Page images



treme sensibility which I know is in your nature, of such monstrous treatment, and the bitter reflection that I was wholly the unhappy cause of it, did really so distract me, while with you, that I could neither speak, nor move, nor act, nor think. I was like a man stunned or stabbed, where he expected an embrace; and I was dejected to death, seeing I could do or say nothing to comfort, but everything rather to hurt you. But for God's sake know that I understood it was goodness and generosity you showed me under the appearance of anger itself. When you first bid me go to Lord B.'s from them and hasten thither, I was sensible it was resentment of their conduct to me, and to remove me from such treatment, though you stayed alone to suffer it yourself. But I depended you would not have been a day longer in the house after I left last; you and of all I have endured, nothing gave me so much pain of heart as to find by your letters you were still under their roof. I dread their provoking you to any expression unworthy of you. Even laughter would be taking too much notice. But I more dread your spirits, and falling under such a dejection as renders you incapable of resolving on the means of getting out of all this."

He then prescribes a mode of extrication. The difficulties attending a lady travelling alone, or Martha's peculiar timidity, with an indication of the state of the roads, are seen in this passage: "If you would go directly to London, you may, without the least danger, go in a coach and six of King's horses (with a servant on horseback as far as Marlborough, writing to John [Searle] to meet you there) for 67. or 77., as safe, no doubt, as in any nobleman's or gentleman's coach."4

He resolved, he said, never more to set foot in the house, and he implored Martha to leave them without a word. This hasty and passionate letter the poet enclosed under cover to a Mr. Edwin, because, as he significantly adds, "I should not wonder if listeners at doors should open letters. W. is a sneaking parson, and I told him he flattered." W. was no doubt Warburton, who was then at Prior Park, and who was treated with double complaisance, as Martha Blount told Spence, to render their ill usage of Mr. Pope more apparent. It is highly improbable that Mr. Allen, who so often entertained the poet, and who so cordially admired his


Roscoe, viii. p. 508, collated with the original.

genius, should have treated his visitor with rudeness. The lady of the mansion had probably looked askance on Miss Blount, and the deportment of the latter was by no means conciliatory. The storm, however, soon blew over. Pope and Allen were again friends, and Warburton was reinstated in his friendly and confidential office of critical adviser and commentator.

The preparation of a complete, correct, and annotated edition of his works was the latest care and anxiety of the poet. Warburton revised the Preface and Essay prefixed to Homer, and supplied comments and notes to the different poems. The Essay on Man and Essay on Criticism, with Warburton's commentaries, were published in a quarto volume in 1743, "in the same paper and character to be bound up with the Dunciad," and the rest of the author's original poems were announced as in preparation. Pope was lavish of compliments to his coadjutor. "You have," he wrote, "not only monthly, but weekly of late, loaded me with favours of that kind which are most acceptable to veteran authors; those garlands which a commentator weaves to hang about the poet, and which are flowers both of his own gathering and painting too-not blossoms springing from the dry author." Warburton wandered far in quest of these editorial flowers, and sometimes gathered thistles! He explored the recesses of his curious and multifarious erudition, brought forward paradoxes to illustrate doubtful and to obscure obvious truths, and he racked his invention to find analogies which were visible only through his "critical telescope." The poet writes again on the same subject, conscious that his increasing weakness rendered it necessary to work while it was yet day:

"Whatever little respites I have had from the daily care of my malady have been employed in revising the papers "On the Use of

In one of the letters of Lady Hervey to the Countess of Suffolk there is an allusion to Miss Blount, couched in the form of a medical allegory: "I am sorry our poor little friend was forced to go to the Bath for so unpleasant a distemper; for I am informed it was to get rid of some proud flesh that is grown to his side and makes him extremely uneasy. It is thought it will prove a mortification."

[graphic][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]


Riches," which I would have ready for your last revise against you come to town, that they may be begun while you are here. I own the late encroachments upon my constitution make me willing to see the end of all further care about me or my works. I would rest for the one in a full resignation of my being to be disposed of by the Father of all mercy; and for the other (though indeed a trifle, yet a trifle may be some example), I would commit them to the candour of a sensible and reflecting judge, rather than to the malice of every short-sighted and malevolent critic, or inadvertent and censorious reader. And no hand can set them in so good a light, or so well turn their best side to the day, as your own. This obliges me to confess I have for some months thought myself going, and that not slowly, down the hill-the rather as every attempt of the physicians, and still the last medicines more forcible in their nature, have utterly failed to serve me. I was at last, about seven days ago, taken with so violent a fit at Battersea, that my friends Lord M. and Lord B. sent for present help to the surgeon; whose bleeding me, I am persuaded, saved my life, by the instantaneous effect it had; and which has continued so much to amend me, that I have passed five days without oppression."


While at Battersea he addressed a note to his printer, Bowyer, in Whitefriars, which illustrates his unwearied care and anxiety, even in his last days, with respect to his works. The original is in the British Museum:

"Nov. 3 (1743).

"I am for a few days at Battersea, at Lord Marchmont's, whither I've left orders with the waterman to bring me everything from you. I doubt not you'll be upon the watch, or set any other, in case of any piracy of the Dunciad, to inform me, who shall be ready to prosecute. As to the little edition, they have still not separated it aright. The second volume must (as the title you'll see implies) contain the fourth book, as well as the memoirs and index. Pray close your account with Mrs. Cooper of the octavo's second volume (no more of which should now be sold), and make all that remain correspond with the present edition, ready to be republished, as we shall find occasion, the two together. And let me know when you have vended 500 of the quarto. I thank you for all your care, and shall be ever your affect. humble servant, A. POPE."

In his latter years, when rowed up and down the river, Pope usually sat in a sedan chair, in which he was carried to the boat; and so late as 1813 an aged boatman on the

« PreviousContinue »