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date lay open to themselves, and of which, by whatever accident exposed, they do not shun a distinct and continued view; and; certainly, what we hide from ourselves we do not fhew to our friends. There is, indeed, no tranfaction which offers stronger temptations to fallacy and sophistication than epistolary intercourse. In the eagerness of conversation the firit emotions of the mind often burst out, before they are considered; in the tumult of business, interest and passion have their genuine effect; but a friendly Letter is a calm and deliberate performance, in the cool of leisure, in the stillness of folitude, and surely no man fits down to depreciate by design his own character.
Friendship has no tendency to secure veracity; for by whom can a man so much wish to be thought better than he his, as by him whose kindness he desires to gain or keep? Even in writing to the world there is less constraint; the author is not confronted with his reader; and takes his chance of approbation among the different dispositions of mankind; but a Letter is addrefled to a single mind, of which the prejudices and partialities are known; and must therefore please, if not by favouring them, by fotbearing to oppose them.
To charge those favourable representations, which men give of their own minds, with the guilt of hy: pocritical falsehood, would thew more severity than knowledge. The writer commonly believes himself. Almost every man's thoughts, while they are general, are right; and most hearts are pure, while temptation is away. It is easy to awaken generous sentiments in privacy; to despise death when there is no danger; to glow with benevolence when there is nothing to be VOL. IV.
given. While such ideas are formed they are felt, and felf-love does not suspect the gleam of virtue to be the meteor of fancy.
If the Letters of Pope are considered merely as compositions, they seem to be premeditated and artificial. It is one thing to write, because there is something which the mind wishes to discharge ; and another, to solicit the imagination, because ceremony or vanity requires something to be written. Pope confesses his early Letters to be vitiated with affcctation and ambition: to know whether he difentangled himself from these perverters of epistolary integrity, his book and his life must be set in comparison.
One of his favourite topicks is contempt of his own poetry. For this, if it had been real, he would deserve no commendation ; and in this he was certainly not sincere, for his high value of himself was sufficiently observed ; and of what could he be proud but of his poetryHe writes, he says, when he has just nothing else to do; yet Swift complains that he was never at leisure for conversation, because he bad always fome poetical sciseme in his head. It was punctually required that his writing-box should be set upon his bed before he rose; and Lord Oxford's domestick related, that, in the dreadful winter of Forty, she was called from her bed by him four times in one night, to sup. ply him with paper, lest he should lose a thought.
He pretends intensibility to censure and criticism, though it was observed by all who knew him that every pamphlet disturbed his quiet, and that his extreme irritability laid him open to perpetual vexation; but he withed to despise his criticks, and therefore hoped that he did despise them.
As he happened to live in two reigns when the Court paid little attention to poetry, he nursed in his inind a foolish disesteem of Kings, and proclaims that he Thever sees Courts. Yet a little regard shewn him by the Prince of Wales melted his obduracy; and he had not much to say when he was asked by his Royal Highness, bow he could love à Prince while he disliked
He very frequently profeftes contempt of the world, and reprefents himself as looking on mana kind, sometimes with gay indifference, as on emmets of a hillock, below his serious attention; and sometimes with gloomy indignation, as on monsters more worthy of hatred than of pity. These were dispositions apparently counterfeited. How could hę despise those whom he lived by pleasing, and on whose approbation his esteem of himself was superstructed Why should he hate those to whose favour he owed his honour and his ease of things that termiņate in human life, the world is the proper judge ; to despise its sentence, if it were poffible, is not just; and if it were just, is not possible. Pope was far enough from this unreasonable tempers he was sufficiently a fool to Fame, and his fault was, that he pretended to neglect it. His levity and his fullenness were only in his Letters; he passed through common life, sometimes vexed, and sometimes pleased, with the natural emotions of com
His scorn of the great is repeated too often to be real; no man thinks much of that which he despises; and as falsehood is always in danger of inconäitency, the makes it bis boast at another time that he lives among them H Ź
po P - It is evident that his own importance swells often in his mind. He is afraid of writing, left the clerks of the Poft-office should know his secrets; he has many enemies; he considers himself as surrounded by univerfal jealousy i after many deaths, and many difperJions; two or three of us, says he, may still be brought together, not to plot, but to divert ourselves, and the world too, if it pleases; and they can live together, and thew what friends wits may be, in spite of all the fools in ibe world. All this while it was likely that the clerks did not know his hand; he certainly had no more enemies than a publick character like his inevitably excites ; and with what degree of friendship the wits might live, very few were so much fools as ever to enquire.
Some part of this pretended discontent he learned from Swift, and expreffes it, I think, most frequently in his correspondence with him. Swift's resentment was unreasonable, but it was sincere; Pope's was the mere mimickry of his friend, a fi&itious part which he began to play before it became him. When he was only twenty-five years old, he related that a glut of study and retirement had thrown him on the world, and that there was danger left a glut of the world should throw him back upon study and retirement. To this Swift answered with great propriety, that Pope had not yet either acted or fuffered enough in the world to have become weary of it. And, indeed, it must be some very powerful reason that can drive back to solitude him who has once enjoyed the pleasures of society.
In the Letters both of Swift and Pope there appears such narrowness of mind, as makes them insensible of any excellence that has not fome affinity with their own,
and confines their esteem and approbation to so small a number, that whoever should form his opinion of the age from their representation, would suppose them to have lived amidst ignorance and barbarity, unable to find among their contemporaries either virtue or in. telligence, and persecuted by those that could not understand them.
When Pope murmurs at the world, when he professes contempt of fame, when he speaks of riches and poverty, of success and disappointment, with negligent indifference, he certainly does not express his habitual and settled sentiments, but either wilfully disguises his own character, or, what is more likely, invests himself with temporary qualities, and fallies out in the colours of the present moment. His hopes and fears, his joys and sorrows, acted frongly upon his mind; and if he differed from others, it was not by carelessness; he was irritable and resentful; his malignity to Philips, whom he had fifft made ridiculous, and then hated for being angry, continued too long. Of his vain desire to make Bentley contemptible, I never heard any adequate reason. He was sometimes wanton in his attacks; and, before Chandos, Lady Wortley, and Hill, was mean in his retreat.
The virtues which seem to have had most of his affection were liberality and fidelity of friendship, in which it does not appear that he was ocher than he defçribes himself. His fortune did not suffer his charity to be fplendid and conspicuous; but he assisted Dodfey with a hundred pounds, that he might open a shop; and of the subscription of forty pounds a year, that he raised for Savage, twenty were paid by himself. He