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In his private relations there never existed a better man. The tender care and affection of his parents, who had preserved him to the world through a helpless infancy and valetudinarian childhood, he repaid, through life, with the most filial respect, the most untiring affection. He had the happiness, too, of providing them, by the independent and honourable exercise of his divine faculty, with a comfortable home in the evening of their days, and when their little resources had become less, and were in danger of being wholly exhausted. In his tenderness to his mother there was no affectation; in his attention to her he was all heart; much as he delighted in the society of nobles and great men, he was more proud of his mother than of them all. Happy mothers who have such sons, not less strong in intellect than enduring in affection !
Happy was he in his friends : having the power to choose, he chose only such as were worthy of him. The man who was admired and loved by Swift, Bolingbroke, Gay, Young, Arbuthnot; caressed by Bathurst, Oxford, and Murray; whose friendships were as fervent as his thoughts, and as lasting as his life, or the lives of those who were his friends, must have had no ordinary art in enchaining the affections, and preserving the fond regard of such as he honoured with his intimacy.
He preserved through life, in an age of unexampled servility, the dignity of the poetic character: soaring thoughts and grovelling conduct in him never met; he revolted with proper feeling from assailing the tops of Parnassus in rhyme, and crawling at the feet of titled nobodies with dedications couched in abject prose. In the consciousness of great abilities, he
appealed to the public for his reward, and the public liberally met his appeal ; he gave value, and got value; the public and he were quits; or rather, while his country owed him much, he owes her nothing—not even a monument.
His character as a poet it would be out of place to dwell upon at length in a work of this nature ; our object being merely to recall as much of his life and works as may serve to enhance the pleasure with which the classical tourist approaches this place, and pays his tribute to the memory of departed genius. A miserable clatter has been raised about Pope, as if he were not a great poet. A sect of poets, with a tail of ardent and not over-judicious admirers, affected to despise him, not perhaps so much with a view of holding up his defects, as of obtruding indirectly their own excellences: a bigotry of criticism pursued his memory, as if the poetry of Pope was to be damned, not because it was not good, but because it was not according to the goodness of the orthodox in poetry.
The fundamental error of these bigots lies in imagining that excellence is one and indivisible; that it culminates in a point, and that only those who see through their glasses can behold it. They never take the trouble to reflect that excellence is of variety; that things equally great are differently great; that Parnassus has two summits; and that, while Pope may be permitted to occupy the one, they are at liberty to imagine, if they please, that they possess the other.
These critics of schools of poetry have precisely the same narrow way of thinking as other sects; that is, an incapacity to see anything good, save in that which tallies with the articles of faith of their subscription. Poetry, however, is of two sorts, the masculine and feminine
of the understanding and the affections, of the mind and of the heart; and it is quite possibleindeed it has been proved—that equal excellence may be attained in both.
“Surely,” inquires Warton, “it is no narrow, nor invidious, nor niggardly encomium, to say he is the great poet of reason, the first of ethical authors in verse ; which he was by choice, not necessity. No man can possibly think, or can hint, that the author of the Rape of the Lock, and the Eloisa, wanted imagination or sensibility of pathos : but he certainly did not so
often indulge and exert those talents, nor give so many proofs of them, as he did of strong sense and judgment.”
Malignant and insensible must be the critic who should impotently dare to assert that Pope wanted genius and imagination ; but perhaps it may be safely affirmed that his peculiar and characteristical excellences were good sense and judgment.
Next in order as to interest, though removed from our immediate view, is Twickenham Park, situated, not hard by the village, as the name would lead us to suppose, but in the meads opposite Richmond, is the site of Twickenham Park, now occupied by a variety of beautiful villas.
“Sir Francis Bacon, whom Voltaire calls the father of experimental philosophy, spent much of his time, during the former part of his life, in studious retirement at this place, which he thought particularly favourable to his philosophical pursuits. Among the MSS. in the British Museum is a paper intituled, ‘Instructions from the Lord Chancellor Bacon to his servant, Thomas Bushell.' It relates to a project he had in view of establishing a corporation for exploring deserted mineral works. On the supposition that such a project would meet with due encouragement, he says, ' Let Twitnam Park, which I sold in my younger days, be purchased, if possible, for a residence for such deserving persons to study in, since I experimentally found the situation of that place much convenient for the trial of my philosophical conclusions, expressed in a paper, sealed, to the trust which I myself had put in practice, and settled the same by Act of Parliament, if the vicissitudes of fortune had not intervened and prevented me.”
