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Pope, Mr. Bethell appears as a grave and somewhat aged person, suffering from asthma. In the following letter we see him lively and vigorous-"Youth at the prow, and Pleasure at the helm:"
"Wigginton, August the 28, 1716. "MADAM,-You might begin to think I had forgot (which is not possible) the promise I had made you of sending you the receipt of the snuff for the headache, which you should have had much sooner, but that I staid with my sister in Gloucestershire longer than I intended, and only got here three days ago. When I came to York, it happened to be just at the time of the races, and there was so much company that, instead of being got to the country, I began to fancy myself in London; and our Palais Royal wanted nothing to make it not inferior to the Spanish Ambassador's but the two Mrs. Blounts. Among the rest, I was agreeably surprised to meet with our friend Wich, who, not content with his conquests in the south, comes to triumph over us in the north. Many a country squire who, before that he arrived, was happy in the affections of his mistress, and thought a pretty fellow, is now discarded, and called an awkward creature, and there is no bearing of him. For which reason they intend to give orders for the future that he shall have no ticket given him to go to their assemblies, and except against his coming there, as they except against certain horses that are looked upon as an overmatch for the rest. That he might do the greater execution, he took lodgings in a boarding-house; but having a cousin there, and out of charity to my countrywomen, I let them know the danger they were in, and, forewarned forearmed, by the caution I gave them, I do not hear of any accident that happened, as I am told he went away by broad daylight, and carried nobody off in his chaise with him beside his man Jack, for which I think all the husbands and mothers in the town should sing Te Deum. I shall not have room for my receipt if I do not conclude, which I shall in assuring you how much I am your most obedient servant,
The following is a specimen of the fantastic epistles written to the young ladies at Mapledurham by James Moore. It is addressed to Martha Blount:
"If Parthenissa is a true friend, as I have reason to believe she is,
she may easily guess at the concern I was in to part with her so soon, and in such a prospect of ill weather, as I did yesterday. Had my enchanting rod and girdle been here, the park should not have wanted a habitation fit for Parthenissa. A castle should have rose surpassing all those you have read of in past ages, for as my art is much more perfect than ever theirs was, I had certainly surpassed all other enchanters in my performance. The night was as agreeably passed away as any could be after such a dire separation, with the pleasant ideas of having so good a friend and hopes of seeing you again, till unluckily repassing each minute of our conversation, I came to that unhappy moment when you told me you were angry with me. Ye gods, is Parthenissa angry and do I live? Why did not the almighty Jove send down a thunderbolt to crush my guilty head? For sure whoever deserves your anger deserves no less a punishment. But, hold! When I reflect how serene those looks were when you pronounced me guilty, I cannot think there was a thought of anger in that soul-I am sure there was none in your eyes. Yes! I shall flatter myself 'twas only to try me. Should I believe otherwise 'twould be worse than death to the most faithful friend living, "ALEXANDER."
The signature" Alexander" probably led to the wrong indorsement on this letter, "Alex. Pope to Martha Blount." The loose, sprawling handwriting, and the ineffable nonsense of the letter, proclaim its author. The "Alexis" letters to Teresa are in the same style:
"CHARMING ZEPHALINDA,-I must begin my letter with the customary compliments of an happy new year to you all-the ordinary commencement of epistles in the first week of January. But I do not care to dwell long upon forms; neither must I, upon consideration, be tedious upon any other subject; for in the hurry of the London journey time will be too precious to throw away in reading letters of little profit or instruction. But, by-the-by, I must give you a caution when you go to London of sending me no more farthing histories of Tom Thumb in a budget, or new ballads of unfortunate lovers to the tune of Chevy Chace. If you do, I assure you, since Mr. Bickerstaff has lain down, I will take up his employment, under the name of Olinda. Well, I shall expect shortly to hear of some great conquest in the kingdom of Love, since Zephalinda's and Parthenissa's forces are taking the field. If the young Lord P., that is just entering Cupid's lists, should happen to be made prisoner, treat him with generous clemency and compassion; and so I desire of any general officer that hath the good luck to fall into your hands. Be not cruel, however, to the inferior, for fear of acquiring the reputation of being
barbarous; but use deserters at your own discretion. And so I wish success to your arms; and if victory does not attend you, I shall think the nation allows beauty to be resisted, and that Love's empire will soon be at an end. But, for my part, I am resolved never to swerve from my allegiance to so undoubted a sovereign, though an act of Parliament were passed to justify the legality of it. If you have leisure from your diversions in town, a line or two will not, you are sure, from your hands be unwelcome to me. My services to Mrs. Blount, and ten thousand to the lovely Parthenissa. I am, as ever, charming Parthenissa and Zephalinda,
"Your admirer and humble servant,
We subjoin a few scraps of intelligence:
Aug. 13, 1713.-The wits are removed from Will's over the way." [After Cato was produced, in April this year, Addison carried the Wits to Button's Coffee-house.]
