24 Pages

(i) Twickenham 26

By(j) Shakespeare

With the funds earned from this monumental achievement, Pope set about creating for himself an equally visible monument to inhabit. After considering building himself a house on some of Burlington’s land in London, inadvisable because of anti-Catholic legislation, he had settled down river at Twickenham in early 1719, leasing a five-acre estate from Thomas Vernon. This relatively modest estate in a semi-rural setting but with good river and road connections to the capital served Pope’s needs well; it was the first house which he was master of, and was to remain his home, and a vital element in his conception of himself, until his death. He remodelled the existing house along newly-fashionable Palladian or neoclassical lines, with a main block on three floors flanked by two-storey wings. Balconies gave good views over the Thames, which ran by at the foot of a sloping lawn. A passage ran under the house, and under the road between London and Hampton Court, to the main garden, which measured about 250 by 100 yards. The whole plot was slightly larger than Pope estimated the gardens of Alcinous to be, in his translation of that section of Homer’s Odyssey (PW I: 147).