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asserted was done in the true spirit of Homer? In mata ters of genius the public judgment feldom errs, and in this cale pofterity has confirmed the sentence of that age which gave the preference to Mr. Pope: for his translation is in the hands of all readers of tafte, while the other is feldom regarded but as a foil to Pope's.
It would appear as if Mr. Addison were himself fo immersed in party business as to contract his benevolenice to the limits of a faction, which was infinitely beneath the views of a philosopher, and the rules which that excellent writer himself establihed. If this was the failing of Mr. Addison, it was not the error of Pope, for he kept the stricteit correspondence with some perions whole atfestions to the Whig interest were sufpected, 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 profesied Jacobite one day remonstrated to Mr. Pope, that the people of his party took it ill that he should write with Mr. Steele upon ever fo 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 reaion in religious matters, he should hardly do it on any other; and that he could pray, not only for cpposite parties, but even for oppolite religions. Mr. Pope considered himself as a citizen of the world, and was therefore obliged to pray for the profperity of mankind in general. As a lon of Britain, he wited 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, whole 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 friendihip with every man of parts, to which party soever he might belong. Mr. Pope's uprightneis 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 were made to proselyte Pope 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 froin the Popith party, and the public observation it would draw upon him. The Bishop of Rochester strongly adviied 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 Romish communion would soon ensue. To this Mr. Pope very candidly answered, " Whether the change would be to my fpiritual ad
vantage 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 fo justify “a change, even if he thought both equally good? To "luch an one the part of joining with any one body of “ Christians might perhaps be ealy, but I think it “ would not be lo to lenounce the other.
“ Your Lordship has formerly advised me to read “ the best controversies between the Churches. Shall “ I tell you a fecret ? I did fo 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 wármed my head with them, and the consequence was, I found myself a Papift or a Protettant by turns,
“ according to the last book I read. , I am afraid most “ seekers are in the same cate, and when they stop, “ they are not so properly controverted as outwitted. “ You see how little glory you would gain by my con“ version ; and, after all, I verily believe your
Lord“ ship and I are both of the same religion, if we “ were thoronghly 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 “ have no dispute with you ; it is certain all the bene
ficial circuinstances 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
I begun my life where most people end theirs, " with a disgust of all that the whole world calls am"bition. I don't know why it is called so; for, to
it always 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 government under which I live; nor in my re« ligion than to preserve the peace
conscience in “ 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 admi« stered, and where they are, or may be, wrong, I « leave it to God alone to mend or reform them, which, 6 whenever he does, it must be by greater infiruments " than I am.
I am not a Papist, for I renounce the temporal invasions of the papal power, and detelt - their arrogated authority over princes and states.
“ I am
“I am a Catholic in the fri&teft 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. L « have a due sense of the excellence of the British o conftitution. In a word, the things I have always 66 wished to see are not a Roman Catholic, or a French “ Catholic, or a Spanish Catholic, but a true Catho“ lic; 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 by preserving in the life of Swift. It is a perfeet masterpiece of wit and pleasantıy.
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 applaute, and, at the same time, with so much profit to himielf, that he was envied by many writers whose vanity, perhaps, induced them to believe themselves equal to to great a design. A combination of inferior wits were employed to write the Popiad, in which his translation is characterized as unjuft to the original, without beauty of language, or variety of numbers. Inttead of the jufiness of the original, they say there is absurdity and extravagand
initead of the beautiful language of the original, there is solecism and barbarous Erglish. A candid reader may easily discern from this furious introduction, that the critics were actuated father 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 trantlation.
But the most form.dable critic against Mr. Pope in this great undertaking was the celebrated Madain Dacier, whom Mr. Pope treated with less cc remony in his Notes on the Iliad, than, in the opinion of tome people, was due to her sex. This learned lady was not without a sense of the injury, and took an opportunity of discovering her retentment.
" Upon finishing," lays 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 Erg“ lith, I cannot form any judgment of his performance, “ though I have heard inuch of it. I am indeed wil“ ling 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 cons
cerning 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 thc strength of it ; " as magnanimity, lays he, may run up to confusion “ and extravagance, fo may great invention to redun“ dancy and wildness.
“ This has been the very case of Mr. Pope himself: “ nothing is more overstrained, or more false, than “ the images in which his fancy has represented Ho66 mer. Sometimes he tells us that the Iliad is a wild
paradise, where, if he cannot see all the beauties, as “ in an ordered garden, it is only because the number “ of them is infinitely greater. Sonetimes he com
pares him to a copious nurtery, which contains the “ leeds and first produtions of every kind; and, laftly,