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was to amplify, versify, and illustrate. In doing which, our poet, it must be confessed, left several passages so expressed, as to be favourable to fatalism and necessity, notwithstanding all the pains that can be taken, and the artful turns that can be given to those passages, to place them on the side of religion, and make them coincide with the fundamental doctrines of revelation. How could Pope, in the letter which he wrote to Racine, the son, 1742, venture to say, that his opinions were exactly conformable to those of Pascal, who, throughout all his Thoughts, is incessantly inculcating the absolute necessity of believing that man is in a fallen and degraded state; an opinion which is strongly denied in every line of the Essay on Man? And which opinion of Pope, Racine has justly stated in the following lines; La Religion, Chant 2:— Quelque abstrait raisonneur, qui ne se plaint de rien, Dans son flegme Anglican, repondra, "Tout est bien. Le grand Ordonnateur dont le dessein si sage, De tant de d'êtres divers ne forme qu'un ouvrage, Nous place à notre rang pour orner son tableau."
Pope has indeed inadvertently borrowed some passages from Pascal, but they have only served to make this system more inconsistent; for how can man be a "chaos of thought and passion all confused, and yet be as perfect a being as he ought to be?" The doctrine obviously intended to be inculcated in this Essay is, "That the dispensations of Providence in the distribution of good and evil, in this life, stand in no need of any hypothesis to justify them; all is adjusted in the most perfect order; whatever is, is right; and we have no occasion to call in the notion of a future life to vindicate the ways of God to man, because they are fully and sufficiently benevolent and just in the present." If we cannot subscribe, on one hand, to Dr. Warburton's opinions, "that these epistles have a precision, force, and closeness of connection rarely to be met with, even in the most formal treatises of philosophy;" yet neither can we assent to the severe sentence that Dr. Johnson has passed on the other hand; namely, "that penury of knowledge, and vulgarity of sentiment, were never so happily disguised as in this Essay; the reader feels his mind full, though he learns nothing; and, when he meets it in its new array, no longer knows the talk of his mother and his nurse."
It has been alleged that Pope did not fully comprehend the drift of the system communicated to him by Bolingbroke; but the
following remarkable words of his intimate friend, Mr. Jonathan Richardson, a man of known integrity and honour, clearly evince that he did: "As for this Essay on Man, as I was witness to the whole conduct of it in writing, and actually have his original manuscripts for it, from the first scratches of the four books, to the several finished copies (of his own neat and elegant writing these last); all which, with the manuscript of his Essay on Criticism, and several of his other works, he gave me himself, for the pains I took in collating the whole with the printed editions, at his request, on my having proposed to him the making an edition of his works in the manner of Boileau's. As to this noblest of his works, I know that he never dreamed of the scheme he afterwards adopted; perhaps for good reasons; for he had taken terror about the clergy, and Warburton himself, at the general alarm of its fatalism and deistical tendency; of which, however, we talked with him (my father and I) frequently at Twickenham, without his appearing to understand it otherwise, or even thinking to alter those passages, which he suggested as what might seem the most exceptionable."
To this testimony of Richardson, which is decisive, I will now add, that Lord Lyttelton, with his usual frankness and ingenuity, assured me, that he had frequently talked with Pope on the subject, whose opinions were at that time conformable to his own; before he had written his Observations on the Conversion of St. Paul, when he and his friends (not excepting Mr. Gilbert West) were, as he most candidly confessed, too much inclined to deism, but had fortunately become a most serious and earnest believer of Christianity. Is it not more probable and reasonable to suppose, that Pope might also change his opinion, though, at the time of writing the Essay on Man, he was tinctured with principles of another kind? and that he was equally in earnest when he was a disciple of Bolingbroke, as he afterwards was when he became a disciple of Warburton? It is incredible that he should not be ac-quainted with the objections that Bolingbroke held against revealed religion; which objections are perpetually repeated, and pervade all his works. But Pope might not indeed know the real opinions of his guide concerning a particular important topic-the moral attributes of the Deity. These two cases are widely different; and there lies a vast space betwixt these two species of infidelity. A man may be unhappily and unjustly prejudiced against the
Christian religion, and yet be fully and firmly persuaded of the belief of a God, and his moral attributes. Mr. Harte more than once assured me, that he had seen the pressing letter Dr. Young wrote to Pope, urging him to write something on the side of revelation; to which he alluded in the first Night-thought:
"O had he press'd his theme, pursu'd the track
O had he mounted on his wing of fire,
Soar'd when I sink, and sung immortal man!"
