Open main menu

Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 46.djvu/127

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
Pope
Pope
121

burton seems to have fully repented (see Monk, Life of Bentley, ii. 375, 378, 404-11).

Pope was staying with Allen at Prior Park in November 1741, and invited Warburton to join him there. Warburton accepted, and to his marriage to Allen's niece in 1746 owed much of his fortune. Pope's health was declining, although he was still able to travel to his friends' country houses. Martha Blount was still intimate with him ; she seems to have spent some time with him daily, although living with her mother and sister, whom he had endeavoured to persuade her to leave. She frequently accompanied him to the houses of his friends, and is mentioned in his letters as almost an inmate of his household. In the following summer Pope visited Bath, and afterwards went to Prior Park, where Miss Blount met him. For some unexplained reason a quarrel took place with the Allens. Miss Blount (as appears from her correspondence with Pope) resented some behaviour of the Allens to Pope, and begged him to leave the house. She was compelled to stay behind, and, as she says, was treated with great incivility both by the Allens and Warburton. Pope expresses great indignation at the time. He must, however, as his letters imply, have been soon reconciled to Warburton. Allen called upon him for the last time in March 1744, when Pope still showed some coldness. By this time Pope was sinking. He still occupied himself with a final revision of his works, and saw his friends. He was visited by Bolingbroke, who had returned to England in October 1743, and by Marchmont, and attended by Spence, who has recorded some of the last incidents. Pope's behaviour was affecting and simple. Warburton, a hostile witness, accuses Miss Blount of neglecting Pope in his last illness ; and Johnson gives (without stating his authority) a confirmatory story. Spence, however, remarked that whenever she entered, his spirits rose. At the suggestion of Hooke he sent for a priest on the day before his death, and received absolution. He died quietly on 30 May 1744. He waa buried on 6 June in Twickenham Church, by the side of his parents, and directed that the words 'et sibi' should be added to the inscription which he placed upon their monument on the east wall. In 1761 Warburton erected a monument to Pope upon the north wall, with an inscription 'to one who would not be buried in Westminster Abbey,' and a petulant verse.

By his will (dated 12 Dec. 1743) Pope left to Martha Blount 1,000l., with his household effects. She was also to have the income arising from his property for life, after which it was to go to the Racketts. He left 150l. to Allen, in repayment of sums advanced 'partly for my own and partly for charitable uses.' Books and other memorials were left to Bolingbroke, Marchmont, Bathurst, Lyttelton, and other friends. An absolute power over his unpublished manuscripts was left to Bolingbroke, and the copyright of his published books to Warburton. Pope had contemplated two odes, upon the 'Mischiefs of Arbitrary Power' and the 'Folly of Ambition,' which were never executed, and had made a plan for a history of English poetry, afterwards contemplated by Gray (Ruffhead, pp. 423-5).

Mrs. Rackett threatened to attack the will, but withdrew her opposition. Allen gave his legacy to the Bath Hospital, and observed that Pope was always a bad accountant, and had probably forgotten to add a cipher. He took Pope's old servant, John Searle, into his service. Disputes soon arose, which led to one of the worst imputations upon Pope's character. In 1732-3 Pope appears to have written the lines upon the Duchess of Marlborough which, with later modifications, became the character of Atossa in the second 'Moral Essay.' The duchess was then specially detested by the opposition generally ; but Pope's prudence induced him temporarily to suppress this and some other lines. In later years, however, the duchess became vehemently opposed to Walpole. She was very anxious to obtain favourable accounts of her own and her husband's career. She gave Hooke 5,000l. to compile the pamphlet upon her 'Conduct.' Pope took some part in negotiating with Hooke, and the duchess, he says in his last letter to Swift (28 April 1739), was' making great court to him.' A very polite correspondence took place (published in Pope's 'Works,' v. 406-422, from 'Historical Manuscripts Commission,' 8th Rep.) From this it appears that after some protests he accepted a favour from her, and from later evidence this was in all probability a sum of 1,000l. Pope appears (Works, iii. 87) to have suppressed some lines which he had intended to add to a character of the Duke of Marlborough. Suppression, however, of polished verses was sore pain to him, and he resolved to use the 'Atossa' lines in a different way. He introduced changes which made them applicable to the Duchess of Buckinghamshire (daughter of James II, and widow of John Sheffield, first duke). She had edited her husband's works, and bought an annuity from the guardians of the young duke. The duchess showed him a character of herself, and, upon his finding some faults in it, picked