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Safe from the bar, the pulpit, and the throne,
O sacred weapon! left for Truth's defence,
The Muse may give thee, but the gods must guide :
When black Ambition stains a public cause,31 A monarch's sword when mad Vain-glory draws, Not Waller's wreath can hide the nation's scar,32 Not Boileau turn the feather to a star.33
29 Weak and slight sophistry against virtue and honour. Thin colours over vice as unable to hide the light of truth, as cobwebs to shade the sun.
30 After ver. 227, in the MS.
"Where 's now the star that lighted Charles to rise?
-With that which follow'd Julius to the skies.
Angels, that watch'd the Royal Oak so well,
How chanced ye nod, when luckless Sorel fell?
As to the regal-touch and papal-toe;
Hence haughty Edgar's title to the main,
Britain's to France, and thine to India, Spain !"
["Luckless Sorel" was the horse that fell with William III. The monarch died soon afterwards, March 8, 1702.]
31 The case of Cromwell in the civil war of England; and (ver. 229) of Louis XIV. in his conquest of the Low Countries.
32 [Waller's poem on Cromwell is one of the finest of his productions. He is said to have apologised to Charles II. for it, by saying that poets dealt better with fiction than with truth—a happy after-thought, but not so true as the poem.]
33 See his Ode on Namur; where (to use his own words) "il a fait un
Not so, when, diadem'd with rays divine,
Touch'd with the flame that breaks from Virtue's shrine,
Her priestess Muse forbids the good to die,
And opes the temple of Eternity:
There, other trophies deck the truly brave,
Far other stars than * and * *
And may descend to Mordington 36 from Stair; 37
astre de la plume blanche que le Roy porte ordinairement à son chapeau, et qui est en effet une espèce de comete, fatale à nos ennemis."
34 The chief Herald-at-Arms. It is the custom, at the funeral of great peers, to cast into the grave the broken staves and ensigns of honour. [John Anstis, the principal Garter King-at-Arms, died in 1744, and was succeeded in his heraldic office by his son.]
35 [Lord Marchmont put opposite these blanks the names of "George " and "Frederick," meaning the King and Prince of Wales. Warton conjectured that the Dukes of Kent and Grafton were the persons satirised; but Lord Marchmont's intimacy with Pope gives authority to his emendation. The force of the contrast in the poem is also heightened by the introduction of royalty.]
36 [Lord Mordington, a Scotch nobleman, who is said to have sunk so low from the blood of the Douglases, as to have kept a gaming-house in Coventgarden! He died 10th June, 1741. This degenerate peer had a son, brought up to the naval profession, who, having no property, never assumed the title, till tried in Carlisle for joining in the rebellion of 1745. He then pleaded his peerage as Lord Mordington, and, proving his descent, his trial was put off. He was eventually pardoned. The title died with this gentleman's daughter, in 1791.]
37 John Dalrymple, Earl of Stair, Knight of the Thistle, served in all the wars under the Duke of Marlborough, and afterwards as Ambassador in France. [Lord Stair was another of the Walpole victims, but, on the fall of that minister, he regained his military employments. He was engaged at the battle of Dettingen, and also in the suppression of the rebellion of 1745. He died in 1747. His Lordship was married to Lady Eleanor Campbell, widow of Viscount Primrose; and Mr. Chambers, in his Traditions of Edin. burgh, relates a curious story of the marriage. The lady at first rejected his addresses, but by dint of bribes to her domestics, Lord Stair got himself insinuated over-night into a small room in her ladyship's house, where she used to say her prayers every morning, and the window of which looked upon the principal street of the city of Edinburgh. At this window, when the morning was a little advanced, he showed himself en deshabille, to the people passing along the street; an exhibition which threatened to have such an effect upon her ladyship's reputation, that she saw fit to accept of him for her
(Such as on Hough's unsullied mitre shine,
Yes, the last pen for Freedom let me draw,
F. Alas! alas! pray end what you began, And write next winter more Essays on Man.39
38 Dr. John Hough, Bishop of Worcester, and the Lord Digby. The one an asserter of the Church of England, in opposition to the false measures of King James II.; the other as firmly attached to the cause of that king, Both acting out of principle, and equally men of honour and virtue.
[See Epigram on Bishop Hough, in Pope's Epigrams. Edward, Lord Digby, an Irish peer, and one of the Lords of the Bedchamber to the Prince of Wales, died Nov. 30, 1737.]
39 In the MS.
'Quit these themes, and write Essays on Man."
This was the last poem of the kind printed by our author, with a resolution to publish no more, but to enter thus, in the most plain and solemn manner he could, a sort of protest against that insuperable corruption and depravity of manners which he had been so unhappy as to live to see. Could he have hoped to have amended any, he had continued those attacks, but bad men were grown so shameless and so powerful, that ridicule was become as unsafe as it was ineffectual. The poem raised him, as he knew it would, some enemies; but he had reason to be satisfied with the approbation of good men, and the testimony of his own conscience.
DEATH OF QUEEN CAROLINE.
