Page:Poems of Anne Countess of Winchilsea 1903.djvu/60

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Ivi INTRODUCTION ���work been accepted by Gildon, and received flattering tributes from Howe and Swift, not to mention minor bards, but her Spleen had attained to the dignity of a second edition, and she had the inner, supporting consciousness of a stately volume of verse practically ready for publication. Yet in comparison with Pope Ardelia was hardly even the " minor excelsitude " Mr. Gosse has so aptly called her. When her volume of verse appeared in 1713 it was Pope's criticism that she coveted and which she proceeded in a feminine fashion to obtain. Perhaps her husband's recent accession to the title gave her courage. At any rate she issued a bold invitation, which Pope accepted but which he commemorated in the following words in a letter to Gary 11, dated December 15, 1713 : �The fact is, I was invited to dinner to my Lady Winchilsea, and after dinner to hear a play read, at both which I sat in great dis- order with sickness at my head and stomach. �The situation has picturesque possibilities. Did Ardelia do the reading ? Did Pope adopt the suffering posture of the portrait by Kneller ? Evidently the trials inseparable from literary dictatorship began early with Pope, and Lady Winchilsea's dinner was one of the experiences that later occasioned the humorous complaints to Dr. Arbuthnot : �A dire dilemma! either way I'm sped, �If foes they write, if friends they read me dead. �Siezed and tied down to judge, how wretched I ! �Who can't be silent, and who will not lie ; �I sit with sad civility, I read �With honest anguish and an aching head. �Courthope conjectures that the play read to Pope was Aristomenes. But this play was already in print and Pope could have read it at his leisure. It is more probable that it was Love and Innocence, the play still in manuscript. In ��� �