting in the shades with the arrow in his heart. "Retiring into oneself," he says, "is generally the pis aller of mankind"-one of his true and happy sententious remarks. "Would you have me describe my solitude and grotto to you? What, if after a long and painted description of them in verse (which the writer I have just been speaking of could better make if I can guess by that line, No noise but water, ever friend to thought'), what if it ended thus:
"What are the falling rills, the pendant shades,
To sigh unheard in, to the passing wind!
"If these lines want poetry," he adds, "they do not want sense. God Almighty preserve you from a feeling of them!" -another allusion to his passion for Lady Mary, if not a mere sentimental flourish. The line quoted by Pope occurs in a poem by Dr. Ibbot, in Dodsley's Collection, but he believed it to be the production of his fair correspondent. He sent her also a copy of his poem "To a Lady on her Birthday, 1723," desiring her to "alter it to her own wish," and he suggested fresh themes for her Muse:
2 A Fit of the Spleen, in imitation of Shakspeare: No noise be there
But that of falling water, friend to thought."
Mrs. Howard had sent Pope a copy of this imitation, without naming the author. When the piece was published in the London Magazine, 1737, and afterwards in Dodsley's Collection, Pope's lines, "What are the falling rills," &c., were absurdly tacked to it, with the note, "Said to be added by Mr. Pope." Ibbot was one of the Chaplains in Ordinary to the King, Assistant Preacher at St. James's, &c. He died in 1725, and two volumes of his
PROPOSES A FAIRY TALE.
"This beautiful season [the month of September] will raise up so many rural images and descriptions in a poetical mind, that I expect you and all such as you (if there be any such), at least all who are not downright dull translators, like your servant, must necessarily be productive of verses. I lately saw a sketch this way on the Bower of Beddington. I could wish you tried something in the descriptive way on any subject you please, mixed with vision and moral, like pieces of the old Provençal poets, which abound with fancy, and are the most amusing scenes in nature. There are three or four of this kind in Chaucer admirable. I have long had an inclination to tell a fairy tale, the more wild and exotic the better; therefore a vision, which is confined to no rules of probability, will take in all the variety and luxuriancy of description you will; provided there be an apparent moral to it. I think one or two of the Persian tales would give one hints for such an invention; and perhaps if the scenes were taken from real places that are known, in order to compliment particular gardens and buildings of a fine taste (as I believe several of Chaucer's descriptions do, though it is what nobody has observed), it would add great beauty to the whole."
The scenery of Woodstock Park is supposed to be described by Chaucer in his Dream and Parliament of Birds. The genial old poet lived
"Within a lodge out of the way,
Beside a well in a forest."
The well of Fair Rosamond; Pope knew the spot, and had toasted the shade of Rosamond with thoughts warmer than the water of her well! A fairy tale such as is here alluded
sermons were published by subscription, under the patronage of the noble family of Cowper.
3 Beddington in Hertfordshire was the seat of Mr. Cæsar, Treasurer of the Navy in Queen Anne's reign. Steevens, in his "Additions," prints the lady's lines, and Mrs. Cæsar sent a copy of them to Pope:
"In Tempe's shades the living lyre was strung,
And the first Pope (immortal Phœbus) sung,
These happy shades, where equal beauty reigns,
Bold rising hills, slant vales, and far-stretch'd plains.
The grateful verdure of the waving woods,
The soothing murmur of the falling floods,
A nobler boast, a higher glory yield,
Than that which Phoebus stamp'd on Tempe's field:
All that can charm the eye or please the ear
to would have proved an interesting contribution to our imaginative literature if written by the youthful Pope, when his fancy was redolent of sylphs and other aërial divinities. But it may be questioned whether even then he had enough of the pure creative power and fine spirit of poetry, apart from human interest, to have been perfectly successful in such a work. Addison's prose allegories show more of this inspiration, and Collins's poetry is full of it. Pope's lady friend was driven from attempting the task by the death of a near relation, a great and good man, whose demise, Pope said, "must affect every admirer and well-wisher of honour and virtue in the nation." This reference to the death of the young lady's relative, joined to the dates and localities mentioned in the correspondence, furnish a clue to the names of the parties: and we have no doubt that the "great and good man" was the Lord Chancellor Cowper, who died on the 10th of October, 1723, and that the lady was Lord Cowper's niece, Judith Cowper (afterwards Mrs. Madan), only daughter of Spencer Cowper, one of the Judges of the Court of Common Pleas. Pope's eulogium on the lady's illustrious kinsman-though all the Cowpers were Whigs-was appropriate even from him, when we remember that Lord Cowper had generously opposed the banishment of Atterbury and the bill for taxing the Roman Catholics-events nearly contemporaneous with the date of this correspondence. The poet afterwards, in one of his Imitations of Horace (Ep. ii., book ii.), alluded in a complimentary style to Cowper's 'manner," or deportment, which was remarkable for grace and dignity.
