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gives a pleasing picture of its original splendour and beauty. His gardens, indeed, were his delight; and his declining years stole away tranquilly amidst the variegated scenery.
What I am about to transcribe, is part of a Letter to a Friend, bearing date 1725 :“ I have put the last hand to my works of this kind, in happily finishing the subterranean Way and Grotto. I there found a spring of the clearest water, which falls in a perpetual rill, that echoes through the cavern day and night! From the river Thames you see through my Arch, up a walk of the Wilderness, to a kind of open Temple, wholly composed of shells, in. the rustic manner; and from that distance, under the temple, you look down, through a sloping arcade of trees, and see the sails on the river passing suddenly, and vanishing, as through a perspective glass. When you
shut the doors of this Grotto, it becomes, in an instant, from a luminous room, a Camera Obscura, upon the walls of which all the objects of the river, hills, woods and boats, are forming a moving picture in their visible radiations! And when
have a mind to light it up, it affords you a very different scene. It is finished with shells, interspersed with pieces of looking-glass, in regular forms; and in the cieling is a star, of the same material, at which, when a lamp (of an orbicular figure, of thin alabaster) is hung in the middle, a thousand pointed rays glitter, and are reflected over the place! There are connected to this Grotto, by a narrow passage, two Porches, one towards the river, of smooth stones, full of light, and
open; the other towards the garden, shadowed with trees, rough with shells, flints and iron ore. The bottom is paved with simple pebbles, as is also the adjoining walk up the wilderness to the temple, in the natural taste, agreeing not ill with the little dripping murmur, and the aquatic idea of the whole place. It wants nothing to complete it but a good statue, with an inscription like that beautiful antique one which
know I am so fond of :
Hujiis Nympha loci, sacri custodia fontis
Nymph of the Grot-these sacred springs I keep,
You'll think I have been very poetical in this description; but it is pretty near the truth."
Such was the description of the original Grotto; and Mr. Pope, when it was in a still further degree of improvement, could not content himself with a prosaic encomium, but employed his muse to celebrate its beauties:
Thou who shalt stop where Thames' translucent wave
Approach--Great Nature studiously behold,
That an awful approach to the Grotto should be inculcated, because his Friends sat and thought there, without saying a word of himself, signalizes the modesty of the Poet. But, in my eye, the spot is rendered venerable for having been the seat of his own meditation. Indeed, considering this elegant and rural retreat altogether, I am reminded of the complimentary description of Lord Orrery, speaking of Mr. Pope's House and Gardens :-" Here he treated his friends with a politeness that charmed, and a generosity that was much to his honour, Every guest was made happy within his doors. Pleasure dwelt under his roof, and Elegance presided at his table.” But we must here indulge in a few particulars of biography.
ALEXANDER POPE was born, 1688, in London. Soon after the Revolution, his parents, who were of the Popish religion, retired from the scene of public affairs to Binfield, in Windsor Forest. Of a delicate constitution, and feeble frame of body, young Pope was taught to read and write at home, after learning Latin and Greek of a Romish priest. Ogilby's translation of Homer, and Sandys' translation of Ovid's
POPE's ODE TO SƠLITUDE.
Metamorphoses, were read by him with so much delight, that they may be said to have made him a poet! He even framed a play from Ogilby's Homer, intermixed with verses of his own, which was acted by his school-fellows. His Ode to Solitude, at twelve years of age, is his earliest production. He, in his Poems, says, that he lisped in numbers, and 'used to declare, that he could not remember the time when he began to make verses. In the style of fiction, says Johnson, it might have been said of him, as of Pindar, that, when he lay in his cradle, the Bees swarmed about his mouth! He wrote a comedy, a tragedy, an epic poem with panegyrics on all the Princes of Europe, and, as he confesses, thought himself the GREATEST genius that ever was! Self-confidence is the first requisite of great undertakings: he, indeed, who forms his opinion of himself in solitude, without knowing the powers of other men, is very liable to error; but it was the felicity of Pope to rate himself at his real value.
Pope soon attracted attention by his numerous and polished compositions. His Translation of Homer proved a lucrative concern, owing to the zeal and activity of his friends. With the profits he took a house at Twickenham; removing, with his parents, from Binfield. His father soon died; but his mother lived for many years after: and to her he shewed the profoundest filial affection. Accordingly, he exclaims, in his Epistle to Arbuthnot,
O Friend! may each doinestic bliss be thine,
Me let the tender office long engage
There is a letter written to Richardson, the painter, desiring him to come to Twickenham to take a sketch of his mother just after she was dead, June 20, 1733. “ It would afford (says he) the finest image of a Saint expired that ever painter drew!” Pope himself died, aged 56, on May 30th, 1744. An oppressive asthma accelerated his dissolution. Having been one day delirious, he afterwards mentioned the circumstance as a sufficient humiliation of the vanity of man, declaring, with his dying breath, that there is nothing meritorious but Virtue and Friendship; and, indeed, Friendship itself is only a part of VIRTUE! His bodily infirinities, already mentioned, rendered his life a lengthened-out disease ; but he died so placidly, that the attendants discerned not the exact time of his dissolution. He was buried on the sixth day after his decease, as I found by the inspection of the Burial Register in the vestry of Twickenham Church, where I saw written these words : “ BURIED June the 5th, 1744, Alexander Pope, Esq." His Body was here inhumed-Ashes to ashes, dust to dust-but his Name is IMMORTAL!