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His incessant vigilance for the promotion of piety disposed him to look with distrust upon all metaphysical systems of Theology, and all schemes of virtue and happiness purely rational ; and therefore it was not long before he was persuaded that the positions of Pope, as they terminated for the most part in natural religion, were intended to draw mankind a way from Tevelation, and to represent the whole course of things as a necessary concatenation of indissoluble fatality; and it is undeniable, that in many passages a religious eye may easily discover expressions not very favourable to morals, or to liberty.
About this time Warburton began to make his appearance in the first ranks of learning. He was a man of vigorous faculties, a mind fervid and vehement, supplied by incessant and unlimited enquiry, with wonderful extent and variety of knowledge, which yet had not oppressed his immagination, nor clouded his perspicacity. To every work he brought a memory full fraught, together with a fancy fertile of original combinations, and at once exerted the powers of the scholar, the reasoner, and the wit. But his knowledge was too multifarious to be always exact, and his pursuits too cager to be always cautious. His abilities gave him a haughty confidence, which he disdained to conceal or mollify; and his impatience of opposition disposed him to treat his adversaries with such contemptuous superiority as made his readers commonly his enemies, and excited against the advocate the wishes of some who favoured the cause. He seems to have adopted the Roman Emperors determination, oderint dum metuant ; he used no allurements of gentle language, but wished to compel rather than persuade.
His style is copious without selection, and forcible without neatness; he took the words that presented themselves: his diction is coarse and impure, and his sentences are unmeasured.
He had, in the early part of his life, pleased himself with the notice of inferior wits, and corresponded with the enemies of Pope. A Letter was produced, when he had perhaps himself forgotten it, in which he tells Concanen, “ Dryden I observe borrows for want of leisure, and Pope for want
of genius : Milton out of pride, and Addison out of modesty." And when Theobald published “Shakspeare," in opposition to Pope, the best notes were supplied by Warburton.
But the time was now come when Warburton was to change his opinion; and Pope was to find a defender in him who had contributed so much to the exaltation of his rival.
The arrogance of Warburton excited against him every artifice of offence and therefore it inust be supposed that his union with Pope was censured as hypocritical inconstancy ; but surely to think differently, at different times, of poetical merit, may be easily allowed. Such opinions are often admitted, and dismissed, without nice examination. Who is there that has not found Teason for changing his mind about questions of greater importance ?
Warburton, whatever was his motive, undertook, without solicitation, to rescue Pope from the talons of Crousaz, by freeing him from the imputation of favouring fatality, or rejecting revelation ; and from month to month continued a vindication of the " Essay on Man," in the literary journal of that time called “ The Republick of Letters.”
Pope, who probably began to doubt the tendency of his own work, was glad that the positions, of which he perceived himself not to know the full meaning, could by any mode of interpretation be made to mean well. How much he was pleased with his gratuitous defender, the following Letter evidently shews : “SIR,
April 11, 1739. “I have just received from Mr. R. two more of your Letters. It is in k the greatest hurry imaginable that I write this; but I cannot help thanking
you in particular for your third Letter, which is so extremely clear, short " and full
, that I think Mr. Crousaż ought never to have another answer, " and deserved not so good an one. I can only say, you do him too much “ honour, and me too much right, so odd as the'expression seems ; for you " have made my system as clear as I ought to have done, and could not. " It is indeed the same system as mine, but illustrated with a ray of your
own, as they say our natural body is the same still when it is glorified " I am sure I like it better than I did before, and so will every man else. “ I know I meant just what you explain; but I did not explain my own
meaning soʻwell as you. You understand me as well as I do myself; but
you express me better than I could express myself. Pray accept the sin“ Cerest acknowledgements. I cannot but wish these Letters were put together ** in one Book, and intend (with your leave) to procure a translation of
part at least, or of all of them into French ; but I shall not proceed a step "; without your consent and opinion, &c.
By this fond and eager acceptance of an exculpatory comment, Pope testified that, whatever might be the seeming or real import of the principles which he had received from Bolingbroke, he had not intentionally attacked religion ; and Bolingbroke, if he meant to make him without his own consent an instrument of mischief, found him now engaged, with his eyes open on the side of truih.
It is known that Bolingbroke concealed from Pope his real opinions. He once discovered them to Mr. Hooke, who related them again to Pope, and was told by him that he must have mistaken the meaniog of what he heard; and Bolingbroke, when Pope's uneasiness incited him to desire an explanation, declared that Hooke had misunderstood him.
Bolingbroke hated Warburton, who had drawn his pupil from him; and a little before Pope's death they had a dispute, from which they parted with mutual aversion. VOL. I. 3 Z
From this time Pope lived in the closest intimacy with his commentator, and amply rewarded his kindness and his zeal; for he introduced him to Mr. Murray, by whose interest he became preacher at Lincoln's-Inn, and to Mr. Allen, who gave him his niece and his estate, and by consequence a bishoprick. When he died, he left him the property of his works; a legacy which may be reasonably estimated at four thousand pounds.
Pope's fondness for the “Essay on Man” appeared by his desire of its propagation. Dobson, who had gained reputation by his version of Prior's “ Solomon,” was employed by him to translate it into Latin verse, and was for that purpose some time at Twickenham; but he left his work, whatever was the reason, unfinished; and, by Benson's invitation, undertook the longer task of “ Paradise Lost." Pope then desired his friend to find a scholar who should turn his Essay into Latin prose; but no such performance has ever appeared.
