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LEXANDER POPE was born in London, May 22,
1688, of parents whose rank or station was never ascertained : : we are informed that they were of “gentle blood;" that his father was of a family of which the Earl of Downe was the head, and that his mother was the daughter of William Turner, Esq., of York, who had likewise three sons, one of whom had the honour of being killed, and another of dying, in the service of Charles I. ; the third was made a general officer in Spain, from whom the sister inherited what sequestrations and forfeitures had left in the family.
This, and this only, is told by Pope; who is more wiling, as I have heard observed, to shew what his father was not, than what he was. It is allowed that he grew rich by trade; but whether in a shop or on the Exchange was never discovered, till Mr. Tyers told, on the authority of Mrs. Racket, that he was a linen. draper in the Strand. Both parents were Papists.
Pope was from his birth of a constitution tender and delicate, but is said to have shewn remarkable gentleness and sweetness of disposition. The weakness of his body continued through his life, but the mildness of his mind perhaps ended with his childhood. His voice, when he was young, was so pleasing that he was called in fondness the “ little Nightingale.”