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had been caressed and patronised, who can wonder at his unmerciful severity towards the objects of his satirical fury? While the keenness of his wit, the force of his descriptions, and the strength of the colouring, render these productions of his Muse still attractive, the upright and benevolent mind cannot but look upon the author as a man actuated by the worst of passions and exercising his great talents, not to expose vice and folly, but to make individuals odious. That his motive in the composition and publication of his satires, was to make a pecuniary advantage of the wanton and vicious taste of the publick, is certain from the circumstance of his drawing the character of the Duchess of Marlborough, under the appellation of Atossa, and accepting a bribe of two thousand pounds for the suppression of it, notwithstanding which it was afterwards printed.
That a writer of such a spirit should be attacked in his turn was natural; he had raised a host of enemies, who assailed him in a variety of pamphlets, which Pope caused to be bound up in folio, quarto, and octavo volumes according to their sizes, and prefixing to each this motto from Job, “Oh! that mine adversary had written a book.”
He was remarkably fond of scriptural allusions, but for the most part his applications of them are justly chargeable with levity and profaneness. Thus, in his “ Rape of the Lock,” where he is describing a card table, what cạn be more shock
ing than the following parody of a sublime passage in the Mosaick History of the Creation?
The skilful nymph reviews her force with care,
Nor is his famous epitaph upon Sir Isaac Newton less exceptionable :
Nature and Nature's laws lay hid in night,
This extravagant hyperbole has been well ridiculed in an epigram by a young writer, who has given only the initials of his name.
If Newton's existence enlighten'd the whole,
The religious sentiments of Pope, are not easily to be ascertained. At the request of Steele indeed, he wrote that beautiful devotional soliloquy, “The dying Christian to his Soul,” but in afterlife he turned Bolingbroke's system into an elegant poem under the title of “An Essay on Man,"|
* Dr. Percival's Moral and Literary Dissertations, p. 153,
+ Soon after the appearance of the first part of this poem, which came out without a name, one Morris, who had attempted some things in the poetical way, particularly a piece 2 G 4
in which he has gilded over the pernicious principles of fatalisin, and represented indifference to all religion, as at least justifiable. Warburton, indeed, laboured very pompously to free the poem from this charge, and to vindicate the author's intentions, but his commentary is at variance with the text, and all that can be said for the poet is, that probably he did not understand the doctrine which he has adorned by the sweetness of his vumbers.
Warburton's officious zeal in the defence of the Essay, brought him aquainted with the author, and this friendship was of the utmost advantage
for musick, which was performed in private before some of the royal family, accidentally paid a visit to Mr. Pope, who enquired of him what news in the learned world, and what new pieces were brought forth? Morris replied, that there was little or nothing, but that there was a thing just come out called “ An Essay on Man, the first epistle,” threatening more, fur lie had read it, and it was a most abominat le piece of stuff, shocking poetry, insufferable philosophy, no coherence, nor tbe least connection. “If I had thought," said he, “that you had not seen it, I would have brought it with me." Upon tbis, Mr. Pope frankly told him, “ that he had seen it before it went to press, for it was his own writing, a work of years and the poetry such as he thought proper for the expression of
the subject ; on which side he did not imagine he would ever ' have been attacked, especially by any pretending to knowe. ledge in the harmony of numbers.”
This was like a clap of thunder to the critick; he reached his hai, and with a blush and a bow, took bis leave of Mr. Pope, and never ventured to siew his face before him again.
to him, and paved the way for his future preferments.* Pope also left him at his death, which
* The character of this celebrated prelate, and controversial writer, has been magnified far beyond its due value. He had a most tenacious memory, and his reading was multifarious; but his style is rough, and bis reasoning often contemptible. He dealt much in paradoxes, which he defended with as much zeal as if he knew them to be truths, His treatment of those who differed from him, though scholars possessing infinitely a greater compass of learning than ever he could pretend to, was insufferably rude and disgusting. The history of his connection with Pope, is far from being honourable to his memory. Warburton was at first one of the club of little authors, who were confederated against Pope's reputation, but when he found that the patronage of the poet would be of essential service to his interests, he became the defender of bis paradoxes, and the flatterer of his caprices. This brought him into Mr. Allen's family, and procured him a prebendal stall at Durham, the deanry of Bristol, and ultimately the bishoprick of Gloucester. The literary character of Warburton, however, is fallen, nor will the grateful monument erected to prop it up by the venerable bishop of Worcester preserve it from oblivion.
One of the keenest of. Warburton's antagonists thus charac terized him :
'THE SCUTTLE FISH.
Criticks, who nature's depths explore,
Tell us she still in pairs increases,
Its very counterpart, like leases.
happened May 30th, 1744, the copy-right of his works, a bequest of considerable value.
There is a queer fish and a cunning,
Which when his adversary traps him,
And in the dirty cloud escapes him.
By Stebbing, Wingfield, Sykes pursued.
With scholar's learning, critick's art,
Just so escapes the counterpart.
This counterpart is called th' ink-sh- 1,
In Latin Warburtonus noster,
Div'd in Fleet-ditch, and rose in Glos'ter.
Early in life, Warburton was introduced to the great cri. tick, Dr. Bentley, and when he was gone, a friend asked the doctor, “ what he thought of him ?"-"He appears to me," replied Bentley, “ to have a great appetite for learning, but no digestion.”
He did not lose the coarseness of his manners after his advancement to the episcopal bench. Being at Cirencester, on a confirmation, he was displeased with the elbow chair and cushion placed for him at the altar, and in the style of a lawyer, rather than that of a bishop, he said ta the churchwarden, in the face of the congregation, “I suppose, Sir, the fattest butcher in your town has sat in this chair, and the most violent methodist preacher bumped this cushion.”
In the management of his controversies, no writer was ever more dishonest and overbearing. He garbled his quotations to serve his purposes, and answered those who confuted him, calling them names.