(127) I am not quite certain that, writing by memory at the distance of fifty years, I place that journey exactly at the right period, nor whether it did not take place before Sir Robert’s fall. Nothing material depends on the precise period.
(128) The story is thus told by Dr. Warton:-” These lines were shown to her grace, as if they were intended for the portrait of the Duchess of Buckingham; but she soon stopped the person who was reading them to her, as the Duchess of Portland informed me, and called out aloud, “I cannot be so imposed upon; I see plainly enough for whom they are designed;” and abused Pope most plentifully on the subject: though she was afterwards reconciled to him, and courted him, and gave him a thousand pounds to suppress this portrait, which he a accepted, it is said, by the persuasion of Mrs. M. Blount; and, after the Duchess’s death, it was printed in a folio sheet, 1746, and afterwards inserted in his Moral Essays. This is the greatest blemish on our poet’s moral character."-E.
The following extracts from Letters of Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, were copied by me from the original letters addressed to the Earl of Stair, left by him to Sir David Dalrymple, his near relative, and lent to me by Sir David’s brother, Mr. Alexander Dalrymple, long employed as Geographer in the service of the East India company. They formed part of a large volume of ms. letters, chiefly from the same person.
The Duchess of Marlborough’s virulence, her prejudices, her style of writing, are already well known, and every line of these extracts will only serve to confirm the same opinion of all three. But it will, probably, be thought curious thus to be able to compare the notes of the opposite political parties, and their different account of the same trifling facts, magnified by the prejudices of both into affairs of importance.
Extracts from the
letters of Sarah, duchess of
to the earl of Stair,
illustrative of “The reminiscences.”
(Now first published.)
London, Feb. 24th, 1738. . . . . As to Norfolk House, (129) I have heard there is a great deal of company, and that the Princess of Wales, tho’ so very young, behaves so as to please every body; and I think her conversation is much more proper and decent for a drawing-room than the wise queen Caroline’s was, who never was half an hour without saying something shocking to some body or other, even when she intended to oblige, and generally very improper discourse for a public room.
[See p. 98. Reminiscences, Chapter Vii]