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in the night, and to the woman that waited on him in his chamber he was very burdensome ; but he was careful to recompense her want of sleep; and lord Oxford's servant declared, that in the house where her business was to answer his call, she would not ask for wages. He had another fault easily incident to those who, suffering much pain, think themselves entitled to whatever pleasures they can snatch. He was too indulgent to his appetite : he loved meat highly seasoned and of strong taste; and, at the intervals of the table amused himself with biscuits and dry conserves. If he sat down to a variety of dishes, he would oppress his stomach with repletion; and, though he seemed angry when a dram was offered bim, did not forbear to drink it. His friends, who knew the avenues to his heart, pampered him with presents of luxury, which he did not suffer to stand neglected. The death of great men is not always proportioned to the lustre of their lives. Hannibal, says Juvenal, did not perish by the javelin or the sword; the slaughters of Cannae were revenged by a ring. The death of Pope was imputed by some of his friends to a silver saucepan, in which it was his delight to heat potted lampreys. That he loved too well to eat is certain ; but that his sensuality shortened his life will not be hastily concluded, when it is remembered that a conformation so irregular lasted six and fifty years, notwithstanding such pertinacious diligence of study and meditation. In all his intercourse with mankind, he had great delight in artifice, and endeavoured to attain all his purposes by indirect and unsuspected methods. “He hardly drank tea without a stratagem.” If, at the house of his friends, he wanted any accommodation, he was not willing to ask for it in plain terms, but would mention it
remotely as something convenient; though when it was procured, he soon made it appear for whose sake it had been recommended. Thus he teased lord Orrery till he obtained a screen. He practised his arts on such small occasions, that lady Bolingbroke used to say, in a French phrase, that “he played the politician about cabbages and turnips.” His unjustifiable impression of “The Patriot King,” as it can be imputed to no particular motive, must have proceeded from his general habit of secrecy and cunning : he caught an opportunity of a sly trick, and pleased himself with the thought of outwitting Bolingbroke. In familiar or convivial conversation, it does not appear that he excelled. He may be said to have resembled Dryden, as being not one that was distinguished by vivacity in company. It is remarkable, that so near his time, so much should be known of what he has written, and so little of what he has said : traditional memory retains no sallies of raillery, nor sentences of observation ; nothing either pointed or solid, either wise or merry. One apophthegm only stands upon record. When an objection, raised against his inscription for Shakspeare, was defended by the authority of “Patrick,” he replied—“ horresco referens”—that “he would allow the publisher of a dictionary to know the meaning of a single word, but not of two words put together.” He was fretful and easily displeased, and allowed himself to be capriciously resentful. He would sometimes leave lord Oxford silently, no one could tell why, and was to be courted back by more letters and messages than the footmen were willing to carry. The table was indeed infested by lady Mary Wortley, who was the friend of lady Oxford, and who, knowing his peevishness, could by no entreaties be restrained from con
tradicting him, till their disputes were sharpened to such asperity, that one or the other quitted the house. He sometimes condescended to be jocular with servants or inferiors; but by no merriment, either of others or his own was he ever seen excited to laughter. Of his domestic character, frugality was a part eminently remarkable. Having determined not to be dependant, he determined not to be in want, and therefore wisely and magnanimously rejected all temptations to expense unsuitable to his fortune. This general care must be universally approved; but it sometimes appeared in petty artifices of parsimony, such as the practice of writing his compositions on the back of letters, as may be seen in the remaining copy of the Iliad, by which perhaps in five years five shillings were saved; or in a niggardly reception of his friends, and scantiness of entertainment, as, when he had two guests in his house, he would set at supper a single pint upon the table and, having himself taken too small glasses, would retire, and say, “Gentlemen I leave you to your wine;” Yet he tells his friends, that “he has a heart for all, a house for all, and, whatever they may think, a fortune for all. He sometimes, however, made a splendid dinner, and is said to have wanted no part of the skill or elegance which such performances require. That this
magnificence should be often displayed, that obstinate'
prudence with which he conducted his affairs would not permit, for his revenue, certain and casual, amounted only to about eight hundred pounds a year, of which however he declares himself able to assign one hundred to charity.”
* Part of it arose from an annuity of two hundred pounds a year, which he had purchased either of the late duke of Buckinghamshire, or the duchess his mother, and which was
Of this fortune, which, as it arose from public approbation, was very honourably obtained, his imagination seems to have been too full ; it would be hard to find a man, so well entitled to notice by his wit, that ever delighted so much in talking of his money. In his letters and in his poems, his garden and his grotto, his quincunx and his vines, or some hints of his opulence, are always to be found. The great topic of his ridicule is poverty; the crimes with which he reproaches his antagonists are their debts, their habitation in the mint, and their want of a dinner. He seems to be of an opinion not very uncommon in the world, that to want money is to want every thing.
Next to the pleasure of contemplating his possessions, seems to be that of enumerating the men of high rank with whom he was acquainted, and whose notice he loudly proclaims not to have been obtained by any practices of meanness or servility; a boast which was never denied to be true, and to which very few poets have ever aspired. Pope never set his genius to sale, he never flattered those whom he did not love, or praised those whom he did not esteem. Savage however remarked, that he began a little to relax his dignity when he wrote a distich for his “Highness's dog.”
His admiration of the great seems to have increased in the advance of life. He passed over peers and statesmen to inscribe his Iliad to Congreve, with a magnanimity of which the praise had been complete, had his friend’s virtue been equal to his wit. Why he was chosen for so great an honour, it is not now possible to know ; there is no trace in literary history of any particular intimacy between them. The name of Congreve
charged on some estate of that family. [See p. 78.] The deed by which it was granted was some years in my custody. H.
appears in the letters among those of his other friends,