ページの画像
PDF
ePub

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 imagination, nor clouded his perfpicacity. 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 were too eager to be always cautious. His abilities gave him an 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 adyocate the wishes of some who favoured the cause. He seems to have adopted the Roman Emperor's 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 di&tion 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 cells Concanen, Dryden I observe borrows for want

of leasure, and Pope for want of genius : Milton out of pride, and Addison out of woode!!!" And when

F 2

Theobald

Thcobald published Shakespeare, in opposition to Pope, the best notes were supplied by Warburton.

But the tiine 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 may be supposed that his union with Pope was censured as hypocritical inconftancy; 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 reason for changing his mind about questions of greater importance ?

Warburton, whatever was his motive, undertook, without folicitation, 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 Ejay 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 :

[ocr errors]

• The commencement of the acquaintance between Pope and Warburton was accidental: it began at the bookseller's Thop at the corner of the Inner Temple-lane, which they happened to enter at the same inftant.

“SIR,

[ocr errors]

« SIR,

March 24, 1743“ I have juft received from Mr. R. two more of

your Letters. It is in the greatest hurry imaginable “ that I write this; but I cannot help thanking you in

particular for your third Letter, which is fo ex

tremely clear, short, and full, that I think Mr. “ Crousaz ought never to have another anfwer, and “ deferved not so good an one.

I can only say, you “ do him too much honour, and me too much right, “ fo odd as the expression feems; for you have made

my system as clear as I ought to have done, and “ could not. It is indeed the fame fyftem as mine, " but illustrated with a ray of your own, as they fay “our natural body is the fame still when it is glorified. « I am sure I like it better than I did before, and fo “ will every man elfe. I know I meant just what you “ explain ; but I did not explain my own meaning fo “ well as you. You understand me as well as I do my“ felf; but you express me better than I could express “ myself. Pray accept the fincereft acknowledge

ments. I cannot but with these Letters were put together in one Book, and intend (with your leave)

to procure a translation of part, at least, 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 truth.

It is known that Bolingbroke concealed from Popa 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 meaning 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.

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 nicce 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 thoufand pounds.

Pope's fondness for the Ejay 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 Efray into Latin prose; þut 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 miscon

duct

duct 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 obliged to reward, by this exertion of his intereft, for the benefit which he had received from his attendance in a long illness.

It was said, that, when the Court was at Richinond, 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 foon 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 left he should be thought to 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 fystem of morality, supposed to be contained in the Esay 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 fome incidents 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 pompous enumeration of his publick works and private

* Spence.
F 4

charities,

« 前へ次へ »