"Nov. 19, 1713.-Upon Tuesday last we had a most sumptuous procession here, in which were carried the Devil, the Pope, and the Pretender. It marched out from Jenny Man's, and most of the Whig nobility were spectators, and their footmen attended it, and many others, with lighted flambeaux, as far as the Royal Exchange and back again to Charing Cross, where, in a bonfire of eight loads of fagots, the three images were burnt. But, to the great mortification of the Whigs, their procession was not joined by one hundred persons in all the long tour it made."
"The only lean beauty I see about town is Mrs. Belinda [Arabella Fermor?], whose charms and gallants desert her so fast, that I wonder despair and the spleen have not quite eaten her up." (No date.)
"The masquerade that was last Monday at the French Ambassador's affords discourse to the whole town. I was there, and never in my life saw such a crowd and confusion. For what betwixt quality (all in town being there) and the mob that got admittance, there was no sticking a pin between us. The table of sweetmeats was thrown down and two hundred bottles of wine broke to pieces. It is said the Ambassador will go from hence to France in a week." (No date.)
In these letters of James Moore's mention is occasionally made of his having purchased snuff for Parthenissa!
A long letter, dated December, 1741, was addressed by Hooke, the historian, to Martha Blount, in which he tries a
vein of somewhat heavy pleasantry, prescribing soap, or soap lees, as a cure for the stone. The following extract is more to our purpose:
"The only objection I ever had to Mr. Pope is that he has no taste for nonsense. He never can find the wit of it, which is an amazing thing in a man of his parts and reading. Now, you must know, I have been all my life, as Dr. Taylor_expresses it, trifling as an untaught boy; and an untaught boy I shall certainly be as long as I live. This is the reason why I am always uneasy when I have any of my children with me, for if I appear as I am, they will never have any respect for me, though they may admire me.'
LETTERS OF VOITURE'S PUBLISHED AS POPE'S.
Ir appears from MSS. in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, that after Curll had published a second volume of "Mr. Pope's Literary Correspondence," he received the following communication, with accompanying documents:
"MR. CURLL,-The characteristics whereby the author of the enclosed letters may be known are too many and glaring to need any mention of his name. Were there no other arguments to confirm this, kis own pen betrays him. But for your further satisfaction I must inform you that I found them among some papers of a deceased friend, with several others of a nature more insignificant, which therefore I would not transcribe. The gentleman's wife, before she was so, is known to have been personally acquainted with your adversary, which puts the matter beyond doubt. With many thanks for your two former volumes, these are at your service for the third, which I find you are about.-Yours, S. E.
"For Mr. Edmund Curll, Bookseller, in Rose Street, Covent Garden, London.
[In another hand, also on the back of the letter: "Send by Thos. Goodall at the Four Swans in Bishopgate Street, on Friday by noon."]
The letters enclosed consisted of translations from Voiture, one of them entitled, "To Miss B. on the Death of her Brother." Curll had replied by a notice in the newspapers, which called forth a second communication:
"Sept. 29, 1735. "MR. CURLL,-In one of the public papers I find the following advertisement: A certain gentleman having received two letters from an unknown hand, signed J. E., if the author will let him know where he may be spoke with, or favour him with a line signed with his own proper name at length, the said gent. shall think himself very much obliged.' I presume it is put in by you and concerns me. Imagining that the two letters are the copies enclosed in mine to you, and that you, by mistaking my handwriting, have put J. E. for S. E., thus I state the case and thus I answer.
"When I sent you the copies of four letters which I thought abundantly worth your publishing, even though they were supposed not to belong to the hand whose style and sprightliness they undoubtedly bear, I did it with a view at least by your means of serving the public. If they fail of that desirable end, I am not answerable, having committed them wholly to your judgment, to publish or throw them by, as shall seem fittest to you and most to suit your conveniency. It can be but of little importance to you to know my name at length: let the initials suffice, as I for many reasons chuse it. If you have anything further to urge, it will probably escape me, unless inserted in the Gazetteer, Oracle, Old Whig, or Craftsman. I wish you success in your third volume, and you may depend upon my utmost assistance in the encouragement of it, who am yours, &c., S. E."
This bait proved successful. Curll printed the spurious Pope letters in his third volume, and the poet in the genuine edition stigmatised them as letters "printed in his name, which he never writ, and addressed to persons to whom they never were written." He also, in the list of spurious editions, pointed out the French source from which they had been derived. The original communications appear to be in Pope's well-known handwriting slightly disguised. They are indorsed on the back, in neat printed characters, "LETTERS OF MR. POPE TO MISS BLOUNT." The editor had no doubt that Pope was the author of this ingenious and successful imposition upon Curll; but since the first edition of this work was published, the following manuscript note has been discovered in a copy of Pope's Works which belonged to Francis Douce, the eminent antiquary:
"The Miss Blount which our son Charles mentioned to you was your granddaughter, begotten by Charles himself. Bookseller Curll having had good success with publishing a volume of letters of Mr.