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whether arising from prudence or cunning, is sometimes altogether unaccountable. The affecting Letter which the Reader has just perused, is a more singular instance of capricious preparation, than perhaps any we can produce. In every edition of Pope's Works, this Letter has been given to Mr. Gay, and is said to have been addressed to Mr. Fortescue. But the fact is, this celebrated Letter was written by Mr.Pope to Miss Blount; and the following exact copy of the original will decidedly prove this, as well as afford a curious instance of the manner in which he altered and corrected his Letters, when he chose to give them to the Public.'
“August 6, 1718.
"The only news you can expect to have from us here, must be news from Heaven; for we are separated from the earth, and there's scarce any thing can reach us except the noise of thunder: which you have heard too, for nobody in Christendome has a quicker ear for thunder than yourself. We have read in old books, how thunder levels high towers, which the humble valley escapes; and how proud oaks are blasted, while the lowly shrub remains unsinged. They say, the only thing that escapes it is the laurel, which yet we take not to be a sufficient security to the brains of modern Poets. But to let you see that the contrary to this often happens, I must acquaint you, that here in our neighbourhood, Blenheim, the most proud and extravagant heap of towers in the nation stands untouched; while a cock of corn in the next field is miserably reduced to ashes.
"Would to God, that cock of corn had been all that suffered ! for, unhappily, beneath that little shelter sate two lovers, no way yielding to those you so often find in a romance, under a beechen shade The name of the one was Jolin Hewet and of the other Sarah Drew. John was black, of about five-and-twenty; Sarah was of a comely brown, near the same age John had for several months borne the sweat of the day, and divided the labour of the harvest with Sarah he took a particular delight to do her all the little offices that might please her it was but last fair he brought her a present of green silk to line her straw hat, and that too he had bought for her but the market day before. Whenever she milked, it was his care to bring the cows to her pail, and after to attend her with them to the field, upon pretence of helping to drive them. In short, their love was the talk, but not the scandal, of the whole neighbourhood; for all he aimed at was the blameless possession of her in marriage, It was but this very morning he obtained the consent of her parents, and it was but till the next week that they were to wait to be happy. Perhaps this very day, in the intervals of their work, they were talking of their wedding-cloaths, and John was suiting several sorts of poppies a d field flowers to Sarah's complexion, to make her a present of knots for the day. While they were thus employed (it was on the last of July, between the hours of two and three in the afternoon, the clouds grew black, a terrible storm of thunder and lightning ensued; the labourers who were in the field, made the best of their way to what shelter the hedges or trees afforded. Sarah
frighted, and out of breath, sunk down on a heap of wheat-sheaves; and John, who never separated from her, raked two or three heaps together, to protect her; and sat down by her. Immediately there was heard so loud a crack, that Heaven seemed burst asunder: every one was solicitous for the safety of his next neighbour, and called to one another. Those who were nearest our lovers, hearing no answer, stept to the sheaves. They first spied a little smoke, and then saw this faithful pair, John with one arm about her neck, and the other extended over her face, as to shield her from the lightning, both stiff and cold in this tender posture: no mark or blemish on the bodies, except the left eye-brow of Sarah a little singed, and a small spot between her breasts.
"The evening I arrived here I met the funeral of this unfortunate couple. They were both laid in one grave, in the parish of StantonHarcourt. I have prevailed on my Lord Harcourt to erect a little monument over them, of plain stone, and have writ the following epitaph, which is to be engraved on it.
When eastern," &c. [The same as in the printed Letter.]
‹‹ After all that we call unfortunate in this accident, 1 cannot but own, I think next to living so happy as these people might have done, was dying as they did. And did any one love me so well as Sarah did John, I would much rather die thus with her than live after her. I could not but tell you this true and tender story, and should be pleased to have you as much moved by it as I am. I wish you had some pity, for my sake; and I assure you I shall have for the future more fear, for yours; since I see by this melancholy example, that innocence and virtue are no security for what you are so afraid of. May the hand of God, dear Madam, be seen upon you, in nothing but in your beauties, and his blessings! I am firmly and affectionately for ever...