Judith Cowper came of a poetical race, and she early began to write verses. She is mentioned by Hayley as having "at the age of eighteen discovered a striking talent for poetry in the praise of her contemporary poets, Pope and Hughes." This refers to a piece entitled The Progress of Poetry, in which she characterises Pope in a strain of unmingled eulogium:
"High on the radiant list see Pope appears,
With all the fire of youth and strength of years.
How just the turns, how regular the draught,
He dared the thunder of great Homer's lays;
Hughes, also commemorated by Judith Cowper, was a protégé of the Lord Chancellor's, and lived some time at Hertingfordbury, the seat of the Cowpers. His friendship! with Addison (who is said to have asked him to write a fifth act to Cato before the timid and sensitive author could bring himself to finish his tragedy), and his contributions to the Spectator, have preserved his name. His death also was remarkable: he expired on the night that his most successful play, The Siege of Damascus, was brought on the stage, and while the plaudits of the audience were still ringing in the ears of his delighted friends. Duncombe, the brotherin-law of Hughes and editor of his works, mentions Miss Cowper in his poem The Feminiad, and Colman and Bonnell Thornton, in their Poems of Eminent Ladies, 1773, speak of her extraordinary genius."
4 Poetical Calendar, vol. iii. p. 27.
The best verses by this lady which we have met with are the following, in the fourth volume of Dodsley's Collection-quoted also by Mr. Southey in his Life of Cowper:
By Miss Couper (now Mrs. Madan), in her Brother's Coke upon Littleton.
And only leave to view thy learned nose:
Safely may'st thou defy beaux, wits, and scoffers,
Ashley Cowper, the brother of Judith, was also a votary of the Muses
The fairy tale which Pope had proposed to his fair correspondent was not attempted, as we have seen, in consequence of the death of her uncle. But there was another and perhaps a stronger cause for declining the task. The last letter in the correspondence (misplaced in the printed arrangement) is dated November 9th, and in less than a month from this time, on the 7th of December, 1723, Miss Cowper was married to Martin Madan, afterwards Colonel Madan, Groom of the Bedchamber to Frederick Prince of Wales, and M.P. for Wotton Basset. This event seems to have closed the poetry and poetical correspondence of Judith Cowper. There are no more letters to or from Pope, but the lady, her husband, and other members of her family, were among the subscribers to the Odyssey. Judith was twenty-one at the period of her marriage, and she survived to the age of seventy-nine. She had many children, including Martin Madan, the famous preacher and too famous theological writer, whose Thelypthora, or defence of polygamy, author of a poem called The Progress of Physic. In 1744 he published two volumes entitled The Norfolk Poetical Miscellany, and the first piece in this collection is Ibbot's imitation of Shakspeare. Pope's lines, "What are the falling rills," &c., which the poet had sent to Judith Cowper, are in the same work. Ashley Cowper-gay and sprightly, a beau in dress when verging on fourscore-and his daughters, the faithful Theodora, Cowper's only love, and Harriet, Lady Hesketh, are imperishably associated with the history of the poet Cowper.
We doubt if any cordiality was retained. From Nichols's Account of the Spalding Society (Lit. Anecd., v. vi. p. 68), it appears that in September, 1728, the secretary of that society communicated to a meeting of the members A Poem by Mr. Pope on Mr. Cowper's Birthday. Nichols adds the question, "If ever printed ?" We are convinced that Mr. is a misprint for Mrs. Cowper, and that the poem was Pope's verses, To a Lady on her Birthday, 1723, which he had sent to Judith Cowper, as well as to Martha Blount. From Pope's ambiguous language, introducing the verses, and his omission of "June 15," given in the original copy sent to Martha Blount, Judith Cowper supposed the lines to be addressed to herself. Thus she may have been the "simpleton" mentioned in one of the Caryll letters in the Athenæum. "The verses on Mrs. Patty," says Pope, "had not been printed, but that one puppy of our sex [James Moore Smythe ?] took 'em to himself as author, and another simpleton of her sex pretended they were addressed to herself. I never thought of showing 'em to anybody but her; nor she (it seems), being better content to merit praises and good wishes than to boast of 'em." This must be taken cum grano. He had shown them to Judith Cowper, desiring her also to transcribe them for Mrs. Howard, to whom he had promised to send a copy.