Who is Martha Blount, in relation to Alexander Pope?I've found she was possibly a lover and a literary friend but I need more detailed explanations. Possibly in coordination with "The Rape of the...

Who is Martha Blount, in relation to Alexander Pope?

I've found she was possibly a lover and a literary friend but I need more detailed explanations. Possibly in coordination with "The Rape of the Lock"

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Stephen Holliday | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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Pope seems to have been alternately infatuated or sincerely in love with both of the Blount sisters, Theresa and Martha, for many years during his adult life, but it seems to be Martha who was ultimately Pope's genuine love interest.

The Blount sisters were, like Pope, Catholics, but unlike Pope, they lived under the scrutiny of their mother and brother.  The fact that Pope was able to "court" them in letters and poetry is most likely the result of the Blounts' conviction that Pope was merely engaging in an intellectual "love" affair and had no serious intentions, and it is also likely that the Blounts (mother and brother) were flattered that a well-known poet would interest himself in their affairs.

After alternating his attentions between Theresa and Martha, Pope seems to have settled his genuine affections on Martha.  In November, 1714, Pope wrote a letter to Martha in which he said:

Most Divine! 'Tis some proof of my sincerity towards you that I write when I am prepared by drinking to speak the truth. . . Wine awakens and refreshes the lurking passions of the mind. . . .

Pope had gotten into the unfortunate habit of writing letters while "tipsy" (read, drunk), but this letter to Martha was a response to a letter from Martha addressed to Pope as "Dear Creature" and "my charming Mr. Pope," certainly terms that encouraged Pope's belief that Martha was attracted to him.

Pope's relationship with Martha Blount was generally a puzzle to Pope's friends, and several of his close friends actually thought that Martha was perhaps his wife (unacknowledged) or his mistress because she had been a correspondent of his for so long, and their relationship seemed to be "comfortable" and close.

Pope was, however, despite some of his libertine verses, essentially a moralist and a fairly strict Catholic, and there is ultimately not much evidence that Pope and Martha Blount were more than very good platonic friends.  They had a long history together, Martha is reputed to have been very even-tempered and generous, so there is every reason to believe that their friendship was close but not romantic.

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