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tions as we feel from Homer and Milton'; so that no man, of a true poetical spirit, is master of himself while he reads them. Hence he is a writer fit for universal perusal, and of general utility ; adapted to all ages and all stations; for the old and for the young ; the man of business and the scholar. He who would think, and there are many such, the Fairy Queen, Palamon and Arcite, the Tempest, or Comus, childish and romantic, may relish Pope. Surely it is no'narrow, nor invidious, nor niggardly encomium to say, he is the great Poet of Reason; the First of Ethical Authors in Verse; which he was by choice, not necessity." And this species of writing is, after all, the surest'road to an extensive and immediate reputation." It lies more level to the general capacities of men, than the higher flights of more exalted and genuine poetry. Waller was more applauded than the Paradise Lost ; and we all remember when Churchill was more in vogue than Gray.
We live in a reasoning and prosaic age. The forests of Fairy-land have been rooted up and destroyed'; the castles and the palaces of Fancy are in ruins'; the magic wand of Prospero is broken 'and buried many fathoms in the earth. Telemachus was so universally read' and admired in France, not so much on account of the poetical images and the fine imitations of Homer which it contained, but for the many artful and satirical allusions to the profligate court of Louis XIV. scattered up and down. He that treats of fashionable follies, and the topics of the day, that describes present persons and recent events, as
Dryden did in his Absalom and Achitophel, finds many readers, whose understandings and whose passions he gratifies, and who love politics far more than poetry.
The name of Chesterfield on one hand, and of Walpole on the other, failed not to make a Poem bought up, and talked of. And it cannot be doubted, that the Odes of Horace which celebrated, and the Satires which ridiculed, well-known and real characters at Rome, were more eagerly read, and more frequently cited, than the Æneid and the Georgic of Virgil. Malignant and insensible must be the critic, who should impotently dare to assert, that Pope wanted genius and imagination ; but perhaps it may safely be affirmed, that his peculiar and characteristical excellences were good sense and judgment. And this was the opinion of Atterbury and Bolingbroke; and it was also his own opinion. See in Volume Ninth, the Fifth and the Nineteenth Letters; particularly what he said to Warburton at the end of the latter.
If we consider him as a man, and examine his moral character impartially, we shall find that his predominant virtues seem to have been filial piety, and constancy in his friendships ; an ardent love of liberty and of his country, and what seemed to be its true interest; a manly detestation of court-flatterers and servility; a frugality, and economy, and order, in his house, and at his table; at the same time that his private charities were many and great ; of which Dodsley, whom he honoured with his friendship, and who partook of his beneficence, gave me several
instances. His revenue was about eight hundred pounds a year.
As to his religious opinions, though he would not publicly renounce the tenets of his family, from the fear of being reckoned an interested convert, yet he had too clear and solid an understanding, not to discern the gross absurdities, and glaring impieties of Popish superstition ; and once owned to Dr. Warburton, that he was convinced the Church of Rome had all the marks and signs of that Antichristian Power and Apostacy, so strongly painted and predicted in the New Testament. Which opinion Dr. Warburton himself was so zealous in establishing, that he founded a Lecture for Sermons to be annually preached at Lincoln's Inn Chapel, on this very subject; persuaded, like his excellent friend Dr. Balguy, that “Popery is indeed nothing better than a refined species of Paganism; and that, so far as this extends, the Gospel has failed of its genuine effect, and left men as it found them, Polytheists and Idolaters.” The approaching destruction of the Church of Rome, especially in a neighbouring kingdom, was thus remarkably foretold by the King of Prussia, 1777 : “Le Pape et les moines finiront sans doute ; leur chute ne sera pas l'ouvrage de la raison ; mais ils périront à mesure que les Finances des grandes potentates se dérangeront. En France, quand on aura epuisé tous les expédiens pour avoir des espèces, on sera forcé de seculariser des Abbayes et des Convens. Cet example sera imité, et le nombre des Cuculati reduit à
de chose.” Through the whole course of his life, Pope was firmly and unvariably convinced of the Being of a God, a Providence, and the Immortality of the Soul. Though perhaps, when he was writing under the guidance of Bolingbroke, he entertained some unhappy and ill-founded doubts concerning the truth of the Christian Dispensation.
I Am inclined to think that both the writers of books, and the readers of them, are generally not a little unreasonable in their expectations. The first seem to fancy the world must approve whatever they produce, and the latter imagine that authors are obliged to please them at any rate. Methinks, as on the one hand, no single man is born with a right of controlling the opinions of all the rest; so on the other, the world has no title to demand, that the whole care and time of any particular person
should be sacrificed to its entertainment. Therefore I cannot but believe that writers and readers are under
The clearness, the closeness, and the elegánce of style with which this preface is written, render it one of the best pieces of prose in our language. It abounds in strong good sense, and profound knowledge of life. It is written with such simplicity that scarcely a single metaphor is to be found in it. Atterbury was so delighted with it, that he tells our Author he had read it over twice with pleasure, and desired him not to balance a moment about printing it; “ always provided there is nothing said there that you may have occasion to unsay hereafter.” These words are remarkable. This preface far excels those of Pelisson, Vaugelas, and D'Ablancourt, of which the French boast so highly. May I be allowed just to add, that the finest prefaces ever 'written, were, perhaps, that of Thuanus to his History, of Calvin to his Institutes, and of Casaubon to his Polybius.