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have wished to have had in visiting so interesting a spot as the residence of Pope when he “ lisped in numbers."
The country about Binfield is very pleasing, and the village, with its fine church, more particularly so. The latter is well worth seeing, not only from its style of architecture, but from some of the monuments in it. One of these is that of Admiral Vernon, who commanded the British fleet at the taking of Pondicherry, and another of the celebrated female historian, Catherine Macauley.
Our walk from the village towards Pope's house, which is at some distance from it, was through a country diversified by woods and vallies, and having a very picturesque character. The tree on which the inscription, “ Here Pope sung," was placed, and which was in a wood at about a quarter of a mile from Pope's house, was, we were sorry to find, no longer in existence, although the spot on which it stood was pointed out to us. The view from it was very extensive.
We now approached the residence of the poet, but before I describe it, let me give a short sketch of his early life while he resided at his father's house, and which may add to the interest a visitor may feel in going to it.
Pope was born on the 21st of May, 1688, in Lombard Street, at the house afterwards Mr. Major's, the apothecary. His life, his sister,
Mrs. Racket says, was in danger several times, and the first so early as when he was a child in coats. A wild cow that was driven by the place where he was at play, struck at him with her horns, tore off his hat and feather - wounded
him in the throat, beat him down and trampled
Pope's father, who was an honest merchant, and dealt in hollands, was no poet, but he used to set his son to make English verses when very young. He was pretty difficult in being pleased, and used often to send him back to new turn them. " These are not good rhymes,” he said, for that was my husband's word for verses. This little interesting anecdote is given on the authority of Mr. Pope's mother. Pope told Spence that he was seven years in learning what he got from about twenty to twenty seven. He should have travelled, had it not been for his ill-health ; -and on every occasion that offered had a desire to travel, and to the very end of his life.
His first education was at the seminary at Twyford, near Winchester. When he came home to his father's in the Forest, his perpetual application (after he set to study for himself) reduced him in four years' time to so bad a state of health, that after trying physicians for a good while in vain, he resolved to give way to his distemper, and sat down calmly in full expectation of death in a short time. Under this thought he wrote letters to take a last farewell of his friends, and among the rest one to the Abbé Southcote. The Abbé was extremely concerned both for his very ill state of health, and the resolution he said he had taken. He thought there might yet be hopes, and went immediately to Dr. Radcliffe, with whom he was well acquainted, and told him Mr. Pope's case. He got full directions from him, and carried them down to Mr. Pope at Windsor forest. The chief thing the Doctor ordered was to apply less, and to ride every day. The following his advice soon restored him to health. Pope was then about seventeen years old, and the above account was given by himself.
Pope says — “ I wrote things I am ashamed to say how soon. Part of an epic poem, of which Deucalion was the hero, when about twelve. The scene of it lay at Rhodes, and some of the neighbouring islands, and the poem opened under water with a description of the court of Neptune. That couplet on the circulation of the blood in the Dunciad
As man meanders to the vital Spring,
was originally in the poem, word for word as it is now."
Mr. Manwick informs us that Pope was but a little while under his master at Twyford. He wrote extremely young, and among other things, a satire on that gentleman for some faults he had discovered in him. He set to learning Latin and Greek by himself, about twelve; and when he was about fifteen, he resolved that he would go up to London, and learn French and Italian. His family looked on it as a wildish sort of resolution; (Mrs. Racket, his sister, also said — “You know,
66 to speak plain with you, my brother has a maddish way with him”) for as his health would not let him travel, they could not see any reason for it. He stuck to it, went thither, and mastered both these languages with surprising dispatch. Almost every thing of this kind was of his own acquiring. He had had masters, but they were indifferent ones, and what he got was almost wholly owing to his own unassisted industry. He is described as a child of a particularly sweet temper, and had a great deal of sweetness in his look when a boy. His picture was drawn when he was about ten years old, in which his face is round, plump, pretty, and of a fresh complexion. Mr. Manwick says that he had been often told, that it was the perpetual application he fell into about two years afterwards, that changed his form and ruined his constitution. With what success these assiduous studies were attended, may be judged of by Pope's own information, who tells us — “ I was born in the year 1688 — the Essay on Criticism was written
in 1709, and published in 1711, which is as little
time as ever I think any thing of mine lay by me." But perhaps it will be best to give the slight but pleasing sketch of Pope's early life as communicated by him to a friend, which will render any further research on the subject unnecessary. It is believed that Pope's first education was under a priest, whose name was Barmister.
“I was then,” he says, “ about eight years old
· had learnt to read of an old aunt, and to write by copying printed books. After having been under that priest for about a year, I was sent to the seminary at Twyford, and then to a school at Hyde Park Corner, and with the two latter masters lost what I had gained under the first. About twelve years old I went with my father into the Forest, and there learnt for a few months under a fourth priest. This was all the teaching I ever had, and Heaven knows it extended a very little way. When I had done with the priests I took to reading by myself, for which I had great eagerness and enthusiasm, especially for poetry, and in a few years I had dipped into a great number of the English, French, Latin, and Greek poets. This I did without any other design but that of pleasing myself, and got the languages by rambling after the stories in the several poets I read, rather than read the books to get the languages. I followed everywhere as my fancy lead me, and was like a boy gathering flowers in the fields and woods, just as it fell in my