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same time, the translation of Homer, which he had Lever seen in manuscript, bore away the palm from that very translation which he himself asserted was done in the true spirit of Homer? In matters of genius the public judgment seldom errs, and in this case posterity has confirmed the sentence of that age which gave the preference to Mr. Pope; or nis translation is in the hands of all readers of taste, while the other is seldom regarded but as a foil to Pope's.
It would appear as if Mr. Addison were himself so immersed in party business as to contract his benevo lence to the limits of a faction, which was infinitely beneath the views of a philosopher, and the rules which that excellent writer himself established. If this was the failing of Mr. Addison, it was not the error of Pope, for he kept the strictest correspondence with some persons whose affection to the Whig interest was suspected, yet was his name never called in question. While he was in favour with the Duke of Buckingham, the Lords Bolingbroke, Oxford, and Harcourt, Dr. Swift, and Mr. Prior, he did not drop his correspondence with the Lord Halifax, Mr. Craggs, and most of those who were at the head of the Whig interest. A professed Jacobite one day remonstrated to Mr. Pope, that the people of his party took it ill that he should write with Mr. Steel upon ever so indifferent a subject; at which he could not help smiling, and observed, that he hated narrowness of soul in any party; and that if he renounced his reason in religious matters, he should hardly do it on any other; and that he could pray not only for opposite parties, but even for opposite religions. Mr. Pope considered himself as a citizen of the world, and was therefore obliged to pray for the prosperity of mankind in gencral. As a son of Britain, he wished those councils might be suffered by Provi dence to prevail which were most for the interest of
mus native country; but as politics was not his study, he could not always determine, at least with any degree of certainty, whose councils were best and had charity enough to believe that contending parties right mean well. As taste and science are confined to no country, so ought they not to be excluded from any party, and Mr. Pope had an unexceptionable right to live upon terms of the strictest friendship with every man of parts, to which party soever he miglat belong. Mr. Pope's uprightness in his conduct towards contending politicians, is demonstrated by his living independent of either faction: he accepted no place, and had too high a spirit to become a pensioner.
Many efforts, however, were made to proselyte him from the popish faith, which all proved ineffec tual. His friends conceived hopes, from the mode. ration which he on all occasions expressed, that he was really a Protestant in his heart, and that upon the death of his mother he would not scruple to declare his sentiments, notwithstanding the reproaches he might incur from the popish party, and the public observation it would draw upon him. The Bishop of Rochester strongly advised him to read the controverted points between the Protestant and the Caholic church, to suffer his unprejudiced reason to etermine for him, and he made no doubt but a sepa ration from the Romish communion would soon en
To this Mr. Pope very candidly answered. 'Whether the change would be to my spiritual advantage God only knows; this I know, that I mear as well in the religion I now profess, as ever I can de in any other. Can a man who thinks so, justify & change, even if he thought both equally good? tc such an one the part of joining with any one body of Christians might perhaps be easy, but I think it woula not be so to renounce the other.
'Your Lordship has formerly advised me to read
he best controversies be ween the churches. Shall I tell you a secret? I did so at fourteen years old, for I loved reading, and my father had no other books. There was a collection of all that had been written on both sides in the reign of King James II. I warmed my head with them, and the consequence was, I found myself a Papist or Protestant by turns according to the last book I read. I am afraid most seekers are in the same case, and when they stop, they are not so properly converted as outwitted You see how little glory you would gain by my con. version; and, after all, I verily believe your Lordship and I are both of the same religion, if we were thoroughly understood by one another, and that all honest and reasonable Christians would be so, if they did but talk enough together every day, and had nothing to do together but to serve God and live in peace with their neighbours.
"As to the temporal side of the question, I can nave no dispute with you; it is certain all the bencficial circumstances of life, and all the shining ones, lie on the part you would invite me to: but if I could bring myself to fancy, what I think you do but fancy, that I have any talents for active life, I want health for it; and besides it is a real truth, I have, if possi ble, less inclination than ability. Contemplative life is not only my scene, but is my habit too. I began my life where most people end theirs, with a disgust of all that the world calls ambition. I don't know why it is called so: for, to me, it always seemed to be rather stooping than climbing. I'll tell you my political and religious sentiments in a few words; in my politics, I think no farther than how to preserve my peace of life in any government under which I live; nor in my religion, than o preserve the peace of my conscience in any church with which I communicate. i hope all churches and all governments are so far of God as they are rightly understood and rightly ad
ministered; and where they are or may be wrong, I leave it to God alone to mend or reform them; which, whenever he does, it must be by greater instruments than I am. I am not a Papist, for I renounce the temporal invasions of the papal power, and detest their arrogated authority over princes and states; 1 am a Catholic in the strictest sense of the word. If I was born under an absolute prince I would be a quiet subject; but thank God I was not. I have a due sense of the excellence of the British constitution. In a word, the things I have always wished to see are not a Roman Catholic, or a French Catholic, or a Spanish Catholic, but a true Catholic; and not a king of Whigs, or a king of Tories, but a king of England."
These are the peaceful maxims upon which we find Mr. Pope conducted his life; and if they cannot in some respects be justified, yet it must be owned that his religion and his politics were well enough adapted for a poet, which entitled him to a kind of universal patronage, and to make every good man his friend.
Dean Swift sometimes wrote to Mr. Pope on the topic of changing his religion, and once humorously offered him twenty pounds for that purpose. Mr. Pope's answer to this, Lord Orrery has obliged the world with by preserving it in the life of Swift k is a perfect master-piece of wit and pleasantry.
We have already taken notice that Mr. Pope was called upon by the public voice to translate the Iliad, which he performed with so much applause, and, at the same time, with so much profit to himself, that he was envied by many writers, whose vanity perhaps induced them to believe themselves equal to so great a design. A combination of inferior wits were employed to write the Popiad, in which his transla tion is characterized as unjust to the original, withou beauty of language, or variety of numbers. Instead
of the justness of the original, they say there is an surdity and extravagance; instead of the beautift language of the original, there is solecism and barb rous English. A candid reader may easily discerr from this furious introduction, that the critics wer actuated rather by malice than truth, and that they must judge with their eyes shut who can see no beauty of language, no harmony of numbers in thi translation.
But the most formidable critic against Mr. Pope in this great undertaking, was the celebrated Madame Dacier, whom Mr. Pope treated with less ceremony in his Notes on the Iliad than, in the opinion of some people, was due to her sex. This learned lady was not without a sense of the injury, and took an opportunity of discovering her resentment.
Upon finishing (says she) the second edition of my translation of Homer, a particular friend sent me a translation of part of Mr. Pope's Preface to his version of the Iliad. As I do not understand English, 1 cannot form any judgment of his performance, though I have heard much of it. I am indeed willing to believe, that the praises it has met with are not unmerited, because whatever work is approved by the English nation cannot be bad: but yet I hope I may be permitted to judge of that part of the preface which has been transmitted to me; and I here take the liberty of giving my sentiments concerning it. 1 most freely acknowledge that Mr. Pope's invention is very lively, though he seems to have been guilty of the same fault into which he owns we are often precipitated by our invention when we depend too much upon the strength of it; as magnanimity, says he ma▼ un up to confusion and extravagance, so may great nvention to redundancy and wildness.
"This has been the very case of Mr. Pope himself nothing is more overstrained, or more false, than the usages in which his fancy has represented Home: