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was therefore obliged to pray for the prosperity of mankind in general. As a son of Britain he wished those councils might be suffered by Providence to prevail, which were most for the interest of his 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 might 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 might 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 ineffectual. His friends conceived hopes, from the moderation 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 Catholic church, to suffer his unprejudiced reason to determine for him, and he made no doubt but a separation from the Ro

mish communion would soon ensue. To this Mr. Pope very candidly answered, "Whether the change would "be to my spiritual advantage God only knows: this "I know, that I mean as well in the religion I now "profess, as ever I can do in any other. Can a man "who thinks so justify a change, even if he thought "both equally good? to such an one the part of joining with any one body of Christians might perhaps "be easy, but I think it would not be so to renounce "the other.

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"Your Lordship has formerly advised me to read "the best controversies between 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 a 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 outwit"ted. You see how little glory you would gain by my conversion; and, after all, I verily believe your Lordship and I are both of the same religion, if we 66 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.


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"As to the temporal side of the question, I can

Volume I.


"have no dispute with you. It is certain all the be"neficial 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 possible, less inclination than ability. Con"templative life is not only my scene, but is my habit "too. I begun 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 al66 ways seemed to be rather stooping than climbing. "I'll tell you my politic and religious sentiments in "a few words: in my politics I think no farther than "how to preserve my peace of life in any govern "ment under which I live; nor in my religion than 66 to 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 administered; 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 au"thority over princes and states. I 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 "I 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

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Catholic, but a true Catholic; and not a king of Whigs, or a king of Tories, but a king of Eng"land."

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 humourously offered him twenty pounds for that purpose. Mr. Pope's answer to this Lord Orrery has obliged the world by preserving, in the life of Swift. It is a perfect masterpiece 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 translation is characterized as unjust to the original, without beauty of language, or variety of numbers. Instead of the justness of the original, they say there is absurdity and extravagance: instead of the beautiful language of the original, there is solecism and barba

rous English. A candid reader may easily discern from this furious introduction, that the critics were 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 this translation.

But the most formidable critic against Mr. Pope in this great undertaking was the celebrated Madam 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, I cannot form any judgment of his per "formance, 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

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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. I 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, may run up to confusion

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