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mata" from the noble family of the Earl of Downe; and there is probably as little truth in one circumstance as the other. From the most authentic information obtained at the heralds' office, it appears that the pedigree which he made out for himself was as much fabricated as Mr. Ireland's descent from SHAKESPEARE *. The account of his mother's family, of the Turners in Yorkshire, as it has not been contradicted, is presumed to be true. Pope says,
« Of gentle blood each parent came;"
but if Mrs. Pope was of “gentle” blood, her educa. tion must have been very defective, at least it appears so from her letter in this edition. Although the education of females was then very inferior to what it is at present, yet it is difficult to imagine, that a lady of “ very gentle blood" could be the writer of such an epistle as the following.
To Pope from his Mother. 66 MY DEARE, “ A letter from your sister yust now is come and gone, Mr. Mannock and Charles Racket, to take his leve of us, but being nothing in it doe not send it. He will not faile to coll here on Friday morning, and take ceare to cearrie itt to Mr. Thomas Doncaster; he will dine wone day with Mrs. Dune, in Duckestreet: but the day will be unsirton, soe I think you
had # From Mr. Dallaway.
had better send itt to me. He will not faile to coll here, that is Mr. Mannock”
No man of liberal mind, however, would too rigidly examine a plain and unaffected letter from an affectionate parent.
So far is certain, that Pope's father acquired, whatever property he possessed, by trade: in the deed, , by which his estate, when fold, was conveyed, he is intitled, “ Alexander Pope, merchant, of Kenfington *.
Pope had no brother ;, but a sister-in-law, as she is called in his will, was married to a Mr. Racket.
He expressly fays, in a letter to Martha Blount, (who could not be deceived) that he had “ no sister.” The person, therefore, whom he called his sister-in-law, might have been his half-sister by a former marriage.
These things, though trifles in themselves, I have thought it right to mention, as they have been hitherto unnoticed.
Pope, it is well known, was from his infancy fickly and infirm, and his childhood required tenderness and indulgence.
I need not repeat, that he was taught to write by an aunt from printed letters. That he was placed under the care of Taverner, a Catholic priest, and from him was removed to the care of other priests; that from the village of Twiford near Winchester, he went to a school near Hyde-Park.corner, where such was his progress, that, besides writing a satire on the master, he “ did enaci," with his school-fellows, in a play made by himself, from Ogilby's Homer ; that the “ Gardener,” at his persuasion, personated Ajax!! All these circumstances are amply recorded by Warburton and Ruffhead.
* From a respectable inhabitant of Binfield, who assured me he had seen the deed.
Pope's father was attached to the unfortunate cause of James the Second. He was a rigid Catholic; and soon after the revolution, and the birth of his son, wished to hide his disappointment, at the turn of affairs, in the shades of the country; consoling himself, like other great patriots, that as the world was not such as “ it ought to be,” it was best to leave it.
With such feelings, and such ideas, the father purchased twenty acres of land at Binfield, in Windfor Forest, and one of those small cottages, near to the way-side, originally taken from the waste, with a row of elms before the window, and the common road in the front; such as is described by Pope himself:
« A little house, with trees a row,
Here he employed his time, chiefly in the cultivation of his garden,
« Plants cauliflowers, and boasts to rear,
After the manner of Candide, thinking, " Le Monde
né va pas comme il faut, mais il faut cultiver le
Some of the original elms are yet standing t.
The fon, now about twelve years of age (1700), after an imperfect and desultory education, became a resident with his father in the Forest : willing to retrieve the time he had lost, lie began fedulously to read and study. His father, as far as he was able, superintended his first literary pursuits ; but being used to active business, and, doubtless, somewhat wearied in folitude, as his son was much confined at home, he thought only of mere amusement, when he set him a poetical task. The first subject that would naturally occur was relative to his own situation ; this suggested the verses on Solitude. His son's poetical attempts served at once to amuse the leisure, and to flatter the vanity of a parent : but we fhould not have had the name of Pope, as one of the greatest ornaments of the age, had.
ad not other circumstances concurred to nourish this early taste. The seeds of. poetry accidentally sown might have perished as they arose, had they not, by a singular concurrence of circumstances, received support from those who were enabled to confer
* Sir William Trumbuil says in a letter : “ I wish also I could “ learn some more skill in gardning from your father, (to whome “ with your good mother all our services are presented, with thankes “ for the hartichokes,) who has set us a pattern that I am afraid • we shall copie but in miniature.”
+ The house, fince that time, has been raised, and considerable additions have been made to it. it is now an elegant mansion, in poffeffion of ---Ncate esq.
something more than praise. Let not this be thought derogatory from the fame of Pope. They who think fo, are ignorant of human nature. The youthful votary of the muses is elated with his first efforts, and looks round with throbbing solicitude for notice; none is excited: he tries again: no encouraging voice is heard. Perhaps he meets derision, where, at least, a smile of favour was expected. Hence the disappointed enthusiast receives disgust at what he thinks an unfeeling age: his energies, as a sublime Poet “has expressed it,” are “ rolled back on himself,” and he becomes a solitary and distempered visionary through life.
This is no uncommon picture; the wing of Milton might have ascended to its natural elevation, through all that opposed its career ; but, let it be remembered, Pope, from being tenderly brought up, was through life impatient of contradiction, scarcely brooked a difsenting voice, and hav. ing been fostered by early patronage, lived afterwards in the sunshine of flattery.
The same disposition that made him vain, would, in other circumstances, have caused depression.
Fortunately, the case was different. The reader will be aware that I allude to the residence of the venerable Sir William Trumbull, in the adjoin. ing hamlet, scarcely two miles from the house of Pope's father. Being himself retired, in an