« PreviousContinue »
profe writings are little lefs harmonious than his verfe; and his voice, in common converfation, was fo naturally mufical, that he was known, among his familiar friends, by the name of the Little Nightingale. Being a Catholic, he remains without a place in the facred repofitory of departed Genius at Westminster, where his Epitaph on Mr. Gay will fupply the defect, and immortalife his honour within the precincts of that venerable pile. To fum up his character in a few words. He was pious, yet no enthufiaft; tenacious of his reputation, yet never jealous of another man's; impatient of rebuke, yet ready to accept the offer of reconciliation; an affectionate fon, a fincere friend, and a truly honeft man. The limits of this felection will not allow a critique on the various merits of his different compofitions. To reduce them within the compafs of a volume, the bulk of his tranflations has been omitted, though replete with incomparable excellence, and his original writings alone digefted under the moft eafy and natural heads.
Some Particulars concerning Mr. Pope's domeftic Habits and Character.
..THE person of Pope is well known not to have
"been formed by the nicest model. He has, in "his account of the little Club, compared himself "to a spider, and is defcribed as protuberant be"hind and before. He is faid to have been beau"tiful in his infancy; but he was of a conftitu"tion originally feeble and weak; and as bodies "of a tender frame are easily distorted, his deformity was probably in part the effect of his ap
plication. His ftature was fo low, that, to bring him to a level with common tables, it was "neceffary to raise his feat: but his face was not difpleafing, and his eyes were animated and « vivid.
"By natural deformity, or accidental diftor"tion, his vital functions were so much difordered, "that his life was a long difeafe. His most freaffailant was the head-ach, which he used quent "to relieve by inhaling the steam of coffee, which "he very frequently required.
"Moft of what can be told concerning his petty "peculiarities was communicated by a female do"mestic of the Earl of Oxford, who knew him "perhaps after the middle of life. He was then "fo weak as to stand in perpetual need of female attendance; extremely fenfible of cold, fo that
he wore a kind of fur doublet, under a fhirt of very coarse warm linen with fine fleeves. When he rofe, he was invested in boddice made of *ftiff canvass, being fcarcely able to hold himself " erect till they were laced; and he then put on a flannel waiftcoat. One fide was contracted. His legs were fo flender, that he enlarged their bulk with three pair of ftockings, which were drawn on and off by the maid; for he was not able to drefs or undrefs himself, and neither went to bed nor rofe without help. His weakness made it very difficult for him to be clean.
His hair had fallen almoft all away; and he ufed to dine fometimes with Lord Oxford, privately, in a velvet cap. His drefs of ceremony " was black, with a tye-wig, and a little fword.
** The indulgence and accommodation which *his fickness required, had taught him all the "unpleafing and unfocial qualities of a valetudinary man. He expected that every thing fhould give way to his ease or humour; as a child, whofe parents will not hear her cry, has unrefifting dominion in the nurfery. M
C'est que l'enfant toujours eft homme;
C'eft que l'homme eft toujours enfant.
"When he wanted to fleep, he nodded in com**pany, and once flumbered at his own table, while the Prince of Wales was talking of poetry.
The reputation which his friendship gave, procured him many invitations; but he was a very "troublesome inmate. He brought no fervant, " and had many wants, that a numerous atten"dance was fcarcely able to fupply them, Where
"ever he was, he left no room for another, be
caufe he exacted the attention, and employed "the activity, of the whole family. His errands "were fo frequent and frivolous, that the footmen "in time avoided and neglected him; and the Earl of Oxford discharged some of the fervants for their refolute refufal of his meffages. The "maids, when they had neglected their business, alledged that they had been employed by Mr. 86 Pope. One of his conftant demands was of coffee in the night; and to the woman that waited " on him in his chamber he was very burthenfome: but he was careful to recompenfe her want of "fleep, and Lord Oxford's fervant declared, that in a house where her business was to answer his call, fhe would not ask for wages.
He had another fault, eafily incident to thofe who, fuffering much pain, think themselves "entitled to whatever pleasures they can fnatch. "He was too indulgent to his appetite; he loved "meat highly feasoned, and of firong tafte; and, "at the intervals of the table, amused himself "with bifcuits and dry conferves. If he fat down to a variety of diffes, he would opprefs his
**ftomach with repletion, and, though he seemed
angry when a dram was offered him, did not forbear to drink it. His friends, who knew the ave"nues to his heart, pampered him with prefents of luxury, which he did not fuffer to ftand neglected. "The death of great men is not always propor*tioned to the luftre of their lives. Hannibal, fays Juvenal, did not perifh by a javelin, or a fword; the flaughters of Canna were revenged by a ring. The death of Pope was imputed by "fome of his friends to a filver faucepan, in which it was his delight to heat potted lampreys.
"That he loved too well to eat, is certain ; but that his fenfuality fhortened his life will not be "haftily concluded, when it is remembered that a conformation fo irregular lafted fix and fifty years, notwithstanding fuch pertinacious dili"gence of study and meditation.
In all his intercourfe with mankind, he had "great delight in artifice, and endeavoured to "attain all his purpofes by indirect and unfuf"pected methods. He hardly drank tea without "a ftratagem. If, at the houfe of his friend, he "wanted any accommodation, he was not willing "to ask for it in plain terms, but would mention
it remotely, as fomething convenient; though, "when it was procured, he foon made it appear "for whofe fake it had been recommended. Thus "he teized Lord Orrery till he obtained a screen.