Abbildungen der Seite

It was

Johnson says,

[ocr errors]

Bolingbroke affected to be outrageously indignant at this “breach of trust,” and employed Mallet, a mean and unprincipled scribbler of all work, to exaggerate and mis-represent the facts, and to hold up Pope to the execration of the world*. absurdly insinuated, that it was Pope's intention, had he survived Bolingbroke, to have sold the book on his own account, and at a large price. Pope, as D’Israeli observes, must have been a miserable calculator of survivorships, if he had built his hopes of profit, on such a foundation as thist. Warburton, “whose heart,"

was yet warm with his legacy, and tender by the recent separation,” apologised for Pope. His conduct was attributed to a desire of perpetuating the esteemed work of a friend, who might have capriciously destroyed it. The poet, it was said, could have no selfish motive; he could not gratify his vanity by publishing it as his own, nor his avarice by its sale, which could never have taken place before the death of its author, a circumstance, as was just intimated, not likely to occur during Pope's lifetime. The last Earl of Marchmont's account of this matter, as given to the honourable George Rose, makes it still more improbable that Pope should have been actuated by any unworthy motive. This account was published by Mr. A. Chalmers in the Biographical Dictionary. According to this statement, it appears, that some copies of The Patriot King, were

Mallet (who is but the mouthpiece of his patron) objects that "scraps and fragments of these papers had been employed to swell a monthly Magazine." But is it likely that Pope would send parts of the work to a Magazine, and yet expect that they could be so used without a chance of the circumstance coming to the knowledge of Bolingbroke? If he did send fragments of the work to a Magazine, it is clear that he must have thought himself justified in so doing. It was not a secret act, and no one pretends that it was his object to provoke the hostility of Bolingbroke.

+ Pope's death was a very slow one, and fully expected by himself. Had he been conscious of any impropriety with respect to the printing of The Patriot King, he might very easily and secretly have destroyed the entire impression,

# The father of the Editor of the Marchmont Papers.

printed and distributed with Bolingbroke's knowledge, to Lord Cornbury, Lord Marchmont, Sir W. Wyndham, Mr. Lyttleton, and various gentlemen of respectability. A copy was given by Pope to Mr. Allen, of Prior Park, near Bath ; and he was so captivated with it, that he pressed Pope to allow him to print an edition at his own expense, using such caution as should effectually prevent a single copy getting into the possession of any one, before the author's consent should be obtained. Under a solemn engagement to this effect, Pope reluctantly consented. The edition was packed up and deposited in a warehouse, of which Pope kept the key*. Now as there was nothing in the book, calculated to

• Mr. Rose's report of Lord Marchmont's statement includes the following additional details :-“ On the circumstance being made known to Lord Bolingbroke, who was then a guest in his own house at Battersea with Lord Marchmont, to whom he had lent it for two or three years, his lordship was in great indignation, to appease which Lord Marchmont sent Mr. Grevenkop (a German gentleman who had travelled with him, and was afterwards in the household of Lord Chesterfield, when Lord Lieutenant of Ireland) to bring out the whole edition, of which a bonfire was immediately made on the terrace of Battersea.” It cannot be collected from the foregoing statement whether the discovery alluded to occurred before or after the death of Pope, and it is certain that it is not consistent with Mallet's account, which was drawn up, it is supposed, under Boling broke's superintendence. It is contradicted still more positively by Lord Bolingbroke himself in a letter (in the Marchmont Papers) addressed to Lord Marchmont. The letter commences as follows.

Battersea, Oct. 22, 1774. "My dear Lord, -Since you will take the trouble of receiving from Mr. Wright the edition of that paper, which our late friend caused so treacherously to be made ; and since I mean to have it only to destroy it, the bringing it bither would be useless. Be so good therefore as to see it burned at your house, to help to dry which is the best use it can be put to. If your Lordship pleases to speak earnestly to Wright of the necessity that no copy be left, and of your desire and mine, that he would be attentive to discover whether any be left, and to give notices of any the least apprehension of a publication by that means, you will oblige me extremely."

