« 上一頁繼續 »
There were three intimate friends of Mr. Pope, who visited him frequently at his house in Twickenham; these were Bolingbroke, Atterbury and Warburton, a few particulars concerning whom shall form the conclusion of the present letter.
Of BOLINGBROKE, an account has been already given under the article of Battersea. I have here only to remark, that Pope held him in the highest estimation, and under his express auspices, wrote the Essay on Man, and also his Satires, both of which circumstances shall be noticed in my survey of his writings. Indeed, it appears that his lordship was present at his dissolution, and was deeply affected by it. Dr. Warton thus notices it :-" In the concluding address of the Essay on Man, one is at a loss which to admire most, the warmth of the author's friendship, or the warmth of his genius. Pope idolized him; • when in company with him, he appeared with all the deference and submission of an affectionate scholar. He used to speak of him as a being of a superior order, that had condescended to visit this lower world : in particular, when the last comet appeared and approached near the earth, he told some of his acquaintance, “ It was sent only to convey Lord Bolingbroke home again, just as a stage coach stops at your door to take up a passenger. A graceful person, a flow of nervous eloquence, a vivid imagination, were the lot of this accomplished nobleman; but his ambitious views being frustrated in the early part of his life, his disappointments embittered his temper, and he seems
POPE'S TRUST IN FUTURITY.
to have been disgusted with all religions and with all governments. I have been informed, from an eyewitness, of one of his last interviews with Pope, who was then given over by his physicians, that Bolingbroke, standing behind Pope's chair, looked earnestly down upon him, and repeated several times, interrupted with sobs, “O great God! what is man? I never knew a person that had so tender a heart for his particular friends, or a warmer benevolence for all MANKIND!' It is hoped, that Bolingbroke profited by those remarkable words that Pope spoke in his last illness to the same gentleman who communicated the foregoing anecdote-'I am so certain of the soul's being immortal, that I seem even to feel it within me, as it were, by intuition. After such a declaration, and after writing so fervent and elevated a piece of devotion, as the Universal Prayer, would it not be injustice to accuse our author of libertinism and irreligion ? Especially, as I am told he had inserted an address to Jesus Christ in the Essay on Man, which he omitted at the instance of Bishop Berkeley, because the Christian dispensation did not come within the compass of his plan. Not that so worthy and pious a prelate could imagine that this platonic scheme of optimism, or the best, sufficiently accounts for the introduction of moral and physical evil into the world, which in truth nothing but REVELATION can explain, and nothing but a FUTURE STATE can compensate !"
ATTERBURY was bishop of Rochester, and exiled
to France, as well as deprived of bis episcopal function, for his attachment to the Stuart family. He was a man of genius and learning. Pope thus eulogises him among his other choice friends :
Oft in the clear still mirror of retreat,
Warton, however, speaks by no means favourably of Atterbury's character. “ The turbulent and imperious temper of this haughty prelate was long felt and remembered in the college over which he presided. It was with difficulty Queen Anne was persuaded to make him a bishop, which she did at last, on the repeated importunities of Lord Harcourt, who pressed the Queen to do it, because truly, she had before disappointed him in not placing Sacheverell on the bench! After her decease, Atterbury vehemently urged his friends to proclaim the Pretender, and on their refusal upbraided them for their timidity with many oaths, for he was accustomed to swear on any strong provocation. In a collection of letters, published by Mr. Duncombe, it is affirmed, on the authority of Elijah Fenton, that Atterbury, speaking of Pope, said, there was
6 Mens curva in corpore curvo !"
ATTERBURY'S LEGACY TO POPE,
This sentiment seems utterly inconsistent with the warm friendship supposed to subsist between these two celebrated men. But Dr. Herring says in the second volume of this Collection, page 104-" If Atterbury was not worse used than any honest man in the world ever was, there were strong contradictions between his private and public character." He once meant to write the Life of Cardinal Wolsey, whom he much resembled. There is an anecdote so uncommon and remarkable mentioned in Dr. Maty's Memoirs of the Earl of Chesterfield, and which he gives in the very words of that celebrated nobleman, that I cannot forbear repeating it in this place. “I went,” said Lord Chesterfield, “ to Mr. Pope one morning at Twickenham, and found a large folio Bible with gilt clasps, lying before him on the table ; and as I knew his way of thinking upon that Book, I asked him jocosely if he was going to write an answer to it. It is a present, (said he), or rather a legacy, from my old friend the Bishop of Rochester. I went to take my leave of him yesterday in the Tower, where I saw this Bible upon his table. After the first compliments, the Bishop said to me, my friend Pope, considering your infirmities, and my age and exile, it is not likely we should ever meet again, and therefore I give you this legacy to remember me by it.? . Does your lordship abide by it yourself ?' *I do. If you do, my lord, it is but lately. May I beg to know what new light or arguments have prevailed with you now, to entertain an opinion so contrary to that which you
BISHOP ATTERBURY'S DEATH.
entertained of that book all the former part of your life?' The bishop replied, “We have not time to talk of these things, but take home the book, I will abide. by it, and I recommend you to do so tou, and so God bless you !""
It is remarkable, that Bishop Atterbury, whilst under examination, made use of our Saviour's answer to the Jewish council while he stood before them“ If I tell you ye will not believe me, and if I also ask you ye will not answer me nor let me go.” On June 18, 1723, according to his sentence of banishntent, he embarked on board the Aldborough man of war, and landed at Calais. When he went on shore, having been informed that Bolingbroke having received the king's pardon, was arrived there on his way to England, the prelate said with pleasantry, “ Then I am exchanged.” And Pope says on the same occasion, “ It was a sign of the nation's being cursedly afraid of being overrun with too much politeness, when it could not regain one great man but at the expense of another.” Atterbury died at Paris, 1732, the death of a daughter having accelerated his disso lution. His body was brought over and interred in Westminster Abbey, in a vault prepared by his directions. There is no memorial over his grave, nor could there well be any, unless his friends would have consented, (which it is most probable they refused to don) that the words implying, that he died Bishop of Rochester, should have been omitted on his tomh.