The Complete Critical Guide to Alexander Pope

By Paul Baines | Go to book overview

accuse Cibber of having read too much, as-to Pope's mind-Theobald had), but the change is in keeping with the wider sense of apocalypse which haunts the poem. As a Hanoverian stooge, adapter of Shakespeare for the stage, and promoter of cheap theatrical sensations, Cibber exactly catches the mix of meretricious, stagey glamour and complacent cack-handedness which Pope saw as bringing final demise to British civilisation. The completed poem as it stands is a fitting culmination of Pope's career, incorporating work which had existed in some form all his writing life.


(q)

THE END

Pope spent his last years cultivating his garden and his friendships. A mysterious 'Amica' (female friend) appears to have laid siege to him between 1737 and 1742, to the annoyance of Martha Blount, after falling in love with his work (Mack 1985:796-801) [171]. His health worsened: he had some form of extreme asthma, his kidneys were failing, his body now had to be encased in a sort of iron frame to enable him to sit up (he made studied but genuine fun of this predicament). He employed students to read to him. And he continued to make extensive visits to friends, on one occasion marring somewhat his friendship with Ralph Allen over an incident in which Martha Blount seems to have been slighted. He continued to adjust the minutiae of his works with Warburton as designated editor. He made his will in December 1743, leaving his books and copyrights to Warburton-a bequest which Johnson estimated to be worth £4000 (Johnson 1905:170)-and his manuscripts to Bolingbroke, neither of them as it turned out very happy bequests despite their value. Martha Blount was to receive the bulk of his money (Mack 1985:768). He ordered that his body should be carried to the church at Twickenham as his mother's had been, by poor men of the parish. In January 1744 he declared, 'I must make a perfect edition of my works, and then I shall have nothing to do but die' (Spence 1966:258). The doctors disagreed, to Pope's no doubt hard-won cheer: 'Here I am, dying of a hundred good symptoms' (Spence 1966:263). In early May he sent advance copies of the so-called 'deathbed' edition of the four Epistles to Several Persons, with commentary by Warburton, announcing wryly, 'Here am I, like Socrates, distributing my morality among my friends, just as I am dying' (Spence 1966:261). His mind began to wander; he had visions, hallucinations, lapses (though he never suffered the terrible dementia of Swift, who survived him by a year). He recovered enough to sit at table with his

-44-

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The Complete Critical Guide to Alexander Pope
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Series Editors' Preface ix
  • Acknowledgements xi
  • Abbreviations and Referencing xiii
  • Introduction 1
  • Part I - Life and Contexts 3
  • (A) - A Catholic Childhood 5
  • (B) - Forest Retreats 7
  • (C) - Literary London 10
  • (D) - Kings and Queens 14
  • (E) - Scriblerus 15
  • (F) - Epic Intent 17
  • (G) - Booksellers and Ladies 19
  • (H) - Works and Days 21
  • (I) - Twickenham 23
  • (J) - Shakespeare 26
  • (K) - Epic of Fleet Street 28
  • (L) - System and Satire 32
  • (M) - Horace 35
  • (N) - Letters 38
  • (O) - Laureate in Opposition 40
  • (Q) - The End 44
  • Part II - Work 47
  • (A) - An Essay on Criticism (1711) [Te I:195-326] 49
  • (C) - The Rape of the Lock (1712/1714/1717) [Te Ii:79-212] 65
  • (D) - Eloisa to Abelard (1717) [Te Ii:291-349] 77
  • (E) - Essay on Man (1733-34) [Te Iii:I] 82
  • (F) - Epistles to Several Persons (1731-35) [Te Iii:Ii] 93
  • (G) - Epistle to Dr Arbuthnot (1735) [Te Iv:91-127] 110
  • (H) - Imitations of Horace (1733-40) [Te Iv] 119
  • (I) - The Dunciad (1728-42) [Te V] 130
  • Part III - Criticism 151
  • (A) - Pope and Poetry 153
  • (B) - Politics 163
  • (C) - Gender and Body 171
  • (D) - Pope in Print and Manuscript 189
  • Bibliography 205
  • Index 215
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