From this letter it would seem that Lord Marchmont was not under the same roof with Bolingbroke at the time alluded to, and that the book was not burnt at Battersea nor any where else until after the death of Pope, which occurred on the 30th of May of the same year, or nearly five months previous to the date of Bolingbroke's letter. Sir George Rose, however, I suppose on the authority of Lord Marchmont's statement, though he does not say so, asserts in a note that notwithstanding what is said in the above letter the book as burnt at Battersea. This is very unlikely.

injure Bolingbroke in any way, by its publication, which he only objected to because it had not received his last corrections, and there is no conceivable bad motive by which Pope could have been actuated, it is clear that the vindictive rage of his Lordship was excited by another cause, and that cause was Pope's preference of Warburton as the Editor of his works*. Mrs. Blount warmly assured Mr. Spence, that "she could take her oath, that The Patriot King was printed by Pope, out of his excessive esteem for the writer and his abilities,” which, as Roscoe remarks, is the only rational mode of accounting for the transaction. Now when we find that Bolingbroke's furious passion made him condescend to connect himself with such a personage as Mallet, of whom Johnson tells us it had been said that “he was the only Scotchman that Scotchmen did not commend,” and who

ready for any dirty job ;" when we trace the unrelenting acrimony with which, in conjunction with this ready hireling, he endeavoured to blast the memory of his old friend ; let it be put to any candid and considerate reader, whether it is not more likely, that Bolingbroke coined or rather confirmed a malignant falsehood, than that Pope was guilty of the corruption imputed to him. It is true, that at first sight, there is something


Sir George Rose has a very violent note to the second of the two letters I have already quoted, and does not hesitate to use language respecting Pope that would have been worthy of Mallet himself. He calls him crooked-minded--takes it for granted that he is guilty of all that he is charged with, and describes bis treatment of the Duchess as an act of singular baseness and malignity. No al. lusion is made by the Editor to his father's repetition of the late Lord Marchmont's statement, which it can hardly be supposed he had not seen.

D'Israeli accounts for Bolingbroke's rage in the same manner. Ruff. head, however, in his Life of Pope, attributes it entirely to the hostile criticism of Warburton already noticed, and asserts that though Bolingbroke continued after that circumstance to caress Pope, he entertained for him a secret hatred on account of his friendship with Warburton. But this is not credible, for whatever were Bolingbroke's faults he cannot fairly be suspected of such mean and cold-blooded hypocrisy. He might have cloaked the real cause of his anger, but he was not such a consummate hypocrite as to shed tears of apparent tenderness over the man he hated.

against this view of the matter in the circumstance of his Lordship's making a kind of appeal to the Earl of Marchmont's know. ledge of the bribe ; but it must be remembered that we have not the Earl's reply before us, and that it is possible he might have denied the possession of the imputed knowledge, or that at all events, he might only have heard of it as a rumour raised by some of Pope's numerous enemies, and Bolingbroke, to serve his own purpose, alluded to it as an indisputable fact with which they were mutually acquainted. Perhaps Bolingbroke himself was the first who communicated it to the Earl. The public ought not to give too hasty and ready a credence to the assertions of so interested a witness as Lord Bolingbroke, against one, who, whether as a man or a poet, is entitled to our admiration; for his actions were generally of an amiable and honorable character, and his works will delight and instruct mankind, as long as the language in which they are written shall endure*.



Fair Lady, as though friendship's chain seem broken
It holds, with wonted force, this faithful heart,
I fain reserve's delusive veil would part,
And learn if haply yet some lingering token
Of old regard and tenderness supprest
Remaineth lurking in thy gentle breast.

Mrs. Thomson in her " Memoirs of Sarah Duchess of Marlborough,” lately published (1839), makes no allusion to the Marchmont Papers, and merely repeats, after Walpole and Warton, the old story of the bribe.

[ocr errors]


Fate with no heavier blow nor keener sting
May crush or goad us, when the genial power
Of friendship fails, and trifles of an hour
Rend each dear link that from our early spring
Held us in pleasant thrall. The cup of life
Bears naught so bitter as the drops of strife!


Alas! I may not meet thee in the crowd,
Unmoved—for in thy sweet, familiar face
The hallowed past hath left a startling trace:
At once, with sudden impulse, fond and proud
My bosom heaves-unconsciously my feet
Approach thee—and my lips thy name repeat !


But oh! the deadly pang, the freezing chill,
When by the calm gaze of that altered eye
The spell is broken ! Lady, if the sigh
That meets thine ear could say what feelings thrill
This troubled breast, or what my sad looks meant,
Methinks e’en thy stern coldness might relent.


I cannot think that all our mutual dreams
Were false as twilight shadows, nor believe
Thine heart could change, or words like thine deceive ;
And still, as travellers for the sun's bright beams
Up-gaze in hope, though clouds may lour awhile,
I wait and watch for thy returning smile.

« ZurückWeiter »