And when Harte frequently made the same request, he used to answer, "No, no! you have already done it;" alluding to Harte's Essay on Reason, which Harte thought a lame apology, and hardly serious. With respect to what has just been mentioned, that Pope was not acquainted with the opinions of his philosophic guide, on the subject of the moral attributes of the Deity, it seems rather strange and incredible that he should not understand the following, among many other passages, to this purpose:
"Clarke, after repeating over and over all the moral attributes, that they are the same in God as they are in our ideas, and that he who denies them to be so, may as well deny the divine physical attributes, insists only on two of the former, on those of justice and goodness. He was much in the right to contract the generality of his assertion. The absurdity of ascribing temperance, for instance, or fortitude, to God, would have been too gross and too risible, even to eyes that prejudice had blinded the most. But that of ascribing justice and goodness to him, according to our notions of them, might be better covered, and was enough for his purpose, though not less really absurd." Vol. iv. p. 298. It is somewhat remarkable, that this very opinion, that we have no clear and adequate ideas of God's moral attributes, is strongly maintained by that excellent man and writer, Archbishop King, in his sermon on Divine Predestination, 1709, which was answered by Anthony Collins, author of the Essay on Free-thinking. The person who wrote the spirited and elegant anonymous letter to Dr. Warburton on the supposed severity with which he was thought to have treated Lord Bolingbroke in the View of his Philosophy, was the late Lord Mansfield; and this letter was answered by Dr. Warburton, with much force and apparent mortification, in the Apology, prefixed to the last edition of this View.
It is impossible to observe without regret, the attempts that have been made to demonstrate that this noble poem is founded on what are called infidel principles, and is unfavourable to the doctrines of Christianity. This idea, though often before expressed or insinuated, seems to have received its full sanction in the preceding observations of Dr. Warton, where, as well as in his notes to the Essay, he has been at great pains to shew, that this poem is favourable to fatalism and necessity; that the doctrine obviously intended to be inculcated is, that "all is adjusted in the most perfect order;" that "whatever is, is right; and we have no occasion to call in the notion of a future life to vindicate the ways of God to man, because they are fully and sufficiently benevolent and just in the present." Not satisfied however, with this decisive expression of his own opinion, he has attacked that of Dr. Warburton, and has asserted, that "his attempt to reconcile the doctrines of the Essay on Man to the doctrines of revelation, is the rashest adventure in which ever critic yet engaged;" that "this is, in truth, to divine, rather than to explain an author's meaning;"* and again, that " he has disfigured and disgraced his edition of the works of Pope with many forced and far-sought interpretations, totally unsupported by the passages which they were brought to elucidate;† and that in particular, "he laboured in vain, and with an illgrounded zeal, to take Pope out of the hands of the Infidels." Acting under such impressions, Dr. Warton has thought proper to exclude the Commentary of Warburton from his edition, and to accompany the Essay on Man with notes tending to confirm his own views of the subject; a measure, the propriety and justice of which may well be doubted, when it is considered, that such Commentary was written in the lifetime of Pope, and was received by him with the warmest expressions of approbation, as a full solution of all such doubts and unfavourable constructions as could possibly arise in the perusal of his work." "You have made my system," says he, "as clear as I ought to have done, and could not. It is indeed the same system as mine, but illustrated with a ray of your own; as they say our natural body is the same
*Note on Essay on Criticism, Warton's Ed. vol. i. p. 174. † General Advertisement prefixed to Warton's Ed. vol. .1 Note on Essay on Man, Ep. i. ver. 16, Warton's Ed.
still, when it is glorified."* And again, shortly before his death: "I own the late encroachments upon my constitution make me willing to see the end of all further care about me or my works. I would rest for the one in a full resignation of my being, to be disposed of by the Father of all mercy; and for the other (though indeed a trifle, yet a trifle may be some example) I would commit them to the candour of a sensible and reflecting judge, rather than to the malice of every short-sighted and malevolent critic, or inadvertent or censorious reader; and no hand can set them in so good a light, or so well turn their best side to the day as your own." After so decided a proof of approbation, it is surely carrying the authority of an editor to its highest pitch, to declare, that "the author's fond expectation of his Commentator's setting his works in the best light was extremely ill founded!'" Are we to suppose that a person whose accuracy in expressing his own ideas was never exceeded by any writer, either ancient or modern, did not know his own meaning?—and is it fair or candid, when the author is no more, not only to discard the interpretation which he has himself expressly approved, but to impose upon his work a meaning against which he invariably protested in the strongest terms, and which, if he had thought it would have been adopted by posterity, would have embittered the latest moments of his life?
That the representation given by Warton of the doctrine intended to be inculcated by Pope in his Essay on Man, is erroneous, a few words will sufficiently demonstrate. Warton supposes, that Pope intended to assert that "whatever is, is right;" and that we have therefore no occasion to call in the notion of a future state, to justify the ways of God to man, because they are fully and sufficiently benevolent and just in the present;" but Pope neither intended to make, nor has made any such assertion. His idea is, that whatever is, is right-not because every thing is perfect here; but because every thing is perfect when considered with regard to the great designs and purposes of the Creator, as well here as elsewhere, as well in a future as in the present state of being. It is indeed extraordinary that any misapprehension could have arisen,