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by the mention of any recent theatrical transactions, he said, that he once thought to have introduced his lovers disguised in a Mummy and a Crocodile.
“ This," says he, “ was received with loud claps, which indi“ cated contempt of the play.” Pope, who was behind the scenes, meeting him as he left the stage, attacked him, as he says, with all the virulence of a Wit out of his fenfes; to which he replied, " that he would take no “ other notice of what was said by so particular a man “ than to declare, that, as often as he played that part, “ he would repeat the same provocation.”
He shews his opinion to be, that Pope was one of the authors of the play which he so zealously defended ; and adds an idle story of Pope's behaviour at a tavern.
The pamphlet was written with little power of thought or language, and, if suffered to remain without notice, would have been very soon forgotten. Pope had now been enough acquainted with human life to know, if his passion had not been too powerful for his understanding, that, from a contention like his with Cibber, the world seeks nothing but diverfion, which is given at the expence of the higher character. When Cibber lampooned Pope, curiosity was excited; what Pope would say of Cibber nobody enquired, but in hope that Pope's asperity might betray his pain and lesien his dignity.
He should therefore have suffered the pamphlet to flutter and die, without confessing that it ftung him. The dishonour of being shewn as Cibber's antagonist could never be compensated by the victory: Cibber had nothing to lose; when Pope had exhausted all his malignity upon him, he would rise in the esteem both of his friends and his enemies. Silence only could have
made him despicable; the blow which did not appear to be felt, would have been struck in vain.
But Pope's irascibility prevailed, and he resolved to tell the whole English world that he was at war with Cibber; and to shew that he thought him no common adversary, he prepared no common vengeance; he published a new edition of the Dunciad, in which he degraded Theobald from his painful pre-eminence, and enthroned Cibber in his stead. Unhappily the two heroes were of opposite characters, and Pope was unwilling to lose what he had already written; he has therefore depraved his poem by giving to Cibber the old books, the cold pedantry, and Nuggish pertinacity of Theobald.
Pope was ignorant enough of his own interest, to make another change, and introduced Osborne contending for the prize among the booksellers. Osborne was a man intirely destitute of shame, without sense of any disgrace but that of poverty. He told me, when he was doing that which raised Pope's resentment, that he should be put into the Dunciad; but he had the fate of Caffandra ; I gave no credit to his prediction, till in time I saw it accomplished. The shafts of satire were directed equally in vain against Cibber and Ofberne ; being repelled by the impenetrable impudence of one, and deadened by the impaffive dulness of the other. Pope confessed his own pain by his anger ; but he gave no pain to those who had provoked him. He was able to hurt none but hiinself; by transferring the same ridicule from one to another, he destroyed its efficacy; for, by sewing that what he had said of one he was ready to say of another, he reduced himself to the insignificance of his own magpye, who from his cage calls cuckold at a ventute.
Cibber, according to his engageinent, repaid the Dunciad with another pamphlet, which, Pope faid, would be as good as a dose of hartshorn to him; but his tongue and his heart were at variance, I have heard Mr. Richardson relate, that he attended his father the painter on a visit, when one of Cibber's pamphlets came into the hands of Pope, who said, These things are my diversion. They fat by him while he perused it, and saw his features writhen with anguish; and young Richardson said to his father, when they returned, that he hoped to be preserved from such diversion as had been that day the lot of Pope *.
From this time, finding his diseases more oppressive, and his vital powers gradually declining, he no longer strained his faculties with any original composition, nor proposed any other employment for his remaining life than the revisal and correction of his former works; in which he received advice and affistance from Warburton, whom he appears to have trusted and honoured in the highest degree.
He laid aside his Epick Poem, perhaps without much lofs to mankind; for his hero was Brutus the Trojan, who, according to a ridiculous fiction, established a colony in Britain. The subject therefore was of the fabulous age; the actors were a race upon whom imagination has been exhausted, and attention wearied, and to whom the mind will not easily be recalled, when it is invited in blank verse, which Pope had adopted with great imprudence, and I think without due consideration of the nature of our language. The sketch is, at least in part, preserved by Ruffhead; by which it appears, that Pope was thoughtless enough to model the
* This I also have heard the younger Richardson relate.
names of his heroes with terminations not consistent with the time or country in which he places them.
He lingered through the next year ; but perceived himself, as he expresses it, going down the hill. He had for at least five years been afflicted with an asthma, and other disorders, which his physicians were unable to relieve. Towards the end of his life he consulted Dr. Thomson, a man who had, by large promises, and free censures of the common practice of physick, forced himself up into sudden reputation. Thomson declared bis distemper to be a dropsy, and evacuated part of the water by tincture of jalap; but confessed that his belly did not subside. Thomson had many enemies, and Pope was persuaded to dismiss him.
While he was yet capable of amusement and conversation, as he was one day sitting in the air with Lord Bolingbroke and Lord Marchmont, 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 fat still; bur Lord Marchmont, who was your ger and less captious, waited on the Lady; who, when he came to her, asked, What, is he not dead yet? She is said to have neglected him, with shameful unkindness, in the latter time of his decay; yet, of the little which he had to leave, she had a very great part. Their acquaintance began early; the life of each was pictured on the other's mind; their conversation therefore was endearing, for when they met, there was an immediate coalition of congenial notions. Perhaps he considered her unwilingneís to approach the chamber of fickness as female weakness, or human frailty; perhaps lie was conscious to himself of peevishness and impatience, or, though
he was offended by her inattention, might yet consider her merit as overbalancing her fault; and, if he had suffered his heart to be alienated from her, he could have found nothing that might fill her place; he could have only shrunk within himself; it was too late to. transfer his confidence or fondness.
In May 1744, his death was approaching * ; on the sixth, he was all day delirious, which he mentioned four days afterwards as a sufficient humiliation of the vanity of man; he afterwards complained of seeing things as through a curtain, and in falfe colours ; and one day, in the presence of Dodsley, asked what arm it was that came out from the wall. He said that his greatest inconvenience was inability to think.
Bolingbroke sometimes wept over him in this state of helpless decay; and being told by Spence, that Pope, at the intermission of his deliriousness, was always faying something kind either of his present or absent friends, and that his humanity seemed to have survived his un. derstanding, answered, it has for And added, I never in my life knew a man that had so tender a heart for his particular friends, or more general friendship for mankind. At another time he said, I bave known Pope these thirty years, and value myself more in his friendship than-his grief then suppressed his voice.
Pope expressed undoubting confidence of a future itate. Being asked by his friend Mr. Hooke, a papilt, whether he would not die like his father and mother, and whether a priest fhould not be called, he answered, I do not think it effentiai, but it will be very right; and I thank you for putting me in mind of it.
In the morning, after the priest had given him the last sacraments, he faid, “ There is nothing that is me