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Sermons I fought, and with a mien severe,
I, who avoided ev'ry public place,
When bloom and beauty bid me fhew my face,
Now near thee, constant, I each night abide,
To all the foreigners a goodly fhow.
Oft had your drawing-room been fadly thin,
And merchants wives close by your fide had been;
Had I not amply fill'd the empty place,
And fav'd your Highness from the dire difgrace:
When all my duty and my merit fails:
That Cockatilla, whofe deluding airs
Corrupts our virgins, and our youth enfnares;
VFR. 26. What-d'ye-call-it] Gay's farce, so called.
VER. 34. foreigners] The attendants of George the First, from Hanover.
I know the court, with all its treach'rous wiles,
Ah, Princefs! learn'd in all the courtly arts,
Mr. DALLAWAY fays, this Eclogue was written in the year 1715, and he gives very fatisfactory reasons for attributing it to Lady Mary Montagu. I am inclined to think, by Roxana was meant the Duchefs of Marlborough. It is well known, that after the acceffion of George the First, the Duke was among the dissatisfied; for, though he was appointed Commander in Chief, yet he did not enjoy the smallest share of confidence or power. The Duchefs, no doubt, partook of his fpleen. The "Princess" was Caroline, then Princefs of Wales; and Cockatilla, Mrs. Howard, made bed-chamber woman to the Princefs. This is my idea, but it is of little confequence to illuftrate a poem, which Pope, perhaps, never wrote.
TO LADY MARY WORTLEY MONTAGU.
IN beauty, or wit,
No mortal as yet
To queftion your empire has dar'd;
Have thought that in learning,
To yield to a Lady was hard.
With musty dull rules,
Have reading to females deny'd:
So papists refuse
The Bible to use,
Left flocks fhou'd be wife as their guide.
'Twas a woman at first,
(Indeed fhe was curst)
In knowledge that tafted delight,
The laws fhou'd decree
To the first poffeffor the right.
Then bravely, fair dame,
Refume the old claim,
Which to your whole fex does belong;
And let men receive,
From a fecond bright Eve,
The knowledge of right and of wrong.
But if the first Eve
Hard doom did receive,
When only one apple had fhe,
Shall be found out for you,
Who tafting, have robb'd the whole tree?
VER. 30. Who tafting, have robb'd the whole tree?] This extraordinary Lady, the object of Pope's attachment in his early years, and of his most virulent invective afterwards, was indeed a Lady of sense, spirit, and talents, as well as of great beauty. Her letters, in unaffected language, good fenfe, and natural humour, are as much fuperior to Pope's, as his verfes are fuperior to her's. Her maiden name was Mary Pierrepoint; fhe was the daughter of Evelyn, Duke of Kingfton, and Lady Mary Fielding, daughter of William Earl of Denbigh. She was born at Thoresby, in Nottinghamshire, about the year 1695.
"The first dawn of her genius opened so aufpiciously, that her Father refolved to cultivate the advantages of Nature by a fedulous attention to her early education. Under the fame preceptors as her brother, Viscount Newark, fhe acquired the elements of the Greek, Latin, and French languages with the greatest fuccefs.
Her ftudies were afterwards fuperintended by Burnet, Bishop of Salisbury, and her tranflation of Epictetus received his emendation."
Dallaway's Memoirs of Lady
Her husband was an intimate friend of Addison and of Steel. She went with him on his embaffy to Conftantinople, and, after his recall, lived at Twickenham. Pope's admiration ended in difguft and averfion. Her latter years were paffed in Italy, and her letters from thence are very interefting, though there is no fatisfactory account given why fhe was feparated from her country fo many years.