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that he had only befriended her at the earnest request of Dr. Delany. The mystery of the letter was never cleared up (there was a second which was anonymous), but both the dean and Dr. Delany must have been convinced that Mrs. Barber was not in fault, since they continued on friendly terms with her, and she was received at the deanery after her return to Dublin.
Mrs. Barber had been given an introduction to the Cæsars, who had made her welcome at their house in Bond Street. The dean wrote to thank Mrs. Cæsar for her kindness to the poetess, and regretted that he could not repay the obligation, " for, in spite of your good words, I am the most insignificant man of this insignificant country." He has been tied by the leg (without being married) for ten months with a strain, which prevented him from waiting upon her during the past summer," and another year, at my period of life, is like an inch in a man's nose.
"There is one part of Mr. Pope's compliment which I cannot make you, for I could not, with the strictest search, find one letter too many in any of your words, though I found a thousand words too few in your letter. . . I have been told that you are a great courtier at least, of the queen's-for which I envy you much, because I am wholly out of her favour, and under her displeasure, which you may believe is a great mortification to me who expected so many great advantages from her....
Mrs. Cæsar sent Mrs. Barber, who was now back at Dublin, a copy of the "Imitation of Horace," and received a letter full of gratitude and enthusiasm from the literary lady, who was an appreciative reader if she was not a brilliant writer. The letter is worth
quoting, if only because it shows the effect of Pope's satire upon an intelligent contemporary.
"A thousand thanks to you, dear madam, for your valuable, delightful present. I had the same pacquet from Mr. Cleland which I sent to Lord Orrery, and have had great acknowledgments from it. I find he is as much transported with it as I am, who have scratched my head-clothes off a hundred times since I received it, and often fancied I heard you say: 'See, Mr. Cæsar, the creature is running mad.' You can't imagine, my dear Mrs. Cæsar, what a loss I had of my feet on this occasion, to walk about the room as I used to do in Bond Street.
"What says the Court to the satyr? that one Aretina, a satyrist, kept all the princes in Europe in awe. In my conscience, he took the right method with them.
"And I not strip the gilding off a knave,
Unplaced, unpensioned, no man's heir or slave?
"O happy situation! O glorious genius!
"Alas! few verses touch their nicer ear,
They scarce can bear their Laureate twice a year.
"Was there ever genteeler satyr or more just? It came in good time, too, when her majesty's ear must have been tired. At least my eyes were with reading the poems with which every newspaper was stuffed, upon putting up the Four Heads.1
66 What! like Sir Richard, rumbling, loud, and fierce,
With ARMS and GEORGE and BRUNSWICK crowd the verse?
1 The heads of the Queen's favourite philosophers in the Hermitage at Richmond.
"Now though I don't know any business these lines had here, I could not for my life but write 'em down, I am so delighted with 'em, not considering that if I were to write down every line that gives me exquisite pleasure in that poem, my paper would be too little. Was it not a glorious spirit to point out 'Shippen,'' and dare to compliment Bolling Brook' [sic]?
"Or tames the genius of the stubborn plain
Almost as quickly as he conquered Spain.
O fine! But there are four lines-beautiful admirable lines, which my melancholy situation often brings to my view :
"Whether old age, with faint but cheerful ray
Or death's black wing already is displayed
To wrap me in the universal shade.
"Now I've grown grave. . . . I have been honoured with a visit from the dean since I finished the letter. We talked over the Satyr, with which he is highly delighted as well as you. 'Tis indeed universally admired here. . . . .. The dean is much pleased with "The Man of Taste," and said it has made him laugh more than he has done in one day I love to pour out all myself as plain
As downright Shippen, or as old Montaigne.
William Shippen (1673-1743), an honest Jacobite who was sent to the Tower for saying (in 1718) that "the king's speech seemed rather to be calculated for the meridian of Germany than Great Britain," and that "twas a great misfortune that the king was a stranger to our language and constitution."
* There was a satire against Pope called "The Man of Taste," but Mrs. Barber is probably alluding to the description of Timon in the "Epistle to Lord Bathurst."
for some years past. That poem has been of great service to me too, who had almost forgot to laugh, having daily before my eyes the melancholy prospect of being ever confined." i
One more extract from a letter of Mrs. Barber's, with a pen-sketch of a dinner at the deanery, in the company of a coterie of Pope adorers.
"I would not defer telling you," she writes on May 3, "I dined yesterday at the deanery, and supped too; then you'll believe I was happy. The dean (thank Heaven !) is in good spirits. I told him I had just received a letter from Twickenham which informed me that Mr. Pope was making an addition to his apartment there, and, as the lady said, expected him over this summer. . . . Now, madam, I must tell you that just as we were sitting down to dinner at the dean's, Lord Orrery sent him some lines to Mr. Pope with which the company (for there were a good many there) were highly delighted, and the dean seemed to me to be excessively pleased. As for me, my head-clothes were almost off in a minute. So I send them to you that you may share in my pleasure.
"The dean said a thousand handsome things of Lord Orrery, to the great joy of my heart. That young nobleman rises in his esteem every day. To say the truth, one is perpetually hearing of some handsome action or other of his 'tis no wonder he should be gazed at with admiration. Such stars are seldom seen here.
"The dean, who had just finished a letter to 1 From the unpublished MS. "He was building a portico. The lines, not the head-clothes.
Mr. Pope, said he believed he had left room enough for the verses, which he immediately transcribed and sent to him.”1
Among the few persons who did not join in the general admiration for the "Imitation of Horace " were Lady Mary Wortley Montagu and Lord Hervey. The former recognised herself under the name of "Sappho," and the latter was convinced that "Lord Fanny" was intended for himself. The exact truth about the quarrel between Lady Mary and Pope will probably never be known. According to the lady's account, the poet made her a "declaration," which she received with an uncontrollable burst of laughter. Pope's "declaration" was probably no more genuine than his love-letters, and he would have been much alarmed if he had been taken au grand sérieux. All he had desired was that his partner in the game of gallantry should play up to him," and, by reprimands or reproaches, appear to take him for "the most thinking rake alive." But the lady's tactless reception of his homage wounded him in his tenderest point, and transformed him from a friend and admirer to an untiring enemy. Pope himself said that he discon
1 From the unpublished MS. These were, no doubt, the following lines composed by Orrery in 1733, on Pope's "Epitaph on Gay."
Entombed with kings though Gay's cold ashes lie,