Monday, February 21, 2011


An Anecdote by Reverend Turner

Thanks to the kindness of a reader, here in its entirety is Turner's anecdote about Alexander Pope's tree-cutting, from Anecdotes by Baptist Noel Turner (1739-1826), ed. Patricia Köster (New York: Garland Publishing, 1982), p. 59 (Anecdote 70). Snippets of the anecdote appeared in an earlier post.
Mr Pope in a private Company related the following Anecdote of himself—A couple of Trees which grew upon the Grounds of some Lady of Quality obstructed his View, for which reason he sent immediately & without ceremony had them cut down. Being asked why he took so extraordinary a step, "Because says he, I was perfectly sure if I had desired leave it would not have been granted me & as I would not for five hundred Pound have had them remain where they were I thought it the best way to cut them down which would effectualy prevent their hurting my Prospect for the future, & was very ready to pay any damages a Jury would award. However says he I came off much better than expected, for the Lady after a good deal of storming dropt the business, & being asked why she did so by a noble Lord gave for a reason that she had three Daughters to marry & was afraid if she provoked such a Man as Pope he would clap 'em into his next Satyr & spoil their Fortunes."—This circumstance tho' It did not reflect much credit upon the Relater as a Man of Civility & good nature yet it doubtless flatter'd that Vanity the Bard himself avows
Yes—I am proud—I must be proud—to see
Men not afraid of God afraid of me!
Turner's note: Mrs Cantrell [anec. 13] however who told it me some years ago has just circumstantially repeated it (Nov l780) & insists she heard Mr Pope tell it at Gyles [anec. 74] the booksellers just as here related—It is possible then that this may be the truth, & and he might chuse to vary a little in an Epigram he himself wrote upon it something about
Pope stark mad of gardens
Cut down three trees in value scarce three farthings
The anecdote contains an opening quotation mark, but no ending quotation mark, so I inserted the ending quotation mark where I thought proper.


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