August cth. This Letter has been ready three days; but, dis appointed by the post-boy's not calling (for we lie in a cross road), your sister gave me hopes of a line from you; but I have received none. I am more vexed at Mrs. Cary's, than I believe you can be. I'd give the world if you had the courage, both of you, to pass the fortnight in and about my wood. I'd secure you of a good house within an hour of it, and a daily entertainment in it. I go thither very speedily. I am sure of your sister at least, that she would do this, or any thing else if she had a mind to it. Let her take trial of some of Angel's horses, and a coach, for me. Upon the least hint, I'll send to Prince to conduct them. My mother, Gay, and I, will meet you, and shew you Blenheim by the way. I dare believe Mrs. Blount would not stick out at my request. And so damn Grinsted and all its works. Our roads are very good all September; come, stay, and welcome."'
To this letter Mr. Chalmers subjoins a comment, in which Pope's management is farther laid open; and to which Mr. Bowles adds a note, that Pope's sly tricks may be thoroughly exposed. How would the Bard thank him, if he could send a letter from the Elysian fields!
The first of Pope's Letters to Lady M. W. Montagu in this Vo lume, contains the same story, and almost in the same words; but, the reader will observe, rather in the words of the original, than of the copy hitherto printed. It may be worthy of remark too, that in his Letter to Lady M. W. Montagu, he states the accident as having happened "just under his eyes ;" and that the lovers were buried next day; but in the original to Miss Blount, he says that he met the funeral of the unfortunate couple the evening he arrived." These are inconsistencies which cannot easily be reconciled; and it is yet more wonderful, that the relation of this accident should have been so long attributed to Gay, and without any suspicion that Pope was the real author, although in the same Volume of the octavo edition he sends it to Lady M. W. Montagu.'
Dr. Ruffhead was furnished with numerous letters and other papers of Pope, towards the compilation of his life, by Bishop Warburton: but this biographer presented us with only eight, addressed by the poet to Aaron Hill; which, together with those that are to be found in A. Hill's volume of letters from Pope and others to him, form a part of the present supplement, being 25 in number. Letter 24. of this collection of letters between Pope and Aaron Hill is No. 1. in Ruffhead's Appendix I.; and No. 25. is Hill's answer to that letter, in which the editor justly remarks that Hill has evidently the superiority. Ruffhead endeavoured to apologize for his hero, who asserted that Mr. H. "bad published pieces in his youth bordering upon the bombast," by telling us that "Mr. P. used to laugh at what he had done himself of that sort, and would quote verses for the diversion of his friends, from an epic poem he wrote when a boy" but this is no excuse for his attempt to degrade Hill; and his affected humility on the score of his poetry meets with a very just rebuke from the man whom he meanly attempted to degrade. Yet though A. Hill rises in our esteem on the evidence of this correspondence, a subsequent publication of letters lets him down to a level with his contemporaries, These letter-writing gentlemen little suspected that posterity would be in possession of "the truth and the whole truth;" and that, by a comparison of one set of letters with another, their occasional insincerity would be revealed. Mr. Chalmers closes the series of letters which passed between Pope and Hill, with these strictures:
Notwithstanding the propriety, and even excellence, of many of A. Hill's remarks in these Letters, what we find in the late
They can be accounted for by Pope's incessant labour for fame. He was always fearful of losing what he had gained, and sent nothing into the world without care and circumspection. What he was not pleased with he altered, or suppressed, or sometimes fathered upon Gay.'
publication of" Richardson's Letters," decidedly proves that he was as insincere and gross in his flatteries, as any of the sentimental, canting letter-writers of his own, or any age. In a letter to Mr. Richardson, immediately after Pope's death, he asserts, that Pope's popularity arose, originally, From meditated, little, personal assiduities, and a certain bladdery swell of management. He did not blush to have the cunning to blow himself up, by help of dull, unconscious instruments, whenever he would seem to sail, as if his own wind moved him."-" But rest his memory in peace! It will very rarely be disturbed by that time he himself is in ashes." More of the same kind may be seen in that farrago of affectation, that monument erected to the dotage of Samuel Richardeon; who appears to have agreed with Hill in his opinion of Pope, and with equal judgement consigned to oblivion the works of Fielding. C.
