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And unto that happy mood
Though from home and friends we part,
Seated on a bank of green,
feet a river flows,
Sinks the sun—the sudden night
On the small waves float and quiver,
Never yet hath waking vision
Waves o'er this romantic land ! Cossipore, Nov. 1839.
* This description has reference to the night of some religious festival.
THE ATOSSA BRIBE.
POPE AND THE DUCHESS OF MARLBOROUGH.
Pope left by his will, the care of his manuscripts, first to Lord Bolingbroke, and, in the event of his death, to Lord Marchmont, undoubtedly expecting, says Dr. Johnson, that they would be “proud of the trust and eager to extend his fame.” It appears, however, that some time after Pope's death, Dodsley solicited preference as the publisher, and was told that the packet of papers had not been even looked at, and “whatever was the reason,” adds Johnson, " the world has been disappointed of what was reserved for the next age.” It is reasonable to suppose that amongst the manuscripts of Pope there must have been many interesting and valuable papers, but nothing of any value has yet appeared. Pope gave Bolingbroke the option of preserving or destroying the manuscripts, and it is probable, from the circumstances I am about to mention, that he chose the latter alternative. They never got into the possession of the Earl of Marchmont. A work entitled “A Selection from the Papers of the Earls of Marchmont," and published in 1831, by Sir George Rose, contains two letters from Lord Bolingbroke that are calculated to injure materially the memory of Pope, if they are not very closely and candidly considered. They are on the subject of Pope's Satire on the Duchess of Marlborough, included in his Epistle “ On the Characters of Women,” under the name of Atossa. To refresh the memory of the reader I shall here subjoin it.
But what are these, to great Atossa's mind ?
Shines in exposing knaves, and painting fools,
When Pope first published the Epistle, in which this character now occurs, he informed the public in an advertisement, that it contained no character drawn from the life, an assertion which Johnson insinuates Pope did not wish to be believed. In a note to the poem also, Pope stated that it was imperfect, because a portion of his subject was vice too high to be then exposed. It is certain that the characters of Atossa, Philomedé and Cloe, the only ones which are supposed to apply to particular individuals, were subsequently introduced. It is said by Warton that the lines on Atossa were brought to the notice of the Duchess of Marlborough, under the pretence that they were intended for the portrait of the Duchess of Buckingham ; but she soon stopped the person reading them to her, and called aloud, “I cannot be so imposed upon; I see plainly enough for whom they are designed ;” and then violently abused the author. It is added that her Grace was afterwards reconciled to Pope, courted his favor, and gave him a thousand pounds to suppress the portrait; which he accepted, “it is said,” by the persuasion of Mrs. M. Blount; and yet after the Duchess's death, it was both printed and published. “This," says Warton, " is the greatest blemish in our Poet's moral character.” On which Bowles, one of the later editors of Pope, exclaims : “A blemish! call it rather, if it be the fact, the most shameful dereliction of every thing that was manly and honorable.” Mr. Roscoe, another editor of Pope, is very indignant with Mr. Bowles for this censure, though advanced so hypothetically, and notwithstanding a subsequent avowal on the part of the latter that he did not give credit to so base” a story.
Roscoe supposes that Mr. Bowles must have meant it to be implied that Pope was guilty of the act, or he would not have characterized it by such expressions; but surely it is unreasonable and unjust to take this view of the matter, after Mr. Bowles had by his own account indignantly disavowed his having charged Pope with such disgraceful treachery and meanness. Bowles was only surprised at the comparatively moderate manner in which Warton had spoken of an act that without any personal reference to Pope, was of a nature per se that could hardly be too sternly condemned. Johnson, though he does not seem to have heard any thing of the bribe, thought the character of Atossa was published with no great honor to the writer's gratitude, for the Poet had received from the Duchess a great deal of personal attention. Until this publication of the Marchmont Papers the story of the thousand pound bribe rested