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ALLEGED UNKINDNESS OF MARTHA BLOUNT.
hastily, since what you write me, intending to have forwarded it otherwise, that you might revise it during your stay. Indeed my present weakness will make me less and less capable of any thing. I hope at least, now at first, to see you for a day or two here at Twitenham, and concert measures how to enjoy for the future what I can of your friendship. I am," &c.
About three weeks before his death, Pope sent copies of his Ethic Epistles-the revised edition, probably, which was then in the course of printing-as presents to his friends. "Here I am, like Socrates," he said, "dispensing my morality among my friends just as I am dying." Spence rejoined, "I really had that thought several times when I was last at Twickenham with you, and was apt now and then to look upon myself as Phædo." "That might be," said Pope, "but you must not expect me now to say anything like Socrates." His friends were unceasing in their attentions. Marchmont and Bolingbroke evinced the most anxious solicitude, and Spence seems to have been rarely absent. Ruffhead charges Martha Blount with indifference and neglect; and Johnson relates that as the sick poet was one day sitting in the open air with his two friends, he saw his favourite Martha Blount at the bottom of the terrace, and asked Lord Bolingbroke to go and hand her up. Bolingbroke, not liking his errand, crossed his legs and sat still; but Lord Marchmont, who was younger and less captious, waited on the lady, who, when he came to her, asked, “What! is he not dead yet ?" Much depends on the tone and manner. in which words of this kind are uttered; but the anecdote, as thus related, seems incredible. Martha Blount could not be ignorant whether Pope was dead or alive; and even worldly prudence would have prevented such an unfeeling exclamation, for, if Pope was able to sit with his friends in the open air, he was fit also to alter the terms of his Will, and deprive Miss Blount of her legacy. She well knew that the poet was too sensitive to brook either neglect or affront, and too proud not to resent it. Spence says nothing of this indifference and want of feeling, but on the contrary, he quotes a remark of Warburton's, that it "was very observable during Pope's last illness, that Mrs. Blount's coming in gave a new turn of spirits or a temporary strength to him." Pope's
LAST DAYS OF POPE.
so tender a heart for his particular friends, or a more general friendship for mankind. I have known him these thirty years, and value myself more for that man's love thansinking his head and losing himself in tears. A short time before his death, Pope said, "I am so certain of the soul's being immortal, that I seem to feel it within me as it were by intuition;" and Ruffhead mentions that one morning, at the early hour of four o'clock, he rose from his bed and went into his library, where he was discovered by a friend (Warburton) very busily writing. He was persuaded to desist, and the paper on which he had been engaged was found to be an Essay on the Immortality of the Soul, according to a theory of his own, in which he spoke of those material things which tend to strengthen and support the soul's immortality, and of those which weaken and destroy it.12 Bolingbroke was of a different stamp-all his views were material; and when Cheselden, the surgeon, remarked, "There is no hope for him (Pope) here; our only hope for him must beBolingbroke broke in with "Pshaw!-we can only reason from what is; we can reason on actualities, but not on possibilities." He was a stranger to the "still small voice which had at length reached the dying ear of Pope.
On the 27th the poet quoted two of his own verses on his whole life having been divided between carelessness and care; the passage occurring in his Imitation of Horace, addressed to Colonel Cotterell:
"I, who at some times spend, at others spare,
The same day he requested to be brought to the table where his friends were sitting at dinner. His dying appearance was remarked by all present, and Miss Ann Arbuthnot
12 It appears from Spence that in this Essay, or rather memorandum, Pope said something about generous wines helping the immortality of the soul; whereas spirituous liquors served only to mortalise it. This extraordinary idea must be ascribed to temporary delirium-the wandering of the mind; but it probably glances at the poet's habit of dram-drinking, which seems to have grown upon him, and the ill effects of which he must have been conscious of.