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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 feem to have been filial piety, and constancy in his friendships ; an ardent love of liberty and of his country, and what seemed be to 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 feveral instances. His revenue was about eight hundred pounds a year. i 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 sub. ject; persuaded, like his excellent friend Dr. Balguy,
that “Popery is indeed nothing better than a refined “ fpecies of Paganism; and that, so far as this ex« tends, 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 Pruffia, 1777:' “ Le Pape & les moines finiront fans “ doute ; leur chute ne sera pas l'ouvrage de la rai« fon; mais ils périeront 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 Ab“ bayes & des Convens. Cet example sera imité, 66 & le nombre des Cuculati reduit à peu de chose.” s 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 fome unhappy and ill-founded doubts concerning the truth of the Christian Dispensation.
THE AUTHOR'S PREFACE*.
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 to 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 controuling 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 equal
* The clearness, the closeness, and the elegance 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 fimplicity 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, werç, perhaps, that of Thuanus to his History, of Calvin to his Institutes, and of Caufabon to his Polybius. VOL. I.
obligations, for as much fame, or pleasure, as each affords the other."
Every one acknowledges, it would be a wild notion to expect perfection in any work of man: and yet one would think the contrary was taken for granted, by the judgment commonly past upon Poems. A Critic fuppofes he has done his part, if he proves a writer to have failed in an expreffion, or erred in any particular point: and can it then be wondered at, if the Poets in general seem resolved not to own themselves in any error ? For as long as one fide will make no allowances, the other will be brought to no acknowledgments *.
I am afraid this extreme zeal on both sides is ill-placed ; Poetry and Criticism being by no means the universal concern of the world, but only the affair of idle men who write in their closets, and of idle men who read there.
Yet sure, upon the whole, a bad Author deserves better usage than a bad Critic: for a Writer's endeavour, for the most part, is to please his Readers, and he fails merely through the misfortune of an ill judgment; but such a Critic's is to put them out of
* In the former editions it was thus-For as long as one fide despises a well-meant endeavour, the other will not be satisfied with a moderate approbation.- But the Author altered it, as these words were rather a consequence from the conclusion he would draw, than the conclufion itself, which he has now inserted. W.
humour; a design he could never go upon without both that and an ill temper.
I think a good deal may be said to extenuate the fault of bad Poets. What we call a Genius, is hard to be distinguished by a man himself, from a strong inclination : and if his genius be ever so great, he cannot at first discover it any other way, than by giving way to that prevalent propensity which renders him the more liable to be mistaken. The only method he has is to make the experiment by writing, and appealing to the judgment of others : now if he happens to write ill, (which is certainly no fin in itself), he is immediately made an object of ridicule. I wilh we had the humanity to reflect that even the worst authors might, in their endeavour to please us, deserve something at our hands. We have no caufe to quarrel with them but for their obftinacy in persisting to write ; and this too may admit of alleviating circumstances. Their particular friends may be either ignorant, or insincere; and the rest of the world in general is too well-bred to shock them with a truth, which generally their Bookfellers are the first that inform them of. This happens not till they have spent too much of their time to apply to any profession which might better fit their talents ; and till such talents as they have are so far discredited as to be but of small service to them. For (what is the hardest case imaginable) the reputation of a man generally depends upon the first steps he makes in the B 2