Pope lived at this time among the Great, with that reception and respect to which his works entitled him, and which he had not impaired by any private misconduct or factious partiality. Though Bolingbroke was his friend, Walpole was not his enemy; but treated him with so much consideration as, at his request, to solicit and obtain from the French Minister, an abbey for Mr. Southcot, whom he considered himself as cbliged to reward, by this exertion of his interest, for the benefit which he had received from his 'attendance in a long illness. • It was said, that, when the Court was at Richmond, Queen Caroline had declared her intention to visit him. This may have been only a careless effusion, thought on no more: the report of such notice, however, was 'soon in many mouths; and, if I do not forget or misapprehend Savage's account, Pope, pretending to decline what was not yet offered, left his 'house for a time, not, I suppose, for any other reason than lest he should be thought stay at home in expectation of an honour which would not be conferred. He was therefore angry at Swift, who represents him as
refusing the visits of a Queen,” because he knew that what had never been offered had never been refused.
Beside the general system of morality, supposed to be contained in the << Essay on Man," it was his intention to write distinct poems upon the different duties or conditions of life; one of which is the Epistle to Lord Bathurst (1733) on the “Use of Riches," a piece on which he declared great labour to have been bestowed*.
Into this poem some hints are historically thrown, and some known characters are introduced, with others of which it is difficult to say how far they are 'real or fictitious; but the praise of Kyrl, the Man of Ross, deserves particular examination, who, after a long and pon pous enumeration of his publick
works and private charities, is said to have diffused all those blessings from five hundred a year. Wonders are willingly told, and willingly heard. The truth is, that Kyrl was a man of known integrity, and active' benevolence,, by whose solicitation the wealthy were persuaded to pay contributions to his charitable schemes ; this influence he obtained by an example of liberality exerted to the utinost extent of his power, and was thus enabled to give more than he had. This account Mr. Victor received from the minister of the place; and I have preserved it, that the praise of a good man, being made more credible, may be more, solid, Narrations of romantick and impracticable virtue will be read with wonder, but that which is unattaina ble is recommended in vain; that good may be endeavoured, it must be shewn to be possible.
This is the only piece in which the author has given a hint of his reli-, gion, by ridiculing the ceremony of burning the pope, and by mentioning with some indignation the inscription on the Monument.
When this poem was first published, the dialogue, having no letters of direction, was perplexed and obscure. Pope seems to have written with no very distinct idea; for he calls that an “ Epistle to Bathurst, in which Bathurst is introduced as speaking.
He afterwards (1734) inscribed to Lord Cobham his “ Characters of "Men,” written with close attention to the operations of the mind and modifications of life. In this poem he has endeavoured to establish and exemplify his favourite theory of the Ruling Passion, by which he means an original direction of desire to sone particular object, an innate affection which gives all action a determinate and invariable tendency, and operates, upon the whole system of life, either openly, or more secretly by the intervention of some accidental or subordinate propension.
Of any passion, thus innate and irresistible, the existence may reasonably be doubted. Human characters are by no means constant; men change by. change of place, of fortune, of acquaintance; he who is at one time a lover of pleasure, is at another a lover of money. Those indeed who attain any excellence commonly spend life in one pursuit; for excellence is not often gained upon easier terms. But to the particular species of excellence men are direcied, nor by an ascendant planet or predominating huinour, but by the first book which they read, some early conversation which they heard, or some accident which excited ardour and emulation.
It must he at least allowed that this ruling Pussion, antecedent to reason and observation, must have an object independent on human contrivance ; for there can be no natural desire of artificial good. No man therea føre can be born, in the strict acceptation, a lover of money; for he may be born where money does not exist; nor can he be born, in a moral sense, a lover of his country; for society, politically regulated, is a state contra-distinguished from a state of nature; and any attention to that coalition of
interests which makes the happiness of a country is possible only to those whom enquiry and reflection have enabled to comprehend it.
This doctrine is in itself pernicious as well as false ; its tendency is to produce the belief of a kind of moral predestination, or over-ruling principle which cannot be resisted; he that admits it is prepared to comply with every desire that caprice or opportunity shall excite, and to flatter himself that he submits only to the lawful dominion of Nature, in obeying the resistless authority of his ruling Passion.
Pope has formed his theory with so little skill, that, in the examples by which he illustrates and confirms it, he has confounded passions, appetites, and habits.
To the “ Characters of Men” he added soon after, in an Epistle supposed to have been addressed to Martha Blount, but which the last edition has taken from her, the “Characters of Women.” This poem, which was laboured with great diligence, and in the author's opinion with great success, was neglected at its first publication, as the commentator supposes, because the publick was informed, by an advertisement, that it contained na ChaTacter drawn from the Life; an assertion which Pope probably did not expect or wish to have been believed, and which he soon gave his reader's sufficient reason to distrust, by telling them in a note that the work was imperfect, because part of his subject was Vice too high to be yet exposed.
The time however soon came, in which it was safe to display the Dutchess of Marlborough under the name of Atossa; and her character was inserted with no great honour to the writer's gratitude.
He published from time to time (between 1730 and 1740) Imitations of different poems of Horace, generally with his name, and once as was suspected without it. What he was upon moral principles ashamed to own, he ought to have suppressed. Of these pieces it is useless to settle the dates, as they had seldom much relation to the times, and perhaps had been long in his hands.
This mode of imitation, in which the ancients are familiarised, by adopting their sentiments to modern topicks, by making Horace say of Shake speare what he originally said of Ennius, and accommodating his satires on Pantolabus and Nomentanus to the flatterers and prodigals of our own time, was first practised in the reign of Charles the Second by Oldham and Rochester, at least I remember no instances more ancient. It is a kind of middle composition between translation and original design, which pleases when the thoughts are unexpectedly applicable, and the parallels lucky. It seems to have been Pope's favourite amusement; for he has carried it further than any former poet.
Ile published likewise a revival, in smoother numbers, of Dr. Donne's Satires, which was recommended to him by the Duke of Shrewsbury and the