Dial. i. v. 82. All parts perform'd and all her children bless'd.] A double sarcasm is conveyed in this line: the Queen did not take the sacrament in her last illness, and she did not send her blessing to her son, the Prince of Wales. Both circumstances were much canvassed at the time, and the most contradictory reports prevailed. Coxe, in his Memoirs of Walpole, states that the Queen sent her blessing to her son, with a message of forgiveness; but the minute details of Lord Hervey, an eye-witness, disprove the assertion; and Pope, who had access to correct information, at the Courts both of the King and the Prince, seems to have known the actual facts of the case. The Queen was taken ill on the 9th of November, 1737, and continued getting worse. On the 11th, the Prince sent to request that he might see her, but the King said this was like one of the scoundrel's tricks, and he forbade the Prince to send messages, or approach St. James's. The Queen herself was no less decided. In fact, the family feud was of the bitterest description, and of many years' standing. Its cause has never been satisfactorily explained, but in the rival Courts there were never wanting occasions for fresh enmity and exasperation. The King, it appears, relaxed so far as to say to her Majesty, that, if she had the least mind to see her son, he had no objection to it. "I am so far," said the Queen, "from desiring to see him, that nothing but your absolute commands should ever make me consent to it. For what should I see him? For him to tell me a hundred lies, and to give myself at this time a great deal of trouble to no purpose. If anything I could say to him would alter his behaviour, I would see him with all my heart; but I know that is impossible. Whatever advice I gave him he would thank me for, pleureoit comme un veau all the while I was speaking, and swear to follow my directions, and would laugh at me the moment he was out of the room, and do just the contrary of all I bid him the moment I was dead. And, therefore, if I should grow worse, and be weak enough to talk of seeing him, I beg you, sir, to conIclude that I doat or rave." The speech was characteristic of Caroline-a strong-minded, resolute, ambitious woman, with little tenderness or religion. She was then dying of the effects of a rupture, which she had courageously concealed for fourteen years, and she would have died without declaring it, had not the King communicated the fact to her attendants. This delicacy was not (as Lord Hervey says) merely an ill-timed coquetry at fifty-four, that would hardly have been excusable at twenty-five. She feared to lose her power over the King, which she had held firmly in spite of all his mistresses, and was in constant apprehension of making her person distasteful to her husband. The Prince continued to send messages to the dying Queen,
and the messengers got into the palace, but the Queen wished to have the ravens (who, she said, were only there to watch her death, and would gladly tear her to pieces whilst she was alive) turned out of the house, and the old King was inexorable. About the seventh day of the Queen's illness, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Potter, was sent for. He continued to attend every morning and evening, but her Majesty did not receive the sacrament. Some of Lord Hervey's revelations are curious enough. Her Majesty, appears, advised the King, in case she died, to marry again. George sobbed and shed tears: "whilst in the midst of this passion, wiping his eyes and sobbing between every word, with much ado he got out this answer: "Non, j'aurai des maîtresses;" to which the Queen made no other reply than "Ah! mon Dieu cela n'empêche pas."
When she had finished all she had to say on these subjects, she said she fancied she could sleep. The King said many kind things to her, and kissed her face and her hands a hundred times; but even at this time, on her asking for her watch, which hung by the chimney, in order to give it to him to take care of her seal, the natural brusquerie of his temper, even in these moments, broke out, which showed how addicted he was to snapping without being angry, and that he was often capable of using those worst whom he loved best; for, on this proposal of giving him the watch to take care of the seal with the Queen's arms, in the midst of sobs and tears, he raised and quickened his voice, and said, "Ah, my God! let it alone: the Queen has always such strange fancies. Who should meddle with your seal? Is it not as safe there as in my pocket?"
During their night-watches, the King and Lord Hervey had many conversations, all which the Court Boswell reports fully. George wished to impress upon the Privy Seal that the Queen's affectionate behaviour was the natural effect of an amorous attachment to his person, and an adoration of his great genius! He narrated instances of his own intrepidity, during a severe illness and in a great storm; and, one night while he was discoursing in this strain, the Princess Emily, who lay upon a couch in the room, pretended to fall asleep. Soon after, his Majesty went into the Queen's room. "As soon as his back was turned, Princess Emily started up, and said, 'Is he gone? How tiresome he is!" Lord Hervey replied only, 'I thought your Royal Highness had been asleep.' 'No,' said the Princess Emily; 'I only shut my eyes that I might not join in the ennuyant conversation, and wish I could have shut my ears too. In the first place, I am sick to death of hearing of his great courage every day of my life; in the next place, one thinks now of mamma, and not of him. Who cares for his old storm? I believe, too, it is a great lie, and that he was as much afraid as I should have been, for all what he says now.'"
Other glimpses of the interior of this strange Court at this time are furnished by Lord Hervey. Walpole appears in no better light than the coarse, boasting sovereign. But at length the last scene came. There had been about eleven days of suffering:
"On Sunday, the 20th November, in the evening, she asked Dr. Tesierwith no seeming impatience under any article of her present circumstances