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“POPE's last Satires of the general kind were two Dialogues, named, from the year in which they were published, 'Seventeen Hundred and Thirty-eight.' In these poems many are praised and many are reproached. Pope was then entangled in the Opposition; a follower of the Prince of Wales, who dined at his house, and the friend of many who obstructed and censured the conduct of the Ministers. His political partiality was too plainly shown; he forgot the prudence with which he passed, in his earlier years, uninjured and unoffending through much more violent conflicts of faction."-JOHNSON.
“ By long habit of writing, and almost constantly in one sort of measure, he had now arrived at a happy and elegant familiarity of style, without flatness. The satire in these pieces is of the strongest kind; sometimes, direct and declamatory, at others, ironical and oblique. It must be owned to be carried to excess. Our country is represented as totally ruined, and overwhelmed with dissipation, depravity, and corruption. Yet this very country, so emasculated and debased by every species of folly and wickedness, in about twenty years afterwards, carried its triumphs over all its enemies, through all the quarters of the world, and astonished the most distant nations with a display of uncommon efforts, abilities, and virtue. So vain and groundless are the prognostications of poets as well as politicians.”—WARTON.
“ From the conclusion of this Satire, which is highly poetical and animated, one might suppose that there was neither honesty, honour, public spirit, nor virtue, in the nation. We should, however, always keep in mind the agitated state of Parties at the time. Tories, Jacobites, disappointed Whigs, all under the name of Patriot, united in one cry against the administration of Walpole, who most truly deserved that distinguished appellation, and by whose firmness, wisdom, and integrity, under Providence, the Protestant succession was in great measure sustained, in the most trying periods, and with it our laws and liberties.
“But whatever may be said of the political, of the poetical part, particularly the description of vice, and the noble conclusion, there can be but one opinion. More dignified and impressive numbers, more lofty indignation, more animated appeals, and more rich personifications never adorned the page of the satiric muse."-BOWLES.
“ As it was the object of the poet, in his Dunciad, to excite his countrymen to exert themselves in the defence and promotion of true taste and sound learning, so, in the following pieces, it is his intention to rouse them to a due sense of their own rights and dignity as a people, to shew them the dangers by which they were surrounded, to exhibit vice and corruption in the darkest colours, and thereby to stimulate them to the attainment of public integrity, honour, and virtue. This, however, is not the light in which these Dialogues seem to have been regarded by his later editors, and particularly by Dr. Warton, who conceives that 'the satire is carried to excess,' and that the prognostications of ruin to the country were vain and groundless; for that in about twenty years afterwards it carried its triumphs over all its enemies, through all quarters of the world.' On this it may be observed, that the prognostications of the poet were founded on the political depravity and corruption which he saw around him, and are in fair construction to be considered only as warnings, or denunciations, to apprize his contemporaries, that if they did not act upon higher motives and better principles, and oppose themselves to the torrent, vice would be finally triumphant, would
lift her scarlet head, And see pale virtue carted in her stead.
“From the conclusion of this (the first) Satire,' says Mr. Bowles, 'one might suppose that there was neither honesty, honour, public spirit, nor virtue in the nation.' But this is to take in a literal what the poet meant should be taken only in a hypothetical sense, and to consider a poetical exaggeration as intended for a serious truth. The object of the poet is more decidedly manifested in his second Dialogue, in which he has celebrated numerous instances of public and private virtue, and has declared it to be his intention,
* To rouse the watchmen of the public weal,
“ In short, he avows his resolution to persevere in his purpose
* Till all but truth drops still-born from the press,
“ What effect was, in fact, produced by the remonstrances of the poot upon the manners and morals of his countrymen, and what share he may have had in attaining that great improvement and better state of things which we are informed took place some years afterwards, it would not be an easy task to ascertain ; but that these Dialogues forcibly exhibit
• The strong antipathy of good to bad ;'
that they inculcate high and generous sentiments of public virtue and independence, and an abhorrence of political profligacy and of low and degrading pursuits, no one will be found to deny."— Roscoe.
Johnson's remarks on these Satires, originally published under the title Seventeen Hundred and Thirty-eight, are interesting from
their tone of reserve and superiority. Considering that his London was produced on the same day as the first Dialogue; that it was warmly praised by Pope, and that it abounded in the party spirit which Johnson sooms inclined to blame in the Epilogue, we should have expected from the critic a little more sympathy and appreciation. As a matter of fact, Pope had been “entangled in the Opposition since Bolingbroke's return from France, and his political principles were in great measure the fruits of the philosophical instruction which he had received from that statesman. When Johnson says that Pope" forgot the prudence with which he had passed his earlier years," he overlooks the great change which had occurred in the poet's circumstances. Between 1714 and 1725 the latter was laboriously building up his fortunes by his translation of Homer; and even if he had bad leisure to indulge his political preferences, the Opposition in George I.'s reign was in too disorganised a state to offer any scope for poetical treatment. But on the accession of George II., Pope's independence was secured, while the anti-Ministerial party, directed by the genius of Bolingbroke and the experience of Pulteney, were eloquent on subjects well calculated to rouse a naturally warm imagination.
