« 前へ次へ »
time avoided and neglected him ; and the Earl of Oxi ford discharged some of the servants for their resolute refusal of his messages. The maids, when they had neglected their business, alledged that they had been employed by Mr. Pope. One of his constant demands was of coffee in the night, and to the woman that waited on him in his chamber he was very busthenfome; but he was careful to recompense her want of sleep; and Lord Oxford's servant declared, that in a house where her business was to answer his call, she would not ask for wages.
He had another fault, eafily incident to those who, suffering much pain, think themselves entitled to whatever pleasures they can snatch. He was too indulgent to his appetite ; he loved meat highly seasoned and of ftrong taste; and, at the intervals of the table, amused himself with biscuits and dry conserves. If he sat down to a variety of dishes, he would oppress his stomach with repletion, and though he seemed angry when a dram was offered him, did not forbear to drink it. His friends, who knew the avenues to his heart, pampered him with presents of luxury, which he did not suffer to stand neglected. The death of great men is not always proportioned to the lustre of their lives. Hannibal, says Juvenal, did not perish by a javelin or a sword; the Naughters of Cannæ were revenged by a ring. The death of Pope was imputed by some of his friends to a silver faucepan, in which it was his delight to heat potted lampreys.
That he loved too well to eat, is certain ; but that his sensuality shortened his life will not be hastily concluded, when it is remembered that a conformation so it regular lancd fix and fifty years, notwithstanding such pertinacious diligence of study and meditation.
In all his intercourse with inankind, he had great delight in artifice, and endeavoured to attain all his purposes by indirect and unsuspected methods. He bardly drank tea without a fratagem. If, at the house of his friends, he wanted any accommodation, he was not willing to ask for it in plain terms, but would mention it remotely as something convenient; though, when it was procured, he foon made it appear for whose fake it had been recommended. Thus he teized Lord Orrery till he obtained a screen. He practised his arts on such small occasions, that Lady Bolingbroke used to say, in a French phrase, that be plaid the politician about cabbages and turnips. His unjustifiable impression of the Patriot King, as it can be imputed to no particular motive, must have proceeded from his general habit of fecrecy and cunning; he caught an opportunity of a fly trick, and pleased himself with the thought of outwitting Bolingbroke.
In familiar or convivial conversation, it does not appear that he excelled. He may be said to have resembled Dryden, as being not one that was distinguifhed by vivacity in company. It is remarkable, that, fo near his time, so much should be known of what he has written, and so little of what he has faid: traditional memory retains no fallies of raillery, nor sentences of obfervation; nothing either pointed or solid, either wise or merry. One apophthegm only ftands upon record. When an objection raised against his infcription for Shakespeare was defended by the authority of Patrick, he replied “horrefco referens--that he would allow the publisher of a Dictionary to know the meaning of a single word, but not of two words pui 10gether,
He was fretful, and easily displeased, and allowed himself to be capriciously resentful. He would some times leave Lord Oxford filently, no one could tell why, and was to be courted back by more letters and messages than the footmen were willing to carry. The table was indeed infested by Lady Mary Wortley, who was the friend of Lady Oxford, and who, knowing his peevishness, could by no intreaties be restrained from contradicting him, till their disputes were sharpened to such asperity, that one or the other quitted the house.
He sometimes condescended to be jocular with servants or inferiors; but by no merriment, either of others or his own, was he ever seen excited to laughter.
Of his domestick character, frugality was a part eminently remarkable. Having determined not to be dependent, he determined not to be in want, and therefore wisely and magnanimously rejected all temptations to expence unsuitable to his fortune. This general care must be universally approved; but it sometimes appeared in petty artifices of parsimony, such as the practice of writing his compositions on the back of letters, as may be seen in the remaining copy of the Iliad, by which perhaps in five years five shilling were saved; or in a niggardly reception of his friends, and scantiness of entertainment, as, when he had two guests in his house, he would set at supper a single pint upon the table; and having hiinself taken two small glasses would retire and say, Gentlemen, I leave you to your wine. Yet he tells his friends, that he bas a heart for all, a house for all, and, whatever they may think, a fortune
He sometimes, however, made a splendid dinner, and is said to have wanted no part of the skill or elegance which such performances require. That this magnificence should be often displayed, that obstinate prudence with which he conducted his affairs would not permit; for his revenue, certain and casual, amounted only to about eight hundred pounds a year, of which however he declares himself able to assign one hundred to charity *.
Of this fortune, which as it arose from publick approbation was very honourably obtained, his imagination seems to have been too full: it would be hard to find a man, so well entitled to notice by his wit, that ever delighted so much in talking of his money. .
In his Letters, and in his Poems, his garden and his grotto, his quincunx and his vines, or some hints of his opulence, are always to be found. The great topick of his ridicule is poverty; the crimes with which he reproaches his antagonists are their debts, their habitation in the Mint, and their want of a dinner. He seems to be of an opinion not very uncommon in the world, that to want money is to want every thing.
Next to the pleasure of contemplating his poffessions, feems to be that of enumerating the men of high rank with whom he was acquainted, and whose notice he loudly proclaims not to have been obtained by any practices of meanness or servility; a boast which was never denied to be true, and to which very
poets have ever aspired. Pope never fet genius to fale; he
* Part of it arose from an annuity of two hundred pounds a year, which he had purchased either of the last Duke of Buckingham. hire, or the Duchess his mother, and which was charged on fome estate of that family. The deed by which it was granted was some years in iny custody.
P O E. never flattered those whom he did not love,. or praised those whom he did not esteem. Savage however remarked, that he began a little to relax his dignity when he wrote a diftich for bis Highness's dog.
His admiration of the Great seems to have increased in the advance of life. He passed over peers and ftatesmen to inscribe his Iliad to Congreve, with a magnanimity of which the praise had been compleat had his friend's virtue been equal to his wit. Why he was chosen for fo great an honour, it is not now possible to know; there is no trace in literary history of any particular intimacy between them. The name of Congreve appears in the Letters among those of his other friends, but without any observable distinction or consequence.
To his latter works, however, he took care to an. nex names digified with titles, but was not very happy in his choice; for, except Lord Bathurst, none of his noble friends were such as that a good man would wish to have his intimacy with them known to pofterity: he can derive little honour from the notice of Cobham, Burlington, or Bolingbroke.
Of his social qualities, if an estimate be made from his Letters, an opinion too favourable cannot easily be formed; they exhibit a perpetual and unclouded effulgence of general benevolence, and particular fondness. There is nothing but liberality, gratitude, conftancy, and tenderness. It has been fo long faid as to be commonly believed, that the true characters of men may be found in their Letters, and that he who writes to his friend lays his heart open before him. But the truth is, that such were simple friendfhips of the Golden Age, and are now the friendships only of children. Very few can boast of hearts which they