August 23rd, 2003


Random 270-year-old irony....

From the Oxford dictionary of quotations:

"Matters of fact, which as Mr. Budgell somewhere observes, are very stubborn things." --Will of Matthew Tindal, Matthew Tindal (1733).

Now, it's an interesting quote, if somewhat pedestrian. It becomes somewhat more odd when one ponders the question of exactly why Mr. Tindal was reflecting on this in his will. Sufficently odd that I decided it merited a Google search to see if I could find context.

The context I found vaults this well into the range of significant irony: it seems that, upon Tindal's death, a will was found which left some 2100 pounds -- the majority of his estate -- to Eustace Budgell. This was contested by Tindal's favorite nephew, and the court decided that the will in question had, in fact, been written by Budgell himself. I can only conclude that this is the Budgell mentioned in the quote, and that (as it is in the will in question) he himself is the author of it.

Matters of this sort of fact being indeed stubborn things, Budgell was significantly disgraced (and eventually jumped into the Thames after filling his pockets with stones), and was immortalized as a couplet in Alexander Pope's Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot, being the Prologue to the Satires: "Let Budgell charge low Grub street, on my quill, / And write whate'er he pleas'd, except his Will."