Warton and Bowles are right in attributing the heat of these Satires to party spirit, and Roscoe here, as elsewhere, is betrayed into misunderstandings by his fixed resolution to take Pope's virtues exactly at the poet's own valuation. If we were to accept the picture of the age as painted by Pope in the first of these two Dialogues, we should have to regard the Law and the Church as utterly corrupted, Liberty annihilated, Patriotism extinct; in a word, "nothing is sacred now but villainy"; and nothing is bright amidst the general darkness but the moral figure of the poet:
Yet may this verse (if such a verse remain)
And this judgment we are to believe is trustworthy, as coming from an impartial spectator—for so he describes himself elsewhere :
Papist or Protestant, or both between,
Imitation of Horace, Satires, 2, 1, 65. This boasted "moderation” imposes upon Roscoe, who heads the Ninth Chapter of his Life of the Poet, “Impartiality of Pope's Political Attachments,” and says:
“ These attachments, it may be said, were pretty equally divided between the great contending parties of Whig and Tory. Whilst on the one hand he kept up his connection with Wyndham and Boling
broke, Cobham and Bathurst, he maintained on the other the same friendly intercourse with Pulteney, Lyttelton, and Chesterfield."
These remarks betray a strange ignorance of the politics of the period, as well as of the motives of individual statesmen : they are also founded on a complete misconception of Pope's character. The poet no doubt liked to think of himself as superior to sect in religion and to faction in politics. But in respect of esprit de corps, he was a staunch adherent both of his church and of his party. He made no response to the endeavours of Atterbury for his confersion. On the contrary, his hostility to the Church of England became more active as he grew older, and he rarely neglected the opportunity of a stroke at a bishop or a church dignitary, particularly if these happened to be Whigs. So in his politics. He seldom praises a Ministerial Whig (Craggs and Pelham were exceptions) but for the purpose of reflecting credit on himself, as in his allusions to his early intimacy with Somers and Halifax; or of discrediting the Court, as when he compliments Jekyll on his fidelity to the old Whig principles, which the Ministerialists had turned into ridicule. When he eulogises Addison as a writer, he takes exception to his “courtly stains.” His most poignant sarcasms are levelled at Marlborough, Hervey, Devonshire, Selkirk, Dodington, and others, all prominent members of the Whig party. A graceful personal compliment is paid to Walpole in return for the favour he had conferred on the poet's friend, Southcote; but it is soon after balanced by a bitter sneer at the Minister's conjugal relations. The Tory leaders, on the other hand, are the constant theme of Pope's praise, and I do not remember a single stroke of satire aimed at a member of that party, except in the unfinished piece called Seventeen Hundred and Forty. As for his compliments to Pulteney, Chesterfield, Cobham, and Lyttelton, on which Roscoe (who, by the way, seems to have fancied Cobham to have been a Tory) relies, it is obvious that they are paid not to the Whig principles of those statesmen, but to their energy as members of the combined Opposition.
It has been already said that Pope's politics as well as his philosophy were derived from Bolingbroke. Whoever wishes thoroughly to understand the spirit of the Epilogue to the Satires should read Bolingbroke's Dissertation upon Parties: in that treatise will be found the political groundwork of Pope's glowing rhetoric, just as the philosophical principles of Bolingbroke are found underlying the poetical fabric of the Essay on Man. The following extracts will show how completely the poet had imbibed the spirit of his master. Bolingbroke ascribing the evils of his time to the substitution of the system of indirect influence for the direct exercise of prerogative, says:
“As the means of influencing by prerogative and governing by force were considered to be increased formerly upon every increase of power to the Crown, so are the means of influencing by money, and
of governing by corruption, to be considered as increased now upon that increase of power which hath accrued to the Crown by the new constitution of the revenue since the revolution."
He proceeds to describe the probable consequences of this corrupting influence :
“ Britain will then be in that very condition in which, and in which alone, her constitution, and her liberty by consequence, may be destroyed; because the people may, in a state of universal corruption, and will in no other, either suffer others to betray them or betray themselves. How near a progress we have made towards this state, I determine not. This I say, it is time for every man who is desirous to preserve the British Constitution, and to preserve it secure, to contribute all he can to prevent the ill effects of that new influence and power, which hath gained strength in every reign since the revolution; of those means of corruption which may be employed, one time or other, on the part of the Crown, and of that proneness to corruption on the part of the people, that hath been long growing, and still grows. It
may otherwise happen that these causes remaining in force, their effects will become too strong to be checked, and will ensure the ruin of the best constitution upon earth, whenever the men in power, shall think their grandeur, or their safety, concerned in the ruin of it. We are not exposed, at present, most certainly, to any such contingency, but the bare possibility of being so is a reason sufficient to awaken and alarm every honest man. Hath not overy such man, indeed, reason to be alarmed when he hears the cause of corruption publicly pleaded, and when men are suffered, nay paid by somebody or other, to plead this unrighteous cause as if it was that of our most righteous government?"
The remedy for this provailing corruption was, according to Bolingbroke, to be found in the appearance of a Patriot King, ruling with the consent, and by means of the affections, of his subjects.
“ There is," said he in his Idea of a Patriot King, “no eligible remedy that can so surely and effectually restore the Virtue and Public Spirit essential to the preservation of Liberty, and well nigh lost even in Europe, as the reign of a good and wise Prince. And let me say that it is in Britain alone, and in no other part of Europe that we can expect that most uncommon of all Phenomena in the Physical or Moral World, I mean a Patriot King, to arise. Nil oriturum alias, nil ortum tale fatentes.”
Now it must be admitted that Bolingbroke's Monarchical idea of the English Constitution, which in many respects resembles that expounded by Swift in his letter to Pope of 10th January, 1721, has a much stronger foundation in reason than the old Whig Theory as defined by Burke in his Thoughts on the present Discontents. But it is not less certain that such political views as he put forward in the