After the set of letters to Lady M. W. Montagu, 14 in number, which were given by Mr. Dallaway in his edition of the works of that lady, follow 37 addressed to the sisters Martha and Theresa Blount, which now probably for the first time appear in print. With each of these ladies Pope was in love: but it is a singular mode of promoting that passion to give a circumstantial account of his taking physic, which he does, not very delicately, in the 2d letter to Martha B. In a subsequent epistle, he is quite indecent, especially in what he says respecting St. Thomas, p. 379.; and surely it would not now be tolerated to write to a lady about stuffing the guts,' &c. P. 381. Pope was really, in many instances, an indecorous writer; and we know, from private authority, that when Dr. Ruffhead was compiling his biography, he suppressed many of Pope's compositions, on the score of delicacy, which were among his Warburtonian materials. On all accounts, we think, his love-letters must be said to be not very creditable to him; and he appears to have prosecuted his passion under some repulses, at least from one of the ladies. If in the commencement of the correspondence he is all gaiety, towards the conclusion he betrays a wounded spirit; and the editor justly remarks that something mysterious attaches to these letters. It is supposed that he made love to both ladies, though he had a particular affection for Teresa; that he found her intractable; and that, after having dallied with both, he fixed his passion unalterably on Martha, who was most forgiving and complying. Ruffhead thinks that Pope's partiality for these ladies was "innocent and pure:" but his language cannot always be reconciled with strict Platonism. Mr. Duncombe, writing to Archbishop Herring, says; " Mr. Pope has left the bulk of his fortune to Mrs. Blount, a lady to whom it is thought, he either was, or at least ought to have been married."
Before we quit these letters of dalliance with the Blounts, we must advert to one circumstance which is somewhat curi
ous. In letter 23. Pope announces a present of fruit, and requests the ladies "to return sealed up, by the bearer, every single bit of paper that wraps them up; for they are the only copies of this part of Homer." To this passage Mr. Chalmers has annexed the following note: This letter is not otherwise worthy of publication, than as a curious example of that affected carelessness which Pope displayed on some occasions. It is well known, that his Homer was written on scraps of paper, backs of letters, etc. and here he sends the only copies he had, as wrappers to fruit, and to be carefully returned; although he must have known that nothing was more likely than their being destroyed in the carriage.'-We question the fact that these pieces of paper, which he wrapped round the fruit, contained the only copies of this part of his version of Homer. Probably he meant to impress on the minds of his favourites, an opinion of the confidence which he reposed in them; and to receive from them in return an evidence of their zeal in preserving his works: but, had the fruit been lost, or the wrappers neglected by the ladies, we suspect that he could have supplied the loss. He was not so careless of his property, and of his fame, as he appears to be on the face of this
The next fasciculas consists of letters (19 in number) from Mr. Pope to Mrs. Newsham, Mr. and Mrs. Knight, and Mrs. Nugent. (The reader will discover, remarks Mr. C., that these female names may be comprised in one.) As, however, they contain nothing worthy of particular notice, we shall pass on to the second series; the first seventeen of which are from various eminent persons. Here several interesting and amusing letters are to be found. Among the former, may be reckoned the last letter which Mr. Pope ever wrote to Dean Swift, dated May 17, 1739, and which we should copy did not its length present an obstacle; among the latter, we may specify Swift's letter to Martha Blount, and the following from Pope to the Duchess of Hamilton:
‹ Madam, London, October Between day and night. Mrs. Whitworth (who as her Epitaph on Twitnam Highway assures us, had attained to as much perfection and purity as any since the Apostles) is now deposited according to her own order between a fig-tree and a vine, there to be found at the last resurrection.
I am just come from seeing your Grace in much the like situation, between a honey-suckle and a rose bush; where you are to continue as long as canvas can last I suppose the painter by those emblems intended to intimate, on the one hand, your Grace's sweet disposition. Lord William will to your friends; and on the other, to shew you Conster this Latine if are near enough related to the thistle of send it to Thistle Scotland to deserve the same motto with regard to your enemies. Nemo me impunè Lacessit