For the following paragraph respecting Sir Godfrey Kneller we are indebted to Mr. Lysons, as also for the historical account of Strawberry Hill.
“Sir Godfrey Kneller, Bart., buried November 7, 1723. This eminent artist was born at Lubec in the year 1648. He was originally designed for the army, and was sent to Leyden to study mathematics and fortification ; but nature had designed him for a painter, and he followed the bent of his genius; he came over to England in 1674, whilst Lely was at the height of his reputation. By the Duke of Monmouth's desire, the king sat for his portrait to Kneller, at the same time that Lely was painting it for the Duke of York. The young artist's success upon this occasion fixed his character ; and he afterwards became portrait-painter to the king, and continued to enjoy that situation under his successors, James II., William and Mary,
Queen Anne, and George I. Sir Godfrey Kneller was knighted by King William, and created a baronet by King George I. in 1715. Among his most noted works are the Beauties at Hampton Court, the Admirals at the same place, and the Kit-Kat Club. There is a monument to the
of this celebrated artist in Westminster Abbey, which has occasioned it to be supposed that he was buried there. Dame Susanna Kneller, his widow, was buried at Twickenham, December 11, 1729.
Mrs. Pritchard, the celebrated actress, lived at Ragman's Castle, a small but pretty box, hard by Twickenham Meads.
Lady Mary Wortley Montague, the witty and profligate Duke of Wharton, Secretary Craggs the friend of Pope, Hudson the painter, Dr. Batty an eminent physician, and Sir John Hawkins, author of a history of music and a life of Dr. Johnson, resided at Twickenham. Queen Anne, then Princess of Denmark, resided here, change of air being thought requisite for the Duke of Gloucester, who brought with him his regiment of boys, which he used to exercise on the island or ayte on the river opposite the village.
About a mile from Twickenham is the renowned villa of the author of the Castle of Otranto.
“The well-known villa of the late Horace Walpole (afterwards Earl of Orford), standing on a piece of ground called in old writings Strawberry-hill Shot, was originally a small tenement, built in 1698 by the Earl of Bradford's coachman, and let as a lodging-house. Colley Cibber was one of its first tenants, and wrote there his comedy called “The Refusal, or the Lady's Philosophy. The beauties of its situation afterwards tempted persons whose rank and establishments were such as seem to have demanded a large mansion,
to take it as a summer residence. Dr. Talbot, Bishop of Durham, lived in it eight years, and after him, Henry Marquis of Carnarvon. It was next hired by Mrs. Chevenix, the toy-woman, who let a part of it to the celebrated French divine, Père Courayer. Lord John Philip Sackville afterwards took the house of Mrs. Chevenix, and kept it about two years. In 1747 the late Earl of Orford (then the Hon. Horace Walpole) bought the remainder of Mrs. Chevenix's lease, and the next year purchased the fee-simple by act of parliament, it being then the property of three minors. Mr. Walpole, in one of his entertaining letters to Mr. (afterwards Marshal) Conway, gives the following description of this place about the time that he first took possession of it :- Twickenham, June 8, 1747.—You perceive by my date that I am got into a new camp, and have left my tub at Windsor. It is a little plaything-house that I got out of Mrs. Chevenix's shop, and is the prettiest bauble you ever saw.
It is set in enamelled meadows, with fillagree hedges :
A small Euphrates through the place is roll'd,
Two delightful roads that you would call dusty supply me continually with coaches and chaises; barges, as solemn as barons of the exchequer, move under
window. Richmond Hill and Ham-walks bound my prospects; but, thank God! the Thames is between me and the Duchess of Queensberry. Dowagers as plenty as flounders inhabit all around, and Pope's ghost is just now skimming under my window by a most poetical moonlight. The Chevenixes had tricked the cottage up for themselves. Up two pair of stairs is what they call Mr. Chevenix's library, furnished with three maps, one shelf, a bust of Sir Isaac Newton, and a lunar telescope without any glasses. Lord John Sackville predecessed me here, and instituted certain games called cricketalia, which have been celebrated this very evening in honour of him in a neighbouring meadow.'
“Mr. Walpole having formed a design of enlarging his villa, and fitting it up in the Gothic style, after a tour through various parts of the kingdom, during which he collected models from the principal cathedrals in which that species of architecture prevails, began his improvements in 1753, in which and the following year the library and great parlour were newly built ; the Holbein chamber in 1759, the gallery, round tower, great cloister, and cabinet, were begun 1760 and 1761, the great north bed-chamber in 1770, and the Beauclerk tower and Hexagon closet in 1776.”